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Backstabbing... and turning around to backstab...
“Here goes nothing,” I told Cam when the “gang” knocked on my (the Brownes’) front door. I knew that if I didn’t open it, they would barge in. there was a no-nonsense attitude surrounding them. And so I opened the door and greeted them like this happened on a daily basis. “Hey guys.”
“Is Cam here?” Jane asked. My throat ran dry. What was I supposed to say?
“I’m right here,” he announced, appearing behind me. Jane smirked and jabbed Arynn with her foot. Before I could understand this, they had seized us and began towing us to the back alley way. I knew that they would be taking us there. It was getting kind of cold, but there was only slush on the ground because it just doesn’t snow in Texas- not that it matters to me.
“So you decided to drag Alexander into this mess, didn’t you?” Jane seethed at Cam, who was pinned to the wall by Jeremee. Kaiel was the one who was eyeing me, but I didn’t so much bat an eyelash. I was going to have to just deal with this.
“I chose it myself, Jane. Don’t pin the blame on Cam.”
“Don’t speak to me unless I speak to you!” Jane snapped, then went back to interrogating Cam. “Did you intentionally skip parties?”
“Eh, alcohol screwed up my mind. And I’m not that type of person, no matter how much you want me to be.” Behind Cam, Jeremee’s eyes widened.
“Well, we certainly don’t need anyone like you in our group,” Jane snapped.
“Okay, then get rid of me.”
“Oh, you better bet that I’m going to do that. Kai, Arynn, keep Alexander against the wall. Caryn, you don’t have to help.”
Caryn stepped away, not even looking in my direction. The two girls took Kai’s place. As they did, I quickly dialed Mr. R on a cell phone, after feeling it when I was forced against the wall, and turned the volume down- way down- so that I wouldn’t get in trouble.
And then fists were flying and Cam just stood there, taking it all. Jeremee looked as if he was getting increasingly uncomfortable, and I remembered that he had introduced Cam to the group in the first place. I could imagine that he felt slightly guilty now- I certainly would.
How long was this going to last? I was getting anxious. I hated anticipating things like this, especially since I can’t do anything about them. I could only hope that Mr. R could find me.
It took them a while to finish. They waited until Cam was gasping for breath to call it quits. I was just grateful that they hadn’t beaten him to death. And hopefully, if he could survive this, so could I.
“So you followed Cam’s poorly set example,” Jane stated.
“Don’t ‘yeah’ me, why?”
I shrugged. “What can I say? He’s got really good persuasive skills. I couldn’t say no.”
“Well, you should have.”
Great- I had provoked her anger. I sighed. This would be over soon. I just had to keep telling myself that.
“Kait, Arynn, let Caryn take care of that.”
“Wait, I’ll do it,” Kai said abruptly.
“Of course.” Jane smirked like she knew why.
“I’m sorry, ‘Lex,” he murmured.
“No you’re not,” I retorted under my breath.
“Go for it,” I heard Jane say. The next thing I saw, heard, and felt were just a bunch of fists. And boy, they punched hard. They had to- it was kind of unspoken knowledge.
Caryn stood off to the side and did nothing. Suddenly, she cried out, “Police!”
Jane slapped me across the face one more time. “Kaiel, let go of him and punch him once and then you’re done. Come on, we don’t have all night!”
I saw Kai’s eyes and understood. He was willing to sacrifice me for Caryn. I’d known it all along. I barely felt the sting of his punch that shoved me roughly and reeling into unconsciousness…
“Alex? Alex, can you hear me?”
“I’m just as surprised as you are.”
“Mr. Rivercreek!” I exclaimed, opening my eyes.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“Some kids were beating you and another boy up…”
“Oh, right… where’s Cam?”
“He didn’t make it, did he?”
Mr. Rivercreek shook his head. “I’m surprised that he didn’t pass sooner.”
“Was that your car last night?”
“Oh…” I recalled how Kaiel had backstabbed me and grimaced. Speaking of my back, it was hurting a little… and so was the rest of me.
“Was he your friend?”
“Why didn’t you show up sooner?” I demanded.
“I came as quickly as I could. If I hadn’t come, you’d be in the same place as Cam.” He sighed. “Alex, I thought that I warned you about hanging out with Kaiel Meyer.”
“You’re not my father! You can’t tell me what to do!” I snapped angrily.
“Alex, someone’s going to have to act as your father.”
“Yeah! Now you say that! Why did you have to put me in that house? If you had put me anywhere else, I wouldn’t have gotten into this mess!” And Cam might also still be alive…
“That wasn’t my choice, Alex.”
“So? You knew what kind of environment you were putting me into, right? Then why didn’t you fight it?” I demanded.
Mr. R shook his head at my accusations. “Look, Alex, I’m sorry about that, okay? I’m sorry about everything that’s happened- but it was your choice to hang out with Kaiel, not mine.”
“Yeah? Well, none of the ‘nice’ kids talk to me!”
“Well, do you try to talk to them?”
Mr. R sighed. “Being a teenager is hard. I know.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with this!” I growled. “You’d never understand! Your family is all perfect. You could never see the world through my eyes!”
“Alex, calm down. You’re not well.”
I had stood up during the shouting match and I felt my body sway. With a little dignity, I managed to collapse back on the bench. “How long as I out?”
“It’s Sunday afternoon- why?”
I stood up again- slowly this time. “I’m going home.”
“Stop meddling in my life!” I shouted at him. “Caring about me or whatever- it’s stupid! Leave me alone!”
The hurt in Mr. R’s eyes was obvious, but he didn’t get angry. Instead, he nodded. “Take care.”
“I hate you,” I spat at him.
“Do you want a ride back?” he inquired as if he hadn’t heard what I had just said.
“Are you walking?”
“It’s none of your business!”
I studied him one final time before finally fleeing. I was angry. I was enraged and ready to murder. I was bruised and broken, seemingly beyond repair. And I was just a thirteen-year-old boy. That’s all I was. And somehow, I needed to find the way back to that stupid house so that I could keep living my stupid, stupid life…