Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name here isn't mines. Except the OCs.
A/N: Ahh, Time Travel stories. They can either be slightly enjoyable or equal to the pain of having hot bamboo strips shoved under your nails. Let's see how this one turns out?
Ever have one of those moments where you stop and think to yourself how did I get myself into this? When did my life turn upside down? No, I'm not on drugs or involve in gang warfare or anything like that. I didn't hit rock bottom, but I have found myself in a place I didn't expect to be. Want to know what I'm talking about? This was yesterday date and this is tomorrow's date:
- April 24, 2014.
- April 25, 1958.
No, you don't need to get your eyes exam. And no, I have no idea how one ends up going from 2014 to the late 1950s either. I suppose you could ask the nerds who watch Star Trek or study dimension hopping about it, and I don't think even they could explain what happen to me.
My name is Bryce Anderson, I'm sixteen years old, and I'm from Chicago, Illinois. My birthday is April 23, 1998 and it is currently July 5, 1958. If you're wondering how a sixteen year old boy somehow jump 56 years into the past, well, I can't explain how or why it happen but I can explain what it was like before it happen.
Me and my basketball team had finish our big game against our rivals Seaside High and we were currently getting undress in the locker room.
"Man, we smoke them guys woo!" shouted one of the guys as he high-fived another person.
"Yeah, but we wouldn't have won if it wasn't me." I told them and the guys all grown. "Don't give me that, I can't carry your lazy asses all the way to the championship myself. Get your shit in gear."
"Whatever man," Derrick Matthews, my best friend, said, "You coming to your party tonight right?"
"You know it dude." I told him and we high fived. "I just need to head home and change."
"All right, see you then."
After getting home, taking a shower, and putting on fresh clothes, my mom was driving me over to Derrick's for my belated birthday party (mom and dad had already taken me out to dinner and stuff, but my friends wanted to do something special).
"So Bryce your report card's in today." Oh shit! I thought to myself. "I see you've been getting As and Bs this semester, but I want to talk about this D+ you've been getting in Math." I groaned.
"Mom, I'm going to be a professional basketball player, when is knowing the right side of a hypotenuse ever going to be useful to me?" I told her.
"Bryce, dad and I just want you to have opportunities in life. You aren't going to get very far in life if you only have a high school diploma."
The rest of the drive was quiet until we reach Derrick's place.
"Have fun sweetie," Mom told me kissing my cheek.
"I will, see you tomorrow." Mom drove off and here I was in front of Derrick's house. I had barely reached the front door and I could already feel the music vibrating from the walls.
"The Birthday boy made it everybody!" Derrick proclaimed to the guest. My parents were normally pretty cool with letting me go to parties and Derrick's were okay with him throwing them whenever they were out of town, though they had to have known that there was more going down here than just dancing and talking.
The party goes off pretty well, me and a couple of my buddies were playing Call of Duty games or watching whatever on Netflixs and order some pizzas. Soon a couple of other kids from school and a few guys I don't recognize show up and that's when the party starts letting loose. Pretty soon the beer started flowing in. Don't ask me where it came from; everybody has that one friend that has a fake ID or an older sibling that's cool with buying them alcohol.
"Cheers!" We clinked cans and guzzled down. I saw in the corner of my eye Becky Garrett sitting on the couch, giving me this starry look like she wanted to makeout or something. So I was happy to oblige.
This was the life. Friends, parties, school, the usual. I was Bryce Anderson, captain of the basketball team, guy wanted to be me, girls wanted to date me.
"Man, what I wouldn't give to be Bryce for like a day." I heard someone once say.
Eventually the party started winding down and a few party goers were starting to leave.
"I'm getting hungry." I told Derrick as we were laying on the floor watching something Netflix picked out for us.
"Shit, I think we ran out of pizza." Derrick said as he rummaged through empty pizza boxes.
I started sitting up. "That's okay, there's a Jimmy John's down the road, I can pick us up some sandwiches."
"You don't have to do that man, it's your birthday."
"Yeah, but I need to stretch my legs." I told as I headed towards the door.
"Okay, see you back man."
"You know it."
"Oh, and happy birthday."
I smiled. "Thanks."
The night it happened, I had no inkling that anything was out of the ordinary. Since it was the middle of the night, there were very few cars driving by, so the road was pretty dark saved for some street lights. I'd log onto Twitter on my phone and saw that it was mostly dead so I logged out. Everything seemed normal until a cold breeze hit.
I looked ahead of the road and saw a light in the distance. Car. I thought to myself when the light split into two. But then things started getting weird when a third light appeared. The wind started really whipping and the lights seem to swirling around. I tried blocking it with my arms as the wind had blown hard and the lights got closer before everything went dark.
When I woke up, I notice something didn't feel right. I thought I was in bed, but my bed was never this hard. I patted the mattress to find my pillow, assuming it had fallen off in the night, but instead I felt what seem like pebbles and dried grass, then. Squinting, I blink my eyes open and had to wait for them to adjust to the morning light. When I looked around, I realized I wasn't in my room, but on the side of the road.
Shit, I forgot I was going to Jimmy John's! I thought to myself. Aw man, I hope Derrick didn't think I was flaking out on him. I pulled out my phone and tried calling him to explain what happen, but I heard no ringing. I tried calling my parents to pick me up, still no ringing. When I look at the screen, it said I had no service. Weird, there's usually a cellphone tower near by.
But when I took a really good look at my surroundings, I saw I was out in an open field? I knew the way from Derrick's to Jimmy John's past by a little wooded area, but not an open field. When I saw I only had two bars in my battery, I shut my phone off to conserve energy.
I kept walking until I saw a sign in the distance. When I ran up to it, I couldn't what it said.
'Welcome to Castle Rock'? Since when was there a Castle Rock in Chicago. Before I could comprehend what was going on, I heard a tire squeal behind me. I turned around and saw a car speeding up to me with some teenagers yelling and hooting about something. As they zoom by, one of them actually threw a beer bottle at me and they all laugh!
Trying to not cough on the cloud of dust in their wake, I walk into this strange place and felt like I step into an episode of Leave It To Beaver or something. The guys had slicked back hair, were wearing faded jeans, and clean-cut shirts. A lot of the girls were wearing either dresses or skirts and blouses with bob or beehive hairstyles.
Did Chicago decide to do a 50s Week or something? As I walked further into town, I saw really old, yet still new looking(?), cars driving by. When I looked into various shops and the grocery store, I saw everything had been bump down to 50s prices with 50s style ads more authentic than any retro style ad I've seen.
"Either Chitown decided to do a Fifties Week or they're filming a movie right now." I said to myself. I felt my unease grow when people would actually stop and stare as I walked by. Some even pointing at me and whispering to each other. Did I stand out that much?
"I guess they are and I didn't get the memo." As I looked around, I felt myself get roughly bumped into by a bunch of guys.
"Watch where you're going asshole!" One of them rudely yelled at me.
"Me? Watch where you're going dumbass, you bump into me!" The guys stop and all turned to look at me. I saw they were mostly wearing white t-shirts and blue jeans, while others wore colored shirts and slacks.
"Excuse me? I didn't catch that, what did you say?" One of them asked eyebrow raised (his eye looked really messed up), but the way they said didn't make it seem like they were sorry.
Suddenly I felt a little nervous. "I said you bump into me first, so you watch where you're going…" I tried to remember he said, "asshole."
"What? Man, who the fuck are you? I never see you before in my life!" One of them exclaimed.
"I think our guest needs to be taught a lesson, don't you agree guys?" One of them asked and they all smirked as they nodded in agreement. They all circled around me and I raised my fists. One of them swung first, but I was able to avoid and throw a punch back. Another of them came charging but I push him off me. I was doing pretty good until they all started ganging up on me. I was wrestling with one of them until two of them grabbed me by the arms, pulled me away and stretch them out. The guy who had bumped into me punched me in the gut. Hard.
I fell to my knees wheezing.
"Not so tough are ya?" He said while the others snickered. It got worse when he kicked me in the face. Time seems to slow down to a crawl as I laid on the ground, getting punched and kicked. One of the guys even grabbed me by my cheek roughly and a fist connected with my nose and my eye. I could feel something leaking (or gushing) from my nose. I could taste copper as I cough up blood. My right eye was so swollen I could barely see through it.
"I think he's had enough Eyeball, let's go." One of them said, like kicking my ass was boring to them or something.
"I guess you're right, but…" The guy (I guess his name is Eyeball? The fu-) trailed as he gave me a swift kick in the balls. I almost threw up.
"Hey!" Shouted a new voice. Oh God, please don't tell me someone else coming to join in too.
"Christ, its goody-two shoes Lachance." I heard the one called Eyeball mutter under his breath. "This doesn't concern you Lachance!" He called out.
"Ganging up and beating somebody up makes it my business, leave him alone!" The guy I'm assuming is Lachance told them.
"Back off Lachance, or else!" One of the other guys said, then a heard a distinct snick sound. I didn't need my eyes to see that was clearly a knife being brought out.
"I'll say it again, leave him alone." Lachance repeated.
"You think you can take us all on?" I heard Eyeball boast.
"If I have to." Damn, I had to admit, this Lachance has some major balls.
It had turned silent until an aggressive sigh let out.
"Let's go guys, he ain't worth it." I heard Eyeball say, "I hope you've learn something new kid, stay out of our way." And with that, I heard a group of footsteps all walking away. I'd almost blacked out until I felt someone shaking me.
"Hey! HEY! Are you ok? Jesus they did a number on you. Can you hear me?" I heard the voice shout. I turned my head to try to see with my good eye who was savior was, but even that was blurred due to tears coming out. What I could make out of him was that he had dark brown hair and was wearing a letterman jacket. "Come on, you need to be taken to a clinic."
He grabbed my arm and put it over his shoulder, and then he tried to help me stand up. As I wheeze and cough, I asked him who he was.
"My name Denny."
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Every part of my body hurt as we walked (well, Denny walked, I just stumbled around) over to the clinic. From the looks of things, it didn't look too busy. When the receptionist took one look at me, she immediately called the doctor. Wow, that was fast. Usually you have to wait almost ten minutes before the doctor can see you.
When the doctor came out, he motion for me to come to the back.
"I'm gonna wait out here until you get back." Denny told me.
"Sure , sure, thanks." I nodded and he nodded back and smiled. After the doctor took me to the back, he told me to sit down on the mattress. When the doctor grabbed his chair and scoot it up towards us, he sat down and suck in a breath.
"You're looking pretty bad son. Tell me, how many fingers am I holding up?"
I look at them. "Two."
"Do you feel any dizziness or nausea?" I told him no. "I want you to look directly into this light. I should warn you, it's going to hurt your eyes for a few seconds." And he wasn't kidding, I was rubbing my eyes after he shined his penlight in them. "Pupils look dilated, no signs of a concussion, tell me, does it hurt when you breathe?" I try to inhale and I wince at the pain. It was pretty minor and I told him that. "Sounds like a bruised rib, I'm going to check to see if you have any broken bones and as well as your nose."
I wince as he lightly clutched my nose and felt pretty uncomfortable as he felt me up almost all over, but he seemed to know what he was doing.
"I'm not feeling any broken bones. You nose feels swollen, but nothing broken. Just take it easy and put some ice on your nose and eye to keep the swelling down. If anything happens, head to the hospital immediately."
"Thanks doc." I told him as I got up from the bed and headed towards the receptionist. "Ok, so how much do I owe for this visit?" I asked her.
She looked at me confused. "This is a free clinic young man, you don't have to pay." I think I was gapping like a fish. I just got immediate medical attention and I didn't have to pay for it. This is a weird place, whatever it is.
Me and Denny walked out and we said our goodbyes. So here I was again, alone, having no idea where I was. I felt pretty good after leaving the clinic but as I was walking down the street I felt stomach growl.
"That's right, I never did go to Jimmy John's." So as I was walking, I looked around to find some place to eat. Eventually I came across a place called the Blue Point Diner.
"Welcome to the Blue Point, how many are dining today?" The waitress asked me, but I almost wasn't paying attention.
"Oh, uh, just one."
"Is something wrong?" She asked me.
"No, no." I quickly told her. She didn't seem sure, but dropped it as she led me to my table. I couldn't stop looking around, this place was like a more authentic 50s diner than Steak n' Shake I've been to.
"Here is your menu, I'll be back to take your order in a couple of minutes." She told me then left. Wait, did I have wallet on me? I quickly patted my pants and saw that I still had it. Phew. Checked and saw I had gotten forty dollars for my birthday. Good, that should cover this meal.
But when I checked the menu, I couldn't believe how cheap these prices are, like someone bumped them down to 1950s prices.
"Twenty-five cents for a burger? Forty cents for a sandwich? Five cents for a coke? If this is how much everything cost here, I'm probably a millionaire by these peoples' standards." I muttered under my breath. The waitress came back and I order a cheeseburger, French fries, and a coke. You know, the typical American meal. As I looked around, I saw an older man reading a newspaper in a nearby booth. "Excuse me sir, can I see that paper?"
The man looked surprised, but past it over. The Castle Rock Times. That's right, when I came to this place there was a sign that said 'Welcome to Castle Rock.' Then I saw the date: April 25 19… 1958?!
Then I blinked again.
"Sir?" I asked him, my voice gotten so high-pitched I probably sounded like a little girl, "Is this date correct?"
He took the paper back from me and looked at it. "Yeah. Why?"
"Uh… nothing." Then I thought of another question. "Do you know who the President is?" The man looked at me like I was an idiot.
"It's Eisenhower. Are you feeling okay kid? You look a little out of it. You also don't look like you're from around here."
"Uh, yeah, I'm fine." I quickly told him. Did I step into the Twilight Zone or something? I can understand if this guy was a little behind the times, but to be that out of touch with reality?
Either I've somehow enter the Twilight Zone or Chitown is throwing a 50s Week and these are the most devoted period actors ever.
The waitress had came back with my meal and, having nothing better to do, started digging in.
Ok Bryce, I thought to myself, either the entire city has banded together to pull the ultimate prank on you or you've really have traveled back in time. Like some Back to the Future kind of shit or something.
As I tried my best to rationalize my predicament, I heard a loud grunt. Looking up, a saw a rather mean-looking guy with blond hair staring at me.
"What?" I asked him.
"You're in my booth." He told me.
"I said you're in my booth, get yer ass out." Ugh, why now?
"Look man," I told him getting up, "I just had a rough day so far and all I want to do is sit down and eat."
"Yeah?" He said, "Well I don't give a shit. Doris knows this is a booth, isn't it Doris." The guy nodded over to the waitress that served me. I guess she was Doris.
"Uh…" Was all she said.
"See?" the guy said, not giving her a chance to say anything, "Now, I'll kindly ask you to get out of my booth."
I just rolled my eyes. "Why you doggin' me man, there's lot of booths in this place, just go to another one."
"'Doggin'? What the fuck are you even talkin' about?" The guy then roughly grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me up close. Not this again. Also, why hasn't anyone step in to stop this already?
"Hey!" Called out a voice. A rather familiar voice. We both looked and it was that Denny kid again. What timing.
"Anyone ever tell you you always know when to show up at just the right time Lachance?" The guy told him.
"Let him go Ace." Denny said. Ace (Really? First Eyeball and now Ace?) did so but kept his eyes locked on Denny.
"I don't know why you always try to get involve in things that don't concern you Dennis, but it's starting to become a pain in my ass."
"This is a free diner Ace, he…" Then Denny turned to look at me, "I'm sorry, what's your name?"
"Bryce." I told him.
"Bryce can sit whenever he wants."
"Bryce?" Ace repeated before turning his attention at me. "You new around here? I haven't seen you around before. Well let me you tell you how it is around here: you don't sit at my booth, you don't get in a my way, and we all get along."
"Ace, just let this go." Denny told him sternly.
"Oh yeah, and what are you going to do about it?" Ace took a set closer and the two were nearly touching nose-to nose.
"Hey!" I shouted, getting them to look at me, "It's ok, I can just move, see?" I told them picking up my plate and shuffled to another booth. Denny looked disappointed, but Ace just smirked.
"See? He gets it." Ace said as he roughly slapped the back of my neck and moved over to 'his' booth.
"We gotta stop meeting like this, it's starting to get embarrassing you always showing up to save my ass." I told him jokingly as the diner began settling down again.
"You shouldn't let him push you around like that. Once Ace knows he can intimidate you, he's never going to let it go." Denny told me as he sat down. I just put my hand up.
"Hey, I got my ass kicked once, I don't need another one." I explain as I took a sip of my coke. "How did you know when to show up just in time?" I inquired.
"Oh." He said, "I was just leaving the Pharmacy and thought I pick up a lunch to go when I saw you and Ace going at it. You are one trouble seeker Bryce." Denny laugh.
"It's not like I'm trying. Not my fault everybody in this place wants to start shit with me." I pleaded.
"Shhh!" We both look and saw Doris the waitress giving us disapproving looks.
"Sorry ma'am." Denny said to her. "Though Ace was onto something, are you new around here? I haven't seen you here before either"
What is this place, Cheers?
"Uh yeah, you can say that." I told him.
"Where are you from?" Denny asked.
"Chicago." I told him.
"Chicago? You mean from Illinois?" I nodded. "That's quite a trip going from Illinois to Oregon." I always choked on my fries.
"Oregon?" I asked him, "I'm in Oregon?" He just nodded at me, like he was surprise I didn't know. So not only did I somehow travel back in time, but also halfway across the US?
"Yeah, is something wrong?" Denny asked him with concern. Wow, this is the nicest guy I ever met.
"Oh nothing." I told him. But he dug deeper.
"Really? So what brings you here to Castle Rock? I didn't see any moving trucks around here recently." Then Denny leaned in closer and whispered, "Are you running away from home or something?"
Not having any idea how to answer him, I just kept quiet and nodded. The corner of Denny's mouth tug and he thought over my answer, but thankfully didn't press on.
"Hey, uh Denny? Do you know a place where I can crash? For the night at least?"
"Crash?" he asked me.
"I-I-I meant stay." I quickly said. I should really learn the slang of this time.
"Sure, but first let's go to my house so I can drop this off," He motion to the bag in his hand, "then I can show you some of the hotels around here."
"Thanks." I nodded at him smiling.
After finishing up, Denny got his lunch to go and paid for mines (I told him I could pay for it, but he offer himself, saying I should save what money I have), as we were headed out to his car.
"The car's right over there." Denny said as he pointed over to the green and brown car.
"Wow." Was all I could say. It was a Station Wagon, but it was one of the most old-timely ones I've ever seen. Like, one of those cars you see in old pictures that your great-grandparents drove around or the kind of car Hitler drove.
"Something wrong?" Denny asked me. I just looked and shook my head.
"It's nothing man, it's just I've never seen a car like this before. It's one of the coolest things I've seen."
Denny looked surprise and then snorted, clearly trying to hold back a laugh.
"This is the car my Dad drove around when he was my age before he gave it to me, and you think it's cool?" I just smiled back and got into the passenger seat. After closing the door, I turned around and tried to reach for the seat belt but couldn't find it. It wasn't on the right of me like it should. I felt around the sides, I looked to my left, nothing. Denny apparently saw this.
"Is the seat uncomfortable or something?" He asked. I was going to tell him I was looking for the seat belt until it hit me that they probably didn't invent seat belts yet.
"No, it's just that my back real itchy." And to prove my point, I rubbed my back against to seat to scratch it. Denny looked skeptical but started up the car and we were on his way to his house.
We parked in the driveway of a blue and white house. We got out and made our way to the front door and walked in. I just looked around, this seem like one of those houses you see on those old infomercials. I heard a cough and saw Denny walking towards a brown-haired kid sitting on the couch covered in a blanket, nose red and running, and discarded tissues lying around.
"Here you go, these should make you feel better." Denny told the boy softly, handing him a bottle of pills. "And I even brought you some lunch."
"Thanks." The kid said, rather hoarsely. Then the kid looked at me and his eyes widen. "Denny," he asked as he grabbed his wrist and shook it, "Who's that?"
"Oh, Gordie this is Bryce. Bryce, this is my little brother Gordie." Ah, should have known the two of them were brothers; the kid even looks like a mini-Denny.
"Hi." Gordie said weakly, giving me a wave. "I wouldn't come any closer, I'm sick."
"Yeah I can see that." I told him, looking at all the tissues.
"Denny, is that you? Are you back from the pharmacy, I—" A new voice called out when a older woman came in. I'm guessing she was their mom. She even looks like the typical 1950s wife and mother: hair done up all nice, short dress, and apron tied around the waist. "Oh, I didn't know you were bringing more friends over. If I had known, I would have cooked more."
"Mom, he's not staying over for dinner," He told her. Wow, rude, then I remember I already eaten today. But I think I was starting to get hungry again, smelling roast beef cooking in the oven. "I was wondering if Pop was home, I need to ask him something."
"Oh your father is in his study, I can go get him, just wait here." His mother told him before disappearing into the back.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Denny went to open it. "Sorry I'm late."
I glance over my shoulder and saw a cute brunette coming into the living room. I wondered if she was his sister, but if she was then she wouldn't have knocked, and she wouldn't have been giving him a peck on the lips. Bleck!
"No, you're actually early, the roast beef won't be done for another couple of hours." Denny said he followed her.
"And how are you feeling, sweetie?" The girl asked Gordie, running her fingers through his hair.
"The same as the last time you asked." I heard Gordie muttered under his breath. I tried not to laugh, damn this kid has some sass.
Then the girl turned to look at me and she kept looking back and forth from me and Denny.
That's when Denny introduce us. "Jane, this is Bryce… Bryce…?" He paused as he looked at me. Oh! He wanted to know my last name.
"Anderson." I told him. Then it hit me, shoot I'm in the past! Nobody knows me here, I could have given myself a new identity and a new name! Ah damnit.
"Anderson." He repeated. "Bryce this is Jane Dawnson."
She smiled at me. "Nice to meet you. Just stopped by for a visit?" This girl is so sweet I think I was getting a toothache. There's just something about her that feels… off.
"I just came into town and Denny been helping me out." I told her.
"I need to talk to my dad about finding a good hotel he can stay at." Denny interjected.
"Well if anybody good at finding anything, it's my Denny." Jane said as she wrapped an arm around Denny's shoulder. Damn girl, tone it down.
"Dennis!" Called out a new voice and an older man walked into room. I guess this was his dad? "Hello Jane." He greeted her, then he spotted me and scowled. "Dennis, how many times do I have to tell you it's rude to invite friends over at such late notice. Now your mother has to cook more."
"Pop, he's not staying over, I need to talk to you about something." And the two disappeared into the back again. His mom went back into the kitchen and Jane followed. That just left me with Gordie.
"So," I started, "You're sick huh?"
"Ye-" Then he quickly grabbed some tissues and sneeze, blowing his nose afterwards, "Yeah." He wiped the snot off.
"I don't like getting sick either. All that snot and the coughing, it makes me…" Then I shivered. Then I realize, what the hell was I doing? This kid looks like he's ten or eleven, yet I'm talking to him like he's six!
Fortunately Denny and his dad came back in. "Bryce, Denny explain your situation to me. Come here." He motion for me to come over. I did and he took me to the front door. "Ok, down there is the Rose Garden Inn on Main Street. If you go down Willow Street, you'll passed the Arlington hotel. There's also the Maple Ridge Inn. If you're heading towards Castle View, there's the Sunnyside Inn, though it's a bit pricey and I'm not sure if it's in your pay range. There's also Silver Cloud Inn in northwest Portland. That should give you a basic layout."
Uh… yeah! Yeah, I got it all right, thank you sir." I normally don't say 'Sir', but considering where I am, I figure I better use it to stay on his good side.
"No problem, now if you excuse us the misses has to get back to preparing dinner and Denny needs to get on his homework, so if you would be so kind?" He asked. Hey, I may have been somehow transported through time, but even I can take a hint and tell he wants me out of his house.
"Of course sir." I told him as I walked through the door. "I guess I'll see you around Denny?" I asked him and he nodded. His mother waved goodbye. Gordie just looked neutral to me leaving.
"Hope to see you soon." Jane said with a smile as she closed the door.
"Hopefully without you here." I said as I left the Lachance residents.
"Here's your key." The man at the front desk told me, handing over the trinket. "Cost of room is five dollars and ninety-one cents for one night."
"This should cover at least three days." I told him handing him a twenty. The man took it and examined it. I was starting to get nervous he might reject it.
"Y'know, this twenty looks awfully different from any I've seen."
"Well, I'm from out of town, our money looks different." I told him. Well, it wasn't like I was lying.
"Alright, there's a bath and shower in your room, and we start serving breakfast at eight."
"Thank you sir."
"Hey, wait, kid!" He called out stopping me in my tracks. "Don't you have any bags?"
"Uh…" Shit, I just realize I didn't have any other clothes on me other than what I was wearing right now. Then again, it's not like I planned this trip. "Like I said, I just came into town." Hoping that would be good enough for him. I made a mental note to go shopping for some clothes tomorrow.
"Eh, welcome to the Arlington Hotel, hope you enjoy your stay with us."
Smiling, I left to go to my room, unlock the door, and collapse on the bed. Phew! What a first day: got sent back in time, got beat up, met a kid name Denny, got free medical attention, almost got into another fight, met Denny's family, and now I'm in a hotel in Oregon and it's not even 5 o' clock yet.
"One day down, whatever more to go Bryce." I said to myself as suddenly I felt drained from today's events and fell to sleep.
The car Denny drives is a Packard One-Twenty Deluxe Station Wagon from 1941, but Bryce didn't know that. I'm trying strike the right balance of having Bryce being, "Oh my God, I'm in the past. D:" and "Oh my God, I'm in the past! :D" Also the Silver Cloud Inn is a real hotel in Portland.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Thump Thump Thump
I hear a loud banging as I stir awake. I roll from my side to my back, yawn, and start scratching myself. I open my eyes to take a look around my room, before rolling back to my side and try to catch some more sleep.
Then I immediately bolted up out of bed.
Looking around my room I couldn't believe it, was I really home? I check every corner: my bed, my dresser, my TV, my desk, my desktop computer, my book shelf, my DVD collection, my X-Box, it was all here! Was that entire experience really have been a dream?
