Simple Love Story

He twisted the ring on his pinkie and glanced around. Laughter floated around him, mingled with clinking glasses and silverware. He looked around at the happy patrons, munching on appetizers and sipping wine. He wanted to feel how they felt but the butterflies in his stomach continued to churn.
It had been 10 years since he had last spoken with the girl of his dreams. He could still hear her sarcastic voice echoing in his ear “You’re pathetic.” when she broke his heart by breaking off what could have been before it even was.
Why was he here? Why did he decide to meet the girl that broke his heart so long ago? They reconnected after so long and she sounded different, more laid back, more fun and open. They were two completely different people back then, just kids embarking on life, not understanding what love truly was.
But he had never forgotten about her. He had always wondered “what if?” Did she feel the same way? He didn’t know, but then she accepted his friend request on Facebook. He thought maybe he could get even and finally give her a taste of her own medicine, so he messaged her. And, she was different. She didn’t seem like the callous head strong girl he met. She was somehow…broken. Maybe broken as he had been, through a series of failed, emotionally abusive relationships. He stared at her pictures, a beautiful smile, with eyes that were shadowed…pained.
A push by a patron awoke him from his reverie. “Sorry.” was the mumbled reply as they continued along laughing together in drunken harmony. He checked his leather watch realizing she was running late. A buzz from his phone made him jump.
“Sorry I’m late. Just pulling in. Traffic was crazy.”
His breath caught. He couldn’t believe this was happening. “No worries, waiting outside of Bulla.” He looked around to make sure it was the right restaurant before hitting send. He paced back and forth, twisting the ring on his pinkie, trying to gain control of the emotions raging inside. He stopped with a thought, “I don’t have to do this. I can leave right now. Leave her high and dry like she left me. Break her heart like she did mine. It’s not like we’re even friends.” He looked around suddenly enlightened. He smiled to himself, taking a step toward the parking garage when time slowed and through the crowd of people, he saw her.
She looked up from her phone, glancing nervously from side to side. She pushed back the curls that brushed against her cheek. She was more beautiful than he remembered. He could hardly breathe. Then she saw him, smiled and gave a small wave. She walked toward him, her dress fluttering around her legs as if floating on clouds. She looked as nervous as he did, not the confident young girl he remembered.
She almost ran the rest of the way before throwing her arms around him. He wrapped his strong arms around her small waist. He breathed in the sweet scent of her hair, wishing the moment
wouldn’t end. Her small arms gripped him tight, he was surprised at her strength.
A loud laugh from the restaurant broke their moment and they pulled apart. She looked at her heels pushing strands of hair behind her ears where gold hoops hung.
Hey.” She whispered.
“Hey, so you finally beat the traffic.”
She laughed; her laugh sounded like music to his ears. “Yea, you know that Orlando traffic.”
His head cocked to the side as he shrugged his shoulders, smiling.
Her large bright hazel eyes widened, it seemed her eye lashes swept her eyebrows. “I’m sorry. I forgot you’re not from here.” She laughed nervously. “How was the flight by the way?”
“It was…ok…not the biggest fan of flying. But that humidity…”
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t pick you up, work and all…” She interjected.
“smacks you in the face.” He finished. They both stared at the ground and laughed. He rubbed his large hand along his bald head.
“Sorry.” She blurted.
“It’s ok. And don’t worry about it. My cousin picked me up. It was nice bonding time for us. I’m just glad you were able to make it out.” He pushed her arm gently. “Even if you were late.”
“Hey! Once you move here, you’ll know what I mean about that traffic!” She laughed, then stopped abruptly. “I mean, if you were to ever move here.” Her face flushed as she looked around at the people meandering by.
“Already making future plans I see.” His light brown eyes crinkled.
Her mouth dropped. “I-I didn’t mean anything like that!”
“Sure you didn’t. So, tell me, what kind of ring do you want?” He couldn’t believe he said that. He always blurted things out before thinking. How stupid! He was about to take it back when he saw her surprised look turn thoughtful.
“Um, no one has ever asked me that before.”
He sighed in relief. “Well it should be something to think about shouldn’t it.” She blushed again, looking down at her heels, twisting her purse strap. “Why don’t we go find a place to eat? I’m pretty hungry.”
She looked up at him, her eyes brightened. “There’s a great place around the corner that serves great burgers.”
“I hope so, I pride myself in my cooking and if I can cook better than a restaurant, I’ll be pretty disappointed.”
She threw her head back to let out a sweet laugh. She snuck an arm around his. “Well, hopefully it won’t disappoint but now you’ve put yourself up to the challenge to have to cook for me someday!” She snuggled up against his muscular arm. He smiled at how comfortable and perfect she looked there. He remembered saying she would be his wife 10 years ago. Maybe it was a prediction, not just a fantasy.
“I’ll cook whatever you want for the rest of our lives.” He caught his breath, realizing he again just blurted out what he was thinking.
Her eyes searched his, filled with hope. She sent him one of her sexy dazzling smiles, making his knees buckle. “You better be a good cook, because I love to eat, and I’ll hold you to that!”
They laughed as they walked to the restaurant, the stars twinkling down in agreement at this new blossoming love.

