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The Savages - 1x05: The Wild Ride

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Thesavagestriggerwarning

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PreviouslyOnTheSavages

Gina becomes fed up with the misogynistic attitudes the school boys demonstrate, after she is harassed by two guys at the movies, and she teams up with Lily Blossom and Sydney Prescott to create the Femme Fatale. After Brian and Vik’s little video scandal takes over the school, Rose De Vil tries her hardest to determine who is responsible, and she targets Trae and Zach, who has feelings for Trae. However, Trae isn’t exactly aware of it, nor is he aware of Joe’s manipulative ways to get his power. Alex and Gina have rekindled their relationship, and well… Nate transformed into Breadquanda, inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race. Oh yeah, also, Rufus quits the football team and joins the Savages, but will he fit in?

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Portlandoregonsavages

It was almost midnight in Portland, Oregon—not as far from Seattle—the skies were darker than usual, and colder winds blew. The concrete highway roads were empty, until a large, black Chevrolet van drove away at a steady pace. The driver continued to keep his focus on the road, but his expressions demonstrated his uncertainty. He knew where he had to go, and he knew he had a job to finish; the only concern—departing safely. The driver sighed, lifting his hand closer to the volume knob to turn up the radio. A rare song from the 1960s began to play from The Kinks—“All Day and All of the Night.”

The driver was weary and willing to go back home, but it was already too late. He had to face the music; he was only twenty seconds away from his destination—Eli Hawk’s headquarters.

Eli Hawk was the most reliable mastermind of the drug market in Oregon. The driver felt pure butterflies in his abdomen, knowing he had to approach him once more. The driver in the black van stopped, as three men stood outside of Eli Hawk’s headquarters: a large, abandoned tan barn.

The driver looked at his right car window, as he saw Eli Hawk, a muscular, pale man with a buzz cut. His face was stamped with a large tattoo, followed by a large, visible scare around his neck. Hawk was accompanied by an obese Hispanic partner, and an African-American muscular partner.

The driver stopped his van, taking the key out of his ignition; he took a deep breath before exiting his front seat. As he opened the door, Eli Hawk stared him deeply in the eyes, and began to respond.

“It’s about time you came, Touché. Feels like I’ve been freezing my dick off waiting for your ass,” Hawk said in his very thick Italian accent.

Eric Touché, Carl’s father, was the driver. He looked at him nervously after his statement, but he refused to add to it. Eric approached Hawk and his two accomplices, who both held dangerous weapons in their pockets.

“You got the money?” Hawk asked aggressively. Touché nodded his head and he attempted to walk to his truck. However, Hawk stopped him, forcing his two accomplices to do the job.

Hawk stopped, demanding, “No. Montano, Scooter, you do it.”

Eric Touché stood next to Hawk, watching Montano and Scooter open the back of the black Chevrolet van. In the trunk, a leather suitcase sat directly in front of Montana and Scooter’s eyes. The two looked at each other, picking the suitcase up together and landing it on the ground aggressively.

“What the fuck? Take it easy,” Hawk yelled angrily. Montano and Scooter complied to Hawk’s demand, and Eric watched nervously as the two grabbed the suitcase, carefully placing it back on the ground.

As Montano opened the suitcase, they discovered the abundance of money, organized inside of the suitcase in $200 per stack. Hawk’s main goal was to receive $50,000 in cash. However, as Montano and Scooter counted the amount of money inside of the suitcase, Montano looked up in disappointment.

Montano spoke in Spanish, “¿Dónde está el resto del dinero?” He translated it, exclaiming, “There’s no 50 grand in here,”

Hawk gave an intimidating stare at Eric, who remained silent as Montano and Scooter sorted the money once more. Hawk walked towards the duo, pushing the dirt under his tan Timberland boots. He began to sort it, while Eric continued to stare in a silent, staid manner. Hawk looked up in angst.

“25 grand,” Hawk said disappointedly. He chuckled briefly and stood up, “I don’t know what type of shit you got in your motherfucking ears, but I told you I wanted 50 grand.”

Eric finally began to speak with confidence, “Take it or leave it. O’Connor said he’d get the rest. I can take it right back to him if you decline.”

Hawk continued to laugh, and he began to speak angrily, “Do you know who you’re fucking talking to, Touché? I don’t give a fuck what O’Connor’s pussy ass says…I want the rest of my money one way or the other.”

Eric replied, “So, you don’t want it?”

“--Do not fucking question me,” Hawk said with his eyes widened. Eric felt a little less intimidated, until Montano began to speak in Spanish once more.

Montano approached Hawk, responding in an encouraging tone, “Hawk, vamos a matar el coño.”

He grabbed the gun from his left pocket to point at Eric, who moved back in awe.

Hawk immediately stopped him, “Hey, yo, put the fucking gun down, and take your meds, man. You can’t go shooting him like that—he’s good people.”

“Montano—just put the gun down, man,” Scooter said with his arms crossed.

Montano held a tight grasp on the gun, with his fourth finger on the trigger. As he looked at Hawk, he sighed after placing it back in his pocket.

Hawk walked closer to Eric, lifting his hand on his shoulder. “Eric, my man, come with me,”

Hawk turned around quickly, snapping at Montano and Scooter to follow him. The two grabbed the suitcase as they entered the tan barn. The darkness began to concern Eric, who feared he wouldn’t see another day. As the group entered the barn, Hawk turned on the light.

Inside the abandoned barn sat tons of drugs, assorted and organized, from cocaine and meth in Ziploc bags to marijuana. As they continued to walk, Eric looked around curiously, but remained nervous to what may happen. They walked inside of an unusual area—pitch dark, despite a sudden noise.

Hawk stood in front of a puzzled Eric, while Montano and Scooter stood side by side. Hawk began to speak, “You know, Touché, you’re like a bro to me, so perhaps, I’ll set things straight—and you’ll be clear with what I want and when I want it.”

Scooter turned on the light—Eric was appalled with what he discovered. A barely clothed man, with wounds filled with blood around is chest. He hung from a rope with duct tape on his mouth. As his eyes were closed, Eric had no response—he didn’t know whether to escape or call the police. Either way, he knew there would be a consequence.

Hawk slapped the wounded victim twice, waking him up. The man muffled helplessly as he saw Eric in front of him.

“Help,” he muffled. He continued to kick until Scooter and Montano held his legs, controlling his movement.

Hawk walked around the victim, continuing to lecture Eric, “Big Worm always said, playing with money is like playing with emotions…”

Eric stuttered, “Who is Big Worm?”

“You haven’t seen Friday?” Hawk turned around and chuckled. “The fuck happened in your childhood, bro?”

Eric looked away, while Hawk circled the target. “This guy right here, Eric, is Mickey. You see, Mickey likes to fuck around with money like it’s a game of Monopoly. The funny thing about it, I let him do it, and now it’s time to get back what’s mine.”

Hawk grabbed a baseball bat, sadly torturing the victim. Eric cringed at the sight, and Hawk continued to lecture him.

“Mickey’s a mouse all right—this cocksucker had all of the sources to take me down and fuck with my money. He tried to escape to Vegas, taking trips to Miami, the usual shit whenever an old chick hits the lottery.”

Hawk ripped the duct tape aggressively off of Mickey’s mouth, and he began to yell helplessly, “Hawk—I swear, I will give you back all of your money. I swear, just let me go, I can—”

“Shut him up,” Hawk interrupted and demanded to Montano and Scooter, who grabbed a pocket knife to stick into his wounded skin. Mickey grimaced in pain, “Ah, fuck!”

Hawk walked to Eric, who remained concerned, “Whenever you work for me, there’s no going back. Since you’re my peoples and all, I don’t want to see you like this guy, 2 minutes away of pure torture and execution…”

“…I’ll take the 25 grand, but we expect 25 grand more in our faces in 48 hours or less. If not, I’ll re-introduce you and that O’Connor kid to your new fuck buddy over here—”

Hawk pointed at Mickey, who had another piece of duct tape on his mouth.

“Got it?” Hawk asked.

Eric looked at Hawk, and hesitantly complied, “Yeah, I’ll let O’Connor know by the morning,”

“Yeah, yeah, sure,” Hawk said. “Get the hell out of my headquarters.”

Eric looked back and suddenly exited out of the barn. Hawk turned around to Montano and Scooter, and Mickey, who began to cry. Hawk turned to his right, staring at a large bottle of gasoline. Mickey turned his eye to his direction and shook his head, muffling “No, no, no.”

Hawk quietly grabbed the gasoline, opening up the cap and throwing it all around Mickey’s body. He stood in front of Mickey afterwards, and demanded, “Get rid of him,”

Scooter grabbed the lighter after taking a smoke, and he moved the flame from the lighter to his skin. Fire began to augment on Mickey’s entire body as he screamed in excruciating pain.

Hawk watched like a movie, smirking at the moment.

~

Eric couldn’t get the thoughts out of his head—what was he going to do? What did he get himself into? As Eric drove home, the only thing he began to worry about was the fate of his family.

A couple of minutes later, Eric arrived back home, entering his garage outside of a nice home. After exiting the van, he opened the trunk. Inside, he hid $25,000, half of what he owed to Eli Hawk. As he stared at the money, he kept it in the trunk, in a safe, hidden place. He closed the trunk and entered his house without hesitation.

Eric walked quietly inside of his bedroom, while his wife, Karen, was sleeping. Minutes later, he changed, wearing no shirt and pajamas. While Eric carefully wrapped himself under the covers, Karen slowly woke herself up.

“Honey, you’re home?” Karen said softly.

Eric replied, “I’m here, honey. Go back to sleep,”

Eric wrapped his arms around Karen while she closed her eyes. Eric looked up, continuing to worry; he sighed.

 

Thesavageslogo

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Seagulls flew across the clear, light blue skies, while people, mostly teenagers, cheered gleefully on a beach. At this point, members of the Savages jumped around, alongside Gina, as she began to perform for the audience—it felt more like a fantasy. The girls all wore bathing suits, while the boys exposed their chests and wore swimming trunks.

Gina led the Savages as she sang, “Teenage Verona, sippin' Coca-Cola. Teenage Verona, momma can't control her!”

People in the beach began to dance, running across the soft sand with their bare feet. The Savages, mostly Trae, Carl, Alex, and Sydney, began to sing along with Gina.

“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,” The Savages sang.

Gina sang, “You can do anything at…”

“Nude beach a go-go,” The Savages sang and replied.

While girls continued to lie down on their beach chairs, exposed to the yellow, blazing sun, boys surfed out in the water, and played football near the ocean. Gina continued to sing, “Ram-a-lama-ding-dong, surfer billy bing-bong,”

“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,” The Savages all sang. Carl continued to enjoy the beach atmosphere, as he, Trae, and Zach began to dance behind Gina excitedly.

Gina sang, rapidly gyrating and turning her body around, “You can tag along, if you're young and strong,”

“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,”

Gina continued to sing, smiling as she stared at the entire beach population—with Lily and Sydney, sh began to dance. “Black women's attraction, all the white girls join in the action. Do you jingle when you dingle-dangle? Everybody does the bingle-bangle, ow!”

Gina winked, while The Savages chanted, “Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,”

Trae and Alex walked to Gina, and they all sang together, “Don't ya don't ya know-know? Sun tan in the snow-snow. Everybody goes where the roses bloom, come and enjoy the living rooms.”

“By the lifeguard station by the coral reefs, hallelujah, heaven, hell and all in between. There's no clothes to wear, and there's summer in her hair.”

Innocently, Gina sang with a smile, “And chiffon and silk and wool and cotton, they all are forgotten!”

“Teenage Verona, sippin' Coca-Cola. Teenage Verona, momma can't control her!” Gina yelled.

Carl and Joe ran out in the beach, encouraging more people to join in—“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go. Nude beach a go-go!”

“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,” The Savages continued to repeat.

Gina, Lily, and Sydney strolled around the beach, dancing and singing, “Ooo, ooo, ha la la la la la. Ooo, ooo, ha la la la la, ow!”

“Nude beach a go-go, nude beach a go-go,” The Savages all sang, with more people joining in the performance. Trae, Alex, and Gina all sang, “Don't ya don't ya know-know? Sun tan in the snow-snow. Everybody goes where the roses bloom, come and enjoy the living rooms.”

“By the lifeguard station by the coral reefs, hallelujah, heaven, hell and all in between. There's no clothes to wear, and there's summer in her hair.”

“And chiffon and silk and wool and cotton, they all are forgotten!” Gina ended the song, “At nude beach a go-go, ah!”

