“Faggot!” Michael heard behind him just before someone slammed him into a bank of lockers. His head painfully hit a jagged corner and when he brought his hand up to his face he felt warm, slippery liquid under his fingers. He turned to watch his assailants walk away laughing, but caught the eye of Jason Darant, star athlete of St. Henry High School. Jason ducked his head and rapidly averted his gaze before laughing at something one of his cronies was saying.
“Mr. Shultz,” his third period teacher said to him. “You seem to be bleeding.”
“Yes M’am,” Michael mumbled.
“You seem to be bleeding a little too often these days,” Ms Fisher said, raising an eyebrow. “Please go see the nurse before you mess up my floor.”
“Before you get AIDS all over everything. Freak,” the pretty blond girl beside him whispered.
By the time Michael got home his eye had turned a dark purple, making the white Steri-strips stand out against the puffy skin on his cheek. He breathed a sigh of relief as the door closed the outside world off behind him. “Mom, I’m home,” he called out to the quiet house. The silence was broken only by the soft ticks of the old grandfather clock. “Mom?”
Michael wandered into the kitchen and found a hastily scrawled note on the kitchen counter. “Taking Astrid to the Vet. Be back soon. Luv Mom.” Something on the stove smelled delicious, and when he lifted the lid Michael saw that his mom had been making beef stew before she had left. His favourite. The pot was still warm so he turned the heat back on under it before going into his room. His stomach gurgled at the thought of the stew; he hadn’t had lunch because without Janie at school he had been afraid to go into the cafeteria. Janie, all four foot six of her, was his only protector in the hell which was St. Henry’s. Everyone, even the staff, was afraid of Janie’s diatribes.
Michael was just finishing his supper when he heard the door open and people laughing in the hallway. Great, he thought. He wasn’t in any mood to entertain people. Astrid came running into the kitchen bouncing off everything in her path; she was wearing a large cone attached to her collar. Michael smiled, she looked so silly.
“She got stuck in the fence and ended up with a couple of stitches,” his mother said. “What happened to your face?” She grabbed his chin and pulled it into the light. “Don’t tell me it was gym class again.”
“Oh my goodness Michael what happened?” Mrs. Darant exclaimed as she walked into the room. The two women would have gone on fussing over him all night had he not pulled himself away.
“Michael, I have the best news ever,” his mother said. “Your father, and Jonah, are both flying home on the same flight. So we are going to pick them up tonight.” Michael smiled up at his mother just before he saw a scowling Jason Darant standing awkwardly at the doorway. “Anna and I are going in our car, you and Jason will take theirs,” his mother said smiling. “I’m sure you two will find something to talk about on the way there. I remember how you two would talk all night during every sleep over.”
“This wasn’t my idea,” Jason said before turning the volume way up on the stereo.
Michael did not reply he just pulled his hood up and scrunched down in the seat. They traveled for an hour, not speaking, not even looking at each other. Michael was just starting to nod off when suddenly the rear end of the car began to slide. One second they were on the road, the next they were flying end over end down the side of a mountain.
When Michael woke up it was pitch black. He was cold and his whole body ached. “Jason?” he asked tentatively. “Jason. You okay?”
There was a long pause before Jason replied. “I’m here,” Jason said, his voice hoarse.
“I can’t see anything,” Michael said. Michael tried to sit up and found to his surprise that nothing seemed to be broken although he couldn’t feel his left arm, and when he reached over with his right found that it was wedged tightly in between the two seats. Try as he may he couldn’t free it. “I’m stuck,” he said. Michael pulled his small MP3 player from his pocket and turned it on; the pale, blue light from the screen was enough to see by.
“I think my right leg is broken,” Jason said grimacing with pain. “And I can’t feel my left one.”
Michael leaned over as far as his pinned arm would let him and shone his makeshift flashlight over Jason’s legs. “The dash is crushed down on them. I can’t see too much,” he said. He sat back up. “Have you tried your phone?”
He could hear Jason panting with pain. “It’s in my jacket in the back,” he said. “Mikey, I’m hurtin.”
Michael tried opening the glove box and when it wouldn’t budge he kicked at it until it popped open. It was crammed full of napkins from fast food joints, old CD’s, an owner’s manual, a small pen light. Then, BINGO, a Swiss Army knife! He clicked on the flashlight, and suddenly the interior of the car lit up, he set it on the dash then used the knife to cut the fabric away from his seat. It took some doing but eventually he had the heavy cloth peeled back and could see how his arm was pinned. He had to move the seat back to get it out. “You need to grab my arm and pull when I move the seat,” he told Jason. “On three.” He pulled the lever and took a deep breath, he counted to two, then shoved the seat back as hard as he could. “Three.” He screamed once as the seat popped back and Jason yanked his arm out.
“Shit man,” Jason said. “It’s really busted.”
Michael spun around and grabbed Jason’s jacket off the floor, he pulled the phone out and dialled 911. The ring tone stopped at three. “The cellular customer you are trying is not in…”
“Let me see,” Jason said. He stared at the display. “No bars.”
Michael draped the jacket over Jason’s body. “I’m going to climb up and see if I can get some bars,” he said.
“This is Seven Mile hill,” Jason said. “We could be hanging on a ledge. You have to wait until morning.” He grabbed Michael by the arm. “I wouldn’t go if it was you.”
“Yes you would,” Michael said then grabbed the door handle.
Michael knew that if he waited until morning Jason would be dead. He had seen a huge pool of blood under his legs already. Jason was slowly bleeding to death. In the end he had to kick the back window out so he could get out of the car before scrambling onto the roof where he used a large tree branch to help drag himself up onto solid ground.
“The paramedic that brought you guys in said he has no idea how you made it up that hill at night,” the doctor in the ER said to Michael. “Lucky for your friend, though – another hour and he would have bled to death.”
Jason looked up from his bed, which was surrounded by a sea of letterman jackets, first at the doctor, then over at Michael. “He’s not my friend,” he whispered. “He’s my best friend.”
Image from Clip Art