When Ryan, a troubled teen and aspiring musician, transfers to Las Vegas' local public high school, he meets a boy that puts him over the edge.
Being a teenager, you’d think that I wouldn’t drag my lazy ass out of bed until about one in the afternoon, but that’s not how I roll. I usually get up around nine thirty on a good day. Of course, if I had had a bad night, it would be around eleven. Then again, I may never have fallen asleep. That always sucks. Those nights where sleep is less kind, my thoughts race around in my muddled mind. It scares me sometimes how I can think the things I do. All I can do is pray that I don’t get up and act on my thoughts. I’ve actually tied myself to my bed on a few occasions. Kinky, right? Wrong. No one knows this so don’t go spreading it around or I’ll kick your ass.
Unconsciousness is the only time when I’m safe. Safe from others and, more importantly, myself. Even my thoughts are at rest and I dream if I’m lucky.
Speaking of dreams: guess who’s been popping up lately? I’ll give you a hint: he’s absolutely gorgeous and off-limits. Too bad he’s probably not interested and younger than me and my best friend’s friend. The one person I fall for… Meeting his parents for those few hours, I get the vibe that they’d kill me if they knew I was bi.
After I took a shower and got dressed, I had a strawberry Pop-tart and watched some TV. After a half hour of flipping through channel after channel of bad reality shows, Spongebob, and Dora, I decided to head out to the bike shop to see if I could get a new chain and tires. Not that I’m not grateful to Brendon for loaning me his sister’s, but I don’t want to have to keep it longer than I have to. I called up Spencer to see if he wanted to go.
“Hello?” Spencer asked his voice a bit raspy. He was probably still sleeping.
“Hey, I’m going to the bike shop to see if I can get some chains and stuff. Wanna come?”
“I thought Brendon gave you his sister’s.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to have to keep it. It’s just temporary.”
“Are you sure he knows that?”
“I don’t know. He wasn’t specific on the terms and conditions,” I told him sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
“So are you coming or not?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said. The sound of his bed creaking in the background told me he was getting up.
“I’ll be at your house in five.”
I hung up, grabbed a pair of sunglasses and a hoodie and headed out. I hurried around to the backyard and got my bike from behind the shed where I had left it Tuesday night. I didn’t know if I needed the size of the tires or if there were different chains so I might as well just bring the whole damn thing.
I fought with it the whole way to Spencer’s. When I got there I rang the doorbell and then let myself in. His sister’s wouldn’t mind and his mom was already at work.
“Oh hey, Ryan,” Spencer’s youngest sister, Meaghan greeted sleepily. She was still in her lavender penguin pajamas carrying a bowl of cereal into the living room. The Smith Family isn’t exactly what you would call early risers.
“Hey, Meaghan,” I said with a smile, placing my sunglasses on top of my head. “Hey, Sam!” I yelled, knowing she was in the living room, as well, indulging in Saturday morning cartoons. Sam’s the older sister by three years: she was ten while Meaghan was seven.
“Ryan!” Sam exclaimed, and came running towards me. I think she has a little crush on me to be honest. “We haven’t seen you in ages!”
“I came over last week…” I laughed as I dropped to me knees and she hugged me. Standing up, she held on around my neck.
“Yeah, that’s like, forever.”
“Oh, shut up, Sam. Everyone knows you like Ryan,” Meaghan said emerging from the living room, with her little kid attitude, putting her hands on her hips.
“Do not!” Sam retaliated, her cheeks burning.
“Do not, do not!”
“Do too, do too, do to—”
“Hey! Meg and Sam cool it and go finish eating,” Spencer said pulling on a shirt as he walked down the stairs. I bent over and put Sam down. She scurried away, sticking out her tongue at her younger sister on her way past.
“Ready to go?” Spencer asked me.
“Yeah, but what about them?” I asked, motioning to the living room where Meaghan and Sam were.
“They’ll be fine,” Spencer told me flippantly.
“Ugh, fine. Meg and Sam go get dressed really fast! We’re going to the bike shop!” Spencer yelled out to them.
