Jeff and Liu waited at the bus stop with the exact same enthusiasm as criminals being carted off to the county jail. The sky above was a pale grey, and a sharp chill was in the air, reminding them that autumn was truly on its way. Liu sat on the curb while Jeff, thinking it too cold to sit on the concrete, choose to lean on the pole of the bus sign.
Drowsy, Jeff could feel himself nodding off in his boredom. Just another day in his insufferable life. So often he felt like this was the default emotion, every moment was some state of boredom that enveloped him like a cloud of smoke. And yet…
Suddenly, Jeff snapped his eyes open. The sound of something rolling was sudden, and shook him from his melancholy.
The source of it was soon realized, as a young skateboarder zoomed by and jumped directly over Liu’s lap. Liu must have had only a fraction of a second to lean back and prevent his face from colliding with the board.
“Shit!” Liu yelled, springing to his feet.
The skateboarder spun himself around, stopped, and kicked his board up. He seemed to take stock of Jeff and Liu with a look of satisfaction.
“Looks like we’ve got ourselves some new sheep for the slaughter!” he said with unnerving cheer.
Jeff had made no real move at this point, but he could now observe his brother’s offender. With blonde, spiky hair the boy looked slightly younger than himself, wearing a bright orange hoodie with blue denim skater shorts. His face held a smug, shit-eating grin that didn’t quite fit with one so young. Jeff couldn’t help thinking that he looked far too much like Bart Simpson.
“What the hell is your problem?” Liu asked.
“Seeing as you two are new here, there are a few things you need to know,” the boy said. “My name is Randy Sutherland, the baddest motherfucker in this town! I call the shots, and there’s a little toll for taking the bus in this neighborhood. Pay up or you’ll regret it.”
Unimpressed, Liu rolled his eyes. “Dude, fuck off. Do you seriously think your little bad boy routine is supposed to scare us? You look like you just stopped pissing the bed last week! What are you gonna do? Give us a wedgie?”
“We’re too old for your bullshit,” Jeff agreed. “Go pick on some preschool kids.”
“Oh really?” Randy asked, unfazed. “You might want to think again, bitch.”
Rustling came from some nearby bushes, and two much larger boys slipped out to join him. The first had a slim build, a horrid case of acne, and had a dopey, drugged look on his face. The other was a pure behemoth of blubber, with an ugly scrunched face that probably made him look angry all the time. Both looked a year or two older than Randy, which left Jeff wondering how he managed to gain so much control over them.
“These are my associates: Keith and Troy. You choose the hard way, and they’ll wipe the floor with your bloody asshole. So what’s it gonna be? Payment or the cemetery?”
Liu and Jeff glanced at each other. There was no question. It was all they needed know they would take these losers on.