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Salene, Jas, Nokomis and Hunter all entered the house together. Hunter gazed at his sister and moved next to her as Jas and Nokomis went downstairs.
"You okay, Salene?" he asked her.
She looked at him sadly and then smiled nervously, "Fine. Fine. Just a little rattled..."
"From what?" Hunter asked, sweeping his hair from his eyes.
"You need to cut your hair," Salene told him absent-mindedly. She shook her head, forced another smile and added a light laugh, "It's just a really bad grade I got. You know Mom; she'll go off the deep end."
Hunter rolled his eyes, digging his hands into his pockets, "Yeah. Hey, just tell Dad. He won't overreact too much."
"I'll do that," Salene nodded and almost jumped when her phone buzzed, vibrating in her small purse. Hunter laughed at her and headed down to the basement. Salene opened her phone and saw that she had a new text message. She opened the phone and read the message. It was from Lalo and gave his uncle's address. She searched through her incoming calls for Lalo's number. She pressed the SEND button and waited for the phone to ring.
"...Yo!" came Lalo's voice. There was a bit of commotion in the background, making it a bit difficult to hear him.Salene swept her green hair behind her ear and turned up the volume on the phone. "G-Gary?" she asked and moved towards the kitchen.
"It's Lalo, Salene," he answered, yelled something in Spanish, and asked, "So you got the address?"
"Yes," Salene took a breath, "So what do you want?"
"I already told you," Lalo rolled his eyes at the phone, "We need to talk. I need to see you. So, you coming?"
"Well, I-I...I'm not sure if I can tonight. . .," Salene lied. She went to the fridge and fished out some yogurt.Lalo walked away from the noise of his family, "Salene, Salene. . ." he clicked his tongue, "Your mom already tried to lie to me earlier today, you—"
"You came here?! To the house?! What's wrong with you? What if Hunter was home, and he saw you?!" Salene exclaimed.
Hunter walked into the kitchen and peered at Salene. "Saw who?" he asked.
Salene covered the phone with her hand and smiled, "Can't tell ya. Has to do with your birthday." She flashed another big smile.
Hunter pulled out some bottles of flavored water from the fridge. He turned to Salene, "You know I hate surprises."
Salene shook her head, "Don't worry."
"Is he that him?" Lalo asked, hearing Hunter in the background. "His voice has gotten deeper."
"Quiet!" Salene spat into the phone. Hunter threw a slightly offended, bewildered look at his sister. `Not you,' she mouthed to him. "Ga-Gwen," Salene corrected herself, "I'll come to your house now, but I can't be long because I have to drop Hunter's friend back home."
"No you don't," Hunter shook his head, "Dal is coming to pick Jas up and to see Nokomis."
"Quiet!" Salene whispered to Hunter.
"I didn't say anything," Lalo responded.
"Not you!" Salene told him.
Hunter eyed his sister, "You're acting really weird. Remember. No surprises." He went out the kitchen and back downstairs.
"You know how to get here?" Lalo asked.
"Yeah, Gary, I do."
"Lalo," he corrected and paused, "I'll see you soon then. Bye, Salene."
Salene said nothing and closed the phone. "Aaaaaaaaagh!" She put her head in her hands then slowly began eating her yogurt.
Sal lumbered into the kitchen. "What's on your mind, hon?" he asked his daughter.
Salene shook her head, "Just too much, Dad. Too fuckin' much. D'you know when Mom is coming home?"
"She's out with Trudy somewhere. . ." he responded.
"Meaning," Salene began, and they both continued in unison, "She'll be gone till late."
Sal sat down and leaned back, stretching his long body. "Could you get me a beer?"
"Sure," Salene answered. She got up and got flavored water out of the fridge. She put it in front of her father who shot her a look. "This is better for you. It doesn't taste like toasted ass like beer does, and you'll keep your abs looking nice and healthy," she smiled.
"I don't give a damn about my abs," Sal smiled back, opening the bottle and chugging it down. "Another?"
Salene got another one. "You better give a damn about your abs as long as you're still modeling."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Sal shooed her away.
"Can I borrow your car?" Salene asked really quickly, hoping Sal wouldn't turn her down.
"My car?" he looked at her. "My baby?"
"Yes, Dad, your `baby'. Can I please just borrow it? It'll only be for like an hour. Tops," Salene begged. Sal's new SUV was his most prideful possession. He rarely let anyone but Helena drive it, and the times she drove it were few and far between. He fished his keys out his pocket and tossed them on the table. Salene looked on in shock. She snatched up the keys. "Before you changed your mind! Thanks, Dad." She ran out the kitchen.
