When Buddy left Andre’s trailer, he headed to the only place he could find refuge-
his aunt’s house. She lived six blocks away in a small, wood-framed cottage. His
aunt, Mavis Jenkins, was the youngest of six sisters in his mother’s family. He also
had three uncles, but he rarely saw any of them. Occasionally, they would stop by
the trailer to get drunk with his mother. On those occasions, he would usually go to
Since it was late when he knocked on the door, she opened the blind slightly before
opening the door. Meth addicts had recently taken over the neighborhood, and she
was constantly in fear of being robbed by some stranger. A few weeks earlier, she
had called the police late at night when she heard someone in the backyard. They
had left by the time the police arrived.
“Hello, Dear,” she smiled as she opened the door and let Buddy enter. She was
dressed in an oversized pink nightgown. She had pinned the top so her breasts
wouldn’t show. Buddy looked down and laughed at the brown shaggy slippers she
was wearing. He had bought them for her at Kmarts last Christmas with money he
had saved by shoveling snow from sidewalks for elderly residents in the trailer park.
He kissed her cheek and said, “Hi, Mavis. Sorry for coming by so late.”
She looked out and scanned the street before closing the door. She asked angrily,
“She entertaining tonight?”
“What do you think,” replied Buddy as he toed off his shoes and dropped into a
tattered sofa. He had spent numerous nights asleep on it. “How’s the arthritis?”
“Me and old Arthur just don’t get along,” replied Mavis as she rubbed her shoulder.
Even though she was in her late forties, working the graveyard shift in a plastics
factory had taken its toll on her body. After two years of fighting with social
security, she finally was able to convince them she was totally disabled and could no
longer work. A meager check came at the first of the month, but she was usually
broke by midmonth. Buddy helped her when he could, but it was difficult finding
work when you’re sixteen years old.
He asked worriedly, “Did you take your medicine?” He knew that she often ran out,
and it would be weeks before she could fill another prescription.
“I have half a bottle,” she replied. “I only take it when I can’t get around.” She
rubbed a sore hip. “I think it’s getting close to that point.”
“I wish I could help you,” replied Buddy sadly.
She sat down on the sofa and placed a comforter over her legs. “Child,” she said,
“You better help yourself first. With that no good sister of mine, you’re going to
need it.” She put her feet in his lap, and he began to massage them.
“True,” he replied as he looked over at the television screen. The evening news was
showing scenes of a bloody massacre in the Mideast somewhere.
His aunt looked over worriedly. “Has she hit you recently?”
“No,” he replied. “She pretty much leaves me be. Now that I’m bigger, I think she’s
afraid I’ll hit her back.”
“Smack the shit out of her,” laughed his aunt. “Hell, when you get done, I may do it
myself.” She rubbed her hands together. “That is if old Arthur will allow me to.”
She lay back and closed her eyes. “That feels good,” she mumbled as Buddy
continued to gently rub her feet.
They quietly watched television for the next couple of hours. Around nine, Buddy
fell asleep. His aunt covered him with her comforter before she headed to bed.
* * * * * *
Kyle was sitting in the cafeteria before classes started. He walked to school earlier
than normal to avoid talking to his father. He was puzzled why his parents kept
probing him about Jordan. He thought he and Jordan had been discreet about their
relationship, but perhaps it was still obvious that they were more than friends. No
one had ever mentioned it before, until now.
“They probably feel guilty,” he thought to himself as he drank his orange juice and
nibbled on the stale doughnut. He was sitting with three other classmates, but they
rarely spoke. They merely nodded their head when they came to the table.
His parents knew that he objected to the move. They didn’t really have to, other
than his parents wanted to ‘move up,’ as his father repeated often. He was happy
in their old home. He had lived there since he was born; and he thought he would
remain there until he went to college. However, two years ago his parents had paid
off the mortgage of the home, and they began to talk about finding a larger place.
During the spring, his family bought a home in a secluded, gated community. The
five bedroom home was situated on two acres atop a hill. It had a three-car garage
and a heated swimming pool. After numerous improvements to the property, they
finally moved in after the Fourth of July. It was his parents’ dream home. To him, it
was like living in hell.
