[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 3
The brisk air blew through Joey’s hair. It was only mid October and the leaves had mostly fallen off the trees. Joey had spent most of the weekend in the yard raking leaves when he’d rather have been getting the turntable working. Now all he wanted to do was take the Iron Butterfly album to Carlos’s house and see if there was any way to repair it.
He’d placed the album into a backpack and slung it over his shoulder. Walking would help him work his anger out, but he instead went around to the garage and got out his mountain bike. How ironic was it to have a mountain bike in suburban San Diego? It wasn’t like he could find a mountain anywhere nearby.
He did a quick check before heading out. He had his house keys, his pocket knife, wallet.
“My sunglasses! Dang.”
Even though it was already quite dark outside, he still liked having them with him. They weren’t in his jacket. He’d just have to make do without them. Deep down he’d planned on staying the night at Carlos’s house just to tick his parents off. He could still stay there.
Right now he didn’t want to see his mom. Dad was almost as bad as her with his trying to fix the problem with money. This wasn’t something that money could fix. This was weeks of his life that he’d given up in pursuit of something and to have them just dismiss it like he was being an over-reacting child.
Am I over reacting?
Joey pedaled out onto the street. The rows of skeletal trees backlight by the reddish-orange glow of the streetlights was disturbing. This time of the year many of the houses bore strange Halloween decorations and lights, but no one was outside. He let a chill slide down his spine, shivered, and picked up the pace. Carlos’s house was nearly a mile away and it wasn’t going to get any warmer.
The only sound on the street, besides the background noise of the freeway a quarter-mile away, was the sound of his bike. His shadow waxed and waned as he passed by each streetlight. Maybe he should have just stayed home. This close to Halloween there could be weirdoes out. The quiet was almost as disturbing as the nearly-full moon in the clear night sky.
No wonder it was so cold. There weren’t any clouds. Orion’s belt was slightly distorted by branches, but above the middle of the street the Big Dipper was easy to see. Along with studying how to fix things, he and Carlos were also members of the local amateur astronomy club. Despite the fact that light pollution made view any but the brightest stars possible, they still had fun.
The front tire of Joey’s bike smashed into a pothole. For a moment he was unseated as the rear of the bike lurched into the air. He was going to fall to the pavement. That’s all he needed right now was to land on the pavement, get all scraped up and go running back home to mom all hurt.
With gritted teeth he managed to hold onto the handlebars and bring himself down along side the bike. He teetered for a moment but didn’t let go of the bike. If he had, they would both have fallen into the middle of the street.
“Stupid! Pay attention to where you’re going. Get your head out of the stars.”
The front tire was wedged. Joey felt it and it wasn’t flat. That was one little blessing. He rocked the tire back and forth and was able to get it free without damaging it. He’d been going slow enough and that probably kept him from falling over as well.
Joey pedaled on.
Now he was angry with himself. This was supposed to be a good day. He was supposed to be listening to a fifteen minute long song with heavy bass, growling lyrics, and an incredible drum solo. He had the Frampton Comes Alive album and that was cool, but neither he nor Carlos had been able to get their hands on an Iron Butterfly album. Not the original.
His elongating shadow in the orange light disappeared for a moment in a bright white light. A car approached slowly from behind him and came along side. A hand reached out and took hold of the handle bars; a hand that was attached to an arm in a letterman jacket.
It was Chad. In the car with him were Brad and Thad. One of them was bad enough, but all three together spelled disaster. Not one of them saw guys like Joey as anything other than existing for entertainment purposes.
Joey still had a scar on his hand from when he’d been shoved in his locker and tried to keep it from getting shut by putting his hand in the way. That’d been two years ago and his persecution continued. Mainly due to his small stature compared to all the overdeveloped jocks.
“So where you off to? It’s dark outside. I thought mommy and daddy didn’t let you out after dark.”
Brad and Thad laughed and tossed empty beer cans at Joey. With Chad’s hand on the handle bars it was difficult to maintain his balance. At least the bastard wasn’t speeding up.
“What…what do you want, Chad?”
Chad gasped as if he was offended. “Why should I want anything? I just thought you’d like a hand where ever you were going.”
“I don’t need any help. Thanks.”
Joey’s voice quavered and he struggled to keep the handlebars steady.
“Hey guys, what do you say we see how fast Joey’s bike will go?”
There were cheers and more beer cans thrown. Chad stomped down on the gas pedal and Joey had to fight to keep himself upright on his seat. If he fell off Brad was sure to destroy the bike. Joey wasn’t about to let that happen.
Cautiously he removed one hand and prepared to punch Chad’s hand and get it off his bike. Before he could focus he saw headlights in front of him.
“Whoa!” Chad swerved to keep Joey from getting hit. The idiot was an asshole, not a murderer.
“Let go of my bike!”
“What do you think guys? Should I let him go?”
Chad never did any thinking on his own when he was with Brad and Thad.
“Let him go!”
There were no more beer cans this time. They must be out of empties. At least they didn’t throw any full beers.
“See you later Joe!”
Chad didn’t just let go of the handlebars, he instead gave Joey a push sideways.
Joey pressed on the brakes, but he was going too fast to stop in time. He was headed for a storm drain. All he could think as he saw the front tire disappear into the drain and he launched over the handlebar toward the sidewalk was…
Damn this is going to hurt.
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