Ah! Morning, and another day of school dawned on me. I'm excited,
aren't you? I did the morning routine thing and walked out to my car,
which in the daylight showed quite clearly just how badly the mud
kicked my ass the night before. It was caked around the wheel wells
in front, and it had actually gotten onto the roof and hood, if you
can picture that. I opened the door and started the car, and then
backed out of the driveway. As I headed down the road I heard the
ticking of the dirt and small bits of grit being flung from the wheels
and pattering off the interior of the wheel wells. I pulled into the
school lot and drove somewhat too fast over the speed bump dislodging
a sizeable chink of mud from the car.
It was a rolling dirt bomb.
I parked and headed for the rear entrance, where I was ambushed by
my two so-called friends.
"Wow! Mud everywhere," Toby commented as he fell into step on my right.
"Looks fresh. You do it this morning on the way in, just to cover
your ass?" Karla asked.
"No, and what makes you think I have to cover my ass from you?' I
"She likes toys," Toby said with a small shrug.
"Toby!" Karla blurted.
"She does? How do you know?" I asked Toby.
"Erik! You don't have that kind of conversation about a lady!" she
"Right, you're right," I replied turning back to Toby, "so, how do
"Let me rephrase that," Karla said sweetly, making a grab at my crotch.
"You don't talk like that when the lady has your balls."
I skittered out of her reach and Toby just grinned.
"Hey, Erik," came a very quiet sound. I turned to face Wes who just
exited from the back of the building.
"Wes, what's up man?" I asked while giving him a big smile.
"Um, I was just waiting for you, you know, in case it rained heavy
this morning," he said with a shy smile. Awww, how cute! "I was safe
this morning, but maybe I should have your number just in case I get
into trouble?" I laughed. I noticed Wes's gaze move to either side
of me and then he suddenly changed his whole attitude.
"Ok, well, I'll see you then," he said with a small wave as he ducked
back inside with a small crowd of people making their way inside.
"Now THAT was interesting," Karla said as if she was musing to herself.
I turned to find them flanking me about a foot back on either side,
and it occurred to me that they had scared my shy boy away.
"Why did you do that?" I asked Karla.
"It looked like he was about to get jumped. Jesus! When he saw you
guys he just up and left! Were you looking at him like he had three
"No, I was looking at him in amazement for a couple of reasons," Karla
said holding a finger out as she prepared to tick off reason number
one, which Toby beat her to.
"The fact that Wes Schraeder even SAID anything was amazing, the guy
wouldn't say shit if he was knee-deep in it," Toby said as if he were
discussing fat content in a supermarket item.
"So what? He's quiet, big deal!" I said.
"Then you have to add in the fact that he is talking to you, and the
fact that you two really don't know each other has to be weighed in,"
Karla stated as she held out her second finger.
"So, I can't know anyone with out you knowing about it?" I challenged.
She and I held eye contact, but I broke eventually. Bitch!
"Sounds like Wes saved him last night," Toby remarked in the same
placid tone. I remained silent.
"Of course we can't overlook that he is as hot as they get too," Karla
replied. I turned on my heel and went inside the building with them
on my heels.
"So, Erik! Inquiring minds want to know!" Karla stated with a giggle.
As we streamed through the hallways I saw Sean Barrett, about six
foot and blond hair, not bad to look at to be sure.
"Sean, dude, I have a question man," I called out to him. He gave
me a small, polite smile as I closed the distance.
"What are you doing?" Karla hissed.
"Getting you off my back," I replied before stepping in front of Sean,
"Dude, Karla doesn't have a date to the dance next week yet, are you
busy?" I asked. Sean looked over my shoulder at a Karla, who was rapidly
shrinking into a pile on the floor.
"I dunno, I guess it couldn't hurt to talk to her about it, huh? That
is if she isn't too embarrassed to talk to me," Sean grinned with
aplomb. I moved on, my work there having been completed.
"Um, that was cruel," Toby said from my side.
"And what you guys are doing isn't?" I asked harshly.
"We were only joking," Toby replied.
"You know what?" I asked stopping to face him, "The joke is old. Wes
helped me out, he's a nice guy, and you guys scared him off. End of
story! Go find someone else to fuck with. Find someone else you guys
can take apart with your little analyses," I smoldered at him before
heading off to my classroom. I sat down and slumped into my seat,
unhappy for snapping at Toby and being cruel to Karla. But it seemed
as if they understood no other language. My business was still mine,
not theirs to speculate over with wild abandon .
