First, I want to thank all of you who have supported my writing over the past two years. I had my moments of being active and then disappearing, but feedback kept me going. So thanks a lot, guys, for your comments and support. I always appreciate your comments, even the criticism (even though I defend myself against it first), because it helps me grow; it helps me get better at what I am doing. :) So thanks again.
This story is somehow linked to what has been going on in Alexis's life, on Juju's blog. Reading Alexis: Chapter 14 on her blog might help you understand better the context. So would the Alex-Alexis story to which you can find links on my blog.
All disclaimers apply. Over 18.
After classes, Alex had been waiting for ten minutes on the second floor corridor when he saw Lizzie appear. She came without Alexis and it wasn't a suprise to him.
He watched her wave goodbye to the two girls she’d been chatting with. She hadn’t seen him yet. As she opened her locker to get her things, he approached her. He needed to know a few things about Alexis. And who was the person who knew Alexis best? Lizzie, her old time friend. He had always disliked her for a reason which was not quite clear to him and which, at this time, held no importance in his view.
“Why lookie lookie who’s here,” he said, resting his left shoulder on a locker.
Lizzie sized him from head to toes.
Alex smiled, not to be courteous, but because he was quite amused.
“Where is Alexis,” he asked, drawling the words.
“What’s it to you?”
He slammed the locker door in her face, almost catching her fingers.
“What the fuck is your problem?” – She cried , but her anger was on the edge of panic.
He felt she was somewhat scared. And that is exactly what he was after.
“Where is Alexis?”
“How the fuck should I know?” – she screamed. “Let me get my things.” It was a plea.
“Alright, then,” – Alex smiled. “Maybe you know something about that kid, Joey? What’s he after?”
Lizzie grinned. “Oh, I see. You are jealous, aren’t you?”
“Not your problem.”
“Joey is hardly a threat. But if I were you,” – and the smile she gave Alex was the evilest she could manage – “as the song goes, I’d be careful about the new boy in town.”
Alex watched her bemused.
“Oh, the boyfriend doesn’t know, does he?” She pushed him away from her locker, opened it, and grabbed her things. “Maybe if you were less full of yourself you would notice…” She turned her back on him and walked away like a winner.
Alex watched her go. Yes, he was jealous. Maybe because the vibe he had been getting lately was good. The news was more of a shock than something else.
Josh and Mike appeared by his side, schoolbags on their shoulders.
“So?” – Josh asked watching Lizzie disappear on the stairs.
“Who is new in school?” – Alex asked, speaking to none of them in particular.
“Just a new kid came a few weeks ago. A transfer. Why?”
Alex’s fists tightened.
“I wanna know everything about this guy, you hear me? He’s dead meat. There is no messing around with my girlfriend. I want to know where he lives, what bus he takes when he goes home. Everything.”
“He’s after Alexis?”
“If he was, he won’t be anymore. Not after tonight.” He turned to face them. He was smiling. “So guys, we haven’t beaten up anybody for way too long, right? It was getting a little boring, really… Time to spice things up. Let’s have some fun tonight.”
The other two also smiled.
His name was Ben, Alex found out from Mike. He was riding in the same school bus with Alexis. He was living a couple of blocks away from her. He was too new to have his own gang at school, but he was growing one in his own neighborhood. He was sixteen and good looking.
He was also a tough ass.
Alex learnt that the hard way, when the Ben’s fist caught Alex’s jaw. He felt his lip go numb and swell instantly. Blind anger rose to his brain; he punched the new kid in the mouth, then in the stomach. Ben fell on his back, with Alex on top of him.
“That’s enough,” Josh cried. “Fuck, man, that’s enough. You made your point. Let’s go.” It took both Josh's and Mike's strength to pull Alex back.
“You don’t fucking mess with my girl, you hear me, you piece of shit?” He fought to escape both his friends’ grip.
