Tuesday, April 9th

I didn't get a good chance to give Eli a good confrontation or intervention during the school day. The closest I got was between classes down in the basement loop, with a couple of people I'd rather not get into an argument with about anything.

"Anyone seen Alyssa?" I hear him ask. Surprised that he lost her, they've been attached at the hip and face for the past month. At the time, I don't think it's odd that he's looking for someone that doesn't even go to school here anymore.

"Check the back of your pants?" I mutter with a look back as I walk on by his group.

Hivemind Graham turns his head. "Hey, Kurt…why don't you…check some guy's pants, 'cause you're gay."

I grimace at his comeback. Of course everyone else instantly is like "ohh, burn," for that lame shit. Again, different time, different place, I'd love to smack Graham's dumbass face off.

"Wuzzat?" Lil Matt pesters, following up behind me. "You came out?"

"You wanna get shoved in the trash can again?"

Again, implying that he was before, which he was. Wasn't me, wasn't anyone I knew that did it, but it was legendary. Kid ran his mouth and his sharp elbows off to someone he shouldn't have.

I let it go, but now I'm even more pissed off than yesterday. Thinking about what I'm gonna say all day, how to guilt him the most. And I mean, it's just weed, yeah. I don't need to be a walking PSA and tell him that drugs are bad, it's the lying and denying that almost got me into trouble back in the office last year that's got me steamed. Joe and I could've been in serious trouble, and what do you know, turns out Eli was passing around the pipe the whole time.

Maybe it's my inner cop child showing again, being judgmental and all justice-minded. I don't care.

I take the school bus to the stop nearest his house and knock on his front door.

Papa Bear opens it with a "Yeah?"

"Eli home yet?"

"Round back," he grunts.

I walk around the side of the house to the backyard. He was the only one of the gang growing up that had a true lawn and backyard to play in, it's real familiar. Smaller than it seemed like in the past. And now there's gravel beds and a shed clogging up what used to be a wide open ball field.

Eli is tossing a whiffle ball off the roof of the shed, letting it roll back to him, all alone.

"Hey man," I call out, trudging across the damp grass. He looks back at me, but doesn't say anything. I go for the kill. "You know that was a dick move."

"Uh huh."

"What was a dick move?"

"I dunno," he shrugs. "Everything." He looks dead and blank inside. Might be blazed out of his mind already.

"Heard about what your dad did."

"Yup."

Eli lets the ball roll down off the sloped roof and fall to the ground. He wanders over to the edge of the yard, a big, tall row of those hedge kind of fir trees that are planted close together and form a solid wall.

"Shook one out."

I know what he's talking about. Back when we'd play baseball, or whiffle ball, or whatever bat and ball game with whatever bat and ball we had, all the balls popped up back behind us would get stuck in the trees, entered in and were occasionally never seen again. If we couldn't shake them out, let the wind knock it out, or find something long enough to poke it out, it was gone.

Eli looks up at the trees and then back at me, arms out at his sides. Confession.

"Alyssa's pregnant," he blurts out.

I blink. "What?"

He turns his back and presses himself into the tree line. "Alyssa's pregnant and it's mine."

"What the fuck?"

"I know."

"What the fuck, dude, are you serious? Why would you do that?" I find myself shouting at him.

He looks plate and shaky. "I don't know."

"Are you stupid? I mean, seriously? What happened?"

Eli starts pacing away. "Didn't mean to."

"Well no shit you didn't mean to, unless she raped you you're a fucking idiot. Didn't fucking take Sex Ed?"

"I don't know, okay! Just happened, that's what happens, we thought it was okay. Just one time."

"You did it one time?"

"Well…I mean, it was one time at first. I don't know which one, you know, locked it in."

"Oh, you-"

"-I know okay! Jesus! Got everyone screaming at me and telling- fuck! I don't know!"

I lower my voice back down. "Is she keeping it?"

"What, the kid? I don't know, she- she said she might and that I gotta pay her."

"Pay her?"

"Yeah, that uh, you know, if she keeps it or not I gotta either pay for it or pay her to get rid of it."

"Dude, that's blackmail."

"It's not blackmail, she's- it's her shit, she can say I raped her or something, I don't know. I gotta pay for shit one way or another, I dunno. Now I gotta drop out."

"You're dropping out? Graduation's in like two months, you can't go two more months?"

"I gotta go to work and start making money! If she keeps it, it's….you know. Expensive." He slowly sinks down to the ground. "I can start working at the shop tomorrow. So that was uh…today was my last day. At school."

"Seriously?"

Eli looks like he's about to cry, sniffing and fighting it back. "Yeah. I can…I can like go back or something next year, GED or something. 'S okay. C.J. did too."

"C.J.'s a…fuckin' braindead idiot."

"So what am I?"

:::

Both my parents are home when I get there. I walked all the way from Eli's house, just thinking about it. Felt like…the end of an era. Things couldn't be the same anymore, not now. Not once you start having kids, and this early. Probably about to get thrown out of the house, or move in somewhere else, or have some kind of drama that I don't need to be a part of."

"Eli got his girlfriend pregnant," I say plainly as I walk into the kitchen, trying to stay distracted by looking for a snack so that I don't meet their eye or get emotional.

My dad doesn't even look up from his coffee. "Yup."

It was a comment, not a question. Sounding like he hadn't known about it, but wasn't surprised to hear it.

"With who?" my Mom asks.

"This…I don't know, you don't know her, she's pretty trashy."

"Sounds about right," Dad says.