I hope I didn’t make anyone wait too long — I was busy with a project for the past couple of months. A guy’s gotta eat eventually, hey. Let’s not waste any time; back to the story.
Comments and criticisms desired at:
Enjoy the 6th chapter of this series.
My legs pumped rhythmically beneath me as I flew around the tracks. My breathing was maintained at a steady tempo. I used to love how the rubbery tracks felt on my feet as the sole of my shoes slammed against it with every step. In the past, I had felt like I was the only one in the world when I was running — that was what made me love it so much. But today, everything was different.
“Gary,” yelled my coach, snapping me out of my thought.
I veered off the tracks and stopped in front of my coach. My breathing was heavily laboured.
“You’re slower than usual this week,” coach commented and crossed his arms. “Is everything alright?”
“I’m fine, coach,” I told him in between breaths.
“You better be — you have to get it together for tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? Then it hit me. I swallowed. I had forgotten about tomorrow. I was meant to run in the sports event.
My coach must have noticed it, because he had a look of disbelief on his face. “You forgot—” he started but stopped abruptly and inhaled deeply. “Never mind. Just rest your legs tonight, and I want you here at 8 AM for warm ups.” Then he looked down at my shoes. “And I see you still haven’t gotten the sneakers you were planning to get.”
My excitement for the sports event wasn’t there like it had been last week. “Coach, I don’t think I should run tomorrow,” I said after a moment. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this at first.
“Christ, Gary, you know I didn’t mean it that way. I’ll find you a pair to loan for tomorrow.”
“No, I mean, I don’t think I want to run anymore,” I said slowly as I come to the realisation of what had been going on inside my head all morning. Running used to feel good to me. I used to love everything about it. But now, the only thing I can hear when I run was the echo of my own steps behind me. It was driving me crazy. “I think I want to take a break from the team for a while.”
Coach stared at me angrily. “You’re telling me this the day before the sports event?”
“I’m so sorry, coach,” I said and quickly walked away.
I felt bad for walking away like that. Coach had worked pretty hard for the event, but I didn’t want to stay around for coach to explode on me. I shook my head to myself. And I needed the break. I couldn’t get my mind off that doctor, and I didn’t have time or money to waste on a sports event.
Sam had berated me again last night when he realised that I was still digging around about the incident. He had told me: ‘a school doctor with suspicious timing does not prove anything — in fact, it won’t even hold up in court as circumstantial evidence.’ He was right, of course. I needed to find something more concrete about the doctor. But I wasn’t sure where to start.
As I walked out of the tracks, I heard someone calling my name. Looking over at the football field, I saw someone in full football gear walking away from his team towards me. It wasn’t until I noticed the number on his shirt I realised he was Riley.
I greeted him back. “I didn’t know we have practise in the same period.”
“We don’t,” he told me as he removed his helmet. “I’m just doing some extra training with a couple of guys,” he explained as he looked back at his football buddies in the field. “Looks like you really pissed off your coach.”
“Is he still glaring at me?”
He glanced over my shoulder for a moment. “As if he wants to cook you alive,” he said and winced right after he had said it. “Fuck, bad joke.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry about it. I just told coach that I’m taking a break from the track team.”
He looked surprised. “You’re quitting? The day before the sports event?”
“Taking a break, not quitting,” I sighed. “Not you too. I already know what Julie and Bass will say.”
He laughed as he leaned onto the fence between us. “Okay, I promise I won’t give you any shit.”
Then a thought occurred to me. “Can you do me a favour? Can you find out if our school doctor has access to student records or personal information?”
He raised his eyebrow questioningly at me. “My last name’s Reynolds, not Holmes.”
I chuckled at his reaction. “Actually, you being a Reynolds is exactly why I asked you. Probably get the job done quicker than Holmes too.”
Then he realised what I was asking him to do. “You want me to ask my mother.”
I grinned at him. “While you’re at it, find out everything you can about our ex–doctor — the one just before Dr Helena.”