As the people on the beach cheered and jumped fervently, Carl felt relaxed and ecstatic. Suddenly, however, there was an awkward ringing sound that interrupted Carl’s moment. Carl’s eyes opened quickly only to realize that his beach performance was nothing but a fantasy, a dream. The alarm clock continued to ring, and Carl slapped the snooze button carelessly with his hand.

It was 6:30 in the morning—a school day, and the sun began to peak out of the colorful skies, and birds chirped constantly. Carl, however, resisted getting out of bed. For one day, he wanted to ditch school and get away from everything. It was something he always wished for weeks before summer vacation came to an end.

He opened his drawer, grabbing an open back of Newport cigarettes from the inside. He grabbed his lighter, and inhaled the nicotine, exhaling the smoke from his mouth. He sighed as he began to ponder before he began to prepare for another day in school.

Carl narrated: Waking up in the morning for school every week is like emotional suicide. The worse thing about it is that my car has been acting stupid for weeks now. School is only 30 minutes away by car—an hour by foot. For weeks, I’ve been hoping to take a break from everything: my mom and her five-minute lectures about being responsible, Rose De Vil and her superfluous rules, Felix and the Moneybags, and even Alex and his snide comments towards Rufus.

Carl sighed as he forced himself out of bed. As he stretched, his shirt lifting up, exposing a trail of hair going down from his belly button. His hair was unkempt and his room seemed even worse, but he didn’t care.

For once, the Savages and I need to get away for a day—ditch school, even though that’s best during Senior Year, but who gives a shit? My father always tells me that the beaches are amazing in Portland, Oregon, but he never elaborates on it, since he works there almost every week. I guess it’s some confidential business I shouldn’t know about… but I’m sure my dad will allow me to use his van until my car gets back on track.

Carl burped as he exited his bedroom to head downstairs.

____________________

In Carl’s kitchen, his mother Karen continued to cook breakfast. Carl’s younger brother Caiden and his younger sister Charlotte sat at the table. Caiden and Charlotte innocently tampered with their plates, and the two argued after Caiden snatched Charlotte’s fork from her hand.

“Mom, Caiden took my fork,” Charlotte exclaimed. Karen continued to cook—waffles in the toaster, cheese and eggs scrambled on a frying pan, and bacon.

While Karen continued to cook, she replied, “Caiden, honey, give your sister her fork back.”

“Snitch,” Caiden whispered to Charlotte, who stuck her tongue out immaturely.

Caiden complied with her demand, and continued to play around before school. Meanwhile, an exhausted Carl slowly entered the kitchen in his night clothes. Karen turned around and scoffed, “Young man, why aren’t you dressed for school?”

“Dad was hogging the shower. Besides, I always come downstairs for breakfast before I get dressed,” Carl grabbed a piece of bacon from the plate, but Karen softly tapped his hand away, “Hey,”

Carl chuckled as he opened the refrigerator to grab the carton of concentrated orange juice. As he opened the carton, he poured it in a glass and began to sit with his siblings. Caiden commented, “Carl, you look weird,”

“Like you are every day,” Carl said, winking at Caiden.

Caiden replied, “I am not,”

“Are too,” Carl argued back immediately.

Charlotte began to defend Carl against Caiden—“Hey, leave Carl alone!”

“No, you snot swallower!” Caiden argued with Charlotte until Karen stopped the conflict as the children’s voices began to augment.

“Guys,” Karen admonished the three. “Knock it off, all right?”

The kitchen was silent, while Karen turned around back to cooking. Seconds later, Eric Touché entered the kitchen with professional attire, kindly greeting everyone. He walked to Karen, giving her a quick kiss.

“Daddy!” Charlotte yelled jovially, while Carl smiled as he continued to drink his orange juice.

“Good morning, love,” Eric said, giving Karen a smile on her face.

Eric approached Caiden and Charlotte, who were happy to see him. Eric gave a kiss on Charlotte’s cheek, and hugged Caiden. Eric walked to Carl, rubbing and playing with his untidy hair, and patting him on the shoulders.

“What’s up, sleepyhead? Feeling all right?” Eric asked Carl fervently.

Carl replied with the opposite tone, “Yeah—I guess it’s just a bad hair day.”

Karen began to interact with Eric, “You came home late, I was worried sick,”

Eric refused to speak of the drug dealing gig he’s involved in—he replied as he grabbed the coffee maker cup, pouring the coffee in a white mug. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, I should have called. The boss wanted me to work nightshift, so I didn’t think. I’ll be back home earlier tonight,”

“Is everything okay at work?” Karen asked.

Continuing to hide his job actions, Eric took a sip from the warm coffee, and responded, “Yeah, yeah. It’s just been a busy week—tons of phone calls, presentations—Max injured at the job.”

“Oh my god, is he okay?” Karen asked.

Eric shrugged, “He’s fine; he can’t leave his house for a while, but at least he has worker’s compensation. He thinks he’s getting too old, but I guess people lose energy now and then,”

Carl didn’t want to ask for his father’s car immediately, but he began to insinuate before he questioned Eric. “Um, speaking of energy—Dad, is it okay if I use your car for the next two days?”

Eric turned his face to Karen, who spoke for him. “What happened to your car?”

“Well,” Carl spoke hesitantly. “Let’s just say that the car may have lost a lot of gas this week.”

Eric replied, “Where’s the car now?”

“It’s outside,” Carl replied quickly. Karen sighed as she walked to the table, distributing food to the children.

Karen responded, “Carl, that’s the fourth time you’ve ran out of gas since we gave you that car. Where could you be possibly going with it?”

“Often to the movies with my friends or school,” Carl shrugged, and Karen refused to reply.

Eric placed his mug of coffee on the kitchen counter, while Carl stood up to approach him. From Eric’s tone, he seemed considerate yet disappointed in Carl. “Son, I placed at least $60 in your room for emergencies,”

“You know, I wondered what that was for,” Carl, at first, didn’t remember the purpose for the money—he was surprised.

“…I thought it was just destiny giving me what I love most,”

“Carl,” Karen crossed her arms as he continued to speak. “You know that was for emergencies only.”

Carl sighed, “That’s what I used it for—I thought Nicki Minaj would be at FYE for her album signing around 12 pm, but Trae called and told me it was 10 am; hence an emergency.”

Karen and Eric turned their faces to each other, while Eric sighed as he walked away from Carl’s direction, slowly sipping his coffee. Karen crossed her arms once again, “Now, Carl, your father and I agreed to give you that car because we thought you would be responsible enough to take care of it.”

“You guys also thought Caiden was responsible enough to wear underwear because he grew out of Pull-Ups 12 years ago, yet he still leaks the bed more than Rihanna leaks her music,” Carl crossed his arms and turned to Caiden.

Caiden gasped with shock and crossed his arms, and Charlotte laughed at Carl’s response, and gave Carl a high five. “Good one, Carl!”

Eric continued to sip his coffee, as he looked at Karen and raised his eyebrows—suddenly, he thought Carl made a good point.

“Listen, Carl,” Eric cleared his throat and placed his mug back on the counter. “You’re almost at your final year of high school—who knows, you may be a famous superstar, a businessman, or work as a security guard for Lindsay Lohan…”

Carl was puzzled at his statement, looking away and trying not to laugh. Eric continued his lecture, walking closer to Carl in a comforting gesture.

“…But, if you’re willing to see the real world, it takes a lot of responsibility and action to get what you want.”

“I know, Dad,” Carl said. “But, I really really need your van these next few days. I’m staying over Trae’s house on Friday for a, um, Grand Theft Auto night,”

“Carl, besides Pokémon, you hate playing video games,” Karen chuckled, replying as she looked at Eric. “You refused to take the Game Boy I gave you on your 5th birthday.”

“That was then….this is now,” Carl said, winking at his mother.

Karen continued, “And what about our Family Movie Night?”

“Mom, we watch the same movies every week,” Carl changed his posture, placing his arms around his waist, and responded very monotonously. “I don’t think I can handle watching you cry over Bambi every Friday night,”

            ~

FLASHBACK: In Carl’s living room, the family sat together on their large couch. As the movie, Bambi, almost reached its final scene, Karen watched with tears streaming down her cheeks. The children watched, sharing popcorn with Eric. Carl watched in annoyance, while hearing Karen sniffling, and crying softly.

Carl turned his face to his mother, asking, “Really, Mom?”

“It’s just so sad,” Karen blew her nose loudly, while interrupting the rest of the family. “Is there anymore Kleenex?”

~

Karen looked at Carl, guilty of her actions—“Well, it was one of those days. I was hungry, I was sad.”

After rolling his eyes at his mother, Carl decided to change the subject, continuing to beg Eric, “Dad, please. I promise I’ll bring it back in good condition, I swear.”

There was silence afterwards—Eric looked at Karen, who shrugged her shoulders. Eric knew Carl was honest (not really). He wasn’t exactly conscious of the money he hid in the trunk of his van. Therefore, he made his decision.

“All right, son,” Eric began to speak. “You can use my van…only for the next two days. Afterwards, we’ll figure out what’s wrong with your car.”

Carl smiled, feeling as if he had made an accomplishment. “Thanks, Dad, I owe you,”

After Carl departed from the kitchen, Karen turned her back, “Hurry up before you’re late!”

Carl quickly walked upstairs, whispering “Yes! Yes!” repeatedly, and entered his room to prepare for another day at school. Downstairs, Eric sighed with a smirk on his face. He turned around to Karen, wrapping his arm around her.

Karen began to speak, “You think he’ll last two days with that car?”

“Nope,” Eric smiled and immediately replied, holding his coffee mug in his right hand.

He remained unaware of the possible consequences he’d probably face—Hawk and his ultimatum and the reveal of his true identity as an accomplice in the drug market. For years, Eric has kept his life a secret, but at this point, Eric’s family came first.

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That morning, James A. Masters High School’s atmosphere was unusually stable. While students entered the building, they immediately approached their designated lockers or continued conversing with other peers. Alex Herrera, however, entered by himself. Despite his hopes of Gina entering, he remained annoyed of Rufus’s existence in The Savages.

Alex quickly grabbed his 2-inch binders, a red fabric pencil case, and closed his locker. Trae Ventura stood in his area, with a humorless expression on his face. His gesture demonstrated a mixture of desire and disappointment. Carelessly, he opened his right hand in front of Alex.

Amazed by Trae’s approach, Alex smiled nervously, greeting him, “Oh, h-hey Trae. What’s up, man?”

“Where’s my money?” Trae asked succinctly. He was serious and Alex began to chuckle nervously—he knew what he owed him.

Alex stuttered, “Um, w-what money? Did you drop it out of your pockets?”

“No, I think you dropped it,” Trae stood silently, “Along with your head.”

Alex remained puzzled by Trae’s confronting tone; his brown eyes moved down to the ground as he began to remember the movie theater mishap that occurred a week ago, before Gina’s feminist movement reached the school apex.

~

FLASHBACK: In the dark movie theater, Trae, Sydney, Carl, Lily, and Nate sat next to each other, saved two spots for Alex and Gina, and waited impatiently for the movie to start. A preview of an upcoming film, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials was projected in front of the large screen. Alex and Gina entered inside, walking immediately and carefully to Trae’s direction.

In Alex’s hands, he distributed the snacks next to Trae, and Gina placed the drinks on each cup holder. Trae looked up at Alex and Gina and commented, “You guys came just in time—we’re still at the previews.”

“Good, I thought we were being held up,” Alex said, as he looked at Gina with a smile. Gina blushed and moved next to Lily, who sat with Sydney and Carl.

Nate scoffed, “No pretzel bites, dude? Damn it.”

Alex sat at the middle next to Trae, who turned himself around with confidence. “Got the change?”

Alex grabbed the change left in his pocket, pulling it out with ease. Alex quickly handed it to Trae, who smiled and meticulously counted the money left over. He raised his eyebrow and chuckled softly.

“5 dollars and 5 cents? How much was everything?” Trae asked curiously.

Alex looked away, realizing what he did at the food court. “$24.95”

“And…how much did you give out?” Trae continued to ask him.

“$30,” Alex replied hesitantly.

Trae looked immediately at the change left in his hand, and he turned back to Alex, “Um, I know my brain isn’t a calculator, but I know that $40 minus $24.95 is $15.05. Where’s the $10?”

“I, uh, um,” Alex stuttered, looking away with guilt. Trae forced Alex to respond, “You w-wickedy-wickedy what?”

“I gave the cashier a tip,” Alex replied.

Trae was in shock. He began to yell in the movie theater, “You did what?!”

As the others in the theater forced Trae to hush, he looked around at everyone, and whispered, “You did what?”

Alex sighed, “I’m sorry, bro. The cashier was so cool, and I didn’t think you would care…”

“Care? Damn skippy!” Trae whispered aggressively. “Dude, my mom would kill me if I spent all of my money in one day. You owe me, man.”

