Wednesday, June 25, 2014
"So, what do you want to do for your birthday?" Charmaine asked as Kenton sat at the counter in between Elias and Olivia.
"You have a birthday coming up?" Mia asked.
"On the 30th. Next Monday, to be precise." Olivia replied.
"For someone who's not his girlfriend, you sure do know a lot about him." Mia said.
"Shut up, Mia."
"You shut up."
"I'm with Olivia, shut up, Mia." Elias said. The past three months really brought the former introvert out of his shell, at least when he was around his friends (and girlfriend).
"Ms. Hayes, I'll give you twenty bucks to spit in his food."
"We don't joke about that."
"So, how old are you going to be?" Mia asked, trying to push the awkwardness away from her.
"Fourteen." Kenton replied before Olivia could restart this entire conversation.
"So, what are all your birthdays?" Charmaine asked, trying to stir up the conversation further.
"Well, we've established that mine's June 30." Kenton replied, somewhat curious as he knew absolutely nobody else's.
"September 10th." Olivia replied.
"August 1st." Elias said before looking at Mia.
"Wait, you had your birthday and didn't tell me?" Elias said as he turned around to face Mia, who could only shrug.
"Well, that's a big deal!"
"So, how old did that make you?" Kenton smugly asked.
"Thirteen. Same as Elias, Olivia, and for the next week, you."
"Mia, I would have got you something!"
"Well…" Mia said as she noticed that Charmaine was heading into the kitchen to do something.
"You did give me something."
Mia reached up and quickly kissed Elias on the cheek.
"What… in the hell?" Kenton asked as he exchanged a puzzled look with Olivia.
"March 21, the day after my birthday, was our first kiss."
"Oh, yes. I remember that."
"I won't lay a finger on them. But I can make them wish that I would."
"…Elias? You okay?"
"Uh, yes. I was thinking that we'd be using our first date as our anniversary." Elias said as he shook his head to get that memory out of his head.
Olivia turned to Kenton and give the old "finger gag" gesture to which Kenton started snickering.
"Well, if you remember that date, then I guess it can work. Double presents."
"And since that comes after Valentine's Day, you can triple-dip on that." Olivia chimed in.
"Hey… yeah! You're right!"
"Oh, wow." Kenton said as he patted Elias on the shoulder.
"Girlfriends are expensive, aren't they?"
"Yeah. Consider yourself lucky."
Kenton looked towards Olivia with narrowed eyes before replying "Yeah."
"So, are you going to have a party?" Mia asked as Charmaine walked into the kitchen.
"Nah, probably just hang out with you guys."
"That's kind of what a party is about. Except that there's cake, music, dancing, cake, presents, candles, candles on cake, balloons…"
"You'd eat a can of frosting if you could.” Elias smugly said to his girlfriend as she continued to fantasize about a party.
"…Probably. See? Party game right there."
"Can we, Mom?" Kenton asked as Charmaine continued prepping the front-end of the restaurant.
"Not a chance."
"So, roulette of red vinegar and apple juice is out of the question, too?" Olivia asked.
"Wow, you two are sadistic." Elias verbally noted.
"Actually, I've seen videos of this being done online. I think it would be great." Kenton chimed in.
"Well, I'm just back to hanging out with my friends, then." Kenton conceded.
"Oh, come on. You've got to have a party!" Olivia protested.
"How about we hang out at the park, or something? Get a cake or something like that? Maybe you can cater it?" Kenton said as he turned to Charmaine.
Charmaine thought about it for a second before nodding.
"Yeah, we can work something out."
"Well, then it's settled."
That night, Mia and Elias walked to Elias's house. While Elias spent a lot of time with Mia's family, not once did she set foot into his house. It was something that she always wondered about, but never bothered to ask him.
As the nightly noise began in the downstairs level, Elias sat at his desk. Kenton loved all those television shows and movies about robots. This was going to be awesome. His own robot. It was the perfect idea. Plus, it would be dirt cheap to make out of the stock parts laying around.
