Sunday, March 25, 2012

A History Of Friendship By Matthew W. Turcotte (Part 5 to 8)

A History Of Friendship - Part 5

A few days passed. It was now early Thursday morning. The day before Miss Grundy's history assignment was due. And over by their lockers, Veronica was showing off her project to a very surprised Betty.
“And, this credit card is from Fjordstorm's, and this one from Lacey's, and this one...this one is from Beeman Barkus!” Veronica exclaimed in glee.
Betty was shaking her head. “Veronica, you're doing your history project on credit cards? It's supposed to be something from the twentieth century that is meaningful.”
“Well, Betty, credit cards were invented in the twentieth century, and since I got my first one, I've never had so much joy and meaning come into my life. You were right, Betty, this project was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see the joy in everyone's faces when I show off this project.”
“The only 'C' is see is the one that Miss Grundy will give you as a grade.” Betty said, with a chuckle.
Veronica just rolled her eyes.
Just then, Archie and Reggie approached Betty and Veronica. “Hey, girls.” Archie said.
“Archie, Reggie.” Veronica said. “Good. I need your honest opinion. I'm going to do my history project on my credit cards, but Betty doesn't seem to think that my project idea is a good one. What do you think?”
“” Archie said. “...that all depends on how well you're doing in history class.”
“If you're coasting, you may need to hold on for dear life with a project like that.” Reggie snapped.
Veronica grew angry. “Oh, you people are so critical!”
And as Veronica stormed off, Betty chuckled. “I do believe she'll be pulling an all-nighter tonight.”
Just then, Clay and Johnny approached the group. Both of them looked incredibly upset.
“How could Coach Kleats do this to us” Johnny yelled.
“This is so unfair.” Clay whined.
“What happened?” Reggie asked.
“We're benched from the homecoming game!” Clay yelled.
“Really?” Reggie exclaimed.
“I wanna know who the heck told the coach lies about us.” Johnny said.
“Yeah, getting pulled off the team for harassment!” Clay said. “What proof do they have?”
Archie and Betty exchanged a look as Reggie tried to calm them down. “Okay, Clay, Johnny, what happened? From the beginning.”
“I don't know.” Johnny said. “All I know is that yesterday we were called into Weatherbee's office, and in the office was Coach Kleats.”
“And, it was there that they accused us of bullying a student, which we denied, of course.” Clay said.
“And, before you know it, Coach pulls us from the game.” Johnny said.
“I don't understand it.” Clay said. “This is the biggest game of the whole season, and we have to miss it. Why does Weatherbee and the rest of the school seem intent to sabotage our football team?”
“We're going to lose the game now thanks to this.” Johnny said.
“Look.” Reggie said. “Did you want me to talk to the coach about this?”
“Do what you want, Mantle.” Clay fumed.
“All I know is that whoever went to the principal will hear about it from both of us.” Johnny shouted.
As Clay and Johnny stormed off, Reggie looked like he was angry himself. “I don't believe this! Clay and Johnny are benched from the team just days before the homecoming game! How could Weatherbee do this?”
“Sorry to burst your bubble, Reggie, but those jerks had it coming.” Betty said.
Reggie turned towards Betty. “You say this as if you know what's going on. Like you know who ratted those two out.”
Archie and Betty stared in silence at each other.
“You do...don't you?” Reggie exclaimed. “Do you have any idea what this does? To have two of our best players benched because of some gossip? We could lose the game and the season because of this!”
“Clay and Johnny brought this on themselves.” Betty said.
“Why do you keep saying this?” Reggie asked.
“Because we're the ones who went to Weatherbee about Clay and Johnny.” Archie said.
“Why would you two do that to them?” Reggie exclaimed. “What did they ever do to you?”
“Reggie, are you really that blind?” Archie exclaimed. “You know what they've been doing to Wembley Morris?”
“They have been teasing him and picking on him ever since he got here.” Betty said.
“I don't know what you're talking about.” Reggie said.
“Give me a break.” Archie said.
“Just ask Veronica.” Betty said. “She saw them take Wembley's backpack and shove it into a garbage can.”
“They're bullying Wembley, and eventually, it was going to catch up with them.” Archie said.
“Look, I'm not defending what they're doing to that Wembley kid, but don't you get it?” Reggie exclaimed. “You went to the principal and totally blew a little innocent teasing out of proportion and now we're going to lose the homecoming game.”
“I'd rather have the rest of the football season be cancelled if it means that Wembley won't have to endure any more bullying from anyone.” Betty said.
“I can't believe you'd stand here and make us look like the bad guys here.” Archie said.
“I don't mean to.” Reggie said. “But, again, what they're doing is harmless.”
“Oh, really?” Archie exclaimed. “If it's really that harmless, why is Wembley afraid to talk to anybody except Jughead and I?”
“Reggie, you may see bullying as physical injuries, but emotional bullying is just as horrible and there is no excuse for it.” Betty said. “Why can't you see that what Johnny and Clay did was wrong?”
Reggie shook his head as he started to leave. “I need some air...”
As Reggie left, Archie was trying not to blow up. “How can he stand there and defend those two bullies?”
“Archie, don't let this stress you out.” Betty said. “Maybe Reggie's just blinded by the whole idea of team unity that he can't see things for the way they are.”
“It just makes me so frustrated.” Archie said. “I never thought anything like this happened at Riverdale High. Now that I've seen it first hand, I hope I never see anything like this again.”
“Well, Mr. Weatherbee obviously punished Clay and Johnny for this.” Betty said. “Hopefully, they've learned from it.”
“I don't saw how angry those guys were.” Archie said. “I'm kind of glad that we told Reggie that we ended up reporting them.”
“That was a smart move.” Betty said. “Because if those two ever found out that it was Wembley who really reported them, it's going to make things much worse.”

At the same time, Jughead was being thrown out of the school cafeteria by Ms. Beazly.
“Jughead Jones, for the last time, the cafeteria does not open for breakfast!” Ms. Beazly said.
