Birds of a Feather
Chapter 2: Zach and Leila
I walked out of the apartment building, shaking my head lightly. My brother was so confusing. He was just a…Conundrum.
The only problem with leaving the apartment at two in the afternoon was that I'd have to wait another half hour before the bus came to the stop at the end of the street. It wasn't very far, and I'd probably only kill about five minutes walking there, but that was five minutes less spent sitting alone on a bench. Or worse, I could be sitting with some creepy old man.
I hoisted my small bag over one shoulder, and started to walk. I could tie my shoes once I got to the bus stop. I had forgotten my mp3 player in my room, so I had to listen to the sound of cars flying by me on the busy street. Some people were real idiots, driving around like they owned the place. Bryce let me drive his car once, before I started taking driving lessons. I was so surprised at the shit that people try and pull just because they have a fancy car. Apparently, it only gets worse as you get older.
I reached the bus stop, happy to see that no one was sitting there. I'd rather be alone than sit by some random stranger. I bent over in my seat to tie my up my laces. With any luck, this would kill two more minutes. Unfortunately, I found myself finished about thirty seconds later, so I resorted to counting out my bus fare in dimes and nickels. This proved to be rather difficult, considering I only had quarters and bus tickets in my bag. I let out a heavy sigh, and placed my bag next to me on the bench. I stared blankly into outer space until I focused on something that surprised me.
It was the boy from the elevator. He was sitting on a bench exactly like mine across the street from me. He was no doubt waiting for his bus. He must've been watching me tie my shoes, because I could've sworn I saw his mouth twitch and his gaze veer to my shoes. If I could blush, I would've. Instead, I just chuckled to myself and pulled my shoulder length dark brown hair into a ponytail.
His bus came and went, and my bus still hadn't arrived yet. I sat there twiddling my thumbs and thinking about Video Max. Bryce hadn't asked me to get a job yet, and I knew it was because I already had enough trouble getting by, and a job wouldn't do much for my stress level. But I always felt like I wasn't contributing anything to our situation. Bryce always insisted that my first priority was to graduate high school, and hopefully go to University. But I knew that that wouldn't happen unless I got a job. Bryce had enough trouble paying the rent, paying the bills and buying food, and the money we received from our Dad went into savings and a little bit of spending money.
You might be asking what the hell Video Max has to do with me getting a job. Well, my best friend, Leila Peplowitzski, works at Video Max, the local video rental store. They don't get as much business as Blockbuster, obviously, but they're the second most popular place around here. Sometimes on weekends or after school, I'll go visit her at Video Max, just like today. She got this job about three months ago, and ever since, she's been ranting and raving about Kyle, her new and sexy boss. Apparently, he's just gorgeous, with baby blue eyes, soft blond hair, and a swoon-worthy body.
Personally, I don't care for blonds.
My bus arrived moments later, and I paid in quarters, not nickels and dimes. The driver handed me a transfer, and I took a seat way at the back. I put my feet up on the seat in front of me, and stared blankly out the window. Funny, it takes a half hour for the bus to get here, but it's only a ten minute drive to get to Video Max. I could probably be more than halfway there by now if I had walked. But I was just too lazy. I pushed the red button on the pole when I saw my stop coming up. When I got off, I tossed my transfer into the garbage can at the bus stop. I never keep them.
I walked into Video Max, and went straight to the cash. Leila wasn't there, but I spotted her stacking movies behind some shelves. I smirked wickedly and snuck around between rows of movies. Soon, I was right behind her,
"LeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiLA!" I shouted and jumped on her back. She toppled over, dropping dozens of DVDs as she fell. She looked at me and shouted,
"One of these days you're going to make me loose my job!" she said, smacking me on the arm with 'Fiddler on the Roof'. She looked around, trying to find the stray DVDs, and twitched when she saw her boss, "Ooooooh My GOD!"
"What? Did you lose one or something?" I asked her, looking around me for a misplaced movie, she shook her head violently, and stared into the empty space behind me, "Leila, snap out of it. What the hell are you looking at?"
She just jerked her chin, still staring blankly behind me. I turned around to see Kyle standing there, hands clasped in back of him. He was really quite cute. His blond hair carefully gelled into a stylish, windswept look. His baby blue eyes were looking down at the floor, and then they shot up to stare at Leila.
"Uh, Lei-Leila, could you stock the VHSs back on the shelves? I've let Hayden go on his break, so he can't do it." Kyle said, looking apprehensively at Leila, who was still staring into outer space. She just smiled timidly and remained silent.
"Yeah, she'll do it. Don't worry." I said, nodding at Kyle. He smiled, mostly at Leila, and walked away. I heard Leila sigh dramatically, and she sunk down to the floor, leaning back on the shelf of DVDs.
