Rob Santana's work has been published in Centum Press, HP Lovecraft, story shack, short story.me, Streetwrite.com.
“I heard you’re the re-invention of ‘stupid.” Sheila said to ‘Johnny Brain-Dead,’ the chosen nickname for John Minter from certain female classmates. It was a warm spring Friday afternoon and the sun wouldn’t punch out until six p.m. John, sixteen, had just finished playing handball in the park’s courtyard with Eddie, same age, his friend and classmate. Eddie went to the public rest room for a horse piss while John waited for him before the ‘skanks’ showed up. He detoured to the grassy hill and they followed him. Sheila, also sixteen, was getting on John’s case for messing up her BFF Myra’s math test. He had been seated ahead of her during the exam, allowing her to peek at his answers. “Next time she’s on her own,” John warned. “Last I heard cheating on a test is un-cool.”
Sheila stepped up to him and got in his face. “So why’d you agree to it, Brain-Dead?”
“Cuz you told me to, or else!”
“Fuckin’ A, ‘or else” Sheila nodded, hands on hips. Her other BFF Kate, (Sheila had two BFFs) spotted her and joined the rhubarb. “I just came from Myra’s crib?” she said, pointing at John, “she told me Brain-Dead here gave her the wrong answers on purpose!”
Sheila glared at John.
“Zat true, Brain-Dead?” She approached him. John stood his ground. Sheila was on the school wrestling team and was taller. Just then skinny, crew-cut Eddie showed up in his warm-up jacket and jeans. He sidled next to John, eyeballing Sheila and bleach-blond Kate.
“Sup, John? What’s the prob?”
“Mind ya business, Eddie.” Sheila said.
”Yeah, mind ya business.” Kate echoed, wearing a crop-top and shorts.
John turned to Eddie. “Wonder Woman here thinks I gave the wrong answers on purpose for Myra to copy. How could I have done that if I didn’t know the answers myself? That test was a bitch, yo.”
“Bunch a’ skanks, all of them.” Eddie said, loud enough for Sheila to hear.
“You wanna repeat that, Enema?”
Eddie did so. “And the name’s Eddie, Skank.”
“Fug ‘im up, Sheila.” Kate said.
Eddie raised his eyebrows. “Let’s see you try!”
But John stepped in. “It’s my battle, Eddie.”
Eddie frowned. “Naw! Dude! I can handle her.”
But John insisted. Sheila was the school bully. (or ‘Bully-ette, as Eddie once named her). Even though Sheila was a ‘girl,’ the guys avoided getting into a fight with her. She could box and knew all the Greco-Roman grappling moves. The school jock she beat up at the courtyard last month was so abashed he switched schools.
Nobody messed with Sheila Friggin’ Gomez.
She stood five feet eight and ate nails for breakfast. But John wouldn’t back down this time.
“You sure, Johnny?” Eddie asked, as John removed his Mets jacket and looked around. The park was nearly empty. His heart pumped acid. Sheila pulled off her Yankees’ jacket. Her cut-off jeans showcased long, smooth but firm thighs. She stared down John, who lacked street-fighting skills. “Fug im up!” Kate repeated, as the two combatants circled each other.
“Keep your right hand over your chin, Johnny!” Eddie instructed.
The fight did not last long.
In less than a minute Sheila had John pinned to the grass, twisting his arm behind his back with her knee on his spine.
“Give up?” she whispered in John’s ear. He nodded, grimacing in pain. She helped him to his feet. John’s face was flushed red. He had been beaten by a girl. Sheila and Kate slapped palms. Two other girls had stopped up the knoll to watch. They applauded and Sheila waved to them, grinning. John bowed his head, looking like he wanted to crawl under a rock. Eddie placed an arm around his shoulder.
“Dude, whatta you lookin’ so sheepish about?”
John spoke to the ground. “Isn’t it obvious? I lost to a girl.”
“Aaaw, is wittle Johhny cwying?” Sheila teased. Kate giggled and whispered something in her ear. They burst out laughing. They were in no hurry to leave and whipped out their iPhones. Texting to other BFFs, John imagined. He felt low.
“Okay.” Eddie poked John’s chest,” I’m gonna show you what you did wrong. I’m gonna show you how to think outside the box.”
John frowned. What did Eddie mean by that?
“Yo, skank! Eddie yelled to Sheila. “I'm right here!”
“Yeah, fug ‘i'm up, too.” Kate yawped. Sheila hesitated. Eddie looked too eager for a battle. He ambled towards her.
“Knock you out,” he said, then shoved her.
“Ho’ shit!” Kate shouted, backing up. Then Eddie slapped Sheila, whose eyes blazed. She quickly got him in a headlock, flipped him to the grass, and straddled his chest, sliding her knees up to his arms, pinning them. John went pop-eyed. A feeling stirred his senses.
Sheila began slapping Eddie across the face. Hard.
Eddie squirmed underneath her. He made a feeble attempt to buck her off. John studied his face. Was Eddie smiling? Sheila was on to the kick and shot to her feet. “Sicko!” she murmured. “Let’s go, Kate.” The girls walked away, not looking back.
John pulled Eddie to his feet. “You okay?”
Eddie chuckled. “Of course I’m okay. I wish she hadn’t stopped so soon. Hurt so good, those slaps.”
John’s brows knitted. “Aren’t you embarrassed?”
Eddie reared back like whoa. “Dude, don’t you get it? It felt good feeling her weight on me. I don’t have male ego issues like you do. You were lucky she accepted your challenge. She was dumb enough to accept mine! It’s a kick, yo. Too bad she caught on, though. She won’t be fighting with boys again, trust me.”
John thought about it, and it took a while before he grasped Eddie’s meaning.
But his sense of shame faded. Eddie had changed his perspective on the body boundaries between boys and girls in combat.