38) ENEMIES AND FRIENDS
Raphael wandered down the hall, as if in a haze, to his next class. Several students passed him in the hallway and made remarks about the wet spot in the front of his pants.
“Hey hairlip,” one kid barked, “did you forget to pull your zipper down before you pissed?”
“What’s the matter,” another boy called out, “is the urinal too high?
All these rude comments shook Raphael back into the real world. He had experienced his first nibble of sex with the girl of his dreams. It wouldn’t be good for anyone else to find out. He pushed his head down and continued on to his Geometry class. His concern was more with what he would say to Eve when he saw her. She’s the one who caused the wet spot on his pants .
He came into his class and sat down. Mr. Tyzka, the teacher, reeked of cigarette smoke. Eve sat in the 2nd row, but she turned around and winked at him as he sat at his desk.
“Who can tell me what a hypotenuse is?” Mr. Tyzka asked.
The only hand in the class going up belonged to Eve, indicating everybody else failed to do their homework.
“A hypotenuse is the longest side of a right triangle,” she stated, “the side opposite the right angle.”
“Excellent young lady,” the teacher remarked, “I appreciate that you take studying seriously. What’s wrong with the rest of you kids? I give homework assignments because I want you to learn. Everybody should have known the answer because the question wasn’t difficult. I will ask two more questions. Whoever gets them wrong, or doesn’t answer, will be in detention for the next week; with extra homework at night.”
“Who can tell me how to calculate the area of a square?”
About half of the class held their hands up. The teacher showed his obvious irritation and he jotted down the names of the non-respondents. He looked around the class and randomly picked Raphael to answer.
“The area of a square,” Raphael confirmed, “is nfound by nmultiplying a nside by itself.”
“Excellent Raphael,” he commended. “Can you give me the area of a 4-foot box?”
“The area nwould be 4 feet times 4 feet or 16 nsquare feet.”
The instructor acted pleased with the answer and commented to the rest of the class about how everybody should answer his questions this way. He asked another geometric question and the lucky (or unlucky) student got the answer wrong, but at least he tried. The rest of the time in the class comprised a lecture and practice on finding area within circles and ovals.
When the bell went off, he called the non-responding students up to his desk and dismissed everyone else. Raphael enjoyed not being included in the detention group. Eve caught up with Raphael midway to class and put his free arm around her waist.
“You can hold me now,” she grinned, “because I’m your girlfriend.”
“I need to go to Science nclass,” he answered. “Where are nyou going?”
“I’m working on World History,” Eve explained. “The course is required and quite boring compared to what we do at lunch.”
Raphael blushed at the thought but smiled. She seemed deliberately trying to make him get another boner; right here in the hall. His body wanted to go back to the room and play with her again, but his schedule required him to attend two more classes today.
“Can we nmeet after nschool?” he wondered. “I’d lnike to be with nyou more.”
“We can meet at lunchtime every day,” she told him, “because our special room is always empty.”
“No,” Raphael blurted, “I mean after nschool. I’d like nyou to go downtown with me and meet nmy friends.”
“I can’t,” Eve confessed. “I need to be home after school every day to keep an eye on my little brother. I’m sort of a babysitter for him until my father comes home from work.”
“Why can’t your nbrothers or your mother nwatch him?” he questioned.
“My mother isn’t alive anymore,” she continued. “She passed away last year. Life’s been hard on our family lately. My oldest brother went into the Army and the other one plays sports after school. He doesn’t get home until after dinner. The babysitting is my responsibility.”
“Who nwatches your brother while nyou’re in school?”
“My father pays the neighbor lady to take care of him during the day,” she detailed, “until I get home from school.”
“I’m an only child,” Raphael admitted, “so I didn’t nthink about those problems. I ndo what I want, nwhen I want.”
Raphael got to his classroom and Eve went on her way to hers. They made an agreement their lunch times would be special times since they went ‘steady’ now.