Alex nodded his head, “Okay, I’ll give it back to you ASAP,”

“Hush, the movie’s starting!” Sydney whispered to an infuriated Trae, and a guilty Alex. Trae’s nostrils flared in sudden disappointment. He grabbed the popcorn from Carl, who continued eating the popcorn with haste.

“Give me the damn popcorn,” Trae grumbled under his breath. Pieces of popcorn flew down to the ground, and Carl looked at him in awe.

Trae grabbed a handful of the popcorn and shoved it into his mouth, and Carl raised his eyebrows up hastily.

~

“Trae, I promised you I would get your money back,” Alex sighed, looking at Trae with an apologetic expression. “Just be patient,”

“Patient? You want me to be patient?” Trae confronted. “N-n-n-no. I’ve been patient, waiting for a guy or a girl to hop on this Ventura rodeo. I have been patiently waiting for Orange is the New Black to come on Netflix. I was patiently waiting for gay marriage to be legal in America. I have been patient for three years, Alex. Three years. Three years, I’ve waited for Rihanna to release this new album. Bitch better have my album!”

Alex shrugged, suddenly agreeing with his reference, but he remained in shock with Trae’s aggressive tone.

“I have been patiently waiting so patiently that I don’t even have the patience to be patient!”

 Alex rolled his eyes and sighed, “T-Trae—”

“I’m so impatient, I’m losing my patience because I’m not patient enough to be patient, damn it!”

“Trae, calm do—” Alex was confused with Trae’s overdramatic behavior, but Trae interrupted, continuing to rant.

 “—You know, I get it. You used the $10 as a scheme to impress your potential girlfriend. You’re trying to impress Gina!” Trae began to smile, making assumptions.

Alex began to defend himself from Trae’s accusations, “No, no, no.”

Trae rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth, “Please, when is the last time you’ve ever done anything nice for someone?”

Alex began to think of a moment, but everything in his mind became opaque, “Well, what about when I let you borrow my Kim Kardashian and Ray J sex tape?”

“I was horny, and it looked like you recorded it with an Idaho potato,” Trae crossed his arms.

Alex continued to speak, “What about the Kanye West album I gave you in freshman year?”

“It was a rip-off rapper calling himself Kanye East,” Trae said.

“Okay, maybe I haven’t done any nice things in particular,” Alex shrugged. “But that doesn’t mean I can—”

Alex stopped speaking—Trae had turned to the other direction as he began to notice Joe giving certain glances at him from afar. He seemed unsure of how to react—he looked back suspiciously.

“What?” Alex asked while Trae continued to watch Joe.

Trae replied, “I don’t know—Joe’s eyeballing me,”

“What a creep.” Alex scoffed as he looked at Joe as well. “I don’t like him—or trust him at all,”

“Alex, unless it’s Pamela Anderson’s boobs or Taco Bell, you don’t like anything or anyone,” Trae stated.

Alex cleared his throat and walked closer to Trae, “Okay, that’s racist.”

“Stereotypical but true,” Trae shrugged and smiled carelessly.

Alex began to rub his set of hair, looking away from Trae as he responded, “Besides, I haven’t been to Taco Bell since…a day ago.”

Trae chuckled, but Alex continued to speak, “Plus, Joe’s been a nonfactor in the Savages anyway,”

Trae continued to look at Joe as he interacted with Nate, “He’s been pretty tight with Nate lately; I’m starting to wonder if he’s the reason why Nate’s been acting like a brat these past few weeks.”

“Nate was always a brat, though,” Alex whispered, and Trae shoved Alex’s abdomen with his elbow.

While Trae continued to stare at Joe, he began to glance back with a smile. His eyes and facial features began to unusually appeal to Trae. For a moment, Trae felt a physical connection with Joe, and he began to comment to Alex.

“He’s kind of cute,” Trae replied. His cheeks were flushed, and he began to slowly turn his face away from Joe, as if their eye contact was a strong magnetic force.

Alex raised his eyebrow, “I have the psych ward on speed dial, would you like me to make a special reservation for you?”

“Fuck you,” Trae chuckled with Alex. “You may think I’m crazy now, but you’ll see crazy if I don’t get my money,”

Alex rolled his eyes and groaned, deciding to depart from Trae’s space. However, Trae immediately began to follow Alex. He continued to pester Alex humorously, singing, “Bitch better have my money!”

“I hate you sometimes,” Alex said from a distance.

Joe and Nate watched Alex and Trae disappear from their sight—and Joe continued to smile as he turned to Nate, who seemed aware of his gestures.

“What are you going to do now?” Nate said.

Joe chuckled, “Let’s just say I have a way with words and looks—I know the best way to target Trae, and he’ll be too blind to notice it,”

“You think it’ll work on him?” Nate asked. He fixed the collar on his leather jacket, unbuttoned and on top of a red striped t-shirt.

Joe scoffed, “Are you kidding? I’ve watched this guy’s every move. He’ll kiss or fuck anything that walks.”

“Breadquanda approves,” Nate smiled, and Joe turned around, preparing for a new scheme directly for Trae. He knew what he wanted to do, and he believed it was the perfect way to get what he wanted—power. Trae wasn’t exactly the gullible type, unless he’s in a romantic position, but Joe wanted to put his gullibility to the test with no limits.

___________________

Inside of Rose De Vil’s office, Gina, Sydney and Lily had to face certain consequences, prior to their impromptu performance to promote feminism. The trio looked directly at Rose De Vil, who gave a stern expression to emphasize her disappointment and disgust with the girls.

“Sasha, Cloe, and Yasmin.” Rose smiled, making cultural references to the girls. Her hands were folded on table next to a steaming mug of coffee and organized papers.

Gina, Sydney, and Lily looked at each other and rolled their eyes as Rose continued to make insulting references at them. “The rejected Pussycat Dolls,”

“Rihanna, Britney, and—” Rose was interrupted by Lily, who bravely responded.

“—Why are we here?” Lily asked firmly.

Rose’s clear blue eyes fixated at the girls—she began to introduce her problem while pushing back from her office chair, hovering around her office as she spoke.

“You see, Cheetah Girls. You guys attend school 9 hours a day—students have it easy. I, on the other hand, spend 14 hours a day handling the school budget, getting in everyone’s business, clipping and polishing my toenails, and watching brats like you three influence the students to act like pregnant banshees. Sometimes I wish kids could walk in my shoes for once and see how hard it is admonishing a bunch of kids.”

Lily shrugged, bewildered of Rose’s statement, “Your point is?”

“My point is…” Rose slammed her desk with emphasis, while Gina, Sydney, and Lily looked at her in shock. The three were bewildered at what Rose was trying to convey, but as Rose continued, they listened.

“…Do you guys really think I have the energy to discipline you three for creating Girls Gone Wild: The Musical in the hallways yesterday?” Rose asked.

Sydney scoffed, “No one said you had to. Just let us go, and you won’t regret it.”

“Smart ass,” Rose rolled her eyes and continued to lecture the girls. “What the hell were you guys thinking?”

Gina began to reply to her question, “Considering the fact that the guys have been so rude and disrespectful to us, what were we supposed to do? Be submissive? I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey and I will not go that route…unless I’m aroused.”

“Oh, save the waterworks,” Rose rolled her eyes. “It’s called giving a report. You guys just can’t take over the school with your feminist views.”

“Seems like we already did,” Lily gave a smirk.

Rose offered a choice, “So, in order to atone for this situation, I’ll give you guys a fair choice. You can leave this office with a cup of coffee and a trip to detention tomorrow….”

“What the—” Sydney complained, while Lily and Gina turned each other with unpleasant expressions.

Or you can take a 4-day suspension and mandatory parent conference,” Rose said.

The office was silent, and the girls rolled her eyes and began to exit, taking Rose’s first choice in consideration. As the girls departed from the office, Lily stopped herself, turned around to Rose.

“Coffee?” Lily crossed her arms.

Rose sighed, placing a Styrofoam cup and top on the table. “Vanilla or black? No pun intended.”

Lily pursed her lips together, and demanded, “Vanilla, extra cream, extra Splenda.”

________________

In the afternoon, students began to prepare for dismissal—outside of the courtyard, the leaves were pushed to the concrete streets by the gust of wind. In their designated spot, The Savages sat together watching students exiting the school.

Trae unscrewed the red cap from a Coca-Cola bottle, taking a large sip. Joe continued to give random glances, and Trae looked away awkwardly.

“I haven’t felt this miserable since Justin Timberlake left NSYNC,” Carl said. From the look on his face, it was obvious he was exhausted and annoyed.

Trae replied as he watched others pass, “They say junior year could be your worst.”

“Even worse than Justin Timberlake leaving NSYNC?” Carl asked desperately.

Alex rolled his eyes, turning himself to Carl’s direction, “Carl, get over it, it was 13 years ago,”

“Well, when Marisol left, we didn’t complain,” Carl crossed his arms, making a defensive response. Alex closed his eyes, attempting to control his emotions.

“Okay, guys, can we just chill out for a bit?” Trae asked. “In the next two months, we’ll be able to relax, eat, sleep…scrub our feet.”

The Savages all looked at Trae and at each other, puzzled with his comment. However, Carl had an idea—he knew it was at an inopportune time, but he realized it was necessary for him, and the entire group.

“We should head out on a road trip,” Carl suggested.

The reaction of Carl’s idea was mixed—Trae looked at Carl to question his idea, “A road trip where?”

“I’ve always wanted to go to a beach in Portland, Oregon. My dad often goes there for his job, but I’ve never been there before,” Carl commented.

Nate disapproved at first; he expressed his disagreement with Carl’s idea by replying, “Who goes to the beach in 60 degree weather?”

“A lunatic,” Joe replied.

Sydney was irritated by Joe and Nate’s friendship—was it really true? Was Joe only using Nate as a way to bolster his scheme? Sydney sighed and decided to comment on Carl’s road trip suggestion. She folded her arms and leaned back on the picnic table.

“Maybe Carl’s right,” Sydney continued. “We do need a break from this school.”

“I don’t mind it,” Gina said. “As long as it’s not tonight—I have Empire and How to Get Away With Murder to catch up with. I can’t miss it.”

“Tomorrow,” Carl suggested once more. The Savages expressed a diffident reaction. Lily and Sydney turned to Gina, and scoffed.

Lily replied, “Well, Rose De Vil is holding us hostage tomorrow for our feminist movement. It’s either that or a 4-day suspension.”

“Yeah, and I haven’t ditched school before,” Gina shrugged. “I’d rather keep my perfect attendance.”

Rufus denied Carl’s suggestion, “I have mandatory football practice. Coach Radnor’s been on my ass for our game next month.”

Alex salvaged a lack of respect for Rufus; the more Rufus was around, Alex began to care less for him. In a nonchalant manner, Alex placed his left leg on top of his right knee while he sat on the picnic chair. He replied, “That’s what it’s like being a quarterback, some people don’t know how to deal with it.”

The thought of Alex disliking him was opaque to Rufus. He glanced at Alex, who looked away to Trae, who began to defend Carl’s idea.

“So, what are we going to do, bitch out?” Trae asked the entire group. “Guys, Rose De Vil is not scary; why should we worry about what she does when we’re against everything she does. Besides, for one day of the week, we wouldn’t have to face any drama with the jocks.”

“Or the Moneybags,” Alex said.

“The cheerleaders,” Gina continued.

Sydney responded, “Or Mrs. Stansfield’s periodic fits of rage.”

~

FLASHBACK: In Mrs. Stansfield’s Algebra II class, Sydney, alongside Alex and Nate, witnessed the teacher officially reach her limits with her students. Sydney was taken aback by the teacher’s belligerent behavior and attitude, while the students were silent and confused with her behavior.

“Shut the hell up!” Mrs. Stansfield yelled out. She pushed down items from her desk to the floor, including her ThinkPad computer.

Sydney was in shock, considering the fact that Mrs. Stansfield was often a calm teacher.

“Is this bitch crazy?” A student whispered to Alex, who shrugged.

~

“Come on, guys,” Carl persuaded the Savages. “We only live once; let’s at least make the most of this fucked up year and give us something to remember for the rest of our lives. In a year, we’ll be graduating.”

It was silent, but Rufus stuck to his decision. Trae smiled at Carl, while Nate began to accept it. The Savages all agreed with Carl, who smiled at their answer.

“I’ll go, but how are we going to keep this from our parents?” Nate asked.

Carl shrugged, “Just say you’re headed to a sleepover or something; make it realistic.”

