Rosaline: Hyperactive Summer

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Chapter 6

She wasn't there. It was her day off, after all, but that didn't stop David from periodically looking across the floor to the swimsuit department. He wanted to see her; even though they lived together, David and Carrie hadn't spoken for days, not since the incident that sent Carrie crying to her room. But on the other hand, David didn't want to see her. No, he hadn't apologized for making her cry. What he really wanted now, was for things to go back to how they were a week ago, when he didn't know his chances with Carrie were nonexistent. He'd always had an unfortunate feeling that his chances were slim, but now as he stacked footballs on a shelf, the cruel reality weighed on his back. It was impossible; he and Carrie would never be a couple.

"Hey, ask him," someone in the store said.

"Hey man, do you know about this really attractive girl on the beach?" a high school boy asked David after tapping him on the shoulder.

"An attractive girl on the beach; which one?" David asked, looking up from his work.

"She's got glasses and pigtails; wearing a white swimsuit. She's really cute, but everyone keeps telling us she's a freak," the guy explained, while his two buddies nodded in agreement behind him.

"Aw, I see." That sounded familiar. "I wouldn't waste my time, guys. She'd never go for any of you."

"Uh harsh."

"Sorry," David smiled apologetically, "I didn't want to be mean. That girl just isn't into men."

"For real?"

"Yeah, trust me. I know very well," David said with a sigh.

"Oh, she turn you down?"

"No, we just live together. We're roommates."

"Oh, well thanks for the tip, man." The guy patted David on the back and left with his friends.

"You're welcome. Take care; good luck out there, men. I salute you," David called out to the brave young men who risked their self respect hunting girls in the daylight. David sighed again as he dropped his head. Carrie wouldn't want a bunch of guys coming up and hitting on her, he thought.

Rosaline sat on the beach with a big smile and her eyes closed. After running away from Sean, she too slipped into a state of depression, but unlike David, that morning she climbed out of it. Rosaline had an epiphany that sent her on a rampage again. She attributed her failures at finding a boyfriend over the past few weeks to her consistently being too forceful, too proactive. Men like to be the instigators, she figured. So she decided that she would be less out-there, less pretentious, and then let the guy of her dreams come to her.

That was why Rosaline borrowed Carrie's white one-piece swimsuit and spare glasses and did her hair in pigtails. Like Carrie, she was not going to be outgoing. Rosaline was determined to embrace her modest side. After all, guys like modest girls, too. They're easier to approach, Rosaline believed, and the lack of sexual outlets makes them wilder in bed.

Unfortunately for her, however, the fish didn't seem to be biting. In fact, Rosaline seemed to occupy a whole area by herself. No boy appeared to breach the twenty foot radius that separated the newly-modest girl from the rest of the beachgoers. But Rosaline still smiled; she hadn't given up hope yet.

"Frankie, I'm worried about David. He's been down in the dumps ever since he realized his love for Carrie was as fruitless as filling out his application to Tokyo University," Al said as he sat on a stool in the kitchen, his hands folded on the counter.

"I'm worried about Rosaline. She hasn't moved in two hours," Frankie said, looking out the window at the girl who still sat motionless on the beach blanket, as he dried the dishes left over from breakfast.

"Pffft, she's fine. It'd take a demonic horseman to make Rosaline lose her head, but David is like a dandelion. One little breeze and he falls apart," Al explained.

"You're making a poor attempt at speaking poetically."

"Fine, if you won't take this seriously, then it's up to me to cheer the poor guy up. And I know just the way," Al said, snapping as the idea struck him.

"Maybe you should just give him some space. He needs time to sort things out," Frankie suggested as he rubbed a white towel over a glass cup.

"The hell with that; I'm going to make him have so much fun that he never thinks about his problems again!" Al declared this confidently.

"I hope you realize why that isn't a realistic goal," Frankie said as David walked in the front door.

"David, ma'boy, are you ready for a classic day of summer fun with your best friend?" Al exclaimed loudly.

"Oh, what are we doing, Frankie?" David asked as if he'd just woken up.

"No, ma'boy; you and me, myself and yourself will be going out to have fun and get your mind off your girl troubles," Al said as he grabbed David by the arm and led him out the door. David was about to protest, but Al cut him off. "Don't argue, don't argue; it's time you lived a little."

