Just another day in ParadiseMature

As the day wore on, Rhea and Martin were loathe to leave the bench in Memorial Park. They talked about bands they liked, told each other drinking stories and harassed passersby for cigarettes. Their conversation lulled for a moment. "You skate?" Rhea asked, gesturing to the board Martin was rolling with his feet.

"Yeah!" he said, proudly.

"Well show me what you can do!" Rhea urged him. Martin grinned and jumped to his feet.

"Just you watch this" he said with a cocky grin on his face. He began to shoot down the sidewalk, gathering speed. Then suddenly he began wobble. He pitched backwards from the board, which skittered onto the muddy grass.

"Are you ok?" Rhea called, trying to hold back her laughter. Martin sat up and nodded. Rhea couldn't hold her laugh in anymore. "I thought you said you could skate... sure didn't look like skating to me." Martin retrieved the board and stomped back to the bench.

"You know so much about it, why don't you do it yourself?" he muttered, feelings obviously hurt. Rhea grabbed the board and tried to push it forward. Somehow, though, the board shot backwards and she went forwards, skinning her knees.

"Motherfuck!" Rhea yelled, and hobbled after the board. Martin's laughter rang in her ears.

"How bout we leave the board alone for awhile?" he offered, that mischevious grin once again lighting his eyes.

" Fuckin' A" Rhea sighed and settled on the bench.

"That hurt?" he asked, gesturing to her now bloody knee.

"I've had worse" she told him, and smiled. As most kids in Mem park, they talked about everything but where they came from.You just kind of knew everyone would rather forget.

Finally Rhea asked "Why haven't I seen you around?" Rhea asked Martin.

"I just got here" he answered.

"From where?"

"From not here" he answered. "What about you?"

"I grew on that tree right there" she told him, pointing at an elm tree near the sidewalk. Looking at her,Martin arched an eyebrow and said

"They must have picked you too early then!" Jumping to her feet, Rhea faced him and grabbed him by the strings of his hoodie.

"You did NOT just call me short!" She raged. "You're not that much bigger than me anyways!"

"Am so!" Martin cried. Pushing Rhea back slightly, he rose to his feet and proved he was indeed a few inches taller. The pair of punks stood toe to toe for a long moment. Martin's eyes softened. "You are a lot prettier than me though" he murmured.

Rhea slipped a hand in his, and standing on her toes, quickly brushed her lips on his. He blushed! They sat back down on the bench. The silence was long. Finally, Martin asked "do you got a place tonight?"

"No," Rhea replied. "Do you?"

"Yeah, I've been crashing with these dudes in the Roachcrest." Another pause. "Do you uhhh... want to come with me tonight?" Rhea smiled.

"Shit, son, I thought you'd never ask!" Martin grinned and shyly grabbed hold of her hand.

"You're so cool" he said, and this time Rhea blushed.

"You want to get some food?" he asked her.

"Sure, lets go to the mall."The pint sized punks grabbed their bags, and left for the Midtown Center. "You ever tablesurf before?" Rhea asked Martin as they rode the escalator to the busy food court on the mall's second level.

"Ummm I don't know, maybe..." he mumbled, not wanting to admit he didn't know what she was talking about.

"OK, this is what we do. We watch for people who don't finish their food. Hopefully, they are lazy and leave it sitting on the table. When they leave, we sit down and finish it off. You sit across from me, and keep six for the mall pigs. They come by, and we'll bail out the parkade. Deal?"

"Deal" Martin replied, and grabbed two plastic forks from the counter of the pasta franchise near the escalators. Rhea and Martin circled around the food court, watching the people as they ate. Martin put a hand on her arm. "Feel like some Chinese?" he grinned, and pointed to a man who was idly picking a large plate of greasy rice, vegetables, and chicken balls.

"Good eye!" Rhea congratulated him.

"You sure this is your first tablesurfing run?" Sure enough, the man pushed the plate away, got up and walked to the bathrooms. Rhea and Martin sidled into the seats and attacked the food. Rhea took a long drink of the abandoned orange soda on the table, and Martin suddenly stopped eating and instead began to peer intently at the plate. Picking at a piece of meat, he said sadly "Fluffy? Fluffy? Oh my God! Fluffy! I'd know you anywhere!" Caught off guard , Rhea desperately tried to keep the drink from flying out of her nose. And failed. She and Martin burst into gales of laughter, which stopped short when they realized they'd been to distracted to notice the foreboding black and white jackets that signified Midtown Mall Security.

"Six! Six!" they both yelled at the same time, trying to gather their packs so they could run. But there wasn't enough time, and the dreaded mall pigs were now surrounding the table.

"These tables are for paying customers only." The hulking police force reject growled.

"We paid for this!" Protested Rhea, widening her big brown eyes and trying to squeeze out her innocent little girl act. But she'd dealt with this one a few times, and he didn't fall for it as easily anymore.

"Why don't you show us a receipt then?" he smirked.

Martin replied quickly " we didn't take one. Save the trees, right?" Nice save! Rhea thought to herself, but the security guard didn't buy that either.

"Joe" he called to the smaller guard, "why don't you go over to the Szechuan Grill and ask them if these kids bought anything?" As Joe made his way to undo their story, Rhea met Martin's eyes. They nodded slightly at each other, and gave a silent count. One...Two... Three... and they burst from the table, grabbing their bags and running for the parkade. The guards, though stunned for a second, were soon hot after them. Rhea and Martin ran for all they were worth, then ducked between the parked cars and listened. The pursuit, it seemed was over. Out of breath, they wrapped their arms around each other.

"I burned off all that food ducking those fucking pigs!" Rhea complained.

"Oh well, more room for booze then!" Martin smiled, and patted his stomach.

"Want to get going then?" he asked, and he and Rhea set off for another long night.

The End

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