Although the heat was amply covered by a thick barrage of clouds, he still couldn't help but sniffle and cough. The breeze whistled pleasantly towards him, and yet he wished for a coat as he hailed a ride toward school. Because he was late, he seated himself at the back of the class, which was not a problem for him since he and his friends always gathered at the back no matter who the lecturer was. It wasn't that they just spent the period talking to one another; they had simply become familiar with that part of the room, and they were with friends. It's always good to sit with friends than foes, after all, and they were no exception.
He was in luck, however, because the pulpit was both empty and quiet.
'The president said our professor's going to arrive in thirty minutes. You're quite lucky today.' It was June, one of his closest friends in their current course. He simply replied:
'I'm going to the library first. I'm going to check up on the scores and fix up my roster; I'll also probably check on a bit of mail.'
'All right, Sal. Try to check your mail for the trade I proposed to you yesterday,' June replied.
'I hope it's not another one of those James for Ridnour trades, because you know I'm not that stupid.'
'No, I think you'll like it. It's fair. Just check up on it.'
'I'll catch up with you later anyway. I'll just finish this chapter.'
'You've been surprisingly diligent lately.'
'Yeah, I'm sure reading a chapter on the Queen's Gambit Declined counts as serious studying.'
'Hey, how about a game?' Gelo asked. He was another one of Sal's friends.
'Maybe they can play with you,' Sal replied. 'I'm going upstairs. See you guys later.'
As stated, Sal went to the computer room of the library and logged onto the Internet. He looked at the trade proposed by June, promptly accepted it, and then checked the other contents of his mailbox. He then adjusted his roster for the following week, and saw that he had a middling record against his other friends. After having done that, he tried surfing eBay.
It was at this point that June had already finished returning the book he had borrowed a week ago, so he went up to Sal.
'ULTRA RARE PALMTEX SUPER MICRO LIGHTPAK. Hmm, that sounds like Greek to me,' said June.
'You do remember that handheld I brought here to school, more than a year ago, right, June?'
'You mean to say that prehistoric PSP?'
'Yeah, that one.'
'Didn't that only play one game? It was like that Connect Four that wasn't.'
'Yeah, it was a version of Othello.'
'Oh, that one. Othello. So how's that related to that gray lump?'
'Well, the LightPak is an accessory.'
'All right, go on. What does it do, then?'
'It's a light pack. Yeah, they were original. Basically it just serves as the backlight to that console.'
'Yeah, I used to have one of these but mine no longer worked when the package arrived, and when I asked Cha's dad to fix it he simply told me that it was too old and infeasible. So I guess they just threw it away.'
'You're telling me that you're even thinking about buying a goddamn lamp for 35 dollars. A lamp.'
'Well, it's not just a lamp, you know,' Sal countered.
'What is it made of, then?'
'Uh, six light bulbs within a plastic case with an on-off switch.'
'And what would you call that, then? A penis?'
'Something happened again, I presume?'
'I just knew that there was something bent about you when you didn't even drink yourself to death during your first rejection. It was either you were gay, or you were a big-time weirdo.'
'Gee, thanks for the compliment.'
'You're a great guy and all, but that just didn't feel right to me. I broke bottles and became emotional, but you just drank a bottle, went straight home, and slept. I think that being with you all this time, I can say for certain you're not gay.'
'So I'm just weird?'
'Pretty much. So what did you do?'
'Well, I messaged her.'
'So this led you to thinking that buying essentially a light source for 35 dollars will solve your problems?'
'I'm still not done. Read the description, man. It says right there that the silver is leaking, and the switch doesn't even properly work. You're telling me that you're even thinking of shelling out 35 dollars for a glorified lamp? Why not give the money to me instead? I can buy you a lamp that shines much brighter and keep the rest for myself. Or, Jesus Christ, why not just give the money to charity? I'm sure that if you're going to throw your money anyway other people will benefit from that.'
'You're right, I'm sorry.'
'Look. Whatever you're going to do, she won't like you. She never has, and she never will. You may be one of the nicest people in the world but if a girl doesn't like you it's useless to force her to. Either time will soften her, or she's not just for you. What were you looking for with that message, anyway?'
'I guess I wanted some form of closure.'
'And that was probably the best you could get, so move on. You know what's worse than getting wasted on alcohol? It's what you're doing. You're wasting money without even getting wasted on alcohol. If you even just drank that away, you'd even save a lot more. It won't change how she feels.'
'Hey, I just got a message. I think the lecturer's arrived.'
Sal deleted the item from his watch list, logged out of eBay, and then watched as the gray clouds broke to a steady downpour of rain. He sniffled and coughed once more as he thought of the fluorescent bulb that was ever-present and ever-shining in his room while he was playing that antiquated version of Othello. He had merely refused to accept what was always obvious during the past year: he did not need another lamp to light up what was perfectly visible. He then tapped his friend on the arm as the microphone started transmitting a muffled voice which signified that the professor had already started.