You a stoopid hoe.
The next few days are spent planning for Milan. Obviously, Cam is as stressed as an oyster in butter and has taken to frantically racing round her office screeching “WHERE IS IT, WHERE IS IT, WHERE IS IT??! Oh, there it is” at the top of her lungs while, probably expectedly, Ray and I are the most chilled beans on the planet.
“Calm yourself, woman!” I tell Cam, watching her attempt to fish her pencil case out of the toilet without actually touching it. “You’re running around like someone shoved a taser up your ass!”
“A) That’s horrible, b) I am supposed to organise a group of adolescents practically DRENCHED in hormones to go to fucking Italy whilst trying to convince them that we are actually there as representatives of the school to cover a news story and not to get absolutely hammered with some whores and their prep team. I don’t have a right to be stressed, I have a fucking duty!” Cam snarls back, poking at the case with a toilet brush.
I wrinkle my nose in distaste. “You swear too much, Cam. You gotta potty mouth.”
“Fuck off,” Cam snaps and resumes swishing the case around the toilet basin while I heave myself up into the sinks and pretend I’m in a little boat.
“Hey!” some random girl points at me. “You’re not supposed to be in here! This is a girl’s toilets!”
“And it’s that kind of discrimination that has prevented a black guy from presidency for so long,” I shake my head sadly. “What should it matter if I have a different set of downstairs equipment to you girls? If I wanna pee in a lady’s toilet then I should be able to pee in a lady’s toilet! Times are changing and we have to change with them. It’s not like the 16th century where folks had to shit in a hole in the ground. What with our greater understanding of human rights, people should be more accepting of-”
“-Frank, get the hell out of our toilet!” screams Cam, backed up by a rally of angry women. Oh dear. This is too big a battle for me to fight. So instead of ramming my point a little further down their throats I retreat speedily from the mob and run off to find my manly, penis-owning, urinal-using male friends to talk about shoes.
Saturday morning I set my alarm for 4 o’clock (4 o’clock!!!) change quickly with no time to shower and bolt down a pitiful breakfast of a banana with a scary bruise that kind of reminds me of Benjamin Franklin. For some reason my mom follows shortly and even offers to give me a lift to the airport.
“Sure,” I reply, pleased but wondering what has gotten into her to make her want to do anything for me. “Thank you.”
Turns out she wants to give me a lecture.
“Now Italy is a big place,” she tells me, a little unnecessarily. “If you get lost you could end up anywhere. So make sure to arrange a meeting point with your friends and do not, under any circumstances, accept directions from taxi drivers.”
I nod absent-mindedly, conscious of how she’s making me sound about six years old.
“I don’t want any trouble you cause coming back to me,” she continues predictably. “So make sure you do as your teacher says and if I hear you’ve gotten caught taking guys back to your hotel room and I have to pay for the mess you make I will genuinely skin you alive. Will there be partying?”
“There will be partying.” Hehe. Kinda sounds like one of the Ten Commandments or something.
“Will there be drugs?”
“...There will be drugs.”
“Are you going to take any drugs?”
“Uhhh...” She’ll never believe me if I say no. My best bet is to be honest. “Weed. Maybe an e.”
Mom sighs and mutters something about wasted youth. “Be careful,” she tells me warningly.
“How about a “have fun?””
She doesn’t laugh but the corners of her mouth twitch slightly. “Don’t push it,” she replies just as we draw up outside the airport. I see my team waiting for me. Gerard gives a wave which I return. “I’m kidding, Frank. You know I want you to enjoy yourself.” Right yeah, uhuh, lies. “But...just in case anything happens...I want you to get some pepper spray the moment you step off the plane.”
I gawp at her. “Are you kidding me?!”
“I also packed your rape alarm. It’s in the front pocket of your bag.”
What the actual fuck. I exit the car quickly, lingering just long enough for mom to plant a kiss on my cheek and hurry to meet my friends, waving a hasty goodbye.
“Your mom came to see you off?” says Gerard. “I swear she hates you.”
“She does,” I nod. “But she still packed a rape alarm in my bag and told me to get some pepper spray. I think she’s scared of me getting pregnant.”
Raoul steps out to give me a hug in greeting. I return it quickly, conscious of Gerard’s eyes on me but push him away when he tries to kiss me.
