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Sunday, March 13, 2016

A History Of Friendship - PART SEVEN

Some time passed, and it was now just a few minutes before Miss Grundy's history class was about to begin, and Wembley Morris was ready for it.  He had just completed his oral report for tomorrow's class, and armed with his mother's jewelry box and his oral report scribbled in his notebook, he was ready to give off a great report.  He was thinking that he would get a B+ at least, or maybe even an A.  He was really proud of it, and he had hoped that his report would have made his parents proud as well.
   He turned the corner and saw that Miss Grundy's classroom was open, and that nobody else was inside, so he figured that he would head on inside and wait for class to start.  He walked inside the classroom, and started to head towards the desk as the warning bell began to ring, informing people to hurry ahead to class.  He was more than excited to hand in his project early and be done with it.
   But, as Wembley walked inside the empty classroom, he heard a door slam behind him.  When Wembley turned around, he was shocked to find Clay and Johnny standing in the doorway.
   “We need to have a talk.”  Clay said.
   “You need to stay away from me.”  Wembley said.  “The principal said.”
   “Well, he's not he?”  Johnny said, walking slowly towards Wembley.
   “I don't like what you said about us to Weatherbee.”  Clay said.  “Thanks to you, we can't play in the homecoming game.”
   “And, we don't like that.”  Johnny said.
   “So, we're going to make you pay.”  Clay said.
   Wembley looked scared.  “Wh...what are you going to do?”
   Clay smiled.  “Wouldn't you like to know?”
   Johnny then noticed the stuff that Wembley was carrying.  “Get a load of the stuff he's carrying.”
   Clay grabbed the notebook out of Wembley's hands.  “What's this?  Your homework?”
   “Give it back!”  Wembley yelled.
   “I just want to see it!”  Clay said, flipping through the pages of the notebook.
   But, Clay was purposely turning the pages forcefully, causing the pages to rip out completely.
   “Oops!”  Clay said.  “I seem to have ripped the book.  What will I do?”
   Johnny laughed.  “Let's party!”
   Clay sneered as he threw the pieces of paper up in the air.  “Happy New Year!”
   Wembley looked like he was about to cry.  “You won't get away with this!”
   Just then, Reggie walked into the classroom and saw Clay, Johnny, and Wembley inside the classroom.  “Clay?  Johnny?  What are you doing here?  You aren't in this class!”
   As Wembley continued to look nervous, Clay turned towards Reggie and smiled.  “Ah, Reggie!  Just in time!”
   “We're about to play a game!”  Johnny said.
   Reggie looked concerned.  “What are you doing to that kid?”
   “Oh, don't worry, dude.”  Clay said.  “Wembley here is just having fun.”
   “Funny.”  Reggie said.  “He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself at all.”
   “Oh, but he is.”  Johnny said.  “Trust us.”
   Clay was eyeing the red box that Wembley was carrying.  “What's in there?”
   Wembley looked scared.  “ can't have it?”
   Johnny smiled.  “You know something?  Tomorrow happens to be my birthday...and it looks like Wembley bought me a present.  Isn't that thoughtful of him?”
   “Sure is.”  Clay said.  “What do you say, Wembley?  Give Johnny his present.”
   “No.”  Wembley said.
   Clay got angrier.  “I said, give Johnny his present.”
   Reggie looked uncomfortable.  “Clay, Johnny, you're taking this a bit too far.”
   “Be quiet, Mantle.”  Clay snapped.
   Johnny then grabbed the box out of Wembley's hands.  “Let's see what you bought me.”
   Wembley was visibly agitated.  “Please!  No!  Give that back!”
   Clay stood in front of Wembley as Johnny tore open the red box.  “What the heck is this?  It looks like a blue wooden box.”
   “No way!”  Clay exclaimed.  “That's a jewelry box!  The wimpy kid has a jewelry box.”
   “You need to give that back!”  Wembley pleaded.
   Clay scoffed.  “What kind of dorky man has a jewelry box anyway?”
   “I don't know, but it's nothing that I can use.”  Johnny said in disgust.
   “I WANT IT BACK!”  Wembley shouted.  “Please!”
   “Guys, this has gone on far enough.”  Reggie said.  “Give it back to him.”
   “You want it back, Whiny Wembley?”  Clay asked.
   Wembley nodded.
   “You REALLY want it back?”  Johnny asked.
   “YES!”  Wembley yelled.
   “Fine.”  Clay said.  “We'll give it back.”
