I didn’t get a chance to see Bobby for the next few days. I was right when I said my mother would ground me. Fortunately, it was only for the three days I was suspended, not until I was twenty-five.
One of the days I spent with my Aunt Janice. It was more like a vacation instead of a punishment. She let me stay up late watching television, and then let me sleep in the next morning. I didn’t crawl out of bed until about 1:00 pm. I don’t remember having ever felt so rested. I guess the stress of the past couple of months had caught up with me. My aunt was at the counter when I walked into the kitchen rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
“Look what the cat drug in,” she turned and laughed. “You must have slept well last night.”
“I did. Thanks, Aunt Janice. I really needed that,” I replied still half asleep.
“Someone called while you were still in bed.” That woke me up. She smiled knowing she had gotten my attention. “You left your phone on the counter. I hope you don’t mind that I answered it.”
“No. That’s all right. Who called?” I asked.
“You know who. That cute little boyfriend of yours,” she laughed.
“What did he want?” I asked. It was the middle of the day and Bobby would be in school. I couldn’t figure out what he would have wanted. I hoped he wasn’t in trouble. I’d been worried sick for the past couple of days because he was alone at school. No one would protect him if he needed help. He was, after all, the school nerd. That just wouldn’t be cool.
“He didn’t say. He was probably just checking on you,” She said smilingly. “He really likes you, I can tell.”
“I know. I like him too,” I informed her. She raised an eyebrow.
“Oh, really. Anything serious going on?” All of a sudden that motherly look came over her face. “Do we need to talk about it?”
Oh, no. Not another ‘talk.’ “No, Aunt Janice,” I said excitedly. “We’ve already been there with Bobby’s father.”
“Good. But if you need to talk.” She gave me a serious look. “I don’t know that much about guy love, but I guess it isn’t all that much different than girls’.
“Different equipment,” I laughed. That got me a smack on the back of my head as she walked around me. She served me a light lunch since I wasn’t really hungry. I went to my room and started to call Bobby. I looked at the clock and realized he’d be in the middle of fifth period. I decided to wait until the next period to call him. He’d be working alone in the library then. I waited until about ten minutes into the period.
“This is the devil. What in the hell do you want?” Bobby giggled into his phone.
“Jerk,” I laughed. “Miss me?”
“You know it.” I could feel his smile on the other end. “I can’t wait until I see you.”
“You all right?” I asked seriously. “Has anyone messed with you?”
“Nah. I’m okay,” he assured me. “But you should be here. It’s wild.”
“What happened?” I could tell by the excitement in his voice that this was going to be good.
“You should see Scott. He’s really pissed about those posters I put on the doors,” he giggled. “People are asking him a lot of questions about his parents. It’s funny watching him try and lie his way out of this.”
“Does he know we did it?” I asked worriedly.
“Yeah. He confronted me, but Dr. Johnson walked by. She pulled him aside and said something to him. He’s left me alone since then,” he said.
“That’s good.” I felt relieved.
“That’s not all. He later went to Dr. Johnson and demanded that I be suspended, but she told him he’d have to come up with some kind of proof that I did it.” I could feel the excitement in his voice. He’d finally gotten the best of Scott.
“You did it, Little Man,” I laughed. “We got our revenge.”
“For now.” He sounded worried. “But knowing Scott, it’s not over. We won this battle; but remember, we’re in a war.”
“So what do we do now?” I asked.
“Go to Plan B,” he informed me.
“Plan B?” I had no idea what he was talking about. We’d never discussed doing anything else.
“I gotta go. Ms. Jenkins is looking at me. She might take my phone away. Do you think I can see you tonight?” He asked hopefully.
“Not tonight,” I told him. “I’m still on punishment. But I’ll be back to school tomorrow. We can talk then, okay?”
“Sure. Okay, Ms. Jenkins. I’m done.” I laughed when I heard him hang up. I figured right about now he’d be begging Ms. Jenkins not to confiscate his phone.
I went back downstairs. Aunt Janice was working in the garden. I picked up some shears and began helping her trim some bushes.