"Yeah, well you owe me," Sal called. He got up and put the bottled water back in the fridge, trading it for a beer.
Hunter, Jas, and Nokomis lay on the floor in the open area of the basement. Sunlight spilled into the room from the doors open, letting the heat from outside in the room. Jas closed his eyes relishing in the warmth and the quiet as he, Nokomis, and Hunter just talked about everything and nothing.
"So I talked to coach today," Jas mentioned. "He was whingin about my performance in practice. And I'm like it's only preseason. Calm down, y'know?"
"Whinging?" Nokomis asked.
"It's slang for like complaining," Hunter filled in.
"We gotta get you in on American slang Jas," Nokomis laughed.
"Hey," he said, sitting up and peering at her, "I know American slang, dude." He lay back down.
Hunter laughed, "I don't say dude."
"Neither do I," Nokomis chimed. They both laughed.
"Shut up the both of you!" Jas laughed.
Nokomis rolled onto her stomach. "We're avoiding that government project."
"So?" Jas and Hunter responded in unison.
"You guys know how McManmon is," Nokomis surmised.
"Yeah, but it's not due any time soon. So we should just continue laying here and just chill," Jas spoke, rolling onto his stomach. He poked Hunter in his side, "Don't you agree?"
Hunter laughed at the tickling poke and moved more towards Nokomis. "Yes," he smiled at Jas but immediately stopped upon seeing Jas return the smile. Jas noticed and quickly looked away.
"So! When's Dal getting here?" Nokomis asked trying to diffuse a moment that could have become more uncomfortable.
"He's not far," Jas told her casually.
"How do you do that?" Hunter asked drawing circles on the floor with his fingers.
"Do what?" Jas asked.
"You and Dal," Nokomis began answering, "You two always know how far or close the other is. It's cool."
"I don't know. We just do," Jas answered. He couldn't make himself look at Hunter. He stood up, wiping sweat from his brow. He quickly took off his shirt causing a blush and stare from Hunter and a shake of Nokomis's head. Hunter broke his stare announcing that he had to get something from his room. He got up and quickly went to his room. Nokomis threw a glare and smile to Jas.
"What?" Jas asked defensively.
"Don't give me that, Jas," Nokomis smiled. "You are coming on a bit strong, don't you think?"
"I-I don't know how you mean," Jas lied unconvincingly.
"Sure you don't. Now stop flexing," she laughed.
"I am not—" Jas began but stopped once he realized that he was in fact tightening his upper body. "So!" he began defensively and grew quieter, "If he won't chase me, I'm surely chasing him. Plus, knowing that I have the power to make him blush and stare like that tells me that I shouldn't have to work too hard."
"Hunter will come around in his own time," Nokomis smiled.
Hunter came back into the main area of the basement with highlighters in his hand. He went over to the stairs, turning off the regular lights and then turned on the black lights. Hunter's protective words and symbols spilled out around them. He shut the door to outside, closing the opaque drapes and walked back over to Jas and Nokomis. Nokomis reached out a hand, and Jas helped her up from the floor. Hunter held out two highlighters. "Here," he said to his friends, "Y-you are gonna help me."
"Help you what?" Nokomis asked.
"Write," he said, giving them the highlighters. He walked over to a section of the wall that was mostly bare. He told Nokomis and Jas to stand to his left and right. "Just try to mimic me," he told them and began writing on the wall. Jas and Nokomis did their best to follow.
Salene drove past Edison Park, knowing that she would soon be at Lalo's uncle's house. She did her best to calm herself down as question buzzed in her head.
Why is Gary here?
Why does he suddenly want to talk to Hunter?
What does he know?
What did he and Mom talk about?
What does he want to talk to me about?
Hunter won't want to see him, right?
Why the hell is that woman wearing those types of pants? They don't fit her at—
She slammed on the breaks, bringing the car to an abrupt halt. The seatbelt locked up as she jerked forward. She finally focused seeing a guy on his skateboard staring at her and the car with wide eyes. He was sure that the girl who'd just ran the red light was going to hit him and found himself smiling widely in relief that she didn't. Salene quickly got out of the car after the guy smiled.