“Can't you make an exception just this once?” Jughead said. “Can't I have a muffin? A banana? A stick of gum?”
“Out, Jughead.” Ms. Beazly said, closing the door behind him.
As Jughead tried to get back into the cafeteria, Wembley happened to sneak up behind him. “Jughead, if you really want food, I can give you a dollar for the vending machine outside.”
“Hey, Wembley!” Jughead said. “How have you been doing?
“A little better.” Wembley said.
“Good.” Jughead said. “So...were we right about Mr. Weatherbee or what?”
“Yeah, you were.” Wembley said. “I'm glad I talked to him about what Clay and Johnny were doing. It seemed to help, and he was very kind.”
“I told you.” Jughead said. “You had nothing to worry about.”
“I don't know about that.” Wembley said. “I told him everything. I named names and everything. I'm just worried that they might try something else.”
“They wouldn't dare.” Jughead said. “Word is that they've been benched from the homecoming game because of what they did to you, and I'm pretty sure that if they try anything else, they'll get thrown off the football team entirely. I wouldn't worry.”
“I just really wanted to thank you for all of this, Jughead.” Wembley said.
“You have nothing to thank me for.” Jughead said.
“No, really.” Wembley said. “You, Archie, Betty,'ve all been great, and if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have had the courage to do anything about it.”
“Well, hey.” Jughead said. “Don't mention it, really.”
Jughead then noticed that Wembley was carrying a red box in his hand. “Is that...?”
Wembley nodded. “'s my project for Miss Grundy's class.”
“You brought in the jewelry box.” Jughead said.
“I did, I did.” Wembley said. “I know the project isn't due until tomorrow, but I decided to bring it in today so I could work on it during study hall.”
“Yeah, I brought my project in early too.” Jughead said. Miss Grundy said that she would lock them in her classroom overnight if we wanted to. I am kind of surprised you chose to bring something that has such value to you.”
“Well, that was what the assignment was about.” Wembley said. “And, this is my most prized possession.”
“I'm sure the class will enjoy it.” Jughead said. “And I bet you're going to get an A.”
Wembley smiled. “I hope so.”
“So, do you need any help working on the project?”
“No, not really.” Wembley said. “My study hall is in the same classroom as Miss Grundy's...I have a full period to work on the oral report. I'll just head there and work on it.”
“Okay, then, I'll catch you later.” Jughead said.
“Bye, Jughead.” Wembley said, as the two of them went their separate ways.
However, Wembley was unaware of the fact that he had just made a big mistake. He walked towards his locker, unaware that Johnny Sangria had overheard the conversation between himself and Jughead.
“So, it was that whiny Wembley who ratted us out.” Johnny said. “I should let Clay know this...he made a big mistake...”

A History Of Friendship - Part 6

Some time passed, and it was now just a few minutes before Miss Grundy's history class was about to begin, and Wembley Morris was ready for it. He had just completed his oral report for tomorrow's class, and armed with his mother's jewelry box and his oral report scribbled in his notebook, he was ready to give off a great report. He was thinking that he would get a B+ at least, or maybe even an A. He was really proud of it, and he had hoped that his report would have made his parents proud as well.
He turned the corner and saw that Miss Grundy's classroom was open, and that nobody else was inside, so he figured that he would head on inside and wait for class to start. He walked inside the classroom, and started to head towards the desk as the warning bell began to ring, informing people to hurry ahead to class. He was more than excited to hand in his project early and be done with it.

But, as Wembley walked inside the empty classroom, he heard a door slam behind him. When Wembley turned around, he was shocked to find Clay and Johnny standing in the doorway.
“We need to have a talk.” Clay said.
“You need to stay away from me.” Wembley said. “The principal said.”
“Well, he's not he?” Johnny said, walking slowly towards Wembley.
“I don't like what you said about us to Weatherbee.” Clay said. “Thanks to you, we can't play in the homecoming game.”
“And, we don't like that.” Johnny said.
“So, we're going to make you pay.” Clay said.
Wembley looked scared. “Wh...what are you going to do?”
Clay smiled. “Wouldn't you like to know?”
Johnny then noticed the stuff that Wembley was carrying. “Get a load of the stuff he's carrying.”
Clay grabbed the notebook out of Wembley's hands. “What's this? Your homework?”
“Give it back!” Wembley yelled.
“I just want to see it!” Clay said, flipping through the pages of the notebook.
But, Clay was purposely turning the pages forcefully, causing the pages to rip out completely.
“Oops!” Clay said. “I seem to have ripped the book. What will I do?”
Johnny laughed. “Let's party!”
Clay sneered as he threw the pieces of paper up in the air. “Happy New Year!”
Wembley looked like he was about to cry. “You won't get away with this!”
Just then, Reggie walked into the classroom and saw Clay, Johnny, and Wembley inside the classroom. “Clay? Johnny? What are you doing here? You aren't in this class!”
As Wembley continued to look nervous, Clay turned towards Reggie and smiled. “Ah, Reggie! Just in time!”
“We're about to play a game!” Johnny said.
Reggie looked concerned. “What are you doing to that kid?”
“Oh, don't worry, dude.” Clay said. “Wembley here is just having fun.”
“Funny.” Reggie said. “He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself at all.”
“Oh, but he is.” Johnny said. “Trust us.”
Clay was eyeing the red box that Wembley was carrying. “What's in there?”
Wembley looked scared. “ can't have it?”
Johnny smiled. “You know something? Tomorrow happens to be my birthday...and it looks like Wembley bought me a present. Isn't that thoughtful of him?”
“Sure is.” Clay said. “What do you say, Wembley? Give Johnny his present.”
“No.” Wembley said.
Clay got angrier. “I said, give Johnny his present.”
Reggie looked uncomfortable. “Clay, Johnny, you're taking this a bit too far.”
“Be quiet, Mantle.” Clay snapped.
Johnny then grabbed the box out of Wembley's hands. “Let's see what you bought me.”
Wembley was visibly agitated. “Please! No! Give that back!”
