Chapter 3: An encounter with the Sloans

September 26, 1968

The first four weeks of Garfield's attendance at Glebe Collegiate Institute went by like a flash. During the course of those four weeks, he had came to established some typical routines.

One of those routines was him carrying a portable phonograph with him into the cafeteria during lunch period so he can listen to a few gramophone records of his while eating lunch, and that phonograph was decorated with his various drawings of buses, trams, trains and aircraft.

On the fifth of September, he made two new female friends in Science class, both of whom took interest in his apparent smartness and his abilities to make keen observations, which will later be proved well when they worked together in a lab the day after.

Also, during Orchestral Music class, he attracted the attention of several classmates and the teacher with his superb violin-playing and skilled piano-playing. As a consequence, he was made the student concertmaster of the school orchestra, with practices taking place every Monday and Wednesday after school.

That role as a concertmaster also enabled Garfield to learn conducting from Mr. Pesci, and there has been occasions where he conducted the school orchestra in Mr. Pesci's absence during practices.

Currently, the orchestra has Richard Wagner's Symphonic Ring, the complete first set of Antonín Dvořák's Slavonic Dances, George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 and Schubert's Ninth Symphony, the "Great", as their repertoire for upcoming concerts during the school year.

Garfield really enjoyed Orchestral Music class and taking part in the orchestra practices. All the practices had further reinforced his interest in classical music.

It helps with the fact that he has dozens of classical music records and has a gramophone record in his bedroom, specific for him to listen to the music conveniently.

In addition, Garfield has came to regularly tuning into CBC's classical music radio and television programs everyday, particularly after school and after he had finished his homework when he's free.

Anyways, Garfield started to make more friends during those four weeks, including the guy in Science class who he thought looked like a jock that could give him trouble. Garfield learned that his name is James Smith, and contrary to first impressions, he is quite the cheerful and easy-going-type.

He also made a handful of friends in his Career studies class, particularly after making a presentation.

The presentation in question was about the students' chosen future careers, with each student presenting two careers. Garfield's chosen two careers for the presentation were that of an architect and a cartoonist.

In the two weeks leading up to the presentation, the students do their research on their picked careers and present their findings in a slideshow, together with images or drawings to accommodate the slide show.

They were also given the option of playing their slideshow while playing music with the classroom's phonograph, provided that the music they're playing doesn't distract the presenter.

Eventually came the day of presentation, and prior to the first presentation, the students were asked to grab a number sheet from a hat without peeking.

Garfield got the number thirteen, while his friend Casey got the number three. However, Casey haven't quite finished his slideshow.

As Mrs. McPhee continued to walk around the classroom with students picking numbers, Casey turned to Garfield and after discussing the numbers they've got, Casey asked, "You mind if I swap numbers with you, Garfield?"

"Sure, no problem." Garfield shrugged. After all, he was finished with his slideshow and was anxious to get on with his presentations. As a matter a fact, he was hoping that he will get a number that is before ten.

"Great." Casey smiled as they traded their number sheets. "It's just that I haven't finished my slideshow."

"Not a problem, Casey." Garfield said. "I was looking forward to presenting today anyways."

Eventually came Garfield's turn to present, and his presentation instantly made him popular with the whole class, particularly with the humour he used as he presented along, together with his drawings and figures in the slides.

"Way to go, Garfield!" Eleanor Neals praised after Garfield finished his presentation and returned to his seat. "That was a great slideshow!"

"Thanks, Ellie." Garfield replied with a smile as he took his seat.

Outside of class, Garfield also made a handful of friends during lunchtime, including with a girl named Morley who took interest in his portable phonograph and the drawings on it.

However, it was also during this time that he attracted the scorn of a couple of sisters, though no fault of his own.

Denise Sloan shared the same first name initial as his younger sister Diana Wu, but beyond that, the Grade 10 student has nothing in common with Diana. In fact, she couldn't be any more different in terms for personality than Diana.

For starters, Denise was quite the obnoxious girl who was known to be spoiled and self-centred, armed with the motto "My way or the highway". She wasn't the type that will admit fault, and she would often accuse her fellow schoolmates of something she would be equally guilty of.

Her older sister Linda, who is in Grade 11, was nowhere better. In spite of her attractive appearance, her face rather lacked character, and her demands for respect without earning them has been the source of great irritation from other students.

In a sharp contrast, many of Garfield's classmates has found him to be friendly, sensible, shy and witty with a sense of humour, not to mention greatly amused by his gift of making keen observations.

