a/n: a few things you should note before bravely delving into the oh so thrilling life of hollywood townsend:
-this story will eventually contain slash
-clearwater cove does not actually exist.... except in indiana i think. but it's definitely not near tallahassee
-i'm naming all the chapters after songs, so i don't own those or their lyrics. DISCLAIMED.
-this author likes any kind of feedback. seriously. i will love you even if you tell me it sucks. ALTHOUGH. if you're going to criticize, you might as well do it constructuvely, so that everyone wins. :D
now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, i present to you:
HOLLYWOOD TOWNSEND'S ULTIMATE STUPID IN THE DARK
"I fall three times as hard if it's for nothing at all
You all seem twice as tall as I will ever be
And I feel terribly small when my head works too hard
When you think with your chest, there's not a thing that you don't see."
~starving your friends:envy on the coast
Chapter 1: Starving Your Friends
In middle school, I was on the cheerleading squad. I was one of two boys, and we were always the base of the pyramid or the ones holding flyers up by their feet, but in seventh grade, all the girls got bigger and I stayed pretty much the same size, so they would sometimes dress me in the girls' uniform and make me be flyer. That, or they would just have me spot. Either way I had to be a girl. They told me the company didn't make the new boys' uniforms small enough for me. Bullshit, I say. After that year, I cut my hair and quit; decided to go out for soccer, because when I was little I was on my neighborhood soccer team, and it was fun. Plus, in soccer no one can justify dressing you up as a girl against your will.
Still, the one thing I've always regretted about quitting the squad is that I never get to see Leslie English anymore. I mean sure, I see her around school, but cheerleading was really the only excuse I ever had to talk to her. And God, I loved to talk to her. She was always different from all the other girls. She never used the word 'like' as a spacebar—which is so annoying, by the way—she never made fun of my short, scrawny build, or my small, boring facial features, and she never called me by my name. She wouldn't if she talked to me today either, because she knows I hate it. Leslie's a sweet, psychic diva, and I'm pretty much in love with her. Not that I would ever tell her.
See, Leslie is now captain of the cheerleading squad, extremely popular, and extremely desirable. Not just by me anymore. Guys are always trying to corner her away from her pack of friends—lackeys—to ask her out. It's not like it bothers me; I always knew Leslie would be a knockout, but it's kind of like when your favourite underground musician becomes suddenly popular and you feel the need to say, 'Hey, I liked so-and-so before they were cool.' It's a strange urge, but you get used to it. You get over it too.
What you don't get over, is Leslie English.
What I don't get over, anyway.
My problem? It's not that I'm skinny, or that I'm plain, or that Leslie's seen me dressed as a chick too many times to count—though these are contributing factors, I'm sure—it's that Leslie English is a whopping 5 foot 9 inches tall, and I am a pathetic 5 foot 7 ¾ inches. And wouldn't you know it? Leslie wants a man who's taller than her.
Welcome to high school, Hollywood, where all your dreams are held over your head, because you are, and always will be, too short to reach.
"Heads up, Holly!"
I turn just in time to catch a basketball before it hits me in the noggin. What I lack in height and muscle, I make up for in grace and coordination. Therefore, I rarely get hit with balls. It's nice and all, but my skills get me nowhere when it comes to the basketball team. The coach is prejudiced against those of us who are vertically challenged. Seriously, the shortest person on the team is a freshman who's 5 foot 11.
I toss the ball back to some guy with his hair in a low ponytail and start to walk away. I only came to the east wing gym to find Gary, but he's not here.
Gary's been my best friend since 4th grade, when we discovered a mutual hate for the game of Ultimate Frisbee, during recess. We joined cheerleading together in 6th grade. He never quit. He's an amazing gymnast, strong and flexible. The girls love him and he loves the girls. Pretty sure he's been to bed with every one of them. Every one that is, except for Leslie. He knows I would murder him if he slept with Leslie.
Leslie's kind of the reason I have to find him right now.
See, Gary is sort of a girls' guy, which is a far cry from a ladies' man. A ladies' man has women falling all over themselves to get their lips on him—among other things—for pretty much no reason aside from his existence, and a girls' guy has women coming to him with their problems and feelings—and misplaced sexual frustration in Gary's case. He guides them through their issues with calming words and sound advice, creating such a safe and happy mood that their clothes just melt off, I guess. I don't understand how that works, or how nothing is ever awkward afterwards, but he still has strong friendships with everyone he's slept with. Including that boy from the party that I'm not supposed to tell anyone about.
