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Heartbeat Academy: Chapter 35

by tigeraye


Norman's jaw hit the floor, and he clutched his temples as a nuclear explosion of excruciating emotional agony took siege on his heart and soul. My own heart raced as I looked onto Mr. Tyler's face filled with alarming shock, then onto Eric's face filled with a bizarre array of unstable confidence. Even at that moment in time, something in my gut told me that there was no way this thing turned out pretty for anyone involved.

“That necklace means too much to our family for you to take it like it doesn't even matter,” Norman said, agitation rocketing through his voice. "It's over two-hundred years old.”

“But more importantly, it's worth twenty-thousand dollars,” I reminded him.

Norman shook his head. “It's not always about the money," he said. “It's about the history. That necklace survived plane crashes, a fire...it even survived the Titanic. We had ancestors on board, for crying out loud.”

“I know, I know,” Eric said. “I already know how and why it is important. That is not why I stole it.”

"Then why did you steal it?" Norman roared, his face turning a strawberry pink color. "You knew how important it is to us, and you stole it anyway. That's why you don't have any friends. Because you're just a loser.”

The lobby went dead silent, and stayed that for many arduous moments. Eric folded his arms and wiped his twitching eyes, trying his hardest to fight back steadfast tears. "Well, I thought you were better than your brothers," he said, his voice trembling sorrowfully with every single word. “I thought you wouldn't need to start insulting me.”

Norman swallowed and sucked in his gut. “Look. I'm sorry," he said. “I don't mean it. I just need the necklace back so I can give it to Charles.”

“Humph,” Eric scoffed. “If you must know, I sold the necklace to Hamstein.”

“Hamstein?” Norman and I both asked simultaneously.

“Ah, man,” Mr. Tyler said, scoffing in audible disdain and disbelief, gripping his temples and rummaging his fingers through his long hair. “Not Hamstein. Anyone but Hamstein.”

***

Towards the center of the city, the four of us looked upon the decaying, outmoded wooden shack, seated underneath the somber sky and dark gray clouds looming ominously above our heads. Across the shack’s only window were written in bold red words, Old Silenda Jewelry.

“That's the place. So, once we get on in, let me do all the talking,” Mr. Tyler said. “Only been in here once before, but that’s all it takes to know that you don’t want to mess around with Hamstein, the guy who runs the place. Be on your toes.”

Telling someone to be on your toes with someone like Hamstein is like telling someone to tiptoe around a grizzly bear. You’re still going to go to bed that night a bloodied pile of broken bones.

Mr. Tyler pulled the door open and the four of us went inside, making way to a dark and cold room smelling of old people and window cleaner, the only sound besides our footsteps being a whirling air conditioner fanning away somewhere in the distance.

“Hey!” he shouted. “Anyone here?”

In an instant, the lights flicked on, revealing that we were in a small and cramped showroom, the crusting walls covered with shelves and shelves of shiny jewelry of all kinds and colors, all hidden away behind heavy-looking glass. Up in front was a glass counter with even more jewelry behind it, a bell and cash register seated on top. All of the jewelry had to amount to millions, maybe even billions of dollars – my eyes and mouth watered at the very thought. I’d never seen anything like it.

All my amazement dropped dead when I heard stomping footsteps coming from a wooden door leading through the back of the store. It popped open, as a short and pudgy middle-aged man stepped out, his hair short and gray, his skin tan and his chin hairs unkempt above his flannel shirt and denim jeans. The grizzly smell of cigarettes and booze belched off of him as he stepped forward towards us.

“What in the name of hell?” the man said in a deep-throat, booming voice, his forest eyes growing and his forehead wrinkles widening as he stared at us in bitter confusion. “The hell you are, shouting like that in my store. Think I got that bell there just because I like bells? Where have I seen your mug before?”

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Hamstein,” Mr. Tyler said in a forced authoritative tone of voice, before motioning down to Eric. “You sold me a necklace for my mother’s birthday last year. Actually, a year ago to this day, I believe. Odd coincidence, huh? And this is—”

“You bought that necklace from me for twenty-thousand dollars,” Eric interrupted. “But it wasn’t mine to sell. I need it back.”

