Warren Talbot vs The Pretty Boys... again
(an excerpt from the upcoming serial novel IN BLOOM)
Al Bruno III
Warren barreled through the wooded campus of the Blessed Heart School. Dodging off the well-worn paths used by students and crashing though the flowering shrubs and evergreen trees. His white dress shirt was smeared with chips of eggshell and spattered with yolk. His whole body felt like it might give out at any moment, but he had to keep running.
They were still after him. He could hear them at his back, shouting and laughing. His only hope now was at the old chapel.
He’d finished his finals with a glow of accomplishment, knowing that despite all the social and physical setbacks he’d suffered this he was ending his Freshman year on a high note. A’s on everything but gym, but even the gym teacher had given him a B- for effort and attendance. He knew that once his grades arrived his father would be sick with pride.
But the Pretty Boys had taken all that away from him, they’d turned him back into an obese loser with a single volley of rancid eggs.
“Almost there.” He panted, “Almost there.”
His lungs were on fire now, it was worse than when the gym teacher had made the class try out cross-country running. He saw the feeble-looking sycamores that ringed the old chapel and its cemetery and pushed himself to go just a little bit farther.
The Blessed Heart School had acres of land. Most of it was left to grow wild but a small section near the gymnasium had been divided into a quartet of athletic fields. The last field bordered a cemetery of all things, fifty modest graves for nuns that had worked and died here in the early part of the century. A small disused chapel slouched in the furthest corner of the cemetery. It rotted quietly, a haven for small animals and a good place for students sneaking away for a drink or a smoke.
"Let him be here. Please let him be here!"
He crossed the cemetery with nightmarish slowness the Pretty Boys yowling at his back. He would have cried out but he had no breath left.
There was a flash of pain as Warren’s foot smacked into a loose section of pavement. He fell hard, concrete raking his hands, a ripping sound filling his ears. Another pair of pants shot to Hell.
And suddenly they were on him, pelting him with jeers and fistfuls of eggs. The Pretty Boys, with their perfect pedigrees and their slender waistlines- Bobby Hilton, Kenny Wurman, Evan Crawford and their leader, the biggest jerk of all, Tristam Bloom.
“Fuckers!” Warren screamed tearfully.
“Hey look!” Tristam said, “Tubbo’s crying.”
Kenny threw his last egg, “Look his pants split right up the back!”
“I say we strip him,” Tristam drew closer, reveling in the way he cowered, “Leave him here in his undershorts.”
“Strip him?” Adelphos strode out of the shelter of the decrepit chapel, a cigarette hanging out of his lips. His navy blue tie was loosened, a gold cross hung around his neck. “You cabrones always call us fags but you get up to the freakiest stuff all on your own.
“Oh shit.” Kenny blanched, “Psycho.”
Adelphos pitched his cigarette at Bobby Hilton, who dodged it with a yelp “You assholes got nothing better to do than start shit?”
Warren almost sobbed with relief. Tristam’s grin widened, “Smoking on school grounds Psycho? That can get you expelled.”
“Fuckin’ with my friends can get you in traction,” he stepped between the Pretty Boys and Warren.
The other boys looked like they wanted to back off, but Tristam kept them in place with a stare, “If I were you I’d watch my mouth, it’s four against one here.”
Scraping the worst of the tears and yolk from his face Warren stood beside Adelphos, “Four against two.”
The Pretty Boys had a good laugh at this. Evan called, “If we count your ass cheeks the odds are even Tubbo.”
Adelphos shook his head, “Just get lost, playtime’s over children.”
“You don’t tell me where to go,” Tristam advanced, “I tell people like you where to go.”
“Oh really?” Adelphos stood his ground, his posture casual.
“You really think you can take all four of us on... Spic?” Tristam gestured to the others, they stepped up behind him.
“We’re not afraid of you.” Warren glanced to Adelphos, “Right?”
Tristam backhanded Warren, the slap echoing.
Warren reeled, almost falling over and then catching himself.
“That was a mistake.” Adelphos lashed out, his fist catching Tristam in the gut. Bobby and Kenny held back but Evan threw himself at Adelphos in a classic football tackle.
Too stunned to do anything but watch the scuffle going on at his feet Warren didn’t even see Bobby coming for him and the first punch landed squarely on his nose.
“Yeah!” Kenny jumped in place, “Get ‘em!”
Evan was screeching, Adelphos had him by the balls. Tristam was curled into a ball. Warren took a swing at Bobby but it went wild barely brushing his cheek. Bobby hit him in the chest but Warren barely felt it.
“Tubbo swings like a girl!” Kenny was laughing again.
The screeching had become begging, Evan’s hands scrabbling at the clenching fist. Adelphos he let go. He let Evan breathe a sigh of relief, then he kicked him.
Warren’s second punch went even wider, missing Bobby entirely and catching Kenny dead center in his forehead. Kenny went down with a yelp. Warren stared after him in amazement. Adelphos charged past him, grabbing Bobby by his tie and yanking hard, spinning him once in a semi circle and then sending him flying into one of the crumbling headstones.
“Anyone else feeling froggy?” Adelphos was dancing on the balls of his feet like a boxer, he wasn’t even breathing hard.
Cursing, bloodied and dirty the Pretty Boys retreated back the way they had come. Warren didn’t even notice, he was still staring at his fist. He couldn’t stop smiling.
(IN BLOOM begins December 2011)