“So, your uncle owns this warehouse, and you live in a little apartment above it?” Jughead asked Wembley.
“Yes.” Wembley said. “My uncle, aunt, and I used to live in a house on the other side of town, but when I transferred to Riverdale High a month ago, we felt it best to just stick close to where he worked, so we moved into the apartment above this place.”
“Doesn't it get a bit noisy here, with all the people working below and the noise of the forklifts?” Jughead wondered.
“Actually, you'll find that our flat is quite soundproof.” Wembley said.
“Flat?” Jughead asked.
“Oh, sorry.” Wembley said. “I'm sorry, I meant apartment. You see, my parents are originally from Britain. I moved to America when I was seven, and I'm more or less Americanized, but a little bit of British slang pops up every now and again.”
“That's cool.” Jughead said.
Wembley approached a metal door that was covered in red paint and had the letter 'W' stenciled upon it. “Here's my room!”
Jughead was shocked. “Your bedroom door is made of metal?”
“Well, the apartment used to be a part of the factory.” Wembley said. “So, as a result, my bedroom is sort of a bit different from the average person's. Would you like to come in?”
“Sure.” Jughead said.
Wembley opened up the door, and he showed Jughead inside, where Jughead was completely in awe of what he was seeing. In the middle of Wembley's bedroom was a chain link fence, which was completely covered with tons of posters, old discarded street signs, a couple of neon lights, and the main focus piece of the room, a retro-style jukebox, right next to Wembley's bed.
“This room is...so cool!” Jughead said.
“It's not much, but I call it home.” Wembley said, as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
“I mean it!” Jughead said. “The neon signs, the awesome music posters, the really cool jukebox. This is one really cool room! Where did you get all of this really cool stuff?”
“Mostly from my uncle and aunt.” Wembley said. “That's part of the reason why they opened up this warehouse. They send and receive retro-style knick-knacks all over the state. A lot of the vendors offer up free samples as a thank you for doing business with them. It includes the movie posters all over the walls here.”
“That's generous of them.” Jughead said.
“Well, my uncle and aunt definitely work hard to provide a good living for us all.” Wembley said.
“So, you live with your uncle and aunt.” Jughead said.
Wembley sighed. “I'm thinking you're probably wondering what happened to my parents.”
“Well, no, not really...” Jughead said.
“No, no...it's all right.” Wembley said. “My parents aren't alive. They died in a house fire when I was six and a half.”
“I'm sorry, Wembley.” Jughead said.
“That's part of the reason why I moved to America.” Wembley explained. “My uncle and aunt were my only living relatives. But, I've been in this country the last ten years, and my uncle and aunt have been incredibly supportive and caring.”
“They sound like fantastic people.” Jughead said.
“Oh, they are.” Wembley said. “Still, though...I do miss my parents.”
“I imagine you do.” Jughead said. “I couldn't imaging losing loved ones, especially at such a young age.”
Wembley nodded. “You know, I've never actually talked about my feelings about this with anyone else. It's always been so hard for me to open up to people.”
“You seem to be doing fine with me so far.” Jughead said.
“Well, you made the effort.” Wembley said. “Not everyone would be as kind as you.”
Jughead looked confused. “Why would you say that?”
Wembley sighed. “Oh, um...it's nothing. Forget I said anything.”
Jughead nodded. “You know if you want to talk about whatever is on your mind, I won't judge you.”
“No, really, it's fine.” Wembley said. “Really.”
But, somehow, Jughead knew that Wembley seemed to be holding back on him. And, he had an idea as to why.
“All right.” Jughead said. “I won't press further.”
“Thank you.” Wembley said.
“So, let's change the subject.” Jughead said. “Have you thought about what you want to do for Miss Grundy's homework assignment?”
“Not really.” Wembley said.
“I'm kind of surprised.” Jughead said, looking around Wembley's room. “You have so much stuff in here that is supposedly retro, you could do an entire project on your bedroom alone.”
“Yes, but none of this stuff really has any special meaning to me.” Wembley said. “All of this stuff I've only collected over the last few years. Most of my childhood stuff was burned up in the fire. I only managed to save one thing.”
“What is it?” Jughead asked.
“Hold on.” Wembley said. “I'll get it.”
Wembley got up off of his bed and opened up the door to his wardrobe. He pulled out a bright red box and opened it up. Inside was a light blue wooden box that had deep blue flowers painted on the lid.
“What is it?” Jughead asked.
“It was my mother's.” Wembley explained. “It was a jewelry box that my father had bought for her back when they were dating.”
Jughead eyed the jewelry box intently. “It's nice.”
“It used to play music.” Wembley said. “But, it's been broken for a few years now. It's actually a miracle that I managed to save this...the fire was really bad. Look on the bottom of it. There's an inscription underneath it.”
Jughead turned the jewelry box upside down and saw an inscription written in bright blue ink. “To my dearest Laura, in honour of our first year together, and many many more thereafter. Love always, Samuel.”
“I can see why this box means a lot to you.” Jughead said.
“It's really the only thing that I have from my parents.” Wembley said. “It is my most prized possession, and really the only thing that I could bring in for Miss Grundy's project. But, I doubt that it would be interesting or meaningful enough to make for a good project. I wouldn't even know if I would even get an A.”
“If it's special to you, then it's good enough for the project.” Jughead said. “Miss Grundy did say that it had to be an item from the twentieth century that brought a lot of meaning to you, and clearly this jewelry box does. But, it's your project...you need to decide what to do.”
Wembley took back the jewelry box from Jughead. “Thanks, Jughead.”
“You're welcome.” Jughead said. “Listen, I hate to leave like this, but I really have to get going. But, hey, why don't we meet up again in the school library later this week, so we can help each other work on our projects?”
“Sounds good.” Wembley said.
Jughead headed towards Wembley's door and turned back towards Wembley. “The offer to talk...you know that it still stands anytime.”
“I know.” Wembley said. “Thanks.”
As Jughead left, Wembley stared at the jewelry box in sadness. “I wish you were both still here...maybe you could help me find a way to stand up for myself instead of getting pushed around. Opening up to Jughead was a HUGE step for me...I just hope I'm right about trusting him...I've had too many people hurt me enough.”