This story is written jointly by Rhys and Jason Gruffydd. While we have written together numerous times, this is our first joint publishing attempt and our first story posted on Nifty. With few exceptions, Rhys is the voice of Lucas and Jason is the voice of Jamie.
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We would like to thank Basil O'Shay for her tireless and encouraging efforts in editing this work.
There was nothing else to do for the rest of the week. I found myself just hanging around the apartment watching TV, too dispirited to do much else. I did go get my ID and I know my Mom had used the phone at work to call my old school. They were allegedly going to send my transcript directly to the school. I considered all the ways that it could possibly get fucked up and figured that most of them would probably happen in one shape or form.
When Monday came around I crawled out of bed around seven. Mom was asleep on the couch as usual. I drank a cup of her instant coffee and had a cigarette out on the porch. Then I went in, took a shower, dressed, and headed off to face the dicks. I checked in first at the office and was told that the letter had not shown up yet, and that I was go to my first hour class anyway, which was Algebra.
I finally located my locker, and of course, it had to be on the opposite end of the building, away from all my classes. I stowed my backpack, helmet and board. The first thing I did with the locker was examine the locking mechanism. I learned a long time ago that the combinations were recycled year after year and all a clever thief had to do was find the first set of numbers then try combinations. Almost all of them would open after the third or fourth try if you knew the first set of numbers. Mine was double zero. I dug around in my backpack and came up with a secondary lock. I'd read in the school handbook that all lockers were subject to random search, but they were going to have to haul my ass out of class to come unlock mine. They could suspend me if they wanted to, and I was willing to take that chance. I'd had an expensive board stolen when I lived in LA and that was not going to happen again. I recognized the algebra book as the same one I had last year, and sighed. I found a notebook and trudged off to class.
My first thought was that they designed these desks for fucking midgets. I couldn't get my knees under the dammed thing. I yawned. I couldn't help myself. No matter what, it's still too early in the morning for this fucking shit. The teacher looked like she either had Parkinson's or she was badly in need of a smoke. I wished I'd brought a book. I watched the other students file into class. There were some pretty girls at this school. A couple of them looked at me and giggled. I gave one a saucy wink and she blushed a deep crimson. There were also some hot guys. I pulled out my schedule and pretended to study it, but I was really checking out the blond headed guy that sat down three seats in front of me. He screamed JOCK with his broad shoulders and thick neck. I could tell he worked out. He wore a football jersey designating him number 24. He wasn't bad, nice eye candy, I decided. The other guy that was reasonably cute in a nerdy way was the guy that flopped down across from the jock. He had on glasses, a white shirt and a pocket protector full of pens. I almost choked, as he was completely stereotypical. The jock winced as the nerd sat there and yammered at him. "Hey, Wilson, are you gonna catch some passes this year?" said the nerd. I didn't catch twenty four's remark but whatever it was the nerd shut up really fast. I could think of a couple of passes I'd like to throw but I was reasonably sure I would get pounded into the dirt for it.
I glanced up at the clock and saw that we still had 10 minutes to the bell. I reset my watch, as I was a little off. I finished that and looked up. A couple of people had walked in, two girls and a guy. The girls were giggling with each other and the guy looked on patiently. He had chestnut colored hair, which was a little long and held a natural wave that caused it to curl over his collar. He was about as tall as me. He wore a black polo shirt with the high school logo on it and a pair of jeans that fit his ass nicely. One of the girls said something to him and he grinned. That grin was a killer; it lit up his whole face. He seemed familiar to me for some reason, but I couldn't place where I might have seen him before. He slid into a chair one up and over from me and continued chatting with the girls.
I ducked my head and sternly reminded myself that I couldn't afford this. I was not going to stare at the back of his head all period. For one, someone might notice. I was trying to fly under the radar here, finish my two years and get my ass back to Los Angeles where I belonged. I sure as shit did not need another scene like the one in North Carolina. People just didn't understand the concept of being bisexual in the South. Not even in the slightest.
