This is the first story I posted to Writing.com, which was the start of my writing journey. That site helped me grow so much as a writer.
Adrian yanked open the door of Marc’s green BMW and climbed into the back seat. As the car sped away from the curb, he saw his mother watching from the kitchen window. Her eyes were sad.
Ever since his father took off, she’d been moping around the house, hardly cooking, wanting to know everything Adrian was doing and who with. It was getting pretty annoying.
“Your old lady give you a hard time?” Marc asked. Beside him, Gordie giggled.
“Yeah, did you have to ask your mommy if you could go for a ride, Adrian?”
“Shut up, Gordie,” Adrian muttered, trying to find a comfortable place to put his long legs. He knew it was stupid, but just once he’d like to be the one in the front seat with Marc. It was like the place of honor, so why was Gordie always up there? He was a total and complete imbecile. Everybody knew that. Marc didn’t seem to mind, though, so there wasn’t really anything Adrian could do about it.
“What’s the plan for tonight, Marc?”
“Something special, Adrian. Show him, Gord.”
Gordie grinned, flashing teeth desperately in need of an orthodontist, and reached into his jacket. He brought his arm up and over the seat and stuck a huge black pistol right in Adrian’s face.
“Cool, ain’t it, Panzer? Cool! Too cool for you!”
“That’s enough, Gordie,” Marc said, grabbing the gun away. Adrian sagged, adrenaline rushing through his body.
“What he hell was that? You trying to kill me, you ignorant ape?” Gordie flipped him the bird, dark eyebrows pulled down over his black eyes, lip pushed out. Adrian’s pulse beat so hard in his head that he could barely hear Marc talking.
“Listen, Adrian,” he said, glancing in the rear view mirror. “You know that convenience store on Elm Street? The one Jed used to work at?”
“You mean the One Stop Shop?”
“Yeah. That’s it.” Marc smoothly turned a corner, and Adrian marveled at how smooth the expensive car ran.
“What about it?” As soon as the words left his mouth Adrian knew. It just clicked in his mind, and for a minute his brain stopped working.
“We need beer,” Marc continued. “And I don’t have any money, so…” His voice trailed off, cold eyes watchful in the mirror. For Marc to say he had no money was a joke. Adrian would have laughed if his mouth weren’t so dry. Marc ALWAYS had money. You only had to look at his clothing and the car he drove to know he was just rolling in dough.
“I’ve got enough for a six-pack,” Adrian began. “We don’t have to–”
“That’s not the point, Adrian,” Marc interrupted, and the temperature in the car dropped. “The point is, hitting that place is our caper for the night, get it? Unless, of course, you’re afraid of what your mommy might say.”
Adrian chewed the inside of his cheek. There was a lot riding on this, he knew. His whole reputation hinged on this prank, that much was clear.
“He won’t do it,” Gordie jeered. “He’s too much of a goody-goody.” He pursed his thick lips and folded his hands. “Maybe he needs to pray about it,” he mocked, and Marc laughed.
The blood rushed to Adrian’s head and he spoke through clenched teeth. “Let’s do it.”
Marc parked across the street from the gas station. Adrian felt a weird sort of excitement, something forbidden.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” Marc said, and Adrian tore his eyes away from the store with an effort. “Gordie, you get the money. Nothing fancy. Just tell him to put it in a bag.”
“And if he don’t, bang! Bang!” Gordie mimed shooting the gun and Adrian shuddered. Sweat trickled down the back of his neck although the evening was cool.
“Adrian, you’re the lookout. I want you to case the store first. Keep the clerk from getting nervous, you know.”
“I don’t know, Marc,” Adrian said, and Marc raised his eyebrows.
“What is it you don’t know?”
“Panzer is a pansy, Panzer is a pansy,” Gordie chanted in a sing-song voice. Adrian flushed.
“I mean, a gun?” He meant Gordie with a gun, but Marc either didn’t understand or pretended not to.
“Yeah, Adrian, a gun. Kind of hard to rob a store without a GUN.” Adrian gave up then. The scorn in Marc’s voice cut him too deeply to ignore. He knew if he chickened out, it would be all over the school tomorrow. Gordie he didn’t care about, but Marc was the one who mattered, and if he decided Adrian wasn’t cool anymore, then Adrian wasn’t.
“So, are we all going in there?” Adrian tried to smile but his mouth wouldn’t work. Marc smirked.
“You and Gordie. I’m the get away car.”
Gordie and Adrian got out of the car, Gordie capering like the idiot he was, waving that big black gun around.
“Put that away, you idiot,” Adrian hissed,earning a dirty look. But the ape stuck it in the waistband of his baggy jeans at least. Gordie strutted across the street, chin up, swaggering proudly. Adrian followed more slowly, each step harder than the last one.
