This is the beginning of my current WIP... comments and insights are welcome.
Hiding out in the bathroom wasn’t how I planned to spend my seventeenth birthday. But Chris was out there, somewhere, with his lackeys…waiting for me. It’s not that I couldn’t take him, just not him and three other guys. So, like a coward I’m hanging out in the handicapped stall of the boy’s room, praying that he’ll get bored and go home. The echoes of voices and squeaking of shoes against the hall floors grew from a loud barrage to an occasional slap of running shoes on the floor as I tried to wait them out.
What was his problem anyway? I was just being nice, helping Layla with her History work, in the Library. It’s not like we were making out or anything, not that I wouldn’t mind making out with her. That girl is beyond beautiful.
“I told you he wouldn’t show.”
Chris’s words pierced the silence of the bathroom as the door flung open, hitting the wall and sending a chill through me.
I sucked in a breath and scooted up onto the toilet to hide my feet. Crap, what if they try to open the door and find me in here?
“How the hell did he get past us, Chris?”
Michael was still with him. I wanted to peer under the stall and see what other jerk was waiting around to watch Chris pummel me.
“Dude, I don’t know. It’s like the little freak disappeared.”
I clenched my jaw, wishing I had the nerve to bound out of the stall and take them both on, but my body stayed where it was.
“Come on, Chris. We’ve got practice and coach is gonna have our asses if we’re late again.”
Relief washed through me. The two Neanderthals had baseball practice and I was pretty sure having their asses handed to them by the coach was more important than looking for me.
Of course, that’s when all hell broke loose.
My foot slipped off the edge of the seat, sending me toppling to the floor. The cold tile against my cheek did nothing to relieve the pain in my skull from slamming against it. My eyes jerked toward Chris’s sneakers as they pivoted at the sound.
The door shook as he tried to open it. “Come on out you wuss, we know it’s you, Al.”
I was trapped. He was gonna get that door open if he had to rip it off the hinges. Rolling onto my knees I hoisted my backpack onto my back and stood. The ringing in my ears was annoying.
I drew in a deep breath and reached my hand to the latch. Might as well just get it over with.
“Hey, guys. What’s up?” my voice shook as I swung the door open.
There before me stood Chris Johnson, baseball star, class president and an all around jerk. He wasn’t that big of a guy, maybe an inch or two taller than me and just as skinny. His cohort, Michael, though, was one of those corn-fed, good ole’ boys, bulky and not that bright. The two of them looked like a pair of cats that had just discovered a mouse. I, of course, was battling the inner desire to run past them and not stop until I was safe in my house. This was not going to happen, though. Michael was blocking the only exit and any hope of someone coming to my rescue was long gone. By now the school was empty except for a few straggling teachers and Chris’s team mates. I was going to have to get out of this on my own.
“You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you Al?”
“Actually, Mike, if I was smart, I would have hidden in the girl’s bathroom. There’s no chance of you guys going in there. Hiding in here, not so bright.”
Mike snickered at my joke, Chris just looked more annoyed. Making people laugh was easy for me and if I played my cards right I could get them to forget about kicking the crap out of me and let me go home in one piece, maybe.
Chris stepped closer to me. I tensed and held my breath, awaiting some form of a blow. My hands were on the straps of my backpack at my chest. I tried to step backward, but the stall door had closed and I met the cold metal with a thump.
“In what world do you think it’s okay to snake in on my girl? Guys like you are supposed to keep your heads down and stay out of my way, Not go sliding into the seat beside my girlfriend and get all friendly.”
I shifted the weight of my backpack, the rustling of fabric against metal was enough to help me relax. “Like I already told you man, she needed help with the History assignment. That’s it. I helped her and I left.”
Mike placed his hand on Chris’s shoulder. “Dude this is lame, I’m out. I’ll see you at practice.”
Chris turned his head toward Mike and then back to face me. It was like he was deciding to let me go or stay here and bloody my face.
Mike shook his head and turned to open the door. “Later, man.”
See, this wasn’t my first run in with Chris. Two weeks ago I apparently stood too close to him in the lunch line and ended up on the floor, with my lunch in my lap. The entire cafeteria laughed, it was humiliating. Last week I was sitting in his ‘spot’ in the auditorium during assembly. His glare alone was enough to let me know I needed to move. So, before he could make me, I grabbed my stuff and picked a less dangerous seat. The guy was gunning for me for whatever reason and today was the day he was going to make his final point.
His face was a mixture of irritation and anger. I took a side step toward the door, hoping to slip past him and make it out of there in one piece. No such luck.
Chris grabbed the top of my backpack, pulling me back into my previous place. “hey, we’re not done here man. I told you to stay outta my way, didn’t I?”
“Well, if you’ll stop blocking my exit, I’ll be outta your way.” I regretted the sarcastic remark the moment it left my mouth.
His jaw flexed as he rested his hand on my chest, gripping my t-shirt in his left fist.
I never thought I would have to use anything my father had taught me. At this particular moment his lessons on hand to hand combat and boxing were one thing I was grateful he gave me before he ran out a year ago. I began to assess the situation just like he said to. There was plenty of stuff to get in my way in the bathroom. The stalls, for one made the room small, not to mention the sinks and urinals along the opposite wall. The backpack was going to be a problem too, it’s weight would slow me down and work against me if I had to make any sudden moves. I needed to find a way to slip it off without Chris realizing I had decided to stand my ground.
“Are you listening to me?”
Crap, he must have been talking and I was busy thinking about how to keep from being killed. How rude of me…
“My bad, Chris. Guess I just tuned you out. What were you saying?”
His already pissed off expression got worse, his nostrils flared as his grip on my t-shirt tightened, pulling me closer to his face. This is definitely going to end badly.
“I was saying that you needed to learn the rules around here. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean it’s okay to break them.”
God his breath reeks.