I woke up with a jump, not realizing for a moment the loud and offending sound that filled my room was the alarm clock. The summer had been nice and long but the first day of school came all too soon. Slowly, I stumbled out of bed sending the clock crashing to the floor as I whacked it to turn it off. The mirror in the bathroom was already covered in a steamy fog, and I knew that my roommates had beaten me to the chase. I reached into the shower turning it on to let the water warm up as I stood at the sink brushing my teeth. When I was satisfied that all traces of morning breath were gone, I stepped into the shower only to be greeted by the painfully frigid arms of COLD WATER! "Chris! YOU FUCKER!" I yelled, "YOU TOOK ALL THE FUCKING HOT WATER AGAIN!"
The walls were thin and I could hear them chuckling in the background. They thought it was funny. I hated cold water in the morning so my shower was short. I wanted to get out of there before the water made other things short. I ran out of the bathroom, draped in a towel and I noticed the wall clock read 7:45 a.m. SHIT! How many times had I hit snooze unconsciously before getting out of bed? I really needed to move the fucking alarm, I thought, as I raced around my room pulling on my clothes. We had a band meeting after class so I pulled on our corny little band polo shirt and a pair of jeans before racing out of the room yelling at my roommates to hurry up. The fuckers were lucky I cared enough to drive them to school after the taking all the fucking hot water, I groused, as I locked the door and ran down to the car.
I think Chris and Scott were scared. I was driving like a bat out of hell and they were hanging onto the roll bars in the back of the car. I didn't care. I couldn't be late today. I had first period algebra with Ms. Echols and there was no way I was going to chance her wrath.
Ms. Echols was a chain smoker. Any time she was seen outside of campus, she had the remains of one cigarette in her mouth and another in her hand ready to be lit. Rumor had it that she used to be nice, but that all changed when smoking was banned on all school campuses in the state. I was lucky I'd got her in first period. She'd only been without a smoke for about an hour by the time first class began, but woe be unto the souls of those who had her in 6th. I had had her for geometry in 6th period last year and I firmly believed she was the devil incarnate. After 6 long and grueling hours without a cigarette she turned into a madwoman. Every pore in her body cried out for a hit of nicotine and the only thing that kept her from having it was we; the wretched miserable students who dare to even exist and show up for 6th period. Her hands would jitter and the chalk would tap methodically against the blackboard as she wrote out our assignments, and if you even ventured to breathe too loudly she'd promise to see that you spent the rest of your meager high school existence locked in school suspension and she'd tie your weekends up with Saturday detention. I wanted no part of her anger this year, so I arrived in her class promptly, a full 10 minutes before the bell was to ring.
I made small talk with some of the girls and pulled out my notebook as I waited for the bell to ring. Ms. Echols didn't miss a beat. No sooner had the bell gone quiet than she started calling off names from the roll. Most teachers would spend the first day talking and being nice, handing out paperwork and syllabi and whatnot. But, not Ms. Echols, she was not the type to waste a single school day with pleasantry. Her hands were full of folders with all of the paperwork we needed. As she called the roll, she'd hand us the junk and tell us to fill it out on our time, not hers, and move on to the next name.
There was no formal way to answer the roll; I think most of us just said "here" or "present" as we raised our hand so she could pass the folder to us. She was about half way down the list when she called out the name of the guy sitting somewhere behind me. Instead of answering like the rest of us, he came back with a response that brought a shocked hush over the room. "Yeah? What do you want?" he said as he slouching down in his chair. His accent was different. His voice wasn't foreign but it wasn't southern either and it had this air of superiority to it, as if he'd rather be doing anything than sitting in Ms. Echols High School Algebra.
Ms. Echols was stunned. I don't think any student had ever dared to address her in that fashion, and she'd been teaching a good ten years. She paused momentarily, peering over her roll book at him with her nicotine starved eyes before tossing the folder onto his desk. "What I want is for you to sit up, and take that folder home with you tonight, and bring it back with the paperwork filled out inside." she said sharply as she moved on to the next name in her book without giving him a chance to reply.
She finished calling the roll and immediately started her lecture. The new guy waited until she wasn't looking and then gave her the finger as he slouched back down in his chair. He had no clue what he was doing. The way to survive Ms. Echols class was to smile and nod and pretend to be interested. She was a predator who got her thrills from embarrassing the lost. She scanned the room constantly during her lectures hunting her prey at the first sign of confusion and the new guy was definitely in her sights. There was no way she'd let his little roll call stunt go unnoticed. She was a good twenty minutes into her lecture on quadratic equations when she called on him. "Mr. Monroe, would you like to come up to the board and work this problem for us?" "No," he said in his superior tone. "I don't need to work that problem out." "And that makes you think you don't need to participate with the rest of us?" she said; the anger was evident in her voice. "Because I'm not supposed to be here. I could teach this class." he said with an indolent shrug. "Oh, well, then do it, teach us." she called his bluff and handed him the chalk.