Thump Thump Thump
"Bryce? Bryce, get up and eat your breakfast before you end up late for first period!" I hear my mom call out. Could it really been her?
Getting up, I leave my room, head to the bathroom to wash up, before heading to the dining room and sure enough, she was there, sipping coffee and watching the morning news.
"Mom? Mom!" I exclaim as I ran up to her and grabbed her into a large bear hug.
"Whoa Bryce, what's gotten into you?" Mom asked me in surprise.
"I'm just so happy to see you, I though… nevermind." I told her. I didn't feel the need to go into detail right now, I was just happy to be home again.
Thump Thump Thump
Opening up the fridge, I get the milk out as well as the bagels and cream cheese spread. I put the bagels into the toaster as I grab a bowl from the cabinet, a spoon from the drawer, and a box of cereal from the food pantry.
"So, how was the party last night?" Mom asked me absent-mindedly.
"It was fun, I had a really great time." I told her as I pour the Applejack's into the bowl, "Mom, you won't believe the craziest dream I had last night."
"Yeah," I told her after I finish pouring the milk and grab the bagels from the toaster, "I dream that I somehow has gone back in time to the fifties, and I had gotten beaten up by some mean guys, and was staying the night in some hotel. Like I said, crazy huh?"
"Oh that does sound crazy," She agreed with me, "Wanna know something crazier?"
"What?" I asked as I finish spreading the cream cheese and took a bite out of my bagel.
"That wasn't a dream" I almost chocked on my bagel.
Thump Thump Thump
"That wasn't a dream, you really are stuck in the Fifties, this on the other hand, is all a dream." Mom explain to me.
What the hell was she talking about, and what was with that loud thumping I've heard since I've waken up?
Jolting awake, I shout a 'What!'
"Breakfast is ready!" I heard the man from behind the door shout before hearing the sound of retreating footsteps. I rub the sleep from my eyes and look around the room for a minute: a bed, a dresser, a bath and shower, and an old lamp. That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks: this really is the hotel room I checked into last night. Oh fuck me, then it wasn't a dream, I really am in 1958! Groaning loudly, I get up, use the bathroom, wash my face and hands, and end to the dining room for breakfast.
It was a decent spread: some pancakes, some scramble eggs, some bacon, grits, and a pot of coffee. Grabbing a plate, I fix myself up before sitting down and digging into my food. I couldn't help not thinking back the dream, it felt so life-like, then I remember how I got here, that weird light that hit me. If it wasn't a dream, then how did I not remember what happen between leaving Derrick's place and suddenly ending up back in my room? I guess it's true what they said in that movie Inception, you don't always remember the in-between while in a dream, you're just there.
While I was eating, I couldn't stop thinking about how I got here, I was heading to Jimmy John's from Derrick's, that light hit me, and suddenly BOOM I'm here. That light, what was that light? Did aliens decide to send me back in time for some experiment or was it their idea of a joke? Maybe if I head back to where I first got here, I can find a clue as to how to get back room. Maybe this town has its own version of a Doc Brown I could talk to.
After finishing breakfast, I put the plate away with the others and head out the door into Castle Rock. Only 8 in the morning and already people were outside, some heading to work while I see kids my age and younger heading probably to school. Oh right school! I don't have my backpack with me or my supplies, then I remember I don't go to school here (yet?).
It took me maybe about 30 minutes before I made it to the outskirts of Castle Rock (The best thing about small towns? Everything within walking distance. The worst thing about small towns? Everything within walking distance), and then I started to look around. Not that I was sure what I was looking for, but hopefully something that can give me a clue as to how I got here. After wandering around aimlessly, I realized I wasn't gonna find anything and just decided to head back.
With only $22 dollars to my name right now, I realize that I had to think of a plan of action. Dad was always telling me that I needed to have a well, thought out plan whenever I'm going somewhere. Since I didn't plan to suddenly travel 8 decades into the past and there's a good chance I'm gonna be stuck here for quite a while, I realize that I needed to do something to survive. Sure everything here is super cheap, but even I know that my birthday money will dry up eventually and I only have the hotel room for 3 days and it's already day number 2. Will I have to get a job here? What places will hire a 16 year old? I never really work a job in my life: mow the lawn, babysit the neighbors' kids, help out in some church programs, but never a real get-paid-every-2-weeks job. Most of my friends had jobs: Derrick works at the movie theater, Steve got a job at the country club, Kenny washes dishes at this senior citizen meal place, Jake works at his uncle's ranch during the summer in Michigan, so I feel I know the ins and outs of how a job works. Also where am I gonna live? Like I said, I only have the hotel room for 3 days and it's the second day already! I don't know about you but I don't plan on sleeping outside somewhere in the park.
Maybe I could try heading to Chicago? Naw, even if I did somehow find a way over there, it be 1950s Chicago, plus my grandparents on my mom's side of the family as well as my mom didn't move to Chicago until the late 80s.
As I continue my trip into town, I remembered I was gonna buy some new clothes, so I looked around and came across a store. Once away, I couldn't believe how cheap everything was: 99 cents for a polo shirt, $2.98 for chino pants, $4.88 for a leather jacket. So I got two pairs of shirts, two pairs of pants, and the jacket and altogether it came to $14.84. As I exited the store, it hit me that, if I did my math right, I just paid $121.76 for a few pieces of clothes by my time's standards. Now that I had some clothes at least, I should probably start looking for a job now that I only have $7.36 left at this point.
"Shit," I said to myself, "How am I gonna get hired here? Do I need to have a résumé? Who do I use as a reference? And did they even take résumés back then?" But before I could continue talking to myself and have people think I've gone crazy, I bump into someone. "Augh, sorry man, I didn't se—hey, it's you! Gordie was it?" Turns out it really was little Gordie from yesterday, I guess school was letting out by now. The younger boy picked himself up and just stared at me for a few seconds before remembering it was me. I guess I didn't leave much of a impression here.
"Oh, hello." Gordie said, surprise to see me so soon.
"Hey," I said back, "Hey, if you see your dad or Denny, tell them thanks for pointing me to a hotel."
"Sure no problem." Was all he said. I see he wasn't the most talkative type. Feeling I had nothing better to do, I figure I walk with him, help kill some times. "So, where are you off to?" I asked him.
"Huh?" He asked back, guess he didn't expect me to stick around, "Oh I was gonna meet up with some friends of mines."
"I can't really tell you, it's a secret between all of us." 'Us' as in those friends of his.
"Oh." Was all I could say. God this kid seem to be shy, I wasn't gonna hurt him if that's what he's thinking. He kept walking in silence and turning to look at me, pausing to suck his cheek before speaking.
"Denny told me you ran away from home." What? Then I remembered that was my cover story I told him, well, actually I didn't tell him anything, I just let him think that.
"Uh, yeah I did. Yeah, I did run away from home." I said like it was something to be proud of.
"But why?" He inquired. Shit, this kid seems pretty smart.
'Uh…" I tried to think of something, "I guess I just needed a change of scenery is all."
"Ok," he said, seemingly believing me, "But why here? Castle Rock isn't exactly New York or California or Texas."
Kid, I knew just as much about why I ended up here as you did.
"Uh… just I like the small town life. I always thought it was cool. Quaint little houses, everybody knowing everybody," I thought off the top of my head. "Hey, I know this is gonna sound weird, but do you know any places in town that are hiring?"
Gordie was clearly surprise by this question but before he could answer, a new voice had cut into our conversation.
"Hey Gordo!" We both looked and saw another kid running towards us. He looked the same age at Gordie, but slightly older in appearance. He had short blond hair and the most piercing blue eyes I've ever seen, as well as a light tan to him.
"Hey Chris!" Gordie called back to him before the boy (Chris) ran up to us and slung a arm around Gordie. "Hey man."
"Hey Gordie, I… uh" Chris paused as he looked over me, probably just noticing I was here, "Can I talk you… alone?" Chris said the last part while looking over at me. I got the message, I wasn't welcome here.
"Well Gordie, I see you're obviously busy, so I'll see you around. Tell your brother I said 'Hi'." I told him as I left him to be with his friend. I had only take a few steps before I heard him call out to me.
"Hey, wait, Bryce was it?" Gordie asked as he ran up to me. I nodded. "The market down the street is looking for a cashier. It's not much, but it's something."
I flashed the biggest smile on my face.
"Aw, thanks kid, I appreciate it, don't think I don't." I told him as I gave him pat on the back and watch as him and his friend left, no doubt talking privately about who I was and how did I know Gordie.
"And this is where you will be station." The manager, who's name was Jerry, told me as he showed me around the store. "So how good are you in math?" He asked me. Shit, I suck at math!"
"Uh, pretty good, not amazing but good." I told him. He squinted one eye at me but seem to accept the answer.
"Ok, so as I was saying, this is where you will be station" He told me as he showed me the mechanical cash register (a mechanical cash register!), "You will look at every price and punch it into the machine. For produce, you will have to weight it, type in the weight, and then type in the price. Since you're new, it will take you some time to get use to it, but once you got it, you will be good to go. Any questions?"
"No Sir." I told him.
"Ok, so you will be paid every two weeks. Most prefer checks but we can give it you the money in an envelope. Also don't call me 'Sir', it's just Jerry." He explained.
"Ok Si—I mean Jerry." I corrected myself.
"Good, I expect you here tomorrow at 8 AM." Jerry told me.
"I will be there."
Ok, at least I have a job down, now to find a new place to live.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
If I ever make it back to 2014, I'm going to give every cashier a big bouquet of flowers.
"Can this young man just hurry up?" I heard an impatient customer groan. It was my first day as the cashier for the Castle Rock Market aaaaaand I gotta feeling it might be my last. I'll admit, it wasn't so bad at first, we had just open and there were only a few customers: a few old ladies, some women I'm sure for housewives, some businessmen, a fat kid who was taking too long picking out which candy he wanted to buy before I off-handily mention he should hurry up before he's late for school, not much. But once we were after 11, that's when it started to get pack, and now I had a huge line standing before me.
"I can't believe he's taking this long!" I heard that same impatient customer complain again. What do I look like, The Flash? I'm going as fast as I can! I have got to say, cashiering has got to be the most tedious job ever. Oh, they make it look easy when you're behind the counter, but in front, it's a nightmare. The keys would often be stuck, I would either overprice or underprice a grocery or even accidentally forget to count one. Makes me realize how easier it is to scan the products and get it over with.
"Can't we bring someone else out so we can go faster?!" Once again, that same impatient customer complain. I almost wanted to cuss her out, but since this was my first day, I had something better in mind.
"I'm sorry I'm taking so long Ma'am, I would love to bring out someone else but if I did it would take even longer to get to you so, if you would please, let me finish with this customer and I'll get to you in time." I explained to her calmly. I could hear the other customers stifling their laughter after what I'd just said, even I was inwardly smiling and trying not to snort. After I had finish with this customer, I immediately starting checking out the next one. "That will be ten cents."
"Didn't except to see you again so soon." I hear a voice said, a very familiar voice, so imagine my surprise when I look up and see a very familiar face to go along with it.
"Denny? Man, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in school?" I questioned him since it was almost a quarter to noon.
"Shouldn't you?" He questioned back. Ahh, got me there. "Hey what time do you go on break?"
"In a couple minutes, why?"
"Was planning on going to the Blue Point, wanted to know if you wanted to come?" He asked me. I told him sure, but we had to cut our conversation short since the other customers were getting unruly.
"I'll be done with you all in just a minute!" I called out to them, smiling and waving sheepishly, then started to work faster.
"Really surprise to see you still in town. Gordie said he saw you yesterday, but I thought you would've left by now." Denny told me as we sat at the diner eating lunch (He got a sandwich while I had soup).
"Well I have a feeling I'm gonna be in this place for a while, so I figure why not make myself at home." I explained to him, "But you still haven't answer my question, why are you here? Shouldn't you be in school?" Denny seems like such a nice kid, it's hard to imagine he be a ditcher.
"It's lunch at school, and we can go out to eat." He explained. Ahh, I remember so schools can allow you to do that. "But I gotta say, wasn't expecting you to get a job here, let alone at the market, are you planning on living here?"
"Yeah, but since I'm on my last day at the hotel, I gotta find somewhere else to stay while I try to make some cash." I told him. I did find out the average for rent was $75. $75, I'm sure most college students or low income families would gladly sacrifice their first born child to a dark god for that kinda rent. But then I kept wondering if any apartments around here would rent out to a unsupervised 16 year old.
"You need a place to stay?" Denny asked, then he cocked his head and looked up in thought. At that moment, a thought occurred to me, what if I asked Denny if I could stay at his house? At least until I saved enough money to be able to stand on my own. Denny been nothing but helpful to me ever since I got stuck into this mess, but at the same time, would he and his parents be ok with housing a complete stranger in their home? Especially one that was 'running away from home'? "Well…" He trailed off.
Holy Shit, was he really gonna invite me to stay at his place?
"There's Sukey's Tavern." Damn, I guess not. "It's just down Left Street, but it's located in the poorer side of town, so I'm not sure how safe it is, but they usually have rooms available there."
"Ok, I'll keep that in mind when I get off my shift." I told him as I slurped more of my soup.
"So, how have you been enjoying Castle Rock?" Denny brought up. As I finished my soup, I wiped my mouth on my napkin and decided to let it out all out.
"Well, for one thing, this place has got to be whitest place on Earth. I've think I've seen only one Black family in his whole town, not one Mexican or Asian or Indian or Native American in this place."
"Yeah, you have a better chance find some at Umatilla County." Denny said.
"You guys don't seem to have a bus line, almost everything in this place is within walking distance, you guys seem to have one of everything here: one market, one diner, one restaurant, one movie theater, one cleaners, one postal office, one everything! You don't even have a McDonald's here." Denny laughed at that part.
"Yeah, Castle Rock's a pretty small place. Stay here long enough and you begin to think it's the entire world. Only a few ever get to chance to escape this place." Denny explain.
"Does that include you?" I asked him, Denny seems like the kind of person who would do decently in life.
"That's what my folks think and want, and why they always push me to do better in school and sports."
"You play sports?" When I asked him that, Denny let out a sigh.
"Yeah, football, Pop wants me to become a professional at it." Denny said grumbling. Ok, touchy subject.
"Funny, I plan on going into basketball, gonna become a professional Basketball player!" Denny quirked an eyebrow at that.
"You can do that?" He asked.
"Uhh…" As I tried to think of something, "I just have a feeling Basketball gonna be huge someday."
Denny chuckled at this. "If you think so." We sat in silence for a minute before Denny spoke up again, "So, how's your family? Must've been bad at home if they made you run away."
That's not true, my parents are the best in the world, but I can't tell him the truth as to how I ended up here, he think I was nuts!
"My parents are fine, I'm here for a… different reason." I tried to explain as lightly as possible.
"And what's that?" He prodded, but before I could think of anything the door jingled and came in two people, a large burly unshaven man with messy dark blond hair and frail looking woman with burly brown hair. I'm guessing the two were married, yet there was something familiar about those two that I can't put my finger on it.
"Um, hello, welcome to the Blue Point, are you dining in." The waitress asked.
"No, just placing an order." She told her.
"And you better keep it cheap to!" The man said.
"Dear, let me handle this." She told her husband before continuing, "I'll have four cheeseburgers—"
"'Four'? Are you shitting me?!" The man snarled.
"Two then, two cheeseburgers, two ham and cheese sandwiches, and a salad—" She once again started but got cut off by her husband again.
"What d'you need a salad for? You ain't getting that figure back!" You could feel the woman sigh inwardly.
"I just want our children to eat healthy to."
"Those little bastards don't need it." He said. Wow, what an ass.
"Uh… anything else? The waitress asked meekly.
"Oh and a Egg Salad Sandwich as well."
"Let hell you are, I ain't letting that stink up the house, it already smells worse than it already did!" The man again interrupted.
"Well if you would actually get rid of your alcohol bottles, it smell better in there." She told him.
"What I do with my money is my business alone, git off y'ur high horse, you ain't shit without me.
"Um... is that all?" The waitress asked wanting to confirm. The woman nodded her head. You couldn't help but feel sorry for her, and I had feeling that, if this diner served alcohol, I half expect her to also say, 'And a bottle of whiskey, the hardest you got. No, not for him, for me.'
"Geez what a sad sight." I said looking back to Denny who was watching the scene also.
"Yeah, it is, but I guess that's what happen when you end up in the kind of hole they're in." Denny simply stated.
"Who are they?" I asked him.
"Mr. and Mrs. Chambers." He told me, "You know how every town has that one person or family most don't hold in high regard? The Chambers are Castle Rock's." Well damn that is the most depressing thing I've heard.
"Well that Mr. Chambers guy sure is an asshole." I said. Denny nodded chuckling.
"Yeah he is. Amazing he hasn't been locked up permanently by now."
"He's that bad?"
"He can never seem to keep a job for more than a month, spends most of the weekend down at the bar downtown drinking, and gets into these violent fits, especially around his family members." Hearing that send a shiver down my spine.
"Oh my God, has he… I mean has he hit his wife?" I asked softening my voice.
"We don't think so, but we do know he has taken it on his children." Shit, this dude beats his kids to? He has kids?
"You mean that guy has kids to?" I inquired as Denny nodded, "I feel so sorry for them."
"Well, I don't know how sorry you can feel for one of them, especially after what happen to you." Denny said. Ok, I was confused by that.
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that you already know one of their kids. In fact, it was through him that we met." Denny told me as you pointed towards his eye. I'm not sure what he meant by that. I thought back to my first day here: I was outside of town, some teens through a bottle at me, I ran into this one douche named Eyeball, and-
Ho. Ly. Shit!
"You're telling me that asshole Eyeball who kicked my ass is their son?!" I gaped as Denny nodded. Small world, huh? "Wait, you said 'for one of them' and Mrs. C mention children, you telling me they have more than one? And they really named the kid 'Eyeball'?"
"No, Eyeball isn't his real name, it's a nickname his friends gave them." Denny explained, "And yeah, they do have another kid, he—Oh shit, lunch period almost over!" Denny shouted as he looked at the clock on the wall. "Sorry Bryce, but I gotta go, we'll talk later the next time I see you." Denny said rapidly as he dropped the money and ran out the door. I better get back to the market to, my break was almost over.
After my shift ended, I decided to go to this Sukey's Tavern Denny mention. He wasn't kidding about it being near the poorer side of town. So many unkempt lawns, busted up cars sitting in the driveways, chain-linked fences that look like they were barely hanging on. As I continue my journey, I came across a certain house that looked more shabby than the rest. It looked more like a shack than a house, the paint job it had was really wearing off, the lawn looked more like a jungle, one of the windows was busted up, and the mailbox looked it was gonna fall off at any minute. Getting closer, I could make out the words on said mailbox as 'Chambers'. Wait, this is where they live? If the Chambers are as bad as Denny makes them out to be, then I rather be as far away from them as possible. But before I could make a break for it, I heard the front door creak open and a figure stepped out. I really wanted to bolt it, thinking it might've been Mr. Chambers or that Eyeball guy, but imagine my surprise when I saw it was that kid Gordie was with yesterday.
"Chris?" No way, that Chris kid Gordie was hanging with is their son? Then I thought about Eyeball, and my mind was blown, those two were brothers?! They look nothing alike! At least with Denny and Gordie, you can make out the resemblance right away. But then I thought about Chris and Mr. Chambers, as well as Eyeball and Mrs. Chambers, and I guess it was one of those situations where one kid takes after each parent.
I'll be honest, I'm not sure how I felt at that moment. Why would Gordie want to hang out with this kid if his family is as terrible as they appear to be? Gordie seems like a nice kid, shy but nice. I guess we all have that one 'bad' friend we hang out with when we want an excuse to do 'bad' things.
But then I thought back to how we met and that he immediately didn't act like a asshole like his dad or tried to beat me up like his brother, so maybe he wasn't that bad?
I don't know what came over me, but I found myself walking through their gate and over to that kid. Along the way, I saw he had sat down on the porch, taken out a cigarette, lit it, and took a puff. Judging by the fact he didn't immediately start coughing his lungs out led me to believe this wasn't his first.
He didn't seem to notice I was there until his eyes flicked over to me as I walked over, just staring at me with those piercing blue eyes of his, not even blinking once.
"Um, hey!" I said, giving him a quick wave. He gave a quick head nod in response and blew out smoke before inhaling again, his eyes not leaving me once. "Chris right? I'm Bryce, Bryce Anderson."
He didn't say a single word to me and already I felt myself getting weak in the knees.
"You friends with Denny Lachance?" He finally spoke in a long time. Was he? At this point he was the closest thing I had to a friend since I ended up here.
"Yeah." I simply said "Yeah he is."
"He's a great guy, Gordie's lucky to have him as a brother." Chris said as he flicked away some ash.
"Yeeeah." Was all I could say. We were in silence until I spoke up again. "So you smoke?" I asked as I slowly sat down on one of the steps. Since Chris hadn't shown any reaction to this, it told me he didn't mind. "I tried smoking once, when I was thirteen, and I can tell you it was my last." Man, what the hell was I doing? The kid went back to staring at me while he slowly inhaled his cigarette again. Why would I think he care about whether I smoke or not?
"I heard you ran away from home?" Damn, has word spread out that face? Wait, I guess Gordie told him. "Must be nice, being able to just leave whenever you want." He told me as he looked into the distance.
"Mmm-hmm." Was all I could do. I don't know why I can feel my heart pumping fast in my ears and why my lungs were closing in like I had asthma or something. Every part of my body was telling me to get out of here. I really wanted to bolt out right now.
"Listen Chris," I spoke up as his eyes flicked back at me, "I uh, I saw your parents today." If I hadn't been watching him closely, I wouldn't have notice him visibly flinched. "And I know this is gonna sound weird, but uh, I want you to know I know and I'm sorry, and if you ever need someone to-"
"Is that what you came here for? To tell me you feel sorry for me?" He cut me off, asking angrily.
"I, uh, um, I, oooh, eh, it's not... you see." I stuttered but Chris was having none of it.
"Look man, I don't even know you and you don't know me either, but since you seen my old man, you probably already made up your mind about me."He told me as he angrily stood up, ash flying everywhere. He stood up so fast, I'll admit I quickly leap off the step and took a few steps back. Why am I so afraid of this kid? I'm bigger and older and taller than him, yet judging by his stocky appearance, he looked like he could kick my ass.
Clearly Chris saw all this and merely shook his head in disappointed before sitting back down, the arm with the cigarette in his hand resting on his knee while his other foot was stretched out. "Forget it, I don't need your sympathy. I rather be hated than pitied." He told as he looked into the distance and saw a vehicle coming down the road.
At that point, I was so ready to forget this whole convo and just leave but we both saw a black car with four people drive up and parked, containing the two people I hoped I never run into again.
"Check it out guys, my brother made a new friend!" Eyeball laugh as the two other guys in the back also laughed. Ace, the one who was driving, just kept his eyes locked on me. "What's wrong Christopher, Lachance finally came to his senses?" Eyeball smirked.
Chris simply rolled his eyes and put out his cigarette before getting up and going back inside his house. "Man, I don't know him, he just came over here and started talking to me." Muttering as he closed the door. Great, I guess I won't be making it on his favorite persons list anytime soon.
I was about to get up and leave myself when Eyeball called out to me.
"Hey man, what brings you over here?" I could've not told him anything, but since they had a car, they probably follow me around until I said anything.
"I'm just on my way to Sukey's Tavern." I told him, no more no less.
"You need a ride?" Ace then spoke up, surprising all of us.
"No, that's ok, I can make it on my own." I told him.
"You sure, cuz we're gonna be passing that place." He mentioned.
"Like I said, that's ok, I got it from here." I quickly explain to him as I left the Chambers residents.
Stepping into Sukey's Tavern, my senses were overwhelmed by smoke, cheap liquor, and some dude singing on the radio. Can't say I would ever come to a place like this of my own free will since the only times I've ever stepped foot into a bar was for family dinners but I guess beggars can't be choosers. The bar patrons barely notice me enter and paid me no mind as I walked up to a barstool.
"Hey, HEY! Eh, over here?" I called out to the bartender and caught his attention. "I like to get a room for tomorrow?" The bartender just stared at me.
"You twenty-one kid? You look a little on the young side." The bartender asked. Oh shit, oh fuck, I hope this guy doesn't ask to see my ID cuz if he does, he'll probably think I'm trying to pull a fast one on him and tell me to get out, and I'll be really screwed then!
"Uh, I think the drinking age is eighteen sir, and I'm not here for a drink just a room." I explained to him
"Oh." was all he said. He looked like he was thinking it over before nodding his head and handing me a key. Good, at least after today, I'll have a new place to sleep. I was about to leave when when the bartender called out to me. "You new around here kid? Don't think I've seen you anywhere here before."
"Uh, yeah, I just came into town almost three days ago now and I'm looking for a place to stay since I need to check out of my hotel room by tomorrow." I told him. I saw him roll his eyes back and forth as he seem to be thinking over something before speaking again.
"You need a job?" Okay, wasn't expecting that.
"Actually, I got one yesterday at the market."
"The Market? That won't pay much, how long you work?"
"Um, from eight in the morning to five in the evening." Not sure where he was going with this.
"This place doesn't start getting more active until around nine. Hows about I make a deal with ya. If you don't mind the smell of booze, I could use some help around here, between picking up dishes and cleaning the place out by closing time, you know what I mean?"
I couldn't believe this, was this guy offering me a job here? Just like that?
"And how much would you pay me?" I know it sounded rude, but if I'm gonna be stuck here, I rather not be working for peanuts.
"Fifteen dollars a week." He told me. He was a low-baller, but I was gonna have to drive him up.
"That's sounds nice but if that's all you're paying me, I rather stick with the Market."
"Aww come on now, I'll even throw in free room and board for ya." He offered.
I sucked my bottom lip. It was tempting to go ahead and accept, but I decided to push a little more. "That's a nice gesture, but it's still a little low, especially if I'm gonna have my fingers getting sticky putting away and washing all these glasses, as well as dealing with drunks."
I could tell this guy was dead-set on having me work for him and that was good. Dad always told me that a desperate man will always go higher when pushed and I could push if I have to.
"Well I suppose I could pay you a little extra when dealing with our unruly attendees."
