In the night, a sole light from a little stand-a-lone-lamp beams bright enough. Tiny black markings neatly arranged and spaced upon a white backsplash. Hours of staring at this portrait, vision blurs--and it’s okay when dark overcomes sight; the pressure of fingers rubbing over eyelids soothes fatigued eyes. The young man leans back in his chair, letting out a sigh while he rubs the back of his neck: You can do this. He sits back up in his chair, picks his pencil back up and back to it—it is when graphite leaves trails on college rule. Countless hardworking youths of the world are going the extra mile so that they one day can shape this world—do something great, be somebody. Though--this random American boy slumped under the glow of the little lamp, doesn’t want accolades, prestige, or the world in his hand. He strives for a more primal reason--friendship.
The midnight glow of the moon turns into the brilliance of the sun’s break. The warmness on his neck reminds him: Damn it, I’m not done. He gets up and takes a shower. He dries off and gets dressed. He makes his lunch and then heads out. He walks to the bus stop and waits.
When he gets to school, he goes to the usual spot. Ace is already there. Once Isaac is almost there, Ace starts talking, “Hey, how many dead people are in a cemetery?”
Issac shrugs; and Ace gives him the answer, “All of them.”
Issac smirks while he shakes his head. Ace continues cracking jokes; and eventually, their whole group arrives. Jeremy, Clayton, and Pual. They spend the morning talking and hanging out until the bell rings. They go to their first class, starting their school day. In between classes Issac meets up with the posse. The last bell of the day rings and the guys meet up before they head out.
Looking at Isaac, Jeremy asks, “You going to be online today?”
Issac shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”
Pual urges him. “Come on, we need you there. We got our asses kicked last night.”
Clayton is nodding to Pual’s words.
Jeremy points at Ace. “We’d be okay if someone could stop messing around for one second.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
The friends wave their goodbyes and go their separate ways. After the bus ride, once Isaac gets home, he goes straight to his room. Mind to the text, pencil to the paper. The pleasant hue that pervades past the gaps of the blinds subtly dampens as the day wears on.
The buzzing sound of Isaac’s phone, vibrating along the desk, causes him to break his concentration. He looks at his phone--it’s Ace.
Q: What has four wheels and flies?
Isaac texts Ace back.
I don’t know. What?
A few seconds later the phone, still in his hand vibrates.
A: A garbage truck.
Isaac chuckles and then gets back to his studies. He pushes through the daunting workload that is homework. The hours pass and the once warm light of the Earth’s sun is replaced by the not so warm mild-glow of the little stand-a-lone-lamp.
Isaac’s phone buzzes again. It’s Jeremy.
Please get on.
Isaac logs into his Rex Box One account. He searches his friend’s list and joins the group chat. He puts his wireless headphones on. He hears the voices of Jeremy and Clayton talking. They’re talking about the match they are playing.
“Isaac’s in,” Pual says.
“Cool,” Jeremy says. “Damn it Ace, stop fucking around. Isaac, you joining our room?”
Still sitting at his desk, Isaac speaks, “I can’t, I’m so swamped right now.”
Isaac continues with his studies. A few minutes later, he hears the guys sigh. “Damn it Ace! We lost because of you.”
Clayton speaks, “How did you tag yourself?! Can you show me how to do it.”
“Yeah, sure buddy.”
“NO—don’t show him,” Jeremy sighs, “See what I’m dealing with here. We need you in here.”
Pual is laughing all the while. Isaac, slightly amused, makes a concession, “Give me one more hour and I’ll join.”
“That’s fine with me.”
Isaac buckles down and blazes through his homework; all the while, he is listening to the commentary of his friends. He looks at the time on his phone and sees that more than an hour has passed. He logs into the online gaming world that is Rex Box One.
“Send me an invite.”
Isaac waits, and once they are out of the match that they are currently in, Jeremy sends him an invite.
They have a blast and are finally winning games even with Ace goofing around. Minutes turn into tens of minutes, and Isaac yawns as he calls out, “Alright this is the last one for me.”
While they wait for the game’s matchmaking system to find them an equally matched opponent, they do what friends do.
Jeremy pep-talks, “You guys are doing good—except you Ace. Keep up the good work.”
Pual is opening a message he just got from Ace. “Daaamn those are nice! Whose titties are those?!”
“You know that chick from the last game—her.”
Clayton is . . . –well Clayton is Clayton. “I wanna see titties.”
“The girl that told you to suck a dick?” Pual asks.
“Come on guys. Stay focused.”
“Yeah,” Ace admits.
“I wanna see titties.”
