Later that night, atop the rocky cliffs of the Palisades in the town of Hendrickson Lookout, named after a famous American Endgame Conflict general, one of Everton Academy’s most infamous traditions took place.
Following each Pioneers home victory, a party occurs at the home of an Everton player. These post-game vivacities have caused both excitement and controversy amongst the Everton community. Pete Harrison has infamously dubbed the parties “a dark mole on an otherwise immaculately groomed face,” while students colloquially refer to the event as “the only place to be outside school.” And at approximately 2315hrs, nearly four-hundred-fifty Everton students, almost half the student body, descended upon the glass-encased, four acre, six-thousand square-foot home of star wide receiver Devon Jackson, mind-altering substances in tow, to robustly participate in piece of Everton folklore.
Jesse, in a plain-white t-shirt and black pants, and Matt, in his varsity jacket with navy-blue E emblazed on the chest, walked with fellow students along a fifty-yard-long brick-paved driveway, past a line of Kehoe and Harris hovercars, to the main entrance of the Jackson estate, which appears like a replica of Paris’ Louvre pyramid. As they entered, an excited Matt and a timid Jesse became entranced by the French chandeliers hanging down from the apex of the pyramid’s center spire. Subwoofers vibrated the panes with heavy hip hop beats, and a wall of chatter and a sea of students awaited Jesse and Matt after they filtered past the two holographic doors leading to the main living room.
“I hear there are at least six harlowcane dispensers stationed at the pool alone!” Matt shouted to Jesse as they entered the brown-curtained living room. “I’m going to hit up the ones by the kitchen first! How about you?”
“Be careful, Matt,” Jesse pled. “You don’t want your father ratting you out to Lowe if he knew you were binging on harlowcane.”
“Like I care what he thinks!” Matt shouted. “I’ve been waiting for years to go to these parties! Mary went to one last year, and, well…you know the stories…”
“Yeah, like how Lonnie Banks hung himself from a ceiling fan on a dare because he was hocked up? Luckily, he survived! Harlowcane is more powerful than alcohol and marijuana combined, and you’ve never tried it before! How do you know how you’ll react? If you’re in a good mood, probably drunk. If you’re in a bad mood, you’ll be high.”
“Cuz, why be such a spoilsport? What are you so afraid of? And if you don’t want to party, why are you here?”
“So I can avoid going home for a little while? And to make sure you don’t do anything stupid? By the way, you don’t find it strange how Devon’s parents are absent?”
Matt looked at his cousin with sarcastic curiosity. “What’s your point?”
“You know my point. But don’t worry…number one, you-know-who eased up the underage harlowcane laws because they were no longer profitable, and number two, we know the police protect the Everton Pioneers, whatever the cost.”
“Well, good, because I spy with my little eye my first station of the night!”
Jesse and Matt entered the kitchen, which may as well be mistaken for a nightclub given its futuristic furnishings such as flashing LED light displays and holographic harlowcane dispensers.
“First ’cane’s on me, cuz!” Matt shouted as he approached the pixelated green DISPENSE button atop a black square metal container nearly waist-height. “WHO WANTS TO DO A CHUG WITH ME!”
At least ten students gathered around Matt and Jesse. “You sure you don’t want at least a shot, Jess? Unwind, man!”
“Listen,” Jesse replied, “You drink ’til you barf, and I’ll take my time. K? I’ll see you by the pool putting the chlorine to work.”
“Suit yourself, glamour boy!”
Matt dispensed himself twelve ounces of the DRF’s favorite brown-and-green-mixed substance to the brim of a glass mug. He attempted one chug, then started coughing while Jesse and other Everton-jacketed students laughed at him. Shortly after recovering, Matt began to chug again.
Jesse, meanwhile, walked away and stationed himself against sliding glass doors that separated the kitchen from the immense back wooden patio with swimming pool. He remained silent and observed the debauchery, mindless chatter, and drinking games, and for twenty minutes, brushed off greetings and congratulations from passersby with a slight nod or a barely-audible thank you.
Then, suddenly, a slim, slender figure in a black low-cut mini skirt and sun-bright hair atop her virtually heart-shaped brown-eyed face approached Jesse in a slow, seductive strut. His trance immediately ceased, and his vigilant baby blue eyes suddenly became spellbound at the sight of such a flesh-personifying embodiment of chic gorgeousness.
“Why are you so quiet tonight, Jesse?” Sarah asked in her deepened yet silky voice, then took a slow sip of harlowcane from her cup.
“H…have we met?” a stone-faced Jesse replied.
“Not yet. You’re an amazing football player.”
“I’m Sarah. Sarah Schale.”
“I know who you are.”
“Do you? Well I know who you are, too.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“So how do you know who I am?”
“Can I tell you without getting offended?”
“I don’t get offended that easily.”
“I’ll put it this way.” Jesse paused, then took a deep breath. “In the hallway I heard one guy say you’re the envy and lustful affection of every post-pubescent male teenager at Everton Academy.”
Sarah laughed hysterically. “Wow! Classy!”
“Well,” Jesse replied, “I didn’t want you to mace me or punch me?”
“Please! If I hurt the glamorous starting quarterback, I think that boys staring at my chest will be the least of my worries.”
“So, why did you come over to talk to me? Just because I’m the quarterback? I’m sure you understand how cliché that sounds.”
“Because you look like you could use a friend.”
“Really?” Jesse smirked, sensing disingenuousness. “You here with any friends of yours?”
“Yes, but they’re all out by the hot tub or in the pool naked and chugging their harlowcane or something. Speaking of cliché, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing cliché about a high school quarterback standing by a doorway alone with no girls hanging on his shoulders.”
“I’m here with my cousin, but he’s probably outside about to fall into the pool. Or he’s upstairs, or something.”
“Why didn’t you join him?”
“Not in the mood.”
“Why not? You single-handedly dominated Paramus tonight. You should be proud. So why be antisocial?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, for Joshua’s sake.”
Sarah stepped closer. Her advance didn’t faze Jesse nor catalyze his heart nor his inner juices. What happened next, though, shocked him. She didn’t lean into Jesse’s face for a kiss; instead, her glazy pink mouth approached his right ear. She began whispering. When she was finished, Jesse’s jaw dropped.
“I’m not surprised…” Jesse said, “yet…I am. I know exactly how you feel. These…” Jesse then leaned toward Sarah’s ear, and whispered, “these foragers have no clue what you and I have to deal with.”
“My parents already want to hire an agent for me and move me into a 100th floor apartment in the Needle. They want me to become a famous actress for them, not for me. I don’t want to be one of those publicity hounds at the Rockefeller Grounds during those, you know…special events! That’s why I approached you, because I believe you and I can relate to this kind of pressure.”
Jesse then locked his eyes on Sarah’s. For the first time, he was in awe of the beauty that lay before him, not because of her physical exquisiteness, but for her raw, internally naked honesty that tugged at Jesse’s cockles more than a revealing of private parts ever could.
“Well I think should talk a little more about this,” Jesse excitedly and confidently replied. “Can we go somewhere a little more private?”
“Um, I’m not really comfortable going…”
“No…I mean…somewhere away from this house another time. You and me. I think we have much more in common.”
Sarah smiled brightly, revealing coma-white unstained teeth. “I’d love to,” she replied.
Then, for the first time in his post-pubescent life, Jesse felt a euphoric sensation below his waistline.