A few silent moments passed between us. If I spoke first it would let him know I really needed a place to stay; which I did, but I wasn't sure as hell gonna tell him that. Instead, I waited and he eventually broke the silence. "Alright, I'll pay you forty dollars a week, free room and board, and I'll throw in free food and drink on the house whenever you want just cuz I like ya."
That sounded good to me. I shook my head and smiled. "Well if you say so."
The man broke out into a toothy grin, "So we got a deal?" He stuck out his hand.
"Deal." I replied as I shook it. And like that, the deal was set, I now have a place to stay AND a second job, won't mom and dad be proud of me.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Three weeks had past and now I was starting to get the hang of things. The bartender, who's name I learned was Willy Sukey, had given me free room and board as he had promise. The room was fairly sparse, but it was better than I had originally hoped. A decent bed sat up against the far wall, and a chest of drawers sat to the left, across the bed. A small mirror hung above it, though I'm not sure why it was even here, and Willy had even sprung some cash and got me my own personal TV set. Only downside is that unlike the hotel, I didn't have my own bathroom, but there was one down the hall, it was one of those commune ones.
The cashier job had gotten easier once it was closing time and I could practice at least for a little bit while Jerry did inventory, so now I wasn't getting so far behind. Denny and I were starting to get closer as now around noon he would come to the market and we would go the diner to get lunch, sometimes he would bring one of his fellow football player friends, occasionally Jane would join us, but most time it was just the two of us. We would talk about almost everything: Movies, shows, sports, which was fairly weird since most of those things that would are new to him are actually old by my standards, also visiting other places, politics, you name it.
I was even getting to the point where I was starting to adapt some of the lingo to my vocabulary ("Hey what's buzzin', cuzzin'?" "Not much, just making the long green, how are you? "Having to babysit the ankle-biter" "At least you're getting some Washingtons out of this" "Sorry can stay long, my heels are on fire").
Eventually I reached a routine: I wake up, go to work, go have lunch with Denny around noon, go back to work, leave after five once inventory is done, head to Sukey's to relax and watch some TV before I have to head back down around 9:30 PM to start dealing with the dishes and help taken care of the customers before I help close up around midnight and head for bed.
Yet, despite having pretty much adapted to my new life, I be lying if I didn't admit I missed the New Tens. I missed my computer, I missed the internet, I miss my mp3 player (They don't even have walkmans yet!), I miss having TV in color and having more than just 5 channels to watch, I miss having a remote control to control the TV instead of having to always twist the dial and adjust the rabbit ears to get a clear picture, I missed my XBox (The next time I see old people saying how everything was so much better in their time before technology took over, I'll tell them they're full of shit), I miss having more than one restaurant to each; this place has a malt shop and a pizzaria but the Blue Point mainly treated as the hot place to eat. I miss being able to text my friends and call them without having to need the operator connect my call and even if they do connect it, I'm either stuck on hold until someone hangs up the phone or the call gets disconnected.
But most of all, I missed my Mom and Dad, as well as my friends back home. The only link I have to the future (Present?) was my phone. Luckily I kept all of my old texts and pictures in here instead of deleting them, so I can just read them and look to relive past memories. But unfortunately since I didn't have a charger with me seeing as I was only planning on going to Jimmy John's and back, I could only look at my phone for a few minutes before seeing the second battery bar blink in and out so I had to turn it off to conserve what little energy it had left. My phone was the only thing keeping me sane and grounded, it was my reminder that one day I could, no would eventually make it back to my own time, someday.
"And I'll just be taking this." I told a mingling attendant as I picked up his glass. It was a quarter to midnight which meant it was getting close to closing time so I was picking up all the remaining glassware and dishware to take to the back and clean up so I could get ready for bed. "Brought you some more Willy!" I told him as I walked into the back.
"Get all that you can Anderson, cuz I know some of these I ain't seeing back." Willy instructed me. By the way, he never calls me by my first name, always my last name, it's something they do around here.
"Got it Wills." Smiling and doing a small salute, I went back out and survey the main area. Most of the patrons had left or were merely mingling around until Willy announce we were closed. Those that remained were doing so because they were either too blitzed to make it home on foot so they were staying the night or they were staying the night with a girl. Glad my room was at the far end so I wouldn't have to hear any of it. I saw only one glass left that only had a little bit of liquor to it so I went over and pick it up, only for the patron to grab my wrist in a vice grip.
"I ain't done with that." He slurred.
"Actually sir, I believe you are, plus it's closing time." I explained to him and pointed to the clock on the walll indicating it was 11:54PM.
"I finish when I say I'm finished!" He snapped. I was starting to get scared but I stood my ground.
"Look, sir, I don't want any trouble but it is time for you leave, now." I calmly explained to him, but the patron angrily sat up and got to his feet, knocking the barstool down in the process.
"You little shit, if I was yur daddy I hide yur ass right now! In fact, I'll do it for him!" He screamed as he grabbed me by my shirt collar and raise his hand into the air, ready to strike!
... Until another hand grabbed his.
"I believe the young man was telling you it was time to go, so you better do it." Another voice said, a smooth one. We both looked and saw a much older guy, probably in his 50s, standing by us, grabbing his arm. He had dark brown hair that was receding a bit and a rugged looking face that just reminded me of someone elses but I couldn't put my finger on it. I could also tell he had a bit of a beer belly.
"I'll do what I want!" The angry customer exclaimed as he tried to take a swing at the other man, only for him to catch his fist and slung him right hard, completely knocking him down.
"Now git." The man said calmily with a hint of threat in his voice. The angry customer glared but got up and left.
"Damnit, how many times do I got'a say I don't want no fighting in here!" Willy yelled as he came into the room, no doubt having heard the commotion.
"Everything okay Willy, I was just helping out your boy with a unreasonable patron of yours." The man explained as he patted me on the shoulder.
"Yeah, and I really do appreciate it sir." I told him, then he wave a hand dismissively.
"No need for all this 'Sir', you can call me Junior." He, Junior, explained. Junior like Junior Gorg from Fraggle Rock?
"Ok Junior, but again, thanks for the help."
"No problem," Then Junior picked up the half filled glass and took a whiff around the rim, "Ah Carlton Cocktail, Ronald could never handle this."
"Wow, you sure seem to know your drinks." I said in awe that he could tell just by sniffing. Willy just laughed and put an arm around me.
"Ha ha ha, Junior here been one of my most regular customers, he knows every drink here inside and out." Junior nodded.
"It comes with experience, after a couple, you can pinpoint each one just by one sip."
"I guess." Was all I could say since I never drank much outside of beer. "But thanks again."
"I'm just glad to see another young man trying to make an honest living around these parts, my boy Johnny could learn a thing or two from you." He told me, waving his finger.
"Ha ha ha, you know that boy of y'urs can't make a honest anything, always off with those friends of his." Willy chuckled. Junior couldn't help but nod in agreement.
"Can't blame a man from wishing." He said as he made his leave. "I hope I'll be seeing you around young man."
"''Course you will, he ain't got nowhere else to go!" Willy joked and both men laughed. I did too, but I felt awkward. "Ok Anderson, I think I can handle everything from here, you better git to bed so you can be ready for y'ur other job tomorr'ah."
I let out yawn and stretched. "If you say so, night Willy." I told him as I made my way upstairs The steps creaked under my weight as I ascended up them before reaching the top and making my way down the hall, hearing muffled voices in each room I passed before reaching mines. After unlocking it and closing it, I went to turn on the TV so I could have some background sound as I undress, only to be greeted with a picture of the American flag onscreen ruffling in the breeze as the anthem was playing. I was confused about this until I remembered that TV stations sign off for the night around midnight or 2 o' clock. Oops. Turning it off, I quickly stripped off my clothes and put them in a pile (One benefit to working two jobs meant I made enough money to buy some more clothes as well as some underwear) before going for my pajamas when my door suddenly opened.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a girl standing in the hallway, probably no older than I was. Her strawberry blonde hair curling to her shoulders and her green eyes going wide as she looked me up and down. Suddenly I got self-conscious and quickly tried to cover myself using my hands. I don't know why I was embarrassed, it's not like I haven't been shirtless around a girl before, then I remembered that there is a difference between having a girl see you while you're playing skins at basketball and having a girl see you in your boxers!
She just kept staring before breaking from her trance and shaking her head. "Sorry, I got the wrong room." She apologize. "I thought this was Fourty-One, Thirty-Six but didn't see the Two up there."
"Uh honest mistake." I told her. We then both laughed, trying to ease the tension between us. I'll admit, she was rather pretty but probably would be more to if she didn't go overboard with the make-up. I guess she was trying to make herself look older but instead made her look younger, like when you see a little girl trying on her mom's clothes or play with her make-up kit.
Suddenly a booming voice could be heard from down the hallway. "Marie, I thought I told you to wait in the room while I got us some drinks!"
The girk, Marie, just rolled her eyes before leaning to her right and shouting back, "I got the wrong room Ace, don't get so frosted!"
Wait, Ace? I got my answer when footsteps came marching over and a figure appeared in the doorway, Ace's. He glared at Marie before glancing over and his eyes briefly widen in surprise before turning to ice when he saw me.
"Marie, what the fuck is all this!?" Marie gave a exasperated sigh.
"I got the wrong room Ace, Jesus! C'mon let's go." She motioned for him to follow her. Yet Ace remained a few seconds longer, his eyes locked on mines, and while he didn't say anything I got the message that he wanted me to stay away from his girl. Well if that's what he wanted, then it would be no problem for me.
Ace then left and I was left to my own devices when I heard a long whistle blow through the hallway as Willy came across my doorway arms crossed.
"That girl sure was a cutie, wasn't she?" He brought up out of the blue.
"Yeah, I guess." Was all I could say as I put on my pajama top and button it up.
"Y'know Anderson, you been workin' here for three weeks now and I ain't ever seen ya ever bringing a gal with ya." Willy commented.
I just raised an eyebrow as I slip on my bottoms. "A gal huh?" Now that I thought about it, ever since I came to this place, I hadn't exactly been checking out any of the girls here. Hell I've been so preoccupied just trying to survive that dating been rock bottom on my list of priorities. "Cuz I've been too busy working." I shrugged.
"'Too busy working'? Look Anderson, you may have a job, makin' some nice money, and even havin' your own place to live, but you ain't a grown man, y'ur still a kid. You need to do somethin' fun beside watching the picture box there. Meet y'urself a nice gal, don't be afraid to havin' her stay the night, just remember to-" Willy tried to lecture me before I cut him off.
"Willy, that's ok, I told ya already I know about the birds and bees." I quickly explain to him, waving my hands. What can I say, for some reason, Willy seems to have taken upon himself to act like a father figure to me, which is nice since I do miss my dad a lot, but he can take it too far when a female patron smiled at me and he tried to give me 'The Talk'. "I'm gonna take a leak before heading for bed." I told him as I quickly left the room.
A few days had passed after my little confrontation with Ace and luckily I had manage to avoid him since. Occasionally I had seen him and his crew driving down the road, but I was always quick to duck out of sight. Also can't say I talked to that Chris kid again since that little incident a few weeks back. Once in a blue moon I see him and Gordie going down the street talking animatedly and laughing. Part of me really wanted to apologize about what happen back then but I was still too nervous to talk to him again, afraid I would offend him again.
Sighing, I gotta admit, it was a nice day out. Looking up there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the way the sunlight would crack through the leaves as I strolled by the woods was very pretty too, adding more to the atmosphere. I thought today would be a good day until a voice cut through the silence.
"Give those back to me assholes!" A raspy voice screamed.
"No way Duchamp, you mother shoulda taught you not peek!" Another voice taunted. A part of my brain was telling me to ignore this and just keep moving. Just keep moving and let it be. And yet, I had to go check it out, this person sounded like he could use help. I went into the woods and listen instensely to the voices to see which direction they were coming from. Eventually I heard the voices get louder and louded until I saw a clearing. Hiding behind a large boulder, I peeked over the edge to see what was going on.
It was Ace and Eyeball, and two other guys I vaguely remember seeing. Christ they looked younger than me, Ace, and Eyeball. And right in the middle was another boy, pretty young too like eleven or something, with sandy blond hair and was wearing dog tags. I could Ace and his friends tossing something back and forth as the kid kept uncoordinatedly running to catch it, like they were playing Monkey in the Middle and this kid was the monkey.
"I'm not joking Merrill, give 'em back!" They kid hollared as he ran up to Ace before he toss whatever had away to Eyeball.
"We will if you promise you won't squeal on us." Eyeball explained before tossing the object to one of the other guys.
"Ha, fact chance man, I'm seeing you guys busted for this!" The kid proclaimed. Gotta say, whatever he saw, it was worth standing his ground on.
"Then I'm afraid you ain't getting these back then Duchamp." One of the other guys laughed and then the rest joined in. Jesus, this was bad. Picking on me is one thing but to pick on a little kid? Now that's low.
"Alright, I'm getting bored of this, lets just break 'im already. Not like he can see with 'im anyway." Ace said as he caught the object and began to slowly crush them. No longer being able to sit back and watch, I felt my legs start running as I rush to the scene, snatching whatever Ace had in his hand before running in front of the kid.
Ace stared wide-eyed and his jaw dropped slightly before straighting himself up again. "You! First you trying to make a move on my girl and now you're messing with my fun, timing is not on your side Bryce."
"Sorry dude, but I don't see picking on a little kid as my idea of fun." I told him as I looked at what I grabbed and saw it was... a pair of glasses?
"Hey Ace, I know we were only gonna break the kid's glasses but since we now have a guest, why don't we up the punishment?" Eyeball suggested and Ace mulled it over before smirking.
"Not a bad idea Eyeball." Ace agreed. "What do you say boys?" The other two nodded and snickered.
Oh shit. Oh shit. Last time this happen, I got my ass kicked so bad and I highly doubt Denny gonna conveniently come running through the woods in the nick of time to bail me out, plus I highly doubt the kid behind me can put up much of a fight, I was on my own.
I could see them edging closer, knuckles cracking, I had to think fast. That's when I saw a thick three branch lying on the ground. Quickly grabbing it, I then did the most embarrassing ever, something my friends would laugh at back in Chicago.
I began swinging it around and doing high kicks and shouting fake kung-fu battle cries. Kinda made me feel nostalgic when I was five and I would play in a backyard pretending to be one of the Ninja Storm Power Rangers. But for what its worth, it seem to scare them off as they started to inch back as I kept swinging the branch at them.
"Come on Ace, we better beat feet, this guy's nuttier than a shithouse rat!" One of the guys suggested to Ace, but his eyes were locked on me.
"Don't think this is over." Ace said in a dangerous whisper. "Eyeball, Fuzzy, Jack!" With a snap of his fingers the others followed their leader like obedient dogs. We waited for them to leave before breathing easier.
"Oh, I forgot, here." I told the kid as I reached into my back pocket and got out his glasses. I was about to hand them over before inspecting and the lenses and wow, I have no idea how he could see through these things.
"Thanks man." The kid said as he put them on.
"No problem." I told him. "So what's your name kid? And why were they playing keep away with your glasses?" I figured since I saved him, it's better to know what he did to earn their ire.
"Oh, I'm Teddy." He told me as he shook my hand. "And why those guys were messing with me, those assholes always do that to me and my friends."
"Have you told adult about this?" I asked him as I sat down on the ground."
"T'ch, like that's gonna do anything." Teddy dismissed the idea as he sat down to. "Besides this time was a little different than most."
"In what way?" I asked. I figure if this is a normal occurrence to him and his friends, why was this time more special.
"Well I was walking along the road, practicing being in the army..."
"The Army?" I repeated and he nodded his head excitedly.
"Yeah, when I grow up, I'm gonna join the army and fight for my country just like my old man. He stormed the Beach of Normady you know."
"I didn't." I told him chuckling lightly.
"Well, I was practicing and I saw Ace and his cronies hanging around this car. You know, at first I thought they were just giving it a look over, but then I saw closely that they were tearin' it apart!"
"They were dissembling it?" I asked as he nodded. "Wouldn't the alarm have gone off if they were?"
Teddy looked puzzled by this. "Why would a alarm go off?" I was gonna explain to him about the car alarm before it hit me car didn't have alarms yet.
"It's nothing." I quickly dismissed the idea. "But they were taking the car apart, why?"
"Cuz car parts are the cheapest way to make money around here. Find a car, steal it, take it apart, find whatever valuable and sell it for a few bucks." Teddy explained. Oh, so they were stealing. Probably should've figure they do that.
"And you saw them?" I repeated.
"Yeah, and then I told them I was gonna squeal the cops about what I saw! ... And then they started chasing me into this clearing, pushed me down, and took my glasses saying I can't tell if I can't see!"
"And that's when I came in." I concluded, getting the whole story. "Ya know Kid, if you're gonna bust someone it's probably not a good idea to loudly announce to them that you're gonna bust them." I told him snickered.
"But they're always scaring me and my friends for far too long!" Teddy tried to defend himself. Then Teddy squinted his eyes and leaned in a bit closer to me before a large grin broke out on his face. "I got it, why don't you become me and my friends' new bodyguard!" He exclaimed.
Okay, wasn't expecting that. What does this make, job #3?
Getting up, I wiped myself off and straighten up. "Sorry Teddy, but I'm gonna have to decline the offer."
"Come on man, you got some cool moves there. If we had you on our side, then Ace would stop starting shit with us permanently!" He pleaded.
"Again, I'm sorry, but I got a lot on my plate and I don't have time to play Babysitter for you and your friends. My best advice is to tell an adult about this and let them handle it." Sayling my peace, I went back to the main road.
"Come on man! Hey! Some bodyguard you are!" Teddy exclaimed as he watched me walk away. "At least think about for a bit! Alright men, forward march!" I heard him shout.
So far it had been a pretty uneventful night at the Tavern and it was only 10:35 PM. Guess activity was pretty slow tonight. I had collected all the glasses and was about to sweep when I heard the door open and several feet marching in. At first I thought it was just some latecomers until a very distinct voice.
"So it is true you're workin' here." Dropping the broom handle, I look up and couldn't believe what I saw: Ace, Eyeball, those guys Jack and Fuzzy, and a fifth guy I vaguely remember seeing my first day here. What were they doing here? From what I've heard, some place called Irby's was usually their main hangout.
"What are you doing here?" Sounding way more defensive than I had originally intended.
"We're just here to have a good time, aren't we boys?" Ace said and the others all nodded their head. I could only sigh as Willy came walking in. He seemed surprise by them to but immediately went into professional mode.
"What'll be boys?"
"Just a beer, for all of us." Ace told him and Willy went and got them their drinks. "Thank Wills." Ace told him. Ignoring them, I went back to work until I heard what sounded like liquid hitting the floor.
"Oops!" The fifth guy said in a mock apologetic tone as he poured some beer out of his glass.
"Now Vince, you know it's wrong to waste perfectly good beer like that." Ace reprimanded him, but you can tell he was doing it lightly. "You are gonna clean this up, aren't you?"
Rolling my eyes, I went to the supply closet and got a mop and metal bucket (A bucket!). There I filled it up with soapy water and started mopping. Got the mess clean up before more beer started slogging around, each of them saying 'Oops' in chorus.
"I don't have time for this bullshit." I said under my breath as I tried to mop up the mess.
"Boys, what did I tell you about being wasteful?" Ace told them. He stared at me downing his whole beer, smacking his lips as he finished.
"You done?" I asked him. Ace nodded.
"Done." Then he did the unbelievable! He grabbed the glass, stuck his arm out, and then dropped it, glass shattering everyewhere. "Now clean that up."
Ok, let me tell you, at that point, I was beyond pissed. I pretty much dropped my mop and marched over to him. I saw the others get up from their stools to flank him but Ace raised a hand and got them to stop.
"Ok, what the hell is your problem? What is wrong with you? This is getting ridiculous!" I exclaimed more madder than I probably should have but I didn't care!
"What's my problem? What's my problem? First you go sitting in my booth, then you try to go seducing my girl..." Ace started before getting interrupted.
"Wait, I thought you didn't call Marie again after..." Eyeball interjected but quickly clammed up when Ace shot him a glare.
"And now," Continuing on like he hadn't been interrupted, "You interfere when I was teaching Teddy Duchamp a lesson on why it's wrong to spy. You are my problem!"
Oh man, I wanted to take a swing at this guy's face so bad but then I remember Willy telling everybody he doesn't want any fights in here. Then I did the stupidest thing I ever did.
"I challenge you to a fight Ace!" I proclaimed, causing a large gasp from his friends, even Ace looked surprise by this. "This Saturday, in that same clearing in the woods!" Ace was clearing mulling over the idea before nodding, his lips arching upwards in a horrible smirk.
"I'll be there." He agreed to this and then told his cronies to come on.
The tavern had gotten pretty quiet, then suddenly I had gotten queasy once I had started to comprehend what I had just done. I quickly ran upstairs to the bathroom, pushing my way past hungover guys, slammed the door open, reaching the toilet and spew out my stomach content.
"So..." A voice made me jump before looking back and seeing Willy standing there. "You challenge that Ace kid to a fight huh?" I must've gotten pale because Willy just raised his hands up. "Don't worry kid, I ain't mad and I ain't gonna try to talk yq out of it. In fact, I'm glad someone finally doing this. That kid been beggin' to get the shit beaten of him for a few years now. I wanna show ya something important when y'ur uh, finish here." Willy left as I turned back and continue puking.
"Okay, what did you want to show me?" I asked Willy as we stepped outside. He pointed over that two other teens who were also brawling.
"See those two?" I nodded. "They're fighting skin on skin, that's bare fist. Cops 'round here won't care, they just tell ya to take it somewhere else. Now them..." He pointed over to two other teens, these two having switchblades out and slashing at each other like two cats. "They got blades. If the person y'ur fightin' has a blade on them, leave it. Drop whateva it is y'ur doing and just leave, cops won't care if you have a blade on ya or not. They'll just swingin' their clubs at however they think looks even remotely suspcious and the next thing ya know, yu'r down at the station getting question or behind bars, tellin' them over and over how you don't have a knife let along know how to even use one." Willy explained to me.
Wait, was he saying Ace might come Saturday armed? Dear God, what had I just done?
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Ok, so I challenged Ace to a fight, how the hell am I gonna get out of this one?
I could call it off, but then it be like admitting he had already won. I could call in a sick day and that we could reschedule, but that would make me look like a coward. Maybe I could pack up my stuff and skip out of town, find a new city with a new identity and a new name? Nah that was the movies, this is real-life. I had accepted this was something I had to do.
I had Willy helping me train, but I'm sure how effective it was. He keeps telling me how he had fought 'in the War', but he never really specify which war it was, World War I or World War II since he kept using 'Germans' and 'Nazis' interchangeably ("You call that a punch? The Nazis would laugh at ya!" "You gotta be on your feet fasta than that if you were fightin' the Germans!"). Well, he said he was born in 1898 (I'm friends with someone who was born at the turn of the 20th century!) , so I guess it can go either way?
Anyhoo, I was out jogging and practicing my swings. Y'know, the same type of training you see in Rocky movies or shows that homage it, when I heard faint voices in the distance. Turned and saw it was near the park.
"Should I check it out? Last time's why I'm even doing this." I debated with myself, but I guess curiosity won out so I ventured out into the park trying to find the voices until they got louder.
"Get down before you break your neck!"
"Don't tell me what to do!"
The voices kept getting louder and louder until I looked through a bush and saw it was Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and I think the fat kid who hangs around the grocery store. They're all friends? I could see Teddy climbing up a tree with Chris not too far behind, while Gordie and the fat kid watched them. Man, poor Teddy, kid can't seem to catch a break.
"Come on Teddy, you're getting too high!" Chris called out to him.
"You ain't my old man Chambers! This is totally a good vantage point!" Teddy argued back.
"Climb down already, you're gonna fall and break your neck!" Chris tried to reason with him. Wait, is Chris trying to talk him out of it?
"Just let him go Chris, Teddy's crazy enough to do this!" Gordie called out to him
"Yeah, you know Teddy's always gonna be doing stuff like this, sincerely!" The fat kid chimed in, but I could see Chris was really determine to help out the kid.
"You're gonna fall man, stop climbing!" Chris shouted.
"Stop telling me what to do Cham- ah AHHHHH!" Teddy tried to retort but got cut off as one of the tree branches he was standing on started to break and he lost his balance. "Ah shit, shit shit!"
"Teddy grab my hand!" Chris called out to him reaching. Teddy tried to reach it but the branch started to give away more. Gordie and the fat kid were on the ground looking up at them in worry.
"I can't!" He called back.
"Keep trying!" Chris strained his hand out. Teddy almost grasped it when the branch completely broke off.
"Looks like I'm going down!" Teddy screamed but was shocked when his dissent to the ground was halted. "Whoa, Chris man." Teddy said looking up and seeing Chris had caught him, going red in the face trying to support his weight.
It was at this point I couldn't keep watching and ran up to the boys and help out before they both came falling down.
"Hey!" I called out to them and all four snapped their heads my way, looking at me in a mixture of shock and surprise.
"Hey, that's the guy I was telling you guys could become our bodyguard!" Teddy told his friends.
"Now's not the time Duchamp." Chris reminded him. Gordie and the fat kid moved aside so I could climb up the tree and reach them. Eventually I was able to get Teddy so all three of us could safely climb down.
"Wow man, saving my ass again, I owe you one." Teddy said before he started laughing and my god, it was like a hyena on stereo. "Oh, I should introduce you to the guys, these are…"
"Yeah, I've already met most of them." I told him as I nodded at each, "Hey Gordie, Chris, … Kid who comes to the grocery store."
"Yeah, I'm Vern." He said.
"Vern." I repeated.
"So I heard from my brother you challenge Ace to a fight, you're either really brave or really stupid." Chris told me in a amuse tone. I just scratched my head in embarrassment.
"Yeah, I can't decide if I'm either of those things too."
"Wait, what fight?" Vern asked. Wait, you mean it hadn't already spread through Castle Rock like wildfire?
"Yeah Vern, Bryce here gonna fight Ace from the Cobras." Gordie explained to him. Wait, did he say 'Cobras'?
"Oh yeah, I heard about the Cobras. My brother Billy and Charlie Hogan want to join their gang to." Vern noted.
