The Big Nothing | Teen Ink

The Big Nothing

January 14, 2018
By Baby-Blue, Laketown, Connecticut
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Baby-Blue, Laketown, Connecticut
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Favorite Quote:
"You wouldn't worry so much about what people think of you if you realized how seldom they do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Author's note:

I was inspired to write this piece when the unusual voice of Todd started echoing in my head and I started seeing the kids around me in my school in a sort of different way, and it really started to interest me. So after that I got the character of Michael in my head and it all just came together. I hope this speaks to someone! Hopefully, I don't have to say that there's no copyright intended when mentioning Marvel and DC and various superheroes they made - they are not mine, and are the property of Marvel and DC. 

 When I was a few less years my mumma and Spencer had a tag sale. They took a whole lot of many years things that got used so never never never that we hardly even knew they were there and they put them outside on the green green green grass for selling. All sorts of stuffs were there, there were old furnitures, old playthings old knick knacks on all the tables, all outside, in the Summertime, lots and lots and lots of heat. I saw my mumma there sweating behind a table, and a man asked about a jewelry box. Spencer was sitting next to her. The man said
“How much for the jewelry box?”
Mumma looked at it close like the box was whispering to her or something like before she sometime said “How about… thirty bucks?”
“Oh come on now, Shelly, isn’t that a little much,” Spencer said, all soft, “Look here, it’s cracked. How does 20 sound?” Mumma looked closer, and saw the crack that the Crack-Teller had told about.
“Oh yeah, so it does. 25 alright?” The man took out some dollar bills, green green green, and put them on the table. Mumma smiled. Thank you. Walk away.
With no more people around mumma whispered to Spencer, joking, “You’re going to ruin my business.” He smiled back, joking too like “It’s not my fault it looks like sh*t”. She smacked him not too much and laughed, going “Spencer!” like she was mad but she really wasn’t.

Skip a couple years, I go to highschool, freshman year, then sophomore, and the weather is cold cold cold. It’s the middle of the second year and things are real tame - nobody fights in the middle of the year, no one has the energy really. No, there’s no fighting. Just selling.
High School is like one big big big tag sale, only there isn’t just one or two people selling, its the whole school at once picking how much you cost and how much they can sell you for. It was real Democracy, like they tell you about in the social studies classes, like they used to do in Greece or Rome or something like. Everybody votes, even if they don’t know they vote, on whether a person is important or not.
In my school, it’s not so black and white, see, it’s more like layers. First of all, there’s the Whole Lots. They wear real tight clothes that are real fashion fashion fashion, and the girls show off their legs and arms and boobs and butts and the guys spend most of their time looking, and for some reason this gets them a whole lot of Sellers (those who want them sold for lots and lots) and not a lot of Crack-tellers (those who want them sold for not so much at all). According to the Democracy, they’re worth a whole lot. Then below them is the Good Somethings. They like to follow the Whole Lots around, see, like they’re gods or something, dress the same, talk the same, but not really quite Whole Lots. Then down below is the Not So Muches, who are a little bit less, than the Just A Touches, who are even less, and then way way way down below is where I put myself.
I myself am the Big Nothing. No sellers, no price. If they could, they’d put me out on the street to be rid of me. I think maybe it’s something in the way I talk, people don’t find much sense in it, see, or maybe it’s that I don’t look too nice with a sort of not great face and not too lovely haircut but whatever it is the Democracy has decided I am to be Out Out Out. But I don’t care so much what they think, and watching from the outside doesn’t bother me at all.
But what needs talking about today aren’t my numbers, they’re someone else’s, a boy named Michael, Michael Crest. In all my days I’ve never seen someone minused down by the Democracy the way they did to Michael Michael Crest. At the start of the week, he was a Whole Lot, practically the King of the Whole Lots. By the end of the week, he was the only other Big Nothing I knew in the school. Here’s how it happened.

