Wednesday, July 23, 2014
One week had passed since the funeral. Life returned to normal. Well, as normal as it could be when you've lost your best friend.
The last customer of the dinner shift walked out of the restaurant. Charmaine walked to the door and locked it as the glowed with the orange of a July sunset. The wait staff and the line cook left out of the service door, leaving Charmaine alone in the building.
She walked into the dining room and turned off the lights, switch by switch. She walked into the kitchen and plopped down in a chair to take a quick breather before going home for the night. With a sigh, she rubbed her forehead.
Charmaine opened her eyes and blinked.
She knew what the sound was: a soccer ball being kicked around by an overjoyed kid. This wouldn't be bad, but there was too much of a risk that the soccer ball would end up sailing through the brand-new window.
"Hey, knock it off!" she snapped as she opened the service door.
The boy, whom Charmaine recognized from the elementary school, ignored her and continued his play.
"Cameron! You stop that right now!"
The boy stopped and thought about it before shaking his head and kicking the ball again.
"So? You're not my boss. Besides, I'm outta that school anyway. You aren't the secretary of me." "KA-THUMP!"
Charmaine had enough at this point. With one swift action she ran in and stopped the ball with her foot, leaving the boy speechless.
"Wow… you used to play soccer, didn't you?”
Charmaine nodded before tipping the ball up with her toes and catching it with her hands.
"If I give this ball back to you, will you go kick it somewhere else?"
Cameron thought about it before nodded. Charmaine tossed the ball up and passed it towards him with her forehead. Amazed, he still managed to catch the ball. Without a word, he walked off towards the park.
Charmaine thought about the boy as she finished up the bookwork for the night and drove home. Kenton was where he had been for the past week: on the couch.
"Hey." He said unenthusiastically as Charmaine entered the house.
"Hey, baby." She said as she set her purse and other stuff on the counter.
"Anything good on?" Charmaine asked as she noticed that Kenton was staring at a blank television screen. Kenton could only shake his head.
"I'm just sitting here… thinking…"
"You really should get out of the house. Between here, your bedroom, and the bathroom, you haven't gone anywhere else for the past week!"
"I know, Mom."
"Aren't your friends going to be worried about you?"
"No, they have other things to worry about."
"Why don't you at least call Oliv-"
With that, Kenton got up and stormed off to his room. Charmaine sighed as she turned on the television. Behavior that would have been shocking a couple weeks ago was now routine. After a couple hours, she concluded that he had indeed gone to bed.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
"I don't want to…"
"Yeah, you do. If you want this." Charmaine said as she waved a trio of twenty-dollar bills in the air.
"What if you're selling me short?"
"Sixty bucks to be a dishwasher for one day is not selling short." Charmaine said with a sigh. This was an expensive endeavor, but if it would get her son out of the house, it would be worth it.
"Fine. I'll do it."
"Thanks, baby. It's tough trying to find good help."
The lunch shift came and went without any incident. A couple of the fellow line cooks and wait staff mentioned Kenton's lack of charisma to Charmaine, but for the most part they understood exactly why he was being so quiet suddenly.
Around two in the afternoon, Charmaine started to hear a fainter version of the noise that she heard last night.
"STOP DOING THAT YOU LITTLE SH-"
Charmaine walked into the empty dining room and looked across the street. Sure enough, Cameron was doing his routine kicking of the ball against the wall. Sure enough, this angered the business owner, this time the guy who runs the video store.
"What is that noise?" Kenton asked, wiping sweat off his brow while walking into the dining room.
"Have you ever seen that boy before?"
Kenton walked to the window as Cameron continued to irritate and antagonize the poor old man. After taking a good look, he shook his head.
"You probably wouldn't know him. He was taken out for home-schooling after elementary school. Word's going around that his mother had enough of him and he's coming back to public school for seventh grade. His name's Cameron."
"Ah… and he's a pest?"
"I guess you could say that." Charmaine said as she smirked at the memory of how he tripped up her (then) best friend.
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"Well… he's been hanging around this part of town lately. Maybe he needs a friend to help show him the way."
It took Kenton several minutes before he realized what his mother was proposing.
"Oh, you can't be meaning…"
"First of all, if he's going into seventh grade, he's going to be, like, two years younger than me."
