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Friend of the Mind

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The little boy pushed through the sea of people, all of whom were slowly shuffling their way toward the gates. He could not have been more than eight or nine, but he carried himself with such power that many stopped to stare as he walked along. He looked quite average. Brown hair, brown eyes, and pale skin, but there was still something about this boy that seemed different. Maybe it was in the way he walked, or maybe in the way he dressed, which was not a common style for a nine year old. Nearing one of the ticket boxes, the boy quickly scurried under the legs of a man in front of him who was currently preoccupied by his screaming child, and stepped up to the window.

“Good morning sir, and welcome to the Magic Kingdom. How may I help you?” A lady said through a small hole in the glass window. She wore the official Disney Parks uniform and had her hair up in a slick bun on the crown of her head. She ran through a monologue that she said probably thousands of times each day, not even bothering to look up from her papers.

“I would like a one day ticket please,” the little boy said. Standing on his tiptoes, he was barley able to see over the counter. At the sound of his obviously young voice, the woman looked up, and when she did not see anyone, leaned over in her chair and looked down toward the boy.

Puzzled, she began speaking slowly, carefully to the boy. “Aren’t you a bit young to be going in alone? Where are your parents?” she questioned.

“They’re already in the park, waiting for me. So if we could hurry this up…” the boy trailed off. The woman looked like she was beginning to get increasingly flustered by this situation, just as the boy had expected.

“Well yes,” she began. “I mean, I suppose that would be alright, if your parents are waiting as you said.”

“They are.” The boy confirmed and nodded his head vigorously.

Slowly, the woman began to pull out the roll of tickets, handing one to the boy after he had slipped the money under the glass window. Still looking quite stunned, the boy knew that she must have been wondering if this was against park policy, selling a nine year old a ticket. If she were to check her handbook, she would notice that yes, indeed it was, but that was why the boy always went for the newbies. They barely knew the difference between a park hopper and a base ticket let alone all the extensive rules and regulations that came with a Walt Disney World job.

“Thank you,” the boy said as he turned around and began to quickly move away from the ticket booth before anyone else noticed him.

“Wait a second! What is your name? I need to write it on the park pass,” the woman said, holding her hand out to retrieve the ticket. Grudgingly, the boy handed the ticket back over. It was park policy to write the name of the ticket holder on the back of the slip to prevent people from stealing and using other people’s tickets, but the boy had hoped she wouldn’t remember that. “Name?”

“Walter.” The boy stated. The woman gave him a look; obviously wondering how coincidental it was that his name was Walter. It wasn’t Walter of course, but she didn’t know that. “Thanks,” he said as he took his ticket once more, and walked away from the ticket booth, leaving the woman with an extremely confused look upon her face.

Passing through the turnstiles, the little boy slowly walked his way into the park, and up Main Street. Passing the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and the Main Street Confectionary, the boy was suddenly hit with a burst of sweet smelling air. His stomach growling and his pockets empty, the boy instead quickly located a person who had bought a package of jelly beans –his favorite candy—and waited until they were fully preoccupied to stick his hand in the bag and quickly pull out a handful of candy. He then continued strolling down Main Street toward Cinderella Castle, eating his jellybeans as he weaved between the crowds of people.

When he finally reached the Partner’s Statue in front of the castle, the boy stopped suddenly –causing quite the traffic jam—and stood on his tiptoes, scanning the benches surrounding the statue for a familiar face. It was on the far right of the statue, tucked away underneath a tree, where he found him.

“Why hello little boy, are you lost?” said the man who was sitting on the bench, alone. He looked to be no older than twenty, with wavy, blonde hair that just reached past his ears and dark, green eyes.

“Hilarious as always.” the boy said, rolling his eye as he hopped onto the bench next to the man, his feet swinging in the air.

“Now now, don’t be like that,” the man began as he quickly grabbed the boy’s park pass from his hand and glanced at the name on it. “Walter? That is not very original. You couldn’t have come up with something better, Les?”

“You’re not the one who has to trick a Disney Cast Member into letting you in the park, Andy.” Les huffed.

“I thought Mr. boy-genius said tricking people was easy.” Andy said as he lay back on the bench, splaying his arms out across the back. In every way that Les was generic and boring Andy was not; even his fun and energetic personality overshined Les’ snarky and know-it-all one. In short, Andy was everything Les wanted –or at least thought other people wanted– him to be.

“It is.” Les grumbled as he hopped back off of the bench and began walking towards the entrance of Cinderella Castle. “Come on. I paid to get in this park just to see you, but I’m not going to spend the entire day sitting on a bench.”

“Les, come on now.” Andy said as he got up off the bench and walked to catch up with Les. As both Andy and Les passed they receive a few questioning glances, all of which were directed at Les. No one looked towards Andy. “Can we at least talk a little, say hello? We are friends you know.”

“Yes, a nine-year-old brat and a man who met in an amusement park. Forgive me, but that story sounds more pedophile old man than best friends.” Les spat harshly.

“I am not an old man!” Andy gasped in mock horror. When this did not retrieve any reaction from Les, Andy moved instead to stand in front of him, blocking his way. “You are not usually so miserable to be around Les, or at least you aren’t around me. Please talk.”

