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Pyre of Envy XIII: Unknown Friends

The white natural light was siphoned by the wide dark green branches, in the gaps light escaped and diffused, casting grey luminous shades of light over the sidewalk. The clouds had thinned allowing for some cool white light to fill the sky.

“What’s the deal with you hanging with Sandy lately?” Corklin asked. He carried the plastic bag full of books in his hands. He had offered to carry them for Rolemn, typical Corklin. A par of him knew it was one of Corklin’s games aimed at appeasing him even further, which made Rolemn steel himself for more asks, or perhaps he was doing it so that Rolemn wouldn’t change his mind about going to Erica’s. As far as Rolemn was concerned he didn’t really agree to go to Erica’s but, somehow, by agreeing to spend the night with Corklin snorting Ritalin and drinking had also meant he agreed to help him with Erica. For some reason he couldn’t nudge a muscle to get out of it so he decided to gradually make peace with it.

“What do you have against Sandy anyway?” he asked.

Corklin laughed. “What the fuck does he have against me? That is the question.”

“You told him he has got blood on his face.”

Corklin snorted. “You really didn’t look at it, did you? He also had it on his sleeve.”

“And you are sure it was blood?”

“It couldn’t have been ketchup, Rolemn. I’m not stupid. ”

Rolemn nodded. “Why don’t you like him though?”

Corklin rolled his eyes and sighed. “Well, he is very rude and disgusting. I have also heard some fucked up stuff about him. Heard he was into the occult or some shit like that. He always says some strange things as well, no wonder he doesn’t have friends. And what’s with the mumbling all the time?” He glanced at Rolemn. “Do you know? Does he have Tourettes or something?”

“That sounds very shallow, Corklin? I’m sure you have heard some fucked up shit about me too.”

“This is different. I feel weird around him, you know. He gives me the creeps a little. I am telling you there is something really fucked up about that guy.” Corklin paused. “Let’s give it time and you will see.”

“Alright,” Rolemn replied briefly, still not understanding it. There simply had to be more to it than mere feelings and rumours, but he wasn’t willing to dig any further for answers. It always required a lot of effort with Corklin, to be strategic and patient. He didn’t have the strength for it.

“I promise you,” Corklin said. “ What do you guys talk about most of the time?”

Rolemn shrugged thinking of all Sandy had shared with him about justice, corruption, classism and discrimination. His poise, intelligence and eccentricity. He thought of his constant invitations to his room, how he kept watch of him and how he had brought him breakfast yesterday then began admitting to himself that it was strange. He remembered how that had made him feel, then he absently mumbled a response to Corklin.

“What?”

“We just talk about things, you know. Anything,” he replied.  Then he found himself wanting to know. “What things have you heard about him?”

“Well, I heard that he asked some girl to cut herself for him. He said she would look way sexier in a bit of blood or something,” Corklin said, burying any trace of emotion underneath his face.

Rolemn tried to read any sign of sincerity from it. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“In the dining hall. I may not know a lot of people but I listen when people talk in the dining hall especially when I’m eating alone.”

Rolemn’s brow wrinkled. “Who was saying this stuff?”

“That big black guy who talks too much.”

“You mean Jay?”

“Yeah, Jay. Sandy was there too and he admitted the story was true. It is not like he was lying or something. He was talking about how messed up Sandy is.”

Rolemn scowled. “You mean he was making fun of Sandy for the thousandth time. That guy is a bully.”

“Still doesn’t make what he said untrue.”

“He embarrassed him in front of everyone. I don’t think if Sandy did something like that he would go around broadcasting it. Obviously he is embarrassed by it and probably wants it forgotten and Jay was just humiliating him in front of everyone else,” he said. ”I hate that guy, He is such a fucking prick. Should have broken his broken his bones when I had the chance.”

“He may be a prick but I don’t think that was the point.”

“You don’t know him, Corklin. You hardly know anyone in the house or the history of the house. For most of your time here you have lived with Erica and never bothered with the parties, braais and other house events. You barely even ate in the dining hall then. As a guy who has spent most of time there I know. Okay?”

Corklin sighed. “Look, man, I don’t know why you defending that guy. He is clearly a freak and it wasn’t only Jay saying that stuff. I mean everyone has a story about that guy and it isn’t pretty.”

“Jay has a bunch of cronies who would say anything to screw with anyone.”

“Okay, man. Whatever.”

Rolemn snorted,a smile of disbelief on his face. “They are just pricks. You know they say I am crazy right? Those guys continue to make fun of me behind my back. You know what I do? I ignore it and move on, they make stuff up sometimes just to get to you, I just nod and move on.. I’m tired of those asshats.  People like that should be shot in the dick, honestly!”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah.”

“But still think there is something off with that guy, man. It has nothing to do with what anyone has said. I just know it. Okay?”

“How?”

Corklin frowned. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like how you can read things are off between you and your partner without really much of a change in behaviour. It’s the difference between being aware of how things are and how they actually seem like.”

Rolemn raised his hands in a gesture of retirement. “Okay, I get it ,dude.” He was unconvinced and there was a tint of it in his voice, enough to go undetected by Corklin. Corklin’s judgement of character and intuition didn’t hold much weight for him, he couldn’t be swayed by it in a million years. After all he just got a bit intimate with his girlfriend and he couldn’t smell anything in the wind, he probably would sink further in obscurity at the dinner. If after dinner he senses nothing then Rolemn’s trust in his judgement would sink even deeper. He began to suspect that Corklin wasn’t even aware of how terribly racked his relationship with Erica was.

“So trust me a bit and be careful with that guy a bit. At least take that advice from me.”

“Well, I can’t promise you anything, Corklin,” he replied in a slightly defiant tone, confident that would settle the case. “I mean the guy is kinda cool. He listens to some badass music, intelligent and he is not afraid to be who he is not matter what anyone says or thinks. The very qualities you like in people. He also got heart.”

Corklin nodded loftily. “I guess.”

 

Corklin put the plastic bags by the bookcase. Then removed something from his pocket placed it on the table show Rolemn. “Check this out.” He smiled.

Rolemn looked at the instrument. It was much like a calculator except it had a silver rectangular plate where the buttons would be. Above that a row of buttons and a strip of a screen. He couldn’t make out what it was or what it was for. He felt he didn’t want to know, as with all things that were surprises with Corklin there was bound to be a price tag on it. He gave a sheepish smile. “What is it?”

Corklin looked at him suggestively. “It’s a scale.”

“A scale?”

“Yeah. Electronic scale. It’s for measuring the stuff before we put it in the bags. You know, when people buy a gram of weed it is usually measured by this.”

Rolemn’s insides cringed at his manipulative enthusiasm. Like going to Erica’s for dinner this was bound to be another decision that would be taken for him. It was too big of a decision not to allow that to happen, but he didn’t want to appear ungrateful or be crude. The best way to deal with him, as always, was patiently and gently. “When did you get it?”

“I got it at the bookstore. Just now.”

“Aright.” He nodded sullenly.

“Cool, right? Let’s test it.”

 

###

If you haven’t yet, join the journey of an underprivileged student as he tries to deal with his prescription drug abuse and carve out a real future in the most unconventional ways in a world that denies him one. Find the first chapter here.

 

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