“My God, why don’t you guys just get a room?” drawls a sarcastic, fourteen year old voice.
I whirl round to face the Mikey-child, pointing accusingly. “Who is responsible for this?” I cry. “Why is it here?”
“Hey, I have a name!” Mikey protests, glasses flashing angrily. “And I have about as much right to be here as you have. More, actually, considering you don’t really do anything.”
Le gasp! “How can you be so cruel?” I wail. “I produced a really nice report on file dividers the other day. Cam, tell him how neat it was!”
“It was very neat,” Cam rolled her eyes. “Well done. Maybe next time we can upgrade to writing in biro instead of pink gel pen. Anyway Frank, Mikey is the newest addition to the team. He’s an interviewer.”
I gawp at her in dismay. “Interviewer?! He has the people skills of a fruit fly!”
“He’s witty and sarcastic. People like that.”
“In other words, he’s a little shit,” says Gerard. “Fruit flies like that.”
OWNED, little brother! Gerard and I high-five. Mikey mimes retching.
“Okay guys, departure’s at 7:15,” Mr James, the teacher embodiment of the news team, alerts us. “So you’ve got a couple of hours for shopping before we meet up again.”
Yay! I can buy a book! “Dudes, I need to find a bookstore.”
The others all groan. “Seriously, Frank?” says Ray.
“Such a dork,” deadpans Mikey, ducking as I attempt to swat him away.
“Hey! Leave the little dude alone!” booms the infuriating voice of Bosh. “If he wants to go buy a bikini he can do that. Whatever floats his boat, right?”
I turn to frown at him. “Bosh, I want to buy a book.”
“Oh,” says Bosh, eyebrows knitting in confusion. “...Why would you do that?”
“Hey, I want to go get a book too!” says an irritating little voice coming from beside Gerard.
Today Cynthia is dressed in a red vest and black short shorts revealing long, tan legs which is surprising considering the fact that vampires aren’t supposed to spend a great deal of time in the sun. She has combed out her bush of hair so that it lays in glossy layers across her shoulders and a pair of ginormous sunglasses are propped on her head.
You a stoopid hoe, you a stoopid, stoopid hoe.
“Cool beans, Frank and Cyn can go get a book and we can do something less lame!” grins Gerard cheerfully. So he’s calling her Cyn now? Grr.
You a stoopid hoe, you a stoopid, stoopid hoe.
“Cool! Let’s go Frankie,” Cynthia chirps, spotting a bookstore a small distance away.
My eyes widen. What did she just call me? Too shocked to think of a valid reply I follow her lead, brain whirring in confusion. What is she doing? Cynthia doesn’t like me. The death glares in Biology prove that. Oh God, she’s not playing the sympathy card in front of Gerard, is she?
“What kind of books do you like, Frankie?” she asks, picking up a volume of Thomas Hardy.
“Erm...science fiction, fantasy, history, classics...” I say, to name a few. “Any book, really. Thomas Hardy’s pretty good.”
“Really? I find Classics sooo boring,” Cynthia drones, lengthening every syllable to excess.
Shows how much your stoopid hoe brain knows, I think but don’t say. I grab a book with a picture of a marmoset at it and jump in the queue. The quicker I can get away from here...and from her...the better. But someone seems to have other plans as Cynthia clutches my arm with a vice-like grip.
“Wait a second Frank,” she smiles, sugary-sweet. “I just want to talk to you about something real quick.”
“What?” I ask, attempting to wrench my hand from hers but to no avail. Apparently all that tomato juice does wonders for her bone strength.
“Let’s go over here,” she pulls me into a dark corner behind book shelves baring numerous copies of Jane Austen. It’s any guy’s worst nightmare.
“Okay, but can you hurry up?” I ask absent-mindedly. “Only the queue is, like, expanding and all-”
“-It’ll take as long as I want it to,” Cynthia snaps, suddenly abandoning all sweetness and shutting me up instantly. “You think I’m blind to what’s going on here, Iero? You think I’m stupid?”
You a stoopid hoe, you a stoopid, stoopid hoe. “Not...more stupid than...Bosh?”
