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Chapter Eleven

“Can you believe Leo had the nerve to ask me to play with Al?” Kenneth scoffed as he swung his legs over the top of the table.

“Don’t ignore me, James,” he muttered, looking over at the redhead who was reading at the corner of the room. When he didn’t still receive an answer Kenneth clicked his tongue before watching as James visibly winched at the sound. He smiled, shaking his head in amusement. Kenneth had been taunting James for a while. He would follow him about and make comments on things from time to time, and James would try and pretend he wasn’t there — emphasis on try.

Little things irritated James. Small sounds like the clicking of someone’s tongue, chatting or the snapping of fingers made him irritated.

“See, you can’t ignore me,” Kenneth laughed as he got down from the table to approach James. It was midday, and it was the general free period everyone had on Fridays. In the next Thirty minutes or so classes would start up again.

“Leave me alone Kenneth. Do you get joy from behaving like a child?” Kenneth heard James grumble as he cast a shadow over the redhead. After a while, James looked up from his music sheets.

“Can you move?” he asked, giving Kenneth a cold stare. Kenneth chuckled, raising his hands in surrender before moving away from his view, allowing the light from the window he’d been blocking to pour into the room. The lights in the studio were bad. They flickered and acted as if they were about to burn out any time they were on. No one switched them on anymore, and the school didn’t bother to fix the lights and moved the class that used to had there somewhere else, leaving the room abandoned.

“Thank you,” James sighed, before returning to his script. Kenneth watched him read for a while before he groaned in boredom.

“Why do you keep ignoring me, what did I ever do to you?” He asked in mock innocence. James looked up at him briefly before he shook his head. He muttered something under his breath as he used his index finger to trace the music notes on the sheet he was reading.

When Kenneth realized he was going to be ignored he headed back to the desk he’d been sitting on.

“You keep practicing, yet you never get better. Maybe you’re even getting worse... How does that work?” Kenneth asked as he let his eyes look up to the moving blades of the ceiling fan above him. He didn’t hear anything from James, but the elongated pause before a page of the music sheet got flipped told Kenneth that he’d hit a spot.

“Isn’t it frustrating to know that you’ll never be as good as the top student?” Kenneth said again as he let out a laugh.

“You should keep quiet.”

“You should leave the room if you’re so upset,” Kenneth said as he turned to find James glaring at him with his green eyes. Kenneth chuckled, swinging his legs as he gripped onto the edge of the table with his hands. Kenneth had a thing of intentionally upsetting people, he was only worse when he felt ignored like now.

He watched as James looked away from him. His eyes widened in partial surprise when James got up from the stool he’d been sitting on. He watched him arranged his music sheets and squat to pick up his blue saxophone case before heading for the door.

“You’re really leaving. Are your feelings that fragile?” Kenneth asked in a mocking tone as James got to the door and held on to the knob. James turned to him, his grip on the knob loosening slightly before he spoke.

“If you’d learn basic manners, and if you’d stop parading the school like a peacock, and if you’d learn to look outside your mind maybe people would actually want to associate with you,” James said as his eyes pierced Kenneth’s dark ones from across the room.

Kenneth’s thick brows knit in annoyance. Was James really trying to upset him? And if he was, was that all he could come up with?

“You might as well walk out the door without saying anything,” Kenneth said before smiling lips thinned out into an unimpressed line. He pushed stray strands of his dark wavy hair behind his ears as he looked on at James.

“You’re an idiot,” James said, startling Kenneth a little. “If Leo tells you that Al is good you should take his word for it and ask Al to play with you instead.”

Kenneth rose a brow, corking his head to the side a little. “Excuse me?”

“Excuse yourself,” James said as he held his Saxophone case to himself. “You love railing people up, and you think they should like you by default? I’m proud of Leo for staying away from you... In fact, why is he even suggesting that you should play with Al? You don’t deserve it.”

“For your information, I’m the best student in this school. People should be happy to associate with me,” Kenneth said, folding his hands over his clothed chest. He was wearing a light teal button-up shirt with dark brown Jean trousers and casual shoes.

“Then be a decent person worth liking first,” James muttered, opening the door, and leaving before Kenneth could talk back.

Kenneth let out a frustrated sigh when the door slammed shut, leaving him alone in the room by himself. He got up, heading to the stool James had been sitting on to take a seat.

Who does that redhead think he is to talk to me like that? Kenneth thought as he got up from the table. He made to leave the room, shutting the door behind him before heading to the studio for his next period when he heard the siren. He had thought that James would have provided some sort of comic relief, but he had only succeeded in annoying himself.

His instructor was soon with him and he went through the recent song Kenneth had been practicing with him until the bell for the next period went. His instructor, master Louise got up from his stool before stretching. Kenneth worked on putting his Saxophone away. When he raised his head and found Master Louise still in front of him, he raised a brow in confusion.

“What?” he asked, watching as the elderly man rubbed at his scruffy grey beard as he looked down at Kenneth’s sitting figure.

“You can do much better if you put your pride aside so you could learn what people have to offer,” the master said as Kenneth snorted. He wondered what the old man was going on about.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kenneth shrugged as he got up from the stool, pulling the strap of his sax case over his shoulder. The old master nodded at him before picking up the music sheets he’d put on the desk. He exited the room soon after, leaving Kenneth alone in the studio.

Kenneth rolled his eyes when the door clicked shut behind the master. He checked his watch, finding out that he had five minutes to claim his spot in the study.

He made it just in time, signing on with the hall’s moderator before making his way to his corner. The practice periods integrated into the college’s schedule was more organized than the ones students arranged by themselves during free periods. It was compulsory to attend and the hall that was used was more equipt and tolerant of multiple people playing different instruments at the same time.

Kenneth got to his corner, making to a sit on the empty stool that was a stone’s throw away from another saxophonist. He made to take out his sax, switching the mouthpiece to another before he started to play. From time to time the person close to him would raise her head to observe Kenneth. If it had been a few hours ago Kenneth would have attempted to startle the girl and laugh at her, but he wasn’t in the mood at the moment. He was irritated.

Everyone was calling him out on his pride, but what was wrong with being prideful? Wasn’t it equivalent to confidence? And what was so wrong with being proud of what was true? He was indeed the best.

Kenneth found himself pausing when he spotted Leo walk into the practice hall with Al. Leo was holding onto the shorter man by the shoulders, gently guiding him into the room and towards their designated corner.

Kenneth watched as the two men settled down beside pianos, chatting as Leo brought out the sheets he’d be using. They were soon playing in tune with one another, pausing from time to time so that Leo could scribble something down on his music sheet.

Kenneth raised a brow in curiosity as he heard them play. He’d never achieved playing in tune with Al but Leo was doing just that decently, if not perfectly.

He wondered if Al had gotten better over the years, it sounded like it.

Maybe I should also him to play with me after all. He thought as he returned his concentration back to the instrument in his hands.

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