Part One: Introduction
The following story was crafted with the sole purpose of solving one question: Who is Katie Brooks? Why does the name ring a bell and why do I feel like she could be a very important person here at Claremont?
It’s not like the new freshman is anyone special, but, every teacher treats her like royalty. She is loved by all, disrespected by few. Why does she get to be the one in the front? Why is she the person every teacher cares about?
To ask these questions to the teachers themselves shows a fundamental misunderstanding of who this student is. You don’t go into an investigation asking the hard hitting questions first. Maybe these people have some non-disclosure agreement. Maybe they can’t talk about this kind of situation. Before any of the influx of students from the recent closure of Kirby High School arrived, I was determined to solve this, crack it open once and for all. I, Nathan Torres, assistant to the assistant editor-in-chief of the Claremont Checker, will crack this case and figure out if Katie Brooks is who I think she is. Which will be difficult, as I don’t even know who I think she is. This is a pet project.
The investigation starts with Principal Barney Sampson.
It all spiraled from there.
Part Two: Look into the Past to find the Present.
Principal Barney Sampson’s office, Claremont High School
[Principal Barney Sampson’s office is located behind three ID-accessible doors in the Student Affairs and Academic Services center. He leans back in his chair, his hands always in a triangle form. He reminds me of Russel Crowe.]
Now, what is this all for, Nathan?
It’s a history pet project, sir.
[Barney’s eyebrows furrow] A… History pet project?
Why, yes, a history pet project.
The tape recorder, the pen and paper, it’s all for a pet project that you’re just doing of your own volition?
Is this a bother to you, sir?
No, not at all. I’m just confused. What are you trying to learn about?
You grew up in the 2000s, correct?
Yes, I did.
What was it like? I mean, I know you attended Claremont during that time but —
[Sampson sighs] It was a rollercoaster. Just a lot of ups and downs. Really, the school hasn’t changed all that much since its founding. Obviously, the finger puppets are fairly new, but no fundamental change has occurred. But at the same time, I wish it would. No change means it’s easy to remember one’s mistakes.
What do you mean?
Are you familiar with F.O.L.D., Nathan?
Fold? As in folding paper? I mean, my friends participate in that–
No, I mean F.O.L.D.. The club. The group that really just kick-started this whole finger puppet shebang. It had its roots at Kirby High School- the one that’s just closed, as you know. Then the group found its way here. I became a founding member of the Origami X-Men, and we’d constantly butt heads with them.
[He pushed his chair back and opened a filing cabinet.]
Be honest with me, you’re not being coy, are you?
Coy? No, sir. I would never lie to the Principal. I have never heard of a F.O.L.D.
So it’s left this place, huh? Sad. They added a spice of excitement to every problem we’ve had.
[He continued to talk as he went through the files.]
Back in my day, I’m talking 2000 to 2004, they were a thorn in my group’s side. As an adult, I came back to the school and worked my way up to where I am now. This filing cabinet was here to greet me, full of all this stuff that, well, couldn’t be saved on a cloud.
[He pauses, looking back and smiling at me.]
Can you believe that the principal made it sanctioned? This was our National Honors Society, just more prestigious. A hall monitor would be an agent of F.O.L.D. Then some changes came, it went away, and then more changes came and here I am. Is the Origami X-Men still around?
Yes sir, they exist. I don’t know if they’re like, big. A few years ago, Emily Madison left the group and it kind of splintered. It’s an exclusive group, and you can really only join if the members like you. People pop up every so often with a new hero, confusing the whole thing. Puppets go like a-
Ruler passing their throne to their heir?
Exactly! How did you know that’s what it was like?
[He held a couple files in his hands, covered in stickers of bands like Linkin Park, Coldplay, and Good Charlotte.]
Because that’s how it was when I was in it. Every month it was a new Storm, or a new Gambit. Drama and in-fighting was what caused the group to break apart and rebuild. I tell you what, those with the Shadowcat puppets always fought with the Nightcrawler guys. I should know.
Why should you know?
Because I was Profolder Xavier.
Really? There hasn’t been a Profolder Xavier in a while. Were you the last one?
I never gave my puppet to anyone else. I saw myself as the leader, and didn’t see anyone else fit to take on that role. The only ones that stuck around were Martha Halpert, Jackson Beauregard, Maggie Mansada and Arthur Sullivan.
Miss Halpert, Mr. Beauregard and Mr. Sullivan?
What about this Maggie person?
Whole thing in our Senior year. I don’t talk about it.
Okay sir, I understand. But this wasn’t what I was here to talk about.
Well, what is it?
Who’s Katie Brooks? What’s her big deal around here? She just got here yet every teacher knows her name and treats her like their best friend.
[I saw him freeze for a moment. His face instantly changed, like he was concentrating on something.] I’ve heard of Katie Brooks. [He scooted his chair closer to the table and leaned towards me] Can I tell you something?
I can’t exactly answer that question, but if you’re trying to learn about her, then you’re focusing on the wrong angle. You want something far more interesting? Read up on this and solve the first unsolved case that F.O.L.D. had. [He passes me a folder with the name “ORIGAMI WOLVERINE” on it. A sticker of Hugh Jackman in the original X-men costume was tacked onto the side. When I flipped it open, there was a laminated, slightly torn origami claw of the same costume.]
