Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
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   Jeff knew he would be spending the day looking over his shoulder. Homeroom and his first two periods pretty much went by without a hitch. All during third period, Clifford was glaring at him, occasionally running his index finger across his neck, indicating that something bad was going to happen at some point. As soon as the bell rang, Jeff bolted for his locker. He wanted to make sure that he got there while the hall was still bustling with kids. He grabbed his lunch, and also the textbooks he would be needing for his next two classes. This way, he wouldn't have to make any return trips to the locker, even if it meant stretching his backpack to it's limit. It now wouldn't even fit on his back, so he just carried it. He made it a point to never be out of eyesight of one or more of the faculty while he ate. If anybody were to start beating him up, he knew there would have to be a credible witness to the fact that he didn't start it. Not seeing Gavin or Clifford anywhere in the lunchyard, he assumed that they both must be eating in the cafeteria.
   As soon as the bell rang, he made a beeline for his next class. He was making his way down the hall at a brisk pace when a bathroom door suddenly swung open, and a hand reached out, grabbed his arm and yanked him inside. Before he could even mentally process what was happening, Gavin slammed him into the side of a stall and whacked him in the face with the back side of his hand. This sent him tumbling to the ground. It was then that he noticed that Gordy was guarding the door.
   "Who's a faggot now, douchebag?" Gavin came towards him again.
   Jeff knew his only chance would be the element of surprise. He pretended to be half-comatose. As soon as Gavin was close enough, he managed to kick him hard enough in the shin to cause the 9th grader to let out a yell, and fall down on his knees. He could hardly believe he suddenly had the upper hand. Quickly looking around, he noticed his backpack lying on the floor, with the books still zipped inside. He grabbed it by one of the straps, and flailed the books at Gavin's head...twice. It was enough to knock him unconscious.
   He now approached Gordy, brandishing his backpack in a menacing manner. "You've got one second to get away from that door, or you're gonna wind up like him, fucktard." Jeff could hardly believe he was hearing those words coming from his own mouth.
   As it turned out, the only reason big chicken Gordy was still standing there was because he was paralyzed with fear. Finally, he gulped and ran out the door. For once, Jeff was in a winning but precarious situation. If Gavin were to regain consciousness, he would be too embarassed to mention that he'd lost a fight with the village idiot. However, if he didn't regain consciousness, Gordy was a witness to his murder...not that that meant anything. He couldn't imagine anybody taking a nitwit like Gordy seriously, assuming the guy could even talk.
   Jeff now decided to do what any red blooded American teenager would do under these circumstances. Ditch school for the rest of the day. This was something he had never done before, but every man has his breaking point. It's not like anybody in history, math or phys-ed was going to miss him. He stunk at all those subjects and everybody in those classes hated him, especially the teachers. As far as he was concerned, he was doing both them and himself a favor. He casually walked outside, unlocked his bike, and deliberately rode off in a direction he wouldn't normally be heading. At this point, he wasn't even phased by the idea of a police manhunt for him, should Gavin's condition not improve. He had no friends, no hope and no future. Hell, he was even considering pedaling up the mountainside and jumping off.

