It was late spring of my 7th grade year. Seth, CJ and I walked home from middle school under blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds. I was wearing khaki shorts and a gray Nike t-shirt. Seth was wearing a hunter green Eddie Bauer polo shirt and khaki shorts. Tall and lanky, CJ was wearing baggy black basketball shorts and a baby blue shirt. We were weighed down by our heavy black North Face backpacks. We made our way slowly down quiet residential streets. Some lawns green, some lawns yellow.
“I was walking by Moto’s house the other day, this fool was watching porno in his living room, you could just see the porn on the screen through the window, haha fucking Moto!” said CJ.
Seth laughed and said, “The last time I chilled with that guy he was digging a hole in his backyard to hide his porn from his parents.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yeah that fool has a problem, he’s like hella addicted to that stuff,” said Seth.
I frowned a little. I was under the impression that we all looked at pornography. Did I have a problem? What made Moto’s habit any worse than any of ours? I knew both CJ and Seth had extensive dirty magazine collections. I myself had recently acquired a huge box of porno magazines. Hand-me-downs from Basement Dude. Maybe I should chill out on that; I didn’t want people to think I was a creep like Moto. Before that thought process could run the rest of its course, a white Honda Civic made the corner, full of older kids. One of the kids was swinging a frat-style paddle out the window. A yell came from the car.
“Eat shit FAGS!!”
An egg hit me in the face and exploded. Egg was all over my face. They sped off.
“What the fuck dude!” I said, wiping my face off with my hand.
That didn’t work so well. I pulled the front of my shirt up and wiped my face with it. It already had egg on it. It didn’t matter if I got more on it.
“What a bunch of fags!” said CJ, clutching the straps to his back pack in each hand.
CJ spit onto the ground and squinted in the direction the car had sped off in. We kept walking. Seth, CJ and I only made it another block before the Honda Civic pulled up on us again. This time the older boys got out of the car, leaving it idling with the doors open in the middle of the street. They were “white-hats”. Abercrombie button ups and cargo shorts. The bills of their white college hats were curled into round, narrow tunnels. They weren’t college students though. They were high school students at the same high school we would all end up going to after middle school.
One of the boys spun the paddle from his right hand to his left. We stood there, staring. There were four of them and three of us. They were walking towards us. The boy with the paddle spoke.
“Get over here.”
“Do you fags know who my older brother is?” said CJ.
“We don’t give a fuck who your older brother is.”
“Gabe. Gabe Russell.”
“The sophomore? Whatever dude, grab the trunk.”
“I SAID GRAB THE FUCKING TRUNK.”
The older boy grabbed CJ by the shoulder with his right hand. He tried to pull CJ towards the car.
“Get the fuck off me!” CJ said, pushing the older boy.
The older boy and CJ scuffled. CJ yanked on the paddle. They struggled over the paddle, yanking it back and forth between them. The paddle flew from both their hands. It flew in an arc through the air landing handle up, straight up and down on its tip. The paddle cracked and splintered loudly. CJ and the older boy continued to scuffle.
A silver-haired man came out from his house. He was in his 70s wearing a paint-stained rugby shirt, tennis shorts, and dirty white boat shoes.
“Hey what are you kids doing? I’m calling the cops! Let go of that kid!”
Everyone turned and looked at the man. The older boy let go of CJ. The older boys hopped back into the Honda Civic. They peeled out accidentally, speeding off. The silver-haired man spoke to us.
“Are you boys alright?”
“Yeah, we’re coo.” CJ responded returning his grip to the straps of his backpack.
Billy was the first kid in our friend group to have his own car our sophomore year of high school. A maroon Nissan Maxima sedan. You weren’t legally allowed to have anyone else in the car with you when you first got your license. Billy blatantly ignored that law. Billy drove fast. Billy ran red lights. Billy would try and catch air with his car over bumps going down steep hills. The car stuffed like a clown-car full of teenagers instead of clowns. Girls sitting on laps. People sitting four abreast on a seat designed for three.
