We outnumbered them, I reckoned,
doing a quick count of who was hiding in or around the
copse. I didn't count the ones who hung back, like Pete;
they wouldn't be any help. Problem was, Stew and the
crew from class 11B were used to fights and rumbles;
at least, more so than our guys. I didn't know who would
fold and run if it came to a fight.
"Where's the others?"
I asked Rich.
"Danny's over the other
side somewhere. I haven't seen Sam or Cappo."
I was a little disappointed.
I had hoped they'd be here. As for Danny, well
that moment, with Cathy's confession fresh in my mind
(why did she do it?), I didn't have the guts to go up
and face him. I know it wasn't my fault and all, but
I still felt funny about it. And right now, I had other,
more urgent problems.
"Jay!" called one of
the shadowy figures. They were still a distance away,
but it was a clear night and his voice carried well.
Everybody hushed. It was Stew.
"I'm here," I called
"Come over here so I can
talk to you," came the slurred bellow.
I laughed derisively. "How
stupid do you think I am?" I called back. "Five
of you and one of me? Yeah, right. Nice try." I
was still feeling pretty belligerent, with all the beer
in my system. Still, I told myself not to be so flip.
Even when he was plastered, Stew was an enemy I wouldn't
wish on anyone.
"We won't hurt'cha."
"Course you won't, Stew,"
I said sarcastically. Then I went a little more serious.
"Don't you reckon all this is going a bit far just
to get Helen to come to your party? Can't you just see
"This isn't about Helen
anymore," Stew cried. "She can spin for all
"Then what are you here
for?" I shouted.
"We're here for you,"
came the reply. I knew it. I'd pushed him, and he wanted
In the copse with me, everyone
was silent, expectant, waiting to see what I would do.
I smiled invisibly to myself. I was the General. My
army against his army. Those prepared to defend my party
(or who were pissed up and lairy and willing to have
a fight) against Stew and his boys. Truth be told, most
of the guys on my side didn't much like the 11B crew
anyway, and with school now over, this was a God-give
opportunity to get back at them for years of irritating
swagger and intimidation.
The silence stretched out, the
anticipation building unbearably.
"Come and get me, then,"