Brownsville Tales, Jordan
They dropped down out of the tree, carefully not literally, and went out to rejoin the crowd. Dillon had never done this before, so he just followed Jordan's lead – he'd obviously had lots of practice.
It wasn't so apparent when they were sitting down, but walking together, Dillon was very aware of how much taller than Jordan he was. Side by side, close together, he was looking down at the top of his head. So he kept a distance between them so that he could see his face.
Once they were among the other kids they were hemmed in close together again. Judie Meidama wanted to know where Dillon had been?
"Sitting in the shade," he shrugged. "It's too damm hot out here."
"You got that right," she nodded. "All right for the teachers, slacking in the shade. Marley! Where were you? You weren't hiding in a corner with this one, were you?"
'Not likely!' Dillon thought. He glanced sideways at Jordan, then did a double-take and looked again, properly this time. It wasn't Jordan, it was someone else walking near him. The dark hair was the right colour, but it was a bit short and too high up. This was a taller boy. What was his name?
'Lucas. That's him – Lucas Breene.' Jordan had said that he was one of their 'Tight Five'. Breene was short, but taller than Jordan, of course. No-one was as short as Jordan. Where was he now?
"Looking for someone?" Lucas looked up.
"Yeah," Dillon replied. "I was talking to Jordan Houston. Where did he go?"
"Back with his mates, where he belongs. You keep away from him, Kirkwood. He doesn't need you hanging around him."
"What? Hell, I was just talking to the kid."
"Go and talk to someone else and leave Jordan alone."
Who did this kid think he was? Dillon was getting pissed. "Think you own him or something?"
"More than you do. Lots of pervs think he's something to play with. Stay away from him and leave him alone, Kirkwood."
"Try us and you'll find out."
"Fuck off, Breene." Dillon scowled and walked alone, back to school.
Well, that wrecked his day. There's nothing like a prick to deflate a good mood and bring you down. He was sour now. Bloody Breene! Who did he think he was? He wasn't hurting the kid, he was just talking to him!
'Tight Five' huh? Too bloody tight, I think. They don't own him, do they?'
The long trail of hot, sweaty, students trudged their way along the road. Certain people cruised past in their air-conditioned cars. Dillon was not the only one glaring at the teachers and thinking what an easy life they had.
Some people changed out of their sports clothes when they got back to school, but not many bothered – the day was over anyway. They sorted their books and gear and went home. At last.
Outside the main gates, Dillon stopped when he saw Jordan coming towards him. He grinned and waved and started back to meet him, but before he got there, four others closed around him and turned him in the other direction. Damm.
They, he supposed, must've been the rest of Jordan's Tight Five. Two boys were on either side of him, one with medium-length sandy-blond hair and the other with longer, very-blond, almost white, hair. They'd be Ashton Morris and Gene Crestani. Lucas Breene walked close behind and a small girl with a big mane of dark hair, led the way. The Tight Five went through the milling mob of kids like a flying wedge on a rugby paddock.
'Damm.' Dillon thought. 'They do bloody think they bloody own him! How am I supposed to talk to him if I can't get near? Sod them anyway.'
"What's the matter, Sweet Thing? Got a guts-ache?"
"What? Oh. Hi, Tess. My guts is fine, thanks."
"Why've you got a face like thunder then?"
"Because I'm pissed!"
"Not at me, I hope."
"No, never at you. You're a mate, Tess."
"Who's upsetting you then"
"That lot." He looked around but couldn't see them. "Oh. They've gone and taken him with them."
"Who have gone and who have they taken with them."
"Jordan Houston and his friends. He calls them the Tight Five."
"Oh, them. Of course they have. Little Jordan used to get pushed around a bit, years ago. Now the others don't let anyone bother him; they're all very protective of him.
"But what if he wants to be bothered? He's not that fragile, is he"
"I dunno. Go ask him, if you can get close to him, but you'll be lucky."
"Yeah, I'm starting to think that."
"Guess so. There's not much else to do."
"Cool, I'll walk with you then."
Next day, back at school, Dillon saw Jordan around, they had most classes together, but even though he wanted to, he couldn't get closer to him. He knew the Kid was keen on knowing him too, or at least he hoped he did.
Their eyes met sometimes and, once or twice, Jordan flashed a small grin before his bodyguards closed in around him and took him away. Again. What did they think he was going to do, kill him or something?
Dillon wanted to talk to Jordan. He liked the kid and he hoped he'd made a new friend, but it looked like his over-protective mates didn't want him to be friends with anyone but them.
'Stuff them anyway!'
He was still going to keep on trying. He hated being frustrated like this and he figured that the boy was worth knowing even if he was surrounded by jealous dumb-arses. He try again in the lunch-hour when there was more time.
