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Innocence Waning - 3. Chapter 3

The journey by tram into the centre of Melbourne feels tediously slow languishing in the warm carriage with my feet on the seat in front of me. The air conditioning blowing onto the back my head isn't sufficient to cool my body down. Musing that I should have followed my own advice and cut up my own skinny jeans would certainly have made this trip more comfortable. The morning sun is quickly becoming unbearable as it traverses the sky and shines through the window on my untanned arms, face and neck.

Jayden looks up from his phone and stops tapping on the screen. "What the hell is wrong with you, mate? Your face is bright red." He cocks his head to the side and seemingly finds me more interesting than whatever is on his Twitter feed. "You look stressed out."

I begin to rub at the nape of my neck and jolt upright. "Nothing, it is just fucking hot." I wipe the side of my head on my shoulder and cross my legs at my ankles, which is my signature pose. "I should have worn shorts."

Jayden rolls his eyes. I am sure that he is thinking that he was the clever one after making alterations to his wardrobe thanks to my suggestion. I am jealous of his newfound comfort. "You are a strange kid, Chez." He returns his attention to his phone and begins to tap and swipe at the screen quickly using a single digit.

My imagination goes into overdrive. Graphic images of what the stranger who passed the note wants to do with me inside the public toilets appear like a PowerPoint slideshow presentation. The bloke doesn't want to just talk about sports or the weather. That much I know for certain. I am equally intrigued and terrified at the same time. These vacillating feelings are causing me to sweat and have unneeded stressors in my relatively calm and sedate life. The strange man knows what he wants and I have no idea what to do or what to expect besides just turn up for our date. "Why am I strange?" I inspect Jayden from head to toes and attempt to distract myself from my lurid thoughts. "Look at you. You define the word strange, mate."

The tram jolts to a sudden stop on Collins Street delivering our sweaty bodies back into the centre of Melbourne. We fight our way past the pole-huggers that selfishly obstruct the open door of the carriage and try desperately to push our way off the tram. The next battle is past the influx of rude commuters that try to advance into the carriage before passengers completely alight. It is a bit like a game of rugby I have found. I just put my head and shoulders down and if people don't get out of the way and let you off, they get knocked in the process. It helps to have a fully laden school backpack on weekdays though as you can casually hit people with it. I let out a sigh that is drowned out by the noise of the commuters and the city as I finally thrust myself off the tram. "Emporium, food, coffee?" I turn my head and shout at Jayden, feeling a sense of relief finally being able to enjoy the cool polluted air. "I am hungry."

"Reverse the order and you are buying," Jayden yells in my direction. He then quickly takes the lead navigating through the pedestrians on Collins Street and I follow my friend.

"Deal." I am not sure if I really need coffee since I am already firing on all cylinders, but I do like trying new places and take some joy in its taste if it is prepared correctly. "Let's get lunch at Emporium after coffee."

We stop momentarily and watch a busker who is performing a cover of a Green Day song in front of one of the many shopping arcades. Jayden taps me on the stomach. "Come on. Nothing to see here, this bloke is shit. I still haven't heard back by the way." Jayden has been on pins and needles since trying out for X Factor Australia a little over a month ago. After the original try-out, he was called back to perform again so whenever he hears a Green Day song now, it causes him some angst as that is the band he covered in his first audition.

I follow Jayden through the maddening crowd of shoppers and dawdlers. I check social media and respond to messages feeling as if I can walk, type and read at the same time as a true multitasker. I read a message from my mate, Bryce and a quick conversation is had with him. He states he is in the general area and is keen to meet up for lunch so I advise him where I assume that we will be eating in the local area.

I have known Bryce for a little over a year and first met him at one of the school athletic carnivals. I first approached him and made small talk about what he was drinking at the time, Cherry Dr Pepper. I thought I was the only one in Australia that enjoyed drinking this beautiful sugary drink and just wanted to know where he bought it. It is a rare find outside of the United States and I rarely find cans of it for sale in Australia. Bryce educated me as to where I can source the soda in cases, and even directed me to an Aussie online forum that keeps track of oddities like Cherry Dr Pepper in Australia. Bryce doesn't attend our school so I found it easy to cultivate a friendship with him because he is not caught up in the political dramas, social circles and gossip rings that affect not only my peers but me. He has hung out with a few of my mates, including Jayden, and finds him entertaining. Since Bryce isn't directly involved with my cliques, it was easy to admit to him that I like guys. He asked me what my sexual orientation is a few months ago after first articulating that he wasn't trying to hit on me or demonise me in the lead up to the big question. Bryce, like Jayden, has a girlfriend and despite my penchant for the same-sex, I never felt sexually attracted to Bryce as he isn't my type. I once told him that I didn't know what I was looking for in terms of guys and if in fact if I was even really looking. He did make the sage statement that when the right guy comes along, I will certainly know it.

