Patch Allen: The One Eyed Jack
Baylee Olsen was well aware that her parents did not approve of Billy Howard which was why she hung out with him. Any reason to annoy her parents was a good one as far as she was concerned and even though Baylee knew Billy was bad news going nowhere, she liked the reputation being seen with him bestowed upon her – a fake bad girl persona that gave people at school something to talk about.
It was summer now which gave Baylee even more time to pretend to be a delinquent when she wasn't working her summer job at Red's Tastee Freeze. She refused to look like a criminal, of course – she still had her standards - she wore her designer jeans and styled shirts and blouses bought at the mall even while being seen in a booth at Johnny C's Diner or at the Hillsboro Pizza Shop with Billy and his sidekick pal Francisco who was not only stupid but incredibly naïve which allowed Billy to use him as his stooge and patsy.
Baylee was way out of Billy's league but he didn't bother questioning why a girl like her was hanging out with a drudge like him. She was pretty and she came from a good family - being associated with her improved Billy's status around the school and especially with his loser pals who now saw him as the King.
Baylee's friends refused to be seen in public with Billy and Francisco but Baylee was sure to flaunt Billy whenever he showed up at the Tastee Freeze or when they were seen together around town.
Billy was basically harmless - a fouled mouth SPED student who acted a lot tougher than he really was but he looked like a gang member and Baylee used that to her advantage to aggravate her parents.
Deep down, Baylee knew she was being foolish and immature, but it was her way of protesting the status quo by rejecting the system, even though she was an A student and sang as a volunteer at the nursing home on Sunday afternoons.
Baylee's parents made idle threats – taking away the car, sending her to her grandparents in Florida for the summer – but she knew they were all talk and no action and that as long as she didn't get arrested or pregnant she was safe.
Not that she wanted to sleep with a guy like Billy but as long as people were thinking she was doing it with him that made her even cooler in some eyes.
Baylee finished her shift at Red's, went home and showered, got into a pissing contest with her mother over something stupid as her parents were getting ready to head to the country club for dinner, and then headed out to meet up with Billy and Francisco, although she lied to her Dad and said she was meeting up with the girls for a movie in Greenville.
Baylee picked up the guys at Hillsboro Park. Billy had a knapsack with him and he was grinning when he got into the passenger's seat, Francisco sliding into the back.
What's in there?" Baylee asked, gesturing toward the backback.
"A fireworks rocket," Francisco proudly announced.
"We stole it from Old Man Grunderson's shed," Billy bragged. "He's the guy who has those private Fourth of July parties."
"What are you going to do with it?" Baylee wondered.
"Shoot it off!" Francisco laughed.
"When it gets dark," Billy clarified.
"Do you know how?" Baylee asked as she drove the car around town which is what they did most summer nights. "Those things can be dangerous."
"How hard is it to light a match?" Billy smirked.
They stopped for some cokes at the pizza house and they harassed some younger kids when they returned to the park but, as usual, the night was a bore with Billy and Francisco talking about stupid stuff Baylee wasn't interested in and sometimes she wished she really was at the movies with the girls or doing something more productive with her time but then she remembered the look of exacerbation on her mother's face when she left the house earlier and Baylee realized this foolishness was worth it.
"Okay, it's dark enough," Billy decided. "Let's go down by the river and shoot this baby off."
Baylee drove the car to River Road, a secluded street not frequented by many cars at this time of night. She pulled the car off the road and the three jumped out. Francisco handed Billy the duffle bag and he carefully removed the rocket.
"It's a Pyro-Pinnacle," Francisco announced with wide eyes.
"Big Peak," Billy said.
"Is it a rocket?" Baylee asked, squinting at the large item Billy was holding in his hands.
"High attitude rocket," Billy clarified. "It should light up the sky."
"With a sonic-boom," Francisco bragged.
"Matches," Billy ordered as he propped the rocket against a rock on the side of the road.
Francisco handed Billy the matches as if he was assisting a doctor in an operating room.
Billy smirked with excitement as he lit a match and then the fuse at the bottom of the rocket. The fuse began to sizzle and the three stepped back, but Francisco stumbled and he knocked the rocket on its side.
"Oh, shit!" Billy exclaimed. "Run!"
Baylee screamed as she bolted from the rocket site and all of a sudden there was a large pop, followed by a whistle and the rocket began propelling itself at warp speed. It flew in front of them in a trail of sparks, fire, glitter and smoke and sailed across the river, about ten feet above the surface before disappearing into the woods on the other side.
They heard a large ka-boom ricochet across the river, sounding like a bomb went off.
"Let's get the hell out of here!" Billy yelled.
The three ran to the car and Baylee peeled out, felling a sense of exhilaration and excitement she had never felt before. She was afraid and thrilled at the same time, hoping they'd get away without being caught while wishing she could brag about what they had done.
"That was great!" Billy laughed as Baylee drove. "Did you see that thing go!?"
Baylee zigzagged through several neighborhoods at a normal rate of speed and they pulled over for an ambulance with flashing red lights and wailing siren racing toward the Blue County Bridge, followed a few moments later by a police car with its blue lights flashing and siren crying but Baylee didn't think anything of it as she returned to the park to drop the guys off, who were still talking about their great prank.