Clay stood in front of Wembley as Johnny tore open the red box. “What the heck is this? It looks like a blue wooden box.”
“No way!” Clay exclaimed. “That's a jewelry box! The wimpy kid has a jewelry box.”
“You need to give that back!” Wembley pleaded.
Clay scoffed. “What kind of dorky man has a jewelry box anyway?”
“I don't know, but it's nothing that I can use.” Johnny said in disgust.
“I WANT IT BACK!” Wembley shouted. “Please!”
“Guys, this has gone on far enough.” Reggie said. “Give it back to him.”
“You want it back, Whiny Wembley?” Clay asked.
 Wembley nodded.
“You REALLY want it back?” Johnny asked.
“YES!” Wembley yelled.
“Fine.” Clay said. “We'll give it back.”
Clay walked over to where a frightened Wembley was and started to hand over the jewelry box to him. But, just before Wembley could lay a hand on the box, Clay yanked it back, winked at Johnny and yelled “CATCH!”
Wembley could only look on in horror as Clay threw the jewelry box up in the air to Johnny who was on the other side of the classroom.
Johnny caught the jewelry box and laughed. “Wow...great throw. I can see why Coach made you quarterback.”
STOP IT!” Wembley screamed. “Please!”
“Guys, this is crazy.” Reggie yelled. “You have got to stop this!”
“Why?” Johnny said, tossing the jewelry box back to Clay. “We're having too much fun.”
As Clay caught the box, Wembley was visibly upset, and for the first time, Reggie could see that Archie and Betty were telling the truth about Clay and Johnny bullying Wembley. And, he knew that he was the only one who could make things right.
As Clay threw the box back over to Johnny, Reggie quickly intercepted the box.
Clay was visibly upset. “What did you do that for?”
“Because this is wrong.” Reggie said. “Look at what you're doing to this kid!”
“Why are you defending this weirdo?” Clay yelled. “He doesn't speak in class, he doesn't say anything to anybody. He just doesn't do anything! He's the weirdest person in the whole school!”
“I don't care!” Reggie said. “This is wrong. It's one thing to crack jokes to people, or good-naturedly rib our new team members. This is bullying, and I think you two need to stop. Wembley is getting his jewelry box back.”
 “No he's not.” Johnny said, grabbing on the box that Reggie was holding.
Reggie tried to get the box out of Johnny's grip. “What are you doing?” he screamed.
“Wembley got us thrown out of the game.” Johnny said. “He needs to pay!”
“Guys, stop it!” Wembley screamed. “You're gonna wreck it!”
But Reggie and Johnny wouldn't stop. Reggie was trying to get the box out of Johnny's hands so he could give it back to Wembley, but Johnny wasn't letting go. Suddenly, both Reggie and Johnny tripped over a chair and both of them let go of the box. Wembley could only watch in horror as the wooden jewelry box landed on the floor, breaking into several pieces all over Miss Grundy's classroom floor.
“NOOOOOOOO!” Wembley cried out!
Wembley immediately ran to the broken jewelry box and upon seeing the damaged box, broke down into tears.
Reggie looked really uncomfortable, while Clay and Johnny were chuckling to themselves.
Reggie was furious. “Are the two of you happy now?”
Just then, the rest of the class started to pile into the classroom, and immediately came upon the sight of a sobbing Wembley, and Clay, Johnny, and Reggie standing in the middle of the classroom.
Jughead noticed the broken box on the floor, and then fixed his gaze on Clay and Johnny. “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?”
Clay and Johnny glanced at each other.
“We didn't do anything.” Clay said.
“Yeah, it was an accident.” Johnny said. “Right, Reggie?”
Reggie looked like he was punched in the stomach.
“You two aren't even supposed to BE in this class!” Betty snapped.
“Get out of here now.” Veronica said. “Haven't you done enough to this poor boy?”
Archie just stared at Reggie. “I really hope YOU had nothing to do with this Reggie.”
Jughead tried to kneel down beside Wembley. He reached his hand out to him. “Wembley?”
“Just leave me alone!” Wembley sobbed.
Just then, Miss Grundy walked inside the classroom. “Good afternoon class, I...”
Miss Grundy then looked around. “My classroom! What happened to my classroom? Why is Wembley Morris crying? I want to know what is going on, and I want to know what is going on right now!”
“I'd like an explanation myself.” Mr. Weatherbee said as he too entered the classroom.
“Miss Grundy invited me down to speak to the class for a few minutes, and I see that there is obvious disorder here. I want to know what is going on. NOW.”
Wembley wiped his eyes and approached Mr. Weatherbee. “I'll tell you what's happening. I'm leaving Riverdale High. I want to transfer to Central High. I can't...I can't be here...”
Wembley ran out of the room as Jughead tried to go after him. “Wembley...Wembley, wait!”
“Hold it, son.” Mr. Weatherbee said, holding Jughead back. “Nobody is leaving this room.”
“But, sir, Wembley...:” Jughead said.
“I understand that you're concerned about him.” Mr. Weatherbee said. “That's why I need to know what exactly happened in this classroom.”
Jughead angrily turned and glared at Clay and Johnny. “Why don't you ask these two?”
“Jones, what are you talking about?” Clay said.
“AS IF YOU DON'T KNOW!” Jughead yelled. “You two have been hounding Wembley for weeks! You've been bullying him, making his time in school miserable...and now you broke his jewelry box!”
“You have no proof!” Johnny said.
“Do you have any idea how much that box meant to him?” Jughead yelled. “That box was one of the only things he has left to remember his parents who died in a fire when Wembley was little! It was all he had, and you two just destroyed it! How cruel can you be?”
“Look, I'm sorry his jewelry box got broken, but you can't blame us.” Clay said. “It was an accident!”
“Yeah, it accidentally fell.”
“It was NO accident, and both of you know it!” Reggie yelled.
Clay and Johnny glared at Reggie.
“Reggie, you don't know what you're talking about.” Clay said.
“Great, now you've turned against us too.” Johnny said. “I guess nobody cares about whether we win the homecoming game, not even Reggie.”