 Michael Michael Crest was one of the Whole Lots who, instead of wanting me to suffer real bad, just wanted me to stay out of his sight. I’d only really met him once, I asked his name and he said “Micheal, Michael Crest,” like they was each a separate name and at the time I called him Michael Michael in my head to separate him from the other Michael, who was Michael Barell. That Michael moved to Illinois, but the name for Michael Michael for some reason stuck. Most of the Whole Lots were like him really, expect the ones who wore lots of jewelry and bragged about dirty things and had a whole lot to prove about themselves. But Michael Michael didn’t really care about me enough. I’d be surprised if he knew my name, and I was fine with that, yes sir, just fine. It was the rule of highschool, and it was a good rule if ever there was one. M.Y.O.B. Mind your own business. Always always always.
But just for a little while I found it was a little harder to follow M.Y.O.B., since all of the sudden teachers started saying and saying and saying ‘there’s too much writing on the walls’ using big angry words like ‘vulgarity’ and ‘graffiti’ and ‘disgrace’ and ‘suspension’. The Not So Muches in the back were sleeping and passing notes, listening to shouty music made by other people who dressed in all black and cried a lot and a couple of a different type of Not So Muches, the real goody good types, were gasping in the front, passionately agreeing with what a disgrace to human rights it was. I didn’t care so much or so little really. I certainly wasn’t angry, but there was some curiosity in me, I won’t lie, no sir, I won’t lie.
Because people don’t tend to write on the walls, see, unless there’s some big thing to write about, and I hadn’t heard of no big thing happening recently. Usually big things included nasty relationship endings or violent crimes or drug busts or various other things of the sort, but none of that had happened, not that I had seen. I certainly couldn’t see the writing now, no, not now that the janitors were all going scrub scrub scrub and trying to get it off and all the people at school on all the levels were looking looking looking. Some Big Nothing like me would never get through. But I picked up people talking about what was on the walls and people were saying it was a lot of things, all of them nasty, and all of them about Michel Michael himself. They were words Spencer used sometimes like f*cking and sh*t and a**hole and d*ck, and some other ones that were even meaner, mean by default, see, and even Spencer didn’t use them, like f*ggot and q*eer and the like. Made me wonder what on Earth Michael Michael had done. One time I saw him in the hallway, and he had his hood up, see, like he was hiding, but some boys found him. I hid around the corner, couldn’t be seen.
‘Where you going, Mike?’ they asked him. They smiled, but it was all fake, and Michael Michael knew it. When he turned around it was clear he didn’t look so good. Michael Michael had a very Normal Boy look about him most of the time, with short brown hair and a thin face with a few pimples and a sporty build, and nothing on his face that made him look different from the other boys. Now though, he looked all shaken up. His Normal Boy Sporty Confidence had gone down the drain and he bit his lip and looked at the ground and put his hands in his pockets deep deep deep. His face and hair were greasy like he hadn’t showered and his under-eyes were all dark. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
Trying not to engage, Michael Michael walked faster, but the other boys grabbed his shoulder and turned him around. They started to make a circle around him, like sharks.
“Where do you think you’re going?” A big one with a backwards hat said. No response. “Not a talker, huh? You sure seemed to talk a lot to Jess. Before… something happened.” This aroused a big riled up response from the other boys, but no response from Michael Michael.
“You’re a sick piece of sh*t you know,” said one of the other boys, and the other guys eyes went wide as they laughed. This one had blue eyes, he wore a sports Jersey. “No, I mean it. Jess is a nice girl, and what you did, it’s just f*cking sick. You hear me, you little a**hole? F*cking sick.”
“Oh my God,” said another guy, like he was watching some reality T.V. show. He clapped his hands together, and he wore decorative rings.
“Sam, chill, man, I don’t even think he did it, man,” laughed another one.
“Did you?” said the guy from before, who I guessed was Sam. He was real intense, and Michael Michael couldn’t look at him. The first boy who spoke, still smiling like this was all real funny, spoke again.
“Well, let’s hear it, huh?” There was a long silence, and Michael Michael’s eyes went from one boy to the next. He was starting to look in real danger, like a little deer surrounded by lions. The boy in the backwards hat shook his head and folded his arms. “Nah, he didn’t do it,” he said softly, “He’s too much of a coward. A little p*ssy. A little b*tchboy.”
“Stop it!” Michael Michael cried out very suddenly, but not like he was angry, not even ike scared, more hurt, and not emotions hurt but like someone just cut him with a knife on his chest hurt, crying out in pain hurt. All the boys reacted. Some thought it was funny. The one in the sports Jersey looked angry angry angry. They were going to do something. Michael Michael never once hurt me and I didn’t want no hurt to come for him, so I thought quick. I had a nasty habit of picking at scabs and they didn’t hurt too much but it bled a lot, so I found one on my arm and ripped it open with just a little sting. I could hear the boy in the backwards hat telling him ‘don’t you want to hit me? Hit me. Hit me.’ to try and start a fight I think but before he could I let out the loudest, most awful scream I could make and threw myself to the floor. All the boys jumped, just long enough for them to turn around and for Michael Michael to turn on his heels and run run run in the other direction, and by the time they found that he was gone he was halfway down the freshman hallway. Even they knew there wasn’t much point in running after him.
“D*mmit,” whispered the Jersey one, *That piece of sh*t. What the H*ll was that?!” Some footsteps came over to me, but I pretended to be unconscious.
“Ugh, guys, it was just that f*cking r*tard flipping his sh*t again,” he said, as though this was no new occurrence. I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, since I didn’t make a habit of screaming in hallways, but he didn’t do so much as far as offending me. The other guys made sounds like they were just as angry.
“D*mmit, what does he even go here for, he’s so weird.”
“I don’t know, man. But don’t worry, we’ll get that f*cking q*eer, one way or another.”
“He did something to Jesse, man, he’s just so sick.”
“Same, dude, I told you, we’ll get him. Now come on let’s leave this r*tard to his seizure or whatever, I need to get to chem.”
Then various other words of agreement and discussion of class walked away down the hall and I opened my eyes back up again, and pushed myself up off the ground, looking at the open hallway. Me being called all these nasty words was nothing new, but them saying them to Michael Michael was very odd. Like I said, Michael Michael was a normal boy, normal normal normal. He must have done something real awful or someone made them think he done something real awful for him to be minused down so fast. In the middle of thinking, I heard the click clack of teacher heels coming up fast behind me. I turned around. Mrs. Shellise, a good woman with good intentions in theory, but a little abrasive in practice a lot of the time. Even now she was panicked, putting her bony hand to my forehead.
“Oh my God, Todd! Todd, can you hear me, what happened? Oh my God, you’re bleeding!”
“I’m fine, I’m all good,” I said to her. I saw no reason to lie, so while she frantically looked over the wound on my arm I explained, “They were gonna go for him, see, so I made a distraction, like in the action films.”
“Go for who?” she asked.
“That boy. Michael Michael. The one people are writing Spencer words on the walls about.” I could tell by the look in her eye that she was confused about the way I talked again. I tried to think of how she talked. “Michael Crest, the one everyone’s writing all the bad words about on the wall, like the teachers said, see.” She gave me a pitying look, one she gave me a lot of the time.
“Well that’s no reason to cut yourself open. We better get you to the nurse.”

