The clock had stopped at 11:32, and no matter how hard the second hand tried, it just couldn't force itself to move forward. From her cocoon of blankets and sheets, Rosaline Finster stared at the clock on her bedside table through a small hole in her covers. While the rest of her body was toasty, her eyes were cold and dreary. The bitter climax to the previous night still played in her mind.
Her fist shot out of her covers and pounded into the face of her alarm clock. The thing noisily fell to the floor with a loud ding from the bells. Rosaline violently kicked the blankets off of her and jumped out of her bed before the sheets had settled back down. She stood erect, her feet together and her arms out as if she was making the shape of a lower case t. Then in one quick motion, Rosaline ripped off the tank top and panties she had been sleeping in.
In the shower, she ferociously scrubbed the shampoo and conditioner into her brown hair that stretched to her shoulder blades. After rinsing off the coat of soap that she had applied to every inch of her pale body, Rosaline stepped out of the shower to face herself in the foggy mirror that tends to come with a steamy bathroom. Wiping away the moisture with her hand, she smiled at her reflection. She cupped her breasts with her hands and squeezed them slightly. She turned sideways and gazed at them with displeasure. Then she used her left arm to cover her breasts and placed her right hand between her thighs. Her eyes were half closed and her mouth was open like an o. Then with a cocky smile, she stuck out her chest and placed her hands on her hips. She wiggled her eyebrows and grabbed a towel.
Wrapped in the white towel, she quickly tiptoed back to her bedroom. Rosaline hastily squeezed into a tight pair of jeans shorts and a white t-shirt that left her midriff bare. She tied her hair into a ponytail as she replaced the alarm clock on her end table before grabbing a stuffed duffle bag. The clock read 12:05 when she left her bedroom.
Rosaline took the stairs two at a time as she bound toward the kitchen, where her younger brother sat at the table with a bowl of cheerios in front of him. Rosaline ran in with the stuffed duffle, knocking several cans and boxes off the counter as she searched through the cupboards and refrigerator.
"I don't see why you get to go to the beach all summer, while I'm stuck at home," he said, shoveling the cereal into his mouth.
"I asked you if you wanted to come with me, Chuck," Rosaline said, her hand searching blindly through the contents on the top shelf.
"I don't," Chuck answered, "I know how you high schoolers screw around when you're all alone, and I want no part of that."
"Some day you will," Rosaline teased, "And besides, I already promised Mom and Dad that I'd do no screwing this summer, and my word's as good as gold."
"Did you know a piece of gold this big can be flattened to cover an entire tennis court?" Chuck asked.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Rosaline asked, stuffing an apple in her mouth.
"I was making a comparison."
"I don't have time for your metaphors."
"It wasn't really a metaphor."
"Well, you're holding me up. I've got the summer of a lifetime awaiting me. Have fun with Mom and Pops," Rosaline said, sticking her tongue out as she left the kitchen.
Rosaline practically kicked the front door open before she ran into the front yard, where her mother was on hands and knees pulling weeds.
"Bye Mom, see you in a few weeks," Rosaline said as she ran by.
"Rosaline wait," her mother called as she stood up, "What happened last night, why did you come home crying?"
"Oh don't worry about that, Mom," Rosaline said, smiling.
"Did something happen with Blake?" Mom tried.
"Of course not; nothing happened," Rosaline reassured her mother, "Mom, I've got to go. The guys are waiting."
"Okay, it's just that I worry about you sometimes."
"I'm fine; I've got the whole summer ahead of me. There are endless opportunities on the horizons."
"It makes me uneasy when you say stuff like that," a balding man in a polo shirt with a newspaper in hand said from behind her, "I have to say, I'm not too comfortable with you spending the whole summer in a cabin with four teenage boys."
"Dad, I'll be as responsible as I always am. No need to worry yourself," Rosaline said.
"Rosaline, I…" he started but was cut off by his daughter insisting on leaving. She planted a kiss on his cheek, waved to her mother, and darted off down the street with her oversized duffle bag on her back. "That girl," her father said as he shook his head.
