Charlie had been sitting outside school for over an hour now waiting for his brother to finish basketball practise. This was his favourite time of the day when he could sit in silence and really get his thoughts down on paper. Ever since he had won the award for “best creative writer” at Bridgeport High, he had been writing his short stories. “Nah that’s rubbish,” he said to himself re-reading the last sentence and scribbling it out.
“Hey bro,” Carter called, bounding out the back door of the gym and heading over to his brother.
“What you up to,” he asked sitting down next to Charlie and peering over at his scribbles.
“Nothing,” Charlie snapped back, pulling his notepad away from Carter’s prying eyes. He hated it when people tried to read his stories before they were finished.
“Don’t worry mate, I won’t look,” Carter joked allowing Charlie to put his notepad away in his bag, safe and sound. “Listen a few of us are going down to the Juice Bar, you wanna come?”
“Nah I’m good thanks,” Charlie replied. “I have lots of homework to do.”
“Ah come on Charlie, you never come out with us. Please? Just this once?”
Charlie sighed; Carter always gave him a hard time for not going out. It was often easier just to give in. “Ok,” he answered.
“Yay,” Carter sung pulling his brother to his feet and leading him over to Victor who was waiting for them.
“You convinced him them,” Victor said seeing Charlie. “Never thought Larry the Loner would come out!”
“Hey leave him alone man,” Carter snapped back. He looked at Charlie giving him a big reassuring grin. Charlie appreciated Carter sticking up for him but he wished he wouldn’t bother. He just wanted to be left alone.
When they arrived at the Juice Bar, half the school were already there hanging out and dancing to the tunes like they were in some sort of nightclub. Charlie hung back as Carter and Victor led him across the room. He felt like everyone was staring at him but in reality no one was, it was all in his head.
The boys joined two girls who Carter and Victor appeared to know very well but who Charlie had never seen before. “Hey girls,” they both chimed together and Charlie could see that the usual over-zealous Victor seemed a little nervous. It was obvious he had his eye on the brunette.
“Hey guys, we didn’t’ know you would be coming tonight. Don’t you have practice,” the black haired girl asked.
“All finished for the day,” Carter replied. “How long you been here for? Seems really busy tonight….” Charlie watched as the four of them conversed, hiding slightly behind his brother and hoping no one would talk to him.
He was doing so well until the black haired girl looked over at him and did a double take. As the others spoke she stared at Charlie with a creepy grin on her face. She was beautiful, Charlie could not deny this, but she was also terrifying and all he wanted to do was run and hide from her.
After a few minutes of desperately trying to avoid her gaze, the girl touched Carter on the arm and cooed, “Hey Carter, who’s the hottie hiding in the back there?”
“Oh that’s Larry,” Victor chimed in continuing his joke of Larry the Loner from earlier.
Carter tutted and punched his friend on the arm. “No it’s not Heather, this is my twin brother Charlie,” he said trying to push Charlie forward.
“Ohhh you’re twins, that is so hot,” Heather continued undressing Charlie with her eyes.
Charlie did not know where to look. He tried to avert his eyes but the girl moved closer until he could feel the heat from her body right next to him. This was exactly why he hated coming out. “Where have you been hiding,” she trilled as he tried to fend her off.
Carter and Victor watched as Heather threw herself at Charlie. Carter considered rescuing him but was intrigued to see how Charlie would handle himself for once. “She’s going to eat him alive,” Victor joked.
“I should really save him,” Carter laughed back.
“Nah he’ll be fine, you’ve got bigger problems,” Victor replied pointing at something behind Carter. As he spun around he saw what he was pointing at.
“Hey Brooke,” he said nervously waving at the girl.
“F*%K you Carter,” she spat back dramatically throwing her hands into the air and storming off.
“I see Brooke’s still mad at you man,” Victor joked from behind him.
“Sure looks that way,” Carter replied exasperated. “Not sure what I can do anymore. We broke up weeks ago but she won’t let it go!”
“Don’t worry man, there are plenty more fish in the sea.”
“And it looks like one of us might be getting some tonight.” They both looked round at Heather still wiggling her body against Charlie and they couldn’t help but laugh.
“I really should go and rescues him,” Carter said trying to stifle his giggles. “But first I need a drink.” He headed over to the bar and slumped onto one of the stools. “Two glasses of Buckwheat Blaster please,” he said to the barman.
“Coming right up,” the barman replied throwing three bottles of juice up in the air and catching them with such precision Carter could not help but let out a “WOW.”
He watched on in awe as the barman continued to flip twist and throw bottles, cocktail shakes, glasses and mixers around like he was a circus performer. Carter was captivated; he had to learn how to do that!
When he served Carter his drink, it was the best Buckwheat Blaster Carter had ever tasted. “That was pretty amazing man,” he said between slurps. “How did you learn to do that?”
“What this,” the barman replied flipping another bottle into the air showing off. He settled the bottle back down and started to clean a glass. “Dunno really. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. My old man owned a bar back in Twinbrook and he taught me everything I know.”
“You’re amazing,” Carter replied suddenly realising how lame he sounded. He coughed to re-set his excited voice and shrugged his shoulders. “So man, do you always work here?”
“Nah this is just my day gig. I work over at The Brightmore every evening too but that’s real liquor and the chicks are much more fun.” He let out a cheeky laugh and Carter thought he was the coolest person he had ever met.
“I don’t suppose you could teach me could you? Teach me how to do all that stuff you just did?”
“What’s it worth man,” the barman replied leaning over the bar.
“I could pay you,” Carter said. “I get a good allowance and I am sure my mum would give me more if I asked.”
The barman laughed and Carter again felt foolish for bringing up his mum. “But I do have my own money you know. From working and stuff.”
“I’ll tell you what,” the barman said wiping down the bar. “You come down here tomorrow morning and help me with this place, collect glasses and stuff, and I will show you the basics. No charge.”
“But I have school tomorrow. How about after school?”
“Sure thing man. Be here at 4pm sharp!”
“I will I will,” Carter replied so excited he thought he might burst. He leapt off his stool with drinks in toe desperate to tell his brother. But as he walked over, he instantly noticed that Charlie was otherwise occupied.
“I don’t think he’ll be needing this,” Victor said taking the second drink off the tray and downing it. Carter couldn’t’ help but laugh, this had turned into a really intresting day.
Bella sat waiting up for her son’s to come home. She knew they were big boys now but she was still unable to go to bed until she knew they were safely at home.
“Mum, you don’t have to always wait for us you know,” Carter joked when he and Charlie finally walked through the door.
“I know I know, but I worry about my boys don’t I,” she replied hugging each of them in turn.
“Where’s Roger,” Charlie asked?
“Oh he’s in bed already, his shift starts in a few hours so I told him to go to bed. Did you boys have fun tonight?”
“I think someone did,” Carter said bursting out laughing and pointing at an embarrassed Charlie.
“I’m off to bed,” Charlie announced before there were any more questions.
“Sweet dreams,” Carter called after him as he dashed to his bedroom.
“Would someone like to tell me what is going on,” Bella asked confused by her son’s private joke.
“It’s nothing mum,” Carter laughed kissing his mum on the cheek and also heading up to bed.
Bella watched as both her children descended the stairs and disappeared out of sight. She was so proud of both of them, her boys, polar opposites to each other. Charlie, who looked just like her but beared his father name proudly, a boy with so much imagination but not much self-confidence. Then there was Carter, a spitting image of his dad but with so much more self-assurance that she wondered where he had gotten it from. She wished Charlie was here to see what he had created. But she knew someone where out there he was watching them, keeping them safe and keeping them happy.
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