 When I went to the nurse they told me I shouldn’t be picking at it, it being all the little scabs on my arm. I told them about why I did it, but they gave me some look like they weren’t really listening. They thought I should go home, “just in case”. They called home and mumma was at work, so Spencer came in and picked me up. It was all very stiff, very silent, no looks, no talks, nervous nervous nervous. Spencer was a businessman looking type with the brown hair and the button downs and the wide face, but that was all just on the outside, see. Inside he liked a good laugh at almost anything, even a little laugh at himself was always welcome, and that was why he danced around and made jokes with voices so much. I think that he did almost everything he did because of that thing people said, that Midlife Crisis. He liked to drive fast and spend money he didn’t have.
Spencer never liked being alone with me. Mumma never said it really, but he had no say in what I did even after four years of them happy together, since I was her baby and didn’t think to well and he didn’t have any say. I think he liked me hypothetically, since I would sometimes need a little less extra help on nights when he and mumma went out to dinner, but in practice, it was hard. When we got to out house, he sat me down and cleaned off the cut I made, putting a bandaid over it. I was very quiet, very good.
“You uh…” he began slowly, “You really ripped yourself up, buddy,” he tripped over and winced at the word buddy, feeling like he probably shouldn’t have said it. “You wanna… tell me what happened?”
“There were these boys picking on this other boy. He’d been real minused down, so I figured I’d give him a distraction, see, like in the action movies.” He looked at me helplessly.
“A distraction?” he asked, tired, “You mean you… tore open your arm to save some kid, how is that supposed to help?”
“The arm blood didn’t do so much good, the scream was better. I just was thinking maybe if those Whole Lot boys weren’t sure why I was screaming I would need some reason, but they didn’t ask questions, no sir.”
“Wait, you screamed? Slow down, start from the beginning,” I tried to talk but he stopped me, “And do your best not to use your head words, okay?”
Head words is what the adults called the way I spoke without changing it, and all the little terms I made up. Sometimes I used them so much in my head I could barely remember the real world. My head voice made a lot more sense, but for Spencer’s sake, I made an effort.
“People have been writing on the walls, all sorts of bad words about this kid Michael, and I saw him. He looked real upset and all these boys were picking on him, and for a second it looked like they were going to punch him or something like. So I thought I’d help. I brought a little blood and I screamed loud loud loud, and the boy got away.” Spencer kept his face very still, and it was clear he didn’t want to approve or disapprove for fear that mumma would do the other. He just bit his cheek and stood up, going to the cabinet.
“You want some food?” he asked. I had a little food and it was a very M.Y.O.B. night, and when mom got home I told her what happened and she looked like really she approved but she told me to be careful. With a bandaid on my arm, I slept. I knew the Democracy would come for me tomorrow, and all my Crack-Tellers would be trying to crack crack crack me going bang bang bang where the teachers wouldn’t see. I didn’t look forward to it, but there was some good feeling I was getting knowing I had saved Michael Michael. I hoped at least it was the right thing to save him, and that he wasn’t really the sick piece of sh*t the Whole Lots said he was.
The next day I took the bus to school and there was no sign of Michael Michael. I got off better than I thought I would. There were a lot of sneers and glares and a couple shoulder shoves and book drops but that really wasn’t all that bad. I saw the Whole Lots who had been going after Michael Michael and they weren’t interested in me so much anymore, see, all they could talk about was Mike Mike Mike where is he where is he where is he. I didn’t eavesdrop so much, though, since I didn’t want any of their Knuckle Sandwiches or Freshman Flushies or whatever clever names they came up with to justify their crack crack cracking. I noticed the girl Whole Lots were angry too, which was odd. While the boys called him Spencer words like b*tch and p*ssy they called him things like creep and monster. It was rare that somebody offended everybody so fast like he did. I also noticed Jessica A had turned into a sort of makeshift God. Everywhere she went people were patting her arm and stroking her hair and swearing to defend her. There were three Jessicas in the school, and they were sort of rated on how many sellers they had all on their own, like fate or something, see, since Jessica C was a Just A Touch who wore all black and Jessica B was a Good Something on the chess team but Jessica A ruled them all. She had blonde hair and green eyes and a magazine body that everyone, guys and girls, wanted. I wondered if something had happened to her. Maybe Michael Michael had done something to her.
Mumma called the office for me to ask if I could walk home today, and she said sorry sorry sorry about it but she had to work late and so did Spencer. I said it was no problem and she asked are you sure are you sure are you sure and said she could get out of work if she really had to but I told her it was fine. I really didn’t mind, though, I didn’t have to lie to her. When school ended I hung out with the Parent Pick-Up kids in the gymnasium and I sat in the corner and drew in a little sketchbook I had, practicing some comics I wanted to make. No, I wasn’t one of those kids who talked weird but had a secret crazy artistic talent. I mean, I was kind of good. Needed to work on my anatomy a little bit.
After giving up on drawing a pose that was too hard for me I put the book beside me and people-watched. It was probably a dangerous position, but I made sure not to make any eye contact with the Whole Lots. I thought I could see Michael Michael, nothing more than an empty black sweatshirt really, but it was him nonetheless, way up close to the bleachers, twitching a little like he couldn’t decide whether to flee or fight, like on those nature documentaries, see. He had gone to school today? He must have cut a lot of classes, or been very good at hiding, because as far as I knew, the Whole Lots were still on the look for him. None of the boys were here, but Jessica A and two of her friends were still talking in the corner. When the room thinned out a little more and they saw him the brunette one looked like she was going to slap him, but Jessica A stopped her, putting a fingernailed hand on her shoulder. With a big confident walk she went up to Michael Michael and real quick, she whispered into his ear. Then she went back with her girls and they all said things like ‘yes girl!’ and ‘you tell him!’. Then six middle finger painted fingernails showed themselves to Michael Michael like talons and the girls made their way out of the cafeteria.
Michael Michael looked sick. Sick sick sick, like she had slipped a little poison in his ear to kill him when she whispered to him, just like that Shakespeare Play in English class. Suddenly he turned a shade of green as his face scrunched up and he couldn’t get in enough air with his lungs, and he ran out of the cafeteria back into the school, to one clear destination. The room was basically empty now, aside from a few Not So Muches who called themselves punk and were planning some big illegal thing they were going to do, so I put my sketchbook back in my bag and decided to follow Michael Michael. I was curious, yes, but something else too, see. I was beginning to get some thought of what was going on, or what everyone was saying was going on. Angry guys, angrier girls, the glorification of Jessica A it all pointed to one word, one nasty nasty nasty word: rape.
But if that was all I thought it was, I would leave him to go and puke his brains out. Rapists were bad bad bad. Even my strange and backwards brain understood that fully. But it also understood that there wasn’t much reason for people who did such awful things to look so sick when they thought about it or were around the one they did it to. Why would they? Something was strange, I thought. Strange strange strange.
Maybe I am one of those crazy weird people who has some secret special talent. Idiot savant, the word is. Maybe my special talent was being immune or having no weakness, like in those action movies, only this wasn’t immune to hot lava or acid rain or nothing like that. Immune to the Democracy and their poison poison poison thoughts. Yeah. Maybe I was, maybe I was.
The door to the men’s bathroom opened up.

 The men’s bathroom smelled like heaviness and garbage and sewage pipes no one had cared about for a long long long time. The smell really weighed on me like someone was hanging a weight around my neck, and my shoes stuck just a little bit to the ground. On the mirror was written in bright red, maybe sharpie, maybe lipstick, “F U MICHAEL CREST”.
Michael Michael sure was sick, I could hear it, nasty green throw up against a highschool toilet seat. My feet were quiet when I came in, but he heard them anyway. He was listening for it. As soon as I came in it seemed like he made an effort to be suddenly very quiet, and stopped being sick. As quiet as I could I went to the paper towels and wet them in the sink, and then wiped the lipstick off the mirror. No one had to see that. As I wiped I could hear from inside the stall heavy breathing, crying shaking breathing that he was trying to keep as quiet as he could. I figured maybe he thought I was one of the Whole Lots, come to crack him, waiting outside for him to step out. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say. It wasn’t like he wanted to see me any more than he wanted to see them. I leaned against the sink. It was wet, but I tried to ignore it.
“Michael?” I said. He stopped breathing altogether, and the stall was so silent you would think no one was inside. “If you’re sick I can call a nurse,” I offered, unsure of what else to say, “I wouldn’t tell her none of what I seen, no sir. Just tell her it was the food or… or something like.” There was still nothing, so I kept talking. “My name’s Todd. I don’t know if you remember me too much, most Whole- most people don’t. Either way I… I wasn’t going to be all forceful or nothing but I was a little bit wondering what was going on.” More silence. Silence silence silence. I began to think that he didn’t want nothing to do with me and the water left on the sink was crawling up cold into my jeans. I stepped down, sneakers smacking against the floor. “Well, I guess you don’t feel much like talking. But uh… I have a house. I mean, not so far away so… if any of those boys or girls come to try and… you know, beat you like they done last time, before I shouted and stopped them… you come, my mumma will fix you up. She’s good people.” I took a few steps towards the door. “It’s 15 Sypher Street,” I said, and then I left him to be alone as he wanted. Then I walked out of the school, and walked home.
As my feet moved underneath me I thought about what Micheal Michael must have been feeling, and what he thought about me in general. I wasn’t too weird, see, more just a little, enough to make people a little too nervous to talk to me. According to Specialists, it was aspergers. I didn’t talk like a normal person, I didn’t read people or understand them well, I hated hated hated the textures of corn starch and wet paper, and no matter how hard I tried to draw good people always said it was ‘cringe’. Most of the time I just didn’t bother with people. It was easy like that and I didn’t get lonely so much, I had some nice video games and my mumma to keep me company, so it never really occurred to me how Michael Michael must have thought. There was some big French word that covered all of the things I did, one I couldn’t remember too good. It meant like something you’re not only not supposed to do, no one’s supposed to tell you that you’re not supposed to do it. I wondered if I had just done one of those. I didn’t really have any way of knowing.
When I came back to my house I turned about in my head what I would tell mumma, but anything but the truth didn’t make so much sense. After all, if there was one thing in the world she wasn’t, it was rash. Never ever have I heard her make a choice without every single fact in order and evaluated. So when I went inside and put my bag down in my room and I got food for myself, and when mumma got home I told her I needed to do some explaining to her. So she sat at the table and Spencer stood behind (he got home a little before her, see) and I explained the whole thing. The Spencer words on the walls, the Whole Lots being all mad at Michael Michael, right up to Jessica A whispering some poison poison poison into Michael Michael’s ear and making him real sick somehow. When I had finished all though the before story I told her what I told Michael, and let her know he may come by sometime, and this made her wear a face like she was maybe nervous. Spencer was looking at her, his eyebrows up, waiting for her Queenly Direction as to what to feel about the things I’d done. Mumma pressed her lips together.
“Was that bad, mumma?” I asked her. She sighed.
“No… it sounds like you’re trying to be very nice to this boy,” she said, “But honey, if everyone is this convinced he’s done something to this girl, i-if there’s even a chance he did something horrible to her, I don’t want you around him.”
“I know,” I explained, “But I don’t think he done it.”
“Why not?”
What could I say? I read it on his face? I couldn’t read people’s faces too well, and she and I both knew it. The truth was it just didn’t make no sense why he would feel so sick when he saw her. To tell her that if she had secretly had a piece of her favorite favorite favorite cake and now there was more of it real close to her, even if everyone was all mad that she ate the first piece, that doesn’t mean she still wouldn’t think it looked wonderful and want to have some more, and it sure wouldn’t make her feel so awful and want to hide so much. But the words wouldn’t go from my brain to my mouth, so I just sat up a little straighter in my chair and said to her, “I just really don’t think he done it.”
Spencer’s eyes were hard on my mumma now, and his arms were crossed, but she just looked at me, thinking it over, evaluating it with all the facts in the way that she did.
“Okay,” she said, “If you feel so strongly about this boy I certainly won’t kick him out. But… if we find any real proof that he hurt that girl, you’re not to talk to him again, alright?” I nodded real sure, and smiled.
“Thanks, mumma!” I said.
“No problem, sweetie.” She patted my shoulder.
After I went to bed that night, Mumma and Spencer talked. It was sorta as close to fighting as they got, but they didn’t really fight, they were too smart and too patient with each other, so they really only discussed, a little like politicians. I heard them muffled from my room.
Spencer: “Do you really think this is a good idea?”
An audacious move. He was on the offensive.
Mumma: “What do you mean?”
Spencer: “That Michael kid. I mean, what if he really did do something to that girl? I mean, I can just say from an outside perspective that this wouldn’t be the first time Todd has been lied to and lead along with it.”
This was no lie.
Mumma: “I know but… I can kind of see why he thinks something’s off, Spence, I can’t explain it. I mean, it’s not the behavior you’d usually associate with a high school boy?”
Spencer: “What isn’t?”
Mumma: “I don’t know. Being so ashamed, I guess. I would imagine that high school guys would get defensive or angry but not as really scared as this boy seems.”
Spencer: “Yeah, well, you never know, Shelly. These people’s heads aren’t right.”
Mumma: “I know. But… we’ll let it play out a little longer. And if I suspect there’s something weird about this Michael boy I’ll be the first to kick him to the curb.”
Spencer: “Alright. Goodnight, sweetheart.”
Mumma: “Goodnight, Spence.”
And that was that and that was all. Like I said before, mumma was always rational about these things, but it was obvious she didn’t like the idea of Michael Michael coming by so much. It made me really start to hope that Michael Michael was innocent like I thought.