The room was silent. No one thought he would pull this off. This was the way Ms. Echols worked. She'd call on you and give you a problem ten times more difficult than the class was actually working on just so she could rip you apart in front of everyone. All of us were silent as he approached the board, and began writing. A couple of moments passed before I realized what he was doing. The guy was actually solving the problem! Not only did he work one of the hardest quadratic equations I have ever seen, but he also explained it step by step as he worked. Ms. Echols was stunned. No one had ever shown her up before, and she stood watching with her mouth open as this new kid upstaged her so much that a couple of the students started taking notes. As he finished working the problem, he tossed the chalk back to her and said in the same even tone he used to teach, "There, it's done. Can I go to calculus now?"
She stood there staring at him for a moment before she answered, "Take your seat Mr. Monroe. Calculus isn't up to me, but I'm sure you and I can have lots of fun right here." Her voice hid nothing; she was already plotting her revenge. Monroe took his seat, gazing off into space with a smug grin of satisfaction on his face until the bell rang telling us it was time to change classes.
Aside from the excitement in first period, the rest of the day was fairly normal. The girls and I, when we had classes together, spent most of our time listening to introductory speeches from our teachers and watching announcements from the administrators on the school's closed circuit TV system. I didn't run into the new guy again until 6th period English. Ms. Clough's English class was at the far end of the school. The new kid must have had an elective at the opposite end prior to English because he walked in only seconds before the bell rang. The room was full so he reluctantly took a seat in the front row directly across from me.
I chuckled to myself when I looked at him. He seemed like an interesting guy. He was very different. His clothes were a far cry from the typical southern standard of a tee shirt, frayed jeans, and Timberland boots. He was wearing a plaid shirt open over a black The Cramps concert shirt. If that wasn't different enough, he was also wearing extremely baggy cargo pants, black Converse high tops, a white puka shell necklace and he had silver hoops in both of his ears. I would have passed him up as some sort of arrogant prick after the stunt he pulled this morning in Algebra, but there was something about the way his blue-gray eyes seemed to sparkle. There was more to him than met the eye.
English seemed to hold his attention better than math. He listened intently as Ms. Clough passed out the syllabi and the reading lists, and went on to plug the young author's contest. She chaired it, so she expected all of her students to enter. There was a twist to the contest this year. The new academic booster club had convinced Ticket Master to sponsor it. They were actually going to have prizes other than cheap computer generated certificates. This year the winner would be getting tickets for two to a concert of their choosing in Jacksonville.
This seemed to excite the new guy and he apparently to forget where he was as he muttered rather loudly, "Fuck Yeah! I can do that!" The room erupted in laughter, as Ms. Clough obviously pleased with his interest but somewhat less satisfied with his choice of words, told him that unless he could give her the derivation of the word, he couldn't use it in her class.
He actually blushed for a moment, this was the first time I'd seen him actually look like he gave a shit but I didn't get to hear his answer, the bell rang, and he quickly exited the room.
I walked as fast as the congested hallways would allow as I tried to get back to my locker. I got my backpack and my gear and headed into the bathroom. I yanked off my shirt and my pants and slid into a pair of shorts. I rolled the pants up and stuffed them in my backpack. I put my foot on the wall to stretch out my hamstrings, and pressed my forehead to my knee. I stretched my left then my right leg, trying to get warmed up for the skate home. I almost wished I had worn sweats to school, but trust these assholes to make a big deal out of it.
When I thought I was warm enough, I donned the rest of my gear, picked up my pack and sauntered toward the back steps. When I got there, the sight that greeted me pissed me off to no end. A bunch of the big football players apparently thought it was hilarious to block the back stairs, forcing the younger kids to stop and have to turn around and go back through the building and walk all the way back around. A lot of kids were going to miss their busses because of that stunt. I stood there for a second and then I decided to just do it, and pray that I didn't fall flat on my ass. I stripped off my gloves and put them in my pack. I tucked a cigarette behind my ear, up under the helmet and made sure I had my lighter in my pocket. I re-shouldered the pack and yelled as loud as I could, "Move! Get the fuck out of the way!" before running straight at the staircase.
