Nick and Dean are two boys from separate sides of the tracks. These advisories find a common bond and much more together in this tale of fear, love, and hate.
Nick the rich star starting wide receiver on the schools 5A varsity football team and co-captain alongside his longtime friend Craig the all American quarterback. On the surface Nick appears to have a perfect life: money, friends, popularity, scouts coming to his games, father always at his school events, an amazing car, and girls. But with a Coach with no love lost for him, a Father pushing him past his limits, an AWOL mother and a secret; perfect is not the word he would use to describe his own life. 6’1, 180, blonde, blue, wide shoulders, handsome.
Dean a poor farm boy, from one of the poorest parts of the county. When you think of wrong side of the tracks Dean is the definition. The home he lives in is old and parts are falling apart, going upstairs is a hazard as some of the steps are worn threw. The truck he drives is from the early 90’s at best and is far from being reliable; luckily he’s good with his hands. With a mother who feeds her drug habit by whoring in there house and a father locked up on numerous charges including but not limited to domestic violence and child abuse; it’s no wonder Dean is the schools worst bully; an antisocial tormenter. But maybe just maybe Dean, the boy made strong from hard work and hate, will turn out to be a ‘diamond in the ruff’. 5’10, 190, black, green, broad shoulders, rugged.
He snarled at me as I pushed him away from his most recent victim. I didn’t know the kid, but Dean was worse than your average bully he was downright malicious. It wouldn’t have been such a problem if he wasn’t so smart. People often joked that he was one chemical spill away from being a super villain. Dean only picked on the kids who were just starting to come into their own; the kids who were starting to blossom and turn into someone. He seemed to hate them the most. Not the nerdy mousy kids or the pizza face band nerds, no he hated the kids that might get everything he never had
“Back off Dean! I’m warning you man!”
We live in a rural/suburban county and thus were one of only two high schools, which means a lot of students, a lot of problems, and not enough teachers or administrators to handle them all. These are the times when Dean strikes; when he can’t get caught. Like I said smart. And once again here we were about to throw down.
We’ve fought like this before, it’s the 15th time this year and I’ve come out on top 9 times to his 5 times. I don’t know why I keep track, but fighting with Dean actually makes me feel alive. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s the only time I get to be…
“What’s going on here?! Are you two crazy?!”
Mr. Perkins, the very extravagant and very mean art teacher. He begins to yell at us but with no punches thrown and the kid who was being bullied in the first place long gone, we were both sent on our way. The rest of the day passed by uneventfully with people talking about the almost fight between me and Dean amongst other gossip about a guy on the basketball team who had gotten 4 girls pregnant, and the drug dogs patrolling the basement west wing. I carried on my day as normal. I was sitting in 7th period AP Spanish when the office assistant came in and handed me a note. I groaned upon reading it ‘Come to my office after school Mr. Smith.’ Coach wanted to see me and I highly doubt it’s a good thing.
I said bye to all my friends and slowly made my way down to the basement and out to the south side where the coach’s offices were. I was a star running back, but despite that coach really didn’t like me very much. The only reason he even let me off the bench was because I was so good at what I did and the rest of the team really liked and respected me. So he pushed down his own hatred of me in order to boost team moral. I loved football and it was evident from how much I smiled when I was wearing my pads.
When I finally make it to coach’s office he doesn’t look very happy to see me. For the next hour he really lays into me about the fight in the hallway. Saying that I didn’t deserve any of my talent or ability, that I was spoiled, that he had half a mind to throw me off the team. He went on about how I had better pray that I don’t get injured or I’m off the team and never allowed to come back. He could do without spoiled entitled brats on his team. The funny thing was that there were kids on the team wayyy richer than me. But the one time I pointed that out I ended up doing whistle sprints until I literally passed out on the field. After 35 more minutes of degrading I left his office towards my car, feeling a little worse for wear.
I drive this way often when I need to think. It’s about 10 miles between houses, the poorest part of our county. All rural struggling farms and ranches where some of the kids from our school live. As I drive I see a familiar old blue truck with the hood up. As I drove by I slowed down and saw none other than Dean leaning on his forearms, shirt open, covered in grease, looking dejected as the rain began to fall even harder. My guess was he must have been trying to get the truck to start up before it started raining and the sudden flash flood flooded out his engine and it’s dead until it dried. I thought about driving on and splashing mud on him as I went, but something stopped me. I rolled down the window.
“Get in. It won’t start and it’s a mile to the next house.”
I didn’t ask him if he wanted a ride, instead I just told him what to do. I had been in school with Dean for years and I knew that he didn’t take help especially when someone asked; you had to offer or demand it for it to register. Part of being a country boy I suppose. Most of us out here were the same way. He looked at me and glared, I didn’t think he was going to accept the offer, but then the rain really began to come down. He slammed his hood reached in his truck for his backpack and slid into my car. We drove on in silence for a long time.