“Everything I tell my mother, she believes. I told her I was going to an Amy Winehouse concert, and I said it was her hologram,” Nate shrugged. “She’s stupid.”

Trae laughed, and confidently responded, “It won’t be that hard for me to talk to my parents.”

___________________

Ironically, it was difficult. Trae wore a black and grey Nike t-shirt with black sweatpants as he stood in the hallways of his house. As Trae continuously knocked on his parents’ door, he could hear unusual sounds. At first, he ignored it, but the volume of the noises began to augment. Trae’s mother Stacey, and his stepfather, Sean, were making sexual noises.

Trae continued to knock, “Mom? Sean?”

“Go away, Trae!” Sean and Stacey yelled in unison.

Trae sighed and continued to knock, “Come on, guys, I need to talk to you!”

It was silent, and Trae began to use more force with his hand. He slammed on the brown, wooden door, “Mom! Mooooooommmmm!”

Trae’s mother, Stacey, partially opened the door with anger. She wore a thin, pink gown that covered her chest. Her hair was wrapped up in a ponytail, and Trae looked at her, while she began to ask a question.

“What do you want, Trae?”

“Mom, I just wanted to—” Trae had stopped himself, as he looked a bit further in her bedroom, and looked at her mother’s apparel. “—Did I interrupt something?”

“Trae—” Stacey watched him chuckle and smile, and she crossed her arms.

Trae whispered, “Aw, suki suki, now!”

“Trae, what do you want?” Stacey asked.

“Look, I just wanted to let you guys know I won’t be here tomorrow,” Trae stated. “I’m bunking with Carl tomorrow night.”

“Okay, is that it?” Stacey asked in a complete rush. Trae was surprised by the response, and he nodded.

“Good, now, bye!” Stacey closed the door in his face, and Trae jumped at one point. As soon as Trae turned around to his room, he gave an evil smile.

As Stacey walked back into her bedroom, Sean stood up from the bed, shirtless. His body was toned, muscular, and greasy. He walked to Stacey, asking, “Are you sure you want us to have another him?”

Stacey looked back at the door, and chuckled softly. She pushed Sean down to the bed, pressing her lips to his. She placed her body on top of Sean and continued to kiss him.

~

Trae picked up his iPhone from its charger, and dialed Carl’s number. In Carl’s bedroom, Nicki Minaj’s “The Night Is Still Young” diffused through his phone speakers. Carl perused the name on his phone, and he immediately responded.

“Yo,” Carl greeted him.

Trae walked around his room, continuing to smile with accomplishment, “Mission completed.”

Carl approved—he raised himself from his queen-sized bed, and replied, “Great. Portland, here we come.”

Trae chuckled, “Damn skippy.”

___________________

The next morning, Trae immediately prepared for the road trip to Oregon. He picked out a myriad of clothes to wear. He wore a Notorious B.I.G. shirt that went down to his jeans. After brushing his hair and teeth, he sprayed a Michael Kors fragrance all over himself, and slipped on purple and orange sneakers that matched his sunglasses and his baseball cap, printed with “Fucking Problems,” that he tilted down.

After he looked himself in the mirror, Trae departed from his house. Trae carelessly jumped down 5 steps, and with confidence, he walked on the concrete sidewalks.

“Young and living fun, huh. Sure look down and call it dumb, huh. I could still see the sun, huh. Do you remember 21, huh?” Trae sang. “Can I stay in the way, huh? Grow up today, huh? Can you really blame, huh? Shit, you can leave or stay home.”

~

In Gina’s bedroom, her pink wallpaper was covered with shelves of novels and souvenirs. As she gazed deeply into her mirror, she picked up her red lipstick, slowly placing it around her lips. Along with Trae, she sang along.

“When the world feels like it's closing in, and you don't know what you know, and you think about what's holding you—it’s relatives and close.” The two sang together. “Just leave it all behind. You gotta get away, you gotta get away everybody.”

~

Joe began to walk with Nate, passing the playground and numerous stores in their direction. Joe turned to Nate with a smirk, singing, “See the look in my eye, huh? I gotta get it out, huh?”

“I don't care if they stare, huh. I know life's not fair, huh,” Nate sang.

“I’m gonna play while I'm here, huh. I gotta get it out, huh!” Joe sang forcefully.

“Just watch me run away now,” Nate sang.

~

After Gina dressed herself, she departed from her house, saying, “You know, sometimes, you just gotta…”

In another direction, Lily and Sydney walked outside of Seattle, Washington together, in close proximity to Trae and Gina. The duo was excited for their road trip, and they screamed, with the Savages, “Hey! Run away from… home! Run away from…”

“Young, fresh n’ new,” Trae sang.

Home!” Lily and Sydney chanted together. “Run away from…home! Run away from…”

The Savages all sang, while Gina ad-libbed—“Got to get away. I’ve got to get away. I’ve got to get away, yeah.”

~

Alex kept himself prepared—inside of his large backpack, he placed snacks and drinks for everyone. After zipping it, he walked outside, only to discover Zachary walking to his direction. Alex nodded his head and smiled at Zach, while the two harmonized together.

“When the world feels like it's closing in, and you don't know what you know, and you think about what's holding you—it’s relatives and close.”

“Just leave it all behind. You gotta get away, you gotta get away everybody.”

~

Carl attentively placed and grasped his hands on the steering wheel of his father’s van. Behind him, there were a myriad of seats and spaces for the Savages to enter in. Carl’s hands were placed on the steering wheel like the position of a clock—from 10:00 to 2:00.

He put the key into the car’s ignition, and the engine rumbled—Carl looked closely into the windshield, preparing to drive.

The Savages all sang while Carl ad-libbed, ““Got to get away. I’ve got to get away. I’ve got to get away, yeah.”

~

“But I’ve gotta be young, fresh n’ new!” Trae sang, approaching Lily, Sydney, and Gina. The four altogether walked to an empty parking lot, a sign that they were closer to James A. Masters High School.

Lily and Sydney chanted, “Hey! Run away from home!”

Joe, Nate, Zachary, and Alex merged together while walking to the parking lot, “Run away from…”

“Young, fresh n’ new!” Trae chanted.

“Home!” The Savages sang. “Run away from home! You gotta get away, everybody!”

~

The remaining Savages stood together, waiting for Carl to approach their direction. Nate was impatient; he rolled his eyes and looked at his Timex watch. He complained, “To think that Carl would be professional enough to meet us here on time,”

“He’ll be here,” Trae responded in Carl’s defense. “He’s driving a van,”

To the Savages’ surprise. Carl slowly and carefully entered the parking lot with the white-coated Chevrolet van. As the Savages noticed the physical features of the van, they were shocked. Carl stopped and rolled the bulletproof windows down.

“All aboard, fuckers!” Carl yelled out.

Trae looked at Alex, and turned back to the passenger seat. The duo immaturely ran and yelled, “Dibs!”

After Trae ran quickly, he opened the handle and jumped into the front seat next to Carl. Alex, disappointed and amused, yelled, “Damn you, Trae.”

Gina, Lily, and Sydney rolled their eyes, commenting in unison, “Boys.”

“Why did I even approve of this?” Nate asked Joe in disappointment. With his arms crossed and direction towards the Chevrolet van, Joe patted his back.

“In a bit, you’ll see why,” Joe winked at him and walked towards the van with a smirk.

___________________

At James A. Masters High School, sans the Savages, the students entered normally—it was unusual because it was barely a normal day at school. Inside of Trae’s first period classroom, Mr. Eric Baxter began to instruct his class, deprived of Trae, Gina, and Joe’s presence.

“Okay,” Mr. Baxter walked to his chalkboard. He wrote boldly, with a small piece of chalk. “Imperialism.

“When all of you hear this word, what do you think of?” Mr. Baxter asked the entire class. Viktor raised his hand, and everyone began to look at him. Viktor felt tense and awkward—there was a huge burden on his shoulder and he doubted he could get rid of it.

“Yes, Viktor,” Mr. Baxter pointed at him.

Viktor looked around at everyone who continued to stare at him. Attempting to ignore the glances, he replied.

“Um, pure control?” Vik answered briefly.

Mr. Baxter approved of his answer, “Very good. I know all of you are being taught this in Mr. Baldwin’s History class, but our new novel is pretty much based on this term—imperialism.”

The teacher grabbed the small novel from his desk. The front cover illustrated a colorful depiction of a dark green forest, with a stream of green light blazing through the trees’ leaves. Mr. Baxter held “Heart of Darkness,” a novel by Joseph Conrad.

“Our new book is called Heart of Darkness,” Mr. Baxter said. “This is a college level book, so it may be difficult for all of us at first. We will independently analyze this today and we will have an open discussion on it on Monday. So, let’s get started, shall we?”

 After Mr. Baxter distributed the books to the students, he noticed the small amount of students in the classroom. Trae, Gina, and Joe’s seats were all empty.

“Where is everybody?” Mr. Baxter asked the remaining students. It was silent, and Viktor noticed Trae’s unusual absence. He sighed and began to read his novel.

__________________

The next few hours were awkward without the Savages. In the steamy men’s locker room, the jocks prepared for their typical practice for their next game. Shirtless jocks passed by an infuriated, concerned Matt, who interacted with Rufus.

“I don’t see the issue, Matt,” Rufus commented. Matt expressed his disappointment in Rufus for joining the Savages. “It’s not like I actually quit the team,”

“Ruf, don’t you get it? We live in a world where people do not give a fuck about your opinions,” Matt lectured. “Unless you’re an old woman co-hosting The View.

Rufus scoffed and continued to place his football uniform on his body. Matt continued to lecture Rufus based on his decision.

“What opportunities can you get in the Savages that you can’t get on this team?” Matt asked.

“Freedom,” Rufus shrugged.

Matt sighed, “I’m shocked to hear that from the star quarterback of the Redhawks. You’re telling me you’d rather risk everything you have?”

“Radnor has been on my ass about everything. Ever since Zach quit, he pinpoints everything I do. I get it, I’m the quarterback, but I have limits, too.”

“News flash, bro,” Matt continued to lecture him. “Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It took me months to years to actually be on this team. I’ll be damned if I’m going to change my life for some group of students who’d rather fuck up their lives than be normal students.”

“Matt, you used to be in Chess Club,” Rufus commented. “The only reason why Radnor chose you because you were a good kicker. Ever since you joined, you haven’t done anything but kick. I don’t need you to lecture me whenever I do something wrong; just because you aren’t quarterback, it shouldn’t give you the right to judge my decisions. Judge yours—cheating on Iesha with other girls and thinking you’re cool. How about that?”

It was silent, and Matt was appalled by Rufus’s confrontation. Rufus, all of a sudden, realized he offended Matt.

“Matt, I’m sor—” Rufus said compassionately, until Matt interrupted him.

“Nope. You’re right,” Matt said sarcastically. “You don’t have to take advice from me. The only guy that ever had your back. Just tell me, though, Rufus—where are your friends now?”

Matt walked away from Rufus in anger, and Rufus sighed at his response. He knew The Savages left him behind. 

__________________

The white Chevrolet van drove swiftly down a barren Seattle road—inside of the van, the Savages were enjoying (or disapproving of) their road trip to Portland, Oregon. Trae and Carl sat together in front—behind them, Sydney, Zachary, and Lily sat in the first row. In the second row, Alex and Gina sat together. In the third and final row, Joe and Nate sat next to each other.

“…And then I told Watermelondrea, “Yo, your edges are falling off,” Nate began to converse with Joe, while Lily used her nail file on her polished fingernails. She blew residue from her fingers off and continued.

The others were ironically bored, while Nate discussed an encounter with former rival, Watermelondrea.

“Bravo, Nathan, Bravo,” Sydney said sarcastically. Nate looked at Sydney, and rolled his eyes. After turning back to Joe, he began to whisper.

“You really should check her,” Joe encouraged. “Don’t you hate when she treats you like a kid?”

Nate looked from the side and replied, “I guess.”

Joe continued to influence him, “Do something about it. Not here, not now, but whenever.”

“Okay,” Nate complied with his suggestion. Meanwhile, the Savages were exhausted after 1 hour of driving. Alex began to ask Carl a question as he lied down on his side of the van.

“Carl, how far is Portland from Seattle?” Alex asked pitifully.

Carl, continuing to focus on the empty road, replied, “About 2 hours away,”

Trae was concerned; he turned himself around to Carl, asking, “Are you sure you know how to get there?”

“I literally printed the directions from Google Maps,” Carl replied. “Trust me, guys. Relax, and we’ll be there in no time.”

Trae looked out of his window, watching the trees and grass that passed them by. At that point, there was no sign of any location or any available place. Trae sighed, grabbing the USB cord, connecting it to his iPhone.

