Author’s Note: Yeah, I realize that this is a day late. Sorry, but I was just really busy yesterday and didn’t have time to go on the computer; also, since school is starting soon, Social Deductions may be a day late, two days late, even three. Please be patient.
Click, click, click, click-click-click-
“Will you stop that!” I shout at Evan, who has been clicking on his mechanical pencil for almost two whole minutes.
“Why? It’s boring here. Nobody’s coming in.”
I roll my eyes. “Oh, they will. They’re just being shy.”
“How d’you know that? Maybe Becca was over exaggerating, or her friends were just being nice. You never know.”
I sigh and lean back. “ To be honest, two weeks is kind of a long time. It did take Becca that long to get here, however.”
“You’re basing our business on one person, Sage? You sound desperate.”
“I am not being desperate, Evan!” Suddenly, I realize why he’s so antsy. “Ooh. I forgot. Homecoming’s in there weeks, isn’t it?”
He looks down, embarrassed. “Yeah…”
“Who’d you ask? Did she say ‘no,’, to the Converse, too?”
He mumbles something under his breath. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
“Uh-” He can’t complete his sentence, because the door suddenly swings open. Drat.
“I was told to come here,” a bored, drawling voice says.
“Ok, who told-?”
“This is Social Deductions, isn’t it?” His voice sounds kind of like a British person doing a purposefully bad American accent.
“Yeah, so what’s-”
I grit my teeth a little. Just lemme finish a sentence, damn it!
As he sits down, I make some observations. Caucasian male. 5’10. His math textbook under the crook of his arm indicate he’s a Sophomore. Thin, light brown hair. A bit of baby fat on his cheeks. Tries to look proper, with a buttoned up white shirt and black pants. However, the shirt is untucked; may mean that he just wants to look good in front of others.
I begin to ask, “So, what’s your na-?”
“My name is Devon Saunders. I’m a Sophomore, and I’m sixteen years old.” He says this in one breath.
I don’t know how to respond. “I- I didn’t ask for all of that-”
“But you were going to. You need to know about me before you help with my ‘social problem’,” he says, doing air quotes.
I raise my eyebrows. “You don’t believe that you have a problem?” I ask.
“Hell no! But my older brother, Chase, wanted me to come in. He says that it may help.”
Evan coughs. “Help with what, exactly?”
“How should I know? I’m perfectly ok, thanks. But I’m not popular. That’s the only problem I see.” Arrogant.
“Why isn’t Chase here, then?” Evan asks.
Devon rolls his gray eyes. “He’s on a date with his girlfriend.”
I nod. “Devon, this isn’t gonna go anywhere unless you know of your problem, or if Chase comes. So-”
“Oh! I may not be popular because everyone thinks I’m weak. If I wasn’t weak, I’d bet people would be flocking to me.”
Hmm. “And why do people think that you’re weak?”
“I’ve got an irregular heartbeat.”
My eyebrows raise. “An arrhythmia? You’re a bit young for that, aren’t you?”
He shrugs. “I dunno.” You aren’t helpful at all.
I get up. “Okay. We can’t help you until your brother comes here. You’re clueless, so-”
His face turns red. “Clueless? Me? I’m not clueless! It’s ‘cause of my poor heart!” he shouts.
I twitch back a little; I wasn’t expecting such an outburst. “Uh, um, we aren’t quite sure if that’s the reason-”
His face is almost like a tomato. “Whatever reason could there be? Are you a fake or something? You aren’t helpful!”
I bite my tongue to keep in a nasty retort. “Devon. What motivation do I have to fake Social Deductions? I don’t get money. All I get is customers. Nothing else. Also, I won’t tolerate being yelled at in this way. Since this is my club room, if you keep yelling, I will kick you out. That is all.”
He’s still mad, but he bites his lip a little and nods. “Is there any other information you have?” I ask.
“No,” he whispers.
“Then bring Chase next week. Or maybe I’ll talk to him sometime this week, just in case. But I will see you next week.”
He nods, and stomps out.
“God! He was so full of it!” I shout at Evan.
He groans a little. “Don’t remind me, Sage.”
I rub my forehead and take a bite of my dark chocolate covered raspberry sorbet. “How can he not see it? He is always interrupting people, and his arrhythmia… He thinks that’s the problem for all of this. I bet it isn’t. I bet it’s cause he doesn’t let anyone finish a sentence.”
