Arthur – Chapter Two

 

I guess college isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. I mean, when I was at school, all the teachers made the idea of going to college idealism, a dramatic way of changing your entire life forever. If anything, college is merely a stepping stone to wherever you want to go next, I mean, you could just go and get a job somewhere (I know a couple of my classmates are going to, idiots), get an apprenticeship (A bit like work, except you’re still training and are getting paid to do a qualification, slightly more sensible), or, like me, will go to university, which is by far the most sensible thing to do. I guess employers respect you a lot more, I mean, they’d much rather employ someone who is clearly intelligent, hardworking, resourceful, as well as skilled, rather than some oaf who just took a couple of A levels and left it at that…

 

Arthur finally got out of the house after enduring breakfast with Sue. He swore she was permanently miserable, either that, or she was out to get him in one way or the other. In any case, it was Thursday, the day of the week that Arthur Dent, his namesake, wasn’t any good at. To be fair, he himself never enjoyed a Thursday, he called Thursday he ‘darkest blue of days’. Most people, he mused to himself as he walked up to the bus stop, thought that the darkest blue of all possible days was a Monday, the day after a weekend, when they all had to go back to a normal routine. No, for Arthur, it had to be Thursday. For one thing, on a Thursday he had History, which he obviously enjoyed, because he picked it as an A Level, but he hated the lesson because he had a lecturer in it that didn’t like him very much, for any apparent reason. He called this particular lecturer very a nasty name or two in his journal, which he (quite sensibly) never took to college, just in case. Another issue that Arthur had with Thursdays was the fact that, on a Thursday, he had to sit next to a group of irritating girls who giggled all the way through English Literature classes, and he’d called them rather nasty names in his journal as well, as they usually were laughing at him in one way or the other, just because he’d much rather focus on getting the grades that he needed for university rather than flirting with them, like the other boys did. Not to mention that the canteen menu on a Thursday was simply appalling, soggy chicken and chips drenched in salt and oil. Yes, Thursdays were pretty nasty, and he hated them with every fibre of his being.

Well, there was a good thing about Thursday, he thought to himself, as he signaled the bus and fumbled in his wallet for his bus pass, was Cynthia.

 

Cynthia was one of the only girls who would look his way without a mocking glare. If anything, she never said, or even did, anything at all. Her bleached hair and carefully applied eyeliner intrigued Arthur in a way that he had never been intrigued before. She had a lovely full bosom and shapely hips, which he also found to be wonderful, as he felt that it off set the brown fake tan on her skin quite well. She was in his History class, so, in a way, that kind of made his lesson there better, he could put up with several clones of his wicked lecturer and a thousand of those evil girls, just to see her face, no matter how emotionless it was towards him.

 

As he sat down in order to let the bus drive away from the stop, he rummaged through his bag and found a screwed up piece of paper, with typed words inscribed upon it. He re-read it, quietly speaking the words to himself, making sure that he knew it all, for although today was the darkest blue of days, he would at least attempt to brighten that day up ever so slightly. For today would be The Day of All Days, even if it happened to also fall on the darkest blue of days, for today would be the day he wooed her. He would recite one of the loveliest sonnets that Shakespeare ever wrote, and he had booked a table at one of the nicest restaurants in town for that weekend, and hopefully one thing would lead to another…

 

The bus pulled up outside the college, and Arthur shoved the sonnet into his pocket, and quickly smoothed down his auburn hair. This was it, he couldn’t mess this up. He had to get this right, and rejection couldn’t be something that he could accept. He would have a date this Saturday, he had to, it was all planned out ever so perfectly, the way he’d pick her up, how he’d compliment her, the food he would order, the conversation, the roses, the way he’d peck her on her brown cheek, like a gentleman. Everything was planned to be perfect, as long as he got this part right first. The bus driver cleared his throat, and Arthur hastily got off the bus, apologizing ever so awkwardly as he nearly tripped up on the step leading to the pavement outside of the bus, causing the students surrounding him to laugh wickedly at him. He brushed himself down, and decided that he needn’t get angry with them, if anything, he would ignore it, and focus on the mission that he needed to complete. It didn’t matter that he was tired after that all night writing session, he knew he’d been spot on, after all, if the mirror liked it, then Cynthia ought to like it too…

 

He stepped into the classroom, and saw Neil, his best friend ever since they were at primary school together. They had spent many hours playing pokemon cards and attending Dungeons and Dragons sessions together. They’d been friends through thick and thin, and would be going to the same university, although they would be studying different things, Neil would be going off to focus on his art, and he would be doing a Creative Writing degree. Their aim was to be able to work on books together, Arthur would write them and Neil would illustrate them with his specialist skills. It would be a perfect combination, Arthur and Neil. Neil motioned for Arthur to sit next to him, and smiled as he came over and landed in his seat with a thud.

 

“So, I’m assuming today is D Day,” Neil said as Arthur got out his History notebook and his pencil case.

Arthur got out a wad of paper that was his History essay, and replied, “It is indeed.”

Neil smiled, “So you went for Sonnet 18, huh? Good choice.”

“I didn’t think it was too bad, the metaphor that Shakespeare brings across will surely get her eating out of my palm.”

 

Neil nodded. He personally thought that Cynthia wasn’t all that nice; she talked about Arthur behind his back, and looked like a troll that had been dipped into an industrial tank full of orange paint. But he would support his friend no matter who he decided to woo, therefore he nodded to Arthur as Cynthia and her cronies walked into the room, signaling him to begin with the biggest moment in his life.

 

And Arthur took to his stage. He took a deep breath, and smiled at Cynthia, who looked at him with confusion with a raised painted eyebrow.

