might want to share a furtive laugh at our misfortune. Instead she staredstraight ahead in steely annoyance. It seemed obvious she’d never lookin my direction again.
Ronny noticed my pained expression as I watched Annie and mistook it for a reaction to Hyde’s treatment of him.
“Right?” he said. “All I did was ask a fucking question.”
Hyde looked sharply back at us, his forehead covered in the nervous
sweat of the naturally conflict-avoidant. A tense moment passed before
he continued his lecture. I could tell when Ronny started to fidget in his
seat that more questions had occurred to him. When he finally went
still, lulled into a state of grisly fascination by a detailed description of
stomach acid, I noticed him staring down at the closed spiral-bound
notebook on his desk. Its pages were curling up at the corners, and it
had a distressed blue cover on which Ronny had scratched the word
In the hallway after class, I was surprised to hear his voice over myshoulder.
“Hey, Life Science,” he said, as if it were my name.
He had followed me to my locker, and the sight of him approachingmade me freeze in the act of retrieving my history book. It was only afew minutes till the next bell, but he was strolling casually with his notebook tucked under one arm, along with a copy of our school newspaper,The Bronco Bulletin.
“Did you hear that stuff today?” he said, leaning against the lockernext to mine.
“In class?”“No,” he said, “in my spread-open butt.”I stared at him, my hand still on my history book.
“Of course in class.”“About digestion?”“Exactly,” he said, leaning toward me. “Stomachs, man.”I told him I had to get to class and held up my textbook as proof.
“Wait,” he said. “You seem like a smart kid, and I could use some
“I’m not smart.”
Ronny appraised me for a moment then reached into the back pocket
of his jeans and pulled out a crisp twenty-dollar bill.
“Hear me out.”