As he plugged the cord into the car, he asked, “How about some music, ya’ll?”

“Play some RuPaul!” Nate demanded, causing other members to give suggestions as well. Trae looked at Carl, who nodded his head.

“No, matter of fact, we’ll take turns, kindergarteners,” Trae commented. He searched for a song on his Spotify app—as soon as he found the best choice, he clicked “Ready or Not” by the Fugees.

As the instrumental music began to play, Alex looked at Gina and raised his eyebrow, “Trae, what the fuck is this?”

“A song,” Trae replied briefly and sarcastically. Gina, Lily, and other members began to harmonize, humming to the song.

“Oh, yes, Trae,” Gina cheered. “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide…”

As Alex heard the lyrics, he became familiar with the song. He smiled, “Oh, oh!”

“I’m gonna find you and take it slowly,” Gina sang along with the music. As Gina continued to sing the hook, “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide,” Lily unexpectedly adds her own song.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Lily sang from “Ready or Not” by Bridgit Mendler. “Hey, hey, hey, ooh.”

“I’m gonna find you and make you want me,” Gina continued.

Lily began to sing, and everyone, sans Carl, who continued to watch the road, watched her. “I'm the kind of girl who doesn't say a word, who sits at the curb and waits for the world, but I'm about to break out, about to break out. I'm like a crook tonight.”

“I caught you staring at me and I was thinking clearly, and now I'm like a bee and I'm huntin' for the honey, and I'm kind of shy, but you're super fly, yeah. I could be your kryptonite.”

“Like oh, oh, oh,” The Savages sang along.

“Light my heart up, baby, like a matchstick,” Lily sang, while the Savages continued, “Oh, oh, oh,”

“And hit the gas quick,” Lily sang. Gina joined in the song, and in unison, the Savages altogether performed.

“Ready or not, here I come. Where you at? The night is young. In the crowd, the music’s loud, but I will find you, yeah,” Lily and the Savages sang.

Gina sang, “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide. I’m gonna find you, and make you want me.”

In the passenger’s seat, Trae watched everyone perform and dance from his rear-view mirror. With no car behind them, Trae garnered the confidence to rap along with the Savages.

“Yo, I play my enemies like a game of chess, where I rest,” Trae rapped. “No stress, if you don't smoke sess, lest. I must confess: my destiny's manifest. In some Gore-Tex and sweats I make treks like I'm homeless.”

Joe nodded his head to the song, while sitting next to Nate, and Zachary smiled as he stood behind Trae.

“Rap orgies with Porgy and Bess; capture your bounty like Elliot Ness, yes. Bless you if you represent the crew, but I'll hex you with some witch's brew if you're doo-doo, voodoo. I can do what you do, easy. Believe me; fronting brothers give me hee-bee-gee-bees. So, while you’re imitating Al Capone, I’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone,” Trae rapped.

“Ready or not, here I come. Where you at? The night is young. In the crowd, the music’s loud, but I will find you, yeah,” Lily and the Savages sang.

Gina sang, “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide. I’m gonna find you, and make you want me.”

“You can't run away, from these styles I got, oh baby, hey baby, cause I got a lot, oh yeah,” Gina sang. Alex began to sing along, and Gina looked at him and smiled. “And anywhere you go, my whole crew's gonna know baby, hey baby. You can't hide from the block, oh no.”

Trae and Lily sang, “Ready or not, here I come, here I come. You're like a breath of fresh air in my lungs; you and me dance from the night to the dawn. Ready or not, here I come, boy it's on.”

Carl immediately stopped the car—he had the complete urge to jump out of his car and dance. At first, everyone was worried, but the moment continued as The Savages cheered, exiting out of the van. The Savages danced—the girls carelessly shook their buttocks while performing.

“Ready or not, here I come. Where you at? The night is young. In the crowd, the music’s loud, but I will find you, yeah,” Lily and the Savages sang.

Gina sang, “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide. I’m gonna find you, and make you want me.”

“Ready or not,” Gina and Lily sang.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh,” Trae and Alex sang together, dancing along with Zachary, who felt a sudden enjoyment and found pleasure in Trae’s company.

“Ready or not,”

“Oh oh oh oh oh oh,”

The Savages chanted together, “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide. In the crowd, the music’s loud, but I will find you,”

“Ready or not,” Lily ended the song, augmenting cheers and applause from the Savages. Trae and Zach laughed with each other, and Joe attempted to keep himself at a close proximity, ensuring that he gets Trae’s attention one way or another.

Carl chuckled, “All right, guys, let’s get back in the car before someone sees us,”

_________________

Back at James A. Masters High School—around 11:30 pm—students remained in their designated fourth period classrooms. Devoid of any commotion or verbal communication, what could be heard was silent whispers, mostly from the inside of the locked janitor’s closet. Dirty Dan Daniels stood inside of the closet; his eyes were closed shut as he felt the wet, tingling sensation below his belt.

He softly moaned and winced, “Fuck, yeah,”

Below Dirty Dan was a student—a nerdy, gay type—who was submissive and easy to persuade. The student’s head moved back and forth in slow motion, as he continued to pleasure Dirty Dan with his mouth.

Dirty Dan enfolded his soft, veiny hands onto the student’s head of hair, thrusting slowly.

“Oh, fuck!” Dirty Dan whispered out of extreme satisfaction. At that moment, however, Dirty Dan pushed the student’s head from his pelvis. He pulled up his Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs, and he zipped up his black jeans.

Dirty Dan gave a sigh of relief, “Whew,”

“Now will that encourage you to help me with my Spanish homework?” Dan asked the student.

The student kept his knees on the floor, pulling his head up to Dirty Dan, “Si, papi,”

Dirty Dan chuckled, in an amusing and sexual tone, “Now, that’s what I like to hear,”

“I’ll give you your homework back on Monday,” the innocent student replied timidly. Dirty Dan nodded his head.

From his pocket, Dirty Dan grabbed a handful of Kleenex-brand tissues. He threw them in front of the student, demanding, “Get yourself cleaned up before the janitor thinks it’s Elmer’s Glue.”

Dirty Dan patted the student’s back and continued, “We should do that more sometimes, my man,”

The student looked at the floor, and began to clean everything with the tissues. Meanwhile, Dirty Dan looked back and forth, ensuring that no staff member, teacher, or principal was in sight. As Dan sneaked out of the janitor’s closet, leaving the student inside, he walked warily to his locker before he returned to his classroom.

However, the act of entering his combination was interrupted by a woman’s voice, “Daniel Daniels,”

Dirty Dan turned, discovering Principal Rose De Vil’s voice, and he smiled nervously, “Hi, Principal De Vil,”

Rose De Vil crossed her arms and commented, “We need to talk. Come to my office, please.”

Dirty Dan feared the feasible consequences; he sighed while biting his lip and looking up, pondering about what he had just done. Was it about the janitor’s closet? Was it about anything else? He wouldn’t know until De Vil addressed him about it.

________________

It was 12:00 pm, and the Savages were still nowhere; in the white van, “Problem” by Natalia Kills played through the car speakers, based on Zachary’s choice of song. In the passenger’s seat, Trae felt a sense of exhaustion and starvation. It was difficult for him to handle Zachary, Lily, and Alex’s loud singing.

“I’m your dream girl, this is real love, but you know what they say about me,” Lily sang.

Zachary and Alex yelled and sang along, “That girl is a problem, girl is a problem, girl is a problem, problem,”

“Okay, can you guys stop singing for a second?” Trae said. He touched the temples of his head, rubbing it gently to ease the aching pain. Zachary gathered a bit of compassion for Trae, patting him on the back at one point.

Carl turned to ask a question, “What’s wrong, Trae?”

“I have a headache, and I think it’s because I haven’t eaten anything today,” Trae said.

Nate commented, sarcastically, “I’m sure there’s a big cock waiting for you right around the corner.”

Joe, alongside other members of the Savages began to laugh. Sydney rolled her eyes and turned to the front of the car. Trae took the courage to respond to Nate’s sardonic question.

“No, thank you,” Trae replied. “You’ve choked on too many; I wouldn’t want to take your title.”

The Savages gasped and laughed hysterically at Trae’s comeback. Gina and Lily laughed and yelled, “Boom!”

Sydney, who controlled her laughter, commented with shock, “Trae!”

“I’m sorry,” Trae replied. “I get bitchy when I don’t eat anything around this time.”

Nate responded to Trae’s comeback, “Dude, I was talking about piece of chicken!”

“That’s even worse, my man,” Alex winked at Nate, who rolled his eyes and remained silent for the rest of the drive.

Trae’s stomach grumbled, and he grimaced, “Shit, there has to be a pit stop around or something.”

“Do you think there’s a Taco Bell around this way?” Alex asked Carl and Trae boldly. Trae rolled his eyes and turned himself to Alex’s area, giving a serious expression on his face.

Alex shrugged, “Just wondering,”

Carl noticed an unusual gas station in their direction—“Here’s a gas station; hopefully, there’s something for everyone in there,”

Carl slowly turned the van to the right, entering the rural gas station and placing the van to an empty fuel station. The gas station was empty; no one was available for gas. Carl stopped the car and turned to the Savages.

“I’ll fill up the gas tank so the van won’t fuck us over when we get to Oregon,” Carl stated; he turned to Trae, whose stomach began to grumble. “Come on, Hungry-Man.”

The two departed from the car and entered the gas station store. Zachary watched them, and he continued to ponder about Trae. Prior to his fantasy of kissing him, Zachary found it difficult to remove the lingering images from his mind.

_______________

Carl and Trae strolled through the empty stations to enter the gas station’s store. However, the door sign was turned to CLOSED. Trae groaned and faced Carl, who nodded his head and pulled the door open.

“Bullshit,” Carl whispered.

As the two entered, the counter was empty, but noises—moaning noises—could be heard from afar. Trae’s eyes became narrow in bewilderment; they darted quickly back and forth as the noises increased through each walk inside.

“Fuck me, baby!” A girl said from afar, moaning loudly.

“Hello?” Carl yelled out. There was no response at all, but Trae continued to hear the voices.

A girl continued to moan. Behind the counter, the closet was open, giving a bit of yellow light. Inside of that closet, a boy, with ginger-blonde hair wore his uniform shirt. His pants were stripped down as he sat down, while a girl—brown haired, thin and almost attractive—sat on top of the guy’s legs.

She moved in a circular motion, thrusting rapidly while the guy allowed her to. He grabbed his buttocks, but his eyes were closed as the encounter continued. Trae and Carl tilted their heads slowly to see the commotion, and his eyes were scarred.

“Holy shit,” Carl commented, trying to remove the image out of his head. “Hello? Hello?”

The duo continued to have sexual relations, and Trae became irritated. “I got this,” he told Carl.

Trae slammed the counter, “Aye, yo, Ed Sheeran! Can we have some motherfucking service in this bitch?!”

As soon as the duo noticed there was company, the female cashier jumped off of the male cashier and immediately dressed themselves up. Trae shook his head with a feeling of disbelief and disgust. The male cashier immediately put his pants back on and jumped to the front of the counter.

“Welcome to Good Gas, how may I accompany you guys today?” The cashier stated professionally. Carl looked at his engraved name tag—his name was Kyle. He was much taller, more attractive up close. Kyle, however, was almost sweaty and his hair was unkempt.

“I see you’ve done a little accompanying of your own,” Trae turned his nose at Kyle, shaking his head while Carl tapped him.

Carl turned to him, “Do you have to be so evil, Trae?”

“I’m hungry!” Trae yelled. Carl pointed to the opposite direction.

“Go get your snacks, damn it,” Carl grumbled under his breath. Trae rolled his eyes and turned his head to Kyle, staring at him up and down and shaking his head.

Carl began to speak to Kyle, “Sorry about that, he’s not usually this grumpy.”

Kyle quickly responded, “It’s fine, don’t worry,” he chuckled nervously.

It was awkward at one point, prior to the unusual eye contact between Carl and Kyle. During that time, Trae walked to every aisle searching for snacks. Along the way, he grabbed 3 wrapped packs of Pop-Tarts, flavors consisting of Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Hot Fudge Sundae, and Strawberry. He grabbed a pack of Little Debbie’s Powdered Donuts, Butterscotch Krimpets, and Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. He walked to the drinks, snatching a bottle of Dasani Water and a bottle of PowerAde.

“So, is there anything you need?” Kyle said.

Carl replied, “Oh, I’m just here to pay for the regular gasoline for my van out there,”

As he placed $4.49 on the table, Kyle placed the money in the register and gave a smirk. “You know I’d prefer you’d get a good deal using the super gasoline for even less cash here than you do anywhere else!”