1:50 PM, School Play Rehearsal

   "Alright, I want to see all actors needed for act three, page 72, on the stage. This means you two." Mr. Maxwell, the Drama coach pointed at Stacy Kessler and Sol Gurvitz.
   So far, the students had only read through the play's third act, and now it was ready to be blocked. Stacy and Sol were the two romantic leads.
   "Do you think you two know your lines well enough to not hold the scripts?"
   "I'm pretty sure I do," said Sol, as he made his way to the stage.
   "I'm not as sure as he is, but I'll give it a try," was Stacy's reply.
   "O.k. Sol, you are already in the room, and Stacy is going to enter from stage right," ordered the teacher. "And by the way, you two are aware that this is the scene that involves a romantic kiss. Do you two feel comfortable with that?"
   Stacy answered with an assured smile. "Oh, Sol and I are old buddies. I think we can handle it." She winked at Sol, who was now blushing.
   Actually, the two had known each other for about a year, and Stacy didn't quite know what to make of him. A nice kid, but a bit geeky. He was tall, way too thin and wore braces. His father was the rabbi at the local synagogue, and Sol was definitely a walking stereotype of what one would expect a nerdy rabbi's son to look like. Although Stacy wasn't grossed out about having to kiss him, she wasn't exactly excited about it either. It was all just part of the play.
   The two stumbled through their lines for a couple of minutes, and then came the moment of truth. When she put her arms around him and moved her lips towards his, he clasped his lips together tightly and started to shake a little.
   "Uh Sol, what's wrong?" Stacy was a bit puzzled by his behaviour. "Do I have bad breath or something?"
   Once again, he began to blush. "No Stacy, it's just that this is the first time I've ever kissed anyone like this."
   The moment he said this, all the other students watching from the audience burst out laughing, causing him to blush
even more. Even the teacher smiled a little.
   One of the boys in the class quipped, "Hey Mr. Maxwell, would you like me to go up on stage and show this homo how to kiss a hot chick?" This brought more laughter from the peanut gallery.
   "Hey, I'll volunteer for that too," cracked another kid. Eventually, every guy in the class chimed in with similar remarks.
   Although they were obviously having a laugh at Sol's expense, there was an udercurrent of seriousness to their wisecracks. There probably wasn't a sane guy in the school who wouldn't give up everything he owned to be in Sol's shoes at this moment. Why on earth was he behaving this way?
   "Alright everybody settle down," The teacher finally broke up all the laughter. "This is a class where people are supposed to learn how to act. If I turned any of you wolves loose on her, it obviously wouldn't be acting." This caused the room to break out in laughter once again.
   Of course, Stacy was taking this all in stride. She was so used to guys staring at her, that nothing seemed out of the ordinary...With the exception of Sol. It's one thing to have never kissed a girl before. But to admit it out loud in front of an entire class suggests a person with absolutely no instincts whatsoever, when it comes to making an impression on others.
   Much to Sol's relief, the bell finally rang, and his humiliation was over. Before they exited the stage, he suddenly remembered that he had something to give her. "Stacy..."
   She turned around. "Yes?"
   "I know this is short notice, but I have something I keep forgetting to give you." He handed her an envelope.
   "What's this?" she asked as she opened it.
   "It's an invitation to my bar mitzvah, which is tomorrow afternoon."
   Stacy looked up at him, "Your bar mitzvah?" She was astonished.
   "Yes. Why do you look so surprised?"
   "To tell you the truth Sol, I just assumed that you already had your bar mitzvah. Man, you are tall for twelve!"
   He handed her another envelope. "Would you do me a favor, and give this to Dana? Of course, she's invited too."
   "Yeah, I can do that. I'll see you there."
   "Thank you so much."
   As Stacy walked away, she thought about Sol for a moment. Perhaps his geeky effete demeanor was merely a product of his extreme youth. They were all at an age when just a few months could make all the difference in the world regarding a person's attitude towards the opposite sex. Or perhaps it was something else.

