Liberty High

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

FYI: There are some drug references and sexual slang.

Hard Habbit to Break by Chicago

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Hard Habbit to Break

Submitted: May 19, 2017

Reads: 95

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Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Chapter 8: Hard Habbit to Break

As usual, the Fitzgerald house was empty when Angela and Rayanna arrived after a long Friday of your typical highschool drama. Nina was at her afternoon dance class with her friends which provided minimal comfort to Angela, but at this point, she was taking what she could get. The two best friends remained silent upon entering Angela’s room. Without a word Angela sighed as she threw herself on her bed. Had Rayanna not been there she might have fallen asleep and woken up who knows when. But the sound of her friend’s voice was keeping her going, for now anyways.

“How are you feeling? Okay scratch that, stupid question.” Rayanna sighed as she sat at the edge of Angela’s bed. Angela had already buried herself in her pillows but her back was exposed. Rayanna in a non seductive way, stroked her back hoping it would relax her friend.

“I couldn’t feel any worse.” Angela’s voice was mumbled but Rayanna knew her well enough to know that she was crying softly.

“Mama Fitz is going to be pissed when she sees that your silk pillows are covered in black and pink makeup.” Rayanna laughed nervously. Angela shifted away from Rayanna and hugged a pillow close to her chest as if she had serious stomach pains.

Rayanna sighed as she moved from the bed. The awkward tension on the bed was too much for her. “Look I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I shouldn’t have said those things about Jared. I was just angry. Will you at least forgive me long enough for me to make up for it?” Rayanna pleaded.

Angela angrily threw her pillow against her wall. Surprisingly it landed with an unusually loud bang. “I’m not mad at you. Besides there isn’t anything you can do unless you can erase Jared Hess from my memories.”

Rayanna walked over to the pillow to inspect the strange sound. Underneath the fine silky purple, pillow was a small pink furry diary. Rayanna knew Angela had always kept diaries to keep very detailed logs of her days. She was afraid to see what sadness filled this one. Picking it up in her hands she showed it to Angela.

“This will tell me otherwise Angie. You don’t want to forget Hess. He’s done stupid shit, we all have, but you still care about. The connection between you too is something else. Not even Vasquez comes close. You’re angry at her, not Hess.”

Angela made no attempt to retrieve her diary. The whole school was already spreading rumors about her that were much more raunchy than the contents of her book. “He’s still in love with her. It’s like a drug for him. I can’t see why. She has broken his heart and acts like she only cares about herself. Why is she like that?”

“You mean why is she such a bimbette?” Rayanna said with a short laugh and smile.

“I was trying not to be so rude, but yes.” Angela laughed. Rayanna felt relieved that her friend’s spirits were lifting and decided it was safe to return to the bed. Angela was now sitting up and made room for Rayanna next to her.

“I’ve known her since sixth grade. I wasn’t friends with her, but she was pretty much always this way. Monte and Hess could tell you the most about her though.”

Angela laughed softly. “Shawn was friends with her? I can’t picture that. Have you seen him around her?”

Rayanna joined in on the fun. “They were childhood friends. Apparently she was like some valley girl, you know like Diaz the cheerleader, but then in sixth grade she became the hoser she is today. I guess that’s when Shawn stopped talking to her. You know he’s the one that introduced Jared and Vivian.”

“I bet her regrets that now. Vivian ruined him.”

“I think something ruined them before they ruined each other. Jacob got really upset when I assumed Jared was hung up on Vivian.”

“He’s a mysterious character.” Angela sighed as her mind trailed off. The look on her face was that of a character from a harlequin romance novel. Angela shook her head and quickly came to from her fantasy.

“Anyways we should probably like shut up about this. Mom’s coming home soon and she’ll have a cow if she hears us talking about Jerry.” Angela said with a smirk. Rayanna laughed loudly.

“How could I forget Jerry? Well then why don’t we just go downstairs and enjoy some of your mom’s famous cookies and listen to some Bon Jovi?” Rayanna smiled.Angela’s whole face lit up as she pretended to swoon dramatically over Jon Bon Jovi.

“He always makes any day better.I’ll get the record and meet you downstairs.” Rayanna nodded as she headed downstairs. Angela picked up the diary her friend had left thrown of the floor. The diary was securely locked, the key was hidden inside her underwear drawer, a place she knew Nina found disgusted enough to not look. Before slipping it under the pillow, Angela went for the key. After open the diary Angela turned to the last entry, one she had made the night of the party. She tore it out carefully making sure nothing else got ruined in the process.

