As the school day came to a close, students flooded the halls, laughing and joking about their day. Jake lingered behind a bit, not really fearing the walk home but also not looking forward to it. In the distance, he could see Angela and Sarah heading down the hall to one of the exits. Angela gave him a smile and broke away from Sarah for a moment to talk to Jake.
“Listen, I talked to Dave and Ash,” Angela said. “They shouldn’t give you any more trouble.”
“Oh, and you believed them?” Jake asked, to which Angela gave a look of disappointment; something he never wanted to see upon her face. Quick to save the situation, he replied: “I mean thank you. Really.”
“You’re welcome,” Angela said a little brighter. “See you.”
“Yeah, bye,” Jake said.
He watched her head back towards Sarah, who waited at the end of the row of lockers. Just beyond them he saw Dave. Outside of the loathing look he gave Jake; Dave did nothing and headed right for the exit. Just then, Julia snuck up behind Jake and tapped him on the shoulder. Jake jumped a mile outside of his skin.
“Christ!” Jake yelled. He could feel anger rise from within. “You scared me!”
“I’m sorry,” Julia said softly. “How about that walk home?”
“What?” Jake asked. “What walk?”
“Earlier you said we’d walk home,” Julia said confused.
After a prolonged pause, Jake said: “Don’t you think you’re coming on a bit strong?”
Julia looked at Jake absolutely stung.
“Listen to me,” Jake said harshly. “I don’t like you! I’m sick to death of seeing your face pop up out of nowhere, wanting to talk or walk home or do homework or something! It’s never gonna happen! When are you gonna get that through your skull?”
It was at this moment Julia began to cry.
“Oh, that’s attractive,” Jake said. “Why don’t you go find someone else to attach yourself to like a goddamn parasite?”
Julia tried to walk away with her last hint of dignity, but Jake pushed past her and made his way to the exit.
“Oh, have a good night,” Jake said as he bypassed her.
* * *
Jake was almost home when, seemingly out of nowhere, Stan appeared and threw Jake up against the side of a small flower shop. Stan threw a powerful punch to Jake’s gut, which sent him to the ground. He grabbed Jake’s backpack and stripped it from him. He slammed Jake’s backpack full of textbooks, into Jake’s back twice, before tossing it against the shop wall. He then wound up and kicked Jake so hard in the stomach, Jake thought he was going to throw up.
“You’re a fucking dead man!” Stan said as he bent down, whispering into Jake’s ear.
“Funny,” Jake said trying to laugh through the pain. “I feel so lively, too.”
“I’m not fucking around,” Stan said as he radiated rage.
“Oh, I’m so scared,” Jake said sarcastically.
“You should be,” Stan yelled. “I had a real bad fucking day yesterday. I got expelled and saw my whore kissing your queer ass!”
Jake tried to get up and hit Stan the moment he called Angela a ‘whore’ but Stan pushed him back to the ground.
“STAY DOWN!” Stan yelled.
Jake immediately stopped struggling. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was really scared. He’d never seen Stan like this. Jake tried to suppress his fear, by getting angry.
“Don’t call her a whore,” Jake warned.
“Why not?” Stan asked. “Everyone knows she is a cock sucking—”
Jake tried hard to get up and hit Stan, but Stan was too quick and gave another swift kick to Jake’s chest.
“If I ever catch you with the bitch again,” Stan threatened,“ I will fucking END you! I’m not kidding around.”
Stan pulled a knife from inside his coat jacket. Jake fell still. He brought the blade right next to Jake’s eye.
“I’ll cut out your fucking soul if you so much as look at her,” Stan said in a raspy whisper.
Stan slashed the blade across Jake’s cheek and stood up. Jake clutched at his cheek and felt blood trickling between his fingers. Stan towered over Jake, casting his silhouette over Jake’s face.
“I’m serious,” Stan said. “End you!”
At that, Stan briskly disappeared down the street. Jake got up, his pants wet from snow. He grabbed a chunk of ice and gingerly applied it to his cut. His heart raced.