“Are you listening?”
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“This is important.”
“Okay, what’s after school?”
“My dentist appointment.”
“Good and where are we going tonight?”
“You’re going out to dinner, and Cole and I are going to get drunk and go steal a couple of cars.”
“Okay, Okay, we won’t get drunk!”
“I’m staying home where Kate and I are going to watch a couple movies! Can I go now?!”
“Thank you! Bye”
“Have a good day, I love you.”
“I love you too, mom.”
Dan Knight leapt out of the SUV. Standing out in front of the large brick building that was Las Colinas High, he pulled on his worn black leather jacket, threw on his backpack, and running a hand through his dark brown hair, started to walk to class. Dan stood at about five eleven. He was athletic, but not obsessively so. All in all, he was good looking. He had a tanned complexion from many hours spent out in the sun. His eyes were his most striking features, though. They’re a gray-blue and radiated a penetrating kind of warmth when you looked into them. They reminded someone of the color of the calm sea just after a vicious storm. Dan was someone that people just liked. His biggest influence was his smile. When he laughed, you couldn’t help but chuckling along with him.
He walked through the shiny black gates of Las Colinas. The newest school in the district, it was one hell of a place to go to school. The Governor had used it as his campaign slogan, showing what he wanted all schools to be like, and therefore added some “extra” funding. It’s four brick buildings were all two-storied. It boasted state-of-the-art chemistry and biology labs, the second best theater in five counties, a full sized stadium, and a library that was the envy of the rest of the schools in the state. Not only this, but its athletic program was unstoppable and the graduation rate of its student body of 2,000 was 91%.
Dan passed a group of girls who smiled and waved.
He continued on his way, the rows of lockers on his left and the well-groomed courtyard on his right. The school hallways buzzed like they did every Friday. Who broke up with whom, what each was doing that weekend, how some teacher had ripped them off. Lockers slammed and people laughed, no matter how much he complained, there was something Dan liked about being here, being with all these young adults, having some effect on their lives, and they having some on his.
Finding number two forty-six, he was about to open his locker when suddenly, Dan caught something in the corner of his eye. He whirled around, getting ready for his assailant, but he wasn’t quite fast enough. Before he knew what happened, it felt like a bulldozer plowed into his ribs. Dan went sprawling, his bag went one way, and he went the other, sliding into the lockers.
He shook his head to clear it, and slowly things came into focus, to show Cole Klusy towering over him, roaring with laughter.
“Why don’t you knock me unconscious next time?”
“Ah, go cry to your mommy,” Cole laughed.
“Hey! You’d probably starve with out my mommy, with all the food you mooch off of my house!” Dan retorted, taking his best friend’s hand and getting helped up.
Now it was Dan’s turn to tower, Cole was his exact opposite. Only 5’3”, he never put up with any small kid crap. He looked like he could play Varsity football without pads. It seemed Cole ate bricks for breakfast, and his strength proved it. This meant nothing though, with his laughing blue eyes and sandy blonde hair, Cole was patron saint of kittens stuck in trees and old ladies needing to cross the street. He was the best friend any guy could ask for.
The two continued on their way across to the five hundred wing for English. Laughing, and joking, and saying hi to anyone they knew, which ended up being almost everyone that they saw. Dan stopped suddenly.
“Klusy, how did I die?”
Cole turned to him, perplexed, and then looking down the hall, saw what he meant. Coming towards them was a heavenly apparition that most high schoolers only dreamt about: Jentry Drjanski. She was perfect. Blonde hair and blue eyes, her smile dimmed the sun, her laugh surpassed every melody ever written, and most models would kill for her body. All of this in a very strategically planned sun dress.
“Hello beautiful,” Dan grinned as she walked past.
Jentry just smiled and rolled her eyes, continuing on her way.
Cole shook his head, “Why do you waste your time on her?”
“So that when one of those times when I say, ‘Hey gorgeous,’ and she comes up and kisses me full on the lips, I can see your face. Come on, Cole, look at her, she’s amazing, it doesn’t get any better. I think that’s why I’m here, to prove that there is hope for us nice guys.”
“I’ll never understand it, you could have just about any girl you want, and you go for the one exception.”
“Think about how boring it would be if I just settled for any Mary Jane.”
“Think about how much more rest I’d get if I didn’t always have to here your belly-aching about Jentry.”
RRIINNGG! Dan looked at Cole.
And they took off sprinting down the hall.
The door flew open, and Cole and Dan leaned against the wall of Mrs. Eply’s English Class catching their breath. You could’ve heard a pin drop, as every eye focused on them, Mrs. Eply’s glaring.
“Where in the world have you too been?” she asked, in a voice that reminded Dan of broken glass covered in Molasses, sweet on top, but nasty below.
“Well, you see Mrs. Eply,” Cole began, “We were on our way to school, when suddenly…”
“No, Cole,” Dan interrupted, shaking his head, “it just wouldn’t be right to use our act of charity as a way of getting out of trouble.”
“Alas, you’re right, my friend. We should take our punishment and know that saving that lady’s life will make up for it.”