Two teenage boys stood side-by-side, each indulging in their own choice of literature in front of the magazine rack at a grocery store. The shorter of the two, David Hassle, had sandy blonde hair and pale skin. His eyes darted from right to left as he read a comic book starring the same Japanese character that was printed on his white t-shirt, but was slightly covered by the short sleeved blue button-up shirt he wore over it. The slightly taller boy, Albert Hans, had two golden hoop earrings, slicked back black hair, sunglasses positioned low on his nose, and a white tank top with a black x across his chest. He stared attentively at the magazine he held, showing a picture of two scantily clad women embracing and blushing as they brought their lips tantalizingly close.
Carrie Connors yawned as she stood behind the two boys. She pulled her cell phone out of her purse, but due to the lack of messages, all she had to check was the time. Her friend was running late, as usual. Carrie had grown bored just standing there. Her eyes wandered to the boys, and unconsciously, she looked over Al's shoulder and caught a glimpse at the lewd pictures. She blushed, but couldn't take her eyes off of the well endowed females.
Catching sight of Carrie's wandering eyes, Al asked, "You want to look, Carrie?" and held the magazine out for her to see.
Carrie immediately turned her head and stepped back, "N-n-no, no thank you; I don't really like porn," she said, her voice growing quieter as she spoke. She adjusted her glasses and redid one of her pigtails to hide her beet-red face.
"It's not porn; no one's actually getting it on. It's more like a strip tease," Al explained, wagging his finger like he was giving a lecture.
"Is that supposed to make it better?" David asked, turning his attention away from his manga.
"Sure, porn is bad, but this is fun for the whole family," Al said.
"I'd hate to see what kind of fun your family has," David said bitterly.
"Now, see here," Al said turning the page and holding the magazine out in front of him, "this is good stuff." David and Carrie looked at the page from over Al's shoulders. David grimaced, Carrie blushed even more, and Al's smile grew three sizes.
"This kind of stuff makes me sick," David groaned.
"Are you kidding? It's beautiful," Al said loudly.
Embarrassed, Carrie quickly shuffled to the opposite side of the store away from the two boys who went on to debate the morality of the magazine's contents, as well as the picture quality.
In the small, yet crowded, parking lot at the side of the convenience store was a parked blue SUV packed with the luggage of five teenagers. Franklin Urban, a classic muscular football player with shoulder length blonde hair, wearing a red t-shirt with a yellow stripe across the chest, pawed through the ice chest that was squeezed into the trunk of his car.
"I'm telling you, Bro. I just couldn't stop thinking about her last night," Frankie said as he searched, "She's such a great girl. We've been friends for years, but ya know what, I think I'm in love."
Reclining in the back seat of the car was Ronald Kelley, referred to by everyone as R-Kelley. The svelte teenage boy had messy black hair tucked back by the backwards baseball cap that he always wore. He wore shorts, flip-flops, and a black tank top. At that moment his hat was covering his eyes as he lay silently as Frankie spoke.
"I'm serious, I'm crazy about her. She's so full of life, and she's funny and smart, you know, when she chooses to be," Frankie continued, "Aw, Mom packed hotdogs. I wonder if they sell real meat in there. Bro, I've decided. I'm not going to let this summer go by. I'm going to tell Rosaline how I feel. You going to back me up?" He stared at his companion. "Thanks pal, I can always count on you." He patted a golden retriever on the head. "Hey Bro Dog, make sure no one steals anything from R-Kelley while he's sleeping." Frankie instructed before heading to the store.
Bro Dog wandered around the car and jumped in through the open door. The retriever placed his paws on the seat and began licking the crotch of R-Kelley's pants. The boy jolted from his nap.
"Oh Bro Dog, sorry but I don't like you like that," he said before lying back down. However, when the dog continued licking, R-Kelley sat up again; "And by that I mean, knock it off," he ordered, pushing the dog away. He then rubbed his pants and held it to his nose. "Oh man, I wonder what I spilled," he queried out loud before lying down to continue his nap.
As Frankie headed to the store where the others were waiting, he caught sight of Rosaline running uncontrollably down the sidewalk, her ability to stop scuttled by her heavy duffle bag. Frankie put one foot back and raised his arms. He was forced back several inches when she crashed into his chest.
"Rosaline, are you okay?" Frankie asked, concerned yet happy to have the girl of his dreams in his arms.
"Frankie! Sup?" she said in a deep voice as she punched him in the chest. "Are you ready for the greatest summer evah?"
