Okay, forget about meticulously putting in all the italics and stuff, I'm just posting the whole thing! lol.
Oh, and I think I only made it to a second thread thanks to all my readers.
(plus, the conversation raging on, haha.).
Okay, here it is:CHAPTER 6
The gloriously bright and early morning in our dorm room apartment was accentuated by the echoes of me screaming at 6 in the morning upon my opened my eyes and finding that I was elevated eight feet off the floor.
I could hear my three other roommates jolting into a temporary state of awake alertness – and both Peter and Lucas slamming their heads on the wooden bunks above them.
“FIRE?! WHERE’S THE FIRE?!” Rick jerks up and started shouting in a half-asleep daze.
“There’s no fire,” I grumble, running my hand over my face wearily, over my initial shock, and trying not to look over the edge of my bed.
“Then go back to bed,” he mumbles back, annoyed upon realizing there was, in fact, no fire. He flops back down and pulls the covers over his head. “Normal people don’t get up this early.”
“Whatever, I’m awake now. I’m going to go get some breakfast,” Lucas yawns, and dangles his feet over the edge of his bed, before getting up.
“Me too,” I realize, not wanting to linger on the top bunk for a moment longer, and descend quickly down the ladder.
Peter quickly follows behind me, and the three of us head into the kitchen, leaving behind the sleeping giant, Rick, who was snoring gracefully as soon as his head hit the pillow again.
In the traditional breakfast fix, I go for my box of Trix cereal (at Wallace, you bring your own stash of food, or suffer whatever meal they serve you down at the mess hall), while the rest of the guys reached for their own respective food.
Lucas has his own box of Honey Nut Cheerios, while Peter settles for some tea and toast. We all sit down at the makeshift table in the living room, and the room is still, all but for the sounds of silent crunching, and Rick’s snoring in the background.
I get a chance to observe the other two along with myself: the only p.j.s I’m wearing are some old, baggy yellow gym shorts, and a very loose-fitting white t-shirt. Peter is wearing cotton, navy pin-stripped matching tops and bottoms, with a collar. Something you’d find in those packs in the guy’s underwear isle (I know this because I had to shop there, prior to coming to Wallace Academy – but more on that, later). Something probably his mom bought for him lovingly, before sending her son off to a sleep-away school.
Lucas is just wearing grey, draw-string plaid bottoms and has a thin golden chain around his neck that has a cross on it. The chain sort of dangles away from his chest each time he leans over to take a spoonful bite from his cereal. Then it sort of bounces back when he straightens, and then finally lies still on his chest again – until he goes for another bite. And I automatically find myself staring at the chain: back and forth, back and forth…
So technically I wasn’t really staring at his chest – I was staring at his chain.
Still, Lucas finds himself compelled to ask, “Dude. What are you staring at?” The back-and-forth chain cycle comes to a temporary abrupt halt, and I find myself snapping back to attention.
“Dude,” Lucas waves his spoon at me and repeats. “What are you staring at?”
“Oh,” I say, flustered at once. “I just… well, I er…yeah, um… I mean, you look so ripped, man.” I say, then quickly amend. “I mean, do you work out? – I, that’s not what I mean!” I could smack myself. Could I say that did not sound like a pickup line, please? “What I mean is, I, er… I’ve been trying to put on a little muscle myself, ya’ know? Yeah! So, er, what do you do, to get, so, er…” I turn red. “Strong?”
Lucas shrugs, then asks. “Here, lemme see what you got.”
It hits me that he wants me to flex, so I flex a bicep, to show him. He reaches over to feel. “Wow, man,” he shakes his head. “You’ve got a long way to go. No offense,” he laughs. “But you’ve got arms like a girl!”
“Well,” I gruff, trying to excuse it. “It’s hereditary! My family: the men are sort of… late bloomers.”
“Whatever you say, Alex,” He grins again, but then offers, “I could help you put some muscle on if you want, next time I go work out – there’s a gym on campus.”
“Cool, hey, thanks,” I nod. Meanwhile I’m melting inside I’m thinking, Yes, well, that’s going to be hard, as I turn into a puddle of microwaved, melted chocolate every time you say something that sweet.
But on the outside I just smile and knock my fist against his.
“Hey, you wanna come with us, too, Pete?” he asks Pete, who is sitting in the chair, meekly staring at his plate, chewing on one corner of the toast in his hand, not even tasting it.
“Huh?” finally he realizes we’re addressing him. Once he realizes the attention’s all on him, he becomes agitated, and answers a quick and fretful squeak, “Oh. uh, sure.” Then, looking for a fast escape, like a mouse would scurry back to the corner recesses of a room, glances at the clock and quietly adds, “Class starts in an hour,” gets up, and quickly disappears into the kitchen with his empty cup of tea and plate.
“That boy’s got serious issues,” Lucas shakes his head sadly, and leans back in his chair. “But he’s right: do you want to shower first, or should I?”
“I’m a fast showerer,” I opt, and put my bowl in the sink and head to the bathroom.
I scrub hard and thoroughly – and quickly - when I get in, so the other three could have time to shower if they wanted to.
I get dressed inside the bathroom, too, as I think my male roommates would discover my gender difference if I walked out of bathroom with a towel wrapped up to my armpits.
I wear two of my super-boob-squishy sports bras, and then put on a pair of boxers.
