I Gotta Go

Josh finished his business and was pulling the heck out of my arm. He'll find the money. I dragged that dog back up the stairs and to our apartment. I had five minutes to find a nice shirt and in half an hour I would be at a class meeting. My mom and I picked two seats in the back at my request and kept our mouths shut during the question/answer period. He'll find the money.

"I gotta step out mom."

I walked in and out of the trees for a minute and tripped on the metal grates surrounding them. Then I saw Jonathan and Byron walking up the stairs. I tried not to blurt it out. I really had to try.

"Byron, do you uh.."

What I was really trying to yell was, "BYRON! Do you have the money!? Give me the money! NOW!". Two weeks ago I was going to buy five bootleg games from Jonathan but I didn't have the money. Now Jonathan is a punctual guy. He does not like it when you are late. Not at all. But since this was my first time he said, "Don't worry, take care of it. thirty-five bucks." Jonathan is this really big, tall, big guy. He's as pale and skinny as an emaciated polar bear but his mere mass made up for it. I had heard of a few people that didn't do what he said. "He doesn't hurt people, but people get hurt." Sort of a pseudo-Mafia don. Well, it was a big deal to me.
Byron piped up,

"Don't you have the money, Drew?"

What?! With the what?!? I had taken the blunt of the punishment for Byron's vandalizing. It was stupid, really. He had used a hole-punch to make holes in pennies but the punch couldn't keep it up so it up and broke. Byron was already feeling like crap so I said that I did it and got detention and bought them a new hole-punch. It sucked, so I recently promised Byron we would be even if he would pay for these games. He said ok, but Byron had also recently changed his mind about a lot of things: vegetarianism, marijuana, and obviously this payment. Except he forgot to tell me about the payment (and the pot).
I was really crushed. Byron had been a good friend of mine and it felt like he had pierced me with a thousand knives of fire. I wanted to induce multiple heart-attacks upon him, or at least kick his ass (which I could have done easily). I wanted to shout with the voice and power of an army of angry gansta-rappers and angst-filled punk rockers. So I gave him a good stare in my best poker face. I tried not to scrunch up my face, then I would just look stupid, but I tried to close my eyes as much as I could and still see. The problem was, Jonathan was doing the same thing to me. I jumped a bit when I noticed him doing it. He gave sort of a giggle (as much as a bully-type can). And very quickly he spewed out

"Hey Drew. Drew, it's ok. See you tomorrow."

That was it. He and Byron started to walk away but I called out to Byron. Jonathan was the one who yelled back, "What?"
"Uh... nothing."
Then I started to wonder what was up with Byron. At first, I was plain angry. That jerk! I mean, he promised this to me. I had fallen for him already. It was a matter of honor. By thunder, didn't he have any honor. He was the one always talking about joining the marines. He'd need to build some up before he went. Then, after I calmed down I began to rationalize. Hey maybe he knew that Jonathan wouldn't hassle me about it. But how can he trust Jon? He barely knows Jon. Why was he walking off with him? Then my mom came out and saw me.
She was really snippy, "Andrew! Come in here right now, why were you out here so long? We're waiting!" She said it in her most "Andrew-hush-hush-act-respectable" voice.
Anyways, we walked in and I lost my breath. The first words out of the principle's mouth were "internet pornography". Then he continued talking about how "kids these days" don't know crap about anything and how anything will distract them. Basically, he was saying "you will have no personal life if you go here". My mom and I were on the way home. We were both completely silent. There was no reason. I guess we just forgot to talk. As you know, for Americans, long silences while two people are in the same room are very awkward.

My mom broke the ice with, "So this is gonna be great. Such a great school, ya know? This program for the highly gifted and all I heard they have this wonderful director..." Just this endless rambling that didn't make much sense. And it all came very suddenly out of nowhere.

"Mom, I don't want go there."
"I don't want to go there."

"We'll just see what your father has to say about this."

Then she very slowly sped up in a really creepy way, like my dad was going to change my mind. I didn't want to go there. I had very clearly stated it. I wanted to go back to my old school, but I couldn't now. Byron and myself had both moved at the same time and agreed to go to the same school, but why would I want to go the same school as that jerk now. We had known each other for four years, and I thought you would get to know someone pretty well by that that time. I started to think about some of the people that I first met four years ago and I really didn't like them now. In my limited time, I felt like I had changed and they didn't. I was feeling really guilty now, because I realized that I thought I was better than them and I knew that was wrong. I knew people that thought they were better than others before and I hated them (especially the ones who thought they were better than me). So I thought to myself, "Am I just going to sit here and hate myself or do something about it?" So I called Byron. I called thrice and each time there was no answer. Of course, there was no answering machine because this was Byron's personal phone line. I know he had a huge room, but he wouldn't waste an inch of space on a machine. He wouldn't even accept a secretary if he was offered one.

I knew Byron was there and if he wasn't going to listen to me then I would make him listen to me. I was gonna ride my bike to his house. I hated doing that like I hated a lot of things. First of all, it was uphill just about all the way to his house, second of all, even on the ride back you couldn't enjoy the downhill ride because it was so bumpy, and third of all it was uphill all the way to his house. I got there and knocked on the door, no answer except for his do barking, or at least grumbling. The dog pushed it's nose through the curtains to try to see me but it couldn't really because it had such a bushy coat. It really reminded me of a bear. I thought he saw me from his bedroom window which was on the front of the house so he was still trying to hide. I banged on his window and yelled, "I know you're in there!" If I couldn't get in, I could still slip a note in.

So I rode that uncomfortable ride home, and wrote a hasty note. Basically the contents of it were, "I know you're in there. Why are you so friendly with Jonathan? Where is the money? You promised me the money!" Maybe it was slightly more detailed. So I started the ride back to his house. Now, the street that Byron's house is on is a very long street, and his house is at the end. So once you started on that street, there was no turning back. You either did it or you didn't. I was about one half way to his house when I heard a car coming up behind me. I looked back and it was his mom's van and in it was just him and his mom. So he really hadn't been hiding from me. I was so sure that he was. He had done it once before and it was exactly like this. I guess he was just really good at it. Anyways, I was basically riding along side Byron and his mom. At first, I expected his mom to stop because she knew me and my stupid helmet and she always stopped for me, but she didn't. So I was riding right next to them with my head turned the other way. Should I turn and try to say hi? What if she didn't stop then. Should I keep riding next to her, or slow down or stop? Did she recognize me yet? So I slowed down, eventually to a stop. But since it was on a slanted road, I slowly started going backwards and I didn't have hand-brakes. Well I fell on my rear-end and when I fell I broke my arm. Then, his mom stopped and slowly tried to back up. Was she trying to back up over me? No. But only his mom got out of the car and asked if I was ok. So I was sitting in the middle of the street with a broken arm and a stupid helmet and as for the lady who stopped to help me, I had an angry letter to her son in hand. She drove me to the emergency room after dropping her son off (who obviously didn't want to talk to me) a block down.

I decided a week later to go to the local community college, but before I went I decided to call Byron one last time. The phone rang and he answered,

"Byron? This is Drew?"
(Short pause)
"I gotta go."

And those were the last words I ever heard from my best friend.

"I gotta go."

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