Priceless

The Resolution

Simon trudges off the train, not even hearing the name of the city the conductor announces. They were all the same to him. He maneuvers through the crowd out of the train station and flags a taxi. The yellow cab pulls up and a short man rushes out. He quickly grabs the bags and throws them into the trunk. Simon bends low and groans in pain as he falls into the squeaky back seat. He rubs his lower back and pulls the pain pills from his briefcase popping two back without water.
“Where to sir?” the taxi driver’s thick accent floated back to him through his fog of pain.
“The City Side Inn please.”
“Are you sure you want to go there? A man of your stature might want to stay at the Ritz. It’s only a couple blocks from here and would be much nicer for you.”
Simon, used to the response to his pressed suit, shiny black shoes and name brand briefcase, doesn’t bat an eye as he responds, “The City Side Inn is much more economical for a family man like myself thank you.”
The driver shrugs and wordlessly drives on through winding street after winding street until they pull up to a motel that had seen better days. The faded yellow paint was chipping in several locations. Many shutters had fallen from the window and the remaining ones were tilted in one direction or another. The lit up sign reads “ ity S e in” instead of City Side Inn as several light bulbs must have burned out. Simon pays the driver and drags his luggage inside to a dimly lit reception desk where a bored looking middle-aged woman sits clicking at the keyboard with one finger.
“Can I help you?” she murmurs without looking up.
“Checking in under Simon…”
“Gotchu right here.” She clicks on a couple keys then opens a drawer and hands him a key. “Room 105 out these doors to the right 4 doors down.”
Simon finds himself in front of room 105 and pushes open the door, bending his tall frame to get inside. He sits on another lumpy bed, his back already protesting. He looks at the clock hoping it isn’t too late. He grabs the motel phone and dials out.
“Hello?”
“Hey it’s me. I got here safe.”
“Simon, you don’t need to tell me that anymore.”
“Sorry Mary, old habit.”
“Which is why we’re no longer together. You’re too late, I just put the kids down.”
“Please Mary, I’ve had a long trip, can I just tell them goodnight really quick?”
Silence. He holds his breath hoping she doesn’t hang up on him. He hears muffling then two sleepy voices answer the phone. “Hello?”
“Hey kids! I just wanted to wish you goodnight.”
“Where are you daddy?”
“We haven’t seen you in so long daddy.”
“I know guys, I’m on another trip I’ll be home soon.”
“Dad, don’t forget about my soccer game it’s on Saturday.”
“And, and, and don’t forget about my dance recital! It’s on Friday!”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Ok daddy. We miss you come home soon! We love you!”
“Love you both. I’ll be there I promise.”
“Simon, you need to stop making promises you can’t keep. I won’t allow you to talk to them anymore. This was our biggest problem and the biggest reason why we broke up.”
“Mary, I’m tired of this. I promise I’ll be there. This is going to be the big sale I’ve been looking for, so I don’t have to travel anymore. I should have been a better husband, I should have been there. This time is different. I’ll be there, I’ll make it up to everyone I promise.”
“You always say that.” Click.
Simon hangs up the phone and lay back down on the lumpy bed. He clenches his fists as hot tears streak his face. He sits up quickly and grabs a pad of paper writing furiously notes and plans. After an hour he smiles at his plan and lays back down. This was it. He was going to make this sale, but it was his last one with his company. He was going to strike out on his own and become his own boss. No more traveling all the time. No more bad back and sleeping on lumpy beds. He wanted to sleep in his own bed and be with his kids every night.
Simon smiles as he falls into the first peaceful sleep in a long time.

