Continued from: With Drawn: Part 8 — A Hard Truth
Jacob stood at his school locker. He rummaged through the locker for his things. His things consisted of school books and notebooks and binders that were all crammed into the bottom of the locker. Jacob was not very organized when it came to such things.
Amanda Lansing would say that this disorganization was a result of his Asperger’s Syndrome. But it could also be a result of him being a teenager.
There was one thing, however, that Jacob was very organized and careful about. His sketchpad was carefully placed on the locker’s top shelf. Jacob yanked his math textbook and binder from the bottom of his locker, and then he carefully removed the sketchpad from the top shelf. Jacob tucked the sketchpad beneath his arm, shut the locker’s door, and he turned to go to his math class.
But he had to stop when he found Tommy Rogers standing in his way.
Tommy Rogers had eyes that reminded Jacob of a shark’s eyes. They were expressionless, like a Great White’s black eyes. Tommy’s shark eyes were focused on Jacob now.
Danny Andrews and Frankie Spitzer were standing with Tommy. Danny was short and squat, Frankie tall and thin. Standing there behind Tommy at that moment, they looked somewhat like the number ten. Danny and Frankie were smiling. Kind of. Their smiles were a special kind of smile known as a smirk.
People generally smirk when they know something that another person doesn’t know.
Tommy Rogers then spoke. His voice was as blank and cryptic as his expressionless eyes. And the words Tommy said seemed even more cryptic. Tommy said, “Heard you have me getting my head ripped off, freak-boy.”
Jacob didn’t make eye contact with Tommy. Jacob wanted to get away from Tommy’s shark eyes, and Danny and Frankie’s smirks, and he wanted to get away from the confusion of the whole situation. And so, Jacob did something he found to be very logical, he ignored the three boys and he began to walk to his math class, which was where he was supposed to be going.
But Tommy did something illogical, he stepped in front of Jacob again, impeding Jacob’s way to his math class. This made Jacob have to stop again. Tommy then asked Jacob a question that made absolutely no sense to Jacob. Tommy asked Jacob, “Where do you think you’re going?”
This question was extremely illogical to ask, but Jacob at least attempted to give a logical answer. Jacob told Tommy, “I’m going to math class.”
Tommy said, “No, you’re not. I’m not done talking to you.”
Jacob said, “But I’m done talking to you.”
Now it was Tommy’s turn to be confused. Tommy did not expect that answer from Jacob, but instead of responding in a way that made sense to Jacob, Tommy did another completely illogical thing. Tommy snatched the sketchpad from Jacob and he ran off down the hallway.
Later, Jacob would try and figure out why Tommy had grabbed the sketchpad and ran off with it. It would be a puzzle for Jacob that had no solution. But for now, all that Jacob could think to do was to follow the sketchpad that was now running down the hall.
Now, true, the sketchpad wasn’t actually running, as if it had sprouted legs and took off down the hallway, but to Jacob, it might as well have been. Jacob could only focus on the sketchpad at that moment, as if Tommy had no involvement in the pad’s locomotion. So Jacob chased after the sketchpad, calling out, “Hey, stop.” What few people might understand is that Jacob was calling this imperative to the sketchpad, not to Tommy, as if the sketchpad had the ability to stop on its own.
Tommy darted into the boys’ bathroom.
Jacob followed Tommy into the bathroom.
Danny and Frankie followed Jacob into the bathroom.
Other than the four boys, no one was in the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, Tommy was flipping through the sketchpad. Jacob darted toward Tommy and tried to get the sketchpad from him. Tommy shifted his body away from Jacob.
In the sport of basketball, there is something known as “boxing out.” This is when a player places his body between an opponent and something that the opponent wants, generally the basketball. This is what Tommy did now. Tommy boxed Jacob out from his sketchpad.
Jacob shouted at Tommy, “Hey, give that back.” Jacob clawed for the sketchpad. And then, although Jacob had not intended to do it, Jacob scratched Tommy’s face.
Even though the scratch was an accident, Tommy became very angry and he threw the sketchpad aside, the pad skidding across the bathroom floor and into a toilet stall. Jacob started after the pad, but he couldn’t get to it because Tommy suddenly had him in a headlock.
It was here that Tommy said things that made the least amount of sense yet to Jacob. Tommy said, “You want to see someone get their head ripped off, freak boy? Don’t need no stupid gorilla to rip off a head.”
It wasn’t the lack of proper grammar that confused Jacob. Jacob really had no idea what Tommy was trying to say. It sounded like pure gibberish.
Jacob shouted the only response he could think to say, “Give me my sketchpad.”
Tommy, with Jacob still in a headlock, began wrenching Jacob in small circles around the bathroom, Tommy saying to Danny and Frankie, “Just waiting for the pop, guys, this head should be coming off any minute now.”
