Copyright © 2020 Black Paper. All Rights Reserved.
Over the course of the next five days since I had ever first met, Antonio, or “Donny”, for short, we had not only taken many casual & exploring strolls around the town which we had both recently moved into, but, I already had him over my house two times. My family and brother warmed up to his sweet personality almost immediately upon him very first entering my house, especially, when he formally introduced himself to my parents. He was adoringly polite, asked my mother if she needed help with cooking or cleaning on occasion, and even slightly bowed to her and my father, sometimes, when he would address them in an appropriately respectful manor in order to subtly honor his elders.
In the South, biscuits are something that accompany an already delicious meal. That is their ultimate purpose in a home-made Southern dish. They are like the French fries that make the entire experience all the better and add that extra 'something' to what already tastes great; that was Antonio. He was the freshly made buttered biscuit that accompanied my family and I that made our new move much easier to emotionally accustom ourselves to and bare with without him even realizing it. He was the warm, pleasant, and comforting aspect in that good ol' Southern hospitality kind ‘a way. He made us all smile. He never over imposed or appeared shy. And, it wasn’t a challenge or an awkward experience, whatsoever, to have him blend in with them all, especially, my brother who occasionally sat on his lap here and there as he would tell us all a funny joke or a story of his home life in Venice, Italy with his family and old friends.
It WAS a little weird to have him sit on my bed, though. I never had a friend over to be inside of my own personal room before in my old house. It felt so 'private' to my young mind. It was where I slept, changed, and walked around after a good scrub in the shower to prepare my self for the day. And, he was RIGHT there!
During that time period, the best experience we shared was when we walked into a 7-11 and saw a can of Red Bull.
“Whatt is deess?” he asked me as if I would know, being that I’m from the same country as the new town which we moved into. “Is deess like… eh beer?” he asked, grabbing it out of the fridge.
I shrugged. “Beats me. Ain’t never seen none, b'fore.” I said. After we asked the man behind the register what it was and he explained what consumers generally used it for, we decided to buy one and tasted it in the parking lot right after we stepped outside.
After his first few sips, he widened his eyes making them appear as if they were about to bulge right out of his face. *Gasp.* “Ughh... Iss so good!” he said.
“Lemme’ see!” I said and grabbed it from his hand.
“Heyy!” he said.
I ignored him and gulped a few sips, quickly, being curious as to what it tasted like. After my first actual taste of the drink I deeply swallowed and said, “Wow.”
We turned to each other and giggled at our new fondness of the sugary, caffeinated beverage. Not long after, we went back inside, used my allowance money and some of his saved birthday cash and bought 5 more.
About 40 minutes later, we were not only laughing about virtually nothing that was even humorous, whatsoever, on my couch. But, when my mother arrived home with Shannon and my father, they asked us what was so funny.
We said nothing, but, stared at one another in silence for a few moments and then erupted into a little fit of uncontrolled belly laughs and giggles. My mother wasn’t at all what you would call a ‘common minded' individual; she saw all 6 cans, us giggling immaturely, and picked up one of the cans to show my father. “Billy Decker, you know how much SUGAR is innn this here caaayan'?” she said to me a little frustrated.
She took the liberty to temporarily ignore us and took a sip of the factory produced concoction and involuntary gave a look as if she was about ready to puke, cough, or both. ‘OH, lord.” She said.
This resulted in a slight laugh from my father which he immediately suppressed and straightened up once she turned to give him a raised eyebrowed look.
“Can Ahh' have some?” Shannon said grabbing it.
“NO.” My parents said simultaneously.
Needless to say, I was up all night that night until 5:00am and received a well predicted, deserved, & earned lecture from my mother on the detrimental effects of having energy drinks, especially in the vast quantities which we had consumed them in, after 1:00pm.