"Hell yeah!" Frankie shouted, giving her a high-five, "But Rosaline, did something happen to Blake? He sent me a text message at three o'clock in the morning saying that he wasn't coming with us."
She sneered and looked away; "Forget about him. We just decided that only one of us could go this year, and I insisted that it was me. After all, I have to protect Carrie," she explained.
"Protect her from what?" Frankie asked.
"Well, it's your fault; inviting that pervert."
"You mean Al?"
"No, not Al. I meant that David Hassle."
"You know, just because he likes anime, it doesn't make him a pervert," Frankie tried to explain.
"Are you stupid? Those monstrosities are riddled with nothing but panty shots, erotic situations, and over-inflated boobs the size of Texas," she ranted, "Only freaks watch that trash."
Al shouted out Rosaline's name before running up to hug her. He tightly squeezed her body, enjoying every moment that her breasts were pressed against his chest. His smile was filled with ecstasy.
"Oh, I'm so glad you're here," he cried, "You bought that great bikini I showed you, right?"
"I sure did," Rosaline said proudly, "and if I do say so myself, I look pretty damn hot."
"That's great," he said, releasing Rosaline and checking to make sure his digital camera was fully functional.
The gang then raced to the car. Al not only called shotgun but also made it to the coveted seat first. The remaining four squeezed into the back seat with Bro Dog sitting in what little leg room remained. Carrie and David both sat by the windows with Rosaline and R-Kelley between them. They waited until Frankie got back to the car, heroically cradling a package of sausages in his arm like a football.
"It's alright now guys; we can leave," he said, holding up his prize, "I've retrieved the bratwursts."
"Why did you buy those?" Rosaline asked from inside the car.
"I bought them because the bratwurst is the superior sausage," he declared, kneeling down and holding them out as if he were proposing.
"Meh, I really prefer regular wieners. Having one of those weird looking sausages in my mouth gives me the creeps," Rosaline stated seriously, crossing her arms and inadvertently sending Al into hysterical laughter.
An hour later, Frankie sat in the driver's seat of his SUV, speeding down the freeway with both his and Al's windows open. The wind tunnel effect that this created sent their hair into a torrent along with all the trash that littered the car floor. A plastic bag floated in front of Frankie's face on its way out the open window, only to be quickly plucked out of the air by the driver.
"Nice catch," Al said as he took the bag from Frankie and tossed it out his window.
"Al!" Frankie yelled.
"Don't litter. I could get fined," Frankie lectured.
"Don't worry man," Al said smiling, "if that happened we'd all help pay."
"I wouldn't," Rosaline interjected.
"Me neither," David and Carrie added.
"You guys are so mean. How could you leave Frankie out in the cold like that?" Al said. Frankie punched him gently in the arm.
Several minutes later, Rosaline's head sunk low. As Carrie began to check if she was asleep, Rosaline spoke in a low voice. "Gentlemen and David, it is summer, summer vacation, the pride of our youth, the pinnacle days of our teenage years. If we let it slide by we will forever regret it. I can't allow us to waste our time by becoming frivolous lay-abouts. That is why," she quickly raised her head with shining, passionate eyes, "we must all make summer goals, plans so that we never lose focus on what we are doing this summer.
"Al, what are you going to accomplish this summer?" Rosaline asked, leaning forward and placing her hand on Al's shoulder, but before he could answer, she began again, "I'll tell you what I'm doing." Rosaline leaned back and slowly clenched her fists in front of her face, "I'm going to have a hot summer romance with a hot summer guy!"
"What happened to Blake?" Carrie tried to ask. She was ignored, however, when Rosaline quickly inquired as to Frankie's summer goal.
"I wouldn't mind having a hot summer romance with a hot beach beauty," Frankie answered.
"Aw yeah, Frankie; that's the spirit," she yelled excitedly before turning menacingly towards Carrie, "And I know my little Carrie will join me in the summer romance. This sexy beast will have all the guys staring, right Carrie?" she said gleefully as she wrapped her arms around the smaller girl, unconsciously pushing Carrie's face into her breasts.
Carrie blushed as her eyes became locked on Rosaline's exposed cleavage, a sight that Al witnessed through the rearview mirror. His eyebrow rose from curiosity. While still fondling Carrie, Rosaline asked Al what he wanted to do over the summer.