"But I can make them wish that I would."
"Ouch!" Elias said as his soldering iron contacted his bare arm. He silently cursed himself for making such a careless mistake before deciding to call it a night.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Kenton and Charmaine went to the park and sat down at the pavilion.
"Where's everybody?" Charmaine asked as they set up the picnic basket at the table. Kenton shrugged and replied "Well, I know that Olivia is going to be here soon. I don't know about the other two."
"Happy Birthday!" a voice from behind them cried out. Kenton turned around to see Olivia with a present. After setting it down on the table, she gave Kenton a small hug before sitting down.
"So, any word from the barf couple?" Kenton asked as Charmaine continued to prepare.
"Mia was getting dressed the last time I talked to her and Elias's finishing your gift."
"Oh, he got me something?" Kenton asked, flattered that his new friend of only a few months cared about him enough to get him something.
"Who's the Birthday Boy?" Mia exclaimed as she rode up on her bike. After plopping it against the pavilion, she opened her backpack and pulled out a paper crown to place on Kenton's head.
"Really, Mia? Really?"
Charmaine giggled and got out her phone.
"Mom, don't you dare!"
"Oh, this is going to be so cute! This is going on the family holiday card!"
"Can I get on that mailing list?"
"You sure can, Mia!"
Kenton let his palm meet his face as Elias rode his bike from the opposite direction.
"Happy Birthday!" he said as he sat down next to Kenton and patted him on the shoulder.
"I just wanted to let you know, I have an awesome present for you. I didn't have a chance to finish it. Mia can back me up on this one."
"I've seen pictures of it. It's indeed awesome."
"It's going to take a few more days, however."
"Oh, that's fine."
"So, who wants cake?"
"Wasting no time, are we?"
There was much laughing as the cake was served and the presents were opened.
"Hey, I've got to head out. I'll let you do what you want." Charmaine said as she started to pack up the car.
"Thanks, Mom!" Kenton said as he gave her a quick hug.
"Thanks, Ms. Hayes!"
"You throw a hell of a party, Ms. Hayes!"
Charmaine giggled before saying "It's okay. I'll see you all later!"
"What are they doing with this stuff?" Elias asked as he noticed a pile of construction materials setting against the park's restroom.
"Probably going to build stuff with it." Mia smugly replied.
"Yeah, I think I could figure that much out."
"They shouldn't leave that out. Someone could get hurt."
"Speaking of getting hurt, who's up for shooting some hoops?"
"I am!" Elias said. Kenton couldn't help but smile at the former-sports-hater's newfound enthusiasm.
"Count me out. I don't want to sweat in these clothes." Olivia said.
"I'm out too. We'll just sit and watch." Mia said as the two girls remained on the picnic table seat as Kenton and Elias headed out to the basketball court.
"I can't believe he's playing basketball."
"I can't believe he's holding his own against Kenton."
"He could join the team with these skills."
"Do you think he would work well on a team?"
"Probably not. Think about how long it took him to become comfortable around us."
"Yeah, speaking of which, what was up at the restaurant last week?"
"What do you mean?"
"You… kissing him. Just like it was nothing."
"Yeah…? That's kind of what couples do."
"You're jealous, aren't you?"
"What? Me? No!"
"You do realize that you're the one keeping you and Kenton from being a couple. He's the one who stuffed that crappy valentine in your locker."
"For your information, Mia, I still have that valentine."
"And yet he's just a friend."
Olivia and Mia both sighed as they knew when to stop this conversation from turning into a full-blown argument.
"How's that ball working out?" Olivia shouted.
"Works really well! Thanks!" Kenton replied as a third person walked onto the court. Elias turned around and the color left his face.
"Hello, William." Kenton said as he noticed Elias's sudden nervousness.
Kenton continued to toss the basketball up and catch it as William walked over to Elias. Elias continued to stare at him like a deer in the headlights while Mia and Olivia could only watch.
With a clang, the ball hit the rim and hit the blacktop of the basketball court next to the two other boys. William picked up the ball and looked at Kenton.
