In this excerpt of the story, Simon meets Zach and John. Zach is one of the smartest students at school who likes to tutor classmates in Math and Science. One of those students is John, who is very carefree and likes to play jokes on people. Out of appreciation for his help, John placed a whoopee cushion on Zach’s seat when he wasn’t looking. When Zach sat down, the cushion went off.
Simon met Zach when they were in the fifth grade. When Simon struggled with math, Zach offered to help him. After a few tutoring sessions, Simon was still having a hard time at the subject. Zach couldn’t tolerate this because that would suggest that he failed as a tutor. Instead of figuring out what Simon was struggling with, Zach ridiculed Simon for his inability to get the math concepts he was teaching him. This rubbed Simon the wrong way and he promptly ended the sessions. He didn’t hate Zach and he knew that he meant well, but Simon felt that he was too uptight for his taste and he didn’t like being called stupid.
John and Simon were friends since the third grade. John was the closest thing to a brother that Simon ever had. They did everything together. During Middle School however, everything changed. When Simon needed a friend, John wasn’t there for him. After Simon’s crisis was over, he separated himself from John. Although John tried many times to reconnect, Simon would further himself from him. When they went to High School, their friendship was still cold. Still, when John would see Simon and say hi, Simon would coolly say hi back, but nothing else.
Simon suspected that John pulled a big prank on Zach and grinned to himself. The same old John, he thought. Then he shook his head, “Everything is a big joke to him.”
Zach was full of rage. He couldn’t believe that John did what he did. Zach felt humiliated and betrayed by him and he couldn’t wait till the final bell rung.
RIIIIINNNNGGG!! Zach left the school as quickly as he could. Then he heard John calling to him. Zach decided to walk faster, hoping to outwalk the prankster. John continued his pursuit calling to him frequently, “Hey Zach…hey wait up!” When they got to the Seven Eleven, Zach was at his boiling point. He turned around and snapped, “I have nothing to say to you!”
“Nothing to say to me?” John asked whimsically, “But you’re saying something to me right now.”
Zach groaned, “You humiliated me in front of the entire class!”
“Hey, come on man,” replied John, “it was just a joke.”
“It’s always a joke to you isn’t it,” Zach shot back, “I thought you appreciated all the tutoring I gave you? I thought you were my friend?”
“Man… you are so sensitive. You need to loosen up and laugh a little.”
“I didn’t find it at all funny what you did!”
John was thinking of a reply when he saw Simon sitting on the bench. “Hey Simon,” he said, “How are you doing?”
“Just chilling out,” Simon said coolly not looking at him.
“Well, don’t chill out too much or you’ll become an icicle,” said John with a smile. Simon took a sip from his Big Gulp. John cleared his throat.
Seeing Simon distracted Zach from his rage towards John’s prank. He approached the bench, “I didn’t see you in school today.”
“That’s because I didn’t go to school today.”
“Why didn’t you go? Don’t you want to learn?”
“Look Zach,” growled Simon as he stood up, “I have better things to do than to learn about facts that don’t concern me, numbers that don’t help me, and especially theories that don’t make any sense to me!”
Zach stepped back. John stepped forward.
“Right on Simon,” he said lifting his hand up for a high five.
“Was I talking to you?” Simon said as he glared at him.
“Sorry,” John replied as he slowly lowered his hand. Simon sat back down at his bench and drank from his Big Gulp. There was an awkward silence between the three.
Zach was concerned over Simon’s academic future. He wished that he wasn’t so harsh with him when he tutored him years ago. He feared that his pride may have doomed Simon to being a failure for the rest of his life.
John wanted to talk to Simon. To tell him how much he misses being his friend and wished that he was there when Simon needed him the most. John wanted to say those things every time he saw him. But the words just could not come out. He was not good at expressing his feelings.
John shrugged and walked passed Simon towards the Seven Eleven. BING BONG! John almost collided into Liz and Mary as they came out with their drinks.
“Watch where you’re going John,” scolded Mary.
“Sorry Mary,” replied John with a smile, “I was so distracted by your hotness that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Liz said.
“But it doesn’t hurt to try.”
“Greetings Liz,” said Zach when he saw her.
“Hello…um… Zach,” she replied almost blushing when she noticed everyone was looking at her and Zach (except Simon).
“Are we still on for tonight?” Zach asked. Simon suddenly sat up and turned to the group.