"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Pizza Rats
Caleb swiped a hand through the air and shook his head.

"I've got no interest in seeing kids make themselves unemployable for any job that isn't behind a cashier with irreparable poor decisions."

He paused a moment, pulled down his beanie, stuck his hands in his pockets.

"I DO think you should call anyone who backs out a pussy, though. Teach deeez kiiiids about conviction. Plus I'm saving my lower back for something special."

He offered Johnny a fist bump, looking slightly apologetic.

"Try praying in Aramaic."

((Caleb Diamond continued in Chilling))




Pizza Rats
Caleb drank from the straw without taking the cup as before, leaning in while Johnny held onto it. He looked up at the other boy with his round blue eyes, which were normally half-lidded. He felt the liquid hit ice and the strained sound of the straw sucking air and stopped. Caleb wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist and stood back up with his usual slight hunch.

"No matter what happens to me after high school, I keep guys like you around to feel better about it."

He smacked his lips twice, intentionally mimicking and old man without teeth and saw Johnny blowing out more smoke. Caleb took a long drag off his cigarette which had shrunk down considerably.

"Guess not, when's that oldest friend showing up?"

He threw the cigarette stub on the ground and crushed it into the cement under the back of his heel.


Pizza Rats
"Uh hu, sure. I'm sure the people already here really appreciated the takers. You're right," he said with a shrug.

Caleb inhaled again and let another stream of smoke out between his teeth. He folded his left arm in by his chest and tapped the ash off his cigarette with his right hand.

He glanced sidelong at Johnny as he spoke, complete with theatrics. He was considering a response to Johnny's screed on the merits of blue collar working over white collar careers. Caleb's parents were one of each, an electrician and a bank manager. He doubted Johnny remembered that. He wondered what sort of work Johnny would be good at.

He wasn't given the chance to rebut as Johnny leapt to another topic, pointing at the phone sticking half out of his pocket.

Caleb shook his head and waved the suggestion away with his left hand. "Yeah right," he said, somewhat weakly. He pulled his gray beanie a little lower over his ears. "It's none of your business, but you might want to call me 'step-dad'. I'll take you out Go-Karting on the weekends, slugger. What'd you call me down here for, anyway?"

He reached out and pinched Johnny's cheek and leaned in, taking a sip of soda from the cup still in the other boy's hand.

V6 Roll Call
Here

Pizza Rats
Caleb was slightly taken aback when the cigarette was removed from his lips. His eyes widened slightly, something unusual for him, before settling back in and turning into a annoyed sidelong glance."God damn, you raised in a motherfucking barn?!"

He threw his other hand to the side where it landed around the soda Johnny had moved towards him. He took a few sips and then extended it back.

"Thanks, pal."

He stuck his lips out as if anticipating a kiss and waited for his cigarette to be replaced. Eventually it was. With his index finger and middle finger in the shape of a V he brought the shape to his mouth, secured his fingers around the cigarette, inhaled and then removed it, blowing a stream of smoke.

"I gotta do something to cover up your smell."

Pizza Rats
Caleb walked outside and resumed leaning on the wall of the pizza shop like he had been before. Some people looked like they might leave soon and he might be able to grab half finished slices of pizza, as he did sometimes. Food was food and though he had the money to buy a slice, he didn't see the need to when free food was right there.

Caleb pulled a cigarette out of the pack with his teeth. He put the pack back and sparked up the lighter, shielding the cigarette and small flame from the wind with a cupped hand. It caught and he inhaled. He turned to look at Johnny who had come out after him.

"It always smells like grease and rubber meat in there," he said.

He still had one headphone in. He held his hand out towards the cup while feeling for his phone in his pocket to change the song.

[Missed Call: Mom]
[Text: Kimiko....]

He looked at the screen for a second or two and put it back in his pocket. He always kept his phone on silent which usually meant ignored calls from home. He wanted to text Kimiko back, but he didn't respond to texts quickly. He never was sure of what to type back.

Pizza Rats
Caleb sulked over to the counter, watching Johnny out of the corner of his eye. His gaze lingered on the couple for a moment. He bit the corner of his lip while fishing a small, partially crumpled box out of his jeans.

Looking at them he felt envy, nostalgia and a bit of fatalism, but all faded. The melange was not felt sharply, and left as quickly as it came. He saw his cue and took out a cigarette near the cashier.

"Excuse me, but you can't smoke that in here," piped up the employee as he lifted his lighter.

He stopped, then, while looking at the employee, slowly started moving the lighter closer to the cigarette.

"Sir, if you don't put that away we'll have to ask you to leave," said the increasingly distressed employee.

"This is bullshit. I thought this was America! If I can't indulge in this fine American product it's like, you're stepping on my freedom and we might as well let the terrorists eat. our. flags."

Her eyes were now firmly on Caleb. He looked over and saw Johnny had finished up his work.

He held up his hands, then put the lighter and cigarettes away.

"Fine, whatever."

Seeing he was leaving the female employee smiled weakly.

He walked past Johnny and then went back outside to where they'd met before.

Pizza Rats
Caleb's partial smile changed to slight surprise to being addressed. He yanked down an ear bud just in time for him to hear Johnny making a crack about approaching Andrew instead of him. A pang of annoyance hit him. He lowered the volume on his music in the one headphone still in his ear and flipped Johnny off. Caleb opened the door to the pizza shop.

"You're late and you still forget your safety helmet," Caleb mumbled.

His eyes went from Johnny to the drink and condiments area followed by a slight lift of the eyebrows, a silent message. Caleb walked to the other end of the store nearer to the cash registers.

Pizza Rats
((Caleb Diamond continued from Havana Escapade))

Caleb leaned near the door of the Pizza Hut, legs and hips extended straight in front of him with his heels being the meeting point with the sidewalk. His hands were jammed into his jean pockets and white ear buds snaked from from just under his gray beanie down to his right pocket. He pulled his phone out of his pocket.

It read "Gimmie Some More - Busta Rhymes" across the top and "4:37 p.m." underneath. He stuck it back into his pocket and bopped his head slightly to the beat.

What a fucking bum, he thought. Johnny Ray. Johnny Ray McKay. Johnny Ray sounded like the name of a Duggar or someone in one of those religious cults from the midwest or maybe a made-up country music star. He thought of Johnny in a ten-gallon hat and bolo tie singing about Jesus and flat taxes and his face pulled into a half smile.