Isaac is trying to read a few pages in between matches.
“What’s taking so long?” And just as Pual says that, they get into a match; and while at the loading screen, a voice can be heard, “Yes! Titties!”
The game starts up, and all go into action—except one.
“Guys,” Jeremy explains, “these guys are ranked in the top ten!”
The battle wages on, and Jeremy’s squad is holding their own.
“Wait—where’s Clay? Clay where you at?” Jeremy does not get a reply.
Pual answers, “I think he’s handling his business.”
“Business, what are you talking about?”
Isaac answers, “He’s jacking off.”
The aggression in Jeremy’s voice is heard, “Ace, I blame you!”
“Wait, I didn’t do anything.”
Sometime later, Clayton comes back to see his team has just lost the first round of the game. With Clayton back, Ace reverts to his typical antics. And somehow they are still managing to keep up with one of the top-ranked team; until, it’s tied up, and the whole team is dead--expect Ace.
Jeremy is exasperated. “What the fuck,” speaking in regards to what he is seeing, “I have to see this guy tea-bag the wall.”
Pual chuckles. “Glad you didn’t see when he almost killed himself with a grenade—again.”
“Ace just kill yourself. Stop wasting time. We lost.”
“You don’t know. I could pull off an ultimate come back.”
Jeremy becomes severely underwhelmed, and it shows in his voice, “Dude, their whole team is alive.”
“So, I can do it—you don’t know.” Still t-bagging the wall.
Jeremy rolls his eyes. “Sure buddy. If you win, I buy lunch for everyone tomorrow.”
What happens next is difficult to explain. Let’s just say Ace stopped humping the wall.
“Alright I’m off,” Isaac says. The others say goodbye to him.
He turns off his gaming console and gets back to studying. With not getting any sleep from the last night before, he finds himself waking up with his head on the desk. The side of his face that was on the desk is all red. He drowsily looks at the time and suddenly springs into action. He takes the quickest shower of his life, and he’s out the door running to the bus stop.
Once at school the routine goes as usual. They meet up at their morning spot. At lunchtime, they hang out under the tree.
“Thanks for the lunch, man.”
“You’re welcome Ace. Why don’t you play like that all the time?”
“Yeah thanks, Jeremy,” Pual says.
The tone of Ace’s voice becomes boastful, “I don’t like to show off.”
Jeremy looks at Isaac. “I know you packed your lunch, but I’m a man of my word. One lunch is on me. Whenever you want it just ask.”
The five friends eat their lunch, and the day goes on. For the next three school years, the routine goes, for the most part, the same. Isaac spends all his after-school time struggling to finish most of his homework and only gets Cs on his assignments; while spending little moments here and there with the guys that he will come to cherish—along with Ace’s corny jokes. But somewhere in their junior year things start to change. Isaac starts, sometimes, finishing his homework before he takes a break to hang out with the guys. And he starts meeting other people that are different from the guys he grew up with.
By the swing of Senior year, Isaac doesn’t see the guys much anymore. He no longer has any classes with them, and the kids he associates with now do not mix well with the gang. As Clayton once put it, “They’re snobs. They think they’re better than us.”
The months go without much interaction with the old gang. Christmas comes around, and Isaac spends the day bonding with his family. After the family Christmas dinner, Isaac takes a mug of hot coco to his room. While he nurses the serving of coco, he fills out finical aid and browsers potential colleges he can attend in the fall. In the middle of figuring out his plan for after high school, Isaac feels the buzzing of his phone. He grabs his phone from his pocket and sees that he has a message from a number he doesn’t recognize. He opens the message and reads the text.
Q: What did the dad buffalo say to his son on the first day of school?
The message instantly puts a smile on his face. It also makes Isaac realize how much he has missed the guys. He has not gotten a text from Ace or any of the others in a long time. The last time was their junior year. Isaac eagerly types back.
I don’t know. What?
A few minutes pass. Isaac is back on his computer researching when his phone buzzes again. He looks down at the phone that is already in his hand. He opens the message and reads.
He chuckles and then texts back.
Ha ha good one.
A couple of minutes later, Isaac’s phone buzzes again. He looks and sees that it is a call from a number he does recognize. He puts the phone to his ear and talks, “Hey Jeremy.”
Straight to the point. “Me and the guys are going to see a movie. You want to come?”
Isaac grabs his jacket. “Which theater?”
“The one we used to always go to.”
“Alright, I’ll be there.”
Isaac goes to his dad and asks a favor, “Can I please take the car. I want to hang out with the guys.”
His dad thinks over the request. “You’ve been doing well.” He points his finger at his son as he continues, “You can go, but remember the deal we made.”
