Monday, February 26, 2007

Feb Story - 7

[NOTE: This is part of a progressive story. The first entry is here. Check the blog label Feb07Story for all entries]

     Blake drummed his fingers methodically on the long table surrounded by empty chairs, his cane leaning prominently in the chair next to him. His brown eyes slowly panned around the table, as if willing the various members to fill their appointed seats. Over the course of the day, Blake had skipped out early and arrived late to most of his classes in order to deliver urgent invitations to his friends. He just hoped they would all be able to attend with such short notice.

     Light flickered through the slits between the heavy green curtains covering the windows and Blake knew that someone was approaching. He turned his head towards the door and let his ears perk up, listening intently for the approach of the first of his good friends, curious as to who would arrive first. Through the dim light, he watched the door for signs of movement. A moment later, it softly opened, bathing the room with bright sunlight silhouetting a figure as he entered and closed the door behind him.

     "Come on Blake; turn the lights on in here will you?"

     A grin grew softly on Blake's face as he watched Tony walk to the nearby lamp and pull the chain to brighten that side of the room and then repeat the behavior for the other lamps in each corner of the room. As the light grew so did Blake's smile as he was able to make out more and more memories lining the walls and shelves around the room.

     His gaze paused softly on the large framed photograph of the so called "league." From across the room, he couldn't make out faces, but he had stared at the picture so many times that he knew each person immediately by their position and stance. He saw himself standing in the middle with Tony by his side. Tony had been his best friend and right hand man for as long as he cared to remember. He turned from the photo to watch as his friend finished turning on the lamps and approached the head of the table.

     "How's it going Blake? Missed you in first period this morning."

     Tony gave a wink and cocked his head to the side as he sat down in the chair next to Blake, dropping his backpack on the floor between them. Blake just smiled back.

     "It's good to see you Tony. Did I miss anything worthwhile this morning?"

     "Just more of the same. Nothing interesting. Nothing engaging. Just sat around scratching pencil to paper while Saunders rambled on about variables and theorems. I don't know why I let you convince me to take an AP math class my Junior year. Especially knowing who would be teaching. And then having you ditch class for the past week has made it even more unbearable. There's nobody to heckle Saunders with. Everybody else is either entranced or asleep. Where have you been ditching to all week anyway?"

     "I'll tell you once everybody else arrives. The rest should be here any minute. Do you have any notes from this morning I can copy?"

     Tony laughed as he dug through his backpack, pulling out a spiral notebook. With a grin, he turned to a page and slid the notebook along the table to Blake. Blake smirked as he saw a half page caricature of Mr. Saunders in front of a blackboard. His large ears were slightly pointed and his eyes were thin and intense. A stick of chalk jutting from between his fingers like a large extended claw. His mustache spiked outward like whiskers and his goatee was split into three long braids extending to his chest. On the board behind him was scrawled the words "Without math, we are only animals", a phrase Saunders quoted frequently, included on his syllabus and placed at the bottom of all of his tests.

     "I see it was a very productive class indeed."

     Blake laughed and handed the pad back to Tony. The door to the room opened and closed softly. The two looked up and saw a figure approach wrapped in a heavy winter coat and scarf. They watched as the coat was unzipped to reveal a lightweight hoodie over a school T-Shirt. James always complained about the weather. In the summer he was always too cold and in the winter he was always too hot. He was like an inverted cold-blooded snake. There were usually two or three weeks in the fall and spring that he actually felt comfortable. James caught their stares and moved towards the table, saying nothing but nodding at each of them.

     "Good to see you James."

     Blake smiled and returned the nod. As James sat down, the door opened and two kids walked in, laughing and talking with each other. As they shut the door, it was pushed open again and a third followed them. Blake watched as Tami hugged the latest arrival and the three made their way to the table. Tami walked in the middle, her short brown hair reaching forward around her chin to accent her smile. Sam and Paul walked on either side of her and all took their places at the table, exchanging quick greetings with everyone and then falling into silence, looking to Blake in eager anticipation.

     Blake slowly looked around the table. These had been his best friends for the last few years. Together they had enjoyed a lot of fun times and many great adventures. Still, he felt sad at pulling them in to be involved in this latest project. He always preferred to keep risky ventures like this one entirely to himself, not only because it was hard to fully rely on someone else in situations like this, but also because he never wanted to unduly risk or endanger his friends in any way. He knew he could fully trust every person at this table, so the fear of full reliance was at a minimum. But his real concern was for the well being of his friends. This adventure would go beyond the scope of those in their past. This one had the potential for harm or legal troubles. And yet, with what he had discovered thus far, he felt he had no choice.

     Putting on his most charming smile, he pulled out a few sheets of paper and passed them along the table then cleared his throat to speak.

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