"Oh I'm going to enjoy the scenery like no other. No busty babe or luscious goddess will elude my sights this summer," he proudly announced.
"Oh my God, you're a poet. I love you, Al," Rosaline yelled excitedly, "How 'bout you, R-Kelley." She nudged the boy next to her.
"I'd like to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on during the school year," R-Kelley quickly answered with a light smile.
"Oh c'mon, is that all?" Rosaline said with some disappointment, still embracing Carrie.
"Well, I'd like to…" David began before being cut off.
"We all know what you want to do," Rosaline said, releasing Carrie and wagging her finger, "you want to see how many times you can jerk off this summer, right? Such a pervert." She shrugged to indicate how hopeless he was.
"That's not true at all," David yelled angrily, "And why did you exclude me when you said 'gentlemen?'"
"Because I wouldn't call a pervert, like you, a gentleman," Rosaline quickly said, puffing her cheeks and crossing her arms.
"What about Carrie? Weren't you addressing her, too?"
"Carrie is my best friend; it was implied I was talking to her. Why are you such a jerk?"
"Why are you such a bitch?"
"Say that again freak!" Rosaline yelled angrily as she leaned over R-Kelley to stare down the fuming face of David.
"Hey! You stop fighting or I'll turn this car around!" Frankie yelled from the driver's seat.
"Sorry, Dad," the two said in unison as they sat back in their own seats.
Soon after, David sank into his own mind as he gazed out the window. The street signs passed quickly by. The fields where cows were laying seemed endless. He thought of nothing; his mind seemed empty as he took in the scenery. But he wasn't admiring it, just passing by, becoming mesmerized. His eyelids grew heavy, wishing he could fall asleep. He crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat, allowing his head to rest on the cushion. David closed his eyes slowly, until "bathroom" was screamed from next to him.
With his eyes bugging out, R-Kelley had ripped himself out of his own slumber with a yell that pierced the eardrums of the other passengers. R-Kelley explained that his dream had involved a bathroom in a way he didn't feel like explaining and that he didn't really have to use the bathroom. However, once the subject was brought up, Carrie announced that she wouldn't mind taking a rest stop. Frankie took the SUV off the freeway and parked in the lot of a shopping complex.
The six teenagers departed the car, leaving Bro Dog on the back seat. As they crossed the parking lot, they were noticed by a group of guys gathering around a bench. Gibberish, that is something the teenagers couldn't understand, began spewing from the mouths of the guys. They yelled angrily, made gestures, and laughed as the teenagers walked by, confusion smeared across their faces.
"What the hell was that?" Rosaline asked angrily after they entered a smoothie shop.
"Are they high?" Al asked.
"I wouldn't be surprised," Frankie mumbled, "just ignore them."
As Carrie used the restroom and Frankie bought a smoothie (strawberry with a boost for immunity), a mischievous smile crawled across Al's mouth. He had been watching the men outside, who still hovered around the bench outside the store. They were not the kind of men most parents would want their kids hanging out with. Wearing tattered and unwashed clothing, they horsed around outside, pushing and laughing, cigarettes in hand.
Al lifted himself off of the stool he had been occupying and headed for the door.
"Where're you going?" Rosaline asked.
"To go start a stirring conversation with those fine boys out there," Al said, motioning to the guys.
"Alphonse, Frankie said we should just ignore them," David said.
"Frankie says a lot of things. C'mon this'll be fun," Al said.
"But…" David started before Rosaline placed her hand across his face and forced him backwards.
"Do it Al; I want to see this," she said eagerly. With a nod, Al opened the door and went up to the gang. Rosaline, David, and R-Kelley watched attentively, their faces up against the window, from inside the shop.
Every member of the gang turned to face Al as he approached. Seeing that only one of the men was actually sitting on the bench, Al stuck his hand out towards the short man with slick-backed hair.
"Allo thar, gov'na," Al said with a smile, "Ow's ahwl t'afternoon?"
To Al's surprise, none of them laughed or even acted like he did something odd. He wondered if they really thought he was British. They must've been morons.
The sitting man acted as if he was going to shake Al's hand, but quickly went to fix his hair instead, causing his gang to laugh at Al's rejection.
"Hey man, you was with that tall girl that walked by, right?" the man asked through dark teeth.
"Aye sir," Al affirmed, keeping up his questionable accent.