"Why?" Michy asked as she stared down at R-Kelley next to the lifeguard tower.

"Hey, Michy, I've been waiting for you," R-Kelley looked up at her with a smile. A book was lying open on the sand in front of his face.

"Why are you buried in the sand?"

R-Kelley, next to the lifeguard tower, was buried up to his neck in the sand. He explained that the reason for being buried was so that he would stay focused on reading the book in front of his face, as well as the books stacked around his head. Michy looked through the stack curiously.

"The Bible, the Quran…"

"I want to learn to be a leader for my followers," R-Kelley explained.

"…a biography of the life of Mohandas Gandhi, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends & Influence People…"

"I'm trying to draw wisdom from many sources," R-Kelley added.

"What are you reading now?" Michy asked, picking up the book in front of his face, "Mein Kampf." Michy looked away with a blank face. She turned back towards R-Kelley, opened her mouth as if to say something important, but just said "Whatever," and put the book down.

"I'm just reading it to get perspective," R-Kelley called.

"Of course," Michy said as she climbed the lifeguard tower.

"I want to be a well rounded leader."

"Don't explain it; I don't care. And if you need help digging yourself out, just let me know," Michy called down as she made herself comfortable on the top of the white tower. R-Kelley resumed his reading, using his tongue to turn the pages.

Wearing their swimsuits, Al and David traveled up the beach until they came across a volleyball net sticking out of the sand. Three girls stood around the net in their swimsuits, one holding a volleyball. They were delaying their game because one of their players was running late. The girl standing alone on the northern side of the court tried calling their missing player on her cell phone.

"Al, I don't like playing volleyball," David told Al, as they stood on the side of the court.

"Don't worry, we aren't going to play," Al explained as he turned on his digital camera. "We're just going to watch and take some delectable pictures to commemorate our summer." He focused his camera on the girl with the cell phone. It seemed like he meant what he said, but then the girl without a teammate revealed that the missing player couldn't make it. In an instant, Al dropped the camera and stepped forward. With one hand in the air and the other on his bare chest, Al declared "I'll play!"

The girls didn't seem to have any problem with it so they gave Al the okay. Before joining the girls' game, Al explained to David that he was to take meaningful pictures, as he handed the scrawny boy the camera.

"Hey, are you good at volleyball?" Al's teammate asked.

"No, not really," Al answered as he took his place next to her.

"The three of us were in the top ten in the state. Think you can keep up?"

"Don't worry, I've played once," Al said, grinning.

These girls took this game very seriously. What Al had imagined to be a casual pick-up game actually became very intense from the first serve on. The ball flew over him before he could even move to stop it. And most of the time he couldn't keep his eyes on it. His reflexes couldn't even keep up; the white rubber ball flew back and forth as if it were launched by a cannon. Al had never doubted his physical abilities before, but these three girls were, as David guessed while watching the embarrassing display, thirty years of hard training ahead of the sunglasses-wearing teenager.

Luckily for Al, his teammate was a masterful player, even when she was arguably playing two opponents by herself. She darted across their side of the court with ease and with a determined demeanor, intercepted the ball at every strike. She, however, could only handle so much, and despite her impressive display so far, she grew tired of being a one-man team. She began ordering him to cease standing there and actually do something.

"Right, this corner's mine," Al announced as he fell back into the far left back corner of the court. He even drew a line in the sand with his foot to clarify how much of the corner he would be guarding.

The opposing girls, of course, were not amateurs. They knew where the weakest link was. And with speed and precision, they aimed the ball directly at him.

Al readied himself. How did they teach volleyball in gym class? He clasped his hands together and angled his body so that he swung at the ball with both forearms, sending it back over the net. Al paused for a moment in awe of his accomplishment. Volleyball was an inhuman sport.

"Aw, crap!" Al exclaimed. The hard ball had left a red mark that stung as if someone just struck his sunburn. "Gah!" he shouted through his teeth. He stuck his forearms between his legs to try to rub out the pain.

"Got it," David said as he held up the camera, aiming its lens at Al.

"No, David, I told you to take meaningful pictures," Al yelled at his friend. David shrugged in response.

