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Training Wheels

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Jack had let out a soft sigh the day he and his father left their old home in upstate Massachusetts for a place in D.C. It would be a long drive; he knew that. The 16 year old was quiet the entire time, knowing how easily he could piss his father off by speaking. Well...he was quiet until they arrived at their new home. It was decent sized, perfect for two in a nice neighborhood, and a good walk away from his new high school. It didn't take long for the duo to get their things inside and unpacked, from kitchen to bedrooms. At least they didn't have much, only the essentials and the furniture that had come with the house; having sold their old stuff.


On that Saturday, Jack went outside—alone—to spruce up both yards a little more than the last owner. He was getting ready to mow the lawn when he saw one of the neighbor's leave their house, offering a friendly little smile before starting the mower.


Brock had been in that neighborhood for several years now, and he was familiar with the residents. He was no social butterfly, per se, but he liked to know the people that surrounded him. The house next door had been empty for some time, and the quiet was rather comforting. But when a moving truck arrived one day, Brock eagerly anticipated someone new, maybe even someone interesting. He waited, of course, letting a couple days pass for the new neighbors to get settled in.

Saturday came, and Brock went about his day. He came outside, stretching in the warmth of the sunlight, and looked over to see a teenage boy getting ready to mow the lawn. He was attractive for his age, with features surely garnered attention from girls in his age bracket. When he smiled at Brock, Brock smiled back, before heading back into his garage. He decided he'd wait a little bit for the neighbor to finish up what seemed to be a chore before going to introduce himself. In the meantime, he'd work on his old Chevy Impala, a flashy red though the paint job was worn noticeably in various spots.


It didn't take Jack long to mow the lawn; only an hour or so, both front and backyard. He took a few minutes to weed the gardens, overly happy that there weren't many of the green pests to begin with. Unfortunately Jack had become a little sweaty, having to wipe his forehead on his old gray shirt.  All he did after that was throw away the weeds and put the mower away in the shed before standing under the large tree in his front yard to examine it, thinking of what he could add. He was thinking maybe some nice flowers here or there.


Brock stopped working on his car when he heard the mower go off, rolling out from under his car and wiping grease off on his arm. He got up and went to the mini fridge, grabbing a beer and a soda. He popped the beer open and sat in his garage for a moment, waiting and sipping his drink, before finally taking the soda and heading over to greet the new neighbors. "Not a bad day out to be getting some work done, huh? Especially if you're new in town," he began coolly as he approached, smiling, "Figured I'd pop by to say hello eventually. I'm Brock. Here." He held out the soda can to the younger man. "So, what's your story, stranger?"


Jack seemed slightly startled by the sudden voice, sucking in a quick breath before turning to see the neighbor he has smiled at before approach him, soda in hand.  "Oh, yeah. Not a bad day at all. Much nicer out here than it was a New England a few days ago. Thank you." He smiled softly and took the offered soda, opening and drinking some of it, sighing contently at the sweet and cool liquid. "I'm Jack. It's nice to meet you, Brock." He held out a free hand. " just wanted a change of scenery. So, here we are. Nothing exciting."


"Anything can be exciting if you stretch the truth a little," Brock chuckled, switching his beer to his other hand so he could reach out to shake Jack's, "Must be rough, having to up and leave. I know I hated it when my parents made us move. But hey, I'm sure you'll settle into your new place just fine. And if it's any consolation, you're still in that stage where making friends is relatively easy." He took a sip of his beer. "So, is it just you and your old man?"


"I suppose that's true." He nodded once, glancing around after the handshake. "Yeah, it wasn't fun. And significant packing and a long drive from Boston..." Jack grumbled once and almost frowned at the mention of friends, but forced a smooth smile. "Just gotta wait until Monday to see about that. And yes, it's just us."


"Well, I hope things work out well for you," Brock stated with a nod and a smile, "Who knows, maybe this move will a good thing for you." He took another sip of his beer, briefly wondering about Jack's father before deciding Jack was interesting enough to chat with so far. "What school are you going to?" He remembered there was a public high school close by, but also a private school a little further down the road.


"Hm? Oh, I'm enrolled to the one not too far from here." Jack pointed in the direction of the public school not knowing there was a private one nearby too. There was no sign of his father around outside, lucky for Jack. He just continued to sip his soda, finishing it soon enough.


"That's fine. I'm still figuring out what I wanna do too, to be honest," Brock replied evenly, "Y'know, I don't know how social you are or what your hobbies are, but there's this skate park I pass on my way to work. It's down on First, and it's not bad. Usually see a ton of kids hanging around there. If you wanted to start looking for some friends, that might be a good place to start."


" old are you?" The young man furrowed his brows, not wanting to sound rude when asking. "Do you not work.?" He then thought a minute about the skate park, taking it into consideration. "Maybe. Is it usually crowded?"


"I'm twenty-six. I don't have a, uh, set career path or anything fancy. I'm just a bouncer at a local club right now," Brock admitted, gulping down the rest of his beer, "It's usually pretty crowded over at the park whenever I pass by, from what I can tell. But I'm sure you can find some decent kids your age to hang out with. How old are you , anyway?"


"It's got its perks. Mostly it's just dealing with many drunk assholes and other idiots," Brock replied with a shrug, broad shoulders shifting underneath his flannel, "So, you fancy yourself a bit of a loner, huh? Not much into the party scene or anything? That's probably for the best. I used to get into all kinds of trouble with that kinda crowd. Now I have to deal with people just like I used to be. Funny how that worked out." He looked Jack up and down for a moment. "Sixteen?  Really? You look older than that. I figured you were eighteen or something."


"Don't peg me as the type of guy that woulda been that kinda person, to be honest. But...glad you aren't an asshole. I've dealt with them enough." He gave an awkward smile and laughed slightly. "Ahh, how I wish I was."


"Nah, I was actually a real trouble-maker. Used to drive my poor old mom crazy," Brock chuckled softly, "I guess I'm a decent guy now. But back in the day- well, that's a different story." He smiled back at Jack. "You're mature for your age. Hang onto that. It could help you in the long run."


"Well you aren't trying to pick on me,  and introduced yourself and gave me a soda, so you must be decent. But... I wouldn't mind hearing a troublesome story sometime, if you'd be okay with sharing?" He shrugged. "Oh, I will. I plan on it."


"Sure," Brock replied with a mischievous grin, "I have plenty of free time these days anyhow. I'm sure I could stop to share a story with you now and then. Hell, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two from my dumbass mistakes."


Jack smiled back, happy to know he'd hear some stories sometime from a rather attractive neighbor. "I can't wait to—" Jack froze and flinched when he heard his father's booming voice call out his name. "Ah shit— I'm sorry, I-I gotta go." He yelped like a scared pup and hurried off to the house, dropping the soda. Brock startled a bit at the sudden shout, and could only watch as Jack was suddenly darting away. "Stop by anytime you like!" he called out before the younger male disappeared into the house. With that, he picked up the dropped soda can and headed back to his own home. He'd spend another hour or so on his car before heading inside for the day.