From the corner of the building, two massive shadows appeared. Sharp steal was flashing in their hands. Ben watched them approach and dared to stand up, slowly, wiping drips of bloody saliva off his chin.
“Over here,” he called, and the strangers began running in his direction.
First, the three friends froze. Then Josh turned around and hit the road. “Run, you idiots,” he called back. Mike followed his lead. Except for Alex, who took his time to punch Ben in the mouth twice.
Later that evening he thought he was lucky, although back then he only felt angry; a motorcycle’s breaks screeched to a halt next to him.
“Get on,” the man said.
Alex’s eyes widened.
“Get fucking on, I said. Now!”
He did, quite puzzled. The motorcycle’s wheels screeched again while it accelerated into the distance. He looked back at the guys with the knives. They had stopped running. They were simple watchers now.
As they rode on dark streets, no one said anything; now and then the dim yellow light of a functional street lamp cast deep shadows into the dingy alleys of the neighborhood. Then Alex began recognizing the surroundings; they had reached the east extremity of his own neighborhood.
“Are you ok,” the man asked. They weren’t running anymore.
It was Drew. It had taken Alex about one minute to realize it. He mostly recognized the voice and the motorcycle.
“I’ll take you home,” Drew said.
They were quiet again. The adrenaline, which had kept him going until then, began subsiding. His muscles felt weak. Realization dawned onto him – home, to his Dad. He was in trouble.
Jack listened calmly to Drew’s story. Alex watched the conversation take place in the kitchen through the glass sliding doors. He didn’t hear a word, as they were almost whispering, but he could see his Dad’s reaction. The face of the man had hardened and when he turned to look at Alex, Alex didn’t see anything good in those dark eyes.
His lip burnt. It had swelled. Blood had stopped pouring, but he started now and then when his mother attended to it. She wasn’t talking. And she didn’t say much either.
Drew came out of the kitchen, accompanied by his father.
“You should come for dinner, one evening.” - Jack was saying. “How about this Saturday?”
Clara stood up and went next to her husband. “We would very much like it if you could come, Drew.”
“I’ll see what I can do. We’ve been quite busy lately and we two didn’t have time to catch up on old times. I guess we could come...”
“Bring Michelle too, if you feel like it,” Jack said.
“We’ll see.” There was something strange in his tone. “We’ll talk about it.”
“Just give me a call when you know for sure and we’ll arrange it. We can play Dungeons and Dragons…” - Jack teased.
Drew laughed. “That’s a good one, doc. Well… it might be a healthy change for the kids. I’ll see what I can do. Ok. Gotta go,” he said turning towards Alex. “You take care. And I’d better not see you in my neighborhood again unless you’re visiting. Or else I’ll tan your ass myself.”
Alex nodded. He tried to smile but he couldn’t. “Thank you,” he said. He was too preoccupied to observe his Dad’s mood to care about the future.
Drew waved again and went out, followed by Jack. He saw the two men exchanging a handshake and Drew patting his friend on the shoulder. Then Jack came back inside. He paused in front of the front door, looking at Alex.
“I can explain,” the boy said fast, standing up from the couch.
“No explaining will get you out of this one, Alex,” Jack concluded.
“You could have gotten killed,” his mother also said. “Do you realize what you’ve done? What if Drew wasn’t there to save you? Oh, God, I don’t even want to think about it!” She sighed and collapsed in a chair. “Look at you! You have stains of blood everywhere on you. You have a broken lip. Your eye is swollen. How are you going to go to school like this?” She paused and turned to her husband. “Jack?”
“If you think that I'm gonna write a medical note for him to get him out of trouble, you are wrong,” he said.
“But he cannot go to school on Monday with a black eye and a puffy lip!”
“Are you blaming me for what's happened to him?” His jaw tightened.
She shook her head. “That’s not what I meant and you well know it.” She turned to her son. “Go wash your face, take a shower and go to bed.”
“No,” Jack said, and Alex’s heart leaped out of his chest. “Go up and bring me the cane from your room.”