“Sorry to get your fancy car wet Prin…. –groan- Mike.”
“It’s alright.” “Where do you live?”
“Off of route 3 turn off.”
He grimaced as he said it, and turned to look out the window. I knew Dean was one of the poorer kids at school, but I never knew how poor. The old farms out off route 3 were the most run down ones; dilapidated and some even unlivable although people still lived there. We drove in silence listening to music until I reached the turn off.
“The one with the broken tractor in front of the blue house.”
I drove for about 5 more miles then I saw the large run down blue house. I looked as if it had been grand once upon a time. Two stories with a wraparound porch. As we got closer we could see two cars parked in front of the house. Out of the corner of my eye I could see his hands baled into fists and shacking. An older gentleman was walking out of the house buttoning his pants, followed by a middle aged woman wearing a long dark blue silk rob. Another man stood on the porch leaning against the rail waiting. The older man fastened his belt and then handed the woman some money which she immediately turned and handed to the man on the porch and received… a baggy. Holy shit.
I’d never seen something like this before, but I wasn’t dumb, I knew what was happening and as I stopped my car a good ways from the other cars I turned to look at Dean. Dean’s head hung down and I thought I saw a single tear drop from his face. I can’t explain it, but I just wanted to get him as far away from here as I could. I turned the car around and drove off. He looked up at me from under his hair and seeing my steely expression looked back down. I drove off as fast as I could. We drove until we reached the main road again.
“Stop the car Princeton.”
His voice was cold and even, I stopped the car and pulled it over. I could tell he was barely holding it together and I’d hate for him to freak out in my car, this kid demolished a classroom once. The rain was coming down in sheets again and the clouds in the sky made the world look gray and washed out blue.
“Keep what you saw to yourself or I swear I’ll beat you half to death.”
He unlocked his door and got out and began walking back towards his house. I sat there stuck trying to find an excuse to get out and go after him. We weren’t friends so I couldn’t use that excuse, we weren’t team mates, or buddies, or even lab partners. I had no reason to care about him, but I did, and realizing this hit me like a ton of bricks. Fuck. I looked down in the floor and saw his backpack was still there. An excuse!
“Hey Dean, man wait up.”
I stammered incoherent nonsense as I tried to figure out what to say after wait up. As I approached him he turned to face me with a crazy look in his eyes, it actually made me take a half step back to keep a good reach length between us. All my thoughts were telling me to leave this bastard right out here.
“I’m not your charity case Princeton now gets the hell away from me!”
I was pissed. I didn’t think he was my charity case… I thought something else. All I knew is that I couldn’t let him go back there right now, soaking wet and obviously upset. I reached an arm out for him which was a mistake, but looking back upon it the best mistake I think I ever made. He turned and punched me and I punched him back, he tackled me to the ground and we wrestled in the mud trying to gain leverage and the upper hand. I got him pinned down as he cursed at me. I looked into his eyes; I had never done this before. His eyes were those of a boy: scared, and alone and the deepest green I’d ever seen. He threw me off of him and we both scrambled to our feet.
“You don’t know me! I hate you, you have everything! Perfect life! You stuck up bastard! You don’t know what it’s like to have a mom strung out, your sisters all run off and your dad locked up!” This enraged me.
“Perfect?! You think you got it all figured out don’t you! I hate my life! Do you know what happens to me when I’m not perfect? Huh! My dad beats me!” I lifted my shirt and under armor to show the bruises from Friday when my loving father punched me in the ribs for not being 100% focused at practice when he brought some scouts to see me. I didn’t even know he brought scouts and the scouts all liked what they saw, but it wasn’t good enough for my dad. “I don’t want any of this!”
Now it was my turn to hang my head and cry, hands balled into fists pressed to my eyes. I had never told anybody what my dad did to me. And now here I was telling the one person who I would never want to know. I felt so vulnerable at that moment. I wasn’t used to the feeling and it was more painful than any bruise. I suddenly felt arms going around my shoulder and I wrapped my arms around the strong body in front of me and laid my forehead on his shoulder. The hug felt good and genuine. I think somehow we both needed it. I don’t know what came over me but I pulled out of the embrace a little and I looked at him, I had never noticed how handsome he was, I knew I had feelings when around him, but I never allowed myself to really look at his face. Strong jaw, deep green eyes and medium length black hair. I leaned forward and kissed him. His lips were so warm and a little rough. Fear gripped me and I pushed away from him. I knew now that it was over; everything I had worked for was going to crumble. I showed him weakness and that was bad but now I had showed him my true disgusting nature; a nature that I had tried to hide and for that I knew I would pay the price. I stood and looked at him fear etched on my face. He took a step towards me and I took two back. I told him to stay away from me, and then I tripped over a branch and fell back. I was dazed from hitting my head and when I looked up he was now standing over me. If he tried to beat me now I wouldn’t be able to stop him I was too exhausted on multiple levels. I just waited for his malice to release itself on me…