"Tell me, man, how much for a night with her?" the man asked, earning chuckles from his associates.
"Ah, I see whatch'ur getting at now, sar. A mighty fine garl that one, quite a piece. All the fruit's riponed to pahfection, aye?" Al said, causing more laughs from the gang.
"What'd he say?" Rosaline asked from inside the store.
"I don't know, but I could guess," David said, grimacing as he watched Al move his hands down his body, highlighting curves that didn't exist.
R-Kelley got up from his stool, saying, "Rosaline, dare me to go out there."
"I dare you to go out there," Rosaline quickly said.
"I dare you not to go out there," David jumped in.
"Okay, I'm going out there," R-Kelley said, exiting the shop.
David and Rosaline watched intensely; David bit his lower lip as the tension grew inside him, while Rosaline's smile took up half her face. Frankie came up behind them, saw R-Kelley and Al and asked what they were doing, to which Rosaline responded, "Making friends."
"What are you all looking at?" Carrie asked as she joined her group.
"R-Kelley and Al are about to be killed," Rosaline answered enthusiastically.
"Really? Shouldn't we help them?" Carrie asked, but no one said anything.
From the air conditioned safety of the smoothie shop, the four teenagers watched a muted version of Al and R-Kelley, as if they were witnessing an old comedy skit in black and white. R-Kelley had approached Al and wrapped his arm around his waist. He and Al both started laughing and poking and groping each other. All the while, the gang had grown silent, staring wide-eyed, with building tension going unnoticed by Al and R-Kelley.
Suddenly the group of teenage spectators lunged forward with shock. Those who had been sitting left their stools abandoned and gazed out the window, bringing their faces even closer to the glass.
Outside, a man from the group at the bench stood up and lifted up Al by his tank top. Al lost his smile, and stared through his small sunglasses at the mustachioed face of the man preventing his escape. His eyes were panicked, pupils dilated, teeth clenched.
"Hey you little fag," was all that could escape the man's mouth before R-Kelley landed a punch in the side of his jaw. R-Kelley quickly grabbed Al and ran away from the men, who at first tried to tend to their comrade, but then abandoned him to pursue Al and R-Kelley.
David, Frankie, and Carrie witnessed the event with open mouths, but Rosaline beamed the bright smile of a goddess. She led the way out the door, with her friends at her heels, lightly jogging towards where the gang had followed their panicked friends. They found them conversing in a huddle outside a pharmacy on the opposite side of the shopping complex.
The teenagers nonchalantly entered the store through the front door, looking in an opposite direction or hiding their faces with their hands as they passed the dirty men. Catching their respective breaths amidst subdued chuckles, R-Kelley and Al stood side-by-side amongst the racks of soda that were on sale all weekend.
"What the hell was that?" Frankie asked, raising his voice as he approached his friends.
"Well," R-Kelley explained, looking slightly embarrassed, "we just embellished the extent of our friendship, and they took it the wrong way." Rosaline laughed and hugged the both of them.
"Are you guys alright?" Carrie asked softly.
"Oh yeah, we're fine," Al reassured her with a smile.
"Well, your friends are waiting for you outside," David said.
"Ah, do they look angry?" R-Kelley asked hesitantly.
"They're a mob anxiously awaiting your presence," David explained with a mocking smile, crossing his arms. A part of him was proud of being right about staying away from the men that now were stalking his friends.
"Oh crap," R-Kelley said, visibly shaken.
"No problem, my friend," Al said before walking over to a lady working at a dormant cash register. "Bonjour ma petite femme," Al said to the woman, who was obviously in her mid-twenties and visibly unamused. Al leaned over, placed his elbow on the counter and rested his chin in the palm of his hand. "Could you possibly direct me and my associates to a back door?" he asked.
"I'm sorry sir, the back exit is for employees only," she said in a bland voice.
"Surely you could make an exception," Al pushed, gazing at her shapely figure over the top of his sunglasses.
"It is still against policy sir," she said.
"Oh come on, if you let us use the back door, I'll let you see my…" however Al couldn't finish because the clerk, anticipating his word choice, slapped him across the cheek, sending his sunglasses onto the floor. After picking up his sunglasses, Al said through a forced and painful smile, "I was just going to say driver's license," but decided to stumble away anyway.