“Duh. Of course it is, Sage,” Evan says. He’s munching on a butter pecan ice cream cone.
Currently, we’re at Parkington and Lark’s, A.K.A the best ice cream shop in existence. After today’s disaster of a customer, I decided that I needed something sweet, cold, and heavenly. Ice cream or sorbet.
“So…on a better note, did your date hate on the Converse too?”
He flushes and nearly drops his cone. “Y-yeah. You were right.”
I laugh. “Yeah! Who is your date, by the way?”
He takes another bite of the cone before he responds. “You know Sharra Lane, right?”
I think for a moment. “Oh! Long red hair, wheelchair?”
“Yeah. Well, I heard some guys in the locker room bet that she wouldn’t get a date because of the wheelchair. I didn’t like that, so…” he trails off.
“That’s great, Evan! It’s nice for Sharra, and it ticks off the jocks. Two birds with one stone, huh?”
He munches on the ice cream cone before talking again. “Hey, can you actually take some photos of us?”
My eyes widen. “Eh? Why?”
He laughs. “You’re a good photographer, Sage. Much better than my mom. I’d appreciate it.”
I nod. “Okay, sure. Sounds fun.”
His eyes brighten. “Thanks, Sage!”
The next day, I decide to try to find Chase. I looked him up in the yearbook last night, and he basically looks like Devon, except with thicker hair and without chubby cheeks. He’s also a Senior.
I finally find him after school. “Hey!” I call. He doesn’t hear me, so I walk up to him and tap him on the shoulder. “Hey!” I shout again.
He looks confused. “Who’re you?” he asks.
“Sage Lux, Social Deductions. Your brother came to see me yesterday.”
Chase groans and rubs his forehead. “God. I told him to wait till next week. What’d he say?”
I shrug. “Nothing of importance, really. What I got is that he’s narcissistic, interrupts people all the time, and blames it all on his heart problems.”
Chase’s eyebrows raise a little. “Heart problems? I don’t understand…”
“He has an arrhythmic heart. Irregular heartbeat. Didn’t he tell you?”
Now Chase’s face has gone red. “Is that what he said? God, what an idiot!” He looks ready to punch something, and I back away a little. “Heart problems, my ass! He has stress problems! Not heart problems! I’m gonna talk to him…”
I wave my hands around. “No! Let’s wait till next week.”
I sigh. “Maybe because I don’t wanna see him again so soon. He ticks me off.”
Simon laughs. “Yeah, I get a lot of Sophomores who say that. Juniors too.”
I nod. “Thanks for telling me this, Chase. You’re a lot more helpful than Devon.” As I walk away, however, I’m struck by a new problem: how do you tell someone who’s narcissistic that they’re a liar, too?
“What?” Evan yells over the phone.
“He doesn’t have a heart problem! It’s just stress!”
I can hear Evan stammering over the phone. “B-but why would he lie about something that big?”
I roll my eyes. “Well, to quote Gregory House, ‘Everybody lies’.”
“Yeah, but this is such a stupid thing to lie about… Besides, it’s just stress. Everybody gets stressed sometimes!”
“I know, I know… Listen, I’ll talk to you later. Homework.”
“Yeah, same here. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye.” The phone clicks off. I turn towards my math homework. Oh, math. Why are you as annoying as a narcissistic liar?
The door opens, and my little sister, Sammy, walks in. “Hey, Sammy?” I ask.
She’s a seventh grader, and she might have some sort of special wisdom I could use. “How do you tell a narcissistic liar that you know they’re lying?” I ask.
She thinks for a moment. “Just tell them that they’re full of it,” she says.
I laugh. “Thanks Sammy. Thanks a lot.”
Next week, the door to Social Deductions opens again to Devon Saunders. “I’m here!” he calls.
“We know!” Evan says.
Devon sits down. “So? Have you got any ideas on what’s wrong?”
I laugh a little. “Yeah, we do!”
His eyes widen. “Oh? What is it?”
I sigh. “You’re full of it, Devon.”
He looks at me, confused. “What d’you mean? I’ve been honest-”
Now I cut him off. It’s oddly satisfying. “No, you haven’t! You’ve been lying since you came in here! You don’t have an arrhythmic heart! In fact, you don’t have any heart problems whatsoever!”
His nose wrinkles. “Are you my doctor? You aren’t? Well, how would you know?”
“We talked with Chase. He told us that you have anxiety problems, not heart problems.”
