I Can't Imagine Being Anywhere Else

Chapter 4

“I hate this town, it's so washed up,
and all my friends don't give a fuck.
They'll tell me that it's just bad luck;
When will I find where I fit in?”

The rest of the week passed slowly. I avoided mostly avoided Vic, which wasn’t too hard, because thankfully we didn’t have any other classes together. I didn’t return to the music shop, either, having no way to know when he was working so I could go on his off hours. What was driving me insane was that Vic seemed to be on my mind a lot. I knew absolutely nothing about him, yet I was making millions of hypocritical assumptions about his character and his life. I knew it was extremely low of me, but some things can’t be helped.

My first Saturday back at college rolled around, proving to be a rather boring daytime. But that night there was a huge party to kick start the year. Oddly enough, I actually really liked those wild college parties. I was usually a sarcastic and sensitive fucking pansy, but I could get really spent if I wanted to. So naturally Austin and I planned on going. Being the perfect best friend I am, I also called Cindy to ask if she was going.

I picked up my phone on my way out of the kitchen, and headed into the tiny living room to watch TV. Clicking on Cindy’s contact, I pressed the cool glass of my phone’s screen to my ear and flicked on the TV.

“Hi, Kells. What’s up?” Cindy’s voice said, sounding cheery but casual at the same time.

“Not much, what about you?” I asked. Best to make small talk before I begged her to join Austin and me at the party. For some reason, Cindy wasn’t a party person at all. She shied away from all of them.

Cindy sighed, and I knew she got the idea of why I’d called. “I know you’re going to bug me about going to that party, and I’m sorry, but I can’t. I have a lot of studying to do.”

Part of me wanted to call her out on the obvious lie, because knowing my best friend, she never studied, but I bit back the words. “Okay,” I said instead. Simple and short, nothing else needed.

I always wondered why Cindy didn’t like going to parties. I mean, she doesn’t have to drink or anything, and can leave whenever she wants. All of her friends go too, so it’s not liked she wouldn’t know anyone. I left it at parties just not being her thing, but something just felt a little off. Either way, I wasn’t going to force her to go to the party.

That night I made sure I looked extra good. I don’t know why. Starting with a shower, I washed my hair with this new shampoo I found that was supposed to make it really smooth. Honestly, it didn’t feel any different. Then I spent an hour picking out my clothes. After an hour I finally settled on my tightest black skinny jeans and a t-shirt. I slipped on my Toms and a beanie before walking out. Austin was waiting for me, standing by the door. He smirked when he saw what I was wearing.

“Trying to impress someone, Kel?” He asked, and I instantly blushed.

“No,” I said defensively as I walked over. There was nothing special about my outfit, right? I could go out wanting to look good if I wanted. And honestly, I really wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I didn’t even know who all was going to the party, though I suspected everyone on campus was invited.

Austin shrugged and swung his key ring around his index finger. “Well, let’s go.”

I followed him out of our dorm and outside. We were going to walk because the house the party was at actually wasn’t too far off campus. It was being hosted by this jock and extremely popular guy named Josh Franceschi. Everyone knew who he was. Josh was famous for his huge parties.

The music could be heard from a block away. It pounded into my ears and invaded all of my thoughts. Adrenaline flowed throughout my veins and I couldn’t help but grin.

As we got closer, I could see different details of the party. For one, it was completely packed with people. Drunken college students were everywhere, making out or dancing. They stumbled around and laughed. Everything about this party made me wonder why in the world the cops hadn’t been called yet. Austin and I weaved our way through the crowd and into the house, where the music and the crowd intensified. I couldn’t hear my own thoughts over everything. Somewhere in the distance was the sound of microphone feedback, followed by overdramatic shrieks and laughs. Peeking into the dining room, I saw Josh and his friends in a heated game of Beer Pong.

“You want a drink?” Austin asked, nudging me and then nodding to the drinks table when he got my attention.

“Yeah,” I said and he handed me a plastic cup filled with some mysterious alcohol. It smelled like some kind of vodka punch, and I took a hesitant sip. The taste was repulsive at first, but also addicting. I slowly got used to the bitter taste as I drank more.