 Faux pas. That was the French word I was trying to think of. It meant when you did something you weren’t really supposed to do but no one ever tells you you’re not supposed to do it until after its done, and even after that they didn’t really like to. Things that make people do that look where their eyes go to each other and their teeth show but they aren’t smiling. They’re weird and specific and hard to deal with which is why I didn’t talk to so many people. Near the end of the day at the next day of school, though, mumma called up the office to talk to me again, and I knew I’d have to do a little bit of talking to not just mumma. Her voice was all high and nice and nervous and quiet quiet quiet and she asked me first real polite if the people in the office were listening and I told her no and she said to me ‘That boy you said might come around is here. Those boys at school hurt him really bad, and I patched up what I could for him, but he really ought to go to the walk-in. But I think he’s a little freaked out so if you don’t have too much more to do I think it would be a really good idea if you talked to him.”
I blinked. It honestly was a little bit of a surprise that he decided to go at all, but it was good that he went there instead of walking around with the chance that more of the Whole Lots would crack him again. I felt a growing anxiety knowing that mumma was thinking maybe since I was friends with Michael Michael I could comfort him or something like, but she didn’t know we weren’t really friends and that we weren’t really too good at talking to each other. In fact, with all I’ve seen him, I hadn’t really talked to him at all. Still, I had to try. I told mumma I’d do it and she went to pick me up, and so I went out of school early. When mumma and I was in the car she looked awful nervous and she told me about what happened to him. It was only a couple minute drive, so we couldn’t discuss too much. She just told me about the fact that he had a lot a lot of cuts and bruises and she thought maybe a broken bone or two and it made her worried about him being safe. She shook her head real sad like.
“Those awful kids…” she said all soft, “I feel terrible saying it, but it almost makes me wish Michael did something, just so I could know they weren’t so horrible to him with no reason.” I wasn’t sure how to answer that, so I just waited until we got back home and then went inside with her. Her hand shook when she put in the key.
“Ah, Shelly,” greeted Spencer, obviously glad that she was back.
“Hi!” she responded. They exchanged secret long-relationship signals and made a rush to go around the corner and to talk in quiet adult voices, leaving me there with Michael Michael, sitting at the kitchen table.
He looked awful. He had an ice pack held to his eye and a line of red on his purple lip, and his arm was propped up on the table. The eye that was showing was all red like he had been crying some more, and his black hoodie had blood up by the front and the hood. He was very still, still still still, and his face looked sort of dead, like he was in another place that wasn’t my kitchen anymore, it was some place where he was drifting peaceful, far far far away. I didn’t read people too well, but above anything he looked like he was full of shame. It was like the way that you look when you get a haircut that’s not so good or you’re made to wear an outfit you don’t like so much and you look down and away and wish nobody would see you, that was how he looked about all the bruises and cuts he had on him. I swallowed. I had no idea what I was to say to him. His eye brushed over me for only one second, one second to tell me that he wasn’t really so gone as he looked. Then he looked away again, like my eyes were burning burning burning him. Was I supposed to talk?
“You don’t look so good,” I said in a soft voice, “My mumma wants to take you to a doctor. What do you think of that?” He bit on his split lip.
“‘S’fine,” he mumbled out. I nodded.
“Do you still feel sick?”
“That’s better. Cause before you were awful sick, like a… stomach bug or something.”
The silence was long and stiff and heavy heavy heavy. I couldn’t decide whether to sit down or stand up or look at him or look away or talk or keep quiet.
“Did the boys do this to you cause they thought you did something to that girl? Jessica A?” Her name made his chest go up and down for a second and his eyes go onto me.
“Uhh… yeah,” he said, “Yeah, I think so, yeah.”
“But you didn’t do it though, did you?”
“No!” He stood up real fast and then winced a lot, grabbing his arm with his muscles tight and in pain. I took a startled step back and I saw mumma and Spencer from around the corner, in the kitchen. Mumma’s hand went instinctively for a fork on the table, the closest sharp and dangerous object to her. Spencer had wide eyes. I looked from him to mumma to Michael Michael. I think I may have done some kind of faux pas again.
“I’m sorry,” Michael Michael muttered, more to mumma and Spencer than to me. He sat back down. Mumma’s fork found the table again real fast, and she smiled.
“It’s okay,” she said reassuringly, in that nice sort of way, “So um, Michael. I thought it was probably a good idea to get you checked out, take you to the walk-in, just to make sure you’re okay. But we’d have to let your parents know what’s going on.”
“No,” he said sharply, “No, I… I mean if it’s okay I’ll… I’ll just go in a little while. Put some… bandaids on these.”
“Do you need me to drive you to your parents’ house?”
Michael bit his cheek. “That’d be great, thank you.”
“Okay, well, whenever you want to go home, let me know their address.” This made Spencer look all nervous, and he tried to take her aside.
“Shelly,” he said warningly, out of the corner of his mouth. She scowled up at him, and he scowled back, and they were back around the corner to do more hushed adult talking. They didn’t like Michael Michael here, not one bit.
“Can you come into my room?” I asked. He looked confused.
“What for?”
“It’s better in there.” Cautiously he stood up, his face wincing up, see, and then I lead him to my room. I opened the door to reveal the perfection I’d designed, with a scent of pencil shavings and carpet with a lot of years. My walls were a deep blue and superhero figurines meticulously lined the shelves around my red and blue covered bed, and the planet stickers that glowed in the dark were still holding firm to my walls and ceiling. Behind my bed were several posters and drawings (some by me) of superheroes, all surrounding the biggest one I had of all of the avengers looking awesome together all at once. My desk had all the pencils on it, plus a few figurines I liked best, like the batman one and the superman one, and a little bit of schoolwork that still needed doing. On my dresser was an old style radio, and in it was a disc of rock and roll music that mumma made up for me. Before Michael walked all the way in he stopped, and gave a wary look around. I knew what he was thinking. This was a r*tard’s room. He thought it was weird and strange like he thought I was strange. But he was taking what he was getting, so he sat at my desk chair while I sat on the bed.
“So you didn’t do it?” I asked. He looked very suddenly over at me, before he looked back down.
“No,” he said, softer than before. He liked to talk real fast, in a sharp, low sort of way. “No, I didn’t do it. I didn’t do a g*ddamn thing, I’m telling you, not a f*cking thing. I never even-” He put his head in his hand and wiped his eyes hard, like he were trying to take them out of his head or something. He looked like he was in pain. “You know, I gotta ask,” he went on, not wiping his face anymore, “What’d you let me in here for? I mean I thought the whole school thought I was…”
I shrugged. “It didn’t seem right,” I confessed, “I don’t know how. But when that girl, Jessica A, whispered something in your ear and you were sick, I knew it wasn’t right, see. I don’t wanna talk all insensitive like, but… if you… do that to someone you gotta think they’re… well, what I mean to say is you have to want to do it. I just thought it was a little weird that you would be able to do that since it looked like you didn’t even want to be near her.” I squirmed a little where I sat. I didn’t like to talk about these things, they made my skin crawl, but it needed talking about. For a little moment, Michael Michael’s eyes turned a little red, like he might just cry a little. But he shut his eyes and it was gone.
“Thank you,” he said, “For… you know, all of it.” I didn’t answer. He looked behind my bed and saw the big posters, and then smiled just a little but. “The uh… the Avengers, huh?” he asked, “Those are… pretty cool.” I smiled wide, glad for the subject to finally change off of something so strange and hard to talk about.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, looking back at it. They were still all as awesome as ever. “My favorite is Captain America. Who’s your favorite?”
“I uh… I like Thor, I think. He’s like, a Norse God, or something, that’s his deal, right?”
“Yeah, the God of Thunder,” I recalled, “Oh yeah, he’s really cool. I don’t think he’s as cool as Captain America, but it’s a tricky competition, see, cause Captain America is so awesome. Have you seen that movie?”
“Yeah I think like… once,” he tried to remember, “There was like some… German guy?”
“Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving?” He smiled.
“Yeah, him, I think.”
“Wasn’t he so cool in that?! The scene where they meet up and trying to stop him…”
I must confess I talked a long time about it, a long long long time, and it was weird because usually talking to someone gets bad after too long goes by. Not because I don’t like talking, but because I do something and the other person makes a face and that’s that and that’s all, but not today, Michael Michael (I think) was happy to listen and listen and listen. It felt good. It felt really good. Like butterflies all over my chest, bright yellow joy, bright bright bright, like nothing else in the world. I told myself a lot that I didn’t have to talk to no other people but I knew how I was wrong. After a few minutes of talking to him it was clear Michael Michael knew very little about the avengers, but that was no problem, see, because I think he was just glad to be able to talk with someone. All his Sellers had left him behind and become Crack-Tellers overnight, so I think he was lonesome or something like. It was wonderful wonderful wonderful. The room was flying butterflies.
At one point, though, Michael looked out the window and saw the darkness was coming on. “I need to get going home,” he said. I frowned, and the darkness from outside stepped into the room.
“Your parents will probably be worried,” I confessed. He nodded in agreement. He stood up to go, but before he could I stopped him.
“Hey, you can come over sometime even if those boys don’t hurt you, sometime, if you want,” I said. He only stared. For a second I thought I’d done another faux pas. But after a second, he smiled, just a little.
“Sure,” he said, and then he left out the door.
Mumma took him back to his house and when she came back I was in the kitchen. I was getting a little drink of water when she stepped in the door.
“Cold out there,” she commented, more to the air than me, “Poor boy must have been freezing on the walk over.”
“Hey mumma?” I asked.
“What is it, sweetie?”
“Do you think maybe sometime Michael could come over again?”
I turned to look at her and she looked shocked, shocked shocked shocked. But good shocked. I could forgive her. I hadn’t had any friends in a very very long time.
“I-I-” she stammered, and then she shook her head, “Of course you can! Of course! Absolutely!” she continued to say it a little to herself even after she was done talking to me, and scurried a little around the room to put a few things away, even though not many things needed putting away. That was how I could tell she was real happy. “Of course, sure,” she said a little more.
‘Of course of course of course.’