Regaining his composure, Al rejoined the game, the players of which hadn't been so considerate as to pause for his sake. Al waited patiently for his moment, the chance to reclaim his dignity, and it came as the ball slowly arced over the net. Without hesitation, Al ran up to the net and jumped. As if in slow motion, Al leaped into the air and smacked the ball with his bare hand back over the net. However, time seemed to return to normal when a girl on the opposing team jumped up and spiked the ball back at Al. Directly at Al. Right in the face.

Al landed flat on his back, his face as red and stinging as his forearms were a moment ago, his sunglasses lying in the sand next to him. Fortunately, his teammate was able to intercept the ball before it hit the ground and bumped it back over the net.

"Got that one, too," David announced.

"No!" Al yelled.

The teenage boy angrily pulled himself off the ground, teeth bare, and swiftly repositioned his sunglasses on his aching face. Al gave a fearsome battle cry as he ran towards the ball again as it arced over the net. He leapt into the air. Instead of slapping the ball again, he made a fist. Using his bare feet and hand, he clung onto the net and punched the ball back at the opposing team.

This time, however, the two girls didn't make any move to stop it from striking the sand. They watched in amazement, for Al propelled himself over the net to their side of the court. As he landed between them, he held out his arms to both sides of his body and tugged at just the right moment. He then skidded to a stop in the sand several feet behind them.

He smiled and held up his prizes. Only after the girls turned around did they shriek and frantically cover their exposed chests. He laughed as he dropped their bikini tops on the ground in front of them.

David had an unfortunate feeling that this was one of the meaningful moments Al had alluded to. With an uncomfortable smile, he shakily held the camera up to his face. But really, he thought, should I be enabling this kind of behavior.

The girls scrambled to get their tops on while shouting at Al, who grinned happily at his skills. He ran and ducked under the net, sliding on his knees back over to his teammate. He stopped right in front of her, and she was quick to cross her arms over her breasts.

"Don't even think…"

But Al, without a moment of hesitation or shame, suddenly reached out and pulled down the girl's swimsuit bottom. Her face immediately reddened as she tried to recover. Al started to laugh, but she socked him the face. He awkwardly stumbled to his feet, one hand to his aching cheek.

"Ladies, please – whoa – close one," Al said as one of them lobbed the volleyball at him. "Catch you later!" Al then ran off laughing, jumping and clacking his heels together like an old cartoon character. "C'mon David!"

He's like a perverted preschooler, David thought.

"Hey that one has a camera!"

David, having been noticed, ran after Al. The two boys ran down the beach to safety, as the girls threw things at them and yelled obscenities.

A half hour later, Al sat at the counter at the beach house again, his elbows resting on the granite and his palms covering his cheeks as he spoke to Frankie, who was drying the dishes left over from lunch.

"I don't know what to do about David. He should be all cheered up after that teenage romp we just had. But now he's all grumpy and says I'm immature," Al vented.

"I don't know what to do about Rosaline," Frankie said. The two boys looked out the window at the pigtailed girl sitting on the beach blanket by herself. "She finally felt better this morning, but if no one talks to her soon, she's going to be all depressed again."

"Pffft, Rosaline's got the balls to climb out of the pit of despair with sheer willpower, but David is like a eunuch compared to her," Al explained with a wave of his hand.

"Your analogy from earlier was better," Frankie said, a confused look on his face.

"Sorry, my poetic ability flounders in the face of failure," Al said, seeming really offended. "If you're not going to help me, then I'll just have to go ahead with plan B." Al quickly stood up, holding one finger in front of his face. Then he ran upstairs as Frankie called out to him.

"I already told you what you should- never mind." Frankie returned to rubbing a glass with a white dishrag.

Al found David in his upstairs room, sitting backwards in a swivel chair as he stared at the laptop on his desk. At first David argued that he didn't want to go on anymore field trips with Al, but the tan boy with earrings pulled the pale boy from the anime he would have rather been watching and led him out of the house.

The embarrassment, awkwardness and surprise all amounted to shock on the face of David Hassle. He squinted at the room he was now in. Why did Al drag him here of all places? How was this supposed to make him feel better about his girl problems?

