Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
I was 8 going on 9 when I first met Richie Chambers.
It was lunch period and I was sitting at one of the tables outside opening my bag to see what mom had made me. Egg salad sandwich, a box of juice, and an apple. I was getting ready to unwrap my sandwich and take my first bite when I felt a sudden rumble and looked to the side. There I saw a brown haired kid had sat down and open his bag to see there was nothing in it and slammed his fists on the table, letting out a loud grunt.
"Uh, is something wrong?" I asked the boy.
"My Mom forgot to make me lunch again." He told me, not looking over at me once.
"Your Mom forgot?" I repeated. This surprise me, my Mom has had my lunch ready for me every time I got up in the morning.
"Yeah," He nodded. "And I don't have any money on me to go buy something from the cafeteria." And as if to prove his point, he pull out his pockets to show they were empty. I looked at him sadly before an idea hit me.
"You want some of mines?" As soon as I asked him that, he spins his head over to me.
"Here." I told him as I gave him half (Mom had cut the sandwich down the middle). He stared at it before looking back at me.
"You're not doing this because you feel sorry for me, are you?" He asked me accussingly, eyes squinting.
I raised my hands up defensively. "No, it's okay, you can have some. And besides, my mom makes the best sandwiches in town. Go ahead." I told him. I watched as he picked it up and slowly took a bite, chewing it softly before a smile broke out on his face and swallowed.
"Wow this is really good." He said happily.
I smiled at him. "We can even share my juice." I put it in the middle of us. So there we sat eating our halves of the sandwich and sipping on the juice.
"Thanks man, I really appreciate it." The kid smiled at me.
"No problem." And I told him. "And hey, if your mom forgets to make you a lunch again, you can always share mines. I'll just tell my Mom I'm sharing with a friend." I couldn't help but notice how his eyes shined when I said the word 'Friend.'
"Wow, you're really cool." He told me.
"Its nothing really." I told him. "My name's Denny."
"I'm Richie." He said back.
And thus a friendship was born.
Looking back, I can't help but wonder if Richie was secretly envious of me? I mean I did live in a nicer house then he did. My dad had a better paying job then his. I never had worry whether my mom would have dinner ready. And I had my own room separate from my little brother whereas Richie still had to share his with his brother. Maybe that's why he came over to my house almost all the time because I had it better then he did.
We would leave school together, then he would run home and come by my house around 5. There he would have dinner with my family, do our homework together, watch TV, and then sometimes sleep over in my room (Pop would take out the cot so Richie could sleep on it).
I could see my mom had taken a liken to him, even having a second bag lunch ready just for him, and even my brother enjoyed his company. It was only Dad who had his doubts. He always told me to keep an eye on him because he had knew his dad growing up and had been around his father too and knew the Chambers weren't the most favored people in town, saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, whatever that meant.
I thought dad was being paranoid (Though I'd never tell him that to his face) and assured him that Richie was a nice kid.
I was 11 going on 12 when John Merrill came to town.
And right away you can tell he was different from a lot of the other kids in town. He's rude. He's cheats. He gambles. He fights dirty. He's already interested in and dating girls. He smokes. He drinks. He steals, and I don't mean like a pack of bubblegum or a candy bar, he can go into a store and walk out with a pair of shoes or a toy with the cashier being none the wiser. He has a negative output on life. Sure other kids in town had done these things but John was different, he was a professional. He wasn't simply a troublemaker, he was a straight up hood. And Richie thought he was the hippest kid in town.
"Pretty shiny ain't it?" John tells me and Richie as he shows out his switchblade, flicking it back and forth.
"Yeah man, that's the toughest shit I've seen." Richie tells him excitedly. "Isn't it tough Denny?" He asked me. I was so busy looking ahead, I wasn't really paying that much attention. I looked over and see Richie smiling while John looks at me with a smug grin.
"Yeah, it's okay." I simply shrug.
"John said his dad got it for him on his birthday." I looked at Richie skeptically.
"I doubt a grown up would give a kid a switchblade for a birthday present." I told Ritchie and I could see John frown.
