A History Of Friendship - Part 2
A History Of Friendship - Part 3
“So, your uncle owns this warehouse, and you live in a little apartment above it?” Jughead asked Wembley.
“Yes.” Wembley said. “My uncle, aunt, and I used to live in a house on the other side of town, but when I transferred to Riverdale High a month ago, we felt it best to just stick close to where he worked, so we moved into the apartment above this place.”
“Doesn't it get a bit noisy here, with all the people working below and the noise of the forklifts?” Jughead wondered.
“Actually, you'll find that our flat is quite soundproof.” Wembley said.
“Flat?” Jughead asked.
“Oh, sorry.” Wembley said. “I'm sorry, I meant apartment. You see, my parents are originally from Britain. I moved to America when I was seven, and I'm more or less Americanized, but a little bit of British slang pops up every now and again.”
“That's cool.” Jughead said.
Wembley approached a metal door that was covered in red paint and had the letter 'W' stenciled upon it. “Here's my room!”
Jughead was shocked. “Your bedroom door is made of metal?”
“Well, the apartment used to be a part of the factory.” Wembley said. “So, as a result, my bedroom is sort of a bit different from the average person's. Would you like to come in?”
“Sure.” Jughead said.
Wembley opened up the door, and he showed Jughead inside, where Jughead was completely in awe of what he was seeing. In the middle of Wembley's bedroom was a chain link fence, which was completely covered with tons of posters, old discarded street signs, a couple of neon lights, and the main focus piece of the room, a retro-style jukebox, right next to Wembley's bed.
“This room is...so cool!” Jughead said.
“It's not much, but I call it home.” Wembley said, as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
“I mean it!” Jughead said. “The neon signs, the awesome music posters, the really cool jukebox. This is one really cool room! Where did you get all of this really cool stuff?”
“Mostly from my uncle and aunt.” Wembley said. “That's part of the reason why they opened up this warehouse. They send and receive retro-style knick-knacks all over the state. A lot of the vendors offer up free samples as a thank you for doing business with them. It includes the movie posters all over the walls here.”
“That's generous of them.” Jughead said.
“Well, my uncle and aunt definitely work hard to provide a good living for us all.” Wembley said.
“So, you live with your uncle and aunt.” Jughead said.
Wembley sighed. “I'm thinking you're probably wondering what happened to my parents.”
“Well, no, not really...” Jughead said.
“No, no...it's all right.” Wembley said. “My parents aren't alive. They died in a house fire when I was six and a half.”
“I'm sorry, Wembley.” Jughead said.
“That's part of the reason why I moved to America.” Wembley explained. “My uncle and aunt were my only living relatives. But, I've been in this country the last ten years, and my uncle and aunt have been incredibly supportive and caring.”
“They sound like fantastic people.” Jughead said.
“Oh, they are.” Wembley said. “Still, though...I do miss my parents.”
“I imagine you do.” Jughead said. “I couldn't imaging losing loved ones, especially at such a young age.”
Wembley nodded. “You know, I've never actually talked about my feelings about this with anyone else. It's always been so hard for me to open up to people.”
“You seem to be doing fine with me so far.” Jughead said.
“Well, you made the effort.” Wembley said. “Not everyone would be as kind as you.”
Jughead looked confused. “Why would you say that?”
Wembley sighed. “Oh, um...it's nothing. Forget I said anything.”
Jughead nodded. “You know if you want to talk about whatever is on your mind, I won't judge you.”
“No, really, it's fine.” Wembley said. “Really.”
But, somehow, Jughead knew that Wembley seemed to be holding back on him. And, he had an idea as to why.
“All right.” Jughead said. “I won't press further.”
“Thank you.” Wembley said.
“So, let's change the subject.” Jughead said. “Have you thought about what you want to do for Miss Grundy's homework assignment?”
“Not really.” Wembley said.
“I'm kind of surprised.” Jughead said, looking around Wembley's room. “You have so much stuff in here that is supposedly retro, you could do an entire project on your bedroom alone.”
“Yes, but none of this stuff really has any special meaning to me.” Wembley said. “All of this stuff I've only collected over the last few years. Most of my childhood stuff was burned up in the fire. I only managed to save one thing.”