1:00 PM, 14th Street

   Jeff found himself passing a small private school with a pretty good sized yard, surrounded by a chain link fence. Within that fence were about ten or eleven kids approximately his age, either on rollerskates, skateboards or BMX bikes like his. There were a couple of wooden ramps set up. Nothing too fancy, but everybody was making the most of them.
   For a minute or two Jeff just watched them all, thinking maybe he'd learn something. One kid there was especially adept at steamrolling, which was a somewhat advanced move, requiring a natural sense of coordination that Jeff doubted he had. Finally, he dicided to try aping what he was seeing, starting with a simple bunny hop. Even that proved to be a problem, as his bike flew out from under him. Perhaps something that didn't involve leaving the ground would be less dangerous. He tried a simple barspin, which sent him head first into a lampost. Good thing he was wearing his helmet. This was definitely not going well. Finally, he just attempted a simple wheelie, which sent his bike shooting forwards, while he landed hard on his behind.
   He just sat there for a moment, both frustrated and sore. He was about to get up and retrieve his bike when he noticed that at least five of the kids had all stopped what they were doing, and were now lined up behind the fence, staring at him. Their expressions gave no hint as to what they might be thinking. Were they puzzled? Amused? Annoyed? There was about a five second akward moment of silence, as he looked back at them as well.
   Finally, one of the guys behind the fence spoke up. "May we be of assistance?"
   Obviously they were taking pity on him. He didn't mind. At this juncture in his life, he could use a little sympathy.
   "Yes," was his simple answer. "As a matter of fact you may." Jeff got up and retrieved his bike. Another kid pointed to the gate, and Jeff entered the yard. "Are you sure this is o.k.? I would think your teachers might be a bit suspicious of some stranger entering your schoolgrounds?"
   "Ususally that would be the case," explained one boy, who appeared to be a year or so older than the others. "But I'd like to think I'm a pretty good judge of character. If you don't mind my saying so, you appear to be a danger to no one but yourself." The boy extended his hand. "My name's Andy."
   "My name is Jeff," he shook it.
   "Jeff what?"
   He paused, and then said with resolve. "Just plain old Jeff." For once, he was going to have a set of friends who
always addressed him by his first name. "So this is what's considered p.e. at this school?"
   "There used to be volleyball and basketball courts set up here like any other school" piped in another kid. "It slowly evolved into this by popular demand."
   "I might as well introduce you to everyone," intoned Andy. "This is Greil, his girlfriend Gretchen, Mike and Gaylord." Each kid either waved or tipped his or her helmet as their name was mentioned.    "So where are all your teachers?" asked Jeff.
   "Inside, probably having coffee and doughnuts," answered Greil.
   "Since none of them really know anything about freestyle biking, they sort of left me in charge," Andy chimed in.
   "They seem to feel he has leadership skills, though I have my doubts," interjected Gretchen.
   Jeff immediately took a liking to her. She was slender and cute, in a tomboyish sort of way. She and Greil both seemed to share his wry wit.
   "So Jeff, what's your story?" Andy resumed the conversation. "Shouldn't you be in school right now?"
   Jeff thought for a moment, and then just decided to tell part of the truth. "I'm lousy at history and math, and the teachers hate my guts. I just decided that it would be mutually beneficial for all of us if I just didn't show up for a couple of days."
   "You don't seem like the sort of guy would ditch school," observed Andy. He was already thinking to himself that the bruise on the side of Jeff's left eye looked like it came from something other than falling off a bike.
   "To tell you the truth, up until today, I wasn't. Every man has his breaking point..."
   Greil interrupted. "Well, would you like me to show you how to do a barspin without falling on your ass?"
   "Yes, that would be helpful."
   "Watch how I lean forward and maintain a steady momentum." He proceeded to execute the simple move a couple of times."
   "Alright, I'll give it a try, and you tell me what I'm doing wrong." Jeff gave it a try, and somehow managed to topple over sideways. He immediately got up again, ready to give it another try.
   Gretchen grinned and whispered in Greil's ear, "I'll say one thing for this guy. What he lacks in coordination, he sure makes up for in durability."

   Jeff continued to take lessons for the remainder of the hour, actually managing to learn a few tricks along the way. It was turning out to be one of the most surreal days of his life. The morning was filled with paranoia, and eventually, brutal violence. The afternoon was filled with making friends and learning some new skills. Come two o'clock, the kid's phys-ed (or more specifically "recess") was over and they all bid him adieu. Jeff told them all he'd be back tomorrow at the same time, unless some truant officer caught up with him.

10:00 PM, Jeff's Bedroom

   Jeff had so much to ponder as he laid back on his pillow. When he had gotten home that afternoon, nothing out of the ordinary happened. No calls from the school or the police asking about his non-appearance in fourth, fifth or sixth period classes. Nothing about Gavin's fate. Did he regain consciousness? Was he well enough to continue the rest of the school day? If not, who discovered him lying unconscious on the restroom floor? If so, what did Gavin tell everyone about why he was late to class? If Jeff were to attend school tomorrow, would he be met by a phalanx of police officers waiting to arrest him for assault? Obviously Gavin would be even more pissed at him now, assuming he didn't suffer a severe concussion and forget everything that happened. Of course, there was also Gordy to take into consideration. Would he be a snitch, or would Gavin instruct him not to tell, to avoid the embarassment of losing a fight with the school's designated buffoon?
   One thing was for certain. Life had unexpectedly turned into an unpredictable adventure. He strapped on his headphones, and fell asleep to his favorite refuge from reality...internet radio.

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