"T'ch, good luck with that, like Ace gonna let anyone in." Teddy scoffed.
"Wait, hold on here, Cobras? Who are they?" I interrupted this convo.
"Yeah, the Cobras, that's what Ace, Eyeball, Vince Desjardin, Fuzzy, and Jack are calling themselves." Chris explained. "If you ask me, the name fits them perfectly, they're all a bunch of snakes!"
"Ok, sensing some animosity here." I commented. "I know Teddy said you guys don't get along, but are they that bad?"
Chris just rolled his eyes. "Are you kidding? They're always pushing us around, stealing our stuff, threatening us, once they locked us all up in a barn all night or tried to run us over with one of their cars for kicks."
I just stared agaped. "And none of your parents or the police have done anything about it?"
"Naw, they've been jailed before, but their folks are always paying them bail, and we're right back to where we started." Chris said. Jesus, is this one fucked up place or what.
"But that's gonna change right? Bryce gonna fight Ace, kick his ass, and maybe without him around, the others might leave us alone." Vern said hopefully.
"Forget Vern, don't forget my brother Ace's right-hand guy. Even if Bryce gets rid of Ace, my brother could take over and nothing would change." Chris explained.
"Besides, I remember Denny telling me when Bryce tried to fight them and got his ass kicked bad." Gordie chimed in and actually started to laugh, laugh!
"Hey! I was handling them pretty well!" I defended myself, "Until they started ganging up on me." I said the last part meekly. Eventually the others started laughing and I'm not ashamed to admit I joined in to.
"Come on guys, let's get out of here, it's getting close to dinner time." Gordie said and the others started nodding.
"Yeah guys, I'm starting to get hungry." Vern chimed in.
"You're always hungry." Teddy sniped.
"Come on Teddy, Verno can't help it, he's a growing boy." Gordie joked.
"Yeah, that's it guys, go pick on the fat kid." Vern mumbled as the boys walked away bantering. Gotta say, it feel weird seeing Gordie joking around since every time I tried to interact with the kid, he always clammed up. Guess he's one of those people who tends to open up to those he already knows? I was about to depart to when I heard Chris call out to me.
"Hey wait, Bryce!" I turned to see the kid coming towards me. I'll admit, I shirked back a bit. "Hey man, I wanna say thanks for helping out Teddy back there."
"Oh, it was nothing." I told him quickly but he continued.
"And I wanna say sorry for how I acted a few weeks back." He admitted. You could feel the sincerity coming from them.
"Oh it's no big deal." I tried to explain to him.
"Yes it was," He countered, "I had gotten into an argument with my dad and then you came along and I took out my anger on you, and I was wrong for doing that."
"About what?" Okay, now I was getting curious.
"It was about dinner, how we don't appreciate him, and how he would be better off without us to feed." Chris explained. Why am I not surprise by this?
"I heard you have it bad at home, but I didn't realize it was that bad." Chris just nodded and motioned for me to follow him.
"Yeah, that's why I don't want people thinking they need to feel sorry for me."
"Does it bother you?" I asked him.
"Hell yeah it bothers me, but I just don't want anyone thinking that just because I got it bad at home that I need a pair of arms to come running into and a shoulder to cry on whenever things get rough. I'm tougher than I look."
"I can agree with that." I told him. And I don't mean emotionally. Even with his age and the baby face he's rocking, Chris Chambers does have that touch guy appearance to him With his developing muscles and short haircut, he looks just as likely to pat you on the back as he would stick a knife in it. We walked some more before speaking up. "So, does everybody in this town think you're bad? Just talking to you, you seem pretty ok."
"Most do." He said, "Mostly those who went to school with a dad or with Eyeball before he dropped out in tenth grade, so they look at me and think, 'There goes the youngest one, already starting to look like his father, soon he'll be like him in no time.'" The Chris let out a sigh. "They all judge me before they even get to know me."
Man, just hearing that made me want to wrapped the kid up in a hug but I resisted.
"Well if it means anything to you, that fact you tried to save Teddy from falling and busting his head tells me you got your heart in the right place." I gave him a pat on the shoulder.
Chris snorted, "Yeah, good luck trying to convince most of the population of Castle fucking Rock."
Wow, such language.
"Well, looking at your friends, you probably already have." I injected. Chris seem to think it over and nodded.
"I guess," he said, "I better catch up with the guys. It was nice talking to you Bryce." Before running off, he looked back and said, "And good luck with your fight this Saturday, I'll be cheering for you."
Oh right, thanks for reminding me Chris, two more days to go.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Today was the day of the fight, and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I've been training all week and I'm still not sure if I made any progress or not. Over the last few days the Cobras had been coming over to Sukey's trying to psych me out, telling me Ace was gonna kick my ass and I was gonna be sorry. The townsfolk of Castle Rock (Seriously, how did word spread out that fast?) weren't much help either, with half the people calling me crazy for challenging him or saying I'm very brave for standing up to him.
So here I am hitting this punching bag Willy got from an old boxing buddy of his when I heard my door creak open.
"So you're still going through with this?" I heard a voice ask. I stop hitting to catch my breath, a light chuckle escaping my lips.
"And you're still going on about this?" I asked back, turning to Denny standing in the door way.
Denny just rolled his eyes before coming in. "Bryce, you don't have to do this, you have nothing to prove to him." I just shook my head in disbelief
"Den, you're the one who told me not to let Ace intimidate me, so why are you acting like it's a problem now?"
"Because fighting him isn't going to solve anything. It's not worth it."
"Why, have you fought him?" When I asked him that, Denny looked taken aback but straighten himself up.
"No," he admitted, "Because I don't have anything to prove. If this is about the booth…"
"It's not about that!" I quickly told him. "It's just… I don't get why y'all let him push you around or let him do whatever he wants? I mean, he's just a teen, no older than you or me, probably by a year maybe but still a teen. Plus I'm not just doing it for myself, I'm doing it for everybody he's ever pushed around, like your little brother and those friends of his. Even if I don't beat him up, maybe I beat him enough to humble his ass." I gave my reasoning.
I could tell Denny wasn't fully buying it, but he eventually sighed in defeat. "Alright, but I really wish you reconsider." He told me one last time before leaving. Sighing myself, I went back to training.
Gotta say, wasn't expecting this much of a turnout. At least half of the teenage population of Castle Rock had turn up for the fight, and a few adults as well?
"I got twenty on the new kid!"
"All my money on Ace man!"
"I'll add in a extra ten, AND you gotta do my homework!"
Not much really doesn't happen here if this is the highlight of everybody's week. I could feel my stomach turning as Willy massage my shoulders giving me some last minute advice.
"You can do this, rememba' swing with your left, then go for y'ur right."
I took a deep breath and looked around, scanning for any familiar faces or any signs of Ace. I did spot Gordie and his crew hanging out in the back, as well as Jane and Denny. Jane was giving a huge smile and waving excitedly, but Denny was just staring at me stone-faced. If he was psychic, I bet he be telling me telepathically to just call this whole thing off. But I couldn't, this was something I had to do.
"God, would Ace just get here already?" I groaned inwardly. I just wanted to get this over with. And wouldn't you know, Ace eventually showed up. It was kinda freaky seeing the crowd depart like the red sea when Ace and his cronies came walking through. I won't lie, I was getting nervous as Ace was coming closer, shoulder's stiff and a look of determination on his face. His eyes locked and squinted at me until he looked to the right and his eyes widen in surprise.
"What the fuck are you doing here Old Man?" Ace asked, but I don't think it was directed at me?
"To watch the fight." Said a new voice that made me jump. "It about time someone in this town put you in your place. I would've done it myself years ago." I couldn't believe it, Junior?
Ace just rolled his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. "Typical. You were never there for me growing up but you're here when I'm about to do some scrapin'?"
Ok, I was confused, did these two know each other? I kept looking back and forth between them, then I could've smack myself right then and there. Of course they were father and son, why wouldn't they be? Junior even looks like Ace if you aged him up by 3 decades.
"Uh, excuse me gentlemen?" Both men stared as I interrupted their convo. "Can we get this over with already?" Ace nodded his head and smirked.
"Gettin' right down to business, I like that." Ace agreed. "You got any request?"
"Y-Yeah, your asshole friends can't help you." I told him.
"Who're calling an asshole faggot!" Shouted Vince as Jack and Fuzzy restrained him.
"Done." Ace said.
"And!" I quickly spoke up. "You can't use any weapons." Ace cocked an eyebrow, and then slowly reached into his pant's pocket getting his switchblade out. I jumped a little when he unsheathed it, but he retracted the blade back as he called Eyeball over and hand it to him.
"And done." Ace said coldly. This is when the crowd started to get really riled up. I could see Jane jumping in the background shouting my name like she was my personal cheerleader.
"Come on Bryce, you can do it!" While Denny just stood there, using his eyes to plead at me to just call this whole thing off. Sorry Denny.
Ace and I started circling each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. This is happening, this is really happening. I was really about to get into my first real fight. I mean, I've rough house before but never really actually tried to fight anyone. I can't believe I actually challenged him!
A part of me still believed I had a chance at winning this. Ace looked tough, there was no denying that, and he had me a little bit on muscle, plus his rugged looks made him look much older and had more world experience then he probably had, but what if that all it was, looks? From what I've heard around town, no one ever really seen Ace get into a fight. And even when intimidating someone, he always had his gang backing him up. So maybe he was all talk.
"Are we gonna keep doing the two-step, or can we start this now?" Ace asked in a bored tone.
"Yeah get on with it already!" Shouted one of the spectators. Guess that's what I get for staying in inner monologue too long.
Before it even registered what I was even doing, I came dashing at Ace, getting a few hits in. Ace was clearly taken off-guard, but he got himself together and punch me in the side. I stepped back and wheeze, good god can Ace hit hard. Ace walked up to me before grabbing me by the hair and started swinging at my face.
Ok, so Ace is as tough as he looks. Ace swung at me a third time before I caught his fist and punched him in the mouth. Ace stepped back, clearly surprise by that. Then he blinked, dabbed his finger to the side of his mouth and saw a spot of blood. Then he smiled and laugh.
"Now you're getting real interesting Anderson." Ace commended. And that's when the fight really started. We both lunged at each other and it became a messy array of punches and kicks as we fell to the floor, the crowd cheering us on.
"Yay Bryce, you can do it!"
"C'mon Ace, show him who's boss!"
"I have money riding on you kid, kick his ass!"
Before I knew it, Ace was straddling me, his weight crushing my stomach and lower abdomen. Ace was a lot heavier then he looked to. He started punching at me but I was able to block a few of his hits. Ace had good fighting instincts, I'll give him that but then I shouldn't have been so surprise. Dude wouldn't be the leader of his own gang if he was some limp wrist wimp. So I just lied there, letting Ace hit at me until he tired himself out.
Willy had told me the best way to beat your enemy is to let them tired their selves out and then make your move, so when Ace took a quick second to catch his breath, I shot my fist into his groin, causing Ace to double over and roll off me. Using this chance, I grabbed Ace's fists, and bitchslapped him three times before hopping on top of him, using my knees to pin his arms down before I proceeded to hit him.
The crowd really went nuts over this. "Yeah that guy our bodyguard!" I heard Teddy screeched over the crowd. I don't know what was happening right then and there, but I felt like I was loosing control of my body, like it was acting on it's own. I was sitting a top of another guy, just mindlessly punching into his face. His super smug face. His mean face. I just wanted to hurt Ace, hurt him real bad, for me, for Teddy and his friends, for everything he's ever done to anyone.
Ace tried fruitlessly to protect his face, but I just pin him harder as I mercilessly wailed on him. It felt like it was going on for eternity, me just systematically punching Ace. Even the crowd was being drown out, all I heard was my fist making impact and his grunts and wheezes of pain. This is what you deserve asshole, this is what you get for all the assholish things you've done.
"Geez man, is he gonna kill him?"
That question just cut through to me and all the noise came back. I pause and looked down at Ace. His face was a purplish mess, his left right was starting to swell a bit, he had a trail of blood dripping from his left nostril, and he looked... scared. Yes, you heard that right, Ace Merrill looked genuinely terrified out of his mind. His eyes were large and so glossy I could see my own reflection in them. I looked down at my knuckles and saw how red and raw they looked. Jesus...
Jesus... if I had kept going, I probably would have ended up killing him then and there.
It was at this point I decided that the fight was over. I got off him and held out a hand.
"Come on Ace, we're through." I told him. Ace stared up at me in surprise, grabbed my hand, pulled himself up... and then punched me in the forehead. Ow. As I stepped back, Ace tackled me to the ground and got close up in my face.
"First rule of fighting, you don't stop until you know your enemy is down for good." Ace told me in a harsh whisper before he started wailing on me.
"Ok Ace, I think he learned his lesson, let's get out of here!" I heard Eyeball shouted but Ace showed no signs of stopping.
"Yeah Ace, you showed this cockknocker, just end this already!" Fuzzy shouted to.
And yet Ace just kept going.
"Ace, come on man?"
"Ace, come on, that's enough!" Eyeball cried. Ace looked over at him before nodding.
"Yeah, this is enough." Ace replied, getting up as Eyeball and the rest of the Cobras came over to us. My eyesight was starting to go in and out and my ears were ringing, but I do remember Eyeball looking down at me before crouching down, muttering something. Maybe it was my imagination but I could've sworn I heard him say 'I'm sorry'?
I laid there on the ground at the crowd slowly disperse, the fat junkyard owner groaning that he lost some money. I coughed a little as a shadow covered me and I saw it was Denny, looking down at me with pity. And then Willy and Jane next.
"Come on," he said giving me a hand, "We'll take you home."
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
The fight was over, I lost, and now I had to lick my wounds. Or have someone else take care of that.
"Ah!" I hissed as Jane applied more rubbing alcohol. We were in my room with Denny standing off to the side while Jane sat beside me at my bed patching me up. "EEH!" I groaned as Jane dabbed me some more.
"Jane, don't you think that's a bit too much you're using?" Denny asked. She turned to him and pouted.
"Well how else am I going to be a nurse if I don't get some practice in?" She responded.
"It's only a few cuts, he doesn't need that much rubbing alcohol." Denny pointed out. Then Willy came in holding two raw steaks.
"Wait, are you gonna put that on my eye? I thought that stuff only worked on TV." I said. Willy just gave me a confused stare.
"I was just comin' to ask ya which steak ya wanna me to cook ya for dinner." He said and I felt myself blush.
"Oh, the one on the left." I replied sheepishly. Willy nodded and went back down the hall.
"There, all clean." Jane answer before giving the widest smile I've ever seen. "Now to get the bandages." She announced as she got up and skipped out the room. Eventually Denny came over and sat down next to me.
"Hey, at least it's not as bad as when you first came here." Denny said trying to lighten up the mood but I just sat there staring at the line between the wall and floor. "Bryce?" Denny asked.
"I could've beaten him." I simply said. I couldn't bring myself to look at Denny.
"Bryce, it's not that big a deal, you did the right thing." I shot my head and looked him in the eye.
"I could've beaten him." I repeated. "Just a few more hits and Ace would have been out of all our hairs for good."
"But would that have been better? If you keep punching someone who was already beyond defending themselves, that wouldn't have made you better then Ace." Denny countered.
"But I could've beaten him, I was so close to, then my stupid conscious came in and made me think I could make peace with Ace. Stupid huh?" Suddenly Denny stood up and made me look at him.
"Don't ever think that. The fact you stop on your own violations showed that you were already the better person. If you had kept punching his face in, then you would've shown that you were no different from him, but because you stop and offered him a hand to end the fight, you already taught him that you are a stronger person then he is. So when you think about it, you had won the fight right there." Denny said. I just looked at him before snickering.
"Wow, cheesy much? How long have you been practicing to say all that?" I asked with a cheeky grin.
"About all week." Denny admitted and we both starting laughing, which really help eased up on the tension in the room. "Hey man."
"Hey?" I replied back.
"Hey, me and Jane are going to this carnival in Portland tomorrow, why don't you come with us? I think you could use a little relaxation after what you've been through." I thought it over and nodded.
"Yeah, that sounds like fun." I said as Jane came back in with the bandages.
"Hey Jane, guess what?" Denny asked?
"What?" She asked back all child-like.
"Bryce is gonna go to the carnival with us tomorrow." As Denny said that, a huge smile came across her face.
"Ooooh goody, and I have a friend just in mind that could come with us too." Jane squealed as she applied the bandages.
Wait, friend? Are they secretly setting me up on a blind date?
"And done." Jane announced. "Oh, honey I better start heading home before I miss curfew."
"Yeah, me too, I'll drive you home." Denny offered as both exited my room. "Oh and Bryce, why don't you come over to my house for breakfast? That way we'll only need to pick up the girls and we'll be on our way." Denny suggested as he crane his head back by the doorway. I nodded and him and Jane were gone. Having a little time to myself, I went into a dresser and got out my phone, turned it on, and went into my pictures folder.
Looking through a few old pictures like me and the guys at our game last year or when me and my folks went vacation in Washington DC, man I wonder what they would all say if they saw I had gotten into my first fight.
"Hey, y'ur dinner almost… what's that?" Willy's voice broke through my thoughts, bringing me back down to Earth.
"Nothing." I said quickly powering down my phone and sticking it back into the dresser. "So dinner almost done?"
"Y-Yeah, it'll just take a few more minutes." Willy said motioning downstairs.
"Good, after today I'm fucking hungry!"
So here I was, at the Lachance resident feasting over a pancake breakfast. Hardly anyone talking except for Mr. Lachance, looking like he's crossed over scalding me and congratulating me.
"Teenagers these days thinking everything can be solved with their fists…" He said as he cut into his griddle cake. "It's good someone finally stood up to that Merrill boy and gave him a tease of his own medicine but there are better ways." He said as he put his piece into his mouth.
"So Pop, Gordie wrote a short story that the school paper is considering publishing." Denny broke out.
"Oh, you write?" I asked the kid. I'll admit, I'm not a big reader of anything that's not TV Guide or Sports Illustrated, but if it was good enough for a school paper to publish it, it's probably worth a read through.
"Yeah, well.." Gordie trailed. However, Mr. Lachance did not seem impressed.
"You should check it out, it's really good." Denny suggested.
"Why don't we all read it after we're finish with breakfast dear?" Mrs. Lachance suggested also.
"He's still wasting his time on that? The boy needs to be doing something proactive." Mr. Lachance simply stated.
Wow, what an ass.
"C'mon Pop, give it a read over, you might like it." Denny offered to his dad.
Mr. Lachance just shook his head. "A boy his age needs to be doing activities that'll build him muscles and use his hands in better ways than scribbling on some paper." I just looked over at Gordie and the poor kid shrunk into his chair. I then looked over at Denny who just shook his head in disappointment. And I look at their mother who just went back to eating.
Well, after that, me and Denny were getting ready to pick up Jane and her friend. I was getting into his station wagon as I watched Denny talking to his brother.
"And you're gonna bring me back something?" He asked.
"Biggest prize I can win." Denny said patting him on the head as the kid looked up at him and smiled. I'll admit, I smiled to as Denny got in and started the car.
"You're a good brother, you know that." I told him reclining back.
"Well, somebody gotta look out for him and you already saw that my parents aren't the most affectionate." Denny said as he turned the ignition. "Other than his friends, not a lot of people out there for him."
I nodded as we sped down the street. "I'm an only child myself, so I think it's cool that you're always there for him and looking out."
"I try to be, not sure how he'll do once I go to college." Denny said as he made a turn.
"Well, you have next year to prepare him." I noted and Denny nodded.
"Yeah…" was all he said. We kept driving until we reached a pink house. I guess this was Jane's place, wow, even her home was girly. Denny honked the horn and the front door open, stepping out Jane and another person. I saw Jane was decked out in pink blouse and blue pants. Kinda forgot women back then also wore pants.
Now her friend, she was something. Glasses that make her look bug-eyed, hair in two pigtails, green baggy dress with white polka dots that made her look like somebody's frumpy secretary, and her lips were so thin it was like she had a line for a mouth.
"Denny!" She exclaimed as she gave him a peck on the lips. Then she looked at me and smiled. "Bryce! Bryce, I want you to meet someone, this is my friend Irene." She motioned over to her friend like she was revealing a new car.
"Hi." I greeted giving a wave. She didn't say anything.
"I see your wounds still aren't completely healed." She spoke, catching me off-guard. What a completely random thing to say.
"Irene, you know it's only been a day." Jane giggled. "Oh Denny, could Bryce and I switch seats so he and Irene can get to know each other better?"
"Not a bad idea." Denny replied back smiling. Are they seriously trying to set me up with this girl? She looks like she be anywhere else but here! But having no choice, I agreed and sat in the back with her.
Car ride was pretty uneventful, Denny and Jane did most of the talking, mainly about football games or upcoming school events like Prom. Once in a while they would ask mines or Irene's input on stuff but we both mostly kept to our ourselves.
"Here we are, Portland, Oregon." Denny announced like he was our tour guide.
"What?" I asked. During the ride I nodded off for a bit, but after rubbing the sleep from my eyes, wow, I couldn't believe what I saw. First off this place was BIG. I mean, probably compared to other cities it's still kinda small, but after living in Castle Rock for the past few weeks, this place was Chicago compared to it. I guess it is true what they say: stay in Castle Rock long enough and it does become the whole world. As we drove through town, I couldn't believe what I saw: skyscrappers, a shopping district, four schools, three movie theaters, at least five restaurants and... wait, is that...? Oh my God, it is, a McDonald's!
After driving past some trees, we hit the carnival. It was as you expect: some mini-rollarcoasters, a tilt-a-whirl, a couple of booths for games, a few booths for shopping, and a food booth. Denny parked the station wagon and we all got out.
"Don't worry Den, I brought some money too in case we fall short." I told him taking out sixty dollars.
"Thanks, but you might want to save some of that for Irene." He told me and I started to get annoyed.
"Ok, real talk-" I started.
"Real talk?" He replied confused.
"What I'm saying is, is this whole thing suppose to be some kind of double date?" Denny just shrugged.
"It is if you want it to be." Denny said, though I can tell he was feighing ignorance.
"Besides," Jane cut in, "a handsome guy like you needs to be doing more than just working in a smokey bar and getting into fights. I've seen the way other girls have been looking at you."
Wait, did Jane just call me 'Handsome'? Hold on, girls have been checking me out?
"I don't know..." I said as I scratch the side of my chin, "She doesn't seem to be most social person out there."
"Oh come on." Jane pouted, "Please, for me? Irene doesn't get to get out much either, always sticking her face in books." I sighed.
"Well, alright." And Jane squeeled and clapped excitedly.
"Goody, come on!" She exclaimed as she grabbed Denny by the hand and lead him to the ticket booth. Me and Irene just shared a look and followed behind.
First stop was one of games, the classic "Throw a bottle, knock the bottles down, and win a prize." I throw my first ball, it misses. I throw my second ball, it misses too. I throw my third ball and it bounces off one of the bottles. Is it true what they say about these games being rigged?
"You're throwing it too high." Irene spoke, spooking me a bit.
"You're throwing at a seventy-five degree angle, if you go for fifteen degrees, you make the hit." She said, adjusting her glasses. I raised an eyebrow, but decided to go for it. After giving a ticket to get another ball, I did as she told and... hey, whaddya know? All the bottles were knocked off. Guess that's what I get for always playing basketball.
"Hey thanks." I said as I picked out the stuffed lion. "Here." I handed it to her. She just stared at it before taking it.
"Hm." Was all she said. Oh boy...
Next was the tilt-a-whirl. After waiting in line, it was our turn. As I got to a spot, I saw Irene take off her glasses and hair bands and wow, she looks so different from before. She actually looks like someone her age instead of looking like she's in her twenties or something. And yet, I actually think she looked better with them on?
After everybody was strapped on, the operator started the machine up. It started slowly before picking up speed, everybody screaming and yelling out. I was hooting myself and looked over at Irene, only to see that she wasn't reacting at all. This girl sure was something.
"Woo! Can't remember the last time my heart was beating that fast!" I said as we got off, trying to catch our balance and for our stomachs to settle.
"Of course, the high velocity would be sending adrenaline through your body, increasing your heart rate due to the increase of speed." She explained. And this is how it went for the rest of the day: we would go to a ride or a game, and she either wouldn't react or say something in a super complicated science-y way. It was like talking to Data from Star Trek or something.
Eventually we met up with Denny and Jane to eat lunch together. We found a available picnic table with us sitting on one end and Denny and Jane sitting on the other.
"Ok, got us some corndogs, two funnel cake, and lemonade." I told her as I passed her her food.
"Thank you." She replied as we ate in silence, only hearing Denny and Jane whispering and giggling. "I'm having a good time." Irene said aruptly.
"Wha?" I grunted taking a bite out of my corndog.
"I'm having a good time." She repeated. "I may not show it, but I am really enjoying myself." She said flatly. I don't know if she was saying it more for my sake but I can take the compliment.
"No problem, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." I told her as we ate some more. "Heh, sorry if this is awkward, I had no idea when Denny invited me, he was setting me up on a blind date."
"No need for apologizes, when Jane invited me, I was already aware of how this affair would turn out." Irene said.
"So I take it this isn't your first surprise date?" I asked taking sip.
"You aren't the first of Dennis's friends Jane has tried to execute a romantic rendezvous with. Though in this case while you may act like a buffoon, I do find it endearing in a certain way, along with your facial features being rather appeasing to the eye, despite the injuries they've sustain." Irene said as she finished her corndog.
Wow, that's the most technobabble-y way of saying you think a guy is cute I've ever seen.
"Thanks." I said smiling and I saw the side of her mouth curl up a bit.
"Denny, stop, that tickles!" We heard Jane squeaked and she and Denny snickered.
"Well, you can't say she's not crazy for the guy." I commented watching the lovebirds.
"Of course, it's in her nature." She said. I quirked an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?"
"As young girls, we're always told to find the guy that we know will be able to take care of us and provide, so shes just following her instincts." What she said made sense, I remember my Mom always saying how girls are forced to find a man they know who has their shit together, not always who they love, but who they know is gonna be able to take care of them.
"So you're saying she doesn't really like him?" I asked taking a bite out of my dessert.
