Chapter 23: Gabbing & GarbingMature

Narrator: Joshua Penningway


"The message said 'I WILL BE THERE IN 90 MINS DO NOT INTERFERE'," I told Michelle as we both stitched and snipped away at fabric.

"So he's here now?" she asked.

Leslie was with us, because she'd taken the Grade 11 fashion class in Grade 10. And this wasn't her only Grade 12 course, as she took Grade 11 English in summer school.

She looked glum beneath her black, cat-eared toque. "I wish Adam was here."

"Why is that?" Michelle asked.

I coughed.

"Because right now, Brent is in auto-shop with his eyes down Mrs. Abegayle's blouse."

"I don't know what Kieth meant with that text message. Is he attacking a writer for The Rogue or just visiting Greg?" I pondered aloud.

"How should I know? He's your brother," said Michelle. "When are you going to make a choice, Leslie?"

"I've made up my mind. I'll act on it when it's convenient to do so."

"No, Les, your fabric choice."

"I suppose that depends which one of them I'm trying to please with this dress," she said. "Not that I have any idea if my moment of convenience will arrive before or after the Halloween Ball."

"It's girl's choice," I said. "So just tell Brent you don't want to go, and take Adam in secret. None of us are going to tell him. And if any of his bimboes tell him, we'll assure him that we didn't see you all night."

"You're going?" Michelle asked. "With who?"

"Oh, I won't be single by then."

"Well, you've got a 52% chance, because only 48% of the world population is male."

Leslie looked up from the nothing she was busy doing, "Are you talking about Frith?"

"What can I say? I like tomboys. Kieth and I aren't completely different."

"Aww... one syllable too much," Michelle teased.

"Evelyn isn't a tomboy," stated Leslie.

"And perhaps that's why Evelyn and I are over."

"Fine," Leslie told me. "Take Bastien, or CJ, they're tomgirls. Let them borrow the French maid outfit I'm making."

"Somewhere in this school, there's a history class where Steph is standing up and doesn't know why," said Michelle.

"Shutup, you horney eejit," I said. "I'm not attracted to tomgirls, or any guys for that matter."

Leslie shrugged, "Tomboys... tomgirls... same thing: androgynous."

"You're beginning to sound like Frith," observed Michelle.

"I know!" Leslie said with sudden glee. "Isn't it great?"

"Nope," I said abruptly. "Ow, my thumb."

"Ooops, did I nudge you a wittle bit? Iz Joshua gonna go fow a cwy? Hmm... fanthy a wittle cwying?"

"Are you stoned again?" asked Michelle.

"Goo-ood question," said Leslie, with a shrug. "I dunno... I'm... I'm not even crying. I feel so empty and indifferent about his death."

"Hmm..." Michelle pursed her lips as she added another needle to the edge of something. "How's your tux coming along, Joshua?"

"Great. My Mom got all excited and made my Dad put a lot of money in my bank account to pay for the materials. I'm making the vampiric components removable, so that I can use it in funerals and weddings. Maybe even my own wedding."

"If marrying Frith is legal," Leslie put in.

"Oh, shut up!" I said.

"Either way, it's legal in this province," said Michelle. "Oh, and I have some good news. Right at the end of second period, once I'd left the library, I saw Frith coming out of a girl's bathroom!"

"No way!" I exclaimed.

"That makes the score what... 1-1?"

"Buzzkill," I said.

"Hey, that's my word!" Leslie protested.

"Not if you're gonna use it as a moniker for CJ behind his ba--"

Michelle interrupted me, "Now, now, let's not start a debate about Mary Jane. Silence... fifteen seconds..."

I paid attention to my work at hand, trying to use my material as efficiently as possible, without wasting a single piece of the expensive fabric. "How are we going to finish these and the required number of masks for this class and drama class in two weeks?"

"Do you want to stay after school a few days with me? I'm sure we can get permission to use one of these rooms. And remember, the write-ups aren't due for a while."

"I'm so glad I dropped out of the art program," said Leslie. "Less masks to make."

"CJ's mask won't be hard to make for him, will it? Plenty of adequate dog molds," said Michelle. "Arctic fox."

"How fitting..." said Leslie.

"What are you, Leslie?" I asked.

"Black cat, meeeow..."

"Neat. Very... symbolic."

"Are you calling her unlucky?" Michelle said, worried she'd have to break-up another fight.

"Take it as a compliment, because according to Hamlet, Lady Luck is a strumpet," I told her.

Leslie stuck out her tongue and pulled one eyelid down with a finger to be rude.

"If it's girl's choice, who's asking who in your case, Michelle?"

"Well, her hair is the shortest. The butchest. I guess that means I'm asking her. And that's easier than telling her about the dance and then waiting for her to ask me... I don't think that'd work out."

