Bubblegum Bounty Hunter – Chapter 7


Level 2 – 7

     Commuter traffic was a thousand times worse today. Something about rain made Dallasites all of a sudden forget how to drive. Dylan was even more perplexed at the awful driving in relation to the lack of actual rain: there was a light drizzle at best. As the Land Cruiser crept through the parking lot, Dylan had had enough of listening to the twins bicker in the middle seat, Luke ignore her in the front seat. and Jill being Jill behind the wheel. Opening the rear window, Dylan leapt over the tailgate. She slammed the window closed behind her before Jill had a chance to protest the early departure and strolled off into the lot.

     Wading through the traffic and the sprinkling rain, Dylan made her way towards the oak tree closest to the main entrance. Holly was already leaning up against the tree with her headphones on, nodding her head, and singing along.

     “The Wu is too slammin’ for these Cold Killin’ labels /

      Some ain’t had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel /

      Be doin’ in artists like Cain did Abel.”

    Dylan leaned up against the tree beside Holly and sang along to the chorus, “You best protect ya neck / You best protect ya neck!”

     Holly jumped, but offered Dylan a smile, “Look at you all Ninja like.”

    “Don’t know if you can call that Ninja. I did announce my presence before I took you out.”

     Holly countered, “Yeah, just like you took out them girls the other day?”

     Dylan huffed, “That’s a low blow.”

     Holly punched Dylan in the arm, “Just tryin’ to get your skin thicker.” Holly paused her Walkman, and looked Dylan in the eyes, “Thank you, ya know, for what you did.”

     With a shrug, Dylan tried to play it cool, “It’s what I do.”

    Holly smiled, but her attention was stolen by whoever walked by. With a low whistle, she said under her breath, “My God is that boy fine as hell.”

   Dylan followed Holly’s gaze and immediately dry heaved, “Dude, that’s my step-brother.”

     “I thought those two runts with the same face were your step-brothers?”

     “Yeah, them too. And Luke cost me a weeks worth a privileges, so there’s that too.”

     “I’d like to take some privileges with that boy; climb him like a jungle gym.”

     “Holly, I’m going to throw up all over you.”

   “And he’s a troublemaker too?” Holly gave another low whistle, “What’d you two get into?”

   Dylan rolled her eyes, “It’s a long story, but the punch line is his girlfriend may have been abducted or something like that. Not sure yet.”

    Holly gasped, “Oh my God, are you serious?”

    “I don’t know yet. I’m going to check out her house after I get out of this place.”

   Grabbing Dylan’s shoulders, Holly clarified, “I mean, ‘Are you serious, ya brother’s single right now?’”

     Gently removing Holly’s hand from her shoulders, Dylan tried to contain her gag reflex and motioned over her shoulders, “Hold that disgusting thought for a moment.” Pulling up to the curb, was a white ‘96 Porsche Cayman. As the passenger door opened up, a black Saint Laurent boot stepped out into a puddle. The owner of the boot squealed as she ran out into the mild rain and under the awning. Holly crinkled her nose and furrowed her brow, “Who else but The Ice Queen? Of course she’d come rolling up in a Porsche. Wait till she’s separated from her crew, then… Pop, Pa-Pow, right in the face.” Holly threw a couple mock punches at the air.

     Dylan considered Holly’s words, but pushed her hand through hair as she dismissed the idea, “That’s not the Shaolin way.”

     Holly put her hands on her hips, “If you think I’m gonna do the Jesus thing after what Isabella did to you, then ya got another thing coming. Look, she all alone, Imma bust her right now.”

    Dylan grabbed Holly’s wrist before she rushed Isabella, “No, I mean The Shaolin of Staten Island. If we beat on her now, she’ll just get her girls to beat on us later. Or, we’ll just get kicked out of the Y altogether.”

   Holly nodded, “I wouldn’t mind that second part. We can’t just do nothin’ though.”

   As she felt the sporadic rain droplets fall from the leaves of the trees onto her face, Dylan took in a deep crisp breath of morning air. Inspiration was usually hard to find in the sweltering Texas Summer heat, but this morning however, there was a stillness that allowed her mind to breath. From the silence formed from the absence of campers on the lawn, to the cool breeze, and gentle tapping of rain upon the tin gutters, Dylan’s mind was on point.

   Drifting her eyes over the edge of the building, Dylan caught something buzzing up in the eves on the wall behind her. Taking a step closer, she followed a lone wasp which hovered around a hornet’s nest. It perched upside down on the eve above the nest, waiting, watching. As soon as a smaller hornet left the nest, the wasp descended and flew inside the hive.

    Dylan kept her eyes on the hornet nest as she spoke to Holly, “I think we need to come at this from a different angle.”

    Massive storm clouds continued to mass together and roam the sky like grazing buffalo. The wind was low and the rain had subsided enough for the campers to run wild around the soccer field playing capture the flag. Reading a copy of Bitch Magazine, Holly sat beside Dylan near the sidelines of the field. Dylan kept scratching at the side of her empty holster. Her eyes were locked on the Ice Queen. Glaring at her opponent, Dylan asked Holly, “You think she cares about winning?”