Suddenly the voices in the room hushed, reducing to small murmurs. I looked around before finally glancing up to Austin in confusion. “What’s going on?” I whispered as some people near the door scrambled backwards.

Austin frowned in concern, taking my wrist and pulling me into a hallway. “The Fuentes brothers showed up.” He said as if that would enlighten me to the whole situation.

I shook my head. “That means nothing to me, Austin,” I informed him.

“Josh Franceschi’s enemies. They all went to high school together. Josh was popular as a douchebag jock but the Fuentes and their sidekicks Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry were known to be the trouble makers of the school; the ones who were feared and disliked by most because of their cocky attitudes and bad reputation.”

“Oh,” I said pathetically, because really that didn’t mean much to me. So what? Maybe the party was about to get interesting. These Fuentes guys sounded like they could sure piss Josh and his crew off. That would provide a bit of needed entertainment.

Raised voices could be heard, and Austin and I walked back out. People were crowded in our half of the room, the other half a wide open space for the new arrivals.

“Why the fuck would you come here, Fuentes?” Josh asked. I couldn’t see through the crowd because I was so short, but I knew the voice.

“To see you flip shit, Franceschi. And because ‘everyone on campus is invited’!” A man – or boy’s – slightly scratchy voice replies, dipped in sarcasm during the second sentence. I don’t recognize this voice. One of the Fuentes brothers, though, no doubt.

There are a few light chuckles throughout the room, which are silenced with a glare from Josh I can see only when there is a shift in the crowd’s stance.

“You’re both fuckin’ insane. I bet you came here to get shitfaced for free, am I right, Mike?”

A split second of silence follows before the same man, whom I now assumed was ‘Mike’, spoke. His voice was deadly calm and threatening, sounding like it was being forced through gritted teeth. “Not good territory and you know it.”

I could nearly feel the smirk on Josh’s face from all the way back here. “Show your big bro how it’s done, Fuentes. For old time’s sake?”

Someone yelled, and there’s the distinct sound of glass smashing on hard wood floor. The crowd pressed back, packing themselves into each other. I pushed my way to the front of the room just in time to see the fight.

There was Mike. He’s tall and tanned, Hispanic probably, with many tattoos. He’s got some piercings as well. Looked a lot like the kind of guy your parents warn you about and the kids at school avoid just due to his looks. A cold look of hatred and malic filled his dark eyes.

Then, Mike launched himself at Josh, holding a jagged broken beer bottle. He swung a punch at Josh’s face and gets him good in the jaw before bringing the bottle down. Josh ducked out of the way and heaved Mike off of him before getting his face impaled with glass, and stumbled to his feet. Mike started forward but a small figure darted out of nowhere, speaking hurriedly in some foreign language, and grabbed him. They struggled and turned their backs on the crowd, but then the smaller man, also tan, kicked Mike in the back of the left calve, causing a falter of that leg, and the struggling died down a little.

By that time a few of Josh’s friends had stepped up and were conferring with their leader. They threw withering looks at Mike and the other guy, but Josh was shaking his head.

“Throw them out. Just get them away from here and let the party resume.” He said in a low voice. The two guys nodded and started forward, taking the two other men by the arms. One dragged a cussing Mike out the door, and the other started to speak with his companion. For the first time, I saw the companion’s face. Messy brown curls tumbled out of his Snapback and a nose ring glinted in bright lighting as he turned into my viewing range.

It was Vic from the music store. Vic from my art class.

“If you ever show up here again, Fuentes, or your piece of shit brother, you’ll be fucking dead. Now get out.” The tall guy holding Vic’s arm growled.

Wrenching his arm away, Vic made an obscene gesture and glanced around as he was about to leave. For a split second, our eyes met. What chance was there that his roaming eyes landed on me, one out of a hundred or so people?

But then he looked away, anger brewing behind his dark lashes, and left.
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Apologies for being so late with this chapter. I'm really just... Unmotivated. I've written 3/4 of chapter five but it's still not done and has been on hold, so to speak, for a few weeks. I expect to finish it very soon. Sorry, guys.