Calling 5-Vignette


Just Like It Hasn’t Been Three Years

Three years ago, or thereabouts

The pen clicked irregularly as Flint pushed it against the desk and released it, over and over. He watched it jump up into the air, then caught it before it could land and clicked it downwards again. Up, and down, up, and down, up, and down, click¸click, click-

"Would you stop that?"

He looked up from his pen, surprised at the sudden interruption. It was… dammit, what was his name? Something generic, he thought, like Johnson or Smith. “What?” he asked without looking up, still clicking the pen.

"What do you think it is, shit-for-brains?" he hissed back. "Your pen, idiot. Stop clicking it or I break it and your fingers.”

Click, went the pen. “That’s nice, Jones,” Flint mumbled, still not looking at him. Jones seemed as good a guess as any. He went to click the pen again, but a hand much larger than his enclosed the pen and his hand alike, stopping them from moving.

Flint looked up, following the large meaty arm that started with the large, meaty hand up to a large meaty body and a surprisingly non-large but presumably still meaty head. “First, it’s. Not. Jones.” Not-Jones applied more pressure to his hold, and Flint winced. “And second, my mom’s a goddamn lawyer, Perez. I could pop your eyes out, and walk away scot-free. So stop. Clicking. The Goddamn. Pen.”

Doing his best to ignore the pain, Flint met the other boy’s eyes. “Yes, Thompson, your mom’s a lawyer,” he said quietly. “She’s such a good lawyer that she’ll manage to convince a jury that the multiple angles of security camera footage were, I dunno, a government cover-up?” He tapped his chin thoughtfully with his free hand. “No, I know! They were caused by the light reflecting in strange ways from all the gas that you can’t stop producing.”

Not-Jones-and-probably-not-Thompson’s eyes narrowed, but before he could issue whatever retaliation he had planned, a voice interrupted them. 

“Perez, Jorgensen!” Mr. Koenig had turned away from the board to face them. “I don’t care if you want hurt each other, but I’d rather you did it somewhere other than Math class! Turn around, shut up, and if you’re not going to pay attention then at least pretend!”

Apparently-Jorgensen (so much for normal-sounding) settled back into his chair, but not before muttering in low tones “I’ll get you for this, Perez.”

“Oooh, scary,” he shot back, slouching down into his own seat. “Hey, maybe next time try “you’ll pay for this”, or even “Curses, foiled again!”. Reeeaaaally up the cliché factor.” Then he picked up the pen, and, staring at the back of Jorgensen’s head, brought it down onto the table’s surface.

Click.
-----------

It turned out that walking was surprisingly hard with a bag of ice over one’s eye. He’d already tripped over the gaps between three separate paving stones, and had given up on trying to navigate crowds entirely after unwittingly participating in an impromptu game of human bowling pins.

He adjusted the strap of his bag with the hand that wasn’t full of ice, quickly realizing yet another disadvantage to the ‘one eye covered in ice’ situation; namely, that it was really bloody cold. It was already one of those awful cloudy winter’s days, and layers didn’t do much to help when a large source of cold was pressed right up against one’s face.

His foot caught on another gap, but he managed to catch himself before falling. Whoever had decided that cobbles were a good idea should burn in hell, he thought to himself. It was most likely a testament to how damn upper-class the school was that someone had decided that large lawns, ovals, and cobbled paths were a good idea in the middle of an urban metropolis. That’s not to say he didn’t like it, but it was a strange decision all the same.

He chuckled to himself as he recalled the little fracas. Jorgensen was almost a shame. He was born in the wrong era; thirty, forty years ago and he’d have been a legitimate threat, a schoolyard terror. But now, he was just kind of pathetic. The whole incident would be reported to the office, but it probably wasn’t going to amount to anything. His mom was a lawyer, after all, and while he was still certain she couldn’t get her son cleared if he popped someone’s eyes out on camera, it would be trivial to make something like this disappear. Considering the way Jorgensen was acting, she probably already had, multiple times. He wondered if-

The impact knocked him back, jarring and out of nowhere. Caught up in his thoughts, he hadn’t been paying attention to where he was going, and had slammed headfirst into someone coming the other way, someone with their head buried in a textbook. They both staggered back clutching at their heads. The girl tipped to the side, then fell on her ass with a thud, and Flint slipped on the ice and landed on his knees. The girl’s bag had fallen from her shoulder, and he winced as the computer fell towards the ground and – skipped across the pavement before coming to rest in a pile of snow? That was… odd. He was sure he’d seen it falling. Maybe he had a concussion.

“Oh god, I’m really sorry-”

 “Aw dammit, sorry about that-” 

Both of them spoke at the same time, and stopped just as suddenly. There were a few seconds of awkward silence, and then Flint grinned a little crookedly and reached over to grab her computer bag from the ground, taking a quick peek inside. “Looks fine to me,” he said, handing it back over to her and offering a hand. She took it gratefully, hauling herself to her feet. She was surprisingly heavy, and Flint, not exactly being on the heavyweight side of the equation, had to lean back quite a bit to avoid getting pulled down. “Like I was trying to say, I’m really sorry about that. Had my head in the clouds.”

She shook her head. “Nah, its fine. I had my nose in my book anyway, and you look like you got it just as bad as I did.” She was fairly pleasant looking, with brown eyes and brown hair with a skunk stripe of blond, and looked to be maybe two years older than him. She gave him a strange look. “Worse, actually. Did you just happen to have a bag of ice on hand?”

He grinned ruefully, pulling the bag away to reveal the quickly forming bruise, and she sucked in a burst of air through her teeth. “Not… exactly, no.”

“How’d that happen?”

He shrugged. “Pissed off the wrong guy, ya de da, you know how it is.”

“I actually don’t, thank you very much.” She looked at him, then did a little double-take. “Hold on, I think I actually recognize you. You’re that guy who’s always sitting under the tree and drawing people, aren’t you?”

He sniffed. “I’ll have you know that I’m drawing the architecture, thank you very much.” He hesitated. “Mostly because I can’t draw people for shit,” he admitted, and she chuckled.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you either way,” she said, sticking out her hand. “I’m Edith, Edith Ellis. Nice to meet you,” she repeated, a little awkwardly. 

He took her hand and found it surprisingly warm. He gave it a firm shake. “Flint Perez, and likewise.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Flint?”

He gave a little sigh. “Blame my parents, they thought it sounded cool. Besides, it’s not like you’re one to talk, ‘Edith’.”

She reciprocated his sigh. “Parents too. Fire and brimstone, and they thought it was suitably portentous.”

“Ouch.”

“I manage.” She glanced at her watch. “So hey, I was just going to get some lunch. Wanna come with? It’d beat eating on my own.”

“Sure,” he said with a shrug and a smile. “Not like I’ve got anything better to do.” They started walking, but he stopped after a few steps.

“You… may want to grab your computer from that snowbank first, though.”