This week I am sharing chapter three from my story Waiting on July. If you haven’t yet checked out chapter one and two those are available as well! Check those out before this so you know where we are at and how the heck we got here! As always, I appreciate all your support and feedback. All my stories on here are somewhere in between a rough draft and a final so there maybe some small errors that my eyes couldn’t pick up that will be fixed before publication (when I get an editor). 🙂 Next week I will be sharing Part II of “Tuesday at Midnight”. I have also joined Book of the Month and will be sharing some book reviews on here in the future just in case y’all are looking for some new books or inspiration. I hope you enjoy!
TW: Substance abuse. SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Three days went by and school didn’t feel the same anymore. The leaves outside were vibrant orange and about to turn brown before they fell to be covered by the winter snow. The days and nights grew colder and the air felt wet in the fall afternoon. The vibrant color of the leaves were dulled down by the gray skies. Hendrick hadn’t talked to me since Max’s party and I didn’t know if I should even give a shit. The lunch table was vacant with the exception of myself. I could see Hendrick sitting across the cafeteria making the occasional glances up towards me. Hendrick, Max and Blake kept cupping their hands around something as if they were trying to hide it. Occasionally lifting it up to their lips and scrunching their faces after they took a sip. The bell rang and they quickly jumped up to leave. Sitting in the almost empty cafeteria was almost relaxing. It felt like it was my own bubble. I could hear the other kids moving through the hall but I couldn’t see them. I could hear the sound of the kitchen staff moving around the metal pans from behind me. I sat there looking down at my half eaten slice of cheese pizza and my strawberry milk as a hand touched my shoulder.
“Alright, time to go Canaan.” I looked up to see Ms. Tilman standing next to me, all of four feet two inches of her. Her short gray hair looked pure white in the fluorescent lights.
“Oh…” I grabbed my tray and stood up. “Sorry, Ms. Tilman, I didn’t hear the bell.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you heard me then.. go on.” Ms. Tilman ushered me through the cafeteria doors just before the hordes of students heading to the next scheduled lunch.
In the last thirty minutes of my math class I sat with my face rested on my arm as I filled out that nights homework assignment. The last thirty minutes were just more relaxed then the first hour. Maybe because everyone was full and tired from lunch or because there was just nothing left in the lesson. It didn’t matter to me either way the more time I could do my homework in class the less I would have to do at 11 tonight when I got home from work.
In English, Madyson and I partnered up to peer edit each other’s essays. The class was at a soft roar with all the different pairs all pretending to give feedback on each other’s work. The phone at the front of the class which was either a very good sign that someone was lucky enough to get dismissed or a very bad sign that someone was about to get in trouble started to ring. Ms. Wes picked up the phone and raised an eyebrow in my direction. I leaned down and began putting everything away in my backpack.
“What are you doing?” Madyson put down my essay and looked at me.
“I’m not sure what I did but I am pretty sure that call was for me.” I said shoving the last pen into the front pocket of my bag.
“Canaan. Mr. Jackson would like to see you in his office.” The class let out a subtle ohhhhhh from behind me.
“Wow… you all. True comedians.” I looked at all my classmates that slowly shifted back to their essays.
“What did you do now Canaan?” Ms. Wes whispered as she handed me a paper pass. Which was never a good thing. A paper pass meant you weren’t coming back for the day.
“Your guess is as good as mine, Jen.” Walking down the hall I was trying to think of everything that I could’ve done. I knew I sat in the cafeteria a little longer than I should have but I have full on skipped my math course before and I never got called to the Vice Principals office. I wasn’t even late, I was in the class right before the bell rang. I hadn’t even skipped school at all this semester yet and something tells me the statute of limitations on skipping school last year had run out. I made my way down the hall, Mr. Jackson’s office was down the stairs and all the way on the other side of the school. I walked into his office and the secretary told me to go right in. Opening the door I saw Hendrick, Max and Blake all obviously drunk sitting in three chairs facing Mr. Jackson.
“Come on in Canaan, have a seat.” His voice was deep and his tone was sharp. Mr. Jackson was about six feet tall his bald head shined in the office lights. I found a seat behind the three others and placed my bag on the ground. “I’m sure you know why you’re here?”
