The big interview is two days away! I’m beyond excited to head to UNT on Friday for my master’s program interview. I’ll do my best to post about the experience this weekend.
In this chapter, Ana tries Ross’ patience once again, Ross has an idea for his first interview, and he finds himself under the threatening scrutiny of Jordan Sykes.
She just won’t leave me alone.
Today I got two text messages from Ana, one in Pre-cal and the other in English.
You don’t seem very talkative 😦
Like the softest kind of mocking there is.
“You’re not saying much,” Kristina notes, eating a fry slowly. “You’ve gotta get back on your feet, y’know.”
“I am,” I retort, drinking from my Gatorade can but not really tasting the orange flavor. “Sorry. I just can’t look happy right now.”
“Hmm,” is all she says, with such disapproval.
I don’t feel like putting up with this, so I chunk my trash and tell them I’m going to the library to study for English AP. And really, that’s no lie, because To His Coy Mistress is the most elaborate poem I’ve ever read. I mean, I see how Andrew Marvell uses conceit when he says, “But my vegetable love should grow.” But the last lines, the part about the sun and making “him” run, I don’t get.
Outside I walk at a steady pace, hoping I’ll see someone I know. Maybe I can even find a quiet spot in the library and contemplate love, as Malerie told me I should. To be honest, I think she’s pretty good at reading others when it comes to their feelings on romance.
Under the big tree, the sophomores I know are flicking Gatorade tabs across the table and laughing. Approaching them, Johan is the first to look up and see me.
“Ross, help!” he shrieks, as the others bombard him with tabs. “Not cool, ahh!”
I just grin and say, “Guys, take it easy. He’s new.”
“He’s retarded,” Josh says half jokingly, as Danny and Roy nod in agreement. “This guy thinks he can do a back flip off a wall. Yeah right!”
“I can!” he cries, laughing and covering his head. It’s then that I notice the wristband he’s wearing. It’s furry and checkered with black and white squares. Johan, like most of the Goliad kids, has had a hard time fitting in.
I notice that Sara, one of Ana’s close friends, is looking at his wristband too. Then she eyes Johan, her smile both sympathetic and affectionate. She is sitting next to him, and I can almost feel the warmth from her attraction to him.
I find myself smiling and ask, “Why checkers?”
“Because,” he exclaims, lowering his arms and looking at me with a kind of childlike pride, “checkers are the best! They’re a part of me.”
“A part of your gayness,” Danny says in his low voice, and the other two guys laugh as they continue eating.
“I think he said peckers are the best,” Josh adds, and the guys laugh even harder.
Sara, who has folded her arms on the table, just shakes her head at them and asks Johan, “So do you collect checkered things?”
“Of course,” he says, looking at her with a mixture of raillery and arrogance. “Have you not seen my belt?”
He stands up to show us his, sure enough, checkered fabric belt. Sticking out of his jean pocket is a handkerchief, which, I can’t believe, is also checkered.
“Nice,” Sara says, raising her eyebrows. I think that when Johan lifted up his shirt to show us, I saw Sara’s eyes trail up to his exposed navel, tan and with a little bit of an outtie. I allow myself a soft chuckle, but no one notices.
Ana’s absent, probably dressing out early for volleyball.
Looking out briefly at the sunlight filtering through the reddish leaves, I feel elated by the little bit of chemistry going on here.
Loves quotes. Twenty of them. Might as well start with people I know.
Today is a pretty short day in speech, as Collegio lets us out five minutes before the bell.
“I forgot to mention,” she calls to us from her desk at the back of the room, “I have a doctor’s appointment at two, so I’ll go ahead and let you guys leave early.”
“Just for today!” Collegio adds, smiling as she watches us pack up. “You guys stay out of trouble. I’ll be back tomorrow. If you’re finished with them turn in your resume rough drafts.”
But most of the kids are way ahead of her, tossing their papers in the fourth block basket before heading out the door. I take my time and turn in my resume after George and Karla, making me the last one out the door.
When I get to the science building, I decide to do something about the urge to pee I’ve been putting off. I hope that the restrooms aren’t still locked for lunch. Apparently someone’s already written graffiti twice this year in the guy’s restroom, and Principal Chapa hasn’t been too thrilled about that.
The restroom is right by the entrance, and I press up against the door. It budges, and I feel relief. But that feeling rushes out of me the second I see Jordan Sykes, leaning against the wall by the hand dryer with a joint in his hand.
