Black Magic-Chapter 2

Chapter 2

 

 

            As, I drove home from school, I came to the realization that my first day in a new school wasn’t all that bad.  Of course, I started the day with low expectations, so the bar was set pretty low.  That didn’t stop me from being surprised at how well it went.  It wasn’t too hard, but I was expecting it to get a lot tougher.  It only being the first day, I didn’t have a lot of homework, which was going to make the rest of my day a lot less stressful.  The people weren’t bad, or at least I could handle them, not that I thought I couldn’t.  Angel was a welcome ally, and as much as I really wish Bret would have toned it down a notch, he was a great person to be around.  Caleb, I really didn’t really get to talk to him all that much, but he seemed okay.  Only having to be in school for half a day probably had a lot to with how easy of a day it was.  God knows how I would have felt if I had any more classes. 

            The ride home was uneventful, and  basically time to calm down from the rush of the day.  In all truthfulness, it’s a really beautiful city, even though there was hardly any grass, and the palm trees didn’t look real.  It was like someone had just placed a full grown palm tree in that exact spot.  There was no evidence that the tree had been planted there.  However, it looked neat and clean.  The roads were in good condition, and that was something I was not use too.  In the city people were to busy trying to avoid potholes.  Then, they head to avoid other cars as a result of trying to avoid those potholes.  Here, I had no fears about ruining my tires or scraping the bottom of my car because of stupidly placed dips in the road. 

            When I got home, the first thing I did was change out of my clothes and threw on a pair of shorts, and old t-shirt and running shoes.  This was the only rime I would get to run before I headed out to work.  No one was home, so I didn’t have to worry about giving my mom the run down of how my day went, and I probably wouldn’t have to do that until the morning anyway.  I stretched out in the living room.  There was no way I was going for a long jog without stretching.  Being a track runner, I knew from first hand experience what it felt like to pull a muscle because of not properly stretching out.  For lack of a better word it is painful.  It could also keep you off the track for a week, which for me was counter productive.  There was also no food, or drinks, except water.  The last thing I needed was to be out jogging, be a mile, or more, away from home and to end up with the dreaded cramps.  Drinking anything with sugar was usually the culprit for that happening.  I could probably make it home if that happened, but that wasn’t very efficient, not to mention the pain factor.  I was not fond of distance running.  Running four minute miles just didn’t seem all that fun to me.  If it were, I would also run cross country.  I might run a couple of miles a day to make sure my endurance stays up, but I could not really see running six miles everyday just so I could run a competitive 5K.  Talk about boring.  On the other hand, I wasn’t going to get hurt because I was careless.

            After I left the house, I basically took a route that I knew well.  The root basically consisted of jogging outside of my neighborhood.  On the surface, it didn’t seem like it was really that long of a run.  Of course, if you factor in the amount of land around some of the houses, my own included, it was a considerably long route.  The first time I ran it, I almost died.  Maybe that was from the heat, because it was really hot.  The route was not circular.   It was more oblong, and it turned out to be two laps.  I wasn’t even sure of the distance.  I just know that I was dead tired afterward, and drenched with sweat.  It was a feeling that I loved, since it makes me feel that I had actually accomplished something.  Of course, I didn’t know a female that actually like to sweat, but it’s good for a little while.  Well, it’s good until it starts to get cold, and I started to feel all icky, and nasty.  That was when a quick shower was essential, and that was the first thing I did when I walked into the house. 

            After I was done, I went through the basic drill of getting myself ready for work.  My appearance for work usually plays the role of the corporate homer.  I usually wear all Aeropostale gear.  That was with the exception of underwear.  I didn’t really mind wearing the stuff, and I thought it looked good on me, so I wasn’t just doing it to kiss my manager’s butt.  I spent the most amount of time on my hair, which was a normal occurrence.  I usually wear my hair down when I go to work, a big difference from when I went to school this morning, and getting my hair ready was a real chore.  I guess that was what was supposed to happen since my hair fell to about a third of the way down my back. Even since I had a perm in my hair, I really took my time in making sure my hair was perfect.  Having a bad hair day was unacceptable because a bad hair day for black girls was like a disaster because it usually didn’t just stop at a bad hair day.  Besides, I was taught at a very young age to not leave the house looking like trash.  Mom wouldn’t hesitate to send my brother and me back to our rooms to change if our clothes didn’t match, or to comb our hair if it was nappy.  That was coming from someone who had no problem going to the grocery store with rollers in her hair.  God, I couldn’t even go check the mail if I had rollers in my hair, not that I would want to.  It was the principle of it or as Big Worm from the movie Friday would say, “It was the principality of it.”    Things were always different when it came to us. 

            After I had finished getting dressed, I went downstairs and grabbed something to eat. As usual I was always hungry after doing a run.  It never failed.  I had to have food.  Sometimes I wondered how I stayed in shape because I did love my barbeque and collard greens.  Oh, and I won’t even get started on Chitlins.  I loved that stuff, even though the smell of them being cooked wasn’t very appetizing.  Then again I couldn’t really except pig intestines to smell good.  Sometimes I ate that stuff so much that I thought that I would have a heart attack before I reached the age of twenty-five.  Talk about clogged arteries.  We had some good stuff in our fridge thanks to the Labor Day barbecue we had at the house where my parents invited all of the family up from downtown.  Of course I didn’t eat any of it because the result would have made me sleepy, and that was the last thing I needed when I had to go to work in an hour.  So I was stuck with eating a couple of bologna sandwiches and chips, while not exactly healthy, would hold me over until my break at work. 

            After eating, which didn’t take long considering how hungry I was, I went right back up to my bathroom to brush my teeth and did the last once over to make sure I looked presentable before I left the house.  God forbid I smiled at someone and had a piece of bologna stuck in my teeth.  Talk about embarrassing.   When I was satisfied with my appearance, I left the house.  I had to drive to a mall which was two towns over.  The total driving time was about fifteen minutes.  Of course that was because I was taking some of the back roads to avoid the irritating freeway traffic.  At this time of day this was a very pretty ride, with all of the curves going through the sandy hills of desert country.  At night, however, it was a totally different story as it was a little unsettling when huge trucks come out from around corners.  I mean the big eighteen wheeler trucks.  I wasn’t sure those big trucks was supposed to be on this road. Didn’t it have a weight limit?  At that point it didn’t really matter anyway.  Besides, I never see the police when someone made a traffic violation that was so obvious that a two year old could have figured out it was the wrong thing to do.  There wasn’t much on this road except for one big gas station when I was closer to the city.  Other than that, there was nothing.  My mom hated for me to take this road home when I left work at night.  I could understand why that would scare her.  It was a little creepy out there, but I’d driven the road so much that I’d gotten kind of use to it.  Besides, I don’t usually scare easily anyway.  There were a lot of dried up plants here beside the road.  Things that would easily be great fuel to a fire.    In other words there was a whole lot of nothing out here between towns.    