It was a beautiful day. Billy and I were standing outside our high school on the front steps. School had just let out and the steps were crowded. Everyone milling about and socializing. Daniel Spinelli came up behind Billy and put him in a playful headlock and gave Billy’s buzz-cut a noogie. Spinelli was with Tim Corcoran and Daniel Bond.
“Hey! Watch it dude! Don’t fuck up the hair!” said Billy, laughing.
“What’s good, foolione? What are we going to get into today?” said Daniel, letting go of Billy.
“Yeah, what’s going down?” said Tim.
“I don’t know, I was thinking about schmobbing around and fucking with the kids walking home around Eckstein. You guys down?”
“Hella down, foo!” said Spinelli.
“Fa sho, wait’ll you guys see what I got in the trunk.”
We walked to Billy’s car. He popped the trunk and started digging around in it.
“Check it out!” he said, pulling out a yellow Super Soaker.
“Sick!” said Daniel Bond.
“Shotgun.” said Spinelli.
“Left nut.” said Tim.
“Right nut!” said Daniel Bond.
I was stuck sitting “bitch” in the middle. We piled in the car. Billy stopped at the QFC by our high school and filled the Super Soaker from a spigot on the side of the store. Tim, Daniel Bond and I went into the store, the automatic doors swooshing and making a dinging sound as we entered. There was a bunch of other kids from our school in the store crowding the lines alongside the ladies shopping for their families. Tim took off his grey hooded sweatshirt and held it at his side. We walked to the dairy section and he picked up a carton of eggs. We continued walking up the aisle then back down the middle of another aisle. Mid-aisle Tim quickly wrapped the eggs up in his sweatshirt, concealing them. We walked back to the car.
“Oh yeah, shit’s about to pop the fuck off!” Tim said grinning as he unwrapped the eggs showing them to Billy and Spinelli.
“Sick! Great idea. I like where your head’s at!” said Billy.
We piled back in the car. Billy sped up towards 75th taking a right towards 35th wheeling around the corner as the light turned from yellow to red. A minivan honked. Billy held a middle finger out the window not looking back. Atmosphere’s God Loves Ugly blared on the CD player. I closed my eyes. Driving fast in cars made me nervous. I tried to not think about Billy crashing into someone and killing them, or killing all of us, or worse paralyzing one of us. I imagined living the rest of my life paralyzed from the neck down.
“Please dear Lord God, don’t let me die a virgin.” I prayed under my breath, barely moving my lips. No one noticed.
We passed Eckstein Middle School. A group of middle school girls were standing at a bus stop on 35th. Billy pulled alongside them.
“HEY LITTLE GIRLS!” yelled Spinelli in a cartoony voice before spraying them with water and laughing.
The girls screamed. Billy drove off.
Everyone was laughing except me. I did not like this. I held my tongue. Terrified of being perceived as a “pussy.”
“That shit was sick foo!” said Spinelli before letting out a “Yeeeee-haaaaw” and laughing some more.
“Let me see that shit, foo,” said Tim grabbing the Super Soaker from Spinelli before he could respond.
Billy lurked the side streets. We saw some boys walking behind Lutheran Concordia School. Tim sprayed them with the Super Soaker. Daniel Bond started throwing eggs at them. The younger boys started to run. Billy pursued them in his car. They hit a corner to a dead end street that ended at the fence on the back end of Lutheran Concordia’s large playfield. The kids were trapped. Tim jumped out of the car, as did Bond and Spinelli. They hosed the kids down with the Supersoakers and lit them up with eggs.
When they got back in the car I couldn’t stay silent any longer.
“Yo, Billy can you just drop me near my crib?”
“God Joe, you are SUCH a puss sometimes.”
“No I’m not, I need to be home. I told my mom I’d help her with something.”
“P-p-p-p-usssy,” said Spinelli.
“Stop it, guys.”
“Stop it guys!!” mimicked Tim in a falsetto voice.
“I’m serious. Drop me off.”
“You’re such a pussy. Fine, I’m not driving your bitch-ass all the way back to your house, though.”
Billy dropped me off at the Wedgwood Mart. A mile walk from my house.
“Sorry guys, I promised my mom I’d help her.”
“Whatever pussy,” said TIm.