The new kid enters the school. He seems nice, but what are his secrets?
The next day, Jean-Claude awoke to prepare for registration. He had all the legal paperwork that would allow him to reside in Japan, and attend school there. He was now seventeen years of age, and was now a senior. Once he graduated, as his father had wished, he could then follow his ambitions full time. He only hoped that that girl had the water jug back to him in time. He had a field shower, and wanted to freshen up before he arrived. He also needed a physical address, because he knew that they would ask for it. He considered the house nearby, but then, that may have caused more problems than it solved. He decided on the apartments at the base of the hill, and just decided not to use an apartment number. He hoped it would do until he had permanent lodging to give them. He then produced a Bible, and began to read for a bit, and then he began to pray. “Dear Lord,” he said, “Help me to find more of my kind, and help me to be a blessing to this town, my new high school, and all I contact. Thank you for letting me help that girl last night. She has to be going out on a limb for me, so please, look after her, and let me find lodging soon, so that I am no longer a burden. Let me continue to honor the memories of my father and mother by doing justice wherever and whenever I can. Most of all help me to bridge the gap between me and the two factions. I know that there can be symbiosis between us all. Holy Ghost, be with me today, and give me strength. Bless my breakfast, and let registration go hassle free. Amen.”
When he finished, he was surprised at what he found. The water jug was full of cold water, so he was glad she kept her promise. Now he had to keep his. He continued to stay out of sight, and began to bathe. Yet, what surprised him was the fact that there were two box lunches near the jug. He picked up the note that was set on them, and read, “One is for breakfast, and one is for lunch. I hope you enjoy them. Please make sure you clean them when you are done, and just leave them out. I will retrieve them. Thank you for helping me last night, and enjoy your stay here. Anjou.”
“Anjou, eh,” he said to himself, “Well, at least I know your name now. Now I can name you in my prayers.”
With that, he went to prepare for the day.
It was now the first day of school, and everyone was abuzz about the new year. However, Kenta and Karin were curious about the buzz of a new student. He had been in registration the day before, but they found it odd that they had not seen him or her, whoever it was. They settled into their homeroom, and then were surprised at who they saw enter. In walked a man nearly two meters tall, and full of muscle. What was odd about him was the fact that he was wearing sunglasses, even inside. They couldn’t help but remember that they saw the same owl-eyed glasses on him two days before, and just as tinted. The teacher asked him about the sunglasses, and he explained that he had a genetic condition that made his eyes and skin sensitive to sunlight, so he had to wear them, even on a cloudy day. Once she understood, she then announced, “Welcome back, everyone! I trust your breaks were good. Today, we have a new student with us, an exchange student from the United States. He is extremely fluent in Japanese, so there is no worry about a communication gap. So, please, make him feel right at home here.”
He looked good in the school uniform; although Karin mused that it must have been fun to find a uniform for him. They also noticed the same fish emblem around his neck. They would have to ask him what that was about later. The teacher then said, “Okay, tell us a bit about you.”
“My name is Jean-Claude D’Amphile, and I am from the state of Maine in the United States, from a seaport town named Camden-Rockport. It is also right next to a wooded territory, so I am quite proficient in the woods as well as on the water. I am seventeen, and I sing, play guitar and keys, and I play ice hockey, baseball, and American Football, although I don’t know if you have a team or anything.”
“Well,” said the teacher, “we do have Rugby, so you may want to look into that.”
She then asked, “Do you have any other hobbies?”
“Well,” he said, “I do like sportsmen’s kind of things, and doing the odd play now and again, as well as martial arts.”
“Wow!” she said, as the others began to mumble one to another and inch closer to hear more. “What kinds do you do?”
“I am expert in Savate and Pankration,” he said.
“Is that through your heritage?” she then asked.
“Oh yes,” he said, “My mother hailed from French Canada, but my father was a Maine native, and he and my grandfather were both Marines, so I’m kind of proud of that. They also taught me Marine hand-to-hand, so I guess I have to add that.”