            The mall where I worked was in a town called Rancho Ruiz, and it was another one of those towns that I would never had known existed if I hadn’t all ready been there.  I was saying that from a point of view of someone who had lived in the county her whole life.  The mall had the same name, and I had arrived there about twenty minutes before I was supposed to be on the clock.  The mall itself had the same characteristics of any mall that you see in Southern California.  It had a very outdoor feel which basically meant that you entered every store from the outside.  The mall itself had four floors and a ton of stores.  I wasn’t sure how the mall got so much business since the population of this town had to be even smaller than where I lived, especially since there were all the outlet stores in Carlsbad which wasn’t that far away.  All the stores held their own I guessed.  I was not complaining because as long as business was good, I got to keep my job and I didn’t have to worry about my hours being cut. 

            I was lucky enough that the store where I worked was on the first floor, and I parked in the spots closet to the back door to my store.  I got off work too late at night to park far away, and there were some crazy people around those days.  I walked in through the nearest mall entrance and made my way to the Food Court to get something to drink.  This was an everyday ritual since I always had time to spare before the start of my shift.  I would basically just sit in the Food Court watching people.  I was kind of a people watcher, since I’ve always been uncomfortable in the spotlight.  I was very content being around a whole lot of people as long as I blended in and no one noticed me.  As much as I enjoyed running track and winning, I didn’t like all the recognition that went along with it.  I hated losing as much the next person, I just had higher goals than to be a professional athlete, not that there was anything wrong with that.  It’s just that Track was basically an amateur sport, and I didn’t know a lot of stars in that sport that made a lot of money.  Besides, I didn’t think I had the personality that would be able to handle being a big huge celebrity as I would have probably killed the paparazzi photographers.  TMZ be damned, so I really didn’t think that anyone would mind if I stayed in the background despite all of the success that I’ve had in my high school career of track running.      

                 I hung out in the food court for about fifteen minutes sitting around watching who seemed to basically be other mall employees walking around.  There weren’t a whole lot of people shopping, which meant that it was going to be a long shift for me.  Those shifts were the worst.   I never understood how I was always more tired after a boring shift then I was when I was actually busy.  It always seemed to take more energy to find something to do to make time pass, than it was when people were in the store and it was busy.  I had brought my Shostak book to do some of the work so that I could learn those words.   My manager didn’t mind if we took time out to study while it was slow.  Actually, our manager didn’t care about a lot of things unless the work was done and it was done correctly.   I entered the store, clocked in, and got to work.  My time was spent basically straightening the clothes on the shelves and refolding and making everything looking presentable.  It wasn’t too difficult.  I happen to luck out in the fact that most of us that work here didn’t happen to be lazy people, so our supervisors didn’t have to babysit us too much.  That was even true of Angel, even though she was off today.  There was the occasional customer who came in to the store to look around or actually buy something.  I wasn’t expecting much as far as getting a lot of business was concerned.  The school year had started so much of the back to school shopping had already been done by most people, so the store wasn’t going to be making a whole lot of money.  I was actually able to get most of the side work done that could have been done, and got right to studying.  That changed about three hours later when I had a visitor, one I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to see at that point. 

            “Val, I didn’t expect to see you here today,” Bret said when he walked into the store.  He instantly broke out his trademark grin like this was the first time he saw me.  “You clean up really well.  I almost didn’t recognize you.”

            “Save the bull.  You’re so full of it; your eyes are going to turn brown at any moment.  You and I both know that you knew I would be here.”  I didn’t move from behind the counter when he approached, and there wasn’t anyone else in the store when he came in, so I couldn’t use the excuse that I had to get back to work.  My boss was even in the office, which was not unusual whenever I worked because I was supervisor trained and could run the store better than my current supervisor ever could.  I was stuck having to talk to him.

            “And what do you mean that I clean up well?” I asked him.  “Are you trying to say that I look trifling or something?”

            “Not at all,” he said a tad defensively.  “It’s just that…well I guess you kind of….you look different, in a good way.”

            “Bret, what are you talking about?  I always look good.”

            “I couldn’t help but notice that.  You look even better than when we first met.”

            “Okay enough,” I said.  If I didn’t have brown skin, I’m sure that my face would have been bright red.  “So, is there something you’re looking for, or were you looking for an excuse not to study your Shostak words?”

            He chuckled at this and said, “Not really.  I’m more of an Abercrombie and Fitch guy myself.”

            That didn’t surprise me one bit.  He certainly seemed to be the type, attitude and all.   “So then why are you here?”

            “I’m here to see you of course.”

            “I thought you didn’t know I would be here,” I said.

            “And I thought you knew I was bullshitting,” he shot back.

            “Okay so what do you want?  Obviously, you didn’t come here to watch me work.”

            “Maybe I did,” he said leaning up against the counter.  He rested his arm on top of the counter, giving me a view of his big muscled bicep, and I immediately thought of how it would feel to have that arm wrapped around me in a hug.  He looked so good right then.  God, he even smelled good.  He continued, “You’re a lot easier on the eyes, then looking at my parents all night.”

            “Oh so you’re a stalker.  Maybe I need to get a restraining order.”  This brought out another chuckle.  I really needed to get him out here for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that he was a distraction.  “Well, I’ve got work to do.”

            “Really?” he asked.  “Cause it looks to me like you’re doing more studying than working.”

            “Studying is what you should be doing, since you plan on trying to get into Harvard.”

            He laughed at this.  Then, his demeanor changed.  It was weird.  He, all of a sudden, couldn’t look me in the eye if his life depended on it.  He looked like a scared puppy, a very cute one.    

            “I was wondering,” he started.  “Are you working this Friday?”

            Oh, no. He wasn’t going to do this.  He was actually going to make me have to turn him down, even though I really didn’t want to.  As he waited for an answer, I actually considered lying to him and telling him that I had to work just so I had a good excuse to say no to whatever he was going to ask.  I thought better of it though.  That wouldn’t be the cool thing to do.  Besides, I probably would have gotten caught anyway, along with it being the easy way out.  It was possible that he knew that I was not working on Friday.  He seemed to know everything else.  Angel, lacking the ability to know when to keep quiet, probably told him.  However, if he did know, he probably would have been more confident, especially since he had a problem hiding his arrogance in our previous conversations.  That didn’t mean he couldn’t find out later.

            “No.”  I said.  “I lucked out and have Friday off.  Why?”

            “Well.”  He still had yet to make eye contact with me.  “I was thinking that maybe we can do something.”

            “Like what?”  I was quite curious.

            “I was thinking,” he paused as if he was unsure of what my reaction would be.  “That maybe we could go to the Padres game this Friday.” 

            Well, he had a good reason to expect a bad reaction from me.  However, I wasn’t the least bit mad or annoyed.  “I hate baseball.  We’ve had this discussion already.”

            “I remember that.”

            “So how could you possibly think that I would want to go to a baseball game with you?”                 

            “Well,” he explained.  “It’s better than going to a movie.  We’d have a better chance of getting to know each other.  That and the tickets are free.  My dad won a pair at work, and he doesn’t want to use them.  They are in one of the Luxury Boxes, so there is free food too.”

             At least he didn’t say that I should go because I would be going with him, which was what I had expected.  The fact that it was free was a very good reason to consider it. I had to admit.  Add the fact that we probably weren’t going to have to pay for food, made it a lot more attractive.  Well, I couldn’t say that he couldn’t plan a good date.  One less reason I could use to say no.  He obviously had thought this through.  His explanation didn’t sound like something he had came up with on the spur of the moment.  He knew I would react the way I did, so he had to have a good reason to ask me to go see a sport I had let him know that I didn’t like.  Not having to pay, that was a good reason.  This whole thing was totally planned, and I became even more curious.

