When I arrived at school the next day, I couldn't find Delaney or Ronny anywhere. I surveyed the parking lot upon my arrival and noticed that her car was nowhere to be seen; I went to the library to see if Ronny was there, only to be chased out by a furious librarian and the reminder that I was, in fact, still banned from the library after all.
I saw Ellery walking down the hallway with two of his previous friends; the ones that he had flipped off several weeks earlier. He was dressed in all black again, and his glasses were nowhere to be seen. I made eye contact with him, and at first I thought he was going to walk on by; but then he paused, and muttered to his friends that he had forgotten something in his locker. Once they had turned a corner, he put his hands in his pockets and approached me slowly.
"So," he muttered, slowly, "I guess we aren't friends anymore?"
I frowned at him, and he shook his head and laughed slowly.
"Sorry," he said, "We never were. Nobody has friends. Right."
"Well," I said, slowly, "I guess we aren't a society, anymore."
He glanced up at me, then sighed. "Yeah," he muttered. "Listen, have you…have you talked to Delaney at all?"
I didn't answer. Instead, I asked, "Did she ever tell you why she hates her rosebushes so much?"
He frowned at me. "No," he said. "Why?"
I shrugged. "No reason."
"Well," he said, "If you do see her, can you tell her that…" he trailed off, then sighed. "Never mind. Tell her that I'm sorry, I guess."
I shrugged. "I would," I said, "But I don't think she wants to talk to me, either."
Ellery nodded slowly, looking unhappily at the ground. "Well, listen," he said. "I've got to get to class. And, I mean—I know we weren't ever friends, or anything, Farley, but—here." He reached into his back pocket and took out his hat. He held it out to me. "I want you to keep it. Okay?"
I stared at the hat. "Ellery," I said, "How many times to I have to tell you? Your hat is ugly, and I don't want it."
A half angry, half amused look appeared on his face. "Well," he said, "You're goddamn taking it, anyways." Then he crammed the hat over my head so that it completely covered my face. I would have said something angrily back at him, but I felt as if the words would come out muffled and therefore defeat the point of my anger. I heard his footsteps walking away, and I pulled the hat off of my head just in time to see him turning the corner.
The bell rang; but I didn't really feel like going to class. Instead, I went downstairs and walked in the direction of the janitor's closet; I was hoping to find Ronny there, as well as knowing that he wouldn't be.
When I arrived, the door was closed. For lack of a better idea, I knocked loudly; I heard some shuffling inside before it opened. Steve the janitor stared at me for several moments, looking me up and down.
"Have you seen Ronny today?" I asked him. I felt my spirits drop as he shook his head.
"I haven't seen him in two days," he said.
"Oh." I stared at Steve for several more moments, as if hoping for an answer. He supplied none. I sighed; then outstretched my hand, offering him Ellery's hat.
He raised his eyebrows. "Thank you, kid," he said, " but I don't want that."
"Oh, I know," I said. "But you should take it anyways. It's polite."
Frowning, he reached out and accepted the hat. He continued to stare at me. "You're that kid," he said, slowly. "The one that wanted me to look through the garbage cans."
I sighed, then nodded. "I know it doesn't make sense," I said. "If you did, we would be happy."
He eyed me suspiciously for a moment. "If it's so important to you," he said, sounding aggravated, "Why don't you look through the trash cans?"
He continued to stare at me in confusion, but I was through trying to explain things to people who would never understand. I raised my hand in farewell, then turned around to walk away.
"Hey!" Steve called angrily. I turned around. "You didn't answer my question."
I grinned at him, amused. "Don't be an idiot, Steve," I said. "It doesn't work like that."