(written 11/23/2010 - total words 56,168)
Cal survived the next two classes of the school day. Biology wasn’t a problem. He was slowly getting back into Mr. Tule’s good graces. PreCalc was another story. He was going to have to do some serious studying to make it through that class. He was behind now, and nothing was making any sense. Just letters and numbers flowing across the board. He felt jealous at the rest of the class that seemed to understand everything just fine.
He met up with Angel and Oscar coming out of Chemistry.
“We used the lab time to figure out how much chlorine to get,” Angel said.
“It’s a lot,” Oscar said. “I don’t think my parents keep that much around.”
“I guess we’ll have to buy some,” Cal said. “How much does it cost?”
They flowed along with the students eager to get out of school and enjoy a few hours of freedom. Cal didn’t feel that luxury. There was no freedom left in his days.
There was a traffic jam at the side door where everybody funneled into the double doors. A stairwell dropped another flow of students into the mix, slowing everybody down. Some students mooed. Cal thought he heard somebody say “Vampira”, but when he looked, nobody was looking back.
Oscar’s mom was waiting in her car at the curb. Oscar jumped in and Cal leaned down to say hi to Mrs. Martinez. Angel hung back. Mrs. Martinez still seemed suspicious of her.
They drove off, leaving Cal and Angel alone. They sat together on a bench on the sidewalk.
“Mom’s late again,” Angel said. “I don’t know how she got through grad school. She’s so disorganized.”
She leaned her head on Cal’s shoulder.
“You’re a sweet guy, Cal,” she said.
He was drifting down into the void.
“Hey,” she said, making him jump.
She turned to look at him with a frown.
“Were you asleep?” she asked.
He rubbed his face.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe.”
She reached up and rubbed his shoulder.
“Are you okay to ride your scooter?” she asked. “I can have mom give you a ride home.”
“No,” he said. “I’ll be fine. The cold air will wake me up.”
“Maybe you should go home and get some sleep,” she said.
He started to argue, but she grabbed his hands and jumped up, pulling him to standing.
“Go home,” she said. “Get some rest. We’ll talk later.”
She was making persuasive arguments, and he didn’t need much convincing. They hugged and she gave him a quick, little kiss. He reluctantly left her on the bench and trudged off to his scooter.
He felt like a zombie, shuffling along. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to ride home.
Cal became very confused when he reached the parking lot. It was empty. It was amazing how quickly the school emptied out after that last bell. The confusing part was that his scooter was gone too.
He walked up to the spot where he had parked it, staring at the ground. He looked around. Had he parked it somewhere else? He tried to remember the morning. It seemed like an eternity ago, plus it blended with every other morning of the past few months. He always parked here. There was no reason to park elsewhere. It must have been stolen.
He walked over to the side door of the school, but found the doors locked. He banged on them a few times and looked through the small windows, but nobody was there to help him out.
He started waking up on the long walk around to the front of the school. Part of it was the light drizzle that had started, and part of it was his anger at somebody stealing his scooter.
The woman at the main office looked up as he came in. She seemed surprised to see a student at this hour.
“Somebody stole my scooter,” he said.
“Hold on a minute,” she said, typing something into her computer.
Cal leaned on the counter, exhausted. The woman continued to type. He looked around, but there was nobody else in the office.
“Okay, dear,” the woman said coming up to the counter. “Where was your scooter parked?”
“In the south lot,” Cal answered. “By the side doors.”
“And you’re sure that’s where you parked it?” she asked.
“Yes,” Cal said. “I park in the same spot every day.”
“Is it a legal spot?” she asked.
“I think so,” Cal said. He was pretty sure it wasn’t.
“Campus security has been cracking down on illegally parked vehicles,” she said. “They issued warnings last week. Did you get a warning?”
Cal thought about the little pink slips that he had assumed were a flyer for something.
“No,” he said. “I didn’t get any warnings.”
“Hold on,” she said going back to her desk and typing into her computer.
“What’s the color, make, and license plate number?” she asked.
She held a finger to her computer screen and nodded as he told her.
“Yes,” she said. “That vehicle was towed this afternoon.”
She looked at Cal with no empathy.
“It was parked illegally,” she said. “And it says here you got several warnings last week.”
Cal closed his eyes and rubbed his face with his hands to stop himself from screaming at the woman. The unspoken scream echoed in his skull. When he opened his eyes, the woman was at the counter again with an admonishing eyebrow arched up. She had slid a piece of paper across to him.
“This tells you how to reclaim your vehicle,” she said.
“Thanks,” Cal said, unable to keep the frustration coming out in a sarcastic tone.
She gave him a disgusted look and went back to her desk. He snatched the paper off of the counter and stormed out of the office, banging the door open as he left. He cringed as he crossed to the main doors of the school, half expecting her to come after him for banging the door, but he got out of the school in peace.
He stood on the steps, dreading the walk home in the rain, then remembered Angel. He jogged around to the north side of the school and stopped when he saw the empty bench on the sidewalk. The whole street was completely deserted.
He clenched his fists and swore at the sky. He had enough problems without the entire world turning against him. He flipped his hood up over his head and resigned himself to the long walk home.
* * *
He got home late. The gray sky was already growing dark, but the street lights hadn’t come on yet. His scooter jacket kept his body dry, but his head was soaking wet. His legs were cold and numb.
He fumbled the keys a few times trying to get in the door, his cursing growing with each jingling drop. He was surprised to not find Rob sitting in the kitchen ready to harass Cal some more.
Throwing his backpack on the kitchen table, Cal slammed his phone down on the counter. He grabbed a Cup O Noodles, filled it with water and shoved it in the microwave. He stared at the cup rotating in the dim light, waiting for the timer to go off.
His phone rang first.
He reached behind him and grabbed the phone off the counter, answering it while still watching the microwave. It was probably some damn -
“Cal.” Angel’s voice in a harsh, frantic whisper.
“Angel?” Cal took the phone from his ear and looked at the caller ID. It was Angel.
“-here,” she said as he put the phone back to his ear.
There was something wrong. He could hear quick breaths. She was whispering but her voice was shaky.
“What’s wrong?” Cal asked.
“He’s here. He’s here. He’s here,” she whispered. “Wilson is here.”
Cal’s stomach dropped. The microwave timer went off. He had to get to Angel.
“Can you get to the 7-11?” He asked.
“No,” she whispered, almost whined. “There’s something in the back yard.”
Cal could hear some commotion in the background.
“I’m on my way,” he said. “Just stay put.”
There were more noises on the phone as Cal put his jacket and backpack back on.
The call ended.
Cal was out the door and in the driveway before he remembered that he didn’t have a scooter.
“No,” he yelled, frustration boiling out of him.
He wanted to kill something. He paced back and forth trying to figure out options. It would take too long to run there. It would take too long for Oscar to come get him first. Oscar didn’t have a car right now.
Then his eyes fell on Rob’s car.
He needed The Cannon.
Cal ran back inside and up the stairs to the kitchen. He yanked a drawer out and placed it on the counter, rummaging through the odds and ends until he found it. Rob’s spare key. Sorry, Rob.
He ran back out and jumped in the car. He turned the ignition and it roared to life. It was ready for action.
Unused to the car, his backing out and roaring down the street had less finesse than Rob’s had, but it go the job done.