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The Rush-Chapter Five

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The murmuring thunder and the sound of pouring rain eating away at the roof eventually peeled my eyes open. The sun was muted by grey clouds that I decided were there to stay once I opened the blinds. There were lighter parts of the sky, but more dark grey patches who’s edges were diluted with the approaching rain. I hoped it would stop by the end of the day so we wouldn’t have to postpone the video pick-up, but I liked days like that. It gave me an excuse to take it easy, not change out of my comfy pajamas, and catch up on some rest so that the tiredness wouldn’t show through the fair skin under my eyes. Just a day-off, so to speak. One thing was for sure, that no one would be at the hole unless they wanted to run down the street in a slicker that would get pounded by the buckets pouring down.

The serene, oblivious feeling of just waking up to a day that was just as sleepy was seeping into my head. It wouldn’t last long as soon as everything proceeding the day before flooded back to my head, but I love the enlightened, kind of high sensation. Some would infer that I should be very careful not to get into drugs if I was after a loopy high, but I paid no attention to things like that. Of all the few things I was secure about in myself, I was secure in the fact that I would never get into drugs or alcohol. And Mom said if I ever smoked a cigarette, she would make me eat it. I was tempted, though. I mean who wouldn’t want rat poison, paint, butane, tar, and tobacco in their lungs?

As soon as I ran a comb through my hair that had dried with tangles and threw on a pair of light blue jeans. After I slipped on a white T-shirt and a three quarter sleeve grey sweater that went down to right above my belly button, I gave Wes a call. His voice on the other line was clotted with sleep and disuse. I had just woken him up. “Hey, do you have any idea what the plan is for later today?”

He sighed hugely, I could hear it even though we were talking on the phone. “You know, normal people don’t get up early like you do.....”

I knew I was an early riser. I got up hours before Mom and brothers even though they denied it to anyone who asked. I hadn’t bothered to look at the clock until Wes told me. It was 7:12. “Who the hell wants to be normal?”

“Ugh, okay. Okay.”

“Dude, it’s pouring out. How are we supposed to walk all the way to Shaw’s today?”

“J-heez.”

“Yeah, woke up to the noise. I’m freakin’ tired.”

“Let me just check out the window....” I heard movement on the other line for about a minute before I heard distant pounding of rain. “S***. Well, this is great. Who’s gonna wanna walk all the way down East Main now? Plus, whoever goes down there is gonna have to walk all the way back after Rita gives them the tape....and there’s another thing! The tape gets wet and it’s ruined.”

“We’re gonna have to cancel the hole meeting today and meet at someone’s house. Someone who has a TV in their room so we don’t get busted with the video if we get it.”

“Yeah. My place is probably fine. Rhonda doesn’t give a s*** who I bring over as long as you guys don’t have police records. I’ll have to clear it with Clifford and Seth, but you and Vinnie should be fine.”

I laughed, trying to be quiet since no one else was up. “You might wanna check Vinnie for assault of any kind and Clifford for....well.....pretty much anything.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, but seriously, there’s gonna be a war over who’s not going.”

“You think we should just tell Rita to watch it herself with the staff today and give it to us tomorrow? The weather could be better ‘cause it doesn’t look like it’s gonna clear up today.”

“I know,” Wes mumbled and hesitated for a minute. “Well, I know Seth and Big Red Dog aren’t up right now, but Vinnie keeps textin’ me these random links on YouTube that I can’t wait to not see.”

“So should we meet soon? I mean I can leave anytime, my mom doesn’t care. And we know Vinnie’s mom’s cool, too.”

“Yeah, I cherish the beauty of guardians who don’t give a s***.”

I laughed at the sick irony of all three of our families. You’d think we’d turn out more messed up from not being noticed, but we were sane enough to stay on the street for now. We knew it may not stay that way for born psychos like Vinnie or Clifford, but they were cool for now.

He laughed with me, but started talking again. “Seriously though, Rhonda should be up soon and then I’m allowed to have people over.”

“Okay well, I’ve got nothing planned for this morning, but if you’re talking within the hour, it would just be the three of us. Seth and Clifford have hours yet.” I winced at the thought of the boy who ranked Mom and my grandfather yesterday. Up until then I had never seen past the Vinnie that was constantly skipping around, singing Ke$ha, being a pervert, and playing jokes on Joan. Never been aware of the serious, almost pained Vinnie who was usually hiding behind everything else. I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable with just three of us. I reminded myself that these were the only friends I had and that I needed to hold onto them.

“Yeah......Rhonda just got up and Vinnie just said he could come. He said he’ll meet you at the block. Send him a text as soon as I hang up.”

“Okay, see you in a few.”

“See ya.”

I sighed and went into my brothers room where my mom usually ended up sleeping. The two of them were her ‘cuddle buddies’ so they hardly ever slept apart. I had retired that position when I was six; only a few months after they were born.

