Short Story Numero Dos: Hot Heat

I am rage.

* * *

I feed a furnace in my belly with a constant cache of coal. It never gets low and I never burn out. It sizzles and sears; it expands and it ebbs. Still, I am in control.

* * *

I get a letter from the principal’s office. I am a candidate for valedictorian.
Figures.

* * *

In fifth grade Jenna Penney bet me fifty cents I couldn’t get straight As for the marking period. Straight As, every period for eight years with interest, inflation and so forth: Jenna Penney owes me about seventy bucks.
Pocket change. Piddly squat.
I made seventy last Tuesday, when I sold Jimmy Chang, the wise-ass, his bi-monthly stash.

* * *

I go home and I tell my mom about the valedictorian thing.
“Mom,” I say. She looks at me. She’s shocked. “It’s between me and Charlotte Carr for valedictorian.”
She cries, but not because she is proud.
Masochist is what the guy said, that dumb therapist that she made me see a few years back. Dr. Douche is what I call him. So masochist is what he said. But I say unique. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

* * *

There are four months left. Four months to either earn the title of valedictorian or to pilfer and swindle from Charlotte Carr. So poetic, the ‘pilfer’ and ‘swindle’. I’m like Robin Hood, except I lack the moral code. There are no poor to serve. It’s goddamn high school — there are just repugnant rich boys and chirpy cheerleaders. So I find Charlotte Carr.
“Hey Char,” I say. I use my sit-in-the-front-row, raise-my-hand-for-every-question voice. “How ’bout we partner up for the final Chem project? It would really help our GPAs.”
Charlotte stares at me. I think she’s pissed, and she probably has reason to be, if that kind of crap mattered to me. Last May at the junior prom, Charlotte was up for Prom Princess or whatever the hell the title is. I couldn’t stand the desperate labels, the tween drama of it all. So I set the ballot box on fire. Charlotte saw me go into the room, and she’s at least fairly intelligent — she’s up for valedictorian against me, after all — she must have deduced that I was the arsonist, adding one and one to make two.
Charlotte fixes a smile. Good girl.
“Sure,” she says. “Let’s meet in the library after school.”

* * *

I see Lockley Moore heading into the bathroom with a group of friends before sixth period. Lockley’s holding a liter bottle of minty mouth rinse. Lockley Moore. His parents must have been assholes to give him a name him like that. Asshole parents or not, there are tastier ways to get drunk, and I happen to be the school’s very discreet, very in-demand peddler of said resources. I tell Mr, Logan, the vice principal and, as far as he’s concerned, my BFF, that shit-for-brains Lockley Moore and friends were stumbling and acting peculiar and, as the class do-gooder, I’m concerned so could he check it out?

Read more!

Short Story Numero Uno: Playing The Game

Here’s a preview of one of my short stories that’s published online:

They were practically salivating, waiting for me to teach them by the time I got to the lunch table. I sat down and stuffed a huge bite of my turkey sandwich into my mouth, ignoring their begging eyes.

“Oh, come on, Drew,” Jonathan said. He scratched his armpit under his jacket. Crap, it had to be 85 degrees, and he still couldn’t bear to take off his junior varsity football jacket for fear that some sad freshman might forget to swoon over him.

“Come on what?” I said, pretending to forget. Like I could forget the hounding I’d endured for the past two weeks. Jonathan and Mike have been following me around like kittens, pleading for the secret to The Game.

The Game was what I called my fool-proof plan to get any girl you want. And it worked. I was the most popular guy in the sophomore class. I had a date with a different girl every weekend and all it took was adherence to a few simple rules: the rules of The Game.

I rolled my eyes. “Fine, okay. There are five rules to The Game.”

Mike pulled out a notebook and pen. He had been my best friend and neighbor since preschool. He started scribbling furiously. Jonathan, on the other hand, just laughed.

“Five rules? What are you, writing a book?”

“Maybe,” I said. I bit off a chunk of sandwich. “You want to know or not?

Jonathan sat still, arms folded, but didn’t laugh again. Mike’s head bobbed up and down in a frantic nod, his pen at the ready.

“Five rules,” I repeated. “Rule number one is Name Recognition. This one is pretty easy. You want the girl, the object of your desire, to know who you are. Even better is when it’s other people talking about you, so get some friends to mention your name around her a few times. That way, you pop into her mind when she’s least expecting it.”

Mike wrote down every word. Jonathan smiled.

“Okay, I think Sal sits by Lauren in Bio. I can get him to talk about my tackle on Saturday.”

I nodded. “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’m working on Tiff right now. Mikey here is telling her about the boat I’m building with my dad, and Shawn has been ‘complaining’ to her about trying to get my picture for all the clubs I’m in for the yearbook.”

“Yo, you’re building a boat with your dad?” Jonathan said.

“Dude,” I said, shaking my head. “I never said it had to be true.”

READ THE REST!

Have you ever tried gimmicks or games when dating? Have a cringe-inducing dating memory from high school? Feel free to share in comments!