 I saw Michael Michael a couple more times and we exchanged numbers and texted and talked some more and it was wonderful, but nobody else seemed to like it the way I did. The school and the Law were getting dragged into the whole thing now, and Michael Michael was going to have a case in court some time coming up, and the police they didn’t like me too much, see, since they notice me hanging out with them. The other parents had seen Michael Michael over my house and gossipped gossipped gossipped, and when she went to the shore or the park I knew they were giving her the dirty eye. The other kids were getting a little bored of trying to beat on Michael Michael, or at least, some of them were. Most of the girls were still very angry and a few of the boys, like the one who had a sports Jersey and was all mad before, the one with blue eyes, Sam, his name was, but honestly, could they be blamed? I mean, sure, they really should have checked, but in all honesty I was more grossed out by the guys who got bored of caring and just let it go. These girls and Sam and a few others really seemed to care about Jessica A’s safety. It was really too bad she was a liar liar liar.
Well how was I so sure, you’re asking? How could I be so sure it wasn’t Michael Michael who was the liar? Well, I wasn’t. That was, not til he came over one of those days and he told me something that made me sure, because he would never tell me it if he didn’t really have to and if it wasn’t really true, no sir, not in a million years.
He lead into it all slow like. He had been talking softer, looking more nervous ever since the police became involved and he’d have to face the Law, but today he was extra distant, like ehe was when he first came over, in that other place in his head. I didn’t really pick up on all of this at the time, though, not until he said, right in the middle of the sentence I was saying:
“Do you really believe me when I say I didn’t do it?” I was startled. Jarred, surprised. I had just been telling him about my science class and what I thought of my science teacher and he wrenched the subject around so quickly I wasn’t sure to say. I hurried to his rescue.
“Well…” I started. I didn’t want to tell him no lies, he didn’t deserve that so much. I did believe him. But only mostly, I had doubts, I did, yes sir, I did. “Mostly, yes,” I said honestly. He sighed real hard and I began to feel a twist of guilt deep down in my gut. I moved around a little on my bed.
“It’s okay,” he said, “I get it.” He laughed a little, but for some reason it didn’t seem really very happy at all. “A girl says she’s raped and… you know, you’re not just supposed to ignore her. Women have rights… to their bodies, all that good stuff. If I were in your place I don’t think I’d have half the patience you did.” He leaned back into my desk chair, “But I really didn’t do it.”
I nodded, I believed him. “Okay.”
“No, not just-” he was burying his head in his hand again, like he was in pain, like he did all the time when he was over before, like he wanted his eyes out out out. I wondered what he was seeing that could make him act that way. It must have been pretty bad. He took a breath, and talked fast. “I’m going to tell you something but you can’t… laugh or-or do anything you just have to… to sit there and say ‘okay’ and not even react.”
I made my most neutral face, like a robot from those action films. “Okay.” He opened his mouth a few times before he was able to speak, making faces like he was trying real hard to figure out what to say. I didn’t prompt him, I let him talk when he wanted.
“I dated Jess for a couple of weeks. We’d… never gotten around to having sex. I was no virgin and I mean, I found her attractive, sure, but I guess I was sort of waiting for the right moment, you know? When it’s not just the backseat of your car or behind the bleachers, when it could have a little merit, a little… I don’t know romance, I guess. It sounds stupid, I know.” I didn’t argue. He said not to react, see. “So we went to this party,” he went on, “Typical high school party, all the popular kids were there, it was pretty wild, lots of grinding going on, you know how it-” he stopped halfway through, remembering that no, I did not know how it was. He brushed right over it, continuing on. At this point he was staring at the ground, saying everything like he was narrating a movie he was watching in real time. “And there was beer. And… I’d had too much to drink and I was feeling sick and… I was telling Jess I was ready to go home. I was tired, I… wanted to go home. But every time it was ‘just one more song, Mike, just one more song’, so I did as she asked. Then when I put my fut down and said I really wanted to go she walked out with me. She said she’d drive me home since she’d had less to drink but she didn’t drive me home, she just drove to this sort of… place, green, sort of… romantic and parked the car. I knew this was a place where people f*cked, from the other cars parked around, just from the look of it, and I felt so awful and so drunk I couldn’t even handle the idea, but by the time I was about to object she had locked all the doors and she…” Michael Michael was crying a little now, just barely, like his eyes were just red, and he was breathing in spurts like he had forgotten how. “And she…” he tried again, but buried his head back in his hands. “And… she…”
I knew I wasn’t supposed to react, but with a sinking feeling I couldn’t help but finish for him, “Michael,” I said real soft, “Did she do to you… what they think you did to her?” He looked at me and said nothing, but the horror and pain in his eyes told me I was right. I tried hard not to react like he said, I really tried, but I was angry, with nothing but rage rage rage in my brain. It was enough that she had lied about what he had done, but she was lying about what she had done too?! How could she do that?! How could she do that?!
“She was the hottest girl in school,” he said, his voice cracking, “She drove me back home and she made it clear that if I ever told anyone she’d flip the story around and that I wouldn’t have a chance and I had no idea what to say to that. She told me to ‘stop crying, you little b-” the word got lost in his mouth and what came out instead was a whimper of pain as slowly he lost himself further, and the tears in his red eyes started to stream down. “I told my best friend and he laughed, he thought I was a joke, thought I was some kind of f*g. I begged him not to tell anyone but he didn’t listen, and when she came out and said what I’d done even he eventually tagged along, like he forgot what I told him. He said to me ‘I get not wanting to fess up but what makes you so sick in the head that you told me she did it to you? Guys don’t get raped.’” He went a little bit into his other place and he whispered it again to himself, all shook up like, “Guys don’t get raped.” After a second he was able to control himself a little more, and he spoke very deliberately, trying very very hard to get out what he had to say. “You asked me… what she whispered in my ear to make me feel so sick,” he said slowly, “She told me… ‘they’ll never believe you… b*tchboy.’” It looked like it caused him real pain and brought back the sick he’d had before just saying the word that once, and as soon as it left his mouth all the toughness he had left in him was all gone gone gone. He buried his head in his hands and his breathing got more and more strange and more and more rigid until it was nothing but gasping for breaths between heavy sobs, cry cry cry, tears all down his hands. I only sat there, my mouth open in shock. I didn’t make a habit of hating people. But I hated Jessica A.

