Vamp0, p.1

Vamp.0, page 1



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  Copyright ? 2010 by Deborah Krider

  "Get out of my way punk!"

  I felt a rough shove on my back and I clattered to the ground. Books flew out of my arms and my chin bounced off the concrete floor.

  Laughter echoed around me. Hurt and humiliated, I gathered my belongings, keeping my eyes cast down. I didn't need to see who pushed me or even hear the harsh voice that spoke. I knew who it was by the familiar shove. Kyle Walker.

  "Have a nice trip, freak-boy?" More laughter followed.

  When I finally looked up, I saw the back of that big lummox and his Neanderthal friends walking away. Kids that flooded the hall resumed retrieving their things from their lockers and clanked them shut. So used to seeing this sort of spectacle, they'd already grown bored of me and I became invisible for the time being as I balanced my books in the crook of my arm and stood.

  My name is Ethan Ennis, and being called names like, Eatin' Penis, and Eat More Anus, for the last three years by The Bullies has made me popular in the most undesirable way.

  Once Kyle called me Beatin' Penis in front of Mr. Carter in history class. Instead of reprimanding him, the teacher turned his attention to the chalkboard to stifle a cough-snort that was a poorly disguised laugh. I guess it didn't help that Mr. Carter was also the football coach so teasing like that to him wasn't only normal, but perhaps expected.

  My mom called me Lucky yet I have no idea why. With all of the freak accidents and bad fortune I sure didn't feel very lucky. Perhaps it was because I survived it all that she felt I was lucky. I guess it depends on how you look at things.

  Mom found out I was allergic to peanuts when I was ten months old. I don't remember it, but after one bite of a peanut butter cracker, I swelled up and began gasping for breath. We barely made it to the hospital before anaphylactic shock completely closed my throat.

  At seven I was hit by a car while dashing out to retrieve my basketball. I lay in the hospital for three weeks after receiving a blood transfusion and some fifteen hundred stitches to my head, arm and hip.

  At twelve I learned about tapeworms the hard way. Pretending to live off the land like Daniel Boone, I caught a fish from a small river that runs through my back yard. I cleaned it, built a small fire, and cooked it. Evidently not well enough. It took almost three months to get the correct diagnosis. Three months of intermittent diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. And although extremely rare to develop anemia from a tapeworm, I did.

  I spent another three days in the hospital after getting struck by lightening when I was fourteen. Well, struck isn't quite correct. I got zapped a good one through the ground. Enough to melt my shoes and produce second and third degree burns on my feet and ankles.

  "Lucky, you are lucky to be alive!" My mother told me as I lay in the hospital bed.

  Uncle Dan, the clown and joker of my mom's siblings said, "You won't be calling him that if he gets fried again!"

  I didn't get hit by lightening again but the next year while screwing in a light bulb, I got a sharp electric shock. I lost my balance on the ladder and crashed to the ground. Back to the hospital for a broken arm.

  In addition to the accidents both great and small, I had to deal with roughly four colds a year, the flu every year without fail, and my multitude of allergies.

  Maybe all that wouldn't have been so bad if I were good looking and popular or at least athletic. I was tall and lanky. Skinny really. A hundred and ten pounds soaking wet. And I was clumsy. If Kyle wasn't humiliating me, I managed to do it to myself by tripping up the stairs or walking into doors.

  Zack Dibeck transferred to our school from Texas in the middle of my sophomore year. For a week or so, I felt hopeful that his presence would take the attention off me. Zack was the only Goth in school and because of that I believed he would be a prime target for Kyle and his buddies. His black hair, eyeliner, and painted nails, and his extremely pale skin made him stand out in a crowd worse than me. And I loved it! Finally, I could fade into the background and let Zack take center stage.

  But my hope was a fleeting thing.

  Kyle completely ignored Zack. In fact, I think Kyle was afraid of Zack.

  I heard about something that happened from my friend Jeremy (a guy Kyle called pizza-face for obvious reasons). Jeremy said he was in one of the first floor bathrooms washing his hands when Zack came in. Zack was nice enough to say hello, then went to the urinals. A half a minute later Kyle and a couple of his buddies came strutting in the bathroom, all loud and laughing.