Jayden and I continue to dodge the phalanx of weekend shoppers, tourists, mothers pushing baby carriages and more buskers. We stumble into one of the last surviving Starbucks in Australia, retreating from the crowd. I am on the hunt for more caffeine and I expect Jayden to spend most of the time on Twitter. Rather than fuss about other places that would be better in the area, we queue up, order, give our names and wait patiently staring at our respective phones.

"Bryce is keen to meet up," I mutter nonchalantly and lean against the wall. "Do you want to get some Mexican?"

"What does your butt-buddy want?" Jayden snaps a selfie with me in the background raising my middle finger. He posts it to Instagram as quickly as I can manage a witty response. "Do you hang out every weekend now?"

"Just to hang out, nothing too sinister mate. I told him to meet us at the Mexican place at Emporium." My eyes scan the customers in the Starbucks. "I am hungry, mate. I am pissed that we didn't get to eat from the taco truck." I emphasise the last point just to reinforce the fact that I do eat food.

"I finally get tacos!" Jayden shouts with unexpected enthusiasm. "Tacos! Tacos! More tacos! Give me tacos!" Jayden chants and looks at the ceiling and raises his arms. He shouts as loud as he can, "tacos!" All eyes in the Starbucks stare at him. He must have had his heart set on enjoying the spoils of the taco truck. At least I wasn't caught out in a lie about my earlier intentions for visiting Port Melbourne. "Jesus Christ, I love their tacos!" I smile and am thoroughly entertained by Jayden's antics.

A Starbucks employee with a frozen and flat face from behind the counter shouts, "Jayden! Grande Mocha with cream!"

"He loves the cream, give him extra!" I shout back which makes Jayden scowl. "He will show you his nipples for more cream." Jayden stands at the counter and expresses his appreciation to the worker. He offers his apologies for his obnoxious mate and I, in turn, offer some more words to further embarrass him. "Don't worry, he shows his body to anyone who wants a look for five dollars." I begin to laugh hysterically. Jayden quickly walks back holding his cup and shoulder charges me. His reaction just encourages me to laugh more.

The now familiar voice from behind the counter speaks up again. "Cheese-don! Iced Caramel Macchiato!" I quickly stride to the counter, grab the drink, thank the server and jog through the open door of the store before Jayden starts to mimic how she pronounced my name. I am confident though we managed to bemuse the other Starbucks guests with our slapstick routine which renews the smile on my face.

Jayden catches up with me outside the newly constructed Emporium building. We navigate the maze of corridors passing high-end shops and emerge travel many escalators to the top floor where the food court is. It isn't a typical food court that you find in a shopping plaza. The big-name franchises do not have a place here. Speciality food outlets that cater to those that want a more personal dining experience whilst shopping are on offer. We join a queue of other hungry people and wait to order tacos from the Mexican place that I previously suggested. When we finally get to the front of the line, Jayden orders frozen margaritas, however, the clever attendant behind the counter requests his identification and is promptly refused service. "Maybe if you dressed a bit more conservatively, someone might believe you are eighteen and not try to card you, mate."

"Fuck off." Jayden shoves his hand inside his shirt and scratches at his chest. "It doesn't hurt to try."

After locating an empty table and sit amongst the feeding herd, we eat our tacos, making pleased guttural sounds in the process. Wiping my mouth, I see Bryce in the distance and I wave at him and yell. "Bryce! Mate!"

Bryce waves back and walks casually toward our table. "G'day boys, what's shaking?" Bryce asks with as much enthusiasm as Jayden had earlier knowing that he would soon get tacos. "No tacos left for me? I am cut." He quickly sits in the extra chair next to Jayden.

