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High School Funny Friendship

“So do you want to meet up tonight?” Patricio O’Higgins was talking into his mobile phone to John Fisher. There was a pause as John delivered his answer. “So right now is good?” Another pause. “Awesome, so are you at home right now?” A yet further pause. “John?” One more pause. “John, are you there?” Patricio looked at his phone.

“Lost connection?” David Vallejo asked him.

“Yeah, lost the connection somehow.”

Patricio and David were sitting together in the living room of the O’Higgins house. It was a Friday afternoon, school had ended about an hour and a half earlier.

“So we don’t know where he is?” David said.

Patricio answered “Well the last thing I heard him say was ‘No I’m’ dot dot dot. So we know at least he’s not at home.”

“Could he still be at Montenegro?” David asked, in reference to the high school all three of them attended. David and Patricio were already heading out the door to look for their mutual friend.

“It’s possible.” Patricio said as they both entered his car “I’m not sure why he would still be there though.”

After a short drive they arrived at Montenegro High School and went into the building. They began scouring the hallways for John, but found little besides a haunting emptiness. Students and faculty alike it seemed were eager to spend as little time there as possible. The few people still present were associated with the school’s football team, which had a game scheduled later that evening. Though the general attitude towards the football team among the student body was somewhere between admiration and worship, David and Patricio had little interest in it. Their aloofness was an act of rebellion against the semi-compulsory enthusiasm. Consequently, they barely knew any of the people associated with the team, with one notable exception…

“Hey guys, what are you still doing here?” a familiar voice called to them from behind.

They turned around to see their friend, Pavel Magnus, dragging a huge translucent cloth bag.

“What’s in there?” Patricio asked him.

Pavel answered “Helmets and shoulder pads mainly.”

Pavel was the equipment manager for the football team.

“I hope they’re paying you good money for this.” David commented.

Pavel responded “They’re not paying me anything. I’m a volunteer.”

“I guess you do it because you love the work, huh?” David said.

“Yeah I suppose you could put it that way.” Pavel said “What are you guys still doing here?”

Patricio said “We’re looking for John. Do you know where he is?”

“No I haven’t seen him recently.” Pavel answered “Why are you guys looking for him?”

“We just want to hang out with him.” Patricio said.

Before Pavel could add anything more, David slightly changed the subject “You know Pavel, I’ve always sort of wondered, what exactly is it about this unpaid job that you enjoy so much?”

“Oh you know, I just enjoy contributing something to our school community.” Pavel responded.

“School community? Give me a break. This place isn’t a fucking community. That’s the kind of propaganda answer Andolini trains people to say.” David said, referencing the school’s principal “What’s the real reason?”

“Well, David I know this may be difficult for you to comprehend, but some of the people on the football team I consider friends.” Pavel said “They’re fun to talk to and I respect them.”

“Do they respect you?” David asked.

To which Pavel answered with a slight halt in his voice “Yeah, I think so.”

“So what do you talk about with your football player friends?” Patricio said “I’m curious about this too.”

Pavel responded “Oh you know we talk about…sports…”

“Obviously.” David said nodding his head.

“…And girls…” Pavel went on.

“You mean girls and their anatomy, right?” Patricio asked.

“Well if you want to put it that way…”

“What else do you talk about with these mush-heads?” David asked “The latest C++ updates?”

“David they’re not as dumb as you make them out to be.” Pavel responded “Some of them are I’ll admit. But a lot of them aren’t.”

David asked “Some of the people on the football team are intelligent?”

Pavel responded “Yeah, I would say some of them are quite intelligent.”

“Really?” David said with a sarcastic grin “Can you name three quite intelligent people on the football team?”

“Um, well…” Pavel said “Carlo! He’s on the team!”

“Carlo? He’s your example of a quite intelligent football player?” David asked.

“Yeah, he’s number 1 in our class, David!” Pavel said.

“Is that so?” David said.

Patricio confirmed the information “I believe it is so.”

“Well, maybe Carlo is pretty smart. I won’t deny that but….” David drifted off.

“But what?” Pavel wanted elaboration.

David paused before answering “Intelligence is not wisdom.”

“You consider him to be lacking in wisdom?” Pavel asked.

“I consider him an unthinking conformist.” David said.

“In other words, a normie?” Pavel said.

David responded “Yeah, a normie. I consider him a normie. He’s much smarter than the average normie, but he is certainly a normie.”

“Of course he is David.” Pavel said “Now as much as I enjoyed this chat I have duties to perform. Unpaid duties as you would say.”

