For the Boys
“Back To Basics,
That ain’t cool.
Back to thinking
I’m a fool.”
“Back to Basics” by Alpha Centauri
We must look like the biggest idiots standing there with our sweaty hands and faces pressed flatly against the large display windows of the biggest music store in town, eyes bulging unnaturally and mouths hanging open like thirty fish. Every girl in the city must be here, each as desperate and excited as the next. We are here for one thing, united for one purpose: Alpha Centauri. If you, for whatever dumb reason, don’t know who they are, then it’s safe to say that A.) You’re a weirdo living in the basement of your parents’ house binge-watching old black-and-white silent films or B.) You’re an alien from some wacky unknown planet where Alpha Centauri has no significance. Whoa. Living in a place like that? Sucks to be you.
But for girls like us, dedicated fangirls that will do what it takes to support our boys no matter what they say, think and do, this is our way of showing how much we care about them. This is our mission, folks.
“What time is it?” someone asked. We all closed in around the entrance of Music Is Might. Through the windows, we glued our eyes to the flashing dashboard hanging above the EXIT sign on the other side of the store: 11:57 PM. Only three more minutes to go for the tired-looking employees stacking the last of the albums on the long tables in front of the cardboard cutout of the boys. My future husband, Eden Sioux, was standing in the middle with his arms slung around the shoulders of the two older—and taller—bandmates. Aw.
“Only three more minutes to go!” another girl announced from somewhere in the growing crowd.
We flattened ourselves against the building and I could feel the metal handles digging into my ribcage. Ouch. “In one hundred and eighty seconds, the album drops! You know what to do from there, ladies!” I wiped the nervous sweat off my top lip as the crowd burst into happy squeals and giggles. One hundred and eighty seconds? It’s durable to me. Several moments later, the waiting fandom fell into an intense silence of eagerness. Ugh. Can’t they have some compassion and let us in early?
Today is May twenty-ninth— the day their debut album Like Shooting Stars hits every store nationwide. And we, the Betas, are among the first people who will snag the copies, go home, pop them into our computers, and listen to every track until we know the lyrics by heart and the CD is skipping.
Hayden Kelmer, my best friend, leaned over and squeezed my shoulders with a yell of joy. “You remember the plan, right? You know what to do when these doors open?” I rolled my eyes. Of course, I know the plan: get in, subdue the employees, grab the goods, and turn like there is no tomorrow. Like all of hell is chasing after you—with red and blue police sirens and shiny handcuffs. I pushed the thoughts out of my mind and dried my hands on the front of my denim shorts.
Simple enough, right? I sucked in a breath of warm early summer air. What’s the worst that can happen?
Hayden cursed and rub her manicured hands together. “Ready?”
Her question was answered with a choir of enthusiastic shouts and eager head nods. Good. A girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. This, ladies and gentlemen, is something that us girls have to do. 11:59 PM. My heart skipped a beat. Only one more stupid minute to go. I beat my forehead against the glass double doors and groaned out loud. With a laugh, Hayden leaned over and braced herself as the crowd grew restless and started impatiently pushing forward.
No one said a word when we fell into another tense silence as we watched the sour-faced employees unpacked the last box of shirts and put them on another display table with the autographed posters. One of them even had the nerve to roll her eyes at us before returning to her spot behind the glass counter by the cash registers. Ew. Stupid ugly witch. I bet that platinum hair of hers isn’t even natural. Like the uneven stuffing of toilet paper in her bra. What is she trying to show off? Walking around the store with her deformed boobs like she’s all that when she’s probably just as flat-as-a-board as I am.
Pfft. She’s not pretty anyways: too short, square at the waste, artificially tanned to the color of an orange traffic cone, and stumbly tree trunk legs poking out of a dark green skort. Who in the world wears a skort these days? I would like to see any guy—especially our guys—drool over an ugly skank like that. Stupid slut.
“Come on!” Hayden cried and beat her fists against the door.
“When are you gonna let us in? My eighteenth birthday?”
A wave of nervous laughter swayed through the Betas. We want to get our hands on the good stuff in there—and we are not going to let some stuck up high school snobs get in our way. Not if we have anything to say about it. One of the girls, a slender redhead with a cakey, overdone face, and flimsy arms that swung lifelessly at her sides rounded the front of the counters.
We screamed loudly. Yes! They’re finally gonna open the doors!