   Clay walked over to where a frightened Wembley was and started to hand over the jewelry box to him.  But, just before Wembley could lay a hand on the box, Clay yanked it back, winked at Johnny and yelled “CATCH!”
   Wembley could only look on in horror as Clay threw the jewelry box up in the air to Johnny who was on the other side of the classroom.
   Johnny caught the jewelry box and laughed.  “Wow...great throw.  I can see why Coach made you quarterback.”
   STOP IT!”  Wembley screamed.  “Please!”
   “Guys, this is crazy.”  Reggie yelled.  “You have got to stop this!”
   “Why?”  Johnny said, tossing the jewelry box back to Clay.  “We're having too much fun.”
   As Clay caught the box, Wembley was visibly upset, and for the first time, Reggie could see that Archie and Betty were telling the truth about Clay and Johnny bullying Wembley.  And, he knew that he was the only one who could make things right.
   As Clay threw the box back over to Johnny, Reggie quickly intercepted the box.
   Clay was visibly upset.  “What did you do that for?”
   “Because this is wrong.”  Reggie said.  “Look at what you're doing to this kid!”
   “Why are you defending this weirdo?”  Clay yelled.  “He doesn't speak in class, he doesn't say anything to anybody.  He just doesn't do anything!  He's the weirdest person in the whole school!”
   “I don't care!”  Reggie said.  “This is wrong.  It's one thing to crack jokes to people, or good-naturedly rib our new team members.  This is bullying, and I think you two need to stop.  Wembley is getting his jewelry box back.”
   “No he's not.”  Johnny said, grabbing on the box that Reggie was holding.
   Reggie tried to get the box out of Johnny's grip.  “What are you doing?”  he screamed.
   “Wembley got us thrown out of the game.”  Johnny said.  “He needs to pay!”
   “Guys, stop it!”  Wembley screamed.  “You're gonna wreck it!”
   But Reggie and Johnny wouldn't stop.  Reggie was trying to get the box out of Johnny's hands so he could give it back to Wembley, but Johnny wasn't letting go.  Suddenly, both Reggie and Johnny tripped over a chair and both of them let go of the box.  Wembley could only watch in horror as the wooden jewelry box landed on the floor, breaking into several pieces all over Miss Grundy's classroom floor.
   “NOOOOOOOO!”  Wembley cried out!
   Wembley immediately ran to the broken jewelry box and upon seeing the damaged box, broke down into tears.
   Reggie looked really uncomfortable, while Clay and Johnny were chuckling to themselves.
   Reggie was furious.  “Are the two of you happy now?”
   Just then, the rest of the class started to pile into the classroom, and immediately came upon the sight of a sobbing Wembley, and Clay, Johnny, and Reggie standing in the middle of the classroom.
   Jughead noticed the broken box on the floor, and then fixed his gaze on Clay and Johnny.  “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?”
   Clay and Johnny glanced at each other.
   “We didn't do anything.”  Clay said.
   “Yeah,  it was an accident.”  Johnny said.  “Right, Reggie?”
   Reggie looked like he was punched in the stomach.
   “You two aren't even supposed to BE in this class!”  Betty snapped.
   “Get out of here now.”  Veronica said.  “Haven't you done enough to this poor boy?”
   Archie just stared at Reggie.  “I really hope YOU had nothing to do with this Reggie.”
   Jughead tried to kneel down beside Wembley.  He reached his hand out to him.  “Wembley?”
   “Just leave me alone!”  Wembley sobbed.
   Just then, Miss Grundy walked inside the classroom.  “Good afternoon class, I...”
   Miss Grundy then looked around.  “My classroom!  What happened to my classroom?  Why is Wembley Morris crying?  I want to know what is going on, and I want to know what is going on right now!”
   “I'd like an explanation myself.”  Mr. Weatherbee said as he too entered the classroom.
“Miss Grundy invited me down to speak to the class for a few minutes, and I see that there is obvious disorder here.  I want to know what is going on.  NOW.”
   Wembley wiped his eyes and approached Mr. Weatherbee.  “I'll tell you what's happening.  I'm leaving Riverdale High.  I want to transfer to Central High.  I can't...I can't be here...”
   Wembley ran out of the room as Jughead tried to go after him.  “Wembley...Wembley, wait!”
   “Hold it, son.”  Mr. Weatherbee said, holding Jughead back.  “Nobody is leaving this room.”
   “But, sir, Wembley...:”  Jughead said.
   “I understand that you're concerned about him.”  Mr. Weatherbee said.  “That's why I need to know what exactly happened in this classroom.”