"Dog, why are you so pissed today?" Toby asked quietly as he sat down.
"You know what, Toby? You sound really stupid saying `dog' all the
time, you know that?" I glared at him and felt like a shit when his
face fell, "Toby, you look like a dog that just piddled on the carpet!
Now, come on, I'm sorry," I said, in an effort to make peace.
"I just want to know what's so different about today that we got to
you? I mean, I don't want to sound like a total asshole," he said.
"Too late," I stated.
"But I figure we have to be pretty close to the mark to have upset
you like this," he finished. Damn them, why do they know me so well?
"Sean is taking me to the dance!" Karla announced as she swept into
her chair, "thanks for the backhanded favor, I'll have to return it
for you. Which class do I have with Wes?" she asked aloud, as if to
herself. Toby jumped in before I could retort.
"Karla, might be a bad idea to keep it up, especially if Wes is as
skittish as he seemed this morning. You scare him again and Erik might
not like it all that well," he finished.
Karla studied me for a moment, "Ok, I admit maybe I deserved what
you did, and it certainly had some nice consequences, but we have
to talk," she said firmly.
"Why? What business is it of yours? I asked her.
"Erik! We CARE about you? Friends and all that, you remember? If Wes
is your friend then how come he can't be our friend too? Or are we
too lowclass, is he a brain or something?"
"Right now it's cause you're being such a bitch!" I snapped.
"Get used to it honey, I'm practicing for marriage," she smirked.
I looked at her sternly, opened my mouth then closed it. Opened it
again while raising a hand to make a point and closed my mouth again.
Finally a thought came to mind.
"You are so fired as a friend."
Third period was Spanish class, and I happened to share it with Toby.
Senor McCarthy was talking about animals, and of course we all laughed
over el asno, and if you never had Spanish classes, use your imagination.
Once we were finished with the lesson, if you can see the humor in
an old Irish guy teaching Spanish, we were allowed to speak amongst
"So, how did you guys meet?" Toby asked.
"He bought me a beer," I said without looking up from the text I was
"Do...I mean, dude, seriously," he asked. I sighed deeply.
"I got my car stuck in the mud out in front of his house after I dropped
you off last night," I said.
"So you said he helped you out?" he prompted.
"His dad is a tow truck driver. He pulled my car out of the mud for
me when he got home, I was at Wes's house until then," I replied in
"So, is Wes cool?" he probed. I looked at Toby in exasperation.
"Why don't you hang out with him and find out for yourself?" I asked.
"Jeez! Touchy!" Toby said, suppressing a grin.
"He was nice, Toby, real nice. He made us some tea and we watched
a movie and listened to some music while we waited for his dad. Happy?
No hot monkey sex, we didn't fuck like rabbits, not even an innocent
kiss or hug. He was just being nice to me, took frigging pity on some
poor slob stuck in the mud, ok?" I asked.
"Ok, cool., does he like Jack's?" he asked.
"I don't know, why don't you ask him yourself?" I managed though my
gritted teeth. Toby fell silent and the bell rang moments later, mercifully
ending another painful round of questioning. Christ, if they ever
thought I lost my virginity one night I don't think the line of questioning
would be this bad!
I sat in Math class looking on with Dana Van Veighten. Don't even
TRY to pronounce it, trust me, you're wrong. In case you missed it
yesterday, I forgot my math book again. Tell me, please, when, in
my lifetime, will I make use of the Pythagorean Theorem in my everyday
life? I decided to pose just that question to my teacher, one very
unhappy, and I am sure, sexually frustrated woman, Mrs. MacNiel.
"Well, Erik, you could apply it in this fashion. Let's say you were
building a fence around your back yard, and you wanted the neighbor
on this side to pay half for that section of fence. You could use
this to figure out the exact amount for splitting the cost of that
portion of fence," she replied, complete with a diagram.
"That is totally unrealistic! We both know you'd say, `Ahh, give me
ten bucks and we'll call it even', then you'd go for a beer," I replied,
as the class laughed.
"I take that back," I said, "You probably wouldn't go out for a beer.
You're building a fence to keep the guy out, and charging him for
it too! You probably don't like him too much."
"Mr. Anders, you are a disruption to my class. Go see Assistant Principal
Coleman, right now," she said angrily. Seemed I wasn't the only one
a bit touchy today.
Finally it was lunch time, my mid point in the day, and guess what?