He looks up quickly, his eyes alert below the long hair, but his straight lips break into that smile as soon as he realizes that it’s just me.
“Yo, man,” he says, his voice a little hoarse. “You surprised me. You’re not skipping class, are you?”
“Nah,” I say, hesitating with my hand on the door. “You?”
“Yeah-ha,” he smiles. “Took a little walk out of chemistry today. Hate that class.”
I let the door shut behind me and look at him, not sure if I’m really grinning or not. My face in the mirror looks on the verge of being scared, an uneasy calm. I look back at Jordan as he holds out the joint.
“Want to try?”
“Smells good,” I say, trying to make conversation.
“You fucking bet,” he cackles, waving his hand. “Come on. Take a hit.”
“Not now, man,” I say, walking past him and realizing that the back area where the urinals and stalls are is darker than usual. “I gotta take a piss.”
“Tch, alright then,” he says, bringing the joint back to his lips and taking a hard hit.
“I didn’t know you do weed,” I say casually, pausing in the adjoining alcove where he can’t see me.
“Yeah dude, chill. I don’t tell everybody everything. Who needs to know, anyway?” His laugh is curt. “Not coach, that’s for fucking sure.”
“Relax, I’m not gonna tell anybody.”
He doesn’t reply. Looking up at the ceiling, I see that the lights at the very back are out, leaving just the lone one above me.
“Careful where you piss,” he calls back to me, “some of the lights are busted. This school’s too cheap to repair shit like that.”
“I can tell,” I mutter, setting my backpack down and walking into the darkness. I walk over to the first urinal and open my fly.
“You’d better take a hit when you’re done,” Jordan calls. “I bet you need to unwind.” He sighs. “Getting dumped is not easy.”
“Like you know,” I shoot back, clenching my fist. “You haven’t had a girlfriend in months, bro.”
“Haha, yeah, I’m not one to talk,” he says, chuckling. “But you know what? There are pros to going from one girl to the next. I just take what comes my way, man. Forget the long term. So much less stress, and more about the happy times. It’s what they’ve wanted so far, anyway. Just. Like. Me.”
I grimace, not believing how many girls he goes through. It chills my skin.
“That’s too bad,” I say, zipping up and flushing. One of the dead lights flickers, like my words gave it a jolt. “Are you taking any girls to prom?”
“Hell if I know,” he says. “Maybe if Victoria wants to go. But I’m going with LeRoy and Ana.”
“Right,” I say, nearly seething as I push past him. “It’s good to know the nice Catholic can just take my girlfriend for the rebound. Make me look like a pushover.”
“Ross,” he cries gleefully, shaking me by my shoulders as I wash my hands, “LeRoy didn’t take her from you! No, I hate to say it, but she just made her own choice.”
I pick up my backpack and just look at him.
“Besides,” he grins, punching me on the shoulder, “you’re not a pushover! You’re amazing in track, man. Running that 800. Oh, God.” He inhales and breathes out smoke, his eyes glazing over. “You’re a prodigy. No one makes it look as good as you, Ross.”
“Thanks,” I say, giving him a weird look as I wash my hands. “You want to go jack off now or what?”
Jordan cackles again at that. “Mmm, not right now. Nearly got a foot job on the couch last night, but that girl was pretty slutty. Even I’ll admit.”
I just scoff and wash my hands. He could corrupt anybody. Even LeRoy.
“I wanna tell you one thing,” he says, approaching me with the last little bit of joint in between his fingers. “Don’t be afraid to do what I do.”
I pause at the door and find that he’s pretty damn close to me, staring me in the face. I can tell that he’s far enough gone now, his eyelids sagging a little.
“LeRoy’s too much of a good guy,” he says, jabbing his finger at my chest, “but you, you can be different now, man. You’ve got a clean slate. Take it from me, that you can feel so much better if you let them come and go. Don’t be afraid to give in to what you want. What you really want.”
As if to finalize his little speech, the bell rings. His amber eyes, now almost a golden green, dart back and forth for a second as he smile, one last wispy trail of smoke coming out of the corner of his mouth.
“You’re just so proverbial right now,” I say, my voice sounding far off, “aren’t you?”
Jordan laughs and, flicking the last of his joint into the sink, says, “I don’t have to be high to know that what you need has nothing to do with Ana. Just think about that. See you in track.”
He slaps my back and walks out the door, joining the other kids heading off to their next classes. Looking after him, even as the door closes, I shiver and close my eyes, feeling as if he had seen with perfect clarity every feeling of lust I’ve ever had.