“I wouldn’t do the things she has done. I hope the feeling is mutual.” Angela said as she tossed the paper into the waste bin before heading downstairs to enjoy some music and sugary snacks.

~~~

Shawn was walking very slowly behind Jacob and Billy as the three of them ventured into the ‘ghetto’ side of Los Angeles. It was quite the opposite of the fancy homes up on Mulholland Drive where the Fitzgeralds and Diaz's lived. “Do we really want to visit Hess right now?” Shawn asked. Jacob didn’t answer, after what happened in class he was leaning towards leaving, but Billy was leading the pack now.

“We have to see Jared. You heard what Russo said happened in class with Fitz. He’s probably wasting away in his room right now with a bottle that should be in the fridge or in his dad’s hands.” Billy said.

“I think it’s a stupid idea.” Shawn said as he shook his head.

“It’s your stupid fault he’s in this rut.” Jacob added as he forced Shawn into remembering the drunken night he had spent with one of Liberty High’s biggest mouths, Kathy Marquez. “Look I said I was sorry okay. I had too much drink. But Kathy, she’s the one that exaggerated the story. I bet it was that Britany chick that spread most of the gossip. Queen bee of the school, more like major Betty.”

“I don’t care who spread the rumor. Jared’s home alone and I’m not going to let him waste away over a couple of broads. Now come on.” Billy said as he rolled his eyes at his two friends as if they were siblings fighting over something as frivolous as the last cookie in the jar.

“Okay if we’re really going to do this, can we get real for a second? Like what’s our take on the ladies?” Shawn asked.

“I told you, Rayanna was talking shit, Jared stormed off after his ACDC comment, Angela stormed off crying and here we are. Personally I think he still has feelings for that stupid bimbo.” Jacob answered.

“Why? That bimbette has really done it this time. Cheating, that’s low dude.” Shawn said.

“I don’t want to upset you guys, but I think he loves her. Like true love dude.” Jacob said.

Billy scoffed with disgust as he shook his head. “Love, Vivian? Please those two words don’t belong in the same sentence. She’s beyond a Betty and he deserves better. I don’t know much about this Fitzgerald chick, but she’s got to better than Vasquez. Fuck my own mom is.”

Jacob held up his hands in defense. “I don’t know okay. I just think Jared is going to have a hard time letting her go. They have been together for almost four years.”

“On and off dude. He’s got feelings for Fitz. I dig that.” Shawn said just as the three approached the end of Jared’s street. He had lived on the corner of the block by a dead end. His neighbors across from him were an older couple who were sitting on their porch with their beagle. Billy waved politely at them seeing as how he had seen them every day growing up with Jared. As for his next door neighbor, nobody ever saw much of him. He was from Italy with a last name starting with De. During the day his house was boarded up and by night, only a single light in the basement was ever on. In short, the environment was a bit half and half, half peaceful, half shady.

“Don’t bring up Fitzgerald or Vasquez, okay? We’re here to make him feel better not worse.” Billy said as he led his friends to Jared’s door. U2’s “With or Without You” was playing loudly behind the closed door.

“Guess Hess was worse off than we thought.” Jacob said as Billy knocked on the door. The boys waited in anticipation before realizing Bono’s voice was increasing in volume. Billy tried the door only to find it locked which was unusual, Jared often left the door open on Fridays for his friends. “He isn’t answering. Now what?” Billy asked.

“Forget the door. Let’s use the other entrance.” Shawn said as he crept away from the front door and starting walking towards the side of the house towards the kitchen. Billy and Jacob said nothing as they followed him ready to perform a familiar ritual. Shawn reached into his jacket pocket for a switch blade and began jimming the lock on the kitchen window. Within trained hands, Shawn popped the lock off the window and raised it up as high as it would go, which wasn’t very.

“After you Monte, you’re the smallest.” Billy smirked.

“It’s all that snow dude.” Jacob laughed.

“Sure let’s send Monte, the scrawny baseball player, before the two beefy wrestlers.” Shawn laughed as he wiggled his body in the small opening. Shawn landed gracefully on the tile floor. “Get the door Monte. I ain’t sticking my ass in there.” Billy laughed as he watched Shawn disappear from sight. Within seconds the three were inside Jared’s living room debating their next move. “He’s probably in his room.” Shawn suggested. “Just follow the music man.” Jacob said as he and his friends headed down the narrow hallway to Jared’s door.

Billy peered inside Jared’s room. He found the bed unmade and several articles of clothing scattered on the floor. His bedside table looked like it had been hit by a twister. His poster of The Police was barely hanging on the wall above his bed. “Unless Jared got eaten by whatever trashed his room, he isn’t in here.” Billy said.

