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Authors: e. E. Charlton-Trujillo

Fat Angie (6 page)

BOOK: Fat Angie
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Angie’s eyes reluctantly cut to KC Romance. How to recover from such deliberate scrutiny at The Backstory eluded her.

Gary leaned in to KC. His pea-size brain, floating on the Mad Dog 20/20 and You Talkin’ to Me? (with an amaretto lemon twist), jumbo-sized his already large ego.

“Wanna get something?” Gary asked KC.

She grinned. “Like a lobotomy for you?”

The crowd
ooo
’ed.

Gary half-laughed, clearly confused, the buzz buzzing off. “What?” he said.

“Forgot. Hearing impaired,” said KC. “I’ll translate, and slower. You’re. Not. My. Type. You’d require a soul or at least a strong collection of mumblecore films.”

Mumblecore film (n.):
a genre with “a low-key naturalism, low-fi production value and a stream of low-volume chatter often perceived as ineloquence” (
New York Times
2007). Examples include
Hannah Takes the Stairs
and
Quiet City.

“Oh, I get it. This is a new-girl thing,” Gary cackled, trying to win back the onlookers.

KC stepped closer to Gary. “What is it with you, jock boy? Can’t get attention from the pom-pom squad on account of your minuscule”— she held up her pinky —“wienie?”

His comebacks were on a ten-second delay, which allowed KC to continue. “Or is it that you’re secretly in love with Angie and can’t come to terms with your feelings?”

“Screw you,” said Gary. “Dyke!”

KC grinned, tucking a piece of her hair behind her multipierced ear.

“That’s all you’ve got?” KC asked. “An arsenal full of homophobic language and you spin up three amateur-night hate words? Are you really that much of a snore?”

KC had shifted the temperature in the room, and Gary was feeling the heat.

“Come on, Gary,” said a guy. “Leave it.”

“Watch yourself, freak,” Gary warned.

She stage-whispered, “I do all the time.”

And just like that, the showdown at The Backstory ended. The onlookers looked toward Mr. Quarterback onstage.

KC turned to Fat Angie, who was still pinned against the wall. Her cup of Where Did You Come From? Italian cream soda sweated against her T-shirt.

“Hey,” KC said, approaching Angie.

“Hey,” Fat Angie managed to get out.

“Everything crystal?” KC asked.

Fat Angie nodded.

“This is some place, huh?” KC said, taking in the atmosphere. “You wouldn’t tell it from the outside. Looks kinda 80s pop, you know?”

Fat Angie actually did know, and she grinned while KC whipped out her cell phone. Clicking to camera mode, KC snapped a picture of the ceiling.

“Check it out,” KC said, leaning in closer than anyone who didn’t want to eviscerate Fat Angie had in the last few months. “Sweet, huh? I’m totally sticking that on my Wall of Thoughts So Twisted.” KC hovered the camera slightly above them and moved in for a “say cheese” moment.

“I’m — the camera thing,” said Fat Angie.

“It’ll be a quickie,” said KC.

Fat Angie fell heart-forward into KC’s dark eyes. “ ’K,” said Fat Angie.

The camera phone flash-snapped. Fat Angie’s eyes were closed.

“That would be good for your Wall of Weird and Twisted,” said Fat Angie.

KC saved the photo.

“Yeah, not so much,” KC said. “Closing your eyes is pretty normal. The Wall of Thoughts So Twisted is plastered with articles like ‘Cheerleader Caves under Cambodian Web Scandal.’ Or a photo of JFK holding Jimi Hendrix on his shoulders and Jimi holding the world on his. Or a headline like ‘Playwright Preverbal Play Plops: Pounces Pumice Onstage.’ ”

“Um, that’s pretty —”

“Twisted?” asked KC.

“Yeah.”

“It kind of reminds me that the world can be a lot stranger than my everyday life.”

Pause.

Tortoise in the Shell started a new song.

“They’re pretty good — the band,” KC said. “Kinda Iron and Wine and the Kills sandwiched with a little Doors.”

“Yeah. They sell T-shirts.”

“Yeah?”

“Yup,” said Fat Angie, her mind racing for a more interesting topic.

“So . . .” KC said.

A “so” was never a good starting point for Fat Angie. It led to uncomfortable pauses that made her armpits sweat.

Fat Angie nodded her head.

Pause.