Hamstein rolled his eyes and spit on the ground, muttering curse words under his breath. “You mean to tell me that you sold me stolen merchandise? And you have the stupid to come back in my face and tell me that?”

Eric nodded his head. “Yes. Please give it back.”

Agh!” The jeweler scoffed, stomping his foot onto the ground in a blunt act of sheer anger. “Fine, fine, you dumb little…I suppose you brought me the twenty-thousand dollars I gave you for it?”

Eric froze like a block of ice, before slowly being thawed out by Hamstein’s menacing gaze. “I uh…erm…no. I do not have the money.”

“Ha!” Hamstein shouted. “Then how about you get out my store then, you useless little maggot.”

“Hey, don’t call him that,” I said. “He just wants his friend to forgive him for what he did. Give him back the stupid necklace.”

“And why should I?” Hamstein beckoned. “I got a buyer whose been inching closer and closer to wanting to buy that thing for twice as much as I snagged it for. I don’t have to do squat for you kids.”

“Because it’s the right thing to do. The kid is in a wheelchair,” I responded. “Why do you just do what we say, you crusty old douche.”

“Hey! That’s enough!” Mr. Tyler shouted. “Don’t ever talk like that. Especially not to him. Mr. Hamstein, I’m sorry, we’re going to—”

“You’re going to get these kids out of my store!” he belted. “I’m never going to see you punks ever again. You ruined my already crap day.”

“I have a couple questions first,” Norman said, breaking his long silence, causing the four of us to freeze in his direction.

“Well?” Hamstein said, spitting with every syllable pronounced. “What are you waiting for? Shoot it out of your gullet already.”

“I think there’s something strange here that no one seems to be asking about,” he said, his face tucked towards the ground in a deep, ponderous stare. “Eric stole the necklace and sold it here at the start of the school year, right?”

“That’s the story so far, yeah,” Mr. Tyler confirmed.

“So, what we don’t know is, one, why he stole it and sold it to the jeweler. And two, if he sold it to the jeweler…where’s the money?”

We all turned our gaze to Eric, who adjusted his glasses as he stared blankly out into the distance, months worth of lies and deception belted out of his lungs all spiraling back towards him like a boomerang to the heart.

He shifted his gaze to his left. He shifted his gaze to the right.

And then he started to cry.

“What are you all looking at me for?” he screeched. “N-ngh! Ah…I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home…”

“Eric, if you want to put this behind us, you’ve got to tell us right now,” I said, my eyes wide, staring a hole through his as I shriveled my fists, my heart thumping. “Where is the twenty-thousand dollars?”

Eric started to hyperventilate, sweat drenching from down his tomato-red face as his muscles twitched and legs and arms shook violently. “I-I-I don’t have it anymore!” he exclaimed. “C-c-c-cancer! I stole it because of cancer, don’t you see?”

“Cancer?” Hamstein said in a concerned tone of voice, his ears perking up the instant they absorbed the very word. “Did you say cancer?”

Eric nodded his head. “My mother was diagnosed with Stage Three-C breast cancer this July,” he explained. “The prognosis was not good. And she could not afford the surgery she needed to save her life. So I stole it before we came to the academy, sold it here, then sent my mother the money.”

I looked at Mr. Tyler, his jaw dropped to the floor, then to Norman, who’s face froze like arctic stone. Then to Hamstein, whose fingers dangled from his open palms, his bottom lips trembling, unable to come up with the very words.

“Wait here,” he said, stepping towards the back of store, leaving us to wait in utter silence.

Minutes later, he returned with two small red boxes in his hands. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he stepped over to Eric’s wheelchair and dropped the boxes in his hands. “Here,” he shrugged. “The necklace is in the bottom box. I threw in a couple of friendship rings in the top box. To make up for what I called you before.”

“B-but, it’s too much money,” Eric said, staring ominously at the small box with tears in his eyes. “You can’t do that.”

“You can’t put a price on human life,” Hamstein said. “I lost my wife to cancer thirty years ago today. And I’d do absolutely anything to get her back. I miss her more than anything else.”

“G-gosh, thanks,” I said, nearly coming to tears myself. “I wasn’t expecting you to—”

“Shut up,” Hamstein interrupted, sending a chilling sensation up my spine. “I wasn’t talking to you, you little ginger brat. I didn’t do jack for you. Now, get out of here and don’t come back.”