"Isn't he just gorgeous?" she asked me, dreamily. I looked back at Kyle, who was now manning the cash register at the front of the store, then back to Leila,
"Yeah, he's pretty."
"Are you trying to steal my guy?" she asked pointedly, glaring at me menacingly. Oh, God. She was in love.
"Uh, too blond for me. I like the talk, dark and handsome types." I replied hastily, not wishing for her to think I liked him or anything. She just raised and eyebrow, and walked towards the VHSs. I helped her stack them in silence for about ten minutes, until she cursed quietly; her phone had started to ring. She picked it up and began to chat away. Normally, she isn't really supposed to be talking on her cell phone at work, but I think Kyle was too much in love with her to care.
She continued to talk to whomever was on the phone, and I began to get a bit tired. I poked her shoulder, and mouthed 'I'm going to see Zach'. She nodded, gave me a quick hug, and waved goodbye.
Once I got outside, I stopped at the corner store to pick up a bottle of Root Beer or something to drink while I walked to Zach's. Zach is my other best friend. He only lives a few blocks away from Video Max. We had been friends since we were in diapers, and I hadn't seen him in a few days, so I decided to go see him. Whilst in the store, I decided to use the pay phone and call Bryce to let him know where I was going,
"Oh, it's you. I thought it was Monica."
"Oh don't talk to me about Monica. Keep your romantic conquests to yourself."
"Alright, so what's up?"
"Not much. I just left Video Max. I'm going to Zach's, ok?"
"Yeah, alright. Don't forget the pizza."
"I won't. Bye!"
I hung up the phone, and went to pay for my drink. Jeez. $ 3.75 for a Root Beer. What is the world coming to? I paid for it, and walked out the corner store, the doorbell dinging behind me. It had gotten chillier since I left home, so I pulled my sweater closer to me, and stuffed my hands inside its pockets. The wind blew my hair into my face, whipping it across my cheeks. Man, it had gotten quite a bit chillier. I began walking down the street to Zach's. I would've called first, to let him know I was coming, but I had told him on the phone that morning that I might stop by.
I continued on, braving the cold wind, challenging myself to push further and further into the nippy afternoon air. The farther I went, the farther I wanted to continue. Soon enough I found myself walking down his street, listening to the sounds of young men skateboarding, and the lovely resonance of punk rock music.
I soon spotted Zach, as he was very difficult to miss. His hair was trademark enough. It was a spiked into a jet-black mow hawk, standing tall with school glue. The only way to get a proper mow hawk is to use washable school glue. Hair gel doesn't do shit, according to Zach. I watched him from a little a far, flying through the air, speeding off their home-made ramp, the sounds of Anti-Flag booming from one of the guy's little sister's portable stereo. One of the guys spotted me staring at Zach, and went to speak to him. He gestured towards me, the Zach turned around, saw me, and came walking towards me,
"Hey, Frank!" he said happily, sweeping me into a friendly hug, squishing my arms to my sides. I smiled and hugged him back. "I forgot you were coming today, me and the guys were just practicing…"
I patted his shoulder lightly, "It's no problem, keep going! I'll just watch until you're done."
"Ok, but let me introduce you first." He said, pulling me by my hand towards the rest of the guys. I followed timidly; I had never been one to enjoy meeting new people. "Hey, dude, turn off the music for a sec."
They obliged in annoyance, and clamored off their boards. Zach tugged me towards them, and introduced me,
"Guys, this is Frankie. Frankie, this is Cole, Darren, Jordan, Mike and Paul." He gestured towards a tall guy with shaggy light brown hair, a tall guy with shaggy black hair, a tall guy with shaggy blond hair, a tall guy with shoulder length brown hair, and a tall guy with shaggy dark brown hair. Sensing a pattern? Yeah. They were skaters. "Oh, and Hay just went home. "
I waved shyly, and sat down on the curb. They all smiled, and turned the music back on. I bobbed my head slightly to the tune of 911 for Peace, when another girl sat down beside me. She was shorter than me, and most likely younger. She looked about fourteen, maybe fifteen. She had short black hair and brown eyes, lined in a load of black eyeliner,
"Hi." She said bleakly. I smiled, and continued looking at the guys…some had taken their shirts off… "Who did you come here to see?" she asked,
"Zach." I replied simply. I said I didn't like meeting new people, "Why?"
She shrugged, and motioned to the guys, "Well, I came to see all of them, for obvious reasons. Well, except for that one," she replied, and pointed to the tall one with shaggy black hair. "He's my brother. Darren."
Oh. I see.
