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He tapped his cigarette on the cafeteria’s brick wall. “You saw the teachers in there,” he smirked, “how did they look?”


“Nah,” he smiled and blew a puff of smoke into the frigid fall air, “they looked happy. Teachers always look happier when they’re not teaching students.”

“And we’re a lot happier when we’re not being taught. They’re only human, Sammy.”

He laughed and blew out more grey smoke, making me cough. “you’re so naïve! Already at the school for two months and you’re already saying they’re human. What’s with you? Did you hear Mr. Deiess in study hall yesterday?”

“No,” I shook my head, “what did he say?”

“Well, he was talking to this girl. She was a sophomore, I think. And she was late to school ‘cause her brother had to go to the hospital. He wouldn’t let her sign in late. So she told him that her brother was real sick, but you know what he said?”

“What did he say?”

“He said ‘Too. Bloody. Bad,’ that’s what he said. They don’t care. You know what I would’ve said? I would’ve said ‘okay.’ I have a heart.”

Sammy had a point. Of course, Sammy Z. always had a point. He was like a big brother to me, and as far as I knew, he was never wrong. He liked to put me down a lot, though. Whenever I had a funny story, he didn’t think it was so funny. Like the time my English class found out that the intercom works both ways and that our teacher wasn’t just talking to the disembodied voice from above. He thought it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. But after all, I was just a freshman and he was a senior.

“Are you ever going to get caught smoking like that?” I would ask him.

“Nah,” he’d laugh, letting his cigarette smoke fill the lungs of passerby’s, “never. Who really cares, anyway? Half the student body smokes. I’m one in a million.”

“Well,” I’d cough, “the rest of the student body doesn’t smoke at school.”

“Ah, yes, but they smoke. If I could make it a little longer through the day, I’d smoke at home, too.”

“You’re gonna die one day,” I’d mumble to myself every time. I mean, I knew that we’re all gonna die anyway, but I was worried for Sammy. I didn’t know why I was worried for Sammy. He’d never done anything for me.

“You see,” he’d lean against the cafeteria wall, “teachers don’t like me, so teacher’s don’t see me. You’re lucky, kid, teachers like you.”

I frowned, “Teachers don’t like you because they know you don’t like them. Your history teacher is really nice.”

“YEAH!” he’d laugh, “one helluva nice guy! You know how many times he’d gotten me suspended?”

I shrugged. I didn’t want to be wrong again. Fourth time we’d had that argument that week. It was like an endless cycle, and no matter how many times I played, Sammy always won.

He didn’t know that he’d won, though, so he’d just keep fighting until I shut up. He was strange that way. I’d keep hating him till I couldn’t stand not to be around him. His voice was the weirdest part of him, though. It was a very educated voice, and the way it echoed in your head made it sound like he was British. But he spoke like a C+ student. After all, he was one.

“And you want to be a writer!” he chimed after I told him that underground street racing wouldn’t pay for his insurance. “What, you aren’t that good, anyway. It’s all this emo crap and poetry like that. You write stories about people who don’t even exist doing regular, boring things. If I wanted to know what it was like to live, I’d just go outside. Who needs those stupid books you write, anyway? They don’t have dragons in them. Everything that could happen in them could happen in real life. That’s why it’s so stupid.”

And I would frown and shrug but I would never listen. I didn’t want him to have a point. I’d shut my ears.

Mrs. Cavallo stepped out from the side of the cafeteria. “What are you doing here?” she asked, furrowing her angry brow, “Boys, to the principal’s office, now! Put that thing out, Samuel!”

Sammy dropped his cigarette on the floor and crushed it with his heel before walking the walk that he had made so many times before, to the principal’s office.

We sat there for about twenty minutes before the whole thing was cleared out. Sammy was suspended for smoking on school property, and they told him if he’d get suspended one more time, he’d be expelled. They gave me detention for a little while for not telling anyone that I saw him smoking. But I didn’t care about detention. I was just happy that Sammy could ever be wrong.