Really? You’re giving me this and not the answers that I want?
[He smiled at me.] Well, Nathan. I think you’ll be surprised. This might be more connected than you realize. But you should listen to me when I tell you: it’ll be a tough job. You’re going to have to look into the past to find the present. Most of the people mentioned in there are teachers now. Including Miss Halpert, Mr. Beauregard, and Mr. Sullivan.
[He closed his drawer and looked back at me again.]
Take that with you and get out of here. I’m interested in seeing how well you do. It’s an assignment, from Profolder Xavier, age thirty two.
It felt as though he should’ve given me a wink and a nod, like Santa Claus putting a finger up his nose and shooting up the chimney after being caught. Anyway, it seems like my plans have shifted. I have to focus on a new angle.
Very Brief Accounts from the file
[The file is covered in stickers. They’ve been neatly and deliberately placed in a pattern, from the top left and going diagonally. Circling the title of the file, the stickers go around, like a river adjusting its course when a hill is in the middle. The stickers then connect back up. The stickers of grunge, emo, and punk bands showcases the datedness of the file. Green Day, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Good Charlotte, All-American Rejects. Interspersed with these are stickers that tell a story, the “cast” of characters as I’d later meet. Cyclops, Iceman, Wolverine, Phoenix, Professor Xavier, Beast, Angel, and Magneto. They’re handmade stickers, printed on a shoddy printer. Upon opening the file, there’s just seven pages: five incidents, a cast list, and a conclusion. But what’s weird is that the incidents were meant to be written on loose leaf, and it only says “Interview needed.”]
PAGE ONE: “The Cast” – Written by Elizabeth Davidson
PAGE TWO: An Interview with Martha Halpert (Left Blank).
PAGE THREE: An Interview with Jackson Beauregard (Left Blank).
PAGE FOUR: An Interview with Maggie Mansada (Left Blank).
PAGE FIVE: An Interview with Arthur Sullivan (Left Blank).
PAGE SIX: An interview with Barney Sampson (Left Blank).
PAGE SEVEN: Conclusion.
It looked to me like the file was pointless, a mystery that I couldn’t solve. Who were these kids? Well, I knew that some were teachers, but who were these kids? The Cast and Conclusion was the only two that had some writing on it.
[The Cast is just a sheet of loose leaf, with the names of all the individuals, and a “fan cast” of who they’d be if they were in movies. It says “late 2003, Early 2004”.]
[In Shiny Sharpie Gold] THE CAST! THE STARS! THE LIGHTS!
- Barney Sampson – would be portrayed by Kyle Massey, the unexpected leader but that silly man at heart. You love him, or you love him. Seems to be close with Origami Wolverine as the “Profolder Xavier.” Senior.
- Jackson Beauregard – Oh my GOSH, Jackson would totally be Shia Labeouf. Sophomore, Wielder of the Origami Cyclops, no-nonsense, F.O.L.D.! He’s DREAMY!! Sophomore.
- Maggie Mansada – Looks like Lisa Foiles from All That, I THINK she’s dating the Origami Wolverine. It makes so much sense, she’s like Origami Jean Grey! She’s the Origami Phoenix! Senior.
- Arthur Sullivan – Don’t quote me on this, but I heard he’s related to Kyle Sullivan of Malcolm in the Middle fame. But don’t quote me. He’s the Origami Angel… Personally, Jackson would make more sense in a casting scenario, but you know what? Oh well. Senior
- Martha Halpert – Gruff and big, chunky. I’d say she’d be best played by Harry Melling of Dudley in Harry Potter. I hate her. She makes me mad. I refuse to do the interview with her.
- Origami Wolverine- I don’t know who it is so Hugh Jackman.
For my own amusement, I looked them up in the 2004 yearbook. Barney was in the class of 2004, so he would’ve been a senior. Under his “Clubs” he had ‘Origami X-Men Leader, National Honors Society, and Speech and Debate.’ His quote was “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul who comes to that school… looking for trouble.” – Charles Xavier.
Jackson Beauregard was a part of the Varsity Football team, a Sophomore, which was a big deal. I only know this because Sophomores don’t get the attention of other students like seniors. I mean, you’re halfway there. He has this snarky grin that stretched across his face. I found him in two pictures: one where he stands with his shirt off, yelling and screaming at a basketball game. The blue and yellow “Claremont Capybaras” sprawl across his chest. In the other picture, he’s in full football garb, barely snagging a ball for a touchdown.
Maggie Mansada is pretty, even for 2019 standards. Her senior photo accentuates this, with a disarming grin showing her perfect teeth. She has a little bridge of freckles over her nose. Under clubs, she was a part of the Origami X-Men, drama, and she even had a brief article about how “something came up, and she almost wasn’t able to do the role of “Harry Potter the Stage Production,” but the show went on with “loads of makeup and heavier clothes.” her quote was “I traveled each and every highway” – Frank Sinatra.