I looked around. Not one of the others faced me as they swayed slightly in their chairs. I looked up at Mr. Jackson confused. “Sir. I honestly have no idea why I am here.”
“No idea huh?” He walked back toward the front of the desk and stared at Hendrick.
“Mr. Dedison. Maybe you would like to share why Canaan is joining us today?” Hendrick didn’t move an inch or even look up towards Mr. Jackson. “No?”
“You’re busted for giving us the vodka.” Max’s nasal forward voice mumbled out.
“Vodka? I didn’t give you any vodka?”
“Don’t lie Canaan, you gave it to us this morning.” Blake chimed in turning around smirking at me.
“What the fuck is everyone talking about?”
“Canaan, you watch that mouth while you’re in my office.” Mr. Jackson snapped from behind his chair. “These boys tell me that you gave them the alcohol telling them it was water.”
“Well that is a lie.” I looked at Hendrick hoping he would make eye contact but he wouldn’t move his eyes off the floor.
“Is this your water bottle?” Mr. Jackson held up a light blue water bottle covered in stickers that I left at Hendrick’s house over the summer.
“I mean, yeah that’s my bottle but…”
“But nothing, I am having a hard time believing you didn’t give these boys alcohol. With your word versus physical evidence.”
“Well, I have a hard time believing that these fucktards would ‘forget’ what water tastes like over vodka to drink enough to get drunk.”
“That’s enough, Canaan.” Mr. Jackson looked at Hendrick, Max and Blake. “You three can go wait for your parents in the security office.” As they left the room Mr. Jackson turned one of the chairs around and sat down facing me. “Are you drunk?”
“No, do you smell alcohol on me? I didn’t even give them alcohol.”
“Canaan, I’m sorry my hands are tied here.”
“Your hands are only tired because you made the knot.”
“Alright, I’m sick of your attitude, three days suspension out of school starting tomorrow. I’ll call your parents and let them know.” He made his way back to his desk and sat down looking at his computer. “That’s it. You can go.”
I walked out of the office and walked toward the parking lot. Was Hendrick fucking serious? He was blaming me for him and his fucking circle jerk buddies getting completely trashed at school? How is that even fun? You’re just sitting in a classroom all day, I would pass out. I know Max had everything to do with this. The only silver lining for this was that I put my cell phone number as the home (and only) phone number for my dad back in sophomore year. I leaned against my car and lit a cigarette and waited until the final bell rang. As the school emptied Madyson came out and walked towards the car.
“What happened to you?” Madyson said taking the cigarette from out of my mouth and into her fingers.
“I got suspended.”
“What?” Madyson took the last drag off the cigarette and threw it on the ground. “For what?”
“Well, Max and his little minions told Mr. Jackson that I gave them a water bottle of water that was actually vodka and they all drank it thinking it was water.”
“That… that doesn’t even make sense.”
“Oh, I’m aware but I am also not on a sports team so it’s easier to blame me than it is to lose three players on the soccer team I guess.”
“Canaan this is bullshit you need to do something.” I looked at Madyson from over the roof of the car as she opened the door to the other side.
“What can I do?”
“What? Like egg their cars?” I said laughing as I placed myself into the drivers seat.
“I’m not sure yet… Just pick me up at my house after work.”
I gave Madyson a raised eyebrow as she gave me a soft smile in return. I wasn’t sure what she was planning but the fire inside of me was ready for what ever it was.
Work seemed unusually busy that night and I was in no mood to make small talk with the customers that came to my register. My grocery store uniform was a blue apron over a white button down shirt and tie. I looked like something straight out of the 1960’s. In between customer’s I turned to face out the large windows with a view of the liquor store and the bumper to bumper traffic on the street in front of me. Behind the liquor store you could see some mountains in the distance slowly fading out of view as the sun set from the sky. I was kinda sad to think they built this depressing city here. The surrounding world outside of the city lines was so picturesque. The rolling mountains of New Hampshire were full of evergreen trees that still looked so untouched even after the hundreds of years this city was here to pollute the ground around it.