“I need to ask you a favor, Mark.” She stopped and looked at me.
“Sure. Anything you want,” I told her.
“I’m going to a conference in about three weeks and I need you to come over on that Saturday and water the garden. I don’t want it to die while I’m gone.”
“No problem. I’d be happy too,” I said with a smile. “When will you be back?”
“I’ll only be gone four days. I’ll be back around noon on Monday,” she informed me. “You can even bring Bobby with you. Just don’t mess up the sheets on the bed.”
“Aunt Janice!” I screamed as I turned about fifty shades of red. She looked at me and fell to the ground laughing.
She took me home around 6:00. I needed to do my homework. My mother had gone to school and had gotten the work I’d be missing. It never made sense to me that you could get suspended but still do the work and get credit for it. What was the purpose of suspending someone? At least my grades wouldn’t be that much affected.
Around 7:20 someone started knocking on the door. I didn’t bother to answer it because I just figured it was one of Amy’s friends. A few minutes later I heard someone lightly knocking on my door.
“What do you want Amy?” I shouted. Again, the light rapping continued. I went to the door and opened it. My mouth fell open when I saw Richard standing there.
“What do you want?” I said angrily. “Who let you in?”
“Your sister,” he said timidly. “Can we talk, please?”
“I’ve got nothing to say to you.” I wanted to take him by his collar and throw him through the window. He was one of Scott’s greatest admirers. He had also been in the locker room when Scott had attacked me and Bobby. He had even cheered him on.
“Listen. I know you don’t like me, but I really need to talk to you,” he pleaded. I could tell by the look on his face that he was serious and wasn’t trying to pull something.
“Sit down.” I pointed to my bed. I took the seat at my computer desk.
Richard was definitely a good looking guy. He was handsome, in a boyish kind of way. He had spiked coal black hair. I could work on mine for months and never get it to stand up as easily as his did. He also had penetrating dark brown eyes, almost black. But they weren’t intimidating. The thing I found striking was the cute little mustache he had growing over his lip. Most guys our age still hadn’t developed facial hair. I could really be attracted to him, if he hadn’t been one of Scott’s best friends.
“Look, Mark. I think I should warn you. Scott’s planning to hurt you and Bobby. Real bad. He’s mad as hell for the posters you guys plastered all over school.”
“We didn’t do that?” I didn’t want to admit that we did it just in case this was a setup.
“Yeah, right. Only one person in our school is smart enough to do something like that.” He was right. Bobby was the only student who could put something like this together.
“What’s he planning to do?” I said worriedly.
“I don’t know yet. I don’t think he does. He could act irrationally and you guys could get hurt,” he warned.
“I’m sorry, Mark,” he apologized. “You guys aren’t really all that bad. I should never have treated you the way I did. I’ve always encouraged Scott. But I’m just as scared as you right now. I don’t want to get involved in something that could really hurt someone.”
I studied his face and realized that he was being honest. He did look worried.
“Thanks, Richard. I appreciate you coming here tonight.” There was no use in remaining angry at him when Bobby and I might need him. “Can you keep me informed on what Scott plans to do?”
“Yeah. I’ll try. Right now he’s not talking to me. I tried to talk him out of doing something to you guys and it really pissed him off. He asked me if I was sucking your dick or something.” He looked at me and blushed.
“That sounds just like Scott,” I said. “That boy’s crazy.”
“You got that right,” Richard agreed. “He’s got some serious problems. All he ever thinks about is sex. I think he’s mental. He’s always trying to get someone to suck him.”
“He ever make you do it?” It slipped out so fast. I really hadn’t meant to ask that, but the way he was talking made me wonder.
“Yeah, a few times,” He blushed brightly. “It started out being fun, but he wanted it all the time.” I couldn’t believe he was confiding in me when we’d been enemies earlier.
“Why are you telling me all this?” I asked.
“I just wanted you to know that I’m serious about helping you. I’m as worried as you are. I think he’d hurt me too. He really needs to be stopped.” He looked at me with a concerned look.