Pause. The dreadful “so” pause.

“What’s your mix?” said KC, killing the weirdness. “Your drink?”

“Um . . .”

Fat Angie had mastered the “um” shortly after her alleged nervous breakdown. It filled the space to make doctors — and, most important, her couldn’t-be-bothered mother — feel that something more and hopeful would blossom from her lips. However, that was a rare phenomenon . . . like a quality hit show for the teen bracket on CBS.

Fat Angie’s eyes pinned on to Gary sneering from the pool table. KC followed the look.

“You scared of him?” said KC. “I mean, is that why you’re so —”

“Um . . . no,” Fat Angie said. “He’s just . . .”

“An asshole?”

Fat Angie rarely communicated using profanities. To be more specific, she never did. Her mother said it was a language of ignorance and poverty. Fat Angie was neither ignorant nor poor, according to her standardized tests and her mother’s income tax return.

“You know, Angie, they got one of those guys in every school I’ve been to.”

“How many would that be exactly?” asked Fat Angie.

KC grinned. “I don’t know exactly.”

Fat Angie smiled. She had no idea what propelled this reaction. It was a soft smile. An unpracticed one. It was . . . real?

KC’s smile widened. They were in the middle of their smilefest when Jake stepped in, throwing his head back in that awkward, overly practiced way.

“Hey,” he said.

Smilefest ended.

“Oh,” said Fat Angie. “Hey. Jake.”

KC executed a perfected pretend grin combined with a raised, pierced eyebrow. “What up, Jack?”

“Jake,” he said, correcting her.

“I know,” said KC. “Esther, my mom, she says that to all her clients. Her catchphrases are kinda habit-forming.”

Sucking on her straw, Fat Angie said, “What exactly does your mother do?”

“She’s into tats mostly. Tattoos? Why? What do your parents do?”

Fat Angie nervously sipped her Where Did You Come From? Italian cream soda.
Be absolutely cool,
she thought. Her mind raced. What did her mother do? Besides reign humiliation on Angie and any client fool enough to tangle with her? The Backstory shifted in disjointed photo time lapse. “My mom’s a . . . a criminal.”

Jake did a double take.

“Yeah,” said Fat Angie. “Real hard-core.”

“Really?” said KC, suspicious.

“No,” said Jake. “Her mom’s a corporate lawyer.”

“Same thing,” Fat Angie said.

“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” said Jake. “My parents are accountants.” Jake snagged Fat Angie’s drink from her.

His lips met the straw before she could stop him.

“Wow,” said KC. “So, you guys are all ’burbing it, huh? Minivans and listening to underground rap from the early 90s.”

“Don’t you think that’s kind of a stereotype?” Jake said.

“Oh,” KC said, smiling mockingly. “My bad.”

“Almost everyone has to drive at least twenty miles to work,” Jake said in a passive-aggressive tone. “Dryfalls, Ohio, is not exactly a Starbucks town. I mean, it’s not like our zip code is ripped off a TV show or anything.”

“OK, what’s really itching you, Jack?” KC asked.

“Jake. My name is Jake. It’s probably too bland for you, California.”

Fat Angie did not follow the trajectory of the conversation, as it was second-level dialogue.

Second-level dialogue (n.):
dialogue in which the speaker says one thing but means another.

“Still scooping for the
Daily Planet
?” said KC. “Big superjock
S
on your chest?”

Fat Angie did not like confrontation.

Fat Angie especially did not like
this
confrontation.

Why were Jake and KC in a head-to-head battle using second-level dialogue and Superman references? While athletic, he clearly did not have the comic-book hero’s build.

“It doesn’t take much to find something if your name’s KC Romance,” said Jake.

“You Scoobied me?” said KC. “I met you, like, what, eight hours ago?”

Fat Angie said, “You Scoobied her?” Then she leaned in to Jake. “What
exactly
is Scoobied, and is that OK for you to do?”

“According to your online yearbook, you useta be a regular Stacy Ann in Beverly Hills,” Jake said.

“Read the fine print, Clark Kent,” said KC. “I’m nothing like Stacy Ann.”

“Jake.” Fat Angie pulled him away from KC. “Seriously. We don’t talk. Now you’re bullying the only person who has
willingly
talked to me in forever.”

“Come on, people talk to you,” Jake said.

“No, they don’t.”