She tossed her frizzy hair over her shoulder as she tried her best to strut her way towards us like a Victoria Secret Model on a New York Fashion Show runway. I snorted and rolled my eyes. She looks ridiculous with her wobbly chicken legs and obviously practiced smile that in her mind seduces any man that crosses her path. Ugh. Hayley Klum and Kyra Banks would go into cardiac arrest. The rest of the girls quietly laughing behind the counters seem to think the same thing.
“Zero out of ten,” Hayden whispered and shook her head in disbelief. “The worst walk I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Amen to that sister!” an unknown Beta answered. More nervous laughter. “She’s walking like she’s trying to hold in a fart or something!”
I snickered underneath my breath. Take that witch. The redhead stopped in front of us and jingled the keys in front of our faces. Ugh. I hate her already. Who does she think she is trying to be the Boss Chick when she looks like a demonic leprechaun? Pfft. She must have terrible skin if she’s hiding behind so much NYX makeup. Gross.
She laughed and tossed her hair like she’s the lead model in a Pantene hair commercial. Ha. In your dreams, Cruella.
“Please,” Hayden scoffed. “Nasty slut. Not even a dog would dig this chick.”
“You want me to open the doors, right?” she asked with an evil smirk on her face.
“Open the door, you ugly troll!” a random Beta shouted angrily.
We all burst out laughing at her lemony expression. “It’s time to get in!” With collective screeches, our heads swiveled away from this horror movie character and pasted our eyes to the dashboard again. 12:00 AM. I gasped aloud. The moment of truth is finally upon us. Yes! A smile broke out on my face. Let the games begin.
But the redhead only leaned against the doors and yawned into her hand.
“Oh? Is it that time already?” she questioned in a bored tone. “I guess no one told you, little girls, anything, huh?”
We all turned to look at one another questioningly, each desperately waiting for someone to give us the answer to the magic question. I groaned in annoyance. Told us what? Are we playing 20 Questions or something? The girls behind the counters burst into fits of laughter, clearly getting a kick out of our cluelessness. I clenched my teeth together. What’s so funny? We did our homework, and we are here now. The right day, time, and store.
So what’s the big idea?
“So, are you going to tell us what that ‘anything’ is or not?” Hayden snapped and shot these skanks her perfected Regina George glare. “It’s midnight now so let us in you dirty bitch!”
The redhead, clearly unfazed by Hayden’s temper, simply threw her head back and let out a long, crackly laugh. Oh, what I would give to give this chick and her bimbo friends good kicks to their throats right now. Who do they think they are? “There has been a change of plans,” she said and cleared her throat. “We’re actually not opening until twelve…thirty.”
The Betas immediately broke into heartbroken sobs and discouraged gasps.
We turned again to look at one another, but nobody said anything. Twelve-thirty? So we have to wait another half hour to get our stuff? Where is the stupid manager? We did not wait four long hours just to be kept waiting some more. Four. Freaking. Hours. Who do these prostitutes think they are? They don’t own the store.
I felt my anger boiling at the pit of my stomach. Then the realization finally dawned on me.
Ohmygod! Are these girls…Anti Fans? Oh. My. God. No wonder they are giving us a hard time. They’re trying to sabotage Alpha Centauri’s album sales! I felt the color suddenly drain from my face. Our boys do have a lot of enemies…wait a second. I mentally face palmed myself. Are they…Boy Toy fans? With a ferocious growl, I dug my nails into the palms of my hands until I drew blood. They’ve crossed the line. We should have seen this coming! We should have known their Legion of Evil would try to get in our way. Pathetic groupies.! I clenched my teeth together until my jaw hurt.
“Girlfriends,” I grumbled and wrinkled my nose in disgust as the name of that horrible fandom.
“I’m…I’m calling the police!” An outraged Beta shouted. A pale pink phone was thrust into the air. “This is so unfair! You ugly bitches won’t get away with this!”
“Go ahead,” the redhead responded. “What do we care? We work here, so we decide what we want to do. Besides, I’m sure the police will want to know what a bunch of young brats are doing outside at midnight without their parents.”
Crap. The gremlin has a point. If one of these losers calls the cops, then it’s over for all of us. How are we gonna support the boys then?
“Well…well…” The person faded into silence.