“What is it?” Jughead asked.
“Hold on.” Wembley said. “I'll get it.”
Wembley got up off of his bed and opened up the door to his wardrobe. He pulled out a bright red box and opened it up. Inside was a light blue wooden box that had deep blue flowers painted on the lid.
“What is it?” Jughead asked.
“It was my mother's.” Wembley explained. “It was a jewelry box that my father had bought for her back when they were dating.”
Jughead eyed the jewelry box intently. “It's nice.”
“It used to play music.” Wembley said. “But, it's been broken for a few years now. It's actually a miracle that I managed to save this...the fire was really bad. Look on the bottom of it. There's an inscription underneath it.”
Jughead turned the jewelry box upside down and saw an inscription written in bright blue ink. “To my dearest Laura, in honour of our first year together, and many many more thereafter. Love always, Samuel.”
“I can see why this box means a lot to you.” Jughead said.
“It's really the only thing that I have from my parents.” Wembley said. “It is my most prized possession, and really the only thing that I could bring in for Miss Grundy's project. But, I doubt that it would be interesting or meaningful enough to make for a good project. I wouldn't even know if I would even get an A.”
“If it's special to you, then it's good enough for the project.” Jughead said. “Miss Grundy did say that it had to be an item from the twentieth century that brought a lot of meaning to you, and clearly this jewelry box does. But, it's your project...you need to decide what to do.”
Wembley took back the jewelry box from Jughead. “Thanks, Jughead.”
“You're welcome.” Jughead said. “Listen, I hate to leave like this, but I really have to get going. But, hey, why don't we meet up again in the school library later this week, so we can help each other work on our projects?”
“Sounds good.” Wembley said.
Jughead headed towards Wembley's door and turned back towards Wembley. “The offer to talk...you know that it still stands anytime.”
“I know.” Wembley said. “Thanks.”
As Jughead left, Wembley stared at the jewelry box in sadness. “I wish you were both still here...maybe you could help me find a way to stand up for myself instead of getting pushed around. Opening up to Jughead was a HUGE step for me...I just hope I'm right about trusting him...I've had too many people hurt me enough.”
A History Of Friendship - Part 4
“So, you ended up having to wait until ten o'clock to see 'Zombie Assassin 7”? Jughead exclaimed. “I can't imagine that went over well with your parents, Arch.”
“Actually, it wasn't that horrible.” Archie said. “Mainly because Chuck and I called home to let our parents know that we'd be catching the late show. I think Moose did too.”
“And, Reggie?” Jughead asked.
“Last I heard, Reggie was grounded for two weeks for missing curfew.” Archie said. “Worst part about the whole thing was that the movie wasn't that great. It was a huge disappointment from the last few films. You didn't miss much, believe me. It was even worse on the weekend when my dates with Veronica and Betty were a total mess.”
“Not even gonna ask about Betty and Veronica...” Jughead said. “...but that's too bad about 'Zombie Assassin 7'. It's probably for the best. Besides, what I had to do was more important anyway.”
“Did you make any progress with Wembley at all?” Archie asked.
“I wish I did.” Jughead said. “I didn't get any information about whether or not the football team was harassing him, but I did learn more about his background. It's really sad. He lost his parents at a young age, and from what I understand, he's been living with his aunt and uncle for the past few years. They live above a warehouse on Duncan Street.”
“That sounds horrible.” Archie said. “No wonder Wembley hasn't really been all that outgoing here.”
“He seems to be making the most of it.” Jughead said. “He seems grateful to be living where he is, and he by far has one of the coolest bedrooms I've ever seen. But, I can't help but get the feeling that there's something he's keeping from me.”
“You seem to think that if the football team is picking on him, he's not willing to volunteer that information to you or anybody else, right?” Archie asked.
“Exactly.” Jughead said. “I mean, I didn't press on or anything like that, but I just wish I knew what exactly he was keeping.”
“I may be able to fill you in a bit.” Archie said. “And, I'm warning you ahead of time that you probably won't like it.”
“What do you mean, I probably won't like it?” Jughead asked.
:”It involves Reggie.” Archie said.
“Great, this just gets better and better.” Jughead said. “What did you find out?”
