Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Kerry Yang

Hunter could see Grant’s ’98 Honda civic racing furiously down the dirt road, leaving a trail of dust behind as he sped up to his trailer home at Sunny Acres.  His trailer home was at the end of the line in the sprawling trailer community where he lived with his foster father.  Aging mobile homes rested close to each other as dilapidated cars silently collected moss in the crisp, morning air.  He moved there in the beginning of summer and instantly hated everything.  Like how those who didn’t live at the trailer home looked at him when he said he lived at Sunny Acres.  Or how those that did live there treated him like he didn’t belong.  His foster father remained sober enough just to meet with the social workers, but Hunter didn’t mind.  He was 17 and knew he would age out of the system soon enough. 

Hunter grinned as he slung his backpack across his shoulders and waited with arms crossed as the green car came closer in view.  Grant was usually late to everything, so he made up for it by driving like a madman.  He never made friends because he moved around so much and he didn’t care much for others, but he trusted Grant.  Grant was different.  He was like him.  When he met Grant, he sensed that they were almost like kindred spirits.  He could see a piece of toast in Grant’s mouth as his shirt laid open across his chest.  Grant made a quick turn and pulled up along side of him with a sloppy grin.  Hunter chuckled lowly as he slid into the passenger seat.  “Button that shirt up, man.  I can’t believe you’re going to make us late for our first day.”

Grant swallowed the last of the toast and buttoned his plaid shirt.  “First day for you.  This is my third year there.  Trust me, it ain’t anything special.”

Hunter flipped down the visor and looked at himself in the mirror.  He ran his hand through his jet-black hair that he spiked up and looked at the steely blue eyes staring back at him.  He knew he was a good-looking guy.  There was no doubt about that, but he wished people would see past his surface.  His six-foot stature, broad shoulders, and cut arms.  Sometimes, even he started to believe that maybe there wasn’t anything more to him.  He wasn’t sure who he was looking at, but he thought maybe he could be someone new this time; someone who made friends easily and laughed things off because they didn’t matter.  “It’s my fifth foster home and my third high school.  Trust me, I’ve seen them all.”

Grant put the car in drive and drove off down the dirt road, winding through the side streets until they reached the entrance.  “And you’ve already made so many friends like Bill and his gang of idiots.”

Hunter watched as they left the edges of the trailer home community and turned onto the main road that led into town.  “This summer has been fun.”

“Thanks again for stopping Bill from rearranging my face.”

“Yeah, your face isn’t too ugly.  I didn’t want it to get any uglier that day I met you.  That was my second day in Charon after I moved from here.”

Grant laughed.  “Welcome to Charon!  I can’t wait to get out.”

Hunter reclined back in his seat.  “Me, too.  I want to see the world.  The farthest I’ve ever travelled is to Wisconsin.  I’ve lived all my life in Illinois, and it sucks.”

“The farthest I’ve been is Thailand.  My parents and I went there on a trip to visit relatives when I was 10.  That was before my dad started drinking and lost his job.  One day, I’m gonna be as rich as Bruce Wayne and run this city.”

“Batman is okay, but Green Lanterns are the best.  They only get picked because of how they’ve lived their lives.  Everyone else is either born with their powers or chooses to become a super hero because of what’s happened to them.  They become super heroes because of what they’ve done.”

Grant pulled into a massive parking lot overrun with cars and teenagers filing listlessly in towards the Gothic-style high school.  Gargoyles rested high above the arches, watching over the mildly warm September morning.  It was the biggest school Hunter had been to, but he could see it was all the same.  He could see the jocks in their letter jackets lounging on the steps, the geeks sitting in circles on the grass, the stoners smoking cigarettes off the grounds, and then there were the popular, pretty girls.  Those he detested the most.  He never got along with most of the guys at school, but he learned from experience that if he ever even talked to one of the popular girls, it would be nothing but trouble. 