The Betas burst into nervous twittering amongst ourselves, eyes glittering with tears of fear and frustration. Crap. It can’t end this way. We can’t let this gang of stupid Boy Toy groupies get in our way. If we don’t do this, then we are messing it up for the other Betas across the country and the Boys might flop. Then what will we do?
We can’t let this go down like this. We have to do something. I racked my brain for any ideas. Ugh. I hate feeling so powerless. This is an injustice. This has to be illegal somehow. You can’t just lock out paying customers from a public place for no reason. But if anyone calls the cops, then we get locked up, and our parents will ground us for life. Then we will never be able to support the boys again.
I wiped the hot tears off my face before the Girlfriends could see them fall.
I raised my hands and flipped her the birds. The redhead shrugged a shoulder and stuck her tongue out at me.
Typical Boy Toy fan. Always messing with the other fandoms just because their pathetic biases can’t place on the Billboard 100.
“Fine then!” Hayden declared. “You leave us no choice!”
The sobs and complaints suddenly died out as all eyes fixed onto Hayden. What is that supposed to mean? What is she gonna do? Run her brother’s convertible through the doors? Hmm…well, that’s not the worst idea at this point. It would give these losers something to talk about besides how much their manicures/pedicures cost their sick parents or who would be taking them to their last prom—which is nobody.
“Follow my lead, Betas!” Hayden ordered. “If it’s a fight they want, then it’s a fight they’re gonna get!”
She started pounding her fists against the building. “Let us in! We’ve waited long enough! Let us in! We’ve waited long enough! Let us in! We’ve waited long enough!”
I smiled devilishly at the redhead’s surprised expression. Of course!
We’re gonna start a riot. Let’s see how these bimbos stop us now.
I joined Hayden in her chanting. “Let us in! We’ve waited long enough! Let us in! We’ve waited long enough! Let us in! We’ve waited long enough!”
After a small hesitation, the rest of the Betas all joined in, beating their fists and stomping their feet as they repeated after us. The redhead slowly backed away from us, looking back at her followers for help. Instead, the girls exchanged eye rolls and scowls. Oh? So it’s gonna be like that? Okay. Time to kick it up a few notches.
You asked for it, Boy Toy. “Louder!” I screeched and beat my fists as hard as I could. “Let them know that you mean it! Show them that you want it!”
I brought my feet down against the ground and stomped in unison with the others. This means war. Boy Toy has nothing on our boys.
“This is for Alpha Centauri!” I declared.
An explosion of cheers went off behind me, and I felt my heart swell with pride. If only the boys were here to see how much we care about them. Let’s do this. “LET US IN! WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH! LET US IN! WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH! LET US IN! WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH! LET US IN! WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH!”
The store employees looked stupefied and shaken. Now let’s see if they’ll use their peanut-sized brains and realize that we are not playing any games here. Not today. Not when the boys depend on us to make their debut album sales legendary. There’s too much on the line, and this groupie and her understudies are not getting in the way.
I will be damned before they flop because of them.
We continued with our protests, screaming at the top of our lungs, pushing with all of our combined strength against the doors, and ignoring the disapproving looks from random people driving by. Whatever. It’s not like they will ever understand what we are here to accomplish. Our throats burned from so much screaming, our hands throbbed, and our feet were killing us, but we pushed on with all we have.
Please, God. Don’t let our boys flop because of these Anti-fans. Let us in, I snarled internally. If you crows know what’s right for you.
12:21 AM. There go twenty-one minutes of our precise time—no thanks to these useless drag queens.
“S-stop it!” the redhead shouted though her voice was drowned out by the outraged Betas. “You’ll be sorry if you don’t!”
“You’re the one who’s gonna be sorry, puta!” Hayden growled through clenched teeth. “Chinga tú madre!”
Yup. It’s not a party unless a Latina curses you out in Spanish.
After several moments, the EXIT door at the back of the store was yanked open, and a tall, mocha-colored African American woman in a dark blue button-up shirt and black slacks stepped inside. She looked furious about the commotion. Well, excuse us for being so mad. Blame your idiot staff for not letting us in on time. The girls at the counter immediately stiffened, and all turned to look at the redhead expectantly as if to say ‘okay! Joke’s over! You can open the doors now, sweetheart!’
Boss Lady scowled as she stomped towards the front of the store to the redhead, hands curled into fists at her sides. “What the hell are you doing, Daphne? Do you want to lose your job?” she roared.
