The Sad Boys Club

"Sadness is a lifestyle choice rather than an emotion."
Righton keeps boys from ever seeing their Tattoos and from affecting the society the world has come to protect. Gat, the newest boy to the school, doesn't agree with it. But in a world that breeds sadness and sheltered humans, he's going to need all the help he can get.


2. Classes




For the next couple of days, the boys co-exist with a quiet sense of rationality. They eat meals together in the cafeteria and play mindless games in the evenings when classes don’t take over their days. It’s easy and Gat likes it.

The classes are meant to teach them how to be a normal society again, existing with wide ignorance over the tattoos. They differ between accepting them as Gods marks or a chemical flaw that originated in the 1990s. It’s a bunch of trash talk, hypocrisy layered in crooning voices. They are Judas’s based on the flowers on their skin, and although they could lead to unnecessary war and violence most of the time they did not. But MP James Hunt thinks it does and laws are laws.

“Miss Judas wasn’t killed though, Jesus was,” Peter drags out, flipping a pencil absentmindedly into the air and not missing it once when it twirled back down to his hands.

A ruler whacked against his hands and the pen scattered across the classroom. The thirty boys in Miss Abigail’s Religious Teachings class collectively hold their breath. Peter jerks against the assault and goes to hold his hands. The ruler is then positioned underneath his chin, his beanie tipped back as Miss Abigail inclined her head towards the cross in the middle of the wall in front of them.

“That is blasphemous Mr Daglish. You are Judas’s for the marks on your skin but that makes you guiltier than Jesus and only Hell will take you. That is why we need to weed out the marks, that is why you are here.”

Peter licks his lips and swallows compulsively until the ruler is withdrawn from his throat.

“Only Hell will take me, that is right,” he says and waits until Miss Abigail walks away, “I’d be happy to sit on Satan’s lap actually.”

Gat tries not to laugh from where he sits near him, he knows that Peter doesn’t mean it. The stashed magazines and girl talk are enough for them to be assured about Peter’s sexuality. Charlie doesn’t manage to stifle his laughter and he receives a whack on his desk for his troubles. It is not a worthy remark for his hands to be touched but it is enough.

“Detention Mr Daglish, Miss Nancy’s office at six tonight,” Miss Abigail intones as she faces the board again. She winds up a projection and it’s the riots, the bandages forcibly covering the tattoos of the protesters who dared to go naked in the streets. It switches to the National Burnings, martyrs and books burned alongside them in rebellion. The videos are meant to tell them how the flowers brought a more violent, chaotic world but Gat can only find beauty in the free expression. It is a thought that he will never repeat in public. At least his thoughts are safe from them.

When they leave the classroom, Peter is still rubbing his knuckles, but he is excited about detention, “It’s my first one in my whole Righton experience. Charlie, you know what they’re like, don’t you?”

“They’re boring Peter, a lot of staring, a lot of ‘thinking over your actions’, maybe writing lines out or scrubbing the floor. The trick is to not get caught doing stupid shit.” According to the stories Charlie is notorious for landing himself in detention for the many examples of ‘youthful immaturity’ he has displayed. He says that his pranks and wrongdoings are the only entertainment he can get.

“You shouldn’t be encouraging him,” Lucas croons as he veers off to go to his next class and he doesn’t see Charlie stick his fingers up at him. Andrew shakes his head as he too goes down another corridor, but he grins all the same.

They all know by now that Lucas wants to stick to the rules, keep his head down until the rare opportunity of leaving Righton came. They all got the chance to spend a month in a Rehabilitative Centre down south somewhere, doing construction and learning how the real world worked. They only had six weeks to wait for that opportunity.

Their next class is Physical Education which is meant to prepare them for their month off campus apparently. They change in the cramp cubicles of the changing rooms; they are not allowed to see each other change just in case they are tempted to take their bandages off. That is an offence punishable not only by the school but by the whole country.

When Gat leaves his cubicle, he sees Peter without his beanie for the first time. There is a skin coloured patch across the back of his neck, creeping into his hairline. There are white frays of bandage poking out from underneath the patch, double covered just to be sure. Peter can sense Gat’s eyes on him, and he turns, mouth opening but no words coming out. He frowns and then leaves the room.

“It’s a sensitive issue for him,” Charlie mutters as he walks past him. Even with the gym shorts, Gat sees no Tattoo, only smooth tanned skin.

They play basketball until their tank tops are patchy with sweat. There is one boy in particular, tall and stocky with no visible bandage, that tackles Charlie as much as possible. He laughs when Charlie misses the hoop and Gat can see Charlie becoming angrier as the game wears on. Their coach, Mr Aldridge, does nothing.

When the whistle blows their team has lost. Gat tries to find the ounce of feeling towards losing but he can’t manage it. He doesn’t care for sports.

(He is apparently in Righton to ‘find himself’, those were his mother’s words, but all it's done is tell him what pisses him off. Basketball and bullies are among that list so far.)

“That is Chadwick or ‘Chad’ Brighton, he’s among the Elite families, the Founding Members of Righton. He’s allowed cars and everything the selfish prick,” Charlie says as he tries not to cough up a lung at the side of the basketball court. “I’ve been trying to come up with a suitable prank for months just to see him come down a peg or two.”

“He doesn’t really like Charlie either if you’ve noticed,” Peter says as they walk back to the changing rooms. They point into the distance where a red convertible sits in the parking lot. It stands out like a sore thumb amongst the black SUV’s that the teacher’s own.

“You’re clever enough to come up with something humiliating,” Gat says, and it gains a sharp laugh from Charlie, almost like a bark.

“Oh, I will and it will be glorious, just you wait.”

Peter wraps clingfilm around the back of his neck before he enters the shower. Gat tries not to look, knowing that it makes everyone uncomfortable, but he can’t help it. The Tattoos fascinate him like space fascinates an astronaut. He knows he shouldn’t and like the astronaut who finds constellations in freckles instead of actual stars he needs another distraction. He’ll deal with that later. For now, he wraps his arm in clingfilm and goes to wash the questions from his skin.

“I’ve got to be smelling nice for my detention,” Peter joyfully says as he enters the showers. He’s too cheerful but it's infectious and Gat allows the worries to wash away under the drain. 


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