A twenty minute walk into town had taken David and Al, who crossed his arms confidently as they waited to be directed to a booth, to a business known as the Fruity Beanie Hut. Filled with a collection of happy, giggling couples, the café featured a mixture of white and pink tiles on the floor as well as matching pink booths. The series of booths lined the windows, on which was written the weekly specials in red paint, while several two-person tables stood in the middle of the room between the booths and the counter with red bar stools. The overhead lights were all fixed with colored bulbs, causing a reddish tinge throughout the building, and each table was set up with a white tablecloth and a cinnamon-mint candle.

This was not the place David wanted to be seen in. This was a place he could have taken his girlfriend to, if they had been really mushy or, for that matter, if he even had one. Maybe if Carrie had been with him, this would be more enjoyable. But he was here alone with Al. These thoughts depressed him. Al didn't seem bothered by the uncomfortable atmosphere, as the cute girl in the frilly yellow dress led them to their booth at the far end of the café.

"What can I get you?" she asked cheerfully after they had a moment to look over the menu. The menu had a limited selection. The café only served drinks, pastries and desserts, all of which seemed fancy and expensive.

"I'll just have a glass of water," Al said, handing his menu to the waitress.

"That's all you're ordering?" David asked.

"Don't worry about me. This is for you, mon ami. And I recommend this. What do you think?" Al reached across the table and pointed to the dessert listed at the bottom of the menu.

"Oh, I love that. It's one of my favorites," the waitress confirmed, looking over the menu.

David had a feeling she'd say that about anything on the menu, but reluctantly ordered it anyway. He also added a root beer. The peppy waitress took the menu and hurried off to place their orders in the kitchen. She soon returned with their drinks; the dessert had to be brought out separately.

That stunned look returned to David's face as he watched the large dessert being placed on the table. David had been pushed into ordering what was listed as the "Party Bowl," which turned out to be a punchbowl full of vanilla ice cream, lathered with strawberry syrup and topped with sliced peaches. It wasn't that he thought it'd taste bad; David knew it was too much. The anime-loving teenager barely ate anything, as his discernable ribs could indicate. This was impossible.

"Don't worry, Buddy. I won't leave you hanging," Al announced as he whipped out his own spoon. He began eagerly shoveling ice cream into his face, ignorant to the disgusted look that David now gave him.

"You just wanted this for yourself," David accused.

"David, mon frère, you've got a serious problem. The revelation of Carrie's secret lifestyle has destroyed your good mood. You're a walking basket case. You just let people do what they want with you; drag you all over the place. But I feel the best way for you to deal with your problem is to ignore and gorge yourself," Al explained, his mouth full of ice cream and his lips smeared with strawberry syrup.

With a sigh, David dug his spoon into the ice cream. David thought that maybe Al was right. Discovering Carrie's secret had depressed him, and since then he hadn't done anything but go to work and stare at his computer. But wait a minute. Al was the one dragging him around. David scowled at this thought, while his self-serving friend ate happily on the other side of the booth.

"You don't like the peaches, right?" Al said, helping himself.

It wasn't long before David had eaten his full and sat back in his seat, trying to read the writing on the windows, which from his angle was backwards. It wasn't until the waitress had come back to check on them that Al placed his spoon down on the table. Wiping his face with the back of his hand, Al directed the check to David.

"What, you're not even going to pay?" David said angrily.

"Hey, I came up with the idea. The least you can do is cover my share," Al said bitterly.

"I thought this was to cheer me up?" David said.

"Your miserable love life is none of my concern."

The waitress returned with the check and placed it in front of David before going off to help a group of girls that just walked in. David reached into his back pocket to pull out his wallet.

"Oh David, you're such a sweetie, paying for our meal like that," Al said loudly.

"Don't say that!" David slammed his hands on the table. "Especially not here; do you want people to think we're gay?"

"I'm just trying to make you forget your girl problems," Al said, giving David an evil grin.

"By giving me guy troubles?"

Al began to laugh, but was cut off when a large bucket of water was poured over them, knocking off Al's sunglasses and his teasing expression. The water that drenched both boys, the booth and the floor around them, came from a rather large bucket held between two familiar girls. Two more girls stood aside the bucket-holders, one of whom was their waitress.