He was smashed, so it's cool. Everyone's allowed at least one drunk, gay experimentation in high school. I'm not looking forward to mine. It'll probably be embarrassing. Or with someone ugly. Or both.
Of course, I've never slept with anyone. Don't get me wrong, I've had offers and almosts—and blowjobs and handjobs and titjobs and hot n' heavy dry-humping sessions—but no one really measures up to my standards. And don't give me that 'beggars can't be choosers' bullshit. I'm by no means desperate for sex, and therefore I can be picky about who gets in these pants. Subconsciously, I'm probably saving myself for Leslie, but fuck me if I'll ever admit that.
"Hey there, Superstar," I hear Gary call from behind me, as I pass through a third hallway with no sight of him. I stop immediately and pivot to face him. He's running up to me from the direction of his chemistry class with that dumb grin across his face. If there's one thing I admire most about Gary, it's his unfailing enthusiasm about everything. He goes through life with a smile on his face, and he's not insincere about it either.
"Hey yourself," I say once he's level with me.
"You look like a man on a mission," he informs me, his eyes giving a deviant flash. He probably thinks I'm up to no good.
"Don't get your hopes up." Sorry, Charlie. Today, my mission is one of pure intent.
He doesn't even look disappointed, but his expression becomes infinitesimally more serious.
"So?" he asks.
"I've been looking for you." This seems like a good way to start.
He shrugs, "Here I am?"
We're still walking, and I'm trying to figure a way to breech the subject without seeming like I really care all that much. Honestly, though, I care way too much for the good of all parties involved.
"There's a new transfer student starting today," I offer, though I'm sure he's well aware of this. He just nods though and I figure I'm supposed to continue. "He's supposedly here for the sports. Mostly football and swim team, I hear."
See our school is pretty famed for being the best at, well, everything, so people actually transfer here to be on our sports teams or in our choirs. We get scouts all the time.
"He went out for basketball too," Gary says, "He tried out in the morning while the squad was warming up."
"Oh, really?" I pretend this interests me, but he already knows what I'm really getting at. "How did he do?"
Gary doesn't respond and shakes his head in awed remembrance. My stomach does a little sinking thing. It makes my throat feel tight and hollow.
"It was just like… I don't know," he speaks at last, "He moved like nothing I've ever seen before, and just, I mean, every shot!—and I couldn't even concentrate on the—"
"I get it." I cut him off.
He turns his thousand watt grin on me, tossing an arm over my shoulder as we walk towards gym class together.
"I know you want to know what Leslie thinks of him, but I don't want to distract you," he whispers, leaning down to be near my ear.
"What do you mean?" I inquire suspiciously, not liking his tone one bit.
"Have you really forgotten what day it is?" he cries in mock surprise.
I suppose I have, seeing as I don't know what he's talking about. "Okay, I give. What day is it?"
"It's the first day of our favourite week in the semester, my Superstar!" he tells me excitedly.
It takes me a second to realize he's being sarcastic. It takes me another second to realize what class we have next, and still one more to connect the dots. Oh shit.
I let out a miserable groan and he laughs his agreement as we walk into the locker room, side-by-side like always.
"All you, Superstar!" Gary calls and a bright green Frisbee goes flying off to the side of my face. I grimace and go to retrieve it.
My mom named my siblings and me after all the cities she wishes she could have gone to instead of getting pregnant and then having to settle down and keep getting pregnant. We're the constant reminder that she's lived in this tiny crap town her whole, stupid life, but I'm pretty sure she loves us anyway. Leslie English calls me by my middle name—Christian, in case you were wondering—because she knows I hate the name Hollywood. Gary Belvedere calls me Superstar because everyone else calls me Superstar. Everyone else calls me Superstar because of the downright flashy way I dress. I dress in a downright flashy way because I'm plain as Sarah, and not half as tall. Call it compensation if you want, because that's probably what it is.
But in gym class, I'm not flashy at all. I'm dull haired, dull eyed, and alarmingly skeletal, in tiny blue shorts and a grey tank top. We won't go into the height thing. It's not something I can even pretend to fix.
So all in all, it's safe to say that gym class sucks major dick, but even then, nothing compares to the absolute misery that comes with the Ultimate Frisbee unit. It's not even that I'm bad at Frisbee. I told you, I'm coordinated. It's just that, since an incident from my childhood involving my older sister, Manhattan, and my mother's prized blue willow china—not going into detail—I've had an irrational fear of flying discs. I'll throw them, sure, but catch them?