"Oh she does, trust me," Irene said, "You don't spend hours on the telephone talking about one guy even after your father demands you get off so he can make a call if you didn't like him, but compared to some of the other guys around here, Dennis Lachance is a real catch. We all know he will go on to have greater accomplishments."
I nodded in agreement. Denny is one of the coolest guys I met. He was the first friend I ever made, he help me get some medical attention, a place to live, he's treats his little brother better then his own parents do, and he's one of the few to have the guts to stand up to Ace and the Cobras.
"I was there." Irene said, breaking me from my thoughts once again.
"I was there, in your physical confrontation with Ace Merrill." She said.
"Oh, you were?" I asked meekly.
She nodded. "Yes, and you were doing rather well against him until you stop applying physical force onto him."
"Don't remind me. I feel like a fool." I sulked, my mood darkening again.
"Don't be." She said, grabbing my hand. "It was really an act of generosity to try and help the one who tormented you. That shows your heart is in the right place."
"Ooh, I see you know are getting pretty chummy." Jane teased as she and Denny giggled. I felt my cheeks heat up and laugh. Surprisingly, Irene also laughed, a real, honest to god, laugh.
After the excitement wind down, we were back on the road to Castle Rock. Denny was right, this was relaxing; I needed this after yesterday. We reached Jane's place to walk the girls homes.
"You're pretty smart. you know that?" I complimented.
"Yeah, but good luck telling my mother that." Irene said.
I quirked an eyebrow. "Huh?"
"Nothing, just Mother telling me that no matter how much I study, this" She motioned her face, "will carry me farther in life then this." She poke the side of her head.
"Bullshit." I said.
"Bulltrue." She said back. She sighed and I sighed to, but put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I wouldn't think that. I gotta feeling your brain power, you'll be going places." She side-eyed glance at me and nodded.
"It would be nice." She stated. We reached the front door and Jane went in first after giving Denny a huge kiss on the lips. Irene just looked at me and smiled, actually smiled, wow never notice how her eyes were the shiniest blue ones I've ever seen, and put a hand on my shoulder before standing on her tippy toes. Wait, is she gonna kiss me? Are we gonna kiss? I saw her lips depart as she lean in closer. I felt my eyes start to close and puckered my lips. We were leaning closer and closer until... she planted one on my cheek. Eh, I'll take it. She waved before descending into the house, closing the door.
"Hey." Denny said, lightly hitting me on the shoulder as we made our way back to the Station Wagon. I just smiled. "I think she likes ya."
"You think?" I asked grinning ear to ear.
"Well maybe not?" Denny teased as we got inside.
"Hey, she kissed me. AND even admitted she thought I was cute." I said smugly as the vehicle revved up.
"But I don't think you're her kind of guy. She prefer guys who have smarts and you really haven't show much of that recently." He joked.
"Hey, I'm in a better place now then I was when I first got here!" I argued back.
"Yeah, you're far from the jobless, homeless, penniless, virginal idiot who tries to pick fights with people." Denny commented grinning. Ok, that was a low blow.
"Don't call me a virgin man!" I exclaimed, punching him in the arm. Denny rubbed his sore arm and raised an eyebrow.
"Of all the things I said, that pissed you off the most?" He inquired.
"Just don't call me that, that's a hit below the belt." I frowned and crossed my arms.
"I'm not seeing why that would bother you unless..." And suddenly a look of realization dawn on Denny's face. "Bryce, are you a virgin?" I felt my face heat up and turned from looking at him. "Oh my God, you really are." Denny laughed, but once he saw I wasn't laughing either, he straighten himself out. "It's not a big deal you know. When it happens it happens."
"Yes it is!" I cried out. "I mean, I've kissed a few girls, gone on dates, had a makeout session or two, but I never uh... went all the way before." My facing was heating up so fast I thought it would catch on fire.
"There's no rush." He tried to explain, but I wasn't having any of it.
"But I'm sixteen man. Most of the guys I know back home have already done it. Even a few back when they were fifteen."
"First off," Denny said pointing a finger, "There's no exact age when it's suppose to happen. I've known guys who were still virgins until they were in their twenties. And second, you shouldn't believe everything you hear, some of them may have been making it up to make themselves look good."
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah, in fact, I know from one of Jane's friends that went out with Eyeball-"
"She went out with Eyeball?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Denny snickered, "I know, surprising right? Anyway, she went out with him and the next day he kept bragging about how they had done it but according to her, he never even so much as touched her. Instead they just talk."
"Talk?" I don't know about you, but Eyeball doesn't seem like the talking type.
"Yeah, they'd apparently just talked for most of the night. I don't know what, but it was stuff he needed to get off his chest." Wow, almost makes you wonder if there's more to old Eyeball Chambers then you think.
I huffed. "So... it's not a big deal?"
"Course not, someday you're going to find a girl, you two will date and maybe, if she likes you enough, she will want to take it further." Denny explained. Ok, I was starting to feel a lot better. Denny was really understanding, almost too understanding.
"Are you a virgin to?" I asked as we reached a stop sign. Denny looked over at me and smile.
"No, I haven't been a virgin since I was sixteen. In fact, the last girl I was with before meeting Jane was back when we were playing a game in Chamberlin and..."
I gotta say, it was surreal sitting there listening to Denny openly talking about his sex life as we made our way back to Sukey's. I mean, this is Denny Lachance, the most wholesome looking dude you'll ever meet. You figure he be one of those "Saving Themselves For Marriage" types.
But then again, maybe I shouldn't. Denny's a handsome looking dude, and even at the carnival I saw some girls openly checking him out, there's no way he never did anything with a girl beyond holding hands.
"So have you and Jane done it yet?" I asked curious. I hope I wasn't sounding like I was curious as to what it is like. Denny just let out a frustrated sigh.
"No, but it's not like I haven't tried." He said. "We've talked about it, but every time we're about to do it, you she always ends up having second thoughts?"
This piqued my interest. "Oh, do tell."
"Well," Denny started, "We tried once out in a secluded part of the woods. But before we got too far, she kept saying maybe we shouldn't, we could get attacked by a bear, or a wolf, or a coyote." I just nodded, letting him continue.
"Then I tried bringing her over to my house when I was sure we would be home alone, but she kept saying, 'But what if Gordie is still here?' even after I repeatedly told her he was out hanging with his friends but she kept saying 'You know how quiet he can be. He might walk in or hear us.'
"And then there were a few times where I snuck her in in the dead of night when I knew my folks and Gordie would be completely asleep, yet she kept insisting we might wake someone up. Like I don't know how to keep quiet!"
Ok, anyone else getting the idea just after hearing that that 'Goody Two-Shoes' Denny Lachance has probably snuck a few girls into his house when his family was asleep BEFORE he met Jane.
"It's just so much back-and-forth." Lesson of the day, even Denny can get blue balls.
"Well, it's not a big deal you know, when it happens it happens." I told him, repeating what he told me. He just shot me a look and both broke out laughing as we reached Sukey's Tavern. I really like to believe after this talk, me and Denny were now closer than ever.
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mention by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
It had officially been two months since the fight and life has gone back to normal. Well, normally enough for me that is. I went to work at the grocery store, have some Me time, then went to work at Sukey's. School had let out back in June so me and Denny had more time to hang out: fishing, going to the movies, going to a few sports game, the regular 50s teen stuff. And this Friday was the 4th of July, so us, Jane, and Irene would be going to the park to watch the fireworks tonight. Man, it feels so unreal to believe I've been officially living in this town for four months; four months since the incident happen. I still have no idea how I got here and why, or if I'll ever find a way back home, but since I have a feeling I'm not gonna be going anywhere anytime soon, I might as well settle in and accept my new home.
Strange thing is, I haven't seen much of Ace since the fight, nor his gang for that matter. Part of me was hoping they had went out of town to boost a car, got caught, and were now stuck in the pokey doing time, but I'm realistic, they're probably out there watching, waiting for their next move. I couldn't tell you why, but I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that something would go down between me and Ace again. Whether it was another fight, I don't know, but I could feel something big was coming.
"Alright, see you tomorrow Jerry!" I called out as I punched out of the store.
"Hey, see you tonight!" Jerry called back and I snickered, waving him off. It was officially the 4th of July and Castle Rock was already in the mood: putting up American flags everywhere, buying burgers and hot dogs, setting up the grill, preparing the potato salad, y'know, the stuff that makes you proud to be an American. Seeing all this set-up was making my mouth water and, feeling a sweet tooth, went to the Malt Shop to get myself something to drink.
"Welcome to Marty's Malts." Said the soda jerk at the counter.
"Hey, I like a root beer float." I told him as I sat down at the stool. Nodding, the soda jerk got a metal cup, scooped up the vanilla and flung it into the cup, catching it with ease, it's an art form, I'll tell you that. After finishing up with my beverage, I happily sip it, letting out a satisfied 'Mmm' and nodded. This was better than the ones my cousin makes. I was sitting them sipping until I hear jiggling that was getting louder until it reached me.
"Oh hey Vern." I greeted as he sat up on the stool next to me.
"Hi Vern." the younger boy greeted me back, "You gonna see the fireworks tonight? I heard they're gonna be Boss."
"Yeah, me and Denny and the girls are gonna be there." I told him taking another sip. "You going with Gordie, Teddy, and Chris?"
"I wanted to, but my Mom is making Billy take me." He explained. Billy, huh, that name seems familiar.
"Isn't Billy your brother?" I asked and he nodded in confirmation.
"Yeah, but I know he's just gonna complain about it the whole time." Vern sighed as he rested his face on his knuckle. I felt for the kid, really. Between him and Eyeball, Denny's probably the only decent sibling among these kids. Then I notice his pants pockets seem to be bulging.
"Something wrong with your wallet?" I asked.
"Naw, I'm just trying to collect as many pennies as I can. One day I'm gonna be a millionaire." He said and I laughed. I guess pennies are worth more in this time period then in mines. I got so many pennies at home, yet I sure I still can't order a whooper with them.
Suddenly the door jingled and new voices started talking. "I told you the little pipsqueak would be here." I cranked my neck and saw two teens walking in, one was a skinny looking blond dude and the other was a more bigger looking brunette with a ducktail.
"Well look who it is, the guy who got his ass kicked by Ace." The brunette said, "Too much of a pussy to finish the fight?" He sneered.
"Billy, what have I told you? I don't want that kinda language in here." The soda jerk said sternly.
Man, just when I was starting to feel better about myself, why bring up old wounds?
"I could've beat him right then and there, I just chose not to." I explained to him, resuming my drink.
"More like you couldn't. Man if me and Charlie were Cobras, you get your ass so beat you need to eat out of a tube." He and his friend snickered. I felt my fist ball up so tight I'd probably break my thumb, the soda jerk warning them again.
"If you want to throw down, I'll gladly take you and your toothpick friend on, and you'll get the same taste Ace got." I told them cracking my knuckles.
"Who you calling a toothpick?!" Charlie demanded, taking offense.
"Oh man, oh Jesus!" Vern muttered as I got up. Billy didn't look tough, I could take on both him and Charlie at once.
"Tessio!" Called out a new voice. We all looked towards the doorway and none other than Ace Merrill himself standing there.
Both Billy and Vern looked at each other before looking back at Ace.
Ace just rolled his eyes. "The big one." Both pointed at themselves before pointing at each other. Ace sighed, "The TALL and big one." Billy said 'Oooh'. "Why you messin' with Bryce here? He was just minding his own business when you came over being rude to him."
"Uh, um, Ace c'mon, we were just having a little fun." Billy reasoned and Charlie nodded in agreement, but Ace was having none of it.
"Well he ain't, git, both of ya." Ace ordered sternly. Both boys looked at each other and quickly left. "Don't mind them, Billy Boy likes to talk a big game but he ain't got the sack to really throw down, like I let those pussies ever be Cobras."
I couldn't believe it. Ace was... defending me? As he made his way out, I called out a thanks to him. He just nodded and left.
"Yeah, and he really stood up for me." I explained to Denny as we made our way to the park.
"That really is weird. It's not really like Ace to stick up for others." My friend commented.
"Hey, maybe me kicking his ass for a good while gave him some much needed humility?" I suggested as we turn the corner.
Denny just shook his head. "I doubt it, Ace never does anything for anyone just to be 'nice', I'm sure there's more to this." I just stuck my hands into my pants pockets. We kept walking in silence until I suddenly stopped in my tracks.
"Shit, I just remembered!"
"Remembered what?" Denny asked quirking an eyebrow.
"Last Friday was a my Dad's birthday." I explained, then suddenly felt a pang of sadness. I wonder how much time has passed in my time? My folks must be worried sick.
"Oh." Was all Denny could say. Then his face lit up. "Hey, why don't you write him a letter?" I just froze in shock.
"I, uh, I don't think that's a good idea." I said softly.
"Why not?" He asked.
"Because..." Because my Dad not gonna be born for another two decades. "Because he might know where I came and come looking for me."
"Well, we can use my address to send it, and if he writes back, I'll get the mail before my Pop sees it." Denny offered. I just looked ahead and kept walking. "Hey, it might do you as much good as it is for him." I glanced over and nodded. We made our way to the park and it was pretty pack. Mostly families were there, but I did spot a few old couples and a few kids running around. A few had their grills set up and you could smell the meat cooking from where we were.
We looked around and saw Jane and Irene waving at us, both girls wearing cardigans and dungarees (Hey, I was finally getting the fashion around here right). Denny put an arm around Jane and pulled her closer. I stared at Irene, wanting to do the same but holding back. A whistle could be heard then the fireworks really started. Everybody stopped what they were doing and watch, the sky being filled with showers of green, red, white, blue, purple, and pink. The whole display was just gorgeous. It reminded me the first time I saw fireworks when I was 6, my Dad putting me on his shoulders so I could get a better view, it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before.
"Bryce Anderson, was it?" A voice suddenly said. Great, way to spoil the spectacle. We turned and saw six guys standing before us, all of them dressed so impeccable: clean slacks, pure white dress shirts, and hair combed to perfection. Not a single wrinkle on their clothes.
"Yes, can I help you?" I asked bored, I wasn't in the mood tonight, I just wanted to enjoy the show.
The Aryan looking dude stepped forward, I'm assuming he's the guy in-charge," We just wanted to congratulate you for having the courage to stand up to that trash Ace Merrill." He said sticking out his hand.
Ok, wasn't expecting that.
"No problem." I said shaking it.
"The way you just beat his face into the dirt, pretty fitting place for him, that was a thing of beauty." One of the dark haired guys said. Okay, I was getting weirded out.
"You are a shining example of what this town needs, to show that others have no reason to invoke fear from him." The Aryan guy said.
"What are you getting at Leslie?" Denny asked and I had to stop myself from snorting, dude's name was Leslie?
"We were wondering if Bryce here would be interested in joining our group, the White Coats. He seems to share our same ideology about trying to clean up Castle Rock from the low-lives." The Aryan guy, Leslie (snickers), said. "You know our offer still extends to you Dennis."
Denny just looked at him like he wasn't gonna buy into their shit. "And I still gonna have to turn it down." Leslie shrugged.
"Suit yourself." Then he gave me a business card, they have their own cards? "Come see us if you are still interested." Then the group of guys left.
"Ooook now, what was that all about?" I asked once I saw they were out of earshot.
"They're the White Coats." Irene explained, "They are a group who come from the View. He and Ace do not really see eye-to-eye." Huh, the View? Oh right, Castle View, the more richer said of town. Funny how I've been living here for four months and still haven't explore every acre of this place.
"But what would they want from me?" I asked.
"Probably because of your fight with Ace. They hate him probably as much as you do and want you to join them." Jane added. Ok, pretty surprise my scrape with Ace is still making rounds.
"Yeah, I'm not joining a Hate Group if that's the case." I announced as I tore up the card and release the pieces into the wind. Unfortunately after that happen, the show was almost over, dammit.
After the last firework went off, the crowd started to disperse and I was gonna join Denny in walking the girls home when I heard something.
I looked around and saw nothing. Shrugging, I went to join the others.
Searching, I saw Ace standing behind a tree. It looked he was motioning for me to come with him? I pointed at myself mouthing 'Me'? He nodded and made a 'Come on over' gesture.
"Uh, hey, I gotta go take care of something, but I'll see you guys later." I told the others. They looked confused but said their goodbyes as I left.
"What do you want Ace?" I got to the point as I ran over.
"Follow me." He simply said as he turn to leave.
"Just come the fuck on."
Irby's Billiard. Not as popular as Sukey's but still one of the top hangouts in town. Plenty of older men came here to either let out the stress of the day, drink and shoot pool with their buddies, or just wanted a place to get away from the wife and kids.
"Never been here before." I commented as we reach the door.
"First time for everything." Ace said as we stepped in. We reached the counter, Ace ordered us some drinks, and then sat down at the stools.
"So... any particular reason you brought me over here, beside having a drink?" I asked as the bartender set our drinks down.
"Yeah, I wanted to say two things. One, no hard feelings about Marie. If you want to tap that, I have no objections." Ace said. I just stared at him like he was an idiot.
"Dude, I'm not interested in Marie, I was never interested in her, she just walked in on me as I was undressing." Ace looked puzzled.
"Oh." Was all he could say.
"And what's the other thing?"
Ace shook his head to snap himself out of it. "Right, I saw Leslie had approached you about joining their gang and how I'm not gonna let that happen."
"What? Huh?" Confusion washed over me.
"Remember our fight?" He asked. I wish he didn't ask, I wanted to put that behind me.
"Yeah, what about it?"
"You know you could've beaten me right then and there right?" He drawled.
I frown at the memory. "Yeah, and then I thought we could make peace."
"But you could have beaten me." Ace noted.
"But I didn't, you won, what's your point?" I was getting impatient.
"But you could have beaten me. I saw the look in your eyes when you had me down, you weren't gonna stop punching my face until you turned it into hamburger meat." Hearing me that made me feel even more ashamed about what happen.
"Yeah, sorry about that." I muttered, tracing my finger around the rim of my glass before taking a sip.
Now it was Ace's turn to look confuse. "Why are you apologizing?"
"I could've killed you right then and there man, if I hadn't snapped out of it..."
"You think I give a shit about that?" This surprised me.
"You don't care if you live or die?" I asked looking at him agape.
Ace just shrugged. "If you live, you live. If you die, you die. Circle of Life, me kicking the bucket then and there wouldn't have changed anything." I started to get uncomfortable and didn't like where this conversation is going.
"If you made me come all the way over here just to creep me off, well let me tell you..."
"I'm getting to it." Ace said as he waved his hand dismissively. "If your conscious didn't kick in then and there, you would've beaten me. You also had the same look in your eyes when Billy and Charlie Hogan tried to start shit with ya. You got a ruthlessness in you kid. Something I like, something I could use."
Wait, is he saying what I think he's saying?
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Ace then turned completely to look at me as he leaned against the counter, drink in hand.
"What I'm saying is, what do you think of joining us and becoming a Cobra?"
You knew it was coming, you could see the signs, but it's still hard to comprehend when you hear it.
"What do ya say man?" Ace asked again as he took a gulp.
Oh God, how am I gonna get out of this one?
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name here isn't mines. Except the OCs.
A/N: I rather have Ace Merrill be the next President.
No matter how many times I replay the words in my head, it still doesn't make a lick of sense to me.
"You're kidding right? Me? A Cobra?"
"Fits like a glove to me." Ace said.
I laughed, but there was no humor behind it. "This is a joke right? Like, any minute Ashton Kutcher gonna jump out and tell me I've been Punk'd right?"
"Who?" He asked, not getting my reference.
"It's nothing." I quickly, said. "But seriously, what makes you think I'd join you? You guys are thugs, you steal cars, you pick on little kids you start fights-"
"Oh don't give me any of that. I know all about you." Ace said, making me blink.
"Yeah, about how the first day you came here, you called Eyeball a dumbass when you bumped into him. You could've just apologize or kept walking but you provoked him first." Hearing that made me lower my head. I did pick the fight first.
"And last I checked, you challenged me to the fight. All I did was accept, you on the other hand could've just clean the glass up and be on your way. Don't try to play innocent victim on me, both times you took what could have been a minor issue and blew it up into a full blown confrontation." I put my face in my hands. Everything he's been saying is true, most of the trouble I've gotten into has been my fault. When I had the courage to look up again, I saw Ace smiling at me, beaming with pride. "Like a proper Cobra."
"I'm not doing this." I quickly said as I got up from the stool. "Thanks for the drink, but I'm not having this conversation." I tried to leave but Ace put a hand on my shoulder, stopping me.
"I heard your story, about how you ran away from Chicago all the way to here. Probably because no one wanted you back home. No one really wants us here either, that's why we all gotta stick together. You got an anger in you, one that you keep buried deep down by palling around with Choir Boy Denny. Stick with me kid and I'll show you how to use it properly."
I stood there in silence, taking his words in. I felt like Anakin Skywalker and Ace was Emperor Palpatine trying to seduce me into joining the Dark Side. My folks and my friends always told me I had a bit of a anger issue but I never thought it would bite in the ass this badly.
"You're right." I finally said. "I was angry. Angry that I somehow ended up here without any choice and you... you kept provoking me and... I wanted to hurt you. I hated you. I used you to release all my pent up frustration." Tears started to trail from my face. It's pretty rare for me to cry, so you know this is a big deal for me. "But I realize that was wrong. I shouldn't have done that. I'm not like you. I'll never be like you!" And with that, I left Irby's.
"My offer still stands!" I heard Ace call out. "You got Cobra potential in ya and you know it!"
I ran. I didn't know how long I had been running but I just kept going, as though my body was in autopilot. I ran and ran until I stopped to catch my breath. When I wiped the tears from my eyes, I saw I had... made it back to the park. Huh. Small world I guess. It was dark until the street lights finally flickered on. Man the wiring in this town must be faulty. I went a bench to sit down at to let my heart settle when I heard a twig snap. I sat up and turned my head back and forth until I saw a figure appear in the shadows. Oh God, I don't even want to imagine what kind of creatures pop out at night here! But once it emerged into the light, I saw it was... Chris?
"Chris? What are you doing he-" I was about to ask until I notice the shiner he was sporting, the swollen half of his mouth, and the bruises on his arm. "Oh my God, what happen to you?!"
Chris tried to cover himself up but clearly decided against it because, really, what would be the point? "My Dad." He croaked as he came to sit besides me. "Some of our neighbors were setting off fireworks, they woke my Dad up, he accused me of them even though I kept telling him I had nothing to do with it and he..." He trailed off. Hearing that made my heart break and my blood boil. Chris was a pretty alright kid, he didn't deserve this shit. I clenched my fist, maybe I should try picking a fight with Mr. Chambers, have him get arrested for assaulting a minor, probably be the first good thing that would happen to that family. Then I un-clenched since starting fights is how I got on Ace's radar.
"... Not that Eyeball was much help." Chris said, Hearing that broke me from my thoughts.
"Wait Eyeball was there?" I asked and he nodded. "Your brother was there and he did nothing to help?" I was shocked by this.
"Yeah, he kept egging Dad on, agreeing with him that I shouldn't have set off the fireworks even though he knows I had nothing to do with it either." The younger boy explained. We just sat there, listening to the crickets chirping and the fireflies blinking in and out, the wind ruffling the grass and leaves on the trees. It was so serene.
"So, your brother, he really doesn't do anything to stop your dad from..." I trailed off.
"He wasn't always like that once." Chris corrected. I turned to look at him. Sensing it, Chris turned to look at me. "When we were younger, we use to hang out a lot. He tried to protect me from Dad whenever he was on one of his mean streaks. But then he started hanging out with Ace... and now he rarely ever home..."
I dared myself to ask this. "What about your Mom?"
"The same." He said. "She use to try and shield us from Dad: 'Dear stop, you're being too rough!' 'Elton, please, you're hurting them!' Now, it's like she's doesn't even try anymore. And worst, she's as bad as Eyeball, trying to act like it's my fault he gets this way."
Man, the Chambers have got to be the most dysfunctional family I've ever heard. I want to give him a hug right now, but restrained myself, so I just gave him a comforting shoulder squeeze.
"But enough about me man, what about you? You look like you had a rough night too." Chris noted. Oh yeah, my eyes are probably still red and puffy from my crying earlier. I wiped the tears away before answering.
"Chris, am I a good person?" I asked him. The kid was clearly confused by this. "I mean, was I right to challenge Ace like that?"
"Yeah man. If you ask me, I say you won that fight. Like I said, snakes." Chris answered.
"But I was basically pounding his face in when he was completely defenseless Doesn't that make me just as bad as him?" I wanted his opinion.
"Not at all, he's always doing the same to others, so it's about time he got a taste of own medicine." Chris answered truthfully. Meh, figured Chris wouldn't be much help, he hates Ace just as much as I do.
Letting out a sigh, I sat up. "Well Chris, it was nice talkin' to ya. And, and I know you said you don't like it when others take pity on you, but if you ever need to get away from your Dad for a minute or a few hours, my door at Sukey's Tavern is always open. Don't worry about the age restriction either, I don't think Willy minds letting minors stay, I'm proof of that." I chuckled for the first time in a while.
Chris smiled, a real genuine smile. "I'll keep that in mind Bryce." He said getting up also. Then he stuck out his hand. "Skin it."
Now it was my turn to look confuse. "Huh?"
"Skin it, peace." He said. Oh, I got what he meant. Nodding, I gave him a downlow high five.
"What?" Now he looked confused.
"Did I not do it right?"
"Actually, here." He said as he grabbed my hand and ran his palm over it, then flip my hand over and make me run it over his. Oh, now I know what he meant.
"Have a good night Chris. Stay safe and happy Fourth of July." I told him as I departed.
"Happy Fourth to you to man!" He called out, waving me off.
Talking with Chris had help a little, well not much, but it felt like some weight had been lifted off my shoulders. So here I was, just walking around in darkness, not sure where I was going. I was starting to think maybe I should tell Denny the truth. About how I ended up here and why I'm even here. We've been friends for about four months now, that's gotta amount to something right? Would he even believe me though? I don't know what I would do if I lost him; him and Willy have been the only things keeping me sane since I've came to this dinky little town. Both ground me in different ways: Willy by giving me a home and a father figure, Denny by his kindness and friendship. I don't know where I would be without either of them.