“I'd rather lose every game than let you hurt Wembley any longer.” Reggie said.
Jughead walked towards Reggie. “Reggie, what happened?”
“I'd like to know what happened too.” Mr. Weatherbee said.
Reggie sighed. “Clay and Johnny cornered Wembley in this classroom, and they were harassing him when I walked in.”
“He's lying!” Clay said.
“Oh, be quiet, you boor.” Veronica snapped. “I can't believe I ever thought you were cute.”
“Reggie, go on.” Mr. Weatherbee said.
Reggie breathed deeply. “When I came in, Johnny grabbed the jewelry box out of Wembley's hands, and started to play catch with it. He and Clay threw it back and forth just to hurt Wembley. I tried to step in and get the box back once I saw that Wembley was really upset about it, and in the struggle, the box got broken.”
Jughead angrily glared at Clay and Johnny, who were looking more and more guilty with every word that Reggie was saying.
“Sir, you have to believe me.” Reggie said, his voice cracking. “I wasn't aware that any of this was going on with Wembley until I saw it. I am so sorry that Wembley's box got broken, and I swear to you that I didn't have anything to do with Wembley's bullying. Please believe me.”
Reggie then walked over to Archie, Betty, and Jughead. “Guys, please forgive me.”
Betty sighed. “You really tried to stop it?”
Reggie nodded. “Yes. I did.”
Archie smiled a tiny smile. “Maybe there's hope for you yet, Reg.”
“Sir.” Reggie said to Mr. Weatherbee. “I really am sorry.”
Mr. Weatherbee sighed. “Reggie...I can't say that I'm all that pleased to hear what happened here...but at the same time, I admire your courage. In the end, I really do believe that you tried to make things right. That does take courage, and I respect that.”
Reggie nodded sadly. “Thank you, sir.”
Mr. Weatherbee's attention then turned towards Clay and Johnny. “I am however incredibly disappointed in the two of you. What were you thinking?”
“The kid is weird.” Clay said. “We wanted to get him to open up.”
“By destroying his history project?” Miss Grundy exclaimed. “In all my years of teaching, I have NEVER seen people treat each other so cruelly.”
Mr. Weatherbee shook his head. “You two have disappointed me, Miss Grundy, the football team, the school...and especially poor Wembley. I want to see both of you in my office.”
“But, sir.” Clay said.
“NOW.” Mr. Weatherbee bellowed. “You two are in some serious, SERIOUS trouble. Come with me.”
Mr. Weatherbee left the classroom, with a dejected looking Clay and Johnny following behind him.
Jughead looked like he was about ready to be sick. “I can't believe those two would do something like this. What person would do this? What HUMAN BEING would do this?”
“Guys, you have got to believe me.” Reggie said. “I am so sorry for what happened to Wembley. I tried to get them to stop and give the box back.”
“Reggie, I believe you.” Archie said.
“Yeah...” Jughead said. “ at least feel something about what happened, which is more than I can say for those two.”
“Poor Wembley.” Veronica said.
Jughead walked over towards Miss Grundy. “Miss Grundy, we have got to find Wembley. He's hurt and upset. He really needs a friend. May I be excused from class to go and find him and talk to him?”
“Normally, I would say no.” Miss Grundy said. “But, in this case, I will make an exception. Go on. Find him.”
“Thank you, Miss Grundy.” Jughead said.
“And, I'm going with you.” Archie said.
“Archie, I appreciate this, but I don't know if you'd be any help.” Jughead said.
“Jughead, you and I have been friends for how many years now?” Archie asked. “I'm not letting you deal with this alone. I want to help you find, Wembley, okay?”
Jughead nodded. “Come on. We'll use your car, okay?”
“All right.” Archie said. “Let's go.”
“Good luck, guys.” Betty said.
“You find him, all right?” Reggie said.
Archie and Jughead left Miss Grundy's classroom, and headed towards the front door of the school.
“Would you have any idea where Wembley might have gone?” Archie asked Jughead.
“I can only think of one place.” Jughead said. “I just hope that I'm right. In the meantime, you'd better call Wembley's aunt and uncle to let them know what happened. I have the phone number.”
“I just hope we can find him.” Archie said.
“Me too.” Jughead said.
Back inside the classroom, Reggie kept staring at the broken pieces of Wembley's jewelry box as Miss Grundy attempted to get class back in session.
“This is so unfair.” Veronica said. “I mean, we helped Wembley try to get the bullying to stop, and in the end, he still ended up getting hurt.”
“I still think that we did the right thing.” Betty said. “I mean, none of us saw this coming, but we had to say something.”
“Betty's absolutely right.” Miss Grundy said. “If someone was being bullied or made fun of in this classroom, I would want to know about it so I could find a way to try and get it stopped. I don't believe that anybody should have to go through any sort of harassment in this school.”
“I can't help but feel so bad about this.” Ethel Muggs said.
“This is one horrible situation.” Dilton Doiley added.
“Moose, were you aware that any of this was going on?” Midge asked.
“D-uh...not at all.” Moose said.
“You couldn't have anyway.” Reggie said. “I didn't even know that this had been happening until I saw it with my own eyes. Clay and Johnny did all their picking on Wembley out of sight of anyone. It explains why they were always late for football practice. Why didn't I see it earlier?”
“I think part of it could have been that maybe you were afraid that by speaking out, you could have been teased too.” Betty said.
“A lot of teenagers don't report bullying to school officials.” Miss Grundy said. “Some people are afraid to go to a higher authority for fear of repercussions, or they may feel that they may lose friendships, or they simply feel that they can deal with it themselves. But, the truth is that there is power in speaking out against school bullying, and I promise you that we will do our best to make sure that we never have a situation like this happen again.”
“But, how does this help Wembley now?” Reggie exclaimed.
“Reggie, we're doing it right now by talking about this.” Veronica said.
“Exactly.” Chuck said. “The more awareness we bring to this issue, the better chance we have to stop it once and for all.”