Oh, no no no.
So each time Gary throws me the disc during our warm-up tosses, I don't even try to catch it. His aim is off anyways.
He just hates it because he's inherently bad at it. I know it's inherent because his brothers and dad wanted to play once on the Fourth of July. They sucked. So while we were taking a break, I hid the Frisbee in the box of unused fireworks—which I'm pretty sure we weren't supposed to have—and then set the box on fire.
Not on purpose. See, I knocked into the grill when we were playing with sparklers later on, and it toppled over, spilling blazing embers and half-cooked hot dogs onto the box, and consequentially its explosive contents.
You can guess the rest, I'm sure.
Luckily, none of the damage was irreparable. Except for maybe the Frisbee. Never saw that thing again.
Warm-up toss is over now.
So it's time for the real thing. Joy.
"Okay boys, now we're splitting into teams," Coach Hammond says after blowing her whistle to get our attention. Why they have a woman teaching the boys' P.E. class, I do not know.
"Shirts versus skins. Campbell, you're shirts captain, and Belvedere, you're skins. Choose your players. Shirts first." If she wasn't such a lesbian, I'd think she only got this job to see teenage boys half-naked. With that, she walks back off to the sidelines to stand next to the girls' coach and talk about God knows what.
Gary steps out of our rank that we seem to have formed and goes to stand a short distance away with Jacob Campbell.
Jacob takes a moment, and then predictably chooses his friend, Alan. Just as predictably, Gary shoots me a 'come hither' finger waggle, right after. Being the subservient friend that I am, I do as I'm bid, taking off my shirt as I go.
He consults me about all of his choices, as is the way of things, and by the time no one's left we come to the sudden realization that, well, no one's left.
Here's where you may say, 'Uhm, duh, Hollywood.'
But the problem remains that Jacob Campbell chose last. Jacob Campbell also chose first. From this, I'm sure you can deduce that we are missing a person.
We stand there, not quite knowing how to handle this. The clumsy, nerdy kid—Mister Last One Standing, himself—who was just elected to the shirts team raises his hand up suddenly.
"I can sit out."
He could, I'm sure. It probably wouldn't even make a difference, but it's the thought that counts.
Campbell shrugs hesitantly, "Well, I guess that—"
"That won't be necessary."
We all turn in the direction of the smooth-voiced interrupting party. By the look of him, he's the new transfer student everyone's been so worked up about. Honestly, I can see how anyone would find him exciting. He's flashy by nature, with bright white, teeth and cobalt blue eyes. His hair is that fiery auburn with bursts of blonde near the top of his head, from time spent in the sun. His body is all Florida tans and sinewy muscles. Any girl's wet dream, I'm positive.
It makes me feel incredibly inadequate just to look at him. It sort of sucks how he's dressed the same as me, and yet we're so ridiculously far from being equals. A jealous pout fixes itself onto my lips and I start emanating waves of envy in his general direction. A quick glance at my surrounding peers shows that I'm not alone.
"Um… Hi," the kid says when it's clear that no one's going to respond to his previous statement. "I'm Brock Foster. I just moved here from Miami."
I almost tell him that I have a younger sister named Miami. But I don't. That would be dumb.
"Hey Brock," Gary says, walking up and shaking the newbie's hand. "I'm Gary Belvedere. You're on my team now."
Foster doesn't say anything and just kind of smiles uncertainly.
"So show us some skin, brotha." He gives his signature blinding smile and beats his bare chest like Tarzan.
The new kid takes off his shirt, and I avert my eyes from his washboard abdomen, covering my own flat stomach in shame. This kid is going to steal Leslie from me. Steal Leslie from everyone. Up until now, she's rejected any advances, but I don't think I could even say no to a boy like that. He's kind of godly. I kind of hate him for it, no lie.
The captains play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets the Frisbee first, but I already know who it's going to be, because the only thing that Gary sucks at more than Ultimate Frisbee is Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Go, Gary, go!
The game? It goes well. Gary and I participate as little as possible—duh. Brock Foster turns out to be pretty essential to our game, and the way it's going. At this point we're winning. Mostly, I've just been running in whatever direction everyone else is running. Not really trying at all, unless you count trying not to hinder other players. No one tries to pass to me, because everyone has learned by now that it's not a good idea. Everyone, I should say, except for Foster. Of course he wouldn't know.