I walked into the room that didn’t even have muted light seeping through the closed blinds on the window. I looked at the three faces on the pillows and the forehead of the one in the middle. I winced when I heard a small snore and a weird noise. My mom wasn’t the most beautiful thing to look at in the morning. “Mom?” I whispered flatly.

“Hm?” she moaned without opening her eyes.

“What time will PopPop be here?”

It sounded like she said, “Ughhhhhh.......like...three.”

“I’m going to Wes’s.”

“Mm-hm.”

And that was all I needed. She would no doubt forget everything she just told me when she really woke up, but that wasn’t my issue to deal with now. If more sleep that she could easily make up for by not going to bed at two in the morning was more important than knowing where her teenage daughter was, no problem. Fine with me. I thought I might go to Forks and meet Edward Cullen.

I tiptoed down the stairs and grabbed a granola bar out of the pantry. I knew better than my own name that I was hungrier than that. I always was in the morning because odds are I hadn’t eaten much for dinner. But, despite the hunger gnawing at the walls of my stomach that would growl soon, I took no more.

I also knew this was a problem and that if I had brains bigger than a pea, (that I also wouldn’t eat) I would tell someone. Tell my friends. Tell PopPop. Maybe even tell my mom despite the fact that she couldn’t give a s*** about what I did until it caught up with her and took a bite out of her a**. That was what happened the day before when she saw me hanging around unfamiliar faces.

After choking down the one hundred and thirty calorie bar, I slipped on my navy blue rain slicker and boots. They weren’t the most pleasant things to wear, but it was better than being drenched. My stomach snarled angrily at me and my throat made that weird jingly sound as I stepped out the door. I would’ve brought an umbrella if Lucas hadn’t broken it in February. It didn’t bother me that much since the traditional slicker had a huge hood. I would just run really fast, but I still had to wait for Vinnie at the corner......

The day was odd. The rain came down on the neighborhood relentlessly and aggressively, but the air wasn’t the cool and clean as it usually was. It was still humid despite the traceless disappearance of the sun in the viscus grayness of the clouds. These clouds weren’t the familiar billowy blankets just touched by darkness at the bottoms, but not even coming close to banishing the white. These clouds were drenched in a color that differed from the night sky, of course, but made it seem like the day never came. Yes, Vermont weather was bipolar and we all just had to get used to it.

The sidewalks had become one continuous river for as far ahead as I could see, which, admittedly, wasn’t a lot. Fog that lingered near the ground was almost as viscus as it was in the sky. I stepped carefully trying not to be distracted by how the hundreds of raindrops hitting my back and head and arms felt like hundreds of people’s index fingers tapping me as if to get my attention. I impulsively wanted to turn around and expect to see someone there with some kind of a purposeful look on their face, especially when water crashed on my shoulder. I had no problem resisting the urge, of course, but it certainly went a little bit against the grain.

I made it to the corner after a few drops ad nudged the tip of my nose and cheeks. I could vaguely make out the image of Vinnie approaching on my right. He had a waist-long coat that he was lifting above his head to keep his hair dry. He spiked it with gel every day and acted like a diva if it got wet. The swelled figure of his upper body made an odd comparison to his scrawny legs that were never attempted to hide since skinny jeans were all he wore. And even they were too big for him. The bottoms scrunched up like a fat person slouching at his ankles and the big sneakers held them up. Even though I knew Vinnie’s face behind the blinding rain and mist that came with it, a stranger could still tell all of that about him without knowing of his eccentricities or growing insanity.

“Hey!” I called out towards him, squinting since the rain was coming down on my face.

After a moment or two of silence I became a little panicked because I hadn’t considered the fact that maybe this person wasn’t Vinnie. I had no problem if he wasn’t. I just had a problem that he was walking straight towards me.....

Then I heard the fake Brooklyn accent and released my breath. “Yo yo yo yo YOOOO!!!!!! Happy f***ing summer!” he yelled, waving his arms in the air.

We both laughed at the sky and I yelled, “I know, right?!” We had to yell everything to hear each other over the rain assaulting every surface around us.

“Okay, let’s go!” And we started down the sidewalk to the left.

“Are you sure Clifford and Seth are still asleep?” I asked, just to make conversation. I knew they wouldn’t be up for at least two hours.

“The day they wake up as early as we do, the god**** apocalypse will be here and we’ll be drowning under a friggin’ tidal wave!”

I smirked, mostly to myself. “Huh, yeah.”

As soon as we reached Wes’s house, we saw him standing in the vertical windows along side the door waiting for us. Probably so we wouldn’t have to stand out there and wait for someone to come to the door.

“Hey, you guys,” he said as he let us in. Now, I was raised to use the doormat and wipe my shoes off, especially if I had been walking in water or a lot of dirt. I considered it just common courtesy. Vinnie didn’t. He walked right in not bothering with his d*** dirty boots. I would’ve said something if it was my house that he was parading into, but this was Wes’s business. I was almost sure he would get ticked.