Remember how yesterday I had put my lunch money on the math book so
I wouldn't forget it? Well, seeing as how I forgot my math book yesterday,
and since I did it again today, do you think I have my lunch money?
Of course I don't. But I am going to check that pocket about eighty
"Now where have I seen this before?" Karla said from behind me.
"It's like deja vu all over again," Toby added.
"So, any sign of Wes?" Karla asked me.
"If he saw you two he'd probably duck and run," I muttered.
"Erik, really!" Karla sighed.
"No, he's right. I'd duck and run from you too," Toby sighed. I heard
the dull thwack of Toby being hit for his insolence. I turned to speak
to them when I saw him, approaching behind these two jokers and his
eyes seemed to greet me.
"Hey, Wes, have I introduced you to my so-called-friends?" I asked
as he approached. His face registered some surprise, but it was replaced
with a pleased expression as he replied, "No, we haven't met, though
I know of them."
"I'm Karla Johnson, and this creature is Toby Illian," Karla said
regally and Toby merely grinned at Wes.
"Wes, it's been a long time. Want to go to lunch with us?" Toby asked.
"Oh, I don't know, I didn't really bring any cash with me," he said
indicating the bag in his hand.
"That's ok, we always bring extra because Einstein here," Karla indicated
me, "always forgets his homework and his money in the same place,"
"At home!" She and Toby said as one. I wanted to shrivel up and just
DIE. Instead I smiled weakly at Wes and he looked at me curiously
"No, I don't want to be a third wheel," he said.
"You're not, you'll make four, come on," Karla said as she looped
her arm into his and Toby steered his other side, and poor, poor Wes
was caught in the middle. Hey, they were leaving without me!
The weather was a little cool, to be expected in September I guess,
and the monster rain we had the day before contributed to say the
least. I turned on the radio and backed out of the space, Karla in
the passenger seat turned around backwards to face an uncertain but
bemused Wes who sat with Toby.
"So, I guess we owe you a "thank you" at the very least," she smiled
at Wes who gave her, what I would imagine to be, a very confused look.
"For?" he asked.
"Well, we don't usually let Erik wander on his own, but he's driven
between Toby's house and his own so much, we thought he'd be all right,"
she said with a laugh as I poked her in the ribs
"Bad Karla! Sit!" I hissed, which merely got Toby and Wes laughing.
Wes has a really nice laugh. It's filled with fun, not like those
people that try and laugh with their mouth closed, or try and contain
a guffaw in their nostrils. It's an inviting sound.
"So, Wes, Erik told us his version of how you met, why don't you tell
us the truth?" Toby asked with an innocent look on his face.
"Hey!" I protested before Karla shushed me.
"Well, not that much to tell really, I didn't even see him go off
the road," Wes said uncertainly. I think he sensed a trap. Isn't he
smart? I mean, that, ten minutes with them and he knows they are trouble?
"How did you notice he was there," Karla asked.
"Well," Wes sounded embarrassed, "I was standing in the driveway and
he went off the road just a little past my driveway entrance." He
looked at Toby, then Karl, and they looked at him like hungry animals
waiting for the next tidbit, "Well, I heard his wheels spinning in
the mud, that's when I looked and saw him."
"What were you doing out in the rain?" Karla asked sweetly.
"What is this, twenty questions?" I asked in irritation.
"Twenty one actually, be quiet and drive, peon." Toby chuckled from
the backseat, "besides, Wes has always had a thing about rain, even
when we were little."
"I'm...surprised you'd remember something like that," Wes said uncertainly.
"I remember your grandma whipping your ass for standing out in the
rain," Toby chuckled and pulled himself up between the front seats,
"Wes was out in his backyard with his face turned up to the sky, clothes
looking like they were glued to him, and his eyes shut..." Some trace
of knowledge seemed to run across Toby's face. Shit! I think he guessed.
"Sounds like a nice picture," Karla said as she turned around and
sat in her seat. I caught Toby shooting me questioning looks in the
rearview mirror, but ignored him as we pulled into Jack's.
It was a little quiet in the Cholesterol Mecca we call Jack's. But,
again, beings as they had no indoor seating, and the weather was getting
cooler, I kind of expected that. We got out and Toby handed some cash
to Karla, "You want to take Wes up and teach him our evil ways, while
Erik and I stake out a good table?" he asked. She took the cash uncertainly,
then picked up her end of the conversation.
"Sure, come here Wes, Jack's awaits!" she said as she snagged his
arm. Poor Wes!