  Jeremy said he bent down closer to the sink hoping to be ignored. But of course, Kyle couldn't resist an easy opportunity to torment. Kyle was the kind of guy that would stomp through a little kids sand castle then call him a pansy when he started to cry.

  Anyway, he grabbed the back of Jeremy's neck and tried to force his face into the sink and under the running water.

  "Take a drink, jerk!" Kyle ordered while his friends laughed.

  Jeremy struggled against his assailant, but it was a losing battle. His face edged slowly towards the hot running water.

  "C'mon, pizza face! Wash it. Maybe it'll help!"

  "Let him go," Zack commanded.

  Kyle released his grip, and Jeremy backed up against the wall.

  "What'd you say, freak?" Kyle moved closer to Zack who had zipped up. Maybe you need your face washed, punk. Wash off some of that disgusting make up. What are you? A queer?"

  "The only queer in this room is you."

  Jeremy said it looked like Kyle just got slapped. His friends stood motionless behind him.

  "You better watch your mouth. Do you know who you're talking to?"

  But all the power went out of Kyle's voice. It was almost a whisper.

  "Yes, I know who I'm talking to. Kyle Walker. The only nineteen-year-old student in the school. For someone as stupid as you, you'd think you'd be a little nicer to people." Zack walked closer. "You got anything else you want to say?"

  "You'd better watch it," Kyle repeated.

  "Or what?" Zack asked calmly, still advancing on Kyle.

  Kyle shook his head. Jeremy said he was sweating and shaking. I found the whole thing utterly unbelievable.

  "Or what?" Zack asked and hammered a pointed finger into Kyle's chest. He crumpled a little but didn't back off.

  "Or what?" He pounded again.

  "I'll get you. When you least expect it, I'll get you." Kyle started to back up towards the door. His boys did the same.

  "No you won't," Zack sounded like he was bored with the whole thing.

  They left, and Zack turned to my friend.

  "You okay?"

  Jeremy nodded. Zack walked out. And that was that.

  If it were anyone other than Jeremy telling me this, I wouldn't have believed it. Who the heck was this guy that could scare the worst bully in Creekmore High School?

  I thought about approaching Zack in hopes of becoming an acquaintance if not a friend. I wanted him on my side. But I couldn't figure out an 'in'. He was always alone and exuded unapproachable vibes. He moved through the halls alone. He read while he ate his lunch by himself. You'd think a guy like Zack would read something by Jack Priest or James Rollins. But I never noticed him with anything dark. Instead, the books he read in the cafeteria or study hall were Henry David Thoreau, Jack London, and Joseph Campbell. Can you picture a Goth in combat boots reading about Thoreau's solitary life on Walden Pond or Campbell's views on mythology?

  One day in the middle of February I entered the loud cafeteria on a mission to at least introduce myself to him.

  It started of terribly. After getting my tray loaded with a burrito and some sugar cookies, I paid and walked towards the tables. Kyle passed me and gave me a
leg sweep. My food went flying in the air. The cookies looked like clay pigeons waiting for some cowboy with a couple of six-shooters to fill them with holes.

  Once again the familiar laughter followed.

  "Kyle Walker, get over here!" Anton Wright, a hall monitor, ordered, and the whole cafeteria hushed. When Mr. Wright talked, everybody listened. Even Kyle didn't mouth off to him like he did with other teachers. He was a big, tough, black guy, whose voice when raised sounded like Burt Lancaster with a bullhorn.

  I bent to scoop up my burrito that had exploded on contact.

  "Ethan, leave that alone. Kyle's going to clean that up."

  "Aw, Mr. Wright!"

  "Not one word out of you."

  Mr. Wright made Kyle step into line and fetch me a fresh tray and food. He handed it to me with a smoldering look of promised pain in the future. I hate bullies. Even when they do wrong it's not their fault. Fairness to them was blame and beat up everyone around them without any consequences for themselves.

  I took the tray and turned. I wish I had it in me to just stand there and gloat while he got on his hands and knees to clean up the floor. But I was going to get my ass kicked anyway. I didn't want to make it worse than it was already going to be.

  As it turned out, there really was no other place to sit than across from Zack. I placed my tray down and kept my eyes cast on it. Any courage that I might have had to try to talk to him had vanished.

  He used the paper cover of Call of the Wild to
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