Mr. Tyler nodded, as he, Norman and Eric stepped out of the jewelry store. I turned towards Hamstein and stuck my middle finger up, before proceeding to follow them out into the city.

Later that afternoon, I heard a knock on my bedroom door. I opened it up and Eric appeared with one of the small boxes still in his hands.

“Here,” he said, handing it towards me.

“H-huh?” I responded, confusingly accepting it into my hands. “What is this…?”

“It’s a Christmas present from me,” Eric explained, shrugging his shoulders. “You almost got us kicked out of the jewelry store, but I do not believe I would have gotten to go there in the first place if it weren’t for you. So, thanks.”

“I don’t know what to say, Eric. But…you did give the necklace back to Charles, right?”

“Not yet,” he said. “Charles doesn’t care that much about the necklace itself, believe me. It’s a trust thing with him. If he knows I stole it, he’ll never forgive me, even if he gets it back. I have to come up with a plan so that he never knows I took it, but he’ll get it back. I promise.”

Eric departed and I opened up the box to gander upon the two silver friendship rings, together combined spelling the words “Together Forever” engraved in the ore.

They were the perfect presents for Bailey. And it almost time to tell her.

I wish I knew it wasn’t me she was in love with, though.

She was in love with you, Ben.


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1078 Reviews


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Sun May 01, 2016 8:15 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey there! I have a feeling I reviewed one of the chapters of this a long while back, but I'm afraid I don't remember much of anything so I'm looking at this part with fresh eyes.

So wow, this is clearly a very climatic moment. And I apologize in advance, because I do have critiques for you, but many of them won't apply if you've set everything up in advance properly. I don't know if you have, so I'm going to list these critiques anyway.

I like the idea behind this and the emotional moment. It feels like it should make a good climax. But right now, it rings hollow to me because I haven't had the proper emotional setup (which is at least partly my fault for not reading the rest of it). So here is what I would expect to make this feel climatic and right for me:

1. Mr. Hamstein's supposed grouchiness and his dialogue don't really line up with his actions. I'm just not convinced that he's as much of a jerk as the main character is making him out to be. I could just be missing the context from previous chapters, though. I mean, it's really not too unreasonable for him to expect his money back.

2. I do like that Mr. Hamstein just gives them the jewel back because he knows how desperate Eric must have felt, but as a reader, if I didn't know that he had had a wife who had died before this moment, I would have felt cheated. This feels like one of the major climaxes of the book, and it's resolved really neatly, almost too neatly. If we didn't at least know about his wife beforehand, I would feel very cheated.

Eric's actions felt a little weird to me, like he thought he was being blamed for something he didn't do, when he clearly did steal the necklace and he is at fault here. I just would have thought he would feel a bit more ashamed.

I like your ending - it definitely feels like a big reveal, and I can tell you've got some interesting things coming up.

And that's all I've got for you! Good luck, and keep writing!




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Sun Feb 28, 2016 8:54 pm
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Songmorning wrote a review...



It's Review Day, and I don't know what to do right now (even though I feel like I have tons of stuff to do), and all I can think of is Charles, so I think I'm going to continue on with the story. :) What earth-shattering things will happen installment of "Heartbeat Academy"? I can't wait to find out.

My own heart raced as I looked onto Mr. Tyler's face filled with alarming shock, then onto Eric's face filled with a bizarre array of unstable confidence.

This is a good sentence, and I especially like the phrase "unstable confidence" (which puts a very strong image in my mind), but I do have a few nitpicks. First, you look "into" faces, not "onto" them. Second, "alarming shock" seems a little redundant, or maybe just odd because it implies Toby was alarmed BY Mr. Tyler's shocked expression. Is there another word you might use to describe his shock? "Intense shock"? "Horrified shock"? (although that one might be a little redundant too.) I honestly don't know the best way to improve that one.

Telling someone to be on your toes with someone like Hamstein is like telling someone to tiptoe around a grizzly bear. You’re still going to go to bed that night a bloodied pile of broken bones.

OH GOOD. O_O"

All my amazement dropped dead when I heard stomping footsteps coming from a wooden door leading through the back of the store.