"You know how it goes, eating tacos and talking shit. The usual, mate." I lament and notice that Bryce is wearing what appears to be the same skinny jeans as Jayden, however with all the fabric still intact. My eyes are drawn to his shirt, which is a lightweight hoodie with buttons undone which reveals his chest. He catches me checking him out and I feel my body temperature rise again and am confident that my face has turned red. "Yum. You turned up too late fool." I hope he doesn't confuse my appreciation of the tacos with his chest.

"Hey man, how have you been?" Jayden asks Bryce whilst taping the screen of his phone. He then tosses it on the table and extends his hand.

Bryce shakes Jayden's hand. "I am a bit fucked off actually. Thanks for asking. You blokes will have a good laugh even though it isn't funny. I was woken up at around 4:00 AM. My parents were shouting. From what I overheard my mother farted on my father whilst she was sleeping, which woke up my father. He wasn't impressed so he started shaking her and swearing at her." He tells the specifics of the story a bit like a newsreader would report the weather. "I guess my father has a habit of holding my mother at night when she sleeps. When she farted it woke him up. I guess it has happened before at least if the hysterical shouting that I overheard can be believed. She got pissed off and left as she will 'not be shaken like a goddamned rag doll whilst in a deep sleep' so she drove down to our holiday house down the coast." Jayden begins to laugh and I take a drink from my bottle of Coke.

Jayden's laughter combined with Bryce's sardonic tone breaks me down and I join Jayden and begin to laugh. Tears flow from Jayden's eyes as the volume of his laughter reaches the volume you would expect from a jumbo jet. Diners in the food court begin to stare at us, no doubt curious as to what is so bloody hilarious. "You have to admit, it is funny. Tragic, but funny." I offer in between sips from the plastic bottle.

"Yeah, have a good laugh boys. I guess it is funny. Sort of." Bryce stands up and stretches his arms out wide and yawns. "I am going to get a burrito. Do you blokes want anything?"

Jayden continues to laugh and recounts parts of Bryce's story in-between gasps for air, slapping the table with glee and wiping at his eyes repeatedly. After many seconds pass he manages to speak coherently. "No mate, I am fine. Brilliant story though." I shake my head and Bryce understands that I don't want anything else from the Mexican takeaway.

By the time that Bryce returns to the table with a burrito and a Coke, Jayden has nearly calmed down. "That is the best story ever!" Jayden continues. "It beats the article that I read earlier about a woman who lost custody of her children in the United States because she decided to party with her sixteen-year-old daughter and her male friends. The funny part is that they played naked Twister if the media can be believed. The mother thought it would be a good idea to get out a dildo and use it on herself before doing some drugs with the kids." Bryce and I begin to chew on our fingernails at the same time as Jayden continues. "She later got fucked by some sixteen-year-old boy. I guess it became too real for her daughter as it was reported that her sixteen-year-old boyfriend supposedly has a ten-inch cock which he tried to put in the mother when she was passed out after fucking his eighteen-year-old friend in the toilet."

"Jesus Christ, that is crazy!" Bryce blurts out and begins to chuckle, spitting rice from his mouth in the process. "Did the daughter complain to the cops or something? How did something like this end up in the news anyway?"

"From what I read, the mother decided to turn her life around after that incident and went to Alcoholics Anonymous. She told the whole sordid story to her sponsor. Her sponsor rang the coppers and narced on her." Jayden pauses and stares at me. I start to giggle which causes him to laugh like a maniac once again. Bryce chews on his burrito, seemingly lost in his thought.

I start to ramble on without considering my audience. "That is fucked up. I would think that the daughter, when she saw the ten-inch cock at one point in her life would have said that it wasn't ever going inside of her. Period. I wonder what would have gone through her mind when she saw her supposed boyfriend try to shove it into her mother."  I notice the table next to us which is occupied by professional dressed gentlemen are intently listening to our conversation.

Bryce interrupts me and touches Jayden on the arm after leaning towards him. "Jayden, doesn't Chezdon have a ten-inch cock? Does it hurt when he rams it up your arse?" Bryce starts laughing having amused himself but I am for once in my life at a loss for words. The men next to us start to giggle and when we collectively look at them, they find their food all the sudden to be much more interesting than listening to our juvenile banter.

"Mine isn't ten inches. I will happily admit that. I wouldn't want one that big. What I have already has scared some women so I wouldn't want it any bigger." Jayden says matter-of-factly and I roll my eyes. I know his experience reflects what he has viewed on porn sites. "I know my lady wouldn't want something that huge in her anyway," Jayden claims to have had sex with his girlfriend, but I don't believe him.

