Asma Ahsan Asma Ahsan
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A bit of a bully this Dan is too.

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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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The Nice Guy: Chapter Nine


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

9.
April 17 2009 (Tom)


       Man! What an annoying bus ride I had yesterday. Really. Dan had to get on the bus, and I had to talk to him. What kind of idiot was I?


       It was really stupid. I get on, he’s there, I think of something to say to him. But Rose is on the phone so I changed seats and try talking to him there.
Here’s my take on it: Rose soon got off the phone. This was after the bus had started moving. Then he and Rose got into a conversation that I didn’t want to interrupt. After Rose got off, I briskly said what I said to Dan and he accused me of complaining when all I meant was that I wouldn’t be an interruptive and otherwise annoying presence if Rose wasn’t still there, as that’s what I think they’d see me as if I had interrupted.


       Then he got support from Adam (they are great friends) by dressing what I said up, making me sound angry and negative when I was just saying something as it was. Then I told him what I’d originally wanted to, and he knew it already.


       My mistake, I admit, was my tone of voice, and that’s I why was suddenly surprised after I’d said “oh man I’ve told you everything.” Because I knew that he would immediately take that as a complaint, and I didn’t mean it that way even if it sounded that way. Even if I told him or protested he would not change his mind.  When I did protest, he got great old Adam on his side (great buddies they are, aren’t they?) and made me sound even more like I was hopelessly negative and angry. It was pointless to go on, because it just got worse and everything got turned over and backwards, and in their favour. The more I protested the more they’d laugh and ‘shush’ me like I was a small child with a temper tantrum. I had to move, get away from them.


       Then of course Dan had to go even further this morning and sneer and denounce that as me “running away to hide in a little corner.” Like a little kindergarten kid running to cry in a corner, sure. 1 comment


       That’s why I don’t spend any time with him willingly. I’m not inferior to him yet he spends a lot of his time making feel me so. I left the music department that morning and stormed off towards the tech. wing.


       “Hi.”


       Dumbfounded, I looked to my right. There was a girl sitting on the wall with her back against the window. She was looking right at me.


       “Uh – hi,” I replied with surprise and uncertainty. She returned to what she was doing. I continued on. When I found that Mr. Hayes wasn’t in his room I returned back toward the basement, though I wouldn’t be going back to the music room of course but upstairs.


       “Hi.”


       I looked toward my left this time to see that same girl. I knew she would be there as I returned, but I did not expect her to greet me all over again.


       “Hi.”


       As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard her speak again.


       “I know your name.”


       I turned. “Sorry?”


       “I know your name. It’s Tom.”


       “Oh...uh...then what’s my last name then?” Before she could answer I departed.  
--
       “Looks like she’s into you,” remarked Mr. Mark when I told him about the encounter a few minutes later.


       “You think? I don’t even know her. What about Sheila?”


       “I think she has a boyfriend,” noted Mr. McPherson distractedly.


       “She does, eh?”


       “Yeah. Sorry Woody.”


       “That’s fine. When we had that fire drill the other day her and a guy with brown wavy hair were rubbing each other for warmth, so I suspected as much.”


       “Aw, that must have been hard for you to see,” soothed Mark.


       “Well, it’s okay. Still, I don’t understand how that girl in the hallway could have figured out my name.
Hey, you know what happened yesterday?”


       I told them about what happened on the bus yesterday, with both of them wondering why Dan and his friend had to be so condescending and narrow-minded.


       “They didn’t listen to a word you said?”


       “Not really, they just rebuffed it with more patronizing remarks. It was like they were united in deflecting everything I said.”


       The bell rang.


       “Well, I’ll see you two later,” I said. I left for the hallways.


       To my slight surprise, I saw that girl again while on my way to math class this morning. I then realized with a start that I’d seen this same girl all year while going to math class, because her class was next door to mine.


       To my even bigger surprise, she took less than the slightest notice of me as I went by.


       “Right,” said Mr. Burgess as everyone sat down before the bell. “So today we’re continuing on fractions, starting off from what we did yesterday, because what we did yesterday factors into today, so it’s important that we continue and get this down and get this settled into our heads and know what to do when I give out the test, it’s mightily important, I hope you have your calculators, I hope you do...”


       I don’t need to go on because Mr. Burgess tends to get extremely wordy and descriptive with his usually simple explanations. I just sat and watched the doorway for some reason, which is not what I usually do. And it’s not something I can explain.
--
       I don’t normally go to school events, but this lunch was one exception. Today it was pretty crazy. It was exactly like how I’d written it. It’s kind of funny that I wrote about an event exactly like this one. Thing was, I wasn’t really prepared to see people like Mr. Mark, Mr. McPherson, Henson, Collins, Burgess, and Evans form human pyramids and put on boots filled with a glutinous mixture of who-knows-what. Really, it was like I was actually living in my story, except I didn’t have a sweet girlfriend running the whole thing behind the scenes. I did have a camera though, and because I wrote it based on what lens I’d use in this situation, I was like a girl-friendless Tim. I focused on McPherson twirling a hula-hoop alongside Burgess, who was trying to go longer than McPherson. The grass skirts were a great touch.