"He totally wasn't going to say 'driver's license,'" David stated.
"Not a problem," Al said as he walked past his friends towards a clerk several stations down from the last one he visited, his hand still cradling his face. He went up to another woman, this one older and larger, and got into an identical pose as before. "Bonjour ma grossir femme," he began, "might you direct me towards the back exit?" He smiled charmingly.
"No," the woman said flatly, gazing at the red handprint smeared across Al's face.
"P-please," Al stuttered, "I'd really appreciate it."
"No," she repeated.
"What if I give you a kiss?" Al said with wink, having no intention of completing his end of the bargain.
"Do I have to get the police down here for harassment?" the lady said, obviously cross.
Al straightened up and waved his hands in front of him as he said, "No, no, that won't be necessary. I'll just go." And he wandered back to his friends, removing his sunglasses to rub his eyes.
"What did she say?" Frankie asked.
Al sighed and responded, "Women in this town are so cruel." His head hung low with dejection.
"Okay, new plan, let's wait them out. I'm sure they'll get bored in a few minutes and go away," Frankie suggested. The others agreed and began wandering about the pharmacy, which was nearly empty of people, in order to kill time.
"Ooh, this is soft," Rosaline exclaimed as she petted a fuzzy pink pillow designed for neck support, "feel it."
R-Kelley took the pillow and petted it, releasing a shaky breath. His body was wrapped in ecstasy as he rubbed the tantalizing pillow against his cheek. Without wasting any more time, R-Kelley took the pillow and lay down with it on an empty shelf near the floor. He soon nodded off.
"Um, I don't understand what happened," Carrie said softly, "were they really jealous of your friendship?"
"Naw," Al said, not looking up from the swimsuit edition of whatever magazine he pulled off the rack, "They're probably just hard-core homophobes."
"But that's horrible!" Carrie squeaked.
"Yeah, I guess," Al agreed half-heartedly, while gazing intently at a woman snowboarding in a bikini, but never actually questioning why someone would want to do that.
"Why would they be like that?"
"Don't ask me," Al said.
"Well, it's uncalled for."
"Some people are just like that, you know," Al spared as much attention as he could to hold up his end of the conversation with Carrie, "Also R-Kelley punched one of them. So that may be part of it."
"That still doesn't excuse their irrational feelings," Carrie said crossing her arms.
"Uh-huh," Al muttered. Seeing that she wasn't going to get much more out of Al, Carrie decided to join David, who was sitting cross-legged on the floor at the end of the oral hygiene aisle.
David sat quietly on the floor, staring at his watch regularly to grasp the exact amount of time they were trapped in the store. Much to his dismay, as Carrie sat quietly next to him, rather than creating conversation, she exchanged text messages with her mom, relaying the events that just occurred. David saw his opportunity and cleared his throat.
"So how's your day been?" he asked hesitantly.
She looked up at him with wide eyes and responded, "It's been good."
"Are you excited for the summer?"
"Yes, I am," she smiled, "but maybe not as excited as Rosaline."
David sighed and said, "She's a piece of work alright."
"She certainly is," Carrie agreed.
"I can't see why you and she are such good friends. You're so different," David mused, "I mean you're so nice and calm, but she's so obnoxious. How can you handle it?"
"Oh, she's not so bad," Carrie said, trying not to say something mean about her best friend, even if she did agree sometimes.
"And she hates me for no reason," David added.
"Yeah, she does," Carrie agreed with a cute smile. They shared a laugh before Rosaline came out of nowhere, grabbed Carrie's hand, pulled the shorter girl to her feet and led her away without saying a word. David watched with surprise before dropping his head once they were out of sight.
"Tough break man," Frankie said as he examined a box of toothpaste, occasionally sipping his pink smoothie.
"I'll say," David agreed, bringing his knees up to his chin. As the second hand on his watch reached its zenith, David moaned loudly, "How much longer can this take? I'm dying to get out of here!"
"Yeah me too, but those guys are still waiting out there," Frankie said.
"Well, I'm leaving," David said as he stood up.
Leaving Frankie in the oral hygiene aisle, David made his way to the one and only exit in the front of the store. Without fear he pushed the door open and high-stepped out. His path, however, was lined by the gang, who quickly recognized him and moved to block his path. They made a gruff and combined request of David to bring his "gay friends" outside, but without changing his facial expression, David pivoted on his left foot and marched back into the pharmacy.