   Jughead angrily turned and glared at Clay and Johnny.  “Why don't you ask these two?”
   “Jones, what are you talking about?”  Clay said.
   “AS IF YOU DON'T KNOW!”  Jughead yelled.  “You two have been hounding Wembley for weeks!  You've been bullying him, making his time in school miserable...and now you broke his jewelry box!”
   “You have no proof!”  Johnny said.
   “Do you have any idea how much that box meant to him?”  Jughead yelled.  “That box was one of the only things he has left to remember his parents who died in a fire when Wembley was little!  It was all he had, and you two just destroyed it!  How cruel can you be?”
   “Look, I'm sorry his jewelry box got broken, but you can't blame us.”  Clay said.  “It was an accident!”
   “Yeah, it accidentally fell.”
   “It was NO accident, and both of you know it!”  Reggie yelled.
   Clay and Johnny glared at Reggie.
   “Reggie, you don't know what you're talking about.”  Clay said.
   “Great, now you've turned against us too.”  Johnny said.  “I guess nobody cares about whether we win the homecoming game, not even Reggie.”
   “I'd rather lose every game than let you hurt Wembley any longer.”  Reggie said.
   Jughead walked towards Reggie.  “Reggie, what happened?”
   “I'd like to know what happened too.”  Mr. Weatherbee said.
   Reggie sighed.  “Clay and Johnny cornered Wembley in this classroom, and they were harassing him when I walked in.”
   “He's lying!”  Clay said.
   “Oh, be quiet, you boor.”  Veronica snapped.  “I can't believe I ever thought you were cute.”
   “Reggie, go on.”  Mr. Weatherbee said.
   Reggie breathed deeply.  “When I came in, Johnny grabbed the jewelry box out of Wembley's hands, and started to play catch with it.  He and Clay threw it back and forth just to hurt Wembley.  I tried to step in and get the box back once I saw that Wembley was really upset about it, and in the struggle, the box got broken.”
   Jughead angrily glared at Clay and Johnny, who were looking more and more guilty with every word that Reggie was saying.
   “Sir, you have to believe me.”  Reggie said, his voice cracking.  “I wasn't aware that any of this was going on with Wembley until I saw it.  I am so sorry that Wembley's box got broken, and I swear to you that I didn't have anything to do with Wembley's bullying.  Please believe me.”
   Reggie then walked over to Archie, Betty, and Jughead.  “Guys, please forgive me.”
   Betty sighed.  “You really tried to stop it?”
   Reggie nodded.  “Yes.  I did.”
   Archie smiled a tiny smile.  “Maybe there's hope for you yet, Reg.”
   “Sir.”  Reggie said to Mr. Weatherbee.  “I really am sorry.”
   Mr. Weatherbee sighed.  “Reggie...I can't say that I'm all that pleased to hear what happened here...but at the same time, I admire your courage.  In the end, I really do believe that you tried to make things right.  That does take courage, and I respect that.”
   Reggie nodded sadly.  “Thank you, sir.”
   Mr. Weatherbee's attention then turned towards Clay and Johnny.  “I am however incredibly disappointed in the two of you.  What were you thinking?”
   “The kid is weird.”  Clay said.  “We wanted to get him to open up.”
   “By destroying his history project?”  Miss Grundy exclaimed.  “In all my years of teaching, I have NEVER seen people treat each other so cruelly.”
   Mr. Weatherbee shook his head.  “You two have disappointed me, Miss Grundy, the football team, the school...and especially poor Wembley.  I want to see both of you in my office.”
   “But, sir.”  Clay said.
   “NOW.”  Mr. Weatherbee bellowed.  “You two are in some serious, SERIOUS trouble.  Come with me.”
   Mr. Weatherbee left the classroom, with a dejected looking Clay and Johnny following behind him.
   Jughead looked like he was about ready to be sick.  “I can't believe those two would do something like this.  What person would do this?  What HUMAN BEING would do this?”
   “Guys, you have got to believe me.”  Reggie said.  “I am so sorry for what happened to Wembley.  I tried to get them to stop and give the box back.”
   “Reggie, I believe you.”  Archie said.
   “Yeah...”  Jughead said.  “ at least feel something about what happened, which is more than I can say for those two.”
   “Poor Wembley.”  Veronica said.
   Jughead walked over towards Miss Grundy.  “Miss Grundy, we have got to find Wembley.  He's hurt and upset.  He really needs a friend.  May I be excused from class to go and find him and talk to him?”