So I can't get too angry at him when he yells, "Hey, Slim, heads up!" and sends the brightly coloured disc spinning my way. The sight of it flying in my direction is what it takes for me to understand that by 'Slim' he means me.
I can't really explain what comes over me, because instead of just letting it go, like everyone undoubtedly expects—myself included—I jump about a foot in the air to catch the damn thing. It smacks hard into my left hand and my fingers close instinctively around it before it can bounce off and hit the ground. There's a stinging feeling between my thumb and forefinger and I'm pretty sure I regret catching it, because now I'm being surrounded by a bunch of guys with shirts on, who are trying to stop me passing off the stupid Frisbee.
Ugh. Brock Foster, you idiot. Jacob's standing in front of me, counting down from ten with this ugly smirk on his face. There's a time limit to how long we can hold onto the Frisbee before it automatically goes to the other team.
"Nine, eight, seven—"
"Townsend! Over here!" someone calls, but I can't see anyone over these people, because I'm so ridiculously short.
"Hollywood, come on!" I sneer at that. Stupid name. Still no sight of anyone beyond the towering, surrounding party. This is unfortunate.
"Hey, Slim!" I look up to find that, thankfully, Brock Foster manages to be taller than any of these shirts, hands stretched upward in invitation now that he's on the other side of my human enclosure.
I fling the disc straight up and over Jacob's stupid, cocky head in Foster's direction, a little too hard in my desperation to get rid of it, but he goes chasing after it anyway and catches it easily once over the score line.
Point for us. Woo!
At the end, the opposing teams shake hands and we all head out for showers. Our team won. Apparently Brock Foster is king of Frisbee as well as basketball, football, and swimming. How quaint. Or not.
"Good game, Slim."
A large hand slaps me lightly on my bare back as Foster passes me by in all his tall, buff glory, white towel wrapped around his waist and hair wet from the showers. And what the hell? He's nicknamed me? Have I even said anything to him? Does he even know my name?
Friendly chap, this guy is. I don't like him.
I grunt in response at his retreating back and start pulling on my grey skinnies, simultaneously tugging a neon purple shirt over my head. As a result, I sightlessly step on the hem of my not-quite-on pant leg and send myself crashing into the lockers with an embarrassingly loud 'BANG.' My ass hits the cold, tile floor and I wince in pain. I'm not used to falling down.
"Shit," I mutter, yanking the shirt collar down over my nose in anger and lifting my hips off the ground to continue shimmying into my jeans.
I hear something clatter and look up to see Gary, fully dressed and drying his hair while staring down at my pathetic form as I button my pants and start sliding my belt through the loops. The source of the noise seems to have been a pencil falling out of the notebook tucked under his arm.
"Mind handing me that?" he asks, tossing his towel into the hamper and nudging the pencil with his foot.
"Sure thing." I pass it up to him once I finish with my belt and he grabs my hand to pull me up from the ground. "What happened? You made some kinda racket over here."
"Tripped," I say shortly.
He lets out a small chuckle. "That's unusual. You're just full of surprises today."
"The Frisbee. Never seen you catch one before. Didn't know you could, really."
"Oh yeah. Weird."
I pull a bright blue, striped beanie over my head and slide my feet into some flip-flops as we exit the locker room, side-by-side like always.
We walk home like always too. Gary lives a few blocks away from me, so usually he just walks me to my house and then keeps on walking. But sometimes he comes over, and sometimes I walk home with him. It really depends on homework and whether or not we feel like putting up with each other.
We've been friends for so long that we're allowed to say when we can't stand being around each other. Some days we really can't. It never lasts though. Even when we don't hang out after school we end up on the phone. Our phone conversations involve very little talking though. I'll be on the computer or reading and he'll be watching television or playing Guitar Hero and we'll just be on the line. Sometimes we fall asleep like that.
This kid named Tucker, he says it's like we're dating or some shit. I say that's a load of bull. I couldn't date Gary, because he's too girly. If I was going to date a man, then I'd date a man. Not Gary. Gary equals girly. So I might as well date a girl.
Still, Gary and I have this understanding. I'm not really that great with girls, but girls are great with me. Gary is very good with girls. Whenever I need to break up with someone, he does it for me. I know that makes me a coward, but I don't care. All girls are scary except for Leslie English, and even with her I get nervous because I don't want to say something stupid that makes her hate me.