Hunter could sense eyes on him, sizing him up.  He was used to that.  He was always the new kid and didn’t even bother to make friends anymore.  Besides, it was his senior year and he would never see these people again.  He followed Grant through the courtyard and up the steps into the main entrance, with students lounging on the stone steps and railings.  As he walked up the steps, he felt a shoulder hit him hard.  He stopped immediately and looked eye to eye with a hulking guy holding a football.  Hunter knew this wasn’t the time to try anything, so he stepped away.  “Excuse me.”

The guy moved in front of him.  “What’s up, man?  I don’t think you know me, but I know who you are.”

A circle of letter jackets formed around him and Grant as others looked on.  Hunter clenched his fists.  “I have that effect on girls.”

The guy laughed.  “My name is James.  Bill is my little brother.  He told me how much you like to fight.  How about you fight someone your own size?”

Hunter smiled.  “If you fight like Bill, that’s not a problem.”

He felt the force of a punch below his right eye and he immediately crouched and instinctively punched back.  He could see Grant holding back the others who circled them.  He couldn’t believe this.  On his first day.  Suddenly, he was on the ground and the guy was above him with cheers resounding from all sides, and he could feel the circle closing in on him.  Hunter pushed him off with one arm and was about go in for a jab when he heard a whistle sound and a shrill voice calling for the students to disperse.  A teacher grabbed his arms from behind as another did the same to James.  Hunter could feel his arm being ground into his back and he knew nothing had changed.  Different school.  Same problems.

As they dragged James away, he shouted out, “You’re dead!”

They hauled him through the crowded hallways as kids sneered at him and whispered to themselves, past the bustling office of gawking teachers and guidance counselors, and into a tiny office that looked like it came straight out of the 70’s.  Metal bookcases with huge leather-bound books flanked the desk as fake potted plants stood in the corners.  He wondered if anyone even ever read those thick books or if they were just for show.  Even the principal looked like he hadn’t left the era in his gold-rimmed glasses, mustache, and bad comb over.  They seated in front of the ubiquitous principal desk with a nameplate holder that read Mr. Holden.  Odd.  He knew this routine quite well.

Mr. Holden stared at him for a few seconds before he started.  “Well, Hunter Rosin, what a great first day, but I suspect this is how you usually come in at every new school.  We don’t take too kindly to trouble-makers.  Are you a trouble-maker?”

Hunter dropped his head and clenched his jaw tight.  “No, sir.”

Mr.  Holden paced the narrow space between the desk and his uncomfortable wooden chair.  Why were these chairs the most terrible chairs in the whole school?  “I see this is your third high school in four years.  You have a track record for being a trouble-maker.  Do you want to explain yourself?”

Hunter knew nothing he said would change anything.  “No, sir.”

Mr. Holden leaned against the desk and folded his arms over his pin-striped shirt as he peered at Hunter over his glasses.  “That’s good.  I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you and James just had a difference of opinion and you didn’t start anything.  James’s is a good, kid, you know?  He’s a linebacker on our football team and not a bad kid when you get to know him.  I’m not going to suspend you, but you’re going to serve detention.  You kids from the trailer homes are all the same.”

Hunter’s head snapped up.  “Because we don’t live in houses like you, sir?”

A disgusted look came over Mr. Holden’s face.  “Parenting.  I blame parenting.  Some of them shape up, but the likes of you who never had parents never will.  I pity you.  You never had a chance from the beginning.  Now, run along.  It’s only a half day and if I hear your name again today, I won’t be so kind.”

Hunter spent the rest of day pretending he didn’t notice the entire body of students talking about him and clearing a path for him as if he were a pariah.  The teachers were no different.  They assumed he was an unintelligent, belligerent kid from a broken home.  He spent the hours tuning them out and imagining what would happen if the Guardians of the Universe came to him and asked him to be a Green Lantern.  He knew he could take on the responsibility of protecting over the sector, but wasn’t sure who would exactly trust him to do it.  He didn’t care so much that some students immediately typecast him and despised him because of their presumptions.  What he didn’t understand was why some people admired him without knowing him.  Especially the girls.  There were always girls who were attracted to the bad boy mystique and he hated it.  They were a dime a dozen.