“I just feel so horrible about this.” Reggie said. “I mean, I was calling Wembley names, and I was making jokes at his expense, not knowing what Clay and Johnny were doing. I just feel so incredibly horrible. I mean, I know I have the reputation of being a jerk, but I'm not heartless.”
“Reggie, of course we know that.” Miss Grundy said. “I think you're being a little bit hard on yourself.”
“Yeah, I mean, it's not like you were throwing Wembley's backpack in the trash.” Veronica said.
“And, you certainly didn't intend to break Wembley's jewelry box.” Betty said. “You tried to get it back from those two.”
“It's still broken though.” Reggie said. “And, now that I know how much it meant to Wembley, it doesn't make me feel any better.”
“I know.” Miss Grundy said. “But, the best thing you can do for Wembley is to be his friend now. The best thing every single one of you can do is show Wembley just how much he is appreciated here.”
“That all depends on whether Jughead and Archie can find him.” Nancy Woods said.
“I have faith in them.” Betty said. “We have to believe that Jughead and Archie will be able to be there for him through this.”
“For now, this class will be a free period.” Miss Grundy said. “You may choose to work on your assignments if you wish, or if you want to just reflect on what has happened today, you can do so if you wish. I will be here for any of you if you need me.”
The class began to work on their assignments in silence.
Reggie Mantle continued to stare at the broken jewelry box. “I don't care what people say. This jewelry box would have never been broken if I had acted sooner. I've got to find a way to make it up to that kid. I just have to...”

A History Of Friendship - Part 7

“Jughead!”  Archie exclaimed.  “Wait up!”
   Jughead was practically running down Pickins Road, with Archie running right behind him.
   “Jughead!  Slow down!”  Archie yelled.
   “You're gonna have to keep up with me!”  Jughead said.
   “Jughead, considering the fact that you're known for taking naps that last eleven hours at a time, the very fact that you're running so fast that I can't keep up with you speaks volumes!”  Archie said.
   “I can't help it, Arch.”  Jughead said.  “When I think of how Clay and Johnny bullied poor Wembley, and how his most prized possession bit the dust because of those two insensitive jerks...”
   “I know.”  Archie said.  “I you're feeling.”
   “Archie, I appreciate the thought, but I'm not sure you know exactly what's going through my head right now.”  Jughead said.  “Right now, Wembley's out there somewhere completely devastated and alone, and he feels as though he has been let down.”
   “But, that isn't your fault!”  Archie said.  “You had nothing to do with this!  You've been nothing but a friend to Wembley.”
   “And, yet, I'm the one who practically convinced him to use that jewelry box for his project!”  Jughead moaned.  “Why didn't I keep my mouth shut?”
   “Jughead, look at me.”  Archie said.  “Be honest.  Could you have possibly foreseen this happening?  Honestly.”
   Jughead sighed.  “No.”
   “Then stop beating yourself up about this.”  Archie said.  “We just have to find Wembley.  And, seeing as how we're just a couple of blocks away from Pickins Park, you must think that he's nearby.”
   “It's just a hunch.”  Jughead said.  “But, it's all I have.  Come on.”
   Archie followed Jughead down Pickins Road where Jughead motioned Archie to turn the corner onto Walnut Street.  From there, Jughead pointed towards the direction of Pop's Chocklit Shop.
   “Jughead.”  Archie said.  “I hardly think that this is the time for you to satisfy your hunger with one of Pop's cheeseburger specials.”
   “No, just hear me out.”  Jughead said.  “Remember where we first met Wembley?”
   “Well, you first met Wembley outside of the gym...” Archie said.
   “No...I mean, where did we have our first conversation?”  Jughead asked.
   Archie nodded.  “Pop's.”
   Jughead headed towards the front door of Pop's.  “Ah, but do you know specifically?”
   Archie looked confused.  “It was a booth, right?”
   Jughead started to open the door.  “I may have only known Wembley for a week, but one thing I've always noticed about him is that he likes familiar places.  His bedroom at home.  The fact that he sits in the same spot every day in the cafeteria...”
   And, as Jughead and Archie entered Pop's, Jughead glanced over towards the booth right next to the gumball machine and breathed a sigh of relief.
   “...and apparently he loves that booth too.”
   Sure enough, sitting in the booth next to the gumball machine was Wembley Morris, whose face was buried in his hands.
   “”  Archie stammered.
   “I told was a hunch.”  Jughead said.  “Archie, why don't you go over to the counter and order us three lime fizzes?”
   Archie nodded.  “If you need me...”
   “I'll let you know.”  Jughead said.
   “Good luck, buddy.”  Archie said.
   Archie walked towards the soda fountain counter in Pop's, while Jughead approached the booth where Wembley was.
   “You know, you should try the lime fizz.”  Jughead said to Wembley.  “It's very...fizzy.”
   Wembley looked up at Jughead, his eyes still wet from crying and his cheeks red and blotchy.  “I know what you're trying to do, and it's not going to work.  I'm still leaving Riverdale High, and you aren't changing my mind.”
   Jughead sat down beside Wembley.  “Well, at least you're still talking to me.”
   Wembley sat there silently.
   “Or, maybe not.”  Jughead said.
   Wembley frowned.  “Look, Jughead, I don't blame you for what happened today, but no matter what, it doesn't change things.  My mother's jewelry box is gone, and there's nothing you can do about it.”
   “Maybe not about the box.”  Jughead said.  “But, would you like to know what happened after you left the school?”
   “What?”  Wembley asked.  “Did everyone else laugh at me too about what happened?”
   “NO!”  Jughead gasped.  “Quite the opposite actually.  They were all very upset over it.”
   “I bet Clay and Johnny laughed it up though.”  Wembley sighed.
   “Yes, until they got in trouble for it by Mr. Weatherbee.”  Jughead said.  “Turns out that Reggie was so angry over what Clay and Johnny did to your mom's jewelry box that he squealed on them.”   
   “Oh, great!”  Wembley moaned.  “Now Clay and Johnny are going to really make things miserable for me!”