“Well, nothing set in stone.” Archie said. “But, when we were waiting in line at the movie theatre to get in, the subject of Wembley came up, and Reggie didn't seem to have that much of a high opinion of Wembley. He accused him of being too snobby and stuck-up.”
“Reggie whining about someone being snobby and stuck-up?!?” Jughead exclaimed. “Has he not looked in the thirty-six mirrors he loves so much?”
“My thoughts exactly.” Archie said.
“Nice to know that Reggie actually made an effort to get to KNOW Wembley before judging him.” Jughead said, sadly.
Archie nodded. “That's exactly what I said. Chuck and Moose also tried to make that point too, and I think that even Reggie knew that he was kind of crossing the line. But, then his buddies from the football team arrived. Clay Brock and Johnny Sangria.”
“And, what happened?” Jughead asked.
“Well, nothing, really.” Archie said. “Aside from some whining from Clay, Johnny, and Reggie about missing the 7:15 show, not much. Though I did bring up the subject of bullying in a general sense, and the one thing I got was that the football team's definition of bullying doesn't exactly match mine.”
“That still doesn't prove that the football team is bullying Wembley.” Jughead said.
“Maybe not, but I think that the two of us need to keep our eyes open.” Archie said. “I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something about both Clay and Johnny that I'm not comfortable with.”
“And, I hate the fact that Reggie is caught up in this too.” Jughead said. “I mean, Reggie hasn't exactly been the nicest person to walk through the halls of this school, but I never thought that he'd be the kind of person to maliciously tease and bully someone either.”
“Again, we don't know the whole story yet, so we need to hold off forming an opinion about Reggie until we know for sure what is going on.” Archie said.
Jughead nodded. “I just hope that we're completely wrong about this, and that Wembley's just extra shy...but something in my gut tells me that it's more than that.”
Archie sighed. “That's what bothers me.”
Jughead and Archie headed down the hallway and turned the corner just as Reggie was leaving the shop class workroom. Reggie was speaking with the shop teacher, Mr. Krosskutt.
“Reggie, I'm very impressed by your work in the woodworking portion of the course.” Mr. Krosskutt. “You seem to be the only one in the class who has done perfect or near-perfect work.”
“What can I say, Mr. K?” Reggie said. “When I do things, I do things well.”
“However, your ego still needs a little bit of deflating, I see.” Mr. Krosscutt sighed. “At any rate, I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to help some of the other students with some of their projects. Particularly with Dilton Doiley. The lad might be skilled in chemistry, physics, and machinery, but his woodworking skills are a hopeless case.”
“I shall do my best.” Reggie said.
“Good.” Mr. Krosskutt said. “I will see you and Dilton both in class later today.”
As Mr. Krosskutt walked back into his classroom, Reggie noticed that Betty and Veronica were approaching.
“Hey, Bets, Ron.” Reggie said. “Need an escort to class?”
“Only if you want to.” Veronica said, sharply.
“What's with her?” Reggie asked.
“Oh, she's still trying to figure out what she's going to do for Miss Grundy's assignment due this week.” Betty said. “That, plus Archie ran out of money on their movie date this weekend.
“Can you believe Archie asked me...Veronica Lodge...to go HALFSIES on our movie date?” Veronica scoffed. “I've never been so humiliated in my whole life!”
“At least he had enough money for you to go halfsies with.” Betty said. “I ended up paying for our whole movie date.”
“You're taking this rather well.” Reggie said to Betty.
“Yeah, well...I wanted to see the vampire movie anyway.” Betty said. “Besides, when you've gone out with as many dates with Archie, you expect things to be unconventional. But, he did promise he'd make up for it.”
“I'll believe that when I see it.” Veronica said. “I'm so angry with Archie Andrews, I don't care if I ever see him again.”
“Great...more dates for me!” Betty thought to herself with a smile.
“And, get that silly grin off your face, Betty Cooper.” Veronica sneered. “As if I don't already know what you're thinking.”
Betty shook her head. “And, on that pleasant note, I have to go meet with Jughead and Archie to work on Miss Grundy's homework assignment.”
As Betty left, Veronica angrily stared towards her. “I hope the only dates you study with Archie are HISTORY dates!!!”