"Where did you read that story mate?" I pick up a morsel of chicken that previously out of my soft-shell taco. "That is hilarious."

Jayden smiles. "It was posted on the Murdoch news website. I read the story when I was taking a massive shit in that nasty toilet block earlier that you took me to." Jayden grabs the bottle of Coke that is sitting in front of Bryce and drinks all of it. "Thanks, mate."

Bryce verbalises what I have been thinking. "Farting, shitting and ten-inch cocks. Such lovely conversation to have whilst I eat this fat thick uncut burrito. Hey Jayden, are you going to Commercial Road later?"

"No why?" Jayden looks confused and then scratches the top of his head. "Why would I go there?"

"I thought since you are dressed like a whore today that you would be joining the others walking the streets tonight offering your shit to the highest bidder." Bryce starts to chuckle again having amused himself. It took a while for Bryce to comment on Jayden's outfit today. I expected the prodding to start as soon as he saw him. The body language from the professionals at the table next to us makes it appear that they agree with Bryce too.

"Are you jealous of my hot body mate? Have you had a good look? I always thought you were checking out my hot arse." Jayden stands up and sticks his arse towards Bryce and starts to slap it repeatedly. "Have a good look mate. Want to grab it?"

Without getting a response from Bryce, Jayden sits down. "Are we going shopping or are we just going to spend the day fucking around here?" I break the silence after Jayden's spontaneous dance routine. "Let's get out of here."

"Why don't you just say what is really going to happen, mate." The way Jayden stares at me foreshadows him stirring the pot. "This is how it will play out if we go shopping with you. Let's say we are silly enough to follow you to the Armani Exchange. You will then buy a shitload of clothes in five minutes flat and then complain that you can't pay fast enough. You will then proclaim that you are over shopping and will want to go home. Isn't that about right?" Jayden kicks my leg. "Am I right or what?"

I wince and then kick Jayden. "Am I really that predictable?" I pick up another morsel of chicken and toss it into my mouth and then interlock my hands behind my head.

Bryce and Jayden simultaneously shout, "Yes!" They look at one another and then yell, "jinx!"

I roll my eyes and stand up. "Jesus. Whatever. How about I go follow your script and meet you boys back here in fifteen minutes?"

Bryce and Jayden then simultaneously agree that following me around shopping isn't very fun especially since they don't have any money to buy anything. I am left to my own devices to explore the Armani Exchange shop by myself. I am very brand loyal and like their clothes, mainly because I know my size and I don't have to waste time or suffer the indignity of trying clothes on. As my routine never changes if my friends can be believed, I walk into the store, browse for items that I like and strategically not remove anything from the racks until I am ready to leave. I then dash around the shop and remove everything that I want so I am not hounded by the workers especially when they assume that I am just some foolish teenager that most likely is going to steal some overpriced clothes. My routine also keeps the banal conversation with the employees to a minimum.

I walk a short distance from the food court. I casually enter and browse the Armani Exchange shop conveniently inspecting various items and look at the tags which display the size. Minutes later, after looking at everything in the relatively small shop, I begin to systematically remove clothing from the racks. Once the nearest sales associate notices my frenzied activity, he sprints over and asks me if he can assist me in finding my size. I tell him that I know my size and start handing him one piece of clothing after another. "I will just buy these." The look on the face of the salesman changes dramatically. He passively mentions that other items in different colours stored in the back would match my green eyes. I brush off his sales pitch and for once am honest and say that I am in a rush to meet my mates. He gets the hint and begins to scan the clothes using a wand at the terminal and beings to remove the security tags.

"I assume that you are part of our VIP club?" The salesman asks as he presses keys on the keyboard. "Do you have our VIP club card?"

"Of course, I do. I don't have the card on me but can I give you my phone number?" When he replies in the affirmative, I offer my mobile phone number and he then retrieves my profile from the database. He continues to scan clothes and then proceeds to fold the apparel mindfully and places each piece of clothing carefully into a large bag.

He looks up at me and smiles. "Did you know if you spend a mere sixty dollars more in this transaction, I can give you a VIP discount card today, which is completely stamped so the next time you come in, you will save one hundred and fifty dollars?"

"Oh wow, fine. I am sure I can find something else to buy." I scratch the back of my head and my head moves from right to left scanning the store, as I contemplate which way to walk.

