Chapter 19: Cindy failing?
On March sixteenth, Mike and Cindy presented their project on Romeo and Juliet. Everything that their teacher requested was in little blurbs on their black Bristol board including their review. The board displayed a few pictures from the play as well and Cindy had created a border to go around their presentation to make it more appealing to their classmates. Each of them had a sheet of paper when they presented it and the Bristol board sat on the white stand in front of the blackboard. At the end of their presentation the class applauded. Cindy and Mike got one hundred percent and got a congratulatory smile from the teacher.
On March twentieth, however, second term report cards were given out. Mike had already failed English in the first term so he hoped that his presentation with Cindy would really boost his English mark. When Mike got his report card he opened it up to read this:
Oral and Visual Communication- 70
Oral and Visual Communication- 55
Geometry and Spatial Sense- 73
Patterning and Algebra- 70
Data Management and Probability- 79
Science and Technology- 70
Health and Physical Education- 77
Visual Arts- 55
Design and Technology- 90
Mike was very pleased with his report card, even if he had failed French and Visual Arts. He knew he could probably get at least sixty percent in French and when it came to Visual Arts, he had always been lousy at drawing and painting. He looked at Cindy still smiling and noticed that her head was down on the table. Her friends were around her trying to comfort this saddened girl. Mike couldn’t believe it. He wanted to scream at her, “What’s wrong with you?! How can you be sad about getting nineties?” But when he looked at Cindy’s report card, which was lying on the desk unattended, he saw what the trouble was.
Oral and Visual Communication- 70
Oral Communication- 70
Geometry and Spatial Sense- 90
Patterning and Algebra- 90
Data Management and Probability- 90
Science and Technology- 90
Health and Physical Education- 97
Visual Arts- 80
Design and Technology- 90
Her report card was outstanding except for English.
Forty-nine in English, wow, he thought. No wonder she’s so upset.
Amanda and Rebecca sat back in their seats so Ms. Rond wouldn’t yell at them.
“Maybe Ms. Rond miscounted,” said Mike hopefully. Cindy stared at him through tearful eyes. She knew Mike had read her report card but didn’t say anything.
After school, Mike felt really guilty for Cindy. Was it because of him that she had failed English? Had Cindy’s tutoring interfered with her own grades? He couldn’t believe Cindy would let that happen; she had kissed him. This meant that she cared for him. And now he needed to really care for her.
When he and Ian were walking home, they took a different route. Mike insisted they head down Gibbard Avenue; he owed Cindy an apology. When they neared Cindy’s house, Cindy’s mother ran out, grabbed Mike by the shoulders, and yelled, “You made my daughter fail! She paid more attention to you than her grades!”
“I didn’t know,” said Mike struggling away from the angry woman. He looked at Ian for assistance, but Ian wasn’t sure what to do. “If she hadn’t tutored you she would’ve passed English instead of caring more about your fucking needs!” She slapped Mike hard in the face and stormed back into the house. Mike fell into the wet grass; the snow was still melting.
“You O.K.?” asked Ian as he helped his friend to his feet. “Jeez, that woman’s a spas.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” was his reply sounding depressed and lonely. The two boys didn’t say anything more as they walked home.
The gang that changed his life
Mike waited until Ian crossed Yonge Street and was heading down Ranleigh Avenue before he continued down Yonge Street. He crossed the street and headed to the vast park of Lawrence Park. The park was situated on two different sections of Lympstone Avenue. One was really close to the Locke Library while the other was just across it. Mike crossed the street and continued walking down the road until he ended up on a dirt path. He followed it into a wooded area of the second park. Here, there was a small drop in the hill, which Mike carefully trod down holding onto the branches of trees for support. There was a small lip in the hill where many trees stood, shielding the secluded area from anyone walking along the grass or traversing across the road. In this spot, four teenage boys stood smoking rolled up paper and grinning at each other. One of the boys leaned up against a tall tree that was almost bowing to the ground. The boys looked up as Mike trespassed into their area.
“Hey!” Mike cried. “Can I join you?” The boys stared at Mike. The scrawny boy was beaming at them.
“Oh shit!” exclaimed one boy in a red plaid shirt looking very paranoid. “The fuzz must have sent that kid; let’s scram!” A stronger boy wearing a black T-shirt grabbed the back of his shirt.
“Alex, you little shit, the cops don’t give a fuck if we smoke. They just might take it away. And look at this kid,” said the boy pointing to Mike. “He couldn’t hurt anybody, let alone be in cahoots with the cops.”
“Can I join you?” Mike asked again trying to sound innocent.
Alex stopped trying to scamper away like a scared deer and looked at Mike. He still wasn’t sure about him.
“What you want from us, kid?” asked the tougher looking boy.
“I wanna be like you guys. Your life is so great. You’re never miserable and the world never feels like it’s collapsing on you, and if you do, you just smoke some pot,” said Mike trying to fit in. The boys burst out laughing and took another puff.
“Looks like we’ve got an idol,” joked one as he poked the tougher one with his shoulder.
“Shut up Frank!” he exclaimed. “Kid, do you really wanna be like us?” He took another puff.
Mike didn’t want to be like them. They must have failed school a hundred times and they were druggies. It had never been Mike’s dream to be like them and the only reason he was here was because he felt he had destroyed Cindy and her family. Right now, he needed something that would help him forget the past months and he thought marijuana would be it.
“O.K.,” said the tougher guy. He stuck out a muscular hand, which Mike obediently shook. “Name’s Jack.” Jack then began introducing the rest of the group. “This here’s Frank, Lenny, and that scared little shit you saw freak out has a name too, it’s Alex.” Mike smiled at everyone.
“What brought you here?” asked Frank. He had short red hair that was almost orange and one eye that sometimes twitched uncontrollably.
“I don’t really wanna talk about it,” said Mike looking down at the ground.
“He’s here because he wants to be,” said Jack upfront. Mike knew that Jack seemed to be the leader of the group. He had that alpha attitude towards him. “I never ask you guys why you smoke; why you gotta bother him?”
“But you know us, Jack,” retorted Frank. “So you know why. This guy might just be throwing his life away for no reason.”
“Why are you suddenly so sympathetic? Stop questioning the guy.”
“Alright,” Frank surrendered.
“I’m worried about him too,” Alex whispered to Frank.
“Yeah, but at least I’m not deathly afraid of him.” Alex didn’t say anything.
“Lenny, why don’t you show this guy the good stuff? What’s your name anyway?”
“Welcome to the group, Mike.” Jack patted him on the back as Lenny led him to a small Tupperware container.
“They’re already rolled for you,” Lenny said. He was the same height as Jack and same build as well. He wore a green undershirt, ripped jeans, and beige worker boots. When he smiled, Mike noticed he was missing a few teeth and his long black curly hair was sticking out all over the place. Mike believed that if hairdressers tried, but with much difficulty, they could make an afro out of Lenny’s wild hair. Once Lenny handed him a joint, Mike placed it to his lips as Lenny took out a lighter from his jeans’ pocket and lit it for him. Mike sucked in what he felt was his entire life until this moment and breathed out, breathing everything away.