Reggie just chuckled. “Ron...all this could have been avoided if you had gone to the movies with me.”
Veronica was fuming. “Oh, be quiet, Reggie.”
Veronica then stormed away from Reggie as he shook his head. “All this could have been avoided if she had gone out with ME instead of Carrot-Top.”
Reggie had looked at the clock in the hallway and realized that he was running late for yet another football practice. “Great.” he muttered. “I completely forgot that we had a practice during lunch. Guess I'd better eat and run.”
Reggie quickly turned the corner and almost ran into Wembley. “Move it, goober.” he shouted as he darted past.
Wembley just stared at Reggie as he left. “Geez...he's in a hurry...”
Thinking nothing of it, though, Wembley turned the corner of the hallway that Reggie had just been in and was about to head to the library to meet up with Jughead to work on their class project when he heard a couple of voices that he hoped he didn't have to hear.
“Yo, Johnny...look here...it's Whiny Wembley!”
“More like Wah Wah Wembley to me, Clay.”
Wembley's whole demeanor changed as Clay Brock and Johnny Sangria approached Wembley. “Excuse me, I have to go.”
“What's the rush?” Clay said, stepping directly into Wembley's path. “We just wanna talk.”
“I don't have anything to say.” Wembley said, attempting to walk in the opposite direction.
“Not so fast.” Johnny said, as he got closer to Wembley. “You're not going anywhere right now until we talk to you.”
“Seems like you don't talk at all.” Clay said. “That's very, very, weird.”
“Too weird.” Johnny said.
With Clay and Johnny on opposite sides of him, Wembley was effective stuck. “Guys, just please...leave me alone.”
“Why?” Clay said, sarcastically. “We only want to be your friend.”
“Friends don't block people in the hallways or talk down to them.” Wembley said.
Johnny pushed Wembley up against a block of lockers. “You dare talk back to us?”
“You better watch what you say, Wembley.” Clay warned. “We're on the football team. You know, the team with all the biggest and strongest guys in the school. I'd hate for you to have them on your bad side.”
“Why are you doing this?” Wembley asked.
“Because you're the weirdest kid in school, and we don't want weird kids who don't speak in our school.” Johnny said.
“Does it not bother you that in the short time you've been here, nobody has wanted anything to do with you because nobody likes you?” Clay asked.
“It should.” Johnny said.
Clay then grabbed Wembley's backpack. “Let's see what you brought for lunch today.”
“Give that back!” Wembley shouted.
Johnny held Wembley back. “What's he got?”
Clay scoffed. “Just a stupid sandwich and an apple. Garbage.”
Clay then took Wembley's backpack and shoved it into the nearby garbage can, with Clay and Johnny laughing the whole time.
“We'll catch you later, Whiny Wembley.” Clay said with a sneer. “I quite enjoyed this chat. Let's get some real food, Johnny.”
Clay and Johnny laughed out loud as Wembley, shaken, grabbed his backpack out of the trash can and sadly walked down the hallway.
However, fate had a funny way of bringing attention to the situation.
And, in this case, fate was wearing black pumps and a designer purse.
Veronica Lodge had seen the whole event take place from the background...and suddenly, she wasn't as mad at Archie anymore.
In the school gymnasium, Reggie had just run inside, knowing that he was late for football practice, hoping that Coach Kleats would keep his cool. He immediately saw Moose and ran towards him.
“Yes, I know I'm late.” Reggie told Moose. “I know that I'll have to do more laps around the gym.”
“Don't worry.” Moose said. “Coach ain't here.”
“Oh, thank goodness.” Reggie said, relieved.
“Clay and Johnny are late too.” Moose explained.
“What?” Reggie asked. “That's odd. Clay and Johnny were late for Friday's practice session as well. I wonder what's going on with those two?”
Just as Reggie pondered this, Clay and Johnny quickly entered the gym.
“Good.” Clay said. “It looks like Coach Kleats isn't here.”
“All right.” Johnny said. “No extra laps for us.”
“And, just what was it you two were doing that was more important than football practice?” Reggie asked.
“Oh...we were just hanging out with someone.” Clay said with a smirk.
“Yeah.” Johnny said. “We had something to tell him.”
Reggie looked at them suspiciously. “Really...”