I thought about sneaking in panties (not really a fan of butt-floss, a.k.a. – thongs), but the risk of being known as “The Guy Who Has Panties Lying Around When He Isn’t Even Getting Any”, (not to mention the risk of getting caught) out-weighed the whole comfort deal. So I was stuck wearing boy-underwear for the whole time I was going to stay at Wallace.
Next, I put on the khaki brown pants, with the black belt. Then came on the white shirt, red-and-blue plaid necktie, and finally the scarlet blazer.
I quickly combed my short hair, and hurried out to let Lucas have his morning shower, too.
By then, the wildebeest, aka Rick, had awoken from his slumber, stumbling out of bed, yelling about if anyone had seen his tie.
At seven-forty-five, all four of us went out the front door, and dispersed to our respective classes.
“Ohmygawd, Ally, hiii!!” my friend Ellie squealed over my cell phone earpiece as soon as I picked up.
I hold back the phone away, and stick my finger in my ear, making sure I can still hear. “Not so loud!” I hiss. “Dude… remember?” I emphasize, trying to get the point across without anyone who might eavesdrop getting any hint of what was going on.
“How’s it going?” she asks, and I can almost see the gleeful twinkling that must be reflecting in her eyes. She’s asking more than just how my day went.
“Pretty good…” I start off cautiously, wondering if it really was.
I look up from my station at the top of my bed where I was hiding out (as much as I disliked bunk beds, the remoteness from being up top was strangely compelling). No one in sight.
“And it’s Alex, remember?” I cover my hand over my mouth and the receiver piece.
“Right, right, right,” she hastily dismisses. “So?” she eagerly eggs on. “Has anyone caught on yet?”
“Well, so far,” I lean back against my pillow and sigh before ticking off. “I now have four ‘girlfriends’, although I’m a supposed ‘homosexual’ - which makes things just great as one of my roommates is a homo-schizo. Another one is totally antisocial, and could possibly be the next Oklahoma City bomber, and one’s so hot, I could make scrambled eggs just looking at him… which, by the way, will do wonders for the whole ‘homo’ rumor.”
By then, Ellie was laughing her butt off.
“It’s not that funny,” I say slightly peevishly, even though it kind of is.
“Oh my god,” she gasps, still erupting into another fit of laughter.
“I’m not in over my head, am I?” I ask mildly, examining my cuticles.
“Not at all,” Ellie grins from the other line.
“Good,” I finally give a laugh myself.
“Other than that, how is everything?” she asks honestly this time.
“Truly?” I look around. “Not too bad.” Mom and Dad were never actually in the house for more than two seconds, and if they were, their minds were miles elsewhere. Of course there were always the step-siblings, which enjoyed making my life hell, with their evil ways of theirs. Of course the favor was returned in a lot of ways, so no hard feelings. “A few more months of this and I’m going to be spoiled rotten,” I admit.
“Aww, All- Alex, you silly goose,” she beams. “Well, then, I’m glad. Just don’t get too comfortable, because you know, as your best friend, I am entitled to full de-spoiling privileges.” She smirks.
“I’m shaking in my loafers,” I roll my eyes while she laughs again. “Is there any possible way to get out of this?” I query.
“Well… there’s always the dishing-of-dirt on the hot guys of your school,” she says as though she just thought of it. Knowing her, she must have stayed up all night, wondering how to ask me.
“Ah, why am I not surprised?” I groan. “Anything else?”
“Oh… just a tour of Wallace Academy, and all the hotties there, when I come there for winter break,” she springs the news on me.
“What?!” I sit up, slamming my head against the wall, just as Rick had done the morning before. They really did need to make these beds lower, or the ceiling higher.
“That’s right!” she says gleefully. “Mum and Dad are making me stay over at Aunt Bjorka’s,” she rolls her eyes in disgust. “But she lives in Boston, which is just, like, a hop, skip, and a jump away!”
“That’s leap, stupid!” I grumble. “A ‘hop, skip, and a leap’ away!” I may have sounded rude, but I was a bit irritated, and not a little freaked about what her coming might do to me, and everything else. “And whose brilliant idea was this, again?” So I could kill them.
“Mine!” she sings proudly. “But don’t forget,” she chides. “Whose idea was it to dress up like a-”
“I gotta go!” I quickly say, just as Rick walks into the bedroom.
“Okaaay,” she says, then adds in (yet again) an annoying sing-song voice. “But don’t for-ge-et!”
Yeah, as if I could. Just great, another thing to add to the growing list of complications. Another one just happened to enter the room.
“Heey,” I say, sliding down the ladder, awkwardly greeting Rick. Now that I knew something about his family and where he was coming from, I wondered if we could start off on a new footing.
“What are you doing here? I thought girls weren’t allowed on campus,” he snorts, not looking at me as he takes off his shirt.
I freeze, about to collapse onto the ground.
“I… am not a girl!” I squeak, trying to be indignant, and not frightened.
He smirks, looking down at me, and snots, “No really, genius. Now get out of here, I don’t want change in front any guy who’s gonna a get a stiffy from looking at me.”
Now I’m really indignant. “Oh, okay.” I huff. “You think you’re such hot stuff?” I retort, incensed, looking him up and down in disparagement. “First of all, I am not homosexual, get it right!” I take a step toward him, furious.
Rick suddenly looks down at me with something of a mixture between incredulity, surprise, and a little… fear? But I’m not even close to being done yet.