“Well I’m not,” she continues. “I know exactly what’s going on here. You’ve had your eyes on Gerard ever since he first got here. Gaying him up with your stupid little best friend act. “Oh, I’m Frankie, I’m only 4’1 and I’m a homosexual ball of fun!” Who the FUCK do you think you are?”
The emphasis on the word “fuck” causes people to look round in annoyance while I just stare on in shock...and maybe if I’m honest, a little fear. “Erm...I don’t know what you’re-”
“-Don’t,” she cuts across me sharply. “Don’t you dare play clueless with me! Gerard is a boy. You are a boy. Chemistry says it’s not going to work! Gerard belongs with me. Gerard belongs to me. And no punk slag is ever going to change that, no matter how nice your converse are! They are nice though, where did you get them?”
“Oh you like?” I give them a little twirl. “25% off at Blue Banana, it’s this really cool alt shop in town.”
“No kidding! That’s such a good deal!”
“I know, right? I was gonna get them in turquoise but I decided violet was for the win.”
“Yeah, it suits you better,” Cynthia nods. “ANYWAYS, back to the point, if you don’t finish this with Gerard, I’ll finish you. And that’s a promise.”
“Yeah?” I sneer in my best, “come on” voice. “I’m supposed to be scared of some Twilight-shipping douchey emo cult wannabe? Pu-lease.”
“You have no idea what we can do,” Cynthia says softly. As she speaks a chill creeps up my spine with genuine fear. I actually start to wish I hadn’t left my rape alarm in my suitcase. “You better watch your back, fag. Pretty faces can be difficult to hold onto.”
Oh. My. God. She. Is. A. Psycho. “Um...okay! You’re crazy, and I’m gonna go buy this book before the queue gets any bigger and we miss the plane. Would love to keep talking but it has a marmoset on it and all so...”
I wriggle out of Cynthia’s hold, pay for the book as quick as I can and practically sprint back to the meeting point, heart pounding in my chest. What a freak! I mean, I knew the emos were weird but back there? That was some Satanic shit going on!
“Frank?” says Cam, frowning in concern. “Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”
“I’m...I’m fine,” I reply, too stunned to think of much else to say. “Where’s Gerard, Ray and Mikey?”
“Went to get some comic books,” Cam rolls her eyes. “And they call you dorky. Where’s Cynthia?”
I turn around but there she isn’t there. I guess I assumed she’d followed me. “I don’t know...she was right behind me.”
The others come out of the comic store a while later clutching brightly coloured volumes and debating hero characters cheerfully. “Hey,” Gerard greets. “You get a book?”
“That I did,” I reply, showing it off proudly. “It has a marmoset on it.”
“I can see that,” Gerard laughs. “Where’s Cynthia?”
“I don’t know, she still hasn’t turned up,” Cam replies, looking around anxiously.
Ray pokes me in the stomach. “Wasn’t she with you, Frank?”
“She was,” I shrug.
Mikey sniggers. “You lost her,” he smirks. “She’s probably walking around now calling your name.”
“Aw, not cool dude,” Bosh shakes his head. “You can’t just ditch a girl like that. It’s ungentlemanish.”
When Cynthia still hasn’t turned up ten minutes later we begin to worry. Standing there like noobs we start shouting her name and when she still isn’t here we go look for her. When the clock strikes 6:50 we realise we really are in trouble.
“Come on guys, she has to be round here somewhere,” Cam tells us bracingly. “Gerard, why don’t you call her?”
“Can’t, she got a new cell a couple of days ago and I’ve only got her old number,” he replies, chewing his lip anxiously. “Come on Cyn...”
“There she is!” Ray points. We all turn around to see Cynthia running towards us, tears streaming down her face, straight into Gerard’s arms.
“Oh-oh-oh,” she stutters between sniffs. “I’m-so-sorry I got lost and I couldn’t-find-you-and-Frank ran off and-”
“You ran off without her?” Gerard questions me angrily.
“I thought she was behind me!”
“So you just left her there? What if she hadn’t found us? That’s so bitchy!”
“No-it-wasn’t-his fault!” Cynthia sobs. “I guess he just doesn’t like me!”
With this she bursts into another wave of tears, burying her head in Gerard’s shoulder as I shake mine in despair. Gerard looks at me angrily and they set off at a fast pace, leaving me to catch up and feeling once again like I am fighting a losing battle.