The Desert

The air is thick and sticky. A woman in a summer dress covers her eyes from the searing sun beating down. Waves of heat permeate through her sandals as it simmers up from the hot, black, hard earth. Her feet feel like she is walking across burning coals. Quickly she steers to the nearby scraggly trees carrying the sweet scent of desert flowers. She walks from one shade to the next trying to avoid the sun’s rays. She prays for even a small breeze to abate the sweat beads dripping down the middle of her back.
She clutches a bulky, manila envelope to her chest avoiding the lizards that scurry by. She needs to get back quickly to get water, her mouth feels dry and hot like the ground. She looks up and notices in the distance dark grey clouds. A humid breeze rustles twigs along her path, bringing the sweet scent of rain to her lips. Rain was finally coming. Birds twitter furiously, a hawk leaps from a nearby branch and soars away almost as if to escape the electrifying atmosphere brewing around her.
A lightning bolt flashes above and as if on cue the wind picks up swirling her dress and hair around her. She hurries on, her footsteps pounding along the ground. She doesn’t try to stick to the shade anymore as the clouds gather and rumble above her shaking the earth. Her eyes widen as she sees the glass building in the distance. This is no normal rain storm, this will be a downpour and the earth around her will soon be flooded. She needs to get to the building before the storm catches her and sweeps her up in its torrential downpour. She walks a little faster, the envelope bouncing on her chest. Suddenly, she trips over a rock, the envelope falls to the ground.
A fat rain drop hits her hand as she jumps up dusting the sand off of her dress. Her knee scraped and bleeding she ignores it and hurriedly snatches up the envelope as the rain drops fall heavily around her. The glass door looms in site but she can hear the whooshing of heavy rain following her. She glances over her shoulder to see a sheet of rain gaining on her. She runs to the glass door, swipes her badge and yanks it open rushing inside just as the downpour hits, thunder cracks and shakes the building.
Bent over breathing heavily, she finally catches her breath. She stands and sees a woman with dark framed glasses watching her and smiling.
“I told you not to go the long way to get the mail Aida.”
Aida smirks. “I know boss but I just love how it feels outside right before it rains.”
Her boss’ eyes furrow as she points to Aida’s knee. “I saw your spill out there. Looks like you got some black top in that cut. You ok?”
Sheepishly she looked down at the bruising knee and waves it off. “I’ll just go wash it off and get the first aid kit to patch it up. My feet hurt more from that hot pavement. Why they did black top instead of concrete, especially here in Florida, still boggles me.”
Her boss nods, “Was it there at least?”
Aida smiles and hands over the envelope. Her boss smiles and takes the package immediately ripping it open, she flips through the pages quickly then hands them over to Aida. “Looks like everything is in order. It was worth the trip for you, if you’re good with everything we can proceed.” She sticks out her hand.
Aida flips through the paperwork and smiles. “All looks good boss.” She grabs her boss’ hand.
“No Aida, you mean partner.” They both smile and shake hands.

The Lighthouse

The salty breeze pushed white foamy waves against the rocks. Stella always thought the white foam crashing against the rocky shore looked like hands trying to claw their way out of the sea and onto dry land. Thunder rumbled in the distance. The land won’t stay dry for long, she thought to herself. She scanned the horizon where dark and angry clouds formed, hiding what would have been a beautiful summer sunset. As the wind picked up Stella wrapped her floral shawl around her shoulders and stood from the wooden bench that sat at the edge of the cliff overlooking the shore. She better get back to her garden and clean up before the storm hit.

She sighed as she turned from the amazing view and looked back at her blue house perched at the top of the hill. The house almost blended into the darkening sky, all except the white doors and white trim around the windows that glowed like a beacon from the lighthouse. As she climbed up the dirt path she willed herself not to look at the lighthouse a half mile in the distance beyond her house but she couldn’t help it and glanced at the light on top that was still dark. Her heart sank and she wiped a tear from her rosy cheek.

She couldn’t help but count in her head, 73 days.

The white, knee high gate greeted her, waving in the wind, as she walked up to her garden. She entered and picked up her gardening tools, walked over to the shed next to the house and placed them inside before locking up. She looked to the horizon one last time watching the clouds swirl together before she entered her home. The phone rang as she stepped through the white door.

“Hello?”

“Stella?”

