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Another Day In Paradise
Chapter The Third: And ne'er the twain shall meet
©2003-2006, WriteByMyself, All Rights Reserved.
Any duplication, in whole or in part, is expressly prohibited without the written consent of the author.
REVISION DATE: 26 July 2006

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Maxfield went along to his next class, and he was hopeful because he loved English. Well, to be sure, he hated parts of the class but since writing was one of his great passions, he put up with the shit in order to be able to exercise his skill.

He took a desk in the middle of the room, rather than his normal back row seat. He excelled in this subject, so a bit of attention wouldn't be all bad, though sitting near the front would be going overboard.

He looked around the class and noticed it was full of people who obviously had no desire to be there. One kid sat next to him. He was short, stocky, yet somehow imposing. Maxfield noticed the strawberry blond hair, because with the black shirt his hair and oddly pale skin were noticeable. It was hard to figure out the kid's age. Suddenly, he realized he'd been staring and looked away. He glanced over to see if he was caught, and indeed judging by the kid's reaction, he knew he was busted.

Maxfield's blood ran cold. He didn't know what to do; he didn't want another tormentor. Mentally he just wasn't ready for it. This whole "new Maxfield" thing was just getting started and here he'd screwed it up already.

The teacher came in and began class, so Maxfield's attention focused on that instead. The kid ignored Maxfield for the rest of the class, a fact not entirely lost on him despite his efforts to focus on the class. The teacher assigned C.D. Payne's "Youth in Revolt" as the first assigned reading project. Maxfield was pleased as he'd read it before and would be well prepared to discuss the novel in great detail. The teacher dismissed the class at the sound of the bell, and Tibor reached out a hand and grabbed Maxfield's shoulder.

"No hard feelings, okay, dude?" he queried, sticking his hand out.

Maxfield took his hand and shook it, shocked at the reaction. He knew he'd been busted. He was sure of it, yet the kid didn't care. "Uh, yeah, sure. Thanks."

"You're welcome. My name's Tibor."

"Mine's Maxfield."

"Sure thing. Well, I better run, Max."

"Maxfield, please?" he implored but Tibor hadn't heard, already out the door in a flash of exuberance.

The rest of the morning's classes were a blur for him as he was totally distracted by thoughts of Tibor.

Eventually, the lunch bell rang and he shuffled off to the cafeteria. He knew before long he'd be brown-bagging it, but the first day of school usually brought pizza or some other especially good lunch so he decided to chance it today.

* * * * *

"Bam! I met this guy in English class, I think you'll like him. You want me to fix you up? Rumor is he likes guys."

"Who is he?" asked Bam, a glimmer of hope in his voice.

"His name's Maxfield. He seems okay. I got English with him, and I'll find out a bit more and let you know."

"NO FUCKING WAY! He's the biggest loser in the school. Everybody hates him, picks on him, and treats him like shit. You stick with him and the shit sticks to you. I ain't about that. I got my own troubles, Tibor, plenty of my own troubles."

"Aw, Bam, give him a chance. Dude, think what he must feel like. Pity or sumthin at least?"

"N. O. Besides, I ain't about to get involved with one of your projects. I'll give anyone a chance, but not him. School sucks enough without being part of the Maxfield Parrish crowd." Bam could tell Tibor was pissed; he knew the fire in those eyes, but this was a problem he wasn't willing to take on.

"Fine. Whatever. Talk at you later," said Tibor shuffling off dejectedly. Tibor wasn't going to let this go. He knew how he'd feel -- he hadn't planned on making a project out of this kid, but he was going to do it. Just to show Bam. He spun around and walked back to Bam. "Dude. I am so disappointed in you," he said coolly, before stalking away to get in the food line.

* * * * *

Maxfield went over to a table and sat down. He was alone and nobody made a move to sit anywhere near him. He looked around and saw the various cliques sitting together. At other tables were the people who weren't in cliques but not universally despised -- they didn't interact, but neither were they isolated. Well, he didn't suspect this day would be any different than the other days in his life. At least he wasn't surprised.

He started eating his pizza slowly, realizing a cafeteria can even ruin a pizza. At least it was better than nothing, but only marginally so. He poked at his limp and lifeless string beans, reminding him of noodles that were way overcooked.

"Dude! Mind if I sit here?" said a voice. Looking up he saw Tibor sitting down without waiting for an answer.

The entire cafeteria grew completely silent over the course of a minute as the monumental impact of one of the more popular kids sitting with a loser, and not just any loser, sunk in. The noise returned but it was everyone whispering to each other. Maxfield's ears burned as he knew what the subject of conversation was.

"Tibor. Why exactly are you sitting here?"

"Hello to you too, Max."

"The name's Maxfield, if you please."

"Well, Maxfield, first the seat was empty. Second you looked lonely. Third I am rather put out with my normal lunch buddy. He can sit by his own damn self."

"Second choice, isn't so bad, I suppose. So, all bullshit aside, what do you want from me?"

"Huh? I don't understand."

"Listen. I realize I am as popular as raw sewage. Anyone who talks to me wants something. Anyone who befriends me wants something big. I am not naïve you know. Just tell me what you want, we'll work out a deal so that everyone's happy. Then you don't have to pretend to like me, and consequently making yourself look foolish to the whole school."

"Max, is that really what you think?" asked Tibor, not entirely surprised but taken aback nonetheless.

"Yes," he said simply, not even bothering to correct this misuse of his name.

"Fuck that. Ditch your lunch. We're going for a walk and having a talk. Now."

"Sorry, but I don't take orders."

"You're right. Max, dude, that isn't me. You and I need to talk and I'd like to do it now. Fuck the rest of the day. This isn't right, things aren't going right, and I need to fix it before it gets broken worse."

"No. Not now. I don't skip. After school, if you want."

"Man, you want to cut into my board time. Well, I'm making this sacrifice for you because I want to show I'm serious."

"OK, you can leave now. You don't want to spend any more time here. Soon people will think you're my friend."

"So? That's what I'm aiming for."

"You know what. Maybe now would be a good time to talk. Let's go. Screw class," said Maxfield.

Tibor smiled. They ditched their trays and walked out of the lunch room together, causing the normal cafeteria noises to come to a complete stop again. Bam watched them leave with frustration showing on his face.