To him, living in a gated community was like living in a prison. After a week of sitting
on the expansive porch waiting to see if anyone his age would ride by on a bike, he
finally gave up and spent the rest of the summer in his room. His sister quickly
made friends with a girl across the street who was a year older. She took her to the
mall on the weekends and introduced her to many of her friends. She introduced
her to Brad, and he soon became a frequent visitor to their home.
Suddenly, he heard a disturbance on the other side of the cafeteria. Several
students shouted, “Fight!” Within seconds, students were standing in their chairs
to get a better view of the altercation.
He then heard an unmistakable shout, “Fucking bitch!” He instantly recognized his
sister’s voice, and he knew that she must be one of the students involved in the
fight. For a brief second, he thought that he should attempt to make his way
through the throng of students to help her. However, he didn’t care that she was
involved. He knew that if he were drowning in the pool at home, she wouldn’t even
take the time to throw him a life preserver.
So he picked up his book bag off the table and crept unnoticed out a side door.
* * * * * *
Buddy was making his way out the door to head home. School was becoming more
a waste of time. He had heard all his life that the way to success was a good
education; however, he wondered just how much he was learning.
In all his classes, everyone was talking about the big fight between Melissa Caldwell
and Joy Riddler. From the rumors he had heard, Melissa confronted Joy in the
cafeteria before school began. She accused Joy of having sex with Brad. Shouting
became shoving, and Melissa then slapped Joy. A fight ensued with both girls
clawing at each other and pulling hair. Both girls managed to get in several punches
before a school security officer, two teachers and an assistant principal were finally
able to separate them.
He felt especially sorry for Kyle. In all three classes they shared, students continued
to ask him if he knew about Brad’s affair with Joy. They questioned him when his
sister found about it. Kyle insisted that he knew nothing, but it still didn’t stop the
He had hoped that Kyle would sit beside him again in computer science, but he
didn’t. Since Joy was not in class, he sat at his regular seat.
As Buddy headed for the exit, he heard someone call out, “Hey, you! Wait a
minute.” He turned to see Brad Chambers running toward him. When he got to
him, he reached out and grabbed the front of his sweatshirt. Buddy shoved him
away and took a step back.
Brad asked angrily, “Did you fucking tell anyone what you saw?”
Buddy insisted, “No, Man. That shit didn’t concern me. I don’t give a fuck who
you’re boning. Ain’t none of my business.”
Brad approached Buddy threateningly, but Buddy stepped back and raised his fists.
Suddenly, a teacher down the hall stepped out of her room and shouted, “What’s
going on out here?”
Brad turned and shouted, “Nothing, Mrs. Jamison. Ain’t nothing going on. We’re
just talking, that’s all.” He then turned back to Buddy and threatened softly, “This
ain’t over. We have some unfinished business. I know your ass is behind all this.”
He looked down the hallway at the teacher, waved and stormed away. Buddy
exhaled deeply before walking away.
Later that evening he was sitting in his room with Andre. He had been trying to
catch up on homework, but Andre wanted to talk after Buddy told him about the
fight and his encounter with Brad after school.
“He really wanted to kick your ass?”
“Yeah,” replied Buddy. “If that teacher hadn’t come out of her room, he would
“So?” asked Andre. “What are you going to do?”
“Not much I can do,” he replied. “Maybe he’ll realize I didn’t start the rumor about
him and Joy.”
Andre then asked, “Did Kyle say anything about it?”
“Yeah, sure,” Buddy replied sarcastically. “We’re best buds, remember? He talks to
me about everything.”
“I thought he sits beside you in one of your classes?”
Buddy frowned, “He did one day, and he hardly said a word to me. He doesn’t even
know I exist.” He turned his back from Andre and started to read a lit assignment.
He was tired of talking about the fight and Kyle. He was hoping Andre would leave
so he could be alone. However, Andre was the only friend he had, and he didn’t
want to hurt his feelings.
Andre sat on the bed and sighed several times. Finally, he got off the bed, turned
on the stereo and put a CD in it. He began to dance to Madonna’s Vogue. “Come
on, Buddy.” He danced over, grabbed Buddy’s hand and attempted to pull him off
the bed. “Let’s dance. It will make you feel better.” He stepped back and began
dancing once again.
