“The Buddy” by Michael J. Lee
--page 5

        The next morning was gray, with fat, lumpy clouds crowding the sky. Mr. Handler walked around his students’ desks, returning the essays they had written on individuality. “And Robert,” said Mr. Handler, as the paper drifted down to his desk. Robert drew in his breath. He was accustomed to mediocre grades, but this was a little unexpected. He had worked hard on the paper, although it was only a paragraph long. It read: My name is Robert and I am not unique. I have a Mom and Dad who say they love me and we live together in a building. Sometimes I think I want to be my best friend. His name is Scott. I think I would be a whole lot better off if I could just become him, like being absorbed into his blood or live as a strand of his hair. And he could live his life and I would be with him and he wouldn’t even have to know. The world is made for some people and I am not one of them but I want to see it the way they do. THE END.
        Robert’s essay had a note from his teacher, telling him that reading his paper made him sad, and the whole business about becoming Scott was something he could keep in a journal, but didn’t quite pass for positive self-analysis. It suggested that Robert should imagine that someone else was observing him as he lived his life. “Then you might see how special you are,” the note ended. D+ was the grade.


        It rained at lunchtime. The students huddled under the eaves in little clusters, leaning against the pale stucco walls. When Robert found Scott, his friend was pulling his tooth out for several pretty girls near the Coke machine. Robert bought a Coke, and lingered on the outskirts of the little group.
        “Saturday’s the car wash,” said Julie Polenka. She was a cheerleader and often wore her gold skirt emblazoned with the school’s logo—a silhouette of a conquistador atop a rearing stallion.
        “I’ll be there,” Scott said. “One way or another.”
        “It’s a fundraiser,” Julie said. “We need new uniforms.”
        Robert very much wanted to do nasty things with this Julie. They had never spoken a word before.
        “Saw you chilling in that big-ass truck,” said Julie.
        “Yeah, Clay and I are buddies,” Scott said. His look said That’s how it is in my cool world. “Went over to my house yesterday, watched a couple movies. Clay’s into foreign films. Shit I never even knew existed.”
        “Clay is hot,” said another girl, Heather, who kept flinging her hair, flashing her new auburn highlights. Robert liked her too, even more than Julie, and she seemed to have taken a new interest in Scott. “You think so Scott? Would you do him?” Her question paralyzed Scott, but then he noticed Robert standing there. He regarded him with a nod.
        “Don’t talk to me about that gay shit,” Scott said. He crossed his arms. “This is Robert, girls. He knows Clay too. Clay thinks he’s a funny motherfucker.”
        “You’re funny, huh?” Heather said.
        “Tell us a joke. Something dirty.”
        “I don’t know any jokes,” said Robert
        “He does voices, girls.”
        “I don’t.”
        Robert knew the frog would not impress them; women never responded to it. If he bombed in front of them, the repercussions might be enormous between him and Scott. He sucked in his breath through his nose and listened to his body. He walked to Heather where she waited with her hands on her hips, threw his arms around her frail body, and placed his tongue in her mouth. He heard a vague choking sound, but wasn’t sure if it came from himself or Heather. “The nastiest!” he heard Scott yell in jubilation. Heather made vomiting noises as she left with the rest of the girls. She didn’t take it too poorly. Robert assumed she had been through worse.
        Scott was still giggling even after they were alone.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11