The girls groaned in unison and came back to us. “But Spongebob is on!” Meaghan complained.
“I bet you anything that you’ve seen it at least twice before.”
“Fine,” she said stalking up the steps, Sam following close behind.
“So I take it last night went okay?” Spencer said, turning to me, leaning against the banister.
“Yeah, it went alright. His parents seem nice…” I said, crossing my arms.
“You met his parents?” Spencer asked incredulously, his eyebrows disappearing behind his hair.
“What? Why is that a big deal?”
“Nothing, it’s just… weird.”
“Well, his mom asked me to stay for dinner and I thought that would be way better than the expired Ramen noodles at home.”
“Those things expire?” Spencer asked, getting off topic.
“I guess so,” I shrugged. I didn’t think it possible either, until the last one I ate said February of 2000. It didn’t taste that bad.
“Spencer!” Sam whined. “Meaghan took my Tweety hair tie!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Ugh, guys!” Spencer squeezed past me and ran up the stairs to the bathroom. I followed.
“Spencer!” Sam cried again, as Spencer reached the bathroom.
“Meaghan, did you take it?” he asked, kneeling down in front of her.
“Only because she was being all, ‘Oh my god, Ryan’. She’s so annoying.”
“Sam, stop being such a drama queen and, Meaghan, give it back so we can go,” Spencer resolved quickly. I covered my smile, as I stood in the doorway.
“No, ‘buts’ or I’ll tell mom it was you that spilled the water on the PlayStation,” Spencer told her. Her expression fell and Spencer told her, “I can play that game, too. Now let’s go.”
Meaghan and Sam took their bikes on our oh-so-fascinating journey. Me and Spencer were talking about nothing while Sam and Meaghan were arguing over which Ninja Turtle was cuter. Apparently, they had both come to the consensus that Raphael was, indeed, the cutest teenage mutant.
“What happened to your bike, Ryan?” Meaghan asked, her gaze still concentrating on the sidewalk, in front of her.
“Some guys at school messed it up,” I told her. If I weren’t talking to a seven-year-old, I would have used a little different vocabulary, like: ‘Some assholes fucked it up’, but I was trying to be civil and child-friendly.
“’Cause they’re jerks and have nothing better to do,” I said simply, with a tinge of bitterness.
“Oh,” she muttered, becoming quiet again, apparently sensing the edge to my voice.
When we got to the shop, Spencer asked, “So what money were you planning on using to buy this stuff?”
“I just grabbed some from my dad. He always has a big stash for...” I looked over at Meaghan and Sam, “… stuff.”
“Don’t you remember what happened last time he found out?”
“Oh, come on, Spence. He’s not gonna find out,” I told him, sounding confident. “Besides, I was only grounded for two weeks.”
“Yeah, in the hospital,” Spencer muttered under his breath.
We were only there about ten minutes before one of the guys who worked there explained that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new bike than try to fix it. I’d have to get new rims, wheels, chains, and fix the handlebars.
Needless to say, we left empty handed. We walked back to Spencer’s house and I threw my bike on his front lawn in frustration. “Damn it,” I swore as I looked back before stepping inside.
“Now what?” Spencer asked me, as I slipped off my shoes and followed him into the kitchen. He stepped behind the counter and started rinsing his sisters’ cereal bowls. Spencer had a lot of responsibilities. His mom was a full-time nurse and had to work double-shifts a lot. His dad left when Meaghan was born, so Spencer really had to step up as the man of the house. He had a job down at the Smoothie Hut downtown every Tuesday and Wednesday after school, but that can only help so much, you know?
“You want something to eat?” Spencer offered, closing the dishwasher and drying off his hands.
“No, I’m good,” I smiled weakly. I heard Sam and Meaghan come downstairs.
“Do you guys want to play Barbie’s with us?” Sam asked us when they dragged their box of Barbie stuff into the kitchen. It was overflowing with dolls wrapped in sparkly pink tulle.
“I played Barbie’s with you last night. Me and Ryan just want to hang out,” he told them.