He smiled and shook his head disbelievingly. “Yes, sir, I’ll get right on it.”
We managed to talk a bit more before Riley had to go back to the field. The rest of the morning was uneventful, with the usual classes where I thought about everything except for what the teachers were talking about. The ex–doctor. His connection in it. Pat. Riley. The rest of the victims. Why were we picked. And Archie. God, how much did he know?
When lunchtime came, Bass and Julie surprised me by reacting differently to what I had expected. As soon as they saw me, they asked me if it was true that I had quit running. I corrected them and told them I was only taking a break. That was when I expected them to go into a series of ‘why’ and ‘what are you going to do now’ questions. Instead, they moved on to the next topic as if I had just told them I preferred my coffee black.
Bass offered to come over to fix my bike when I was halfway through my salad. I guess I had never gone into detail about the extent of damage on my bike. So I told him unless he had the equipment to melt a bike frame and re–forge them, the only thing left to do for my bike was to bury it. I could see him blink twice before he caught my meaning.
“You broke the frame?” he asked in disbelief.
“Twisted it. I would have tried twisting it back if I thought it had a chance.”
“What happened? Car accident?”
“Do I look like I’ve been run over by a car? Where is Archie anyway?” I looked around and said. I hoped I wasn’t too obvious with the sudden subject change. I didn’t want them to know I thrashed my bike because I had a bad day.
Julie shrugged. “Dunno, haven’t seen him all day.”
“He wasn’t in Math period today,” added my curly–haired friend.
I wondered if Archie was fine. I can’t remember the last time he hadn’t joined us for lunch in the cafeteria. Then I noticed that Riley and Ruth wasn’t in the cafeteria as well. I felt my heart thumping faster and my head began to swim in thoughts that I had been trying to avoid all week.
Thankfully, Ruth walked into the cafeteria just in time to stop me from panicking. I was sweating a little. Ruth is fine — you think too much, I told myself. Just because a student is not in the cafeteria during lunch does not necessarily mean he was missing. I’ve skipped lunch a few times myself; mostly to finish an overdue homework.
I ignored the look Julie gave me and greeted Ruth as she set her tray on our table. “Where’s Riley?” I asked the blonde.
“He said he had something to take care of,” she replied as she forked her chicken. “I’m starved,” she announced and bit into her chicken.
“Well,” Julie grinned at her. “I’m glad I’m not the only girl in school who doesn’t care about her calories.”
“Not that you have any reason to watch yours,” my curly–haired friend looked Ruth over and smiled. Was Bass actually hitting on the quarterback’s girlfriend?
“School physicians have access to neither the students’ academic records nor their personal information. The only information they had access to were the medical ones.”
“No addresses or phone number? What happens if, say, you got really hurt during football in the field?”
“The student administration office will have the emergency contact number, and any other details if needed. This generally requires approval from the head of the student administration office. Or my mother.”
I thought for a moment. So, if the doctor had no access to our personal information, what was his connection to us? I suddenly wondered if all of the victims had been a patient in the infirmary. That could explain why most of the victims were jocks or athletes. “Do we still keep the medical information of students who are no longer in school?”
Riley shrugged as he pulled out his Biology textbook from his locker. “You want me to get their medical files, don’t you?”
“Maybe. Okay, yes.” The bell rung. I quickly grabbed my own books from my locker and closed it.
He sighed and started walking towards our lab. “The ex–doctor didn’t update the school’s central database; everything is in hardcopy. If you want them, we’ll have to dig it out ourselves from the infirmary.”
I sighed at the prospect of going through tall and messy stacks of medical files. “Do you think we can get Dr Helena or her nurse to just give us the files?”
He laughed as he sat by one of the tables in the lab. “Maybe if you ask nicely, who knows.”
I swallowed when I noticed there were steel scissors, blades and pins on all of the tables. I felt my heart lurch with dread and fear, but I quickly brushed the feeling off. We were probably dissecting some preserved animal today. The lab demonstrator was telling us to get into groups of six.