 Michael Michael didn’t like crying in front of me, I think, so soon after he went home. Mumma was talking in her soft voice, maybe because she’d heard what he said, or maybe just because she say how red his eyes were, but either way she was real gentle with him when he went home. My mind beat, boom boom boom, like a big angry drum as mumma and him drove away and I saw the headlights stare into the night. I wished he would tell somebody, the police, or the Law, but would they listen? No one else seemed to. We needed a Plan. A Plot. Something really like in the action films. A secret secret secret idea. We had to make sure he didn’t go to jail, it wasn’t fair. But more than that, the idea of horrible, terrible Jessica A having her hair petted and her hands held and her problems listened to and her tears dried by people who didn’t know any better, who she was lying lying lying to, made me feel like the inside of a volcano. The police weren’t going to do anything. And what happens when the police can’t handle something? I looked into my room, where the door was still open, and could see through the hallway each and every one of the Avengers nodding in approval, staring with those strong strong eyes.
We needed a superhero.
I spent the evenings of the next 2 days, planning and planning, thinking and thinking, in school and out. I didn’t do my comics, I didn’t watch any films and, well, I did do my homework because I had to do that but it wasn’t the best of my work. All my time was the plan the plan the plan. Michael Michael didn’t show up to my house one day after him telling me all about it but he did come back the next day, and I was distant and didn’t talk so much, I was too busy thinking and thinking. He noticed, I think, since he asked me a few times if I was alright, see, but he didn’t pry any further than that. When he went home I had a pretty good idea of what we could do, it was a foolproof plan.
He came back over the next day and I grabbed him and pulled him into my room as fast as I could, then I shut the door. His court case was coming up real quick, and I that if we didn’t get this going soon, we’d never be able to. He was all confused but I sat him down and got to telling him as quick as I could.
“What is this?” he asked.
“I’ve got a plan!” I said, all hushed so mumma or Spencer couldn’t hear us, “About how to get you out of this!”
“Out of what?” he asked, and then understood, “Wait, you mean… you mean not get me convicted? How the Hell could you do that?” he looked real curious and intent like he really needed to hear, he leaned in close.
“I been thinking of this a little while,” I told him all soft, “Here’s what we do. You got a phone that can record audio?”
“Perfect, that’s great. And do you still have Jessica A’s number?”
This time he answered a little more slow, a little more nervous. “Yeah.”
“Okay,” I said, starting to smile. This was all perfect perfect perfect. “What we have to do for this to work is to get her to come to you, cause if you go to her, people are going to think you’re angry and aggressive and she’ll call the police and you won’t stand a chance. What you need to do is text her something real lovey like and tell her you’re sorry about everything and you only told anybody else because you couldn’t deny how happy you were to be able to do that with her. Then you tell her to meet you at that place with the grass, and turn on the audio recorder in your phone, maximum volume, and put it in your pocket. Going by her whispering in your ear she’s already read to brag about it. Just get her to confess what she done or at least that it wasn’t you, and then drive back home, and we have perfect evidence to get you safe!”
He was getting that sick look back on his face again. “No,” he said real soft, “Thanks for the effort, Todd, but no way, I-I-I can’t, we’ll have to do something else.”
I frowned a little. “But getting a confession would be the best way to collect evidence, anything else would take longer and be way less-”
He sprung up out of his chair, “I can’t do it, alright?! I can’t, I can’t do it!”
“Why not?” I asked truthfully. He got angry with me now, I wasn’t sure why.
“Why not?!” he demanded, “What do you mean why not, because she f*cking…” his head was back in his hand again, “Thanks for trying, Todd. But there’s no way I’m getting out of this alive. No way. No way.” Then he stormed out of my room and went home.
That was the 5th of February, a Friday. His court date was on the 11th, and I didn’t see him again until the 10th, a Thursday. I thought maybe he was angry with me, after all those days, and I figured he had a right to be. Stupid stupid stupid me. I took everything into a count except his emotions, which were, all in all, the most important part. I always screwed up, always always always. By the 9th I was starting to think he didn’t ever want to see me again, but afterschool, the 10th, he came to my house again. All the joy I’d seen him show before about movies and characters and all sorts of things was 100% gone from his face, and the court date tomorrow was heavy heavy heavy on his shoulders. When he went into my room he barely looked at my face.
“Let’s do it,” he said. And do it we would.
I sat next to him while he sent her the text message, but with every letter it was like he had a harder time breathing. If typing was this hard, how was he going to talk to her? I ignored my worries as slow, slow slow slow, he sent her. Babe im really sorry about what i did and i wish i could take it all back. I miss you so much… meet me same place same time as last time and i’ll make it up to u. promise.
Heavy breath.
Hit send.
“What am I supposed to say when I talk to her?” he asked.
“Bring up the night she did it, tell her you were just drunk. Get her to tell you about it more than you tell her.” He swallowed and nodded.
“Will your mom let us use the car?”
“You have a license, right?”
“Then I’m sure she will. She trusts me.”
“That must be nice,” he said. The silence hung in the air for a second before a reply from Jessica A nearly made him jump out of his seat.
why should i when ur a creep???
Michael Michael was shaking. “How do I answer this, I don’t know how to answer this.”
“Does she have a new boyfriend yet?”
“Not one that’s official.”
“Then keep in mind that she was attracted enough to you when it comes to sex that she made you do it. Use that.” With a sigh, he nodded, and started typing.
babe ever since we first did it all i could do was think about u. the first time i was just drunk, but i really did want you. I just want to try this again so bad. start over with me?
He was starting to turn green. But I knew before I read the text that she was saying yes, just because she responded so quick.
I knew u enjoyed it (then she put a little wink emoji and a heart, and I saw Michael Michael’s lip twitch with fear and disgust) just because you’ve been such a good guy to me except for telling ur friend i’ll do it. but come alone! see u at 9 (kiss emoji)
“This is perfect,” I said, “She’s really stupid. I bet she’s deleting these texts thinking that you don’t still have them if she deletes them. I can’t believe she’d just say it like that, now getting a confession is going to be easy!”
“She said bring no one,” he said, quiet and scared.
“You can’t come with me or she won’t talk,” he whispered, “I have to do this alone.” He breathed all heavy again and looked up at me, in a panic, “Todd, I really don’t think I can do this.”
“Why not?”
“I can barely even text her without wanting to throw up, you think I’m going to have the balls to talk to her about what happened?”
“Of course I do! I think you can do anything!” I was being honest with him, honest as could be. He gave be a look that was somewhere in the middle of flattered and terrified.
“Why? Why would you think that? All I’ve done since I’ve met you is get beat up and cry.”
“That’s not true at all,” I responded real quick, “Since we first met you know who you’ve made me think of?” I pointed at the avengers, looking over at us from above my bed. “I thought of them, right there!”
He laughed, “Oh, be serious.”
“I am serious!” I answered, “When your enemies came to provoke you, you defended yourself with words and maintained the peace, regardless of your own pain! You told the person closest to you about your solitary defeat from the evil Jess A even after she threatened you and told you not to, and even after he betrayed you you had the strength and bravery to tell me too! Shame and fear have never stopped the Captain Michael Crest, and I know they won’t now, not even in your final battle!”
“This isn’t some action movie, kid,” he said despondently.
“So let it be!” I insisted, all passionate now. “You know why I like action movies? Because they’re not like real life! They’re fun and they’re exciting and the superhero always wins!”
“And what about if he doesn’t, huh?”
“He will! This is your movie, Michael! Now go, finish it! Defeat the bad guy, save the day!” I think my sort of pep talk made him feel a little more confidence, like his heart was beating faster, and he nodded slow. He looked up at me.
“Captain Michael?” he asked.
“You’re goddamn right!” I said, and I said the real word too. He looked startled, before he stood up and let out a long breath.
“Okay,” he said in a soft voice, “Okay. Here I go.” And with an air of strength and power, looking just like a big tough charming superhero he went right out the door. I cheered as he went, and grinned as I saw mumma’s car pull out of the driveway.
When I went downstairs, mumma was hanging out in the living room, reading a book. “Your friend said he had to go and meet someone,” she said, all serious, and at this point I was thinking she really must have heard when we were talking, “Is he okay?”
I nodded. “Yes, mumma. He’s okay.”
When Michael Michael got done with it he came back and parked the car real nice, right in the middle of the driveway, and then he stepped out and walked down the road before I could talk to him. In the middle of the night I got a text that had no words and just said: one audio file attachment. Captain Michael had done it.

