The bathroom door opens, and Amber walks out, leaving my brother to commence looking at the ground. Eventually he tilts his head up he look at Frank and me. He flinches a little, probably not expecting to see Bob who has reentered the bathroom. Mikey sniffles. I finish washing the blood off my face with the paper towel Amber wet for me, before turning to Mikey.
"Bro," I say, putting my hands in my jacket pocket, still sore from the senseless beating I had gotten. "Where the fuck did you go?"
Mikey doesn't say anything for a second. Then, slowly, he speaks, "I...I got scared...I ran..."
I look at Frank, forgetting that he has toilet paper up his nose to stop the bleeding. If this wasn't such a serious moment, I would have laughed at him. He looks terrible, to be honest. His eye is swollen and bruised, and there is a blood trail going from his nose all the way down to his chin. I wince. He just shrugs. Frank really should have let Amber help him clean up.
I looked back at Mikey, sighing, "Mikey, running is never the answer....”
He nods, tears still clinging to the corners of his eyes, "I know, Gee, it's just...I was terrified..."
He hangs his head, and I can't help but walk over and wrap my arms around my little brother. It must have been terrifying for him to not be able to do anything, to watch his big brother get the shit kicked out of him. Mikey starts crying and I hold him even closer to me. I’m actually surprised by all this emotion coming from him.
"Mikey...shh, stop, everything's okay..." I sooth him, patting his back; I want to help so bad I just don’t know how. He seemed alright when Amber was around and now that she’s gone he’s falling apart. She’s so much better at comforting people than I am.
Frank joins in; the three of us stand here, embracing, until Bob breaks the silence.
"Those guys are such assholes," he mumbles, as he adjusts his position against the sink, rubbing the back of his head. "What did you do to deserve that?"
Frank turns around, fire in his eyes as if this kid is accusing him of something.
"Fucking absolutely nothing at all," he says, taking the paper out of his nose and sniffing.
The paper is bloody, and he looks at it for a second before throwing it away, walking back to us, rubbing his nose. "We didn't do anything to deserve that."
I nod in agreement, still hugging the teary eyed Mikey tightly.
"Fuck, dude, this morning was going so well, too." I state, frowning.
It really had. I was not drunk for the first time in months. Mikey and I had a fun time messing around, and he was actually happy for the first time in years.
I continue, "Those fuckers ruined the best day of our lives that we've had in literally years."
Mikey pushes away from me, wanting to speak, "I'm sorry I ran, guys, I panicked."
Bob walks over and slapped him on the back, a big smile on his face.
"Next time," Bob says, still smiling. "Come get me. I'll double what they did to you guys."
I smile. Mikey leans against the wall, hands in his jacket pockets, lost in thought once again. Poor kid...
"Thanks Bob..." I say. "But I think it would be better if you stayed with us at all times..."
Frank laughs, glancing over at Mikey who is looking over a worn out piece of paper. What the hell is that?
"A personal body guard would be nice," Frank agrees, smiling. Mikey nods in agreement. Bob looks lost in thought.
"Well...what do you guys do after schools out?" he asks.
I don't know what to say. What do we do? Get drunk, smoke, and draw…that's pretty much it. Instead I reply:
"Uh, we don't really do anything..."
Frank nods in agreement, checking to see if his nose is bleeding again. It is.
"Fuck," he groans, grabbing another paper towel and sticking it up his nose again. I walk over to Bob and lean on the sink next to his, putting my hands in my jacket pocket again. I look up at the tall blonde.
"Why do you ask?" I question, curious.
"Well, I know this sounds dumb, but the school needs more people on the croquet team, and you guys would have a much vaster amount of protection, with the mallets and all." he laughs, thinking about this, looking over at Mikey. “Amber plays sometimes.”
I immediately picture myself with a croquet mallet, chasing after the jock that punched me earlier and bashing his head to smithereens with the mallet. I smirk as the images changes; me with a croquet mallet, Amber on my arm, the both of us standing over bloody jocks….I like the latter image best. Amber? Why her?
"But we don't know how to play at all," I comment, forcing myself to save the questions for later.
Frank stepped forward, "Um..." he says, sheepishly, "I sort of know how to play...my grandfather taught me when I was younger. I hated it, but I still know that basics."
Bob nods, "Alright, alright! Practices are right after school on the football field. You can talk to my dear sister if you have any other questions"
He begins to walk out of the bathroom. I stop him.
"Wait, whoa," I say. "Are you on the team?"
Bob laughs, "Fuck, no! Do you think a guy like me would play a fucking stupid sport like that? Seriously...?"
He walks out the door, still laughing. I’m confused, and look toward Mikey and Frank hoping they will have an answer.
"Then why did he tell us about it...?" I asks, puzzled.
Frank shrugs…well he’s no help. I run my hand through my hair, hoping no blood will show up. It doesn't, thank God. Mikey is still leaning against the wall, silent, examining his paper.
"I don't know, but it's better than getting the shit kicked out of us on a daily basis."
I nod. That is the most truthful thing I have ever heard in my entire life. I check my watch.
"Well, it's only about twenty minutes into chemistry..." I say to Frank. "You think I'll get yelled at again?"
Frank nods, "Oh, most definitely." he replies. "Luckily, the teacher loves me for some reason, so maybe she'll ease up when she sees me…" he pauses. "Or she'll see how fucked up we look and won't say anything."
"Mikey?" I say, and he looks up from the paper. "You gonna be okay? You want me to walk with you to class?"
He shakes his head no, and the three of us walk out of the bathroom, ready to face the rest of the day.