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3: Tramps & Trumps
“Out of the way, sluts,” said several girls at once. We knew this wasn’t like our playful banter, this was The Trumps. Every school has a trio like them. The prima donna divas of the school hall. You can always spot them by their haughty, self assured walk, or the way their expensive clothes set the weekly trends of high school fashion. They always play with their hair in class, flipping it back and forth to be noticed, whether it is blond, ginger, or brown this week. And with one look they can stop a conversation or create a new one that everyone wants to hear. Girls either fear them or want to be part of their clique. Boys want to sleep with them, or at the very least, get to second base, which I’m told is pretty automatic. If you are good looking enough to get a date, it’s not going to be a wasted night.
We called them The Trumps because they acted like the rich elite of the whole school. Seeing themselves as Goddesses or something, they made like they were better than everyone else, and if anyone, boy or girl, went against them, the retaliation was vicious. Bullying was an art with The Trumps. In fact, rumor had it Amanda Trump had bullied Samantha Connor into attempting suicide last year. Sam’s only crime had been that she had unsightly burns from a house fire on the right side of her face and arm, which meant just about everybody could pick on her and get away with it. In addition, she had bright red hair, which just added to the ridicule as everyone teased her with the name “firestarter.” Amanda Trump of course, with not a sympathetic thought for anyone, went a little further and tried to set her on fire every time she saw her in the hall. When Samantha walked by, she’d run up behind her, flicking a lighter and attempting to ignite her clothes. On the outside, the girl seemed to ignore the taunting, but apparently it wasn’t like that on the inside. One night Samantha Connor took an overdose of sleeping pills and set her bedroom on fire. Maybe she thought she was just finishing the job the fire should have done years ago, but she survived the attempt and her parents promptly moved the family far away, claiming the school officials dragged its feet on the bullying issue. But since Amanda’s mom was on the school board, and no one could prove Samantha’s attempt was a result of being harassed by a student or students, everything was swept under the rug. Personally, I think Amanda should have been beaten with the rug.
The other Trumps, Chrissie and Kari, were actually cousins and they absolutely hated anyone that Amanda told them to, which at that moment in time happened to be Angela. It wasn’t her fault; just like Samantha Connor, she just happened to be the wrong person in this life. And she also happened to be the ex-girlfriend of Amanda’s current boy toy, Devin McCullough. What was silly about that was that Devin and Angela had been going together in the sixth grade and that was like four years ago. You would think if Angela still wanted him she would have made her move by now. Of course, try to explain that to The Trumps.
After shoving Angela into me, Amanda, with a self assured flip of her strawberry blond hair, gave her a look that said, “I dare you to say something.” I helped my friend steady herself as the girls passed by. Chrissie and Kari, both mimicking Amanda with a similar toss of the hair, snickered like the trained monkeys they were. You have seen this very scene in teen movies since the dawn of time, and if you think its all make believe, you’re wrong. This happens all the time. And unlike the movies there would be no one riding in to save the day. There were no heroes here, just cowards and villains. As if to prove that point, Colin Deeds, the biggest coward of Chelsea Valley, came up to us and handed Angela her math book, which she had dropped.
“You shouldn’t tangle with them,” he said, trying to sound like he was offering solid advice. But like Samantha, Colin was one of those kids whom no one seemed to associate with, or even wanted to. He had unkempt, greasy brown hair. Acne dotted his face, marking his cheeks and planting one unsightly pimple on the side of his nose. His clothes were always mismatched, nothing going together, not even the color of his socks, which you could see because he wore his pants so high. If there was a nerdiest geek in school, Colin was it.
Because of this, I gave him a look one reserves for an irritating gnat that has managed to reach places you’d rather they hadn’t.
“What do you know?” I said and jerked the book out of his hands.
Angela was still embarrassed from the push Amanda had given her, but I knew it was an even bigger embarrassment knowing a nerd boy like Colin had been witness to the whole event.
“What do you want, Colin?”
The boy looked at Angela and stammered out his answer. “I…I just wanted to help.”
“It would help if you’d get lost,” she said.
“Oh. Oh, okay.” He hung his head for a moment and started to walk away. He reminded me of a pup that had been beaten, but with the devotion of a pet, he looked up and said, “Have a nice summer vacation.” Then, he moved off down the hallway, his book bag slung over his shoulder, nervously running his fingers through his never combed hair.
As Angela and I started off in the opposite direction, I looked at her. “Maybe we shouldn’t have been so mean to him.”
She shook her head. “He’s a pest. He’s been crushing after me since grade school.”
“Yeah, he lives right down the street from me. Sits outside on the curb waiting for me to come out. Rides his bike in the alley behind our house. He even buys me stuff and gets one of his nerd buddies to give it to me. I mean, some of it’s cool stuff, but I don’t like him like that, and I swear to God I never will.”
“Hey, no God swearing.”
“Oh. Forgot about your God thing.”
Angela knows I believe in God. She doesn’t put much stock in it though. It’s not something that affects our friendship. I just think she’s been taught not to believe by her parents and teachers alike. It’s that kind of world now and something we just don’t talk about.
As if to prove that, she changed the subject. “I don’t think I want to go to sixth period.”
Knowing that one of the Trumps was in that class, I didn’t blame her. But also knowing we couldn’t leave campus, I was at a loss. “What do you want to do then?” I asked.
“I got a couple smokes.”
I smiled. Her mom smoked these cocktail cigarettes she kept in this fancy flat box. They were rolled up in pretty colored paper and had a stronger scent than your usual blend. I think you were only supposed to smoke one, and then only with your favorite after dinner drink. We didn’t have any alcohol, but we did have a bathroom stall that had an air vent overhead to blow the pungent smoke up into. I knew I’d have to walk part of the way home just to get the smell off my clothes but that was okay. I was never in a hurry to get home most days anyway. But then again, most days up until now didn’t include trying to introduce yourself to the vampire next door.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D. Aronson.
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