“Better if I don’t know. It’s human, though, right?” He was alreadypressing two twenties into my hand.
“Yup,” I said.
He put the bottle in his locker and stared down at it with his handson his hips and his notebook still sticking out of the front of his pants.
“Mother of bicycling Christ,” he said. “Remind me to stay on your
Later that day he came into Hyde’s class five minutes before the bell
and moved his desk closer to mine. He showed me a list of experiments
written out in his notebook. Beneath all of it he had written an estimate
for what he felt was fair compensation: $180.
The seats around us were beginning to fill up, and Ronny was watching me closely. I circled the amount with my pen and nodded.
That was when I noticed Annie looking at us. Her smile suggestedshe was witnessing something particularly heartwarming. It occurredto me that the sight of me conferring with Ronny over his notebook hadgiven her the impression that I was tutoring him. When she noticed melooking up, she wished me a good morning with a warmth I’d neverheard in her voice before.
At this interruption, Ronny glared at her and placed a protectivehand over his open notebook.
“Can’t you see we’re having a conversation, you goddamn Ritalin ad-
Annie’s expression narrowed into a scowl, and in a flash of bravery
I whispered loud enough for her to hear that if he didn’t apologize I
wouldn’t help him.
Ronny’s nostrils flared in disgust, but when he saw I was serious he
rolled his eyes and shrugged. “Fine, geez,” he said. “I didn’t realize she
was your aunt.”
He turned to Annie and said in a mock polite tone, “So sorry about
that. I never learned how to act.” He closed his notebook and half stood,
muttering that we could talk later as he duck-walked his desk back to its
During Hyde’s lecture I caught Annie staring at me again. She blushedand smiled before turning her attention back to the front of the class.
In that moment, my only wish was that I could jump back in time tothe passenger seat of my father’s rattling Ford Taurus and tell him thatlife could be so easy if you just took the chances it gave you. Meanwhile,