I trudge into my house and wave at Gary from the window. He waves back, smiling broadly and keeps walking as I make my way into the kitchen, slouching out of my jacket and tossing it onto the dining room table as I pass. My mom hates when I do that, but she's not home and what she doesn't know won't hurt her.
I have a small struggle with the refrigerator door before I can get it open. Raiding the fridge is always the first thing I do when I get home. I never even find anything that I want in there, so I don't know why I expect different results today. I guess it's just routine or something. I grab a glass out of the cupboard and fill it with water from the tap. This is the only house we've lived in where I found the tap water drinkable. That sounds so spoiled I know, but some water just tastes bad, okay?
I take my glass upstairs with me to my room, stepping over my giant golden retriever and shutting the door quietly. Lenox gets mad if you slam doors, no joke. Starts barking like mad. Sometimes I want to hit him, but I never do. I don't restrain myself out of compassion, though—I hate that dog—I just know that if I hit him, he'll attack me, and he's BIG. With big teeth and lots of slobber. So euw.
My phone rings in my pocket and I set my glass of water on the nightstand so that I can extract it. I pull it out and stare at the flashing screen.
The caller I.D. reads "Brooklyn."
Brooklyn is the oldest of my siblings and the only one out of the house. He moved to L.A. practically the moment he turned 18. Now he's touring the country as a techie for some band that I've never heard of. He told me last weekend that he had a love interest but didn't elaborate. Didn't even tell me her name. Not that I care. It was just weird because he usually tells me everything in excruciating detail, to a point where sometimes it gets on my nerves.
I push the 'accept' button and hold the phone to my ear.
"Bro," I say to the static on the other end.
"Heyyyy," his voice comes back, crackly and distorted.
"Whatsup?" I ask him. I love my brother, and I'm not bitter about his moving away or anything, but I miss him like crazy sometimes. It kind of sucks living in a house full of girls who are either menstrual or menopausal and always at the same time.
After a particularly loud 'snap' of static noise, I hear his voice again, somewhat distantly, "The band is playing in Tallahassee next Thursday, Woody."—my brother is the only one in the world who can get away with calling me Woody—"Mackenna and I thought we might stop by for a visit, yeah?"
Mackenna? Is this the love interest?
He says "stop by" because we don't actually live in Tallahassee. We live in this smallass, pieceashit, Georgia town called Clearwater Cove that sits just above the border of Florida, all around the east side of Lake Clearwater. But it's closer to Tallahassee than any Georgia city, being like thirty miles away and whatnot.
"Yeah, sure," I spout off instantly, "You don't even have to ask."
"Except," he says, voice hesitant. "We might need to borrow your room for a night, bro, and I didn't want you to feel like you had to give it up."
"Mi casa, su casa," I tell him. What's one night anyway when my brother's coming home for the first time in months? "Do you have me on speaker or something?"
"What—why?" he wonders.
"There's just a lot of static and stuff. I can barely hear you."
"Oh, yeah I don't get really good reception in the mountains," he replies a little sheepishly.
"Where are you?"
"North Carolina, working our way down the east coast, ya know." Except not really on the coast, if he's in the mountains. That only happens in California.
"Oh, yeah huh?" I mumble, because I'm not going to make any smartass comments about the not-so-coastal mountain range he's traveling down.
"For sure. Look I gotta get going, but as long as it's okay with you, we'll be there pretty late Wednesday night." Not this Wednesday. Next Wednesday. I walk up to my wall calendar, pulling the cap off of a pen with my teeth as I go. I circle the date in red ink so I'll remember.
"Yeah, yeah, you kids have fun."
"Sure thing, Brobear. Tata!"
"Be safe! Use protection!" I yell into the receiver as he hangs up. I hope Mackenna heard. I hope I embarrassed Brooklyn. That's what brothers are for.
I decide not to tell Mom he's coming. Let her be surprised.
She likes surprises.
a/n: not much suspense yet, but we'll get there. originally this was supposed to just be a silly little bit to go along with another story that i'm writing, BUT. it inspired me, so now it's got it's own little suspense plot type thing but it's gonna take a while to get kicked into gear, so at first it'll just be a lot of hollywood's rambling about how much he hates life and everyone in it. except for leslie english. :o
in other news, as i type this i keep looking over my shoulders, because i saw the shining the other night and it creeped me the fuck out. and i thought i heard a knock on my window.
review if you feel like it, 'cause i'll probably fall in love with you. :)