            “How long have you planned this?” I asked him.

            “Three weeks,” he answered without a care in the world.

            “Three weeks?”  Was he kidding me?  Three weeks.  I was expecting something a little more reasonable, like a couple of hours. Even since we had met in English class, was an acceptable response, but three weeks.  Not so much.  Maybe I was really going to have to see about getting that restraining order.   “You’ve only known me for a day.”

            “I’ve known about you for most of the summer,” he said.  “Angel spent a lot of time talking about this great girl who she worked with who was going to be in our school.  I’m sure that you’re well aware that Angel has a big mouth.”

            “What about before this summer?  You’ve already proven that you knew about me before then.” 

            “I saw you running at last spring’s state meet,” he answered.  “I was wondering who was that pretty girl who winning all of those medals.  I’ll spare you the details of how good you looked.  I don’t want your head to get too big.”

            “That’s hilarious,” I retorted.  “Especially coming from someone who had the nerve to ask me when I was going to give him my number like he was entitled to it.”

            “After I saw you talking to my sister,” he continued ignoring my last dig.  “I asked her about you.  She had only good things to say about you, which was surprising considering she usually doesn’t go out of her way compliment girls.”

            “I’m confused,” I said.  “If you knew about me most of the summer and obviously wanted to meet me, why did I just meet you today?”

            “I didn’t want to seem too eager, and I wanted to meet you on my own terms and to make my own personality judgment.  Considering the last girl I dated, I wasn’t taking any chances.”

            “But you just said that Angel was talking me up.  What was the difference?  How could you make your own personality judgment?”

            “She actually didn’t say that much.  It was mostly about how you and she got along.  Like I said, she has a big mouth, and if I gave her any indication that I was interested, she would have blabbed to you.  I wanted us to meet without you having any inside information on me.”  He paused.  “You didn’t have any did you?”

            “Angel told me nothing.  I didn’t even know that you existed until today.”

            “So I was able to figure out rather we would get along or not.”

            “And that was?”

            “That we would get along just fine,” he said with a trace smug.  The confidence had definitely returned. 

While we were talking, about five people had walked into the store.  These were people who were actually going to buy something.  I told Bret that I had to get back to work and he turned to leave.  Before taking his first step, he stopped and turned back to me.

            “So what about Friday?” he asked.  “You never gave me an answer.”

            I should have said no.  Then again, I didn’t really want to.  I just didn’t want to go through all the hassle in my house when my mom found out that I was going on a date with a white guy.  I didn’t think my dad would mind too much.  However, it was only one date.  We could end up having a horrible time and end up hating each other.  I wasn’t sure what to do.

            “I’ll think about it,” I said.  I was such a chicken, and I wanted time to think about it. 

            “Well at least that’s not a no.” He smiled.  I don’t think he was actually expecting me to say yes, so he had come out of this better than he anticipated.   “Don’t keep me waiting too long.”

            “Or what?  You’re going to ask Kendra?”

            He scoffed at this.  I knew this would get to him.  “You’ll find out.”

            With that he left, leaving me to work for the rest of the shift wondering what he could possibly do.  The fact the he even asked me out in the first place was just baffling to me.  It didn’t make any sense.  This guy was supposed to be the stud of the entire school.  He could probably date any girl that he wanted, and yet he picked the new black girl.  I knew that he wasn’t desperate.  If he was, I wasn’t the one to change things for him.  He hadn’t made any attempt to hide his flirting, but now it has moved beyond that.  His asking me out said that he was interested in more than just flirting.  But how much more?

            I thought about those things for the last three hours of my shift, and it made it hard to concentrate on work or even studying.  I was beat after closing the store and making the drive home.  Thank God, I didn’t have to stop for gas.  The drive home was boring, as it usually was.  I had the hardest time trying to stay awake.  I arrived home and didn’t even stop in the kitchen to grab something to eat.  My route was basically straight up to my room with no stops in between.  I took off my clothes, through on my shorts and a t-shirt and jumped straight into bed.  The moment my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.

****

            I woke in place that was certainly not familiar; at least it wasn’t when I first opened my eyes. It was also extremely hot.  I didn’t remember it ever being this hot in the morning.  I sat up and looked around.  My room was extremely small.  There was only this small bed that I was sleeping in and a dresser with small a closet.  The one window that was on the wall across the room was closed.  No wonder it so hot.  I got out of bed and walked on the wood floor to the window.  The room was lit by candles which meant that there wasn’t any electricity.  After I got to the window, I spent about five minutes trying to get it open.  The window obviously hadn’t been opened in a while, and added the fact that it was heavy didn’t make it very easy to open.  I knew that I was a female, but the window shouldn’t have been that hard to open.  I was a lot stronger than I looked.  It was obviously night time, which made it even more baffling that it was hot inside that room, even though the window had previously been closed.  I made the walk outside the room into what looked to be part living room and part kitchen.  This place was actually kind of depressing.  No electricity and it was like an oven, even at night.  Who could live here?  

            I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about that though.  I went outside the front door.  I didn’t really know why I did it, I just did.  I walked out on to the front porch, down the steps, and into a front yard that a house like this had no business having.  Talk about a well manicured front lawn.  The grass was green and well kept.  There was a dirt path bordered by rocks and flowers going from the porch steps to the fence gate, and there was a brown wood fence surrounding the yard.  It was totally unexpected; unlike the two guys I saw standing right inside the gate.  For some reason I totally expected to see them, even though I had no idea why they would be at what was apparently my house at this time of night.  However, they were surprised to see me.    I could tell by their expressions that they really didn’t know what to do at first.  They had stopped dead in their tracks almost frozen. 

            The two had a slight resemblance to each other, probably cousins.  One was taller than the other.  The taller one had blond hair was very well built.  The smaller of the two was brown haired and just as built as the other one, if not more so.  I could tell by the look of them that the shorter one was the older of the two.  Obviously they were up to no good.  Why else would they be here in the middle of the night?  I kept my eyes on them while the shorter of the two moved towards me.  The taller one didn’t move. 

            “Well it’s good that you came outside on your own,” the tall one said.  “You saved the trouble of my brother having to come in and get you.” 

            “Why would that have been necessary?”  I asked.

            “Brother, she is just as pretty as you said.”  That came from the shorter of the two.  “I can see why we’re here though.  She really doesn’t seem to know her place around here.”

            “Really,” I said with a slight hint of irritation.  “If you are supposed to be so superior, why are you here in the wee hours of the morning?  Looks to me like for superior white folk, you’re terribly lacking in manners.”  They bristled at this.  The taller one looked at me intensely.

            “Brother, just do what you need to do and get home.”  The taller one was obviously the one who in charge here.  “I’m leaving.  Dad will get pissed if he found out I was anywhere near you.”

            That was strange.  These two were brothers, and yet they couldn’t be seen together.  Obviously, they had some pretty big family issues.  I didn’t really care as it wasn’t any of my concern.  The taller one then turned and left the other one behind.  It seemed as if he left his older brother to do all of the dirty work.  Not surprisingly, the younger, taller one also seemed to be the smarter of the two.  The older brother watched the other one leave and then he turned to me with an evil grin on his face.  I just stood there waiting.  Even with the evil grin on his face, he seemed to be thinking.  I was sure it took him a lot of energy.  I did notice the gun on his belt, but he had yet to draw it out.

