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A True Friend
The ball smacked into my palm, the leather softening the blow. I was having a catch with Rob. He didn’t seem to into it. I don’t know why, because he was fine at the cages last night. I did hear that he and mark got into an altercation earlier today. But I think the only person that actually had a problem was Mark. Rob isn’t the type to fight. It was pretty hot on the field, being that it was the end of the spring season.
We came into the dugout after a pretty long warm up session. The coach told us to go in the outfield. I knew this was bad because we had the most freedom in the outfield. The coach can’t hear us, so pretty much anything goes. Once we got out there we lined up, and rob was first. He moved up for the fly ball, but misjudged it, and missed it. Immediately Mark starting laughing and calling him names. But I had a good practice, and caught everything that was hit to me, so Mark didn’t have anything to criticize me for.
The next day I got up like it was a normal day. But I had no idea that it was going to be anything but that. I walked onto the bus, and I saw Rob facing the window and looking pretty glum. Unexpectedly, Mark called out to me. “Sit with me Tom, it’s open.” I took one look at Rob, who was still facing the window, but I knew he was listening.
A side I’ve never seen before took over and I strode confidently over to Mark. I guess it was because I wanted to feel “superior”, or cool or anything like that. So I sat there, I laughed at Mark’s jokes, I agreed with Mark’s opinions. It didn’t feel right in the bottom of my stomach, but my brain told me to stay. It told me to hang out with him today. I could see Rob out of the corner of my eye, sitting straight with an expressionless face. He likes to bottle up his feelings, and I think he got it from his dad. Everyone knows something is wrong with his dad, but no one knows what.
Mark gave us a briefing before we went. He was going to make fun of Rob, and he was planning for it. It seemed completely wrong to me, but I went with it, fighting my own judgment. I remembered when Rob and I and a couple of other friends played wiffle ball in our neighborhood. We made a whole organized league with other teams around the block. And we never lost a game, we were great. That was probably the closest we’ve ever been.
Now we were right in front of Rob. He was standing slouched over, trying to hide himself in his locker or something. He looked at me with a dark expression, and then turned away. He felt he was betrayed, and I knew it. He was trying to avoid making eye contact with Mark, but it was impossible being that Mark whipped him around to make him face him. I wanted to cause a distraction, do something. I thought hard I I found Mark’s weakness. If anybody mentioned something bad about the Jets, then he went crazy. “So Mark, how ‘bout that 13 yard punt from the Jets?” I asked loudly. He spun around and started yelling at me, but I didn’t care because the attention was diverted from Rob.
After lunch I followed Mark where ever he went. It still felt very wrong, and my mind kept leaning towards standing up for Rob now. And I knew when I could do that. When we walked to the bus Mark usually makes fun of Rob, and I could do it there.
Now we were getting on the buses and I walked close to Mark. He saw Rob, and ran over to his side. I could see Rob’s discomfort. “So, Rob, how’s your dad? Isn’t he in jail?” Mark stated loudly, as he laughed at his own joke. No one else was laughing though, so this was the perfect moment to step in.
“Mark, stop bothering Rob, he never did anything to you. And it’s just wrong to mention his dad.” I replied confidently. Rob’s eyes lit up. Then something very surprising happened. Marks friends started agreeing with me, joining my argument against Mark.
“Yea Mark, back off Rob is a nice kid.”
“Yea, why don’t you just go on your bus now Mark.” Mark stood there in shock, and slowly backed away onto his bus. Rob shined with happiness, and I shook his hand and gave him a pat on the back. We laughed and walked off to my house. I felt much better now to restore my relationship with my long time friend, a friend that I will always have.