       On the stage stood various members of student council, including Rose Morrissey from the bus, Cyril Mackenzie who’s a special event rep and the announcer, Leonard Score who’s a grad rep, Samantha Crockett from my math class and Dan’s girlfriend, Tom Bergeron, Dan and Manson Albert Dennis Nesmith Ettrick Silverstein, whom I know to be a treasurer. I also know him from grade nine day four years ago, when he and I hummed the ‘bass-line’ of our group’s chant (I didn’t like to chant and neither did he).  I wrote his school-wide disputed name properly as well; I remember it correctly because his initials conveniently spell out the word M A D N E Ss. My liking and fanaticism of the band does have its benefits.


       The audience around me laughed and cheered as people continuously came up to the stage to deposit money into the coffee cans put out to raise funds to donate to Parkinson’s disease. I looked to my right and with a sudden jolt I saw Sheila and that brown-haired guy sitting with each other in the audience. I decided right there that a much better place in the cafeteria would be a place where they’d be on my far left, out of my sight.


       That place put me at the corner of the stage. I was able to see to the back, where other people were quickly preparing other events for the teachers. Ms. Stein was there, and I guessed she was the teacher supervisor of the thing. Raising my eyebrows in surprise, I also saw that girl again, and just like Lily in my story, she carried a binder. But unlike the Lily in my story, she didn’t catch my eye and wave to the Tim character, of who I seemed to be inadvertently impersonating here.
--
       Sitting on the bus that afternoon, I was feeling excited and anxious at the same time. This was Friday after all, and George was coming over today.


       It’s not really usual for George to do that. Whenever we do, usually we just hang out, listen to music (thanks to that George even knows what I’m talking about when I mention Madness) and watch DVDs of TV episodes of Arrested Development or U.S. version of The Office. That’s another interesting thing about him and I; we both laugh at the same things. And he helps me understand the meanings of obscure jokes that run by me.


       I tried not to glance out the window as the bus waited outside the school too much, because I didn’t want to look weird or like I was watching George as he walked up. I knew he’d notice me looking out for him, excited, and if I were him I’d find that kind of weird. I expect George being George would feel the same way.


       So I faced forward. Soon George boarded the bus with Duncan.


       “Hey George...”


       “Tom. We need to talk.”


       He sounded intense and purposeful. “Okay,” I said in uncertainty.


       “I...don’t...like you.” He had that emphasis in his speech again.


       “Sorry?”


       Duncan walked around him and sat down in one of the seats a little further back.


       “I just can’t keep this up. I don’t like you. We don’t get along. We are completely incompatible.”


       “We are? I didn’t think...”


       “I’m sorry, mate. It’s just that recently you’ve just...really gotten on my nerves.”


       “How?”


       “You just appear out of nowhere, you constantly try to talk to me while I’m tired, you’re just too much for me.”


       I was shocked. “How long has this been this way for you?”


       “Not forever...just recently. I don’t know. It’s just...you’re a nice guy, Tom, but we can’t keep doing this. We just don’t work together.”


       He looked very defeated, and sorry.


       “But why didn’t you tell me this sooner, when you got annoyed?”


“I don’t know, I’m really sorry, you’re a great guy you know. It’s just that you’ve always meant well, I mean it, and I didn’t want to hurt your feelings too much. I hate doing this. You’re just so...I don’t know. When you put two people together with Asperger’s syndrome, it never works. That’s just the thing.”


       “Really,” I said with a building annoyance and feeling of loss.


       “Yeah. It has something to do with pheromones.”


       “Uh huh.”


       “But what I don’t want is to become complete strangers,” he reassured. I italicize ‘don’t’ because again, he tends to say his words clearly and with emphasis when he really means them.


       “Mm.”


       By the way, what George said about me and him and Asperger’s is true. I just never thought to write about that.


       I looked over at Duncan. “Do I have the same effect on you?”


       “Well, yes, but not as much.”


       “Okay.”


       I spent the rest of the bus feeling really awful. This was just normal routine, of course. Another friendship has run its course with me. George would not come over, we would not hang out. Not today, not anytime at all in the distant future. Throughout the bus ride he sat with his head hung low and didn’t even talk to Duncan. I don’t think he was tired.


       There are two sides to me: The quiet, introverted, bottled-up side, which everyone knows me by; then there’s the open, talkative, interested side, of whom only my close friends know me by. I felt stupid for opening up to George Braithwaite, but it was only because he’d shaken my hand two years ago, guaranteeing our good friendship. “Don’t worry,” he’d said. “You have me as a friend no matter what.”


       Really, there was no difference. I was always your everyday ‘nice guy,’ never a close friend, always an observer, and to remain that seemed to be an only option to me. I went home and listened to 'Take it or Leave it,' which is performed by you-know-who.


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Next: Kiss Me Again... (Chapter 8)