 “There you are, it’s about time. I was starting to worry you wouldn’t show up.”
“... Yeah. Well, uh… here I am.”
“What are you getting out of the car for? I was hoping you could… show me around it? Like before?”
“I-I-I was actually thinking we could talk first. About last time.”
“Hm, oh yeah? What’s there to talk about?”
“Well, I… I-I-I mean just about what happened. I mean I just wanted to say it was… stupid of me to tell anybody. I should have just… kept quiet.”
“I knew you’d come around, Mike. And… I’m sorry, too. But I mean, I did tell you I was going to do it! I couldn’t have you telling everyone I was some kind of crazy b*tch, you know? You understand.”
“Of course.”
“Alright, then now that we’re done talking, come on! And promise me you won’t cry this time.”
“D-did I cry last time? I can’t remember I was so wasted.”
“You totally did! It was hilarious, you were so drunk! Do you really not remember what happened?”
“No, not a bit.”
“Well I mean, I was a bit of a bad girl, saying I was going to take you home and taking you here instead! But I figured we could have a little fun and you got all mad at me! But that’s neither here nor there…”
“I distinctly remember saying I didn’t want to.”
“What is it with you and talking? You brought me out here so I could feel that hot body again, not talk.”
“Didn’t I say it?”
*Sigh* “Yeah, but you also said you didn’t want to dance the first time we went to a school ball, you’re just so cute and shy you’ve never known what you really wanted. I knew what you wanted, so I pushed your limits. That’s why you liked me.”
“R-right, hang on, before we just, I have to-”
“You’re so shy, oh my gosh! Just kiss me will you! Don’t make this like last time, let’s just go. *giggling, laughing* B*tchboy.”
“I-I-I have condoms in the car!”
“Responsible Mikey, just like always.”
*A key in the ignition*
*The car engine starting*
“Hey! What the Hell! I’ll tell everyone you did it again, you little b*tchboy, I’ll tell everyone you-”
*Heavy breathing*
I sat in a big long courtroom and it smelled like old paper and dust and all the things history textbooks talked about, and with the high ceiling and wide walls the muffled sound of the recording echoed through the room for all to hear. Michael Michael was told by his lawyer he was allowed to step outside but he had refused, see - and for the entire recording he puffed out his chest and he stared right at Jessica A. In his own terror and embarrassment, he knew that despite it all, he’d won. Just as so Jess A knew she had lost. A moment after the recording ended she lost all facade of being a poor fragile and hurt hurt hurt little teenage girl and became her true self with an explosion of hatred and rage. The atomic bomb that she was shook and sputtered and burned and cried but not one person in the room cared. Tears rolled the black makeup down her face and perfect blonde hair was thrown up into a mass of mats and tangles as she shrieked at the top of her lungs, ‘You little b****, you’re a liar! You’re lying, he raped me, the recording is fake!”. Jessica A was exposed for her crimes. The A-bomb had been defeated.
Michael Michael’s lawyer didn’t say much more and neither did Jessica’s, since there wasn’t much more to say. It was an obvious confession, and not only did Michael Michael get off with no punishment, there would be another court meeting to discuss the crimes of Jessica Anderson, Prosecuted For The Rape And False Accusation Of Michael Crest.
After the trial we were all walking out and out in the hallway the A-bomb launched at Captain Micheal all teeth and claws claws claws. “You are going to regret this, you little piece of s***,” she snarled, but security people from the courtroom held her by her tiny arms. Michael shook his head.
“Don’t you understand?” he asked incredulously, “I’m not going to do a g*ddamn thing you say, ever again.” He started to turn around, and looked at me, then back at her, all confident, all heroic. “I’m not your b*tchboy anymore.” She cried like mad at that but she was pulled away to go with her parents, back home, where she would hopefully face all the parental punishment she deserved. But my common sense and they way her parents were touching her arms and her hair told me she probably wouldn’t. Michael’s parents were waiting for him too. I watched from a little ways off, to the side in the hall, as two very average looking people with eyes like Michael Michaels’ gave him a look like they were hopeless and wrapped their arms around him. They grabbed his elbow like they wanted to take him home, see, but he shook his head, said ‘hang on’ or something like, and then saw me and walked over. He put his hands deep deep deep in his pockets, his eyes down at the ground. When he talked, he talked all fast and soft, like he did when we met the first time.
“I know it doesn’t do it justice, not nearly but… I just wanted to say thank you,” he said, “It was pretty amazing what you did for me. I don’t know how I’m ever supposed to repay you.”
I grinned real wide, ear to ear. “Don’t bother,” I told him, “We’re like a team now, see. Help each other out, no charge.”
He smiled back, “A super team?”
I laughed. “Yeah! I like it!” I responded, real excited.
“See you tomorrow Super-Todd?” he asked. I couldn’t stop smiling any bigger. I liked that. I liked that a whole lot.
“Absolutely! See you tomorrow!”