Taking a deep breath, I decided then and there what I should do. I just hope he was still there.
I had made my way back Irby's and sure enough, Ace was still there shooting a game. And from the looks of it, Eyeball and Vince were there. I walked through the door and came over to them. None notice me until Ace flicked his eyes up and straighten himself, a smile appearing on his face. Not a smirk, an actual smile.
"Well boys, lookie who's here." Ace announced as Eyeball and Vince looked over, their faces instantly souring.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Eyeball demanded.
"Yeah, this is a private game." Vince added his two cents.
I ignored them and kept my attention directly at Ace. "So your offer still good?" And Ace's smile widen.
"What's he talkin' about man? Why you makin' deals with this Cocknocker?" Eyeball questioned.
Ace came over and put an arm around me.
"Now now fellas, that ain't no way of talking to a future Cobra in the makings." Ace told him, both their jaws hitting the floor.
A/N: Yep, making this chapter a two-parter if you will, but it does segway into what will be the final stretch of chapters for this fic. Much appreciation for everyone who has stayed with this. R&R.
A/N2: Let's make America Big Time Baby again.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mention by name here isn't mines. Except the OCs.
"Ace, tell me this is all a joke right?" Eyeball asked Ace, his eyes never leaving me.
"Does it look like I'm laughing?" Ace replied sarcastically.
"But why him? He hangs out with Boy Scout Lachance!" Vince brought up.
"Cuz he's a fighter." Ace explained. "You saw how he messed up my face. Guy's a slugger, and we could use someone like him on our side."
"Actually," I spoke up for the first time in a while. "I haven't decided yet if I'm joining or not." After I explain, Ace quirked an eyebrow.
"Then why are you here?" Eyeball asked again.
"I just wanted to see how you guys are like." I told him. "I wanted to get a feel on how you guys work."
Ace nodded. "I see, wanting to get your feet wet before taking the dive. I can respect that." Then Ace came over to me. "How about joining us for a game?"
I waved him off, "Nah, it's getting late..."
"Aw, does Bryce have a bedtime?" Vince mocked me in a babyish tone.
"Knock it off Desjardian..." Ace told him sternly. "C'mon, just one game. Here!" He said as he looked over to the two other teens playing pool and snatch one of their cues. "Use this."
"Hey man that's mines!" One of the teens said turning to us.
"C'mon man it's ok." The other teen tried to calm his friend.
"No! I'm sick of Merrill always thinking he can push around whoever he wants, someone gotta stand up to him!"
"Larry it's not worth it!" The other teen hissed. This cause the Cobras to gang up on the kid.
"Looks like this your chance to work your magic again Slugger." Ace said as he patted me on the shoulder.
"No!" I shouted. Not in the mood to get into a bar fight. "Here, you can have this back." I took the pool cue from Ace and handed it back. The Kid Larry took it and return to their game. I could hear the Cobras groan and smack their lips in disappointment.
"You're breaking my balls man." Ace pouted.
"Like I said, it's getting late and I'm getting sleepy. We can talk later.
"Wait!" I heard Ace called out. I turned as he asked the bartender for a piece of paper and something to write with. After being handed the slip of paper and a pencil, I watched Ace scribble something down before heading over and handing it to me. "You got a day off coming?"
"Yeah this Tuesday."
"Good, come to this address and I'll show you how we do things Cobra Style." I nodded and made my exit. "And Bryce!" He called out again. "Next time we play!" He motioned towards the pool table and I nodded.
I looked down at the paper, and then back at the house, and then back at the paper again. Was this the right address? I was at the outskirts of town and I kept looking at the paper Ace had given me. Is this where he lives? The house was pretty worn and run down like no one had lived here in a while. I was ready to leave until I heard the faint sound of a radio playing. I walked a little closer and could hear it was playing from the back. I didn't want to intrude on someone's private property but from the looks of things the owner been gone for years now.
I walked past the side of the house until I could see some worn down cars and a few people hanging around. Spotting the familiar the bleached blond, turns out this was the right place. As I got closer I saw Ace turn and motion for me to come quicker.
"Looks like the Man of the Hour made it." Ace announced.
"So this is where you live?" I asked as I eyed the place.
"Fuck no this ain't my house." Ace said bluntly.
"Yeah his place a better dump then this." One of the teens said and the others started laughing.
"Real funny Brackowicz." Ace told him, "at least my place doesn't flood like the North Sea during raining season." Suddenly the group started laughing harder.
"It was only once!" The kid, Brackowicz, whined.
"Anyway," Ace turned his attention back to me, "Nah we just like to hang here. No one own this place since last year and no one rearin' the tear it down, so it's not like anybody using it right now." I nodded. "Let's get introductions in order. You know Eyeball and Vince?" Both gave half waves or brief nods. "This is Calev Brackowicz, we call him Fuzzy." He motioned to the younger looking brown haired kid. "And this is Jack Mudgett." He motions to the darker haired kid.
"Any reason we letting Anderson here Ace?" Fuzzy asked him.
"Bryce here gonna be our newest member." Eyeball told them drawling, causing the two's jaws to drop.
"Ace, are you crazy? He almost flaten your face into the ground!" Jack tried to reason.
"Exactly!" Ace told him, "My Man here's like a caged pitbull ready to break out, and under my guidance, we can make him a force to be reckon with." He then smiled as he put an arm around my shoulder. "With him on our side we'll be unstoppable. No one gonna be messing with The Cobras!" Looking around I could see the others were kinda starting to get behind the idea. "Well let's you comfortable first." Removing his arm off me, the Cobras went back to lean against the cars and, having nothing to do, went to sit up on the hood of one.
Eyeball turned the radio back up and we just sat in silence. I wasn't sure to say or do anything so I just kept to myself, twiddling my thumbs. Eventually I saw Ace pull out a pack of cigarettes out. He took out a stick before tossing it to Vince who toss it to Fuzzy to handed it over to Jack before tossing it to Eyeball. He shook out a stick before handing it over to me. I was shocked but waved it off to let him know I wasn't interested. He shrugged and put it in the back of his pants pocket. I'm gonna take it as a sign he's becoming use to me.
So this is what the Cobras do? Lounge around in the backyard of a abandon house smoking? From my few interactions I thought they do more then just this.
"Wait, do your schools have summer classes? Why aren't y'all at school?" I inquired. Denny told me once the Cobras rarely go to school.
"I only go to school when I feel like it, and today I don't feel like it." Ace explain, a hint of sleepiness in his tone.
"Yeah, and I dropped out back in Tenth Grade." Eyeball pointed out, like it was something to be proud about.
"What's the matter Anderson, Studious Denny rubbing off on ya?" Fuzzy teased.
"Well we're gonna clean that off him." Ace told him lifting his head up before looking at me with half-lidded eyes. "Don't be so uptight Bryce, just relax." He then lowered it down.
Looking around, I could see the others were starting to get ready to take a mid-morning nap. Some leaning against the hood or stretching out in either the front or back seats. Lying against the hood itself, resting the back of my head on the back in my hands. It was a calm morning. There was a soft breeze that made the leafs and grass ruffled and the radio was playing louge music. I was finding it hard to stay awake as I kept blinking in and out before letting sleep finally take over.
"Ahhh!" I shouted. I shot up so fast I ended up falling off the hood and landed on my stomach.
"Damn man, we've been tryin' to wake ya up for last five minutes. Didn't think you heard us over all that snoring." Ace commented. I looked up and saw all five Cobras staring down at my.
"Ah Jesus." I whined getting myself up.
"You got a little..." Eyeball trailed as he motioned to the side of his mouth. I wasn't sure at what he was getting at until I notice a warm sensation on my cheek. Then my eyes buldged. Aw shit, was I drooling? I thought to myself before wiping it off.
"What time is it?" I asked as I wiped myself down. And I was sleeping so good too!
"Noon." Ace answered. "C'mon, we're gonna show ya our favorite afternoon past time." He motioned for me to follow them. Straighten myself up, I did as told.
"Anyone ever tell ya you have a cute sleeping face Anderson?" Fuzzy teased as he slapped me on the shoulder. I just rolled my eyes.
"So what our we doing?" I asked as we sat parked in front of the Chambers house, me with Ace as Eyeball had went inside, Vince, Jack, and Fuzzy in another car. I rather not run into Mr. Chambers if I could help it. Wouldn't he be at work... or whatever he does when he's laid off? Suddenly Eyeball came from the front door carrying something in a large bag.
"Got 'em." He said as he dropped the bag into the back and got into the drivers side.
"Then let's hit it boys!" Ace said as Eyeball started the car up and we drove off. I wasn't sure what we were up to until I peaked inside the bag and found... baseball bats?
"Bats? Are gonna play baseball?" I was more of a basketball guy.
"Something like that." Eyeball simply said he shared a smirked with Ace. Not knowing what they're talking about but still intrigued, I said nothing and just looked out the side window. Man I forgot how calm it is when it's the middle of the afternoon, there's barely anyone out right now. I saw we were heading up to the old, dusty baseball field before driving pass it?
"I thought we were gonna play baseball?" I asked as the field disappeared into sight.
"We play a different kind of baseball." Ace told him as we swerved into a residental area. "Now get a bat out." He intrusted and I did as told. "Okay, now lean against the window on my side. When you see a mailbox, try to hit it with all your might. The objective is to knock each mailbox that comes your way off it's stand. If you fail to get one off completely, then you give the bat to someone else."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. We're destroying peoples' property?!
"Are you crazy?" I demanded.
"We're coming up on one, hit it!" Ace shouted excitedly.
"I won't do it!"
"Hit it now!" He yelled and yelling, swung the bat and knock the mailbox cleaned off." Dear God, what have I done?
"Atta Boy, now here comes another!" He said. I swung at it and it fell off too, letters fluttering everywhere. And then I hit the next one and the next and the next.
"Wow only a few strikes and already you're playing like a Pro. Knew you were Cobra material." Ace congratulated me. Not gonna lie, it felt a little... nice?
"Probably because he's imagining they're your face." Eyeball joked before laughing.
"Yeah and you better shut it before I take one of these bats and make you uglier then you already are asshole." Ace warn him, Eyeball shutting up completely. I couldn't control myself and laugh too. Ace smirking as he glance at me from the corner of his eye.
I kept hitting boxes until one didn't fall off but remain banged up.
"Aw, looks like you lost. Hand me the bat." Ace told me and I handed it to him. We then went to another row of houses, Ace getting himself ready before taking the swing. I know I shouldn't be enjoying this but I can't help it.
We played for the next few minutes before eventually deciding to cruise around town. It's been a while since I really got to relax and seeing all these sites reminded me of all those 50s movies and TV shows driving montages.
We drove up to a gas station and Eyeball parked the car.
"Gotta fill her up." Eyeball said as he got out. "Need anything guys?"
"Nah I'm good man." Ace told him and I just waved as him dismissively. Eyeball gave a light shrug and went inside.
"So, you having fun Bryce?" Ace asked me as he turned around in the car to look at me.
"Yeah." I admitted despite my better judgement. "You guys ain't so bad when you aren't trying to scare everybody in town."
"It's a food chain thing." Ace explained. "We gotta make it clear to everyone else that we are at the top." I didn't say anything after that for a while before speaking up again.
"So Junior's your dad?" I asked him.
"Yeah, what about it?" He asked back defensively.
"Nothing," I quickly, "It's just... he seems so nice and all, so I'm surprise to find out your father and son." I said before quickly shutting up when I saw Ace glare at me.
"Yeah, well don't fall for it. He may act all nice but he ain't." He explained to me.
"I take it you two don't get along?" I pressed further.
"He was never home. He never told me he loved me. Probably the only times I ever got to see him was when he came home between his trips to the bar with Eyeball's Old Man." He said. Junior and Mr. Chambers were drinking buddies? Small world.
"It's funny." Ace continuted. "When he finally starts paying attention to me, I was already getting my gang together. He threaten to give me a hiding if I don't stop my life of crime. Well maybe if you had been a better father Junior, we wouldn't be having this problem."
Wow, Ace is a victim of neglect? When I thought about it, everything now made sense. He acts out because he wants, on some level, for his dad to actually be a parent to him. For the first time I really got Ace.
I mean, he's still an asshole who threatens people, steals people's cars, and destroys property, but I got him.
We saw Eyeball exiting the gas station before heading for the pump.
"What the fuck took you so long?" Ace demanded.
"New attendant, didn't know how to add anything right. Even I could do that." Eyeball explained.
"Hey Ace?" I asked him as I leaned closer. "Is your real name really Johnny?" Hey, I gotta ask.
Ace looked at me exasperatedly before calming himself down. "Actually it's John but to you and everybody else it's Ace, got it?" He hissed at me and I nodded.
We kept driving, suddenly seeing more kids on the street. I guess summer school was letting out. We kept going until I saw something as we past by an alley.
"Yo stop the car!"
"Huh?" Both of them asked.
"Stop it!" Confused, Eyeball stopped and I jumped out.
"Where the hell are you going?" Ace demanded as I ran to what I saw. As I got closer I saw it was that Leslie guy. It look like he was with the some of his well-dressed friends and that were surrounding someone. Getting a little more closer, I saw it was... a kid?
"Well if it isn't the little Chambers." I heard Leslie said. Wait, that's Chris.
"Come on, I'm just trying to get home." I heard Chris say as he tried to move before some of the well-dressed guys blocked his path.
"This town was so much better before you and your trash family moved here." I heard one of them say.
"Look at him, he's so poor, I bet he's wearing the same clothes cuz that's all he has." Another one said, pointing out Chris's clothes were pretty filthy looking.
"I wouldn't have if you hadn't kick dust on me!" Chris fired back. Gotta respect the kid, he does stand up for himself.
"You better watch your tone or did your mother not teach you any manners?" Leslie sneered. I saw Chris's face turn red and his fist balled. "Since you're trash, why don't we take you out like one?" Lesie asked his cronies and they all nodded. I saw fear wash across younger boy's face as he tried to make a break for it only for them to gang up on him.
"Hey!" I shouted as I ran between them to get to Chris, him being just as surprise to see me as Leslie did.
"Bryce, you're defending this trash?" He asked shocked.
"The only trash I see here is you. Leave him alone, he's just a kid!" I told him as I stood in front of Chris.
"But Bryce, you know he's one of the Chambers right?" Leslie pointed out like I was dumb.
"Yeah, but he's still just a kid. Just because his family ain't the best doesn't mean you should take it out on him!" I countered.
"You're really defending him?" He asked in disblief.
"That's right." Came a new voice. We all turned and saw Ace heading towards us. "You gotta problem with that Leslie?" Ace asked as he stood next to me blocking Chris. Leslie looked between us and then at Chris before going back to me.
"I'm disappointed in you Bryce, choosing to associate with these low-lives." He said shaking his head.
"What are you, his father? Beat it." Ace told him and indeed Leslie called for the others to go. Ace turned to look at Chris. "You owe me one Chambers." He told him pointing a finger at him. "C'mon Bryce." He motion for me to follow. I turned and saw Chris staring at me wide-eyed.
"Uh... see you later man!" I said quickly as I made haste. We reach the car and saw Eyeball was still in the driver's seat, just staring at Chris before shaking his head in disappointment.
We met with Vince, Jack, and Fuzzy at Irby's. It was around five so the place wasn't so pack yet. We were in the middle of a game with Ace playing while I spoke with Eyeball.
"Why didn't you help?" I asked him.
"Your brother was in trouble, why didn't you come out to help?" Eyeball kept silent. "Chris told me whenever your Dad gets into his moods how you just stand there and do nothing. He's your brother, aren't you suppose to protect him?"
"Listen man, you don't know what goes on in our house. Kid's always running his mouth, trying to get involve in issues that don't concern him. He needs to stop worrying about others and worry about himself." Eyeball explained. When I didn't say anything, he kept talking, "It's not like I don't try to warn him. I say, 'Chris let it go' 'Christopher, you better apologize'. If he wants to be hard-headed, I say let him. You think a few knocks would straight him out." All he could do was shake his head.
Wow, Eyeball really does care. Granted in his own twisted tough love way. but I do believe deep down he does care for his brother. The Chambers have to be most interesting people I've ever seen.
"Hey Eyeball." He turned to look at me. "What's your real name?" His eyes widen at my question. "I mean, if we're gonna be gang members and all, it doesn't hurt to know since I doubt your parents literally named you Eyeball."
He stared at me before puffing. "It's Richard."
"Richard?" Gotta say, I wasn't expecting that.
"Yeah but it's Eyeball, got it." He said, this moment mirroring mines with Ace.
"Got it." I nodded. Ace then called us over saying it was our turn.
I made it back to Sukey's and was just entering my room until a voice spook me.
"Had fun today?" I jumped and flick the switch.
"Denny?" I said in disbelief. There he was, but what he doing here at this time of night? "It's practically ten man."
"Yeah," he replied nodding from my bed before getting up. "I know you had a day off today." I nodded, not sure what he was getting at. "Were you enjoying yourself?"
"Y-Yeah," I said, "It was exciting."
"Ace's pretty good at that." When he said that, my legs felt so weak I almost thought I was gonna fall down.
"You know?" I asked and he nodded. "How?"
"News travels pretty fast." Denny explained. "So are you and Ace... friends now?"
"Well, not so much frieeeends but he did offer me a spot in his gang..." When I said that, Denny's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates.
"You're not actually considering are you?" He asked, though it was less of a question and more of a demand.
"Yes? No? Maybe, I don't know man!" I yelled. Denny turned around, resting a hand on his forehead before turing back to me.
"Bryce, what are you doing? You got two well-paying jobs, your own place, don't throw it all away, you're too good for this!" Denny tried to reason to me.
"But that's the thing, I'm not. I'm not good!" I fired back. Denny looked at me baffled.
"What are you talking about? You're a good person. You help out Teddy Duchamp, you turned down Leslie's offer, you stood up to Ace-"
"But only after I started up shit with him!" I pointed out, "All these happen because I couldn't control my anger. I'm a terrible person." I explained to him. "I start fights, I've been lying to you, lying to everybody."
This left Denny puzzled. "What are you talking about?" Shit! I guess my emotions got the better of me. But now that it was out in the open, I started to wonder, should I tell him? I mean, at this point, I have nothing to loose.
"I haven't been completely honest with you." I told him as Denny still continued to look puzzled. "My name is Bryce Anderson and I am from Chicago, Illinois, but I didn't run away from home, I actually came here..." I paused, I guess for dramatic effect, "From the future."
Denny just stared at me before breaking out in laughter. "Sorry Bryce, but you're a little too late for it to be April First."
"No man I'm serious. Here." I reach into my pants pocket, took out my wallet, grabbed my ID card and handed it to him. He looked it over, no doubt having no idea what I meant until I saw his brow furrow.
"Bryce I think you need to get your ID card recheck, it says here you were born in 1998?"
"That's not a typo."
Denny still looked confused so I decided it was now or never. I went to my dresser and took out my cellphone. I know in time travel stories you aren't suppose to show people from the past future technology, but right now, fuck it. The way I see it, just me being here is altering history as it it.
"What's that?" He asked.
"It's called a Cellular Phone. In my time, we use these to communicate with each other instead your bulky landlines." I then pressed the power up and Denny looked amazes as it lit up before the phone jingled played. I then click on my menu button and then went to pictures. After loading, I click on a document and started scrolling through them. They were mostly from my last family vacation to Orlando. I watched as Denny's eyes widen before he snatch the phone from me, touching the screen as he flicked back and forth from the pictures. "Denny?"
"Wow, it's not everyday you meet a time traveler. I thought that only happen in H.G. Wells novels." He said as he fell down on my bed.
"So you believe me?" I asked, feeling a lump appearing in my throat.
"I knew there was something off about your running away story, but yeah this is bigger then what I originally thought."
"So you do believe me?" I asked again. Denny shook his head and chuckled before looking back at me, giving a warm smile.
"Yes Bryce, I believe you." I felt a huge weight off my shoulders.
"But Denny, Denny you can't tell anyone. Not any of your teammates, not Jane, not your parents, not even Gordie!"
"I'll take it to my grave." He swore, lifting one hand and placing the other over his heart. I then did something I haven't done in a while: I leapt and gave Denny a huge hug. I ended up knocking him down on the bed as well as the wind out of him. He coughed but return the hug and patted me on the back. Let me tell ya, tears were streaming from my eyes. Finally Denny knew, but that raised another question...
What am I gonna do now?
A/N: And there you have it, we are officially in endgame terriority now. There are four chapters left after this. Will Bryce find a way back home? Read and find out!
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
Denny knew the truth, that's one less strain on my back. Now we were trying to figure out the next important thing: How did I get here and why?
"So tell me again what happen?" Denny asked again.
"I was leaving my friend Derrick's house to go get some Jimmy John's, it's a restaurant in my time," I clarified to him as he nodded, "When suddenly this gust of wind hit me, and the next thing I know I'm here."
"Anything else that happen? That can't be it." As Denny said that, I tried to think harder until something came up.
"Oh yeah, and there were these weird lights." I explained as Denny leaned forward on the bed. "At first I thought it was a car or something, then more lights started popping up and they all swirled together blinding me, and you know the rest."
Denny sat silent. "That's it?" He finally spoke again, and he sounded disappointed?
"'That's it?' What do you mean 'That's it?'"
Denny simply shrugged. "I don't know, I thought you would've traveled in a time machine or something?"
I stared at him with squinted eyes. Where was a DeLorean when you needed one?
"If I had a time machine, do you think I would have stayed here for the past four months?"
"I don't know, maybe you like here so much you didn't want to leave?" Denny suggested. I rolled my eyes and join him on the bed. I put up my phone and went into my video folder, picking a short video from one of my basketball games. "Wow, you can play home videos on that thing?"
I nodded. "Yeah in the future your phone isn't just a phone. You can record videos on it, use it as a recorder, it's your watch, your alarm clock, your flashlight, your planner, your calender, you can text people on it- that's like sending letters to each other- you can watch TV shows, movies, you can do practically anything on this."
Denny didn't say anything else and we sat in silence watching my old game until he spoke up again.
"What about those lights you mention?" I turned my head to him.
"What about them?"
"Yeah, do you know what those are?" I just shook my head. "You did go to the library and try to look them up right?" I must have looked like a gasping fish when I'm sure my jaw dropped when he said that. "You mean in the four months you've been living here you never once went to the library and do some research on how you possibly got here?" Denny looked at me scandalized.
"Well sorry about not going to the library everyday like a nerd. I was busy doing this other thing called trying to survive in this crazy town!"
Denny raised his hands defensively. "Hey, it was only a idea!" I calmed down after that before lying down on the bed. That's when I heard my phone beep.
"Oh shit!" I exclaimed as I shot up and looked at the battery bar.
"What is it?" He asked concern.
"My phone battery is dying." I told him. "I left my charger at Derrick's. I've been turning my phone on and off the whole time I've been here to conserve what little energy it has left." I then turned to him, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Denny, I can't have my phone die on me. It's one of the few things that been keeping me from having a full-on breakdown since I've been here!"
No doubt seeing the desperation in my eyes, Denny lowered my hands off of him and tried to calm me down. "Bryce, it's gonna be okay. Turn your phone off, I know someone who can help with that."
"Help? But Denny I begged you not to tell anyone about this."
"Don't worry we can trust this guy." He assured me. "When you get off of work from the Market, I'll take you to his house and we can sort this problem out. Anyway, I better get heading home. It's geting close to eleven and I know my pop is going to give me a earful for staying out late."
"But it's summer." I countered.
"Yeah but he's still a stickler to the rules." Denny explained. "Anyway, good night Bryce." I nodded as he left. Getting sleepy, I got into my pajamas and went to bed myself.
I got to the Market a few minutes before opening time. I got into uniform and when Jerry came in.
"Hey Bryce." He said cooly.
"Oh hey Jerry." replied back as I straighten the wrinkles out of my uniform.
"You had fun on your day off?" He asked, almost accusatively.
"What did you do?"
I shrugged. "Not much, hang out with some possible new friends, wasn't very exciting."
He nodded. "Oh I see. Well I wondering if you could pick up the mail for me when you go on break."
"Sure." I told him as I made my way to my station.
"And uh, try not to smash the mailbox with a baseball bat when you get there." As soon as Jerry said that, I stopped in my tracks and flinched, before slowing turning my head to look at him.
"You know about that?"
"News travels fast around these parts." Jerry told me. "It's a miracle I'm even letting you continue to work here after your scuffle with the Merrill kid Bryce, now you're palling around with his outfit? What's happening with you."
Man I wish I could say so myself. Jerry eventually soften and place a hand on my shoulder. "Look Bryce, you're an alright kid, I'm just concern why you want to start mingling with the local trouble makers when you're already good friends with that Denny Lachance? You're a good worker and I would hate to fire you."
"Sorry Jerry, a lot of stuff been on my mind lately and I guess I thought seeing how the other half lived would help me clear things up." I told him. Jerry accepted this and I took my station
Sadly I can't say the customers were all that forgiving. Throughout the day as I rang people up, a lot of them stared at me with accusing or mistrusting gazes. It was so awkward and the tension was so thick you could cut it in half with a chainsaw. Let's just say I was relieved when it was closing time. I look out the front door and see Denny hasn't showed up. I go outside to wait when I see my four favorite little boys come walking by.
"Hey!" I shouted and waved at them as I came out, but they kept walking. Puzzled. I went to catch up to them. "What, no hello?" I asked as I stood in front of them.
"Sorry, we don't associate with Cobras." Teddy told me directly.
I quirked an eyebrow. "But I'm not a Cobra."
"Billy said you were." Vern spoke up, "He complained about it at dinner yesterday that you got to get in and he couldn't."
"Eyeball said the same thing to me yesterday about how they were getting a new member." Chris countered as well. All four glared with such accusation.
"I.. uh..." I tried to come up with a response but nothing was coming out.
"How can you wanna be friends with Ace, after everything he's done to you?" Gordie asked me. Damn this kid and his big brown eyes, so full of hurt.
"I.. I have my reasons, okay? You kids wouldn't understand-"
"What's not to understand?" Gordie cut me off. "Ace and his gang been giving you nothing but shit since you been here, now you guys are acting like you've been best friends your whole lifes?"