I winced at her angry tone and bit my tongue to keep from laughing. Daphne? A beautiful name like that on a girl like this? Ohmygod. I wonder how her parents must feel looking at their daughter every day and knowing that she fell short of their expectations. Bummer. Boss Lady reached the front of the store and snatched the keys from a shaking Daphne’s hands. “Do you want to get fired? Why am I getting calls about a riot happening outside my store when those doors should have been opened nearly forty-five minutes ago?”
We all snapped our heads to the dashboard again. 12: 47 AM.
You’ve got to be kidding me. Seriously? “You know that we can get in some serious trouble for this, don’t you? Why do I have to come down here to come to fix this mess when I have a toddler at home that I should be taking care of?”
With her eyes downcast to the polished floors, Daphne murmured an apology and slowly backed away from her superior. Boss Lady whipped her head around to glare at the Girlfriends huddled together at the registers. “And why couldn’t you guys have half a brain to open the doors when you saw that this fool wasn’t doing her job?”
They all dropped their eyes to the floor like Daphne. Boss Lady sighed and approached the doors slowly as she studied our angry faces. “Let’s just get this over with. We will have a meeting first thing tomorrow morning to discuss the futures of your employment with this company.”
Finally. I released a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and peaked at Hayden, who stared unblinkingly at Boss Lady.
We stood still in our places as we watched Boss Lady find the right key on the keyring and insert it into the lock.
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump.
Here it is. The moment we have all been waiting for. We all leaned forward as Boss Lady unlatched the doors.
Click. The sound seemed to echo through the heavy silence. We all looked at one another one last time. Okay. So we all heard it
Go. We all stampeded forward like a heard of mad cows, throwing the heavy doors aside and spilling to the sides to quickly subdue Boss Lady and the Girlfriends with duct tape and jump ropes.
“Incoming!” one of the Girlfriends shouted and ducked under the counter, her skinny arms held up over her head as she broke out into pathetic sobs.
The staff all screamed in unison before being knocked over, wildly swinging their arms and legs in ridiculous attempts of defense before they were buried underneath a pile of Betas. With high-pitched battle cries, the rest of us charged toward the center of the store towards the displays, ducking through the maze of CDs, vinyl records, cassette tapes, and VCR videos. “Leave nothing behind!” I instructed at the top of my lungs. “The boys need us right now!”
Thump-thump. I can see it now. The cardboard cutout of Alpha Centauri a few feet up ahead. Shaking with stubborn gladness, I sucked in my breath, reared back on the balls of my feet, and leaped forward as far as I could.
“Geronimo!” I bellowed and crashed onto the display tables below me, landing on the floor as they gave way under my weight.
I quickly to my feet and spun around. It was pandemonium: hands flying in from all directions like manicured claws, screams and grunts of triumph and disappointment ringing through the air, posters fluttering through the air as T-shirts and CDs littered the ground. We were fist fighting, cursing, shoving, laughing, and sobbing, but nobody stopped to asses their injuries.
Not while there were still things for the taking.
I snatched up all that I could, picking up ragged T-shirts, crumpled up autographed posters, and tucking the cutout under my arm. I tossed the items to Hayden, who quickly shoved them into our backpacks, cursing loudly in Spanish when Betas pushed her from different directions.
“¡Estúpidas perras! ¡Ten cuidado con lo que estás haciendo!” She snarled and launched a deadly kick into a passing Beta’s rear end.
Ouch. As I made a final grab for the CDs left on the display table, a pale hand reached out and grabbed my wrist tightly. I scowled and turned to face my aggressor. For the love of God—
“Me first Holm!” she hissed and pushed her horn-rimmed glasses up her fleshy nose. “I was here first, so I get to take this home!”
What. A. Fool.
When will Jennafer Brown realize that a real Beta helps other Betas get to the goal together? Selfish sheep. I will have to show her what happens when you grab the bull by its horns. I wrenched my arm out of her grasp and made another grab for the last of the goods. “We’re in this together, Brown!” I roared over the chaos around us. “Quit being selfish!”
The nerve of some people. Hayden and I are the ones who came up with this idea in the first place, and this is the thanks we get for our hard work? A Beta is what she calls herself? Yeah right. The idiot does not realize that the whole point of all this is to make the album sales skyrocket in the smallest amount of time possible. More successes mean more popularity, and more fame means more public appearances. More public appearances equal more chances to finally meet them in person.