            “So why are you here?”  I asked.

            “I thought you were supposed to be this smart colored girl,” he said.  He waited from a reaction from me, and when he didn’t get one, he continued.  “I’m here to teach you a lesson.  We in these parts would rather you colored folks hang with your own kind.  Besides, it will teach all the rest of you who is in charge around here, since the rest of them seem to value your opinion.”

            “And how do you plan on doing that?”

            He threw up that evil smile again.  “I’m going to have a lot of fun with you.  I have a thing for you colored girls.”        

            I knew exactly what he meant.  This was supposed to be total intimidation.  It was too bad that he obviously didn’t have any idea who he was dealing with.  “That’s interesting coming from someone who just said that I should stay with my own kind.”

            “You know, you really do have a smart mouth.”  His evil grin had changed into a face full of anger.  “I’m going to enjoy making you bleed.”

            “Do what you feel you must,” I said indifferently.  Then, I my facial expression went stone cold.  He seemed to notice because he momentarily flinched.  It lasted less than a second, and I was sure he didn’t think that I would notice.  “However,” I continued.  “I must warn you.  I will also do what I feel I must.”

            He laughed at me. “The more you fight me, the more fun I’ll have.”  He then took off toward me.  He moved pretty fast, but once he got close enough that I could reach, I shot out a closed fist that connected with his nose.  I could hear the bones in his nose crack.  He staggered backward, stunned.  His face was covered with blood.  He was in obvious pain, and went down to one knee.  I didn’t wait for him to recover.  I ran up to him, and taunted him. 

            “Catch me, if you dare,” I whispered into his ear, and I took off running into the woods.  There was no way I was running back into the house.  That would have led him right to me.  Not that it mattered.  I could easily take care of him.  However, I wanted this to be a little more interesting for me.

            Now I didn’t want him to catch me, however I wanted him to stay close enough that he could always tell which way I went.  That really wasn’t the way to run away from someone, but I wasn’t really trying to get away from him.  I ran through the tress at half of my top speed.  I knew that he was thinking that he could easily catch me, and I was willing to let him keep thinking that.  I chose my routes carefully through the huge trees.  It wasn’t that I had the woods memorized, but that I could see especially well during the night, probably too well.  There wasn’t a lot of moonlight, and the trees blocked a lot of the light, but that didn’t tamper my ability to see more than ten feet in front of me.  I made a right and hurdled the knee high bushes that were in my path.  I could hear my adversary running behind me, but he wasn’t really that close.  He didn’t recover that quickly, and like my ability to see in the dark, my hearing also seemed to be nicely enhanced.  I kept running and soon made my way into a clearing with a single huge tree with huge branches that could easily support my weight.  I quickly climbed up the tree, and crawled out on one thick branch that stretched out over the clearing and then waited.  I could see the stars through the tree top.  The night was so still I could have heard a pin drop in the grass.  I could still hear him running.  I was wondering how far he was.  I could hear him almost as if he was right under where I was in the tree.  However, it would be ten minutes before I actually saw him.  He came through the bushes into the clearing, and then suddenly stopped.  He looked around trying to figure out where I went.  I stayed perfectly still up in the tree.  Of course, if he looked up he would have found out where I hiding.  That thought didn’t cross his feeble mind, however.  He walked around again for a few more seconds and then he made his way over towards the tree.  He walked slowly not really in any kind of hurry.  I watched him pass under me.  When he made his way to the tree trunk, I dropped down out off the branch, turned two flips, and landed perfectly on my feet like a cat without making a sound.  I easily could have left him there.  The escape would have been too easy.  However, making an escape wasn’t the reason why I had brought him here.  I waited a couple of seconds watching him look around confused.  When I finally got tired of waiting for him to turn around, I decided to move things on a little bit. 

            “Looking for me?” I asked breaking the still silence.  He turned and looked at me with a surprised look on his face.  He had no clue of what I had in store for him.  “For a person who is supposed to be so superior, you sure haven’t shown it yet.  I am not impressed.”

            “You stupid bitch.”  Now he was mad.  Before, he was more menacing, evil.  It was more matter of fact when he was saying how he was going to have fun teaching me a lesson, almost like he was toying with me.  Now it was quite different.  I’m sure if someone else was standing before him, they would be quite intimidated.  I, however, stood there with no fear.  This alone should have clued him in that things were not actually like he thought they were, but he didn’t notice.  I guess he was actually stupid.  It certainly didn’t stop him from talking. 

“At first,” he said.  “I was going to let you live.  I was going to take what I wanted from you.  Scare you really badly, so you would think twice about messing with people you shouldn’t.  You would learn your place, and you would see what would happen to you if you continued acting without respect.  You niggers talk a lot, so I’m sure everyone would find out what happened to you and would start to act right.  Now, I will just rid the world of you permanently.  One less nigger in the world wouldn’t be so bad anyway.”

That was the first time he had used that word to describe me or anyone else.  Oh yeah he was mad.  I just looked at him.  He still had all the blood dried up on his face, and he looked like a clown.  That was enough to make me want to get rid of him because I hated clowns with a heated passion.  He was about ten feet away in front of me, and he still had his gun in his holster, even though his left hand was next to it, ready to draw and fire quickly when the need came.  The fact that he didn’t have the gun pointed at me says that he really didn’t think of me as much trouble regardless of what had happened earlier.  That was going to turn out to be a costly mistake. 

“What are you going to do shoot me?” I asked. “You haven’t even drawn you gun.”

“So what?” he said like I was the village idiot.  “You’re pretty fast, but you aren’t that fast.  You are at least ten feet away.  I’d like to see you try and stop me.”

“That can definitely be arranged,” I said.  My voice was cold, and I spoke with intense confidence.  “Why don’t you stop talking already?  The more you speak, the dumber you sound.”

“Look, whore,” he said.  He drew his gun, but before he could get it pointed at me, I brought up my right hand.  I pointed my open palm directly at him, and out of it fired a large flame.  It came out of my palm like a blowtorch, but as it traveled to its target, it formed into a massive fireball.  The fireball didn’t stop moving, making its way to my adversary.  It hit him square in the chest, and he let out a loud scream.  The force of the impact knocked him backward and he was instantly slammed into the tree, the fire ball totally engulfing him in flames.  Then, just as quickly as it had appeared, the fire disappeared.  The tree, it didn’t appear to be burned at all, even though it just had just taken a huge fireball squarely into its trunk. 

I walked over to the tree, to confirm that it hadn’t been damaged and then looked downward.  There I saw the brother.  All that was left of him was a burnt skeleton that still emitted a lot of heat.  I bent down towards him where his ear should have been, but all that was left was a blackened skull.  His remains still smelled of burning flesh.   

I smiled coldly and spoke.  “So now who is superior?”  I got up and left the clearing, leaving behind his burnt remains to rot.  The smile never left my face.       

