I wait patiently in the classroom that adjoins the computer lab that we fondly call the Cockpit. While writers and editors are busy working on the October issue, I patiently wait for Brian Henderson to conduct the interview.
There was not much I knew about Brian Henderson other than that he’s a “dirty bastard that would steal someone’s girlfriend” or “a dirty snake that would bite you when you’re not looking.” But then again, my only source of information was Scott. I look at the long list of questions that the enthusiastic sports editor Xavier prepared for me. He wrote down questions ranging from his early beginnings in football to his current expectations for the season.
I’m going to do this interview with dignity and poise and pretend that the little shit incident never happened yesterday. He’s the asshole that Scott’s hated ever since freshman year, and I’m just going to do this interview like the professional I am.
“Is he here yet?” Xavier pops his buzz cut head out from the door that connected the two rooms together.
Xavier Wood is the guy you go to for anything related to sports. One could say that he’s a genius when it comes to sports stats in the professional, college, and high school level. After a tragic incident that has left him paralyzed hips down, Xavier has used his love of sports into reporting.
“Not yet,” I look at my phone to see that Brian Henderson is fifteen minutes late.
“Do you need his number?” he asks me concerned. Xavier wheels into the classroom in his wheelchair that he fondly calls Sonya.
“Yeah, I might,” I sigh and get the number from Xavier who probably has the numbers of every athlete in the school as well as those in our school’s sports league.
“The football team usually ends its practice late,” Xavier explains.
“I see,” I nod my head, but I can’t cover the yawn that escapes me. I already knew that sports practices ended late because of Scott. Now that he we soccer captain, Scott seemed to come at an even later time because he was busy talking with the coach about plays and practicing by himself. But, the asshole should have known that he was coming later and should have let me know instead.
“Good luck to you, captain,” he says in mock salute.
Just as Xavier leaves the room, Brian Henderson walks in still in his gym clothes carrying his large backpack on one shoulder and a duffel bag in another.
“Sorry, I’m late,” he says with his blonde hair moist with sweat from probably a tough practice.
“Let’s just get this started,” I say gruffly.
My attitude doesn’t phase Brian’s happy mood as he puts his stuff down and takes a seat right across from me. “So, what do you need to ask me?”
“Well, there are a bunch of questions, so why don’t we get started?” I say and turn on the recorder.
“So,” I look down at the first question. “It was only three years ago, when you were the first freshman to make it into the varsity football team. There’s a lot of expectation for this year’s team. What can we expect to see this season?”
I had no idea that Brian Henderson was this talented in football. I knew he was good but not that good. Scott was a great player, but not even he was in the varsity team in his freshman year.
Brian answers the question with ease. “Well, I was really honored to be chosen onto the team that won the state championship during my freshman year. But, I think this team is even better than what we’ve seen before.”
“How so?” I push him more for a more in-depth answer.
“Well, we have a much better team dynamic, and we all trust each other as if we were all brothers. This team is more about the entire team rather than just one phenomenal player,” he explains. I write down notes from what he said in order to refer to them later, and Brian laughs nervously. “Are those all the questions that you’re going to ask?”
“Yeah,” I laugh at the dreadful list. Crap. Don’t fraternize with the enemy.
I cough and quickly stop laughing with him and move on to the next round of questions involving stats, training routines, and expectations of rival teams. Brian answers them with careful consideration and eloquence that is usually only heard from politicians. I tried my best to battle with this guy and throw him questions to put him through a loop, but I fail miserably because of my limited knowledge about football.
“You know that it’s called quarterback, right?” Brian chuckled after I called the position a quarterdeck. I wanted to throw myself out the window in embarrassment but continued the interview exactly as Xavier listed.
“We’re done now,” I tell him grumpily after I write down the last word to his answer and turn the recorder off.
“I didn’t think this was going to last this long,” Brian stretches after a very long interview.
“Yeah, Xavier had a lot of questions her wanted to ask,” I sigh and gather my notes and the recorder. Man, I’m tired. I just want to go home, take a shower, and go to bed.
“Is he still here?” Brian asks as he gets up to leave.
“Yeah, he’s probably still working,” I point to the doorway that leads to the Cockpit.
“Cool. I’ll see you around Brielle,” he says and walks over to the other room.
I stretch my sore muscles and check my phone. Multiple texts from Scott flash on the lock screen of my phone. Are you done with the interview? Did the athlete of the month give you a good interview? When are you coming home?
I giggle at all the messages that Scott sent me. He’s been grilling me about details of the feature and the interview ever since I told him yesterday during lunch.
It went fine, I text him back. I’m coming back right now.
I get up from my seat and walk into the Cockpit to see only a handful of editors staring at their computer screens. I walk over to Xavier and his co-editor, Grace to see what they were up to. Out of the entire staff, I got along with Xavier and Rachel the most. She’s a junior right now and is in every sense my protégée in the paper, and I’m grooming her to be the future editor-in-chief. While Xavier was the idea man who was an expert on all things sports, Grace was his quiet co-editor who brought his ideas into real life. I’m convinced she lets Xavier do whatever he wants cause she has the biggest crush on him.
“How’re you guys doing?” I ask them.
“Oh, Bri,” Grace smiles shyly. She’s always wearing the most stylish clothes with short brown hair that resembled Sia’s hair, which contrasted deeply to Xavier’s built upper body physique and fashion that always consisted of a t-shirt of some sports team or college and basketball shorts no matter how cold the weather is.
“I just finished with the interview,” I shake the recorder and place in front of them.
“I just saw Henderson walk out just now,” Xavier rubs his tired eyes.
“Thanks again, captain,” Rachel calls me by the nickname that Xavier always calls me by.