The author's comments:

Well, that's all folks! Like I've said before, I hope that if you've been through something like this (god forbid) that this story spoke to you and maybe even helped you and that even if you haven't that you enjoyed it in your own way! This is not my usual style, I tend to do more out there scifi, less realistic, but I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself! Leave a comment telling me what you think!

 Once I explained both mumma and Spencer said what I done was real good, and they took me out to get Chinese food, On Them, whatever I wanted. A little while later the A-bomb had her trial and there was no denying what she was done, and after Captain Michael testified against her she was sent to Juvie, a place for young persons who committed criminal acts. She was all the talk of the school, and all the girls and some of the guys were still reeling at the fact that she had been a liar liar liar. She wouldn’t be a Whole Lot ever again.
However, it was starting to look like Micheal Michael wouldn’t either. People now knew he was telling the truth but the truth wasn’t much better than the lie, see, and they still thought he was weak and lame and a p*ssy and all those lovely things, and it didn’t help that now he was friends with your Local Neighborhood R*tard, who was officially the weirdest and lamest kid in school. Maybe if we stopped being friends he would be able to join with them again. But he’d never do that to me, and he never did.
It was three months after the court case that I showed him what I had been working on since the whole endeavour ended. We were in my room, talking, eating doritos, and he looked a little less normal now. He cared less about wearing the perfect clothes and he ended up really liking Marvel movies, certainly more than when he pretended to like them at first, and he started wearing a lot of nerdy T-shirts and too tight jeans and a little bit of eyeliner when he felt like it. Those were some social faux pas’s that made it clear to everyone you were a Just A Touch at best, but he didn’t care. I was wearing what I had always worn before, because, after all, I had always been a Big Nothing. So, that was what I called it. What I showed him, that is.
“The Big Nothing?” he asked, holding the comic book I’d made in his hands, laughing just a little bit. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s our super team!” I told him, “It’s because people say we’re the Big Nothings of the school. But we use it to our advantage, see, because nobody ever knows that it’s us who’ve been saving the day all along!” I looked over his shoulder at my masterpiece, “It’s about you,” I said, “I thought the way you defeated Jessica A was so awesome it deserved to be in a comic book, see. It’s the adventures of Captain Michael and Super-Todd, defeating the A-bomb and the forces of evil!” I smiled, but I was feeling a little more nervous nervous nervous than I was letting on. He wasn’t talking to much. “What do you think?”
He talked real slow, and his eyes were a little red. “I think…” and then his face went into a smile, and I followed too, “I think it’s awesome!” He sat on my bed and I sat behind him, both of us crowding over to see it. “Is that one me?”
“Aw, man, I knew because it looks just like me…”
And when Michael Michael looked at the comic at the pictures I drew (even if a lot of them weren’t so great) he smiled big, big big big like I hadn’t seen him smile since before I saw him in the hallways, and when he finished reading it he started crying, out of nowhere. I looked at him all concerned, not sure what’s made him upset.
“Did you not like the ending?” I asked.
“No, I liked it,” he said, still smiling and still crying.
“Then what’s wrong?”
He laughed a little bit, and even if he was still all crying, it was real, happy laughing. “You know, Todd… nothing,” he said in a whisper, “Not a thing in the world.”
I didn’t understand at the time, but later on I did. He never lost that book, over all the time I knew him for, he kept it in a drawer at his desk, always always always. And he never forgot about Jessica A - but over time he thought about her less and then he talked about her less and then bit by bit the remnants of the awful things she’d done began to fade away until they were gone. And in all my life, after watching every movie that Marvel and DC and all those groups had ever released, all the Batman and Avengers and obscure superheroes no one had heard of, I had never seen a man so brave as Michael Michael was to me. To think he could go through the worst thing anyone could imagine, the worst thing in the world, and in his mind all there was was joy and laughter and jokes and love and a Big Nothing Nothing Nothing of it left.

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