“Join us today,” he stopped me just as I started to walk towards my usual table. “We only have five, and I think your table’s already crowded.”
That was true — I had six lab partners on my table. I figured the lab demonstrator wouldn’t mind if it was seven people instead of six, but I still had questions for Riley. So, I accepted his invitation and dropped my books next to his. “About the doctor just before Dr Helena. Did you find out anything?”
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t waste any time, do you? His name’s Benjamin Connor, turning 34 in two months, Caucasian with dark hair—”
“How long has he worked for Green High? When and why did he leave?”
The quarterback smiled knowingly. “He put in his notice with his apology this Monday, citing he had a job offer he can’t refuse. He had been with us since December ‘02.”
I was right — he did leave just after the incident. But the doctor had worked in Green High since the end of 2002? He was here for 4 years?
“Is everyone seated?” asked our lab demonstrator loudly as he scanned across the lab. “Good. Today we’re dissecting a frog—” the class groaned in unison. He chuckled at our reaction. “What’s wrong with dissecting frogs?”
“We’ve already done that in junior year,” volunteered one of the students behind me.
“Ahh, but that was a preserved frog. You’ll get to dissect a live frog today.”
“Live frog?” A couple of students looked at each other. “You mean, like, it’s still breathing?”
“But that’s animal cruelty!” gasped another student beside me.
Our lab demonstrator shook his head. “The frogs will be knocked out by the anaesthetics — they won’t feel any pain. It’s no more cruel than dissecting a dead frog.”
“Is it even allowed?”
“For now, yes. But you’ll probably be the last batch of students in California to dissect real animals before it becomes illegal. So consider yourselves lucky.” He sighed before continuing reluctantly. “By law, this exercise is not compulsory. You can leave now if you wish and you won’t be penalised.”
A couple of students looked at each other in the lab, and some just picked up their books and left without hesitation. I guessed given the opportunity to skip a class, who wouldn’t? I was surprised when most of the students stayed, including Riley, which meant I had to stay as well.
“One person from each table come up and get your frog.”
Riley nudged one of the guys at our table. Sighing loudly, the guy stood up and walked towards the front of the lab. For some reason I couldn’t explain, my heart started to race. I was having trouble thinking.
“Gary?” asked the quarterback. “Are you okay?”
I nodded quickly and swallowed. “Did the file say where the doctor’s working now?”
He shook his head. “But we have his address and phone number. I’ll pass you the file after the lab.”
The guy Riley nudged earlier came back and dropped the frog on the table in front of me. I could see the frog breathing. Its eyes was still open and it was looking at me. It was still breathing.
“I’ll do the dissection,” I heard Riley say as he moved the frog away from me and placed it in front of him. I looked away when he picked up the steel pins.
“Your mom told you all that during lunch?” I quickly asked him. I desperately wanted to distract myself.
“No, she’s always out of her office during lunch,” he answered.
“Oh. I thought you went there during lunch. Where were you?”
“At her office.”
It took a moment before what he said clicked. I turned my head in surprise and looked at him, just in time to see him push the blade into the pinned frog’s belly. I quickly looked away again. “What do you mean? You just said she wasn’t in her office.”
“Did you really think she’d tell me all those things if I asked?” he said cheekily.
So I was right — he really did it. “Shit. You didn’t.”
“Yeah, I did. She’d kill me if she found out, so keep it down,” he whispered.
“I told her secretary I’d wait for her in her office.”
I still couldn’t believe it. Riley actually broke into Principal Reynolds’ office. “I didn’t ask you to do that,” I muttered softly, feeling guilty.
“Holy crap,” exclaimed one of the guys at our table. “Is that his heart?”
“Her heart,” corrected Riley. “And these,” he paused. “Are her ovaries. I’m gonna need to take them out.”
A collection of ‘ewws’ echoed around the table.