“And even if I was,” I bellow. “There would be nothing wrong with that! You like girls, so what? Some guys like guys. So what? And even I was!” I’m shrilling now, and Rick is looking more and more scared, he even takes a clumsy step back, while I step forward. “I would never in a million years be interested in a Pigheaded.” I take another step forward, jabbing my index finger at his upper arm. “Thick-skulled.” Jab. “Egocentric.” Jab. “JERK!” Stumble. Fall!
That would be Rick - doing all the stumbling and falling, I mean.
Meanwhile, fuming, I huff, stepping over him, and stomp off.
“What happened?” Lucas asked as soon as he saw the look on my face when I entered the living room.
“Nothing!” I bark, too furious to bother with being polite – even to Lucas I-Want-You-To-Bear-My-Children Conte - which is to say I was very furious.
I grab my jacket and backpack, and exit the dorm, slamming the door behind me, as I made beeline straight for the library.
Oh my God: I can’t bring Ellie here! I’m no fool: that’s like inviting Disaster over, and asking Her if she would like some tea, and you know, maybe if She wants to dance a jig on the table, while she’s at it?...
First of all, will they let me bring a girl on campus? Certainly not, I mean, there’s got to be a school code or something that says no girls allowed – well, except for me, of course – but what they don’t know won’t hurt them…
Oh crap! I just thought of something: what if “Brilliant Idea” Ellie decides to take a page out of my book and decides she’s going to dress up as a guy, too?! I mean, how can I stop her? It’s not like I can go to all the stores and ask them to kindly refrain from selling Ellie any guy clothes, I mean, short of pulling up her shirt and pointing out, “She’s a girl!” to the admin (which, as much as it kills me, I would never in a million years do), there was no humanly possible way to stop her…
Besides: that’d be like giving her license to rat me out!
Well, if she does that, then they’ll be hell to pay! – assuming I can get away from the dungeon Mom and Dad shut me away in, as soon as they get over blowing the gasket.
Oh yeah, if it weren’t for the whole “child abuse” issue, I’m sure I’d be starved and stripped of all internet-wireless access. They’d even take away my iPod video. I mean, that must constitute as some sort of Eighth Amendment rights violation there alone…
“OW!!” I clutch my head as I feel a sharp pain where John had just struck me upside the head. “What was that for?” I demand.
“Yin’s been trying to get your attention for the past ten minutes, fool!” he points at Yin. “Besides, I don’t want to get kicked out of the library yet! We’re only half-way through the episode!”
I look over and sure enough, Cecil had put the video on his laptop on pause; instead, everyone’s attention was focused on me, and they all look rather annoyed at having the DVD paused - Stewart included.
That’s right, ever since that incident at the library he’s been having lunch with us.
I had brought him along the following day, as I kind of felt sorry for the whole ordeal, and figured his popularity didn’t exactly rank high among the school population, especially with a loud, big-mouthed brother like his. I kind of did it spur-of-the-moment that I didn’t have time to ask the other guys permission if I could, and although a few were hesitant, they soon accepted the fact that he was a friend of mine, and they had to deal. Besides, a few of the guys had class with them, so it wasn’t a totally difficult transition into the group. Quickly, like me, Stewart was caught up with the anime fever too.
“What is it, Yin?” I ask peevishly, embarrassed that so many negative glare were being shot in my direction.
“Dude, that girl is checking you out!” At that, everyone – myself included – turned in amazement to look where Yin was gesturing in piqued interest.
“What, Mrs. Roushiffer?” Henry blanched, clearly disgusted and disappointed.
“No, her!” Yin conspicuously pointed. “The new library T.A.” Sure enough, a girl with golden, honey-blond locks, lowered her lashes, and a demure blush was creeping up on her cheeks as she pretended to busy herself with shelving the books nearby.
“Shut up!” I roll my eyes, but I am now uncomfortable, and am squirming down in my seat. This is way surreal.
“No, he’s right,” now John’s leaning over the back of his seat to get a better look. “She’s looking right this way!”
“Yeah, right!” I say, even though I notice her eyes glance up, and then back down again. “Maybe she’s checking out one of you guys?” I desperately throw out there as a lifeline, as if I were a drowning man.
The guys just look at each other. They burst out laughing. “What the hell? Yeah right!”
“Lucky bastard!” John ribs, with a bit of envy. “And she’s hot, too!”
“Go talk to her!” Stewart nudges me.
“No way!” I squeak in protest. Oh God, what was I going to do? “Besides, I already have a girlfriend!” I mutter.
“No one’s asking you to marry her, for gods’ sakes!” Henry exasperatedly informs me. “Just go up to her… chat her up!”
“No. No. No!” I’m about to put my foot down on the whole ordeal, but the ruckus we are all creating attracts her attention.
“Is something wrong?” her voice is as sweet as her honey-golden hair.
“Noth-” I begin to say boorishly, but John cuts me off with, “My friend was wondering if he could have your number.”
I nearly choked on my own spit. I glared at John, hoping the phrase “if looks could kill” would be literal, for once.
“Oh, is that all?” she blushes, and whips out a pencil.
I was crying tears of frustration and rage inside.
“Here,” she hands me seven digits written in a flowy, wispy script that was just like her, and then says, “I’m Michelle, by the way.”
“Thanks,” I force my lips in a tight smile across my teeth.
“He’s Alex,” Henry says helpfully, when it seemed my manners had abandoned me completely. But that’s okay, I didn’t need them – they left me stranded here, anyway.
“Nice meeting you,” she looks down and curls a lock of hair behind her ear, smiling as though I’d said something funny or witty, then turns around and dashes downstairs without a single look back.