"Yeah, and did your dad get you for your birthday?" He asked.
"Just this hat." I indicated to the navy baseball cap on my head when my dad took me to a Ducks game on my birthday.
John smirked and slip his blade into his back pocket. "Guess my old man is cooler then your's." And I could hear Richie's snickering but let it slide. Me and John didn't really see eye-to-eye a lot and if it wasn't for Richie, I doubt the two of us would have had anything to do with each other. Richie likes him okay, but I think it's more that he respects him rather then likes him. John Merrill stood out like a sore thumb here in Castle Rock and didn't give a damn if he does.
Which is why it surprise me when one day Richie asked if we could bring John over to my house. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea but said it was okay with me since I knew Ritchie wanted us to get along.
As soon as John started becoming a regular at my household, dad instinctively kept an eye on him. Saying he knews boys like him growing up and knew he was a criminal in the making and to always watch my back around him. Mom didn't see it though. I could tell she had a soft spot for John. Whenever he came over, he was always courtious and polite to her. Calling her Ma'am. Helping her set up the dinner table as well as help with washing the dishes. Offering to watch Gordie for her while she tended to the garden or the laundry. Always asking how her day was and listening to what she had to say. Helping her out with carrying the groceries. She trusted him completely.
So much so that one day she didn't notice that he had walked out of the house with her only set of pearl earrings. Richie had found out about it and demanded he returned them. John pulled out his blade and a fight ensued. In the end John had ended up with a broken nose and Richie had a cut on his left eye but did get the earrings back with mom never finding out what happen.
Afterwards Richie never brought John over to the house again. And yet despite what happen he still chose to hang around him. Probably because with John, it gave Richie an outlet. Richie had a lot of pent up anger over things like his grades, his dad, how the town viewed his family and with John he had someone who won't make him explain and won't expect anything better from him. It was an easy way to blow off steam and Richie had a lot of it.
I was 13 going on 14 when we entered high school. A lot started to change. We were growing taller, our voices deepen, we had hair growing in places, and relationships started changing.
Me and John didn't hang out that much but he was starting to make a name for himself. Thievery, getting into brawls, underage drinking, lying, spending time in the county jail. He even discarded his own name and started going by Ace because "He's the ace in the whole." And unfortunately Ritchie had gotten wrapped up in it a few times too. I kept trying to steer him away from that. We both knew his dad was starting to become worse and worse and I was not gonna let him go down that same path.
"So Ace has this idea about starting up a gang." Richie told me as we were in my room doing homework. "He's thinking about calling it the Cobras."
"Cobras?" I asked him looking up from my textbook.
"Yeah, cuz cobras look tough and will strike ya when you least expect it." He explained. "You should think about joining up."
I sucked my cheek in. "I don't know. I think my dad would hide me if he found out I had joined a gang."
"So?" Richie replied. "My old man hides me no matter what I do, so why should now be any different? C'mon man."
That's something I always admired about Richie, that he did whatever he wanted and not give a shit in the slightest what anybody thought. I'm always worried about what everybody will think of me.
"Hey Den, do you think I can copy your homework when your done?" He asked me. I just rolled my eyes.
"Rich, if you keep copying from me then you'll never learn anything."
"But learning doesn't come as easy to me as it do you." He explained.
"You wanna go to college, do you?" I asked him and Richie looked down.
"I don't think I'm college material man." The minute he said that hurt my heart.
"Richie yes you are."
"But what if I don't wanna go to college?" He asked me. I sat up from the bed and out my hands on his shoulders.
"Ritchie you gotta! You wanna get out of the shadow of your dad right? Everybody thinks you're gonna become a deadbeat so don't you wanna prove how wrong they are in the end? You gotta a chance to a somebody Richie, don't throw it away." I pleaded to him. Richie stared at me in deep thought before nodding.
"Alright, you win. I'll do it for you man." He told me with a smile. Smiling back, we went back to doing our homework.