“I hope your stay with us is enjoyable, Jean-Claude san,” said the teacher, “Please, take a seat, and we shall begin.”
He took a seat right next to Karin, and she began to sense some things. He indeed seemed to be a bon vivant; however, she could not help but detect the slightest bit of unhappiness to him. It was not enough to make her blood increase, but it did intrigue her curiosity. “Today is mostly going to be getting your books and meeting your teachers, so be relieved that there will be no homework. However, don’t get used to it! There will be plenty to follow in a couple of days. Tomorrow, however, is Phys Ed, so you’re off the hook! Let’s have a good year.”
Everyone wanted to get to know the new stranger; however, Kenta and Karin were filled with curiosity, and a bit of suspicion, considering how they had met him not but two days before. It was highly irregular for someone under eighteen to be tending to his own needs, much less to be in Japan like this by himself. There had to be a greater reason why he was here. They would have to find out.
Because it was a nice day, most everyone went outside to eat. Although most people anywhere else would have mobbed the new student by this point to get to know him, being that this was Japan, they left him alone, lest they be though to be impolite. There would be time to get to know him. However, Kenta was not your average student, and Karin was not Japanese. They decided to see if he would let them have lunch with him, and get to know him. As they approached, they noticed that he began to rub sun screen on his exposed skin. They figured that this was odd, but also remembered what he had said earlier. “I didn’t know such a condition existed,” said Karin.
“It’s rare,” said Kenta, “but it is real. I feel sorry for him. I mean, he can still function, but he must go through a lot of sun screen. It must be harder if he wanted to go to the beach. However, he did say that he camped and sailed, so it must not be all that bad.”
Karin approached and said, “Konichiwa, Jean-Claude san,” she said, “Do you mind if we eat with you?”
Instead of being annoyed, he actually smiled broadly, and said, “I would love the company!”
They sat down, and then he said, “Yet, please, you don’t have to use all those formal terms with me. Jean-Claude will do fine. I’m not really used to that.”
“How so?” asked Kenta.
“Well,” said Jean-Claude, “I know that in both Europe and Japan, people do not use familiar terms with one another until they get to know one another. However, in America, that is sort of the same case, except when with your peers—us high school students, for example, or coworkers. In that case, there is never a “Mr.” or “Miss” anything. Its first names normally. However, we also use last names, and sometimes in sort of a nickname way. A ‘Smith’ for example, would be a ‘Smitty.’ “Jones” would be ‘Jonesy’ if it were a girt, and other such things.”
“It seems more sociable that way,” said Karin.
“It sure is,” said Jean-Claude, “and I think its better that way. It makes it easier to make friends.”
“It also sounds to me that you would be a plus to our English class,” said Kenta, “Our homeroom teacher is also our instructor.”
“Funny you mention that,” said Jean-Claude, “because I insisted on that class, which I do believe is at the conversational level, is it not.”
“By this point,” said Karin.
“The thing is,” said Jean-Claude, “what kills most who are trying to learn English is learning the slang terms.”
“Slang?” asked Kenta.
“I don’t know what the Japanese word for that is,” answered Jean-Claude, “but it is basically terms that are not normally defined in the dictionary, but are commonly used amongst subcultures and cliques.”
Karin snapped her fingers, and said, “Okay, now I got it!”
“What are some examples?” asked Kenta.
“Well, a lot of teens our age, especially in California,” said Jean-Claude, “use the term ‘dude’ when referring to one another—like, ‘Hey, dude, what’s up?’ ‘What’s up,’ is like saying, ‘how is it going,’ or ‘commo estas’ in Spanish. ‘Cool’ is normally used by our age to describe something that is interesting and enjoyable—like, ‘Hey, dude, that’s cool!’ ‘Dig it,’ or ‘you dig,’ is saying or asking someone if they really have a deep understanding of something—like, ‘I understood it, but it took me a while to dig it.’ There is much more, but, I hope that I can relay more as we go. Oh, and it also depends on where you are. In America, there are several different dialects with different slang terms. We use terms in New England that they may not use in New York City, or in Georgia, Texas, and so forth. In England, it’s just as bad. All this is important to conversational English.”
