Too often in this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world, stories come and stories go. What seemed important yesterday evaporates under the heat of whatever’s fueling the news cycle today.

Not so with the tale of Tori Pabst.

Tori, brave girl, appeared in this space two weeks ago today to announce she was tired of being bullied at Westbrook High School and wasn’t going to cower in silence anymore. She even went on the radio with Ray Richardson at WLOB to make sure her fellow students and school administrators heard every word she had to say.

Lots of other people heard, too. Richardson told me this week that Tori’s letter to her school’s assistant principal, which Richardson posted on his website, has received more than 60,000 hits.

At the same time, Richardson said, his email inbox now bulges with 2,000-plus messages from kids, parents and educators throughout Maine and beyond — all saying it’s high time someone stopped talking about the bullies and their enablers and started doing something about them.

“I never expected this,” said Richardson. “I’m amazed at some of the stories I’m hearing.”

He’s not the only one.

Meet Jonas Metcalfe. He’s 16, lives with his stepmother and her parents in Waldoboro and, when asked which crowd he belongs to at Medomak Valley High School, has trouble coming up with an answer.

“I don’t think I have a crowd,” Jonas said with a chuckle during an interview Wednesday afternoon in his comfortably cluttered bedroom. “I don’t think I have enough people to even make a crowd. The ‘weirdos’ is the best way to put it. We accept people the way they are.”

Two weeks ago today, Jonas took the bus home from school like he always does. He got the now-familiar whack on the back of the head from another kid just before boarding, grabbed his customary seat just behind the bus driver and, all the way home, endured the taunts and insults from the multitude behind him while the bus driver stared impassively at the road ahead.

“The part that ticks me off most is the driver pretends to be, or wants to be, ignorant of the whole situation,” Jonas said. “I’ll tell him what’s going on and he just doesn’t say a damn thing.”

On this day, Jonas stormed into his house at full boil and told his grandfather he just couldn’t take it anymore. His grandfather tossed him the newspaper, pointed to the column about Tori Pabst, and said, “Read this.”

And so Jonas did. And then he picked up the phone and called me. And now here we sat, face to face, talking about things that Jonas spends most of his time trying mightily to ignore.

“A lot of people who get bullied are people who are unique, who are different,” Jonas said. “And I try to accept those people, make friends with those kinds of people.”

Again, the chuckle.

“It’s the mainstream people I do not get along with,” he added. “And that’s a lot of people!”

Jonas spends most of his school day in Medomak Valley’s “day training” program for students with special needs. He’s been there since last winter, when he arrived after two years at Spurwink Services’ day treatment program in Chelsea.

Jonas, you see, has a past. You can see it in the scars on his arms where, a few years back, he used to cut himself because, as he puts it quietly, “I was not in a good state of mind.”

“There were a couple of times where I tried to hurt myself really, really badly,” he said, unconsciously rubbing the scars. “And then there were a couple of times when it was just to help calm down.”

He’s been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, although you wouldn’t know it talking to him. He’s articulate, witty and doing everything in his power to get his grades up, finish high school, maybe go to college and pursue his passion for computer science.

Ah, but that past.

When Jonas arrived at Medomak Valley High School, he was no stranger. Many kids remembered him from his early days at Union Elementary School and then at Medomak Valley Middle School, all before he “disappeared” for two years and, just as suddenly, returned.

His welcome back?

For starters, his cellphone rings at all hours with messages from kids who program the call to hide their identity.

“People just hating on me,” he said. “Swearing, calling me names, telling me they’re going to beat me up, telling me they know where I live. Just all this weird stuff I get on my cellphone.”

Then there’s his Facebook page, where another kid recently posted a claim that Jonas had hit a girl.

“Which was irritating to me — because I did not,” he said. “And everybody gets infuriated, saying, ‘Oh, he’s a woman beater, this and that.’ And I’m watching this on Facebook, trying to defend myself. And then I come to school and everybody’s ticked at me.”

Make no mistake about it — Jonas has his limits. He got suspended for a day awhile back for hitting another boy in the back of the head — Jonas was tired of the other guy repeatedly swiping and hiding his iPhone.

But Jonas insists he wouldn’t occasionally lash back if other kids would simply leave him alone.

“It’s pick, pick, pick … that’s all they do, all the time,” he said. “Pick, pick, pick …”

Right about now, you might be expecting to hear that it’s all the school’s fault. For what it’s worth, my request Thursday for an interview with Medomak Valley Principal Harold Wilson got no response.

But truth be told, that’s not where Jonas points the finger.

“Who’s causing the problem?” he asked. “The teachers aren’t going around picking on kids. Who’s causing the problem here? And who’s responsible for the problem?”

Here’s a hint — start with the kids themselves. Then follow them home.

Or, as Jonas put it, “Where does a kid come from?”

It would be easy to tell a kid like Jonas to just tune it out. Shut off the iPhone. Turn off the computer. Become a hermit if you have to.

“But I shouldn’t have to do that,” he countered. “I should not have to shut off my Facebook. I shouldn’t have to take the battery out of my phone. I shouldn’t have to do any of these things. It shouldn’t be a problem to begin with.”

Maybe some of his classmates will read this and take a look in the mirror. Maybe they’ll understand that when Jonas does blow his top, it’s for good reason.

Who knows, maybe a few of them will have the guts to cut him a break next time he gets on the bus and hunkers down for the dreaded ride home.

“The past is past to me,” Jonas said. “I was weird in middle school — I understand that. I did a lot of things to offend people and I still do. But I’m trying my hardest, I’m working my hardest to move forward from that.”

Hear that, tough guys? As he struggles to re-enter life’s mainstream, Jonas isn’t asking that you like him.

Just that you get out of his way.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]