I make friends easy in high school and football helps with that. I'm good at it, real good, and I enjoy the attention. I also get Richie to join football tryouts and we both make the cuts. I can tell Richie enjoys playing it too. It gives me a chance to help blow off some of that steam though the coach does yell at him when he tackles a player a little too roughly during practice.
It was there we met Joseph Randall and he would turn our world upside down more ways then one. He was from Castle View and was the first person we met who knew for sure he was gonna be leaving Castle Rock. Not simply in his dreams but in all actuality. It was a reality. I wanted that and I knew Richie wanted that too. We start hanging out together and when he invited me and Richie over to his house, we couldn't believe what we saw.
His house looked like a mansion compared to mines. He had a perfect manicured lawn, trim bushes, his own swimming pool instead of having to go to the lake like the rest of us, and a Chrysler Imperial sitting in the driveway. He wasn't even sixteen and yet his car was already waiting for him. I thought back to when I was younger and wondered if Ritchie was envious of me, and now I'm wondering if I'm becoming envious of Joseph.
Another thing that changes is how girls started to view us. Richie use to joke about how I was becoming the Casanova of Castle Rock High because suddenly I was being asked out by girls almost everyday. If we could eat lunch together, if we could go out for a sundae, if we could go to the movies, if we could go to the park, if we could go to the town picnic. It got to the point where I had to turn some girls down because I had already promised another. It's funny how you grew up with a lot of the same girls who never thought much about you now want to do everything with you.
A few times I had some girls promise if I agreed to go out with them that they bring a friend so my buddy Richie had a date too. I could tell Richie enjoyed being able to go on double dates but I could also sense some resentment that he feels the only way he could get one is if I helped him.
15 years old when everything changed.
Her name was Jane Du Bois. She was a dolly with dark soft brown locks, green eyes, and the brightest smile around, and Richie was completely under her spell.
"Here let me get those for you." Richie said getting her books and bag.
"Thank you very much." Jane told him sweetly as we made our way to our next class.
"Yeah." He told her as he tried to avoid bumping into other students. "So Jane, I heard that this new movie called Air Strike coming out. You wanna go see it?"
"Will Denny be there?" She asked looking directly at me.
"Sorry, but I promised my little brother I go fishing with him." I told him, but not really sadly.
"Well I guess so then." She said. I could see Richie was ecstatic but Jane looked disappointed. I just didn't have the heart to tell him that while he really liked Jane, the feelings weren't really equal on her end.
It was nearing the end of the school year and I was at my locker when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"Hi Denny." She smiled before handing me a slip of paper. Taking it, I saw it was... a ticket?
"A concert ticket?" I asked her.
"Yes." She explained. "They're having a philharmonic at the civic theater today and I got this rare ticket. I thought it be nice if we went together."
"If you want to go that is." she said. "I'm still going, but if you want to go, I'm sure you can find me there." I just looked at the ticket before looking back at her.
"Jane, there's something you gotta know." I tried to explain to her but she put a finger to my lips.
"I know what you're gonna say, but give it a chance. It might work out." Was the last thing she said as she quickly left. I didn't know what to say or feel until a few seconds later Richie came over.
"Hey Lachance, whats's with you? You look paler then usual." Richie commented before seeing the ticket in my hand. "Where'd you get this. Heard these tickets are pretty pricey.
Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head.
"Oh yeah, you can have that Rich. You should go." Richie looked a little skeptical.
"I don't know man. Classical music ain't really my scene."
"Jane will be there." I saw him visibly perk when he heard that. "You might find her and maybe sit together."
The biggest smile broke out on Ritchie's face.
"Thanks Denny you're a pal!" He exclaimed as he quickly left the school. I just watch him go.
Good luck Richie.
I was at the Blue Point with Joseph and few of the guys from the team when we all heard a loud scream.
"You son of a Bitch!" I turned as a fist collides with my face, knocking me out of my seat and unto the floor. I look up to a fumming Richie.
"Richie, wha...?" I could barely asked before he started yelling at me again.
"You got a lot of nerve pulling that trick on me!" He exclaimed. "What? You wanna make a fool out of old Richard Chambers or something?! Show I'm as dumb as everybody thinks?"