“Without dolls,” he added just so he was completely clear.
“Fine,” Sam said, retreating back to the living room with Meaghan. She’d get over it.
“Oh, I was working on another song, if you wanted to work on it,” I offered cheerily. When Spence was eleven and I was twelve, he asked for a drum set and I asked for a guitar for Christmas and ever since then we’ve been trying to work on a band. Hasn’t really expanded, but it works.
“Oh, yeah. Sure!”
“Give me five minutes to grab my stuff. You still have everything set up in your garage right?”
I asked. His mom lets us practice in their garage sometimes.
“Yeah, and you left your amp here last time.”
“Oh, cool. Ok, be back in a few,” I told him, suavely sliding my sunglasses back on my face as I headed back to the front door. I ran home, dropped my bike off, and grabbed my guitar and when I got back Spencer was already in the garage warming up. He had also set out two colorful, miniature chairs for our number one fans. AKA Meaghan and Sam.
I slid off my hoodie and placed that and my sunglasses carefully in the corner, making sure there weren’t any spiders nearby. Plugging in my guitar, we fell into a random rhythm, and transitioned into a cover we had been working on. I was designated singer. I’m not very good, but I can carry a tune, I suppose, so we also had a microphone set up. I usually make sure it’s turned down a lot so we don’t get calls from the neighbors complaining.
Unless I was feeling particularly creative, we usually only covered Blink-182 and the occasional My Chemical Romance song if we’re feeling daring. Blink’s songs are pretty easy to play, so I guess it makes us feel good about ourselves.
After we finished the song, we were applauded by our fans.
“Oh, no, please. You’re too kind. Thank you,” I laughed, bowing as they giggled.
We took a quick break and then played “I Miss You”, but at the start of the second chorus, someone interrupted us.
“Sorry, no keep going,” he told us, seeming embarrassed. “I didn’t know you played. Or sang for that matter.” He adjusted his backpack and brushed his short black bangs from his forehead.
“Goin’ on four years and as for singing, if you didn’t already guess, I can’t,” I laughed nervously.
“Yeah, you can,” he said with encouragement. “So, Spence are you ready?”
“Shhii-oot,” Spencer said, censoring himself as he realized his sisters were still present. “I completely forgot.”
“Forgot what?” I asked, blindly tuning my guitar.
“Brendon and I were supposed to study for the German test on Monday,” Spencer explained.
“God, Spence. Since when do you study so much?” I asked.
“I don’t know. My mom said if I wanted to get anywhere I had to bring my grades up,” he shrugged, leaning over to grab his water bottle.
“It’s cool. We don’t have to,” Brendon grinned, setting his backpack next to my sweatshirt.
“Ahem,” Sam said obnoxiously.
“Oh, sorry. You haven’t been formally introduced. Brendon these are my sisters, Meaghan and
Sam,” Spencer said. “Meaghan and Sam, this is my friend, Brendon.”
“Why is Ryan’s face turning red?” Meaghan asked innocently. I froze and then pretended to adjust my amp as I let my face cool down. Spencer gave me a look that I brushed off with a roll of my eyes.
“I didn’t want to intrude. I can leave if you guys want to practice,” Brendon offered.
“No, that’s okay. You can stay if you want. Join the peanut gallery over there,” I smiled, pointing toward Meaghan and Sam.
“Cool,” Brendon grinned, sitting down on the ground next to Sam.
“So about that song…,” Spencer mentioned, taking a drink of water.
“Oh, I just have an idea for a chorus, but nothing too big,” I shrugged. “We don’t have to work on it if you don’t want.” I was secretly wishing he wouldn’t make me play it in front of Brendon. It really wasn’t that great of a melody and he didn’t need to hear my much-less-than-perfect voice more than he already has.
“Finish the other song!” Sam suggested. Spencer and I exchanged a shrug in agreement.
“Ready?” I asked Spencer. He gave me a “thumbs up” and I turned the amp up full blast as I yelled into the microphone, “One, two, three, four!”