“Nice meeting you too, Michelle!” Cecil waves back, love-struck.
“Wow, you’re a real lady’s man, Alex,” Yin looks at me and nods, with sudden awe and admiration.
“Oh yeah, a real hot-stuff stud,” I sigh in exasperation. “Now can we please get back to the anime?”
It wasn’t one I relished watching: this one happened to be about a girl cross-dressing at a school, posing as a guy to pay off a debt for breaking a really expensive vase. It wasn’t licensed yet here in America, so we had to deal with subs (subtitles), but that was okay; and for all the discomfort of watching something that hit so close to home, I was willing to watch every single episode if it meant taking the guys’ minds off me and Michelle.
“So, when are you going to call her?” asked Stewart.
I shot him a look signifying, not being helpful, here.
“Dude, tell me when you’re going to call her, okay?” asked John eagerly.
“What?” I looked at him, confused. “Um… okay.”
“Me too!” asked Cecil.
“You’ll call me, right Alex?” Henry asked, going back to his laptop as if that settled that.
“Hey, hey, hey! What about me?” Yin looked a bit injured for being left out.
“Of course,” I reassure him begrudgingly.
“And me,” Stewart puffed out his chest.
Lord have mercy on my soul, I prayed. Because I was about to have four deaths on my hands, if this continued.
“What are you doing here?” I hear Rick sputter as he walks in and sees me sitting in Peter’s bed, folding my laundry – yes, we actually have to do our own laundry here at Wallace Academy (so much for private school tuitions).
“Um, besides the fact that I now live here, much to your everlasting bane, you mean?” I mutter as he reaches under his bunk bed and pulls out a dumbbell (haha… dumbbell… the aptness of the word amuses me for a moment).
“Cut the jargon crap,” he grunts, and sits down and starts doing curls.
I can’t help but notice how much his forearm budges with each flexing. Damn.
“You know,” I clear my throat, and go back to folding my shirts in order to distract myself. “You better not be taking any kind of junk to pump yourself up. I heard those things can really shrink your -”
“Did I ask you to be my mother?” he cuts me off, in disgust. “No. So leave your crap-ass comments to yourself. This isn’t the cub scouts, buddy. I don’t have to like you, and you don’t have to like me. Whatever the hell I do is my own damn business.”
“Jeez, okay, sorry for breathing,” I retort under my breath. What is with you? I almost say, but I already know the answer: whatever is up with him the rest of the time: me.
“Everybody gone surfin’, surfin’ U.S.A…”
I hear my cell ring out from my top bunk.
“You listen to the Beach Boys?” he cries standing up (this time, making sure he doesn’t bump his head), clearly reaching his limit of everything I could have possibly done to offend him. “My grandmother listens to the Beach Boys!”
“Like I said, excuse me for breathing,” I roll my eyes, and climb up the stairs to pick up the phone.
“Hello?” I hold my breath in anticipation. Please don’t let it be Michelle, please… Even though I didn’t give her my number, still, the irrational fear strikes me.
“Hello?” I hear that familiar accident.
“Yin?” I ask in puzzlement.
“Have you called her yet?” he asks eagerly, which makes me want to immediately hang up on him.
“No,” I suppress a groan. “Wait – hold on, I’ve got a call on the other line,” I click over again, the same fear grips me. Not Michelle….
“Alex? It’s me, Henry, I don’t know if you forgot but-”
“Henry? Yeah, I haven’t called her yet.”
“Okay, good, cause I was just about to say-”
“Hold on, someone’s beeping in – hello?”
“Hey Alex!” says Cecil, while another in the background John cries out, “Haha, the man of the hour!”
“I haven’t called her yet,” I say through my clenched teeth, as yet another beep goes in.
“It’s Yin again, you left me on hold. I thought you might have forgotten I was still on.”
“Trust me, I wouldn’t have,” I reassure him. As my blood pressure skyrockets to unhealthy levels, another call beeps in. “Excuse me one second,” I ground out before yelling, “NO STEWART, I HAVE NOT CALLED HER YET!!”
“Oh, haha, yeah, I know,” a distinctly feminine voice on the other end giggles nervously.
“No, wait, that’s not what I meant! Uh… I’m real sorry, Michelle,” I apologize profusely.
“That’s okay,” she laughs again “That’s why I’m calling you. Stewart gave me your number before he left. He says you’re not exactly the brave type when it comes to the opposite sex…”
“Haha, yeah…” I laugh at the wording choice, not really amused as much as feeling ironic.
“So I decided to call you instead,” she says warmly over the phone. “Oh – I mean, if that’s alright with you…” she adds in a rush.
“No… that’s… fine…?” I try not to make it sound like a question as I grind out the words. “Um…” my voice strangles though, as I try to talk. “Listen. Do you mind if I call you back? I’m kind of… of in the middle of something right now.”
Yeah, of my head exploding.
“Oh, okay, sure,” she seems to be taken aback, but not at all offended. “Are you planning on being in the library again, tomorrow?”
“Um… I… guess…?” (No! Heck no! Not in a million years, no!) Again, hoping it won’t come out sounding like a question.
“Great,” she says even more warmly. “See you then!”
“Bye,” I croak, and hang up.
I swing over the railing, and start my descent, glaring over at Rick, prepared – and almost daring him – to make fun of me.
Instead, I catch a sight that takes me almost as wholly as it takes Rick by surprise: he’s stopped doing curls, and is instead, he has this peculiar look, his head’s sort of tiled and he’s staring, mouth slightly ajar…
At my ass.
