As Henry, Jack, and Kevin walked home from school, they did the same thing they did everyday – they crossed the street. About a block away from their own street, they had to pass a house that was largely overgrown with weeds and almost completely hidden by trees. It was just a matter-of-fact occurrence that they crossed the street. No explanation necessary. Henry was dribbling a basketball as they crossed, listening to Jack and Kevin talk about some girl they’d seen walking down the hallway today.
“I’d never seen her before,” said Kevin. “Unless I’d just never paid attention.”
“Well, it’s possible that you just never paid attention,” replied Jack as he lit a cigarette. He inhaled and then offered it to Kevin who declined with a shake of his head.
Henry reached over and took the cigarette from Jack. If Kevin wasn’t going to take a toke, he sure was. “What did she look like?” asked Henry.
“I didn’t really get a good look, honestly,” replied Jack.
Shaking his head with a smirk across his lips, “You never get a good look,” replied Kevin. Jack shrugged his shoulders. “You’ve always got your head down or in a book.” Henry laughed and faux punched Jack’s arm with a 1,2,3 punch in agreement with Kevin.
“She had long blond hair and a butt that looked great in her tight jeans,” continued Kevin. “She has to be new. I mean I can’t believe that I wouldn’t have noticed someone like her if she’d been in our class forever.”
It would have been possible to not really know everyone in his class. They went to a large school. Each grade had several homerooms and those classmates were the ones that you shared most of your classes with. It was possible to graduate only knowing a select group of people’s names. Truth be told, the girl wasn’t really that important. She was a distraction. Something to focus on for the rest of the day instead of math and biology. She was just one of the mundane things to talk about as they walked home.
As they passed in front of the house at 327 Chesterfield Road, they stopped talking. It didn’t matter that they were on the other side of the street. It was almost like they didn’t want to attract attention to themselves. It wasn’t even dark outside. It was late afternoon, but the house always made them uneasy. It was creepy even in the daylight. Forget about it after dark. Most of the time they just kept their heads down and walk a little faster especially if they were alone.
The three boys had grown up together in Astoralyn, NY. They had been school chums and neighbors for as long as any of them could remember. Henry and Kevin had always lived on Westshire Street, a cul-de-sac that branched off of Chesterfield Road. Jack had moved on to Westshire when he was only three. They had become fast friends. A small gang. Henry was the unspoken leader. He was tall with red hair. He had a little bit of the temper that seemed to go along with being a red head, but he was also strong and cocky and just a little bit debonair. Kevin was the goofball of the group. He was Henry’s sidekick. He was medium height with medium brown hair and a slight paunch that would go away if he would lay off sneaking his dad’s beer. He was cute, but his sense of humor is what attracted the girls. They both got a lot of action for sure, but if Henry was the ladies man, Kevin was the sexy joker. Jack was his own person. He was shorter than the other two and much smarter. He enjoyed hanging out with the two guys, but he also enjoyed spending time alone. The same can’t always be said for Henry or especially Kevin. Jack was much more the strong silent type who enjoyed reading a good book. He also had a slight crush on Henry, which was something he didn’t want either of his two best friends to find out.
“So, are we gonna meet on the corner here and go to the game together?” asked Henry.
“Same as always,” replied Kevin.
There was a basketball game tonight at their high school. It was the first home game of the season. They were playing a team from a second rate school in the region. Their team always won when these two schools played each other. It wasn’t going to be an exciting game so the reason for going was to hang out. Maybe see if the blond girl showed up.
* * *
Nothing happened at the game. It was predictable. The home team won and the blond girl was not there. The three of them managed to step outside and enjoy a cigarette and a swig of whiskey out of the flask Kevin had taken from his father's drawer. The real excitement happened on the way home.
Kevin sighed a heavy sigh. He was walking with his head down, hands in his pockets. The silence was chased away by the rocks he kicked up the street. Jack and Henry looked at him and then at each other. Jack lifted his eyebrows as if the say "You do it," to Henry. Henry rolled his eyes.
"Dude, what's your problem? You've been completely quiet and that sigh is bringin' us down."
"Sorry," replied Kevin sounding just a little defeated. "I was just hoping to see that chick from the hall at the game tonight."
"Man, you don't even know if she was real," said Jack.
"I know she was real, Dickwad," he said pulling his arm back as if he was going to punch Jack. However, he almost fell when he stepped on his untied shoelace.
Jack cracked up, followed by Henry. With the tension completely broken, Kevin started to laugh too. They were laughing so hard they hadn't even noticed that they had neglected to cross the street. They were standing right in front of 327. That’s how they referred to the old house – 327. Jack looked up and realized they had stopped right in front of the gate. He took off running. The other two followed quickly. Jack turned to see if they were following him when he noticed a glow in the middle window. He had never seen that before. The house always appeared empty and silent. There was even a "No Trespassing" sign. He couldn't imagine that anyone was inside. When he stopped to catch his breath, he looked again. All the windows were dark. He must have imagined it. He told himself that it must have been a reflection from the streetlight.
He thought about telling the guys what he thought he saw, but realized they would probably think he was an idiot.
"Later guys," said Jack as he turned into his driveway.
"See you tomorrow, Jack," said Henry.
"Later," said Kevin
"Hey Kevin," Jacked yelled over his shoulder, "Maybe you'll see the blond in your dreams tonight."
"Dickwad," replied Kevin.
They heard Jack laughing as he shut the door to his house. Henry laughed as he and Kevin did a fist bump with exploding fingers and a shoulder shrug.
As they walked up their respective driveways, they said their “goodnights” and “laters” and headed inside for homework then sleep.
©2010 Michael Rohrer