Joshua Jacobson could best be summed up as being a nerd. He was seventeen years old and attended Manhattan Central High School. Joshua’s level of intelligence would be close to the genius level. He excelled in all his grade twelve subjects, but he liked his math and science classes the most. Joshua was an intellectual in every sense of the word. Although his great desire was to be a famous scientist one day, he was also a voracious reader with interests in a wide variety of subjects.
Joshua read nearly everything he could get his hands on. Although his parents were at the lower strata of the annual income spectrum, and neither one had earned a high school diploma, they were very aware and were very proud of Josh’s intellectual accomplishments. From an early age they had a sense that God had given their son and amazing brain for a reason. Although Josh’s parents were poor, they used what little extra money they had to further Josh’s ambitions. As Josh enjoyed reading and conducting research so much, his parents paid for his monthly subscriptions to Audible Audiobooks, so that their son could choose a new audiobook to listen to each month. They also invested in a subscription to Scribd,a website service that allows its subscribers to read an unlimited number of books on a wide variety of topics. Science fiction books had always been Josh’s favorites.
Attending high school was at times pure hell for Josh. Senior years schools have long been known for bullying students that did not fit the predetermined criteria of what was considered normal. The social aspect of high school was based on cliques. Every high school student ended up in a clique that was defined by possessing certain, identifiable physical and mental attributes.
There was some overlap, but generally all high school students receive a mandatory designation that they were in some group or clique or another. There was sometimes some overlap, but rarely got a student into more than one or two defining groups.
The first category was known as the brains. This entity consisted of all kinds of all the students that were known for getting the highest marks in all subjects on the secondary education curriculum. The brains were usually not very popular with the rest of the student body. These academic high achievers were either disdained, ignored or were used by their peers. The brains could be helpful to their less academically gifted counterparts in certain situations. Brains came in handy when one needed to cheat on a test or exam or copy yesterday’s homework assignments. The trade-off or you can say the upside for the brains was that some of their fellow students who required their services were offered the brains protection from other students that would bully them, steal from them or threaten to beat them up.
“Ah, hell. That was decades ago. When I was going to high school I’d take a toke off a joint as it was passed around at a party. I never liked weed enough to even buy a nickel bag for myself. Besides I couldn’t roll a decent joint by myself. I never thought of using a pot pipe. No one I knew had one,” Keith answered.
“Did you enjoy smoking grass when you were young man?” Brenda asked
“Not really. I much preferred drinking beer. I was quite shy when I was young guy and found it difficult to have a conversation with anyone when I was sober. All that changed after I had about three beers. Suddenly, I became loquacious and was the life of the party. When I got stoned on pot it had the opposite effect upon me. I would try to carry on an intelligent conversation with someone and would find that I had trouble getting the right words out.”
“The new cannabis products that are available are much better than the pot we used to smoke in the seventies. Would you like to try some?” Brenda asked.
“You mean right now?” Keith asked.
“Yes, I use cannabis often. It helps to relieve my anxiety. I have a couple of joints rolled already.”
“Yeah what the heck. I’ve tried almost everything else to treat this chronic pain,” Keith replied.
As Roger watched Glenda walk out the back door with Buddy he started to feel very confused. For a long time now Roger’s emotional life had been shut down. He was barely able to feel anything as he was trying desperately to bury his pain deep inside himself.
Roger tried to keep himself distracted by filling his day with his hobbies and his part time job. He would go out to do substitute teaching assignments about three days per week on average. He paid for a subscription with a company called Sub Alert. Roger would receive a phone call whenever a new substitute teaching job was available. Roger had the option of accepting or declining the assignment. He preferred to work with middle years and high school students. Roger became very popular with most of his students mainly because he was very cool for a man of his age. He had long white hair tied in a pony and dressed casually. Roger would either where a hockey jersey or a tee-shirt covered by an unbuttoned denim shirt.
Roger looked forward to all his teaching gigs. He consistently had the attitude that he was going to make it a fun day for both himself and his students and it usually was.
The first night on the job two guys started heckling the LaSalle’s house band, Blind Rage. Godzilla didn’t waste any time. He grabbed both those idiots by the back of their collars and carried both of them out to the back parking lot. One of the hecklers turned to the other one and said, “We can take him. It’s two against one.”
