It’s stupid, really. This whole thing.
The whole extravaganza itself, I swear, wasn’t anything like it should’ve panned out. I should’ve lived without worry- like, y’know, normally. Like my Mom or my Dad. Like their parents before them.
This generation was ruined- and pretty early on. My life hadn’t even started yet, had it? I hadn’t done squat, squat before this whole thing started up.
And whole thing. What exactly is the whole thing?
Something that only happened in Camp and I’s favorite three-AM-session video games. Three AM, you might say, is the witching hour. And that’s exactly the point.
At three AM every Friday and Wednesday, Camp (my bud next door) and I would hop onto the Xbox and grind on COD or some zombie game he brought down from his pent-house in Cincinnati. Camp, sadly, was a senior genius or something at that Archbishop Moeller High School for boys in Montgomery, so seeing him was a treasured moment in every week.
Anyway, yeah, the “whole thing” is like that. Like those engaging zombie games we play at three-AM every Friday and Wednesday.
Unlike Camp, I’m a proud scholar at Wyoming High School, kind of down the street but kind of not. That Moeller’s place is like a dream- yeah, I’ve got Wyoming High pride and all that, but really, who wouldn’t want to go to Archbishop Moeller’s? Especially when Camp is there?
I don’t think I’ve introduced myself formally- I’m Raymond Royce, the guy that opens up every diary page like he’s Geronimo Stilton- except without the cool green suit and mouse face. But on the contrary, according to James Fickleman, I’ve got quite the mouse face indeed. And a mouse-body to boot.
James Fickleman. The fickle boogie man. The guy I feared whenever I woke up in bed every school-day morning.
Any normal morning anyway. Like today’s morning. A real morning of a morning, that’s the kind of morning it was.
I woke up, dug into an apple (because who has enough time to pour themselves some Captain Crunch), shoved my tooth brush in my mouth and then right back out, slung my backpack over my shoulder and smoothed my hair back with an ungodly amount of hair gel- which no one has found out I use yet, somehow. Not even Avs.
And just like every morning I heard that annoying holler of a truck beeping outside my house and waking up the whole damn neighborhood.
I raced through the kitchen, not even looking at my Mum who was watching the news like she does every Monday morning.
I could tell by the voice that the pretty blonde anchor dude was the one talking this morning. “The infamous Atum Ra Gang of Columbus has struck once agai-”
“Bye Mom, have a good-”
“Don’t forget your epipen, Raymond Adam!”
I snagged it off the counter (stupid mustard allergy) and raced out the door, right into the sun of a sweet Ohio morning. Every morning was a sweet Ohio morning.
Avenue’s red truck was waiting up by the end of the driveway, slick and yet rusty with time. It was easy to spot- that bright pink spray paint outlining “BETHANY” on the passenger-side door was an eye sore.
The window of the driver’s side door cranked itself down. Avenue- eye patch, blonde hair and all, poked his head out like some cuckoo bird. “Beep beep, mothertruckers!” Beep beep. “The Avenue-Bethany express is pullin’ out!”
Avenue has this real distinct voice compared to most I knew. It kind of reminds you of a cool summer’s afternoon, and I know that sounds poetic as all hell, but man, the guy has a good voice. The kind you could listen to for an hour and not be driven crazy by it. It was kind of deep and kind of raspy, but not really- and if he would sing you know he’d sound like a damn angel.
I pulled open the creaky passenger door and hopped in, putting up my hand to fist bump the guy like usual.
Avenue was with me pretty much all the time. Everything we did was pretty much something we’d already done before.
“Ohio bros!” He announced, smacking my knuckles with his, and then he stomped his foot on the gas and leaned around the wheel as if it’d help him turn. As if driving was Mario Cart or something.
“Squak! How y’doin?” Are you kidding me?
Atlas, Avenue’s pet parrot, was sticking out of his bag like a stuffed animal. Which the bird might as well be- he couldn’t really fly or do much of anything other than cross his eyes and talk. He was basically a tiny robot.
And Avenue Keith was basically a knock-off pirate.
“Dude, what the hell? You brought Atlas with you? And you’re bringing him to school?”
“Yeah, what else was I gonna do? Not like he’s gonna bother anybody, he’s literal dead weight.”
“I don’t know, let Kenton watch him?” Kenton. That’s Avenue’s older cousin and guardian. Not like he needed a guardian anymore.
“Nah, you know how he is.” Avenue swerved the car around the street. “He’s never around, y’know? He only makes me go to school so I don’t bother him or anybody.” Avenue shrugged, releasing a hand from the wheel to tug at his green turtle neck sweater. “Not like it matters, though. School’s a piece of cake.”
“Dude, you’re like nineteen-”
“Correction, my guy, eighteen.”
“Squaka baaaa! Eighteen!”
“-Eighteen right now. You were supposed to graduate, like, last year. You don’t try!”
“Uh, yeah, cuz’ I’m bored, duh. You know I’ve got my topography job goin’ on anyways, so’s not like my life’s a pointless, education-less box.”
I smirked without really noticing at first, rubbing my knuckles against Atlas’ wobbly head. “You mean that internship under Mr. Mackall?”
“Oui oui, my dude.”
And then he did that thing that he did everyday. He whistled that song take me out to the ball game and parked in the senior lot as if it were the last time he’d do it. Then he’d slap the dashboard and hop out onto the cement. “We’re here, dude, time to move!”
“Alrighty.” I hopped out my side, shutting the door and walking out towards Wyoming High. Like it was the last time I’d do it. “See you in English, Captain Keith.”
“Oh yeah, good times. Say hola to James Fickleman for me, be a good bud about it.”
“Oh please, don’t remind me.”
James Fickleman. That fickle boogie man.