That didn't work out so good. Dillon was late getting outside because he was held-up by some girls who wanted to know if he was going to Jess Moran's party on Friday night? (Which he was not, he hadn't been invited. He was a little bit popular, but not that much.)
When he escaped from them, he walked outside and couldn't see the Tight Five anywhere around. They'd gone. Dammit.
He sat outside the Library to eat his lunch. Was that what he thought it was? It was. Someone was in the Music Room playing, not-very-good, metal music, so it was most likely them – the Tight Five, musicians unextraordinary.
He slipped quietly into the Music Room and stood leaning against the back wall. The Tight Five were up on the small stage, playing, fooling around, insulting each other and laughing a lot. Yeah, he thought, they were definitely more about having fun together.
The blond boy, Ashton, was different to the others. He stood a bit apart, off to one side and concentrating on his guitar. But even he looked up and grinned sometimes at the other's antics.
The girl, Cat, saw Dillon there. She stopped singing and stood staring at him. The others all faltered and stopped, looking where she was looking. Ashton was the last to stop.
"What d'you want?" Lucas Breene scowled.
"I . . ah." It was hard to speak-up with everyone staring. Jordan was smiling, but he was the only one who was. "Jordan said that you guys were a group. I heard you from outside and thought – I wanted to watch and see what you were like."
"Now you have. You're not welcome here, Kirkwood – bugger off and stay away from our Jordie."
"Oh?" Dillon bristled. "He's your Jordan, is he?"
"He is," said the Cat. "Ours and not yours. Go away."
"Don't you get any say in this, Jordan?"
Jordan looked a bit embarrassed, he wasn't smiling now. "No. Umm, well yeah, of course I do, but. . . It's not a good time, Dillon. We're practising here. I'll talk to you later."
Gene Crestani said, "No you won't. You keep away from him, Jordie. We all know what he's after." He looked over at Dillon. "It's our job to keep the perverts away from our mate. Fuck off, Kirkwood."
"A pervert now, am I?"
Ashton said, "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, chances are it is one."
"Yeah, chances are," the Cat agreed. "We've seen it before and it's not happening again. Goodbye."
"Well, I . . Damm! I'm not one of them!" Red-faced, he stormed out and slammed the door.
Screw them anyway. They were the quacking ones, not him. Who the Hell did they think they were? Who did they think he was? No, that was obvious,. But they were wrong. He was no perv and he didn't want to hurt anyone – except maybe them now. Fuck 'em!
That night, lying in bed when he should've been sleeping, but wasn't, he was still mad about that scene at lunchtime. Angry and embarrassed, Dillon decided, to hell with it. He liked Little Jordan and he'd enjoyed their talk up in the tree, but was it worth it? No, it was not.
He wasn't going to try any more. All he'd wanted was to spend some more time getting to know the kid and, hopefully, making a new friend, and look what happened.
As individuals, each of them seemed like they were okay, even Breene was. But as a group, they were just too much. The Tight Five were well-named. They were so tight there was no room for anyone else. Okay, he was giving up.
You'd think that having made a decision his mind would settle-down and he could go to sleep. But, no. He lay there and tried to think about anything else, but it was hours before he finally drifted off.
He woke in the morning at the usual time, habits and routines are hard to break, and he went off to school tired, grumpy and in a foul mood.
It didn't help when he saw Houston break away from the group of kids he was talking to and turn towards him, obviously ready to talk.
None of the rest of the Tight Five was anywhere around, but they wouldn't be far away. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of the scene in the Music Room, especially not out in front of the school with the whole world watching.
He had to pass close to where he was standing, in front of the main entrance to the school, and he got a big smile from Houston when he walked past.
"Hey, Dillon. How's it going?"
"Good enough," he grunted and kept going.
Maybe Jordan hadn't got the message, but he had – they were not allowed to be friends. The Tight Five didn't approve. He latched-on to Tess, went to class with her and stayed close to her and away from Jordan Houston and his bodyguards all morning.
He lost his cover at lunchtime. Tess had to leave the school. She was going shopping with her mother, and then had a dentist's appointment, so she wouldn't be back.
"Okay. Say hello to Mum for me."
"I will and I'll see you tomorrow. Dillon, whatever's going on between you and Jordan Houston, get it sorted or it'll drive you nuts."
"What d'you mean? Nothing's going on."
"Yeah, right! I'm not blind you know. The pair of you have been sneaking looks at each other all morning. For your own sake, sort it. 'Bye Dillon."
He watched her walk away and thought, 'Damm, am I that obvious? I'll stop looking then.'
He went and sat outside the Library to eat his lunch alone. That didn't work out either.
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