“Are you checking me out?” The words just sort of slip (or rather, squeak) out of my mouth on their own accord.
“What!? NO!” he gets to his feet – with enough presence of mind to, once again not to bump his head at the bottom of the top bunk (the dexterity of which amazes me, as I have the constant problem of bumping my head around here).
Then he sort of stares at the carpet, as if he can’t believe what he just did, and I can almost see the inner monkeys in his brain working, trying to figure out what was going on.
He looks up at me, kind of scared and wide-eyed that I feel a twinge of sympathy – but not enough to be that sympathetic – shakes his head, and looks back down at the carpet.
Rick coughs, and yells down at the carpet, loud enough for everyone in the dorm to hear, “I’m going to go take a shower!” He gives himself another shake, and, as if to reaffirm his manliness, struts out of the room.
“Yeah, a cold shower,” I can’t help but snicker behind his back.
He turns around to glare at me, and although his face twists, he’s far too shaken to actually achieve any thing close to one.
Well, things have certainly become a lot more interesting very fast.
There comes a time in a young man’s life where he must claim his territory. Stake his ground. Forge the sword in er… fire? Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but I’m talking about the basest of base instincts: mating.
Or, as in my friends’ case: trying to hit on women without them hitting (er, literally) back.
I’m telling you, those prep-school girls from Eleanor Roosevelt Academy? Vicious little monsters - with sharp, painted claws to match.
Of course, I did not know this when I went into the whole ordeal. And the whole ordeal began with drawing straws. Well, okay, so we couldn’t use the straws (since fast food straws are kind of hard to cut with plastic knives), but it was more like, chose the McDonald’s french-fry.
And it was me who got the short end of the stick – er, fry.
“So what you’re going to do tonight, Alex,” my friend John was explaining to me, as he ate the last of his crispy chicken piece. “Is what we call playing the Fall Guy.”
And so he explained to me what the ‘Fall Guy’s’ job is: in essence, you’re the one who’s going to ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ run into the girls and do one of three things: A. bump into them; B. say a rude or derogatory comment, and hit on them (unsuccessfully), or, in the case of futile desperation, C. smack them on the ass.
My eyes widened at each progressive job that when he got down to the last one, I didn’t know whether or not to spit out my Coke in disbelief, or choke on it, as I died of laughter.
“What John’s trying to say is,” Henry clarifies. “Your job is to make us look good.”
I narrow my eyes and shake my head at the absurdity of what they were telling me as well as showing my doubt at the whole plan ever working.
“It’s quite simple,” Cecil pushed his glasses up with one greasy index finger. “After you’ve done one of these three, we step in and play ‘hero’. Saying something like,” here, Cecil clears his throat, trying to sound debonair and suave (failing both equally with flying colors). “Hey ladies, is this jerk bothering you?”
Okay, it was definitely not a spitting-Coke-out moment. I swallowed my soda in a big fizzling gulp, and laugh until I can’t breathe.
“You… you aren’t serious, are you?” I choke between gasps, standing up. I shouldn’t have drunk so much, because now I have to pee.
But I look over at each sober face staring at me.
“Oh,” I let my face fall, and chastised sit back down at the table, trying to grasp what the heck they talking about, and also trying not to smile.
“So basically I’m like, the bait?”
“Not exactly,” Cecil hesitantly says. “If you were bait, then that would mean you would have to be something alluring or desired by the thing we want to capture-”
“Basically,” Henry cuts off the technical speech Cecil was drifting to. “Like I said, you step in, insult the crap out of them, and we go in there and save the day. Simple.”
“Just out of curiosity, have you guys ever done this before?” Stewart, who until now was a disinterested observer (remember, he’s after different game), interrupts.
“Well… no… not really,” they all start to mumble.
“Henry got the idea off a Fresh Prince of Bell Aire episode,” Yin fills in helpfully.
I watch as they turn from pink, to red, like a bunch of glowing coals.
“Hey, if it’s good enough for the Prince, it’s good enough for me,” Henry answers with an air of curt confidence.
“And where do you propose we enact this plan of action?” I wonder aloud, stealing a fry from Yin’s almost-empty, soggy red cup. “I, for one, am not about to waste my precious Saturday ‘skirt-chasing’.”
Here cued a chorus of groans and pleas for being such a stick-up-my-butt goodie-two-shoes. I admit, I was a bit offended to hear such coarse words from the guys directed at me, but it only proved how desperate they were to get what little action they could to go on in their lives. I was glad I didn’t mention the whole thing about Ellie, or I’m sure their little nerd brains and hearts would nuclearly combust from excitement.
In the end, I finally gave in to the pressure (with a little helpful blackmail on Stewart’s behalf, who, out of the sake of pity for the guys, threatened to tell Michelle in which dorm I was staying in. And well… more on her later).
So, we had our crew. We had our Fall Guy (me). All that was missing were the ‘chicks’. That’s where the location came in – and, as they say, location, location, location! – which I found out was to be our school’s football game tonight at six o’clock. Great.
The All-American Pastime served some purpose, besides providing a forum for men to lose money on Superbowl Sunday bets, and for all of the XY chromosome relatives to gather around the TV on Thanksgiving in some sort of male-bonding right. That purpose was to make me, for the sake of my new friends, suffer – oh, and for them to hit on some girls (can’t forget that).