"What are you talking about man!?" I shouted, finally getting up.
"I went to that concert and the first thing Jane ask was where were you! I told her about the ticket and she said it was meant for you!" He glared at me so hard I was surprise his eyes hadn't turn red.
"Richie, calm down. I did this for you two. I know you can make Jane happy." I tried to explain to him. All this resulted was him starting to take swings at me.
"You shouldn't have done that! That was a really despicable thing you did!" I tried my best dodge but after tackling me to the ground, I decided playing nice was over and started fighting back. Soon we were circled by the whole diner cheering on the two teens fighting.
"That's it Eyeball, kick his ass!" I heard Ace shout. "Don't forget how he embarrassed you like that!"
So there were were, rolling around on the ground punching each other out when the owner had enough and phoned the fuzz to come pick us up.
We sat behind bars in at the county jail waiting for our fathers to come pick us up.
"That was some seriously underhanded shit you pulled there man."
"I wasn't trying to trick you." I told him. "I knew you like her and wanted to do something to help you. C'mon Rich, you think I would go out with a girl you like behind your back?" I turn to look at him from the other side of the cell.
"I'm not a retard Lachance. I know she doesn't want me, she wants you." He told him. So he did know.
"I just thought... I thought if I kept showing her that I was the better catch... But she only had eyes for you." He said so low, you could hardly hear him. We sat in silence until Richie spoke again. "You know what your problem is Lachance? You have no self-esteem."
I raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah you try so damn hard to get everybody to like you. Cuz otherwise you be nothing!"
"Me? You're the one who attacked me out in the opening because the girl you like didn't like you back, and you're claiming I have no self-esteem?" I told him and he just rolled his eyes.
"Ace was right, you and your whole family is really conceited. You think just because you hang out with those douchebags on the View that you're better then us. You ain't shit. You had your chance to become a Cobra but you can forget about that ever happening."
"Good!" I yelled. "Ace is a lowlife going going nowhere and you can go right along with him!" As soon as they words escape my mouth, I immediately regretted saying that. Richie looked so hurt before turning around from me. "Rich, I..."
"Don't talk to me!" He yelled. "Consider our friendship over!"
"Richie please, I didn't mean it..." I pleaded.
"And stop calling me Richie! That's not my name anymore, it's Eyeball now!" And that was his final words to me. Our fathers showed up to talk to the cops and pay the bail. Mr. Chambers basically yelled at his son the entire time there and on his way to the truck. My dad didn't say anything but I know he had some choice words for me when we got home.
Suffice to say, me and Eyeball didn't see much of each other after that talk. Our lives just went into two totally different directions. I was moving up in school and he had dropped out a little into sophomore year. I found my place in football and he found his in a junkyard behind an rundown house. We may have grown up in the same hometown but weren't cut from the same cloth.
By the time I was 16 going on 17 I was already looking into what colleges to apply to while Eyeball and Ace were looking into who to recruit for their gang, having already gotten Vince Desjardins and Jack Mudgett to join their ranks. We still see each other around town. I give him a nod and he just looks away. The bond we had once previously shared gone.
By the time I turn 17, I'm already getting recruited by several colleges while Eyeball was getting their gang together. Once they recruited Billy Tessio and Charlie Hogan, the Cobras had know been fully formed, becoming Castle Rock's resident troublemakers. Boosting cars, smashing mailboxes, getting drunk in public, and picking on little kids. My brother becoming one of their targets.
I'll never forget how once I was doing push-ups in the front yard when Gordie ran over to me and told me Eyeball had taken his bike. Why a bunch of 17 year olds would want with a 11 year old's bike (Probably just to be cruel), I had no idea but I did get into my car and drove all the way to the Chambers' to get it back. There I saw Eyeball's younger brother bringing out the bike from the back. He was surprise to see me park and step out the car.
"You're Gordie's brother right?" He asked.
I nodded. "Yeah Chris right?" I asked and he nodded back.