"So, um, want to find a table?" Toby asked. I nodded and followed
him in his ill-conceived effort to get me alone.
"I get to finish out the questions Wes didn't answer now? I asked.
"Just a few of them. I still have a few in reserve for Wes," he chuckled.
I rolled my eyes in impotent frustration.
"I don't think it's cool that you guys just don't take the hint,"
"Well, I know, and I'm sorry. You want me to stop?" he asked.
"Yes!" I replied.
"Well, I'll take that into consideration," he replied. Asshole!
"I was just thinking, though," Toby began.
"I thought I smelled smoke!" I cracked.
"Yeah, well, I was thinking about what Wes would look like now, standing
in the rain with his eyes closed, maybe his head tilted back to the
sky like he used to do when he was a kid. I guess if you were into
that, it might make you notice," he looked at me, "might make you
run off the road, even."
"Uh, I don't think I understand what you are trying to say here,"
I said slowly.
"Erik, don't play stupid, I know better. This could be good for you,
might be the best thing that ever happened, besides me of course!"
he chuckled again and threw an arm around me companionably. I looked
at him somewhat bemused and realized, then, that he knew. Not that
he suspected or just had a feeling. It was in his face, the knowledge.
It was more than a little frightening.
"Toby, don't get the wrong idea," I began, lame sounding as it was
to even my own ears.
"Erik, listen, we both know what I am talking about. Even if you don't
want to admit it out loud, at least admit it to yourself. This is
a good thing! Besides, you could do a lot worse than Wes Schraeder!"
"I hate you, Toby," I muttered.
"But we love you, buddy," he replied.
Karla and Wes returned from the order window with our food just about
the same time as a Toyota Camry pulled into the lot. It was obviously
a newer car, and the Rap from inside could be heard as the body panels
vibrated with the noise. That's right, noise. I know! You're shocked
at the one teenager in North America that doesn't like Rap. Well,
I learned that we were, as children, first attracted to music through
rhythm and repetition. Think of those old songs they taught us. They
all said the same thing, over and over, in a steady rhythm. And so
that tells me that Rap is for people whose musical tastes never evolved
past, say, age four.
It's not a popular theory, but it works for me!
The doors popped open on the Camry to emit it's occupants, Brian,
Jamie and Bryan. Bryan was wearing a leather jacket, and, I am sure,
it was expensive. He was what my father would call `piss-elegant'
a term that meant, basically, this guy had a little money and thought
that made him hot shit.
"Wow, you guys can afford to eat here? You have to take out a loan
Anders?" he sneered while Jamie and Brian laughed.
"Maybe you could make them a loan, finance their food for them," Jamie
added for good measure while Brian just continued to laugh.
"Aw, Bryan, did your mommy give you enough to eat with today? I see
she gave you a car and probably a gas card too, aren't you special?"
Karla said sarcastically.
"My parents make enough to do that. My freaking clothes cost more
than your whole house, I bet," He sneered back, and Jamie and Brian
"If you do, your parents are being suckered, especially with the shit
you wear," Toby snickered right back at them, "Your mom pick out your
clothes for you?"
"Wes, why are you hanging with these losers?" Jamie interjected.
Wes looked around at us and then shrugged his shoulders at the antagonistic
group in front of us, "They invited me to lunch."
As the final bell rang for dismissal I headed out to my car. Karla
was still inside heavily engaged in discussion with Sean Barrett about
the dance, and good old Toby was beset with a plea from Missy Mumford
to go with her to the dance. So I was free and clear.
"Hey, you wouldn't happen to be going my way would you?" Wes's voice
floated from the open doorway. I turned to see him coming from the
building. I stood and watched him as he got closer, and an involuntary
smile crossed my face.
"I guess I could be," I replied as he closed the distance.
"That'd be great. I have some, uh, stuff to get done at home. The
sooner I start..." he trailed off as he shrugged with a small grin.
"Gotcha," I replied as we climbed in the car.
"I was surprised you called last night," I said by way of conversation,
but also curious about the how's and why's.
"Oh, well, you know it was just `cause..." he trailed off into silence.
"'Cause of what?" I asked.
"Well, you were so clumsy I wasn't sure if you could be trusted to
get home by yourself," he replied.
"Well, you're probably right, but I was wondering HOW you got the
"Phone book," he replied easily. Moments later I dropped him off and
was headed for home with the burning question on my mind. You see,
our number is unlisted! So, why did he lie?