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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Comedy · #2201066
Alexander and his friend Emily Jeong get tired of James Chandler's laziness.
Alexander Bhaduri #4

Dawn of June 5, 1999; 30253 Haytham Avenue, Portland, Wisconsin

Alexander Bhaduri was getting restless, having stood outside his best friend's house for close to ten minutes now. Today, Alexander's best friend James Chandler was throwing a party for his older sister, Casey, to celebrate her high school graduation. Ever since Alexander and his family got back in town after months of travel, Alexander had been counting down the days until the party. He didn't expect much, perhaps some BBQ, cake, messing around with James and his cousins, and maybe a teary-eyed impromptu speech by one or more of James' relatives.

Then came James' phone call an hour earlier this morning. James explained (in a hushed tone, so as not to wake up the rest of the family) that his mother asked him to set up a sort of toy hunt for his younger cousins in their backyard, but he forgot to do so.

"Uh...it's kinda a lot of stuff to hide," James had awkwardly stuttered. "Mind giving me a hand? I'll be outside, waiting for you when you get here."

"Sure thing!" Alexander had said. He threw a sweater on top of his pajamas, slapped some sneakers on and crept out the house. Once he was in the clear, he bolted down the sidewalk to James' house.

'Maybe he's just taking a while to get ready,' Alexander reasoned to himself. That made sense. That had to be it!
"Looks like he roped you into this too," a voice called out from behind him.

Alexander whipped around, to find himself face to face with his other friend, Emily Jeong. She was about four inches shorter than Alexander, with tawny skin and jet-black hair tied into a sloppy ponytail. She too wore a sweatshirt over what looked like green pajamas.

"Yep," Alexander replied. "I dunno wear he is, though."

Emily snorted. "C'mon, you know he's a lazy ass. Probably went back to sleep. Don't even deny it," she said, noticing Alexander about to open his mouth.

"I mean..." Alexander tried to sugarcoat it as best as possible, "yeah, he does have a bit of a problem with being on time--"

"He fell asleep at his own birthday party. On a roller coaster."

"He probably didn't get a lot of sleep that night!"

"Pfft. Yeah right."

James had slept from roughly 9 PM the previous night to noon the very next day. In fact, he was still asleep when Alexander and Emily came over to pick him up.

"Well--" Alexander said, still eager to defend his friend, "maybe he's just using the bathroom!"

"Oh my God..."

"And he like has diarrhea--"

"I hope this is a stupid joke where you say something like 'He's having a crappy time!' or something, and not a serious argument."

Alexander stopped. Then he crackled with laughter. "Oh my God, that's freaking hilarious! Crappy time! Ha!"

Emily rolled her eyes but snickered a little at her own joke. Then she cleared her throat and said, "Hey, can't you just climb up to his bedroom window and see?"

Alexander's eyes widened, and he put on a broad grin.

"Watch and learn, Emmy!" he said, cracking his fingers. "Bet you five bucks he's not sleeping."

"Sorry I have to rob you," she said, smirking, her arms folded against her chest.

With that, he took a running start, and hit the brick of the house feet first, running up along the surface for a few steps. He grabbed a handhold in the form of a crack in the brick, and began to climb, using any imperfection in the wall he could fine.

Soon, he was holding onto the windowsill to James' bedroom. Squinting his eyes, he peered through the dusty glass into the dark room.

Then swore as he reached into his pocket and threw a five-dollar bill down to a cackling Emily.

"Let me get this straight," Emily said, pinching the bridge of her nose, "you fell asleep FIVE MINUTES after calling us!"

"Cut me some slack!" James said, exasperated that he was even having this conversation. "I had a lot on my mind!"

"Okay guys," Alexander cut in, "James may be a total douche (James grumbled in displeasure while Emily gave another smarmy grin) but...actually, I got nothing. Emily's right, screw you, James."

James sighed. "Look, you guys are right. I'm sorry I kept you guys waiting. I just forgot about my promise."

Alexander nodded. Now that he had James' assurance this wouldn't happen again, they could--

"That's what you always say," Emily said, glaring daggers at James. "Anytime we have to do some kind of work, you promise to come but you're too lazy to."

