The Stranger Among Us
Martin Guiterrez

Leonard Barton had been part of the Buenos Aires High School baseball team and a student at the school for two years since he moved down from Florida. During that time, he hadn't made very many friends. He was a loner in every sense of the word. A quiet, bespectacled fellow, he was not known as a social butterfly.

Rico hadn't really noticed the man until they both signed on with the Mobile Infantry. The two were bunkmates, but Rico couldn't really remember getting even two words out of Barton.

So it is safe to say Rico was quite surprised when Barton actually initiated a conversation with him.

It started when Dizzy saw him writing a letter. "For Carmen. How sweet." Diz said sarcastically. Barton was lying on his bunk writing a letter as well.

"Long distance relationship, huh." Barton said, "Ain't gonna last."

"Whoa, Silent Man speaks." Diz said.

"I am a man of few words." Barton said, "But I'll tell you this. It's a gurantee women will break you in some way."

"Attitude City." Flores volunteered.

"You say it's an attitude." Barton said, "Well, it's the truth."

"Haven't you ever had a girlfriend?" Rico asked.

"No." Barton said, "But I did really care for someone."

"Really, is she who you're writing to?" Flores said.

"None of your business." Barton said, and tried to conceal the letter.

Too late, Flores pulled it from his hands and read it. "Her name's Melissa. You really miss her, don't you?"

"What's it to you?" Barton asked.

"She didn't want you." Flores said.

"Why is that any business of yours." Barton replied.

"Because you don't have to get an attitude because one girl rejected you." Rico said.

"What makes you say that?" Barton said.

"Let's just say I've seen you write these letters with her name adressed on the for the past few weeks." Rico said, "She hasn't written back, which means she rejected you."

"Has Carmen written you?" Barton replied defensively.

"Hey, Lenny, I'm trying to help you." Rico said.

"Well, this is my problem, not yours." Barton replied and stalked off.

"What's his malfunction?" Rico asked.

"I think I know." Flores replied, "I'll have to dig deeper into this 'Mysterious Stranger' motif Lenny's cultivated over the years."