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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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The Nice Guy: Chapter Eight

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

April 16 2009 (Dan)

       Whoa, I thought when Tom showed me his story. “Where did you get the idea for the fictional event?”

       Tom shrugged. “You know how I hang out with the teachers, and I thought it would be funny to see them doing ridiculous things.”

       I sighed. “Tom, that ‘fictional’ event is happening tomorrow.”

       “Oh, really? Well then I must come to see it then.”

       “Still... I wonder how you would get an idea like that when that event is exactly what is taking place tomorrow.”

       “Oh, well, don’t worry about it. I’ll come see your event. I never thought about it before, but now I remember a page in the yearbook that’s dedicated to it. It said, “This year, Kristen Finch came up with...'”

       “Yeah, yeah, I know, it does. Well, I hope you come to it then. Oh, and what’s with all this romantic stuff? Are you sure that’s how people feel when they kiss? For instance, I don’t feel that way when Samantha kisses me.”

       Tom shrugged again. “That’s how you feel then. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all people feel that way.”

       “I know, but there’s a general feeling and atmosphere, and are you sure you captured that? Are you sure you’re not making it sound too contrived?”

       “Of course I captured it. I don’t know why you’re so worried about it.”

       “I’m just offering some constructive—“

       “—criticism. I know.”

       “Well then.” I shrugged. The real problem was that what Tom wrote was quite entertaining to think about in terms of my own relationship with Sam. Never mind his seemingly clairvoyant description of what was to happen tomorrow. When he wrote that Tim and Lily, his characters, kissed, he wrote it like the whole world had stopped for them, like everything was eternally warm and beautiful. The thing is, I actually don’t think I feel like that when Sam kisses me. It’s quite nice, and a bit sensual, but not so, like I previously stated, ‘melodramatic.’
       Speaking of the event, it was all good. Tomorrow was going to be pretty awesome. Like Tom unwittingly wrote, we were going to have the teachers up on stage, shaving their beards and putting disgusting boots on. Our principle, like in Tom’s story, was going to have his face creamed. Actually, I don’t need to say more. Read Tom’s story.
       I was on the bus that afternoon, heading for Barrhaven, which isn’t usual. I don’t live in Barrhaven so why should I be going there? I had a dentist appointment, and Barrhaven is Ottawa’s place for dentists because they’re everywhere. Dentists and chiropractors, but I don’t trust chiropractors (even the one on Two and a half Men).

       As I sat down and got comfortable, I saw Adam Hughes, a friend of mine who’s from Barrhaven. I waved at him, who waved back. As well as Adam, Rose also takes this bus.

       In the next second, Tom got on the bus as well.

       Oh, yeah. So does Tom.

       He saw me. “Oh – hi, Daniel. What are you doing here?”

       “I have to go to Barrhaven for a dentist’s appointment.”

       “Oh. Hey, I wanted to tell you something...”

       But Rose, who was sitting in between us, shushed him. She had her cell phone pressed to her ear. Noting this, Tom got up and sat across the aisle from me. The bus pulled out from the front of the school and gained speed.

       Tom started to speak. But I didn’t hear him.

       “What?” I asked. I could barely hear him over the engine and other people.

       Tom tried again: “You know that....have....bass....ever since?”

       “Sorry, I can’t hear you.”

       Tom sighed and yelled, “Never mind!”

       As the bus ride wore on, Rose got off her phone and started talking to me. We were having a good conversation. Tom stayed across the aisle, keeping to himself. Eventually, she got off. Then Tom got up.

       “Ah,” he said. “Now that I’m not exactly a nuisance to Rose, can I talk to you now?”

       I sighed. Tom was naturally being negative, and he used to complain a lot. I wasn’t in the mood right now.

       “What,” he asked, curious.

       “Oh, just your constant complaining,” I said wearily.

       “What? I didn’t complain. What did I do?”

       “You said, ‘oh, now that I’m not a nuisance...’”

       “That’s because she was on the phone.”

       I looked to Adam. “Adam, does this sound like complaining to you? ‘Now that I’m not a nuisance to Rose can I talk to you?’”

       He nodded. “Yeah, it does.”

       “That didn’t sound like me!” Tom said angrily.

       “Anyway, what did you want to say,” I asked, a little irritated.

       Tom sighed. “Did you know that I’ve always had a sort of affinity with the bass in a song?”

       “Yeah, you told me.”

       Tom looked a little surprised. “I did? Man, I’ve told you everything!” He sounded annoyed. Then he looked surprised again.

       “You see? There you go again.”

       “That was not a complaint!”

       “Yeah, it was. You said...” and I told him what he said, in an annoyed tone.

       “I didn’t say it like that!”

       I turned to Adam again. Did he sound like that? And I repeated his line.


       “No!” Tom exclaimed. “God! See, I was going to tell you something but Rose was on the phone...”

       “No she wasn’t, she was talking to me.”

       “I mean before the bus started moving!” Tom forced out rapidly.

       “But if she was on the phone...”

       “That’s when I moved over here. But then she started talking to you.”

       “But that was afterwards. Anyway, you were still complaining.”

       “No! I wasn’t! Man! You think of everything I say as a complaint!”

       I laughed. “Now you’re complaining about how I think you’re complaining!” I chuckled. Tom started to say something, but Adam intervened.

       “Tom, just shush, shush.”

       Tom looked outraged.

       “If Rose wasn’t on the phone...”

       “But she was on the phone.”

       “No, she wasn’t, she was talking to you”

       “No, because that’s when you moved and I couldn’t hear you!”

       “But she was on the phone then...”

       “No, because she was talking to me! See?” Adam and I both laughed. Tom looked both humiliated and defeated and angry.

       “I’m moving over here,” he declared. He went to the back of the bus near the rear doors. That was fine. Adam and I started talking again, laughing at how Tom tricked himself over.

       The next morning I found Tom downstairs waiting for me in the music department.

       “Hey,” I said tiredly.

       Tom looked stern. “I wanted to get something out with you.”

       Mildred was there as well. “Tom says you and Adam ganged up on him on the bus yesterday.”

       “No, we didn’t. Tom was complaining and Adam and I were just having fun.”

       “That’s the thing,” said Tom. “I wasn’t complaining at first, and you made it sound like I was complaining.”

       “Whatever. It was a stupid argument anyway.” I turned to Mildred. “It was all about how he wanted to tell me something, and Rose was on the phone, so after she got off he said...” and I related what Tom had told me.  I told Mildred how Tom tried to tell me how the chain of events happened and how I ended up tripping him up  with how they actually happened, and we both laughed at the lack of logic it all showed. “...and then you went and sat in your little corner,” I said to him.

       Tom didn’t look happy, but that was usual.

       “That’s not settled,” he said. He still seemed to think he was right.

       “Whatever,” I echoed.

       “Wait a minute here,” Mildred said. “I think what this is, is that he—“ she pointed at Tom—“tends to be negative, and he—“ she pointed at me—“is egotistical.”

       I shrugged. Tom looked no different.

       “I’m leaving. I can’t do this anymore.”

       “Wait,” said Mildred. “You’re not fine with this?”

       “He’s just going to do it again,” Tom said as he left.

       “Oh—okay,” she replied with uncertainty. Obviously she was annoyed that her mediation hadn’t worked on him.

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