Pandora’s Place: (2) Blackmail.

Today was probably one of the longest days of Jaden’s life. Or so at least it felt like it. Ever since his conversation with Anabelle in second period it seemed as if the day dragged on. He kept contemplating ways to convince his mother to be allowed to leave his house that evening to make his way to the Greek fair, but none seemed like they would quite do the trick. As if they were missing one extreme piece of evidence, a key for success so to speak that would enable his plan to work. It could have been anything like… I don’t know… something his mother would actually believe? Instead his efforts ranged from “mom I have to go to study group tonight.” to “I’ve been wondering how to have this conversation with you for some time ma, but… vampires are real.” and nowhere in between felt like it would satisfy her curiosity to the point of avoiding any additional questions.

It wasn’t until he was on his way home after school and decided to stop for Chinese and read his after meal fortune from the wisdom bereaved cookie that stated “If Bill Clinton can do it than so can you!” that he finally decided to leave all inhibition to the wind and simply wing it. If the President of the United States of America could get away with mur… I mean cheating. Then so could he. And ok maybe cheating isn’t the same thing as sneaking out of your own house. And alright yeah maybe getting away with it doesn’t always mean Scott free. But it was so close and relatable enough that Jaden just decided to accept it as the almighty truth. So by golly he was satisfied for the answer the merciful gods of delectable Asian cuisine had given him, if for no other reason than not having to waste his precious energy on this silly ordeal any longer.

With all the extra time Jaden had from not worrying about his problems he was now able to focus his attention on shortening the long trek from Arcadia High School, to his house on the opposite end of town, which primarily meant running instead of walking. And Jaden was inexorably fast. He was no Sonic the hedgehog but there was a reason they called him Forest Gump in middle school. And it wasn’t because of a sweet tooth or how much he talked about his Momma. He was the star athlete in every sport the school had to offer for a reason. Winning was in his blood and because of that, he led a very privileged life to a certain extent. As speedy as he was though, this time it wasn’t quick enough to outrun Carlyle, who had been waiting for Jaden just two blocks from his very house.

Carlyle might as well have been the bane of Jaden’s very existence. They had a grudge that you could say was a tale as old as time. Ever since kindergarten, when Jaden wouldn’t share his deluxe Green Lantern action figure because he thought Carlyle was a radical racist for not liking the Bill Cosby show. There was a definitive reason Jaden’s father wasn’t in his life anymore. Trying to buy him a bottle of scotch and a pack of camels at the age of nine was just the straw that broke the back.

Yep, it is safe to say that from that pivotal moment in time which seemed like eons ago, Carlyle sought any means he could to try and destroy the perfect life that he assumed Jaden had. And with that knowledge, Jaden knew that this confrontation couldn’t end peacefully. But he had no time to change direction. He was running so fast that by the time he skidded to a halt… he was standing just a few short feet from his hatred filled arch nemesis with the kind of look only a blindfolded great grandmother with an allergy to carrots and a severe case of glaucoma could love.

They stood there in silence longer than the point of uncomfortable before Jaden decided it would be a good time to break the ice.

“Hey buddy! Nice uhm… shirt man it’s really great.” Jaden said as convincingly as he possibly could while staring at the more than noticeable spaghetti sauce stain on Carlyle’s armpit from today’s cafeteria special. Not that people don’t spill things or have accidents from time to time… but how did it manage to get there. He was boggled.

Carlyle folded his arms and remained silent.

“Alright fine Carlyle what do you want.”

“You know what I want Demi.” Carlyle spat in protest but a little extra drooped and made its way down his chin rather than joining the rest on the ground.

“Oh we’re on a last name basis now huh? You must mean business.” Jaden began scratching his head. “If we’re thinking the same thing here you have to be talking about braces. But you should know I only volunteer at the veterinary clinic after school from time to time and they have bad luck when it comes to paying free help than they do their employees so it might be a good while before I can help you with that.”

Carlyle shifted his huge body to the side a tad, indicating a moment of weakness. But he quickly regained his confidence and opened his mouth to say “Anabelle” with utmost certainty and defiance.

This singular word sent Jaden’s heart into a form of momentary shock. His eyes became wide and his heart was pumping so fast it was literally skipping beats. It took a moment before he could calm down enough to speak. But Carlyle waited patiently. In fact it was more than patience. It was a severe form of accomplishment, in his eyes, in this moment… Jaden could take all the time he needed.

Jaden forced a laugh. “I mean that is fine and dandy but she probably won’t kiss you until you get those teeth fixed so we should probably focus on that first.”

Carlyle swiped his hand as fast as he could and grabbed Jaden by the collar. “Knock it off or you won’t kiss anyone again because the last thing your mouth will touch is the pavement.” He then set Jaden down and began to brush the dirt off his shoulders as if there were some there to begin with.

“You are her best friend. Either have her meet me for a date at the fair tonight or I’ll let Mommy know where you are… and that’s just the beginning.” Carlyle turned around and began to walk away. He then shouted. ”Nine PM at the Sisters of Fate prize booth and she better not be late.”

Jaden couldn’t help but feel like this exact same type of situation happened to him twice in one day. And what was he supposed to do? He couldn’t not go to the fair because of how much he cared about Anabelle’s feelings even though that would save him from the predicament of Carlyle alerting his Mother to find out about him going to the fair. He could prevent this whole situation by not attending the night’s festivities. But he wasn’t willing to put a thorn into the side of his relationship with Anabelle. So he would have to go no matter what the cost. Now he not only needed to find a way to get past his mom, but he also needed to figure out how to get past Carlyle and there wasn’t enough fortune cookie mumbo jumbo for him to get through this whole mess. Using his good judgment, rather than going back to the restaurant for more guidance, he decided to continue on to his house and hope for the best.


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