   “Normally, I would say no.”  Miss Grundy said.  “But, in this case, I will make an exception.  Go on.  Find him.”
   “Thank you, Miss Grundy.”  Jughead said.
   “And, I'm going with you.”  Archie said.
   “Archie, I appreciate this, but I don't know if you'd be any help.”  Jughead said.
   “Jughead, you and I have been friends for how many years now?”  Archie asked.  “I'm not letting you deal with this alone.  I want to help you find, Wembley, okay?”
   Jughead nodded.  “Come on.  We'll use your car, okay?”
   “All right.”  Archie said.  “Let's go.”
   “Good luck, guys.”  Betty said.
   “You find him, all right?”  Reggie said.
   Archie and Jughead left Miss Grundy's classroom, and headed towards the front door of the school.
   “Would you have any idea where Wembley might have gone?”  Archie asked Jughead.
   “I can only think of one place.”  Jughead said.  “I just hope that I'm right.  In the meantime, you'd better call Wembley's aunt and uncle to let them know what happened.  I have the phone number.”
   “I just hope we can find him.”  Archie said.
   “Me too.”  Jughead said.
   Back inside the classroom, Reggie kept staring at the broken pieces of Wembley's jewelry box as Miss Grundy attempted to get class back in session.
   “This is so unfair.”  Veronica said.  “I mean, we helped Wembley try to get the bullying to stop, and in the end, he still ended up getting hurt.”
   “I still think that we did the right thing.”  Betty said.  “I mean, none of us saw this coming, but we had to say something.”
   “Betty's absolutely right.”  Miss Grundy said.  “If someone was being bullied or made fun of in this classroom, I would want to know about it so I could find a way to try and get it stopped.  I don't believe that anybody should have to go through any sort of harassment in this school.”
   “I can't help but feel so bad about this.”  Ethel Muggs said.
   “This is one horrible situation.”  Dilton Doiley added.
   “Moose, were you aware that any of this was going on?”  Midge asked.
   “D-uh...not at all.”  Moose said.
   “You couldn't have anyway.”  Reggie said.  “I didn't even know that this had been happening until I saw it with my own eyes.  Clay and Johnny did all their picking on Wembley out of sight of anyone.  It explains why they were always late for football practice.  Why didn't I see it earlier?”
   “I think part of it could have been that maybe you were afraid that by speaking out, you could have been teased too.”  Betty said.
   “A lot of teenagers don't report bullying to school officials.”  Miss Grundy said.  “Some people are afraid to go to a higher authority for fear of repercussions, or they may feel that they may lose friendships, or they simply feel that they can deal with it themselves.  But, the truth is that there is power in speaking out against school bullying, and I promise you that we will do our best to make sure that we never have a situation like this happen again.”
   “But, how does this help Wembley now?”  Reggie exclaimed.
   “Reggie, we're doing it right now by talking about this.”  Veronica said.
   “Exactly.”  Chuck said.  “The more awareness we bring to this issue, the better chance we have to stop it once and for all.”
   “I just feel so horrible about this.”  Reggie said.  “I mean, I was calling Wembley names, and I was making jokes at his expense, not knowing what Clay and Johnny were doing.  I just feel so incredibly horrible.  I mean, I know I have the reputation of being a jerk, but I'm not heartless.”
   “Reggie, of course we know that.”  Miss Grundy said.  “I think you're being a little bit hard on yourself.”
   “Yeah, I mean, it's not like you were throwing Wembley's backpack in the trash.”  Veronica said.
   “And, you certainly didn't intend to break Wembley's jewelry box.”  Betty said.  “You tried to get it back from those two.”
   “It's still broken though.”  Reggie said.  “And, now that I know how much it meant to Wembley, it doesn't make me feel any better.”
   “I know.”  Miss Grundy said.  “But, the best thing you can do for Wembley now is top be his friend now.  The best thing every single one of you can do is show Wembley just how much he is appreciated here.”
   “That all depends on whether Jughead and Archie can find him.”  Nancy Woods said.
   “I have faith in them.”  Betty said.  “We have to believe that Jughead and Archie will be able to be there for him through this.”
   “For now, this class will be a free period.”  Miss Grundy said.  “You may choose to work on your assignments if you wish, or if you want to just reflect on what has happened today, you can do so if you wish.  I will be here for any of you if you need me.”
   The class began to work on their assignments in silence.
   Reggie Mantle continued to stare at the broken jewelry box.  “I don't care what people say.  This jewelry box would have never been broken if I had acted sooner.  I've got to find a way to make it up to that kid.  I just have to...”

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