“Come on, vogue
Let your body move to the music
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow,
You know you can do it.”
Andre crossed his arms and then posed seductively. He laughed and said, “Come
on, Buddy. Dance with Madonna.”
Buddy jumped from the bed, turned off the stereo and removed the disc. Andre
watched in disbelieve as Buddy broke the disc in two and tossed it across the room.
Buddy stood before him and shouted, “Don’t you get it, Andre?”
“Guys like us,” Buddy replied as tears welled up in his eyes. “We don’t belong. You
can dance all you want to, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Tears started to flow
down his cheeks.
“Don’t give up, Baby,” Andre said softly as he pulled Buddy into a hug. “Don’t give
up hope. All we have left is dreams.”
Buddy pulled away and laughed. “Dreams? We don’t have dreams,” he replied
sarcastically as he wiped away tears. “We have nightmares. And hope? Hope is for
people who have nothing.”
Andre started to cry as he grabbed his friend and hugged him. “Don’t do this,
Buddy pushed him away. “Do what, Andre?” Face reality?” He pointed around the
room. “Look at us. Look at the hellhole we live in. It ain’t going to get any better no
matter what we do. We’ve been dancing since we were ten, and nothing has
changed. It’s time to grow up.”
“We can’t give up, Baby,” Andre whispered in his ear as he held tightly to him.
“Dreams is all we have.” He pulled away and started singing,
"All you need is your own imagination
So use it that's what it's for.
Go inside, for your finest inspiration
Your dreams will open the door."
He grasped Buddy’s hand and attempted to get him to join him, but he refused.
Buddy grabbed him and kissed him. “I love you, Andre,” he said tearfully. “You’re all
I got. But I can’t dream no more.” He wiped away tears falling down his cheek,
turned and hurried from the trailer.
He didn’t stop when he heard Andre cry out, “Buddy!”
* * * * * *
Kyle was in his bedroom playing a video game. He had his door open, and he could
hear his parents hollering at his sister downstairs. They were upset that she had
been suspended from school for ten days. Since she hit Joy first, then the school
said she instigated the fight, and Joy was merely defending herself.
When he came home, his mother called him to the family room and asked him if he
knew what was going on. “Were you aware that Brad was seeing another girl?”
“No,” he insisted. “I don’t notice what’s going on.” His mother chastised him
because she said he should have been looking out for his sister. He considered
telling her what Melissa and Brad had been doing behind her back when she was
away, but he kept quiet. Besides, he had never actually seen them engaged in sex.
However, Brad’s constant erection when he was around Melissa was proof that they
He could hear his sister downstairs screaming that Joy was to blame for the fight.
“She called me a bitch!”
He then heard his mother shout, “That didn’t give you any right to hit her!”
“But,” screamed Melissa, “She called me a bitch! I couldn’t just let her call me a
His father yelled, “Sit down, Melissa!” Everything got quiet, and he went to the door
to hear what was being said. All he could hear were the hushed tones of his father’s
Fifteen minutes later, he heard his sister storming up the stairs. She stopped by his
room and peeked in. “You’re so screwed,” she warned.
Kyle jumped from his bed and shouted, “What did I do?”
Melissa sneered before slamming the door, “You’ll see.”
* * * * * *
“Hey!” smiled Aubrey as he opened the door to the trailer. “Where have you been
“Just hanging out,” replied Buddy as he waited outside. “Mind if I come in?”
“You sure?” Buddy nodded his head and moved past the thin man. He walked over
to a small kitchen table and sat down. Aubrey looked around outside before closing
“Yeah,” responded Buddy. He knew Aubrey was cautious of who he let into the
trailer. He’d been busted too many times to trust even his casual friends.
Aubrey Douglas was a man in his mid-twenties. He supplied most of the drugs to
the residents in the mobile home park and nearby residences. If someone wanted
something, weed, crack, meth or coke, Aubrey was the go-to guy. If he didn’t have
it, then he knew where to get it. After being arrested several times and spending a
couple of years behind bars, he was very cautious. Strangers were usually asked to
leave with a gun pointed at their head.
