The sun shone brightly the next day, warming the air and driving away the fog that lingered overnight.
Austin dragged his feet up the school steps. His whole body ached and his blood shot eyes burned. He texted Jerry several times but received no answers.
He trudged to his locker, opening it before he heard Steve, his classmate, guffawing across the hall.
“You’re such a liar Jerry! I bet you guys didn’t step a foot inside.”
Austin’s blood boiled as Jerry hotly replied “yea we did. I have the video to prove it moron.”
Austin spun around and stalked over to the crowd surrounding them. He shoved his way through until he reached Jerry and Steve in the center. Jerry showed the video from the night before, Austin’s vision blurred. Before he could stop himself he shoved Jerry into the lockers.
“What the hell man?”
“I see your phone is working just fine.”
“Oooh lover’s quarrel.” Steve snickered.
“Shut up Steve!” Austin’s eyes bore into Jerry’s. “You didn’t answer me back.”
“What for? I have nothing to say.”
“Dude, we can’t just ignore this! We need to tell someone about last night!”
“Awww…what did you do to make your girlfriend Austin so mad? Did he catch you with another girl last night?” Steve puckered his lips kissing the air.
Jerry gritted his teeth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yea you do but I don’t care anymore. I can’t just not say anything. I’m going to the principal. I can’t hold this in anymore.” Austin bumped into Steve as he made his way to the principal’s office. Jerry leaped onto his back tackling him to the ground.
“You can’t say anything! They’ll think we did something and blame us! I’m not going down for that punk Jake!”
Rage filled Austin. He pushed off the ground kicking back catching Jerry in the gut. Austin stood, hands clenched at his sides.
“You can’t stop me!”
Steve cupped his hands over his mouth. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” A crowd formed around them.
Jerry lunged forward slamming Austin into the lockers. Austin bounced off, planted his feet before he swung his fist around, plunging it into Jerry’s face. A satisfying crunch resounded. Red liquid poured from Jerry’s nose. He shouted in anger wrapping his arms around Austin’s waist. They fell to the floor, rolling around until adult voices yelled at them.
“Boys! This is a learning environment, not fight club!” It took several teachers to separate them and lead them down the hall to the principal’s office.
The boys slumped in orange plastic chairs on opposite sides of the office. Austin sat fuming with his arms crossed. Jerry glared at him holding an ice pack covered by a bloody rag to his nose. The principal’s door opened, a tall, thin balding man with square no-nonsense glasses poked his head out.
“Come in boys.” He disappeared back into his office as Jerry and Austin trudged in. Principal Edgar glared at the boys as they took their seats. He folded his hands in front of him before speaking.
“This kind of behavior is unacceptable in my school. Jerry, we have had several conversations about this and I usually expect this type of behavior from you.” He turned to confront Austin. “But Austin, this is very unlike you. From what I understand you guys are friends. What has caused this unacceptable behavior today?”
“Austin’s just mad because I called him a wuss. Right Austin?” Jerry locked eyes with Austin. His eyes were dark and malicious. Austin gulped, battling within himself.
“Is that all it was?” Principal Edgar’s thin eyebrows rose into his forehead. Austin’s face flushed. Austin cracked his knuckles, staring at the ground to avoid Jerry’s gaze.
“No sir. Something happened that I need to tell you.” Jerry threw his hands up tossing the bloody rag on the worn carpeted floor. Principal Edgar shushed him.
“Go ahead Austin.”
Austin took a deep breath and recounted everything from the night before. Principal Edgar didn’t interrupt but his eyebrows knitted together as he soaked in Austin’s story. When Austin was done, Principal Edgar leaned back in his chair clutching the arm rest.
“Is this true Jerry?”
Jerry slightly nodded his head and looked at his hands, refusing to answer directly.
Principal Edgar stood slowly.
“That’s an interesting story boys.”
“Are you gonna call the cops?” Jerry leaned forward anxiously.
“Wha…but Principal Edgar, what about Jake?” Austin sat up straight.
“I don’t know what prank you boys are trying to pull but Jake is fine. His father called and said he would be late because he had a dentist appointment.”
Austin’s mouth dropped open. “But…but…I saw…I HEARD what happened! Are you sure?”
Principal Edgar shook his head. “Give it up Austin, it isn’t funny.” Austin looked to Jerry who sat back, his face screwed up in confusion. The intercom buzzed and a nasally women’s voice filled the room.
“Principal Edgar? Mr. Wilcox is here to see you.” Austin jumped. That was Jake’s dad.
“Thanks Linda, I’m just finishing up.” He turned to Austin and Jerry. “School policy for fighting is I have to suspend you both for 3 days. I will be calling both of your parents to come and pick you up. Go wait in the front office until they come.” He walked around his desk and opened the door, signaling the conversation was over and to exit. Austin ambled out with Jerry close behind.
When they entered the front waiting area they both froze. Jake stood in the center smiling at them.
TO BE CONTINUED