I needed to talk to somebody – but it sure as heck wasn’t going to be my therapist, Kanesha, or Mr. Otter. Snag was, I had a pretty short list of people I wanted to talk to.
And it got even shorter when I thought about the gun in my pocket…the one I didn’t have a license for…and the entire situation. How could I involve anyone else? At the same time, I needed to talk to somebody. Which all went around and around in my head.
It was only part of why I was pushing my school-provided lunch around the plate. All the healthy food initiative had achieved around here was smaller portions and crappy produce. That lettuce looked like it had taken a round trip to Mars before being put in the salad. I didn’t want salad, either, but it had been that or mystery meat, and nobody ate the mystery meat unless they were starving.
If it even had meat in it. Maybe it was that pink goo stuff they were always accusing McDonald’s of putting in their nuggets. Or horse. Well, that would be meat, but it wasn’t the kind of meat I wanted to be eating.
I tended to be vegetarian at school lunch if I could remotely get away with it. They sometimes did these cheese croquettes that weren’t half bad. But the worry and anxiety were gnawing at my stomach.
I hadn’t felt in danger when he’d pointed the gun at me. I’d felt in no danger at all. Then Barry Clark sat down next to me. He always got teased about having a name put together from two superheroes.
Somehow that made him more tolerable. There was something about somebody being teased like that that made them…less likely to be jerks, I suppose.
“You look like you need a friend, Jane.”
“Nah. I was just contemplating calling the food police to arrest this lunch.” I’d brown bag, but I was supposed to have the school lunch. They’d pay for that. They wouldn’t up the grocery budget. At least it wasn’t my only meal of the day.
“Tell me about it. I think they’re trying to get rid of free lunch recipients by starving them to death.”
It wouldn’t be his, either. His mother was a hair dresser, and quite talented – she’d done mine before. They had money, by the standards of the inner city. “Okay,” I finally admitted. “The sub shop got held up yesterday.”
“Were you hurt?”
“Nah. But they were long gone before the cops got there and they’ll never catch them. Masks, gloves, the works.”
“Well, we know about the cops and colds around here.”
I certainly did. You didn’t rely on the police for, oh, anything. Much less actually catching criminals. All they were good at was riot control. They’d had plenty of practice at that. “So, yeah, I’m a bit shaken. Getting a gun pointed at you will do that.”
As edited as it was, telling somebody made me feel better, and Barry was decent, and looked at my eyes not my breasts. If I was going to date anyone, it would be him, but he was so uninterested I thought he was gay or something. Typical. The nice guys don’t want you and the jerks…
“It will,” he said, sounding as if it had happened to him. “Perk up, Jane. They probably won’t risk coming back to the same place.”
“I don’t know. I think they might.”