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That’s What Friends Are For
By Laura Lovecraft
* * * * *
L.L. Craft Publications
That’s What Friends Are For
Copyright © 2014 Laura Lovecraft
“Jeez people are pigs!” Sam said from behind me.
“You can say that again.” I replied while looking at a dirty diaper stuck in the bush I was peering into. “Christ, I’m glad I’m wearing gloves.”
Gingerly pulling the out the diaper, I dropped it in one of the two large green trash bags I was dragging along with me. The first was for cans and bottles the second for any other garbage I found.
“What was it?” Sam asked, “Was it grosser than the nasty sandwich I found that almost made me puke?”
“It was a diaper.” Turning to her, I grinned, “With nasty clumps of shit, so I think I’m ahead in the gross competition.”
Sam straightened up from the bush she was behind and shrugged, “Okay, I’ll give you that one, but only because we’re not done yet and I have a feeling I’ll find worse.”
“We’ll see.” I pointed, “Remember winner pays for the next horror movie we check out.”
“Then save your money, there’s a new crappy looking zombie thing out next week.” Sam laughed, “And this time I want a large popcorn, no cheaping out, Justin.”
“If that’s the case, I won’t go easy on you; I want a slushy and a box of duds.”
“You’re dating a dud, why would you want a box of them?”
Sam grinned, waiting for me to take the bait. Unable to help it, I said “At least I’m dating someone, when was your last date?”
“I’d rather be alone then with a bitch,” she replied, removing her red sox cap and wiping the sweat from her forehead.
“Jen’s not a bitch.” I told her, “Why do you always call her that?”
“Because she is. Maybe you’d see it of you’d stop thinking about her tits’”
“What can I say?” I laughed, “She has nice tits.”
“I know. In fact everyone knows; it’s not like she doesn’t flaunt them.”
“If you had them, you’d flaunt them.” I said with a smirk knowing it was a touchy subject.
“I have tits!” Sam snapped, biting on my joke. “I just don’t strut around showing them off.”
“I know,” pointing at the pink red sox t-shirt she was wearing, “Is that your brother’s? It looks too big.”
“I dress comfortable okay?” she walked around from the bush, dragging her trash bag behind her along with the back pack she’d brought. “I don’t need to show what I have.” She gave her head a toss, sending her long brown braid whipping around. “If a guy wants to go out with me I want it to be because he likes me, not because he likes my ass.”
“You have an ass in those jeans?” I teased, “I thought you left it at home.”
Sam looked behind her at the back of the baggy black jeans she was wearing and I laughed, “What are you doing, looking for it?”
“Why are you being a dick to me today?” she asked, her dark brown eyes flashing, “I’m spending my Saturday helping you score brownie points for that little snot and you’re making fun of me!”
“Whoa!” I put my hands up defensively, “Hey Sam, I’m only busting your chops. Since when did you get so sensitive?”
“I’m not.” She said, stopping in front of me and dropping the bag, “But I get a little tired of the jokes sometimes and not just from you.” She sighed, “At least you don’t call me a dyke.”
“I’d never say that.” I told her, coming around the bush to stand in front of her, “Who said that about you?”
“Those idiots Joe and Dave.” She waved her hand, “I should just look at the source and let it go.”
“I work with Dave, next time I see him, I’ll tell him to cut the shit or I’ll kick his scrawny ass.”
“I don’t need you sticking up for me.” She told me, “Those two idiots are like Beavis and Butthead, they don’t matter.”
“Matters if you’re mad.”
“I’m just in a mood I guess, but what matters is you’d stick up for me.” She rolled her eyes, “God knows my brother wouldn’t.”
“Hey, that’s what friends are for right?”
“Right.” She looked around the stand of trees in Carson’s Park that I had volunteered to clean as part of Jen’s Earth day clean up weekend. “And I guess they’re for helping to pick up bottles and skeezy trash too.”
“Yeah.” Removing my sunglasses, I pulled my shirt up and wiped at my face. “I appreciate it Sam, tell you what, I’ll treat next movie anyway.”
“Large popcorn?” she raised her eyebrows.
“Large popcorn and I’ll even splurge for two drinks instead of two straws.”
“Ohhh, treat me like that and this girl will get spoiled!” batting her long lashes at me, she widened her big brown eyes, “Thank you for my own personal soda Justin! Can I have snowcaps too?”
“Now you’re pushing it.”
“Please?” she pushed her lips out in a pout.
“That’s not fair.” I told her.
“Please, oh, please?” she managed to make her lower lip tremble and I sighed dramatically,
“Yes, you can have snowcaps, but we share those.”
“Deal!” she clapped her gloved hands and jumped up and down like a little kid.
“You’re too cute.” I laughed.
“Yeah, you remind me of my little niece when you do that.”
“Oh.” She frowned, “I guess there’s worse things.”
“Well,” I put my hand up, knowing I’d made a mistake, “You’re cute in other ways too. You’re pretty.”
“Think so?” She looked at me dubiously.
“Oh, yeah. You’re real cute, you know, like girl next door cute.”
“I’ll take that.” She smiled.
“Yeah and a lot of guys like that, you know, not hot, but cute.”
“You need to learn when to shut up Justin.”