“It might come in handy if we end up practicing with you,” said Karin, “You may slip into old habits, and completely lose us.”
“Totally, dude,” he said in English, and they all laughed.
They were beginning to build a friendship as lunch ended; however, they did not really give themselves a chance to know more about him. Thus, Karin took a chance and asked him about the fish. “Oh this,” he said, “This was actually the symbol that represented Christianity before the Cross.”
“Are you a Christian?” asked Kenta.
“Well, yes,” he said, carefully, “but I know not to push my beliefs on people in a place like that unless they ask. Its better that way. I can make friends, and keep fights from happening.”
“So, how did that become the symbol?” asked Karin, having never seen it before.
“That is a neat story,” he said, “I’ll tell you about it as we walk up.”
They stood up and headed for class as he relayed the story. He said, “First, it relates to the miracles Jesus did with fish: feeding five thousand and four thousand people on two occasions, and having fishermen pull up a couple of huge catches of fish when they had toiled all night, and gained nothing. Plus, the Greek word for ‘fish’ is ichthyos. The Greek letters for it make an acronym: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. Further, during the Roman Empire, when the Church had been persecuted ten times, and one took his life into his hands for just associating with them, it became a way to convey secret messages.”
Now they were very interested. “How was this done?” asked Kenta.
“Well,” said Jean-Claude, “if you notice the shape, it also acts like an arrow that points somewhere. Whenever there was a meeting, someone would use some charcoal to write this on a wall, and mention a meeting. People knew to follow the pointing. What is so odd is the fact that those that sought to kill them never really caught on.”
They sat at their desks as he continued, “Then, if I was to meet you, in a restaurant, say, and was talking with you, I might take this emblem off and put it on the table like so, pointing to me, and look at you knowingly. If you understood the fish thing, you may nod or something. Then I would casually turn it to you like this, and then look you in the eye to see if you understood what I was asking. If you were in the know, you would nod or something.”
“That is neat,” said Karin, “It’s hard to believe that there was a time when an entire empire wanted all the church dead.”
“True that,” he said, in English, hoping to expand their slang, “but, people are funny that way. I cannot stand people that hate.”
“What do you mean?” said Kenta.
“I do not care what people call themselves, if you carry hate, you are wrong!” said Jean-Claude, “That has caused more death and war than anything else in history. It is sad for the nature of mankind to fear that which they do not understand and then hate what they fear. Sometimes Groucho Marx seems like the greatest political mind in history. I’ll say it in English: why can’t everyone just leave everyone the heck alone!”
They all laughed at this, and then Jean-Claude then said, “Seriously, to me, there is no race but the human race. I take everyone as they are, and, as the natives of my land would say, ‘Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.’”
“You really feel that way?” asked Karin.
“With all the hate that I have seen in my time,” said Jean-Claude, “it disgusted me, and I cannot have a bitter heart, so I told myself that I would do all I could never to be like that myself. It takes more strength and courage to love than to hate, and doing so makes one a better man. Maybe in English class, I can read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It spells out a lot of philosophy in my life.”
Karin and Kenta now were really getting to know him well, and were beginning to like him. Separately, Karin thought, “If there were only more people like him, maybe my kind would not have to run and hide. He sure seems to understand how we feel.”
After school that day, Jean-Claude was getting ready to go, but Kenta intercepted him, and said, “Say, we, and some friends, are going to Julian’s right now. I and Karin are working, but the others usually study and eat. Later on, we join them. Of course, we don’t have any today, so this would be a great chance to meet the folks.”
“Another couple of slang terms for you,” said Jean-Claude, “In American English, we would say, ‘We’re going to nosh and kibitz.’”
