A Benny & Joon one-shot. Frankly, I'm surprised there arn't more of these. It's about Sam's childhood. Please R&R!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sam. Trust me, you'd know if I did.
------------------------------------------------------Laughter, repressed behind covered mouths, taunting, whispering, biting. Typical children, typical school, typical day.
One child, not laughing, not taunting, not whispering, not typical. One thing out of place in a world of innocent perfection. One that was not like the others: child and page alike.
Typical teacher, frowning down at him. Typical command, from superior to inferior. Typical red marks on the atypical paper.
One child, biting his lip in silent fear, silent shame, silent prayer all too typical:
Anywhere but here.
He's folded the note into his pocket. He wonders if the note will reach the person it's addressed too. He decides that it will. She's probably requested a phone call, just to make sure it does. She knows he doesn't like being a messanger. Especially when the message says to shoot him.
He recognizes the signs of danger, but there's no way to avoid it. He takes a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment. Once again, he repeats his prayer. Once again, there is no response.
He looks up at the children. Why must he be so small? If he were bigger, it would just be emotional. That would have been bad enough. Why must his alienation be physical, too? No answer comes. He is small, they are big. He is one, they are many.
He runs his tongue nervously over his lips and swallows. They only want amusement. If he tries to tough it out, they'll try to break him. They hate it when he smiles. He knows that by now. But if he looks worse than he really is, they'll leave him alone. He never smiles.
They just want entertainment, he tells himself. They want to laugh, to point, to tease. They just want a show.
He spends a lot of time in his room, away from the people. No person is nice. He's happier alone.
He can't read the books, because he can't read. He can't play the games, because he has no one to play them with. So he watches the movies.
Old movies, all black and white. When the man across the road got that new TV everyone talks about, he found the old one in the trash, and hauled it up to his room. The problem, he found, was in the cable, which had been chewed by the man's dog. He'd found another cable, in another person's trash. He spent an hour fixing it up.
He watches the horrors and the romances, the recent and the ancient, the melodramas and the dancing. The actors are nice. People like them. Especially the heros. Everyone likes them.
So he watches them, And he sees people laughing. Not AT, but WITH. Not AGAINST, but ALONGSIDE. He memorizes everything, but most of all, he memorizes the comedies. He can't do the wordplay - he has no one to do it with - so he just files that away for later.
What he likes are the facefalls and trip-ups and spills and slaps and punches and the way that everyone, everyone laughs. Because it's funny. No one hits them or teases them. Everyone likes them. And they're funny.
He practices, in his room. When they yell to keep the noise down he opens his window and slides down the tree. He practices in the damp grass. On the TV, they are perfect, so he must be perfect. He learns the routines. He memorizes the acts.
He he begins to improvise. He can't produce pies from his jackets, so he thinks about pencils. He has a whole routine with a pencil. He made it up. He is very proud of it. He makes up more routines, using bits of things he knows, and bits of things he makes up. He concentrates on timing and rythem. He likes music; they play it in the background on the TV. He will have no music. But he still loves it. And the rythems are very important for his acts.
He likes hats. He begins to collect them. Eventually, he decides that he is ready.
Typical children, typical school, typical pointing, typical laughter, typical taunting.
One child, who is different, on this day. This day, which is quickly becoming very, very different.
He does his pencil routine, pausing when the teacher looks. He invents things with the desk and the paper.
Laughter turns and changes. Not at him, but at his comedy, now. The teacher quickly becomes part of the routine, part of the act. The children are mostly audience.
He can tell that he is wearing the teacher's patience, but he doesn't care. He loves it. Still different, but accepted. Recognized. No longer alienated. Just alone.
As he is physically dragged to the headmaster's office, he is happy. He will be thrown out, he knows, sometime soon if not today. It was bound to happen, anyways, with his papers. But he knows what to do, now. He knows how to be the person everyone likes.
He gave them a show that everyone wanted, including him.
He allows himself the tiniest smile.