Wyoming High School. Oh, what a school it was.
Usually Wyoming High School was a bustling playground of kids doing god knows what.
The cheerleaders are usually huddled in a little circle by Mackenzie Travers’ locker like they were in some teen drama, probably talking about the last promposal to go around- that being Travis Moss announcing in the middle of assembly that Courtney Hamburg was the love of his damn life.
Corbin’s usually chasing Sawyer around the front of the hallway with a black expo marker, trying to nick the guy’s white polo that his Uncle gave him for Easter last spring.
The Soccer guys like to hang out by the boiler room door, hogging the water fountain and blowing spit balls at people passing by.
But you definitely can’t forget that one group by the front office, who sit there even though they’re always loudly chewing each other out about nicotine deals and the latest drama. Avenue calls them the “cavalry” because they’ve always got each other’s backs- either with support, or with knives to back stab.
That group is made up of six people, co-ed (which isn’t a usual thing in Wyoming High) and full of crap. Joanne Clemens, that girl with the gray eyes Avenue used to have the hots for, Sid Scmidt who never wore socks with his sneakers, Oliver Mayward, my old neighbor, Weatherfield Cold, the football running-back that got half his curly blonde hair burned off in that chem lab last year, his girlfriend Charlotte Harper that could practically be his twin if you thought about it (because really, they look exactly the same), and of course that James Fickleman. They were one tight group, or at least that’s what it looked like, but really they only existed to beat drama out of each other and keep their boring lives interesting.
You always saw these people when you walked into Wyoming High. And when you saw them, even if it was your first time around, you got that sinking feeling that that day just wouldn’t be a fun day. It wouldn’t even be a good day by any means.
Especially when Avenue isn’t there to size ’em up. Even if he couldn’t really do that job well, it still made you feel kind of safe.
James Fickleman, fickle enough as he is, enjoys roughing others up just for kicks. And Avenue doesn’t like that- but, really, who would?
But I didn’t have to think about them right now.
Chem with Dr. Klaus was first, and it went by like a breeze.
English with Mrs. Melrose (my favorite teacher, I’ll have you know) and Captain Keith was up next. Avenue’s a slacker in pretty much every class, a slacker in life even (aside from going big and not going home in topography, why topography?), English especially, so no wonder he’s a senior stuck in English 10 for the third year, as if he’s trapped in time or something. I always tell him he doesn’t even have to try, just use his smarts or something, cause he’s got lots of them but doesn’t even work to use ’em. He doesn’t really listen much.
Real reason he’s failing, though, is because he never read the stuff Mrs. Melrose assigned. Forget not reading bits and pieces, I swear he probably didn’t even flip a page in the book, or even glance at the first sentence. I didn’t know it for sure, never really did, but I know there was one time he at least took a peek at a word or two.
I remember a year back we read that one book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. He read out the first sentence to me on the first night it was assigned, and he read it like a priest reading from the bible. “When I stepped out into the bright, bright sunlight,” he preached dramatically from the kitchen that one shady Sunday night, “from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind,” he drawled out in that country accent, which would’ve been endearing if I had known it wasn’t anything close to legit. Then he didn’t finish it. He didn’t finish that page. He never really finished anything, in fact. I bet he wouldn’t even finish high school at the pace he was going, God love him though.
Next up in the game is the highlight of Weatherfield Cold’s day: lunch. I was sitting at that table smushed up against the back corner. Avenue wasn’t there because he was a stupid senior guy, so he was always stuck in the lunch thirty minutes later than mine. I was sitting across from these two friends of mine- there’s Germ- and don’t worry, it’s short for Germane, not like his parents named him just Germ. Imagine a lovely couple naming their infant son Germ right when he popped out- what an ugly baby it must’ve been. Germ was bright, smarter than me even (and I pride myself in the fact I’ve got brains that I use), fast at pulling facts out of his head but slow at running on the track.
Next to him’s his best friend, Corbin, the guy who’s always chasing Sawyer around with that damned black expo marker. Unlike Germ, Corbin was as fast as fast could be, faster than the fast that pushed the Flash fast. Maybe not that fast, but you get what I mean. It’s a miracle that Sawyer manages to outrun him every day, but there were those one or two times he was nicked in the shoulder with the marker.
We were talking about Germ’s exploits in Computer Science, y’know, nerd stuff, right when I got those warning signs.
Suddenly The Six were looking at Germ like he really was what his nickname implied. As if he’d killed their cat or something and had gotten away with it. Then you realize there’s actually only five of The Six sitting at the table. Then you smell that damn cologne- birch tree and caramel. It was wonderful, but it brought death with it.
It was Weatherfield Cold, standing over the table in all his hunk glory. I could already see the anger dripping out of the pores on his nose. “If it ain’t Germ Killbalker.”
Germ swallowed while Corbin crossed his arms. “I-if it ain’t Weatherfield Cold!”
“Yeah,” Corbin agreed nonchalantly, “If it ain’t Weatherfield Cold.”
“You got some business, huh, don’t you?” Weatherfield hissed out, slamming the table with a hand. As if he were some savage at a bar fight.
“Woah man, calm down,” I said.
“Quiet, fag,” Weatherfield spat at me, then leaning over Corbin to get in Germ’s face.
I may be closeted, but anyone can use that insult on anyone if they so wanted. But damn, did it make me angry.
Weatherfield was damn scary, especially when he tried. You couldn’t just shrug him off like you could an itchy throat or a bug. He was like an outright disease or a frickin’ centipede.
“What business you talkin’, Weatherfield?” Corbin interrupted, but Weatherfield just pushed him off the seat. I was sitting there like a petrified bug.
For some reason barely anyone but The Six and the basketball table were watching this circus.
“Really, w-what’s going on, Weatherfield?” Unlike me who was as still as a rock, Germ was shaking like a strand of grass.
“I know you was hittin’ on my Charlotte, ya lil’ bastard,” he scowled, and I looked over, right at Charlotte.
Charlotte Stolks Harper, that really tall girl in my calculus class who was smart but dumb around her boyfriend, and talkative and bratty but giggly and sweet around him too. She went from being a stuck-up jack to being a ditzy little-
I had to look away when she looked right back at me with those piercing blue eyes.
And when I say piercing I mean they were literal daggers in her head that would be shot into you any minute. I don’t like her at all, if it wasn’t obvious yet.
“I didn’t do anything of the sort, Weatherfield, I swear!”
Weatherfield grabbed Germ by the collar, yanking him up so the two were eye to eye. Germ’s a tall guy himself, but not as wide as Weatherfield. I stood a little from my seat, and one of the guys at the basketball table was snickering like it was his business.
“You friggin’ liar, I know you’re lyin’.”
“I’m not, I swear I’m not-”
“So you think Charlotte’s the one lyin’, huh? That what you think, huh?”
“She’s lying,” I said, probably a little too bold. Too bold for my own size. I could feel Charlotte all the way in the back, glaring those dagger eyes at me like it was her full time job. I flinched a little, I admit it. “Germ didn’t do that, I’ve been with him pretty much all day.”
I felt a hand on my shoulder. “What did you say?” And I turned to look at James. Effin. Fickleman. And I swear to God I almost tossed my cookies in his face.
Funny, how those types of words mean a totally different thing than they actually do.
So I looked past James Fickleman- right at Charlotte Harper- and I flipped the bird right under the table.
So, as any mature person would do, she threw her homemade cookies right at my face. Literally tossing her cookies at me.