His face is reddening again. “Chase doesn’t know anything! He’s an idiot! I do have heart problems! How do you explain the random fuzzy vision? The skipping feeling in my chest? It’s awful!”
Slowly, something starts to come together. “What’re you worried about, Devon?”
“What’re you worried about?”
He bites his lips. “What d’you mean?”
“This full of yourself personality. The interrupting. I talked with Chase a bit. I came up with even more questions after I talked with him the first time.”
“I have a few more questions.” Chase nods. “Okay. Has Devon always interrupted people? Has he always been this full of himself?”
Chase looks down. “No. That’s all been recent, sort of. It started to happen when his group of friends kicked him out back on middle school.”
“Yeah. I guess he wasn’t ‘cool’ enough for them or something.”
“Devon. I don’t think that this is really you. I think this is some sort of protective mask. That’s a problem. There may be another problem though…the skipping heart is normal in stressful situations, but the fuzzy vision is rarer…it shouldn’t be happening in every stressful situation. I should know. I’m stressed a lot, and I feel the skipping heart every time. But only a few times do I have fuzzy vision. That’s when I’m really stressed and anxious. You shouldn’t have it every time you’re stressed. I’ll be right back.”
I walk into the room next to Social Deductions. For a few minutes, I look up Devon’s problems in my notes. So, he seems to have similar problems to Sammy…
I walk back into the club room. “Devon. It seems like you have problems that are similar to anxiety or stress disorder. This is big stuff. You need to talk to your parents about this.”
He shakes his head quickly. “No. You’re wrong! You’re not a professional, and I don’t trust you!”
I sigh and put my head against my hands. “Devon. My sister, Sammy, has anxiety disorder that stems from falling out a window when she was younger. She’s better with with some heights now, but let’s just say she still gets tunnel or fuzzy vision and a skipping heart when she encounters extreme heights. Yours may be rejection; Chase told me that almost all your friends in middle school kicked you out of the group.”
Devon is still shaking his head, but not as rapidly. “Devon. You need help. D’you still want to feel the fuzzy vision and fast heartbeat? If you don’t tell Chase or your parents, I’ll them myself. They won’t like hearing it as much from me. They’d rather hear it from you, okay?”
He slumps forward. “Fine,” he mumbles. “I’ll talk to them.”
As it turns out, Devon does in fact have a variation on anxiety disorder. It’s mild in comparison to most, but it’s still there.
The reason behind the personality change is that, in his old group, he was modest, calm, and a good listener. He probably began to believe that those weren’t good traits and tried to become more confident, but he didn’t do it well; he forced himself into it, rather than doing it because he wanted to.
“He’s kinda like one of those TV characters who think they’re crap deep down, and put on this over the top personality to cover it up,” Evan comments.
“Yeah. It’s kinda like he wore a mask so long it fused to his face,” I say.
“He’s scheduled to come back today, right?”
A few minutes drag by before he comes in. “Hello?” he asks.
“Yeah, we’re here.”
Devon sits down. “So, why’d you want me to come back in? I thought it was over…”
I shake my head. “Not yet.” I take my notes out of my backpack. “I tried an experiment.”
His eyebrows raise. “What kind of experiment?”
“Chase told me about the kind of person you were before this, Devon. Nice, modest, patient. I put those traits on a list, and went up to random people at school. I asked if they’d like to be friends with someone like this.” I hand him the notes. “I think you’ll be happy to see the results.”
His eyes glance over the papers. “So, how many people did you ask?”
I think for a moment. “Well, I made it a point to ask twelve people from different grades each day. So… around sixty people total.”
He looks back at the papers. “And fifty-four said they’d like a friend like that…”
I nod. “Yeah. The friends you had back in middle school were in the minority. Most people would like a friend like you. So, you’re seeing a doctor now, right?” He nods. “I think that’ll help you drop the narcissistic act. I think that you’ll have friends in the future, Devon.”
He nods and smiles a little. “Thanks,” he murmurs. He hands me back the papers. “Thanks a lot,” he says, and gets up to leave.
Once he’s left, Evan turns to me. “That went well.”
“Yep. I just gave him the proof. Those friends weren’t a good match. But most people would like his middle school self as a friend.”
“Well, yeah. He sounded like a good guy in middle school. Okay, I gotta go. See you later!” He leaves.
As I pack up, I glance at the statistics again. Maybe I could do something like this for Sammy? It’s a thought. I don’t know how it’d work. But it’d be interesting to try.