   “Actually, if I know Mr. Weatherbee quite well, I guarantee you that Clay and Johnny will never hurt you or any other student at Riverdale High again.”  Jughead said.
   “That's what you promised me the last time!”  Wembley cried.  “You lied to me!”
   “No!”  Jughead yelled.  “I had no idea that Clay and Johnny could be so cruel!  Nobody did!”
   “I did...”  Wembley said.  “...and now I don't have my mom's jewelry box.”
   “What happened was horrible.”  Jughead said.  “But, you have to trust me when I say that Mr. Weatherbee and all of us at Riverdale High won't ever let this happen again.”
   “You don't know that!”  Jughead said.
   “Jughead, just leave me alone!”  Wembley snapped.  “You don't know what it's like to be teased on a day to day basis!  You don't!”
   “Oh, I bet I could relate to you more than you realize.”  Jughead said.
   “I need to go.”  Wembley said, getting up.
   “Wembley, wait!”  Jughead said.
   “Just leave it, Jughead!”  Wembley screamed.  “How would you know how I feel?”
   As Wembley started to head towards the front door, Jughead stood up and shouted “BECAUSE THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!”
   Wembley froze and slowly turned around and stared at Jughead. 
   And, Archie who was still at the counter stared at Jughead.  “What?”
   Jughead sighed.  “Wembley, you are not the only one who was bullied.”
   Wembley looked confused.   “ were bullied too?  When?”
   Jughead sighed.  “It happened when I was younger.  When I was six years old.  I had just moved to Riverdale, and I had left all of my old friends behind.  I wasn't very happy because I was starting over in a new town.”
   Archie listened intently as Wembley sat back down at the booth where Jughead was.  “Sounds kind of like me when I first moved to Riverdale.”
   Jughead continued.  “Anyways.  I was in a rather bad mood my first couple of weeks in town.  I didn't know anyone, so I didn't really talk with anyone.  I just kept thinking about my old friends, and how I would never make new friends.  My first week at Riverdale Elementary School was really rough.  All the bigger kids used to push me down.  They called me names like 'Platypus Beak' or 'Pencil Nose'.  When they found out that my real name was Forsythe, this gave them more of an excuse to make fun of me.  This happened to me for days.  I didn't know what to do.  I went home crying every day.”
   “Sounds awful.”  Wembley said.
   “It was.”  Jughead said.  “I mean, it was bad enough not having any friends in Riverdale when I was a kid.  To have kids in the place you moved to bully you and tease you because you were the new kid made me even more homesick.”
   “But, you're like one of the more popular guys in Riverdale High now.”  Wembley said.  “How did you get over it?”
   Jughead sighed.  “Well, when we first moved in, we couldn't take all of our stuff right away, so it took a couple of weeks for it all to arrive at our new house.  Once it arrived, we were moving in all of our stuff, and I noticed this kid walking up the street.  He introduced himself to my parents and he saw me and asked me how I was.  My parents insisted that I go with this kid while he showed me around town, and while I wasn't up to it at first, things got better.”
   Archie listened intently, as Wembley asked.  “What happened?”
   “Well, this kid insisted on trying to cheer me up, and he kept calling me Forsythe, because that's how my parents introduced me to him.  And, I insisted – quite rudely too – that the only way he would ever be my friend is if he called me by my nickname back in my old town.”
   Wembley cracked a tiny smile.  “Jughead...”
   “We had so much fun that day.”  Jughead said.  “We caught frogs around Pickins Park.  We swam in the old pond.  We went fishing along Carson's Creek...unfortunately that perilous pike remained elusive, but we had fun trying to catch him.  Oh, what else...oh, we met little Betty Cooper who baked me a pie, and in the end, my family invited him over for dinner.  It was truly the best day of my whole life, and it was the first page to a wonderful friendship.”
   “So, who was this kid?”  Wembley asked.  “Is he still in town?”
   Jughead then turned towards Archie, who was smiling broadly as he collected three lime fizzes from Pop Tate.  “Well, of course he is.  In fact, I can introduce him to you right now.  Archie, introduce yourself.”
   Archie smiled.  “Hi!”
   Wembley looked stunned.  “You and Archie have been friends that long?  I don't even know if I've had a friendship last ten months, let alone ten years!”
   “Eleven years.”  Jughead corrected.  “But, ever since Archie and I became friends, I found that the bullying I went through didn't hurt me as much.  Instead of wasting time being upset and sad, I focused my feelings on my friendship with Archie.  Eventually, I started to make more friends, and by third grade, I felt like I could finally call Riverdale my home.”
   “Well, that is a very inspiring story, but the damage is still done.”  Wembley said.  “Truth is, I don't know if I can get over this.”
   “You can.”  Jughead said.
   “But, Jughead, don't you get it?”  Wembley said.  “Clay and Johnny took everything away!  They destroyed my mom's jewelry box, and they made me afraid to go to school!”
   “But, don't you see?”  Jughead said.  “They didn't take everything away!”
   Wembley began to shed a tear.  “What do you mean?”
   Jughead took a deep breath.  “Wembley, you still have friends.  Archie.  Betty.  Veronica.  Even Reggie stood up for you.”
   “He's right.”  Archie said.
   “And, most importantly, you have me.”  Jughead said.  “You want to know something?  Part of the reason why I started to feel better about this town and myself was because someone cared enough about me to want to be my friend.  Archie showed me that he wanted to be my friend, and that helped me a lot in dealing with things.  Wembley, you are smart, you're caring, you'  And, you're my friend.”
   Wembley smiled.  “I am?”
   “Of course.”  Jughead said.  “Now, I can't promise you that everything will be one hundred per cent better, wait...WHEN you go back to Riverdale High.  What I can promise you is that you will have friends who you can go to whenever you want.  What I can promise you is that your friends will never let anyone else hurt you again.  What I can promise you is that the teachers of Riverdale High won't let anyone else bully you again.  And, I promise you that you can trust everything I say to be the truth.  The choice is yours whether you want to stay at Riverdale High or not, but if you decide to stay, we'll all do our best to make sure that you're welcomed the right way the second time around.  Just please give all of us a second chance to make this up to you.”