“Yeah, really.” Johnny said.
“And, who are you? Coach's spy?” Clay asked.
“No, of course not.” Reggie said. “If anything, I was late myself. But, the Riverdale vs. Central homecoming game is coming up soon, and Coach Kleats really wants us to win it. We have to try and make it to practice on time.”
“You're right, Mantle.” Clay said. “We're sorry.”
Just then, Coach Kleats entered the gym. “All right, team. We have just a few days until the homecoming game, so we need to make sure that we are ready. I want all of you to start by running ten laps around the gym.”
“Yes, Coach.” the team said.
“Oh...um...one more thing.” Coach Kleats said. “Since Mantle, Brock, and Sangria were late for practice, they will do an additional fifteen laps.”
“What?” Johnny exclaimed.
“That's not fair!” Clay whined.
“How did you know?” Reggie sighed.
“I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night.” Coach Kleats said with a smile. “Get running, boys.”
Reggie nodded his head. “You heard the coach.”
As Reggie joined the rest of the football team doing laps, Johnny approached Clay. “I told you we were gonna be late!”
“Relax.” Clay said. “Picking on that Wembley geek was worth the extra laps.”
“HEY!” Coach Kleats said. “Brock and Sangria, you better start doing laps now.”
Johnny started to run. “Picking on Wembley certainly is fun...but what if someone finds out?”
“Relax.” Clay said. “We're doing this without anyone knowing, and we have Wembley so scared, he's not going to say anything. Who's gonna know?”
Meanwhile, in the school library, Archie, Jughead, and Betty were seated at one of the tables. Jughead kept checking his watch, looking impatient.
“I wonder where Wembley is?” Jughead said. “He said he'd meet us here to work on our projects with us.”
“Maybe he's running late?” Archie suggested.
“No.” Jughead said. “I can't put my finger on it, but something's not right.”
“You think that something happened, didn't you?” Archie asked.
“Archie, I heard Reggie and Moose talking about another football practice.” Jughead said. “A practice that is going on right now. It's just too much of a coincidence.”
“Juggie.” Betty said. “Archie kind of filled me in on what's been happening. I just can't believe that Wembley has had to go through so much.”
“Nobody knows.” Jughead said.
“I think for whatever reason, Wembley has a lot of trouble opening up to people.” Archie said.
“Can you blame him?” Jughead said. “I mean, he had to deal with the loss of his parents, moving to another country, and now he has to deal with people making fun of him.”
“We don't know that for certain.” Archie said.
“I just think he's had too much happen to him.” Jughead said. “All he needs is to have some really good friends to confide in. To make him feel like he's not completely helpless in this.”
“You're doing a good job right now.” Betty said.
“Yeah, you've gone above and beyond for this kid.” Archie said.
“Let's just say that I know what he's going through.” Jughead said.
“Yeah, about that.” Archie said. “You keep saying that you can relate to Wembley and you know what he's talking about, but I'm not sure exactly what you mean.”
“Oh...that...” Jughead said. “Well, you see...”
But before Jughead could answer, Veronica entered the library. “Oh, good! I'm so glad all of you are here.”
Archie looked shocked. “Oh...um...er...hi, Veronica. Yeah, I know what you're going to say. You're still...upset over Saturday. I know. I promise you that I will make this up to you. I'll buy you flowers, I'll give you chocolates, whatever it is, I will make this up to you, just please don't be mad at me.”
Betty and Jughead looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
Veronica looked annoyed. “Archie, stop talking, please. This doesn't even have anything to do with you.”
“Then what is it?” Archie asked.
As Archie asked that question, Wembley happened to approach the table in the library that Betty and Jughead were still sitting at. He looked visibly shaken.
“Wembley!” Jughead said. “You're here!”
“Something wrong?” Betty asked.
“I'm...not feeling good.” Wembley said. “I know that I promised that I was going to meet you here in the library to work on our projects, but I'm not feeling well. I'm gonna go home early.”
“You sure?” Jughead asked. “You sure it's not anything else?”
“Yeah, it kind of looks like more than you just being sick.” Archie said.
“No, I really am sick.” Wembley said. “I'm sorry.”
Wembley started to leave, but Veronica turned towards him and said “Why don't you tell them the REAL reason.”