“Chris’ room?” Jacob suggested. “I don’t see him going into Manny’s.” Shawn said.

Billy closed Jared’s door and walked towards Chris’. A poster from the woodstock era was on the door. A familiar scent attracted Billy to the door as well as Bono’s voice. “He’s in there alright.” Billy pushed the door open without trying to be discreet. Jared was sitting in the middle of the room on his back. He was staring up at the ceiling where Chris kept various posters. The one that stood out the most was his crush, Joan Jett. In his hands was a small bag that Jared seemed to clutching as if his life depended on it.

“Did a twister hit your room or something?” Billy asked with a nervous chuckle. Jacob and Shawn followed him inside and both took a seat on the bed. Jared didn’t look up to acknowledge his friends.

“I was looking for something. I found it.” Jared said as he weakly lifted up his hand with the bag.

“I can tell. Are you alright?” Billy asked as he sat down on the floor by Jared’s feet.

“I know why you’re here and I don’t want to talk about it. Just leave before that bastard comes home. The bars are probably already sick of his ass.” Jared took a long breath as if he was struggling to catch it. He closed his eyes tightly before opening them up to stare at the ceiling once again.

“We didn’t come here to talk Jared. We wanted to keep you company.” Jacob said with a small smile.

“Whatever dude. Just save the mom speech for someone who cares.” The boys remained quiet before Jacob’s eyes fell on Jared’s bagless hand. Something was clutched tightly in the hand but Jacob couldn’t quite make it out.

“What you got there Hess?” Jacob asked as he sat down on the floor next to Jared. Jared lifted himself off the floor and breathed deeply as if it were a strenuous workout. He was staring at Jacob but was unable to hold his gaze. He threw the bag rather weakly considering he was a star baseball player. Shawn ended up being the one to catch it instead of Jacob.

“I actually meant the other hand, but okay.” Jacob said as he looked up at Shawn for an answer. Shawn unzipped the bag even though he was pretty sure he knew what was inside. Taking a small whiff Shawn retracted and quickly sealed the bag. “Whoa, Hell Dust, shit’s dangerous dude.”

“What the hell would you want that stuff for Jared?” Jacob demanded. Jared shrugged his shoulders and chucked aside what was in his other hand.

“I had some of the rock from Shawn and I wasn’t feeling it alright? I know Catalano and my brother are into some hard shit and I thought that’s exactly what I needed after today. Like it’s not a big deal. I’ve done it before.”

“Dude this stuff can seriously fuck with your mind. It’s addictive as fuck.” Shawn said as he picked up an old looking syringe from the floor.

“Not to mention it’s stupid!” Jacob added.

“Chill out Russo. We came here to be there for Jared not yell at him like a criminal. Come on Jared, put that shit back where you found it and let’s get out of here okay?” Billy asked.

Jared sighed. “It takes it away man. I just wanted a clear mind, just for a moment.” Jared closed his eyes and allowed tears to stream down his face.

Jacob was the first to approach Jared as he hugged Jared’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for sounding like a mom. Why don’t we just go out for a walk? We can clean up here and we’ll help you clear your head. You don’t need that shit.” Jacob said.

“Yeah we’re here for you Hess.” Jacob added with a smile.

“We can go back to my place, listen to some Bon Jovi. My dad’s there and he’s got a killer record selection. Better than being here waiting for that drunk ass to come home.” Shawn suggested.

Jared sniffed as he let Jacob wipe his tears away with the side of his wrestling jacket. “I’m sorry, you know for doing. Thanks for coming by.” Jared smiled.

“What are friends for. So, party at Monte’s?” Jacob asked. Jared nodded. “Just give me a minute, yeah?” Jared asked as he looked up at Shawn with a half grin.

“Why don’t you guys get going, I’ll help Jared clean up?” Shawn said. Jacob and Billy nodded as they headed out the door.

“What’s up Jared?” Shawn asked once they were alone. Jared looked at the syringe still in Shawn’s hand.

“You can have what’s in my desk drawer if you give that back.” Jared asked without taking his eyes off his discarded trash. Shawn looked down at his hands and debated what to say. He didn’t want to say no and be a hypocrite, but he knew the right thing to do was deny Jared’s request. But the addict inside of him won the battle. Shawn tossed the syringe towards Jared who caught it like an eager dog with a treat.

“He’s going to find out it’s gone.” Shawn said.

“He stopped taking it a long time ago. This was Catalano’s stash.” Jared said.

“Promise me you’ll be careful?” Shawn asked. Jared said nothing as he disappeared from the room only to return shortly after with another bag. He threw it at Shawn.

“I’ll be careful if you’re careful.” Jared said.