“Look, Mark. I’m gay too. I’m really sorry for that phone call I made. Scott was over at my house and made me do it.” He hung his head in shame.
“That’s all right. Now we have to figure out what to do with Scott. Let me talk to Bobby and see what he thinks. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I told him.
“Ok. But call me at home. Don’t talk to me in school. We don’t want to make Scott suspicious. He’ll wonder why I’m talking to you,” he suggested.
“Yeah. Smart thinking. I’ll call you later then. Thanks for coming, Richard.” He stood and I walked him to my door. Before opening it, he walked over and gave me a hug.
“Thanks, Mark. I’m glad you understand. I really am sorry for hurting you.” He squeezed me tightly.
“It’s all right, Richard. Really.” I hugged him back. I lead him to the front door and watched him walk slowly down the sidewalk. I was more worried now than ever before. Something had to be done with Scott- and soon.
Bobby called later that night and I told him what Richard had said. Naturally, he was worried. We had no doubt that Scott was not done yet. The only thing we needed to figure out was how to get him before he got us.
Bobby kept telling me he had a plan, but he wouldn’t go into much detail. But knowing him, he wouldn’t say anything until he had worked all the details out in his head. He knew that we couldn’t mess up and tip Scott off.
Bobby was knocking on my door early the following morning. Since he lived across the street, we would be walking to school together. Of course, with my three day suspension, this would be our first day.
When I walked into the kitchen he was chatting with my mother. They were laughing over something that they’d both watched on television the other night. I’m not a morning person, so I found the laughter annoying.
“There’s sunshine now,” quipped my mother. Bobby started giggling.
“Yeah. Let me go get my sunglasses,” he laughed.
“Shut up, fu-.” I stopped when my mother glared at me. I’d just gotten off punishment; I sure didn’t want to be put back on it.
I took a seat while my mother handed me and Bobby a glass of orange juice. She was busy making bacon and eggs on the stove. She must really like Bobby. She only serves my sister and me a bowl of Cheerios and toast in the morning.
Bobby sat down beside me and reached under the table and held my hand. This did not go unnoticed by my mother. She walked around and mussed up Bobby’s hair. I swear I’m going to get jealous if she doesn’t quit showing him more affection than she does me.
My sister walked in and sat at the table. I’m not the most cheerful person in the morning, but she is hateful. I don’t recall her ever coming to the breakfast table with anything good to say to anyone. Of course, she doesn’t have anything good to say at any time of the day.
She looked down and saw Bobby holding my hand. She looked up and gave us a disgusted look.
“Why don’t you two get a room?” she muttered nastily. “I don’t know why Mom lets you get by with this shit in our house.”
“Young lady!” my mother shouted. “That will be enough.”
“Or what?” she shouted back. This was not one of her better mornings. “You going to ground me some more? We’re already up to about three years.”
My mother didn’t say a word. She walked over and grabbed my sister’s arm and lifted her out of her seat. Amy drew back her hand and it appeared like she was going to hit my mother. I stepped closer just in case she decided to. I was prepared to knock her on her ass if she swung at Mom.
Before I realized what had happened, my mother raised her other hand and slapped my sister across the face. This was the first time she had ever hit one of us. My sister’s eyes widened and tears began to appear. She put her hand to the side of her face and rubbed it. Without saying anything, she headed for the door and disappeared.
“My God, what have I done?” my mother began to cry. She walked out the door and began looking to see where Amy had gone. She reappeared a few minutes later with tears flowing down her face.
“Boys, go get in the car,” she said sadly. “I’m taking you to school and then see if I can find her.”
Bobby and I grabbed our book bags and went to the car. My mother came out minutes later looking very worried.
“Do you know where she might go?” she asked me. I really didn’t have a clue. I knew very little about my sister’s friends or what they did together. She’d had a few girls spend the night recently, but I didn’t even know their names.
“I don’t know, Mom,” I told her. “Did she take her phone with her?”
“Yes. But I’ve called it and she has it turned off.”
