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So there I was, at West Avenue Skate Park. The most twisted skate park in the history of skate parks in New York-at least to me. Unfortunately it wasn’t popular enough for the city to give it a name, so locals named it after the street it was on. The smooth cemented valleys, pits, and ramps dwelled in the very center of a smooth esplanade of soccer fields and walking paths. I watched my friends Cassie, Joel and Manton perform their impressive tricks throughout the varying parts of the bowl. I watch them unload newly achieved variations of pop shuvits, ollies, axle stalls, and just about everything else. These oblivious, experienced skaters were my friends, my memories…
“Cassie! Get em’ with the milkshake!” I shouted, things getting serious. In our little booth, Joel and Manton were crushing me against Milkshake Heaven’s unsanitary tea green walls.
“Why?” Cassie replied carelessly.
“Because I might just die if you don’t!”
“Why would that bother me?” Cassie asked bemused.
“Because I’m your friend!”
Joel and Manton pushed harder and I began to wonder whether they were actually trying to kill me. They continued obnoxiously, laughing their loud clamorous laughs that made irritated customers leave.
“You kids better quiet down or leave!” said a voice from above. The manager was warning us through the music speakers. Cassie, Joel, and Manton ignored him completely.
“Am I? Am I really? Are we really your friends?” She replied with mock scorn.
“C’mon, Cass! Really? Right now?”
“Really.” She concluded. We got kicked out of Milkshake Heaven.
The thing that I should have known about Cassie was that she denied your cry for help until you were a second from despair. It was a humorous yet bitter characteristic of hers. No matter how many times I’d cry for help and get everything but a helping hand, I knew I’d always love Cassie. She was an awesome friend; always courteous and understanding when she needed to be. Haha, just not when situations like these came along!
I continued to look down on my friends. They were having so much fun…Enveloped in their world of truck bolts, grip tape, and Vans. I was now only a fragment of the past. Something they would soon to come to discover-A realization that had just come to me. I began to search my mind for yet another good memory.
“You know you’re not going to do it. It’s not something you would do. Or…is it, Jackson? Is it? You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. I know I wouldn’t, but everyone has their unexpected side. People do things that others would never expect them to do. It’s what makes people so interesting” Joel stated, staring me right in the eyes, our faces inches apart. His breath smelled of wintergreen, a smell that automatically rang up as ‘Joel’ in my head. He smelled like wintergreen, everything about him described wintergreen; his love of the color green only enhanced my mental image of him as a pine tree. His eyes were a light blue that went well with his blonde hair. Even though his blue eyes seemed to take away from his wintergreen-ness, it didn’t. I imagined, ‘Blue Spruce.’ It was still a pine tree, just blue and…weird.
“I’ll do it.”
“Really Jackson? You’re gonna do it?”
I nodded. Joel was right, the unexpected was to be somewhat expected and it was what made people interesting. A handsome grin spread across his face.
“I knew you’d do it…somehow. Go up there! It’ll be something to remember! A great story to tell your future grandkids when you’re 60 or something! It’ll be great! Fun awaits you!”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied sarcastically. Joel cackled loudly.
The large crowd that had gathered in Times Square seemed to have suddenly doubled.
“Any volunteers? We only need two more!” Mitch Clark called out to the audience. People walking past stopped to watch. I ran up to the front of the crowd and leapt onto the yellow and black stage.
“Well great! We got us a third volunteer!” Mitch Clark led me to an old wooden table at the center of the stage, I sat in the dingy plastic chair beside the two other volunteers. On my plate were squirming pink earth worms. He tied a plastic bib around my neck. Within seconds a girl with thick pig tails tied with fuzzy scrunchies jumped onto the stage.
“Another! Well, then, our party’s set!” Mitch Clark called out joyously. The girl joined me and the other two nervous citizens at the table.
“First, give us your name and age, and then when the gun’s fired, we’ll begin!” Mitch Clark quickly handed the girl the microphone.
“My name is Valerie, I’m 11,” she said with surprising confidence, then she passed it onto me, the handle was moist.
“Um, Jackson, I’m 15,” I calmly said passing the microphone on. The other two were Nate, 17, and Sean, 21. We were all relatively young.
“What a crazy young bunch! On your marks, get set, go!” The gun fired, I shoved my first forkful of worms into my mouth. The taste of peanut butter and the crunchy gushy texture of those innocent worms would be held in my memory bank forever.
At West Avenue Skate Park, I watched my friends sit down at the most graffiti filled, ghetto gazebo. Our gazebo. We’d sit under there for hours talking and munching on our ‘flamin’ hot’ Chester’s Hot Fries. I watched Manton pull the big yellow striped bag from his backpack and place it on the table. Everyone instantly started to grab and jump for it’s delicious, fiery contents. I wanted to be with them so badly. I watched Manton civilly eat his, he ate his one by one; the rest of us would eat them two by two or sometimes three by three! Soon, a memory began to spur; a very odd one. One that uncovered a secret of his. A big secret.