You do a really good job of creating intensely vivid mental images, but I can't quite figure out what it means for amazement to drop dead. My first impulse was to think that he became suddenly no longer amazed, but that doesn't really make sense in the context. So, this one could use some revision.

“What in the name of hell?” the man said in a deep-throat, booming voice, his forest eyes growing and his forehead wrinkles widening as he stared at us in bitter confusion. “The hell you are, shouting like that in my store. Think I got that bell there just because I like bells? Where have I seen your mug before?”

Eeehehehehe...This guy is incredible. The first impressions you create for your characters just might be one of this stories' greatest attributes. Can't wait to see his interaction with Mr. Tyler.

“You sold me a necklace for my mother’s birthday last year. Actually, a year ago to this day, I believe. Odd coincidence, huh? And this is—”

That was kind of confusing. At first I thought he was actually talking about the Goulagh necklace, but since he obviously doesn't have it, he couldn't be. Maybe instead of "necklace" you could say "a pair of earrings" or "bracelet".

“Because it’s the right thing to do. The kid is in a wheelchair,” I responded. “Why do you just do what we say, you crusty old douche.”

I dunno, man. Mr. Hamstein does have a right to ask for his money back. He'd be out twenty-freaking-thousand dollars if he simply gave the necklace back to Eric. I don't think he's done enough to earn the title "douche". Toby can't see beyond Eric's side of the problem here.

“Hey! That’s enough!” Mr. Tyler shouted. “Don’t ever talk like that. Especially not to him. Mr. Hamstein, I’m sorry, we’re going to—”

"Don't ever talk like that." <3 Thank you for being the responsible adult here, Mr. Tyler. I guess Toby's development does seem realistic. He's starting to become a public-school teenager (oh no), and while it's good that he's becoming bolder, he's also becoming disturbingly ruder.

“Eric stole the necklace and sold it here at the start of the scool year, right?”

S-C-O-O...L! Skull! *0*
(My deepest apologies if you haven't seen "Pooh's Grand Adventure".)

“N-ngh! Ah…I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home…”

I miss Bikini Bottom! I miss my Easter Island head! I even miss Spongeboooobbb!
(Sorry, I'm being silly in a serious situation. You do not have to change this, but that's directly where my mind went when I saw three repetitions of "I want to go home". It actually makes me want to hug him out of sympathy.)

“Cancer?” Hamstein said in a concerned tone of voice, his ears perking up the instant they absorbed the very word. “Did you say cancer?”

Hamstein. Cares. I'm so glad...He's a genuine person.

“You can’t put a price on human life,” Hamstein said. “I lost my wife to cancer thirty years ago today. And I’d do absolutely anything to get her back. I miss her more than anything else.”

Shows how you can find the deepest kindness and generosity in the people that most of the world would consider to be slobs and, well, "crusty old douches". Hooray for Mr. Hamstein! He's amazing.

“Shut up,” Hamstein interrupted, sending a chilling sensation up my spine. “I wasn’t talking to you, you little ginger brat. I didn’t do jack for you. Now, get out of here and don’t come back.”

Hehehe, maybe this will teach Toby a lesson about judging people. Wonderful.

I turned towards Hamstein and stuck my middle finger up, before proceeding to follow them out into the city.

What the heck? That really shocked me. I'm really disturbed about what Toby's turning into here, after all the shit he's gone through so far at Heartbeat Academy. I don't want him to become the kind of kid who makes rude gestures at rude, kind, generous people. If I was his mother, I'd be awfully worried about him.

“Not yet,” he said. “Charles doesn’t care that much about the necklace itself, believe me. It’s a trust thing with him. If he knows I stole it, he’ll never forgive me, even if he gets it back. I have to come up with a plan so that he never knows I took it, but he’ll get it back. I promise.”

*Hopes in the promise of more Charles scenes in future chapters*

She was in love with you, Ben.

Oh...word. Could it be that Toby is writing this story TO Ben? And if that's the case...Is Ben still alive? Or is he kind of writing to Ben postmortem? We shall see!

Well, I'm just going to let this marinate a bit before I go on to Chapter Twenty-Six. I'm rather anxiously excited about it. Last time you told me you were interested in seeing my reaction to a chapter, I ended up bawling my eyes out. Hehe :)





You can not put the entire Bee Movie in the quote generator.
— alliyah