"Give me a minute, please. I have a suggestion for you." The salesman disappears behind a closed door. True to his word, a minute later he appears with a shirt that immediately reminds me of the one that Bryce is wearing today. "This will go well with your green eyes and your dirty blond hair if you don't mind me saying." I reach out and take the blood-red shirt and hold it up and admire it.

"Sure, whatever. It looks good, I will have it." I push my debit card over the table toward him. After the final amount owing is calculated and after I enter my PIN, the large bag of clothes is handed to me along with a card and an outstretched hand.

"It is good to meet you Chezdon, my name is James. I hope you come back soon. Here is your VIP card. Don't lose it."

I take the card from him and then shake his hand. "Thanks, mate. Bye." I take one last look at his scruffy yet professional appearance. He is not surprisingly dressed in Armani Exchange clothing from head to toe and with a wave, I turn and walk out of the shop.

I return to the food court to find Jayden eating a taco and Bryce speaking to someone on his phone. "You bought the store I see." Jayden smiles and then takes the bag of clothes from me and starts to scavenge around in it, looking at what I bought.

My phone begins to vibrate in my back pocket. Jayden begins to remove clothes from the bag and tosses items on the chair where I once was sitting. He is identifying the clothes that he will later want to borrow. I am confident of that. He stays overnight at my apartment frequently and always borrows clean clothes and rarely returns them. "I like this shit!" Jayden yells as I place my smartphone against my ear. Whoever is calling would have heard Jayden.

I scoff and smile. "Hi, this is Chezdon."

"Hi Chezdon, this is James from the Armani Exchange store at Emporium Melbourne. You were just in here." I am confused as to why this guy is now ringing me. Did I leave something in the shop? I immediately put my free hand in my pocket and feel my debit card.  "How are you?"

"Fine. Okay. I am fine." Bryce ends the call he was on and watches Jayden sort through the clothes that I purchased. "What's up?"

"I just wanted to say thanks for coming in." With added enthusiasm, James continues. "Your purchase helped me make my sales target for the week, so I just wanted to say thank you again."

"That is good to hear." I really don't know what to say and feel like I am conversing for the sake of it. I recently read an article about Richie Benaud, the cricket commentator and former captain of the Australian Cricket Test team. He only spoke when he had something of value to add to the conversation. I thought that was apt considering we seem to live in a society where you feel like you need to be communicating in some form non-stop.

James clears his throat. "I am hoping that I can buy you a drink sometime to say thanks." I like to think that I look my age and wonder how old this guy thinks I am. I would imagine if I was wearing the outfit that Jayden was wearing, there would have been no doubt in his mind that I am sixteen and the question literally shocks me. For the second time today I have to search for words, which is a rare occurrence.

"Sure. Cool. Great." If my short responses did not give away that I shouldn't be served a pint of beer in a licensed premise, maybe admitting my age will. "What do you have in mind?"

"How about we meet up tomorrow after I finish work?" James asks. "Drinks are on me."

"Fine. Just message me, I have got to go as I am with my mates. Chat with you tomorrow." I end the call.

The awkward look that I know I must have on my face spurs Jayden to ask the obvious. "What is wrong, mate?" Bryce tilts his head to the right and licks his lips. "What happened?" Jayden demands to know.

"Nothing mate. It is all good." I try to recall more of the details of what James looks like. I was going out of my way not to engage with him or even look at him inside the store. I assume that he is in his twenties. I am more intrigued by the black studs that he has jammed into his earlobes which I originally thought were cool. My phone vibrates in my hand, interrupting my total recall.

A text message appears from a number that has not been added to my contact list. It is in fact from James who suggests that we meet at Transport Bar at 5:00 PM tomorrow. Transport Bar is in Federation Square oddly enough and they take the responsible service of alcohol seriously. Not only I but most of my teenage peers have found out the hard way in the past by trying to order booze from that bar. The bouncers have only ever allowed me into the bar when I was accompanied by my father too. I respond suggesting an alternative venue, the one pub that my friends and I have found that doesn't enforce verifying the age of the wayward thirsty youths as robustly. It is easy to hide in the low-key beer garden, especially when you have someone else buying the rounds. After offering this place as an alternative venue, James responds in the affirmative and says that he will see me there.