"Exactly. You could be the big brother that he needs."
"Oh no, I'm not that kind of a person."
"You don't know that."
"Yeah, I think I do."
"Oh, come on. Do it. You need this."
"I don't need this and I'm not doing this."
Charmaine crossed her arms and shared a glare with her teenage son. Ten minutes later, Kenton sighed as he walked out of the front door of the restaurant. Cameron had finished his act of irritation and was clumsily dribbling the ball down the sidewalk.
"Hey!" Kenton said as he crossed the street. Cameron looked up at him before continuing down the street.
"Hey! Hey! Listen!" Kenton said as he approached him from behind. Cameron winced at this before stopping the ball with his foot and looking up at the older boy.
"What do you want?"
"Well… I was wondering if you wanted to play a little game of soccer up at the park. I noticed that you've got skills…"
Cameron raised his eyebrow and said, "I've got 'skills'? And why do you look like this is the most awkward thing that you've ever done in your life?"
"What do you mean?"
"You look like a crazed fangirl that wants me to sign her."
"You think I want an autograph?"
"No, fangirls want the popular boys to sign them."
"Oh…" Kenton said as he genuinely started to feel awkward at this boy's "matter-of-fact" style of talking.
"To answer your question. Yeah, I'll play a game of soccer with you. If not for the fact that you're amusing."
"Alright… well, thanks."
As the two walked, Kenton decided to break the ice.
"So, you're Cameron, right?"
Cameron glanced up at him and said "Okay… so you know my name. You're stalking me. You probably know everything about me… well, I'm strictly a ladies’ man, bro."
"Wait, WHAT? No, no, no! I have a… well, friend who happens to be a girl. My mom said that she knew you from school?"
"Oh… wait, you said from school?! Wow, kids are having kids younger and younger these days…"
"My mom used to be the secretary at the school."
At this point, Cameron did start to put the pieces together: Kenton did indeed come out of Charmaine's restaurant and indeed does bear a resemblance to her.
"OH! You're Ms. Hayes' kid. I bet you got away with everything when you were in elementary school."
"I wouldn't know. I was always the good kid." Kenton said, trying to keep the moral high ground.
"Well, aren't you just Mr. Special?" Cameron said as they arrived at the park. This was the first time that Kenton had been there since his birthday party and the incident involving William. This was the last place that he and his friends could laugh and be themselves. Kenton looked at the basketball hoop where he and Elias shared their final game.
"How about on the grass here?" Cameron said as he walked over to the pile of rebar still propped up against the building. Grabbing two pieces, Cameron dropped them about twenty yards apart in a fashion that left them somewhat parallel.
"Okay… ready?" Cameron said as he dropped the ball down between them. Despite both being very athletic, Cameron was, at one time, a good soccer player and was able to run circles around the other boy (who was more acclimated to playing basketball).
After several goals, Kenton's arrogance started to show as he stole the ball from Cameron and started dribbling it towards the blacktop court. "HEY!" Cameron shouted as he started to give chase. Kenton looked back at him and smirked as he gave the ball a good kick to get it airborne. With a clash, the ball hit the chain-link fence and bounced into his hands. At this point, Cameron stopped and could only watch as Kenton dribbled the ball like a basketball over to the hoop and tossed it in with a lay-up. Instead of passing it through the air, Kenton let it drop to the ground and kicked it to Cameron.
"That… really… gutsy." Cameron said as he stopped the ball. "Makes it kind-of interesting. So, why not add it as a rule?" Kenton said. Cameron smiled and nodded. The two of them continued their match with Cameron making soccer goals and Kenton making baskets until the sun started creeping over the tree line.
"Well, I guess I should be going…" Kenton said as Cameron bent down and picked up the soccer ball from the ground. "Aww… alright." Cameron said as he walked over to the older boy and extended his hand. Kenton reached down and shook it.
"It was nice meeting you… uh… what is your name again?" Cameron said as he felt a little embarrassed for not getting to know it beforehand.
"It was nice meeting you, Kenton." Cameron said as he patted Kenton on the shoulder and walked on by. Kenton took off in the other direction towards the restaurant. "Aw, crap!" he said as he realized that he missed the dinner rush and that he would have a lot of work to catch up on at the restaurant.