Arthur Sullivan was somehow given his own senior photo, different from the other kids and clearly taken by him. He hovers in the sky like an angel, and these weird, anime-styled wings sprout out behind him. This man is my graphic design teacher. I started laughing so hard at the image, I didn’t even catch his quote. It was probably something stupid, like “Eat my shorts” – Bart Simpson
Martha Halpert isn’t fat. She’s not really chunky. I don’t know why her first profile was so mean, but she did have Origami Beast. She was a Junior. Her ‘Chunky,’ ‘Gruff,’ nature stems from her being in women’s wrestling.
Everyone sat there, smiling in their school uniforms, with freshly-washed coats and ties. I looked down at my own uniform and saw that tradition never changes.
[The Conclusion has just one paragraph.]
Sorry guys! I got really busy, and haven’t been able to do these interviews. These guys are KEY to figuring out who Origami Wolverine is. I know there’s the whole dealio with the paper Silver Samurai, but THIS could be that thing to fill the gaps! Think about it! F.O.L.D. could solve this mystery and get the Origami Wolverine under our ranks, not the Origami X-Men’s. I sadly have to move back to California to help with the oldest brother’s upcoming business… I hope you all understand… Sincerely,
Amelia Wade, February 1st, 2004
Amelia Wade would later attend Southern California University, according to her Linkedin page. She’d graduate and go on to work for a soup company known as Citizen Wade’s as the Chief Financial Officer. She has a daughter now and is married.
I think I know what I need to do. I have to do these interviews. Maybe I’ll understand the Origami X-Men a bit more, and I’ll finally know who Katie Brooks is.
Part Three: The Interviews
The Computer Lab, Claremont High School.
[Mr. Sullivan is my Graphic Design teacher. He’s always showing us what he’s made, what he’s been doing, or what he plans to start. Our assignments consist of us sitting in class, making logos and images using Photoshop. Sometimes we can purchase Wacom tablets to make our designs more ‘Hand Drawn’, I guess. He sits in this arched style. His tie, covered in Lightsabers and X-wings, sways a bit with each movement of his arms.]
The Origami X-Men? Is that what you’re doing an assignment on? Man, we were the bomb-diggity back then. We were like this. [crosses his fingers] That tight! We knew each other, respected each other, and we were so popular. Everyone knew us. Everyone wanted to be us. But it was only the coolest of the cool. The smartest of the smart. Those lame-os over at Kirby and Wheeler use dumb puns, like “Iron Fold” and stuff. No. Here at Claremont, we’re —
Sir, Kirby was shut down recently. [I interrupted him.]
Are you interviewing me, or am I interviewing you?
I’m sorry. Carry on.
Right, anyways, where was I? Oh, that’s right. We at Claremont don’t use that lame, weak pun stuff. We use the swaggiest of the swag. We don’t need dumb names. We have Profolder for that! So, I was the Origami Angel! [He emphasizes it in this grandiose manner] I was the flyest of the fly. The coolest and the slickest. I could rock any outfit, put in my headphones in between classes, and leave my shirt untucked. Boys wanted to be me, and the ladies, [he clasped his hands together and leaned closer to me] wanted to be with me. [Laughter.]
So, what is it? Do you want to join the Origami X-Men? Y’know, I know the current Origami Cyclops. He’s in your class, I could I get him–
No, I don’t want to join the Origami X-Men. I want to get to know more of them, but I don’t want to join them. Tell me about your missions.
Ohh… Those missions were when it got good. Here at Claremont, we’re the first school in New York state to incorporate a block schedule, right? The four classes one day, a different four the next. And our partnership with the college, just down the street? Cortland is a college town, after all. The college kids here come down to be teacher assistants, tutors. It was the Origami X-Men! We made those changes. Those were our major missions. Back in the early two thousands, Claremont High had eight classes a day, every day. My mission was to do speeches and get kids to sign the petitions. It was actually Barney Sampson, Profolder Xavier, that was all “Hey, we should really move to this schedule. We’re College Preparatory, after all. It doesn’t make sense, I mean, college has what? One or two lectures a day?” Man. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were hall monitors, and we’d corner kids in the halls and ask them to sign petitions. Barney was a part of the Student Government as a representative for ‘Origami-Kind,’ a fancy way of saying ‘the popular kids.’
He had this rule where to have your puppet visible at all times. And then he had this other rule: if some kid, usually those nerds and geeks who wanted to… y’know… be us… had a puppet of us, we had to confront him. I’ll admit, It sometimes got pretty rough. There used to be this guy named Rodney Cline. Real Sockable face. One week, he was Beast. The next, Gambit, and y’know we were like “We don’t have a Gambit, but he’s not, y’know, popular enough for us.” Next week, he was Angel. I cornered him after school and knocked him up a bit. I don’t think he took up anything again. I mean, I was a senior, I had to pass it on to someone new. Maybe I should’ve picked that Freshman punk.
[I sat in silence for a moment] What about Origami Wolverine?
[He leaned back, letting out a belly laugh] Origami Wolverine? We never had that. I don’t think we ever did. It was our same four, maybe a Storm or Nightcrawler. But man, we NEVER had an Origami Wolverine. Except for that one kid.
