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Monday, March 07, 2016

A History of Friendship - PART TWO

I have no idea how to get rid of the grey highlights.  Sorry!

An hour later at Pop's Chocklit Shop, Jughead was filling in Archie, Betty, and Veronica about what he had seen in the hallways of Riverdale High, including how he had tried to engage in a conversation with the scared boy.
   “It was just so weird.”  Jughead explained.  “We were standing outside the gym and I was trying to get through to him, but he wouldn't talk to me.  He just looked like he wanted to get out of there.”
   “And you say that he's the new kid in Miss Grundy's class?”  Archie asked.
   “Yeah.”  Jughead said.  “Goes by...what was his name again?  Wally?  Woody?”
   “Wembley.”  Betty said.  “Wembley Morris.  He sits behind me in class.”
   “What's he like?”  Veronica asked.  “I don't think any of us really know him and he's been in class a month.”
   “To be completely honest, I don't really know.”  Betty said.  “I've tried to talk to him in class a couple of times, but he just refused to speak.  At first, I thought he was kind of snobby, but after hearing what Jughead said, I think that maybe something doesn't add up.”
   “I just wish I could have gotten to talk to him.”  Jughead said.  “For all we know, something could be wrong, and he just might not know exactly what to say.”
   “You could always try talking to him at school once the weekend's over.”  Archie suggested.
   “I guess.”  Jughead said.  
   “So.”  Veronica said.  “Archie, what time are you picking me up for the vampire movie tonight?”
   “He's not, because he's going with me.”  Betty said.  “Right, Archie?”
   Archie's face started to turn red, and beads of sweat formed on his forehead.  “Ah, um, well...actually...I'm not going to go with either of you.”
   “What?”  Betty asked.
   “Why not?”  Veronica asked.
   “Well...I kind of sort of promised Jughead and Reggie that we would go and see the new horror film that's debuting at the mall movie theatre tonight.”  Archie said.  
   “We've been planning this for quite some time.”  Jughead said.
   “I hope you two understand.”  Archie said.
   Betty smiled.  “Of course we understand.”  
   Archie looked shocked.  “”
   “Of course we do.”  Veronica said.  “You're guys, and you need to have your bonding time.  I mean, what better way to bond than seeing flesh-eating zombies take over the world, right?”
   “I'm so relieved.”  Archie said, laughing.
   “Good.”  Veronica said.  “Because, you and I are going to see the vampire movie tomorrow night.”
   “We...are?”  Archie asked
   “And, then on Sunday night, you and I are going to see the same movie.”  Betty said.
   “We...are?!?”  Archie gasped.
   Betty and Veronica then stood up and each kissed Archie on the cheek.  “See you later.”  Veronica said, as she and Betty left Pop's.
   Archie looked as if he was punched in the stomach by Moose Mason.  “First I have to buy them all shakes...and now I have to scrape together enough cash to go on three movie dates.  What is the universe trying to tell me here?”
   “You're a cheapskate.”  Jughead said, sipping his soda.
   “Thanks.”  Archie said, looking slightly annoyed.  “I wonder what's keeping Reggie anyway?  We agreed that we would meet here at Pop's and from there we'd go to the movie theatre.”
   “Maybe he's running late from football practice.”  Jughead said.
   “Yeah, that's probably it.”  Archie said.
   “Hmmm...”  Jughead thought.  “ was raining earlier today, wasn't it?  That would mean that Coach Kleats would have had the practice session in the gym today, would he not?”
   Archie sighed.  “You're still thinking about Wembley, aren't you?”
   “It just doesn't feel right.”  Jughead said.  “I found him outside the gym and it sounded like someone was picking on him.  You'd think that the football team or Coach Kleats would have noticed if something was going on.”
   “We could always ask Reggie if he saw anything when he arrives.”  Archie said.
   “Yeah, let's do that.”  Jughead said.
   Archie smiled.  “You know, you don't know this Wembley kid, but you seem to feel as though something may be wrong, and you want to help him.”
   “There's just something about him that makes me think that he's all right, and that he may need some help in dealing with whatever is going on, and that he's too afraid to talk about it.”  Jughead said.  “Or, maybe he just wanted a friend.  Believe me, I know all too well what that feeling is like.”
   “What do you mean?”  Archie asked.
   Before Jughead could answer, he caught something out of the corner of his eye.  He saw a young man, with brown hair, glasses, and a red sweatshirt and blue jeans make a beeline towards the booth next to the gumball machine.
   “Archie, look!”  Jughead said.  “That's Wembley!”
   “Yeah.”  Archie said.  “It sure is...but why is he sitting at that booth?  I don't think anyone has sat in that booth in the three years we've been at Riverdale High.”
   “I don't know, but I think we should join him.”  Jughead said.  “I mean, we're waiting for Reggie anyway.”
   “Are you sure about this, Jug?”  Archie asked.
   “We could always work on Miss Grundy's homework assignment.”  Jughead said.
   “You know, Wembley looks like he could use some company.”  Archie said.
Jughead and Archie decided to approach Wembley at the booth next to the gumball machine.  Jughead was hoping that this time, Wembley would stick around.
   “Hi.”  Jughead said.  “Would you mind if we joined you?”
   Wembley did not say a word.  Instead, he grabbed a nearby menu and buried his face in it, trying to make it seem that Archie and Jughead weren't there.
   “This is going well.”  Archie said.