“So you don’t know have any idea where John is?” Patricio said, bringing up their original reason for being there.

As Pavel continued dragging his bag of equipment, he said “Well I seem to recall him mentioning there was going to be some big event at Frito’s Electronics tonight. I don’t remember what it was though. He could be there.”

“Well that’s certainly a useful clue.” David said “Thank you for that information.”

“You’re very welcome my friends.” Pavel said.

David and Patricio returned to the latter’s car and journeyed next to one of their favorite locations, Frito’s Electronics. On Friday evenings the place was usually packed, but the parking lot was almost totally empty when they arrived. And the entrance of the store was blocked with barricades topped by barbed wire. A strange sight indeed.

As they walked up to the barricades, they noticed two individuals crouched down behind them. They were peering out over the top of the barricades, through a small gap in the barbed wire. When Patricio and David were close enough, an unknown voice cried out “Halt! Who goes there?”

At that moment a search light came on and blasted them both with illumination.

“What the hell is going on here?” David asked.

Another voice, this one more familiar “The store is closed until 8:00 PM. You’re not getting your precious mangas a second before that.”

“Mr. Yamamoto?” Patricio said “Is that you?”

One of the crouching individuals stood up, revealing that he was wearing a business suit and had a rising sun headband wrapped around his forehead. It was un-mistakenly Mr. Yamamoto, the store’s manager and a dear friend to Patricio, David, and John.

“What are you two doing here?” he asked them.

“We’re looking for John, but I guess he’s not here.” David responded.

Mr. Yamamoto said “Mr. Fisher? No, he’s not here right now. There are no customers here at all. We’re closed.”

“We can see that. What’s going on? Why is the place barricaded like this?” Patricio said.

“Let me explain gentlemen: Tonight the latest volume of International Princess Superstar Warrior is going on sale in the North American market.” Mr. Yamamoto said “It’s a manga about a Japanese pop singer who battles otherworldly demonic creatures with her emotionally insecure American boyfriend.”

David and Patricio looked as if Mr. Yamamoto had started speaking fluent Martian to them. He went on “For reasons that are not entirely clear, this particular manga has a huge following in the English-speaking market. A huge, rabidly devoted following. When the last volume went on sale a riot broke out in the parking lot before I even opened the doors.”

“Because there weren’t enough copies for everyone?” David asked.

Mr. Yamamoto said “That’s how it started, but then they broke into two different camps arguing about whether the main character was cuter as a blonde or a brunette. So tonight we’re going to have a nice orderly process. I made an announcement that I don’t want customers congregating outside until it’s time. Everybody goes in, buys their copy, and then goes out. Nice, orderly process.”

“If it’s so much trouble why do you bother selling this particular manga?” Patricio said.

“Because it’s a gigantic money-maker!” Mr. Yamamoto answered “If I don’t sell it, those degenerates will take their piles of cash to my competitors. It’s a painful process to even have that trash in my store, but as a businessman I have to do it.”

David asked “So it’s not your type of manga then?”

“No, I’m more of a Berserk guy.” Mr. Yamamoto said.

“Well it doesn’t sound like something John would be buying either.” David said “I doubt he’ll be showing up here.”

“Where could he be?” Patricio asked.

“If you’re looking for Mr. Fisher…” Mr. Yamamoto said, looking at his watch “I would guess at this hour he’s probably having his dinner.”

David and Patricio said simultaneously “Cucina del Nord!”

They headed over to their town’s most popular restaurant devoted to the cuisine of Northern Italy. Upon entering they went over to the podium where diners checked in. There was standing an employee of the restaurant whom they knew well, a college-age guy named Bobby. The place was packed full of Friday-evening diners.

“Hey David, hey Patricio. You guys want a table for just the two of you?” Bobby greeted them.

Patricio responded “We’re not here to eat; we’re just looking for somebody. Is John Fisher here by any chance?”

“I couldn’t tell you honestly.” Bobby said “I’m sure some Montenegro people came in here, but the place is so packed I couldn’t possibly keep track of who…”

Bobby was interrupted by David saying “Hey, look over there, is that Ron?”

Patricio looked in the direction his friend pointed and saw Ron Erickson sitting at a table with a female who’s name was unknown to them.

“Yeah that’s Ron alright.” Patricio said.

“Maybe he knows something.” David said “Let’s go ask him.”

“Yeah he might have seen John. Let’s go ask him.” Patricio agreed and they both started walking in the direction of Ron’s table.

