Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mercedes and John

Senior year and I'm friendless and someone is trying to kill me.

I've lost my train

Too far out.

* * *
Mercedes looked at John and smiled. Her face looked old, wrinkled, loose skin splashed across high cheek bones, but her one good eye sparkled beautiful, vibrant green. The other, John assumed, was bad, under the white eyepatch with a red star emblazoned on it. Mercedes had no hair, but her teeth and eye were snow white, with that emerald splash.

"Hello John," she said.


"I'm not stupid, so you must be smart. To be here, you must be smart," She said. "Let's be study partners, hey?"


They started to trade contact information, but Mr. Porter cut them short. He talked math, and explained who Einstein was, then who Turing was, then who Euler was, before finally explaining who Musa al-Khwarizmi was. After the tour de mathematicians, he started into basic algebra, which John knew. Instead of paying complete attention, he stared at Mercedes: her perfect posture, her missing fingers, her quickly raised hand, when questions were asked. Despite the discrete scouring he gave Mercedes, John was quick enough to talk through a complex algebra question when Mr. Porter called on him.

"Thank you, John. Good eyes," Mr. Porter said. He wrote their homework on the board then recited it and, as the bell rang, asked if anyone had any questions. No one did.

"Where's your next class?" Mercedes asked. 

"Umn, Third building, fourth floor." 

"Science class, huh?"

"Yup. How do you --"

Mercedes snorted. "That's the science floor for building three. I'm heading there too. Walk with me?"

"Sure!" John beamed. 

Mercedes kept pace with John, the two moving like lazy sharks through the bustle between buildings. They talked about the weather and math and traded mobile numbers and email addresses they used on social media and then, half way through a discussion of the latest premium television show Mercedes said, "You know, for a while I had to walk with a cane."

They kept walking in silence. 

As they neared the closest set of doors into building three (A gigantic red brick monstrosity without windows or charm; it's doors faded yellow slabs of metal she said, "My friend William tried to kill me. I don't think -- he didn't try to kill me. He almost killed me. then he saved me. But he saved me from himself, and then he went nuts. Not, like, noticeably nuts, but definitely --and it's not like he didn't have a right to go a bit nuts. Someone was trying to, there were two people who were." She stopped mid-sentence. 

John said, "Huh."

"The elevator is this way, then left," she pointed, and almost poked a blond girl in the eye, "through the cafeteria. I know the code to get to the roof," and Mercedes turned and winked at John, and ran straight into someone wearing a grey hooded sweater.  She turned and saw the guy, a solid, broad shouldered guy with short brown hair and a wide, flat nose.

It might've been pointy, John was paying that much attention, and then it was a wide flat nose and Mercedes was grabbing his backpack straps and throwing him --who was easily  on hundred more pounds than her-- bloody face first onto the ground.  Somehow, she pushed  his backpack off and fell prone on him, got her arms around his neck and John stepped in with a "woa, woah! Woah!" He tapped Mercedes' arm and said, "Killer moves and all, but you bumped into him!"

"Listen, freshman," Mercedes slammed her forehead into the back of the guy's head, smacking his pulverized nose into the floor, "that's cute. Ignorance is cute. Not cute? Grey hooded sweaters and running into me." She stood up and railed her boot toe into his ribs. "This freshman saved your life, asshole."

The guy, bloodied, curled up, moaned and spat blood.

"Let's go," Mercedes said.

John stood for a moment. He looked between the guy on the floor and the girl with the red star eye patch. He said, "I'll take the stairs."

"Whatev," Mercedes said, and disappeared into the crowd.

John turned to help the guy Mercedes had wrecked, but he had disappeared. The two minute warning bell rang.

For the first time in over a year, John swore.