I got out of work at 10 that night. I could see my breath in the streetlights as I walked towards my car. I took the backroads to Madyson’s house. Driving through the neighborhoods of the city where there were nicer homes and the streets were winding instead of flat and straight. I pulled up to Madyson’s driveway where she was already sitting outside dressed in all black under her lamp post. She had four bags sitting next to her.
“What is all of this.” I said as she began putting the reusable grocery bags in the back seat.
“Payback.” Madyson moved the seat back and took her place. “Here.” Madyson handed me a black ski mask and gloves before she buckled her seat belt.
“Are we robbing a bank?”
“No, we’re getting payback I just said that.”
“Okay, do you have a plan to murder someone? I feel like people only wear ski masks to rob or kill people.”
“Well, we are doing neither, but we still have to be stealth.”
“Alright. Well, you’re the boss so where too?”
“Blake lives right down the street. He’s on my bus… Him first?”
We drove down the street and took a slight turn onto a small, barely lit, dead end street. Madyson told me to turn off my lights as she reached into the back seat and grabbed a package of bologna and a container of mustard out of some of the bags.
“Are you hungry?” I said looking at her as she dropped the bologna into my lap.
“No. This is for his car. The bologna will strip his paint.”
“And the mustard?”
“Oh the mustard is just gross.” She said as she opened the door and got out.
We walked into the narrow driveway and Blake’s black Audi was sitting last in line closest to the street. I opened up the package of bologna and began throwing them all over the roof and side of the car. Madyson began putting mustard all over the windows and under the doorhandles. I kept looking around to see if anyone was out walking around or if any lights turned on in the house but all was silent with the exception of the occasional airplane overhead. Madyson drew a large mustard dick on the windshield with almost an uncomfortable amount of detail and accuracy. Madyson and I were trying not to laugh as we took a step back staring at our accomplishments from the edge of the driveway. I looked at her as the moon illuminated the world around us.
“Ready for round two?” Madyson looked at me with an almost evil smile on her face.
I looked at her and smiled back.
“Max’s house it is.” She said. We walked to the car and drove down the street for a second before turning on the headlights. The air was cold but we had our windows open. Madyson sitting in the passenger seat, her face lit up slightly from the radio and passing streetlights. She leaned her head out the window, her hair blew in the night air. I could feel the heat on one side of my face and the brisk fall night on the other. Max’s neighborhood was more planned. The houses were all in a grid, the streetlights were positioned in what seemed like a consistent sequence.
“It’s really bright in his driveway.” I looked to see a light shining from the house onto the cars below.
“We’re not touching his car.” Madyson said. “Put on your mask.”
“We’re not touching his car?” I lifted up my mask. “What are we touching?”
“Just his back pack.”
“Madyson he isn’t going to give a shit if is backpack is stolen, besides that’s literally in his house.”
Madyson looked at me and gave me a slow and steady nod.
“No…” I looked at her as she put the mask over her face. “No… Madyson we’re breaking into the house?!”
“I won’t break anything, now let’s go.” She lifted her self out of the car and shut the door. I sat for a second staring at the mask and watched as Madyson slowly crossed the street towards Max’s house. Fuck it. I followed her and we went to the basement window. Madyson cupped her hands around her eyes and looked into the dark room. “He’s passed out cold.”
“How are we going to get in? His bed is literally under the window?”
“Not on your side.” She whispered back.
“What about the screen.”
“Ugh… Move Canaan.” Madyson pulled out a box cutter out of her pocket and cut open the screen in one swift motion and then gentle but forcefully pushed the window open and slid quietly into the room. I followed her waiting for the occasional breath from Max to make sure he was still asleep. Once inside, the room was dark, lit only a little from the light outside shining through the half open blinds. “What psycho sleeps with their blinds open with a street level window?” Madyson whispered as we stared at Max unmoving in his bed. Madyson started looking around from his backpack, it was getting easier with every minute that past as our eyes adjusted to the night.
“There… There it is.” I walked over to the backpack that sat on the chair of his desk.
“Awesome, where do you think he hides the drugs?”
“What? Why?” I whispered back. She pulled me towards the back of the bedroom toward the bathroom.
