"I take it this isn't a social call."
"Then you're here on some matter of business?"
"Concerning the school?"
"Yes. There's something I need to discuss ..."
"I see. What is it then? Let's hear it." Even thus prompted, Buemon sits in silence with eyes cast down. For a second-year middle schooler, he's the talkative sort. His brain may be lacking in horsepower, especially in proportion to the oversized skull that houses it, but when it comes to chatter he bests his Group B peers. In fact, it was this very Buemon who confounded the master the other day by asking how "Columbus" translates to Japanese. For this vibrant young master to sit here now, stammering and fidgeting like a spoiled girl torn between myriad whims, can only mean there's something of import at play. His deference is all too extreme. The master senses something's amiss.
"If you've something to say, then why not say it? No point dawdling."
"It's a bit awkward ..."
"Awkward?" The master directs his gaze to Buemon, but the latter's face is still downturned and yields no hint of what's at play. Of necessity, the master changes his tact. "Listen, you're free to speak here. No one else is listening, and whatever you say will be held in strict confidence," he adds with a soothing tone.
"I'm not sure I can say it." Buemon still wavers.
"Of course you can." The master settles the matter for him.
"I guess I have to, but ..." The cropped head slowly rights itself, and reluctant, half-closed eyes peer into the master's. The master puffs up his cheeks and turns his head a bit to slowly exhales his cigarette smoke.
"The truth is ... I've landed myself in trouble ..."
"A great deal of trouble. That's why I've come."
"I've got that. Now what sort of trouble?"