31 Ocak 2023

A Boy’s Last Summer

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Amateur

This is my entry for the summer writing contest. Please remember to vote at the end and I hope you enjoy the story!

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Being awoken by his alarm clock was usually bad enough, when his mother got in on the act it was often decidedly worse, and on this particular morning, David Cross enjoyed the distinct displeasure of both things happening. The first, because even though he had graduated the night prior, he had forgotten to switch the alarm off and it did its duty by trying to wake him for a non-existent school day. The latter, because he had left his cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter after staggering in from a graduation party at four a.m.

“David! This silly thing has rung at least four times in the last hour. Why don’t you try answering it!” snapped his annoyed mother after she burst into his room unannounced.

“Jesus, Mom! What time is it?” he grumbled from beneath the covers.

“11:00 A.M., and high time you got up,” she replied, tossing the phone onto his bed and going over to raise his blinds.

“Holy crap!” moaned David, who caught a burst of sunlight even through the sheet covering his eyes.

“David! Language!”

“Sorry…”

His mother moved off muttering to herself what sounded like a list of grocery items.

David stayed in his bed and slowly lowered the covers. He drew in a breath as his eyes adjusted to the light feeling the urge to continue sleeping drain away. The phone on the bed seemed heavier than usual as he lifted it in one hand just in time for it to ring loudly, nearly startling him into dropping it. The name flashing on the display said “Christopher Michaels,” and David answered the call with a sigh.

“Good news travels fast,” said David in a voice still tinged with exhaustion.

“So it’s true,” came the voice from the other side of the call.

The voice belonged to one of his best friends, and the only one not to attend the party the previous night.

“How are you taking it?”

“How am I taking my girlfriend of almost three years dumping me on graduation night for the guy I hate the most on the planet? Gosh, I don’t know, Chris, how do you think?”

“I know, that was seriously cold. She could have at least waited until after the party.”

David’s heart already seeming like a lead weight in his chest gained a few more ounces sinking toward his feet.

“Yeah, I had to stand there and pretend like it wasn’t bothering me while she and Alex hung all over each other.”

His mind drifted back to the festivities he had attended after graduation. Everything had started wonderfully. The party had been thrown at his friend Stacie’s house. Her parents had a gigantic, multi-story dwelling just outside the city and after the usual dull high school graduation ceremony at Randolph High, seemingly everyone he knew had gathered there to celebrate. It should have been the pinnacle of his young life, but within a short time of his arrival, the whole thing had gone down the tubes in a big way.

He had been standing in Stacie’s large backyard talking to her about her plans for the summer when his girlfriend, Heather Andrews arrived. She was looking beautiful as always, her curly blond hair falling around a small, round face highlighted by a cute upturned nose, and brilliant blue eyes. They had been dating ever since hooking up for the first time the summer before their sophomore year.

“Excuse me, Stacie,” he had said, politely stepping away from her and going over to join Heather on the back porch. Stacie’s parents had set up several tables covered with snacks, and Heather stood by the bean dip looking at him nervously as he approached.

“Hey, Gorgeous. Where have you been all my life?”

This ridiculous come on would ordinarily have rated at least a small giggle from his usually gregarious girlfriend, but tonight she only frowned.

“David…I wanted to talk to you before the party, but you left the graduation so fast.”

“Sorry about that. Kevin needed a ride and wanted to stop by his parents so he could change before we came over here,” he explained while moving closer, trying to get his arms around his girlfriend’s waist even as she slipped back a step avoiding his move.

“Is there something wrong?” he asked, not understanding her sudden skittishness around him.

“David, I wanted to tell you this in private before the party. You know…I care a lot about you…”

“You love me. That’s what you’ve always said,” cut in David.

“I do love you, but…”

“But?” said David raising an eyebrow while a feeling of dread started to spread through his body.

“I…We…didn’t mean for it to happen, but we got put on this project for Economics, and we started to spend so much time together…one thing led to another…”

“Wait! Who are we talking about? Did you meet someone else? What’s going on here?”