   Wembley looked touched by Jughead's words.  “Thank you...Jughead...Archie...”
   At that moment, a middle-aged woman entered Pop's.  “Wembley!!!”
   Wembley immediately recognized the woman.  “Aunt Glynis!”
   Wembley ran towards the woman and hugged her tightly.  “What in the world happened?”
   “How did you know where I was?”  Wembley asked.
   “You can thank these two boys over there.”  Glynis said, looking at Jughead and Archie. “You certainly have made some wonderful friends.”
   Jughead and Archie smiled at each other as Wembley began to cry.  “Mom's jewelry's gone!  Some kids broke it...I'm...I'm so sorry!”
   “Shhhhh.”  Glynis said, comforting Wembley.  “It's all okay.  It's going to be okay.  Mr. Weatherbee called me up earlier.  I'll fill you in on what happened when we get home.”
   “So, you aren't mad that I left school early?”  Wembley asked.
   “Of course not.”  Glynis said.  “I understand.  Why don't we talk about this at home?”
   “Okay.”  Wembley said.
   Glynis looked up at Archie and Jughead.  “Thank you boys...for everything.”
   As Glynis and Wembley left Pop's, Jughead sat down, visibly exhausted.  “I sure hope that I got through to him.”
   “Well, whether or not you did is yet to be seen.”  Archie said.  “But, what you said really got to me.  I had no idea you were bullied when you first moved to town.  I mean, I know we had our scuffles as kids with the Southside Serpents, and Fangs Fogarty...but we faced them together.  I had no idea you had to go through that alone.”
   “Now you see why Wembley really struck a chord with me.”  Jughead said.  “I really had to help him.  I wanted to make him see that while it may take time, as long as he has someone to confide in, it would make him feel better about himself.  After did the same for me all those years ago.  You're my best friend, Arch.”
   Archie shook Jughead's hand.  “Right back at you, Jug.”
   “So...”  Jughead said.  “...should we drink these lime fizzes?”
   Archie laughed.  “Why don't I buy you a burger?”
   “Even better!”  Jughead said, laughing.
   “I'll be right back.”  Archie said, as he headed back to the counter.
   Jughead leaned back in the booth, and sighed.  “Wembley, I have a feeling that things are going to be better for just have to let us in...”

The Conclusion of A History Of Friendship

The next day, Archie and Jughead were moving quickly through the halls of Riverdale High. They were late for Miss Grundy's history class after spending their study hall period putting the finishing touches on their projects for class.
“I can't believe that we lost track of time!” Archie exclaimed. “Why did my watch battery die?”
“I don't know, but in all honesty, the class is really the last thing on my mind.” Jughead said.
Archie stopped. “You're thinking about Wembley.”
“He hasn't been in school all day long.” Jughead said. “I can't help but worry about him. I mean, Clay and Johnny have both been suspended from Riverdale High for what they did to Wembley, and Mr. Weatherbee has said that if they go near Wembley again, they'll face expulsion. I would have thought that would have been enough.”
“Jughead, you did everything you could.” Archie said. “You can't fault yourself for that.”
Jughead frowned. “I just wish that...”
But, then Jughead stopped mid-sentence and began to smile as someone approached.
“Wembley!!!” Jughead exclaimed.
“And, here I was thinking that I was the only one late for class.” Wembley said.
“How are you doing?” Archie asked.
“I'm hanging in there.” Wembley said. “When I left Pop's yesterday, I had a really long talk with my aunt and uncle. They aren't mad at me for letting the jewelry box get broken. In fact, talking with them about what had happened really helped.”
“I had a feeling.” Jughead said, smiling. “Judging by your aunt's reaction, I take it they didn't know what was going on.”
“No.” Wembley said. “At first, I felt scared to talk to anyone. But, since I found talking about it with you two so easy, I figured that telling them would be too. Just talking about it helped.”
“Good.” Jughead said.
“And, besides...with Clay and Johnny suspended from school, it'll at least make the next couple of weeks easy to get through.” Wembley said.
“So...” Archie began. “...does this mean you're sticking around?”
Wembley nodded. “It's like you guys said. Maybe I need to trust that you are right...and maybe I need to give you guys another chance too...I'm going to see how it goes. One day at a time, right?”
Jughead smiled. “It's good to see that you're staying.”
“Me too.” Wembley said. “Although, I'm a little nervous about going to Miss Grundy's class without a project.”
Archie and Jughead's eyes widened. “CLASS!!!”
“Come on!” Jughead exclaimed. “We're late!”

Meanwhile, in Miss Grundy's classroom, Veronica was just finishing her oral presentation.
“, in conclusion to my project, I really hope that I inspired all of you to put your best foot forward. It wasn't easy for me to slip into the subject, but once I got to talking about it, it felt as comfortable as an old pair of slippers. And, thanks to the wonderful invention of modern shoes, everyone in the twentieth century could get to wherever they wanted to go, and look good doing it! Thank you!”

The class all clapped as Veronica took her seat.
“Thank you, Veronica.” Miss Grundy. “I must certainly say that when you brought in fifty pairs of shoes from your own closet, I was initially worried that you'd make this project into nothing more than a fashion show, but you really demonstrated how our footwear has evolved over the past one hundred years. Very well thought out project."
“I knew you'd appreciate it.” Veronica said.
"Have to admit.” Betty said. “That was very informative. I really misjudged you.”
“Thank you, Betty.” Veronica said. “Your project was great too.”
Just then, Archie, Jughead, and Wembley ran into the classroom.
Miss Grundy did not look impressed. “Would you care to tell me why you're twenty minutes late for class?”
“We lost track of time.” Archie said.
“We got lost.” Jughead said.
Miss Grundy sighed. “Boys, just take your seats.”
Archie and Jughead sheepishly sat down. As Wembley walked in, Miss Grundy smiled. “Wembley...nice to see you back!”