~~~

Monday morning hit Jared in the face harder than he wanted it to. Despite his alarm blaring loudly Jared made no attempt to roll out of bed. The weekend was a blur and all he had to remind him of it was a pounding headache and irritated eyes. Jared rolled over on his stomach and stuffed his head under his pillow.

“Should I wake up Jared?” William Catalano’s voice was heard somewhere inside the small house. Jared didn’t really care as he tried his best to shut him and his brother out.

“Be my guest. But I swear he could sleep through a murder down the street.” Chris laughed as the sound of running water followed. Jared groaned as he heard William’s footsteps approach him. William didn’t bother being stealthy as he flung Jared’s door open. Jared felt his bed shift as William plopped down on the side and proceeded to rip Jared’s blankets off him. Jared groaned even louder as his nest was taken from him.

“Get up Hess or we’ll leaving without you.” William’s voice was too chipper, or at least Jared thought so. Jared threw the pillow off his bed before William got the pleasure. “Whatever Catalano that doesn’t sound as bad as you’d think.” Despite his angst and zero desire to leave, Jared walked over to his closet.

“High school is only as bad as you make it Hess. I know you don’t really want to go to school right now but dude things aren’t going to get better if you hide out here. You have to change it Jared. Chris and I will be waiting for you outside. Be there in twenty, or you can walk.” William headed out of the room as loudly and quickly as he had entered. Jared sighed as he pulled out a plaid jacket, long enough to cover his arms despite the warm temperature, and some torn up jeans. Before heading out Jared grabbed a pair of nicely kept sunglasses that he had only worn a couple of times.

Chris and William ceased their conversation as soon as Jared climbed up into the truck. “Everything alright?” Chris asked as he looked at his brother’s reflection in the rearview mirror. Jared slid down into his seat as he put his hand to his forehead. “Just peachy dear brother.” Jared replied in a muffled voice. Chris and William rose their eyebrows at each other before Chris returned his attention back to Jared.

“Then what’s up with the shades Hollywood?” William asked. Jared shook his heads and rolled his eyes. It was a mute point since he was wearing glasses but he was pretty sure William would pick up on it. “It’s California Catalano, everyone wears sunglasses. Would you ask a Texan the same question?”

“If I knew any that never wore sunglasses before, yes.” William said. Jared just scoffed as an awkward silence passed through the car. Nobody spoke a single word until Chris pulled into the parking lot.

“Are you sure everything is okay Jared?” Chris asked.

“What the hell is this, a game show? Thanks for the ride bro but I got to go.” Jared left

the car in angry rage before Chris even came to a complete stop. Without looking back Jared rushed towards school only to be stopped by Jacob.

“Having a bad morning Hess?” Jared shook his head refusing to answer the question. “Where’s Valentine?”

“Uh I don’t know. I guess he’s with Monte at the spot. Why?” Jacob asked. Once again Jared ignored the question as he started walking towards the bleachers. Jacob sighed as he blindly followed Jared.

Veronica Valentine and her best friend, Ricky Mariano, were sitting in the middle of the bleachers when Jared and Jacob arrived. Ricky’s eyes lit up as he spotted Jared. He quickly nudged Veronica and whispered to her before pointing a finger down at the teenager. Veronica almost jumped from her spot on the bleachers as she waved to Jared. “Hey Jared, you have a minute?” Veronica called out. Jacob raised an eyebrow at Jared at the strange encounter. Jared merely shrugged his shoulders as he climbed up the bleachers.

“What’s up little Red?” Jared asked about halfway up the bleachers. Veronica looked to Ricky for moral support. Ricky nodded with a shy smile before Veronica took a deep breath and faced Jared.

“I hate being the bearer of bad news but I thought you should hear this from someone you know.” Veronica started.

“What bad news Red?” Jared asked as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“Dude there you are! Serious shit has been going of.” Billy shouted as he and Shawn emerged from under the bleachers.

“So I’ve heard. What the hell is going on?” Jared asked getting very annoying as he took turns staring at Veronica, Ricky, Billy and Shawn.

“Someone’s spreading lies about you Hess. About you and Fitz.” Billy answered. Jared shook his head like it was nothing.

“Whatever they already were last week.”

