“Like this.” I grinned and suddenly he was pulled underwater. Unbeknownst to him, Dale had swum up behind him and they were now wrestling beneath the surface.
They were both laughing when they came up. “That wasn’t fair at all.” Louis laughed.
“Didn’t anyone tell you life’s not fair?” I said, cocking an eyebrow and looking superior. Louis just smiled and shook his head.
“Here Louis, I’ll help you!” Chase said and was suddenly on top of Dale’s shoulders, weighing him down in the water. Everyone was laughing and chasing each other. One thing Sue and I were at a disadvantage with, hanging with boys, was that they were too heavy to pick up, but we were just light enough for them to toss around as much as they liked.
When we finally left there it was a little after noon and we were in desperate search for something to eat. We finally decided to drive back to town and eat at The Southern Experience because Sue and I were going to have to be at work at three anyway. We piled in, and after about a thirty minute wait, we got two tables put together so it would be big enough for us. Dale assumed the head of the table, like he deserved it, while Chase and Sue sat on one side and Louis sat by me on the other, his chair pulled a little closer to me than a regular friend would do. Dale, of course noticed this, and after narrowing his eyes at the back of Louis’ head, I knew he’d be watching closely.
“It’s not going to be here in time,” Sue said, looking sadly at me and then her stomach.
“It’ll be fine. We can just eat while we work if it’s not,” I said, “We’ve done it before. Just get something quick and easy to eat on the go.”
“That must be fun,” Louis said, sarcastically.
“Well, it keeps you skinny,” I said, looking through the menu.
“Don’t start that crap again,” Dale said, pointing at me and shaking his head before looking at his own menu.
“What?” I said and rolled my eyes. Seeing the questioning look in Louis’ eyes I added, “Every time I say anything remotely close to something like this you act like I’m going to call myself fat or something.”
“It’s what girls do,” Louis said.
“But I’m not like that.” I argued.
“That’s right.” Dale nodded matter-of-factly. “Because when you’re with us, you’re not a girl.” That made everybody look at him. “I mean you’re one of the guys. You’re technically a girl, but not really – just – never mind you know what I mean.”
Suzy showed up with salsa and chips, then took our drink and food orders. “Hey, Kota I’m so glad you’re here! You’re in my section and Sue, you’re in that section over there.” She pointed to a section full of small tables and we both smiled. They were both made of small tables, and that meant quicker seating, quicker leaving, and more money.
After she returned with our drinks, Dale took a sip of his coke and then leaned on his elbow, his stare directed at Louis. “So Louis, you have a girlfriend?” I rolled my eyes, but he ignored me.
“Uh, no.” Louis glanced at me and shook his head. “Why?”
“Oh, I was just wondering. I’d figure a guy like you would have been with someone by the first week. That’s the way it usually happens around here with the new people.”
“Not with the Peters apparently,” Louis countered.
“Well,” Chase said, “they’re different.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” I said under my breath, even though it was loud enough for everyone to hear.”
“Hey, they’re not all bad,” Sue argued and we all looked at her. “Ivan is nice.”
No one could argue with that. “And Aubrey,” Chase said. “She’s really sweet.”
“And Vincent,” I added.
“There was this one guy in gym who was talking about Alister the first couple of days they were here. Alister was across the room, but I guess he could still hear him because he looked like he wanted to tear that guy’s head off,” said Chase.
“Did you ever think that maybe they acted the way they did because of everything everyone is saying about them?” Sue said, looking at each of us in turn, me included. “Wouldn’t you act like that if people were talking about you like that?”
We were silent for a few minutes, and just when I was about to say something, I was saved by the arrival of our food. Chicken fried steak for Louis, a steak for Dale, Double bacon cheeseburger for Chase, Quesadillas for Sue and fajita for me. The food brought a few more minutes of silence as we all dug in, the sweet smells reminding our stomachs how starving they were from all of our running around.
Fifteen minutes into our lunch and it was time for Sue and I to hit the floor. We quickly excused ourselves, changed, and then started our shift. The boys hung out for a little while after finishing, ordering some more chips and salsa, while we worked so we could still sneak bites of most of our lunch. Dale’s suspicions about Louis and the Peters had been forgotten and when they were getting up to leave they were hitting each other and laughing loudly. “Here ya go.” Louis said as he handed me a ten-dollar bill.
“What? Why?” I asked in confusion. “I didn’t even really do anything.”
“Yeah, but you’re my friend and I can if I want to,” He smiled down at me and I couldn’t help but let one spread over my face too.
“I can’t,” I said, shaking my head.
“Fine, then give five of it to, Suzy? The other waitress? And you keep the rest. Is that better?” He raised his eyebrows in a slightly teasing way and I hit his chest.
“Fine,” I said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Man, why do you make everything so hard?” he joked as he started walking out the door.
“I just don’t want to take more credit than I deserve,” I called after him.
“That’s right,” Dale said, as if he’d just remembered something. “You would never do that.” Then they all laughed and I pushed him out the door.
Customers nearby stared at me in amusement. “Boys,” I said as way of explaining and shook my head when they laughed. Jack and Jason came to visit me later on that night, Jack asking me out like always, and again I found myself saying no, but this time for a different reason other than his age.