Wednesday 10 February 2016

A Valentine's Day Story, Chapter 3 - The Manipulator

This is Chapter 3 of a multi-party story. For obvious reasons, I recommend reading Chapter 1 and 2 before starting this one.

Chapter 1 available here

Chapter 2 available here

[Enter the dragon. Well, there's no dragon, but the meat of the story is here. The machinations happen here, the actions that will have inevitable reactions]

Chapter 3 - The Manipulator

February in Midgard is a wonderfully mild time of the year. Valentine’s Day is invariably a cool, breezy day of the kind that puts a song on your lips and a spring in your stride. This year was no different - when morning broke, I had no idea of the momentous events that were to follow.

It started with Josh accosting me excitedly during the morning recess, his face a glowing picture of pride and happiness...

“Jormund! I did it, man! I dropped it into her bag!”

“Err…ok…congrats, I guess.”

“I’m da man!”

“For dropping a card into a girl’s bag while she wasn’t in the classroom?”



During the lunch recess, however, it was a quite different Joshhound that one got to see. To say he was upset would’ve been understating the case, but he wasn’t quite in tears either.

"Something the matter?"

“Something the matter?”

“Well, she’s still ignoring me. Doesn’t even acknowledge receiving the card. I tried to catch her eye during Geography, but she gave me the same stare of sweet innocence that she does every time.”

What he meant was that she had looked at him with the same sort of disdainful expression with which she looked at everyone else while her own mind was poring over devious methods for squeezing an extra mark out of the Civics section in the Social Studies examination. I caught Arabella’s eye as she passed from behind Joshhound, and she gave me a sly wink, whose import I had no idea of – at the time.

The dam broke about ten minutes after classes were over. I was returning from a taxing arithmetic class when I noticed Joshhound sitting on the first bench of his row sobbing hot tears, while a couple of his friends tried to comfort him.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, strolling into the class.

“She…she,” he began, and then stopped.

“Come to the shop,” I said, dismissing his friends with a ‘I’ll talk to him’ and leading him out by the arm.

Once there, he burst into even more copious tears and unintelligible conversation. It struck me that he was rather Gollum-like in his own way. Finally I borrowed a glass of water from Sirius, the chap who ran the shop, and threw it on his face.  He seemed to have come to his senses, because he punched me rather hard on the face. Rubbing my sore cheek, I asked him to explain why the hell he was blubbering.

“She chucked my card in the dustbin,” he said through teary eyes, “in two pieces, man. There was one card. And she chucked it into the dustbin. In two pieces. She didn’t tear along the fold either. She tore across the cute purple heart with the pink teddy bear in it. Can you imagine that, Jormund? She did, she did!”
...In two pieces, man!

“Oh you poor chickadee!”

No, that wasn’t me. I do not express myself with words like chickadee addressed to guys with faces like chimps (or any other species of fauna). Arabella had crept up on us from behind and was patting Joshhound’s head sympathetically as she said the above sentence.

“Arabella?” he said, turning around with an expression of surprise, “how did you…?”

“Oh you poor parakeet! I saw her throw your card in the dustbin! I felt so indignant! Is that the way to treat a missive of true love? Oh, it was terrible. You deserve better, you do!”

He sobbed a little and buried his face in his hand. Arabella motioned to me to follow her even as she said, bending down to speak in a soft voice in Joshhound’s ears “We’ll be right back, okay? You stay here. I’ve to go see someone in the school office about today’s party. You’re coming, aren’t you? It starts in a half-hour.”

“Do I look in any shape to come to a Valentine Party?” he asked – and I thought he had a point there.

“Oh Jormund and I shall have you all cheered up in no time,” she said blithely, and stepped out. When we’d reached inside the school gates, she dragged me to the side and burst into laughter.

“Did you see his face? Such a sap!” she said when the attack of the funnies had subsided.

“Er...yes – what are you getting at?” I asked.

“I did it!”

“What did you do?”

“The card, silly! I tore it and put it in the dustbin!”


“Oh I came in before Pashiella and took it out of her bag. The idiot had just dropped it on top of the open flap.”

I stared at her, aghast. The Code of the Elvers frowns on women who stoop to purloining Valentine Cards from other women’s bags. But then my eyes chanced on her figure and I thought the Code of the Elvers could take a hike.

“Why?” I asked instead.

“You ass! I can’t let him deliver sappy love-cards to Pashiella when he should be delivering them to Rita! So I intercepted it and destroyed it in such a way that he couldn’t miss seeing it! God, I’m brilliant!”

I shuddered.

“And the best part is,” she continued, “Now we shall both console him and get him to fall in love with Rita. Simple ain’t it?”

“Good God! You’re a menace to society! Arabella, you can’t manipulate things like that!”

“I just did,” she said, pouting, “and if you don’t like it, you jolly well can forget about my going to the Bryan Adams concert with you!”

I sighed and apologized resignedly. There didn’t seem to be much else to do.

We walked back towards the shop. We were standing outside it when I  remembered that our Captain, Selwyn Rout had scheduled a half-hour fielding practice for the day. Cricket fanatic Rout didn't really care whether it was Valentine's Day, and as Captain of the team he had the right to schedule practice as well.

“I say, Arabella, old thing, I need to go for fielding practise with Rout, Silver and the rest of the team.”

“What? But what about the Party?”

“I’ll be back by the time it starts...Ok, a bit late, but I’ll be there don’t worry.”

“Must you go?”

“Seriously, I must. Rout can get rather pouty if you skip fielding practice. Besides, these parties don't really get started for the first half-hour or so, you said as much yourself. You go work on Joshhound,” I said, turning and setting off at a brisk pace. When I turned the corner, I saw her sitting next to him, uttering words of sympathy.

...words of sympathy.