“Uh yeah well dude it’s gotten worse. Alexis Perez, you know the co-captain of the cheerleaders, the one always hanging with Britany as if her popularity will rise, is spreading shit like crazy.” Shawn said. Jared tried to remember Alexis and felt sick to his stomach as he did so. Alexis was musically talentless and was only really at Liberty High for her cheerleading skills. She had taken dance lessons but was never quite as good as she was with a pair of pom poms. The thing that Jared remembered most though, was her wild obsession with him. She would always flirt with him in middle school even in front of Vivian.

“What could be worse than last week when they said Angela was giving out some head?” Jared laughed sarcastically.

“Her and Kathy said you and Fitz went way beyond on that. A hook up dude, like home

run not just third base. Kathy was talking about it at practice so half of the school probably already knows. At least the jocks and valley girls. Dude Fitz being called penis breath is nothing. Alexis thinks it wasn’t your first time and that Fitz is probably going to end up being up the duff.” Billy explained.

Jared wanted to speak but found himself unable to move his jaw. His whole body went dumb. Sure he and Vivian and gone that far before but Angela? She was a sweet girl and now she was being dragged into the mud. And for what? Jared knew they barely even made it to first base at that stupid party. The pain Angela went through just days ago for something less serious than full on intercourse was heartbreaking. Jared didn’t even want to imagine how she was going to feel when this got around, that is if it hadn’t already.

“We got to stop this before Angela finds out.” Jared finally managed to say.

“Or someone worse, like Vivian.” Ricky added. The whole group turned to look at Ricky with mixed expressions of shock, fear, and anger.

“Crap I didn’t even think about that hoser. She’s going to be steamed when she hears this.” Shawn said.

Jared would have fallen face first onto the steel bleacher had it not been for Jacob who had just joined the group. Jacob managed to help Jared ease down into the seat. Jared covered his face as he let his head fall onto Jacob’s arm. “I knew I should have just stayed home.” Jared sighed.

Shawn came up behind Jared and wrapped his arms around Jared’s neck in order to whisper. “I wasn’t going to give this to you yet, but you’re going to need it.” Shawn slipped something into Jared’s jacket pocket without another word.

~~~

The morning at Liberty High passed quickly as Jared found himself completely detached from anything other than the new rumor about him that was spreading fast across the school. Jared rushed out of Ms. Davis’ class without waiting for Jacob and headed straight for Mr. Monte’s class. The room was empty except for Mr. Monte who was sitting on top of his desk as per usual.

“Shit on me, it must be snowing outside.” Mr. Monte said with a smirk as he watched Jared tear through the door like a tornado.

“I wouldn’t get used to it Monte.” Jared didn’t look up at his favorite teacher as he unpacked his guitar.

“Noted. What brings you here so early? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the raunchy rumors spread by hormonal teenagers with too much free time would it?”

“Wait you now about that?” Jared sighed. Mr. Monte nodded as he walked over to the stool next to Jared that was usually occupied by Billy or Shawn.

“Miss Love said her last choir class wasn’t even singing. They were eating up that shitty rumor like it were a tasty piece of pie. She wanted to go to the principal, sort it out, but I wanted to talk to you first. I couldn’t believe someone would spread lies like that.”

“They do if they spent the last three years stalking you. I have to figure this out myself before Vivi finds out.” Jared said with more than just a hint of regret.

Mr. Monte cleared his throat loudly as he looked away from Jared. He could almost reach out and grab the awkwardness. “Well uh I’ll still go see Principal Pounds after class. If there’s anything you need Jared give me a call.” Mr. Monte smiled. Jared smiled and nodded as the class began to fill up.

“Good morning little musical prodigies. Now today’s a busy day but I promise I’ll make it as fun as possible. I should give Jared a makeup test but honestly that eats up too much time. Instead I’ll grade you based on today’s assignment. So on that note, I’ve got some bangin’ news for you. Based on your tests and skills I’ve assigned you all your official position for our little band here. So sit tight cats and wait to hear your name and role.” Mr. Monte was beaming as he looked down at his notes.

“Hess, Mariano, Monte, you’ll be our official guitar players. You can decide who wants to play what part. Just make sure you all can have lead at least once. Oh and Monte, you have a good set of pipes, so welcome aboard the singer train. Matt you’re our drummer, big surprise right band geek? Valentine, you rocked the guitar but for our assignments as group I want you to accompany Matt with the piano and the bass along with Christian and Myers. Of course you all will be expected to learn the guitar parts but some of our assignments will be run as if you were in a band. Any concerns, questions?” Mr. Monte asked. The small class all shook their heads in unison.

“Beautiful, let’s get started. So today we’ll be learning “Whole Lotta Love”. I know Jared loves that song and he could use something to lift his spirits. Just keep your heads out of the gutter huh.” Mr. Monte laughed.