"Oh, thanks. Can you pass that back to me?"
William, without breaking his gaze with Kenton's eyes, grabbed a blade from his back pocket, opened it, and then proceeded to open the basketball.
"Hey! That's a brand-new ball!" Olivia said as she was ready to go onto the court to confront William. Mia, having been warned to stay away from William by Elias quickly grabbed her shoulder and to keep her from going out there.
"…Why would you do that?" Kenton asked as William threw the ball to his feet.
"Elias didn't do this. You did."
"If Elias would have kept his mouth shut, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"What are you talking about?"
"William, it was me that got up on stage and made those jokes. They were just jokes. If you have a problem with it, deal with me. Not my friends."
"Shut up. You had your chance. Now you get to watch your friends suffer."
Kenton crossed his arms and said "Oh, that's not happening."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah, that's so."
"Totally not happening. Come on, let's get out of here." Kenton said as he picked up the deflated basketball. William turned stepped to the left and said "Oh, no."
"Olivia, let's get out of here."
Olivia nodded and the two girls snuck away, leaving William with Elias and Kenton alone on the basketball court.
"William, leave him alone!" Elias yelled out.
"Not until you hear what I have to say."
"Not. Happening. Go away." Kenton replied, starting to become irritated.
"Remember, I have a knife. Do you think that you'll both be able to run faster than me?"
"Are you threatening us?"
"Maybe I am."
William walked over closer to Kenton and got into his face.
"It's no surprise that Elias is your friend. Both of you are the scum of the universe. Especially you."
"Stop it, William!" Elias shouted out. William didn't do a single thing to acknowledge him. His sights were locked on Kenton.
"Your girl… Olivia, is it?"
"Not my girlfriend."
"Whatever. You know she's going to end up a dropout living in a trailer with five kids. Half, no, three-fourths of them won't even be yours!"
"Your mom… I've heard a lot about her…"
"I won't lay a finger on them. But I can make them wish that I would."
"William! Please stop it!" Elias cried out as he started to figure out William's plan.
"I saw her earlier. She looks so hot. Your dad must be lucky."
"Are you serious? You're seriously doing this?" Kenton said as he found himself starting to shake.
"Yeah. I'm serious. Ooh, you're angry. You want to stop me? Hit me? Do it. I love a good assault. My family is rich, you know. They'll take my side long before they'll take yours."
Kenton's eyes opened a bit further as he realized exactly where William was going with this conversation.
"Come on, use your big boy words."
Kenton could only grit his teeth as the anger continued to build up.
"Kenton, don't listen to him! He's trying to provoke you!"
"SHUT UP!" William screamed. Despite the intent to aim that message towards Elias, the words were practically projected into Kenton's face.
"So, what does your Dad think about your mom's new project?"
"Oh… no…" Elias gasped as he started to look around. Kenton was close to snapping. William was not going to let up until that point. It needed to end, one way or another…
Kenton couldn't respond. There was a lump in the back of his throat and a few tears were starting to build up in the corners of his eyes.
"Oh, wait. He can't! He's DEAD!"
Kenton started visibly shaking. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as the tears started to stream down his cheeks in frustration. He was taught to never raise a fist, but this time he wasn't quite sure if he could stay in control.
"It's a tragedy. You want to hear something funny? I saw the crime scene photos. The first severed hand that I've ever seen belonged to your dad. Your hand kind of reminds me of it."
William was lying. Mr. Hayes' passing was all over the news, so it wasn't a stretch to believe that he did his homework to screw with Kenton.
"Stop it. Please." Kenton quietly pleaded as a sob broke through his words.
"Oh, it was awesome. All that brain matter. Just scattered without rhyme or reason…"
That was enough. Kenton looked up and made his dominant right hand into a fist. This was going to stop, right now. William noticed the fist and smiled.
"Do it. You want this."
Kenton took a deep breath and got ready…
"Come on. Be a man. Fight for your honor. SHOW YOUR DADDY THAT YOU LOVE HIM."
