Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Thirteen:

Patrick Mackenzie (Afternoon of September 9, 1994)

I messed up big time. I was stupid to think that making at least one friend would solve my issue of being a social outcast. Nevertheless, my big mouth decided to be loud and proud, today, at lunchtime.

Tony Moretti and his equally evil followers were sitting at the table next to Zack and I. Tony had been one of the taller and broader fifth graders. If Zack and he were to stand side by side, I would’ve never had guessed that they were the same age. Of course, this meant that he had to be the person I’d pick a fight with at the new school.

To be clear, it wasn’t even really my fault. They were being loud and obnoxious and I just simply stated that fact to Zack. Tony wasn’t even supposed to hear it, that nosy little eavesdropper.

“You say something Pipsqueak?” I heard Tony’s voice travel from the table adjacent to us.

I pretended not to hear him, yet still, my body trembled out of pure terror. I could see at the corner of my eye that he had been making his way towards me. I tried to look to Zack for some help, but like every other person sitting at that table, he didn’t want to be collateral damage to Tony’s wrath, so he looked the other way.

“Hey, I asked you a question,” he said, now breathing down my neck as I sat there, looking down at my ham and cheese sandwich. “What did you say about me and my boys?”

I took a deep breath and turned to look at a snarling Tony Moretti. Thankfully, before either of us could get another word in, Principal Ricci had walked up to us.

“Is there a problem here, boys?” he asked in a firm, authoritative tone.

I shook my head. Tony stood there, frozen. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he had been terrified of Principal Ricci. Although, I couldn’t quite figure out why. Ricci, telling from the short time I’ve been at this school, has always seemed kind and collected. For some reason, though, Tony had been sweating bullets around him.

“Mr. Moretti?” Ricci asked once again. “Is there a problem here?”

Tony was finally able to move, as if a curse had been lifted off of him, and shook his head as well. “No, Sir,” he said, trying to avoid eye contact with Ricci.

“Good, now, go back to finishing your lunches. Your time is almost up,” Ricci explained, still staring down Tony, as he began to walk away.

“This isn’t over,” Tony mouthed to me as he went back to his table.

“Did you see that?” I asked Zack, loud enough for him to hear me, quiet enough for Tony to not. I wasn’t going to make that mistake twice.

“See what?” Zack replied while watching Paulie wiggle around in the Tupperware container we had gotten him. He didn’t seem very invested in anything, other than what was going on in a transparent, plastic box.

“Nothing,” I said, realizing I was talking to none other than a brick wall. “I’m sure it meant nothing.” Instantly, I went back to eating my sandwich as I felt Tony and his henchmen watch me eat.

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