It was going to be a stinky day. Mark could feel it as he walked through the halls. Some days just stank, and this was one of them. He kicked an empty can in front of him and concentrated on the rattling, metallic noise it made. It was better to listen to that than to hear the conversations going on around him in which he wasn’t a part.
“Hey.” The Goof was waiting by his locker again. Mark knew his real name, but he never thought of him as anything other than The Goof. The Goof had big ears that stuck out of his head, big eyes, a big mouth and an oddly small nose. It was as if someone had looked at pictures of boys in a magazine and cut out different bits of their faces and assembled them together. The result was The Goof. Mark didn’t answer him as he opened his locker, hiding the combination with his hand. Thirty-two… Seventeen… Twenty. Open. It was like magic, a little piece of magic, this locker-opening business. All you did was twist a knob around, but you had to do it carefully, you had to concentrate or you’d have to start the whole thing over again.
“Hey.” The Goof wasn’t going away. Mark grunted his approximation of a greeting. The Goof, now secure that he had Mark’s attention, launched into a long speech about the recent discoveries or, as he pointed out, un-discoveries, about the shadowy mystery of the God Particle. Mark didn’t know what he was talking about. He tuned The Goof out, as he usually did, and grabbed his algebra textbook and his lunch from the locker before banging it shut and walking away, The Goof trotting along at his heels like a persistent terrier.