The fact that Garfield, who had barely transferred to Glebe at the start of the school year, was already becoming a popular student became a source of jealousy and friction from the Sloan sisters, who were never popular.

His lack of interactions with Denise, who shares his Career Studies and Science classes, didn't stop her from subjecting him to disparaging remarks, though his increasing number of new friends has frequently sprung to his defense, which further irritated the younger Sloan sister.

Of course, Garfield himself would largely shrug off whatever disparaging remarks the Sloans would subject him to, though that hasn't stopped him from thinking of something clever to say to get back at them.

Even before he started to tangle with the Sloans, Garfield had a very good idea on their family background.

Their father Brian is a barrister and investor who has invested in several ventures across town, which has left the family financially wealthy, hence the fashionable dresses the sisters always wear at school.

Their mother Michelle doesn't work, not that she needed to, given the lavish lifestyle that came with the wealth, and it is also known that the Sloans hire the services of about half a dozen servants.

With the extravagant lifestyle came with the rather spoiled personalities the sisters were known for, and their interest in money and social status has also been a source of irritation from their schoolmates.

That late afternoon, as per usual, Garfield was on the Route 4 streetcar, en route to the airport for the evening cadet training night.

His summer work dress uniform consists of a dress shirt with a name plate labelled "WU", shoulder slip-ons that indicated his rank of Sergeant (Consisting of three chevrons worn downwards with the word "Cadet" at the bottom), the shirt tucked behind a pair of dress trousers and wearing a belt with a brass buckle.

On top of that, he was wearing the issued drill ankle-high boots, along with the issued wedge cap and his trademark green-gold watch, in addition to be holding a small briefcase carrying his notes.

The journey will see him transfer from the streetcar onto the Route 83 bus at Confederation Heights, which terminates at Uplands Airport. In the course of the ride to the airport, the bus drives through the air force base in which the barracks housing the squadron is located at.

His brother David is also en route to the training, though unlike Garfield, David managed to get a lift from a classmate whose brother is in their squadron.

After disembarking from the streetcar at the Confederation Heights streetcar/bus stop on Heron Road, Garfield joined plenty of the commuters in waiting for the Route 83 bus to show up.

As he looked around, Garfield noticed a navy officer walking towards him, en route to the nearby pedestrian crossing.

Without missing a beat, the cadet sergeant immediately stiffened as he raised his right hand to render a military salute and barked, "Sir!"

The officer in question, a captain, placed his hand up in response and nodded in acknowledgement before placing his hand back down, and Garfield followed suit.

Garfield arched his eyebrows briefly, given that it isn't exactly everyday that he would encounter a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, who, like their counterparts in British and Commonwealth navies and in the United States Armed Forces as a whole, salutes with their palm facing downwards, which is a contrast to members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army, who, like their counterparts in the UK and other Commonwealth nations, salutes with their palms facing forward.

From what Garfield gathered, there are stories that the Royal Navy salute with the palm facing downwards originated from Queen Victoria decreeing that sailors and officers of the fleet will salute palm down after being saluted by a member with a dirty palm, and it was something that was subsequently passed down to Commonwealth navies, including the Royal Canadian Navy.

It was in that brief moment that Garfield glanced around and his thoughts came to a halt when he spotted two familiar-looking girls within the crowd of people waiting at the streetcar/bus stop.

Of all the familiar-looking people from school he had ran into while waiting for the Route 83 bus, it had to be the Denise and Linda Sloan.

Both sisters were wearing the same dresses they wore that day at school, and Garfield could see that they seemed anxious to get somewhere.

Suddenly Denise and Linda saw Garfield, who nodded in greeting. Denise curtly returned the nod, while Linda didn't give an indication of even seeing Garfield at all.

Fortunately, the awkward silence was broken when the OTC 1966 New Look signed "83 UPLANDS" began to pull up.

Once the bus came to a stop, Garfield followed the crowd as they boarded the bus at the front door, during which he noticed that the Sloans were also lining up to board the bus.

她們一定是要去機場的。 (They must be heading for the airport.) Garfield thought to himself as he stepped onto the bus and flashed the transfer he obtained from his ride on the streetcar.

The front of the bus was already packed with commuters heading home in the suburbs in the afternoon rush hour, and as a result, Garfield and a number of other passengers began to shuffle towards the rear.