~~~

The small class of seven left Mr. Monte’s room and headed for Jake’s car. “Any luck with the rumor thing?” Billy asked. Jared shook his head.

“I hate rumors and gossip, but Kathy is claimed she saw it in person. The whole home run thing. Which is like totally stupid because why would she have sat and watched that? Her and Keats are spreading it through the football team like crazy. Apparently Alexis started it though. Kathy just took it further.” Jake said.

“Maybe Alexis is jealous. Kathy, who knows what her problem is.” Jacob said.

“Oh she’s jealous, just not of the love affair between Hess and Fitz. She wouldn’t stop going on about Britany. Dude it was annoying. I mean I don’t know why she’d ruin your life. Plus there’s no way she saw the kiss. I was with her all night.” Shawn said.

“You were drunk off your ass Monte. She could have walked outside and saw me kiss Angela.” Jared said.

“Kathy drunk is a wreck. She exaggerates the simplest things. It’s annoying.” Jake said.

“So let’s assume she did see the kiss and now she’s saying I got horizontal with Fitz. How are we going to fix it?” Jared asked.

Five out of the seven boys turned towards Shawn with a grin. “What I didn’t start that rumor!” Shawn screamed.

“No but you’re going to fix it.” Jacob said.

“Make Myers, he knows Kathy better than I do.” Shawn protested.

“You’re the one that got her drunk and slept with her. She probably fused that with a simple kiss and came up with this fairy tale.” Billy said.

“I haven’t seen her since the party. It’s going to be weird dude.” Shawn said.

“Should have thought about that before you decided to be open for business that night. Besides you’re such a stud I bet you left her wanting more.” Jared grinned.

“Shove it Hess. I don’t even know where she is.”

“Probably with Britany and the other girls. I can take you there. Maybe together we can shut her up. At least it won’t be spreading from the queen of gossip.” Jake said.

