Hi, my name is James Castle…well was James Castle. Have you ever had that feeling that you knew that trouble was on its way but you couldn't do anything to prevent it? That's how I had been feeling for the past few weeks. I knew that something like this was going to come but I didn't know that I would be the one to cause it.
It started with that asshole Phil Stabile. I mean, was I just supposed to ignore the guy? He would walk around campus strutting, talking loudly, and bragging about all the girls that he had been with. Who wouldn't call a guy like that conceited? I was just telling the truth. The guy was conceited.
So one day he started to go on and on about how he had "passed the time" with Jenna Brooks. It was during English class and I was sitting directly in front of him. He was practically shouting it into my ear. I didn't want to hear any of this…nobody would want to hear anything that he was saying. I turned around and asked him if he could keep it down. After all, it was English and I was trying to pay attention.
Old Stabile didn't take me asking him to keep it down too well. He jumped up from his seat and said, "Who do you think you're talking to." So while the teacher is in the middle of reading some crap by freaking Ernest Hemingway, Stabile here causes a big scene because I didn't want to hear about how he got busy with Jenna Brooks.
Trying to ignore him I looked across the room and saw Holden Caulfield give me a wink…or something that looked like a wink. It was weird when you think about it. Well, Holden's really weird when you think about him. He's been trying to be my friend ever since the first day when he saw that his name was after mine in the roll call. Who does that? I've talked to him a few times, but I just try to stay away from the guy. One time he started talking to me about ducks. Freaking ducks man.
Anyways, when Holden winked at me I knew that he was going to want to talk about Stabile. I didn't mind this time though, I wanted to talk about Stabile. So during lunch I sat down at the table where Holden was sitting by himself. "How about Stabile?" said Caulfield.
"How about him," I started, trying to sound cool.
"He's an ass"
"He's a conceited moron. Half the stories he tells are probably fake."
"What the hell did you call Phil?!" Stabiles best friend Mathew O'Connor was standing right behind me. In my mind I started freaking out. Why couldn't he have been here thirty seconds ago when Holden called him an ass? Why did he just happen to pop up when I was voicing my opinion? I took a deep breath and turned around to face Mathew.
"I called him a conceited moron." I held my breath, expecting him to hit me.
"Take it back you flipping kook." The big jerk didn't hit me! I was surprised and relieved, but not entirely.
"No it's the truth." I said defiantly. I mean I knew it was true, Holden knew it was true, Mathew probably even knew that it was true.
"Hey Phil," Mathew called out. "Jamesy here says you're conceited."
Yeah, so Stabile didn't think too nicely about what I said. He got red in the face, the way you really only ever see on cartoons, and marched over to the table. I stood up. I don't know why I did, I just felt like I had to. Phil got real close to my face. "Ha-ha nice one," laughed Stabile. He draped an arm around me shoulder. "Now I'm sure that you didn't really mean that. You were only joking around right? You definitely can't be that stupid."
"Actually, Philly ol'boy, I meant it." So…I don't know where that came from. But somehow, someway, it came out of my mouth. It seemed as if in the last few minutes I received a surge of confidence from some unknown being.
Phil didn't say anything to me after that, he whispered something in Mathew's ear, and together, they walked away. If they had said something I probably wouldn't have been as scared. But it was the silence that scared me. The knowing that something was going to happen but not knowing what it was, that I mentioned earlier.
For the next few weeks things were calm. To my surprise, he didn't say anything in English and didn't try to beat the shit out of me. And…I started talking to Holden even more. What was I supposed to do? The guy wasn't that bad. He was a little weird but at the same time, he was good to talk to. Plus, he had this really cool sweater that I wanted to wear. I had a date coming up with this girl Bridged and I wanted to look nice. So I asked him if I could borrow it. Yeah, Holden was a cool guy…for a weirdo, I guess.
Maybe making a date with Bridged was a bad idea. Maybe borrowing the shirt from Holden was a bad idea. All I know is on the day of the date, what I knew was going to come, finally came.
Everything was set that night. I had the perfect outfit and was in the perfect state of mind. I had taken all of that nonsense from a few weeks ago out of my mind. I was in my dorm bathroom combing my hair, trying to make myself look all suave and sexy. I was in the zone…until they came. Someone started to knock on the bathroom door. Well not knock, more like pound. And it didn't sound like one person; it sounded more like twenty people. "Get the hell out here now Castle," somebody yelled.