Leslie smiled, "I'm proud of you, bringing a same-sex partner to the dance. Though it's much easier to do here than it would be at her school. We artsy types are less 'phobic."

"Jocks excluded," I said. "Given what my brother went through here. And not much changes in two years."

"Yeah, I suppose we do have quite a few hillbilly farm boys who don't know any better. And some plain old rural Bible-humpers," said Leslie. "The non-regional-arts catchment area draws them in to spite us kind and artsy souls."

"Hmmm..." said Michelle. "Let's not discriminate against those that discriminate. That's just hypocritical."

"Good point," said Leslie. "And I don't even know if I'm making a mask for Brent or for Adam. But I can afford both. That goth who looks like a clone of CJ, Jake or whatever his name is, he's paying me lots of money for a red fox mask."

"Neat," said Michelle. "I didn't know CJ has a doppelganger. That's... kinda creepy."

"He's got a giant backpack, too. And I think he bought the same silver chocker on purpose, and a similar cross necklace. But I have no idea what he keeps in his backpack."

"Wow," I said. "That's really creepy, Leslie."

"So, if someone had sex with their own clone, would it be incest or masturbation?" Michelle asked.

"Oh not this debate again," I said. "Haven't you and Juliet agreed on an answer yet?"

She shook her head, "Nope."

"Whatever it is... it's hot," said Leslie with a thoughtful look on her face.

"I don't think CJ would appreciate what you're thinking right now," I said, moving the scissors towards her threateningly.

"He's used to it. Then again, he almost cut his hair that time the fairy in tenth grade checked him out."

"CJ's not usually such a 'phobe. How odd. Especially given the mind game he played with Kieth."

"That's probably because Adam was around," I put in. "Adam wants CJ like a fat kid wants ice cream."

"Isn't that the exact sort of idea you're trying to stop her from thinking?" Michelle pointed out.

"Bleh. Damn you, Leslie."

"Brent wants a brown mink," Leslie informed us.

"A weasel?" I said with a chuckle.

"That's what it might look like if I don't do a good job."

"I'm keeping mine a secret," I told them. "And my clientèle you are going to have to ask them about, other than CJ."

"What do you think Adam would want?" Michelle asked.

"I asked him over MSN. I don't think he'd want me to tell you."

"Oh, no wonder you were using my computer so much," she said. "I take it CJ was involved in the e-mail exchange?"

Leslie nodded.

"Well, it's not like he's a fan of Brent."

"Is anyone?" Michelle asked.

Leslie snorted, "Just Polly."

"Who's Polly?" we both asked, in a worried tone.

"Nobody important, but prone to elicit jealousy."

"Illicit, the adjective, with an 'I'; or elicit, the verb, with an 'e'?" I asked.

"Either one, really."

Michelle frowned, and lightly kicked Leslie's bag that was beside her feet on the floor.

"Okay, I can't keep this a secret anymore," I said. "Promise you won't tell CJ?"

They both nodded.

"Go on," prodded Michelle.

"He wasn't the only one who got a letter."

"You have a secret admirer too?!" exclaimed Leslie.

"No. His secret admirer sent a request to Evelyn, left a note in her locker just before third period. Asking her to make a mask. Evelyn refused to tell me which animal."

"So we can narrow down the suspects by who is and isn't willing to disclose who is making their mask," realized Michelle.

"Precisely," I told her. "And furthermore, her only other customer right now is Lucas. Therefore, if anyone says Evelyn, then we've got our girl."

"Or guy," said Leslie. "Remember, he sets off gadar a lot."

"Let's not be so pessimistic," I said.

"That won't rule out Evelyn herself," Michelle pointed out.

"I think it's Frith," said Leslie.

"They only met this morning, such that she had no time to write and deliver the note," I said.

"What says the person has formally met him? They might be admiring him from afar. Then again, in English class Frith is either watching the blackboard, the teacher, or staring blankly at a bare surface."

"Joshua, do you know which type of bat you're going with?"

"I'm not sure if I want a realistic mask or a stylized one. And I'm torn between cute and scary."

"Go for both?" suggested Michelle.

"Like... the movie Gremlins," said Leslie.

"Good idea," I said. "Thanks."

"I convinced Steph to go as a rooster," boasted Michelle.

"Hah... a cock." Leslie giggled.

"I think you're taking the 'my extremely tall friend is my penis' thing a little too far with that one," I said. "And the verdict is... Leslie is officially stoned."

"Second hand," she said. "Cornfields are thick."

Michelle shook her head in silence.

"Hey, it got Brent off my trail for a while," she told us.

"Please, Leslie," began Michelle.

"You, Brent and a bunch of stoners in the cornfield..." I said. "We really don't need to know!"

"Yeah," she laughed. "You don't."

Michelle stated the obvious, "You grieve in strange ways, my dear."

The End

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