Shawn sighed. “It’s a lost cause dudes. She probably told everyone. But since I kind of like you Hess, I’ll do it.”

~~~

Rayanna and Angela were standing in front of Angela’s locker when Jake and Shawn walked inside like they owned the place. Why is Monte here without his crew? And with a football loser too.” Rayanna asked. Angela didn’t answer as she silently watched Jake and Shawn. Jake pointed a finger towards Mike Valles and Kathy Marquez. The two were clearly flirting in front of Kathy’s locker.

“Mike’s a douche but he’s also a big star of the team. I don’t want to start shit with him so I’ll wait here.” Jake said. Shawn said nothing, or nothing that Angela could pick up on, as he marched over to Kathy.

Rayanna rolled her eyes. “Typical, he’s here to make a move on Kathy. Ugh men.” Angela ignored Rayanna again as she focused all her energy of eavesdropping.

“Kathy what the fuck is your beef? You can’t just go around school pretending like you know what went down at Starr’s party.” Shawn shouted.

Rayanna was now intrigued as her Angela walked closer along with the most of the students in the hall.

“Whoa why are you so upset Shawnie? I didn’t say anything bad about you stud. Besides I was just telling the truth. Come on doesn’t everyone here want to know that pretty boy Hess, the one who secretly pops into every girls dream, is getting down and dirty with that shy little thing hanging around that dyke?” Kathy grinned with a laugh.

“She isn’t talking about me is she?” Angela said almost in tears.

“You didn’t see crap Marquez! We did the nasty okay, spread that shit around. Hess didn’t do anything with Fitz and you know that. I’m not going to stand here and let you smooth talk me while you’re talking smack about my friend.” Shawn yelled.

“Oh god…” Angela sighed as she closed her eyes thinking this was just a dream. “Shawnie they shared a very heated kiss. From there I heard it went to third base. Scandalous right? I mean like poor Vivian. Fitz went from first base to third right to home in a matter of minutes. Crazy.” Kathy said. Mike was laughing as he put an arm over Kathy’s shoulder.

“Stop trying to cover for that player Monte. Ten bucks says by the end of the year he’ll have gotten at least one girl preggo and slept with at least half of the other girls.” Mike grinned.

“Watch your mouth Valles, I wasn’t talking to you. I’ll shut your face up for you. As for you Kathy, a kiss don’t mean get nasty unless you’re a bimbette.” Shawn said. Kathy looked as though she were about to cry when Vivian pushed her way in between the heated argument.

“Are you telling the truth you bitch?” Vivian demanded.

“Why don’t we just ask little Vivi what happens when you kiss Hess?” Mike laughed. A few of his buddies, including Joseph Keats joined in.

“That cold bitch doesn’t know shit about Jared.” Shawn shouted.

“I know more about him than you think Monte! Shut your stupid trap before I start talking myself!” Vivian shouted as she turned away from Kathy to give Shawn a cold dead stare.

“So then you won’t be surprised to hear he went all the way to home base with Fitzgerald at Starr’s party? You know the party you weren’t invited to.” Mike laughed.

Rayanna stormed off away from Angela. Angela made no effort to stop her. Her body had frozen to it’s spot in the hallway. “Shut your mouth Mike. You don’t know what happened because you weren’t invited either!”

Vivian pushed past Rayanna almost knocking her and Shawn to the ground. “So just because you come to high school looking like a bimbette you think you can have Jared? How the hell do you think you are!” Vivian shouted as he angrily walked up to Angela.

“She didn’t even sleep with him! They kissed okay, just a kiss! I wouldn’t even say a first base kiss.” Rayanna cried.

“Kathy’s just a hoser. Valles, he’s just a third grader walking the halls with the big boys.” Shawn added.

Rayanna threw herself in front of Vivian before she could get to Angela. Vivian’s anger amplified as she grabbed Rayanna’s shirt by the neck. “Get the fuck out of me way.”

“You’re cracked if you think I’ll let you go after my best friend.”

Vivian laughed. “Best friend, is that what we are going to pretend she is to you. Right...why help her win Hess?”

“Stop being a bitch Vasquez.” Shawn said.

“Leave her alone alright! Your beef is with me!” Angela cried as she quickly stepped up to avoid Rayanna anymore grief. Vivian tossed Rayanna aside like a used newspaper as she got up in Angela’s face.

“Listen blondie, if I ever see you with Jared again there’s going to be hell to pay. He loved me first, not you. No matter what your stupid Betty self does, I’ll always be his first love. He isn’t the sweet person you might think he is. He’s fucked up Fitz. Why don’t you go find a nice dancer to date instead? Because you ain’t his type honey. I am and you’re not going to get in the way anymore.” Vivian grabbed Angela’s arm and was ready to swing.

“Lay a hand of her Vasquez and there will be hell to pay.” Jared shouted as he and Billy joined the crowd.

“What you don’t want damaged goods in your trunk? I get that. We were just having a friendly conversation anyways.” Vivian released Angela as she walked towards Jared. Vivian made sure certain “areas” bounced with each step she took. Vivian approached Jared from behind as she ran her hand down his chest. She stopped just above the waist before she turned Jared around to her.

“I also told her about your true love. The one you’ll love till the end.” Vivian seductively wrapped her arms around Jared’s neck and began to kiss him. Jared didn’t close his eyes. He stared into Vivian’s icy blue eyes before finally grabbing her hand. “I don’t care what you want to believe. I’m done with you. I won’t let you control me anymore. You were right though. I did love you but shit happens.” Jared violently tossed Vivian’s hand aside.

“You’ll be back Jared. You always come back. I know you too well. Have fun with Blondie until then.” Vivian winked before she left. The crowd slowly began to disperse as the shouting stopped.

“That was really nice of you Hess, to stand up for us. Who knows what she would have done without you, so thanks.” Rayanna said as she, Shawn and Angela joined Jared and Billy at the door.

“Whatever, it’s no big deal Starr. I was just doing what I had to do.” Jared said getting ready to leave.