“Jack!” – Clara’s eyes opened wide, but not as wide as Alex’s. Alex waited, looking expectedly to his mother. He hoped she could save him. But the chances were dim. Then his eyes turned to Jack, pleading.
“Oh, no, mister, you can give me that look all you want. Both of you can stare all you want,” he said shaking his head and smiling. “It’s not gonna work. Has it ever worked, Alex?”
For what Alex could remember, no, it hadn’t. But he had the right to hope.
“He has a puffy lip, Jack,” Clara insisted.
“Does he have a broken butt? No. Alex , go get the cane. Quit stalling.”
Alex threw one last desperate look to his mother, who was now rubbing her hands furiously. Then he saw his Dad’s gaze upon him and he stood up, walking slowly, head down, to the stairs. As he reached his room, he heard the muffled conversation taking place downstairs – his mom, pleading; his dad, explaining calmly.
He felt the urge to call Alexis. He listened to his parents, who were still bickering. He picked up the phone in his room and dialed her number. He was lucky: it was she who picked up the phone.
“Hey,” he said. He wasn’t sure what he was going to tell her. He wasn't sure why he had called in the first place.
“Heeeey! What’s up?”
He heard himself laugh dryly. “Did your Dad get home?”
He studied the cane in his hand. He paused. “Never mind.” He couldn’t tell her himself. Let Drew do that for him.
Jack’s call resounded from downstairs.
“I gotta go,” he said suddenly, all senses alert. “I just wanted to say that I’ve missed you, pretty face.”
“Me too.” Her voice was soft.
He hung up, smiled to himself, and rushed downstairs. His mother was no longer there; either they did have an argument, or they agreed but she didn’t want to watch the scene – it was all the same to Alex. He placed the cane into his Dad’s extended hand. Alex thought that Jack had hesitated there for a second; unfortunately, it was only a second, because the next moment Jack showed his son to the coffee table.
“Take off your shirt,” Jack said. “I don’t want it falling over your butt every second.”
Alex began working on the buttons. He undid the first three and pulled it over his head, like a sweater.
“Don’t you want to know why I did it?” – Alex asked.
“I will know after we’re finished with this,” Jack said. He sighed. His voice became mellow. “Alex, listen carefully: no reason, and I mean absolutely no reason, is good enough to get yourself in that situation. Do I make myself clear? Not even if someone did something to you or to Ashley, you don’t bring yourself to the situation to be killed. Things are not supposed to be handled through fights, and especially not by a seventeen year-old, with a gang, in another neighborhood. Do you understand that?”
Alex nodded. He was confused by this way of reasoning.
“He was after Alexis,” Alex finally confessed.
“I imagined. And that makes the situation even worse. Let the girl choose. I don’t think she would approve of your behavior either. This is gang behavior. This is not how men act and solve their problems. What you did was unbelievably reckless and stupid. Take your jeans and boxers down, please. And bend over, hands on the table.”
Alex hesitated. He wanted to say something or negotiate but Jack’s stern eyes convinced him that resistance was futile. Besides, he knew it from experience. He had learnt it the hard way, from when he was only eight.
His dirty jeans fell to his ankles followed by his boxers. The hair rose on his arms as he bent forward, grabbing tight onto the edges of the coffee table. It was all too familiar to him. Only the swishing sound and the horrible bite were new. He stopped breathing, letting his mind adjust to the pain.
Jack gave him time to breathe in and out. He also gave him time to anticipate, which made the situation even more unbearable to Alex. The kid’s mind could grab only the concept of ‘how much until the next one’.
He looked with the corner of his eye as the cane came down again, his teeth gritted before the stroke even landed. Pain exploded again. No, he couldn’t take it. He definitely couldn’t. He made a move, ready to stand up, but the cane bit again, higher on his butt. He screeched. Small beads of sweat were shining on the small of his back.