“What? I’m just telling ya, just in case you mistake another female frog as a he. This thing here is her liver. It’s the biggest organ in the frog.” Riley seemed to be really into it.
“I still can’t believe the heart’s still beating after you cut her open like that,” commented one of the girls. “Look at how slow it’s beating. Is she dying?”
“She will soon,” replied Riley. “But frogs naturally have a slower heart beat. This is her large intestine.”
“Excuse me,” I muttered and quickly walked out of the lab and dashed into the washroom. I splashed some water onto my face and leaned forward onto the sink. I felt really sick — I ran into one of the stalls and heaved my lunch into the toilet bowl. Dammit. I’m such a mess.
I flushed the toilet and walked out of the stall. I looked at myself in the mirror. I can’t go back in like this. My face was completely white and I was sweating all over. I ran the tap and washed my face again. I had to be the most messed up guy in California right now. I slid down to the ground and buried my head in my arms. Before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably.
After a while, the toilet door opened and someone walked in, stopping a few feet away from me. I looked up from my arms and was disappointed and glad at the same time he wasn’t anyone I know.
“You okay?” asked the guy hesitantly.
“I’m fine,” I told him and stood up, turning my back to him. That seemed to satisfy him, because he walked into one of the stalls. I washed my face again and looked at myself in the mirror. Maybe I’ll just stay here until the period’s over. Just as I thought that, someone else walked into the washroom, looking at me strangely. Fuck that. I’m going to do something useful.
With that I left the washroom and walked towards the Drama club. I needed to find out if all the victims had been to the infirmary. I had my share of visits to the infirmary, and I was sure Pat had been there a few times as well. Assuming that all the jocks and athletes have had sports injuries at some point, I only needed to find out if Kelly and Aaron had been to the infirmary. When I was finally outside the Drama club’s room, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
The door opened and a face I recognised appeared at the doorway. It was that racist blond actor yesterday who made some really rude remarks about Aaron.
I sighed inwardly. “Is the girl yesterday around? I want to speak with her,” I asked the racist jerk as civilly as I could.
“Joyce? She’s in her Arts class. You’ll have to catch her there — most of the club isn’t coming in today,” he answered. There was almost a sincere tone to his voice, which surprised me.
I studied him. Something about him was different today. “Listen, is there anyone else around here I can speak to about Aaron? And no more racial slurs or you’re gonna get hurt.”
The handsome blond actor shook his head. “As I said, most of the club isn’t here today. Did you watch us last night? It was a huge success, despite all the problems we had. Aaron’s replacement didn’t turn up, so in the end they got me to do it,” he smiled again. “And Lisa danced flawlessly even with her sprained ankle. I think it made her ankle worse, but the applause we got made it all worth it.”
I see. So that was why the racist jerk’s head was in the clouds today. I could almost describe him as pleasant. I wondered if I should risk asking him about Aaron. He was in a good mood after all. “Maybe you can tell me a few things about Aaron?” I asked tentatively.
His smile went down a little. “Sure. Come on in. What do you want to know?” He was shockingly cooperative.
I walked into the room and thought for a moment. “You said Lisa had a sprained ankle? Did she ever go to the infirmary for it?”
“Yeah, she sprained it during rehearsal. We had to carry her there.”
“What about Aaron? Did he sprain his ankle recently, maybe?”
“Aaron? No, I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”
I felt a tinge of disappointment. “I wanted to know if he’s been to the infirmary.”
“The infirmary?” The blond actor’s smile faded. “Why? Does it have anything to do with Aaron’s disappearance?”
“What do you mean? He was killed by the cannibals — what does the infirmary got to do with it?” the actor asked uneasily.
Taken aback, I asked him. “How did you know about that?”
“People have been talking. Someone yesterday said that the police have been questioning the students about the cannibal victims. I put the two and two together.”
I was about to say ‘never knew you had it in you,’ but I managed to hold it back. “I have a reason to believe the infirmary is tied in all this,” I told him instead. “All I need to know is if Aaron has ever been there.”