“Nosh and kibitz?” asked Kenta, “Where is that from.”
“That is actually Yiddish,” said Jean-Claude, “That is a mutt language that developed form European Jews, mixing a lot of German, some Polish, some Russian, and Hebrew, using the Hebrew alphabet. Because of the Jewish influence, some of that has ended up in American slang.”
“Man, you’re a walking encyclopedia!” said Kenta, “How do you know so much?”
“I read a lot,” said Jean-Claude.
“Oh, and I see you brought your guitar,” he said.
“Sure,” said Jean-Claude, “I’ll bring it. Maybe I can sing a tune or two.”
Kenta thought for a minute, and said, in English, “Totally awesome, dude!”
“Hey, you’re learning!” said Jean-Claude, “However, I am going to have to help you with your ‘R’s’ and ‘L’s’. I hope you’re not offended.”
“Not at all,” he said, “Sensei is a stickler for pronunciation, and any help we could get would be great.”
As Karin and Kenta worked, Jean-Claude got to know the crew. Fumio was quite outgoing, now that she had found her niche. He found Maki to be bubbly and outgoing—someone very easy with whom to get along. She wanted to make friends with everyone, and found a kindred spirit in her. Weiner Sinclair, however, though he found quite brave and confident—a natural born leader—he also possessed a bit of arrogance. He would have to work on him a bit. However, he did like it when Jean-Claude spoke to him in fluent German. That seemed to put him at ease. However, he seemed to notice a recluse amongst the gang. Yuriya was a waitress there as well, but she seemed to keep to herself. She did associate with the others, but there was something interesting about her. He noticed the glasses, and also noticed that they were transition lenses. When she came closer, he asked her for some more coffee, and smiled to try to get her to do so. She did out of courtesy, and he finally got her to show some teeth. He rubbed his chin, and said to himself, “Yes, I am definitely going to have to find out more about these people.”
However, after they got off their shifts, Jean-Claude excused himself, saying that he had a bit of a way to get home, and that he needed to get there before his busses abandoned him. They all waved “good-bye” and they went back to their kibitzing. Now the conversation turned to Jean-Claude. Everyone had a good opinion of him, even Yuriya. They all liked the fact that Jean-Claude had a good effect on introverts, and hoped that; maybe, they could bring her out of her shell. However, there was one thing that they did note: as open as he was, there was still an air of mystery about him. It was like he let you get close, but not too close. They wrote it off as he being the new kid, and the stranger, and figured it would be different in time.
Jean-Claude made sure to retrieve the plastic bowls from the kitchen, and he was glad that he could return them in the way for which they were asked. He had to find some way to pay back his benefactor. It was a bit spicy, but he wrote it off to the inexperience of a child. He made his way up the hill, and noticed the fog again, except this time, there was no guiding hand. He took a second or two to concentrate, and then proceeded forward. He got to his tent, and then noticed that his Phys Ed clothes were laid out for him. This was getting creepy, yet, at the same time, he knew it was better not to look a gift horse in the mouth. He was tired, and it had been a long day. He needed rest. Besides that, it was almost that time again, and he needed all the rest he could get. He left the bowls out and went to sleep.
Later on that night, as Karin went to prepare her lunches for her and Kenta, she was shocked at the sight of Anjou preparing a couple of bowls herself. She had the recipe books out, and was concentrating hard. “Oh, thank you so much for the help,” said Karin, and kissed her on the head. Anjou did not know how to answer, and she said, “It’s not a problem.”
“However, let me watch you,” said Karin, “You have a tendency to over spice. I know your taste buds can’t pick up the spices as well.”
The two worked together, and Karin insured her that, no matter what she tasted, if she stuck to the recipe, she could not go wrong. Once that was done, Karin excused herself for bed. Anjou was hungry, and wanted to feed, but now she would have to do two more, for she did not want to let on yet what was happening until the time was right. She had her suspicions about Jean-Claude, but she had to be sure.