“Really?” Carl seemed intrigued. “Not like Sunoco or BP?”

“Yeah,” Kyle seemed convincing. “Here, it’s only about $3.49 for a limited time, so you should definitely take it,”

“All right, then,” Carl shrugged, and Kyle distributed change to him. “I should come here more often. Do you own this station?”

Kyle responded, “Yeah. My dad made this place with his bare hands, and he passed it on to me to take over. I’m a current college student, so it’s somewhat beneficial for my tuition, not as much, though. Are you in college?”

Despite being flattered, Carl began to stutter—he knew he was younger than Kyle from what he assumed, and he responded, “High school senior,”

Kyle approved, “Fair enough. Have you thought of any colleges yet?”

“Kind of,” Carl shrugged. “I’m not sure if I’m into the ivy league or campus scene—I’m thinking of fashion school or something,”

“Really?” Kyle asked. “What a coincidence—my girlfriend Alison is majoring in the fashion field,”

Carl chuckled, “That’s weird, I know a girl named Alison who wanted to major in fashion.”

During that moment, the female cashier walked to Kyle, “Baby, I’m still horny, come—”

The female cashier looked at Carl and sighed, “Oh, we still have company.”

Kyle was annoyed, sighing at the female cashier, who spoke in a French accent, “Look, Alison, we have a business to run. All right, babe?”

“Fuck business, just fuck me,” Alison whispered in French, “Vous savez que vous voulez me baiser encore.”

TRANSLATION: You know you want to fuck me again.

As she continued to touch down Kyle’s body, Kyle resisted, pushing himself away from her. Carl remained confused, but as he looked deeply at her face, he looked down at her name tag. Carl realized the familiarity and was shocked.

“Alison? Alison Montana?” Carl asked curiously.

Alison turned around, giving a sassy reply, “That’s Alison Montserrat to you,”

“Montser-what?” Carl was bewildered. He knew who she was, and it was years since they’ve reunited.

Kyle looked at Alison and Carl and asked, “Wait, you guys know each other?”

“She was my babysitter,” Carl said—somewhat embarrassed by his response. “She used to watch me and my little brother when we were younger.”

Alison grabbed a Marlboro cigarette box from behind her, carelessly opening the pack to smoke a cigarette. She placed the cigarette in her mouth, and lit it up with a red lighter. While blowing smoke in Carl’s direction, she replied with her French accent.

“I’m quite relieved that I’m not in that predicament anymore, twerp,” Alison said, flipping her hair in a different direction.

“After all of the guys you’ve fucked and sucked in my house, when you thought I didn’t know, I’m not surprised you’re relieved,” Carl continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a STD either.”

Alison gasped at his response, and Kyle turned around to Alison, hoping the assumption wasn’t true. Alison shook her head, “You little piece of shit, where’s your father? Selling more drugs?”

“Fuck yourself,” Carl confronted; he finally had the ability to confront Alison after years of torment as a child.

Kyle replied nervously, “Well, um, I’m glad we’re all getting to know each other—or not, I guess?”

Trae placed a myriad of food items on the counter, while he ate a small bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. While chewing, everyone began to look at him awkwardly, including Carl. Trae mutually glanced and asked, “What? I’m hungry.”

Alison looked at Trae in disgust and scoffed and turned to Kyle.

“Don’t worry, my man, these are all on me, no pay,”

“Really?” Trae asked fervently, and Kyle nodded his head. Immediately, Trae’s attitude changed, “You know what, I like you. You smart, you loyal, you’re professional. You respect when a brother’s hungry.”

“Gorillas gotta eat, too,” Alison snidely stated.

Aware that Alison’s comment was directed towards him, Trae chuckled at one point and turned to Alison, “Who are you calling a gorilla?”

“I mean, I do have to respect the animal species,” Alison shrugged. “Like I said, gorilla.”

Trae approached Alison, but Carl tried to pull him back, “You long-haired flamingo-neck Regina George-looking heifer,”

As the two began to argue, Carl and Kyle looked at each other and tried to stop Trae and Alison.

“Trae, chill out!” Carl calmly demanded. “Don’t mind her,”

“I’m cool, I’m cool. I don’t mind her, but I got a question for her.” Trae began to ask an insulting remark. “How many rats and opossums are up that hair of yours, honey?”

Alison yelled at Trae in French, “Vous morceau fou de merde! Kanye West!”

TRANSLATION: You crazy piece of shit! Kanye West!

Trae turned to Carl, preparing to retaliate, “Did she just go Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? on me, Carl? She just went Lady Marmalade on me, Carl, and I heard that Kanye West shit, don’t be racist.”

“Trae—calm down! Get your shit and get back in the van,” Carl demanded.

“Fine,” Trae looked at Alison one last time and turned to Kyle, “Can I have a bag, sir?”

Kyle nodded his head, grabbing a large paper bag with “Good Gas” centered on it. After Kyle placed all of his items inside, Trae grabbed it and smiled at Kyle, “Thank you, sir.”

Trae gave one final glance at Alison and walked away—Alison scoffed and insulted him while he departed, “Asshole.”

“Get your head out of it, honey!” Trae lifted his right hand, using his middle finger for retaliation. Trae pushed the door open, with the bells jingling as it closed.

Carl sighed, “Sorry about that. Thanks for everything…um… Kyle?”

“Yeah,” Kyle gave a short smile, while preparing to ask for his name.

“Oh, Carl,” he introduced himself. “Have a great day. I don’t know what to say about you, Alison.”

Alison scoffed, and Kyle waved after Carl exited the gas station store. Kyle watched him, suddenly finding an attraction to Carl—someone he didn’t truly know about. In the gas station window, Trae placed his middle finger on the window, sticking his tongue out immaturely.

Carl pushed Trae back, and the two continued to walk, “Dude, we could have been locked up for that,”

“Oh, please,” Trae rolled his eyes and continued. “I could have done worse. Besides, she started it—you knew that chick?”

“She used to babysit me,” Carl shrugged. “Ever since she ate a French fry, she thinks she’s the queen of France,”

Carl grabbed the gasoline nozzle in the Super Gasoline section—he opened the car fuel door and placed the dispenser inside. Trae began to whisper, while everyone else remained in the van.

“It looks like Ed Sheeran was eyeballing you in there,” Trae whispered with a smirk.

Carl chuckled, “What are you talking about? I don’t think he’s gay,”

“Dude is totally gay,” Trae laughed. “I could see the signs. Come on, I bet he gave me all of these snacks for free on your behalf. He likes you.”

Carl shrugged his shoulders, “Maybe he does; maybe he doesn’t. It’s not like I’ll ever see him after this. He’s in college. I literally had to lie about my life just to impress him.”

Impress him. See, that word gives off so many signs. Impress. You like him,”

“Jesus, he’s cute, all right?” Carl complained. “Now, get in the car before I take your Pop-Tarts.”

Trae ran to his side of the car, “Oh, hell, no.”

After Carl finished adding a large amount of gasoline into the van, he looked back at the gas station store—suddenly, he took Trae’s words to heart. Maybe Kyle was gay; maybe Alison was just his beard. Then again, Carl had no right to assume or judge anyone he didn’t truthfully know. Therefore, he went back inside of the van.

“It’s about time,” Nate complained.

Carl rolled his eyes, “Blame Oscar the Grouch over here; he wanted to fight my former babysitter who works there.”

“Babysitter?” Sydney looked up after playing with her cellular phone. “Alison Montana?”

“Alison Montserrat,” Carl emphasized to her. Sydney shook her head—like Carl, Sydney knew her as well.

“She took my money years ago!” Sydney unbuckled her seatbelt and moved from everyone, opening the car door. Everyone was confused with the situation, and Alex tried to pull her back in, but he failed.

Carl and Trae yelled in unison, “Sydney, no!”

Carl and Trae departed from the car, in certain attempts to stop Sydney from confronting Alison. “Sydney, it’s not worth it!”

 

_______________

In Rose De Vil’s office, Dirty Dan rubbed his hands on his jeans as a sign of nervousness and anxiety. De Vil, meanwhile, cleared her throat as she spoke to Dan in front of his face. “Daniel Daniels, or Dirty Dan—that’s what they call you, right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Dan chuckled nervously. In his mind, he knew he’d be in trouble for something; he didn’t know exactly what—except for his sexual encounter with a nerdy student.

Rose De Vil chuckled, “I take it that you’re quite nervous.”

“Yeah,” Dirty Dan replied immediately. “It’s not like I’ve been in a principal’s office before for anything,”

Rose placed her fingers on her desk once at a time, tapping while staring at Dan’s nervous expressions. For ten seconds, it was silent, awkward, and tense for Dan, but it felt motivational for Rose.

“Look, if I did something wrong, can you just tell me and give me the consequence?” Dirty Dan asked immediately.

“That’s what I’m confused about,” Rose chuckled. “Did you do anything wrong?”

Dan couldn’t take the anticipation—he sighed, “That’s what I want to know. Look, I’m just a horny 17 year-old, okay? I don’t know any better.”

“Horny 17-year olds often do inappropriate and consequential things,” Rose De Vil said. “What I mean by inappropriate and consequential is exposing other students in a very uncompromising position. If you witnessed it, Brian Gustin and Viktor Nichols were shown having sexual contact with each other. Unfortunately, the person behind it is unknown. I’m starting to believe you’re a possible candidate.”

“Wh-why would I do that?” Dirty Dan asked, looking away from her. “I’m not that much of a pervert. I’m a normal guy.”

“I mean, seconds ago, you said you were just a 17-year old horny boy. What’s the difference in being normal and horny?”

Dirty Dan sighed, “It means that all guys have hormones. They have sexual thoughts, wet dreams—that’s normal.”

“Hmm,” Rose raised her eyebrow and took a sip from her tea. “This tea is really good; you should try some. Now, let’s get to the real deal. If you didn’t do it, do you know anyone who did?”

Dirty Dan was silent and confused. He sighed as Rose continued to question him about the video scandal.

~

Minutes later, Dirty Dan walked in the hallways after his encounter with Rose De Vil. The school bell rang for their lunch period, and students began to fill up the empty hallways. Dan jostled through many students to approach his locker, but he accidentally bumped into Kalleb Banks, Trae’s friend and the person that witnessed Brian and Vik’s video scandal.

“Hey, are you all right, Dan?” Kalleb asked with concern. “What’s going on?”

Dan looked behind him, “A lot’s going on. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Kalleb patted his back, “Come on, dude. Just tell me, we’re friends here, right?”

At this point, Dan was completely at his limit. “No, we’re not friends. I don’t even fucking know you that well. There’s a difference between friends and associates and you’re not a friend.”

“I was just trying to be nice,” Kalleb said despondently.

Dan said, “What’s nice is that I’m being stuck in a situation I don’t deserve to be in. All I do in this school is learn, eat, talk, and fuck…”

From afar, Rufus had walked near Dan and Kalleb’s direction, where he could overhear certain things. The rest of Dan’s confrontation was unclear and indistinct. Rufus was confused, but he didn’t want to be caught eavesdropping.

“…So, why don’t you just do me a favor and back off?” Dirty Dan demanded, leaving Kalleb’s area.

Kalleb looked back while Dan walked to his locker.

________________

It was 1:00 pm, and the Savages remained in the van after six hours of finding Portland, Oregon. Everyone, however, sang along to “Yoncé” by Beyoncé, while Carl continued to keep his eyes fixated on the road. Trae shared his powdered donuts with Gina and Sydney, while they all began to sing.

“See me up in the club with 50-leven girls, posted in the back diamond fangs in my grill. Brooklyn brim with my eyes sittin' low. Every boy in here with me got that smoke.”

“And every girl in here gotta look me up and down. All on Instagram, cake by the pound. Circulate the image every time I come around. G's up, tell me how I'm lookin' babe,”

Although the members continued to enjoy themselves, Nate and Joe were miserable. Joe complained to Carl, “Yo, it’s been almost three hours and we still haven’t reached Portland yet.”

“Take it easy, we’re going to get there,” Carl said optimistically.

“Bitch, where?” Nate asked sarcastically. “Face it, Carl. We’re lost.”

“We’re not lost, Nathan,” Carl said. “The van’s just a bit slow, all right?”

Nate yelled, “Didn’t I tell you not to call me that? It’s Nate and-slash-or Breadquanda!”

Sydney continued to find herself aggravated by Nate’s unusual behavior during the road trip.

“How could it drive slow? We put gas in it not too long ago,” Trae asked curiously. Carl shrugged.

“I don’t know, the way it’s driving now—it feels weird,” Carl sighed. “Maybe it’s all in my head.”

