30/30 – 8 | Challenge

I had been on fucking edge all morning.

It wasn’t something definitive I could put my finger on. Just a thing that has gnawed at me from the moment my eyes popped opened from a jacked up dream I couldn’t even remember. I’ve only felt like this, this distinct feeling a very few times in my life, all of which turned out to be just as bad as the mood felt. As the tension built throughout the day, I found myself being hypersensitive to each and every little thing.

Trying to relax, me and my boy, Marcus were hanging at the mall. Marcus and I have been best friends for nearly half our lives. Marcus knows he is one of a maximum of three people on this earth that fully get me. Even so, there are times when I know even he is puzzled by me, like today. Being fully cognizant of my mood Marcus was prattling off at any subject that came into his crazy head to get me to loosen up, the current topic of choice being our respective GPA’s.

“Bro, I just don’t get you sometimes!” Marcus held up a wild ass pair of jeans, checking out the style.

“What’s there to get?” I shrugged, still agitated. “I passed the Regents. Big fuckin’ deal!”

“The big deal is you have – what? The 58th highest GPA in the school and your ass even ain’t there half the time!” Marcus picked up two different pairs of jeans for comparison. They both looked like shit to me, but then I was not exactly in the mood for objective critiquing and kept the opinion to myself.
“Think about it, son. Where would you be if you actually tried?” He continued, “Probably higher than Miss Smart Ass Delia.” The bad part was, while he was probably right, I still didn’t like the comparison.

Delia Larson and I were childhood buddies, even before Marcus came along. Our moms have been best friends since they were our current age. They got the notion into their heads one day, when Delia and I were still in single digits, that she and I should escort each other to and from school. Of course we both hated it at first, but someone – somehow always snitched us out when we’d try to ditch each other and it just wasn’t worth the blessing we got from both our mommas, so we were stuck with each other.

She and I were always tops in our classes and always wound in the same classes because of it. It was a competition between us. Over time we just got used to each other. The fact that she was a major tomboy, could pitch like a dream and whup your ass like she’s your mama helped. Marcus came along about the third grade and fit in perfect with us. For most of grade school and part of middle school we were damn near inseparable. We – mainly I – changed in ways no could have predicted.

She became a goody two-shoe brainiac and I became Warlord of the Morgue Makers. Marcus followed me and through his own doing earned rank as Jr. Warlord, my second-in-command. About two years ago Delia and I had a major falling out, that I concede to totally being my doing. No one can hurt you like a friend can hurt you because they know more about you to fuck you over. One day I got tired of her trying to convert me back into what she wanted and I ripped into her. I used damn near every thing I knew against her and just really fucking ripped. Marcus came down on me later because of it, but it had to be done.

Sometimes when we cross paths, I can still see traces of the hurt I caused that day. I didn’t want to break the friendship and I know I was vicious and wrong in how I handled it, but she had to be cut loose. I had my reasons, simple as that. It obviously isn’t quite as simple as that, nothing in life truly is, but that is the gist of it.

There are days when I desperately miss her as a confidant outside of this life. I trusted her with things I haven’t even told Marcus and probably never will. Like when I felt this edginess this morning, I had the phone in my hand; her number dialed and heard her speak before I remembered I couldn’t talk to her anymore and hung-up. Still just hearing her say hello calmed me for the moment. The weird thing is, sometimes I feel like she’s seeing right through me. When we passed each other in the school halls earlier, I knew she knew I called. I never spoke; it was just something in her expression for the brief moment she glanced at me and nodded once.

I think if I tried I could win her friendship back even as I am. But that could just be my ego tripping. Fuck knows she curses my ass out enough to convince me she wants nothing to do with me anymore She’s still class valedictorian while I’ve somewhat fallen by the wayside grade wise. Warlords are smart, but we’re not supposed to be bookworms. Every now and then, when we have the same class, I’ll show her up. Mostly to prove to myself that I can when I set my mind to it. When she calls me on it, I don’t even try to deny it. The competitiveness between us never left me. It a big part of why I am who I am. So all things considered, Marcus did have a point about my grades. Not that I needed to be reminded of it.

“Oh please!” I groaned. “You’d think that damn girl was born with text books in her hands! It’s a good thing she has such a big ass to balance out the humongous head of hers!”

“You know you wrong!” Marcus cracked up, pointing out a shirt high up on the wall to a sales girl. The shirt wasn’t all that, but watching the girl’s juicy ass as she climbed the ladder to get it was. Hey, I was edgy not blind!

“What I can’t figure out is: do you hang out in school half the time to escape the Morguers or do you hang out with the Morguers half the time to escape school.”

“Uh – excuse me, but according to that list you ain’t much of a slouch either.” I shrugged off his comment, but best friend or not, I was slightly caught off-guard at being so easily read even by him.

“Aw hell naw! I’m like, 228th on the list. There’s a world of difference between our scores when there’s a total of about four hundred and change kids in our junior class.” Marcus made a mental decision on the worst of the two pairs of jeans, signaling with a nod that he was heading towards the cashier. ”I’m middling at best.”

Middling?” I laughed out loud at that. “Oh yeah, you’se jus’ a po’ ignant chile.”

“Man, fuck you!” Marcus grinned himself.

We watched the sales girl again as she retrieved a shirt for someone else, admiring the long view from all the way under the short skirt. Marcus and I couldn’t help it – we answered the usual question between us when it came to booty comparison.

“Delia!” We laughed simultaneously. It felt good to have an honest laugh, if only for a moment, to lose that edgy feeling.

Unfortunately, it was back soon enough.

Marcus knew better than to bother asking what was bothering me. I could never put a precise definition or accurate description to this mood. It was just something I’ve learned to trust in when it happened. It’s that same innate sense that made me Warlord of the Morgue Makers almost two years ago. Fifteen at the time, I am the 2nd youngest to hold the title, having earned it from the previous record holder, who had not lived long enough to celebrate his first anniversary as warlord. I’ve been challenged twice for the title so far.

The first challenger ended up with sixteen stitches across his cheek and a permanent limp. The last one put me in an arm cast for a short bit and him in a coma for nearly two months. Whether out of fear what could happen next or final respect that I can hold down my position, there has not been a challenge in almost a year.

That I woke up with this amped up level of edgy on those two mornings also did not bode well for today…

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Read Part 2