"At The Mall"

Adjacent to The Santa Conchita Plaza, the main department store mall and general meeting place, is X-rad, an arcade/laser tag center. Jeremy Colvin is hanging with his buddies, Paco and Byron, inside.

Jeremy: (Tagging one of the opponents) Got him, there's only one standing!

Paco: HA - HE'S MINE

Byron: NOT UNLESS I NAIL HIM, FIRST

The last opponent is taken down and the victorious threesome celebrates with sodas in the food court.

Jeremy: That was above and beyond!

Paco: (Pulling up a chair) Our winning streak... STACKED AND INTACT

Byron: (Dancing around) We should be doing this every fucking day, man, this fucking 'burb is so fucking boring!

Two elderly ladies scowl at them in disgust.

Byron: Whatcha peepin' at Grannie?

Jeremy: Give the elders their props, By

Byron: (Folding his hands in prayer) Ooh, Saint Jeremy

Paco: Hey, a tournament is throwing down here next month, shall we get in on it?

Jeremy: How much?

Paco: $150 to enter - I figure we each pay $50?

Byron: Master Math Man!

Jeremy: Can't, that's way out of my range - you'll have to leash up a new hound

Byron: AW, DUDE, COME ON

Paco: I can spot you for half

Jeremy: Thanks, Paco, but I'm already your slave for the movies

Paco: (Waving his hand) Nah, don't sweat it - my treat

Jeremy: You can't keep bailing me out, bud

Paco: Look, I have my motivo ulterioso, Jere

Byron makes kissing noises and flicks out his tongue.

Paco: (Bopping him on the arm) SHUT IT, ASSWIPE

Byron: (Taunting voice) MAKE ME

Jeremy: GUYS, KEEP THIS UP AND THEY'LL BE HAULING US OUT THE DOOR

Byron: BRING 'EM

Paco: Listen, Colvin, before someone decided to trash the moment with his latent homo fantasies, I was about to say that we seriously need you as our wingman for this tourney... DEAD SERIOUS, that's why I'll stand up for your half and By will tackle the other

Byron: REALLY? - and when exactly did I shake on this?

Paco: (Kicking him under the table) That's funny, I thought I just heard you

Byron: (Sighing) I suppose - what's another $50? - besides a few disco biscuits or some cheap weed

Jeremy: Thanks, you two, but I still need to toss it a bit

Paco: What exactly do you need to think about? - if we all-time score, we get TWO LARGE... that's $666.00 split between us

Byron: 666, man, that's too real!

Jeremy: SHIT, I TOTALLY BLANKED

Paco: What?

Jeremy: (Holding his head) I promised Renfro I'd do a new Satan stencil on his board, I was supposed be there yesterday

Paco: So? - just show up there now

Jeremy: Can't, he already fled for the weekend - damn, that was going to be extra quick cash in my pocket!

Byron: DUDE, WHAT IS WITH CRYING POVERTY ALL THE FUCKING TIME?

Jeremy: (Grabbing him by the shirt) Because I AM fucking poor - I don't have my parents' trust fund to thrive off of - I have to WORK... TWO JOBS

Byron: THAT'S YOUR FUCKING MOTHER'S DEAL, NOT YOURS

Jeremy: YOU MENTION MY MOM AGAIN AND I'LL TOAST YOU

Paco gets between the two of them.

Paco: COOL IT, BROS

Byron: (Still glaring at Jere) Look, I'm sorry you have a deadbeat dad but his woman and their spawn are NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Jeremy: IF I DON'T STEP UP, WHO WILL?

Byron: Why don't you ride Penny the Cash Cow? - she's sure as hell not giving you any other kind of ride

Jeremy: FUCK YOU, BY

Paco: But he speaks the word

Jeremy: I am NOT taking money from my girl - that is SUPER WEAK

Paco: NO, dude, it's called "EQUALITY" - see the total look I'm sporting? - I didn't have to purchase a single thing, even the kicks - all offerings from desperate girlies trying to hook up with me

Byron: (Slapping Paco on the back) Excellent!