The handsome blond’s face turned white. “What do you mean it’s tied in all this?” his voice shook a little. “Are you saying that if Aaron had never gone to the infirmary, he’d still be alive?”
“Yes,” I said simply. Then I realised what he had just implied. “So he’s been there?”
But he didn’t answer. “I gotta go,” he mumbled quickly instead and suddenly bolted out of the room.
Surprised, I tried running after him, but I couldn’t see which way he went. Dammit, what’s with him? Why did he run?
Shaking my head to gather my thoughts, I thought about what to do next. Maybe I should ask the girl yesterday. I think he said she was in her Arts class. I wasn’t sure where her class was, but there were a couple of rooms with paintings down in the North hall. Maybe she was in one of them. Sighing to myself, I walked towards the North hall. What else could I do?
I was surprised when I actually did find her in one of the rooms. But everyone was too busy painting to notice me at the doorway. When I realised there was no teacher in the room, I walked over to where she was.
She looked up as I approached her. “Hey, you’re that guy from yesterday,” she smiled. “What are you doing here? Did you see us last night?”
I shook my head. “But I heard it was great. Can I ask you about Aaron again?”
“Last night went amazingly well — you should have seen us,” she smiled widely. But then it faded quickly. “Is Aaron okay? Have you heard from him? I’m Joyce, by the way,” she stuck out her paint–covered hand.
I showed her the bandages around my hand apologetically. “I’m Gary. Sorry, nothing new on Aaron. But I’m wondering if he’s been to the infirmary, for any reason at all.”
“Why would he need to go to the infirmary?” she frowned as she picked up her brush and dipped it into the paint.
“If he sprained his ankle, for instance.”
“Like Lisa?” she looked up in thought. “No, I don’t think Aaron has ever been injured.”
Dammit. Then a thought occurred to me. “When Lisa sprained her ankle, was she carried to the infirmary?” I seemed to remember the blond actor mentioning something about it.
Joyce nodded after a moment. “But Aaron wasn’t one of the guys, if that’s what you’re thinking. I remember because Aaron was absent when it happened,” she said and almost instantly blushed. “I mean, it’s not like I always notice when Aaron’s absent or anything—”
“It’s okay, I get it,” I assured her. I felt bad for Joyce.
Okay, so according to her, Aaron had never been to the infirmary. But if he had never been to the infirmary, what was his connection to the doctor, Benjamin Connor? Then another thought occurred to me. Maybe there was another person in the picture?
“Joyce, do you remember the guy yesterday? The one who really hated Aaron?”
“Blond and about this high?” she put her hand up in the air in measurement.
“Yeah, that would be him. The racist jerk.”
“That’s Henry. He’s not usually that bad — he can be quite nice as long as you don’t talk about Aaron.”
“Right. Do you remember if he’s ever been to the infirmary?”
“Henry?” She thought for a moment. She had a funny habit of looking up when she thinks. “No, I don’t think so. Never sprained his ankle as well.”
I nodded in disappointment. I was about to thank her and leave, but she interrupted me.
“Wait, Henry was one of the guys who carried Lisa to the infirmary.”
Surprised, I asked her. “Are you sure?”
Joyce nodded confidently. “As I said, Henry can be a nice person.”
So Henry was the one who had been to the infirmary, not Aaron. But what does it even mean? At first I thought maybe Henry was somehow involved in all this with the doctor, but something still didn’t fit. I can’t seem to put a finger on it. “What’s Henry’s last name?”
“I think it was Singer.”
I thanked her and left the class. Henry Singer. I wondered where I could find out more about him. I wondered what was his connection with the doctor, Benjamin Connor.
Later that day, I tried looking for Ruth a couple of times, but I couldn’t find her. In the end I gave up and asked someone else in the Math club about Kelly Pratt. To my disappointment, like Aaron Xiang, nobody remembers her ever going to the infirmary, or if she was ever injured.