             

             

            I suddenly opened my eyes and jerked myself upright in my bed.  Light was shining through the curtains of my bedroom window, so obviously it was morning.  Glancing at my alarm clock told me that it was fifteen minutes before I was actually supposed to get up anyway, so I shut off the alarm and got up out of bed.  I immediately felt sluggish and drained, but not in the sense that I didn’t get enough sleep.  Going back to sleep wasn’t an option because I was wide awake and even though I had the normal pains of early morning hunger, I still had a lot of energy.  Still, something didn’t feel quite right.  I felt as if I had lost something.  It was kind of like some of my soul had been lost or something.  It was weird, and for a few minutes I sat on the bed totally discombobulated.   

Unable to shake out the cobwebs, I got out of bed and jumped into the shower.  While the hot water was spraying on my body, I thought back to the dream that I just had.  I remembered it vividly, as if it had actually happened and not some weird subconscious hallucination that was happening while I slept.  The coincidence of having this dream after a damn good looking white guy had just asked me out didn’t go unnoticed, but I thought little of it.  I wasn’t one to believe that dreams told the future.  I had a friend at Roosevelt High who would swear her dreams would always happen in real life later.  It was never right away but a few days or weeks later, and then she would claim that she was having a weird sense of déjà vu and drive everyone out of their minds until she figured out where it came from.  It was actually pretty creepy.  Not for me.  I also didn’t think much of that fire thing at the end of my dream, even though it was kind of cool.  It wasn’t the first time that my dreams had me feeling like I was inside of a Final Fantasy video game.  No, what stuck with me was my state of mind during the whole thing.  I was cold, mean, and calculating.  I had toyed with the redneck that I had killed.  I was playing games with his life, and I enjoyed every second of it.  I got a creepy sort of glee from it.  Even now, wide awake, I could still feel an out of place sense of joy from what I had done.  However, it wasn’t from the shooting huge fireballs out of my palm, but it was from the fact that I had taken that Redneck’s life so thoroughly and quickly.   It initially scared the hell out of me, but I blew it off as being part of the dream.

Getting dressed wasn’t the chore that it usually was.  It was actually quite enjoyable.  I was keeping things simple since trying to do too much is usually when disasters occurred.  Plus, it was still summer, so it was hard to screw up while trying to look like I didn’t have to work really hard to look good.  I decided to wear my hair down again, since the saying goes that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.  I got too good of a response to not continue doing it.  While finishing my morning ritual, I started to feel better.  The sluggish feeling began to slowly seep away and by the time I got downstairs for breakfast, I felt totally normal, well as normal as I could feel an hour after waking up. 

When I arrived downstairs, I didn’t smell the usual scents that would make my stomach growl with hunger.  That usually meant that it was going to be one of those fend for yourself mornings.  The cause of that was usually my mom worked so late the night before that there was no way that she was going to wake up early enough to cook, especially when she was not really a big fan of cooking to begin with.  The alternative reason was that she was just really having a really bad morning, and for the sake of the rest of us, I hoped it was the former.  When she was having a bad morning that usually meant the rest of us would have a bad morning.  I made a simple breakfast of eggs, toast, and a bowl of oatmeal, and when I had finished my dad had made his way into the kitchen and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me inside cooking.

“Oh, it’s going to be one of those mornings,” he said.  I could literally see the smile on his face fall.  Even Dad wasn’t immune to Mom’s ranting when she was having a bad morning.  We all would get it in equal doses, or the one who screwed up last would take the brunt of the punishment. 

“I still don’t understand how you can’t ever see these things coming.  You sleep in the same bed as she does.”  I joked with him. 

“That because I usually stay asleep until the last minute,” Dad explained.  “Imagine what would happen if I were to get up at the same time as she does.  I would spend the first few minutes of my day getting yelled at about how I left crumbs on the kitchen counter that it seems only she could see.”  Wasn’t that the truth?  That was usually how it went.

My brother and mom showed up a few minutes later, and soon we were all sitting at the table as normal.  Contrary to what we had expected, Mom was in a very good mood, and rest of us made sure that she didn’t see any sighs of relief.   Regardless of her uncharacteristic cheery mood, she asked what would turn out to be a dangerous question.

“So what is with wearing you hair down, Val?”

“It’s something different,” I said.  “I can’t wear my hair the same all the time.”

“She must be trying to impress a boy,” Dad said.  He had a knack for figuring out those types of things.    My brother and I could never hide anything from him.  “It’s either that or she has already made the desired impression, and she was just trying to keep up the effect.”

“Come on Dad,” I protested.  “It’s only the second day of school, and I hardly know anyone.  Who could I possibly want to impress?”

“How about Bret Spencer?”  That gem came from my brother. 

“You don’t even know who that is,” I said.

“Sure, I do.  He gave me a ride home from school yesterday.”  This was surprising, but I showed no reaction, so he continued.  “Plus, most of the school knows that he likes you anyway.  Anyone who doesn’t will soon know that he asked you out while you were at work.”

“And I’m sure you will have a big hand in that.”  As much as I wanted to know how Bret even knew who my brother was to give him a ride home, my worries were that I was already a part of the gossip after being there only one day.  God, those people worked fast.   Of course, I then knew how Bret knew that I was working last night.  He probably asked my brother, along with God knew what else, and my brother, being the jackass that he was, probably told Bret everything he wanted to know and then some.  Then the thought occurred to me that Bret now knew where I lived, and I was again thinking about getting that restraining order. 

“Mom, you don’t have to be worried about him.”  My brother’s voice brought me out of my thoughts.  “Especially since she like girls anyway.”

“What?”

“Clay.”  Mom had said his name in a way would have let the neighbors know that he had stepped way over the line with that comment.  However, I acted without thinking and picked up the spoon that I had just cleaned off after finishing my oatmeal and smacked him in the back of the head with it.  It definitely wasn’t a love tap, and I had left a mark on the back of Clay’s shaved head.  Mom was pissed, and Dad was laughing.

“What did I tell the two of you about acting uncivilized at the table?”  Mom was actually yelling.  Usually when I say that she yelled at us, she was actually just being a nag.  “We’ve raised you better than that.  Damn. If we would have had company, they would have thought you two had come off the streets.  You two know better.”  She paused and turned to Dad.  “What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing,” Dad answered and immediately stopped laughing.

No one said anything else.  Mom was too mad, and the rest of us didn’t want to be the one on the receiving end of Mom’s anger.  We all just ate in silence. 

After I was done eating, I went upstairs and finished getting ready.  It was only a five minute process including putting on my makeup.  Again, keeping it simple was the key.  As I was about to walk out the door with my books, I stopped.  Something in the room was definitely different.  I looked around the room and everything looked as it should have.  My room was meticulously organized, and it drove me crazy when things were out of place.  Mom never had to tell me to clean my room.  The feeling that something was different didn’t go away, so it was definitely something that I had already seen but just didn’t notice at the time.  Not finding any of my things in the room out of place, I looked up and my eyes settled on the painting above my bed.  I didn’t notice anything different about that either, at least at first.  The girl in the painting looked the same.  Same facial expression, clothing, and stance.  My eyes traveled down her left arm, which was outward, palm up as if she was handing someone what was in her hand.  Usually, that hand was empty, but not today.  Resting above the palm of her hand, not making any contact with the skin was a flame with the smoke from the flame rising upward into the sky.