Ah, it’s nothing. There were these minor events surrounding the unknown Origami Wolverine. An origami claw here, someone in the crowd falls with a paper cut on his hand, wincing in pain. I had my suspicions. Like, Barney Sampson. He didn’t have much to do besides be the Profolder. Maybe it was Rodney. Could be anyone. Things only really happened on Campus on Free Dress Days. Some kid with a blue or yellow hoodie with one of those claws swipes at a kid. It was annoying. It’s been over a decade now, but man, I just remember the anxiety.
That you’d be swiped next. I tell you, I KNOW someone who was swiped. It was sometime in late 2003.
Who was it?
Martha Halpert. And I’m telling you this, Martha Halpert may be one of the nicest people you could meet, never getting angry…but getting cut like that hurts. I’ve never heard her curse that much. Have you ever had a paper cut, Nathan?
Not in my recent memory.
They don’t sound awful, but in that case, the bite hurts worse than the bark. That’s about all. Oh, remember your homework tonight.
Will do, Mr. Sullivan.
I stopped the recording and made my way out of the computer lab. The Gaming club were huddled together in a bunch playing Overwatch in some Tournament. I stared for a moment, and realized that out of all of these kids, none could be Origami X-Men material due to their status as the geeks. I left the Computer Lab in silence.
Doctor Halpert’s room, Third Floor Of Claremont’s Humanities building.
[It is after hours, a few days after my first interview. Miss Halpert’s class is full of Psychology textbooks, a model of the brain, and a whiteboard covered in theories that I can’t wrap my head around. A song asking ‘how am I gonna be an optimist about this?’ played on full blast, shaking the bookshelves. When I entered, she turned down the music. She smiles wide, her frame a bit different from the pictures in the yearbook. Maybe she’s gained a bit of weight in the almost twenty years, but she nonetheless has the same grin.]
Hi, Miss Halpert!
Oh, hello! I’m Doctor Halpert, I mean, I didn’t work seven or eight years for a degree in Psychology to not be called Doctor.
[I frowned] Oh, I’m sorry. My apologies, Doctor Halpert.
[she laughs] No worries. I’m not sure I recognize you. Have we met before?
No, I don’t think so. I’m Nathan Torres. I don’t come to the third floor often. Mr. Sullivan referred me to you.
[She smiles again] Awe, nice to meet you, Nathan. What does a graphic design student need from me?
Oh, he was a part of Origami X-Men when you two went to Claremont together.
He said you had an encounter with the Origami Wolverine?
That’s true too. But listen, that’s such a minor part of the story. Let’s build up to that. A good interviewer never pulls the ‘Gotcha’ question at the beginning.
Oh, okay. So, tell me about how you got started in Origami X-Men.
Freshman year. I became pretty popular because of the whole ‘girl wrestler’ shtick. I was winning matches and rounds. I even went nationwide in my class! I had bunches of friends. During the off season, I trained and also researched. So, I was known for being a tutor as well. F.O.L.D. had tried to recruit me, but I didn’t let them. I had my eyes on that sophomore team: the Origami X-Men. They don’t really discriminate between grades. I mean, the coolest ones are given to the oldest kids at the time.
The Recruitment process was really easy when Profolder Xavier was around. He would just see you and stop you in the hallway, inviting you to join. The main rule was you had to bring something fresh, be different from everyone else. Different, I guess, meant that everyone knew your name.
Does your Origami X-Men work the same way?
No, it doesn’t. There’s no Profolder Xavier.
That’s a shame. We had kids that would come and go, but usually the original four stuck around. Me, Maggie Mansada, Arthur Sullivan, and Jackson Beauregard. Oh, and Barney Sampson. I guess I saw things go downhill when Barney graduated along with Maggie and Arthur. Then Jackson left, and we had to replace him with some new Cyclops.
Maggie and Barney seemed to have a separate friend group, all in the know. We had a theory that they were a totally different team, like the Inhumans or something weird. Barney liked to lead, and I see that now with him being the youngest Principal this school has ever seen.
[She was getting relaxed as she propped her feet on the desk, looking at me conspiratorially] I’m not supposed to do this, but you know these people don’t look at the cameras. Anywho, we’d go on missions together, usually me and Maggie while Arthur and Jackson went and got people to sign petitions. Did he tell you that any differently?
Well, he said you all did that.
No, [laughs], no it wasn’t all of us. Me and Maggie, the Origami Beast and the Origami Phoenix, would go on the search for bullies, test score alterations. The works. Barney was BIG on girl power. That lifted my spirits all the time, made me want to get my doctorate in gender studies and psychology. Now that I think about it, though, it felt like he was giving the girls the hard jobs. I don’t know, maybe it was backwards thinking on my Boss’ part. Don’t tell him I said that- he’s the one that got me this job.
[Laughs] Sure thing. So, I read this file…
Was it about the Origami Beast? I’m a primary source, let me vouch for its accuracy.
No, it wasn’t. It was about Origami Wolverine…
I guess I can talk about him…
Well, this has been bugging me a bit, what was your beef with Amelia Wade?
