A Boy's Instinct

Jackson wasn’t angry, he was furious. His fists were clenched and his mouth set in a determined line. A hundred things could’ve been reeling in his mind, but right then he had only one thing on it. Revenge.
Tommy Ortega was going to pay for what he did.

In the small town of Shelby, Wyoming, news traveled pretty fast. So it was no wonder Tommy knew Jackson was coming for him. Arrogant, but secretly fearful, he surrounded himself with friends and sat, waiting on his front porch, for Jackson.
Nerves were high and his buddies began wondering whether to back down now or later.
They all knew Jackson Wild was not to be trifled with.
For as long as anyone could remember, he’d lived in Shelby. He had always been a loner in school, but outside of it, he hung with a group of boys known as the Rejects.
Mainly they consisted of skaters and bike pro wannabes, but all were young outcasts.
At thirteen, Jackson was the oldest, and therefore the leader of the gang of six boys.
The kids in town really didn’t know what was stranger. The group of boys themselves, or the fact that a girl had joined them.
It had happened a couple months ago, and local gossip said that Jackson wanted her out, that he believed she was a threat to his authority. But as slowly the months wore on, it appeared as though the newest member would be staying.
I guess it would be good to tell you about this girl, considering she is a key factor in this story.
Her name was Sterling Green and she was the prettiest eighth grader in all of Shelby.
She always braided her fiery red hair into two french braids that ran down to her shoulders. Light freckles splayed across her cheeks under her crystal blue eyes.
When she walked down the street, her hips swaying a little, you could literally hear the guys drooling. Beautiful, independent, talented, and the envy of all the girls in Shelby, no one could understand why Sterling Green hung with the Rejects. After all, they had earned that name for a reason.
They had a club, stationed in Charlie’s dad’s junk yard. Charlie was one of the boys in the group, and naturally, second in command. When Jackson was away, Charlie was in charge.
Their club was made up of old cars, stacked in numerous piles. They’d picked a few close to each other and were able to scrambled across them rather quickly. A ramp led down from the top car, which was the lookout post. The whole thing was probably fifteen feet tall.
Here they planned their battles and missions, fighting for turf against the only other dominant club in Shelby.
Tommy’s.

Jackson dug his feet into the ground with every step. He had been walking for ten minutes and still, his anger hadn’t dropped one inch. His blond hair curled out from underneath his black baseball cap and his red and white baseball tee that stopped at his elbows, was clinging to his back from sweat. He glanced up at the sun, high in the summer sky, and kept walking.
His jeans were dusty and so were his face and arms, but he didn’t even seem to notice the trickle of sweat running down his face. He was too angry.
Sterling was sitting in the local ice cream parlor, soaking in the cool air conditioned air, when Charlie and Danny burst in, searching frantically for her.
“Charlie? Danny?” She said in wonder, sitting up on her stool.
“Sterling!” They gasped in relief, collapsing on the stools beside her.
“What’s going on?” She asked, flinching as her back bumped the wooden counter.
Danny was bent in half, clutching his stomach as though he had been running all day.
Charlie found his voice first. “It’s Jackson......He’s going to Tommy’s,” He gasped.
Sterling’s face dropped so suddenly, the cashier asked her if she was all right.
Leaping from her stool, she bolted out of the store and raced for her bike, chained to the rusty metal rack. Danny and Charlie were hot on her heels.
“That stupid idiot!” She screamed, surprising Danny and Charlie quite badly.
“But–”
“Come on!” She hollered and even though Charlie was technically in charge, both he and Danny followed orders.

Tommy wasn’t afraid of Jackson as much as the entire group of Rejects. So when he saw Jackson walk around the bend alone, he grinned maliciously and snickered at him.
“Where’s your dumb gang Jackson?” He spat.
Jackson sucked in a deep breath to stay calm and spat back, “Waiting for me to whip you!”
“Ha, like you could!” Tommy barked, standing up to his full hight which was even with Jackson.
“Why don’t we find out!” Jackson challenged.
Tommy bit his lip nervously, then noticed the stares from his friends. If he said no, he would be called a wimp. If he said yes, Jackson might beat him.
His pride won.