As the bus began to pull out of the stop, Garfield, who managed to obtain a seat near the rear door, glanced up and saw the Sloans standing near him.

For a while, neither of them spoke a word as the bus made the left turn onto Riverside Drive.

"Should've figured that we'd see someone like you hoarding the seat like that." Linda suddenly spoke.

Garfield was deep in thought when she made the remark, and the older Sloan sister prompted as she continued, "I'm talking to you, Garfield Wu."

Immediately, Garfield snapped out of his thoughts and turned towards the Sloans, who were both staring at him quizzically.

"Beg your pardon?" Garfield raised an eyebrow.

"I said that we should've figured that you would hoard that seat like that." Linda said as Denise nodded at the seat Garfield was seated at.

"And to think that a military guy like you wouldn't have any issue standing for a long period of time." Denise added with a snort. "Feet giving you trouble?"

"Not as much trouble as being being cramped up in a rented car during your return drive from Prince Edward County this past weekend, I suppose." Garfield replied. "Especially after both of you had to deal with a clumsy servant at your cottage there."

Both Denise and Linda's mouths dropped open, and Denise demanded, "How could you possibly know that?!"

"Simple." Garfield said. "My eyes tell me that on the inside of both your right shoes, where the sunlight shines on it, the leather on both shoes are scored by five almost parallel cuts. It is obvious that those cuts are caused by someone who has carelessly scraped around the edges of the sole in order to remove the crested wet sand from them."

Then, nodding towards the bus window, Garfield continued, "This past weekend was right before the fall equinox, and the weather in both Ottawa and Prince Edward County was sunny. It's not everyday that you both would use public transit, not when you and your family are going away to spend time together far away from the busy lifestyles of a city, for any of the dresses you've worn would've had the wear and tear from the bus or streetcar seats."

The frown on Denise and Linda's faces deepened as Garfield sniffed briefly and continued, "Besides, both of you carry the air that would suggest that the car you've rode in on your way to school the past four, five days was a rental and that the water you've enjoyed yourselves in came from the Saint Lawrence."

With his eyes staring at them both squarely, Garfield concluded, "Hence, as you can see, my double deduction that you both spent your weekend at your cottage in Prince Edward County with a clumsy servant and that the ride home was far from comfortable as a result of the car being a rental instead of the family car you both are very much used to."

The sisters only stared at him blankly, and Garfield swiftly pulled out his pocket watch to check the time before glancing out of the window briefly.

By this point, the bus had just passed under the CN Rail bridge and is approaching Hunt Club Woods.

Before one of the sisters could say something, Garfield turned towards them and said, "Oh, and allow me to offer a free piece of advice."

When the sisters both maintained their stares at him, Garfield continued, "If you would like to make yourselves more popular among your schoolmates, consider treating them with respect and kindness, since respect is earned, not demanded."

Eventually, as the bus began driving through the community and passengers began to flock off the bus when it pulls into the stops, the Sloans proceeded to grab a seat near the rear end of the bus.

The rest of the ride was largely in silence between the trio until the bus began to approach the stop closest to the barracks, and Garfield immediately pulled the bell as he stood up and get ready to disembark from the bus.

As that happened, the Sloans turned towards him and Linda said, "Hey, Garfield."

Garfield paused to turn towards the sisters briefly with his eyebrows arched, and the older Sloan sister said, "You should know that kissing the butts of your leaders wouldn't get you anywhere for your future."

Garfield only arched his eyebrows further briefly before he shrugged and said dismissively, "Whatever you say."

It was then that the bus slowly pulled up into the bus stop, and as soon as the 1966 New Look came to a complete stop, Garfield proceeded to disembark through the rear doors without another word.

Once the doors closed and the bus took off, Garfield paused briefly before he shrugged and resumed marching towards the barracks.

很高興我知道要在史攏姊妹被寵壞的事實上面提高警覺。 (It's a good thing that I've maintained a firm grasp of my guard regarding the fact that the Sloan sisters are quite the spoiled people.) He thought to himself, during which he also remembered gathering about Michelle's ambition that Linda marry into a socially-prominent family.

我真的替Linda的未來丈夫感到抱歉。 (I sure feel sorry for Linda's future husband.) Garfield thought.

Clearly, with regards to Linda's character, whoever her future husband is will need to get a firm grasp on the obvious unless he himself shares a lot in common with the older Sloan sister.

Once again, Garfield shrugged at the thought as he arrived at the entrance to the barracks.

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