Zachary gave a sudden suggestion, “Well, maybe there’s a shortcut? Do you still have the map, Carl?”

Carl grabbed the folded paper from his pocket, giving it to Trae to hand to Zachary. As Zachary opened the depiction of the Google Map, he noticed the optional routes that lead to Portland, Oregon. As he looked back on the road, he noticed the road remained empty.

“Carl, did you take the I-5 S route, or the US-12 W route?” Zach asked. “The second route takes 3 hours and 42 minutes approximately.”

“What the hell are they?” Carl was clueless, and Trae looked at Carl and groaned.

“Carl, you idiot,” Alex placed his head inside of his palms, concerned that the Savages were possibly lost.

Carl shrugged, “What? I looked at the directions!”

Trae grabbed the directions quickly from Zachary’s hands, for a moment, Zach could feel Trae’s touch, and he looked back up. Trae perused the printed Google map and looked at where they were headed.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere. Ain’t that a bitch?” the paper dropped out of Trae’s hands as he sighed. All of a sudden, the car automatically stopped moving on its own. While the car moved even slower than before, Carl lost control of the car.

“What the hell is going on?” Gina asked.

Carl continued to drive, but the car immediately stopped. “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,”

“Oh, my god. We’re gonna die!” Lily screamed out, until Sydney nudged her as a reaction.

Sydney demanded, “Get a hold of yourself, Lily,”

“Well,” Trae looked at Carl, giving a facetious question. “That Super Gasoline came in handy, didn’t it?”

After Trae reminded Carl of the gasoline, he immediately thought of Kyle, the gas station owner and cashier. Was he tricked or scammed? Was he fooled by Kyle and his persuasive, attractive demeanor?

“That son of a bitch,” Carl commented.

________________

While Carl’s father, Eric, was “working,” Carl’s mother Karen awaited for Caiden and Charlotte to enter the car during their school dismissal. It was 3:00 pm, and Karen decided to call Carl on his cellphone.

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, Carl and the Savages remained outside while Carl attempted to fix the flaws in the van. His actions, however, were disrupted by his cellphone, which vibrated inside of his left pocket.

After he picked it up, he noticed his mother was calling him. He answered the phone, with a completely different, “normal,” tone.

“Hey, Mom, what’s up?” Carl said, looking at the Savages and forcing them to remain silent.

“Hey, sweetie,” Karen said. “How was school today?”

Carl replied, nervously, “Um, it was pretty good. You know, we have a new book to read, new project every day, you know? Is there anything you wanted?”

“I’m at Caiden and Charlotte’s school to pick them up since your father’s at work and you have the van,” Karen stated. “Would you like me to pick you and Trae up?”

“Oh, no, no,” Carl immediately replied. “Don’t worry about it—Trae’s mother is picking us up. See, me and Trae are right here! Say hi, Trae!”

Carl pushed himself back to Trae’s area, putting his phone on the speaker. In a happy, jolly tone, Trae greeted Carl’s mother.

“Hi, Mrs. Touché!” Trae said, while looking at Carl anxiously.

Karen greeted Trae fervently, “Hi, sweetie pie! How are you?”

“I’m pretty good, I can’t complain!” Trae replied.

“How’s your mother?” Karen asked.

“She’s—” Trae was interrupted as Carl immediately spoke, “Okay, Mom, we have to go, we’re headed for a trip to the movies tonight to see Pixels, bye!”

“All right, sweetheart, call me later, okay?” Karen replied—while Carl immediately hung up the phone.

“Shit!” Carl complained as he paced back and forth. The Savages were indeed stranded—in the middle of nowhere. “Can someone check their location on their phone?”

Gina grabbed her pink-cased Android phone, and as she looked at the weather widget, the location was Olympia. “We’re in Olympia?”

“Olympia?” Alex scoffed. “It looks like we’re O-empty-a. We’re screwed, you guys. I’m talking super screwed. Super-duper screwed. Super—”

The Savages yelled out in unison, “Okay!”

Alex kept himself silent, apologizing for his exaggerations. Meanwhile, Zachary sat on the bare ground—he was anxious, afraid, and very frightened at the thought of facing a consequence. He began breathing hard.

“What are we going to do? What are we going to do? I just want to go home,” Zachary was completely frustrated.

Trae walked to Zachary, placing his hands on left shoulder to console him. He was concerned with his sudden anxious behavior—“Zachary, bud, are you okay?”

“He’s probably annoyed and frustrated like we all are,” Nate shrugged. “Maybe if we didn’t go on this road trip like I suggested, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Sydney reached his limits with Nate, making the final decision to reply to his statement, “Well, maybe if you weren’t bitching and nagging during the ride, maybe Carl could have concentrated on the road better.”

Joe watched Nate’s every move, waiting for him to respond. Nate folded his arms together and gave an unusual sound, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that maybe if you shut the fuck up for a while, maybe things would get better,” Sydney exclaimed. “Don’t you think we get tired of your constant complaining every day of the week?”

“Can you guys shut the fuck up for once? Please!” Carl yelled out in frustration. He leaned on his car, and Alex walked to him.

“It’ll be all right, we’ll figure this out,” Alex said with encouragement. Carl sighed and whispered to himself.

“I sure hope so,”

________________

4hrslaterthesavages

The nighttime began to arrive—it was 7:00 pm, and while a car quickly passed the Savages, there was unfortunately no luck. While Carl continued to fix the car, the others remained sheltered outside of the van. Nate played a harmonica, awkwardly playing annoying tunes as a form of depression and misery.

“Where the hell did you get a harmonica from?” Lily asked Nate.

Nate shrugged, “I like country.”

Lily scoffed and walked away as she wrapped herself in her hoodie. The temperatures decreased and it was below 50 degrees. “We could get many diseases being out here in the cold like this.”

“Get in the car then,” Sydney suggested. Lily nodded her head and grimaced.

“No, it smells like stinky feet and Chinese food,” Lily commented.

Sydney walked closer to Lily, whispering as she looked back, “It’s probably Carl; he smells like that when he’s irritated.”

“Fuck you, Sydney, I heard that!” Carl yelled from afar as he continued fixing the van. Sydney looked back, and Lily and Sydney snickered.

~

While Trae held his arms together tightly, he watched Zachary warming himself up near the fire. After what happened to Zachary hours ago, he seemed sympathetic for him. Although Trae felt the urge to approach him for a conversation, his ideas were scattered—Joe approached him unexpectedly.

“Hey,” Joe greeted him with a smirk on his face.

Trae replied succinctly, “Sup?”

There was an awkward silence between them—while Joe attempted to spark a conversation with him at that moment.

“Want a cigarette?” Joe grabbed a box of Newport cigarettes that he pilfered from a local store back in Seattle. Trae looked in Joe’s hand and he declined Joe’s offer.

“I don’t smoke,” Trae lied. He used to smoke before—but he stole a cigarette from his mother, but he stopped.

Joe looked at Trae and scoffed, “You, of all people, don’t smoke? I thought you were the top Savage?”

Feeling a sense of peer pressure, Trae sighed, lending his hand out. Joe placed a cigarette in his hand, and lit up the cigarette slowly and carefully with his lighter.

“Thanks,” Trae replied as he blew smoke into the night air. After Joe inhaled the nicotine into his mouth, he exhaled, releasing the smoke. To end the silence, he began to speak to Trae once again.

Joe asked a thought-provoking question, “So, since you and I are in Mr. Baxter’s class, I’ve never had the chance to ask you: what do you really want to be when you get out of the school shithole?”

Trae mused, looking up at the night sky, “A lot of things, you know? I’ve always had my eyes set on being an artist—then I wanted to be a journalist or an author. A philosopher. Someone who goes in detail on why the sky is blue or the definition of reality. I write a lot, so it allows me to express all of my deepest thoughts and feelings onto paper.”

Joe smirked, “You seem to know a lot in Literature class. How do you do it?”

“I guess it comes naturally,” Trae exhaled the smoke from the stick of nicotine. “My father, he was the smart one. He loved to read books, from Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, to Harper Lee; all of the classic literature shit. He’d read me sections of it—if I slept over his house over the weekend.”

“Your parents separated?” Joe began to see an intriguing side of Trae, who began to reflect on his life.

Trae nodded his head, “Yeah, but shit happens. Sometimes when a father figure is barely around, it changes you. It makes you do wicked shit. You want to break things, punch people, or just tell them to choke and die. Everyone has a motive, an alibi to protect their inner self.”

Joe agreed with and reiterating Trae’s statement, “Yeah. Everyone has a motive.”

It was silent, and Trae and Joe continued to stare at each other at an awkward time. The eye contact was distracted by Trae’s cellphone, which played the ringtone of “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Trae sighed as he looked up to Joe, “Sorry, I have to get this.”

Trae walked away, and Joe nodded, “It’s fine.”

Joe turned around to watch Trae, as he answered his phone, “Hello?”

At that moment, Joe almost had Trae right where he wanted him.

~

Meanwhile, Gina stood near a fire that they created for warmth and light. As Gina sat by herself, pondering about certain things in her life, Alex approached her with a warm hoodie and a pack of Lorna Doone cookies.

“Lorna Doone’s?” Alex asked, showing the box of shortbread cookies to Gina.

Gina smiled and replied happily, “Aw, they’re my favorite, thanks!”

“Want some company?” Alex asked a question and Gina smiled, “Please.”

Alex took a bite from a shortbread cookie, chewing with Gina. As the two remained warm near the fire, Gina decided to break the short silence. She turned to Alex, giving her gratitude to him.

“I know I’ve said it before, but I do want to thank you for last week,” Gina said calmly. “It may not have seemed like I was grateful for what you did for me at the movies. I’m just not used to a guy defending me in that way.”

Alex gave a brief smile, “Perhaps you haven’t met the right people, or met the right guy.”

“You’re probably right,” Gina chuckled. “Only guy I can remember treating me kindly was a guy in preschool. He was pretty cute—he had really nice hair for a Hispanic guy. He kind of had a strange resemblance of you. He was a sweetheart—he and I shared Ring Pops together. It was at Children’s Academy Elementary School,”

Alex chuckled, “Funny—I’ve been there when I was in preschool. My teacher was Ms. Hayes.”

“I had a teacher named Ms. Hayes, too. She—” Gina stopped herself; she reminisced once more of the moments in Kindergarten. As soon as she looked at Alex, he felt the same connection. It was official—they actually knew each other before.

“Oh my god,” Gina and Alex replied in unison.

_______________

Carl continued to struggle with the van. He closed the front hood of the car, and he walked to the trunk, hoping there would be tools inside to help the car recover from its current state. As he opened it, he attempted to search for other tools, pushing away unnecessary items.

However, he noticed a small space inside. From afar, he saw a large suitcase inside of the trunk. Assuming there were tools inside, he pulled the suitcase to his area, opening it with ease. Ironically, he discovered something even different: money.

“Holy fucking shit,” Carl was astonished. His eyes remained on the stacks of money inside.

Trae finished his phone call, and he approached Carl. “What’s going on?”

As Trae looked at the evidence, he looked back and forth, assuming what was in front him was nothing but an unfortunate fantasy. He began to stutter, “G-God Bless,”

Carl immediately closed the suitcase, “What have I just witnessed?”

“You’re about 10 seconds away of becoming a Moneybag,” Trae warned. “Maybe I should stay away.”

“Trae,” Carl folded his arms. “This is serious—I don’t even know where this came from or how it’s in the van.”

“Maybe your dad put it in there,” Trae suggested. “And maybe he sucks at hiding it,”

Carl gave a serious expression to Trae, who continued, “Just saying. Where do you think he got it from?”

“I don’t really question what my father does,” Carl replied.

“But, why?” Trae asked.

“I just don’t. I get scared he’ll get all aggressive about it and threaten me,” Carl said. Trae rolled his eyes.

“I know your dad, and I’m sure he’d never do anything like that if you just talk to him man to man.”

Carl looked down at the suitcase, “Suitcases of money, white vans, and late night shifts. Trae, I think my dad’s a drug dealer.”

Trae’s forehead began to wrinkle as he raised both of his eyebrows, “Damn.”

All of a sudden, a car stopped in the Savages’ direction. As the driver rolled the windows down, Carl was surprised with who was inside. Kyle, the cashier from Good Gas.

“What are you guys doing out here at this time of night?”

Although The Savages were unfamiliar with Kyle’s face, Carl and Trae looked at each other and back at Kyle, who drove a red Honda truck.

_______________

For a moment, Carl was in a state of confusion—was his family living an entire lie? Was his father living a lie? At that point, Carl pictured himself as a drug dealer—he mused about what could have happened if he stood in his father’s shoes.