"Cool. What's your name?" I asked her, she looked at me, puzzled,
"Zach didn't tell you? He didn't introduce me?" She asked me skeptically, arching an eyebrow in question. I shrugged, too,
"No, why? Should he have?" I questioned,
"Well, yeah. I'm his girlfriend." She replied simply. That shut me up.
"About three months, and counting, hopefully."
Three months? Three whole months. Best friends since infants and he doesn't even have the balls to tell me that he's dating someone new? I'm not jealous. Just…hurt. I think I looked angry, because the girl beside me looked at me strangely,
"Are you…mad?" she asked, "I'm Lucy by the way."
"Not mad. Just confused. He's been my best friend since we were babies, and he didn't even tell me about you. And you say you've been going out for three months?"
She nodded, and stared blankly at me. I got up off the curb and walked over to Zach. I could see Lucy stare uncomfortably at the floor as I approached him. He was drinking a beer with Cole when I came up to him,
"Zach, can we talk for a sec?" I asked him, taking a swig of his Molson Light. He nodded, and walked away from the rest of the guys,
"What's up?" he asked casually. I glared at him,
Yeah. He went quiet. He kind of shifted his weight from foot to foot as he thought of something intelligent to say. I stared at him, waiting fro some form of reply,
"I, uh, ummm. Heh…eh...uh, I'm sorry?" he tried meekly. I looked at him dryly.
'Why didn't you tell me? I'm not mad. I'm just a bit confused and hurt." I had always been able to tell him exactly what I was feeling. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite like me in that respect.
"I just…I don't know. I thought maybe that you wouldn't like her, or you wouldn't get along. And after my mom, you guys are the most important girls in my life. My best friend and my girlfriend. If you guys didn't get along, I wouldn't know what to do. So I didn't tell you." He tried. I touched his arm and sighed,
"Ok, but we have to catch up about stuff. This isn't over. We'll just wait until everyone's gone." I replied, pushing him back towards his friends, "And by the way, she seems really nice."
He smiled and walked back to me, enveloping me in a big hug. The kind only a best friend can give. "Thanks."
Later on, after everyone had gone, Zach and I had had a nice chat about stuff. But that was interrupted by a PS2 Need for Speed battle. Which he won. But I could kick his scrawny little ass at almost anything else that didn't involve cars. We talked about Lucy, and Leila, and Bryce. We talked about London, and the guys, and the elevator guy. He was curious about the Elevator Boy. Then again, so was I.
"What does he look like?" he asked me. I shrugged,
"He's um…tall. About your height…maybe a bit taller. He has like, collar length dark brown hair. Oooh. He has really nice grey eyes. And his voice. Oh my. It was…just wow."
"Sounds like you're in love with him." He replied laughing. I shook my head,
"I'm just infatuated with a dude I've never even really met before, and will most likely never see again. It's not my fault he was good-looking."
We just sat there, watching music videos, and drinking the glasses of milk that Zach's mom, Laura, had left out for us. She was such a nice mom. Then the phone rang, and Zach picked up,
"Oh, hey man. Nothing much. Just hanging out with Frankie. No, no. Yeah, ha-ha. Really? Where are you? I can barely hear…Cool…uh, Hay, can you hold on a second? I got another line, yeah…yeah. Hold on. Hello? Hey…Yeah…just a second,"
He covered the receiver with one hand, and held it out to me, "Frankie, it's you're brother. Hurry up, Hayden's on the other line."
I nodded and took the phone from him.
"Yo, brotha! What up?"
"Sorry. You called for a reason?"
"Yeah. I'm done work early. I can pick you up from Zach's if you'd like. We could get the pizza and actually eat it there…"
"Alright. Sounds cool. What time?"
"Um…about five thirty?"
"ok. See you then. Bye."
The he hung up. I handed the phone back to Zach, who started talking to 'Hayden' again. I listened to him talk away, just like Leila did. This seemed to be happening a lot lately. Only this time, Zach poked me.
"He wants to talk to you."
"Hayden. Take the phone."
"Uh Ok. Hello?"
"Hi, is this Frankie?" his voice sounded familiar, but it was hard to tell through the static.
"Yeah. I guess this is Hayden?"
"Yeah. Listen, can you smack Zachary upside the head for me?"
"Sure. But why?"
"Because he's a moron. Just trust me."
"Fair enough. Ok. Hold on."
I put the phone on the table beside the couch, and inched my way over to Zach. He was engrossed in the TV and wasn't paying attention, so I smacked his head lightly, but sharply. I didn't want to hurt him. Just cause temporary discomfort.
"Alright. All done."
"Thanks, Pass me back to him?"
"It was nice doing business with you."
I passed the phone over to Zach, just as I heard the doorbell. I gave him a quick hug and showed myself out.
Bryce was standing there, jingling the car keys,
"You can drive."