"Come on guys, I mean we're still friends..." I tried to counter.
"You can't be friends with Ace and then try to hang out with us, that's like mixing cereal and oil!" Teddy said.
Chris rolled his eyes. "That's water and oil Teddy."
"Same thing Chambers!" Teddy retorted.
"I thought we were becoming friends, but I guess not. It's like Teddy said, we don't associate with Cobras. Come on guys." And we that, Chris walked past me with the others in tow. I just stood there watching them turn the corner before disappearing. I let out sigh before returning to the market when I see Denny parked across the street.
"Hey..." I greeted him as I got inside.
"Hey..." He greeted back. "Don't mind them, they'll get over it in time." He assured me and I simply nodded back.
"So this is the place?" I asked as we park in front of the green, one floor house.
"Yeah, I know a guy who can help you with your phone issues. He's pretty smart too." Denny explain as we got out and made our way to the front door. Denny knocked on it and, after the sound of shuffling footsteps, the door open and stood out a rather large woman with short curly hair. "Hello Ms. Smith, is Harold in?"
The woman gaped. "You're Denny Lachance!" She exclaimed. "Harold, Denny Lachance is here!" She yelled behind her.
"Denny Lachance?!" We heard a voice shout out from the back. "Stall him, I'm need to straighten things up!" Ms. Smith turned back to us and smiled. "He'll be ready in a few minutes, why don't you and your friend come in?" We nodded and Ms. Smith fully open the door and let us in.
Gotta say this house was tiny. The kitchen and the living room were practically the same room with a mini-hallway and three doors at the right, end, and left. The door on the left open up and I guess this was Harold? Jesus Christ, he had to be most stereotypical pointdexter I've ever seen. Combed slick-black hair, large horn-rimmed glasses, noticeable acne, plaid shirt and too high pants with snappy suspenders. How on earth could Denny know this guy?
"Oh my God, Oh my God, Denny Lachance, the Denny Lachance in my house!" The kid, Harold, exclaimed. "You call earlier saying you would come over but I never in my wildest dreams believe it!"
"Hey, I am a man of my word." Denny said. "Listen, can we talk to you in private? It's very important." I looked over and saw the look on Harold's Mom's face like she got the clue.
"Well I'll leave you boys to your fun. Call me if you need anything." Ms. Smith said as she left. Harold then beckon us to enter his room. God even his room screamed nerd. So many rows of books in his book shelf, front desk, a globe at the top, and a telescope pointing out the window.
"Wow, I never thought I see the day Denny Lachance would step foot in my room. I've dreamt about this moment for so long..." Harold sighed. Jesus, fanboy much?
"Harold, we need your help with something." Denny said before nodding at me and I took out my cellphone. Harold, as though he was just noticing I was there for the first time, squinted at me and adjusted his glasses.
"Hey aren't you that guy who fought Ace Merrill a few months back?" He asked me and I tried to look anywhere but him. "Funny, I also heard you were last seen hanging around with his gang the other day. So, are you two friends or something?"
Denny looked scared and turned to look at me, whereas I just shrugged.
"Let's just say me and my friendship with Ace depends on what his mood for the day is." Accepting this answer, Harold nodded and I figured now was time we really got to business.
"Harold," I said, "I need your help with something and Denny tells me you're pretty good with this kinda stuff." I told him as I handed him my phone. He stared at it before touching it gently.
"What is this?" He asked us looking up over his glasses.
"It's called a cellular phone." Denny explained.
"This is a phone? Nothing I've ever seen before." He said exaniming it.
"That's because its not gonna be invented for the next few decades." I told him. Harold looked at us quizzingly before Denny spoke again.
"Harold, Bryce Anderson, my friend here, is from the year 2014." And to back up his statement I went over to him and press the power button on my phone. Harold letting out a audible gasp as the phone lit up and the jingle played.
"Ho-Ho-Holy Jeepers!" Harold exclaimed. I know, I know, I'm breaking all sorts of time travels laws by doing this but desperate times call for desperate measures.
"And unfortunately it's running out of power so we were wondering if you could find a way to power it back up?" I asked him. Harold pressed at the screen, being amaze by the sounds my phone was making.
"It might take me a while but I think I can find an solution for your predicament. May have to take it apart though..." He said absent-mindedly before heading towards his desk.
"Take it apart? You can't...!" I tried to rush towards him before Denny held me back.
"It'll be fine Bryce, trust him." Denny tried to assured me. Trusting his judgement, I nodded and went to sit at Harold's bed, Denny joining me. We sat in silence as Harold took the casing off my phone and poke around before I leaned over to Denny.
"So how do you know this guy?" I whispered to Denny, just low enough so Harold wouldn't hear us.
"From school." Denny explained. "Some guys were giving him some trouble..."
"Ace?" I asked.
Denny shook his head. "No, some other guys. Trust me Bryce, there's a lot of jerks in this town, Ace just happens to be one of the noticeable ones."
I nodded, if Leslie taught me anything.
"Anyway, some guys were giving him some trouble so I step in and help him out. Since then, Harold said he's been in my debt and if I ever needed anything to come to him. Now's a good time to make due on that promise."
We didn't say anything more until Denny spoke up again.
"Have you ever thought about what you do if you can't find a way to get back to your time?" He asked. I stared at him a little longer before lowering my head and closing my eyes, exhaling from my nostrals before opening my eyes again, staring ahead.
"Guess do the same thing I've been doing since I've been here. Keep on living." I told him. "I toyed with maybe enrolling in school, but I don't think I can just enroll into your school without a parent involve. Willy's not exactly my legal guardian.
"I could just go to the library and read every book in there to get an education. I have all the time in the world now." I lightly chuckled at my own pun. " I guess I could also quit my job at the market and work at Sukey's full time. I'm practically work full-time there. Maybe Willy will eventually let me inherit Sukey's Tavern once he up in age? I'm the closest thing he has to a son.
"Hell, maybe I'll even ask Irene to eventually marry me and we can start a family. Get a cozy little house in the suburbs, the two kids, the white picket fence, a dog. That would be nice."
Denny didn't say anything before sucking in a cheek and speaking up.
"You really thought about this haven't you?"
I shrugged. "I figured if I'm probably stuck here, I might as well make do with what's been handed to me."
"Hey, have you ever heard of the Grandfather Paradox?" Denny asked me.
"Yeah, Gordie mention it to me once. It's about making a change in the past that causes a change in the future. Maybe you didn't get sent back in time by accident, maybe you were sent back for a reason." Denny explained.
I'll admit, I never considered that. If I was sent back for a purpose, what purpose could it be?
"Is there anything you know that needed changing?" He asked me. I tried to think.
"Well there's John F. Kennedy's assasination... no that won't happen for a few years now. Uh... there's also Martin Luthor King Jr.'s assiasination but I don't think that's gonna happen for a few years either. Vietnam? Bay of Pigs?" Then I looked over at Denny who stared at me puzzled. "And I should probably stop talking before I give away more information about the future."
"Hey, I didn't hear anything." He told me.
"I think I got it!" We heard Harold exclaimd. "This hole here is where you charge it right?" He asled as he pointed to the USB port and I nodded. "Well, if I take this cord!" He showed the half cut off cord with a few wires sticking out. "And insert it into here." And then stuck into the port which was connected to a lamp with a lever on it. He then started rolling the lever, which light up the lamp and after nothing, I saw my phone lit up and the battery started charging up. "And voila!"
The biggest smile broke out on my face. "Harold you genius!" I exclaimed as I jump up from the bed and patted him on the back.
"It's nothing." He said blushing.
"Seriously man, I owe you one!" I told him.
"It's gonna take an hour or so but I think I can have it fully powered." Harold explain.
"You're a miracle worker, you know that?" Denny told Harold. Denny then hit me in on the shoulder. "Hey, we better get going before you're late for your shift at Sukey's."
"Right." I told him nodding. "I'll be back to get that later, okay?" I said as me and Denny went our way to the door.
"If you want me to come back and take over for you, I can." Denny offered towards Harold.
"That's okay. Mom's been telling me I need to excerise more anyway so this should give me a good workout." Harold explained as he kept spinning the lever. We nodded and agreement before taking our leave.
But then I stuck out my head through his door and looked at him. "Harold?" I called for him as he looked over to me. "Lemme just say in a few years, Star Trek, gonna change your life. And in a two decades, Star Wars, that shit gonna blow your mind."
Wen were just nearing Sukey's when another car rolled out, cutting us off.
"Eyeball?" I asked from my seat.
"Shit Bryce, where the hell have you been all day?" Eyeball asked. Then he noticed Denny in the driver's seat. "You still palling around with Lachance?"
"I was his friend first Eyeball." Denny pointed out.
"Why, what's going on?" I asked getting to the point.
"Right, it's Leslie. He's at our hangout trying to start shit with Ace." Eyeball explained. Leslie? Him again?
"Drive back, we'll be right behind you." I told Eyeball as Denny furrowed his brow at me. I could see Eyeball wasn't so hot on the idea either but started up the car again and made a turn, us following behind him.
We had reach the abandon house when we saw both Ace's group and Leslie's group going at it. Quickly getting out of our cars, we ran out to the field and heard the sounds of mass arguing.
"No good, filthy, hood!"
"Selfish, spoiled, jackass!"
"Hey!" I screamed getting in between Ace and Leslie. "What's going on?"
Leslie glared at me before glaring at Ace again and pointed a accusing finger at him "This piece of white trash stripped some of our car!" He explained. "My tires, my carburetor, my radio, my rims, my hubcaps, all gone!"
I rolled my own eyes and looked over at Ace. "Ace, really?"
"He should have known that Irby's my spot and I don't need his stuck-up pals dirtying up the place with their cheap colonge!"
"Oh that is so something you would say..." Leslie started and the two groups started arguing again.
"Hey!" I screamed again. "Look this is getting us nowhere. You two can't keep butting heads. There's has to be a way to resolve this!"
"Oh and you got any ideas?" One of Leslie's groupies asked. Both groups stared at me so I guessed I have to think of something? After a few minutes, it came to me.
"I got it! We'll have a rumble." I told him. Everybody was surprise by this suggestion.
"A rumble?" Vince repeated.
"Yes, both groups have an all-out brawl and whoever leaves win." I said. I mean, I think this is how it works. They did it in that movie The Outsiders.
Ace rubbed his chin and nodded in agreement. "Alright, I can get behind this."
"So can I." Leslie nodded too. "Name the time and the place."
"This Friday, the baseball field, at ten. No weapons, we do this skin-on-skin." I explained the terms.
"Deal." Ace agreed.
"Deal." Lesie also agreed to the terms.
"And Leslie!" I called out to him before he left. "You better put on your A-game, cuz this is big time baby." Nodding, Leslie motion for this group to leave. I let out a breath I didn't know I was keeping and calm myself.
"'This is big time baby...'" Ace trailed off, "I like that. Think I'll use it sometime." The Cobras were making their leave when Denny came over.
"Bryce, are you sure about this?" He asked me. I nodded at him, more sure then anything. This time I wasn't confused by what I was doing.
A/N: Only 3 chapters to go.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
'A clickity clack and answering back the blues in the night'
The radio was crooning Blues in the Night (I remember the Martian Queen singing that on Duck Dodgers) as I pick up some more glasses and plates as I scan the room. Tonight was the night of the rumble and I had a feeling I could get out early. There were very few people in today despite it being a Friday so it look like a light crowd. I kept glancing at the clock between pick-ups to see how much longer before the rumble was to begin. Only twenty minutes to ten...
"Hey!" I turn to look at Willy. "What's with ya? Y'er lookin' at the clock like ya got a date or somethin'?" He asked with a skeptical look.
"You could say something like that." I muttered as I pick up the remaining dishes while heading towards the back. Glancing at the clock, thirteen minutes to ten... "Hey Willy?" He glace up from the counter to look at me.
"Since it looks like we're in for a slow night, can I possibly cut out early?"
Willy just waved me off. "Sure, I got everythin' handled." Smiling, I nodded and headed towards the door.
It was dark out but thankfully I've been here long enough to know where everything is so I headed to the baseball. The breeze was cool and was starting pick up. The air was starting to smell different so I could tell it was probably gonna rain pretty soon, a light rumble only confirmed that. I kept going and the wind started whipping. Suddenly some headlights shine behind me and I hear a car coming down the road. Turning I see it's Ace in his Black Ford. Without a word, I get into the passenger and we drove off.
We had reach the field and I could see the other Cobras had showed up but couldn't find Leslie and his cronies.
"Okay Bryce for this I gonna need you to let it all out. No holding back this time, let that anger out." Ace told me and I nodded.
"You think this will be enough to handle this?" I asked him as I motion over to the guys. He gave me a glance.
"Trust me, my boys can handle this."
"Hey, you know I was wondering, how did you guys came to be?" I asked Ace as he turned to look at him. "I mean, how did the Cobras form? How did you guys meet?"
Ace briefly looked up at the sky in thought before answering me. "It wasn't nothing big. I knew Eyeball from around the neighborhood but we really didn't start hanging out until back in Ninth Grade when we both got detention he found us a way to sneak out. Since then, we stuck together ever since.
"Fuzzy and Jack practically begged me to let them hang out with me and Eyeball and I jokingly told them if they can steal me the rims of ten Chrysler Imperials in under one hour, I let them in. They succeeded in under forty-five minutes.
"Now Vince, that one hard to explain. I snuck into the liquor store one night, tried to steal myself a bottle when Vince appeared and had the same idea, except we both grabbed the same bottle. One minute we fighting in the store, knocking shit over, throwing punches, next thing we know we're sitting outside the store splitting the bottle and having a smoke like we were longtime pals."
"Wow..." Was all I could say as Ace shrugged and we reached the others.
"Man are these guys are gonna show up or what? It's starting to sprinkle!" Vince shouted.
"What's the matter Vinny, afraid you're gonna melt in the rain?" Fuzzy teased and Vince flipped him the bird.
"Quit whining, a little rain ain't gonna hurt ya, the six of us got this covered." Ace proudly proclaimed.
"Make that seven!" A new voice called out. We all looked and couldn't believe who was heading towards us.
"Denny?" I called out.
"Didn't think this was your kinda thing Lachance?" Fuzzy asked him but Denny had his eyes on Ace.
"Ace, I know the two of us will probably never be friends..."
"You can subtract the 'probably' out of that sentence." Ace told him.
"But," Denny continued as if he wasn't interrupted, "For this insistence, let's put our difference aside and work together." After finished, Denny stuck a hand out. Ace stared at it before grasping it.
"You got yourself a deal Lachance." And with that, they shook hands. Everybody stared and even a few audibly gasped. I doubt anyone there thought they lived to see the day Ace Merrill and Denny Lachance shook hands. It be like if Superman shook hands with Lex Luthor or if Batman fistbumped the Joker.
"C'mon, I told you they were here!" Another new voice came in and we all saw... Billy Tessio and Charlie Hogan?
"Why the fuck are you two here?" Eyeball demanded. "Jesus, why don't we just invite the whole town here!"
"Hey we heard you guys were getting into a rumble and thought we help out. Show some solidarity." Billy said.
"Really because I thought you said if we join in then maybe Ace will let us jo- OOPHM!" Charlie tried to explain before getting jabbed by Billy. Everybody snickered and Ace just rolled his eyes. That's when the rain really started to pour down; you could barely see your hand infront of your face. That's when we all saw a serious of headlights and the roars of engines. A bunch of cars had rolled up and stalled for a minute before the lights went out. A series of doors opened up and out came Leslie and his groupies. We all brace ourselves as they slowly made their way over to us.
"Really glad you're here man." I whispered to Denny.
"Someone gotta back you up when you're doing something stupid." He whispered back witha cheeky smile and I smiled back.
Leslie finally reached us, a smug smirk on his face. By then, everybody was drenched head to toe.
"Didn't think you were gonna show." Ace told him.
"Like I would miss out putting you in the dirt where you belong." Leslie replied back.
"You talk a big game but can you actually play it?" Ace asked/challenged him.
"I can take you. We all can, right guys?" Leslie shouted towards his groupies and outcame a chorus of cheers. By now it was so wet everybody's hair was sticking to their foreheads.
"Then let's start." And with that Ace threw the first punch and the rumble was on. Everybody just started grabbing at each other and throwing punches. The rain had made the ground slippery so half the guys were falling down while scraping. Eyeball was punching a guy, Vince was getting pinned down by two guys, Denny rolling on the ground with some guy but it was getting so dark I could barely make out the others.
I was starting to feel like the odd man out until I got tackled to the ground. This one guy had me on my belly and was dying to push my face in the mud. I could barely breath so I jabbed him in the rib hard and I gave him a backhand smack. Once he was disoriented, I lifted myself up and he rolled off. After shaking his head, he glared and lunged at me again but this time I was ready. As he came forward, I gave him a sharp fist to the stomach then started rapidily punching his face then up and down his chest and stomach before giving one last punch that knocked him down.
It was getting hard to tell who was winning and who was loosing thanks to all the rain and mud until a hard object struck me in the head with enough force to know me to the ground. I looked up and saw none other then Leslie staring at me cracking his knuckles.
"You're mines Anderson."
Picking myself up, I nodded and put my fists up. We stared each other down but I lung to take a swing but he dodged. I ran up and started swinging left and right but Leslie evaded each swing and punched me in the gut. I shot a fist out and he caught it before giving me an uppercut. My teeth clacked painfully and I think I might've bit part of my tongue. Before I could react, Leslie elbowed me hard square in the chest before givng me a hard right swing.
Right away I could tell fighting Leslie was gonna be a different experience then fighting Ace. Ace was more direct and relied on brute force, Leslie actually strategizes so I was gonna have to change how I fight.
"Is that all you got Anderson? I can't believe you almost beat that Ace Merrill. Either it was dumb luck or Merrill is that weak." Leslie spat out.
"Fuck you!" We could hear Ace shout in the background.
"Alright Fancy Pants." I grunted before running up and taking a swing. I could see he was ready to dodge so I surprised him by stopping mid-swing and gave him a sidekick. Temporarily loosing his balance, I took the opportunity to punch him twice in the stomach and then a hard hit to the forehead. That got Leslie really going as he started swinging but I was able to block some of them and get a few hits in.
"You could've been one of us!" Leslie shouted between swings.
"Picking on kids ain't something good people do!" I shouted back.
"So you rather stick with Merrill?!"
"At least with Ace you know where you stand!"
With a roar, Leslie tackled me to the ground and started punching me. Thankfully I learned from my fight with Ace and kneed him in the crown jewels. Seeing him curled over gave me that familiar feeling I had with Ace but shook it off. I wasn't gonna loose control this time again. Waiting him to get up, I hit me again. Getting red in the face, Leslie gritted his teeth and just let it all out. He started swinging and kicking wildly. I tried defending myself but Leslie wasn't having it. Even when I tried stepping back Leslie just kept charging.
That familiar feeling came back and this time I let it consume me since there was no way I was getting out of this fair. Just like before, it was like time stopped and everything around us got silent as it was just me and Leslie trading blows and blocking punches. It felt like neither of us were gonna stop until only one of us was still standing. It actually felt good not to hold back anymore and just let instinct take over. We kept going what hours until I saw Leslie give a straight punch so I ducked and punched him hard in the nuts. He doubled over and even fell into the mud again. This time I pounced and started punching everywhere. If I wasn't so into the moment, I almost laugh at his feeble attempts to defend himself. By the end Leslie was lying on his back breathing hard, having two black eyes and bruises all over his face. I pulled a fist back and locked it. Just one direct punch to the face and it'll all be over.
I winded my fist back to land the finishing blow. It was almost all over yet my fist started to shake. It was like something was trying to stop me and as hard as I was trying to fight it, my fist just wouldn't move. Dropping the fist, I got off of him and settled for just kicking him over.
Coughing and hacking up a mixture of phelp and blood, Leslie got up and made a run for me. Looking around I saw the other members of his group getting up and following suit. We watched them get into their cars and drive off. It was silent for a minute before the baseball field erupted into cheers. I looked around and saw the Cobras as well as Billy and Charlie all shake hands and pat each other on the back. Denny simply nodded until Eyeball came over and patted hard against the chest and Jack and Vince dogpiled him.
"Way to go Slugger!" Ace exclaim as he wrapped an arm around me. I smiled at him.
"If this is what you guys get into on a day-to-day basis, then this whole Cobras thing gonna work out pretty sweet." But after I said that, I noticed Ace had a look on his face.
"Yeah, about that, it's not happening." Either Leslie messed up my hearing or Ace said I wasn't joining.
Ace poked me in a chest. "You got too much heart." I must have looked confused to him, so he explained further. "I saw how you and Leslie fought. You had to chance to finish him for good but didn't take it. You keep holding yourself. To be a Cobra, you got to willing to let go and ignore those pesky morals. Jesus if I let you in it'll make me look bad. You'd make a lousy Cobra."
Wow, hearing that, I feel disappointed. But Ace's face soften.
"But, you're alright in my book. So if you wanna hang with us, you can." With a pat on the back, Ace went off. "Hey Tessio, Hogan, you guys still interested?" I heard him shout as he left. Well, got rejected, not sure how to feel about that. The others started to make their leave and Denny tapped me on the shoulder and motion for us to make out leave.
We drove in silence until we reached Sukey's.
"So how you gonna all this to your folks?" I asked indicating the bruises on his face.
"I'll think of something." He simply stated. Nodding, we said our goodbyes as I got out of the jeep. On my way in, I could have sworn I saw a light pass by and I know it didn't belong to Denny.
A week had passed since the rumble and it's hard to say much really changed since then. Leslie and his group hadn't seen much since then but otherwise it was the same old, same old. I was coming into Sukey's when I notice Willy staring at me with a smirk.
"Nuttin' just that ya got company waitin' for ya upstairs." He told me. Weird, who would be waiting upstairs for me. I made my way until Willy put a hand on my shoulder.
"Here, yer might be needin' it." He slapped something into my hand and gave a wink. I gave him a puzzling look as I made my way upstairs. Looking down into my hand, I saw it was... a condom?
I open my door and saw a figure sitting on my bed. I stood there shock and notice the figure was... female.
"Irene?" I asked as the figure looked at me and came into the light. "Wait... Marie was it?" Indeed, it was Ace's... can she be call a girlfriend?
She smiled sweetly. "Hey Bryce."
"What are you doing here?" I asked as I closed the door.
"I wanted to give you these." She said as she held out a metal tin. I took and opened it up. Inside were little cookies. "I baked them myself." I took a cookie out and bit it.
"This is pretty good." I complimented her. Gotta admit, she didn't strike me as the type to bake, but then again 1950s and all.
"It was my mother's idea." She said. That explains it. "I wanted to do something special after what happen with you and Leslie."
"You know about that?" I asked her as I went to sit down on the bed. She nodded.
"Yeah it's getting around town. How you stood up to Leslie and was willing to help Ace despite everything he and his gang have done to you. Folks are seeing as a bit of a hero." Hearing that made me blush a little. I wouldn't necessary call myself a hero, it just between Leslie and Ace, Ace's probably the lesser of the two evils. "And heroes deserve a reward."
"Thanks." I told as I kept eating the cookies.
"Like I said, the cookies were Mother's idea, but I had something else planned in mind." She explained. I swallowed the cookie and raised an eyebrow.
"Oh?" As I said that, Marie sat down really close to me. She smiled and started caressing my cheek.
"When I first you, I thought you were pretty cute." She told.
"R-Really?" I asked as she leaned in a little closer before closing her eyes and slightly opening her lips before giving me a small but sweet kiss. Okay I wasn't expecting this. She kissed me again and started to sit on my lap. I ended up dropping the cookies filled tin. I could feel myself start to lean down on the bed as Marie kissed me deeper and I felt her hands make their way to pants to unbutton them.
Good thing Willy gave me that condom huh?
"Well you sure are a happy one today." An elderly woman commented as I was checking her out.
"Really?" I asked her, having a big smile on my face.
"It looks good on you. You should smile more." She told me sweetly as I finished checking her groceries out and gave her her change. I don't know why but after last night I was in a chipper mood. All day I had people complimenting me on my smile.
"You've been smiling a lot Bryce, any reason why?" Denny asked me as he sat the bar watching me work.
"I don't know man, I really don't know." I told him.
"I know." Willy said with a wink.
"Oh?" Denny asked him.
"Yeah, he had himself a good night last night." He said with a laugh.
"It was nothing, really. Just a good night's sleep." I tried to explain.
"I bet yer were sleepin' real good." Willy laughed some more.
"What is he talking about Bryce?" Denny asked.
"It's nothing really." I tried to get the subject dropped.
"Really? I don't think that Marie thought that." After hearing that, Denny's eyes widen.
"Marie? Marie Nickles? You were with her last time?" I felt my face start to heat.
"Yeah, she came over last night and didn't see her again until early this mor-."
"Okay Willy, let's get back to work!" I shouted dropping the subject. Willy laughed some more and waved me off. Denny just gave me a knowing look and raised eyebrows.
Suddenly the door burst open.
"Is this the right place?" We heard a voice say. We turned and saw it was Harold.
"Harold what are you doing here? You don't strike me as a bar person." I told him as we came over.
"Bryce, I got good news." He said ignoring what I said. "I found a way."
"A way what?" I asked. He leaned in and motioned for us to come closer.
"A way for you go home." Hearing that made my heartbeat stop.
A/N: Next chapter is the penultimate chapter. Hope y'all had fun reading the fight as much as I did writing it.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
It sounded so hard to believe. Denny apparently had the same thoughts so he asked Harold to clarify.
"Harold, are you sure about this?" He asked as Harold nodded.
"Yes, I found something while I was doing research at the library." He said as he bent down to grab a book from his pack. As he did this Denny just looked at me with a Know-It-All look.
"Ah hah!" Harold exclaimed proudly as he got the book and open it, taking out the bookmark. "Bryce, does this look familiar?" He asked pointing towards a picture on the page. Leaning in, it was a black picture with 3 large spots. Some very familiar white spots.
"Yeah!" I shouted. Then I looked around the bar. "Uh, maybe we should be discussing this somewhere more private?" I really didn't want anyone overhearing us or asking too many question. Once probably won't believe us but there's always that one person who might. Nodding, Harold and Denny followed me up the stairs and into my room. After closing the door, Harold open the book and handed it to me. "So what are these spots?"
