Plain Dumb Luck

June 28, 2010
Today we follow the chronicles and commodities of a boy-man Satchel Lancaster. He passes through your life three times this day.

Satchel is a boy-man at 16, scrawny and socially awkward. He starts the day at 6:13 to an alarm clock yelling in his ear and a mother yelling in his father's ear one floor below. He rolls out of bed and crawl-staggers to the shower, where he cleans himself in a half-awake stupor and contemplates sleepily if school will be as useless today as it has been every day of his life thus far. After dressing himself in clothes as socially awkward as he and eating a muffin in relative silence even given his parents' screams at each other, he grabs his bag that sat unopened yesterday and heads to the bus at 6:58. He thinks to himself how lonely it can be, being an only child with parents who love hating each other more than they love loving you. Satchel is not an only child, but his sister is barely 8 and his brother is barely old enough to have fathered his five year old son, so in all fairness, Satchel's mindset is justifiable.

On the bus, Satchel sits alone in the front seat and reads his large, complicated book in peace. Behind him the species of teenager most commonly referred to as burnouts begin the long process of awakening for a long day they will soon forget. Sounds of rapping and swear words and small snatches of sleep-laden small talk drift up to the front seat but Satchel pays no mind to it. He doesn't come from the safest, most promising neighborhood, and as a result has very few friends or acquaintances who live nearby, and of the friends he does have, very few ever will submit to visiting him in his natural environment. However, this is simply another fact of life that he pays no heed to.

School starts at 7:15 and Satchel arrives moments before the first bell rings. Hurriedly stride-walking to his first period, he passes you talking to a small group of your friends outside of your theater class. You see him and take notice of him only fleetingly, making some offhanded comment to the girl on your left about people who wouldn't need to rush to class if they just got to school earlier, or perhaps on the gait of people who rush without trying to appear as if they are in a rush. Either way, the first time Satchel impacts your life today, hardly anything changes; were he not to show up at all this crisp Autumn morning, your life would go on largely unaltered, due to the fact that the repercussions of your comment dissipate quickly and life goes on.

In first period, Satchel talks to four people including the teacher. The conversations go as follows:

At 7:21, the teacher walks around collecting homework, and when he gets to Satchel's desk, Satchel tells the man that he did not do his homework on account of his sister being really sick and his parents forcing him to care for her - not a complete lie. The teacher tells Satchel to complete it tonight and turn it in tomorrow for half credit.

At 7:27, the girl behind Satchel drops her pencil and asks him to retrieve it for her. He does so, and she says thanks, and he says you're welcome.

At this point, the teacher gets into the lesson, something about transient properties, or perhaps osmosis or the latin roots of really long words, and Satchel begins tuning him out. He grabs his dog eared book from its place in his dark blue backpack and begins reading under the desk. He soon loses himself in the words of Sir Thomas More and Locke.

At 7:52, the teacher notices the boy on the right side of the classroom reading under the desk and decides to play a trick on him, see if he is paying attention after all. First, he says to the class, Now at this point we take the square root of the resultant color and divide by altruism to get...? and calls on an attentive girl in the front row, who understands the joke immediately and responds Boyle's Law. Most of the class snickers and the teacher notes that Satchel does not react in the least. Realizing something needs to be done about this, he walks up to the boy's desk and says Satchel, do you agree with Rachel's answer? Satchel, who did not hear the question let alone the answer, nods his head vigorously in a way that could almost be interpreted as sarcastic. Not sure if Satchel got the joke or not, the teacher repeats, so the square root of the color divided by altruism is...? And the boy responds with Boyle's law, sir. The class erupts in laughter and the teacher makes a note not to try to trick the boy again.

At 7:54 the boy sitting to Satchel's left high-fives him and Satchel says thanks. He then opens his book back up and resumes reading.