“Thanks, dad,” hugging his father, “believe me I haven’t forgotten.”
Isaac grabs the keys and heads out. He pulls into the parking lot. Once parked, he texts Jeremy.
His phone lights up, and he answers it, “Yeah?”
“I’m at the front. Ace, Pual, and Clayton are almost here.”
Isaac gets out of his car and goes to the front of the theater. Jeremy is waiting. These two longtime friends reacquaint with pleasantries while they wait.
Once the whole group is there, they walk in and see an action comedy. Hanging out with the friends he hasn’t seen in so long is good for Isaac’s soul. They walk out of the theater. The winter-night’s air greets them.
Clayton, wearing just a t-shirt and jeans, tucks his hands in his pockets. “Damn, it’s cool!”
“So what now?” Isaac says.
“We’re going to Greasy Joe’s.”
“Greasy Joe’s—I haven’t been there in forever.”
Jeremy invites him. “Well, come on then.”
They grab a bite to eat and hang out at Greasy Joe’s.
Just laughing it up with the guys reminds Isaac why they had become friends in the first place. He missed them—real bad, and he didn’t realize it until now.
Isaac observes that, from time to time, Clayton keeps looking back at Jeremy. Finally--Jeremy, who didn’t look like he had noticed Clayton’s glances says, not looking at Clayton, “Look, do what you want.”
Clayton perks up. He runs to the car and comes back with a box. Isaac knows what that is: Damn, I can’t believe I forgot about this.
Every Christmas, Clayton’s mom makes the boys a Christmas care package. Isaac receives the neatly wrapped gift.
With that, the good times resume. It’s late when Isaac gets back in. He goes to sleep with his spirits lifted back up—he needed that. After winter break, things go back to same-ol’-same, but the thoughts of his friends never leave him. Last he heard, they were making a splash in the gaming scene.
All of Isaac’s hard work pays off. He gets accepted by a few of the colleges that he applied for, and now, he will be going to the one of his choosing.
While Isaac is refreshing for the upcoming exams, a knock comes at his door. “Come in,” he says.
The door opens, and Isaac’s dad walks in. “I’m proud of you. You stuck to your word, and I’m a man of my word.” He walks out of Isaac’s room and comes back with a puppy in his hands. Isaac beams with joy. He takes the puppy from his dad. “Thank you so much.”
Isaac had always wanted a puppy, but he never got one. He kept pestering his parents; finally, his dad gave him a proposition. Do well in school, and they will get him a puppy.
Isaac takes Finn with him. One day while in his apartment, Isaac hears a knock on the door. He gets up and walks to the door and opens it. No one is there. He looks around and no one, so he closes the door and gets back to his studies. Time goes on, and Isaac meets a girl, her name is Amelie.
At first, things with Amelie were going great; until, one night of passionate love. It was the first time her and him connected in that way. Upon getting out of bed, Amelie begins to slip her panties back on. She starts to feel something streak across her ankle. Having just woke up, she gives a second look at her her panties and now sees a doggie turd in her undergarment. She was not amused—at all. For the next week or so they argued about Finn. She was upset that Isaac wouldn’t get rid of the dog.
From the bedroom, back and forth yelling fills the apartment.
“You’re ridiculous! Picking a dog over me?!”
Someone knocks on the door—could not be at a more inconvenient time.
“I’m not picking Finn over you!” Before he has a chance to explain, she is already at the door, explaining to him, “Don’t worry! I’ll get it.” She opens the door. The door slams behind her. Isaac opens the door to chase after her. He is paused when he realizes no one is at the door: Those damn ding-dong-ditchers. They can hear, and they still pull this shit. He sighs and quietly goes back in. He knows there is no use going after her—she has made up her mind.
He sits down at his desk and finishes up his assignments. The way he sees it—no use in dwelling on the past. His phone buzzes; and Isaac smiles, it text from Ace.
A man goes to a $10 hooker and contracts crabs. When he goes back to complain, the hooker laughs and says, “What do you expect for $10 -- lobster?”
Isaac chuckles, thinking to himself: Man, I needed that. He texts his long-time buddy.
Good one. :DD
The years fly. The girls come and go, in that order; and Isaac gets a bachelor’s degree. He progresses through in his professional life. He has even met a new woman. Her name is Milena. And things are going great. And on a fateful winter night, the true test comes.
Looking out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, Milena admires the view, the gentle snowfall over the twinkle-lit city below.
Isaac comes from behind and hands her a mug of apple cider. Her eyes connect with his. “Thank you,” She says.