But no. Not when gap-toothed hillbillies like Jennafer Brown are running around only looking out for themselves and their selfish desires.
Not on my watch. Ugly crow.
“Speak for yourself!” she snapped and shoved me away. “I came here for myself! Not you or anybody! So back off and let me get my stuff, you crow!”
I gaped at her. Me? A crow? Ohmygod. She is so done.
“Show her what happens when you betray the Betas Kat!” Hayden howled. With a wink, she jumped into a flurry of arguing Betas.
I shot Jennafer a conniving grin. You asked for it, Dear Jenny.
“Knock it off, Holm!” Jennafer snapped at me. “You’ll be sorry if you do something to me!”
I’ll be sorry? Jenny, Jenny, Jenny. You should have just played by the fandom rules.
Oh well. Ignoring Jennafer’s looks of suspicion, I put my fingers to my mouth and release a long whistle that cut through the wild chaos around me. Instantly, everybody froze in place and turned to stare at us. I took a deep breath and put on my best ‘Horrified Beta Face’ as I pointed my finger at Jennafer. I let the tears flow freely down my face. “This g-girl…Jennafer Haley Brown..is a…a… Girlfriend! She’s against our boys!”
A handful of enraged shouts came afterward. “She hates Alpha Centauri and is only here to sabotage their album sales! Ohmygod!”
I threw in some hiccuping sobs and broke into sudden trembling as I ducked out of the way. “Why are people so mean?” I sobbed and covered my face with my hands to hide the growing smile on my face.
Bingo. In seconds, Jennafer was surrounded by a handful of angry Betas circling around her, glaring and suggesting violence through their hand gestures.
“Come on, guys,” Jennafer said and rolled her eyes. “You guys aren’t seriously gonna hurt me, right? We all came for ourselves. No need to get so crazy for this stuff.” My heart skipped a beat. Uh oh. Jennafer should have kept her big mouth shut.
The circling stopped. “Get her!” the Betas shouted. Jennafer disappeared under a pile of Betas a few seconds later, making her vanish under a commotion of lipstick, skirts, and hectic screams.
“Don’t let that puta get away with anything!” Hayden barked over the uproar. “Nothing at all!”
With a winning smile, I jumped back into the action and took what was left for the taking. Mission complete, I thought and gestured wildly for the girls to follow us to the counters. “Throw the money on the table, and let’s go home! We’ve done good work today, ladies!” I was answered with a chorus of celebratory cheers, high fives, and thank-yous.
Hayden shot me a thumbs-up sign. Yes! We did it!
“We pulled it off, Kat!” Hayden yelled and threw her arms around me in a tight hug. I returned the hug and joined her in our squealing. I hope our tardiness won’t put a dent in the boys’ album sales. I couldn’t help the tinge of annoyance I felt with the Girlfriends. The Betas hurriedly tossed their crumpled bills on the glass countertops as the store employees struggled to break out of their bondage.
“Wait for a second,” Hayden said slowly and broke away from me.
“What is it?” I said and turned my head to where she was looking. My heart skipped a beat when I realized what she was looking at. Daphne was missing.
My stomach seemed to drop to my knees. Where did that skank run off to?
Hayden opened her mouth to warn the others but was interrupted by the sounds of shrill police sirens cutting through the air. Oh crap. We both turned to look at each other, fear frozen on our pale faces.
“Run!” I shrieked.
In seconds, we scattered like cockroaches, overturning tables and knocking over the aisles in our clumsy attempt of fleeing the scene. “Mierda,” Hayden muttered and shot a glare that the giggling Girlfriends still bound with our tape and jump ropes. So Daphne called the cops on us, did she? Fine. They can’t put us in jail if they don’t catch us. We poured out onto the streets as the sounds of their sirens grew closer in the distance.
“Scatter!” I ordered. “Hide if you have to! Get a ride with the other girls if you must! Do not get caught, or you’re screwed!”
Hayden grabbed my arm and yanked me towards her brother’s convertible. “Vamonos Kat or we’re gonna get caught!”
With that, we sprinted through the hysterical crowd towards the car and quickly jumped in with three other Betas piling into the back. “Let’s hope that we can get home safely,” one of them said in a trembling whisper as Hayden peeled out of her parking spot and sped down the street to the safety of our homes.