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I wondered who she was. The girl sitting in the far side of the cafeteria. She seemed intent on her book, almost absentmindedly eating her sandwich.
"You don't want to be mixed with her." I jumped. I'd nearly forgotten that I was surrounded by a bunch of my friends.
But I was a guy. Guys did not show surprise--a look of calm or a slight movement, but nothing more. So I asked instead, "Why not?"
As casual as the question was, the group moved in closer, and the person who spoke, Ronnie, looked around before speaking.
"That's Annette Jones. I heard she got arrested for arson. They sent her to a psychotherapist."
"Yeah. Apparently it runs in the family," another guy said, who I forgot the name of. "Her cousin is big on gangs, signed to one of the major ones, but the police have no proof."
"Her parents were in jail just after she was born," added Ronnie. "I heard--"
"You heard what?" a voice asked behind them.
A tall senior was glaring at them, not caring if he was noticed by the teachers and aides.
Ronnie managed to squeak out, "N-nothing."
He snorted. "Like that's gonna fool me." He suddenly yanked the front of Ronnie's shirt to make them eye level. "Meet me by the mall on the other side of town. Don't bring anyone. And if you even think about going to the police, me and my buddies are going to take a long joy ride."