“Hey, where are you guys going? You got to wait for your own table! There’s a line!” Bobby said.

“We’re not eating here, we’re going to be in and out!” Patricio turned around to say.

He and David came over to Ron’s table and he greeted them thusly “Oh hey guys, what are you doing here?”

“We’re looking for John Fisher, have you seen him?” David said as he picked up a piece of the complimentary garlic bread from their table and began to eat it.

“No, I haven’t seen him.” Ron answered.

Patricio also began sampling the garlic bread.

David said “So he’s not here?”

“Well, he might be I just haven’t seen him.” Ron replied.

“Hmm, that’s too bad.” David said, the smell of food all around them invading his nostrils “Patricio, are you hungry?”

“Yeah I am kind of getting hungry.” Patricio answered.

“Well, as long as we’re here…” David said.

Patricio said “Yeah, might as well.” And without another word exchanged between them, David and Patricio grabbed chairs from nearby tables and sat themselves down at Ron’s.

“I hope you don’t mind if we join you guys.” David said as he shoveled more garlic bread into his mouth.

“Uh, well…” Ron drifted off.

“We knew you wouldn’t mind, Ron.” Patricio said.

“By the way Ron, who is your dinner companion this evening?” David said as he pointed to the female at the table.

“This is Megan Runningham.” Ron replied.

“You don’t recognize me?” Megan finally spoke up.

David said “No, I don’t think I do. Should I?”

“She’s in the same English class as us, David.” Ron stated.

David looked at her closely for a moment and said “Oh yeah you’re right. I recognize you now.”

“Fabulous.” Megan said.

“We should order quickly so we can get back to searching for John.” Patricio said, looking at a commandeered menu.

“Good thinking. I recommend the garlic shrimp.” David said as he placed the remaining garlic bread in his jacket pocket.

“Did you just…put that bread in your pocket?” Megan asked with a look of vaguely disgusted confusion.

“Yeah I keep my pockets lined with plastic whenever I go here.” David said “I like to take some home for later.” A random waiter walking by was then stopped by David. “More garlic bread please.” he said, holding up the empty basket.

“Maybe we should just take the garlic bread and hit the road. John might want to eat dinner with us.” Patricio said.

David responded “That’s true, we’ll have to skip the shrimp for now. I hope you don’t mind us leaving early, Ron.”

Ron responded by saying “Well actually…the thing is…Megan and I are kind of on a…you know…”

“On a what?” David said.

“We’re kind of on a date.”

Patricio said “A date?”

“Oh this is a date?” David asked.

“Yeah, it’s a date.” Ron said.

David and Patricio looked at each other and then looked at Ron. “Well, I’m sorry we got in your way guys.” Patricio said as he stood up.

“Very sorry indeed.” David said, standing up as well. The waiter arrived just in time with a resupply of garlic bread, which David began hiding in his jacket as soon as he left.

“We’ll be on our way.” Patricio said “We don’t want to be an annoyance any longer and we have things to do.”

“Bring some wine over here!” David shouted to the waiter “Something romantic!”

“David we’re too young to drink.” Ron protested.

“It’s an Italian restaurant, anybody can drink here.” David said, stuffing the last piece of garlic bread inside his jacket.

“We’ll see you later, Ron.” Patricio said as he started walking away “Let’s go outside I’m getting a phone call.”

David followed Patricio away from the table, saying “I’ll see you both in English class on Monday. Hopefully nobody is pregnant by then.”

Neither Megan nor Ron had a verbal response to that statement by the time David was out of earshot. Once outside again, he said to Patricio “So who’s the call from?”

“It’s John.” Patricio was already answering his phone.

“Wonder of wonders.” David said.

“Hey John what’s up?” Patricio said into the phone. A pause as he listened. “That’s fine, John. I understand your phone battery died, it happens to everyone.” Another pause. “What do you mean you’re at home? I thought the last thing you told me was…” Yet another pause. Patricio pulled the phone from his face and said to David “Apparently he was trying to tell me that he was leaving Montenegro and heading over to his house.”

“Good to know.” David said “Tell him we’ll be over there in a few minutes.”

Patricio returned to his telephone conversation “Okay, John. We’ll be over there in a few minutes.”

“And tell him we’re bringing garlic bread from Cucina del Nord.”

“And we’ve got garlic bread from Cucina del Nord.” One final pause and Patricio finished the conversation “We can’t wait to get over there either.”

October 15, 2021 22:03

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