David and Al didn't move right away, as if their newly drenched clothing had frozen them on impact, while the girls laughed loudly and high-fived each other. They then thanked the girl in the yellow dress and ran out of the store, still laughing.

"So, I hope you wouldn't mind cleaning up this mess you made?" the waitress asked with a smile, as if she hadn't just seen what happened.

To David, it all made sense. Their friends from the beach had come by to exact revenge for the incident that occurred that morning, and the waitress was their missing fourth volleyball player. How unfortunate that they would run into them here.

"Are you kidding?" Al said, jumping to his feet.

"Be happy we're paying for the food; we aren't cleaning up the water. You saw what happened; that was your friends' fault. You clean it up," David said icily.

"Yeah, and this too," Al said, knocking the bowl, which was still half full of uneaten ice cream, onto the floor. The two boys made a move for the exit, but were cut off by the arrival of a fat man in a white suit.

"Now just a moment, boys, we need to talk," the man said in a condescending tone. The man turned out to be the well-dressed owner of the Fruity Beanie Hut. His timing was so good that he managed to miss the soaking the boys had received but caught sight of Al tossing the ice cream onto the floor in front of the waitress. He insisted that they clean up the mess and leave the establishment or else he would call the police and have Al and David arrested for causing a scene.

Not knowing whether or not they could actually be arrested for what they've done and seeing that Mr. Fruity Beanie was unwilling to listen to their side of the story, Al and David ended up giving in and spent too many minutes of their valuable summer cleaning up the mess where the blame ultimately came down to Al's misdeed, which David was unhappy to mop up after.

Meanwhile on the beach, Michy was still on duty. Just on a whim, she looked over the edge of the white lifeguard tower to where R-Kelley had been reading. Nothing was there, neither R-Kelley nor his books. Where'd he go?

"The biography of Ulysses S. Grant, the biography of Andrew Johnson and one on Abraham Lincoln; here you go, R-Kelley." Carrie set the books she had just purchased next to R-Kelley, who was still buried up to his neck in the sand, but was now positioned between the deck of the beach house and where Rosaline still sat isolated on her beach blanket.

"Thank you very much, Carrie, but what about James Buchanan?"

"Sorry, but the man at the book store didn't know who that was. After I explained it to him, he ordered the copy you wanted. They didn't have it in stock," she explained, squatting down in order to look R-Kelley in the eye.

"That's too bad, but these will keep me busy for a while. After all, these are some of the most influential men in Civil War and post-Civil War America; the good, the bad and the ugly." R-Kelley nodded towards each book respectively.

"Abraham Lincoln's the ugly one?"

"Why else would he grow that rockin' beard?"

Carrie smiled and told R-Kelley that he didn't have to pay her back for the books. He thanked her again as she went back inside the beach house. Carrie sighed as she sat down at the counter.

"Frankie, can you give this to David," she asked, presenting him with a manga she had purchased from the bookstore, one that she knew David liked to read.

"Carrie, can you give this to Rosaline," Frankie asked, holding out a ceramic plate.

"Why?" Carrie asked, confusion written on her face.

"Well, you see, Al and I have this thing," he smiled to himself. "We go back and forth this way. We've been doing it all day." Frankie went back to washing the dishes left over from his afternoon snack. "Don't you think this would be a good excuse to start talking to David again?"

"Hmm…I guess it would," Carrie granted sadly.

"Unless, maybe you don't want to talk to David?"

"I do, but I just don't understand. You heard about what happened, right? Well, Al apologized the next day, but he wouldn't tell me why he made me and Rosaline… David hasn't apologized and now he's avoiding me. Do you think I'm being too sensitive?"

"No, I don't. Maybe he thinks you're still mad or he's too embarrassed to face you." Frankie knew there was another reason, though he didn't say it. David was depressed about Carrie because he liked her. Yes, he's sorry for making her kiss Rosaline, but he's also struggling with the sadness of being rejected. Carrie didn't know that David had a crush on her or that they suspected she was gay, though.

"I'm not mad anymore. I don't want our friendship to end like this, but why did he do it?" Carrie drew circles on the counter with her finger as she thought out loud. "You don't think it was something Al talked him into, was it?"