Inside the clerk hulked behind the counter, eyeing them as they entered. They were the only ones in the store. Gordie made as if to go right up there and Adrian yanked him down an aisle.
“Hey! Leggo me!”
“Listen, jackass,”Adrian whispered. “If we don’t act like we’re going to buy something, the clerk will know something’s up.” After a minute Gordie nodded and grabbed a six-pack of Miller Light and shuffled back up to the front.
Adrian drifted to the doors, checking the pumps.
Good. Still empty. Marc’s car idled across the street. When he turned toward the counter, the clerk was asking Gordie for some I.D.
“Here’s my I.D.,” Gordie crowed, and pulled out the pistol. The clerk’s eyes got big.
“Hey, I don’t want any trouble.”
“I want the money. Put it in a bag. Now.” Gordie waved the gun in the guy’s face.
“Okay. Just a minute. I gotta get a bag. There’s one right down here.” The clerk reached beneath the counter.
Adrian went cold. “Gordie! He’s gonna–!”
But it was too late. The guy whipped out a sawed-off shotgun and pulled the trigger. BOOM! Gordie flew backwards into the Dolly Madison display, spilling snack cakes across the floor.
For a second Adrian thought Gordie was okay, maybe shot in the shoulder or something. Then he saw it: a red pool leaking from beneath his head, spreading in an ever-widening circle.
His stomach twisted and he went down on his hands and knees, spewing his supper. One of his hands landed in the wet and he uttered a strangled cry, scooting backwards until he hit the wall.
“Don’t you move!” The clerk screamed, pointing the shotgun at him. “You stay right there or I’ll blow your freaking head off, just like your friend over there.”
He’s not my friend, Adrian wanted to say, but the words eluded him. He heard screeching tires and knew Marc was cutting out. He scrubbed his hands on his jeans over and over, trying to get the red off.
The cops burst in a minute later, stepping over Gordie like he was a piece of furniture. One of the officers slammed Adrian down hard on the cold floor and wrenched his arms behind his back. His face was inches from Gordie’s destroyed head. A coppery smell filled his nostrils. His stomach lurched, and he puked again.
The officer yanked him roughly to his feet. He seemed to be talking or something, but Adrian couldn’t hear past the roaring in his ears. He just kept remembering his mother’s eyes as he was led to the waiting patrol car. He knew her eyes were going to become even sadder.
Later, after the humiliating experience of being fingerprinted and photographed, Adrian was led to a small, box like room. Two men in white dress shirts and ties waited inside.
“Sit down, Adrian,” one said. He was tall, with a receding hairline and a goatee. He smiled at Adrian and indicated the folding chair drawn up to a small table. The other man, stocky and blonde, glowered and said nothing.
Adrian sat down on the hard chair and swallowed hard. No one spoke for a moment.
“Okay, Adrian,” Goatee said. “Why don’t you tell us what went down tonight?”
“Am I going to jail?” Adrian couldn’t believe the tiny voice that came out of his mouth belonged to him.
“That depends,” Goatee answered.
“On what you tell us. If you don’t tell us everything, or you lie to us, things could get really bad for you, Adrian. Real bad. You could be charged as an adult, you know. Your friend was killed. His parents could sue.”
“He wasn’t my friend, and I didn’t kill him!”
“If he wasn’t your friend,” Blondie said, “then why did you hold up that store with him?”
Adrian stared at the table. He didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know about Marc; should he tell them?
“We’ve already talked to the D.A., Adrian,” the blonde detective said suddenly, getting in Adrian’s face. “She wants to charge you with armed robbery and send you to Oak Dale. You know what Oak Dale is, don’t you?”
Oak Dale was the juvenile detention center in the next town, known for its violent reputation.
“Yeah, I know,” Adrian said, chewing his lip.
“A pretty boy like you would get chewed up and spit out,” the blonde detective said smugly.
Adrian stared at the table and made his decision. “There was someone else,” he said slowly, and began telling them about Marc.
** *** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
Adrian walked out of the courtroom with his mother, totally humiliated. The judge had made him feel like a coward and an idiot. He knew he ought to consider himself lucky he wasn’t going to Oak Dale, but it was hard.
“Don’t worry,” his mother said, taking his arm. “Three years probation isn’t so bad. It could have been a lot worse.”
“I know,” he muttered, jerking his arm away. But it could have been a lot better if he had a rich father like Marc. Marc’s dad had hired a hot shot lawyer who’d convinced the judge it was all a huge mistake or something, and Marc ended up without any probation at all. The robbery had been his idea, too. It wasn’t fair.
Adrian didn’t realize he’d said the words out loud until his mother smiled sadly.
“Nothing’s fair, Adrian, especially for people like us.”
Adrian stepped out into the warm sunshine and took his mother’s hand.