He rejoined Frankie, who had moved to the front of the store, and asked, "Can't we just force our way out of here?" half serious.
"I'd rather not start a brawl before our vacation starts," Frankie said.
"C'mon Frankie; you're on the football, wrestling, and golf teams. With you leading the way, our little army could defeat those rapscallions," David argued.
"You're dreaming," Frankie countered, "No matter our chances of victory, starting a fight in a parking lot would get us in big trouble, whether we provoked it or not."
"So that's a no, then?" David asked.
"You are correct, sir," Frankie said.
"Think of something, Frankie," Al said as he joined them, "I've just gawked at a gaggle of girls, and if I don't relieve myself soon, I'll develop a condition."
"Thanks for sharing, Al. I really appreciate that," Frankie said before bringing his hand to his chin to think for a moment, "I guess I can bring the car around front and you guys can make a mad dash for it."
"But how will you get to the car if those guys are out there?" David asked.
Minutes later, the cashier, who had slapped Al almost two hours earlier, asked, "So did you find everything okay?" as she scanned the barcode on the pink, furry pillow that Frankie just handed her.
"Yes, ma'am," Frankie said politely.
"Would you like a bag for this?" she asked pleasantly.
"No thank you," Frankie declined, "but I could use some assistance carrying it to my car."
"What?" she had said, but despite her initial disbelief and suspicion, Frankie swayed her to help him transport the pillow out of the store. She gripped the pillow with both hands as Frankie opened the front entrance. With her at his side, Frankie, nonchalantly sipping at his smoothie, made it past the gang with only a few glares and grumbles.
Upon arriving at the blue SUV, Frankie thanked the woman for her assistance. As she left he threw the pillow into the back seat with Bro Dog, who had been napping comfortably in the warm SUV. Without wasting any time, he backed the car out of its spot and drove up to the front of the pharmacy. He kicked the passenger-seat-door open, which quickly got the gang's attention. And in an instant, Rosaline, David, and the rest charged out of the pharmacy with loud cries, piling into the front seat, forced the door closed and sped off, leaving the gang behind.
Frankie sped out of the parking lot, and before he even made it back onto the freeway, he and his friends were loudly laughing at their escape. Five of the six teenagers were still piled up in the front seat. Rosaline tried to fidget into a comfortable position, but something kept poking her bottom, and she wasn't happy to find that it was David she was sitting on.
"You pervert," she said as she turned around to face him and then turned back forward without waiting for a response.
"What?" David said, but then caught her drift, "No wait, those are my keys. I swear."
Rosaline, who quickly returned to her overly-energetic state, turned on the radio and cranked it up to full blast, as the blasting wind that came in the two open windows was causing a racket. She loudly sang along to the protest singing of Edwin Starr. But as Al and R-Kelley began singing backup for her, Carrie noticed a beige van speeding up to the side of their car.
"Uh, guys," she said loudly, but no one heard her. She repeated herself, practically screaming, and pointed out the window.
Driving the beige van was one of the members of the gang, and those peering through the open windows seemed to have been as equally haphazardly seated upon entrance to the vehicle as the teenagers were.
"Oh no," Frankie muttered.
Rosaline leaned out the window and screamed, "Hey suckers," before sticking her tongue out at them. She then proceeded to flip them off with both hands, laughing all the while. Her hair fiercely fluttered in the wind as she mocked their pursuers.
Finally, the driver swerved into Frankie's lane with the intention of hitting the blue SUV. Frankie managed to dodge it and sped out of the van's range, quickly leaving it trailing behind. Rosaline laughed wildly, her head and half her torso still sticking out the open window, until R-Kelley and Al finally dragged her inside.
The van, however, was quickly on their tail, this time approaching from right behind them. The van bumped the car from behind, sending the stack of teenagers out of their shared seat. Carrie screamed from fear. Rosaline screamed from excitement. The noise sent a terrified Bro Dog on a barking fit, adding to the commotion.
R-Kelley pushed his hand down on David's face as he repositioned himself, and the weight of his friends, as he was on the bottom, was making David's legs go numb. After shouting "Enough," he pushed Rosaline off his lap and began squirming to the back seat amongst the noise. Another swipe by the van made Frankie swerve the car, sending David headfirst into the backseat, sprawled out over Bro Dog.