As soon as one of them made a move toward him, Godzilla grabbed both of them and dropped them in a nearby parking lot dumpster. That’s how Godzilla likes to take care of business. As Winter Dreams were all there to watch Blind Rage that evening, we were very impressed with Godzilla’s ability to handle a dicey situation. That night the band called him over to our table and asked Gordon to be our road manager. The rest is history as they say,” Peyton said.
“I’m really starting to hate the fact that my boyfriend is the Cougars star goalie.” Misty said.
“Why?” Sabrina asked.
“It’s those damn hockey wives. They are such a clique. The worst of the whole bunch is Linda Saunders. She’s been spreading horrible rumours about Rick and I.” She’s just jealous that Rick’s a much better goalie than her boyfriend Miles,” Misty replied.
“What kind of rumours?” Peyton asked. All three friends could now sit on the park bench as Peyton had cleared off enough snow.
“Linda’s been telling the other girls that Rick and I are heavy stoners and that I’m a slut,” Misty answered.
“That is bad,” Sabrina said.
“Now that Linda has told the other hockey wives the rumours are starting to spread through the whole school,” Misty said and began to sob.
Peyton leaned over towards Misty. I’ve got an idea. Do you know Gordon Zender, our band’s security manager?”
“I don’t really know him, but I think I’ve seen him at band parties,” Misty answered stifling her sobs.
“So you’ve seen Gordon and know what he looks like. We call Gordon, Godzilla for a reason. He’s six foot four and weighs around two hundred seventy pounds. Most of it is muscle. He works out at the Iron Works gym three to four times a week. Before our band hired him, Gordon was a bouncer at the LaSalle Hotel. The LaSalle used to be a rough place with lots of fights, especially on the weekends. That all stopped a few days after they hired Godzilla as a bouncer.
“Why did you call Misty his slut girlfriend?” Cindy demanded.
“Because she is. I got that information from Rudy too. He told me that he saw Misty with some freak called Gypsy at The Lake Mariposa Rock Festival. Rudy says that Misty loves drugged out hippy guys. She’ll sleep with anyone she meets. Before Rick, Misty was dating this grease ball called Jim. Jim is such a slime ball that he used to beat up Misty regularly.”
Just then Miss Redding, the gym teacher, broke in on the discussion and ordered the girls to hurry and get on the gym floor before she started handing out detentions.
As soon as Miss Redding’s back was turned Misty escaped through the back exit door of the girls’ locker room. With tears streaming down her face, Misty ran to her favorite local park about three minutes from the school. She used one of her green gloves to wipe some snow from a park bench. Once a spot was cleared Misty sat on the bench lowered her head and began to cry. She was still very upset by the way Linda Saunders had been talking about her. When Misty looked up there was a bright sun out that enhanced the beauty of the snow covering the branches of the trees. Misty was startled when she felt two hands on her shoulders. She turned around to see Peyton Ramparts and Sabrina Davis.
“Are you skipping gym class too?” Sabrina asked.
“I tried to go to gym class but I’m very sorry that I did,” Misty said starting to weep again.
Peyton looked Misty on the eye and said, “So tell us what happened.” He started using one of his black gloves to clear enough room for he and Sabrina to sit down.
Misty arrived about ten minutes late for her afternoon gym class. She was finishing her cigarette at the smoking pod behind Maplewood Collegiate and was talking to a new girl who had just enrolled in the high school that day. While they were talking Misty lost track of the time. When Misty arrived at the lockers about five minutes late, the other girls were already in the locker room getting changed. Misty waited outside the entrance to the locker room and could hear the other girls talking. The girls’ voices were loud enough that Misty could overhear what they were saying. The dominant voice that drowned out the rest was that of Linda Saunders. Linda was a strong personality that attracted her own group of followers. At this very moment Linda was holding court with a group of four other girls. She had just overhead one of the other girls singing the praises of Rick Miller.
“Rick is such a great goalie. His play is the only reason that our hockey team is still competitive. I just hope that his injuries don’t keep him out of the line up too long. The Cougars have some key games scheduled for the next two weeks,” Sandra said.
“That’s for sure,” Tristan said. “I hate to say it, but I don’t have much confidence in Miles Meyers’ ability to lead the team.
Sandra and Tristan were so busy talking that they hadn’t noticed that Linda Saunders had walked up right behind them.