“Wait where do you think you’re going? You can’t just make this scene over Angie and bolt.”

“I would have done that for anyone Starr. She’s my crazy ex, I felt like I had to help.” Jared said before he left.

“Should we go after him?” Shawn asked Billy.

“Let him blow off this steam. Let’s just go see where Jacob went.” Billy said.

“Wait hold up Billy!” Angela shouted. Billy gestured for Shawn to go ahead without him. Shawn nodded and disappeared into a sea of high school students.

“What’s up Fitz?” Billy asked.

“It’s not my place so you can tell me no but…” Angela stopped as she looked away from Billy.

“You want to talk about Jared right? You want to know about the tragic love story between him and Vivian? Why he’s so screwed up? Everyone does Angela. I always get asked this because he’s my best friend. They always hope I’ll say something. But see Jared is more than my best friend. He saved my life so I take what he says seriously. Look I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m not going to betray his trust by throwing his secrets out into the world. If he wants them public, he’ll make them.” Billy said.

Angela sighed. “I figured as much. Well thanks anyways.”

“I can tell you this though. Jared needs someone like you Fitz. He’s a puzzle that people like Vivian don’t care to solve. They just want his package not his baggage. People have made up their mind about Jared because of his past mistakes. He thinks he’s a bad person because of it. But honestly, he’s a good guy with a heart of gold. I pray he doesn’t let Vivian back in this time.” Billy said.

“Why is he so afraid of me?” Angela asked.

“He’s afraid of his feelings Fitz, not you. If you knew Jared as well as I do, you’d be afraid too.” Billy replied.

“One more question, did he mean it? The kiss at Starr’s party or was it just a way to get over Vivian?” Angela whispered.

Billy sighed. “I wish I could help Fitz, but I can’t answer that. But you can. Look into his big blue eyes next time you see him and ask yourself then if he meant it. Don’t give up on him, please Angela. I don’t want to lose my best friend to someone like her.” Billy said with a sniffle before leaving Angela alone with her thoughts.

“What was that about?” Rayanna asked.

“Dance stuff. Uh I needed Rachel’s number. I have to go.” Angela said as she pushed past Rayanna ignoring her protests. Angela ran in the direction Billy had just gone and spotted him already with his friends outside of Jake’s car. She quickly looked at each one of them trying to understand them.

Shawn Montelongo, loyal friend if not a bit of a wild child. Jacob Russo, way too nerdy for the group and yet he and Jared were about as close as Jared and Billy. Billy Valentine, mysterious past and homelife who would live and die for his best friend. Jake Myers, the football star and polar opposite of Jared Hess, yet he hung out with them from time to time. What did they all share? What made them united? Angela shook her head as she kept walking. She didn’t more things to worry about.

The further way she went from the school the louder a familiar voice got. Angela stopped in her tracks as she listened to the soothing singing voice that she could place anywhere.

“Joy was an experience I’ve rarely felt before

You came and swept it gone along with your presence and more

Little Ms. Lies I let you screw me over in a moment of blindness

Tie me to an electric chair and tell me you love me

Kiss me before I’ve passed, let me realize how I fucked up

Here of death row I am a sinner, I’ve got one regret…””

Angela spotted Jared sitting under the bleachers alone with his guitar. Angela, without thinking, started walking towards him. Jared placed his head of his guitar.

“I gave you everything. I remember how you used to be the reason I woke up every morning. I actually wanted to go to school just to see your beautiful face. All those years we spent together meant the world to me. You didn’t love me. You never did. I loved you but you were just in love with love. All you wanted was a good time. I would have given you anything. Yet all you gave me was hatred. Hatred for everything. I should hate you but I can’t let you go. It’s hard letting you go. You’re like him. My drug...my worst nightmare.” Jared cried.

Angela stared at Jared for a long moment, silently weeping. Several minutes passed before Jared picked himself up and reached for his jacket. “Thanks for the gift Shawn.” Jared pulled out a small package. Inside were fresh syringes still in their box from the pharmacy. Under the box was a vial full to the top with a fake looking prescription addressed to Shawn Montelongo.

“The best pain killer.” Jared removed his belt from his waist and carefully wrapped it around his arm.

Angela watched in horror as Jared injected one of the syringes into his arm like nothing. Jared placed the empty syringe back in the bag and tossed it in his backpack. “I can’t escape these horrors but at least I can numb it.” Jared whispered as he closed his eyes.

“There is a better way to feel better Jared.” Angela whispered before she could stop herself. She ended up finding herself sitting of the dirt floor with Jared. She wanted nothing more than embrace him, relieve the party and then some.

Jared opened his eyes to see Angela smiling at him like an angel. “I’m sorry Angela...for what happened. It’s my fault. Vivian’s a nut.”

Angela placed her hand of Jared’s shoulder. To her surprise he didn’t pull away. “Don’t apologize for her Jared. She isn’t your problem. I didn’t come here to talk about her anways. I want to help you Jared. I want to put the puzzle together and be the drug that helps you cope.” Angela smiled. Jared actually managed to smile back.

“I almost forgot what it was like to feel safe. What it was like to just let loose and smile while the world stops spinning.” Jared said.

Angela reached out to touch Jared’s recently injected arm. “If you’ll have me, I’d like to show you a better cure. You deserve more than this.” Angela whispered.

Jared said nothing as he embraced Angela. She kept a tender hand on his arm while he kissed her passionately under the bleachers.

 


© Copyright 2017 Paula June. All rights reserved.

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