Tunnel vision started to kick in as Kenton raised his hand up as everything felt like it was moving in slow motion. William didn't flinch, but instead smiled.
The next five seconds passed by in a flash. By the time Kenton's brain calmed down enough to process his surroundings, William was lying on the ground unconscious.
Kenton blinked twice and looked down at the teenager that was lying with blood coming out of his ears. He noticed that there was a thin mark on the back of William's neck. It wasn't a punch that took him down.
"Y-Yeah… I need an ambulance at Jaguar Park…"
Kenton looked up to see Elias talking into his phone. He gasped when he saw that Elias had a piece of rebar in his other hand. At that moment, it was obvious what happened: Elias intervened before Kenton could.
Everything went by like a flash. The cops and the paramedics showed up and talked to both Kenton and Elias, who had no problems confessing to everything.
"Let him go! He was defending me!" Kenton shouted out as the police officers handcuffed Elias and placed him in the back of a squad car.
Charmaine held back her son and said "Baby, baby. It's okay. Let him go. The truth will come out."
Later that night, Elias sat in the holding cell. One upside to this was that he was being held away from the serious criminals because of his status as a minor.
"Elias Conner?" an officer said as he walked in.
"Your bail has been paid. Your mother is here to get you."
Elias walked out of the cell to see his mother.
"You are in so much trouble." The lady said as Elias walked up to her.
"Yeah, I know. But it was worth it."
"Shut up. You're more useless than the dump that I took this morning."
The next morning, Mia sat down at the kitchen table with her family as they watched the small television placed on the counter.
"Today in the news… violence at Jaguar Park erupted yesterday with one boy being sent to the hospital and one in custody. Names have not been released."
"Wasn't that where your friend had his birthday party?" Mia's mom said as the entire family watched the news package.
"Who was involved?" Mia's father said as he sat down his newspaper.
"Elias and Kenton."
"Oh, Elias was involved?" her mother said as she exchanged glances. Mia shrugged and said "I really don't know. We left to get Kenton's mom while this happened. Nobody would tell me anything."
"Well, I think that you'd better stay away from both of them until this gets figured out." Her father said sternly.
"Why? Elias didn't do this! He wouldn't hurt a fly… but neither would Kenton…"
"Just listen to your father. Better to have you safe than sorry!"
"Humph. Fine." Mia said as she did not let her pouty exterior hide her genuine disappointment.
"Can I at least hang out with Olivia?"
"As long as the others aren't with her. Actually, I'm going to call Mrs. Gabriel and let her know that this happened…"
Phone calls were made, and Olivia's parents took the same stance as Mia's. The two of them hung out by themselves, just like the "good old days."
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Three days later, Mia got a phone call from Olivia.
"Hey… what's going on? Any news?"
"Not really. Say, do you want to go to lunch somewhere?"
"Like eating at a restaurant?"
"You got it."
"Uh, sure… I guess…" Mia replied, not sure why Olivia was asking her this.
"How about that place on the corner of Panther and Jaguar?"
Mia knew exactly what was going on.
"Is…" Mia looked around to see how close her parents were watching her.
"Is… the place going to be crowded?"
"Okay, I'll be there."
Kenton sat down at a table in the restaurant's kitchen. He heard the noises of a bike pulling up and clanking against the building. When there was a knock at the service door, he opened it up to see Elias standing before him.
It had only been a few days since the incident, but Elias looked like hell warmed over.
"Elias … I'm… so sorry." Kenton said as he wrapped his arms around the one who saved him. Elias returned the hug and replied "Don't be sorry. It's better that I did it instead of you."
"What… did they do to you…?"
"They held me until my parents bailed me out. It's not looking good. I'm probably going to be sent up the creek."
"Well, it's called juvenile hall. Best case scenario is that I get charged with battery. Worst case is that I'm looking at… well, best not to think about it."
"Oh… no…" Kenton said as he felt tears starting to build up.
"It's okay. I knew what was going to happen when I did it."
