(I started thinking about characters, and had this idea to write a short bit to see if I can make the reader care about a character in an undramatic situation and with only his thoughts and perspective. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so yesterday I banged out this 1300+ short story. You be the judge of whether I succeed in getting you to care about young Mr. Crowder. Read on:)
I gotta pee.
Two choices: I ask ol’ lady Gibbons if I can go. I know how that’ll go.
(raise my hand) Mrs. Gibbons, I need to use the bathroom.
“Young man, the class will be over in twenty minutes and you can use it then. Surely you can hold it that long.”
(class laughs – are they laughing at me? Or with me?)
Or I hold it, like she’s gonna make me do anyway.
How am I supposed to focus? This stuff is so boring. History of Western Civilization? Like we can cover that in a year long class. I’ll get a B whether I pay attention or not. And Gibbons is so boring, too.
Focus on what? The back of Chelsea’s head?
It is a nice head to focus on. Attached to a nice body, too. Too bad she’s kind of a bitch. And too bad she probably doesn’t even know who I am.
I know what I’d like to do with her, though. I’d pick her up in my brother’s truck, swing by Mickey Dee’s, say “hey” to all that crowd, get her whatever she wanted, then take her out to the slough. If there’s a party going on out there, great. If not, even better. I’d make my move and slide my arm behind her, pulling her over toward me on the seat, snaking my hand under the collar of her blouse to find her bare shoulder, and then I’d…
Everyone’s looking at me.
“Mr. Crowder? What is that noise you’re making?” Gibbons asks me.
Chelsea and her big-ass boyfriend are staring at me. Only a few of the kids in the class are ignoring me. The boyfriend, a football player named Chad (of course, he’s named Chad), points at me. He mouths, “Dead,” to me.
“Ooh,” I mouth back silently. Aloud I say, “Sorry. Can I be excused?”
“Whatever for?” the teacher asks.
(“He needs to jack off,” I hear someone say under their breath from behind me.)
“Can’t it wait? We only have sixteen minutes left. You can surely hold it that long.”
“I thought I could, Mrs. Gibbons. But it isn’t looking promising.”
Someone makes an obscene sound. Mrs. Gibbons’s attention turns away from me. “Stop that,” she says. That’s it. Just “stop that.” No calling out whoever that was.
“I don’t suppose you can refrain from disrupting the class, so you may go.” She hands me the wooden plaque that acts as a hall pass. “Come back immediately.”
“Thank you,” I say, standing up, hoping I don’t have a wet spot on the front of my jeans. I hurry out of the room and speed-walk to the bathroom.
I can barely hold it until I get my zipper open, and the relief I feel as I stand in front of the urinal (oddly decorated with a school logo featuring a bird of prey of some sort on the back of it) is as good as sex.
Well, that’s sort of dishonest. How would I know that? I’m only a sophomore, and I haven’t actually had sex. Just, you know, with Rosie Palmer and her five sisters.
I wash my hands (I’m not disgusting!) and debate whether I should return to class or just wait it out in a stall. I want to choose the latter option, but she did say to come back, and I do have to return the hall pass.
Plus, I need my backpack.
I walk slowly through the halls, checking out the lockers on either side of the passage, smirking as I note the decorated ones (almost always girls’ lockers) and the few that are stuffed with junk which threatens to extrude through the ventilation slits. Mine is almost empty. It’s nowhere near this part of the building.
I wish it was. It’s always a rush to get from my locker if I need to grab something between periods.
Hence the backpack.
Chad doesn’t use a backpack. Prick.
I stand outside the classroom for a couple minutes before opening the door and creeping in. Most of the kids look to witness my return; Chelsea and Chad pointedly do not.
Samantha Sparks winks at me as I make my way back to my desk. I shrug for no reason, pass her desk and slide into my own seat as Mrs. Gibbons stops again.
“Do not forget to return the hall pass, Mr. Crowder.”
Chad looks at me then. “Yeah, Mr. Crowder,” he mouths soundlessly, then repeats his earlier threat. “Dead.”
I’ll have to be careful. Chad wants to kick my ass for looking at his girlfriend. But I’m thinking about the wink. What does that mean?
I glance behind me to see if I can catch Samantha looking at me, but her head is down and her pen is in motion, writing something in her notebook. I look back up front quickly, but her face is in my mind now and it’s her I’m seeing instead of beautiful Chelsea. She’s plain and kind of skinny, but she does have nice eyes. And lips. They’re pouty, if that’s the right word. Get her a nose job and she’s actually pretty, I realize.
I could do far worse.
Never really thought about Samantha. I went to a different feeder school, so I didn’t know her from before high school, and as far as I know, this is our first class together. Of course, I could be wrong on that. Maybe we had all of the same classes last year and I was oblivious.
The bell finally rings, and ol’ lady Gibbons raises her voice to call me out over the sound of chairs pushing back from desks. “Mr. Crowder, the pass?”
I look at her, nodded, and quickly glance back at Samantha, who is gathering her stuff into her own backpack. She doesn’t return the look.
I wait until everyone passes, ignoring Chad as he bumps my desk in a failed effort to make it hit me. I bring the wooden plaque to the front of the room and set it on the teacher’s desk.
“You missed information from Chapter 12. Read it and you’ll be caught up.” She turns away from me, but can’t let it go without an insult. “You can read, correct?”
Lady, I could pass your class without reading a word, I want to say, but I don’t acknowledge the insult, instead saying, “Thank you.”
I turn, hurry down the aisle between desks and push the door open.
Samantha Sparks stands there, backpack hanging from her narrow shoulders, next class’s book and notebook hugged to her chest. She’s grinning. She’s pretty when she grins.
“You really have a death wish, don’t you?” she said.
“Sorry? Do we know each other?” I ask, trying to be cool.
“Nope. But I just find it really funny that you moaned out Chelsea’s name out loud.”
“I did?” Oh, fuck.
She laughs. “Did you?” she asks. Now I wonder if she’s just fucking with me. “Walk with me to class.”
“Really. Come on.” She begins walking away, and I look at her from behind.
She does have kind of a nice ass.
I catch up to her and walk next to her.
“Wanna watch me get beat up by Chad?” I ask.
She laughs again. “It’s the only reason I’m talking to you, don’t you know?”
“Voyeur, or sadist?”
“Both.” She hands me the books. “Carry these, will you?”
It’s the kind of thing that guys do for their girlfriends. My head takes a little spin around the block.
Did I just get a girlfriend?
Or maybe more accurately, did I just become Samantha Sparks’s boyfriend?
I shrug again, for no reason, and take the books. “Wanna go to Mickey Dee’s this weekend?”
Samantha Sparks turns to me, winks again, and says, “Thought I’d never get you to notice me.”
I don’t respond, just continue walking next to her thinking how stupid and oblivious I am.