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Wednesday, December 6, Later
When Dad pulled up to St. Anthony’s, my mind clouded over, and I couldn’t really place a feeling that was sweeping through me. The feeling that over took me was a combination of calmness and satisfaction for doing the right thing, and it set me free, just like Antoine Thomas told me it would. Then behind that euphoric sensation was a dark cloud that sort of loomed there, and I realized that maybe it represented Erik and his crony, Arthur.
I wondered to myself, was I still afraid of them? NO. I decided for myself that I was not scared of my brother, Erik, or of Arthur Bauer. Maybe it was that untroubled quality that Luis always used to carry around that made me strong enough to stand up to them, and to my own mind.
I thought to myself, I did the right thing… there’s no reason why this should upset me. After that final thought, I flashed a quick grin to Dad, and hopped out of the car.
As I passed a few other kids that were sitting on the benched in front of the school, I mustered a meek smile towards them. All they could offer me was a weird look like I was a freak, which I am, and then they turned around to gossip in between themselves. I could hear them snickering, and I heard some other things too. Like, “That kid’s brother is a crook, and his brother got busted for stealing stuff and for killing two people!” Or, “Yeah, I heard that he saw his brother and his friend kill someone!”
All of this made me sick to the heart as I thought of poor Luis Cruz. The only thing they said that was true was that my brother was a crook, and I did see my brother and Arthur make that fatal blow to Luis’s head. Everything else was a lie, and I didn’t want to care. Erik was Erik. We are different people, so why should I be branded with his problems?
I ignored them with all of my willpower. I was debating whether or not to pull a Victor Guzman and whip around to show them the difference between us two brothers, but I pulled my act together and walked on.
I paced into St. Anthony’s soaring, high-arched doors, and into the hallways. I trekked through the sterile and blank halls that were dotted with random navy lockers, and I just barely noticed the vacant stares of my soon to be peers that were tainted with uncertainty.
I walked into the main office of the school building, and the secretary said,
“Honey, are you Paul Fisher?” I could see that she was a little intimidated by me as she speedily scanned through the documents and forms I had handed her over the fake wooden desktop.
“Yes… Ms.,” I paused to look at the name tag clipped to her lapel.
“Mrs. Thule.” She interrupted.
“Here is your schedule.” She handed me a pastel yellow piece of paper and said,
“Now, as I understand, Paul, you have had some troubles at your other schools, correct?” She made an emphasis on the words troubles and schools. I nodded and looked at her skeptically. She nervously chuckled and said,
“Now don’t worry dear, I just wanted to make sure that you will enjoy this school and that you won’t get into any more trouble.” She paused then said,
“All right then?”
“I understand Mrs. Thule. There will be no problems. No problems at all.” I smiled at her and sauntered out of the office. I caught a glimpse of her pale ashen face strewn with concern for, not me, but the school. No problems all right. This was the start of another new school, and the rest of a school year that I couldn’t wait for to end. I couldn’t wait to play soccer for Tangerine Middle School again.