Saturday morning found me blissfully lying in my bed, thrilled that the sun beat me to rise, though not by much. Then I panicked. Today was Michelle’s birthday, and I completely failed to pick up the tux or the gift yesterday. Showering and dressing were blurs of activity. I felt like sprinting from my room straight for the door. Instead, I did my best to casually walk to the kitchen and wish my parents a good morning. The limo wasn’t suppose to get me until ten, so I had time to eat breakfast before hurrying to Jarod’s for a favor.
I was surprised to see father making breakfast today, since he rarely cooked. His week must have gone exceptionally well. Unlike mother, father never allowed anyone to serve oneself. I watched somewhat impatiently as a perfect Belgian waffle was pulled out of the machine. As he dusted the waffles with confectioner’s sugar, my mouth salivated of its own accord. Then came the whip cream, causing my stomach to grow into an immense cavern which threatened to consume me in the dark pains of starvation. Father carefully sliced strawberries over his masterpiece, and I felt like a cartoon wolf with my jaw on my plate and silverware in hand.
“This one’s for your mother, son. I’ll make yours next.” were the worst words to hear as he carried the plate to the wrong side of the table. Father did not let me start eating the first one that came out, though I felt as if I could eat the plate along with the food at that point. He artfully piled three high and decorated them accordingly. The wait proved worthwhile as the beautiful sight of food followed by a long-forgotten taste was mixed with a scent that promised satisfaction. For several minutes, I forgot all desire for haste while my mind wallowed in ecstasy given form. Mother decided to pop my bubble of happiness not long after my last bite by asking, “Aren’t you suppose to attend a dance tonight?”
“Oh! Sorry. Yes. I wanted to meet up with Jarod for a bit beforehand though. May I be excused? I don’t want to be late.” Father let out an exaggerated sigh, muttering about how “kids these days just eat and run” as mother nodded her assent. “Thank you for breakfast. That was delicious beyond measure.” Father smiled and earnestly said, “Nothing compared with your mother’s cooking, but thank you.” He always had a way of getting mother to smile even when she was down. Mother had made several comments throughout the week of not thinking this sort of job was quite “appropriate” and continued mentioning that I needed to “consider Regina’s feelings more.”
I did not honestly want to speak with her about the things Jarod had told me about Regina. Mother adored Regina far too much to entertain any ideas that would paint the girl in a bad light, especially with only circumstantial evidence. I pushed the thoughts out of my mind and focused on the task at hand. I needed to convince Jarod to give me a lift, pick up the tux and gift, and then make it to the meeting spot. Life would have been easier had I simply asked for the limo to pick me up from home, but I was trying to keep business contacts from knowing where I live.
Jarod’s house had a band of brown bricks around the bottom and tan wood leading up to a dark brown roof. I never quite figured out if the design was suppose to be rustic or if the designer was just in a hurry. Instead of texting Jarod and giving him the chance for an easy out, I was knocking on his door in the early morning. “James! So good to see you,” exclaimed Mrs. Davis after opening the door. “Good morning, Becky.” She hated when I called her Mrs. Davis. “Care if I borrow your son for the morning? I desperately need a lift, and you know how my parents are.” Mrs. Davis laughed and replied, “I’m sure Jarod will be thrilled. He showed me that picture of you in a car repeatedly last night. I bet he’s dying to ask you for details.”
Jarod’s room was a treacherous den comprised of model cars, actual car parts, and a collection of video games and systems that surpassed my own. There was also several piles of laundry forever on his floor. He claimed there was some sense to which piles were clean, semi-clean, and completely filthy, but I never quite caught onto the so-called sense. I was just glad that he had a love of incense for I had doubts about what the smell would be like otherwise. To my surprise, he was dressed as if he was going out, sporting a clean polo and clean jeans. With his headphones worn and a game in progress, he didn’t hear a thing as I came up behind him and placed a solid punch to his shoulder.