I walked out to the back staircase with Alicia and Kelly. The band meeting was cancelled and I was profoundly relieved. I had a feeling the bitch would work us extra hard tomorrow. The girls were laughing about something but came to a full stop. "What's going on?" I asked. There appeared to be a massive traffic jam on the stairs going down to the parking lot.
"Oh, the Seniors think it's incredibly funny to block the staircase. Don't you remember them doing this last year on the first day of school, Jamie?" Alicia said, sounding disdainful. Kelly turned around and said "Great. Now we have to take the long way around. You'd think they would grow the fuck up." She tossed her long blonde hair back over her shoulder and that was when I saw him. "Wait a second" I said, "...wait a second..." The girls turned back around and Alicia gasped.
He stood in full skate gear about six feet away from the stairs and he had this determined expression on his face. "Move! Get the fuck out of the way!" he bellowed and he picked up his board and made a running jump for the staircase.
Kids dove out of his way as his foot connected with the concrete base and he jumped into the air. The flat part of his board slammed into the banister as he landed on top of it and slid all the way down, picking up speed as he went. He flew past the jocks tying up the stairs. They were so startled that no one made a grab for him; they just scrambled to get out of the way. When he got to the end, he kicked the board in some way so it spun in the air and he jumped.
The board came down on its wheels and he came down on top of it, and kicked away. "Holy Shit!" Alicia said, open-mouthed. We were all stunned. He got over by the concrete planters and stopped. He pulled a cigarette out of his helmet and a Zippo lighter out of his pocket. He lit the lighter by running in on his pants and then lit the cig. He snapped the lighter shut with an audible click and then glanced over his shoulder. The jocks that had scrambled out of his way were just now getting to their feet. He grinned widely and said loud enough for everyone to hear. "You sure do look stupid sitting there like that. Maybe you shouldn't block traffic, eh?"
Mike Wilson was the first to recover. "You piece of shit. I'll pound your ass!" He started after the skater. The guy just laughed and kicked off on his board. He gained speed rapidly and zoomed around the busses. From our vantage point, we could see him heading for a dead end. "Oh no! Not THAT way!" Kelly yelped.
Six Senior members of the football team took after him, running hard, and four more were high tailing it for their cars. Alicia, Kelly and I jogged down the steps.
"Who the hell was that guy?" Alicia asked. "He's the smart ass from our Algebra class!" replied Kelly. "Oh no way!" I said, and watched him take the chain link fence in stride. He was running flat out across the football field. "They are going to try to catch him on the other side" Alicia said. I didn't consciously decide to help him. But, I sped up and yelled back to the girls, "See you later!" as I scrambled to get to my car. I dove behind the wheel, slammed it into gear hard and floored the gas. My tires spit gravel everywhere.
I pulled the safety harness around me and locked in, just in case. Mike Wilson was fast in his car; that was about the only time he moved with any appreciable speed. I saw his truck burn rubber as he got out onto the main road. They were going to try to cut the new guy off on the other side of the football field.
I could see him running hard, and figured out that he must run track. He was that fast. He had a good head start on them. I decided he would beat them across the field. I sailed around Mike at the stoplight and floored it when the light changed. I saw Mike make the turn behind me, and I went on to the next block, and then turned. Tim Smith passed me, so I knew it occurred to him too that the guy could have made it this far.
Then, I thought of something. He's new. He might not know that Broad Street dead ends just down the block. I cruised slowly looking down the alley and sure enough there he was, holding his side and leaning over. He was breathing hard.
I stopped and pushed the passenger door open. "Get in!" I yelled. He stood up and stared at me. I could see the defiant expression on his face. "Get in if you don't want the shit kicked out of you!" I looked up and saw Tim, and Alex Baker right behind him in his Trans Am. Tim saw me with the door open and was slowing down. "Get in, you insane fuck! They are coming!" I could see him weighing his options before running to the car. I gunned it as he pulled the door shut. "Belt in. Use the safety harness." I said tersely.