Jeremy: I cannot do that

Penelope Renselier strides up in back of Jeremy and wraps her arms around him.

Penny: OK, Jere, time to say bye-bye to your loser boys and spend time with me!

The two share a kiss as Paco and Bryon share a smug glance.

Jeremy: (Getting up) I ain't turning that down!

Paco: Deeply ponder the tournament, Jere, and call me later

Byron: And don't forget to PICK UP some new threads while you're here

The young man scowls back at his two buddies and takes off with his girlfriend.

Penny: You have some time before work, don't you?

Jeremy: (Looking at his watch) Yeah, about a half hour

Penny: (Snuggling against him) Good... what were those two dickheads crying about?

Jeremy: Nothing special

Penny: Are you entering a tournament?

Jeremy: They think so - I'll probably be too busy helping out Grace with some new tracks

Penny: Heh, you'd rather spend time with Gracie than me?

Jeremy: It's the ONE indentured servitude that I enjoy

Penny: (Joking) I thought you LIKED the fuzzy studded collar I gave you?

Jeremy: (Smiling) My brother put it on the dog

Penny: I bet your mom was thrilled

Jeremy: She didn't even notice

Penny: So what's up with Byron's fashion advice? - need some new clothes?

Jeremy: (Defensive) NO

Penny: (Dragging him) C'mon - I'll get you this vintage PiL shirt I saw in...

Jeremy: NO, PEN... thank you

Penelope folds her arms and walks ahead.

Jeremy: How's your mom doing?

Penny: About the same - although bladder control is becoming an issue

Jeremy: Huh, I was going to ask you if you wanted some lemonade?

Penny: That's gross, Jere

Jeremy: I'm serious, if you want something to eat, I can get it for you - I'm getting paid at the butcher shop tonight

Penny: I already had lunch with my dad, thanks

Jeremy: Still snooping through his e-mail?

Penny: I have to - it's the only way to keep tabs on him... and "Timmy"

Jeremy: (Sighing) Don't you ever wish you could trade in our parents?

Penny: All the freaking time - but then I start to think... and no, I wouldn't

Jeremy: You're right - although I would only keep my mom - my dad definitely needs to drop off the earth... WAIT, HE ALREADY HAS

Penny: Still nothing from him?

Jeremy: Zilch - he's too busy jumping from one oil rig to the next

As people pass by and stare at Penny's appearance, Jeremy takes her hand and strides alongside.

Penny: (Under her breath) Humans... I wish they would all spontaneously combust sometimes

Jeremy: Well, we don't exactly blend in... you can't really fault them

Penny: Can't I? - I could care less what they think about me - I just hate it when they stare at my mom when we're out in public

Jeremy: They don't know any better - the biggest crisis most of them have to deal with is a hangnail or a clashing sofa pattern

Penny: I think she reminds them of their own mortality and they don't have the spine to deal

Jeremy: Not everyone is blessed with a spine of steel like yours

Penny: (Rubbing his arm) You appreciate my spine of steel?

Jeremy: I think it's sexy as hell - and I'm pretty sure there's a fetish group out there who would agree with me

The two chuckle and continue to stroll through the mall.

Jeremy: After work, you want to meet me at the cemetery later?

Penny: (Hesitant) I can't... I have this project I'm working on

Jeremy: (Shocked) For school?

Penny: No, not really

Jeremy: What's it for?

Penny: I can't really say yet - but when it's ready, you'll be so surprised!

Jeremy: (Suspicious) Surprises are not really my thing

Penny: I think you'll like this one

Jeremy: (Stopping her) Does it have anything to do with why that pig ass Brad keeps following you around?

Penny looks away.

Jeremy: IT DOES

Penny: Do you trust me, Jere?

Jeremy tries to subdue his anger.

Penny: DO YOU?

Jeremy: Yeah

Penny: GOOD - because if everything goes according to plan, it will be the answer to all of our prayers!

Penelope kisses Jere on the cheek and runs down the "up" escalator, daring him to follow in her footsteps.

Jeremy: (Under his breath) Prayers or spells?

.

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