At 8:14 right as the bell rings, Rachel walks up to him and says, Did you really listen or did you make up the answer on the spot? This is the first time she has talked to him all year, so he is a little unsure of how to respond. He replies, I made it up, was it a good one? Rachel is not sure if he's lying or not, so she walks away without answering. What she doesn't understand is that Satchel, too, is unsure of whether or not he just lied; he tends to answer things without thinking and then finds out later on that what he answered has some basis of highly coincidental truth.

Seeing Rachel walk away, he realizes the comment was not some start to a long-budding relationship, but rather a rather common anomaly in social communication, and he pays it no further heed. Thus, he packs up his bag and heads to second period and events play out almost identically to first period; the teacher drones on, he reads, the teacher tries and fails to get his attention.

While this is happening, you are sitting in your second period class, some sort of math you understand better than you should, and your mind drifts in that half unconscious way that minds do. You find yourself replaying the morning's events, and a small spark goes off at the point when your past-self glances at Satchel's past-self; he reminds you of someone, you are sure of it.

This is when that one casual passing takes a deeper impact on how events will play out. It reminds you of the boy you used to know, so many years ago, with the same name and the same sort of awkward clothing choice and the same dark brown hair brushed indifferently over a tall clear forehead. But although the neurons are firing, you don't quite piece together the two images in your head, at least not consciously, at least not until after second period is done and you run into him for the second time today. He is in a rush as usual, walking that stride-walk that means he's late, and you're backing out of your classroom after asking your teacher a question. The laws of probability state that you two have such a slim possibility of colliding on this one particular day that it's practically impossible, due to the fact that either of you could leave your classrooms at any time and any speed, but the laws of fate or chance or just plain dumb luck have always been more plausible when two seeming strangers are involved, and the two of you run straight into each other. You trip backwards over him in a stunt unrivaled by even the cheerleaders of your school, and the two of you gingerly stand up and unravel yourselves from each other. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry, you both kind of mutter and the neuron fires and you say Satchel! He raises his head sharply because he doesn't recognize you, at least not yet, but upon hearing you say his name something clicks in his mind and he replies hi! temporarily at loss for your name. Tuesday, you tell him, and it takes him a second to realize you're saying a name and not a day of the week. You now notice that his hair is rather shiny and it falls over his virescent eyes rather fetchingly, regardless to the fact that fetchingly and virescent aren't words you generally use when describing the way one's hair falls over one's eyes. What you don't know is that he notices the way your light brown ringlets fall over your shoulders in much the same manner, and social awkwardness aside, he realizes that he might actually have a chance at making friends with a girl.

Unfortunately for the elaborate plans he begins concocting, the late bell rings and both of you rush on your separate ways. You manage to be late with only a warning, whereas he gets an after school detention, setting up the scene for meeting number three, after school today.

The rest of the day passes relatively flawlessly, and you mention Satchel in passing to one of your friends, and he mentions a girl named Tuesday in passing to one of the janitors, who tells him to go for it, whatever “it” may be.

After school, you and a friend head to the guidance office to talk to a counselor about a scheduling conflict, and Satchel heads back to his third period class for his detention. If the probability of the two of you running into each other the first time was next to nothing, this time it is so close to impossible, calculators round the number to an even 0, but fate or luck has it in for the two of you today and once again you run into each other in the mad rush to get on with your lives. This time your friend helps you pick up the fallen down and dropped and scattered, leaving the two of you more time to talk, and you make use of it.

Tuesday... where does that name sound familiar? Satchel asks you, and you tell him how you went to elementary school together. Instantly the memory lights up in his mind and he asks you if you remember the time Mrs. Bowing bought a pet fish but it died and she didn't realize it for a week, which you confirm, and you ask if he was there the time that Ann projectile vomited all over the substitute.

Tuesday, I gotta go talk to the counselor now... your friend reminds you, and you wave her on, immersed in a conversation with Satchel. Within moments, however, he remembers he has detention he really should attend, so he asks if you would like to hang out this weekend perhaps? At his house even?
And you reply "I'd love to."





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