The next day Farrah called. “Hey?” I said.
“Where have you been lately? It’s like I only see you at school.”
“I don’t know. Around.”
“You wanna hang out tonight?”
“I’m busy.” Abe was off tonight.
“A guy.” I didn’t think she would know his name, but I didn’t tell her anyhow. I thought we might just be friends and I didn’t want her to read too much into it. Either way, Farrah had a habit of developing obvious crushes on the guy I was with.
“No one you know. He’s older.”
I wasn’t going to make a game of Abrahem. I really didn’t know what this thing was between us, but he respected me when he had no reason to. He didn’t deserve less. “Hey, I’m getting another call. Can I call you back?”
“Sure.” But what she really meant was “bitch.”
Later that night, Abe and I went to a pool hall.
“Are you sure this is the kind of place a girl should be at?”
“In America girls can play pool. This isn’t Barbaria.”
“In Barbaria decent guys don’t take girls to places full of smoke and alcohol. Sorry if I’m having a problem adjusting.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Kailee, I like it when you’re honest with me. I’m not offended. I’m telling you taking a girl to a bar doesn’t feel right.”
I shrugged. “We can go somewhere else, but I wanted to play pool.”
“Is there anywhere else to play pool in town?”
I shrugged. “Not really.”
“Okay, we’ll play.”
We played air hockey first. I giggled as I moved my whole body, trying to keep the puck out of my slot. I was only successful about half of the time. Abe sunk three pucks in a row, and then I blocked the puck with my red hand piece and knocked it back. It sailed into his slot. Ha! Point for Kailee. I sunk a few more, and I was beginning to think he was letting me win. But all of the sudden, he made a comeback.
“Loser,” Abe said after he scored the winning point.
“No, you’re the loser. I won.”
“Uhh—that says fifteen to three.”
“Yeah, I got fifteen, you got three.”
“You are confused.” He smiled and took my hand. The blood rushed under my cheeks, and I smiled back, my pulse racing.
I led him to the pool table and selected a stick. “You break.”
We played a few games before Abe checked his watch.
“Kailee, I have to drive my Ommy to work. I don’t have to work tonight, though. Are you busy later?”
I had school in the morning. Since I started hanging out with Abrahem, I was getting far less sleep. I knew I should tell him I would see him tomorrow. “No.”
“I can pick you up after that. We can do whatever you want.”
“Two words.” I held up two fingers. “Chick flick.”
“Something tells me I’m going to regret this.”
I shrugged. “I can find someone else to watch a movie with.”
He smiled. “I’ll be there.”
We passed Kevin and two shaved heads in cammis standing around with drinks in their hands on the way out the door. I knew the grunts, Gade and Jason. They were friends with Jackson. “Look at the whore,” Kevin said. I knew he was talking about me, but I gave no sign I noticed. Because I didn’t want Abrahem to know I was “the whore.” Then he added, “She’s moved on to a sand nigger now.”
Rage shot through me. Abe was the nicest guy I knew. All the things my brother and his stupid friends said about Muslims, I didn’t think were true. So what? He was from a more conservative culture. He respected me more than any white guy ever had. I took all of Kevin in. He was more than twice my size, but I didn’t care. I picked up the cue stick leaning against the table beside them and swung it like a baseball bat straight at his head.
“Kailee, calm down,” Abe shouted.
I’d whacked Kevin, and I didn’t plan to stop. I swung a second time, as firm hands clasped around my hips, lifting my body into the air.
“Get your hands off of her now,” Abe growled.
“What are you gonna do about it, raghead?”
I looked down midair as Abe put an arm around Jason’s neck and squeezed him into a chokehold. “I said put the girl down, and if she gets hurt, I’ll pop your body apart. Understand, redneck?”
I wanted to kick the bastard, but I was half afraid I’d kick Abe instead. I was dangling from the air in the hands of a psycho—the other half of me was terrified. Jason must not have moved fast enough for Abe, because Abe moved in closer to the soldier boy. “Now.” Jason yelped in pain and the concrete floor crashed into my back.
Abe leaned down to help me up.