We walked back from the local McDonalds we were hanging out, having lunch at, to the dorms to change into something warmer (Massachusetts is not known for its temperate climate by any stretch of the imagination) and meet at the stadium.
“I’m telling you!” John was bumbling excitedly as he walked backwards in front of his, flattening the top of his beanie hat. “The chicks from Eleanor Roosevelt are always at the games! Of course it’s always to check out the linebackers,” he couldn’t help but add in bitter resentfulness. “But it’s like, total babe heaven!”
“You guys seriously need to get a life, you know that?” I inform them with the shake of my head. I was already the sacrificial lamb for tonight’s entertainment, so I could say whatever the heck I wanted, thankyouverymuch.
“Oh, I will,” Henry cracked his knuckles in front of him with a stretch. “As soon as I find me a lady friend to warm up, if you know what I mean.” He wiggled his eyebrows in self satisfaction.
I roll my eyes heaven-ward. “‘Oh sweet Benedict, God give me patience!’” I cry out, quoting one of my favorite, Shakespeare-based movies, Much Ado About Nothing.
The guys don’t get my reference, though, and instead are looking behind their backs, hoping no one would overhear and misinterpret my faux pas.
“It’s a line from a movie, people!” I groan, but they don’t hear me. Why? There, in their line of vision, a cluster of pixies in a garden or gorillas, stand the women of Eleanor Roosevelt Academy. They were flipping their hair and laughing like it was a freaking Herbal Essence commercial, but I let it slide. Although I couldn’t help but to enviously run my fingers through my own stubby, short brown locks.
The boys didn’t seem to mind the whole Herbal Essence thing, or if they had noticed any similarities, they certainly didn’t mind. I wondered if I should have brought a few clamps to keep their mouths from staying slack jawed. Certainly women didn’t like to see how many fillings you had in your back molars (I know I wouldn’t).
“Ahem!” I clear my throat.
The all look up at me expectantly in askance.
“Maybe you’d want to sit down before moving on to your Casanova moves?” I demurely ask them while gesturing to the damp metal stadium seats that would most likely numb our butts before the end of the first quarter.
“We didn’t come here to watch a freaking football game!” Cecil smacks his fist down to his open palm with bravado.
“Yeah!” John likewise nods, looking from him to me. “At least if they had some cheerleaders or something, like a normal high school…”
I shake my head. Is it really too much to ask for some normalcy on a night that promised to be anything but?
But no, they’re out here for some blood… in a manner of speaking. And they wouldn’t rest till they got what they wanted.
“Okay, fine.” I huff, drawing myself up. “You want some action, then let’s go.”
I start marching determinedly in the direction of the silky, shiny hair. (It really did glitter, under the white-wash of the floodlights. Huh. I wonder… later tonight I should probably ask one of them what they use, because my hair – before I cut it – was impossible to manage…)
“NO!” “WAIT!” “STOP!”
Four pairs of hands clutched at my thick red and navy Patriots’ coat (my dad’s; figure I might as well dress for the occasion – kind of) like they were trying to stop a crazed man from diving off a cliff.
I turn around at them, and raise a dangerous eyebrow up. “What?” I coolly ask them. I wasn’t bluffing. Simmering over the impending humiliation would get me no where. Might as well swing wildly in the dark with the chance of hitting something rather than wait and wonder what’s going to jump out at me, and when.
It was a fool’s mission, and I was bent on a what-the-hell kind of mindset – a perfect combination.
“Wait… uh… let’s think about this for a minute…” Henry stuttered to buy some time.
His sudden cowardice struck me, causing a fury such as I have never felt wash through me from the top of my head down to my toes. How dare they back out now? I mean, I was the one putting everything on the line. I was the one who had to pretend here – in more ways than one – and they had the idea… no, the GALL, to BACK OUT?!?!
My eyes flashed at them. “Excuse me, are you the one going to make an ass out of himself?” I demand.
They looked away, down at their feet in shame.
“No. I didn’t think so! So you either get the… the cajones,” I sputter, my own language surprising me, and yet I riled on. “To get up there and talk to those girls, or so help me, I am going to DRAG your sorry asses down their and make you talk!”
By then they were all staring at me with such shock and quivering fear that I could have told them to get on all fours and bark, they would have done it.
I stomp off down the bleachers, where shocked parents where looking at me, but I didn’t see them. Out of nowhere I had tunnel vision turned on.
There they are, in their knee-high red plaid skirts with black stockings, oblivious to the weather – or at least content to wear their school’s scarlet sweaters with “ER” crested on the top right. Each one is holding up a matching pink RAZR phone, chatting with each other or on the phone, or simply texting.
I have no idea what I intend to do, as my mind goes amazingly blank by the time we approach them, but I know it has to be something stupendous, or shocking - some way of getting their attention.
God help me, I haven’t even started dating, and now I was about to hit on the members of my own sex (who, I’m not even attracted to – if I was, there’d be no problem). I am going need some major therapy in the future.
Whatever. If I could act like a guy for so long, surely it won’t be too hard acting like I’m hitting on them, much less liking them, will it?
I shove my hands deep into my pockets, and push down the pants a little, so they’re a bit saggy. I pop the collar of the jacket, and bend my knees, swaggeringly lowly.
They see me approaching them. Oh God…. No time to think! Just act!
I tilt my head back and observe them through the bottom of my eyelids casually.
“Hey ladies,” I give a hint of a smirk. Take my hands out, smack them together and rub them together. “Need some help keepin’ warm tonight?”