"I'm so-so-so-so sorry! Are you okay?! Shit! I didn't hit you, did I?" she apologized, running up to the guy. She turned him around by his shoulders and then picked looked down at his skateboard and back at him. "You're okay, right? Right?!"
The skateboarder slowly nodded his head. He put a foot on the ground and kicked off. "Next time just watch where you're going while driving," he said and continued, "Fuckin' lunatic."
"Hey! I didn't hit you!" Salene yelled, "And I'm not a lunatic." The skateboarder flicked her off, turning onto the sidewalk. Salene returned the gesture and got back in the car. "Calm down, Salene," she said to herself as she put on her seatbelt. "You could have serious fucked up Dad's car."
The driver behind her honked their horn. Salene looked back in her rearview mirror. "I'm going!" She started driving again, and after going straight past a few houses, she slowly turned into the long driveway which belonged to Hernan Callas. She got out the car and walked up to the front door of the house and knocked.
A small gray haired woman – whom Salene recognized as Lalo's grandmother – answered the door. She slowly surveyed Salene up and focusing on her dark green hair. "You're the sister of that boy, Hunter, no?" she asked with a thick accent.
Salene nodded, "Yes, I'm here to see Gary."
"He's Lalo, now," Lalo's grandmother ccorrected, "He's in back. Been waiting for you." She ushered Salene in and closed the door behind her. "Just go straight back." With that, she walked to another room.
Salene walked down through a living room and then the kitchen. In the kitchen was a man cooking something on a skillet while watching TV. He looked up from the skillet at Salene, "Hi. You must be here for Gary. He's in the back." He went back to cooking, flipping what Salene thought was a plantain over. Salene went into a small sunroom where Lalo sat reading and listening to music on headphones. Salene walked up to him and tapped his foot. He looked up from his book, seeming surprised for a moment and took of the headphones. "Longtime no see, Salene," he smiled wryly.
"Um, yeah, I'm here," Salene began, annoyed. "So what do you want?"
"Sit down. Sit down," Lalo beckoned, moving a pile of books off a chair. "Wazzup?"
Salene sat down, "Gary—"
"Gary, Lalo—whatever, just cut the crap. Why am I here?" Salene rolled her eyes.
"Because I want to see Hunter, and your mom won't let me," he answered simply.
"Yeah, well, you know as well as I that there's good reason for that," Salene responded.
Lalo nodded, "Yeah, for you all maybe. Me? I got nothing to loose. Already lost a boyfriend who happened to get in a fight with me, making me lose some hearing in one ear. Got abandoned by most of my friends once they found out I was gay. Got into fights with backwards ass hicks in Swift who constantly called me a `sinner'. Went from being most popular to shit in less then a day. I endured that for my last year of high school and the summer before. But I got out. I'm good now—"
"Then why are you trying to stir things up?" Salene asked.
"I just want to see Hunter. Last time I saw him, he was delusional and depressed. He came to my hospital room and told me that I was shit and that I was the blame for your moving away. Then he just walked out. I heard nothing from any of you. My mom and your mom still talked on the phone, but if I asked about Hunter, I got nothing but `He's fine. Helena says he's fine.' I finally got your number here and called your house only to talk to your mom.
"She said Hunter wasn't home and that I wasn't to ever call again. So, I was already planning on coming here while we had Fall break. I managed to get your address from my mom, and I stopped by just to have your mom lie to me," he paused, "I'm sick of the bullshit Salene, and don't you start either."
"Firstly, don't tell me what to do," Salene began, "Secondly, Hunter's almost himself again. If he sees you, he's just gonna get angry and start putting up walls again like before – which usually means he'll stop taking his meds, and then he'll be depressed and—"
"You don't know that," Lalo interrupted. "You don't know that that will happen at all. I just want to see your brother. Have a conversation. See for myself that he's okay. Then I'll go and be out of your hair forever. Will you help me do that?"
"I don't think I can," Salene answered standing up.
"Well, what if I someone got to see him and told him the truth," he threatened.
Salene walked towards the doorway leading to the kitchen, "You won't cos I'll be looking out for him. Bye, Lalo." Salene left the room. "FUCK!" she heard Lalo yell. She just shrugged and smiled. She made her way to the front door. Lalo's grandmother went over to Salene.
"You have a nice bisit with Lalo?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Salene smiled as the woman let her out.
Thanks for reading. I'm starting to write the next part, but there may be a small wait cos of other stories being written too, but don't worry. It won't be too long. Continue to send your wonderful messages to firstname.lastname@example.org