“Did Tracy leave yet?” I ask as I survey the room. It looks like any people that were left in the room are packing in order to go back home.
“Yeah, she left about an hour ago,” Xavier says.
“You guys should call it a day too,” I sheepishly stretch my sore body.
“Yeah,” they both say and turn off both of the computers in order to get ready to leave. I close the lights once everything is cleaned up from a long and tiring day on duty for the Paper Plane. I say my goodbyes to Xavier who walks to the other side of the school in order to get something from his locker.
“So, any progress?” I tease Grace.
“What are you talking about?” Grace blushed a bright red like a tomato. Just because Grace won’t admit her feelings for Xavier, doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun messing with her.
“Really? I happened to notice you giving him a certain Cliff bar,” I wag my eyebrows. Xavier always has a Cliff bar as an afternoon snack, and I remember him complaining how he forgot to pack it today.
“I just had one in my bag,” she shrugs. We both walk out of the doors of the school to see the rain falling down relentlessly like a hurricane. Shit. This is not the weather I wanted to walk home in.
Rachel notices my grimace at the weather. “Do you need a ride?” she offers and nods over to the car that’s parked on the side of the school.
Grace is way too sweet, but I’m not one to ask for or take favors from anyone. “Thanks, but my mom’s on the way,” I lie.
“Okay,” she says reluctantly. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she waves and quickly runs over to her mom’s car. I wave as the car leaves the school grounds and look despairingly at the heavy rainfall. A sigh escapes my lips. This is not the most ideal condition to walk back home, but I open my umbrella in order to start the long trek home.
I start my lonely fifteen minute journey back home as the rains hits my black and white polka dot umbrella. As if he knew I was going to walk home by myself, I get a text from Scott that reads, Don’t be an idiot and walk back home by yourself. Text me when you’re done, and I’ll go pick you up.
Scott has always called me stubbornly independent because of my refusal to receive help from anyone. I smile at the memory of Scott shaking my shoulders and forcing me to just depend on him when I was desperately working on a diorama of the fifteenth century Shakespearean theater. I startled Scott awake when I finally broke into tears at five in the morning after stubbornly refusing any help from him. With his help, I finished the project just in time for school.
As I type a response, a voice yells, “Do you need a ride?”
I look up to see Brian Henderson sitting on the driver’s seat.
“What?” I ask him half in disbelief and half in awe.
“Do you need a lift?” he asks me one more time while laughing under the comfort of his silver Honda CRV.
“No, it’s okay,” I reject his offer. Scott would have a cow if he found out I was in a car alone with Brian Henderson.
“I promise that I’m not a sketchy pervert,” he puts his hands up in the air to prove his good intentions. “Plus, you’re not planning to walk home in this weather, do you?”
“Yes,” I say simply and continue walking to end the conversation.
“Come on, Brielle,” he drives his car to match my walking speed. “My mama raised me better than to just leave a girl to walk home by herself in the rain.”
“I’m happy to hear that your mother taught you to be a gentleman, but I’m perfectly capable of walking myself back home,” I say with a fake smile and speed up.
“There’s nothing wrong with accepting help from others,” he argues as he drives matching my speed.
“You and I don’t know each other,” I stop and glare at him. “Please leave me alone before I scream rape,” I threaten.
“Why do girls always use that threat?” Brian exasperatedly says. “You know, three percent of males are also victims of rape? I could easily scream the same thing too.”
“That is a extremely misogynistic point of view,” I say, my temper rising.
“Misogynistic? You see this is the problem with you girls these days. You trumpet about being feminists, yet you misuse the word feminism as female superiority rather than the equality of all sexes. I’m a feminist too, and I deserve to be able to treated equally as any female.”
My mouth opens and closes like a goldfish. Is this guy serious?
“If I get into your car, would you stop your feminist rant?” I ask him seriously.
“Feminist’s honor,” He crosses his heart.
I get into his car and cross my arms in protest.
“So, where do you live female supremist?” he asks lightheartedly.
“You make me sound like a Nazi,” I grumble unhappily.
“Well fräulein, in which direction should I drive?” he asks with a fake German accent. Everything about this guy just really grates my nerves.
I point him in the direction of the only apartment complex in town, Grove Commons that rests in the middle of our small town. Most of the residents keep to themselves, which is perfect for Scott and me.
After the refusing to speak more than a couple of syllables, Brian asks me, “Why do you hate me?”
“I don’t hate you.” Not a total blatant lie. I just dislike the guy greatly.
“Well, you seem to have some form of negative feelings towards me.”
“You don’t really expect me to fall head over heals right after I met you, do you?” I say harshly.
“I don’t, but I also didn’t expect you to act so hostile at my every move either.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I say flustered.
“Feigning ignorance. Very cliché defense mechanism.”
I sputter like an idiot trying to figure out a response but find nothing.
“Are you usually this talkative?” I ask him amazed. I don’t know why, but I always imagined Brian Henderson to be that stereotypical jock who can’t say more than two words. In the past hour that I’ve interacted with him, I’ve discovered that he can drive someone absolutely nuts with his words.
“Well, to someone who’s been listening to me talk about myself for the past forty minutes, I guess I do come out as a Chatty Cathy. Well, you’re in luck cause it seems that we’ve arrived at our location,” he shifts the gears of his car to park.
“Thanks,” I grumble and open the door to leave this stifling car ride. The entire car ride has been filled with one-sided conversation. “I owe you one.”
“You really don’t owe me anything,” he says amusedly.
“I really don’t like to be in debt to others,” I open my umbrella to get out.
“You know, in this situation, you can just say a simple thank you,” he says with a cheeky smile.
“No need to patronize me,” my temper rises.
“Well?” he asks with a smug grin on his face.
“Thank you,” I say through grit teeth and slam the door close to his car.