[Snorts] Amelia Wade?! Me and her are good now, but back in 2004 she was mean. Like, she was so popular for all the wrong reasons. She hated kids like me, the chunky kids. The big kids. I don’t know what her issue was, she just disliked me because of my weight. No matter how often Barney would lift me up, she’d tear me down. Then she goes and becomes a CFO of some soup company, her older brother dies, and then a month later Citizen Wades pops up here in town. She was there to open it up and cut the rope. I met her, we went to a coffee shop, and she didn’t really change from her high school self, maybe just a little less fat-shaming and rude. I never had, uh, ‘beef’ with her. She was a F.O.L.D. Agent that just bullied me all the time. Why?
She was the lead on the Origami Wolverine Case. She refused to interview you for no reason. She didn’t interview anyone, though.
Typical Amelia. I’m shocked she has such a high-paying job. Y’know I’m leaving next year to be a professor, right? Only down the street at the college, so come visit me! I love reminiscing about old times. Now, sit back, I’ll tell you what you came here for.
[I got relaxed in my chair, leaving the voice recorder to get it all.]
Me and Maggie ate lunch with each other everyday. She respected me like a Senior, even introduced me to her senior friends. The time was early January. You know, winter’s cold tones can add dreariness to many people? It’s called Seasonal Depression. Sometimes the heat could do that too. I never saw Maggie that sad before. She was sluggish, always holding her stomach. She told me she was just “bummed out” and would sometimes leave to go to the bathroom and she’d be in there a long time. Whole lunch periods, if you can believe it.
Anyways, it was one of those days. She would be in the lunch line, smell those cheesy bean burrito wraps, say “I’m gonna get sick,” and then leave the line. When she left, I turned my head, and a guy swiped my hand that was on my tray. I dropped the tray, making all that gross goop go everywhere. On my hand, I had three distinct cut marks. I barely caught the face of the perp before I was cleaning up the food.
He was short, had black hair, and was good at running away from scenes. Maggie told me that when she walked out she bumped into him. I think she mumbled a name, but it’s been nearly twenty years. I don’t remember. What I do know is that she knows who Origami Wolverine is.
You’d have to ask Mr. Beauregard.
Why not straight to the source: Maggie Mansada?
I don’t know where she is. I don’t have her number. Disappeared off the face of the earth after graduation! I think that Mr. Beauregard knows of her whereabouts. He visits her sometimes. If you can get to him, then you can get to her. I wish I could just cut out the middleman and get you to her, but I can’t. I’m sorry. Do you want me to call Mr. Beauregard and send you down to the gymnasium? I’ll let him know you’re coming.
Oh, that would be perfect, thank you, Doctor!
No problem, and, please. [She smiled, her eyes nearly closing at how wide the grin is.] My friends call me Martha.
On the way to the gymnasium, questions ran through my mind about who Origami Wolverine could possibly be . I was so distracted, I bumped into Mr. Millar, who patted me on the arm after I apologized and said “Hey man, it’s all good.” Then, my mind turned back to the description. The black hair and the height…that description could also fit Katie Brooks.
And then a question hit me: What if Katie Brooks is somehow related to Origami Wolverine? Is that what Principal Sampson meant about it being connected?
I was at the Gymnasium in no time.
The Claremont Capybaras Gymnasium, Claremont High School
[I haven’t been inside the gym since working on a gym credit last year. A sophomore now, the area has an oldish feel to it, like this was my old home. I think that’s what Mr. Beauregard, our gym teacher who kind of sounds like Will Arnett, feels too. He ruled this area at pep rallies. The Football field, close to the gym, has been updated with new seats and turf. An old king sits in the middle of the stadium, bouncing a basketball up and down in an area he once ruled.]
Interesting spot, Mr. Beauregard.
[He bounces the ball as I take a seat. He’s looking at the floor] Ah, Nathan. Dr. Halpert told me you were coming. If you’re here to learn about Maggie Mansada, I can tell you some stuff… some good stuff.
… Come on, Mr. Beauregard, let’s build up to that.
What is there to build up to, Mr. Torres? I’m not exactly prepared for this. I was expecting to go over volleyball basics today, not remembering the past. [He stops bouncing the ball, looking up at me.] Tell me, Nathan, tell me this: am I washed up?
I’m not so sure. I was in the military, stationed in Afghanistan. I got back home and the only job I could find out of college and sports medicine was this. Back at my old hometown, at my old college, teaching Physical Education to kids who just wait for dodgeball at the end of the week. But you don’t want to hear me lament, do you?
I mean, you can. This isn’t an assignment.
If it’s not an assignment, what are you doing this for?
[He asked this like he was upset, almost.]
I’m doing this as a pet project.
Oh, I remember when I’d do those. Like between football games and practices I’d go home, do my homework, and then go back and rework my Origami Cyclops. That was my pet project – those redesigns.
I was a part of the Origami X-Men for two years. Just two. Star freshman Quarterback, JV Football champ and overall Pep-Rally celebrity, Barney Sampson had recruited me to be that charismatic, cool guy of the group. I didn’t even know anything about the comics, but he dubbed me ‘Origami Cyclops’ anyway. The only thing different was that I was a face of a petition. ‘Change the Class Presidency terms,’ ‘change class schedules,’ all of that. It was to tighten our grip, even without me knowing. And then I got blacklisted.
It was after Barney and them graduated in my junior year. I was supposed to become the leader, but this girl named Margaret took over as some Storm girl. We had one like every month so it usually didn’t matter. But she refused to leave. I was overshadowed and replaced by a new Cyclops.