“Hey Trish, no nothing yet.” Stella could hear Trish sighing in the back ground.

“Thanks for keeping an eye out. I know the waiting’s hard but we got to keep our faith up.”

“I know.”

“Is there anything I can do for you in the meantime? Looks like a nasty storm is coming, do you need me to come stay with you?”

“Thank you, Trish, but I’ll be fine. I’ve been through nastier storms than this by myself.”

“Ok hon, stay safe and don’t worry ok?”

“Ok Trish. Thanks. Love you too.” Stella hung up the phone and walked to the sink to finish washing the dishes she had left there. She hoped she hadn’t hurt her mother-in-law’s feelings. She loved Trish, she just needed space. A louder rumble shook the house causing Stella to come out of her thoughts and walk to the kitchen window overlooking the sea. She glanced out, turned away, then just as quickly pushed her face against the window again.

What was that in the distance?

She grabbed her shawl and rushed outside. The wind was stronger than before and whipped her shawl around before she could wrangle it around herself. She stumbled back down along the dirt path to the bench she had just vacated earlier. Her heart pounded in her chest as she strained her eyes trying to see through the darkening sky.
There it was again! She stood on the wooden bench trying to get a better view and that’s when she saw it. A white boat bouncing along in the water, just ahead of the storm. She rushed back to the house, grabbing the binoculars from the kitchen table and ran back to the bench, falling twice along the dirt path.

Stella jumped onto the bench and peered through the binoculars. Her blood pounded louder in her ears than the surf on the shore. She searched again and there it was. The white ship. She whispered a prayer searching its deck until she saw him standing there at the mast, fighting with the ship, leading it back to shore. She dropped the binoculars and screamed, jumping up and down on the bench. Suddenly the lighthouse glowed and a beam of light shot down to the boat.

Stella cheered and danced around the bench as the rain began to fall. She opened her arms to the sky, not caring that she was getting drenched. She yelled “Thank you!” to the sky over and over again. She looked back to the ocean, wiping her matted hair from her face, her smile shone in the darkness. With a sigh and her hand on her heart, she whispered to herself “My husband is finally home again.”

Haunted Amusement Park – Part 4

“Mr. Wilcox, I can see you now.” Jakes’ father waved and smiled at the boys before entering the Principal’s office. The door closed with a snap.

“Hey guys!”

Jerry and Austin rounded on Jake. Austin poked Jake’s shoulder. “You’re okay! What happened? How did you escape?”

Jake’s brow furrowed. “What are you talking about?”

“Stop playing!” Jerry grabbed Jake by the shoulders shaking him. “How did you get away?”

“Hey! Let me go! I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Jerry’s voice rose as he shook Jake harder. “I heard what happened! I saw it! Stop messing around!” Jake stared wide eyed at Jerry.

“Are you that mad I didn’t meet with you guys last night?”

Jerry’s face reddened. “YOU WERE THERE! DON’T LIE TO US!”

“Jerry! Lower your voice!” The secretary spoke firmly, eyeing them over her gold rimmed glasses.

“Jerry, calm down man.” Austin tugged on Jerry’s arm.

Jake’s face hardened. “Let go of me Jerry and stop being a jerk just because I didn’t go and you were probably too chicken to go in.”

A furious cry rose from Jerry as he wrapped his arms around Jake’s neck. Austin lunged forward prying at his arms to let Jake loose.

The secretary stood yanking the phone to her ear. “Jerry! Let him go or I am calling Principal Edgar out again!” Her threat was unheard as it was drowned out by Jerry’s shouts. His face turned bright red, his eyes bulged and his nose began to bleed again.

“Stop messing around! You’re a liar! You’re nothing but a wuss!” Principal Edgar and Mr. Wilcox emerged from the office rushing over to the struggling boys. They were finally able to push them apart. Jake sputtered and coughed as Mr. Wilcox placed a protective arm around his son. Principal Edgar attempted to calm Jerry but he and Austin struggled to keep Jerry from trying to attack Jake. Jake looked on with disgust. In a raspy voice he breathed “You coward.” Jerry roared in anger.

“Call the police!” Principal Edgar bellowed to the secretary.

Within 20 minutes the police arrived to detain Jerry. Austin could still hear him screaming inaudibly as they forced him into the squad car.