 

“What makes you think I want to go to a football game?”  Hunter asked as they sat in their usual booth at Mike’s Burgers.  It was a dingy family diner that saw better days with torn, teal carpeting, laminate counter tops and leather booths that they put back together with masking tape.  A permanent smoky mist resided in the air as the walls of framed black and white pictures yellowed from age and cigarettes, which were no longer allowed, but the smell still clung to everything in the diner.  Hunter and Grant loved frequenting the diner for their greasy food, cheap prices, and late hours.  Sometimes, it was the only place they could go.

Grant spread his arms across the top of the booth.  “Why not?  It’s against our rival: the West Hornets.”

Hunter shook his head.  “I don’t care.  I don’t even know what we are.”

“We’re the Washington Blue Devils.  It’s not the game I want to watch.  The Hornets have this stupid bee costume that they use in every game.  My cousin goes to that school and knows where they keep it, so I was thinking we could jack it.”

A slight smile curved Hunter’s lips.  “Why would we do that?”

“Because it’s funny.  Don’t you want to be remembered for an awesome prank?”

The thought sounded appealing.  “What the hell would we do with a bee costume?”

“We’d put our jersey on it, duh.  Why would you even ask?”

Carla, their regular waitress, carried out a huge tray of food and plopped it down the counter.  She handed out plates of cheese burgers, crisp fries, falling apart mozzarella sticks, and onion rings.  “I dunno how you boys pack it away.  You’re both so skinny.  What I’d give to be 16 again.”

Hunter stared ravenously at the food as he mumbled “Thanks, Carla.”  As soon as she turned away, they both pounced on the food and wolfed it all down like there was no tomorrow.  In 15 minutes flat, they both finished all the food and chased it down with a gallon of soda.  They both joked how they could enter eating contests and easily win.  Hunter smiled.  “Why not?  It’ll make up for this crappy day.”

Grant laughed.  “I think someone’s got school spirit.”

As he listened to Grant, he caught the side profile of a pale face exit the diner.  He watched as her golden hair swung in the air and disappeared behind the open door.  He wasn’t sure if it was really a girl or an apparition.  “Hey, did you catch the girl that just left?”

Grant looked behind him.  “Nope.  Was she hot?”

Hunter shrugged.  “I didn’t really catch a good look.”

“Well, there are some pretty hot girls at West.”

 

The sun was setting on the horizon as they pulled into an adjacent parking lot at West High school.  Hunter hadn’t been in the town long, but even he knew that mostly everyone considered West to be one of the better high schools in Charon.  The school was situated in a better part of the neighborhood and they waitlisted parents who wanted to enroll their kids, but didn’t live the area because of their high graduation rates. Still, it was a public school, but it enjoyed better patronage due to the high incomes of the parents that lived in the area.  Charon laid half way between Chicago and Akron, a budding metropolis that grappled with industry, pollution, and an ever increasing crime rate.  Hunter followed Grant as they neared the utilitarian high school built during the Eisenhower administration.  Everything about it looked drab and uninteresting. 

They entered a side door and didn’t encounter a soul.  Grant seemed to know his way around and they found themselves at the front doors to the gymnasium.  Grant tried to open it, but it was locked.  Hunter quickly picked the lock and they quickly made their way to the locker room.  Just then, they heard a voice call out “Hey, what are you doing there?”  They both instinctively ducked and laughed.  Grant motioned for him to go to the left and he went to the right.  Hunter smiled as he exited the empty locker room and found himself in the middle of a high school football game.

Night had fallen, but no stars shone in the sky yet.  The bright glare of stadium lights glowed down on the field, as if the players were angels of some sort.  He slipped past the opening gates and looked up at the packed stands of teenaged kids in their school colors and parents rooting on the players.  He wondered what it would be like to be one of them.  To belong and have a place.  To know who you were.  He looked out on the field and watched as the opposing team in red and white lined up against his school’s blue and black.  The quarterback called out plays harshly and the two teams smashed against each other.  The quarterback pulled back and let the ball fly.  It flew beautifully, arcing across the inky blue night sky and into the arms of the awaiting receiver.  The crowd erupted in cheer and thunderous applaud as the stadium shook. 