A week later, I lost my position on the football team. And a month after that, I lost all my friends. I don’t have any clue what happened but I do know that Margaret was the one behind it. I resented her all the way through my career because I went from the most popular guy to a nobody [snaps his fingers] like that.
I… I had no idea.
I was blindsided. I missed the team, man. I tried to keep up the Cyclops thing on my own, but it was more trouble than it was worth.
[He sat down, completely distraught.] I’ll be honest, Nathan. I’m single, I’m not paid enough, and no one would ever want to date me. All because I was blacklisted nearly twenty years ago. I know you have your own thing going on, but if you can find the time, all I ask is that you have a heart to heart with Helen Ackerman. Maybe help me out, you know? You can find her on Facebook…
Anyways… I’m sorry, Maggie Mansada’s newest address is this.
[He took out a pad and pen, wrote down an address and handed it to me.] She’s not Mansada anymore. Her name is Maggie Cline.
I turned off the recorder and talked to him. It took a bit longer to raise Mr. Beauregard’s spirits. I had to awkwardly tell him that yes, one day he would find love. He asked if my mom was single.
I sighed, said yes, and left.
Helen Shipp’s Skype, My home
[I sat in my living room, talking to a 30ish woman living in Nevada on Skype. She won nearly a million dollars on a lottery ticket, and has been losing every penny in Las Vegas ever since. When we started the call, she took out a puppet of an Origami Storm, showed it off, and smiled.]
Cool, isn’t it?
Yes, it is, Ms. Ackerman.
Oh? Haven’t you heard? It’s Misses Shipp now! I got married last week!
Yeah! We met here in the Silver State [Nickname for Nevada]. He’s a screenwriter! All this in a whirlwind. I graduated from Indiana University, earned a cool job as a camerawoman for local news, and, if you can’t tell: I won almost a million dollars! [Her scream nearly made the audio on the microphone cut out.]
Well, congratulations, Mrs. Shipp!
Hehe, thank you! Now, remind me, what was this call for?
Do you remember Jackson Beauregard?
[Sudden shift in tone, she froze for a moment and I started wondering if the video itself was cutting out.]
Yes, I do. No, I will not apologize. He was washed up! It was time for fresh faces in Claremont’s Origami X-Men. I changed things up a lot, let some new people come in with new puppets. Jackson wouldn’t stand for it, so I helped him learn who his real friends were.
He seemed to have none.
Okay?! And? You’re going to bring down some thunder upon you, boy.
…What? You’re…not Origami Storm anymore.
Once an Origami Storm, always an Origami Storm.
We’re done here.
Okay, well Mr. Beauregard told me to tell you that you ruined his life.
He did that to himself. Goodbye.
She ended the call and blocked me from Skype and Facebook. A day later my account on Facebook got a notification that I was reported as spam and that I had to prove I was human. Ridiculous. I was neutral on the whole idea of the Origami X-Men, but this call, and the interview before has made me dislike them just a little bit… actually, a lot bit. I don’t know.
The Cline’s Home, Madison, New York
[Madison, New York is a very idyllic town. The Cline’s home isn’t a big house, but it is nice and pretty. My older brother Theo drove me up here. He stayed in the car as I walked up and a bearded man with a gut opened the door. He seemed a bit suspicious, but once I explained what was going on he eased up and invited me inside. He let me talk to him while Maggie picked up the kids from daycare.]
What was your name again?
My name is Rodney Cline, I was born May third, 1987. Is that how you’re supposed to do this interview thing?
No, not really. But that name is intriguing. Were you a part of Origami X-Men?
[He sighed, deeply, but he still looked kind.] No sir, but I wanted to be. I guess that made me the number one target. [He points at his cheek, which has a large, faint scar.] That right there? Origami Angel, just because I made the same puppet one day.
I’m so sorry.
Don’t be. It helped me realize something, anyway. Why couldn’t there be more than one puppet of the same kind? If we already have to share uniforms, why not share some heroes? Guess they didn’t see it that way. People were jerks to me, though. That Sampson kid was the worst. Called me a toad. [In a mocking voice of my Principal] ‘Ribbit ribbit, ribbit, all you’ll ever do is bounce around and freak everyone out, like a stupid toad.’
But Principal Barney seems pretty nice.
I don’t doubt that he is nowadays. Years can change people! I will say, he was wrong about that stuff. I didn’t go to college, but I’ve got a good job in the town. But most importantly, I’ve got Maggie. She’s what I live for, you know. And, of course, our two kids, my pride and joy. I look them in the eyes and I sometimes nearly cry, I’m just so happy to have them. They’re five and six. You teenagers- oh, goodness, I sound like my dad – you teenagers won’t know what it’s like to see a miracle until you have kids of your own. Just wait a long time for that, though.
Most importantly, I’m happy. This town is beautiful and we make some good money. My wife does a lot of the heavy lifting. She’s changed quite a bit since high school, too, after being the Phoenix and all that business with Kenny Millar.
[There is a hint of a frown.] He’s…a sore subject. I don’t usually like bringing him up. He and Maggie used to date, and…he left her when she needed him most.