Over that time period, Donny made my life much easier to cope with than before. If I was 'sick' before from the harsh bullying and emotional trauma that I experienced during my first weeks from school then Liam was my 'bandage' and Donny was my 'medicine'. They both really helped me. They really did. I needed to feel better. I needed to be 'treated' and reminded again of how to be happy and that I DESERVED the human right to BE happy. I needed the poison sucked out of me from the venom Jesse, Sascha, Micheal, and other kids in school had poisoned me with. With the small group of friends was slowly but strongly growing into a larger amount, I was reminded, once again, that I was good enough. They reminded me that... for the time being anyway.
That following Monday, as Donny and I were walking outside of the school to head home, we happened to turn a corner which was a bit farther from the school grounds, but, was still connected to the campus by the football field. As we did, leaning against the brick wall behind the school's teams changing rooms, I saw Sascha Konovski and Michael Smith smoking some cigaretes and talking about something with a few giggles.
Before i was able to speed up my pace in the other direction in order to avoid being seen, I saw Sascha immediately turn around after Michael nodded his head in me and Donny's direction. This caused the fuzzy hair's at the back of my neck to stand up straight and stiff as I froze with Donny holding my hand.
Sascha stared at me and scanned my body with his eyes up and down for a moment. He took a puff from his ciggarette and spoke "What'eh YOU lookin' at, HillBilly?" he paused. He looked at Donny and almost seemed.... upset at him for some strange reason or for the fact that he was even with me and then looked back at me. "What????.... Get OUTTA here." he said as he picked up a crumpled piece of paper and threw it at me. Donny seemed a little shocked by this and just pulled my arm to try and edge me to go. Donny was a nice kid. He was sort of a new 'neutral' aspect in the entire confusion of ruckus between me, Liam and my bullies. He really had no clue what was going on and I made it a point to consistently hide it from him. I really liked him and I didn't want him leaving me because he thought I was a looser. But, I could tell he didn't like the reactions from the boys throwing things at me and he probably wondered what was really going on and what would spark that kind of hatred towards another student. Heck... Not even I knew. Not only was I embarrassed to have Donny witness such a thing, but, the entire walk home that day, I had to cleverly dodge, avoid, and redirect every question he asked me about who they were and why they were being that way with me. It was painful to avoid it from him, knowing he would find out eventually. It was embarrassing.
But, personally, I was even more shocked from seeing kids as young as us like Sascha smoking like they were in their 20s. It just looked and seemed so... Wrong. He seemed 'disturbed'. He was extremely angelic and attractive looking and, yet, with ciggerettes in his hand, he looked like such a dirty delinquent. They really looked like a pair of trouble makers who truly ENJOYED causing trouble and didn't and couldn't do much of anything else. After I began to quickly walk away, I couldn't help but, notice that everytime I looked back, Sascha, was looking directly at me. He didn't and wouldn't stop until I finally pulled Donny around the corner by the hand.
A few days after, some surprising things at my school had changed. Apparently our one class that was simply named “Temp” on our schedules which, at first, appeared to all of us as a class that resembled to have the sole purpose of a study hall, was actually meant to be what would be a new program for the school curriculum. The school simply needed more time to better prepare each of these rooms for the said class subject in question; this took only a few weeks after school had already started for the yesr. This class had the purpose of introducing Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors to various fields which they can accustom themselves to and learn more about in order to better familiarize themselves to and better decide what career paths they might wish to embark on later in College when the time came.
Some of these courses were, art culture, advanced music classes, culinary arts, basic psychology, human health, and a few various other options. There was a deadline which all students had to abide by upon coming to a decision on which class they would like to have as their permanent course for the year which would take the place of the "temp" period. Once the deadline was reached, no students, under any circumstances, could change this option.
I was really excited about this as the idea of having the ability to “choose” a career path this early in my life felt as though I was able to do something much more mature than what I had learned back home, besides the business matters and finances which my father had instructed me on in his study about our Apple Orchard business and how to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible in all areas. It made me feel as though I had some influence in the world. And, I immediately asked Donny which one he would like to do with me. I told him I loved to cook and he was absolutely ecstatic about the idea which was an endearing surprise.