"Shit," I said to myself. "Fuck." I couldn't think of anything else to say but swears. That's just how people get when they are scared. I didn't want to go out there. And I definitely couldn't stay locked up in the bathroom. I was panicking, I was freaking out, and I wasn't looking sexy or suave. I looked in the mirror and saw how pale I had gotten. Like the snow that was just outside the window. My hair was all over the place. I looked bad; I looked like crap.
"Breathe. Just breathe and walk out there." I tried to prep myself for what I knew I had to do. I stayed in the bathroom another 10 minutes, trying to steady my breathing and, with all of the pounding that was going on outside, that wasn't happening too easily. I felt like I was about to have an attack…I don't even have asthma. I walked over to the door and put my hand on the knob. My hand was there but I couldn't find the courage to actually turn it. If it was up to me I wouldn't have ever opened that door…but fortunately (or unfortunately depending on the way that you look at it) the door flung open, flinging me along with it.
The force of the door opening caused me to fall onto the floor directly in front of them. Before me were Phil, Mathew, and three of their friends. Mathew grabbed the front of the sweater, Holden's sweater, and attempted to pull me up, ripping it in the process. I fell back down and banged my head against the wall. For a few moments everything seemed weird. I couldn't focus my vision and I wasn't sure if it was from the fall or just because I was scared out of my mind. Everyone was moving in waves, although they weren't really moving at all.
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. One of the doofs that had come with Mathew and Phil kicked me in my stomach and was coming in for another one. The second one was a harder blow than the first and I writhed into a curl on the floor, holding my gut trying to block the kicks.
"Take back what you said you little shit," he said. I knew it; I knew that this was all going to come back to me. I just had to call him conceited. I just had to have a sudden burst of confidence that had never come anywhere near me my entire life. What the hell was my problem? Guys like me didn't do things like that. I couldn't take it back now though. I mean, what would I look like then? Sure I was getting the crap kicked out of me, but that's only because they knew that I was right. They were just cowards and didn't want to admit it.
"No, you jerk," I responded. Quickly, and expectantly, I felt another blow into my gut. This one was from Mathew. He kept kicking me and yelling for me to take it back. He missed my stomach a couple of times and I was pretty sure that my jaw was broken. But I couldn't take it back, I wouldn't take it back. Getting the shit beat out of me was worth it if it meant that my point came across strong. And that fact that I wasn't backing out told me that just that was happening.
All of his friends started pummeling me but out of the corner of my eye I saw Phil back away and sit on the bed. "C'mon guy's that's enough let him go." Was I hearing wrong…did Phil Stabile just tell his friends to stop beating me when they were doing it in his defense? Things like this did not happen. Guys like Phil did not stick up for guys like me.
Phil's friends turned to look at him. Mathew blurt out, "Are you out of your effing mind dude? We're doing this for you."
"Just, we've done what we came to do. We can stop now."
"No we came to get this ass to take back what he said. He called you conceited. He insulted you."
While this was going on, I managed to scoot myself over to by the window. I had no business being in a situation like this. It wasn't fair. I mean, I'm a pretty nice guy, I guess. I took on that loser Holden for a friend. What had I ever done to anyone to deserve this?
Paul got up and left the room, but his friends started walking towards me. "Oh God," I thought. "Please don't do this to me. Please don't make me do this." The closer they came the more I started to freak out. My entire body began to shake, as I started to lift myself up onto the window sill. I kept praying while frantically trying to pull open the window. The closer they came, the harder it became to open it. The snow outside had jammed it and it wouldn't budge. I started to bang my hand onto the window, trying to break the glass. It began to crack in places. I had to get out of there.
Phil was leading the pack; he was so close that if he reached out he would be able to grab me. I panicked. I started banging harder onto the window. Harder and harder, and I wasn't getting anywhere. So finally I did what had to be done. I took a deep breath, "GOD," I screamed and threw my body into the window.
Falling was one of the greatest feelings that I had had in a while. The knowing that everything was over was so comforting. I had escaped, with my message still intact. (Excluding the fact that people were panicking about my lifeless body lying in the snow) everything was once again good, right, and calm.