That, of course, is an absurdity. No human, especially one with the strength of a middle school boy, could actually rip off another human’s head. It is impossible.
Tommy then began making gorilla sounds as Danny and Frankie laughed.
Jacob shouted, “Give me my drawings, you asshole.”
Tommy was laughing, too.
Jacob didn’t understand why they were laughing. There was absolutely nothing funny about the situation.
Tommy said, his voice broken by his laughter, “Asshole? Asshole? Is that where you want me to stuff your head when I pull it off? You want it up your asshole?”
This statement made even less sense to Jacob than the other gibberish Tommy had been saying.
Jacob shouted, “No, you’re an asshole.”
Tommy saying, still in fits of laughter, “My asshole? But I don’t want your head up my asshole.”
Jacob didn’t have time to try and decipher any of what Tommy was saying because Jacob was still only focused on not having his drawings, not to mention the fact that his head was still in a headlock. Through it all, Jacob thought that he, himself, had said things that made perfect sense. Like here, he said, “I want my drawings back.” This made sense because he did want his drawings back.
Tommy let go of Jacob’s head and he pushed Jacob aside. Then Tommy darted into the toilet stall where the sketchpad had slid. Tommy emerged from the stall with the sketchpad in his hands. He held the pad up as if it was a prize he had won.
Jacob rushed toward the sketchpad, but Danny and Frankie grabbed him and kept him from it.
Tommy opened the pad, flipping through the pages until he came to the drawing of the gorilla pulling off his head. Tommy tore the drawing from the sketchpad.
“Hey,” Jacob shouted.
Tommy tore the drawing into long strips and he dropped them into the toilet.
“My drawing,” Jacob called out.
Jacob called this out in the same manner a mother might call out after discovering that her baby was trapped in a burning building, which might seem strange, seeing as it was not a baby Jacob was yelling about, it was only a sketchpad.
Tommy flipped through the pad to another drawing. This one was of a soldier running from an exploding house with a baby in his arms. Tommy ripped the drawing from the pad and tore it into strips, dropping these strips into the toilet, too. Tommy flushed the toilet, saying, “Oops. Bye, bye, drawings.”
Jacob shouted, “Stop. Those are mine. Give them to me.”
But Tommy was already flipping through the sketchpad again, this time coming to the drawing of the warrior with the decapitated dragon head at his feet. Tommy held the drawing at arms’ length, inspecting it and saying, “Man, you are so fucked up.” He was about to tear the drawing from the pad, when something caught his eye. The drawing seemed to move for a moment. Tommy shook the notion away and he tore the drawing from the pad and then tore it into strips.
Jacob continued to plead with Tommy to return his drawings to him. But Tommy just flipped to another page, finding a portrait of a man that looked very much like the soldier that had been running from the exploding building. The man in this portrait was wearing an Army dress uniform. He had a square jaw and eyes as dark as Jacob’s eyes.
“Who’s this handsome devil?” Tommy said.
This statement was a rhetorical question. Tommy knew that this man was Jacob’s father. And Tommy knew that Jacob’s father had been killed.
Tommy said, “Why, this guy looks like the coward and traitor, David Grist.” And then Tommy tore the drawing from the pad, tearing the picture into strips and dropping them into the toilet.
“No,” Jacob cried out.
This time, Jacob cried out like a mother having discovered that her baby had perished in the fire.
Jacob fought against Danny and Frankie, but he ended up slipping on the bathroom floor and falling to the wet tiles. He could smell the strong stench of urine on the floor. It made him nauseated, as if someone had put ammonia beneath his nose. And he heard the three boys laughing. The laughter hurt his ears.
Tommy folded the sketchpad lengthwise and he stuck it into the toilet. Tommy flushed the toilet, but the pad was too big to go down the drain, so the toilet began to struggle and sound like someone choking, water spilling over the side of the bowl.
Tommy said, “Oh, shit, let’s get out of here.” Tommy was laughing at this despite the utter gravity of the situation. Jacob’s drawings were ruined. Jacob thought it was the worst thing that had ever happened to him.
Tommy, Danny, and Frankie ran out of the bathroom. They were all still laughing.
Jacob climbed up from the wet, urine stench of the tile floor, and he walked to the toilet stall. He pulled the folded sketchpad from the toilet. He flipped through the pages, looking at the smudged, waterlogged drawings.
This was when the door banged open, and Principal Cooper stormed into the bathroom. Principal Cooper stopped just out of reach of the puddle of water creeping across the floor. When the principal had first opened the bathroom door, he was already saying, “What’s going on in…” He was saying this because he had heard kids running out of the room, laughing. But he cut his question short when he saw what was in the room. He found Jacob Grist standing there with dripping, smudged drawings in his hands and toilet water spilling onto his sneakers.
Continued in: With Drawn: Part 10 — Vanishing Points