“Melissa Peel? Rosie Hernandez?”

Fat Angie glared. These people talked
at
her. Looking behind her. They talked to anyone who would listen.

“Even so,” Jake said, “KC is not like you. Just trust me, OK?”

“I don’t, OK?”

“Your sister —” Jake stopped himself midsentence.

“What?” Fat Angie asked.

Jake was a good boy from a good home that, as far as Fat Angie could tell, had little conflict. While he had played one-on-one games in their driveway with her sister, Jake and Fat Angie had rarely spoken. Standing in The Backstory, Fat Angie began to wonder why. Just as the question took shape Jake said, “Look, I checked out her Facebook. KC’s got history. A lot of history.”

“So what?” she asked. “And why do you care?”

Jake nodded ever so slightly. Fat Angie often lacked the skill of nonverbal communication. She felt the weight of her disability quite distinctively at that moment.

“Look, I just do,” Jake said.

Fat Angie looked over her shoulder. KC stood, her boots pigeon-toed. Fat Angie turned back to Jake. The equation of the moment was too complicated. She was terrible with numbers, her mother consistently reminded her. She was nothing like her sister. She was nothing. Tortoise in the Shell jamming, the villains dropping dead in the shoot-’em-up video game, and the smell of giant peanut-butter cups overwhelmed her.

“I gotta go,” Fat Angie said to Jake.

Jake cracked his neck, the sound painfully audible, and strutted out the door.

“Hey,” Fat Angie said to KC.

“Moment of awkward, huh?”

“Guess.”

“So, the Stacy Ann thing — back in the Hills,” said KC. “He’s not a hundred percent off and not a hundred percent on. It was just a different . . . crowd. Kinda.”

“I don’t care,” said Fat Angie. “I mean, unless you’re plotting to destroy my life.”

“Not likely.”

Sheepish smilefest back on.

“So, what are you drinking?” KC asked Fat Angie.

Fat Angie held the cup out for KC, who, upon taking it, touched Fat Angie’s hand. This sent Fat Angie into what some refer to as a maximum sensory overload. Butterflies swarmed in her stomach and mishmashed with the recently ingested concoction of soda and half-and-half. The girls’ exchange had a staying power foreign to Fat Angie.

Then.

Straw. Lips. KC’s eyes lifted. Angie’s heart seemed to split. That something that told Fat Angie to smile earlier in the cafeteria that day said,
Speak, you freak! Speak! Say . . .

“I think you rock,” Fat Angie blurted out, unsure exactly what she meant.

The moment was stellar odd, complete with racing pulse accessories in the geekness of Fat Angie.

“I mean . . . um . . . I think . . .” continued Fat Angie. “Um, that you are . . . um . . . swell.”

Swell? Of all the words in the modern English language, including slang, Fat Angie had resorted to a 1950s
Leave It to Beaver
“swell.” The passion behind the word faded as she realized what had actually stepped out of her mouth.

KC’s expression held unreadable. Mad, sad, glad . . . hands down, she had mastered the poker face.

“Swell,” KC repeated. “Cool . . . I’ve never been a swell.”

“Yeah?”

KC nodded. Fat Angie nodded. So began a nodfest.

“You wanna go get some pancakes at an IHOP?” said KC. “I’m raging hungry.”

“Dryfalls is kinda a Waffle House town,” said Fat Angie.

“Way too truck stop,” KC said.

“The Kick You Like a Legend chicken-salad wrap is award-winning,” said Fat Angie, motioning toward the counter. “Picked Best Wrap in four counties.”

“Split one?” KC asked.

“Definitely.”

Just like that, KC Romance and Fat Angie walked side by side through the smell of lattes and pounding booming bass. There seemed nothing more normal in the world to Angie at that moment and she had no idea why.

Fat Angie had slept approximately four hours and fifty-two minutes after returning from The Backstory. As kids pushed past her in the hallway, all she could think of was KC’s grin the night before and that enticing purple heart tattooed on the side of her neck. So engrossed was she in the recollection that she nearly failed to see the tattoo come into full view as KC turned the corner. Fat Angie quickly rubbed sleepy crust from her eyes. The crusty flakes clung to her T-shirt. KC’s grin speared through the crowd and landed in the rapidly pumping heart of Fat Angie. The moment. It was
swell . . . ing.

BOOK: Fat Angie
7.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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