~

SEQUENCE: A four-door car drove to Carl’s direction as he stood in front of Brooklyn, New York. He wore a leather jacket and held two suitcases in his hand. The car’s engine revved up; Carl placed the heavy suitcases into the trunk, and entered the passenger’s seat.

“Plenty more for you, boy. We in the funky four door, no floor,”

In the driver’s seat, Trae sat, holding the steering wheel with a strong grip. Carl rapped while nodding his head to the song, “Hit me on the celly, watching Belly. God's son, I can see they study Makaveli. Peanut butter Benz, got the jelly at the deli. If you feeling like a ninja, I got a machete.”

“Hell yeah, them girls bad, but I'm fucking heavy. I'm a fuck around and have them looking like spaghetti. I say some shit, he be like, "Yo, you so legendary," but he can tell just by my face he ain’t getting any.”

Trae softly chanted while driving, “Plenty more for you, boy. We in the funky four door, no floor. He was serving that raw, oh boy. She was making that noise, oh boy.

Plenty more for you, boy. We in the funky four door, no floor. He was serving that raw, oh boy. She was making that noise, oh boy.”

The duo exited out of the car, grabbing the suitcases to distribute to the people in control of the drug market.

~

Carl snapped out of his fantasy and focused on reality—he sat as he watched Kyle fix the white Chevrolet van. The others watched him, and Lily seemed intrigued, “He’s cute,”

“He’s gay,” Gina whispered. “I can tell.”

Carl found it difficult to fully trust Kyle with his car; he believed he was the most responsible for the Savages’ current situation. Kyle continued to groan and fix the issues in the car.

“Ah, I see what’s wrong with the car,” Kyle walked to Trae and Carl, addressing the problem, “It’s the battery—it’s outdated. That’s why the van stopped.”

“Well, can you fix it?” Carl asked somewhat rudely, and Kyle gave a discontent response.

“Unfortunately, it may take about 4-5 days to fix,” Kyle shrugged.

Carl’s nostrils flared, hinting his sudden anger, “You’re shitting me, right?”

“Yeah, I am,” Kyle chuckled hysterically. “I have an extra car battery available, so, you’re quite lucky.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time you tried to screw us over,” Carl folded his arms and looked away from Kyle, who was confused with Carl’s unusual tone.

“Did I do something wrong?” Kyle asked.

Trae chuckled, “Yeah, he thinks that you ruined his van with that Super Gasoline bullshit, but I’m sure he’ll forgive you.”

“No, I won’t, Trae,” Carl said stubbornly, until Trae grasped his shirt.

“Yes, you will,” Trae aggressively replied, “This motherfucker may charge us for this shit, so you better act right or else all of our heads will be skinned when we get back home.”

“Okay, okay,” Carl rolled his eyes and turned to Kyle.

Kyle expressed melancholy after Carl’s behavior, replying, “I did want to thank you guys for being Good Gas’s first customer since I’ve taken over.”

Carl and Trae turned to each other and replied in unison, “First customer?”

“Yeah,” Kyle said. “We haven’t had a customer since my dad gave me the place.”

“Damn, no wonder the place was emptier than a Vanilla Ice concert,” Trae laughed hysterically—but Carl and Kyle watched him in disbelief. Because of the silence, Trae stopped laughing.

“Um, yeah—I’ll be over there if you guys need me, yeah,” Trae walked away from Carl and Kyle.

Carl was sympathetic towards Kyle at that point, but he was confused, “What about the money you use for student loans?”

“Like I said to you before,” Kyle chuckled. “The money we make there is somewhat beneficial. Not completely. However, sometimes, I think people refuse to come for service because of Alison.”

“Well, fire her ass,” Carl suggested. “You’re the boss,”

Kyle looked behind him, ensuring that the Savages would not hear what he would discuss with Carl. “Unfortunately, I can’t. If I fire her, then she’ll expose me.”

“Expose you how?” Carl was confused. Kyle sighed and began to admit a secret to Carl.

“I’m gay,” Kyle revealed.

Damn it, Trae, Carl narrated.

Based on Trae’s previous assumptions, Carl viewed Kyle differently—there was something mysterious about him. What if Kyle and Carl were meant to meet? Did Kyle find a way to meet Carl again?

“What about Alison?” Carl asked softly. “I thought she was your—”

Carl stopped himself, and with Kyle, he stated, “Beard.”

Kyle sighed, “Sometimes you have to live a lie,”

Carl looked back to his van, reminded of the mysterious suitcase of money inside of the trunk. “I’m starting to wonder if I’m living a lie as well.”

“I’m going to get the battery for you,” Kyle smiled at Carl and walked to his red Honda Civic. While Carl watched him, Trae approached him once again, and Carl turned to him with a smile.

“Well, you were right about him,” Carl stated.

Trae chuckled, “Duh. I’m like That’s So Raven. I’m a psychic. I’m like 90% sure a re-run of My Wife and Kids on right now, and I’m missing it!”

Carl looked at Trae and nudged him on his left arm; meanwhile, The Savages remained patient and cold while Kyle continued to fix the van.

~

A couple of minutes later, the Savages waited for the van to be fixed. Carl entered the van, placing the key into the ignition. As the car’s engine began to run, Carl opened the car door and yelled ecstatically, “It’s working!”

The Savages cheered joyfully, as a form of relief, and Kyle closed his Honda’s truck, and walked to Carl’s area.

“Thank you so much,” Carl said.

Kyle replied, “Oh, don’t mention it. I was proud to help you guys, even though I don’t know where you guys were heading at this time of night.”

“We were trying to head to Portland, Oregon, but we got lost,” Carl said.

Kyle laughed briefly, “Lost? You guys aren’t lost. You’re about 15 minutes away. I was heading to a nightclub at Oregon called The Rave. Do you guys want to go?”

Carl was very unsure of what to decide. Considering the fact that he lied about himself, he didn’t want to take any more risks. However, the Savages all were satisfied. Zachary stood up while Trae helped him up.

“But, wait, aren’t we supposed to be 21 and older?” Lily asked Kyle, who winked and chuckled.

“Not when you’re with me,” Kyle said, facing Carl who smiled at him—it was official; they would finally have a chance to experience the real world.

Kyle walked to his red Honda Civic, while the Savages ran into the van, cheering happily. Carl and Trae entered the front seats and cheered. The cars drove away from the empty spot. What The Savages didn’t know was that someone was watching them from afar.

It was Eli Hawk and his sidekicks, Montano and Scooter. While Montano was watching a Spanish-dubbed pornographic film on his film, with a woman moaning loudly, Hawk used his binoculars to stalk the white van and its license plate.

“Can you fucking turn that shit off, pervert?” Hawk slammed Montano’s phone down. Montano mumbled things under his breath.

“Are you sure that’s his van?” Scooter asked, questioning whether the van belonged to Carl’s father, Eric Touché.

“Who knows?” Hawk responded. “It was just a bunch of fucking kids driving off in the night. Let’s go.”

He, Montano, and Scooter started up their car, and followed in their direction as fast as possible.

 

_______________

In Trae’s house, Stacey and Sean lied together in their bedroom while watching an episode of Sanford and Son on their large television screen. In Stacey’s mind, she wanted to know if Trae was okay. She felt the urge to grab her Samsung Galaxy Note cellphone on the side of her bed, but Sean’s persuasive ways began to stop her.

“Don’t even think about it,” Sean’s deep voice said. “Trae’s going to be fine, just let him have fun. Okay, sweetie?”

Stacey sighed and moved in to kiss Sean. As she pulled back, the two changed their postures, as she lied on Sean’s muscular chest, continuing to watch television.

_____________

It was around 8:30 pm, and the van and red Honda Civic arrived at a crowded nightclub titled The Rave. Blue lights shone on the large building, and as the Savages left the van, Carl and Trae were intrigued by the energy of the nightclub environment. From the inside, loud hip-hop played, and people cheered and screamed as they prepared for their entrance.

Kyle approached all of the members of The Savages, leading them into the back side of the club. “All right, guys, here we are—The Rave.”

The Savages followed Kyle into the back—the security guard stood tall with no emotion. Kyle approached him, “Hey, T.J., they’re all with me.”

T.J., the security guard, was obese and physically intimidating—he stopped Kyle and The Savages from entering, “I.Ds, please.”

The members were worried they wouldn’t be admitted inside, but Kyle continued to defend them and encourage T.J. to take their admittance in consideration, “T.J., come on, they’re with me, can you just give them one solid?”

T.J. folded his arms, “I’m doing my job, Kyle, like you should be doing yours?”

Kyle groaned and grabbed $30 dollars from his back pocket of his jeans. He handed it to T.J, leading to a brief period of silence. The Savages watched the tense occasion between T.J. and Kyle.

T.J. sighed and snatched it from Kyle’s hand, “You’re lucky I like you,”

“I know you do,” Kyle said as he made his entrance into the club with a smile on his face. The Savages followed him inside. The group adored the neon lights that flashed constantly while a multitude of people danced to “Don’t Tell ‘Em” by Jeremih.

“You work here?” Carl asked Kyle; he nodded his head and briefly stated, “Bartender. Completely beneficial.”

Carl chuckled at his response and turned to the amazing attractions of the nightclub. Others sat in the V.I.P. sections, while others danced on the floor. Women were shaking their buttocks, while guys gyrated, making sexual dance motions.

“So, this is what the real world is like?” Alex was impressed, while Joe looked at Trae, hoping this would be his chance to get more than what he bargained for.

“I’m not so sure about this,” Gina said, and Zachary agreed.

Lily turned around, “Don’t be pussies, guys. Come on, live it up! It’s time to party!”

Gina and Zachary stood together, doubtful of the nightclub life. As Trae and the Savages walked with Kyle to a designated area, Gina looked at Zachary while he asked a rhetorical question.

“What did I get myself into?” Zachary asked.

They caught up with the Savages, and Kyle sat them at an empty table together.

Kyle spoke, “Okay, guys. I have to get to my working area. I’ll grab you guys a few drinks. Just make yourself comfortable and if you guys need anything, I’ll be over there.”

“Thanks, Kyle!” The Savages all said in unison, and Kyle laughed after he walked away.

“I wonder if he has a brother,” Lily comments, forcing Gina and Sydney to look at her.

~

Minutes later, Kyle arrives at his bar post. A gorgeous woman, with curly black hair, distributed alcoholic drinks to the customers. “One shot of Whiskey and a shot of Vodka. Be careful, girl, that’s a trip to the bedroom and more.”

The customer walked away, while Kyle walked behind the counter to greet his co-worker and close friend, Keisha. “Hey, hey, Keish,”

“Hey, boo,” Keisha greeted Kyle with a smile. The bar was temporarily empty, and Keisha interacted with him. “It’s about time you came in. The club is packed.”

Kyle replied, “Yeah. I would have arrived early, but I had some things to handle.”

“I see you’ve brought some new friends with you,” Keisha looked from afar where the Savages sat. “Who are they?”

“They’re a couple of people I’ve met this afternoon. They needed a lift to Portland, so I offered them to join me.”

Kyle placed several large glasses on a tray as he poured a bottle of alcohol in each. It was evidently for the Savages. Keisha put her hands on her hips.

“And T.J. let you all in?” Keisha laughed.

Kyle shrugged, “He was being a tightwad tonight, so I had to give him the last of my money at the gas station just to let them in.”

“Keep that up, and Tommy might fire the both of ya’ll,”

Kyle rolled his eyes, “Keisha, please. Tommy loves me—if it wasn’t for our super-duper bartender service, this club would be shut down. He can’t get rid of me. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t brought anyone with me before.”

“Yeah, like that bourgeoisie chick that you brought in the club for free?” Keisha scoffed. “Alison Monte Carlo or something?”

“Montserrat,” Kyle looked away. “I didn’t care to bring her today; she was being too hormonal and desperate. I guess she had some fashion shit to do tonight.”

Keisha walked to Kyle and began to question him, “Boo, why don’t you just tell her?”

Clearly, she knows that Kyle is gay—but Alison doesn’t know as well. After Kyle told Carl about his personal life, he sighed as he responded to Keisha’s question.

“I mean, I am. I just don’t know when, where, or how. She’s so hooked on me that it’s irritating.”

“Kyle, you’re my best friend,” Keisha commented, placing her hands on both of his shoulders. “Sometimes, the things you do I may not agree with, but I know this—don’t keep yourself in a cage for her. You are who you are.”

“I guess you’re right,” Kyle agreed. “I’ll be back, I’m gonna give these to the guys over there.”

After Kyle walked away from Keisha, he sighed, taking Keisha’s advice to heart. Keisha greeted another customer from behind.

____________

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