Hey, kid, it’s okay. Time heals most wounds, even if there’s still some scabs.
On a side note, I was left wondering what my counselor, Kenneth Millar, could’ve done to hurt Maggie Mansada.
Do you know anything about the Origami Wolverine?
[laughs] That’s what we call him.
[At that moment, A red headed, slim woman walks in from the rain. Her two kids run up to their dad, hugging him. He stands up, sweeping them both into his arms.]
Maggie: Honey, there’s a car outside-
[She looks at me.]
Rodney [To his kids]: Hey! Let’s go upstairs and play with Legos? How about that?
[His kids cheer.] [to his wife] This is Nathan Torres, a kid from Claremont. He’s got a project about the Origami Wolverine. I’ll leave you two to it. [Kisses her on the cheek, winks at me, and leaves. I like him.]
I texted Theo and told him he could go to Wendys. He asked me what I wanted, to which I said just a Baconator with some fries, hold the mayo.
The Cline’s Home, Madison, New York
[Maggie Mansada, now Maggie Cline, sits straight in the recliner her husband was in earlier. Her face is a bit sharper than before, but she’s still really pretty. She still has freckles on her face, and looks at me with a kind smile.]
If you’re going to keep staring, yes, I’m the fashion model for the Ginger brand on Fashion Style Weekly.
That’s where I recognized you.
Yes. [laughs] So, the Origami Wolverine, huh? Is that what you want to talk about?
Yeah, I kind of do.
Well, I got to say, that story isn’t fun. It was a huge mistake I made when I was younger, and only Rodney knows about it. Olly and Becca [The Cline kids.] probably won’t know about it until they’re in high school. What are you going to do with this project, if you don’t mind me asking?
I haven’t really thought about it. I just want closure. I went into this with a different goal, and I’ve gone on this wild ride. I think Jackson Beauregard is going to date my mom.
[Snickers] Oh, that’s funny. What’s he doing now, anyways?
He’s a gym teacher at Claremont.
What about Martha?
Doctor Halpert is a Psychology teacher at Claremont too.
I know Barney is the Principal there. Crazy how we all grow up, right?
Yeah, I guess it is.
You’ll feel that too, you know? You won’t notice it, but one day you’ll look and see that you’re married, you have kids, and you have a life more or less set out for you… What was the first goal you had in mind?
To figure out who Katie Brooks was. She’s this new student at school, every single teacher loves her. She’s not popular but everyone knows her by name.
Oh, uh. Hm… That’s my daughter.
Yeah, if that’s what you wanted to know. It was…an accident. I felt horrible the whole time. I didn’t want her, so I gave her to her father, Kenny. We were both young, and he took the fall. I feel horrible about it now. I haven’t seen her, but I talk with Kenny sometimes. I want to be a part of her life.
[leaning forward] I lied about it for years to Rodney and it hurt. Five years ago I came clean, because it was hurting both of us. Rodney hated Kenny because I’d told him how he’s broken my heart. He still doesn’t like him, but they’ve since reconciled.
So, who was Origami Wolverine?
Kenny as well. I don’t know why. I want to have answers too, but it’s silly. [sits back, with a smirk on her face.] Did you expect this, Nathan? I certainly didn’t. I joined the X-Men because Barney thought I was popular, whatever that means. Barney was best friends with Kenny, we’d go out, the three of us, to fast food joints and movies. Then this happened and Barney would–did Barney set you up for this?
He did, yes.
[She glares.] Makes sense. I want him to hear this.
I actually transcribe-
[She picks up the recorder] Hello, Barney Sampson. Remember what you’d call me? You’d say I was a ‘magnet’ for people like Kenny. You hurt us. But we’ve recovered and now I feel better than I ever felt with you. I dare you to call me Magneto again. I was the Origami Phoenix, and you better respect that name. I’m done with Claremont. [She puts it down] Does that sound right?
With that, I left.
Part Four: Apologies and Goodbyes
Principal Barney Sampson’s office, Claremont High School
[Looking very similar to how he was a few days before, Barney sits in his chair, reading the file I gave him. He said that I could play on my phone while he read. When he finished, I started my recording.]
The truth comes out, huh? Yes, Nathan, the Origami X-Men was a…cliquey group…that made real change. [He sighs as he takes his glasses off] It’s a shame that my old friends have such heated thoughts about me. I’m not going to hold it against them…but maybe I should connect with them more. Maybe they don’t need the Profolder. Maybe just a friend.
Speaking of Profolder Xavier, I was wondering what your opinion would be if I made Origami X-Men more organized again.
… Absolutely not, sir. I don’t know, I don’t feel like that’d be smart. It’d still only be popular kids. Let the kids open it up. It’s stupid to make it just a glorified popularity contest. It excludes kids who want to be a part of it.
Well, if that’s the case, shouldn’t origami be banned in its entirety?
No, I don’t agree with that either, sir. I guess the former is better than the latter.
Good. I’m glad you agree, Nathan. These kids need a leader again. [He taps his chest, and in his chest pocket, a bald origami puppet smirks.] I guess there’s an established team, but I’ll make sure they stick together, and they’re led by someone like me. What do you think this group of popular kids should do?
