Sunday, November 15, 2015
Amadeo's head snapped up as he heard the screech of tires and the blaring of a horn.
"Idiot! Watch where the hell you're going!" The driver of the Dodge Charger yelled.
The 'idiot' in question smiled apologetically and answered with a wave and a "Sorry!" and continued on his way, opening the book he'd been reading, finding his place, and continuing his journey to wherever he was headed.
"Friggin' spaz," Milo said, disgustedly.
"What?" Amadeo asked, surprised at his friend's acid tone.
"Nothin'. That guy just irritates me."
"I don't understand. Who is he?"
"Just the local retard. He's always walking around town with his nose buried in a book. He's in three of my classes and I swear I don't know why the school lets people like that in."
"He's in our school? I've never seen him before." Amadeo said, watching the boy's progress. He had to admit he was impressed when the boy effortlessly swerved around a lamp post without ever looking up from his book. Then he disappeared around a corner and was lost to sight. "What do you mean, people like him?"
"He transferred in last September. He's not someone you'd notice unless you're stuck in a class with him. When he's not in class he's in some corner, reading. Dumb as a load of bricks. I thought there were special schools for people like that but for some reason he's allowed in ours." Milo said disgustedly.
Amadeo shook his head, confused. "I don't understand. Did he say or do something to you to offend you?"
"Huh? No! Like I'd ever be caught dead talking to someone like that?"
"Then how can you chop the guy if you've never even said hi to him?" Amadeo asked angrily.
"You takin' his side?" Milo retorted.
"Yeah, I am! How can you hate someone when you don't even take the time to get to know them? And what makes you think there's something wrong with him if you never spoke to him? You can't judge the depth of a well by the handle of the pump."
"Man, he's a ditz! You don't have to talk to him in person, you only have to listen to him in class. I mean, take Webb's science class. Webb now, he went over the whole chapter, dig? Eukaryotes versus prokaryotes. Simple, right? Then Webb asked if there's any questions and the dumbbell there raised his hand and asked him to explain it all over again!" Milo pulled a face and said in an exaggeratedly thick voice, 'Mr. Webb? Mr. Webb? Kin ya go over it ag'in pleeease, ah'm a spaz an' ah cain't even figure out two plus two 'thout countin' on my fingers!' He laughed at his own wit.
"You're saying something is wrong with him because he asked questions in class?" Amadeo asked, trying to wrap his brain around his friend's logic.
"All he did was hold up the rest of the class, forcing us to sit there and listen to stuff everyone but him gets. He did it every freaking day! I mean, come on, 'Deo, he reads enough, all he had t' do was open his damned book and it's all right there. But he don't ask questions in class anymore." Milo said with a smirk.
Amadeo shook his head, not understanding. Seeing the look on his friend's face, Milo explained. "A bunch of us talked to him one day after school, and convinced him to keep his hand down and his mouth shut."
"Milo, we've been friends forever, and I never thought I'd say this, but I've never been as hacked off at you as I am now."
"What's your bag, man?!" Milo scowled, his hands clenched into fists. Amadeo was on the track and wrestling teams, but Milo was a husky, beef fed, Georgia farm boy and he figured he could give 'Deo a run for his money if he had to.
"Man, what if your little brother was like that guy," Amadeo said, nodding his head in the direction that the boy had gone. "Would you want people threatening him?"
"Anybody messes with my brother they got me to deal with," Milo growled. Unlike most older brothers, Milo thought the sun rose and set on his ten-year-old brother.
"If there were something wrong with your brother would you want people calling him names and refusing to talk to him? I mean, come on, man, you're hating the guy for something he most likely has no control over. That's just... irrational."
Milo had the grace to look embarrassed. He knew he'd been treating the kid worse than bad, but would rather cut out his own tongue than admit it aloud. "Yeah, whatever," Milo said dismissively. "I'm cuttin' out. Later."
Amadeo watched his longtime friend disappear around the corner and then looked back toward where the boy had gone. He wondered where the kid lived, and he made a promise to himself to find out more about him the next day at school. He took a breath and let it out slowly. He'd find out more about the kid, as soon as he found out what his name was, he amended.
That night he had a hard time sleeping, alternately angered by his friend's callous words, and haunted by the image of large brown eyes and an apologetic smile.