    Holly snorted, “I try not to think about her at all.”

    Dylan continued to analyse Isabella and her lackies as they remained in a private huddle on the opposite side of the field. They weren’t playing. They were just standing, talking, gesturing. The larger girl pointed across the field only to have her hand swatted away by Isabella who shouted something at a pitch only dolphins could hear.

    Scanning the field, Dylan tried to deduce what it was that had warranted Peach to get her hand smacked. Roving her eyes across the field, Dylan took a wild guess. A soon to be handsome kid by middle school standards was playing defense near the other team’s flag. “You think Isabella cares about boys?”

    With a shrug, Holly put her magazine down and followed Dylan’s gaze, “I don’t know if ‘cares’ is the right word. Collects, maybe?”

   An impish grin spread across Dylan’s face. A plan began to form. The cogs in her head were turning again, but these gears were decidedly more Decepticon. With a sharp whistle, Dylan caught the attention of the young boy guarding the flag, “Hey! Come here.” Looking over to Dylan, Allan Conner Eastman pointed to himself. Dylan nodded, “Yeah, you, come over here for a second.”

   With a shrug, Allan jogged over to Dylan and Holly. As the boy approached, Holly whispered, “Dylan, the three Ice Royals are staring you down big time.”

     Dylan whispered back, “Just be cool.”

  Allan stopped about three feet from Dylan and Holly with a blank and bewildered expression on his face. Smiling, Dylan pointed back to where Allan had just came from, “Hi. You know that thing, over there?”

    Allan looked over his shoulder, then back to Dylan, “Yeah?”

   Widing her girn, Dylan continued, “You think my friend and I here could borrow it?” Allan raised an eyebrow. “I promise we’ll give it right back.”

    With a shrug, the boy jogged back to his team’s goal. Dylan and Holly watched, holding back laughter as Allan argued with the other goalie. After a few seconds, he returned with his team’s flag and handed it to Dylan. Looking up to Allan, Dylan spoke softly through her big fake smile, “Thanks.”

    Allan waited. Confusion was still firmly plastered on his face.

   Picking up the slack, Holly smiled and waved Allan away, “We’ll call ya later. Bye-bye now.”

     Slowly turning around, Allan jogged back to his goal. When he returned to his side of the field, Dylan stood up and shouted at the councilor, “Hey, one-point to whatever our team’s name is.” She continued to wave the flag over her head in little circles. All the campers on the field suddenly stopped running like bees out of broken hive.

     Half of them cheered.

     The other half groaned.

    Bradley, the councilor with the preposterously short shorts blew his whistle, “Yates, that doesn’t count. You can’t pretend not to play and have someone else bring you the flag.”

     Holly stood to her feet, “Is that their flag?”

     Bradley shouted back, “Yeah, but-”

     Holly snapped her finger and leaned into Dylan, “Is their flag on our side of the field?”

     “Ms. Kennedy, would you please-”

     “If their flag is on our field, how about you give us the point so we can all go to lunch?”

     Everyone on Dylan and Holly’s team did in fact go to lunch. Holly and Dylan did not. They ate their lunch last and alone in the office while they contemplated their “attitude problem”. The least Dylan’s little ploy and so called attitude problem could have done was get them dismissed from the YMCA for the day. She was fairly certain that timeouts were not something that anyone going into middle school should be subjected to.

     Apart from sitting out lunch, both Holly and Dylan weren’t aloud to swim. Instead, the girls each shared a headphone listening to Wu Tang Clan while laying on the lawn beside the pool. Fortunately, the sky had cleared up enough to justify changing into their swimsuits. It wasn’t as hot, but Dylan wasn’t about to lose her California tan. She’d keep every physical mark, and scar on her body that set her apart from this place even if it killed her.

     Lying on her back, Dylan mouthed along to the song. Her eyes dropped down from the sky back down the pool. Eventually, she found exactly what she was looking for. Allan and a few of his boyfriends were playing water polo in the deep end just a few yards across from Dylan and Holly’s little patch of grass.

   Sitting up, Dylan stretched and subtly looked around for the Ice Queen. The coast appeared to be clear, but Isabella’s absence from the pool deck was also disconcerting. She’d have to act fast if part two of her plan was going to work.

     Holly looked up at Dylan and asked, “What is it, girl?”

   Dylan flashed Holly a mischievous grin, stood up, and sauntered to the pool. Having approached the side where Allan was goal tending, she laid down on her stomach and waited. Eventually, Allan caught a glimpse of Dylan smiling back at him. Her hands were propped up under her chin liked she’d seen some JC Penney model do. The poor boy attempted to concentrate on the game, but couldn’t. Risking another glance at Dylan, the ball sailed past him and into the net.

     One of the boys on his team cried out, “Get your head in the game Ace!”

    Allan shot back, “Hey Grant, how about you play some offense, or try doing anything at all to get us some points on the board?”

   “How about you play forward then?”

   “Fine, you get back here in the goal.”