Joel and I were lounging in his step dad’s small living room, watching the football game. The New York Giants versus the Philadelphia Eagles, I was sure that the New York Giants would win! We were ahead by 21 points! With only 13 seconds left to the game, it was impossible for them to lose. Joel and I had made a bet before the game started: if the Eagles won, I’d have to kiss Manton, if the Giants won, Joel would have to lick the carpet and eat part of a spider web. I felt for sure my pay up was worse than his if the Eagles won, but Joel insisted it was equally bad either way. With the way the game was looking, it looked as though Joel would have to taste some carpet and web! The game was looking so great so that I knew I wouldn’t have to kiss Manton, how very strange that would have been!
Within 13 seconds, my world and future flipped. The New York Giants lost! The player Matt was ordered not to kick the ball towards the Eagle’s return man, and guess what? He kicked it straight to him! The Eagles won… A terribly tragic moment for me.
“AMAZING!” Joel turned and shot me a smug look.
“Wow, I can’t believe that just happened! I thought for sure that I’d have to lick carpet and web with the way the game was going! Jackson…this should be good, real good! Manton’s over there!” Joel hugged himself in amazement.
A bet was a bet. With a groan I stood up. Manton was at the kitchen table reading the book “Samurai Garden,” we had to read it for school and he was currently behind. As much as I didn’t want to do it, I was a serious better. I got terribly mad when someone didn’t pull through with a bet. So I, not wanting to be a hypocrite, sauntered over to Manton. What was I doing? Could I really do this? Was this bet really fair? Would this destroy our friendship forever?
“Hey man,” I said taking the seat next to his.
“Hey,” he said as he glanced up at the TV screen.
“The Giants lost?! Unbelievable…who would have ever thought,” he exclaimed.
“I know…Joel and I made a bet…I lost.” I said wanting Manton to know the reason for my soon to come actions.
He laughed in amusement, “What do you have to do?”
At that moment, I leaned in, gripped Manton’s face, and kissed him. This was only the weirdest moments of my life. This, sadly, was my first kiss. His lips were soft, but I really didn’t want to think of things like that. I heard Joel break into hysterics as he watched. I’d expected Manton to push me away in disgust, but was rather met by an uncalled for action of his. He gripped my own face and kissed me back! What was he doing?! Quickly I pulled away; curious and disgusted of what had just happened.
Manton’s large brown eyes were wide in shock. This was a face I’d never seen before, and one I’d never forget. Manton was a rather attractive guy and all of his girlfriends has been from the popular crew, but right now when I saw him, I didn’t see him as the guy that the girls loved, I saw him as the guy that kissed me back… another guy of the same gender.
“Why’d you kiss me?” Manton asked, the wild frenzied look still plastered on his face.
“I lost the bet, so I had to kiss you. Manton…why’d you…?” Manton looked away at the candle in the middle of the table. I’d just realized that Joel wasn’t there anymore. Where’d he gone?
“Jackson…this is a huge secret of mine. Please don’t tell anyone. Not even Joel or Cassie, they have big mouths and I don’t want this to get out. Jackson…I think I’m bisexual, or maybe even gay…no, probably bisexual, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m attracted to guys, sometimes girls, but mostly guys….” He was now staring very deeply into my eyes. “Will you still be my friend?”
“Of course, Manton, I mean, it’s a shock, but why would that…corrupt our friendship?” even though I sounded like the greatest friend in the world with my response, inside I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. The thought would definitely take some getting used to. Was Manton attracted to me? No, I couldn’t think things like this or else our friendship would deteriorate. He didn’t, he just thought that we might have had the same thing in common.
Suddenly Joel came back with Cassie.
“You should have seen it, Cass! He actually did it!”
“Wow… that’s not weird at all.” Cassie replied eyeing the two of us. Manton looked at me with a look that pleaded for his trust in me. I would not tell Joel or Cassie. If it was something meant for them to know, then eventually they would know. Just not by me. Was I being a good friend by choosing this? Too bad if I was clarified as a bad friend in the end, I wouldn’t tell. I smiled back at him, and when Joel and Cassie weren’t looking, he smiled back.
Memories like these floated around my mind. I liked them, all of them. Each one of them were different in a wonderful way. Cassie and how her actions had a lovingly humorous sting, Joel and how he thought the world inside out and with great curiosity, and then Manton, who made me feel warm inside because I knew that he had full trust in me, a trust that only good friends could have, a trust that could never be broken.
So I watch my friends, live their lives. Even though I can never really physically be with my friends, I’ll always be with them at heart. As much as I’d want to be with them, I couldn’t possibly…with my body sinking lower and lower in the great Pacific Ocean. No one knew about my death yet. About how I’d fallen off of the cruise we were on, my family and I. I’d told my parents that I’d be back around six. It was three. No one would even start to question my whereabouts for another three hours and thirty minutes. My body will never be found. After sinking for a full three hours and thirty minutes, I’ll be far from surface…and even though I’ll never walk the beautiful earth again, or skate in the most popular skate park in the whole history of New York again. It’s fine. Because I’ve shared a great many memories with others. And as long as those memories shall live, my heart and my existence shall live within them.