“She’ll be back soon. She’s just upset right now,” I tried to sound reassuring.
“I shouldn’t have lost my temper,” she cried. “But she just knows how to push all my buttons. You never talked back to me the way she does.”
“She’s young and confused,” I said. “She’ll outgrow it.”
“I’ll be dead before then,” my mother laughed nervously. “What am I going to do?”
I don’t think she was asking me. It was as if she was asking herself. Amy had been a problem child for the past several years. She was always getting in trouble in school. She stayed on punishment at home. My mother seemed to be at a loss as to what to do with her.
“Maybe she needs counseling,” I suggested.
“I can’t afford that,” she said.
“My dad can talk to her.” Bobby suddenly spoke up. “He teaches psychology at the local community college.” I looked over and gave him a surprised look. Now I understood why his father was so understanding about me and Bobby.
“I couldn’t ask him to do that,” replied my mother.
“He’d love to do it. He feels he owes you anyway for the way you’ve treated me.” Bobby began to blush.
“How have I treated you?” she asked.
“Like I was a normal person. Not some kind of freak.” I could hear the sadness in his voice. I could never understand how anyone could mistreat someone as nice as Bobby; but it appeared that people had always been mean to him. It just didn’t make any sense to me
“What a strange thing to say, Bobby.” She looked back at him with a confused look. “You’re a wonderful person. Why wouldn’t I treat you like a normal person?”
I looked at her and gave her a ‘drop it’ look. She noticed and turned back and continued driving in silence. I had never told her about Bobby’s antisocial behavior over the past few years. She had seen the changed Bobby. According to his father, I had a lot to do with that. It made me feel proud.
After being dropped off at school, we headed for the cafeteria. My stomach was rumbling because I hadn’t eaten anything that morning. My mother had prepared a nice breakfast, but it went uneaten after the incident with Amy.
After picking up our juice and doughnut we took a seat with the friends I had been sharing a table with last year. I still had not introduced Bobby to them. We took a seat and everyone gave me a strange look. They couldn’t figure out why he was sitting beside me.
My friends aren’t at the top of the social ladder, so they weren’t offended by Bobby joining us. They were just average students, who came to school everyday and did what was expected of them. They weren’t the star football player or the glamorous cheerleader. None of us would ever win a popularity contest. Actually, none of us would want to.
“Everyone, I want you to meet my best friend, Bobby.” Bobby gave them a shy wave.
“Hi, Bobby,” they said in unison. There were four people at the table. One was Kristi, the math wizard. She was a cute girl with red hair and matching large, red glasses. If anyone was going to challenge Bobby as valedictorian our senior year, it would be her. I thought for awhile last year that she had a crush on me, but I later found out that she was seeing a boy from another high school. I was kind of disappointed. It wasn’t that I wanted her as a girlfriend; I just found it flattering that a girl like Kristi would be interested in me. It didn’t do my ego any good to find out she wasn’t.
Another person at the table was Casper. His real name is Charles, but he got that nickname back in the 3rd grade when kids started teasing him about how white he was. He had some genetic problem that had left him looking almost like an albino. He had a great sense of humor and actually enjoyed the jokes students made about him.
The remaining two were Jim and Jenna. They were brother and sister. Jenna was a sophomore while Jim was a grade ahead of us. He stuttered, so it was hard for us to sometimes understand him. Jenna was used to it, so he would usually finish his sentences for him. I often wished that Amy and I could have the close relationship that they shared.
They immediately began talking to Bobby. Kristi seemed to really enjoy his company. I think she thought she’d finally found someone who could keep up with her intellectually. It’s not that I’m dumb. I just didn’t feel like talking about school work all the time.
I sat back and watched him interact with my friends. Last year he would never have thought about making new friends. He seemed to be really enjoying himself.
Suddenly, I felt my cell phone begin to vibrate in my pocket. I thought it might be my mother with news of my sister. I looked at the caller ID and saw my sister’s number. I quickly answered it.
“Mark. I’m in trouble. I need your help,” she cried.