Chapter 9 – Hanging out
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
The next morning, all the signs of the game are gone, and school returned back to normal again, causing me to feel slightly disappointed because I once again am the misfit in here.
But, for one day, I felt a bit more normal and I actually told doctor Delgado about it. Off course, since he and Calo came up with the idea together, he already knew about the plan. I just excitedly told him about the outcome and he seemed pleased with the results.
But as I said, school returned back to normal and I’m accompanied by Calo towards our first class of the day. Not only did I make a friend, not only did he prove to me he is indeed a loyal friend, he shares all my classes too. We have the exact same schedule and I’m thankful for faith unwinding in a way that I am now constantly accompanied by a friend.
‘Okay, you just need to explain one thing.’ I stop Calo from entering the classroom. ‘When did you do it? I can’t, for the life of me, figure out when you did it, no matter how much help you had.’
Calo chuckles and shrugs, before he hops his way into the classroom casually.
‘Hey look, it’s Crazy Calo –,’ Jimmy calls out in mock.
‘Really?’ Calo frowns, while I hopped in behind him. ‘Crazy Calo? That’s all you can come up with?’
‘What, it’s true, huh?’ Jimmy shrugs and smirks, though his face flushed a bit. ‘You are crazy for wanting to hang out with Prima Ballerina.’
Calo pinches the bridge of his nose, seemingly a bit annoyed, while I stand beside him, not knowing if and how to respond. ‘Could you, maybe, try to like, get those two braincells of yours to work together and come up with a decent insult? This is just too easy.’ Calo shrugs it off, heading over to our desks.
‘Too easy?’ Luke calls after him. ‘You just don’t know anything to throw back at us. You’re a loser…’
‘Oh, just because I choose not to lower to a level that the two of you would understand, doesn’t mean that I can’t come up with the same level of insults, let alone better ones.’
‘Yeah? Then why don’t you try?’ Jimmy dares him with a smirk on his face.
‘Let me see. Same level, huh?’ Calo turns around in his seat while I start to put my stuff in the right place. ‘Jackass Jimmy and Lameass Luke. Or, more suiting, Jizzy Jimmy and Lezzie Luke.’
‘Lezzie?’ They both frown, before laughing at Calo. ‘That’s so lame…’
‘It means lesbian.’ I roll my eyes. ‘Homosexual, you know? That’s why he said more suiting. Jizzy as in Jizz, semen, cum?’ I can’t help but laugh out now. ‘Jizzy Jimmy and Lezzie Luke, those are pretty funny, Cay.’
‘Wait a minute, are you insinuating that I’m gay?’ Luke fumes in anger now, while the whole class became silent, looking back and forth between them and us.
‘Wow, big words for a two celled brain.’ Calo mumbles as he puts his stuff in the right place too. ‘Not only gay, but female too.’
‘You better watch your mouth, Delgado.’
‘Or else?’ Calo turned around in his seat to look at them with an unimpressed look on his face. ‘Or did you forget the fact you got beaten by a girl? I’m not afraid of you.’
The class chuckles, and some even laugh at Luke without trying to hide it. It’s simply awesome to see someone put them in their place for once. Or for someone to be popular enough to cause people to openly laugh at Luke and Jimmy. I’ve never seen it happen before, let alone the fact that very same popular guy wants to be my friend.
I’m foolishly grinning, sitting down in content, as Calo further ignores Luke and Jimmy, who can’t really do much since Mrs. Gabriel just walked in.
‘So, let’s pretend those dipshits didn’t interrupt our conversation, what was your question?’ Calo casually finished setting up his table, smiling at the result.
‘Your brushes…’ I point. ‘Let me…’ I want to move them slightly to the right, as they aren’t exactly in the right place. ‘Sorry, no, it’s your stuff…’ I roll my eyes. ‘When did you turn the school into one big playground?’
‘Go ahead, Neo, if it’ll make you feel better, move whatever you want.’ Calo gestures for me to go ahead, causing my face to flush.
Why would it even bother me that his stuff is out of place?
Because he’s now my friend, right? I have to take care of him too. From now on, I can’t mess up cutting my bread in four pieces, or he will be sick. I lean in to move his brushes, awkwardly smiling at Calo. ‘You didn’t answer my question.’
He chuckles, observing what I’m changing about his stuff. ‘I’ll tell you, if you explain why you have to place stuff in this way.’
I frown, staring down at my stuff in wonder.
What exactly is the reason I’m putting stuff in the places they are in? I’m biting on the inside of my cheek, trying to remember the reason I started this habit. ‘I don’t know, I just have to.’ I shrug, feeling stupid for not remembering the reason, while the first day I met Calo, I freaked out because he moved my notebook. And now I can’t recall the initial doom-scenario that is connected to this habit? ‘I’ve been doing it for four years and I never tried what happens if I don’t…’
Calo stares at me with a plain expression, no laughter, no mocking. ‘Tell me when you remember.’