“David…I”

Before Heather could explain further, a third person joined them on the porch. bursa escort He was taller than David by a couple of inches, which was saying something because David himself was six-foot-one. The other boy had tight, curly black hair with a dark complexion consistent with his Italian heritage, and an arrogant smile that David had considered knocking off his face more than once.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything?”

“This is a private conversation, Alex,” snapped David before Heather could answer.

Alex Romero had been a teammate of Davids on the Randolph High School swim team, but the two had never become friends. They had been rivals for years competing for team captain, and for medals at events around the state. David had gotten the upper hand more often than not much to Alex’s displeasure. It didn’t help matters that Alex came from a wealthy family and wasn’t above flaunting his privilege. For his eighteenth birthday, his parents had bought him a Porsche. It was used, but still, it annoyed David that he had been forced to work to afford his clunker of a car while Alex had his handed to him on a platter.

“Alex,would you give us a minute,” said Heather in a placating tone.

“Sure, I’ll be over here,” he said with a grin.

David’s eyes grew wider as the other boy moved off.

“No…Please, for the love of God, Heather, tell me it’s not Alex!”

“I’m sorry, David, like I said it just happened. You know you’ve been so busy lately with your job and clubs and stuff. We’ve hardly seen each other for the past four months.”

“So this is all my fault? I told you I wasn’t going to work this summer so we could spend more time together, but I needed to save money before then…Jesus, Heather! How come you didn’t come to me before this and tell me you weren’t happy?”

“I tried, but you always brushed me off with some excuse about how you would make more time for us, but then you never did.”

“So you jump into Alex’s arms? We’ve been together for almost three years!”

“I know…I’m sorry, David…I don’t know what to say. The heart wants what it wants…”

“Are you fucking kidding me! I can’t believe you’re falling back on the most cliché line in the book!”

Alex was suddenly back at Heather’s side, glaring at David.

“You need to stay cool, Cross. I don’t want to see you yelling at Heather,” he said menacingly.

“Oh! This is so classic. You can’t beat me in the pool, so you snake my girlfriend behind my back,” shouted David.

The two boys glowered at each other while Heather looked around uncomfortably not sure how to diffuse the situation she had sparked.

“If you had been treating her right, she would still be your girlfriend,” growled Alex.

“Fuck you, Romero.”

“I may not have beaten you in the pool, but I’m about to beat your ass on this porch!” said Alex tightly.

“Guys…Can’t we discuss this inside…” said Heather quietly with fear in her eyes.

It looked as if the two young men were going to come to blows, but the crisis was averted when Stacie’s father appeared on the porch alerted by some of the other kids that trouble was brewing.

“Everything o.k. out here?” asked the older man looking down at the two boys. Stacie’s dad was a former Marine and very intimidating. David looked away, barely concealing his anger.

“Fine…just fine…” he grumbled.

“Heather and I were just going inside to try some of that delicious-looking cake your wife made,” answered Alex slipping his arm around Heather’s waist and guiding her toward the back door. All David could do was watch them go feeling helpless his fun graduation night sinking like the Titanic.

“It’s a good thing Stacie’s dad showed up. I can only imagine the carnage that was about to ensue,” came Chris’s voice jerking David back to the present.

“Yeah, I was so ready to knock that moron on his ass.”

“Well…Look at it this way you guys were probably going to break up by the end of the summer anyway. Heather is going out of state to college, and you’re still planning on attending city college, right?”

“We could have made a long-distance thing work,” offered David.

“Said every jilted college freshman ever…” replied Chris.

“Thanks for trying to make me feel better. I hope you don’t plan to become a therapist because you suck at it.”

“I hear you, Man. I know you’re hurting right now, but think about how much fun it could be to be a free agent this summer. We could hit Wave World and check out the babes!”

David grimaced at the name. Wave World was about the only attraction worth attending in their small town, a local run water park that featured numerous slides and a lazy river as well as the wave pool that gave the park its name. David had worked there two previous summers. It was also the place he and Heather had hooked up for the first time, so it now held a bittersweet spot in his heart.

“You do know Wave World is where Heather and I met, right?”

“I was there, of course I know that, but it’s bursa escort bayan also the best place to meet someone new.”

“I don’t know, Chris. Let’s see how the summer goes, and we’ll fall off that bridge when we get there.”

