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Start Slow

By Hannah Eschelbach All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Other

Chapter 1

Apples are good. Onions are not. If you throw an apple to a flock of chickens they’ll all take of screeching after it, leaving nothing but a few loose feathers in their wake, and attack it over and over again so that their beaks puncturing the skin sounds like a professional typist. If you throw an onion to some chickens they’ll just cock their heads at you and give you the kind of what’s-this-slop look that reminds me of my English teacher. If you throw an apple at a person it leaves a bruise. If you throw an onion at someone who’s coming at you with his fists pre-clenched it’ll just flake apart all over the front of his black leather jacket, and you’ll have wasted your snack and pissed him off. For a second all three of us just stared as the onion-shards rolled down my front and came to a fluttering halt at my combat boots, then I looked up and locked eyes with the thrower.

“Now you die, Jason.”

Jason J. kicked me under the chin. Seriously. It was so bizarre, even more bizarre than the onion thing, and so strong that even if I’d known to try and block it instead of his fists I still would have gone sprawling to the side like that, my knees slamming onto the concrete. He didn’t need to give that raspy snake-hiss snicker. He also didn’t need to get punched in the face, but both of those things happened. I shook out my hand. Noses are more painful than you’d think.

“Oh, shit!” cackled Vogel, “What’s your mommy going to say, Jason!”

“Something along the lines of this,” hissed Jason, and socked him in the face. It was a smack worthy of being recorded for a TV sound effect. I was glad to have given him something he could share.

While those two idiots were doing their best impression of the Franco-Prussian war, I stepped back to survey the scene. It was Thursday evening, the fourth day of my suspension, and I was supposed to be inside the store right now, not out by the pumps holding my aching jaw. There could be some old lady inside waiting around trying to buy three tins of cat food and I wouldn’t be there to help her thanks to these goons. Jason J was a pathetic rich-boy with the Oedipus complex, but I still wouldn’t wish for him or any of the other myriad jackasses in my life to have to meet Vogel, the worst scum-bag to ever haunt the living world. To be fair, though, it does take one to know one.

This little episode needed to be cancelled. I ran over and grabbed both of them by the hair. “Guys! Knock it off!”

“I’m trying,” Jason walloped Vogel’s head over and over.

“No, this is knocking!” Vogel delivered the accompanying blow, right before I drove the point home for both of them and smashed their heads together. They finally paused long enough for me to get a thought in edgewise, which I expressed with my knuckles until Jason, at least, were scrambling away on his bony ass before flailing to his feet and stepping back. Vogel’s thick skull is not exactly made for hint-taking, but at that point I was just hurting my hands, so I stopped. He hopped right up like a demented buck-toothed flannel-clad trailer trash rabbit, happy as could be. This is his Zen.

Jason cupped a hand around his bloody nose. “I hab to get to wurk,” he told Vogel, “Next tibe, I pick da battlefield.”

“Fat-ass chance,” Vogel put his arm around my shoulders, and I ripped it off before he could leave a stain. “It’s not as fun with just two. I love it when Jerome Schmidt hangs out with me-”

“Get out of here!” I shoved him hard. “You’re going to get me fired and/or a murder charge!”

Vogel twisted my arm behind my back and I tried not to scream. “Maybe you can work for Jason’s mommy.”

“By buther would neber hire eiber of you-”

“Maybe she needs someone to give her hand jobs! She’s gotta fire you first, though-“

Jason was getting all keyed up to begin Round Two, but that’s when we heard the sound, and Vogel made the track team at school look pretty bad. Only a police car or country music can make beat-up hick boots move so quickly, but Konig already saw, putting on the siren and whipping away after him. All the cops know who Vogel is. I wonder how it feels to have achieved Voldemort-levels of fame at the tender age of twenty-two.

My sole remaining companion and I both watched them leave, but I was the one who let out a sigh of relief. Jason J. does this shit for fun. He and his best pal Penn are enjoying themselves so much that now the only thing keeping my wanted poster out of Konig’s office is the fact that no one would want my face tacked to the wall.

“Onion?” Jason asked, holding one out.

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