The lessons in his next two classes bored him because his mind focused on other things. He kept thinking about sex. His cousin Johnny told him the basics, but he wasn’t sure about what would happen when two people got together. Getting together seemed like something he wanted to do with Eve.
He decided he needed real training.
Raphael regularly studied and read, so he thought the best thing to do would be to buy a book on the subject. Or possibly steal a book. He remembered a bookstore around the corner from Penn Station and paid them a visit the next time he went to meet his friends.
Lieutenant Sherman reviewed the cases pending on his desk. Everything active was being covered by him or some other detective in the squad. He decided he would take care of this minor case involving Raphael Hernandez. He pulled the file and reviewed everything.
One thing sticking out, was a statement by the owner of the tailoring shop, Mr. Otto Dryanoff. He mentioned in his complaint the thief sounded as if something affected his voice; like a ‘hairlip’ or something. And he also confirmed he identified the thief when he attended court. Those two items convinced him of a Raphael Hernandez involvement.
“Hey Paul,” the Captain yelled. “How’s your case load?”
“My caseload is full at the moment,” he trumpeted back, “why?”
“I got a call from a jewelry store in the Chelsea district,” the Captain . “He claims a bunch of kids came in the store and robbed a whole tray of rings. He described one kid who wore a leather jacket and having a speech impediment. I remembered you worked on something similar. Are you interested?”
“Are you shitting me?” Sherman coughed, “where did this happen?”
“A jewelry shop on 3rd Avenue,” the Captain echoed. “The place is called Luxury Plus and the owners name is Sidney Rosenthal.”
“Yes,” Sherman hissed, “Put the file on my desk. I can’t get to investigating until Thursday though. Tonight I’m on stakeout and I’m still waiting for the ballistic reports to come back on the shooting case from last week. I can’t believe this shit. This kid can’t stay out of trouble.”
The Captain put the complaint information on Lieutenant Sherman’s desk and reaffirmed no real hurry in following up. Both the Captain and Sherman assumed the perpetrator must be someone they encountered before and this perp would be going nowhere soon.
Wednesday came along and Raphael/Ratso made his trip downtown after school. His daily outline included two goals for the day. His first priority was to get a book on sex. The second on his agenda; to visit his friends. He got off the subway, walked around the corner and up a block until he came to 40th Street.
About four stores down, a small bookstore called ‘The Drama - New and Used Books’ blinked a welcome sign in the front window. He walked in and noticed quite a busy atmosphere for this little location. In the middle of the store stood a small cafe’ where people might order a Latte as they sat and read. All the shelves contained markings with the topics of interest.
Ratso headed down an aisle marked ‘Human Sexuality and Love’. No exact title came to mind, but he remained sure of finding something in the hundreds of books on the subject. As he perused the shelves, one book caught his eye called ‘The Pictorial Book of Love’. He took a copy off the shelf and opened the pages. Not only did the book show graphic depictions of lovemaking, but each photo fully described the action.
Quickly, he slammed the book closed because he recognized a boner coming on. This looked like the perfect book of guidance. He casually turned to the outside cover, searching for some security tab or panel programmed to set off the alarms. The only label turned out to be a sale tag on the front announcing a $ 15.95 price.
He found no wires hidden under the label, but he didn’t want to take a chance either. He carefully peeled the price tag off the book and threw the pieces away. He casually dropped the book into the deep pockets of his leather coat and moved to another aisle.
Ratso milled around the store , looking at some displays, mainly to make sure no employee followed him. As he moved slowly towards the front door, he caught sight of a hardcover book display titled ‘The Complete Guide to Super Heroes’. He wanted this book, but not necessarily today. He liked the artwork inside and decided he would come back to this store again. He put the book back on the display and casually waltzed out of the shop and down the street.
When he got to the Penn Station, all his buddies darted around, including a new addition. Mitch, a guy Raphael remembered from his days at Village Community School, stood grinning.