Alexander gulped. This wouldn't go good at all...

"Pfft," James rolled his eyes, his face an arrogant smirk. "Name one time I did that!"

How dumb could James be? Alexander threw his hands up in frustration at his friend's seeming idiocy.

"In February, we had a book report we had to work on together, and you let me do almost all the work. And before that, you said you'd help me at our church, but you went home after ten minutes. And before that--"

"I said one time, midget," he snarled, no longer smiling.

"I don't care," she glared up at him. "I'm done enabling your BS, liar."

Enabling. Alexander first heard that word two years ago, while reading a book he swiped from his mother's library. It basically meant to support someone's bad behavior, through inaction or taking their excuses for their behavior seriously.

James had broken multiple promises to both Emily and him, from watching sporting events to participating in community service projects to even going to Emily's coming out party. Again, and again, James' faux-apologies "Oh, I'm too tired," or "Oh, I forgot, sorry" ran through Alexander's mind.

Far more worryingly, Alexander's replies to these apologies ranged from "It's cool, bro" to "Better luck".

Because Alexander treated James' mistakes like they weren't a big deal, James treated them like they weren't a big deal.

"C'mon, Alexander!" James said, truly desperate. "You know I wouldn't--"

"No," Alexander's voice was firm, resolute. Both Emily and James looked at him in surprise.

"You always say that you'll do better but you never do," Alexander said in even tones. James backed up a little while Emily grimly nodded.

James eventually recovered his nerve.

"Wait just a minute--"

\"No, you wait!" Alexander snapped, causing James to flinch. "You insulted Emily just because she pointed out how you've been a bad friend! She came out here to help you fix a mistake that you made! You don't get to get mad at her!"

{Alexander understood what it was like to forget things or to be unintentionally insensitive. More times than not, he would forget to tell his parents where he was going before gallivanting into the woods, or he'd forget to tell them that he wanted to bring a friend over before walking them into the door. But he would never, ever promise to do something of someone else and then forget to do that.

How had he not seen James' selfishness before? It was plainly obvious now.

James was quivering a little. For the briefest of moments, Alexander felt a twinge of sympathy, before Emily put his hand on his shoulder. Looking him in the eye, she shook her head.

The message was clear: James would have to learn a lesson, one way or the other. If he cried and kicked and threw a fit, that was his problem.

"I--" James started. Then he sighed. "You're right. You guys go home, I'll set up the toys by myself. This is all my fault."

Alexander was taken aback. Had--had they gotten through to James? Emily looked similarly bewildered.

James took both their bags and trudged across the backyard. Alexander watched him for a while before turning to Emily.

"Do you think it worked?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I think so," she said. "I hope so. C'mon, let's go home, it's freezing out here."

Alexander briefly looked at James setting up the toys. Part of him wanted to go and help his best friend. The other part feared accidentally enabling James again, and they'd have to go through all of this again.

The other part won. Before Alexander made his way home, however, he turned to look at James over his shoulder.

"Hey James!" he called out.

James' head whipped around in surprise.

"Put on a jacket, it's cold out buddy!"

James smiled.

Evening of June 5, 1999; 30253 Haytham Avenue, Portland, Wisconsin

JAMES lay face down on a wooden table, utterly exhausted, his hair sticking up in every direction.

"You okay, there buddy?" Alexander asked, now wearing a red polo shirt and jeans.{/linespace
"S-so many little kids," he muttered. "Had to ... watch them and play with them all day before the party started. They ran everywheeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeeee..."

Alexander whistled in appreciation. James' younger cousins could be ... rowdy, to say the least.

"Need rest--" James droned. "Or I'll diiiiiie..."

Before Alexander could respond, Mrs. Chandler ran up to the table James was lying

"James! James!" Mrs. Chandler tapped his shoulder. "Adrian wants to play Super Smash Bros. on your Nintendo 69--"

"It's a Nintendo 64, mom," James mumbled. "Yeah, he can play on it."

Mrs. Chandler scratched behind her head. "Er, he wants to play it with you. Remember, a few minutes ago, you promised to play with him once your dad left the TV."