 

****

My brother and I arrived at school about twenty minutes later, after a drive where the both of us were totally silent.  I was still pissed at him because of what he said at the table, and he was mad because I had hit him in the back of the head because of it.  The mark on the back of his head had now turned into a small knot.  He was going to have fun explaining that one to all of his girlfriends.  Another reason that I didn’t speak was that I was too busy worrying how that flame showed up on the painting.  I couldn’t think of any logical explanation for it, and that was what bothered me the most.  It definitely wasn’t there before.  I knew that for a fact, and it was rather coincidental that the flame had showed up on the morning after I had a dream about burning some stupid redneck to a crisp.  No matter how much I racked my brain on the drive to school, I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound ridiculous.  When I pulled into the school parking lot, I dropped it, and after parking, my brother and I again went our separate ways.  I wasn’t getting any help today, so it was a good thing that I remembered where my classes where.  I walked into school, and if others in the hallway stared or were whispering anything about me I certainly didn’t notice.  My focus was on getting to my locker and getting to English class, and I didn’t run into Angel or anyone else.  I made it to class with plenty of time to spare, and sat down in my seat.  Bret had entered class a few minutes later, flashed me a smile and sat down a couple seats in front of me in the row to my right.  We didn’t say a word to each other.  Mrs. Ross started promptly when the bell rang, and we were quickly down to business.  It was funny how the class had a totally different tone than the previous day.  She was very lighthearted in her lecture, and even cracked a couple of jokes.  The entire class took notes furiously because we had no idea what would turn up on the test on Friday.  The time had passed quickly, and before I knew it class was over.  Of course, we didn’t get out of there unscathed.  Mrs. Ross gave us a reading assignment, and handed each of us a copy of The Catcher and the Rye.  We had already known what we were getting into because her lecture was all about this novel.  Two guys who were roommates in boarding school, and their friendship.  From the way she explained it, I thought were going to be reading about some quasi homosexual relationship.  Before even reading a page, I was wishing that the guys would just kiss already and get it over with. 

After leaving class, I was walking alone to my locker.  I figured Bret had decided to keep his distance, and for that, I was thankful.  I didn’t want him hounding me all morning about whether or not I had made a decision.  No one spoke to me while passing through the halls, and everything went how I had expected yesterday to go.  The only difference was that this time I knew where I was going.  The next two classes went as the others did.  More lectures and more homework.  I wasn’t going to have an easy day after school today. 

Advance Biology was my most interesting class of the day.  We had split up into lab partners to do our first lab assignment.  Most of everyone had already picked their friends as their lab partners, so I basically got stuck with the leftovers.  I ended up with a guy a blond haired guy, that I was actually kind of shocked that he ended up being one of the leftovers.    I wouldn’t be shocked for long though because the reason no one was going out their way to be his lab partner soon became apparent.

“Blaine Webb,” he said.  Before I could get a word in, he continued.  “And yes I’m gay.”  That was an interesting and quite pretentious way for him to introduce himself. This was especially true since I wasn’t questioning his sexuality and didn’t really care what his preferences were.  I knew plenty of gay guys at my last school and they really didn’t go around introducing themselves to people like that.  It wasn’t that they were all in the closet, even though some of them were.  It was just something that while I couldn’t say that it went unspoken, it wasn’t pushed to the forefront of every conversation either.  Basically most of us respected the fact that a person’s orientation was their own business, emphasis on the word most. 

“Val Robinson,” I said, I decided to play along. “And I’m straight.”

“I didn’t think otherwise or Bret would definitely be wasting his time.”

“He still might be wasting his time.  It’s just that isn’t the reason.”

He seemed to like that response.  “I’m surprised that you’re not surprised that I knew about that.”

“Don’t be.  My little brother also goes here, and he was more than happy to clue me on that bit of gossip before we got to school this morning.

He perked up at the mention of my brother.  “You have a brother?  Is he as cute as you?”

“Whoa, down boy,” I said amused.  “He’s my brother.  I wouldn’t tell you he was cute, even if he was.  Besides, you don’t have a chance anyway.  He likes girls.”

“That’s a shame.  Such a waste.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  I liked him instantly.  However, I was surprised that he was so out about his sexuality.  Most people who were out around our age had enough feminine qualities, that the fact that they were gay could have been figured out anyway.  I wouldn’t have assumed he was gay upon first meeting him, if he hadn’t told me, not that I went around trying to assume that about people.  He seemed very much a man’s man.  It was obvious that he was in very good shape, had a deep voice, and had a blond mustache and goatee.  He also made masculine gestures when he talked.  It was refreshing to see a gay guy around my age who actually enjoyed being a guy.  I saw enough guys like that in Hillcrest in the city to know that they exist, but never in high school.    I looked down at his notebook and noticed pictures of a young Elvis Presley plastered all over the front cover. 

“I’m a big fan of Elvis,” Blaine said when I asked him about it.  “That’s about the only music I listen to.”

Well, that explained why he didn’t have a lot of friends.  Besides, a gay man being a fan of Elvis was quite a combination.  I thought all gay guys like techno.  We got started on our lab assignment or attempted to anyway.  Now, I had originally thought that we were in an Advanced Biology class, but our lab assignment was more like something that should have been in a Chemistry class.  Whatever happened to dissecting cats?  The way things were going right then, I figured we’d be making Tylenol by the end of the year.  That seemed more like a college Organic Chemistry class then something we should be doing in a high school advance biology class.  That wasn’t the problem, however.  The main problem was that we couldn’t get our Bunsen burner to work properly, because  there wasn’t any gas.  The whole class had this problem and not just us, so it wasn’t incompetence on our parts.  Even our teacher couldn’t seem to get the gas working, and after a few minutes of watching him struggle, I was starting to get quite bored.  I started to fiddle around with the top of the Bunsen burner not with any real purpose.  It wasn’t like I could really do anything anyway.  The striker was lying harmlessly on the counter, and I hadn’t touched it.  Blaine was looking on quite amused. 

“What are you doing?” he chided.  “Trying to start a fire using magic or something?”

“It would be great if I could,” I said.  “It would definite move things along.  Wouldn’t it be funny if I just my hand next to the top of the Bunsen burner and flicked my wrist and a fire actually started?”  I was performing the action as I was saying it, but what happen next clearly wasn’t funny.  As soon as I flicked my wrist, a fire came out of the top of the Bunsen burner.  It wasn’t a small one either, as the flames reached the top of the beaker.  If my face had been any closer to it, I would have burned off my eyebrows.  Both of Blaine and I jumped backwards, stunned.  The fire didn’t stay lit.  It quickly disappeared as if it was some kind of illusion

“What just happened?”  Blaine asked clearly freaked out.

“I don’t know,” I answered just as freaked out as he was.  “Maybe what his face got the gas working.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t using the striker when that happened.”  Blaine was clearly suspicious of something.

“Well use the striker and see if you can get this thing working.”

