From one of my out-of-print books.
“Hi,” he said in a deep, mellow voice.
“Hi.” I bit my lip. “Um, you’re on the wrong side, you know?”
“I would be if I cared about the game.” He shrugged. “It isn’t all that interesting. I figured it would be a good way to get out of town for a little while, since my school was kind enough to provide bus service for anyone who wanted to come.”
“Oh. Cool.” I didn’t know what else to say. Something about him left me pretty much tongue-tied, and I didn’t have any idea if I should even try to talk to him.
I definitely didn’t want him to walk away. I wanted to have a conversation with the guy. I just didn’t want to sound like an idiot during it.
“So what is there to do around here besides watching basketball?” He glanced around. “There must be something.”
“I think if you take a school bus to a game, you’re supposed to stick with your school.” Yep, I’d made an idiot out of myself before the conversation had even gotten off the ground. What the heck was wrong with me?
He laughed. “Yeah, probably. I don’t really care. And you don’t have to worry about it anyway, right? You didn’t take a bus, did you?”
“No.” I paused, trying to come up with a way to cover my stupidity. “Um, there’s a diner a couple of streets over and a donut shop right down the street. A lot of kids from my school go to the donut shop.”
“Then let’s go to the diner, because I don’t want to run into a lot of kids from your school.” He laughed again. “You’re acting pretty nervous. Don’t let the appearance fool you. I’m not a serial killer. I just like to act like one sometimes.”
When I thought about it for a couple seconds, I figured he had to be kidding. The fact that I’d had to stop and think about it proved how stupid I was being. With this guy around, my brain had gone on vacation. “I didn’t think you planned to murder me,” I said.
“You don’t have any idea why this weird guy from the enemy school wandered over to talk to you. Don’t worry about it. Show me the way to the diner and all shall be revealed.”
Even though I was kind of confused, I chuckled at the last comment. “Hang on for a minute, okay? I need to let my friends know I’m leaving.”
“Just a minute.”
I hurried back up the bleachers. “What’s going on?” Jebbi asked. “Who are you talking to?”
“A friend.” It wasn’t really a lie. The guy and I were becoming friends or something. “I’m going to go, okay? Call me later and tell me who won.”
“What’s going on, V.J.?”
Jebbi and her questions. She wouldn’t let up until she had an answer, and I didn’t have time to give her one right then. Not to mention I didn’t really have one, since I wasn’t sure myself what was going on. “He’s from the other school, and he wants to talk to me about something. Please call me later and I’ll fill you in then.” I glanced at the other people sitting around us.
Lucky for me, she took the hint. “Okay. You’d better actually explain and not avoid me.”
“I’ll do my best. See you later.”
I went back down to the guy, who stood there obviously amused. “She your girlfriend or something?”
“No. I don’t have a girlfriend.” It seemed important to say so. “She’s just my friend, and I didn’t want to bail on her without telling her I was leaving.”
“So you don’t mind bailing on her.” His eyes twinkled. “Come on. Diner. I’ll buy you French fries or something.”
We walked away from the court, side by side, almost close enough to touch. If I’d ever actually dare to touch another guy while we were near my school, that would be a pretty good way to have someone call me a fag or worse, and I didn’t want to test the hypothesis.
“I’m Landon,” he said once we’d gone outside. It was really cold and had started to snow, but I didn’t care. It was just flurries. It wouldn’t stick.