We pulled up to the minimum-security prison where a punk kid with blue jeans and a leather jacket waited, leaning against the fence. There was something about him I didn’t like. Maybe it was just because I knew he’d very recently been in prison for doing drugs, and when I say recently, I mean a few minutes prior.
When my car stopped, Christine hopped out of the backseat before I shifted into park. She ran to Eddie and threw her arms around his neck and he lifted her into his arms.
Before I could process what was happening, they were kissing, I mean, like, really kissing.
“Uh… he’s not just your neighbor.” I gulped. “He’s Christine’s boyfriend.”
Carl said, “Yeah.” But it sounded more like Duh.
I just drove the girl I have a huge crush on, an hour, to go pick up her boyfriend. Her boyfriend. I was such a schmuck. And now I had to drive them an hour back.
“Can you go get them so we can go home,” I asked Carl. I was way beyond done watching them make out.
He opened the passenger side door and hurried over to Eddie, breaking apart the lovers from their make-out session. The two guys hugged and gave each other fist bumps and hugged again. I could tell they genuinely cared about one another. I tried very hard to push aside my disappointment that I’d never have the chance to date Christine and be happy for the reunited friends.
Finally, they came walking in my direction, Christine and Eddie holding hands. Eddie held open the door for Christine right behind me. Darn, I should have gotten out to open the door for her.
Why did I luck out to have him be a gentleman? Why couldn’t he have been a total jerk who treated her like crap, and I’d be there to dry her eyes when they broke up.
Okay, that was really cruel of me. I needed to be happy for them. If I’d been alone, I’d have probably cried or punched something.
As Eddie walked around the back of the car I glanced in the mirror and caught Christine’s gaze. She sort of half shrugged. I had to look away.
Carl slid in the passenger seat and Eddie got in the back seat right behind him. He reached over the seat to shake my hand and I reluctantly shook his back. “Hey man, thank you so much for driving all the way out here. I owe you one.”
“No problem,” I said. What I thought was, you can pay me back by dumping your girlfriend so I can ask her out.
“I can at least get you gas money,” Eddie said.
“Trust me, I don’t need your money,” I grumbled as I put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking spot. Was that ever true. These guys had no idea.
“What do you think of this car, Eddie?” Carl turned almost completely around so he was looking at his friend, or rather Christine’s boyfriend. “You should see the engine. It’s spotless. This thing is brand new.”
“What year is this?” Eddie asked, running his hands along the smooth leather.
“2020.” I knew this conversation would come up eventually. What was I supposed to do? Lie?
“What? How the heck did you swing that?” Carl asked. “The 2019’s just came out.”
“I have some connections,” I said. They all stared at me with jaws dropped.
“What kind of connections?” Why did Eddie suddenly seem very interested and friendly?
“The kind that involve Lansing, Washington D.C. and the upper-level judicial system.” That should shut him up. If he knew who my father was, he would get out and walk home. He wouldn’t be looking at me like a cash cow; he’d realize that saying the wrong thing in front of me could land him right back in jail.
Eddie sat back in my expensive leather seats and gulped. I didn’t exactly narrow my eyes at him through the rearview mirror, but close. He was the first to look away. He put on a fake smile and reached for Christine’s hand.
I liked that the back seat was wide enough for three people so that in order for him to get close to Christine he would have to sit in the middle of the seat and directly in my line of sight. As it was, he leaned over and spoke in what he thought was a whisper.
“It’s been a long time since we were in the backseat of a car together.”
“I’m pretty sure we’ve never been in the back seat of a car together,” Christine said. Was that annoyance? Anger? I liked the way she emphasized the word never. I was almost positive it was directed at me and I got her message loud and clear. Our eyes met through the rearview mirror and I raised my brows.
“I’m glad it’s only an hour drive.” Eddie kissed Christine’s neck.
“You know, we are in mixed company,” Christine said, pushing him away slightly.
He lifted her hand to his lips like an old-fashioned gentleman greeting a lady, then said the most un-gentlemanly thing he could. “I can’t wait to get you alone.”
“Hey guys,” I interrupted. “I need to swing into my house to grab something. Do you mind if we stop? It’s right on the way.”
“Sure, that’s cool,” Carl said.
“What do you need to grab from your house?” Eddie sounded suspicious, maybe even jealous. Good.
“Uh…” Think, Dylan. What do I need from my house? Like a gift from the gods, my stomach growled. “Food. I’m starving since we didn’t stop for dinner before driving all the way over there to get Eddie. You guys are probably hungry too. Right? Basketball practice went long tonight.”
I didn’t wait for them to answer, just touched the keypad on the dashboard and spoke aloud, “Call mom.” The ringing projected into the car.
“Hi sweetie,” my mom’s voice answered.
“Hey mom, I got a couple friends with me. Do you mind if we swing by and get some grub?”
“Don’t mind at all,” she said. “What are you guys hungry for? I’ll have Sylvie whip something together.”
“Eddie?” I looked into the backseat. “You probably haven’t had a decent meal in years. What are you hungry for?” Did I just smirk at him? Maybe. He narrowed his eyes then smirked right back at me.
“I’ve been longing for a nice, thick steak with baked potatoes and butter and broccoli.”
“That sounds wonderful,” my mom said. I loved it that everyone in the car could hear what she said and vise verse. “I’ll go help Sylvie. How long before you’ll be here?”
“Less than half an hour,” I said.
“Okay, see you then. I look forward to meeting your new friends.”
“Thanks, Mom.” We said our goodbyes and I touched the screen to turn off the call.
Was I showing off? Maybe. Did I care? Not really. They’d find out eventually that I was incredibly rich, might as well show Christine’s boyfriend what he was competing against. Game on.