“Well check out who is here?” Mitch chirped with a smile. “I thought you went to jail for stabbing Phillip.”
“I did,” Ratso asserted, “but the cop only ntook me on a ntour. He tried to nscare me and he let me go nwhen I got to nmy house.”
“Man,” Mitch complimented, “you are looking good. I like the jacket and I see you made friends with Sammy. I figured you would find out about Sammy being a good guy to be friends with. Where do you go to school now?”
“I ngo to The Dalton School on 89th Street,” Ratso acknowledged. “I nreally like going to nschool there. The nteachers are nicer than at Village Community and I got got a ngirlfriend now.”
“You’ve got a girlfriend?” Mitch laughed. “Does she sport a ‘hairlip’ too?”
The comment hurt Ratso because Mitch always seemed decent to him. Sammy always acted like the bully, but Mitch said nothing about his speech. Now, the tables seemed turned and Mitch became the asshole.
“Fuck You, Mitch,” Ratso shouted. “I didn’t nput with Phillip’s shit, and I’m sure not ngoing to put up nwith yours.”
Mitch quickly backed up out of Ratso’s range and apologized to him. He explained he only made a joke; like he joked with the other guys.
“Raphael,” he cried, “I’m sorry. I meant nothing personal. But you remember how Sammy and I always bust each others balls. I thought since you hung with these guys, you grew a thicker skin.”
“First,” Ratso argued, “I’m not Raphael nanymore. My new name is Ratso. And nsecondly, I’m getting my nmouth fixed very nshortly. My Mom and Dad discussed surgery and are ngoing to set an appointment with the ndoctor. But I still don’t nlike to be mocked about the nway I talk.”
“I guess he told you,” Sammy chimed in. “Ratso has proven to be a cool addition to our gang. All the guys like him and he’s good at figuring things out; a lot better than me.”
All the rest of the gang hung around, trying to think of something to do. Every time an older woman would come through the station, Flash would open up his coat and expose himself to her; which always caused her to run in the opposite direction. McPuke, Zipper, Johnny, Mitch, Bozo and Sammy all put forth different ideas about having fun. Raphael only wanted to get home and study his new book.
“I need to go home early ntonight,” he complained. “I nwant to do some nstudying.”
“What are you studying?” Johnny asked
“I told you nthat I’ve got a ngirlfriend now,” he said. “I got a nbook to tell me all the nsecrets.”
He reached in his pocket and pulled out his newly procured copy of ‘The Pictorial Book of Love’. Sammy grabbed the book out of his hands and flipped through the pages. All the other guys craned their necks to get a glimpse of the dirty pictures.
“Man,” he chuckled, “this chick does it all. I hope your girlfriend has read this and knows half this stuff.”
“Let me check out that book,” Zipper commanded.
He quickly flipped through the pages and stopped at the section on oral sex. He studied each of the pictures, like a scientist examining a dish full of bacteria.
“This is my favorite right there,” he nodded. “No muss, no fuss, just get me off.”
Zipper rubbed his crotch as he ogled the pictures and the rest of the guys laughed at him. Ratso repossessed his new study guide and shoved the book deep in his coat pocket.
“Like I said,” Ratso exclaimed, “I’m going nhome to nstudy.”
With his statement, he left and headed for the subway. Daylight still shined and though he might be a little late, he would at least beat his father home. He lay about some extra duties after school. He got to thinking about the reaction of the guys when he showed them the book. He assumed his new guide must be good because even Zipper got excited.
He exuded happiness with the situation celebrated by tagging a building. Reaching into his pocket, Raphael pulled out a can of black spray paint he always carried. As he went down the tunnel to the subway, he sprayed a black line of paint on the wall above the railing. When he got to the end of the stairs, he added a downward pointing arrow at the end of the black line. Underneath he added R-F in a circle, with a zig-zag line underneath.
He stood back, admired his handiwork and got on the train to go home.