“Don’t let this thing with Heather taint things for you, David,” cautioned his friend.

“I hear ya.”

“I have to go. Chin up, Buddy!”

“Right…” said David cutting the connection.

He sighed tossing the phone aside, staring up at the ceiling.

“What a shitty way to start the summer,” he grumbled under his breath.

He got out of bed a short time later conscious of the fact that if he didn’t, his mom was going to come looking for him again. A quick shower chased out some of the cobwebs, and he managed to force a smile onto his face as he joined his family for lunch.

David’s mom and dad were already at the table. His father, William Cross, Bill to his friends, was an accountant who worked at the High Rock nuclear plant outside of town. A tall man with thinning hair and a face that always seemed to be on the verge of a frown, David’s dad watched his son pull up a chair while stirring the steaming bowl of stew in front of him.

“Got in kind of late last night,” noted Bill Cross as his son settled himself.

“It was graduation night,” replied David as if that summed up everything.

“Yeah…How was the party at Stacie’s?”

“Fine,” said David shoveling a large bite of stew into his mouth to preclude any follow-up questions about it.

“I thought you looked so handsome in your cap and gown last night. I can’t wait to post the pictures,” said David’s mom, Joyce, as she joined them at the table.

David winced at the thought. He had felt he looked particularly dorky in the outfit himself.

“Are you off today?” asked David not used to his dad home on a Friday.

“Doctors appointment this morning, but I’ll probably take the rest of the day off and get the oil changed in the car. It’s too far to drive into work this late.”

David nodded, knowing that the plant lay forty miles outside of town for safety reasons. It made for a long commute for his Dad, who usually left for work at the crack of dawn.

“Who was calling you all morning?” asked his mom.

“Chris…He didn’t make the party last night, but wanted to hang out this weekend.”

“Best get some fun in this weekend before work starts up for you on Monday,” said his dad as he lifted a glass of water to his lips.

“Right…I thought next week I might hit Wave Wor…Wait…What did you say? What work?”

“I have good news for you, Son. I got you a summer job working as a paid intern in the Office Services department at the plant.”

David slowly lowered his spoon, “You did what? This is my last summer to hang out with my friends! How am I going to do that if I’m working forty miles out in the middle of nowhere?”

“It’s time to grow up, David. You’re eighteen and graduated from school. It’s high time you got a taste of working a real job not lounging in a chair watching girls in bikini’s stroll by,” said Bill Cross referring to David’s usual summer employment as a lifeguard at Wave World.

“Dad! Come on! This isn’t fair. You could have at least asked me what I wanted to do!”

“Like you would have said, ‘Yes,’ to working ten hours shifts from six a.m. to five p.m. all week for the summer? Not to mention you need to be up by 4:30 to get out of here in time to make the drive.”

“Jesus…Way to shit on my summer, Dad.”

“I’m going to let that pass because I can see you’ve got a bee in your bonnet about something, but you be careful how you talk to me,” said his dad with a hint of menace in his tone.

“I can’t believe this…” grumbled David as he pushed back from the table.

“Don’t you want to finish your stew?” asked his mom.

“I lost my appetite…”

David left the room with his head down.

“Maybe we should have told him sooner so he could get used to the idea?” said Joyce.

“He needs to see what it’s like to work a real job. Maybe it will help motivate him to do well in school, so he doesn’t have to work at a job that he doesn’t like so much. Heck, when I was his age, my dad had me running a rice picker in his fields now that’s a shitty summer job!”

“I know, Bill, but this is his last summer maybe we should have let him have it.”

“We talked this over already, Joyce, that boy is going to work at the plant, and that’s all I want to hear about it.”

David slumped on the end of his bed looking at the floor. First, Heather, and now this news that he was going to be spending the lions share of his summer with a thousand sweaty guys.

This was not how he had envisioned his last summer before college.

“I think the Universe is trying to tell me something…like it hates me.”

THE NUCLEAR BOMB –

If David had thought his mom could be insensitive in how she woke him up in the morning, he quickly discovered she had nothing on his dad. His primary escort bursa method for rousing someone turned out to be switching on the lights and ripping all the covers off the bed.