Austin collapsed into one of the chairs in the front office, his head buried in his hands. He replayed the night’s events over and over. He couldn’t make sense of what happened. Did he just dream it all up? Were he and Jerry going crazy? What really happened?

He jumped when he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. Principal Edgar’s face hovered above him. Through pursed lips he said “Austin your father is here. He is waiting outside.” Austin slung his backpack over his shoulder and slumped down the hall. He reached for the door when Jake appeared next to him, his face void of emotion.

Austin tried to read Jake’s facial expression but couldn’t figure out what he was thinking.

“Hey.”

“Hey.” Austin grumbled.

They stood staring at the ground shifting from foot to foot. Austin broke the silence.

“So…you okay?”

“Yea, just confused and freaked out. My dad’s pissed though. He’s taking me home.”

“Yea my dad’s here too.” Austin took a deep breath, leveling his eyes with Jake. “So…what happened to you last night?”

Jake chuckled, rubbing a hand behind his head. “Man it’s embarrassing. I just laid around studying and reading, then fell asleep watching TV around like, 9 pm.” His hand dropped limply to his side. “How lame is that right?”

Austin snorted. “So you knew we were meeting last night to go to Old Winterview’s and…you didn’t go?”

Jake nodded his head sheepishly. “Sorry man, I know I should’ve called instead of bailing on you guys like that. I just couldn’t take you guys giving me a hard time. I didn’t know Jerry would freak like that.” He glanced out the window as if Jerry would reappear.

“Right.” Austin smirked turning his back on Jake. “So when did your dad get a security job at the Old Winterview place? That’s a sweet gig.”

“Yea it is, he likes it a lot. We can actually buy food now while still keeping the lights on.” Jake’s broad smile was covered by his hand that he clapped over his mouth.

Austin spun around grinning. “I knew you were there!”

Jake’s blush deepened a dark red.

Austin’s smile faded. “Why did you play us like that? We-I was really worried. I thought something horrible happened to you.”

Jake shoved his hands in his jeans’ pockets. “You guys were making fun of me, calling my dad a loser because he was laid off.” He blurted.

“I didn’t make fun of you.”

Jake’s eyes levelled with Austin. “No but you sure didn’t stick up for me either. You’re supposed to be my friend and you let Jerry and Steve talk like that about my family and me. I was so mad I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I tried to get my parents to move. Then my dad finally got this job and I couldn’t even be happy for him. I knew once everyone found out they would make fun of me even more, or worse, they would go to his job to mess with me and get him fired. I had to teach Jerry a lesson.”

“And your dad helped you. That was him in the maintenance jumpsuit.”

Jake lowered his gaze. “Yea. He didn’t want me to get bullied anymore.”

Austin dropped his head. “I’m sorry man. I never wanted to make you feel bad.” He lifted his head to see Jake watching him carefully. “You’re my friend. I should have stood up for you. That’s my bad and I deserve everything that happened to me.”

Jake’s face broke into a big smile. “You didn’t let me go when my dad was pulling me back. That kinda made up for it. You are a good friend. I guess I can forgive you ‘cause of that. I didn’t think you’d do that.” He punched Austin in the arm. Austin shoved him back. The bell rang and a flood of students broke their comraderie.

“Awww, look at the lovers!” Steve called across the hall. Austin rolled his eyes. Steve swaggered up to Jake bumping into him roughly. “Where were you little Jakey? Did you get too scared to go to the haunted park last night? Or did you have to go cash in your piggy bank so your family could eat? I’m sure daddy appreciated it.” Steve howled in laughter.

Austin clenched his fists.

“Shut up Steve! I bet you wouldn’t set your ugly face in that place!”

Steve grinned maliciously, stepping up to Austin.

“You’re on pretty boy!”

“I hope you don’t go insane like Jerry did.” Jake replied smugly.

Steve’s grin broadened. “That wussy, his whole family’s crazy.” He walked backward pointing two fingers at Austin. “Bet’s on man. Be prepared to eat your words punk.” He spun around sauntering down the hall. Austin shook his head.

“Moron. Don’t let him get to you Jake. I gotta go, my dad’s going to kill me as it is. I better not keep him waiting.”

Jake caught Austin’s arm as he turned to leave.

“Hey. Want to help me get Steve, like I got Jerry?” His eyes gleamed.

Austin’s face broke into a wide grin.

“Tell me when and where and I’m there.”

Haunted Amusement Park – Part 3

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.

“No.”

“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