"That's the thing," Harold started, "Nobody really knows. There's been stories throughout history about mysterious spots of light, people disappearing into them or someone appearing confuse about their situation after the lights have passed. There was even a story a few years back about a man who was on a business trip in Japan and his passport had been listed from a country no one had ever heard about and found no existence of. They had him under surveillance until they could figure out what was going on, only for the man to disappear the next day."
It was all so hard to progress. To think there are others like me who are or were displaced through time. Now it makes me wonder if there's some person from the past running around and trying to make it in my time.
Then it hit me. "Now that I think about it. I think I remember seeing those lights some time after the rumble." Harold looked at me and pointed a finger.
"And I saw those lights just as I was leaving the library." He added. Denny clasped his hands.
"That's it. Bryce, remember what I said about the Grandfather Paradox?" He asked I nodded. 'What if whatever it is you were suppose to do has been done and now the universe is trying to send you back home? You can go home!"
I sat down on the bed trying to reel it all in. Was it whever is it I guess I was suppose to do be done and now I can go home? Was fighting Leslie something I was suppose to do? But still, I could really be going back home. Back to Chicago, my Mom and Dad, my friends, my school, my life.
So why wasn't I excited about it.
"Yeah, home, hard to be believe it." I said, Denny not doubt concern my response sounded less then enthusic.
"I thought you be more excited." He noted. I just let out a sigh and looked straight ahead.
"I'm just been thinking." I told him. "Maybe... maybe I don't really wanna go back." As soon as I said that both Denny and Harold looked shocked.
"Bryce, how can you say that?" Denny inquired, though it come off more as a demand then anything.
"Why should I? What's waiting for me back in 2014?"
"Your family? Your life? You don't belong here Bryce!" He tried to plead with me.
"But don't I?" I countered back. "Back home I was just some cocky teenager who was bad at math. Here, I'm actually a lot better off. I have my own place, I'm making my own money, I got Ace Merill's respect and most of the respect of the teens in this town plus..." I trailed off as I gave a bright smile. "I finally got to cash in my V-Card."
"V-Card?" Denny asked.
My smile grew wider. "Yeah, I'm not a virgin anymore!" I exclaimed. Harold looked agasped and his cheeks got red while Denny gave me a sly smile. Figured there's no reason to keep it secret now. "Marie came over last night to give me some cookies but she had other plans in mind and well... one thing led to another..." I shrugged. Denny just place a hand on my shoulder and beamed with proud.
"See man It's like a told you, someday you're gonna find a girl and- wait no!" Denny congratulated me before correcting himself. "Bryce, man, think about this. This isn't your time, this isn't your world. You can't live here forever. What if someone eventually catches on there's something different about you or questions how you can know about news that hasn't happen yet! Hell, what if someone decides to look into your past and find out stuff that just raises more questions!" Denny pleaded with me. "You have a chance to finally go home, why not take it?"
"But I have a whole life now." I countered back."I can't just give it up."
"Well, why not use what you've learned here and apply it your life in 2014?" Denny offered. "Bryce, you may have a once in a lifetime chance to getting back home without having to doing it the long way." The long way, of course, meant actually waiting until it's 2014 again. "You can't pass this up."
Denny was right. This was without a doubt, my only chance of getting back to the future... present time. But at the same time, I built an entire life here in Castle Rock. It's not something I can throw away.
Denny no doubt sense my confliction and put a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Why not spend one last day in town making peace with everybody and giving yourself some closure? Say your goodbyes to everybody to help make it easier." He suggested. Had to admit, it was a good idea. I guess tying up some loose ends would help make the decision easier.
"Alright." I told Denny with a head nod. "I'll do it. And I just know who to start with."
Denny had mention before his brother and his friends liked to hang out in the outskirts of town in a treehouse they themselves build. Pretty easy to find since it was the only thing out here. Gotta admit, for being a pile of scrap wood and metal, it didn't look half-bad. Honestly impress they manage to make it themselves. Tried making one myself when I was younger but it didn't pan out.
"Hey uh guys?" I called out to it. "You uh up there?"I called out again. Could have sworn I saw something move in there but the window was too blurry. Feeling braver, I walked up to the ladder and knocked on what I think was the entrance. This time I heard the scrapping of wood. I took a step back when I saw what I think is the hatch open up and saw Chris peering from the other end.
"What are you doing here?" He demanded.
"Vern, did you tell him?" I heard Teddy ask in the background.
"Don't look at me, I haven't seen him in a long time." I heard Vern replay.
"Hey!" I said putting up a smile and a wave. "Can I talk to you guys?" Chris stared at me before closing the hatch again. I thought I heard faint voices and wondered if they were still mad. Then the hatch open up again.
"Come in." Chris instructed. I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Come on, what's the matter?" He asked.
"Uh... the place looks a little... small." I told him but Chris rolled his eyes.
"Just come in you'll be fine." He told me as he disappeared, no doubt giving me room to get in. I still felt unsure but decided to take the plung. I climbed up the ladder and entered the treehouse.
"Whoa... Ouch!" I took a look inside before hitting my head against the roof. I looked around for somewhere to sit and saw a hammock. Crawling, I got into the hammock and leaned into it, back hitting against the wall. Opening my eyes, I saw the boys all looking at me sitting on various boxes and crates. None of them looking particular happy to see me. "You guys really made this yourselves?" I asked as I looked around. This definitely scream little boys treehouse: comics books, old coke bottles, a radio to the side, some makeshift furniture, and a stack of cards on the table.
"I don't really get you man." Chris said, clearing cutting to the chase. "First you're getting into fights with Ace, then you're palling around with him, now you're fighting with him? Why would you do that?"
I sighed as I tried to stretch my legs out a bit; they were starting to go numb. "Alright let me level with you guys. Would you believe me if I told you I was originally only going to join the Cobras so I could upsurt Ace and take over the gang, only to disband them soon after?" I explained. The boys all stared at me with shock expressions before erupting into laughter.
"I swear, you're either the bravest or the stupidest person I've met." Chris noted between snickers.
"Infiltrating enemy ranks and taking them down from within, great strategy." Teddy praised me.
"Yeah, but I guess I got a little too into it." I admitted sheepishly. "Ace's not really a bad guy once you get to know him."
"Yes he is." Chris corrected me with a stern look. "Never let your guard down when it comes to Ace. Like I said man, he's a snake." Then he soften his expression. "But really though, that was your plan?"
"I was doing it for you." I admitted and Chris looked taken aback. "I was doing it for all of you. I figure if I got rid of the Cobras, it make life easier for you all. Hell, maybe even Eyeball might start treating you better."
"I doubt it." Gordie said, speaking up for the first time. "Him and Ace are really close. I don't think breaking up their gang would change that."
"Yeah my brother's so loyal to Ace it's almost like he's an obedient dog or something. Ace could fuckin' tell him to shoot himself in the face and he be all, 'Sure Ace, shotgun or rifle?'" Chris explained.
I simply shrugged. "You just gotta try to connect with him on some level. I think he cares more about you then he lets on."
"If he does, he has a weird way of showing it." Chris muttered. Things got quiet for a bit before I spoke up again.
"Anyway, there's something else I wanna talk about." I told them getting their attention. "I'm gonna be leaving town pretty soon."
"You're leaving?" Gordie repeated me. I nodded.
"Yeah, I feel like I've gotten all I need out of this place, so I'm heading back home." I explained to them. "I just wanted to make up with you all before leaving."
"Gosh and we were just starting to become friends again." Vern dejected sadly.
"Hey, I'm not gonna leave right now." I told him. "Have an idea on what we could all do."
After wriggling out of that treehouse (Jesus I think I even scrapped myself getting out), I thought I treat the boys to a movie. I offered to pay for the tickets and snacks as well and it all added up under five dollars. God bless 50s prices. I told the boys I would save them seats. I don't what was taking them so long as the cartoon started to play. Saw it was a Merry Melodies one about a farmer and his stock singing nursery rhymes. One segment that particularly stood out to me was the one involving some sheep singing Mary Had a Little Lamb before getting hit with soot and start singing it with more soul. Bless this era's casual racism.
"Geez I hope they're not lost or something. Or trying to buy more stuff." I asked myself. Suddenly a felt a hand on my shoulder. "Marie?"
"Hey Bryce ." She said sweetly as she took the seat next to me. "I see we had the same idea."
"Yeah..." Was all I could say. I was starting to feel awkward now. It's not like we chatted after doing, uh, that. She just left as I was waking up.
"You know Bryce," She said as leaned a little closer, cupping my cheek. "I haven't stopped thinking about you since our night together."
I felt my cheeks heat up. "I, uh, wow, was I really that good?"
Marie smiled and nodding, giving out a small giggled. "It was nice being with a man who knew how to treat a lady right. I was thinking maybe we make that nightly visit a regular thing." I sat there flabbergast and my pants starting to get real tight. I didn't know wat to say until we heard a noise behind us.
"Sorry for the wait Bryce, we... oh." Chris started before noticing Marie who quickly got off me.
"Sorry Bryce, I didn't know you were babysitting right now." Marie said eyeing the boys who eyed her back. Except Teddy who looked at her with a dopey smile.
"Hey I haven't had a babysitter since I was nine." Vern defended himself or at least tried to.
"H-H-Hey Bryce, why don't you introduce us to your friend?" Teddy suggested as he looked Marie up and down.
"O-Oh!" I said snapping out of it, "Guys this is Marie. Marie these are Teddy, Vern, Chris, and Gordie, some good friends of mines." She just gave a pathetic wave and the boys either waved or nodded their heads.
"Nice. So are you two dating?" Teddy asked us.
"No." She quickly.
"Hey Bryce, think you can put in a good word for me?" Teddy asked me and that was enough to rid me of my akwardness and laugh.
"No." I simpy responded. Teddy looked at me before turning to Marie.
"Well, if you ever lonely or if you need someone to-" Teddy tried to offer before Marie got up from the seat.
"Enjoy your movie boys. I'll see you around Bryce." She said as she quickly left. I chuckled inwardly since I knew she wouldn't.
After saying my goodbyes to the boys, I made a pitstop at the Market to resign. Jerry looked a little upset but understood and wished me luck. Then I headed over to Irby's. As you would expect, Ace was already there. As I was coming through the door, I saw he playing a game of pool by himself. He was just getting the balls in position when I tapped him on the shoulder.
"The fu- oh hey Bryce." I could tell I had startled him before he calmed down seeing it was me. "Join me for a game." He insisted as he handed me a cue. I waved him dismissively.
"Sorry man, I can't." I explained to him. "Just wanted to let you know that I'm gonna be leaving town." Ace quirked an eyebrow.
"You headin' back to Chicago? Thought you felt you weren't wanted there no more?" Ace asked as he shot the white ball, causing the other balls to scatter and a few went down the pocket.
I shrugged. "Things changed and I felt a learned a lot while being here. Figure I could use that back home."
"Well good luck with that. It wasn't half bad having you around." Ace mention as he hit a solid color balls that simply bounced against the rubber.
"Thanks man, oh and Ace?" As Ace looked up at me, I gave him a hard right punch. In the back we heard hear the bartender shout no fighting.
"The fuck was that for?!" Ace demanded as he rubbed his face.
"Just retribution for everything you put me through since I've been here even though half of it was my fault." I told him truthfully and rather then getting angry, Ace simply gave a short nod as if saying, 'Yeah that's fair.' As I exited Irby's I heard a car honk and saw a kid bend over in the street as a car came barrelling over. Acting quickly, I dashed over and pushed him out of the way as the car sped by. "Whoa kid, what the hell were you doing?!" I demanded.
The kid looked at me dazed before snapping out of it. "Who are you?"
"Me? I'm Bryce. What's your name?"
"Ray Brower." He said.
"Okay then. Ray, what were you doing standing in the middle of the street?" I asked me as he held out his palm and it was... a small turtle?
"Saw this cute little guy and had to get him." Ray explained as he pet the turtle's shell. I felt my anger decrease and let out a sigh.
"Well that's good of you, but next time keep a look out on your surroundings or else you're gonna get yourself killed." I warned him. He nodded and soon I was on my way.
"There yer are Anderson. We got a birthday party tonight so... why ain't ya dress for work?" Willy asked as he stopped to see me.
"Yeah, but that, there's something I gotta tell you..."
"Yer leavin' huh?" Willy asked as if reading my mind.
"Already figured it out huh?" I asked him with a slight chuckled and smile.
"Figured somethin' was going on with ya." Willy shrugged.
"Willy, I just want to say thank you for just... everything." I really meant that with all my heart.
"It ain't nothin' kid. It was nice havin' ya around. Yer like the son I neva got to have thanks to my ex-wife two-timing me that Cuban." He explained. "Just good luck to whateva ya do in the future."
"Yeah." I agreed, then a thought hit me. "Now that you mention it, how would you like to know a little bit about the future?" I asked him slyly as he raised an eyebrow.
I heard the door bell jingle as I saw Denny and Harold coming our way, being greeted by a chorus of laughter from Willy and the patrons.
"Bryce come on, we gotta get going." Denny told me as he looked around. "What's so funny?"
"Hahaha, Anderson here telling us all about the future. Making all sorts of crazy predictions." Willy explained. "Record players yer can carry on ya, Telephones that can fit in yer pocket and best of all, a black man being president. Can ya believe it? A colored in the oval office running our nation!" And with that Willy started laughing again. I saw Denny look at me like he wanted to hit me right then and there.
"Yeah real funny. Bryce, we got to go." Denny said as he grabbed me by the arm and impatiently dragged me out of the tavern.
"I'll miss you Willy!" I called out to him one last time.
"Until next time Kid!" Willy called back as the door closed behind us.
"Bryce what were you doing? Aren't you afraid you might have potentially altered the course of history by telling them too much about the future?" Harold asked me as we got into Denny's Station Wagon.
"I figured it couldn't hurt. The truth is always stranger then fiction. 'Sides in fifty years all those people in there are gonna be long dead so what difference does it make?" I told Harold apathetically. The atmosphere got real quiet as Denny started up the car.
"That was dark Bryce." Harold said and I simply shrugged and nodded my head.
"Anyway..." Denny trailed off trying to change the subject. "Me and Harold have been searching for those lights and notice they seemed to be appearing outside of town." Outside of town, of course, back to where this whole thing started.
"Yeah, that where I was after my trip." I told him as we drove by before nearing the entrance to Castle Rock.
"Back to the beginning." Harold stated as we soon passed to Welcome to Castle Rock sign. We kept driving until we came to a abrupt stop, seeing a bright light behind the grass and trees. "There!" Harold pointed. "Faster Denny!" And with that Denny sped up getting closer to the lights. Suddenly he stopped the car and there they were, floating in the air like oversize fireflies before they got closer and closer together and started spinning faster. We got out the car and just like before, the wind started whipping and the lights started to brighter.
"Come on Bryce you gotta go!" Denny shouted as we tried to get closer but the wind was really strange and it becoming hard to keep our ground. All of our hair and clothes were getting tussled and even Harold's glasses almost flew off his face.
Okay, no cold feet. No cold feet. This is what you've been waiting for. I started making my way closer but stopped and turned around.
"Denny!" I shouted, "I just can't thank you enough! For being a friend, for helping me, for everything!"
"You can thank me by getting back to your time!" He shouted. I nodded and prepared to make the jump.
"Hey wait!" Harold suddenly spoke up. "What guarantee do we have they'll even send back to your original time? For all we know they could send you farther into the past or even further past your original time period!" Hearing that made me froze. Shit he was right! I guess in hindsight getting stuck in the 1950s wasn't so bad but what if these lights send me back farther like Dinosaur Times or the Middle Ages? Man I don't want to end up some T-Rex's snack or get contracted with the Black Plague!
Or worse, sends me so far into the future I ended up in a time where Earth is now a desolate wasteland inhabited by six foot tall mutant cockroaches!
On second thought, that one would actually be pretty cool.
"No time for second guess now!" Denny shouted. "Bryce, this is now or never!" I nodded but before I took plunge, I looked to them one last time.
"Denny, promise me you'll still keep looking out for that brother of yours!"
Denny simply smiled and nodded.
"I will for the rest of my life!"
"And Harold!" I called out to him next. "I can't appreciate you enough for your help. Promise me you'll keep doing you! I gotta feeling things are gonna turn up right for you!"
"I know they will!" Harold told me triumphantly. "I even met someone!" This got me curious.
"Yeah, Denny introduce me to her. She's a real cutie too. Her name's Irene." The moment he said that name, I felt my jaw dropped.
"Irene?" Then I turned to look at Denny, "You set him up with Irene?!"
"You were going back home anyway!" He responded. "Plus you two were never really together!" Well, he wasn't wrong.
"Well..." I started. "It's now or never!" I looked at them both one last time. "It's be real guys!"
"Goodbye Bryce!" "See ya!" They said one last time. Gathering my courage, I ran into the lights, eyes closing as they got brighter and wind whipped wildly.
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
Disclaimer: Not mines, anything mentioned by name isn't mines. Except the OCs.
It was weird at first, running into those bright lights. At first they blind you, then strangely your eyes start to adjust. Everything was so white but I could still feel myself being pulled further. Suddenly it got dark and it was like I was hurling through space, seeing planets and supernovas going off before utter silence and more darkness.
"Bryce? Shit man Bryce, can you here me?" I heard a voice call out my name. Grunting, I found myself laying on something hard. I try to sit up but feel hands on my shoulder. "Careful man. What happened?" The voice asked me. I blinked and looked over my shoulder to see a figure looking at me.
"Denny?" I asked the figure groggly. The figure seem taken aback.
"Who the fuck is Denny?" It asked. My eyesight finally adjusts and I see it was...
"Derrick?" I asked. "I'm made it back?"
"Huh?" He asked, puzzled by what I was talking about. "Dude, what are you talking about?"
"Wait, what?" I looked around and found we were sitting on the side of the road. "What's going on here?"
"You're telling me man. I know you said you were gonna get us some Jimmy John's but I thought something was off since it was taking you an hour and a half to get back, so I went over there to see what was taking so long and that's when I found you lying in the street." Derrick explained. "You didn't get jumped, did you?"
I raised an eyebrow, then my eyes widen when I reached into my pocket and took out my wallet, looking inside. My birthday money is still there.
"Did it really all happen?" I asked myself but Derrick was more confused by what I meant.
"Man Bryce, seriously talk to me here. Did you passed out or something? Were you attacked? Do you need to call your Mom to pick you up?"
"Bro, you are not gonna believe what happened." I told him as we got off from the ground. "I was going to Jimmy John's when these lights show up and next thing I know, I'm in some small town in Oregon called Castle Rock in the Ninteen Fifites. I ended up working at a bar and I got to fight a gang leader and I ended up fighting in a rumble..." I rambled on.
"Fuck man, whatever hit you in the head hit you pretty hard. Are you sure you don't have a concussion? Derrick asked me as he felt around my scalp.
"Knock it off man! I'm telling you, it all really happened!" Derrick just looked at me deadpanned.
"Sure Bryce. C'mon man let's get back. I think we can make a PB and J or something." Derrick instructed as we headed back to his house.
Was it really all just a dream? I thought to myself. Did none of it really happened? Does this mean I'm still a virgin?
It was the middle of May so it meant school was slowly getting close to getting out for summer. The school bell had rung and all of us started putting our books and binders away as we left the classroom.
"Bryce, could I have a word with you?" I heard the teacher call out. Confused, I headed towards his desk as the other students left single filed.
"Yes Mr. Culpepper?" I asked him.
"I've been noticing an improvement in your grades, so I'm curious as to what brought this on? You always said that basketball was your life and you didn't need Math?" He asked me.
"Oh, is that it?" I asked him and he nodded, "I've just been thinking of changing career choices. Maybe I like to get into the food industry. Running my own restaurant or bar or something."
"Really?" He inquired. "Well I hope this doesn't sound too forward, but if you really are interested in management, my brother-in-law owns a steakhouse in town and I could see if I can get you a chance to job shadow there." He explained. "Once school is out of course."
Hearing that made me feel good. "Sure, I be interested in doing that." I smiled.
"Well alright then. I'll let you know later this week." Mr. Culpepper replied with a smile of his own as he got ready for his next class.
I exited the classroom when I saw a girl slam another girl into her locker.
"Hey, what the hell was that for? Apologize!" I called out to her. The blonde just turned her head and scuffed at me. I frown as I turn to help up the girl who got slammed. "You okay?"
"Yeah." She replied, then she looked surprise to see who it was that was helping her. "Oh, h-hey Bryce."
"Yeah, Tori right?" I asked her and she nodded. Oh that's right, Tori Ward. Red hair, freckle faced, and huge braces. The guys always liked to make fun of me over how she seemed to have the hots for me. Whenever we had basketball practice, they notice how she always seems to come to the gymnasium to pay extra close attention to me. "Mind if I walk ya to your next class?" I asked,
She shook her head, those red locks covering her face. "No, my class is on the other side of the building so I don't want to make you late." She explained as she fixed her hair. She was about to make her leave when I called out to her.
"Hey, Tori?" She looked over her shoulder at me. "You doin' anything this Thursday?" She was shock by my question.
"I'm usually not doing anything on Thursdays." She replied.
"You wanna go grab some pizza or something?" I asked her.
"Wow, uh, sure." She smiled brightly, flashing those braces.
"It's a date then." And I couldn't help but chuckled at the way her face redden after hearing the word 'Date.' She nodded and walked off. I turn and see Derrick leaning against the lockers shaking his head in disbelief. "You've been waitin' on me?"
"Didn't think girls like her were your type?" He asked as we started walking.
I simply shrugged. "Hey, can't keep dating cheerleaders or hook up with random girls at parties."
"I can." He flashed a toothy grin. Then the warning bell rang. "Shit man, we gotta go!"
So life had return to normal. My folks being proud of me that my grades were starting to improve and Mr. Culpepper really did set something up for me with his brother-in-law's steakhouse that I start working there in June. And yet, I still couldn't shake that... thing that happen in Castle Rock out of my head. The whole thing felt way too real, way too complex, way too vivid to have all been one huge dream. I could remember everything. I felt everything. Whenever I tried to tell someone about it, they never believe it.
'You've been watching too many Sci-fi movies man.'
Today me and Derrick were at the mall to buy some sport shoes. We were entering the main part of the mall when Derrick stopped and nudge me.
"Look dude, check it out." He pointed towards someone sitting on a bench
"Who's that?" I asked squinted to see what he was pointing at. The guy was very old, like in his late 60s or something. He was just sitting on a bench reading a book.
Derrick shook his head in exsperation. "Seriously? Dude, that's Gordon Lachance." The moment those words left his mouth, I froze.
Derrick nodded. "Yeah, that famous writer guy. Here." He took out his phone, got onto the internet, and Googled him for me. Wow, it really was him.
"Is he really that famous?" I asked him.
"Yeah, he got big when he started publishing his memoirs about his childhood. One of them even got made into a movie back in the Eighties. Tried to get you to watch it with me once but you said it looked boring." Derrick explained. "Here, I even have one of them downloaded to my phone." He said as he pulled it up. I took the phone and scrolled through it. One thing particularly caught my interest.
TO MY BROTHER AND MY BEST FRIEND THAT I STILL MISS DEARLY
If this is the same Gordon Lachance that I'm thinking of, could it be...?
"Hey, where are you going with that?" I heard Derrick ask in the background as I head over to the older guy. "Are you gonna get him to autograph my phone?" I could barely hear him as I approached the old man.
"Uh, excuse me." I asked as the older man looked up at me. "Mr. Lachance? Uh Gordon?"
The older man smiled. "Oh, no need for pleasentries. Mr. Lachance makes me think of my father." He explained. "And I never really liked being called 'Gordon.' Just call me Gordie."
"Gordie." I repeated. "I know this is gonna sound strange, but do you... recognize me?"
Gordie just raised an eyebrow. "Am I... suppose to?"
"Oh, uh... nevermind." I quickly said, getting embarrased. "It's nothing. I just thought... yeah nevermind." I could tell this had amused him. So maybe it all had been a dream?
"Is there anything else I can help you with?" He asked.
"Yeah, uh, you have a brother right?" I asked him as I handed him the phone. "Denny right?"
"Yes I did." He replied, though the 'Did' had be curious.
"If you don't mind me asking, what happened?" Suddenly Gordie's expresion sadden.
"He died sadly." Hearing that made my heart sink.
"He-He died?" I asked as Gordie nodded. "When? How?"
"Back in the spring of Fifty-Nine." He explained. "Jeep accident. Really tore my parents apart." Sadness in his voice. It took all my self-control not to fall to my knees hearing that. Denny... was dead? A year after my trip? I thought he live to be a ripe old man or something.
"Geez Gordie. I'm real sorry to hear that." I told him, my head hanging low. "Denny was a real great guy. The kinda guy who would always stick his neck out to help you. One of the nicest people you'll ever met. Even willing to help people who would normally butt heads with him. You were real lucky to have had him for a brother." I looked up and saw Gordie stare at me in surprise. He leaned a little closer, as if studying my features, before he started laughing. "What's so funny?" I asked sternly. I thought that was a real heartwarming moment.
"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you." He assured me. "It's just... from the way you were describing him, it's like you personally knew him or something. He passed when I'm sure your grandparents were no older than I was at the time."
Oh shit, gotta think of something fast. I can't tell him about my dream. He think I was crazy. "Uh... it's your writing." I quickly stated. "It's so good, it makes you feel like you were there. You paint a very vivd picture." Quick save Anderson.
"Well I'll take that as a compliment." Gordie said getting up from the bench.
"Hey wait, before you go, could you sign that phone for my friend over there." I pointed behind me. "His name is Derrick."
"Sure, I would love to." Gordie said as he took out a felt tip pen and signed it before handing it back to me.
"Thanks. It was nice meeting you Gordie." I told him as I made my leave.
"Yeah," He sighed as he lifted himself up. "It was nice seeing you again too Bryce."
The moment he said that I paused, then quickly spun around but Gordie was already walking away. Did he just say my name? I didn't mention it to him. How do...? Who told...? How could he...?
Well this sure complicated things further.