The Bully and the Brain
Chapter One – Invisible People
It happens to all of us at one point in our lives. We walk through our busy lives, through school or work, down a crowded street, or past people in the mall. We never really see each other's faces. Others just go by in a blur, a giant mass of skin tones and clothes. Until fate steps in that is. Then, one or two faces become recognizable, clear shapes in the undefined mass. You notice them in the halls, at work in the lunch room, walking down the same street every day. It is fate's way of making you realize you are not the only one in the world.
The sun peaked over the tall buildings of the bustling city of Hartridge, New York. Through not as popular or large as its cousin New York, New York, Hartridge had its own character. It was your normal town. It had its bad and good parts, its share of pot holes, and its share of financial hardship. Illuminated now was the "poor section" of town, known to outsiders as the "Hunky Patch." Its buildings were tall apartments and tiny two bedroom houses, an occasional old store front, and one decrepit department store.
Here was the home of innocent, sweet, and utterly poor Chris Donair and his eighteen year old daughter, Emmaline. Chris, who had once lived in the good section of town, was now subject to the streets of the Hunky Patch. He once had an amazing job in New York as a banker, but then, his company downsized, Chris was cut from his position, and left to fend on his own, selling his house, car, and everything else he had to in order to afford the tiny house, some clothes, and very little food in the cabinets.
When Emmy was young, her mother left Chris, leaving him with the child, and since that fateful day he was introduced to that pink slip twelve years ago, he and Emmy had barely gotten by. He took a job as a manager in the local grocery store next to the decrepit department store, paid minimum wage, for that was all even the store could afford to pay him.
Emmy, however, grew up knowing nothing else. She attended a low income elementary and middle school. She was bright, and talented. She was smart, something that the teachers were surprised to see, as they had never seen someone so driven, even when coming from so low a background. And she had only one passion besides learning, and that was drawing. Anything that came to her mind always ended up on a paper hidden somewhere. Even to that day, Emmy had hidden her drawings under a loose floorboard by her bed.
That bright morning, both Emmy and her father were up at five a.m. to get ready for work and school. Emmy attended Hartridge High, the only high school in the area. So, both kids from the Hunky Patch and the rich side of town, also known as Shiner Heights, attended Hartridge. Bus came at six thirty, and Chris walked to work, a half an hour walk away from home, at seven thirty. This morning was like no other. It was the same routine for years.
Chris would wake Emmy. They would eat their meager breakfast together, cereal (and not even the good kind). They would both get dressed in their rooms, Chris in his tattered khakis and white button down shirt, and Emmy in a pair of her worn jeans, plain t-shirt, and faded old sweater she had found in the old man's section at the thrift shop. Then, they would say their goodbyes as the bus rolled up, knowing they would not see each other until later that night.
"Dad, have fun at work today." Emmy said, as usual, as the bus pulled up. She kissed her father's cheek, and ran out of the house, her old high tops hitting the sidewalk. He smiled, as usual, and waved her goodbye, shutting the door. Emmy smiled, and turned around in her usual seat. She sat next to Corrine, her best friend, every day of every school year for the past twelve years.
"Hey." Corrine said with her dark face shoved into some magazine or another. Corrine, also from the Hunky Patch, was obsessed with fashion. One day, she claimed, she was going to be the star of the fashion world. Her clothes would be worn by the most famed models, and her name was going to be on biggest high end store front in New York City. Corrine made her own clothes, and was always wearing something different. She liked to wear what both her and Emmy had deemed "Poor Fool's Chic." Today, she was wearing a patched skirt, pleated, all different cuts of fabric piecing it together, and a homemade t-shirt, with the words "Fabulous" sewn onto the front.
"Morning, C. Love the outfit today!" Emmy said smiling wide. They chuckled, and looked out the window together, watching the scenes of the Patch go by. Another building condemned, another store broken into. Another pack of little kids running amok on the streets. It never seemed to end, the problems in the Hunky Patch.
"Thanks Emmy girl! I had the best idea last night for a new jacket! Oh, girl, you should see my machine! It's going to be working double time!" Corrine laughed, and applied some generic brand lipstick, then handed it to Emmy.
"Girl, brighten up those lips! We are seniors now! You got to look fabulous!" she said right as they pulled up to the school. Emmy smiled at her friend, and thought about it. Yeah, today was going to be awesome.
The last bell of the day rang, and a large boy heaved himself out of his seat. He was the last to leave; having only just woke up from his mid-class nap. He pushed his dark curly hair out of his eyes, and wiped his mouth for drool. He picked up his black backpack, and straightened his dark shirt. He was just on his way out the door, when the Mrs. Porper stopped him.
"Mr. Corkran, next time try to stay awake in my class. Chemistry is an important credit you need to graduate! You should be trying to pass this class." She said, and gathered her things. "Just so you know, next time it happens, I'll be sending a note home to your parents! Let them know you need more sleep at night!"
Patrick sighed, and shifted the weight of his backpack on his shoulder. Great, that was the last thing he needed, his parents to know he wasn't doing well in school. They would love that! A mirror on the closet door reflected the boy. There was nothing special about him. He was large, yes, and looked quite scary due to his demeanor. Yet he was nothing like he looked. He may have looked rough, but he was a sweetheart on the inside. A beauty in a beast's body.
