I’m running along, half-conscious…totally whipped. All I can think of it’s getting back to safe territory…to Pearl’s…as far from all the bullshit and snobbery as I can go.
The thought of seeing Pearl, Jasmine and Grace gives me a second wind. My legs are numb, but they keep pumping. People stare at my bloodied vision speeding past…obviously, another New York crazy escaped from the looney bin.
What the fuck can I say to Pearl when I show up looking like a fucking disaster? But…the first time she saw me I wasn’t a thing of beauty either! Sure, I could get the heave-ho, but Pearl’s a great person. Don’t think it’d happen. She knows I’m not a fuck up.
I stagger to 125th Street, feeling like shit. The strain of the race…plus the non-stop intimidation’s taking its toll. I mean, the race was no marathon, but the pressure…and expecting attacks every minute was stressful as fucking hell.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m gonna collapse. My legs are cramping like shit…every few minutes I’m hobbling in intense pain…must be low Potassium or something. I’m tempted to stop in a deli and gulp down a gallon of OJ, but I’ve got, like, no money. The last block is agony, but I finally make it to the store…prop myself against the glass peering in. Don’t see any customers…just Pearl and her dad.
Suddenly, my legs totally spasm and I claw at the window trying to stay upright. The movement catches their attention. Faintly hear Pearl’s voice. “Is somebody at the window?”
“Gotta be some drunk,” her dad says…comes closer. Recognizes me, and his eyes bug out. “My god! It’s that kid Hunter. He looks hurt.”
I drop to my knees. Legs cramping so bad, I’m groaning.
Next minute, Pearl and her dad are outside, pulling me up. People are stopping to see what’s up. “Did he get mugged?” Somebody asks.
“We don’t know.” Pearl says. “We just found him.”
“You better call the cops. He could be high on drugs.”
Pearl waves the crowd away. “No. It’s all right. He’s an employee. We’ll take care of him.”
They help me inside, and I’m a total spastic. The cramps are wicked. I flop down on a purple bench. It’s weird to be in sweaty running clothes…my body a fucked up mess…surrounded by fancy clothes.
“Hunter, what happened!” Pearl shrieks. “Were you attacked?”
My legs cramp again and I jump up, trying to release the horrible pain, but all I can do is gasp: “Oh shit, shit, shit!”
Pearl turns to her dad. “What should we do? I feel so helpless. Call 911?”
I shake my head vehemently. “Gimme time. I’ll be okay,” just as another wave of cramps hits. The pain’s intense, but no way I’m going to some fucking emergency room. “I’ll be okay…just need OJ for Potassium.”
Pearl’s dad runs to get some.
“How did you get so banged up?” She asks.
I recount the gruesome story…how I, like, challenged the whole Lacrosse team.
“Do your parents know?”
“Maybe they do now, but not from me.”
“Hunter, you have to call them. They’ll be worried sick.” She takes out her cell…dials my home number. Hands it over…
To be continued… read next episode