The magnificent domicile of teenage rebellion known as Devon Jackson’s house was once again jam-packed on a Friday night following Everton’s scintillating 44-3 victory over Wayne High. Reveling took place at the same raucous levels as the previous week; harlowcane binging and liquor scavenging led by Matt Maith and teammates, deafening music and chatter, and romanticizing on the sofas and at the pool.
Unlike last week, however, Jesse was not sour or contemplative. Instead, he felt buoyant, smitten, and for excellent reason. He stood face-to-face with Sarah Schale next to the black-and-white marble countertop near the sliding doors of the patio. His baby blue eyes glistened like spotlights as he studied Sarah’s ruby-red lips. Sarah, sparkling in her black low-cut leather dress and stiletto heels, caressed Jesse’s defined arm muscles filtering up toward his short sleeved black t-shirt.
“Five touchdowns, huh?” Sarah inquired with a seductive tone. “I expected six!”
“Now that isn’t nice,” Jesse muttered. “Maybe if you had asked nicely, I’d have thrown a sixth!”
Sarah smiled, and continued: “the newslinks have called you His Magnificence. How does that make you feel?”
“Umm, that’s an unfair comparison. I just play football.”
“Truth be told, to some people, you’re more respected than you-know-who.” Sarah leaned closer to Jesse, and when the minty smell of her perfume filtered through Jesse’s nose, his insides vibrated. “And, as well-known as you-know-who is,” she whispered.
Jesse grinned. He fondly recalled how he and Sarah bonded over mutual distrust for His Magnificence. It inspired him to exude charisma instead of aloofness.
“Sarah Schale! You can make me smile!”
“Well, something must get you to smile.”
Jesse took Sarah’s hint and showed his Hollywood smile. “You and I should talk further outside of Devon Jackson’s house, don’t you think?” he asked, exuding confidence.
Sarah absorbed the clammy sweat of Jesse’s palm with her right hand. “Let’s say… now? Weehawken cliffs?”
“Are you serious?!” he exclaimed with wide eyes.
“You know, we could tempt violating the Third, stare at the Needle, and a few other things?”
Jesse’s heart tightened, sending shock waves of ecstasy to his brain. With his mouth agape, he nodded. “Yes,” he spluttered. “Yes, we can! But excuse me a moment.” He scampered to his right and patted Matt on his shoulder while he was taking a chug of harlowcane next to Luis and Wes. “Matthew! Got a favor to ask you!” An oblivious Matt continued chugging unabated. When he finished, he screamed like a banshee to raucous applause from Luis and Wes and other nearby onlookers. Then, he stumbled into the makeshift bar, knocking plastic harlowcane bottles to the floor, and passed out. Jesse, Wes, Luis, and others laughed hysterically. “Thanks Matt! Appreciate ya!” Jesse shouted with a sarcastic chuckle, then re-approached Sarah.
“Broooo,” a dizzy Wes said to Luis. “Was that… Jesse… talking?”
“Yo,” an equally woozy Luis replied. “Where are we- ohhhhhh, look at Matt!” When they noticed their teammate rub his head against the bar like a purring cat, they both stumbled to the floor in uncontrollable laughter.
Meanwhile, as Jesse exited the Jackson residence with Sarah while holding hands, he felt the happiest he had felt since his mother’s passing. For the first time, he was channeling allure at a social level, not through football skills and intelligence. And, he knew, with no pause, that Sarah felt just as happy.
After a twenty-minute hovertaxi ride, Jesse and Sarah arrived at the Weehawken Cliffs park, where an enormous crowd had gathered to indulge in the view beyond the cliffs. Jesse, already internally vibrating with anticipation, intensified his bliss when he gazed upon the multi-colored glowing beauty of the Midtown Manhattan skyline rising toward the stars in the clear seventy-one degree late evening air. He studied the smooth flashing colors rising up and down the entire 5,280 feet height of the Manhattan Needle, complete with blinding glows of white flashing through the low-flying mist. His hand now free of perspiration, he re-locked it with Sarah’s.
“It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” Jesse asked.
“With the amount of money spent on that nightly light show, it better be!” Sarah semi-sarcastically quipped while flashing her glistening smile.
“Ten billion dollars.”
“The amazing thing is, this building was not ordered for construction by you-know-who to flex our financial muscle like the Capitol towers were.”
“Total waste of money.”
Jesse and Sarah then watched and hooted with delight as a firework exploded above the Needle’s mast, turning the black sky above white. As the applause from the crowd dissipated, they sat down on the metal bench directly in front of them, facing the skyline. Sarah then passionately wrapped her arms around Jesse and comfortably nuzzled hear head into his chest. Jesse’s heart arrested itself with a heavenly paralysis, and the feel of Sarah’s body on his felt like a warm blanket wrapped around him. He stared into Sarah’s eyes for a few moments, then attempted to win her favor further by resuming conversation with a topic he knew they would bond over.
“So, do your parents support you-know-who?”
“Ugh, yes, they do! They always call him Francis Stewart. They would never risk a Third violation.”
“They should party with my aunt and uncle.”
“It makes me sick how brainwashed they are by that FNN propaganda. It’s on their holoTV all day long! My mom thinks my distrust for you-know-who is ‘just a teenage phase.’ She doesn’t get it. But hey, as long as their retirement plans are growing, right? Do your parents support him?”
Jesse sighed, but concealed raw emotion. He produced a steel-like expression; no tears, no trembling. “Well,” he replied in monotone, “I think if they were still around, they’d question him.”
“Oh my goodness,” a shocked Sarah replied while grasping at Jesse’s arm, “I’m so sorry!”
“It’s okay, you didn’t know. My dad died in Washington during the Endgame. My mom died of cancer when I was eight.” Sarah gasped then aggressively squeezed Jesse in sympathy, but Jesse smiled. “But look,” he continued, “this is not a time for sorrow. I’m having too much fun to spoil it.”
“I am too,” Sarah replied, then flashed her sparkling smile.