"Did you let the others know that I'm here?"
"Yeah, it was tricky. Mia and Olivia's parents don't want them seeing us until this whole thing is over."
"Heh. So, it looks like she's not going to be visiting me in juvie?"
"Probably not. But I'll try to! I'll visit you every week!"
"Kenton… you don't have to…"
"You didn't have to do what you did, either. You're… the probably one of the greatest friends that anyone could ask for."
"No… I'm not… I still don't have your birthday present done yet."
"You've… been working on it this entire time?"
"Yeah, it's been helping me keep my mind off of things."
At that moment, they could hear two more bikes pull up. Kenton opened the door and gestured for the two arrivals to quickly enter.
"Elias!" Mia cried out as she ran into his arms. He picked her up and hugged her as tight as he could.
"So… is what the news saying… true?" Olivia said as she made sure to shut the door behind them. Kenton nodded.
"Did you do it?" Olivia asked. Kenton shook his head and sighed.
"Should have been me."
"…You? You did it? The media's acting like you're a murderer!" Mia cried out as she looked at Elias.
"Last I heard he was in critical condition. They're waiting to see if he recovers before they proceed with the case."
"But… it's two against one! How could they take his side over yours?"
"The problem comes in the fact that they only have one side of the situation. They took the basketball that he cut as evidence, but they don't see that as justification for using 'deadly force.'"
"Oh… well, maybe the truth will come out and everything will work out in the end."
"That's what I'm hoping for."
The four of them sat in the back of the restaurant and talked for the next few hours as they had lunch. While there was an air of comfort between the four of them, it was clear that this entire thing was holding over their heads.
"Well, we better take off before people start asking questions." Olivia said as she stood up.
"I'll see you soon, this will all be over, I promise." Kenton said with a smile.
"I don't want to leave! Maybe I can bring my TV and the game console here and we could play one more game!" Mia protested.
"Mia, it's fine. It's like Kenton said, this will all be over soon. Then we'll have plenty of time to hang out and play video games, just as we did before."
"I'm going to miss you."
"I'm going to miss you, probably even more."
Elias embraced his girlfriend one more time before they left on their way. Mia didn't feel right leaving him there, leaving him like this.
"Well, I better head out, too."
"Are you sure? We can still hang out!"
"I'm sure. I'm supposed to be grounded. My parents are never home, which is why I was able to sneak out."
"You're really breaking bad, aren't you?"
Elias shuddered a bit at that statement and looked up at Kenton.
"Please don't feel bad about what happened. If I had to do it again, I would in a heartbeat. Because you're a good person who didn't need to suffer for what I did."
"I know." Kenton said before giving his friend one more hug.
"You take care, Kenton."
"You too. See you soon?"
"Maybe. If not, I'll try to write! You'll hear from me, one way or another."
Elias closed the door behind him. Kenton had a sinking feeling in his gut, not unlike what Mia had.
Elias whipped around the corner and parked his bike in the garage. He was careful to place it in the same spot that he retrieved it from to prevent any suspicions. He walked upstairs to his room and sat down at his desk. He would almost certainly get at least one more chance to see Kenton and that would be the opportunity for him to deliver this present.
He looked at a wire that was stripped on one end. The power strip connected to the power supply was off, so he decided that it was okay to set the wire aside as he looked at the other parts scattered across the metal table that he was using for a desk.
"If you're not going to bleed, maybe they'll bleed for you."
No, no. This was supposed to be over. Why were William's words continuing to echo through his head? He flinched a bit and stretched out his bare foot, kicking the power strip below his desk.
"Hmm… just a little bit left to do…" Elias wondered along to himself to drown out the voice in his head. With one hand resting on the table, he reached across to the wire sitting peacefully on top of a cardboard box.
When Elias kicked the power strip, he did not notice that he flipped the rocker switch. He realized when he felt the electrical current spread as one hand created a connection with other hand that was grounded to the table.
There wasn't much time to contemplate the situation as the jolt knocked out Elias out of the chair and onto his bedroom floor.