Mrs. Eply looked at them wide-eyed through her coke-bottle thickness glasses. “You saved someone’s life?” She asked, amazed.
“Oh come on, you’re not actually going to believe them, are you?” Came the nasal British accent from the back.
God, I hate that guy, thought Dan, staring Francis Hollenzolleran down.
“Well you see, ma’am, we were walking down the street when all of a sudden this elderly lady collapsed, right in front of us…”
“And immediately Cole here dove down to check her vital signs…” continued Dan.
“Then we both began alternately issuing CPR. By this time, the paramedics had been called, but it was taking them too long. We were worried we’d have to do emergency surgery…”
“When suddenly her eyes popped open, just as the ambulance drove it. She told us how she was just on her way to try to make contact with a daughter that she hadn’t spoken to in 6 years, how with out us, she would have died never telling her how much she loved her.” Dan broke off in sobs, “I’m sorry, it was very touching.”
Klusy put a comforting arm around Dan.
Mrs. Eply was speechless, “Gentlemen, that’s amazing, ten points extra credit. You two are certainly a gift from God, why first the burning school bus full of orphans and now this, make that fifteen points!”
“But…you can’t…surely…don’t they…aren’t you going to…” Francis stuttered from the back.
“Francis, jealousy does not become you,” corrected Mrs. Eply.
They slyly slapped each other five as Dan and Cole made their way to their seats in front of Francis. Mrs. Eply launched into another ever so intellectual lecture about “The amazing world of the semi-colon” and Dan switched his brain off. He’d not pay attention now, and then cram later. Maybe if she tried to teach them as if they actually were juniors in high school he’d be interested, but her sing-songy voice explaining how Mr. Period and Mr. Comma got married just didn’t do it for him. Slowly, Knight let his hands fall back, his fingers finding Francis’ shoelaces. Dan’s movements caught Cole’s eyes, and he grinned from ear to ear.
Swiveling around in his desk, Cole asked him, “So, Francis, are you really related to royalty?”
Here we go, Dan thought.
“That’s funny you should ask,” said Hollenzoleron, suddenly taking a liking to Cole because he’d hit on his favorite subject: himself, “You see it began in the 17th…”
Man, I hate that guy.
With experienced finesse, Dan’s fingers quickly double knotted his shoelaces together. Two for two, this is definitely going to be a good day! With that done, Dan whipped out his newest Cussler adventure novel, and began to wait for the bell to ring. Public schools, he thought as he picked up his page, Dirk Pitt was about to save some beautiful broad with his sidekick Al Giordino. It was really a shame, if there was anyway to get a good teacher into the room, Dan would get so much more out of it; English was his favorite subject. Instead, he just tuned out and did the minimum he had to, never pushing himself at all. The sad thing was, he still got A’s.
The shrill whine of the bell awoken Dan from his book and brought him back to reality. Francis stood up to be the first one out the door, and fell flat on his face just as fast. The class roared with laughter. Along this the rest of the class, he packed up his binder and notebook and stuffed them into his backpack, stepping over Francis and making his way out the door.
Klusy put his hand on his shoulder, “I’ll see you in third.”
Dan slapped him the handshake they’d been doing since they were four and headed down the hall to Mr. Jensen’s AP US History class. Jensen’s was the only class of the whole day that Dan and Cole didn’t have together. As they’d done on every first day of the year since 6th Grade, they’d charmed, finagled, bribed, threatened, and begged every teacher and councilor until they were in each other’s classes. It’d worked on every teacher…except Jensen. They’d walked into class, laughing loudly, and Mr. Jensen had just stopped everything and blankly stared at them until they were quiet. He looked the two up and down and then wrote something on a piece of paper, and handed it to Cole and said, “Mr. Klusy, you are now in Mrs. Dominguez’s AP US class in the 300 block. I suggest you get there before the late bell rings,” before the boys could get any sound out, he continued, “You can try to complain after class. Mr. Knight, please take your seat.”
Dan had been pissed. He’d spent the whole class figuring out how he was going to get this clown back. He’d come up to Mr. Jensen’s desk right after class.
He didn’t even give him a chance, “Mr. Knight, I can guarantee you that your partner in crime will not be moved back into this class room.”
“What?! But that’s not fair!” Dan protested.
“You’ll thank me for it later.”
“Fat chance of that.”
Mr. Jensen looked at him, a smile on his face, not of scorn or contempt, but almost of respect or admiration, “Listen Dan, have you ever heard of the bell curve?” Dan nodded, “Well, I believe in it. I believe that someone needs to earn an ‘A’, I think that there are only a few people actually disserve one. However, I DO think that you have the potential to get one. But you are going to have to work for it, hard. And you will not be able to do it with Cole Klusy in this class. I am not like certain English teachers.”