The van then came up beside them, this time only an arm's length away. One of the passengers lobbed a take-out carton filled with Chinese food at the car, sending the contents smearing across the windshield. In retaliation, Rosaline grabbed Frankie's largely-liquid but still unfinished strawberry smoothie and chucked it at the van. The Styrofoam cup flew right in the window, splashing the pink liquid across the driver. Rosaline pointed and laughed wildly, along with Frankie and Al, who momentarily forgot they were being chased down.
The van made one more swipe at the car. Frankie dodged again, but the SUV began scraping right against the guardrail dividing the lanes. Panicking, Frankie turned too hard, and the speeding car went off the road, through a rusty wire fence, and finally rested several yards into a wheat field, while the van sped right by, the gang laughing at the teenagers' misfortune.
Frankie, whose heart was racing at the speed of sound and forehead was drenched, took deep breaths before turning off the car engine. He slowly opened the door and began appraising the damage. The blue paint on the driver's side had been scraped and stripped away in several places. The front headlight had been broken and the back bumper was a little dented. The worst part however, was not one but two flat tires.
Rosaline kicked open the passenger door and screamed as she jumped out, "That was so epic!"
Al laughed as he climbed out, "I was so scared."
"I peed a little," R-Kelley said as he stepped into the wheat field.
"Are you okay?" David asked Carrie as she exited the car.
"Yes, I'm fine," she said softly, smiling and holding her hand against her chest, trying to slow her beating heart.
"Good," David said, relieved, "Oh, sorry I fell on you, Bro Dog." The retriever panted at his side.
"That was so awesome," Rosaline said, still smiling, until Frankie's whines of distress reached her ears. "Something wrong, Frankie?"
"Yeah, there's something wrong," Frankie said, choking, "the car's a mess."
"Oh, well, let's get to the beach," Al said, not grasping Frankie's seriousness.
"We can't; there are two flat tires, and I don't have a car jack," Frankie said flatly.
After a little discussion, Frankie, Rosaline, and Carrie made their way with Bro Dog to the building on the edge of the road, which happened to be where the owner of the wheat field lived. They explained that they were being chased and crashed, and the man was kind enough to allow them to call a tow-truck. They returned to their friends, who were waiting in the car, and then proceeded to wait almost an hour for the tow-truck to get to them.
After a short drive in the crowded tow-truck, the teenagers got comfortable at an auto shop that was fortunately not very busy; however, their work to change two tires was still unprofessionally lengthy. When they were finished, the pricing came out to over two hundred dollars, as the headlight had to be replaced, one tire had to be patched, and another, torn through, had to be replaced entirely. He decided to hold off on having the scrapes and paint touched up as well as removing the dings from the bumper.
"Would you like me to replace the shocks, too? I think you could use it," a gruff man in coveralls with a mustache asked as Frankie counted out the money he owed.
"No thanks," he said politely.
"Maybe you should do it Frankie; I don't want it to cause an accident," Al stated.
"Yeah, Frankie, you want to keep your friends safe, right?" the man tried.
"No, maybe some other time," Frankie said.
"I am not riding in a dangerous car, Frankie," Rosaline said, crossing her arms, from behind him.
"Rosaline, you just provoked a dangerous gang that got us into this accident."
"What's your point?" she asked smugly.
"No shocks, sir. Here's your money," Frankie said, handing over his green.
Afterwards, the teenagers piled back into the SUV. Even though they were tired, Rosaline forbade anyone from going to sleep and instead forced her friends to participate in a nonstop sing-a-long until they reached the beach. For hours, the sound of Rosaline's voice never left their ears. With several more hours of driving behind them, they made it to their destination just after nightfall. They parked in the driveway of a large, two-story beach house, and slowly crawled out of the car.
"I'm so tired," David mumbled.
"Wow, look at this joint," Rosaline said, an amazed smile plastered on her face, "Come on guys, you should be more excited."
"It's been a long day, Rosaline. We're just tired," Frankie explained.
"I'd be more excited if you had let us sleep on the ride here," David said, annoyed.
"Shut up, Pervert. What's a road trip without a good sing-along?" she answered.
"A three hour sing-along?"
"Shut up, Perv."