She can’t help but admire him. All the time she has spent with him and spent learning him. She now knows he the guy for her. She drapes her free-arm around his shoulders and kisses him. They kiss and kiss. After some time of making out, she pulls away from him. She walks to the kitchen counter and sets her mug down. She comes back to him and this time when she looks at him—Isaac knows. He has seen that look plenty of times; pupils dilated, lips slightly parted with cheeks flushed, and he knows it means only one thing.
He hesitates: If I show her how I feel—the same thing is going to happen. He really wants this one to workout—Milena is so different from the other girls he has loved. He can’t explain it—it’s the way she is, she’s different. He pulls away because he wants to keep her. She grabs his hand, and he knows what that means. It means he is going to put his hand on her hip. His hand firmly pushes against the fabric of her dress. His finger glides across the material until his palm is on the small of her back. She begins to kiss him uncontrollably, and he knows what that means. It means He’s going to make her moan. His dick pushes against her mid-section. His blood pulsing so hard, it entices her; while still kissing him, she undoes each button of his shirt. His shirt falls to the floor, and she raises her arms up. He lifts the dress off her. At the tease of her nearly-naked body, his mind goes into a fit. The look in him, she thinks she knows what that means; the piercing eyes and increasingly red skin; so it is a shock to her when in the middle of her striptease, he rushes her and takes her down. She hurries up and gets naked. She thought she knew what it meant, but she was wrong—she didn’t know. It meant she didn’t have to rush—take your time girl.
Three days later, Milena wakes up. She takes a moment to admire the man lying next to her. She plants her feet on the floor and stands up. Still weak from the sex, she wobbles to the floor. She crawls up on the bed. She grabs her panties; eyes still blurry from the sex, she doesn’t notice; until her foot feels something as she starts to slip on her panties. She screams in disgust. The sound of his woman’s distress causes him to blot into action. His arms around her. “What’s going—” He stops mid-thought as his mind comes back to reality, and he remembers why didn’t want to go down this path.
He lets go of her. Sitting on the other side of the bed, he speaks to her, back facing her, “I’m sorry about that,” sighing for he knows what’s coming next, “I guess you’ll call me. . .”
She wipes the shit of her leg. “Yeah . . .” Without another word, she gets dressed and leaves. Isaac gets up and throws away the shit-filled panties. He washes his hands serval times. Isaac makes french toast and separates the pile into two stacks. He puts one of the plates on the ground because you can’t forget a friend. An aged and gray-hair dog comes moseying along. The thirty-something-year-old man sprinkles a little powder sugar on the french toast that is on the ground because that’s how Finn like them. He pets man’s best friend: You’re a good boy. I don’t care what anyone says.
Isaac grabs his plate and sits at the table. After breakfast, he takes a shower. He checks the mail and see’s he has one of Mrs. Rin’s famous Christmas care-packages. The deed reminds him of the importance of family. He decides to fly back home for the holidays.
He makes a call. “Hey, where you guys at?”
“We’re in Indonesia.” Jeremy answers.
“Where you guys staying? I’m coming over.”
“I put you on speakerphone.” The voices of the other guys come back at Isaac. They go over the details; and eight hours later, Isaac is back home. The days pass, and the guys live it up. Spending time back home gets Isaac feeling right—like it always does.
When he gets back to his condo, he picks his phone off the kitchen counter. He sees that he has a missed call from Milena. He calls her back. She doesn’t answer, and he hangs up before the sound of the beep. He tries again; and this time she answers, “Hello.”
“I was away visiting some friends. My phone has been here the whole time.”
“I think my woman should spend time with her man.”
She hangs up. About an hour later, a knock comes at the door. Isaac opens the door, and it’s her—Milena.
Their relationship rekindles, and everything is going great. Milena and Isaac are even looking into buying a house they can turn into a home. Then one day there is a knock at the door. Isaac is in his study, and Milena is in the bedroom. They both get up to answer the door.
Milena calls out, “I got it—I’m closer.” She gets to the door before Isaac and opens it. No one is there.
Isaac, who is a few feet behind her, explains, “Damn, pranksters.”
She looks back at the dog. “You’re a funny guy aren’t you?”
Isaac looks at his friend. “Finn? No—he’s a dog.”
She points. “Look, he’s even smiling.”
“Nah that’s just his face.” Then Isaac’s face displays a broad range of emotions as he thinks about it, and it makes sense: Damn, she’s right. It’s been him the whole time.
Astonished and amused, he calls over Finn, “Come on boy—who’s my funny-boy?”
Finn walks over, wagging his tail; he gladly accepts the affection. “You are—yes you are.”
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