Chap. 7 : Reconciliation.
I honestly don't understand what happened in the cafeteria. I was really confused. I was hoping that this would end just like our previous adventures: with laughs and joy. This time anyway, Merton had rejected me. No, us! Even Lori had left when our friend yelled at now? The evening was still new.
School, the corridor outside the cafeteria.
An awkward silence had fallen between Lori and I while we were waiting for Merton to walk out of the cafeteria. By the time, I had wolfed off. I felt strange. It was the first time one of my friend was mad at me for a good reason. Overmore, Merton wasn't often angry. Usually, he would just sulk a bit and forgave quickly. I had so many questions, I didn't know where to start. But when silence became a bit too oppresive, I asked Lori :
« -Do you think he is mad about me?
-I don't think so. »
Surprised, I raised an eyebrow.
« -Then why did he kicked us out?
-I don't think he did it intentionaly, he's not angry at us. Remember, the monster was a feeling-eater. Maybe he just needs some time to think alone. You know Merton, he thinks a lot and speak few.
-Are we talking about the same guy ? I joked.
-… I'm speaking about his emotions. »
Well, apparently, she was not in the mood for laughing. Of course I knew what she meant. Merton was an open book, but when it came to his feelings, he was much harder to read. He was a sensitive guy enough not to speak about his problems (at least when it didn't come to monsters attacking him). I thought about what the monster said: 'I've met Goths who weren't that sad'. What to think about this? Did the Feeler say the truth? My intuition was saying that Barry wasn't entirely lying to me, but I didn't know what was right and what was wrong. What did I miss about Merton lately? A fight or two he could have been the center of? Bullies who made fun of him? Sad to say, but this is nothing more than 'usual routine' for him.
A loud noise made me turn my head. The door had slowly opened, and Merton walked out of the cafeteria. He was still wiping his face with his sleeve.
« -Merton ! I jumped. Are you… Are you ok?
-Oh, there you are! You really worried us! Smilled Lori.
-I'm sorry for whatever I've said lately, but it wasn't me! I continued. It was Barry, I promised! It would never have said those kinds of things!
-I… I know. »
Merton seemed small and silky, standing frozen by the door as we approched. Lori hugged him and I patted him on the shoulder.
« -That's perfect! So you understand that… Wait. You knew about Barry ?
His voice was a croak, as he had cried a lot. He raised his head, showing his red eyes. He was in a sad state, but he was calm. I was relieved that he knew that Barry was behind all this.
« -How long have you known about him?
-I had a doubt since our first "fight".
-So why didn't you tell us that he was dangerous? Finished Lori. We could have spared tons of problems. »
Lori suddenly remembered that she had yelled at me the day before and put her hands before her mouth, muttering a quick 'sorry'. I nodded, not wanting to waste too much time on this. I still had many questions:
« -How did you get it? I asked.
-That was one major difficulty. Merton smiled weakly. You do know I never go into action before I'm completely sure about the identity of a monster, do you?
-Ha ! You're fun. I laughed.
-You do not actually expect us to believe you? Lori asked. »
I remembered all the times Merton lead us to a fight where the only opponent was his over-imaginative mind. Yep. Fun time.
« -Well, this time, I tested it. As I could not warn you, I had to do the entire job by myself. »
His reproach was not on an angry one, but on an amusing tone. Again, I felt relieved that he wasn't angry at me.
« -I told him something I've never said to you, while pretending that you were the only one knowing it. If you were the one saying it, that meant that he was controling you. Get it? »
Wow, that was one sick of a plan. But I liked it. Clever and sneaky, all Merton like. Still, I was a bit surprised. I didn't even notice that I told something that I didn't know, and it didn't shock me!
« -And hum… What was it that I said that I didn't know about?
-It was… You know. About the… adoption thing. »
Merton felt silent. I can tell that he was cramped. Still, he continued :
« -Maybe you're wondering why it didn't startle you, but that's because Feelers can supress those kind of things so… Yeah. No surprise. »
We were left speechless. Merton turned his head away from us and let a constrained silence set up. I couldn't read his expression, and it drove me mad. Merton has always been so easy to read! And today… This week he had been so closed and lonely! As if he'd done it all his life. As if… Nobody ever really cared about how he felt. I could not help but hug him. He was a bit sartled, but accepted it.
« -I'm sorry. I mumbled.
-For not being able to help. For not being a good friend. »
Merton opened his eyes wide.
« -Don't say that Tommy. He said, astonished. You're the best friend I could ever dream of! Both of you. »
A smile made his way on my lips, soon followed by Merton's. I broke the embrace.
« -I can't believe you got caught. I chuckled.
-And I can't believe it took you so much time to understand that I was going to get caught!
-Ok, you've got a point.
-Girls, girls, stop fighting. Lori grinned. We are at school in the middle of the night. Haven't we got better things to do?
-What are you up to?
-We have school tomorrow. I answered.
-Pfffff. You're no fun… Lori silked.
-I suggest a sleep over. Merton proposed. My lair.
-Good for me.
-Me too! »
And then we were going, leaving the school and a beaten Barry behind us.
Once again, peace was back to Pleasantville. We had fought a new monster, and a powerful one. Merton told us that feeling-eaters could manipulate people's mind. That's why he could create illusions and make me say things I didn't want to say. Apart from that, Merton is alright. He has small side-effects from being emotionaly eaten, but they will disappear someday. When the monster took his emotions away, Merton got them back all messed-up. I mean… He could be surprised and express fear.As if the notes explaining which emotion was which were all mixed up. That's why he took some time alone after the battle, to re-organise them… Just as Barry had say. Looks like he was not all in lie afterall.
Barry was expelledfrom school. They found him early in the cafeteria and thought that he was the one who destroyed it, so he was sent back to Hartsdale. I don't think he will succeed in getting himself talked about. No, we will neverheard of him again. Barry White… Yeah, like someone could make a name out of this!
Anyway, he taught me something I didn't know. I learned my lesson and I'll be careful in the future,because words hurt far more than kicks.