James blinked. "Yeah, maybe next time--" He stopped himself.

"Actually," he said, standing up, "I'll be right over."

With that, he walked across the backyard and through the screen door to the TV room.

Personally, Alexander felt James was somewhat justified in feeling too tired to play. At the same time, however, Alexander was glad that James was taking his promises more seriously.

Alexander felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see Emily, wearing a simple black dress with a denim jacket, smiling.

"Looks like our little baby James is growing up," she cooed sarcastically.

He smiled. "Yeah, looks like it."

Epilogue (because why not):

For a while, Alexander and Emily talked about various things, from family life to school to video games. Then, a thought came to him.

"Hey, a while back, you said you were having bottom surgery! How'd it go?"

Emily had moved from Aberdeen, Washington to Portland, Wisconsin to safely transition to her gender.

"Great!" she said. "Especially since it meant I didn't have to deal with Mr. Paisley calling me stupid for a few days. I roasted him pretty good on the last day of school, though."

"What happened?"

"As I'm leaving," she said, "he walks up to me, smirks and says, 'I hope you're less lazy in the 6th Grade. Maybe you'll get better grades.' Like, for some reason, the a-hole never accepted that I have dyslexia and just thought I was lazy."

Alexander wrinkled his nose in disgust. Mr. Paisley always went above and beyond to antagonize students he disliked but hearing stories about his misbehavior never stopped being disgusting.

"So," Emily continued, "I looked him dead in the eye, smiled, and said 'I hope you're less lazy pleasing your next wife. Maybe she won't leave you for someone half your age.' Old fart practically had a heart attack as I walked out the door."

Alexander also practically had a heart attack, albeit from laughing hard enough to hyperventilate. When Alexander had regained enough control of his vocal cords to clear his throat, he nudged Emily in the side. She moved a little closer so he could whisper into her ear.

"You should call your doctor. Looks like he forgot to cut off your gigantic balls."

Alexander pulled back a little to see Emily's reaction. She was staring at him, bewildered and wild-eyed, like a deer in the headlights. Instantly, Alexander could feel a few drops of sweat fall down from his armpits.

I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid, holy crap, why did I think this was a good idea?!? He practically screamed at himself internally. For a while, Emily held that expression of total shock.

Then, Emily let out a strange sound that he didn't expect. It sounded a bit like ... a chuckle? Then it came again. And again. Now came a cacophony of irregular, screeching, honking, unmitigated laughs. Tears streamed down her round cheeks, and her entire face was scarlet.

After a few moments of uncertainty, Alexander joined in, letting out a few awkward, confused chuckles.

"Oh my God!" she shrieked. "That's the f-funniest thing anyone's ever said to me! G-gigantic BALLS!"

"What's going on over here?" a female voice said.

Alexander turned to see his older sister Jessica and her girlfriend Olivia watching them in confusion. Jessica wore her brown hair at the back of her head in a messy bun, and had on a pink, short-sleeved shirt with a blue jean skirt. Olivia wore her blonde curls so that they covered her right eye and had on a black cardigan over a yellow sundress with a frilly skirt. She also had a pink flower above her left ear.

Close by was the woman of the hour, Casey Chandler. She was around 5'9" or 5'10" with a very plump, heavyset build, even chubbier than Olivia, and had on a blue, University of Florida sweater. She had her younger brother's dark brown hair tied into a long ponytail, green eyes and pale skin.

"Why're you screaming about gigantic balls?" she said, blinking in confusion.

Alexander heard Emily, no longer laughing, gulp next to him. He and James were the only people, outside of Emily's family, who knew that Emily was a trans girl. Portland, Wisconsin was quite progressive on LGBT issues, but Alexander understood that Emily did not feel comfortable divulging her identity to just anyone.

Thus, Alexander looked Casey did in the eye, not flinching for a moment, and said, "I cannot presently divulge that information, as I must protect my KGB comrades from capitalist dogs like you! Alexandros, away!"

And with that, he ran off to join James in playing some Smash Bros.

© Copyright 2019 Joshua Phillip Owens (jowens4765 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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