Blaine clearly didn’t want to do this.  However, he went ahead and picked up the striker and used it.  Apparently the teacher had gotten the gas working, because after a few sparks, Blaine was able to get the fire started.  Getting the fire started seemed to placate whatever suspicions he had, and we tried to get to work.  Unfortunately, our fire went out again, and numerous attempts to get it started again were unsuccessful.  After again trying to figure out what was wrong with the gas, our teacher gave up when he could not figure out the problem.  We got out of having to complete the lab assignment, but got stuck having to listen to this guy talk the rest of the class.  When class was over, Blaine and I had stayed behind for a couple of minutes to put our stuff together. 

“If you keep that up, you are going to turn out to be a very interesting lab partner,” Blaine said as we finally headed toward the door.

“What are you talking about?  I didn’t do anything.”

“No you didn’t,” he said.  “You only tired to blow up the entire class.”

“Very funny,” I said as we entered the hallway where Angel was waiting for me.  

“See you later, Fire girl,” Blaine said, and quickly took off.  I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise.  Angel gave him a look that would’ve spoiled cheese.  That was curious to me because just based on personality alone; I had figured that he and Angel would have hit it off perfectly. 

“I can’t believe you were actually talking to him,” she said dismissively. 

“Why wouldn’t I talk to him?” I asked her.  “Besides it’s not like I had much of a choice.  He is my lab partner.”

“Just be careful.  He has a habit of spreading nasty rumors.”  We started walking toward the cafeteria.  At least on the surface, that seemed like a valid reason.  At first I had thought that I shouldn’t be talking to him just because he was gay, since that seemed to be the only thing that made him different than anyone else, his infatuation with Elvis not withstanding.    

“Explain please.” 

That she did.  It was something that was way too hard to believe at first.  Apparently, Caleb, Angel, and Blaine had also been pretty good friends.  The two of them weren’t as good friends with Blaine as they were with Bret, but they were good friends nonetheless.  Now Caleb and Angel had suspected that Blaine was gay for a long while before he told them.  However, she didn’t explain what caused those suspicions.  It wasn’t something they had really cared about.  What they did care about was apparently what he was saying about them, or more specifically Caleb, when they weren’t around.  Blaine was going around telling people that Caleb was gay.  I was totally shocked by this because I couldn’t figure out any logical reason as to why he would do that.  Apparently he had been telling people since last fall, but they had just found out in the spring.  It turned out that it didn’t really matter what he had said about Caleb because no one believed it anyway.  I found that hard to believe at first, but after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that was probably the reason that it took Angel so long to find out about it.  If it had been really damaging they would have found out a lot sooner.  Still there was something about this whole story that bothered me.

“I’m confused,” I said after she told me the story.  “Did either of you actually ask Blaine if he had said it?”

“Well.  I asked one of the girls who was supposedly told was one of his best friends, and she did say that Blaine had told her.”  

 “That doesn’t answer my question?”

“Well he hasn’t denied it,” Angel said a tad defensively.  “Okay, I didn’t ask him.  Then again, I was too mad at the time too ask him.  I didn’t even want to talk to him.  Whether Caleb or not asked him?  I don’t know.  You have to ask him.”

“Why would Blaine do that though?”  I asked her.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that Blaine would get no benefit from spreading that particular rumor.  It makes no logical sense.”

Angel was quiet for a second, and then said.  “I thought the same thing.  The only thing I could think of was that he actually like Caleb.”

“So he’s going to spread a rumor that Caleb is gay when he actually isn’t?  I don’t think that would have gotten the results that he would have wanted.  He had to have known that.”

Something about this whole thing just didn’t add up.  Angel’s explanation as to why Blaine would do such a thing was still illogical.  It wouldn’t matter that Blaine had started that rumor because Caleb wasn’t gay, and Caleb would never hook up with Blaine just for that reason alone.  The only result that Blaine could have counted on is that he would have lost two friends after doing it, and that seems to be exactly what happened.  I could understand why the two of them were upset if he actually admitted to doing these things, which he hadn’t.  As a matter of fact she didn’t even ask him.  Angel had just a right to be upset, even though it was being said about Caleb.  There isn’t a girl in the world who likes being told that there is a rumor that the guy she likes is gay.  Angel either wasn’t telling me everything, or she was flat out lying.  The latter was far less likely.  She seemed like she was really hurt by what had happened.  I got the feeling that she was closer to Blaine then Caleb was, and she took it a lot harder.  That made it even more baffling that she didn’t ask him if he had said those things.  She just took it as being true.  I didn’t for a minute think that just because he didn’t deny saying it was an admission of guilt, and basically Angel should have known better.  Besides, if he had admitted it to Caleb, I was sure that Angel would have known.  However, this was high school, and things like that happened all the time.   Perception was everything, and it’s not like the national media where as long as people were talking about you, good or bad, it was okay.  Having a bad perception in high school was like the kiss of death, so Caleb kind of dodged a bullet there.  All that said was that people won’t believe a rumor about a person if it goes totally against their perceived perception of that person. 

“Anyway,” I continued.  “He’s never done anything to me.  You two might hate him, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

“Fair enough.”

We got our food and sat down, and again the boys showed up after we had sat down and starting eating.  Bret flashed a smile and sat next to me while, Caleb sat next to his girlfriend.  The interaction between the two of them was a lot more natural then it was yesterday.  Maybe Caleb was having a bad day yesterday, but their being together didn’t look fake.  Bret, on the other hand, decided to sit way too close to me.  Our legs kept touching.  Obviously, he didn’t have any clue about how to deal with people with personal space issues.  He went from one extreme to the other, from keeping his distance to being all up in my grill.  The two lovebirds across the table were….well making out. 

“And here yesterday I was chiding Kendra for her lack of manners,” I started.  “Now, I have to see this while I’m trying to eat.”

“Disgusting isn’t it?” Bret asked jokingly.

Caleb stopped sucking face long enough to ask, “What?”

“Get a room.”  Bret and I both said that at exactly the same time.  We turned and looked at each other.

“Whoa, talk about creepy.” Caleb was laughing.

“Great minds-“Bret started.

“Great minds what?” Angel asked. “I hope you’re not trying to say that you have a great mind.”

 “So says the Mexican who doesn’t speak Spanish,” I quipped.

“Shut up.”   That was the best Angel could come up with, which means that I had actually gotten the best of her for once.

“That’s all you’ve got.”  Bret then put his arm around my shoulders and said to me, “Good job.  It’s not often someone can stop Angel’s mouth.”

“What are you doing?” I asked him.  I casually knocked his beefy arm off of my shoulders.  “You asked me out on one date, and I haven’t given you an answer yet.  That doesn’t give you permission to touch me.”

“You still haven’t given him an answer?” Caleb asked.  He knew good and damn well that I hadn’t answered him yet. “It Wednesday, what’s taking so long?”

“The whole school wants to know,” Angel put on a sly smile.  “Especially the girls.  They are hoping you say no, which is not shocking.”

“I took an unofficial poll this morning,” Caleb said. “The results were totally split along gender lines.  Seventy-five percent on the girls said that you would say no.  All of the guys said you would say yes.”

This time I put my arm around a horrified Bret’s shoulders.  He was slumped down in the chair, and that was the only reason why I was successful because he was so big.  My hand rested on his chest, and boy, did he feel good.  Bret, caught totally off guard, looked at me.

“This is all you fault,” I said.  “You just had to tell my brother what you were planning, not knowing that we take pride in making each other lives miserable.”  I then gave him a peck on the cheek.