‘But, I don’t.’ I whisper, still staring at my stuff confused and embarrassed.
‘Hey, it’s no big deal…’ Calo starts to sound awkward too.
‘It is, Calo.’ I stare at him with wide eyes. ‘I’ve been doing this for four years, with no apparent reason. I freak out whenever things aren’t in the right place, without knowing what it is I freak out about!’
Calo stares back and forth between me and my stuff before he leans in and shoves my pencils to the side. ‘Now tell me what you think.’
I stare at the pencils, while panic rises as they’re rolling further and further away form their spot. My hands are itching to move them back and it’s my initial reaction; to grab the pencils and put them back in their right places, in the right order.
‘I don’t now.’ I mutter. ‘I just have to.’
‘Okay, so it’s just because it feels right, huh?’ Calo smiles, satisfied with the answer, but not calming me down in any way. I’m not happy with the answer, I just don’t have a different answer right now. ‘They helped. My parents, my brothers, my sisters. My brothers’ girlfriends and Harper’s boyfriend.’ Calo gets up from his seat to grab his work.
I’m following him hesitantly, still fuzzing over my stupid brain not being capable of remembering the reason of one of my habits.
‘My dad is best friends with Principal Jameson.’ Calo continues. ‘So, he arranged for me that Jameson would let us in at six, so we could prepare the game.’
‘Jameson knew? And he allowed it?’
’Let’s say dad talked him into it. He wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about it, but he simply offered us entrance and left, pretending he didn’t know jack about it.
‘Oh, right. So, you came here at six in the morning to do all of this? How many brothers and sisters do you have?’
‘Six, two sisters, four brothers, three girlfriends and a boyfriend. And of course, Seino’s best friend, because Priyaav is always in for some fun…’
‘They all helped you out?’
‘And dad did too.’
‘But they don’t even know me.’
‘Yeah, but I do.’ He shrugs. ‘And since you’re my friend, you’re their friend too. It’s just how my family works.’
I stare at him with my mouth slightly agape. Not that I consider myself their friend, since I’ve never met his family, but to hear him say that nearly a dozen people came to school to do this for me, considering me to be their friend, simply because Calo considers me as his friend, is warming my heart.
‘I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come over after school? Meet my family and hang out with me? We could play videogames or whatever.’
‘What? Y-you want me to… come over?’
‘Yeah, that’s what friends to, right?’
I send him a dry deadpanning look. ‘I don’t know what friends do, Cay. I never had one, remember.’
‘Oh… right.’ He scratches the back of his head. ’I keep forgetting because I find it hard to believe that nobody noticed Favreyou are.’
I can’t help but laugh out a bit, shaking my head in disbelieve, before I decide on focussing on my drawing. ‘Sure, I’ll come over. But, if I want to go home, I go home. No discussion whatsoever.’
‘I’ll even make Lorenzo bring you home with the speed of light if needed.’
‘My older brother. He’s the only one of us old enough to drive. Dad will be home late from work and mom is always too busy with whatever it is she’s doing.’
‘But cool, text your mom, tell her we’ll drop you off whenever you want to go home.’
I stare with wide eyes as Lorenzo steers the car towards a huge mansion, of which I know was build last year. Now that I know Calo lives in the huge mansion that was talk of the town for months, I can’t help but wonder where they used to live before moving in here. Calo mentioned his brother Seino’s best friend Prayaav helped to turn the school into a playground, so I don’t think they used to live far away. But I’ve never heard of a guy called Seino in school, nor have I heard about anyone else called Delgado as new students.
‘Hey, Cay?’ I turn around to watch him, as he politely told me to take a seat in the car wherever I wanted - I prefer the front seat - and wait until he looks up from his phone. ‘Where did you go to school before you came to Haven?’
Calo’s face changes shortly, some sort of fear flashing before his eyes. Then he shortly looks towards Lorenzo in the back mirror and I wonder if I asked a wrong question.
‘Sorry, it’s none of my business. Forget I asked,’ I mutter embarrassed, turning back around, but not without missing the small smile that crept onto his face.
‘It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Cal.’ Lorenzo tells him with a plain voice. ‘If anyone would understand...’
‘I’m just not proud and you know I ain’t,’ Calo coldly answers, before sighing deeply. ‘North Haven institution.’ He whispers, causing my head to snap back up in shock.
‘You went to North Haven?’
‘Because I’ve been chronically depressed since birth.’ He shrugs.
‘But...’ I want to say all these things. Like how it doesn’t make any sense. Calo is so... not depressed. ‘So...’
Lorenzo parks the car but for some reason, neither him nor Calo moves to get out.
‘You... are you...’