"I was just gonna come over to give this back." He said and it raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah," he replied. "I saw my brother driving up with it and waited until he went inside so I could sneak it back out." He explained. "Gordie seems like a good kid, he should't have gotten his bike stolen."
I was surprise to hear this, but I could detect the earnestly in his voice. Suddenly the front door opened and Eyeball came out.
"Hey Dipshit, what are you doing with that?" He demanded before looking over and glaring at me. "And what the hell are you doing here?"
There was no warning and even I didn't know what had happen until I realize I had stormed over to him and clocked him right in the face. I look down at my fist and see blood on it before looking up and seeing Eyeball clutching his nose. I knew I had broken it because I had heard a sickening thwack noise and he was barely holding the blood in, and I didn't care in the slightest.
The only thing stopping him from fighting back, aside from the waterfall of blood pouring out his nostrils, was that his dad's truck pulled into the driveway and out came both his mother and father.
"What the hell happen here you three?!" Mr. Chambers demanded.
"He-!" Eyeball started before I cut him off.
"My little brother's bike went missing and Richard here found it so I came over to pick it up, right Richie?" I asked him and he nodded.
"Well geeze Denny, it's been a long time since we've seen you around. I was just going to get dinner ready. Would you like to join us?" Mrs. Chambers offered but I decline the invitation. Saying I had homework.
Gordie starts hanging out with that Chris boy and I could tell dad was not happy with that.
"You need to find better friends, like your brother." Dad tells him as he aggressively cut into his rib eye. "Look at where he's coming from. Look at what's he's gonna be. Right Denny?" He asked me.
I didn't really say but kept eating before replying, "He seems okay to me." I send a small smile over at Gordie who smiled back.
"Well just watch your back around him." Dad warned as he put the meat into his mouth.
I got a scholarship for football so dad starts making me train extra so that I say in shape. Meanwhile, I had adults around town asking me since Eyeball and I use to be friends if I could maybe talk to him. Get them to stop their destructive ways.
Personally I always try my best to steer clear of the Cobras as much as I can help it. One, it brings up too many painful memories and two by this time next year it won't matter. I'm gonna be graduating and will be able to cut all ties with this place. Away from this town, away from my dad's expectations, away from the Cobras. I've worked too hard to let it all get thrown away by butting heads with Ace Merrill and his gang.
I was just getting ready to sit down and watch the Twilight Zone when the first door open and came running in Gordie, Chris, and his new friends Teddy and Vern. They said they were out camping when some teens started trouble with them when the Cobras had showed up and saved them. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I go over to the old football field and see the Cobras all sitting at their cars drinking some beers. As I came over, I saw a few of them getting up and coming over slowly.
"Didn't think this was your scene Lachance." Ace said but Eyeball raised a hand and came over to me.
"What's brings you here?" He asks.
"I heard about how you helped out our brothers and their friends against some teens." I told him. He just clicked his tongue and shook his head.
"We wasn't doing it to help them. Some cocknockers from Lewiston were trying to make a move and we were there to make it that Castle Rock is our territory, nothing more."
"Still, that was a nice thing to do." I told him. I was ready to make my leave when he called out to me.
"Hey uh, your brother, Georgie right?"
"Gordie." I corrected him.
"Anyone ever tell you he looks a lot like you?"
"All the time from relatives." I told him.
He just shook his head. "Great, just what this town needs, another Denny Lachance." I say nothing as I lock my jaw. As I look down at the faded out boundary line between us, I wondered how did things get so bad between us? What I could have done to stop it? And how much of it was my fault? Maybe I should have gotten him to focus on his studies more. Maybe could have kept him away from John Merrill. As I looked up at him, it still amaze me how our lives went into two vastly different directions. How had I manage to avoid going down the same path as him. I sometimes wonder how different his life could have been if his parents were more like mines. And if mines were more like his.
"What, you gonna kiss me now or something?" Eyeball joked and I heard the others behind him snicker. I shook out of my thoughts.
"It's nothing." I quickly told him. "See you around."
"See you around." I heard him as I made my way to my car.