   Unwilling to give up, Jughead sat down at the booth across from Wembley.  “Look...I know you're new in school, and I know that you're kind of quiet, and that's okay.  I was once like that too.  But, I'm sure that if you give my friend and I a chance to get to know you, you would find that you might like to know us too.”
   Wembley put down the menu and stared at Jughead intently, but still didn't speak.
   “Well, at least I can see your face now.”  Jughead said with a smile.  “Hey, listen.  I know you're in Miss Grundy's class.  I'm Jughead.  I sit in the back row on the opposite side of the room.  You may...have caught me sleeping in class a couple of times.”
   “A couple?”  Archie joked.
   Jughead shrugged his shoulders.  “The guy back there is Archie Andrews, my best friend.  Most days.”
   Archie laughed.  “He kids because he can.  Hey, Wembley.  Nice to meet you.”
   “You see?”  Jughead said.  “Archie wants to get to know you, and so do I.  But, it's kind of hard to get to know you if we don't know who you are.  We don't even know if you can speak!”
   Wembley cracked a tiny smile.  “I speak, all right.”
   “Oh my goodness!”  Jughead exclaimed.  “He speaks!”
   Archie nodded.  “I hear, I hear!”
   Wembley sighed.  “Okay, okay...I guess I don't have to be so nervous around you two.”
   “Of course you don't!”  Jughead said.  “Why would you be nervous at all?”
   Wembley sighed.  “It's a long story mate...I don't know if I really wanna go into it.”
   “It's okay.”  Jughead said.  “No rush.”
   “So, Wembley.”  Archie said.  “Tell us a bit about yourself.”
   “Well,'s not much to tell, really.”  Wembley said.  “I started at Riverdale High a month ago.  You two are really the first people who have actually come to me and welcomed me here.”
   “Really?”  Jughead exclaimed.  “You've been here a month and we're the first ones who have spoken to you?”
   “Well, no...”  Wembley said.  “...I mean, yes.  I mean...what I meant to say two are the only ones who have welcomed me warmly.”
   “Again, I find that hard to believe.”  Jughead said.
   “I guess I'm just...quiet.”  Wembley said.  “It's not easy for me up.”
   “Some people are like that.”  Jughead said.
   “Yeah, there's lots of people like that at Riverdale High.”  Archie said.  “All of us have had to overcome shyness at one point.  I have.  Certainly Jughead has.”
   “Yeah, but I don't think that either of you have quite had...the same things happen to you as I have.”  Wembley said.
   “Probably not, but you aren't alone in feeling shy at some point.”  Jughead said.
   Wembley sighed.  “I suppose.”
   Jughead smiled.  “Say...I have a great idea.  Archie and I are supposed to be going to the screening of the new horror movie tonight at the mall movie theatre along with a few of our friends.  Would you like to go?”
   “Yeah, Wembley.”  Archie said.  “We'd like it if you could go with us...maybe get to meet some more people?”
   “Who's all going?”  Wembley asked.
   “ two.”  Jughead said.  “Reggie Mantle, Moose Mason, Chuck Clayton.”
   “Probably you'll see the Riverdale High football team there too.”  Archie said.  “Reggie says that they've been talking about going to see it since they saw the trailers for it online.”
   As soon as Archie mentioned the words 'football team', the colour in Wembley's face drained, and he looked as though he was going to be sick.
   “Wembley, are you all right?”  Jughead asked.
   “”  Wembley said.  “Just fine.  I just remembered that I don't don't like horror movies.  They're too scary even for me.  I'm gonna pass.”
   “Sorry to hear that.”  Archie said.  “But, hey.  Maybe we can do something else this weekend.”
   “I'm...sorry, guys.”  Wembley said.  “Look.  I have to go.  Bye, guys.”
   Wembley stood up, left the booth, and darted out of the door, leaving Archie and Jughead very confused.
   “He sure left in a hurry.”  Archie said.
   “Yeah.”  Jughead said.  “Too much of a hurry.  Did you notice how oddly he reacted to us when you mentioned that the football team might be at the movie theatre tonight?”
   “Yeah, come to think of it, I did.”  Archie said.  
   “Something's up.”  Jughead said.  “When I saw Wembley outside the gym, he looked like he was visibly shaken.  And, the gym was where Coach Kleats held football practice today.  And, now when you mentioned the football team, Wembley clammed up and had to leave.  There's something about the football team that is making Wembley act this way.  It can't be a coincidence.”
   “What do you think it is?”  Archie said.
   “I'm not sure...but I'm going to find out.”  Jughead said.
   “And, how are you going to do that?”  Archie asked.
   “Like this.”  Jughead said, pointing towards a book on the table of the booth.
   “Is that...a history notebook?”  Archie asked.
   “Yes.”  Jughead said, looking on the inside cover.  “And, it belongs to Wembley Morris.  There's even an address on the cover.  I'm sure if I return this book to him tonight, maybe if I'm lucky, he'll open up to me more about why he gets so anxious about the football team.”
   “What about the movie?”  Archie asked.
   “Forget the movie.”  Jughead said.  “There's something going on with Wembley and he's for whatever reason too afraid or stubborn to talk about it.”
   “I don't know if you can do much.”  Archie said.  “But, if anyone can get through to him, I know you can.”
   “Thanks, pal.”  Jughead said.  “Just tell Reggie when he comes that I won't be at the movie.  Just tell him I had to babysit Jellybean.”
   “Why not tell him the truth?”  Archie asked.
   “Just a hunch.”  Jughead said.
   Archie nodded.  “Go on.  I'll see you later.”
   Jughead walked out of Pop's as Archie pondered the turn of events.  “Why would Jughead want me to lie to Reggie about where he was going?  And, why would Wembley react that way to the football team?  I know Jughead seems to have an idea of what's happening, but I think it's time I did some digging of my own.”

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