“Rise and shine, Lazy Bones! The early bird gets the worm!” said Bill Cross in a voice that had far too much enthusiasm in it for 4:30 in the morning.

“Christ! Dad! It’s still dark outside…No one should be getting up when it’s dark,” groused David.

“I’ve been getting up in the dark most of my adult life. Don’t be such a whiner. You got thirty-minutes to shower and dress then we hit the road.”

His dad vanished back out the door, leaving David to stare bleary-eyed up at the ceiling.

“Just shoot me now…” he mumbled, forcing himself to a sitting position.

He just managed to pull himself into shower groaning as the hot water splashed across his face. He moved quickly to clean up, rubbing soap through his dark brown hair and promptly moving on to his slender, athletic young body made lean and hard from years of high school sports. Like his dad, David had sprouted hair early, and though he had the face of a teenager barely on the verge of manhood, his chest was already covered with curly black hair as was his abdomen leading down to the thick forest of pubic hair forming a nest around his penis. Heather had certainly been very complimentary about his male equipment, not that he would hear those words from her any longer.

“I bet Alex has a tiny prick,” thought David maliciously as he soaped up his own.

His swim coach had wanted him to remove his body hair at one point, but his dad had thought that ridiculous and refused to let him. David hadn’t cared one way or the other, he never had any illusions about becoming an Olympic class swimmer and just enjoyed hanging out with his friends and competing.

“Get a move on, Son!” came his dad’s voice through the door.

“O.K.!” he shouted back.

The only bright side to his morning turned out to be his mother kindly making his lunch for him and handing him a freshly baked banana nut muffin to eat on the road.

David’s dad wasn’t much of a talker, and they rode in silence except for the background noise of the local country music station coming out of the car radio. The long drive took them out past the city limits, and they soon left the comforting rows of suburban houses behind trading the view for one of scrub brush and cactus.

The High Rock nuclear plant had been built ten years before and provided power for cities all over the state. It sat at the end of a long dirt road surrounded by tall barbed-wire fences on a desolate plot of land at the edge of some low slung mountains. The three central units that housed the reactors towered over the rest of the facility that seemed to comprise a few permanent two-story office structures and a lot of trailers being used as office space.

“I’m going to drop you at the Personnel Office. Just tell them who you are they should have received your hiring packet, and they’ll process you through and get you where you need to go. I’ll come to find you at the end of the day when it’s time to go home.”

David had been busy staring out the car window at the mix of dirty looking workers in blue hard hats walking by with an occasional more well-dressed person in a white hard hat mixed in. He noted that his dad had a white hard hat sitting on the back seat with his name, “William Cross” stenciled across the back.

“I’m not going to get radiation sickness or something right?” said David, only half-jokingly.

“This plant has an excellent safety record, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Do as you’re told and follow your supervisor’s instructions and you’ll be fine.”

The car slowed in front of a trailer with a sign marking it as, “Personnel Trailer 1” posted on the door.

“This is it. Good luck, Son, and try not to embarrass me.”

“Dad…When have I ever given you anything to worry about?” replied David with a sly smile.

“O.K. Smart-ass. See you later.”

His dad drove away, leaving David in a cloud of dust. It was scorching hot outside, and he bound up the steps to get out of the desert heat. The air-conditioning was a welcome relief, but he had to stop to let his eyes adjust to the dimmer interior.

“You lost, Kid?”

David turned to find himself looking up at an enormous man in beige coveralls holding a blue hard hat in one hand and glaring at him.

“Um…No, Sir…I’m starting today…Uh…”

“You’re going to work here?” asked the hulking man whose face reminded David of a stone gargoyle he saw once carved into a building.

“Yeah…I was,” began David, but the big man cut him off again.

“White hat or blue?”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me, Kid. White hat or blue? You look too skinny for real work, so I’m guessing white.”

“Leave him alone, Lyle. Why don’t you find something to weld, like your mouth,” came a new voice from deeper in the trailer. A second later, the owner, a slender middle-aged woman with short graying hair came walking in from out of a corner office.

Lyle grunted like an angry bear but managed a half-smile that considerably softened his face.

“Fine…Get the kid his white hat while I go do the real work that needs doing.”

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