The car ride was filled with chatter and laughing; mostly done by Ken and myself. Jeremy was sitting quietly in the back seat.
‘Things have really changed these last two years.’ The old diner that the old man and I ate at for so many years was closed down and boarded up. The tallest building of downtown of LA was no longer given that title.
Every once in a while I would try and bring Jeremy into the conversation, but nine times out of ten I was just waking him up. So I decided to give up and let him be.
We were finally back in my neck of the woods. ‘This is where the high school…is…’ It was no longer the red bricked building; it was now painted a starch white, and looked more like a prison with the tall black iron fences. As Ken continued to drive, I noticed that the neighborhoods were also more luxiurious. I drove for two years in these neighborhoods, and now it seemed more like a forgein place to me.
“Dude? Where were you just now?” Ken called me back to reality. “I’ve been talking to you for maybe the last twenty minutes and I just finally noticed you weren’t even listening. You good?”
“Yeah. Sorry Bro. Just things are so different here; probably it was just a bigger shock than I thought. What were you saying?”
“Nothing much. Just that the neighborhoods have gotten a face-lift due to the schools new management. I believe it was because the city wanted the surrounding area
of the school to also give off the same vibes. What did you think of the school?” Ken turned into my neighborhood.
“Honestly. It looked more like a prison than a school. With the fences I mean.”
“Those fences have always been there. Maybe you don’t remember since the building was not starch white, but yeah the fences have been like that since our freshman year.
But yeah, now that you mention it, the school does look like a prison.”
“Oh. Maybe since in Montana it was different; I’ve just gotten accustomed to life up there.”
‘Strange. There was silence in the car. Ken was never quiet.’
“Well, can I ask about the extra passenger?” Ken said thumbing at the sleeping Jeremy in the back seat.
“Yeah. What do you want to know?” I settled back into the seat; knowing this conversation was expected.
“When did you two become friends?” Ken continued to look through the windsheild.
But I could feel an uncertainty in the air. “Well…” I told him everything. About how we first interacted. How we had to get over our past history and become a team. I explained somewhat about the Jenny situation. About how Jeremy had been chewed out by his coach; reminding Ken that we all labelled his coach as a screamer. I didn’t mention about Jeremy’s dad. It wasn’t my place to say; but that Jeremy couldn’t take it anymore and exploded. It was a wrong place, wrong time kind of moment with Jenny.
“Yeah. But it still doesn’t mean he should say what he did about Jenny. I can’t believe you just let that slide,” Ken said as he turned onto my street.
“I didn’t, Jeremy apologized to me about it. He explained and apologized for everything that needed an apology. Jeremy is actually a good guy. He just didn’t have the best role
models to follow.” Ken looked like he was about to argue again, “We had coach, our parents, us guys; we were the lucky ones.”
Ken nodded. He didn’t say anything because he knew he couldn’t refute that last statment.
“You forgot the most important detail,” Jeremy said while leaning forward hooking his hands onto the sides of our seats.
“Dude. I thought you were out?” I said startled for the sudden noise.
“What detail?” Ken asked.
“My dad. My dad is a real piece of work. Since the age of six, I have been a verbal punching bag for him. I can’t remember once hearing a nice thing, regarding me, come out of his mouth.”
‘That’s something I didn’t know. Wow. Since six years old…’
“The day with Jenny, I had just gotten an earful from my dad. About how I was an embarresment to him, and that I should just stop living,” Jeremy paused, probably recalling that day.
I looked over at Ken; Ken looked embarressed, probably because of his first intial idea of Jeremy.
“Then you need to add on what my coach had told me right after. Of course my old buds were present for that screaming match. I was so embarressed that I wanted to turn
attention away from me. And…well you know…Jenny was the first person I saw. If I get the chance I will apologize to her in person. I should have never said that to her. I felt like my old man after that day; using words to degrade someone. I wish I could erase that day from everyone’s mind.”
Ken was silent as he pulled into the driveway.
As much as I wanted to get out and see everyone, I was not about to end this.
“I also should apologize to you too, Ken. I might have never said anything to your face, but I did say things to my group. Sorry man.” Jeremy leaned back.
“Understood. But let’s move past all this sentimental crap,” Ken said turning off the engine and hopping out of the car.
‘Ken must be thinking things over.’ “Come on Jeremy. Let’s grab our gear,” I followed Ken’s pursuit.
“Sure…” He followed me to the trunk.
Ken grabbed Jeremy’s bag and handed it to him, “But thanks for the apology. Do you want to explain this to everyone inside that house,” pointing to my front door, “Or would you like me to do the honors?”
“What do you mean?” a confused Jermey took his bag from Ken.
“Well. That house is filled to the brim with people who know George. I think only Jerry and Matthew know what happened with Jenny, and they are definitely inside. Oh crap, it’s supposed to be a surprise, you have to act surprised,” Ken said towards me. “But I thought this one,” thumbing at Jeremy, “would like to know beforehand.”
‘Mom.’ “My mom loves being a hostess. Be happy it is no longer my biological mom; she would have chewed you out the moment you stepped into her house. ‘Thankfully it is not her.’
“Thanks for the heads up. Maybe you could drop me off at a hotel…” Jeremy said backing away from the house.
“Nope. Everyone is expecting George and his roommate,” Ken walked behind us and started shoving us towards the door. “But that’s why I said I could explain to the other guys
about you? Only to the ones that might know you.”
“Thanks bro,” Jeremy swung his arm over Ken’s shoulder.
Ken shrugged it off, “Not your bro yet. But knowing this guy,” smacking me on the shoulder, “it won’t be long.”
‘Ouch. Why does he keep doing that? But I can’t kill the messenger.’ “You are lucky you are helping Jeremy out, or you would be dead right now,” I side glanced at Ken.
We were almost to the front door; we were walking slow. We were waiting for the conversation between the three of us to be done, before we opened the can of craziness in front of us.
“You two are the same as before. I wonder how the other guys will feel about my presence?” Jeremy stepped backward a step to be the third person through the door.
Ken laughed, “Let’s be honest. Their reaction is going to be pretty similar to mine. Enough talk. Let’s go!” Ken pushed open the door.