    “Fine, I will.”

    Dylan held her plastic smile in place while Allan waded over towards her. Like most boys, yelling at one another was easy. Talking to girls was a different story. After an uncomfortable amount of moments just staring at Dylan, she impatiently broke the ice, “Thanks for letting us borrow your flag.”

     Allan, nodded. His face grew a brighter shade of red, “Sure.”

     Dylan continued, “Well, seeing as you helped me out. it’s only fair that I help you out.”

     From the goal, Grant yelled at Allan, “Come on man, ever heard of delay of game?”

    Allan shouted back, “You ever heard of shut the hell up?” Having silenced Grant, Allan refocused his attention on Dylan, “What kind of help?”

     Keeping her fake smile, she responded, “Just going to pass along some information.”

     Allan waited attentively.

    Dylan had him hook, line and sinker, “You know, Isabella?” Allan nodded, “She wants you to ask her out.” The boy nearly drowned himself when his legs turned to Jello from the news. With a wink Dylan waved him on back to his game, “That’s all. Thanks.”

    Allan nodded again, and swam back to the front lines. Satisfied, Dylan rolled over onto her back holding back devious laughter. When she finally looked up, her laughter immediately disappeared. Standing over her were the three self-appointed princesses of the YMCA. Isabella was out in front. The other girls stood behind her. They kept their hands behind their backs and weird little grins stapled on their faces.

    Isabella leaned over Dylan baring her teeth, “Look who we found on her back ladies.”

   Dylan snarled back, “From what I’ve heard you’re in this position more often than I am.”

   “More words? It’s a shame no one thinks your words are all that funny.”

   “You’re right, my words aren’t nearly as hilarious as your face.”

   A subtle gasp escaped from Isabella’s lackies. They turned to their queen, waiting for orders. Isabella narrowed her eyes and spread a thin smile with her equally thin lips, “Let us see who is the last one laughing.” With a demure wave of her hand, the girl’s who had been hiding their hands behind their backs threw Dylan’s clothes into pool.

    Time came to a crawl as Dylan watched her shirt, pants, and underwear sail through the air and down into the pool. She listened as the three girls seemed to be laughing in slow motion. It wasn’t until Dylan’s gunbelt was tossed in that a sudden shot of adrenaline and rage surged through her bloodstream. Springing to her feet Dylan clenched her fist to pummel Isabella. Unfortunately, Dylan was pushed backwards before she could land a single blow.

    Water slapped against Dylan’s bruised back like hitting a slab of concrete. She couldn’t scream. She could only grit her teeth in pain as she dipped below the surface. Fortunately, Dylan surfaced in time to watch Holly rush Isabella and tackle her into the pool. As whistles from the councilors blew, Dylan dove under the water. Not like she could hide from the councilors, but she needed her clothes that were now slowly sinking to the bottom of the deep end. Swimming deeper and grabbing clothing as she went, Dylan collected her gun belt resting on the pool floor.

   With a mighty push, Dylan released her breath and shot up towards the surface. Breaching the water, she gasped for breath. Everyone had gathered around the pool. Everyone was watching. Holly was already sitting out on the edge of the pool beside The Ice Queen and her disciples.

     Bradley blew his whistle once more and shouted, “Dylan Yates, out of the pool. Now!”

     Dylan complied. After all, she was the one who was pushed in. She was the one who had to be in a bathing suit for the last hour of camp. There was no way any of this was her fault.

   Bradley stood over Dylan while she climbed out and onto the pool deck, “All of this ruckus is your fault ain’t it, Yates?”

     Holly shouted at Bradley, “How dark are those shades you’re wearin’? You know my girl got all her clothes thrown into the pool by this chick right here.”

     Bradley pointed a finger at Holly, “Ms. Kennedy, I’m already calling your parents. Mind your own business, please.”

    Isabella shivered and spoke through her fake tears, “I was only returning that girl’s clothes to her after I noticed someone had broke into her locker. Then this little crazy one pushed me in.”

     Holly raised an eyebrow, “How ‘bout you shut your claptrap?”

     With barely any effort at all, Holly pushed the Ice Queen back into the pool. The crowd of campers laughed. Another councilor motioned for Holly to stand and follow her out of the pool. Likewise, Bradley herded Dylan back to the office.

    As the two girls were escorted to the office, Holly turned to Dylan, “Don’t know about you, but that was worth it.”

     Dylan shook her head and whispered, “I’m not satisfied. Not yet.”

     Holly chuckled, “You didn’t see Isabella’s face when she came back up for air. Ice Queen looked like a drowned cat with runny eyeliner.”

     “Sure. But, she’ll get off with a warning and we’re still be busted for nothing.”

     “That’s just how it goes. Popular white kids don’t get in trouble, they get counseled so their behavior can be readjusted. Folk like us go directly to jail.”

     Dylan took Holly’s hand in hers, “That’s not how it’s going to work today. By the end of the week, we’re getting justice.”

     Holly smiled, “Or we getting kicked out of camp. Either way works for me.”


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