"What are we doing?" Bryce looks bored. "I don't want to sit here all day watching Jayden eat tacos. How many can you eat mate?" Bryce tosses his phone on the table which gets Jayden's attention.

"We can go back to my place and watch a movie or something." I offer my own hospitality as I selfishly want to drop my big bag of clothes off at home and not haul it around with me. "There is booze there at least and I don't think there will be any responsible adults around." Both Bryce and I smile whilst Jayden shoves the last of his chicken taco into his mouth.

"Sounds good!" Bryce exclaims and slams his hands down on the table in unison. "Let's get the fuck out of here." He doesn't want Jayden to have a say and stands up quickly after grabbing his phone.

We walk the less travelled path back to Southbank, meandering along the laneways that give the city a distinct character. Ironically, we walk past the bar where James agreed to meet me tomorrow. Horse racing is being broadcast on the wall-mounted television in the beer garden. The afternoon revellers appear to be enjoying their pints and the atmosphere. Different scenarios then play out in my head. I wonder if I should just ask for a juice when I see James tomorrow. It would be awkward getting caught out and being refused service from at the bar. Acknowledging the fact that I am only sixteen-years-old and embarrassing me or him begins to play on my mind. I then wonder if he is going to treat this meet-up as a date or if it will be just like two mates enjoying a beer innocently and talking about sport and his sales targets. I rub the sweat off the back off my neck and wipe it the sleeve of my shirt.

Mindless conversation makes the walk back to my apartment tower in Southbank feel very short. After a quick ride in the elevator and unlocking the front door, we enter my air-conditioned home in the sky. "Chezdon?" A woman's voice comes from the kitchen. "Is that you?"

"Oh dude, have you ever met Melisandre?" Jayden says to Bryce whilst tapping on him on the chest. He has a blank look on his face. "She is so cool."

Melisandre is the 'Red Woman' in the show Game of Thrones. I once told my father that the woman who he has been dating for many years who is called Melanie looks like the 'Red Woman.' My father agreed and even bought her a red robe that she wears on occasion. She has never seen Game of Thrones so I don't think she understands the connection or why the association amuses not only my father but me and of course my friends who are privy to the joke. "The red bitch from Game of Thrones? What does she have to do with anything?" Bryce asks.

Mel walks into the living room from the kitchen and offers her greetings. I didn't expect her to be around and thought she would be with my father at the races or out with her friends. "It looks like you have been shopping. Can I see what you bought?"

"Sure, go for it." I hand her my large bag of clothes.

Mel goes out of her way to act like my friend. She is cool and never tries to take on the role of being a mother. She goes out of her way to treat me as her peer. She has a great relationship with Jayden and they share all sorts of inside jokes, many mostly being at my own expense I would imagine. As she doesn't want to have children herself, I suppose it makes it easier to act as friends. At least that is what I surmise. She is never going to bear a child at least from my father as after I was born he got a vasectomy. My natural mother has always claimed that he got the operation because he didn't want a child to begin with. My natural mother is an evil bitch. To imply anything so heinous is just pathetic.

I leave the bag with Mel who happily begins to sort through the clothes in the same manner that Jayden did earlier. My friends and I retreat to my room once Jayden and Bryce exchange their hushed conversation for simple snickering. I am sure that Bryce is just amused by the uncanny resemblance of Mel and the character of the Red Woman. Jayden walks into my bathroom and takes the fingernail clippers off the basin. He cuts the price tag off of the blood-red shirt that he absconded with before Mel took the bag of clothes from me. He pulls off his slutty cut-up singlet and tosses it on the floor. He fumbles pulling on the shirt that James went out of his way to sell me and I feel the impression of the VIP discount card in my pocket and then my penis twitch against the pressure of my skinny jeans.

"Thanks for the shirt," Jayden unbuttons three of the buttons so he can continue to fulfil his destiny to represent all the trashy looking teenage boys in the world. "I like this. Good job, Chez."

"You are such an arsehole mate." Bryce summarises what I am feeling with only a few words. "You have some balls though."

"It is no big deal. I didn't even want that shirt." I lie. "It was forced on me at the last minute so I could get a one hundred fifty-dollar voucher. I really don't give a fuck." Although I want the shirt and feel like ripping it off Jayden, I decide to write it off. "It does look good on you Jayden, take it."

"Aren't you going to buy a new phone today?" Bryce looks at me. "You have been carrying on about it for weeks."