“So, how’s things?” Aubrey asked as he looked across the table. When Buddy was
thirteen, he used to act as lookout for him late at night. If Buddy saw a cop in the
area, he would run up to the door and knock twice before running away. He had
saved him a couple of times from being busted.
“You know how it is,” Buddy replied as he leaned back in the chair. “Same old shit,
“Heard that,” agreed Aubrey as he lit up a joint and passed it to Buddy. “This is
some good shit from Cali,” he remarked as he started coughing. “Some good shit.”
Buddy inspected it before he put it to his mouth. “This ain’t a juice joint is it?”
“Naw, Man,” Aubrey assured him. “I know you don’t do that shit.”
Buddy inhaled deeply and handed it back to Aubrey. “Can you hook me up?” he
asked. “I need to get high tonight.”
“Damn, Little Man,” replied Aubrey. “I thought you weren’t doing shit anymore.”
“Life, Man,” lamented Buddy. “I can’t deal with it anymore.”
“Heard that,” replied Aubrey as he rose and walked over to a kitchen cabinet. He
took out a Mickey Mouse cookie jar, removed a plastic baggie and handed it to
Buddy shook his head when Aubrey asked, “Got any cash?”
“Naw, Man,” replied Buddy.
“Well, you’re not getting freebies around here,” he said as he placed the baggie into
“I ain’t expecting a freebie,” replied Buddy. “I’ll work for it.”
Aubrey eyed Buddy suspiciously. Then he asked, “You wanna be a runner?”
Buddy knew the risks, but he was willing to take the chance. If he got caught by
the police with drugs on him, it could mean ending up in juvie. ‘What have I got to
lose,’ he thought to himself.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied. Aubrey smiled, took the baggie from his pocket and
handed it to Buddy.
“Be around here tomorrow night,” he said. “I got a job for you.”
Buddy nodded his head, turned and left the small trailer.
* * * * * *
When Kyle arrived at school the next morning, several girls who knew he was
Melissa’s brother approached the table to ask how she was. Since his parents had
confiscated her phone, she had no way of contacting them.
“She’s okay, I guess,” he replied.
“You guess?” remarked one girl. “Don’t you know how she is?”
He took a bite of his apple and replied, “Not my time of the month to watch her.”
“Smart ass,” the girl mumbled as she grabbed another girl’s arm and pulled her
After third period, he saw Brad and Joy walking in the hallway. He had his arm
around her waist, and she was giggling about something he’d whispered in her ear.
Kyle noticed a couple of scratches on the side of her face that his sister must have
put there during the fight. Brad glanced at him, but he said nothing.
When he entered his computer science class, as the day before, another girl had
taken his seat beside Joy. He went over to the table where he had sat beside the
cute, brown-haired boy. Kyle waited for him to come to class, but he didn’t. He had
to work alone.
Surprisingly, his mother was home after school. He was afraid it would be just him
and his sister. After her warning the night before, he didn’t want to confront her
again. He still hadn’t figure out what he had done. He just assumed that she was
angry at everyone, and that included him.
“Hello, Dear,” his mother sang out when he entered the kitchen. “How was your
“Good,” he replied as he sat down and took a sip of milk she had placed on the
counter. He reached over for a couple of chocolate chip cookies. He always enjoyed
coming home when his mother had taken a few days off from work.
He asked as he took a bite of his cookie, “How long are you going to be home this
“You make me sound like your father,” she laughed. “I’m not that bad, am I?” She
lightly hit him on the back of the head when he giggled and nodded his head.
Just then, the doorbell rang. His mother asked, “Would you get that, Honey?” Kyle
rose from his seat and headed for the front door.
Before he got there, Melissa came bounding down the stairs. “I got it, Twerp,” she
spat as she opened the door. One of her friends was standing outside. “Got it?”
she asked. The girl nodded and thrust a manila folder at her.
Melissa said, “Thanks,” and closed the door. She gave Kyle an evil glance before
rushing back upstairs.
Go to Chapter 5