Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cal and Drake

Title: Cal and Drake
Genre: YA
Word Count: 1385
Rating: PG (for language)

1. Cal doesn’t have a drivers’ license. Everyone knows this.

No one knows the true reason why he lost it. They all know the stories, but since his father is the mayor, only a few people know the real reason. They kept it pretty quiet.

All the kids at school know is that it happened the summer before junior year. Cal missed a day of school in September to go to court, and the next day, his little sister was driving him to school.

Cal’s popular. He has blond hair that hangs in his face and pale green eyes that sometimes look blue. He has dimples and a killer smile. He plays football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. Everyone knows him. They joke with him in the hallways, pretend the accident never happened.

The cop he hit is in a wheelchair. Cal visits him every Saturday to help around the house.

2. Cal is talking to a group of friends. They’re the popular ones, all decked out in the latest fashions. The girls all wake up early to have time to expertly apply their makeup and make their hair fall in natural waves over their shoulders. The boys all say they roll out of bed and come directly to school, but leave out everything they do in between to get that trendy rumpled look.

A few kids pass by. Some of them really do roll out of bed and come directly to school, and it’s obvious. Some wear all black. They shop at Hot Topic and conform in the most socially-acceptable nonconformist style.

Cal doesn’t know any of their names. Like the other kids in his group, he turns his nose up at them. He laughs at the insults his friends throw, and mutters one of his own.

As the other kids pass by, one of them meets Cal’s gaze. His eyes are brown, his hair dyed black. He’s wearing a black trench coat and lots of black eyeliner and spiky, silver jewelry. He’s bulky under his coat, and shorter than Cal. His eyes are filled with contempt.

He’s everything Cal and his friends condemn, but his eyes burn into Cal’s memory for the rest of the day.

3. Cal never goes out after the football games. He isn’t allowed, and he doesn’t argue since he knows he deserves it.

Today the nonconformists are smoking behind the bleachers during the game. One of Cal’s friends on the football team mentions the trench coat kid’s name is Drake. He says it with contempt, following up with “I bet he thinks he’s a vampire.”

Cal agrees, making a contemptuous comment of his own that he doesn’t even remember later. But the more he thinks about it, the more he wonders whether or not he actually shares his friends’ opinion of the Goth kids. So he doesn’t think about it.

4. Cal’s friends don’t know he’s gay, or that he ran a red light when he was 16 and hit a cop. They don’t notice him staring thoughtfully at Drake’s table during chemistry one day. But Drake does.

He comes up to Cal after class, his black-ringed eyes narrowed in a deep scowl. He tells Cal to stop fucking staring at him. Cal counters by asking if Drake will put a curse on him if he doesn’t. On later reflection, Cal suspects that wasn’t the brightest thing to say at that time. He ends up getting shouted at and flipped off. He ends up shouting back a disparaging comment about Drake’s weight--which doesn’t actually bother him as much as the fact that it doesn’t actually bother him.

He notices that Drake’s face turns pink when he’s angry, but he doesn’t expect to hear what Drake says next.

“At least I can drive without paralyzing a cop.”

Drake turns on his heel, his heavy boots echoing through the nearly empty hallways. The bell rings, but for a few long minutes, all Cal can do is stare. No one is supposed to know.

5. It occurs to Cal that Drake knew who he was before he knew who Drake was. He had assumed everyone knew him for being quarterback on the football team, point guard on the basketball team, or shortstop on the baseball team. Now he isn’t so sure.

It’s not for a few days that he finally finds out. The chemistry teacher is telling who got the high scores on the last quiz. There are three names.

“Drake Lorraine” is the last one the teacher calls.

It’s the same last name as the cop’s.

6. Cal doesn’t know why he decides to go to Drake’s house on Sunday afternoon, but he finds himself standing on the front porch nonetheless. There seems to be music coming from the garage, but it’s not clear enough for Cal to make out.

Drake’s mother answers the door. She looks familiar, and it only takes a moment for Cal to realize he saw her at the trial. Now that he thinks about it, Drake was at the trial, too, but he hadn’t noticed it was him without the makeup or black clothing.

Drake’s mother recognizes Cal right away, though, and she looks confused. To her credit, though, she still lets him in and directs him to the garage where Drake and a few friends apparently are. Cal thanks her gratefully.

He is grateful, too. He knows he’s made life difficult for this woman and her family, and he’s glad she’s not going to treat him like a monster.

He knocks on the garage door, but the music is loud and no one responds. When he pushes open the door, he sees a few boys who look like Drake set up in the typical garage rock band setup. His eyes scan the players for Drake but it takes a moment to locate him.

He’s in the front. Singing. And he’s great.

Cal stares.

7. One by one, the players notice Cal and stop playing. Drake glares at him, and his voice is cold. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to talk to you,” Cal says, standing his ground even though he knows he’s in enemy territory.

Drake stares him down for what feels like an eternity before he turns to the rest of the band.

“Take ten,” he says, and crosses to where Cal is standing, pushing him back into the house. His fingernails are painted black.

“I’m sorry about your brother,” Cal says once they’re alone in what seems to be the laundry room.

“So now you know who I am, don’t you?” Drake asks, but he doesn’t seem that mad.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” Cal begs. “You’re the only one who knows.”

Drake seems to think about this for a bit before he says, “I guess. But don’t tell anyone about what you saw here either, okay? I get teased enough at school without anyone knowing about this.”

Cal’s surprised Drake forgives him so easily and says so. Not that he’s complaining.

“You help my brother every Saturday,” Drake says with a shrug. “I know you’re not really a bad guy. You’re just stupid, boring and have bad taste in friends.” He extends his hand. “Do we have a deal? I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine.”

Cal thinks people would be impressed with Drake’s singing, but he agrees to keep the secret anyway. Somehow after this, they seem to have reached a sort of truce.

8. Cal’s group passes Drake’s group in the hallways. One of Cal’s friends makes a disparaging comment and they all laugh. Cal laughs too, even though he doesn’t think it’s funny anymore. It’s important to keep up appearances. He knows Drake is doing the same.

But this time, their eyes meet and Cal can read Drake’s expression. They both secretly think high school is stupid. They both can’t wait to graduate in June.

They’ve been friends for months now, outside of school. Sometimes it surprises them how much they have in common. They can’t hang out with their friends around, but every Saturday after Cal leaves the cop’s house, he hangs out with Drake. Sometimes they see each other on Sundays after Drake’s band practices, too.

It’s just another secret.