"Yeah, I have to say it was probably Al's idea," Frankie said with a sigh, an image of Al's mischievous smile came to mind. What to say to make her feel better? "Look Carrie, David just feels embarrassed for what they had you do. I'm sure if he saw you were ready to forgive him, he'd be willing to bury the hatchet." Bury the hatchet maybe, but things will never go back to normal. That's what made this so hard.

It made Carrie feel better, though, as her smiling face clearly indicated.

"Thanks Frankie; you're so nice."

"Don't mention it." Frankie returned her smile as he dried off a glass with a white rag.

Carrie was a very forgiving person. Despite her shyness, she somehow managed to forgive Al for every time he did something that embarrassed her. And it happened quite often. That went for Rosaline, too. Frankie thought it was odd for such a quiet girl to become close friends with two such abrasive people.

It was then that Al and David dragged their tired bodies through the front door. At the very least, disregarding the expensive food they just bought and the cleaning they just had to do, the sun on the walk home dried their clothes.

"Excuse me, David," Carrie got up and presented him with the manga she just bought. "I got this for you. Here you go," she held it out meekly with both hands.

"Oh thanks," he said with a tired smile, "I like this series. I'll be sure to pay you back." He took the Japanese book carefully out of Carrie's hands, as if he was afraid he may accidentally touch her.

"No, you don't have to," Carrie said, awkwardly rubbing her hands together.

David thanked her again and went upstairs to his room with the manga. Neither he nor Carrie felt any better. The dejected look on Carrie's face and the melancholic crisp in David's voice only made Al all the more frustrated.

"Jeez, I'm at a loss; David's impossible. He's still miserable!" Al barked as he took his usual seat at the counter.

"I'm at a loss; Rosaline's impossible. She's still out there," Frankie said, still washing those dishes.

"Pffft, Rosaline's a flippin' brute, but estrogen tablets could only make David more masculine, he's such a pussy." Al gestured wildly, which often happened when he got riled up.

"Wow, that was a mean one," Frankie said. He turned toward Carrie standing behind Al. "See, this is what I was talking about." She watched the conversation as if she was trying to memorize the technique.

"I took him to this freaking fancy-as-hell café, and now he's all pissed off because some girls I've never seen before dumped water on us."

"Well, I can kind of see why he's upset."

"That and I also made him pay," Al added, as if it wasn't relevant.

Frankie sighed again. Al was a piece of work himself.

"Al, you said you were trying to cheer him up."

"That is correct."

"So you made him watch you play strip-volleyball, got a bunch of girls mad at him and dragged him to a restaurant to pay for your meal?"

"Yeah, I don't see why it didn't work. All that stuff's fun." Al sat perpendicular to the counter with one arm holding up his head.

"Remember what I told you this morning?"

"I should just give David space so he can work out his own problems?"

"Yes," Frankie smiled, happy Al remembered his advice.

"The hell with that," Al said, turning to Frankie with the evil eye.

"And that is what you said afterwards," Frankie grumbled.

"I've come too far to give up now. That kid is going to be bursting with uncontrollable happiness spewing out of every pore in his body by the time I'm done," he announced this resolutely. Al was stubborn.

"Then consider this: today you did all these activities that you thought were fun. Why don't you try finding something that David finds fun?" Frankie held one finger in the air as he made his point.

"Huh?" Al looked confused, as if at no point throughout the day had he ever considered this, and probably wouldn't have if Frankie hadn't brought it up. Al was also selfish. Carrie looked on their exchange in wonderment.

It was the late afternoon, approaching seven o'clock. But because it was summer, the sun still shined as brightly overhead as it had at two in the afternoon.

As Michy climbed down from the lifeguard tower, she found herself aching from lack of movement. She had taken double shifts, one right after the other, without a lunch break because Sam had called in sick. She was happy for the extra pocket-money, but it wasn't something the blonde wanted to make a habit of.

"Oh, is your shift over?" R-Kelley was again buried in the sand with a book in front of his face next to the lifeguard tower.

"Yeah. Hey, I didn't know you came back," Michy said, only somewhat surprised.

"Y-you mean, you didn't even notice me?" R-Kelley said, his lower lip starting to quiver. R-Kelley's consistently laidback demeanor made it hard to tell when he was kidding, but she was sure this time he was.