He left the room and made his way into the hallway. It wasn't crowded, but it wasn't deserted. There were two girls, one dressed very uniquely and one dressed quite poorly. They were laughing about something, probably something normal. He smiled at them, without them noticing of course, and headed out to the parking lot.
"Pat, my man! How about a ride home?" a kid, dressed similarly to Patrick, said, leaning against Patrick's brand new Lexus. Patrick sighed, and nodded, unlocking the door. That was Peter for you. Peter, Patrick's longtime friend, was a leech, who lived to do nothing more than to soak up Patrick's wealth and lifestyle. He lived on the grounds of one of the houses in the part of town Patrick lived in. His father was a grounds keeper to Patrick's neighbor. He was quite an ugly kid, the kind you would ignore in the hallway if he were to pass you by. He had a face like a rat, beady eyes always red from smoking something instead of going to class for once.
Patrick believed he was cursed sometimes. His mother and father were extremely rich. He lived in the rich section of the town, known to only the poor kids as El Dorado, The High Rise, and the Captain's Quarters. He didn't particularly like this life, but it was the one he had to live. He hated his big house, his fancy dinners, and his stupid rich parents. They were never home to even talk to him. He may have sounded selfish in that right, but it was true. While all the kids envied the house he lived in, the very section of town he lived in, he envied the Hunky Patch in all its glory.
"Man, you look tired. You get enough sleep last night? You should start smoking something. Keep you awake longer!" Peter said, lighting up a cigarette in the front seat as Patrick got into the driver's seat.
"Shut up, and butt out. I don't want this thing to smell like your filthy self." Pat replied, starting the car with a bit more force and anger than necessary. He berated Pete every chance he got, yet the boy never caught on. He only laughed, as he did when Patrick told him to butt out.
"Dude, you're a scream today!"
"So, seriously, what were you doing all night? Tell me you had a visit from Ms. Kleenex last night!"
Patrick wondered how someone could be so vile. To imply that he had nothing better to do than just jerk off in his room was disgusting. That was ridiculous. Patrick kept his mouth shut though. Better to let Peter think that than to find out what he was really doing late into the night hours. If his secret was to ever get out, people would tear him apart. Him? Doing that? It was impossible, crazy even, to suggest it.
The drive home was no different than any other day's drive. They drove through the Hunky Patch as usual, going past its beautiful rundown buildings, broken glass windows, and colorfully bland houses. They were unlike anything in the "Captain's Quarters", which were all presentation and no character what so ever. No silly quirks that stood out, no speck of imperfection that told of some human life that had once been living there.
"Disgusting place, isn't it?" Peter commented as they drove by a particular house. On the steps, two girls caught Patrick's eye. They were the ones from the hallway, laughing once again. It seemed almost like slow motion when he passed. Their faces, every detail in exact imperfect perfection. Her pale face stood out against the dark building, and against the dark skin of her friend. Her hair, curly ringlets framed her face gently. Her soft pink lips opened so slightly, trying to catch her breath, her cheeks a pale red.
"Pat? You okay? Watch the road! Who you looking at anyway?" Peter said, jolting him out of his thoughts. Pat snapped his eyes back to the road. His hands gripped the wheel tightly, and he drew in a long ragged breath. What just happened to him? What was this feeling? He never got this feeling about anything but…
"Dude, shut up. " he said, driving the rest of the way home in silence. When he finally dropped Peter off, he was nearly in a full blown panic. Peter tried to invite him in, but he made some excuse about homework or something. Pulling into his drive way, a once easy task, proved to be life or death at that moment. He flew out of his car, backpack and books still inside. He ran into the house as fast as his short legs and wide girth could carry him.
"Janine?!" he called as he flew through the front door. The maid rushed to him, concerned.
"Patrick? You okay? Is someone chasing you? What happened?" She said, barely breathing. She grabbed his arm, and led him into the kitchen. She was a petite woman, with doe eyes and a small mouth. She wasn't old, but she had seen her years of wear and tear. She was Patrick's personal mentor, his confidant. His mother he never had, because his own thought that shopping in New York on his birthday was much more important.
"Take some time. Think, then speak." Janine said, sitting him down at the marble dinner table. She poured him a glass of water, and set it in front of him.
"This girl… On the way home… Beautiful. Never even saw her before. Why am I acting like this?" he stuttered, gulping half the glass down in one breath. He was shaking all over, his chest tight and breath short.
"Patrick, you are having a panic attack. Calm down. You used to get them all the time when you were younger. Don't you remember? So, calm down, drink some water, and speak clearly." Janine said. Patrick took a deep breath, and spoke slowly.
"I saw her in the hallway. She was laughing with her friend. She was so… I can't even describe her. She was beautiful. But I know I would never have a chance with her. As soon as I would tell her who I really was, she would dump me. Or use me. I don't know. Her persona was pure… magic." He said, drumming the tips of his fingers on the table.
"What do you think?" he asked Janine, who smiled, and held his hand firmly.
"I think you should talk to her before falling in love."
"I am not! Thanks. " Patrick said, sighing heavily. He walked out of the room, up the stairs, and into his room. Today, of all days, he had to start this.