“We need to put the drugs in the bag. Trust me.” She said leaning into me, her voice vibrated gently against me ear. I looked around the room to notice if there was any place that looked most obvious. Above the desk, one ceiling tile seemed just a little out of the place from the rest. I pointed my finger to get Madyson to look up. We slowly walked over and I stood onto the chair trying not to make too much noise. I reached my hand into the ceiling and felt a little tin container. Pulling it out I handed it to Madyson who opened it and nodded back to me.
“There is a lot in here.” Madyson said looking at the tin.
“Just put it in the bag and let’s go.”
Madyson took a few bags and placed them in different pockets slowly handing the container back to me. Moving the ceiling tile back into place I stepped down rustling some papers watching as Max softly adjusted in his sleep. We made our way out the window the same way we came in as Madyson stood staring at Max asleep on his back.
“Let’s go!” I whispered kneeing on the ground outside with my head in the window. Madyson looked up at me through the hole in the ski mask and put a finger up telling me to wait. Madyson stepped closer to Max and balled her fist.
“HEY MAX!” She yelled. As Max jolted up Madyson punched him in the family jewels probably the hardest I’d ever seen someone get punched down there. As Max yelled and moaned Madyson jumped out the window. We sprinted to the car peeling out as the lights in Max’s house began to flick on.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe you just did that!” We were flying down the street as if we were escaping a robbery.
“I know you’ve wanted to do that for awhile.”
“Well yeah, since day one but you have some balls.”
“Someone has to since Max’s hopefully aren’t functional anymore.” She looked at me from the passenger seat smiling. “Imagine if that kid reproduced?” We pulled into Hendrick’s neighborhood and sat in front of his house for a minute.
“Alright.” I said turning off the car. “Last stop. What do we have.”
Madyson turned around and pulled out a full bag from the back seat. “I wanted to keep Hendrick’s a little more harmless.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Well…” Madyson pulled out a plastic bag with two raw chicken breast. “This is for under the seats and this… this is for the outside.” She handed me several boxes of plastic wrap. “Which car is Hendrick’s?” She said looking at the three cars in the driveway.
“Red truck. Let’s go.” I felt empowered. Something came over me and couldn’t help but feel like all this was deserved. Hendrick was my best friend and now I don’t even know if I was just a pity friend he had in order to balance out Max and Blake. Or if he was still truly my best friend. Madyson and I walked up to the truck. She had an unfolded wire hanger already in the window working to unlock the car. Within seconds the door was open and the raw chicken was in its new home under the driver and passenger seats. Madyson and I began covering the car in plastic wrap. After a thick layer covered the car and all boxes were empty we placed the trash into the bed of Hendrick’s truck and walked back to my car. As I turned on the car I made a quick glimpse at the clock on the radio.
“It’s already, three in the morning?!” Madyson said.
“The spirit hour.” I said driving down the street back towards Madyson’s house.
“Don’t start with that scary shit.”
“It’s not scary… well, not to me.” I looked at Madyson for a second and focused back on the empty streets. “I like to think my mom comes to check in on me every night when the rest of the spirits roam this world.”
“Do you ever see her?” Madyson said softly from the passenger seat.
“No, but sometimes I feel her or just know she is there. Maybe she’s always here, maybe she’s not here at all. But, you have to hold onto something you know?”
Madyson stared at me, her expression was soft. As we pulled up to Madyson’s house all the lights were off. “Do you want to sleep here?”
“No, it’s okay, I need to at least pretend like I’m going to school tomorrow.” I slowly backed out of her driveway as Madyson made her way into the house. Driving back towards my house I played with the radio until a familiar sound came through the speakers. Sunrise from Norah Jones. The voice carried me back to my mom on Saturday mornings before she left for work. I could see her making me breakfast, dancing with a spatula in her hand. Grabbing my wrists and making me dance with her. She would look at me and tell me that I will always be her sunrise. She was so happy, I was so happy. I knew this was her. This was her telling me everything is going to be okay. This was her, being here even when she isn’t. As I walked into my house I could swear I could see her sitting and waiting for me like she used to in the kitchen but it was only my dad’s work shirt draped over the couch.