highschool-hallwayIt hasn’t been the best day, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst. It started with puking out the butterflies in my stomach. Mom called it “freshman jitters.” Dad said something stupid about “freshmanitis.” I have no idea what that is.

So, I get to school and the hallway looks different filled with all of the older kids, and it’s loud, not like on the day we took our tour. I head to the locker I’d already scoped out.

“Hey, Nick-nak!” Toby yells across the hall. Phew, a familiar face.

“Nick-nak?” A huge guy in a black tee shirt steps right between us and into my space. He wants me to back away. Test number one.

I stand my ground and look up at him. He has whiteheads all over his neck and chin. I have nothing left to puke, or I would.

“They call you that ‘cause you’re so tiny and delicate? Should I put you in the trophy case so you don’t get broken or dusty?”

Yeah, I can’t let this guy get away with this. First of all, my name is Nicholas Andrew Knowles, a good strong name. Nick Knowles. Initials N.A.K. Nick-nak. Great nickname, if I do say so myself.

Secondly, I’m not tiny, but my buddy Toby’s a little delicate. I’m going to have to look out for him.

Finally, I don’t like this guy insulting my manhood. The eighth grade girls liked me. Amanda said that my thick brown hair falls nicely across my forehead and accents my “beautiful blue eyes.” And I know I’m a hell of a lot better looking than the Ork standing in my way, smarter, too.

“No. They call me Nick-nak because I collect things. And sell things. What do you need?”

“What do you got?” He wrinkled his unibrow.

I size him up and consider the stuff lining my shelves and the banker’s boxes in the garage.

“Heavy metal memorabilia, first addition Star Wars figures in original packaging, Vans in lots of sizes, stereo equipment, concert tickets…”

“You a scalper?”

“Dude, that term is so politically uncool.”

He tilts his head and frowns.

“You’re right. You have tickets for Blink?”

“New Haven or Madison Square?” I ask.

“Really?” His mouth drops open. He has a lot of fillings. “How much?”

“Let’s talk later. I have to get to class. First day and all, you know?”

“Yeah.” He rolls his eyes.

“What’s your name?”

“Silas,” he says.

Really? Dude’s teasing me about my name?

“Come find me at lunch.” It could be good to have an Ork on our side. “Silas? Can I call you ‘Si’?” I reach my hand up and rest it on his shoulder. He looks at it and nods, baffled. “This is my friend Toby. Be cool to him.” I give his shoulder a strong pat.


I grab Toby’s arm and steer him toward our first class. He’s a little pale.

“How? How did you do that?” He asks.

My knees feel like Jell-O and adrenaline is rushing through my body.

“I read it in my dad’s book on sales techniques. I’m glad I practiced that one on him first.” I look back at the form lumbering through the dispersing crowd. “I thought I was going to crap my pants.”







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