 

Arthur cleared his throat, and began his all important quest. It was now or never, he thought to himself, he would woo his woman in the most romantic way humanly possible, Shakespeare was the most romantic writer he knew about, unless there was someone he needed to know about. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he began to recite.

 

“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?”

 

Cynthia butted in, “Excuse me?”

 

Arthur continued, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate; rough winds do shake the darling buds of May…”

 

“Dude, what drugs are you on?”

 

“And summer’s lease hath all to short a date; sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, and often is his gold complexion dimmed; and every fair from fair sometime declined by chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d…”

 

As he battled on through the sonnet, the girls around him burst out into shrill, wicked laughter, and Cynthia cringed with embarrassment. The autistic guy was attempting to hit on her? What a strange but terrible thought. She didn’t find him attractive what so ever, if anything, dating a disabled guy, even for sympathy, would seriously cramp her style.

 

Neil watched the scene and thought about whether it would better to put his friend out of his misery now and step in, or whether it would be better to let him learn the hard way about courtship, and let him suffer to the bitter end with the humiliation. He hated the idea that Cynthia was being this harsh about this, Arthur was genuinely trying to be a gentleman. Seriously though, what else would of worked? He supposed that girls like her only answered to being dragged off on a night out in order to have a one night stand, but then he shook that idea out of his mind. It might well be true, but thinking that way was just pure mean, stooping to Cynthia’s level, in a strange, yet awful way.

 

As Neil sat there, speechless at everything that was happening, and Arthur finished off the sonnet. He hadn’t noticed the ridicule that he was having thrown at him by the rest of his classmates, but as he stopped and took a sigh of relief, he stopped half way through, and heard the nasty cackling. He blinked back tears of humiliation as Cynthia laughed in his face, her eyes shining with pure evil as she told him that she would never go anywhere with him in a million years, and besides, she had a boyfriend in the public services course, who could easily beat him to a pulp.

 

“Aww, he’s going off to cry now, the cry baby!” Cynthia giggled, as Arthur walked dejectedly back to his seat next to Neil. “Poor Baby Boy!” she exclaimed to the girls around her, who laughed raucously with her as the lecturer, Rachel, walked in.

 

All the students fell into a panicked hush, as Rachel put down the shining new text books onto the desk and glared at them all.

 

“Can someone please tell me what the joke is? I’d quite like to know, especially as you decided to stop when I arrived. I do like to be involved if it a pretty good joke, I’m not made of iron, you know.”

 

“Rachel, Arthur decided that he’d recite some stupid poem to Cynthia!” One of the girls replied, before setting herself off into a fit of giggles once again.

 

“Seriously, he looked like an idiot!” another girl added. Arthur turned a really bright shade of red as Rachel looked at him in unusual sympathy.

 

She could see just how upset he was the other students began to sneer at him again.

“Right, that is quite enough! I could ensure that all your parents know about this incident of bullying, which is what this is. Alright, Arthur did something that isn’t quite usual in the way of courtship, but that is no way to treat him. If anything, he was trying to do something special, in a special way, and it might not of been to your taste. In any case, there is no reason why you all had to treat him in the way you did.”

 

The class quieted down as Rachel finished what she was saying. Arthur normally didn’t like Rachel, with her black hair pulled back into a tight bun and her black suit and white shirt. But she’d actually defended him, told the rest of the class to leave him alone! He never thought that this would actually happen to him, Rachel wasn’t normally this nice. There had to be a reason for this, there simply had to be.

 

As the lecture continued, Arthur said to Neil about this, and he replied, “You’re a student here, just like anyone else, she has to stand up for you if you’re being picked on, it’s what teachers do, Arthur. Trust me, she doesn’t have any secret missions are anything like that for you to be worried about.”

 

The lecture soon drew to a close.

 

“Arthur, I’d like a word please, stay behind…”

 

Arthur looked at Neil, and raised an eyebrow. “So, no secret agenda then?”

 

Neil shrugged, and shouldered his rucksack. He left with the stream of other students with a wave, and was gone. Arthur was left alone with Rachel. He gulped, as she drew up a chair to her desk and beckoned him to sit at it.

 

“So, can you tell me what happened?” she asked him, as he took the seat nervously.

He blushed as he told the tale of what had taken place that morning, and she listened to him carefully and with understanding as he talked about how he’d done the extensive research, and had spent a whole fortnight learning the words, practicing them most nights on the way home from college.

“So, you’ve booked a table, and you think it would be rather embarrassing to cancel on it?”

“Yes, it would be awful, especially as I have had to pay for the reservation, and they won’t give me a refund.”

 

Rachel thought about it for a moment. It was a rather sad predicament, and she could see how heartbroken the young man was. However, it would be rather difficult to help him much, as that would be breaching her contract as far as student and teacher fraternization would go. Unless…

 

“Isn’t there someone you could take, a friend or a sibling?”

 

“I don’t know. I can’t take Neil, people will think we’re gay, and I don’t really have any friends who are girls.”

“Perhaps you could go and meet some girls, some nice girls.”

Arthur looked confused. He was mortified at the idea of being rejected, it hadn’t been in his plans, but to meet another girl? How would that work?

 

He said as much, and looked on with worry as Rachel explained that maybe he ought to go to an extra curricular activity that he would like, where there would be girls who shared his interests, things that they would have in common to talk about. She would have to speak to Sue about today, there wasn’t anything else she could do other than that, but perhaps he could think about the extra curricular subject, drama, perhaps?

 

Arthur nodded, and thanked Rachel. He wouldn’t be so harsh about her any more, he thought to himself, she was genuinely trying to help him out. In fact, he would take up that idea, he’d look at the list of activities after English. He wouldn’t do drama though, he simply wasn’t going to learn lines again, not after what had happened today.

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