“I’m fine,” Les hissed at him. Glancing around quickly, Les now noticed that he had attracted some people’s attention. Sighing, he grabbed Andy by the arm and dragged him over towards the castle, ignoring the odd looks and the whispers of crazy he received as they walked past.

“We aren’t zoo animals, so why do people feel the need to stare?” Les mumbled under his breath. He didn’t find anything particularly peculiar about him and Andy, so he did not understand why others did. Instead of continuing to ponder this thought, Les instead dragged Andy into the walkway through castle, but not before easily slipping his fingers into the pocket of a passing Disney Cast member and pick pocketing him of his key card.

Pushing Andy towards the shadowy walls of the inner walkway, Les slid the stolen card through a cleverly disguised card reader that was made to match the fake stone of the castle. A green light flashed quickly, and Les opened the door in front of him, so well hidden that a normal guest would never notice it, and shoved him and Andy in.

“Was that really necessary? Could we not have talked back on the bench?” Andy said as he surveyed their current surroundings. They were in a dimly lit hallway that Les knew for a fact led to the elevator going up to the Cinderella suite at the top of the castle.

“People stare and listen in. It bugs me.” Les said. People staring at Les had always made him uncomfortable and left him feeling awkward, especially since people always seemed to stare at him whenever he did something wrong. “Now what did you want to say?”

Andy stared at him for a moment, deep in thought, his face with a look of concern upon it. “I can tell something is wrong, Les. Is it school again?” He questioned.

“No, because being the weird crazy kid with a name like Leslie makes you oh so popular.” He retorted sarcastically. “You know they must really like you when they say your only friend is imaginary and dump your notebooks into the garbage.”

“Les…” Andy began.

“Why do I have to be so different?”

Andy’s eyes widened at this, surprised by the bluntness of such a question coming from someone as closed off as Les. Though he presented himself as the tough genius that can steal anything, Les really was the little boy with such a big imagination and even bigger ideas that he was frequently labeled as weird or crazy. People stared or gawked at him for seeing things they couldn’t, for being the boy who was nine years old and still able to use his imagination.

“Sometimes the smartest, most creative people out there are also the most misunderstood.” Andy slowly began, his caring eyes, filled with empathy and heart, his eyes boring down into Les’, eyes filled with spark and genius, but covered in a cloud of sorrow. “People don’t like what they can’t understand, or things that challenge the rules they’ve made. They want to put you into a little box, Les. They may be a circular hole, but you’ll always be a triangular peg.”

“A triangular peg?” Les questioned, confused by the odd saying.

“Yes. No matter how many times you try to shove a triangular peg into a round hole, it will never fit unless you cut the peg into a circle too. Don’t let them change who you are Les.”

“But what if who I am isn’t worth saving?”

“It is worth saving! You’re worth saving.” Andy said as he grabbed Les by his shoulders and gave him a small shake. “You think people thought Walt Disney was a genius to begin with? They though he was just some freak who obsessed over drawing cartoon animals! You’ve got so much inside of you that’s just ready to burst out, but that’s not going to happen if you let them tell you how to think, how to act. You’re a dreamer, and you’re going to do big things one day, so don’t let those kids distract you from what you really are.”

“And who might that be?”

“An incredibly smart, talented, sneaky young boy…” Andy started, drifting off for a second to kneel down in front of Les. “Who is also my best friend.”

It was then that all the sorrow and hurt on Les’ face disappeared, replaced with a brilliant, luminescent smile. Stepping forward, Andy swallowed Les up into a hug, his arms wrapping around the little boy.

“You’re my best friend, too.” Les said, his voice muffled with emotion.

A sudden clang made the two break apart however, as the door out of the castle burst open and revealed a Disney Cast Member who just happened to be missing his key card.

Laughing at the irony of it all, Les just handed the man his key card back and walked out the door, leaving the worker standing in the hallway, looking particularly flustered. Following Les, he closed and locked the door and walked out into the walkway. Not once did he see Andy. He did however know exactly who Les was, as he not only had been reported for stealing a key card, but also for tricking his way into the park.

Being dragged out of the main gates of the park by the man, who was currently blathering about having Les banned from the parks, Les turned around to look back for Andy, but did not see him. He was not over by the flagpole, nor any of the corner shops where they usually said their goodbyes. Andy never left the parks with Les, for he said that he lived in them, even though Les did not believe this.

Turning back around as he was given yet another hard yank on the arm by the cast member, Les looked up toward the train station above the gates and finally spotted Andy sitting not on one of the benches, no, but upon the train station itself. No one yelled at Andy, no one even noticed him except for Les it seems. Walking out of the gates and past the ticket booths, Les looked up towards Andy for one final time, and waved. Andy flashed him a smile and waved back from atop his precarious perch. With that, Les was pushed away and around the corner, leaving Andy, but taking his words of advice with him. Hopping off the train station, Andy walked towards Main Street, past the flagpole, and then into the crowd, no one noticing his presence as he slowly made his way to the castle and back to his bench, waiting for Les to come visit him again.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

Halestorm said...
Mar. 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm:
Genius! this is great!
 
Remy95 replied...
Mar. 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm :
Awww, thanks. :D
 
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