“Ex-cuse me?” a tall, curvy blonde one stands up to her full height, whit ha look of utter disgust and contempt on her face.
The rest of them aren’t much better: now that I have their full attention, they’re looking at me like I’m a particularly disgusting bug on the wall that’s been buzzing around them incessantly for the past fifteen minutes.
Ha! If they liked me now, they were going to love me next.
“Yeah, who are you?” an ebony-toned girl flicked her eyes up and down in my direction.
“The name’s Alex,” I give a casual, cool roll of my shoulders forward. “But uh…” I press my thumb against my right nostril and blow. “You can call me your Big Mac Love Machine.”
They look at each other, and two of them echo, “Big Mac?” like I’m an idiot.
“Yeah,” I smile with one side of my mouth cocked higher than the other. “Because, I come in ‘Super Size’,” I raise and lower my eyebrows to emphasize my point. “And you can keep the fries, baby,” I wink at the blonde leader, who looks back, shocked.
My lord, these were the worst pickup lines even I’ve ever heard; where was this stuff coming from?
“Ugh!” wrinkling her nose in revulsion, she snapped her cell phone closed with one hand, and took two aggressive steps toward me. “Were you born vulgar, or did you just happen to have a brain of a five year old implanted in you?”
“Hey, baby!” I put my hand over my heart, wounded. “I was just trying to express my love for you.” I took a step towards her, but mine was more of a swagger. “After all, when I saw your face, I could have sworn it was daylight, you were so stunning!”
Two of the girls, one a red-head, the other a coffee-colored brunette, looked at one another, impressed.
But she just raised her eyebrow up, looking down at me with a sneer. “I happen to have a boyfriend, so get lost!” she said.
“Aw, dang!” I snap my finger down, in exaggerated disappointment. “Because, I could tell by looking at you, that we were made for each other…” I lean toward her, and lower my voice huskily, like I had a secret just for her. The hell???
Her face seems to spark with a small flicker of interest. “Oh really?” she leans in, wanting me to whisper the secret to her.
What the hell was I doing??? Here was my chance – she did seem intrigued by what I had to say, so I could nail it, and deliver the words that could have her swooning… or slapping, depending what I said.
This was just a stupid game, though, right? I mean, what was I here to do? Make my friends look good, that’s what.
In a moment of pure and utter frustration, I decided. “Because you’re like me, baby,” I say smoothly, whispering into her golden locks-framed ear. “You like it hot… and wet.”
I was so dead.
Her face totally morphed to one of sheer fury as she took a step back.
Her slap had me reeling backwards, and my cheek stung like I’d fallen asleep on it for hours.
As if on cue, the rest of the girls were on their feet.
Where the hell were those guys?!
I hold my hands up in front of me, and slowly start backing up. “But, uh, I guess you’re not my type, so… I’ll be leaving now!”
I turned to run away, but a perfectly shaved leg sprung out of no where, and all of a sudden, I was sprawling on the floor, my knee skinned.
Another girl in the maroon uniform suddenly apearred. I turned around to see her, tall in stature, with amazon-size proportions looking down at me, and boomed, “No one talks to Lindsey Flores that way!”
The next second, before I knew it, I was like a jackrabbit, being hunted down by a pack of bloodhounds.
Most of the people up on the stadium – as the game had not started yet – turned their binoculars our way, and were watching me get chased throughout the bleachers.
I tried to duck, and hide behind a particularly large lady in a muumuu appropriately in our school colors.
“Miss Kuntz?” I say incredulously as I realize the large lady is my geometry teacher – and the same woman I ran into in the ladies’ bathroom on day one.
“Lambkins?” she looked back at me in surprise. But my voice gave away my location, and I had to spring back out from behind her as the girls chased me on. I rushed down the bleachers and towards the exit – at one point, knocking down a man with three large bags of popcorn.
“Sorry!” I hollered back, in abashment, but I didn’t have time to stop and help him pick up the bags, which he began doing, swearing under his breath.
I flew out of the stadium and went around back towards the confectionary and junk food stand, and the bathrooms – and (from personal experience) if there was one place a woman couldn’t enter, it was –
“Alex?” I heard a voice incredulously ask. “Hey, Alex!”
I whirl around and see John, with a plate full of cheese nachos, looking up at me, wearing a confused expression.
“Where the hell were you guys?!” I shriek, looking behind me to make sure the girls hadn’t found me yet.
“He rubbed his eyes behind his glasses, “We thought we’d give you a while longer, so Yin and I went to get some snacks…”
“SNACKS?! John! THEY’RE CHASING AFTER ME AS WE SPEAK!”
He tilted his head in confusion, then smiled, “Way to go, Alex!”
“NO, I MEAN LITERALLY-!”
But before I could get in any more words, I saw them, and they saw me. I saw those cerulean blue eyes narrow at me, and then with an unspoken message, they all charged at me.
I had no where else to run, I had no choice. I looked left, I looked right. I looked behind me.
I darted into the boy’s bathroom faster than Lance Armstrong on speed – something I never in a million years imagined myself doing.
There was only one guy in there, by the urinal (I was already used to the sight of it, I’m sorry to say), who turned around, surprised.
I discretely shield my eyes. “Sorry, have to take a dump real bad,” I mutter, and slam the stall door behind me.
Crap! (er… no pun). I was in deep… er… crap.
Well, at least they couldn’t get me in here. I mean, what girl would walk into a guy’s bathroom? That was just sick – not to mention perverted.