"Oh shit. I almost forgot. Thanks for reminding me." My eyes go wide and I move my hair behind my ear again. "I will be right back."

"Where are you going?" Jayden asks as I walk from my bedroom and quickly walk to my father's room. I spent all the money in my savings account on clothes so I need to get into his stash of cash that I know he hides to buy the new Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone. I rummage through the middle drawer next to his bed and find a wad of cash. It must be leftover winnings from gambling but I really don't care. Whenever I need money, I just come to this drawer. I begin to count out multiples of fifty dollar notes so that I can purchase the smartphone.

"Jesus man!" I jump after Jayden frightens me after speaking into my ear. He leans over me and I momentarily lose my balance. He points into the open drawer. "We could have a good party with that."

I continue counting bank notes, making a mental note to tell my father later that I took some of his spare cash. He won't care if I just tell him as he has plenty of money. "Mind your own business mate." I keep counting currency, ignoring Jayden. He rummages around in the open drawer. "That isn't your business mate, fuck off!"

"Wow, look at this!" Jayden holds up a small plastic bag which contains white powder. "We don't have to guess what this is. We could have a good party, hey?"

"Put that back mate!" I raise my voice and shove my body into Jayden. I didn't know that my father dabbled in recreational drugs.

"Let's do it and see what happens." Jayden slyly suggests.

"I really doubt my father would be too pleased if his stash went missing." I try to reason with Jayden. I can imagine some awkward conversation days or even weeks from now where my father musters the courage to ask me if I stole cocaine from his bedside table. I giggle.

"If he asks, just blame it on your cleaner. She is Columbian, isn't she? Oh, I know, we can replace it with baking powder or flour. Is your father going to write a letter of complaint to the drug dealer? He will just put the flour in his nose and be none the wiser." Jayden pushes the small plastic bag into his pocket. "We are doing your duty to help him. Think of it that way."

I push my father's money into my pocket and close his bedside drawer. Jayden follows me back into my room and pulls the small plastic bag from his pocket. He dramatically waves his score in front of Bryce's face. "Let's get fucked up mate. Let's party!"

"Where did you get that you druggie?" Bryce asks incredulously. "Holy shit!"

"Chezdon's father is the druggie. He has a drawer filled with cash and coke. I love it." Jayden is really hamming it up. "Fuck, I am so excited."

"Shut the hell up. I mean keep your voice down!" I tell Jayden. The last thing I want is Mel coming in and asking questions. "You make it sound like my father is some version of Walter White. This isn't Breaking Bad, mate."

"No, it is Game of Thrones judging by who is in the kitchen." Jayden and I both chuckle. "I wonder how much that coke is worth." Bryce wonders out loud. "My sister would probably buy it."

"Let's do it later," Jayden proclaims and then changes the subject. "Are we going to go out again or what? Chez can buy his phone."

"Yeah let's go." Bryce is looking at the poster of the four boys from the band 5 Seconds of Summer which is affixed to my bedroom wall. "Is there a JB Hi-Fi around here?"

My phone begins vibrating again. The caller ID is blocked so I ignore it. Seconds after the vibrating stops, it starts in again. Annoyed, I answer the call this time. "Hi, this is Chezdon." It doesn't surprise me that there is no response. I repeat my greeting and add, "Goddamnit! Why do you keep ringing me and not bother saying anything? Jesus Christ!"

A voice finally speaks to me. "Those are some pretty harsh words from such a little boy." My friends look at me. Jayden taps the small plastic bag against his nose repeatedly.

"Who is this?" I ask tersely. The male voice sounds familiar but I can't identify it. The call suddenly ends and I get lost in my thoughts. Bizarre phone calls, a scheduled meeting in a toilet block, a quasi-date arranged at a pub, my best mate with a bag of drugs and a wad of cash in my pocket. What could possibly go wrong?

Copyright © 2018 chezdon1997; All Rights Reserved.
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Bryce is a nice addition, but I can see so many things that could go wrong. And what is the motivation for the mysterious caller who has finally spoken... :/

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There is another character that gets introduced in the next chapter that will round out the cast nicely. There are some more part-time characters that involve themselves in the proceedings, but for the most part you are getting to know two of the MCs.

 

When I decided to convert this tale to a long-form book, one of the biggest problems was reconciling the mystery caller and the story behind that. Trust me though, it fits into the overarching story :)

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