And Dan had left it at that. He hadn’t liked it, but he’d left it. Now he’d grown to really like and respect Mr. Jensen. He pushed Dan, made him think. That’s what Dan liked so much about him, was that he wasn’t afraid of student’s ideas. Wrong or right, they were treated with the same merit, he either pointed out their error or gave ground to insight. Whole classes would be spent debating topics, with Dan usually heading the pack. There were times when Jensen would take a much more drastic stance then he actually believed, just to see if he could provoke arguments. Then he’d smile when Dan would do the same. Obviously the teacher was doing something right; because he was able to have mutual respect for his students, show it, and still remain an authority figure. United States History had become the high light of Knight’s day, that and seeing Jentry.
Today, though, Dan couldn’t concentrate. His mind wandered this way and that, thinking of the upcoming weekend, a movie he’d seen on TV and Jentry. Once Jensen had gotten on his case when he’d answered ‘Harrison Ford’ to how late-19th century German anti-imperialism had affected WWI. He was just figuring out how much it would cost a year to eat at McDonald’s everyday when the bell rang.
“I’m outta here!” Dan said as he ran out the door and fell into line with the crowd on its way to lunch.
In the cafeteria, he made is way over to their table where his broad shouldered friend was already arguing with Tara Yashino. If Dan and Cole were the dynamic duo, then with Tara they were the three musketeers: even if you couldn’t tell it sometimes.
“Two words, Klusy: Penis Envy.”
“Shut up Tara, just shut up”
Tara and Klusy had a love hate relationship; they loved to hate each other. Dan swore that they wouldn’t get along as well if they didn’t argue. They were the only kids he knew who still thought abuse was flirting.
“Dude!” Klusy remonstrated, “She’s actually sticking up for Chazz!”
And somehow, Dan was always getting stuck in the middle. “Sorry, Tara,” Dan said, pulling out his lunch bag, and tossing his extra sandwich to Cole, “Can’t take your side on this one, Chazz is the biggest idiot known to man.”
“You two are just jealous you don’t look that good in a football jersey.”
“Tara!” Klusy exasperated. “He sucks! I catch better then that.”
“I don’t see you on the football team.”
That was a low blow, and Tara knew it. Both Klusy and Dan had tried out for football freshman and sophomore years, but got tired of being the best Quarterback-Wide Receiver team in the Junior Varsity league and still warming the bench every game. It was well known fact that it was because Chazz’s dad was the coach. They knew it, the team knew it, and so did Chazz, and tensions ran high.
Just then, a tall, built boy with a crew cut and a pug nose came loudly into the cafeteria, followed by a group of kids who would have looked more at home in a detention center. Dan felt his cheeks flush as he saw Jentry walk in with him.
“Well, speak of the devil.” Dan said.
“Literally.” Cole mumbled.
Jentry laughed at something he said and pushed him away. Chazz slapped her butt in response, and Jentry squealed and stormed off. Dan tensed, and knew that if looks could kill Chazz would have ceased being. He felt Tara’s hand on his shoulders and relaxed.
“Easy does it there, fella.” She said.
Dan returned to his lunch, “I hate that guy.”
“I don’t think that’s the problem,” Tara said, smiling at Dan knowingly, “Why don’t you just ask her to the movies? There’s nothing in a movie.”
“There’s a bright idea,” Cole smirked.
“Don’t you think I want to? But there’s no way, Tara, I’m me, and she’s her and the two don’t mix.” Dan burst out, and then quieted apologetically at seeing Tara’s wide eyes, “Oil and water, that’s exactly what it is.”
Tara just shook her head and Dan felt depressed, if only it was that easy! Lunch ended and the three friends said good bye, Tara going one way, and Dan and Cole making their way out the other. Suddenly, Dan’s eyes went wide as a hand grabbed his backpack and yanked him around the corner.
But a hand flew over his mouth and he looked into Stephen Paulie’s eyes, as he hushed him. When the hand let go after the halls had cleared of people, Dan straightened his backpack.
“Stephen, what the heck is this all about?”
Steve reached into his black trench coat and pulled out a flyer, pressing it to his chest.
“I know how you can get what you really want?”
“What’re you talking about, Paulie?”
“I think you know, a certain captain of the cheerleading squad comes to mind.”
Dan cocked a half grin. “Go on.”
Stephen grinned, knowing he’d caught Dan’s attention, and as if it was a document he shouldn’t be caught with, slyly passed it to Knight.
Dan’s eyes lit up. “Steve, I owe you one. You are a genius.”
“Ah come on, Cole!”
Cole looked at him, incredulously. “No way, Dan. There is no way, you’re crazy, you’re crazy to even think of asking! It’s asking to borrow someone’s child. Sorry buddy.”
Dan leaned up across the hood of the 1978 Chevrolet Corvette that Klusy was vigorously scrubbing and looked Cole in the eyes. “Cole, would I ever ask you for anything if I didn’t really need it? COME ON! Jentry’s been dying to see this band in concert forever, and the box office is on the complete other side of town and I have 23 minutes to get there in.” Dan said, looking at his watch. “This is the only car I can make it in!”
Cole looked at the Corvette longingly. “It’s the only thing my dad has ever given me.”
“Cole, I love it as much as you do, nothing will happen.”
Cole looked deep into Dan’s eyes at held out the keys.