“Thank you.” Wembley said.
As Wembley walked to his desk, Betty smiled at him. “Nice to see you, Wembley!”
“Good afternoon!” Veronica said.
“Oh...” Wembley said, smiling. “...Hi, Betty...Veronica...”
As Wembley sat down, Miss Grundy began to speak. “Okay, so we've heard from Betty, Midge, Chuck, and now Veronica. The next person on my randomly drawn list of names is Reggie Mantle, but he doesn't seem to be here right now, so we'll go on to the next name on my list, which is...Wembley...”
Wembley sighed sadly.
Miss Grundy looked sad. “Wembley, I know that your project was ruined yesterday, and if you want, I can skip your name and go on to the next student.”
“He doesn't have to.” said a voice from behind her.
Miss Grundy turned around and saw Reggie standing behind her, holding something in his hands.
“Reggie Mantle, you are late for class!” Miss Grundy said, her voice rising.
“I know...I know.” Reggie said. “Believe me, I have a good reason. And, it looks like I got back just in time for Wembley's project.”
“Reggie, what are you talking about?” Archie asked.
“What's going on?” Jughead questioned.
“You'll see.” Reggie said. “Wembley, can you come up here, please?”
Wembley looked shocked. “Um...what?”
“Go ahead.” Betty motioned.
“Yeah.” Veronica said.
Wembley nervously approached the front of the classroom where Miss Grundy and Reggie stood. Jughead and Archie followed.
“What's this about?” Archie asked Jughead.
“Your guess is as good as mine.” Jughead admitted.
Wembley turned towards Reggie. “Reggie, I'm not doing my project...I can't. I mean, I memorized my oral report, but I have nothing to show.”
“That's not true.” Reggie said.
It was then that Reggie placed what he had in his hands on Miss Grundy's desk, and removed the cloth over top of it. And, once he did, everyone in the room gasped in shock while Wembley's eyes bugged out of his head.
There in plain view on Miss Grundy's desk was a blue jewelry box. The same jewelry box that had gotten broken the day before. Fully repaired.
Wembley was blown away as the rest of the class beamed with excitement. “What? You?”
Reggie just stood there as Archie whispered to Jughead. “I don't believe it!”
Jughead just smiled. “Maybe Mantle has a soft side after all.”
“How in the world?” Wembley exclaimed. “This was smashed into pieces! And, yet it's all here...the blue lid...the blue flowers, the inscription on the bottom! How did you fix it?”
“It took a lot of work.” Reggie exclaimed. “But, I was up for the challenge. In shop class, I was doing really well in the woodworking part, and figured that if I could carve wood, I could do just as good a job gluing it back together. I had some help from Mr. Krosskutt in putting this box back together again. It's not perfect, and there's some cracks in it that I don't think will ever be completely fixed, but I wouldn't stop until I managed to get this box back to as close to the way it was as it could be.”
Wembley was shocked. “ did this all yourself?”
“Well, I did have help from the teacher, who by the way signed a note excusing my lateness.” Reggie said, handing Miss Grundy the note from Mr. Krosskutt. “But, I stayed up late trying to get this box back together, and ended up being late for class to fix up one little detail.”
“Which was?” Jughead asked.
“Well, I noticed that when the box was broken, that the part that played the music was broken too...” Reggie said.
“Oh, that was broken for years.” Wembley said, as he went to open the box up. “It hasn't played any music...”
But before Wembley could finish, he heard a faint melody coming from below. When Wembley opened up the box, the song that was inside began to play. And, once he heard the first few notes, Wembley's eyes began to water.
“Oh my...the music.” Wembley said. “The music works!”
“Did I mention that Mr. Krosskutt can fix broken music boxes?” Reggie said. “He managed to get the music playing again in no time!”
“But, why would you go to so much trouble?” Wembley asked Reggie. “You didn't really know me?”
Reggie sighed a deep sigh. “No...but I'd like to. I had no idea that this box had so much meaning for you, and when those guys broke it, I really felt bad. I wanted to fix it back up for you because I knew that It would be something that I could do to apologize to you. I am so sorry that I couldn't stop Clay and Johnny from bullying you, and I am really sorry that I couldn't stop them from breaking this box. I hope that by repairing this box for you that I have shown you that we really do care at Riverdale High, and that I hope that you can forgive me for not being able to help you before.”
The entire class was a bit misty-eyed at this point. Even Miss Grundy looked like she was moved by the whole thing.
Wembley stared at Reggie and smiled. “This of the nicest things that anybody has ever done for me. Thank you so much, Reggie.”
Reggie shook Wembley's hand, trying to keep his composure. “You're welcome, Wembley. And, after school, I hope that you'll come down to Pop's and join the rest of the football team. We all want to apologize to you and let you know that not all of us are like Johnny and Clay.”
Jughead headed over towards Wembley. “You see now?”
Wembley nodded. “You know something...I think I'm really going to like it here.”
Wembley then gave Jughead a hug. “Thank you.”
Jughead smiled. “Welcome to Riverdale High, Wembley.”
“Okay.” Miss Grundy said, dabbing a tissue to her face. “We still have presentations to do. This whole week has been really an...interesting one here.”
“You can say that again!” Archie said.
“Wembley...” Miss Grundy said. “...would you like to do your presentation?”
“Yes...” Wembley said. “I'm ready now.”
“Good.” Miss Grundy said. “Class, take your seats, please.”
Jughead, Archie, and Reggie sat back down in their seats as Wembley began to speak.
“For my class project, I brought in one of the last things that I have from my parents. It's this jewelry box that my father had given to my mother when they were dating. Initially, I was going to talk about why this jewelry box meant so much to me, because of my parents...but seeing all of these cracks in the top...well, it has so much more meaning to me now. This box has a rich history of love, memories, laughter, and joy...and, thanks to some really, really good friends that I have made here, it now has another form of history to it...the history of friendship.”
As Wembley continued with his presentation, Jughead leaned back and winked at Wembley. “You're gonna be all right, kid. I know it.”


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