"Sorry. Anyway, I'm starving so I'll see you later." Michy turned to walk away.

"You can always have dinner with me and my friends tonight," R-Kelley suggested.

"No, I don't want to impose so suddenly."

"Then how 'bout lunch tomorrow," R-Kelley tried.

"Sure, why not?" Michy agreed with a sigh. R-Kelley gave her directions to where he was staying, and Michy was about to leave, but stopped again. "Oh wait; do you need me to help dig you out?"

"No, I'm good; see you tomorrow." R-Kelley then used his mouth to flip the books he was reading into the air so that they would land and stack neatly on the top of his head. Then he began heading back towards the beach house, while his body was still underground, moving as easily in the sand as one would in water.

Michy looked away with a blank face. She turned back towards R-Kelley, opened her mouth as if to say something important, but just said "Whatever," and turned to walk home.

After the group, from which David and Rosaline were both absent, had their dinner, Al ran right out into town. When he returned half-an-hour later, he caught David as he was heading back upstairs with a water bottle.

"David, ma'boy, I've got a little surprise for you!" Al exclaimed, his good mood obviously returning.

"Enough with the 'my boy' stuff," David groaned as he came back downstairs. "I'm tired, so what is it this time? Tell me what you're planning before dragging me off to who-knows-where."

"Oh, we're on our way to a magical world of wonder, bloody battles, good intentions and awkward situations." Al hinted as he reached into the plastic bag he was carrying. "Ta-da!" Al presented what he had as if he were revealing a winning hand of cards, the same cocky smile and everything.

David's eyes widened in surprise at what he saw, and then he squee-ed like a hyperactive fangirl.

"The hell?" Al mumbled, surprised.

David snatched the brightly colored DVD cases from Al and gawked at them with shining eyes. His mouth grinned in such a happy way that David seemed cartoony, himself, as he looked over the anime DVDs Al had just purchased for him.

"I love this series, but the videos online are all such poor quality. Wow, this one just came out in English last week! I've never even heard of this one, but it looks interesting." The usually conservative David cheered and gaped at the covers, excitedly showing them to Frankie and twirling around the room with them in hand.

Frankie looked over at Al and gave him a thumbs-up as he continued washing the dishes left over from dinner. Al looked pretty pleased with himself, until David threw himself onto the couch and called for Al to join him.

"Oh, you want me to watch them with you?" Al said hesitantly.

"Yeah, all anime fans want nothing more than to share their favorite shows with their friends," David said happily.

This childish side of David, who was usually more composed and cynical, caught Al off guard. He looked to Frankie for help, but the dishwashing boy just nodded his head in David's direction, indicating Al should have a seat. Al groaned inwardly and tentatively took a seat in one of the wicker chairs.

"Ooh, wait," David said as he leapt up and ran upstairs. When he came back, David was carrying several more DVD cases. He opened one up and popped the disk inside the player attached to the flat-screen T.V.

"Hey, don't you want to watch the stuff I just got?" Al asked, confused.

"Yes, but you just bought volume four. You're not going to know what's happening because you haven't seen the first three volumes. So we're going to watch them first," David explained as the first episode began playing.

"Can't we at least watch it in English?" Al referred to the subtitles showing at the bottom of the screen, while the characters spoke Japanese.

"We will, but to truly appreciate the quality of the voice acting, we have to watch it both in English and in Japanese. I'm not such a close-minded fan that I would automatically prefer one or the other without giving both a fair chance." David sat back on the couch with his hands behind his head. "You going to join us, Frankie?"

"I will in a moment," Frankie answered, "right after I finish these dishes."

After several minutes into the first episode, Al said "Hey, this is a show with little plot and underdeveloped high school girls getting into suggestive situations. I'm there!" The content, sunglasses-wearing teenager sat back in his chair and readily watched the show into the night. "Are there a lot of boob shots in this?"

"Not as many as there are up-skirt shots. But I assure you they're all necessary to the story."

"Awesome, I hope Rosaline doesn't see this."

"Yeah, she'd probably spazz out."

It was the early morning when David and Al finally made it to volume four. By then, the sky was completely dark and the beach was abandoned. But with closed eyes and a smile that had withstood hours of waiting, Rosaline was beginning to think that her plan just might not work.

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