With Drawn: Part 29 — Pecking Order

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 28 — Suspicious Activity

Jacob walked down the school’s hallway with his art supplies. It was during class time, so the hallways were empty. Jacob turned a corner and almost ran into Billy Warren, who was coming down the hall in the opposite direction. Jacob tensed. Jacob tensed because he was alone in the hallway with a jock. This was not generally a good position to be in for a social outcast like Jacob. There is a pecking order for students in a middle school.

A “pecking order” determines where a person stands in perceived importance amongst a large group. Pecking orders are not unique to middle school, nor are they unique to humans, for that matter. In fact, the name comes from chicken hens, who, when a rooster is absent, will decide which chicken is in charge by the one that can peck the other chickens into submission. This type of hierarchy is seen in other animals as well, such as apes and lions.

The best example of this behavior, and the one most similar to middle school, may be found in a dog pack, where the most powerful dog is known as the alpha dog, and the least powerful is known as the omega dog. Jacob was an omega.

By the way, the most apt comparison of middle school hierarchy to another human social structure would be a prison.

As Billy approached Jacob in the hallway, he looked Jacob in the eye.

Jacob averted his gaze to the floor.

Billy stopped and said to Jacob, “Hey, it’s Michelangelo.”

Michelangelo was the man that painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, so Billy was making a reference to an earlier conversation where Tim Thayer had compared Jacob’s mural to Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel.

Jacob paused a moment, trying to determine if Billy’s comment was friendly or not. And then Jacob ventured a response. Jacob saying, “The one from France.”

This was actually a funny joke, because Tim had thought the Sistine Chapel was in France, but Jacob worried a moment that Billy would not get his joke.

Billy laughed. Billy saying, “The one from France, that’s pretty good. So, are you done working on your mural for now?”

Jacob said, “Yeah.”

Billy said, “Cool. Then I’ll see you later.”

Jacob said, “Okay, bye.”

Jacob wanted to say more, but there was nothing more to say, but later, when Jacob spotted Billy Warren standing at Billy’s locker, Jacob had thought of something more to say. Jacob saw that Billy was surrounded by a group of friends, all of them conversing and laughing about something Jacob could not hear. One of the students was Tommy Rogers laughing with Billy, but Jacob calculated that he and Billy were now friends, and that he was allowed to approach Billy, and Jacob also calculated that Tommy would now have to accept Jacob because they shared a mutual friend. So, Jacob approached the boys to speak with his new friend Billy.

When Jacob arrived at the group of boys, they all went silent.

Jacob said to Billy, “Hi, Billy.”

Billy said, “Uh… hey.”

Jacob said to Billy, “Do you still like my mural?”

The other boys snickered.

A snicker is like a scoff, only a snicker is more like laughing, whereas a scoff is more like snorting.

The other students looked at Billy, the other students anticipating what Billy’s response would be.

Billy said, “Uh… yeah, it’s pretty cool.”

Jacob said to Billy, “You know, I can put you in the mural. I can make you the football player if you want.”

The other students snickered again.

Tommy Rogers said, “What are you, gay?”

The other students laughed harder.

Tommy said to Billy, “He wants to paint you into his picture, Billy. Sounds like he might be falling in love with you.”

Billy looked at Tommy. Then he looked at the other laughing students around him. Then he looked at Jacob, Billy saying to Jacob, “Dude, get lost. That’s just weird.”

Tommy said, “Weird nothing. It’s fucking gay.”

Jacob said to Billy, “But I thought you liked…”

Billy said, “I don’t like nothing. Get lost you retarded fag.” Billy shoved Jacob away from him.

Jacob looked around at the laughing faces around him. Then he walked away from the group of boys, Jacob looking over his shoulder at Billy.

Confusion squeezed Jacob’s brain and Jacob’s heart. And it would squeeze Jacob’s brain and heart all day. Especially at the end of the day, when Jacob went to the gym to work on his mural.

This is what Jacob found when he went to work on his mural: A series of black squiggles all over the figures of his mural, which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be phrases written in black marker. The phrases were things like this: JACOB IS GAY. JACOB IS A FAG. JACOB LOVES BILLY.

 Continued in: With Drawn: Part 30 — Vandal 

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