“Sorry, I meant…”
“Want to take a break?” she interrupted me; “We’re about halfway through. The play ground will be a lot quicker so how about lunch and we finish up in one shot from here?”
“Lunch?” I slapped my forehead, “Shit I didn’t think of that! You want to take a run down to the….”
“I figured you would.” Walking past me, Sam sat underneath a large tree and unzipped the back pack. She pulled out a yellow can and tossed it to me. “Yoo-hoo?”
“My favorite!” I exclaimed, catching the can and popping the top as I sat in front of her under the tree.
“I know.” She said, then produced a plastic container with two sandwiches in it. “Just like I know Pastrami and cheese is your favorite.”
“Spicy mustard?” My mouth was watering as I took the container.
“But of course!”
As Sam pulled out a bottle of Mountain dew and a banana, I removed my work gloves and chugged half the Yoo-hoo.
“Wow these go down too easy.” I said.
“Kind of like Jen.” Sam replied kicking her sneakers off and stretching her long legs out in front of me. “And go ahead and finish it, I brought you two.”
“Jen’s not a slut.” I told her. “I told you we’ve been dating six months and we haven’t done anything but make out.”
“Didn’t say she went down on you.” Sam said just loud enough for me to catch it.
“Really Justin.” She paused and peeling the banana shoved it in her mouth and bobbed her head up and down as if she were blowing it. She stopped and winked, “Just like that to anyone that pays attention to her.”
I didn’t answer right away. The sight of Sam easily slipping most of the banana down her throat had caught me by surprise; not that it should have. Sam not only dressed like a guy, but had a dirtier mouth and mind then most of the ones I knew. She ruined the image by biting the tip off and collecting myself, I went on the defensive.
“Look Jen’s like me. She was raised to take sex seriously and that’s why we haven’t done anything yet. She thinks you should only have sex once you really care about the other person.”
“She’s a very caring person.”
“Knock it off Samantha!” She was pissing me off at this point.
“Samantha?” She grinned, “You never call me that, truth hurt?”
“Why do you care?” I demanded, “You’ve done nothing but rag on Jen since I started going out with her. You say she’s stuck up and slutty and you barely know her. What’s your problem?”
“That I care about you and think you’re getting used.” She took the last bite of the banana and tossed the peel into her back pack. “Look at today. She’s this big green freak and says Earth Day is such a big deal, but you’re here and where is she?”
“She’s in Jamestown cleaning up the cove.” I answered. “She doesn’t have a lot of people helping so she spread us out.”
“Yeah she’s spreading all right. My sister says her ex boyfriend is part of the clean up, I think he’s…” she snapped her fingers, “At the beach. You can think what you want, but there’s no way in hell she isn’t fucking Rob and who knows who else. She’s using you, Justin, but I guess you’ll have to find that out yourself.
I stared at her and frowned. I had heard Jen’s ex, Rob, was sniffing around, but whenever I mentioned it she got mad and said I was acting jealous and shouldn’t worry. When I’d pushed, Jen had brought up Sam and how much time I spent with her and how she wasn’t jealous. Watching Sam unwrap a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and begin eating, I recalled how I had told Jen Sam and I had been friends, best friends, since middle school, we’d never been more.
Jen had insisted that was because that’s how I saw it claiming Sam had a thing for me and I was too naïve to see it. Just like Sam was telling me I was naïve thinking Jen was waiting for the right time with me. I was well aware I tended to take people at face value and was a little too trusting; but in these cases I was right. Sam was a good friend and had zero interest in being anything but, just as I had no interest in her as a girl.
I was also sure Jen wasn’t fucking around. Unlike me, Jen had been with someone before and most likely more than just Ron. Then again I was the only person I knew my age that hadn’t been with anyone. But after my mother had found out my asshole father had been fucking anything in sight for years she had raised me to believe that sex should be special the first time and with someone who meant something.
I not only agreed with her, but swore to her that I would be a better man than my father and would wait until I met someone special. Not that it had been easy; although I’d never met anyone that I had a serious interest in until Jen, there had been a few girls who’d made it more than clear we could have some fun.
Sometimes I wondered if I wasn’t being an idiot waiting; passing up on some chances for a good time, but my mother was thrilled with my promise to make my first time meaningful and that had pretty much trapped me into keeping my word. There were times I thought I could just fool around and she would never know, but that would make me a lying dog no better than my father.
How many women you screwed didn’t make you a man, keeping your word to someone you loved did, and I swore to keep my vow and not be a dog in heat. I did, however, know enough not to tell anyone. However, that didn’t mean I had to advertise the fact I was a virgin. Any girl that had been interested in juts a good time I made up the excuse I was dating someone and I was way too smart to tell any of the guys.
Sam knew because Sam pretty much knew everything about me just as I knew more about her than her own brother and sister. We’d met in fifth grade when we’d been put together as science lab partners and had immediately become good friends. We both enjoyed the same books movies and video games and had the same laid back personalities. Where we were different was when it came to what people thought about us.
Sam pretty much marched to the beat of her own drummer; dressing like a tom boy, watching football and bad horror movies while spending more time around me and my friends than the other girls. I on the other hand dressed in the popular clothes, took a lot of care with my appearance, enough for Sam along with my mother to teasingly refer to me as a ‘pretty boy’ and generally tried to put myself out there as cool.