Wembley turned towards Veronica. “That is the real reason.”
“Oh, really.” Veronica said. “It wouldn't have anything to do with the 'talk' you had with Clay and Johnny, did it?”
“What?” Betty exclaimed.
Jughead sighed. “I knew it.”
Wembley looked angry. “Veronica, you don't know what you're talking about. I really need to go.”
“Wembley, I saw everything.” Veronica said. “I saw Clay and Johnny take your backpack and shove it in a garbage can.”
“What?” Archie said.
“Wembley.” Jughead said. “Is this true?”
Wembley stared down at his shoes.
“Wembley, talk to us here.” Jughead said. “We're your friends, remember? You can tell us everything.”
Wembley sighed. “You have any idea how hard it is to be the new kid? How hard it is to make friends?”
“I know all too well, Wembley, but guys like Johnny and Clay aren't your friends.” Jughead said.
“Not after what I saw.” Veronica said. “It was really horrible, and I'm sorry that you had to go through that.”
“Wembley, how long has this been going on?” Betty asked.
Wembley remained silent.
“Has this been going on a long time?” Archie asked.
Jughead sighed. “This has been happening since you started at Riverdale High hasn't it?”
Wembley nodded. “I didn't know what to do. I figured that if I just sat back and did nothing, that it would eventually stop, like it did at my old school.”
“But, it hasn't...has it?” Betty said.
Wembley looked like he was about to cry. “No.”
“Wait a minute.” Jughead said. “You mean to tell me that this has happened before at other schools?”
“Jughead, you have to understand.” Wembley said. “When I was younger, after my parents died, I moved around a lot. I was lucky if I only had to attend four schools a year. It wasn't easy to make new friends, so I basically just kept quiet. When my uncle and aunt finally decided to settle in Riverdale a year ago, I thought that I could finally start to open up to people, but at Hadley High, the kids used to make fun of me there, so I just closed up. It's been like that since I transferred to Riverdale High.”
“I'm guessing you transferred to this school from Hadley because of the bullying.” Betty said.
“Yeah.” Wembley said. “I thought that this school would be better than Hadley High, but those guys from the football team did all the same things that the kids at Hadley did to me.”
“Is it the whole football team doing this?” Jughead asked.
“Yeah, our friends Reggie and Moose are on the team, and I can't see them doing anything that horrible.” Archie said.
“Well, Reggie calls me names.” Wembley admitted. “But, it's mostly Clay and Johnny doing the worst. I don't think the other members of the team even know that they're doing it.”
“I knew Clay was bad news.” Veronica said. “I once went on a date with him. It was the worst date that I had ever had. He was so rude, and boorish. I'll never make that mistake again. Looks like Johnny's following in his footsteps.”
“Wembley, this is serious.” Jughead said. “You have to tell someone about this.”
“No, it's fine.” Wembley said. “It's nothing.”
“Dude, someone taking your backpack and throwing it in the garbage isn't nothing.” Jughead said. “I'm guessing that Clay and Johnny were bugging you when I first met you, didn't they?”
“I don't want to talk about this.” Wembley said.
“Wembley, you have got to tell Coach Kleats.” Archie said. “Or, Miss Grundy, or Mr. Weatherbee.”
“We'll all go with you.” Betty said.
“Absolutely.” Veronica said.
“I tried going to the teachers at Hadley High, and they didn't do anything.” Wembley said. “In fact, it just got worse.”
“That was Hadley High.” Jughead said. “This is Riverdale High. The teachers really care about the students here, and I know that if you gave them a chance to help you, they would.”
“I don't know.” Wembley said.
“Wembley.” Jughead said. “What Clay and Johnny are doing is wrong. They don't have the right to make anyone feel bad. And, they certainly don't have the right to pick on you. You have the power to change this. Let us help you.”
Wembley looked around at Jughead, Betty, Archie, and Veronica and realized that maybe, just maybe, they knew what they were talking about.
“Would you all come with me?” Wembley said. “To Mr. Weatherbee's office? It might be easier for me to talk about it if I had you guys with me.”
“You got it.” Jughead said.
“You're doing the right thing, Wembley.” Veronica said.
Wembley sighed. “I hope so.”