“I thought we were not supposed to be touching each other?”  However, he didn’t move my arm, not that I thought he would; so he wasn’t complaining but instead was being a smart ass.  I would have thought by now that he knew that I was a better smart ass then he was.

“That was about you touching me, pretty boy,” I answered.  “You asked me out.  I know you like me touching you.”

He put on a sly smile, looked me right in the eye, and said, “You have no idea how much I like you touching me.”

 “Ew. Gross,” Angel said disgusted.

“What?” Bret asked laughing as I pushed him away.  “We just had to watch the two of you basically suck the skin off each others faces.”

“Yeah,” she said.  “You’re like a brother to me.  That was like imagining my parents having sex.” All three of us reacted badly to that.  Leave it to Angel to find a way to make our food, which didn’t really look good anyway, unappetizing. 

“I wasn’t talking about that.  Get you mind out of the gutter.”

“Don’t you realize who you’re talking to?” I asked him.  “Her mind is always in the sewers.”  To be honest, I thought he was talking about that too.  I was initially as horrified as she was, but that still didn’t give her any room to talk after what the two of us had to just witness.

“Who cares?” Caleb asked effectively changing the subject back to where it was originally supposed to be.  “Are you going to go with him or not?”

“Putting me on the spot are we?”

“Well,” Bret said.  “Friday is now less than two days away.  I’ve got to make plans.”

“Plans?  It’s a damn baseball game, a sport which I hate by the way.  As you said everything is supposed to free.  It’s not like you’re buying me dinner.”

“Maybe he’s planning something afterward,” Caleb answered.

“He’s not dumb enough to have that kind of nerve,” I countered.

“Well, I do have to plan some things,” Bret started.  “Like how not to embarrass myself when I meet your parents.”

“Please.  Who said anything about you meeting my parents?  You’re acting like I’ve already said yes.”  I was getting a little tired of this tag team that they were putting me through. 

“Are you?” Angel asked.

I guessed it was now or never.  I couldn’t really put it off any longer.  Besides, all of my reasons to stall were actually kind of stupid, and not to mention that every reason why he wanted an answer was fair.  All three of them stared at me, waiting patiently while I thought things over.  How would my mom react if she actually met him?  Clay was kind of enough to not describe what he looked like at the table this morning, so she no clue as to what I had in store for her.  How would I react to her reaction if I said yes?  And probably the most important one, how would I keep myself from being bored as hell for about three hours?  Not reaching a conclusion to any of the unanswered questions, I gave him my answer. 

“Yeah, I’ll go,” I answered finally giving into to my own desires.

I looked at the other three since it had seemed like all three of them wanted this particular outcome.  Angel was smiling widely. Caleb’s face was totally unreadable.  He was going to be a good actor, or he actually really didn’t care one way or the other.  Bret, on the other hand, just…. well I guessed I could call it shock.  I really didn’t know what that was.  I mean Caleb’s face was also unreadable, but you tell he was trying to mask his thoughts.  Bret, I really couldn’t figure out.  I mean the guy has been flirting with me for every second he was in my presence for the last two days.  I finally said yes, and this was all he could come up with.  I didn’t get it.  Apparently, neither did anyone else.      

 “Couldn’t you look a little bit more excited?” Angel asked, obviously annoyed.  She does seem to annoy easily.  “She just said yes to going out with you, on a date that you asked her on, jackass.”

He recovered rather quickly after that, and plastered on that same smile.  He must have a U.S. Patent on that thing he flashes it so much. 

“Good, I’ll pick you up at five-thirty,” he said to me.

  “Isn’t that kind of early?” I asked.

“Not really.  We’ve got to drive downtown.  It’s a Friday, and a game night.  Who knows how the traffic will be?”

“Probably, not that bad.”  That came from Angel.  “Especially since the home team is actually horrible.”

“Still, I’d rather be safe than sorry.” Bret, I guessed, was now the poster child for being responsible.

            I agreed to that time, and Bret got up to leave. 

            “Hey, where are you going?” Caleb asked.

            Bret ignored him, and turned to me.  “So can I have your number now?”

            “You haven’t earned that yet,” I answered.  “Besides, you don’t need it right now.  We’ve already agreed on a time.  Plus, since you drove my brother home yesterday, you already know where I live.” 

            “Fair enough.”  He knew better than to ask for too much.  He said his goodbyes and again turned to leave, but this time I stopped him.

            “Oh, and by the way, you’re driving.”

            “Why am I driving?” he asked quite amused.  I knew for a fact that he didn’t mean what he said next.  “You have the better car.”

            “Maybe, but you asked me out.  So you get to waste your gas.”

             “Something tells me I would have been driving whether I had asked you out or if it was the other way around.”  He then took off like a bat out of hell.

            It was quiet for about a second, and then Caleb just started laughing.  “You two sound like you’ve been married for years.”     

“I wonder where he took off to.”  Angel said, almost to herself.

            “He’s probably going to rub it in Kendra’s face.”  That was Caleb’s idea.  “All she’s been doing is cussing Val out since first period.  I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of fun with that.”

            “That would be petty,” Angel said as the bell rang ending lunch.  “But man would I love to be there so see the look on her face.”

            We got up to leave, and as we stepped out into the courtyard, Caleb said to me, “Here’s a hint, Bret loves Italian food.”

            I stopped and looked at him.  “Why did you tell me that?  It’s a first date, and I don’t think I’ll be cooking him anything anytime soon, if at all.”  The funny thing was that was the most real he’s been since I’ve met him.  No funny accents or anything like that.  It was just him being himself.  It was nice to see.

            He didn’t revert back into his crazy fake accents when he answered me.  “Get off it.  You’re not fooling anyone.  You two might was well just make out and get it over with.”

            “True,” Angel said as we starting walking again.  “But, Caleb, you’re assuming she knows how to cook.”

            Before I could respond to this blatant put down, Caleb retorted. “Val can’t be any worse in the kitchen than you are.”

            I sneered as Angel started to have smoke coming out of her ears. He didn’t notice the danger that he was heading into, and I was more than happy to make matters worse as long as it kept the conversation from being about Bret and me.  “How bad is she?” I asked him.

            “Lunch ladies make better food.” 

            I didn’t even stick around to see or hear Angel’s response.  That was the perfect time to sneak off while she was probably beating him to a pulp.  She was already fuming, and the one thing she hated was to be embarrassed.  I left them there and made my way to Calculus class alone.  I didn’t want to stand there and watch the fireworks.  I was going to be subjected to my fair share when Angel showed up to class, so I sat there at my desk and enjoyed the last few minutes of peace and quiet I was liable to get for which was probably going to be for a long while.

 

 


Comments:
 
SapphireCat   SapphireCat wrote
on 2/11/2009 8:20:25 PM
Wow, I'm really liking this story! One thing I might mention though is you might want to cut it down a little. Some parts left me wishing you would get on with whatever you were trying to say. other than that, you did an awesome job

ajodom
Novel / Novella
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writing ajodom
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Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis
Chapter 2 - featuring that first dream
A Word from the Writer
This is basically a novel for Young Adults, but I will appreciate any feedback that I can get for the making this better. It is a completed manuscript, and I will probably post only the first 4 chapters.
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