Before I can ponder the thought of Aiden any further, my eyes are drawn to Donald’s books, scattered in the hallway where he dropped them. Everyone seems to be avoiding them like the plague. They skirt around them, pretending not to notice, afraid that to notice would be to invite their own personal bullying session with Derek and his thugs.
The bullies stand over the abandoned textbooks, gloating like Smaug the dragon over his stolen treasure horde. And like Smaug, they don’t need the pilfered objects. They are just making the point they can take what they want anytime they want.
“Let’s piss on them,” Jeff says. I notice his greasy brown hair already looks like someone has done that to him. Maybe he just wants to get even.
“Nah,” replies the one I think they call Chuck. “Let’s tear out the pages and gum up the toilet.”
I have this fleeting wish I could reach out and pick up the books myself. Hold them high above their heads and make them jump for it. But I can’t pick up inanimate objects. I can sit in a chair, or stand up on one of the desks, but I can’t move anything. I can’t force objects to believe I am alive. I don’t think any human spirit can. Poltergeists maybe, but I don’t think they’ve ever been human. They are demonic spirits and thus have different abilities and rules.
There’s no point for me to even attempt to claim Donald’s books, and as such the bullies are the ones who pick them up. They snicker the whole time in mischievous delight. I want so much to teach them a lesson. I guess I can take over Jeff or Chuck and have them beat the crap out of each other. Or perhaps I can take over one of the remaining students still in the hall and have them take out my frustration. Or…or…I could just show Derek firsthand what he has done all these years.
I start towards him, but I see someone else doing the same. Mr. Jeffs is one of my favorite teachers. In fact, he’s just about everybody’s favorite. Cool, down to earth, he has this neo hippie vibe going. Wears rock n roll t-shirts to class, while the rest of the faculty dresses more formally. The guys like him. The girls adore him. It’s not his fault that Derek is his cousin’s son.
“Well now, that’s something you don’t see every day,” he says. He looks at the three bullies who at his appearance now look guilty as sin instead of mischievous as trolls. “Mr. Wells holding books has to be the most unexpected thing ever. Now if you could just open them on occasion that would be gnarly.”
Derek seems unfazed and snickers at the teacher. “Nobody uses gnarly anymore.”
Mr. Jeffs smiles. “And you haven’t used a book all year. So tell me, whose books do you have?”
“Um well…we just found them laying on the ground..so we picked them up.”
“Ah yes. Mr. Wells the great humanitarian. That was very thoughtful of you.”
The look on Derek’s face tells me he doesn’t like being called by his last name. Wish I’d known that sooner. Why do you find out all the pertinent information after you’re dead?
The teacher holds out his hands. “Why don’t you let me take those to the office so the student they belong to can reclaim them?”
Derek scowls and hands them to Mr Jeffs, though its easy to see he is reluctant to. After all, there goes his afternoon fun, trashing Donald’s books.
Jeffs opens the cover of one of the books. “Donald Pluth,” he reads. He looks at the three bullies. “If I’m not mistaken this young man is never without his books. He must have had a very good reason for dropping them in the hall. Any of you know anything about that?”
They all looked at each other, and for a moment I could almost see their thoughts crossing between them. Did he see them shoving Don around? How long had he been standing there in the hall?
“Um, no sir,” Derek replied. He looked at his buddies. “We just got here.” Both Chuck and Jeff nodded in agreement.
“Ah, well. Maybe you three should keep moving and find your way to class then. If you can remember where it is, of course.”
The bullies give him a dirty look, but he appears either unfazed or ignorant to their best intimidating stares. They shamble off, and I miss my opportunity to show Derek the kind of hurt he causes others. But there will be other times. Kids like Derek can’t stay out of trouble for long.