‘Just ask, Ne. I ask you enough questions.’ Calo sounds a bit annoyed.
‘It’s a mask, huh?’ I turn back around to look at him, while I notice Lorenzo smiling at me from the corner of my eyes. ‘The cheerful you? It’s an act.’
‘Most of the time, yeah.’ Calo stares right back at me, face without an expression. ‘That’s all you have to ask?’
‘There’s about a gazillion questions all fighting inside my mind. But I’m used to chaos and I, for one, hate a crossfire with questions.’
Lorenzo is now smirking. ‘See? If anyone understands, it’s Neo.’
‘I just...’ I take in a deep breath. ‘Principal Jameson said something about them constantly advising my parents to send me there.’
‘You don’t belong there.’ Calo shakes his head, opening the car door. ‘And I don’t belong there anymore either.’
‘That’s good, I think. I mean... you’re feeling good enough to conquer Jizzy Jimmy and Lezzie Luke.’
It causes Calo to let out a roaring laugh. As soon as I get out of the car, he smiles at me thankfully.
‘Is that why you decided not to go along with the rest? Be my friend?’
‘No, honestly, you are Favre. The rest is boring. I can’t stand boring people.’ He chuckles, surprising me by putting an arm around my shoulder, pulling me towards the front door. ‘Welcome to Casa Delgado.’ He hums, while I wonder why my mind isn’t completely freaking out because he’s touching me. But then I remember the fact it was Calo who carried me out of the showers at school. He’s the one that carried me to the car, and home.
I guess I feel safe enough to allow him to come this close, without completely freaking out, wanting to shower and scrub for hours.
‘What’s wrong?’ He asks as soon as we hopped inside, suddenly realizing he is touching me. ‘Oh, shit. I didn’t think.’
‘No, it’s... okay. I’m okay.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Harper!’ Ah screeching female voice sounds angrily from above us. ‘Give me back MY dress!’
‘You never wear it!’ Another female voice sounds in annoyance, voice lifted to half a shout. ‘Stop being a bitch!’
‘It’s mine! You freaking kleptomaniac!’
‘Welcome to my world.’ Calo grins, staring upwards too. ‘Those two would be my sisters, Harper and Yasmine. Let’s meet them later.’ He gestures for me to follow, heading into a large office in the front of the house. There’s three computers and a wall full of books. Calo dumps his backpack by one of the desks and I follow his lead.
‘Wanna meet Seino?’ Calo is leaving the office again and I follow him hesitantly. At least the house looks clean and I don’t have to worry much about germs.
Even the windows look flawless, the cabinets and closets are all free from dust and there’s a faint smell of cleaning supplies filling the air.
‘Do you wanna meet him? Or anyone? Or you wanna go up and play videogames?’
‘No, I want to meet them.’ I shrug shuffling a foot back and forth. ‘They helped, right?’
‘Yeah, they did.’
‘I want to thank them.’
‘Oh, you don’t have to...’
‘But I want to. Nobody has every done something for me. Let alone people who don’t even know me.’
‘Well, if you insist.’ He smiles. ‘They didn’t mind turning school into a kindergarten. I bet they all wish they could do the same in their school.’
‘How old are they anyway?’
‘Lorenzo is nineteen, Seino seventeen, the rest is fifteen.’
‘Wait, you’re seventeen, right?’
‘Yeah, you catch on quick. Seino is my twin brother; my younger siblings are a quadruplet.’
I can feel my eyebrows fly upwards in surprise. ‘Wow. Quadruplets?’
‘Mom had trouble conceiving, and then the treatment was really successful.’ Calo chuckles again, but ever since knowing he is chronically depressed, I wonder how many times he forces himself to smile, chuckle or laugh without feeling it. I, for one, do it all the time. ‘Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have two sisters. They’re terrible at times...’
‘Don’t say that,’ I tell him sadly, ‘Mom wanted more kids... she should’ve had two more...’
Calo looks at me confused.
’I had a baby brother who was born dead at five months, and Pyper had a twin sister who died two hours after birth. I wishI had two sisters...′
‘Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. I didn’t really... I mean... Ne, I didn’t mean it in a bad way.’
‘I know. Just, be careful what you wish for.’
He nods while taking in a deep breath. ‘I love them endlessly. Just wish they wouldn’t fight all the time.’
‘They’re girls, they’ll fight. But I think if the need each other, they’re there to help.’
‘Oh, they are.’ Calo grins and there’s a twinkle in his eyes that causes me to smile too. ‘Only when dad forces them. Yasmine always runs to Lorenzo, while Harper is more my buddy and comes to me for help.’
‘So, you’re close with Harper?’
‘Yeah, but Seino and I are like two peas in a pot. We are twins, and its noticeable in everything. How we act, how we look, how we think... minus my darks thoughts. Those are mine and mine alone.’