At that point, I began to doubt if I was right about the doctor’s involvement in the incident. It seemed that Kelly and Aaron have never seen the doctor. If the doctor was involved, does it mean that him working in Green High School was merely a coincidence? And if he wasn’t the one who ‘picked’ the victims, who did?
Larry, my dark–haired instructor, punched the button beside me and we waited as the man–sized target board slid over to us. I removed my hearing protection and studied my performance.
“Well, that was...” Larry hesitated as he stumbled for words. “...quite a start, for a first–timer.”
I looked at him incredulously. There was only a single hole on the board, outside the circle. “Just say it. It was horrible, even for a first timer,” I crossed my arms and spat.
The dark–haired man burst out in laughter. “Sorry, I’m speechless — I’ve never seen such a terrible shot before!”
I scowled at him. “Get me another cartridge,” I told him as I put the hearing protection back over my head.
He laughed apologetically. “Don’t worry, you’ll get better.”
After Larry came back, he watched as I changed the cartridge in the Glock G17 pistol. It was a 9mm caliber semi–automatic handgun, I repeated to myself in my head. It was very similar with the 40–caliber version of this gun, the G22. The G22 was more popular with the local police, but the ammo for the 9mm version was slightly cheaper. At least, that was what Larry told me, my shooting instructor.
Keep my fingers off the trigger unless I’m planning to shoot. Don’t point at things I don’t intend on shooting. Hold the gun up high and tight. Strong foot forward, and hip at 45 degrees. Focus on target, take my time to aim, and pull the trigger. Semi–automatic meant that I needed to pull the trigger once for each bullet I fire. I repeated it until I ran out of bullets again. As I lowered my gun Larry hit the button to bring the target to us.
I pulled my hearing protector out and looked at the target. Two visible holes, but both were still outside the circle.
“At least you got two on the board this time,” my dark–haired instructor said. “You wanna give another try?”
I hesitated a little while deciding if I should buy another cartridge of ammo. I had spent most of my money that was meant for my new running shoes in the shooting range. I sighed. At least the next time I come back here I don’t need an instructor. I had memorised everything he taught me. “Just one more cartridge today.”
This time I did slightly better. One single bullet hole, but it was actually on the edge of the circle. It was the closest I ever got of being inside the circle. I really was a horrible shot.
I was tempted to keep going, but I didn’t want to explain to Sam why I needed more money. Besides, my hand was throbbing again — I guess the recoil from shooting wasn’t very good for my wound. So I reluctantly handed the rented handgun back to Larry and left the shooting range. As I was walking home, I wondered briefly if I should buy my own handgun. I obviously needed the practise, and if I rented a handgun each time, I would end up spending more money than I want.
“I’m home,” I announced my presence loudly as I closed the door behind me.
I received the usual reply from Sam in the kitchen, but I was surprised when I saw Riley sitting by the dining table. He greeted me with a grin.
“What are you doing here?”
He pointed at a Biology textbook on the dining table. “I couldn’t find you after class, so I brought it here.”
I swallowed. I suddenly remembered that I had walked out of my Biology lab in the middle of the dissection. I forgot all about my textbook. Did Riley tell my brother that I skipped class? I looked nervously at Sam who was still busy cooking our dinner.
“I only told him you forgot your book, nothing else,” Riley whispered as I sat next to him.
I nodded at him gratefully. I couldn’t even remember the last time I skipped class. I wondered how Sam would react if he knew I walked out in the middle of one. “Sam, what are you cooking? It smells real good,” I asked my brother.
“Eggplant and tofu on cream sauce with white wine. There are roasted potatoes in the oven,” he answered without looking back. “Help me talk your friend into staying for dinner.”
“No, no, I really don’t want to bother you two again,” Riley quickly said. He looked at me. “Your brother’s been trying to get me to stay for dinner.”
“Why not stay?” I asked him instead with a grin. “You know you love that smell.”