The quarterback rushed to the sidelines and threw off his helmet, revealing a shorn head of almost white, blonde hair, a chiseled jaw line, and piercing green eyes.  A gorgeous little cheerleader with a voluptuous body immediately threw herself on him and hugged him.  He smiled and detangled himself from her and rejoined his team in a huddle.  Hunter quickly came to and realized he had to get to Grant.  He sprinted back to the car and waited 20 minutes to no avail.  He thought that maybe they had caught Grant, so he trekked closer back to the school as the night became darker and colder.  As he neared the school, he caught a glimpse of a mural under a small foot bridge. 

He walked closer to it and saw a painting of the planets swirling around in vivid colors of red and orange.  The swirls melted into each other and created points of stars and specks of light everywhere.  Hunter’s foot hit a metal pan, and he realized someone had laid out art supplied before the mural.  Cans of paint, brushes, and spray paint laid neatly in lines.  Hunter picked up a spray bottle and shook it.  He wanted to write something, but wasn’t sure, then a thought entered his mind and his lips curled at the idea as he sprayed a J and then an A on the wall.  As he shook the can again, he heard voices calling out in the distance, “What are you doing?”

Hunter dropped the can when he saw the outline of a girl in the dark on the other side of bridge.  He was frozen in place as the girl came closer.  She wore thick, combat boots over jeans, a white cardigan and a scarf, hiding her small frame.  She had high cheekbones, full lips in the shape of a heart, soft blue eyes, and long blonde hair that almost glowed in the dark.  He could do nothing else but look at her as two teachers approached from the other side.  He should’ve run, but he couldn’t now.  In that moment, there was nothing and no one else, but her.  He did not care that the teachers would soon catch him.  Only she existed in that moment for him.  One of the teachers wagged his finger at him.  “I saw him.  I saw he was vandalizing school property.  We’re going to call the police.”

The other teacher shook her head.  “What do you think you are doing?  I don’t think you’re one of ours, are you?  Caleigh, did you see what this young man was doing to your mural?”  His heart dropped in right into his stomach.  Caleigh.  That was a beautiful name.

Caleigh nodded.  “He was helping me Mrs. Krasinsky.  He’s from the art store, so he wanted to make sure the equipment was working properly.” 

Mrs. Krasinsky didn’t look like she bought the story, but seemed satisfied enough.  “I trust you will keep order here, Caleigh.”

Caleigh nodded again.  “Of course.  You can trust, me Mrs. Krasinsky.”  The teachers walked away left the two alone under the almost dark bridge only partially lit by one lone street lamp.    

He turned to fully face her.  “Why did you help me?  You could’ve gotten in trouble.”

She paused.  “I don’t need your apology.  When you risk something in helping someone, you have a lot more to lose and to gain.”

“Does that make you a better person?”  He answered quickly.

She smiled.  “I don’t know, but I’m trying.”

“You’re different.  Why?”

“Maybe I know what it’s like to take away from others.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing.  I didn’t mean anything by it.  You should go.”

He smiled broadly.  “I’ll see you around Caleigh.”

“In your dreams.”

He chuckled and walked into the dark night until the shadows enveloped him.  For once in his life, someone had stuck their neck out for him.  Risked themselves for him when he had done them wrong.  Caleigh intrigued and puzzled him.  She wasn’t the type of girl who he would ever even think about being interested in.  She looked way too pretty.  Way too nice.  Way too normal.  And yet, he felt drawn to her and he couldn’t explain it.  In his dark world of half-truths and murky lies, she became the light at the end of the tunnel.  She became what he imagined what someone would feel like who could love him, even though he knew that sounded far-fetched.  But he knew there would be no turning back now.  He was locked in the moment he laid eyes on her.

 




© 2017 Kerry Yang



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Added on December 12, 2017
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Author

Kerry Yang
Kerry Yang

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Writing
Prologue Prologue

A Chapter by Kerry Yang


Chapter 2 Chapter 2

A Chapter by Kerry Yang


Chapter 3 Chapter 3

A Chapter by Kerry Yang