Apparently, much like my home life, Donny's culture from where he is from is very big on family, romance, fine cooking, and the arts of combining all of these at once. He expressed to me his own personal passion of Italian and other cultural cuisine which he was enthusiastic to learn more about. Much like my mother had taught me, his own mother had instructed him for years on the authentic Italian culinary traditions which were the fundimental building blocks for his culture's cuisine and he was more than happy to show me when the opportunity presented itself.
We had both come to the ultimate conclusion that we would be sharing this class together. Having Donny with me for this class was absolutely PERFECT! I was so excited to be a part of this new course which would teach us all about cooking, and what the course had to offer in terms of daily routine activities and lessons. But, I was even more excited that Donny and I could discover and experience it together.
As we eventually waited until the last day to elect our Culinary course, Donny and I had the fortunate circumstance of being the last two kids along with the rest of that class to choose the elective. This classroom was a fully equipped culinary room. Each table could easily fit 3 people, either, standing or sitting, and had 6 cooking burners on the left end of each large table. Three sinks filled the back of the room. It was absolutely magnificent! I saw why it took the school some extra time to fully prepare things. And, since Donny and I were the last ones to enroll in the class that day, we were the FINAL PAIR! So, while everyone else was in groups of threes which could not be changed, which the teacher assigned, Donny and I were our very own group! It was perfect.
It was more than just the fact that I would be sharing another class with Donny which was a specialty elective that excited me, it was the fact that the entire time that I had lived in my new state and town, I had absolutely no ambition or drive to do one of the hobbies and pass times which I loved the most; this class and Donny motivated me to once again get in the kitchen. I wanted to have fun and be creative again. I wanted to hold a wooden spoon and smile as I made something new. I wanted those feelings that I had in my old warm Southern home in Georgia when my momma, Shannon, & I would dabble around in the kitchen making daddy his dinner after a long day's work when our schooling was up or when we wanted to make something sweet. I missed it. I loved it. And, as I sat there with my new Italian soul twin I couldn't help, but, feel "thankful". For the first time since I moved there, I didn't feel like "HillBilly" anymore. I felt like myself. I was Billy.
However, the moment I thought that, someone walked in, and it was a haunting tremor that went straight from my spine and all the way down to the inner walls of my butt giving me the serious urge to use the restroom. It was like seeing a ghost in real life. Jesse's best friend had walked right in and talked with the teacher discussing a few things. Just then, the teacher nudged her head over in MY direction. When Sascha saw me sitting at the table that the teacher had instructed him to sit in, his eyes bulged out of his head and I actually heard him say "No!" To the teacher as he turned to negotiate some sort of a plee to have him go somewhere, ANYWHERE else but sit with Donny & I. But, it was too late. The class was set up in threes. No one could switch and that was the final day for drop outs. There was no debating it. There was no way out. And, as Sascha slowly looked at me giving me a death glare the class went silent. He snatched the paper from her shocking the teacher, and walked slowly to my table. I couldn't believe it. I was so happy that it was just ME and Donny! And, now, and now SASCHA IS GOING TO.... I don't even know! As he got closer and closer I heard over and over again in my head all of the horrible things that he and his friends had done and said to me. I remember the day that he very first gave me my new name, "HillBilly' really loud in he lunchroom causing a bunch of kids to laugh and call me that as well.
As he got closer and finally sat next to Donny, I felt as though a giant, wide toothed shark was lurking the waters that innocent Donny and I were happily playing in. And, that's because he was. Sascha.... Was my partner.
"Allo." I heard Donny say to him.
I didn't say a word. I didn't look in their direction, too afraid of how Sascha would respond to him, what he'd do to us, and worse, what he and his friends would do later on...
Like this story? Feel free to personally email me any feedback- firstname.lastname@example.org