Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
Jess was hanging around with his friends, after dismissal. He leaned against the fence and stared at his buddies. Adam strolled out of school and Gordon snickered.
“Don’t start.” Jess warned.
Jess shouted, “Adam, what’s up.”
“Nothing, what’s up with you?”
“You stick’n up for the egghead?” Gordon glared at Jess.
As Adam walked past the group, Gordon stuck out his foot. Adam landed face-down in the lawn and his glasses flew off. The boys chuckled and Gordon kicked at Adam’s glasses. Jess moved toward the group.
“You okay, Adam?” Jess mumbled.
“Yeah, what’s wrong with Gordon, anyway?”
“I wish I knew.” Jess picked up Adam’s glasses.
“Hey, Jess you com’n or are you staying with your new friend?” Gordon yelled.
“Knock it off, Gordon.” Jess handed Adam his glasses.
Jess caught up and Gordon grabbed the front of his jacket.
“You’re either our friend, or his.”
Jess knocked his hand away.
“Gordon, we’ve been friends, since grade school. You got a brain. Use it. If you keep it up, you’ll go too far. We’ll all be in trouble.”
Gordon shoved Jess and Jess stumbled backwards.
“Why did you shove me, Gordon!”
“Are you call’n me stupid, Jess?”
“No, but you’re smart enough and know this is wrong.”
They all walked the rest of the way home without speaking.
When he got home, Jess dropped onto the couch and flicked on his video game. He sighed, dropped the controls on the couch. When he put his arm over his eyes, his mother walked in and kissed his forehead.
“Mom, stop.” He grinned and wiped his forehead.
She smiled. “Bad day, Jess?”
“No, I’m thinking. Gordon and I’ve been friends forever and we go to the same church, but he’s changing. The other guys are following right along. Gordon doesn’t like Adam and won’t give him a break.”
“What are you going to do?” She asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to choose between my friends and Adam. If I’m hanging around with Gordon, there’s gonna be trouble.”
“I’ll let you alone. I trust you to do what’s right, but if you want to talk, dad and I are here.”
His mother patted his arm and went back to making dinner.
The next day, Jess spotted Adam walking toward them. Gordon bumped him and Adam’s papers scattered across the hall. Adam’s face turned scarlet and a crowd gathered around him. As he collected his classwork, Jess squatted to help him.
“What are you doing, Jess?”
Gordon grabbed his shoulder. Jess shrugged him off.
“I’m helping Adam. I’m sick of pretending it’s okay. You’re my best friend, but I don’t like you right now.”
“Are you hang’n with Adam now?” Gordon’s body tensed and his eyes narrowed.
“You’re making that choice for me. I want to be your friend, but I don’t want to be like you.”
“Come on guys. Let’s leave the new friends alone.” Gordon kicked Adam’s pen down the hall, as he walked away.
For several days, Jess and Gordon passed each other without speaking. One afternoon, Adam and Jess were sitting at a lunch table talking. Each of Jess’s friends made their way to his table. All of them, except Gordon.
“Jess, Gordon is in trouble,” whispered one boy.
Jess’s eyes widened. “Why? What happened?”
“I’m not sure. We weren’t with him.” said another.
After lunch, they walked past the office and saw Gordon coming out. His face was pale. Jess’s sneaker squeaked and Gordon looked up.
“Oh, hi guys.” He forced a smile.
“Are you okay?” asked Jess.
“Yeah, nothing I can’t handle. Do you guys want to hang out for a while?” asked Gordon, as he stared at Adam.
Adam stuck his hand out. Gordon hesitated, but he shook Adam’s hand.
“Thanks, Adam. Jess, we’re okay, too. Right?”
“Sure, let’s hang for a while.”
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