“Fine!” Tommy jumped the couple steps to the ground and slowly walked over to Jackson, who’s eyes were burning with fire. Tommy turned back to wave at his friends, when he felt Jackson tackle him backwards and lay him out flat. Before he knew it he felt Jackson’s rock hard fist slam into his cheek.
Tommy winced and lay still.
Grabbing him by the shirt, Jackson hauled him to his feet and shook him harshly.
“Get up wimp!” He cried in anger, then shoved him backwards so he fell onto his butt.

“Jackson!”
He turned at the sound of his name and saw Sterling scrambling off her bike. She raced over and got in between Tommy and him. Staring him straight in the eye, he could clearly see she was telling him to let it go.
“Stay out of this Sterling,” He told her.
“Can’t we just go–”
“He hit you Sterling! He hit a girl!” He yelled loud enough for everyone to hear. Gasps on the porch and more from the rest of the gang who had just arrived.
“I can’t just let that go,” Jackson took a step towards Tommy, who flinched and scooted backwards in fear.
Tommy’s dad peered around the corner of the house, where he had been hiding, waiting to spring to his son’s defense. Unfortunately, now, he was raging mad and grabbed Tommy by the collar, hoisting him to his feet.
“Is that true?”
Everyone was surprised Mr. Ortega was there, and Jackson and Sterling took a step back.
“Is it?” Mr. Ortega barked. Tommy hid his face in his hands and sat silent. I guess that was enough of an answer for his dad, because he hauled him over to the porch and was about to drag him inside, when he stopped and thought otherwise.
“Wild,” He barked at Jackson, who sat up a little straighter.
“Yes sir.”
“Do you have anything else to say to Tommy?”
Jackson smirked and looked Tommy right in the eyes, “Stay away from Sterling and the Rejects, or I’ll strip off your clothes and make you run down main street buck naked!”
The Rejects burst into applause and shouting, as they all climbed back on their bikes and Tommy was dragged inside by his dad.

To celebrate his fantastic win, Jackson lead the gang to Johnny’s Burger House for dinner. Pooling their saved allowance, everyone got a burger and fries.
After scarfing down the food in record speed, the boys all ran to play different songs on the old jukebox, leaving Jackson and Sterling alone.
“So,” Jackson said leaning forward. “I heard you called me a stupid idiot.”
Sterling smirked back and spat sarcastically, “And you called me a girl, so we’re even.”
“You are a girl.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” She sneered, crossing her arms and glaring at Jackson from across the table.
“Why did you call me a stupid idiot?” He asked curiously.
Sterling blushed. “Because you went after Tommy, even though he hadn’t done anything to you,” She said.
“Yeah, but he did something to you.”
“So?”
“So,” Jackson said. “It’s instinct in a man–”
“You are still a boy Jackson,” She interrupted.
“Fine. Instinct in a boy to protect the–” He stopped and suddenly blushed, like what he was about to say was stupid.
Sterling caught on and barked, “To protect the weak right? Jackson, you are such a raciest snob.”
He glared at her. “To protect the ones you love. Defensive brat,” He mumbled, getting up from the table and pushing out of the diner.
He had only made it out the doors before Sterling caught up to him, staring at him with big, round eyes. Raising his eyebrows, he waited for her to say something. The thing was though, Sterling hadn’t thought about what she was going to say when she caught up to him, it had all happened to fast.
“Um,” She began. “You’re a jerk?”
Jackson rolled his eyes, leaned down, and kissed her gently on the mouth.
Then he pulled his baseball cap down tighter, smiled at her, and hopped on his bike, peddling quickly down the street.
Sterling watched him until he had disappeared, her fingers resting on her lips where he had kissed her.
“I thought you guys hated each other?”
The voice came from a group of girls standing by the entrance to the burger house, opened mouthed and in shock. Sterling turned to them, seeing their surprised faces and envious eyes.
“We do.” She turned back to where Jackson had ridden away. “But sometimes, hate has to yield.”
The sun was beginning to set in the summer sky, casting an orange and red glow about the town.
“Yield to what?” Another girl asked incredulously.
Sterling smiled, glancing at the clueless girls. “Instinct.”





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