I was right. “Ugh, god******, I have to mop this floor, f***face!”

I would’ve been embarrassed and bolted to the mat immediately, but no. Not Vinnie in a thousand friggin’ years. He just howled like wolf laughing and chortled, “Jeez man, you sound like a desperate housewife on one of those shows my mom watches.”

“She probably only watches them so she won’t have to see you,” Wes mumbled as Vinnie kept wailing laughs you would expect to hear from a man with a straightjacket draped over his shoulders and lives in a room made of white cushions. The challenge here was remembering this was a fourteen year-old kid laughing at his friend.

Now he was mocking what he thought to be the average teenage girl. “Oh my GAWWWWDD, I love you so much, too-uuhh!!”

Wes decided to play along and spoke with the same tongue. “Ugh, I just love youuuu so muuuch, but....I just, can’t”-he started breathing heavily, dramatizing as the nasal soprano voice faded back to normal- “deal with this s*** anymore. Get your f***in’ boots off the floor!”

Vinnie raised his hands and eyebrows as he flipped his boots off with the backs of his heels. “Hm.....fine.”

Wes’s house was just as big as mine, but the modeling was a little different. The stairs in the foyer turned at about half way up and there were five doors up there instead of four. We didn’t go up there when he had people over, though. We went to the basement that his Aunt Rhonda let him use. Well, half of it, anyways. It was divided in half. One side of it was carpeted and had a guest at the far end that Aunt Rhonda said they would use as an emergency panic room. She didn’t have steel barriers or another phone line leaving the house inside or anything like that from the movie with Jodi Foster, but it had a window that led into the backyard near the ceiling so all they would have to do it break the glass if they needed to get out of the house. Rhonda’s side of the basement, which was actually smaller than Wes’s side, had concrete floors that you always get scared of falling on and crashing on your face. The walls hadn’t been painted or anything either, since they moved in. The room also had a window near the ceiling that’s glass could be broken for escape. It had two wooden shelves taking up two of the four long walls. They were alined with canned goods, boxed with Christmas decorations, power tools, anything that didn’t have its rightful place anywhere else. It was also the room where the furnace powered the heat throughout the house, so it got a little noisy. Rhonda had made once tried to make an at-home gym for herself with a treadmill, a rower, some weights, one of those grey benches that can be used for a number of things, an old crappy TV, and mirrors on the other two walls that didn’t have the cheap shelves. Wes wold me she’d given up on the project about a year after they moved in. She’d finished the gym and stuff, but she never really used it......ever.

The three of us walked through the small hallway the brought us into the kitchen where Rhonda was hovering like a zombie over the coffee machine like my mom did every morning. She always reminded me very much of my mom. She turned around, revealing the droopy sacks of wrinkles under her eyes and the red crevices that disrupted the whites. “Hey there,” she croaked, crossing her arms across her stomach as if she were cold, which was not the case. It was obvious since Rhonda was not presently using the gym, if you catch my drift. It was a woman thing to focus on the tummy.

“Hey,” Wes said indifferently, like he was greeting a teacher who was failing him. Politely, but not at all happily. “We’re just gonna head downstairs and hang out.”

She sighed as she turned her focus to the coffee that was now done. “Ok,” she moaned catatonically.

Wes nodded as he looked towards the basement door.

Rhonda’s tired gaze that was fixed on pouring coffee sprung up to my face. She looked like she had just forgotten her whole life story and who she was in the blink of an eye. Apart from her swollen eyes, her otherwise pale skin and oaky hair made her look on the road to beautiful for the briefest of moments. Another female thing; we all had our temporary moments of hideousness and exquisiteness.

I smiled pleasantly and averted my gaze to Wes, who was opening the door in front of me.

Rhonda cleared her throat like she was giving a speech. “Uh, I’m sorry, I don’t believe I got your name.” She was still looking at me.

“I’m....Mavis Barring.” I tried not to wince at my real name. I actually thought it was cute, but more for a baby. I had kind of outgrown the ‘is’ and all I really wanted to take with me wherever else I would end up going was the ‘ie.’

She still looked really confused. “Nice to see you.....”

“Nice to see you, too.”

Wes suddenly looked irked, but kind of sad. “She’s been visiting since the beginning of eighth grade.” It was too late for her to absorb any new information. She was re-fixed on downing her coffee and I knew the look on her face. She was ready for everything else to be quiet and out of the way. And you know something? It wouldn’t f***ing matter if they were louder than an Ozzy Osbourne concert, the only thing that was there in the world with her was the d*** coffee.

Wes gave her the finger without any exaggeration to his face or recognition from her. If it weren’t for the hand gesture, his face could’ve been observing a piece of art in a museum.

“Let’s go, man,” I said quietly, gesturing towards the door.




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