They should fight bullies, I suppose. Make sure the kids are helped, not hurt. Not sign petitions for decisions you ultimately force on them. They should just make Claremont, our already amazing private College Preparatory School, safer and better. Community service, stuff like that. And maybe…don’t be so nosy about everything. Let them be themselves.
[Smiles] Good thinking. Give me a minute. [He types something on his computer.] Okay, go to Mr. Millar’s office. I guess you have some things wanting to be answered there?
[I shook his hand.] Thank you, sir. Keep the file.
Already on it.
My head spins. I am getting sick at my stomach, my mind races. The only thing that clears my mind is that I have a product complete. I stand in front of the office of my favorite counselor, Kenny Millar, and I gulp.
Kenny Millar’s Office, Claremont High School
[The room is full of high school photos of him and his friends, usually of him and Barney, and someone I now recognize as Maggie. There’s also pictures of a black haired girl, his daughter. Kenny sits, a slight smile on his face when I walk in. We talk about how I’m doing after my parents divorced, back and forth for a bit, and then he gives me the okay to record when his daughter, Katie Brooks, walks into the room. Katie looks like her father in the hair and that’s really it; the rest is from her mom. With all the investigating I never realized just how pretty she was. The freckles on the bridge of her nose, the smile. Katie will be expressed in Italics. I’m in Bold, and Kenny is in normal text.]
So, this is my daughter, Katie. I know you’ve been trying to figure out who she is.
I have, yeah…
That’s kind of creepy, man. Why?
Well, I just think- I mean, I thought it was weird that the moment you walked into this school, everyone knew your name and who you were.
And now Nathan knows something about you that others don’t know.
What? That you’re my dad?
Yeah. And I know your mom too.
I don’t have a mom. I don’t really care about it either.
… Now, why is that?
Because, well, Dad, you’ve been everything I’ve had for years now. I mean, I know my mom’s name, but what does it matter if she’s not there? I don’t need a Mom.
I have my answers, but I don’t think they’re worth it. I’m sorry.
Good, that was an invasion of privacy. But you forget that I knew all of this already. I’m not upset or anything.
That’s good for you, Katie.
Now, Nathan, you’ve been so invested in this, I’m sure you’re wondering what an Origami Wolverine Claw looked like, right?
Oh, yes, I do!
I’m kind of interested too…
[Kenny searches through his drawer, taking out a total of ten paper claws. I used to fold things like them in grade school. On each claw is a different design of Wolverine, be it the dumb black suits from the movies, or the costumes from the comics, bright yellows and all. Each one has the same drawing of an angry face.]
I made these, and with each swipe, I added another. I had ten in all.
[He then reaches out to Katie, who looks suspicious. He puts a claw on his finger, one resembling the original design from his first appearance in the Incredible Hulk, and slightly cuts her. She curses under her breath, and Kenny laughs.]
That’s my girl.
Why’d you do it? The swiping, I mean.
It was my way of telling the Origami X-Men that they weren’t such huge shots. It was lame, sure, but it felt like a good revenge.
I watched as Kenny reached into his desk and retrieved a puppet: the Logan from Old Man Logan and the Movie.
I guess I’m washed up, haha… Thank you Nathan.
Why are you thanking me, sir?
Because I’ve wanted to give this to Katie ever since she was born, holding her in my arms while my Mom and Dad helped out. X-23 had just become a character, and that felt fitting. I knew she’d be my little Wolverine one day.
[He hands her a new claw, freshly made. The brown hair and green t-shirt with a rad jacket drawn on the side shows that this is X-23.]
[Katie smiles, with tears in her eyes, and hugs Kenny.]
I-I guess you’re welcome.
[Kenny smiled at me, and nodded to the door as Katie stayed by his desk. I saw myself out.]
It’s been a wild ride, but I knew this was a story that needed to be heard. Obviously nothing about Kenny, but the students needed to know about the terrible origins of the Origami X-Men, but most importantly, how to fix them. I decided to use my Assistant to the Assistant of the Editor-in-chief powers to make a post on the Claremont Checker.
Part Five: Blog Post to Go
OPINION: These New Origami X-Men Need More Diversity
By Student Senator and AAEIC Nathan Torres
You sit down and you look at what we have before us: a principal who is supporting, nay, leading a team of popular kids to be hall monitors and bully stoppers. All of them are based on Marvel Comics characters. New kids come in, some displaced and disheveled after that whole mess with Kirby High School, and they come to reside here in the midst of great change. What we don’t need is popular kids taking on Cyclops, Storm, Phoenixes. We need the ones that aren’t as popular. I’ve been here for nearly two years now, and all I’ve seen is an elite group make the same mistakes over and over. We need the normal student, not the popular, out-of-this-world kids, to be the ones to make the changes our school needs. They shouldn’t care about their popularity. They should care about making sure our school is safe from harm.
I didn’t expect this, but I’d be willing to be a leader in this school, if this is the route we’re going towards. I want to fix this mess in the best way possible.
Take in Katie Brooks on your team. Let kids be successful, not just the ones born into success.
Make this change. Thank you,
[Statistics: 320 likes to 54 dislikes, nearly half of the entire student body interacted.]