This is part 3 of a new series by Ayala. For part 1, in which she is first introduced to the loveable Stein, click. For part 2, in which things heat up a little bit, click.
“We have to wait for dark,” Suri glanced outside. We were in an ice cream store on Avenue Hangout. School had ended for the year two days ago. I watched her eyes watching the sunset, admiring how effortlessly perfect her eye makeup was. “If we’re out there before dark, everyone will think we’re pathetic.”
I nodded, fiddling with my spoon, stirring my ice cream into soft ice cream. “Is this really the best way to deal with Rafi? You really can’t just talk about it?” Suri was in one of her numerous vicious fights with her boyfriend. She wanted to cheat on him. I was there to stop her from doing anything she might regret.
“Whatever,” Suri peered at her cup as if it was a fascinating piece of art. “If he wants to be with some skinny girl, I can also upgrade.” The light outside faded from white to gray. I doubted that any of the guys emerging after dark would be upgrades compared to Rafi.
I tried another tactic. “I don’t know anybody. Maybe tonight we can just start small, talk to just a few people.” The rebel crowd wasn’t really my scene; I was a social floater. Even after an entire year in Bais Yaakov, I was still the weirdo who had come in from public school. I hadn’t exactly found my place yet. I was considered part of three groups of girls, but I didn’t exactly fit with any of them. Suri was my main connection to anything that was going to be happening tonight.
“Ayala, don’t worry so much. I know everybody! You’re my friend; that will be good enough for them!” She glanced outside again and flung her cup into the trash. “Ok, it’s dark enough. Let’s go!”
We went onto a side street so Suri could check her hair in a car window. “You saw how there were two guys hanging out there? We’re waiting here until there are about 10 guys. I will see who I know and we will take it from there.”
About 15 minutes later, Suri decided that there were just enough guys out that we would not look desperate, but there were few enough that we would not be too outnumbered. “Ooh, Kohn is back from Israel! We should talk to him about your phone issues!”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I plastered a lukewarm smile on. Anything to stall us from any cheating. Kohn was being mobbed by all of his friends who, like Suri, hadn’t seen him since Israel. We waited in the clump of people. I shifted my weight, feeling awkward.
To my relief, a car drove by, and I knew one of the guys in the car. While I didn’t know him well, he wasn’t horrible. Talking to him would be better than hanging around like a blob. Suri was already having five different conversations with people. Walking three short blocks to where they were parking wouldn’t be a big deal.
It was really crowded on the sidewalk now. I was stuck in another cluster of people on my way to the car, when I felt two hands clutching my butt. It wasn’t a grab-and-run kind of grab either, but the kind where the other person holds on and is savoring the feel of it.
I whirled around, trying unsuccessfully to shake the groper’s hands off, and came face to face with Stein! “You asshole!” I roared.
Stein just grinned his trademark grin at me. “How appropriate.”
I saw red. Stein knew that he could do whatever he wanted because all he’d have to do was mention that he knew me to my principal and I’d be out of a school with nowhere to go. He was blackmailing me. The situation was so clearly tipped in his favor: he was a guy, the son of a principal, versus me, a weirdo girl who no school would want if she got expelled. The situation was bleak for girls who got expelled. The injustice of the situation was intolerable!
Well, I wasn’t going to take it! This was worth getting expelled over! My heart pounded. I took a deep breath and took a step towards Stein, clenching my fists. His smirk wavered. Then I charged, my deceptively skinny twig legs in their Converse high tops slapping the pavement. Stein’s ever-present smirk vanished. He started to run for his life.
At that point in my life, I ran three miles a day for exercise. Stein clearly didn’t. I caught up to him on the corner as he gasped for air. “I’m going to kill you!” I growled.
Just then, a guy stepped out of the shadows. Stein and I froze. Neither of us knew him. The guy stepped over to Stein, grabbed him by the shirt collar, and nodded placidly at me.
I didn’t hesitate a moment. As my skirt was too tight and short for kicking Stein in the balls, I settled for kicking him in the shins, right on the tibia bone, until he cried. “By the way, tell Principal Stein that I say “HI!” I spat at him. Stein sobbed and averted his face. The strange guy just held him in place, oddly at ease.
“You psycho!” A dark shape hurtled at my left shoulder. It was Bina. “You beat up my boyfriend!”
Fortunately, Bina was shorter and stouter than me, and in worse shape. Jumping me knocked the wind out of her. I quickly spun around, shaking her off so that we were face to face, grabbing her arms so that she couldn’t punch me and wouldn’t be able to stabilize herself enough to kick me. “Your boyfriend is a psycho who grabs people’s asses because he thinks they will just take it because he’s the principal’s kid!” I bellowed. “Who is the psycho here?”
Bina’s face blanched. She tore herself free and ran away as fast as her little legs could carry her. As I watched her go, I genuinely felt sorry for her, but I had more immediate concerns. “Would you mind holding this cretin for about five more minutes? I really appreciate everything you’ve done, and I just have to find my friend before I go. I don’t want this to escalate.” The stranger nodded.
Safe in the knowledge that this stranger would hold Stein, I finally turned my back on him to scan the crowd for Suri.