“Oww,” he moaned as he turned around. Then he smiled, saying, “Good one, James! What are you doing here? Forget that. How was that Mercedes!?” I laughed. “A bit smelly after Aaliyah lost her lunch in it.” His expression was a priceless mix of great despair and comedy competing on his face. “You had to clean up puke from a Mercedes!? I bet her dad was spitting fire when he returned. I can’t believe he let you drive that thing. Seriously.. what was it like!?” I explained to him how Chad didn’t seem to have a care in the world as I guided him to the door. “He really was a strangely happy man for a single father whose best friend for the night couldn’t get Aaliyah to her piano lesson.”
“Wow. That’s one strange dude. But really, what was the pickup in that car like?” I went into an explanation about the speed and control of the vehicle, told him about how comfortable the seats were, and then expounded on the sound quality from the speakers. We were to the garage before he asked, “Wait. Where are we going? I’m actually suppose to meet Regina at eleven.” I paused for a moment, and then hopped in the passenger seat of his ‘65 Mustang. His dad helped us restore the car over a few years starting back when we were thirteen. He didn’t drive it to school out of fear that someone would damage his baby.
“I really need a lift downtown. I managed to forget about picking up the tux last night.” He shook his head and got into the driver’s seat. “Fine, but you owe me one.” Relief washed over me that he gave in so easily. “So why are you stopping by Regina’s? You just got done telling me that she’s the devil earlier this week.” Jarod managed to look rather sheepish as he replied, “She’s not after my soul, just yours. Remember Laura Harris?” I nodded, saying, “Yeah. We had history with her last year.” Jarod smiled and announced, “Regina’s setting me up with her for Prom in exchange for me encouraging you to dance with the devil that night. There. Now you’re encouraged. Anyways, I’m going to Regina’s to act as part of the Prom committee, so I can get close to Laura today.”
Convincing my lower jaw to meet back with the upper again was difficult, but I succeeded after several minutes. “You made a deal with the devil and don’t want me thinking that you’ve gone to the Dark Side?” He feigned shock. “I’m your double agent! Being on the inside, I’ll slip you information and may find actual proof of Regina’s misdeeds. Besides, even you admitted that Laura is quite the looker.” I started laughing. I just couldn’t help it. “What are you laughing at? You seriously did last year. What, man!?” I calmed myself down a bit and attempted to explain. “Jarod, my life was insane before I even started my business, and I just didn’t notice. Now I’m on my way to get a tux for a party that I’ll be attending with a girl I don’t even know, and my best friend informs me that he’s a double agent. Maybe that’s how Chad kept so cool. He knows life is beyond his control, so he enjoys the comedy of it even at his expense.”
Jarod gave me a look like I had a screw loose. “Yeah. That. So where’s this place at exactly?” I turned on my phone’s GPS and gave directions the rest of the way to the shop. Wesson’s Formal Wear was already busy by the time we arrived. We waited around twenty minutes before I could try on the tux and pick up the gift. The white tux fit quite well, but I was a bit disturbed by the light pink vest. On the other hand, I actually liked the tails. I never wore a tux with tails before. I wore the tux out of the shop, not wanting to try changing twice between there and meeting the limo. The small, thin box wrapped in silver paper was the right size to hold some type of jewelry. I wondered at what type of impression Ms. Jones was wanting me to make on her daughter.
As he drove me to the mall, the same mall where I had went shopping with Georgina not long ago, Jarod taunted me about wearing a pink vest. I didn’t want to risk Jarod’s reaction if I tried discussing that day with him, and the memories were still very hazy. I knew all too well the type of insinuations he would make about her actions. If asked again to accompany her, I was not sure about accepting it. I was very grateful that she wasn’t too upset about my unprofessional behavior in the kitchen, but she made me feel so very uncomfortable. I would just have to figure out what to do if she indeed asked for me again.
We roamed around the mall together for a while, talking and checking out various stores. I missed spending more time with Jarod. He was always great for a laugh, but he wanted to take off before ten, not wanting to be late to see Laura. “If you’re caught spying, remember the cyanide in your false tooth,” I called after him as he walked to his car. “Don’t you worry! We’ll have valuable intel before the night is out!” I laughed and then waited near the mall’s entrance until a white limousine pulled up. The chauffeur got out and said “Mr. Somerset, I presume. I’ll be your driver for today.” I shook his hand and said, “James, please,” which earned a smile. “David’s my name.” was his reply. He opened the door, and I ducked into the vehicle. The time had arrived.