The quarterback looked unsure. “Are you sure it’s alright if I stay?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
He shrugged. “Will there even be enough food?”
Sam turned around at that. “Don’t worry about that — I added an extra portion for you when you walked in that door. Just call your mom and tell her you’re eating out.”
Riley stared at Sam in surprise. “You were that sure I would stay?”
“No, but just in case, you know? But I guess now I have to throw it all away—”
“Okay, okay, I’ll stay,” he chuckled. “Why does it feel like I’m being blackmailed?”
“Emotional blackmail. But don’t worry,” I assured the quarterback. “Eventually you’ll learn how to ignore Sam.”
But Riley didn’t say anything in reply. Instead, he had this bewildered look on his face. He then leaned into me and took a whiff. His eyes widened in surprise. “Were you at the shooting range?” he whispered.
Shocked, I looked at Sam and was relieved that his back was on us. “How did you know that?” I whispered back.
“You smell of gunpowder — I can smell it over the cream sauce!”
Damn. I hurriedly excused myself to my room. It was a good thing Riley told me about it. I lifted my shirt over my head and dropped my jeans as soon as I closed the door. Sam would fly off the handle if he knew I was taking shooting lessons instead of buying that pair of running shoes which I had been saving up for.
At first I took out my usual home wear t–shirt and shorts from my drawer, but for some reason I didn’t want to be seen in those today. So I stuffed them back in and got dressed in a much more presentable shirt and pants before walking out of my room.
My brother took a look at me and raised his eyebrow questioningly. He must have found it weird that I had decided to change my clothes for no apparent reason. I swallowed and made a mental note to wash my clothes as soon as I can. “I was about to ask your lazy ass to set the table up,” he said instead.
For once, I gladly obliged and started clearing up our dining table. Riley didn’t say a word and simply helped me lay out the plates and cutlery as if we had been doing this for years.
Our dinner conversation revolved mostly around what we were planning to do in college. I was surprised to find out that Riley wanted to get into medical school. So that was why he was so good at the dissection. Somehow I just knew he would make a great doctor and surgeon.
I told Riley and Sam I wanted to get into law school, following the footsteps of my brother. What I didn’t tell them was I could no longer feel the passion for it. I didn’t understand it myself. I had used to love it so much, especially when Sam talked about the cases he had worked on with his bosses.
The quarterback told us about how he had always loved ER, the television series, and how he believed it was what inspired him to be a doctor. Since then he had been working hard on getting good grades to get into medicine, and hence, why he had been trying to top me in Biology and Chemistry.
There was such an amazing sparkle in his eyes when he was telling us about his dream – I couldn’t help but smile. He was almost like a completely different person. Who would imagine this high school quarterback had dreams like that.
Some time after dinner, while we were washing up the dishes, Sam declared that he needed a shower and excused himself. As soon as my brother turned on the shower, Riley turned towards me. He had this serious look on his face.
“What were you doing before you came home?”
“Wha—” I was caught off–guard. “What’s this about?”
“You know what this is about. And I’m guessing he doesn’t know you’ve been playing with guns?” the quarterback gestured at the shower.
I grabbed his arm. “It was only today. You can’t tell him, please,” I pleaded.
He shook off my arm and looked away. He took a deep breath and looked at me again before continuing. “Were you planning to kill Benjamin Connor?”
“What? Of course not! How could you think of such a thing?”
“What was I supposed to think? You wanted me to get his home address for you and next thing I know I smell gunpowder on you!”
“I wasn’t planning to kill him!”
“Then why did you smell like you’ve been practising the act of doing it when you got home?”
I couldn’t answer the question. I hadn’t expected to be confronted like this by Riley. I thought he would understand.
He put away the plate he was drying and walked over to his bag.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
He didn’t say a word as he picked up his bag. He walked to the front door and paused. “Tell Sam I said thanks. See you at school on Monday.”
But he ignored me and left.