“Please,” he begged, panting as if he’d run a hundred miles. “I’ll take the belt,” he offered.
“No. You are taking the cane, Alex.”
The fourth one made him bend his knees. The house resounded with his cry. He stood up again, slowly, carefully, scared that the simple act of getting back into position will cause another blow. Which did happen.
He gave up counting when he reached seven. He had hoped for six. Anything past that number meant that there was no set number. And just as he had expected, at some point the cane started coming down so fast that he had no time to move or breathe. He dissolved into cries of pain. His hands had moved so much forward that he was almost lying flat on the table.
“Will this happen again, Alex,” he questioned.
The boy shook his head no. Speaking coherently was as possible as avoiding the next stroke.
“You will not get yourself killed by acting the way you just did. Is that clear?”
Two more strokes hit his upper legs and the most terrifying one, the third, landed in the middle of his bottom. Alex remained in place, weeping hard.
“Ok, that’s it.” Jack watched his son stand up gingerly. His face was screwed. His eyes had become as puffy as his lip. He let him fumble with his boxers at his ankles. Pulling them up was torture. The boy decided against putting on his jeans and simply kicked them off, grabbed them in his hand.
Jack handed him the shirt.
“Does your lip still hurt?” – He asked, raising the boy’s chin slowly, for a better view of the injury.
“In comparison to my ass, no,” Alex said.
Jack smiled, wiped his kid’s forehead with his palm. Even his hair was wet with sweat.
“Are your teeth ok?” – He asked again while checking his son’s lip.
“No loose tooth, no nothing, right?”
He checked the swollen eye and the eyebrow. Alex flinched.
“Stay still.” He felt the lump. “Well, the bone is not broken, at least,” Jack said. He smiled again, sighed, and kissed his son’s forehead. “You are such a stupid kid, I swear… Go to bed. I’ll see what I can do about your school until the swelling passes… And Drew will make sure nothing happens to you because of what you did tonight to that kid.”
“You stupid idiot! Fucking bastard! What the fuck were you thinking?”
Alex didn’t have time to avoid the rain of fists and slaps landing on his chest and face. She had caught him with the tips of her fingers over his eyebrow. It hurt almost as bad as if she would have poked her finger into his eye.
It was Saturday morning, and Alexis had appeared out of blue sky on his doorsteps, in his garden, where he had been relaxing with a manga magazine. She was fuming, although Alex hadn’t had the chance to figure out the exact reason.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” – She yelled.
He wrestled her to catch her hands, which were damaging him almost as much as that new kid’s fist had. She pushed him away, making him fall down in his chaise long. He screamed in pain and jerked up from the seat, as if he had been sat on a wasp nest.
“What’s wrong with you?” – Alex whined, rubbing his ass with one hand.
The incident seemed to calm her down.
“He gave it to you, didn’t he?” She was a teaser. Her eyes laughed in her head playfully. She pushed him again, but this time Alex didn’t fall.
“He did not.”
The scene reminding Alex of his bragging to his friends, as a kid, about how cool he was and how many things he could do without being caught.
“Did not. Mind your own business.”
“Those are very big words coming from someone like you,” she smiled. “He spanked you. Just admit it.”
“You’re delusional, woman.”
“Haha! You reeaaally got it, didn’t you? Let me see!” She attacked him playfully, jerking down on his pants.
“What gotten into you? Hey! Alexis, stop it! That hurts!” He seized her hands in his, but the girl was stronger than he could have imagined. She gave up for an instant, and went on plan B. “C’mon, Alex… It’s me, remember? Just let me see.”
“Why are you so curious?”
“’Cause I am?”
“What? Me getting spanked turns you on now?”
“You have no idea,” she giggled, slapping his butt and running away. Alex chased her upstairs, all the way to his room.
The slap he got from her stunned him.
“That’s for trying to control my life,” she said. Then she planted a wet kiss on his mouth. “And that’s because you care about me.”