Okay! Okay! Beside’s me, I mean!
So I was hiding there, feeling safe, and getting a second to breathe a little bit as I heard the girls squabbling and bemoaning the fact that I was in there, when all of a sudden I hear thunderous footsteps entering. I thought it was Goliath that had walked in there, and I was praying that a slingshot was possible against this giant, too.
He literally ripped open the door off the stall – hinges and all – and glowered down poor, cowering, little me.
“He’s in there, Danny!” I heard Lindsay holler. Gee, thanks for pointing it out, I thought, gritting my teeth.
“I see ‘im,” Danny towers, not taking his eyes off me, like I was a bug about to be squished by his (I’m guessing) size 13 feet.
Now, my survival instincts, I won’t hesitate to admit, are not the best under the most normal circumstances. On occasion, however, they have managed to save my butt from rather uncomfortable circumstances, so I was hoping that would kick in now.
“Hiya, Danny,” I laugh like a mouse on helium, carefully opening my palm up at him.
He merely growled.
“So, how do you know Lindsay,” I start up conversationally, hoping he wouldn’t have me squewered on a spit.
“Stay away from my girlfriend,” he rumbled.
Okay, so I hoped he wouldn’t burn me as he was cooking me alive, that is. I mean, the taste of burnt charcoal only goes so far, you know?
“Hey, do you go to Wallace?” I start babbling hopefully, desperately. “Cause, you know, it looks like you should really go out for the team, I mean, you’re so… big.”
If he went to Wallace I was so screwed.
“I graduated three years ago,” he informed me. Then paused before adding, “Took the school to the nationals.” He looked back down at me again, still not forgetting why we were here, and not in the least bit distracted by my sly attempt at changing the subject. “So. Like it ‘hot and wet’, do we?” he pounded his fist into his open palm.
Oh yeah. He was so going to eat me.
I can feel my blood completely drain out of my extremities, and suddenly it is really cold. My legs start shaking - intolerably so.
“HeY-” my voice breaks. “Hey now!” I try speaking, taking a step back, and hitting the edge of the toilet. It suddenly becomes really cramped in here. I start shrinking down, closer to the ground, and away from Danny’s glowering face…
“Oy!” A voice from the door booms, making Danny turn around. I can’t see from inside the stall.
“The hell do you want?” Danny grunts to the voice over his shoulder.
“You know who you’re about to pound into a hamburger patty?” the voice casually asks.
I felt a shot go through me. Luke!
“Do I care?” Danny rolls his meaty shoulders, turning to face me again.
“Only if you don’t want to get suspended,” Luke informs him indifferently. “That’s the son of the school’s president.”
Bull!!! I think. But I hope to God it works!!
“News flash: I already graduated,” Danny growls, obviously getting annoyed by the distraction.
This makes Luke stop for a moment. His clever bluff had not worked at all.
“Okay, well, go right on ahead, buddy,” Luke sighed, telling him flippantly. “But just so you know: you’re ‘girlfriend’ is behind the bleachers, giving head to the quarterback.”
Danny’s fury takes another direction, and he stomps out of there like a hungry tyrannosaurus.
As soon as he’s gone, I run to Luke, “Oh my gosh! You are a genius!” I say, choking with relief and tears. And being the stupid girl that I am, I fling my arms around Luke’s torso (what can I say? I’m kind of short). It takes me a second to process what I just did.
“Hey-hey! Get offa me!” Luke pushes me away, and I take three steps back, and look down at the grey floor tiles.
“You okay?” asks, scratching behind his ear, gruffly.
“Yeah,” I mumble quietly. Then I look up. “How did you know to come in here?”
“Yin and his friend found me outside. They looked extremely panicked and told me what happened.”
“Oh,” I nod, as this makes sense. Then… “Wait, how do you know Yin?” All this time I assumed they weren’t friends. I mean, Luke’s coolness factor was way up there – like, Dali Lama, or Nirvana up there. So cool he should live in the Himalayas. Whereas Yin… well, he’s more like a bunny. Cute and lovable but… well, how many times have you heard a bunny be called “cool”?
“What do you mean?” he asks, like I just took a hit of something extremely potent. “Yin and I go way back. We’re neighbors.”
“Neigh… neighbors?” I repeat.
“Yeah,” he shakes his head like I was so far gone it wasn’t even funny any more.
“Then how come you never talk to him at school?” I ask, unable to shut up.
“Hum…” he scratches his head, as if the thought never occurred to him. “Well, I guess it’s because I see him all the time in Connecticut that when I come here, I kind for forget.”
Before I reply, the guys start flooding in. “You okay?!?!” John asks, inspecting my face for cuts, bruises, or excessive bleeding.
“We’re so sorry, Alex!!” Cecil is literally sobbing his eyes out, his glasses fogging over. “We didn’t know this would happen!”
“Never… never again!” Henry is repeating over and over again, looking downright wretched in guilt.
“Thanks, Luke!” Yin says deeply.
The rest of the guys turn, putting the spotlight on our hero of the day. I’m surprised to see Luke blush for the first time, his face flushing an embarrassed ember.
“Whatever,” he says and walks out of the bathroom hurriedly, mumbling about forgetting to turn off the light at the dorm.
Despite his hasty and awkward exit, my insides are glowing warmly and brightly at his kindness.
I won’t go into what happened after, but suffice to say, Lindsay got more than her fair share of revenge, involving a cut-up Patriots’ coat that I had left on the bleachers when I ran for it.