Second thoughts. Second thoughts.
Remind me why I even liked drama class.
Fiddling with the pen in my hand, I waited for the drama teacher to finally set us free. The sun had turned red and it was almost sinking outside but we were still trapped in this gigantic auditorium to yield our ears to this endless monologue from Mrs. Turner.
My head hurt.
My phone dinged, notifying me of a text message. I opened it and saw that it was from my childhood best friend, Drew. We’d come to White Hall College together after graduating high school. We were in our first year’s and it hadn’t been a week since our sessions started.
“Yo. Will Mrs. What’s-her-name ever stop talking?”
He’d been waiting for me outside for what. . . about an hour now in his car.
When Turner finally clapped her hands after a century and quipped, “That’ll be all for today!” I grabbed my back pack and hurried outside.
Drew honked his car from the parking area. I ran up to him.
“Hey! I’m sorry you had to wait this long.” I gave him a hug through the window and got into the front seat.
“Yeah. I went to hell and came back. I was wondering why don’t we go downtown and explore,” he said as he started the car.
“That’s a great idea.”
“Uh-huh. Buckle up.”
I opened my window and let out my face to the wind. I loved how the air felt in my hair, brushing my neck and slipping pass the gaps between my fingers.
“Be careful, ” Drew warned me as I sighed in relief after a long day.
We walked around a mall, window shopping, checked out some videos stores, some book stores, comic books. . . Drew loved reading comics. Anywhere he goes, the first thing on his list would be to find a comic book store. I bought a diary as I identify myself as a diary-hoarder. I couldn’t help it. I kept on buying them. Diaries and books and pretty pens.
On the street by the parking lot, a homeless woman was selling some necklaces. Drew and I stopped by to buy one each. While we were checking them, the lady grumbled something in Spanish.
I looked up at her from the necklaces. She was staring at something behind me in a distance. I followed her gaze out of instinct and that was when I first saw him.
His hands grabbing the window frame of a silver Volvo and he was raving at the driver sitting inside on the other side. He was furious and every nerve of him, every cell of him seemed to emit the anger. As I stood there watching him, I could possibly feel his rage banging against my chest despite the distance that lay between us. He was wearing a beanie hat, a loose black tank top with wide underarm slits and I saw his firm arm covered in tattoo all the way up to his shoulder from the back of his hand.
“Who the fuck does he think he is?! Where is he?!” He raged.
It looked as though he could break anything. Just a touch with the tip of his fingers and I would break under his gaze. I hadn’t clearly seen his face then. I could only see him from the side. Half of his body was again hidden behind the several motorbikes that were parked there. In silence, I watched him yell at the driver, frown, slam the door with his hands in frustration. . . I felt him; every bit of him.
“Are you buying or what? ’Cause I gotta move before this shit gets ugly,” the woman asked us.
“Umm. . . I guess not. Sorry.”
Shaking her head, she started packing up her things. I could feel my heartbeat pounding against my ribs, almost like a protest to break free from the cage, as I turned back to him. I seemed to have lost all holds to the world that very instant. My eyes stayed glued to him and he was all I saw. All I ever knew.
Then I watch him yank the car door open and he got inside. The next minute, they left the area.
“Alright,” the woman sighed, watching behind them.
“Who were they?” I asked her.
“Ricardo. . . you seriously asking who Ricardo is?” She raised her eyebrows at me as if I’d lost my common sense.
“Are you new here?”
“Yeah. I just moved here for college.”
“Well, Ricardo’s the man who runs the show. This is his area. Just be careful you don’t get him on his bad days.” She laughed, shaking her head and showing me a set of uneven teeth.
“I’ve heard about him. He runs an ugly business,” Drew said.
I turned to look at him.
“My roommate told me to stay away from the ghetto. That’s literally his area and the people there could cause trouble for us.”
“Well, welcome to the ghetto!” The woman laughed again, holding out her palms to present to us the Ghetto.
Drew shakes his head. “Let’s get outta here.”
He took my hand and we quickly went back to our car. We hadn’t expected this but when we came back to the campus, we saw them – bikers – in front of a coffee shop nearby college, where most of the kids go to. They seemed to be just having fun talking to the girls and he was there, sitting on his bike and taking a long drag of his cigarette, clipped in between his heavily ringed fingers.
He appeared to be chill unlike how I saw him about an hour ago. There no longer was trouble in his eyes. He’d also got a jacket on and he was listening to one of the guys who’s got a girl in his arms. Maybe he’d dealt with whatever that was, I thought. As we passed them, he looked our way, blowing the smoke off from his mouth in the process. Through the hazy film of air in front of his face, his piercing gaze came through and caught my eyes.
Then I found myself completely drawn to him. . . all at once, burning and consuming me with an emotion that was as strange as he was. I felt my heart stop inside. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t look away. And he kept my attention imprisoned in his gaze to the last moment until we left them behind.
What’s his name?