He tossed his board in the back and yanked off his helmet. I didn't have time to see that he'd belted the harness. I heard it click as I watched Tim and Alex both make mid-street U turns to come after me. "Tim, you prick, you'll never catch me in that piece of shit." I muttered under my breath.
Skate punk turned around in his seat and looked behind us. "You mean that asshole in the station wagon is actually chasing us?" he said, incredulous. "Yes. But, they aren't going to try to take me, because they know they can't. They want to box us in." I said, grimly. He was silent for a moment. Then he said softly, "Hey man, thanks, but just drop me somewhere. This isn't your fight." I glanced over at him as I flew through another stoplight. "Fuck that. Where'd you learn to ride like that?" He leaned back in the seat and grabbed a hold of the roll bar. "Los Angeles" Two trucks crossed up in front of us and slowed down. I recognized Mike Wilson. The fucker was actually daring me to hit him. I slammed on the brakes and slid within an inch of his car. I motioned for my passenger to roll down his window. "Give him up Hamilton and I won't have to fuck you up too!" He yelled. "Hey Wilson!" I bellowed. "You'd have better luck driving a shopping cart! Catch me if you can asshole!" I slammed it into gear and floored it. "Oh shit!" My passenger said, and grinned.
I wove around Smith and Baker, leaving them in a spray of dirt. Mark Price and his Chevy Truck, and Bret Baron, in his Toyota Celica both joined the chase. Baron was a nutcase. He tried to cut me off and I just went around him. "Oh fuck!" My passenger gulped. "That fucker is going to roll that thing one of these days, mark my words." I muttered. "Hang on!" I commanded, as we breezed through another stoplight. I was headed out of town. If I could get to Post Road and the straightaway, Wilson and Baker would have no hope of catching up to me. I had taken Alex's cocky ass in a race early this summer. I knew he wasn't going to put up much of a fight, unless he was crazy enough to want another humiliating rematch.
Baron must have read my mind though. He was trying to match me. He was behind and gaining a little bit. Wilson showed up from somewhere, hauling ass and running up my tailpipes. Assholes. They were trying to drive me somewhere. Baron's dad was a cop. Then it hit me and I knew what they were trying to do. His dad was probably on a speed trap on 4th street. "Shit!" I muttered. "Hang on!" I made a wild turn and fish tailed down the one-way street that turned into 2nd. I hauled ass down the alley before it became one way and prayed there was no traffic. In a moment of inspiration, I used the train tracks to get me back to 5th, and then I leisurely turned back onto Main. Mike must have followed me; I saw him in the rearview just as the light changed. "He's back!" muttered my passenger. I floored it. Buildings streaked past. I glanced at my watch, and it read just past four. I grinned. I just hoped the hell I could make it in time. I out ran a couple of cattle trucks, and one full of chickens that was swaying all over the road. Mike was gaining a little bit on me. I edged it up over a hundred and prayed.
I could see the train. The Amtrak flyer was going well over a hundred too. I floored it and kicked in the nitrous. The flame shot out the back and I edged it up to a hundred and twenty. I reached up and set the stopwatch on my dash then grabbed the wheel with both hands. My passenger was white faced. The crossing lights started flashing just as we flew past and the gates began to come down. I heard Mike slam all over his brakes. I eased off the gas and tapped mine. When I had decelerated to sixty, I hit the brakes and the clutch and swung the wheel around hard to face Mike. The train whipped by blowing its horn all the way.
I could see Mike outside his car hopping mad. Alex had pulled up as had Bret and the all looked rather unhappy. I pulled back up to the tracks so they could see us through the train. My passenger leaned out his window and yelled over the thunder of the train "Fuck you assholes!" He then shot them the bird.
I backed up slowly and turned around. Then, I floored it and we shot off laughing down Shoreline Road. I turned down a gravel road and took it very carefully. I knew this would end back up on Post, which is where I wanted to go all along.
"So, what's your name?" I asked. He was still laughing and shaking his head. "Lucas. Lucas Monroe." I looked over at him and grinned. "Nice to meet you. I'm James Hamilton. My friends call me Jamie." He reached over and shook my hand. His fingers were warm and I felt a peculiar tingle go up my arm. "Jamie, where the fuck did you learn to drive? " I laughed. "My dad's tractor."
"Jesus Christ. That must be some fucking tractor." he said and chuckled.