Rough Boys

By Bryan Alston Patrick

Part One


The rough boys were pretty with black and blond hair, leather jackets and motorcycle boots. Their faces were lean and drawn, almost off-putting at first until a striking handsomeness emerged, distinguishing itself from the jocks and the studs at school with their boring baby skin mugs, moussed hair and obvious expectations.

These guys were different. An MTV dream. New Romantic hairdos, cheekbones and eye shadow.

They were riding through town from somewhere else—anywhere else. The one with the swishy glowing blue eyes said his name was “Kay,” it sounded like, but she was never sure she heard it right. One of his friends called him “Kayden,” like Hayden with a K—was that a real name?

It didn’t matter for long. They were making out within minutes of making eye contact. Kayden’s hands were all over her, stroking, groping and probing, tender and passionate yet academically precise. He seemed to know her body better than she knew it. He touched her in places and ways that raced beyond her previous boundaries.

On a date she could plan things, set limits, state them upfront. This just happened. It took her. Carried her away.

All of sudden they had gone from the ballpark where her friends were hanging to this old mint car and then to the point. Another couple one car over were totally humping. The mood was lurid and titillating. Deliciously naughty. Sweetly illicit.

Then his friends were there. Where had they come from? Apparently they had ridden their motorcycles up the mountain. Had Kayden told them where to go? They could have guessed. 
 She was in and out of consciousness after that, making memories in fragmentary bursts. The night air surprisingly cool on naked skin where lips and tongues had been.

She never noticed her best friend from second grade parked thirty feet away in her mother’s car, watching with concern, confusion, envy and hot fuss.




Hillary’s stomach was grumbling in class. The first couple of gurgles went unnoticed while Ms. Lynne was still talking and passing out the quiz. A belch surfaced, providing momentary relief with a sulfury odor one might expect from the other end.

A few noses wrinkled as the outgassed mass wafted its way toward the front of the classroom.

Hillary pretended to read the quiz like she hadn’t noticed anything and certainly had nothing to do with any smell anyone might be noticing. The pencil eraser pushed at her lips as she reread the first question for the third or fourth time.

Then it happened again but this time in the hush of a quiz in progress. Luke Watson was the first person to shoot her a look. As he did another rumbling shift occurred in her lower abdomen. Alyssa Pearson and Tony Regatta turned to look with glaring annoyance. They were trying to concentrate. Grades were on the line.

Hillary saw it in the eyes of all three classmates. The change from consternation to mild alarm. She was terribly hung over from the night before but she had done everything she could to mask it with more makeup than usual and nice neat clothes—her favorite little denim skirt, sexy gladiator sandals and the Panda Riot T-shirt Matt Paulson bought for her before they broke up the previous fall semester.

All her clothes including undergarments had come straight out of the dryer that morning and soothed her with the clean smell of detergent and fabric softener. She hadn’t thrown up or anything and seemed to feel okay walking into class but then it came. The nausea and gaseous whingeing.

She must have already been contemplating a bathroom break but the expressions on her classmates forced the move. Whatever it was causing those looks of alarm—almost horror, really—she had to know.

Everybody including Ms. Lynne heard the next intestinal quake. Tina Russel visibly gagged in response to the noise. The look in Ms. Lynne’s eyes said “Go!”

Hillary went.

Thankfully the bathroom was empty twenty minutes into first period. She peeped herself in the mirror and saw the same expression she had seen on the faces of her classmates. She was cadaver pallid. Her eyes were dark and sunken like a scary undead girl in one of those generic jump scare flicks with forgettably similar titles.

The next guttural shift bent her in half. She had to hold on to the sink to stay on her feet. She let it pass to the extent it was going to and backed her way into the nearest stall, lifted her skirt and yanked her underwear, letting the hot pink thong slink down around her ankles.

Her cheeks hit the cold plastic seat with a minor thunk commencing the hasty evac. It was fast and violent with a big splash and a bigger stink. There were nasty hangover dumps and then there was whatever just happened.

She was getting up when she felt another one. Big splash. More of that smell. But the relief swept through her instantaneously. A warming and cooling. Balance restored. A powerful cleansing. Shivering with relief.

Hillary lingered on the commode momentarily, savoring what must have been a sweet feeling of lightness and deep renewal.

Then she wiped herself and got up, redressed and smoothed herself out, proceeding to the mirror where her reflection beamed back nice rosy color in her cheeks and that bronze complexion she had so carefully cultivated with just the right amount of poolside.

Her eyes were back to normal. Big and bright blue-green. Nice and clear. No dark sunken circles.

The stall door had swung itself closed enough to hide her bowel movement as it climbed out of the toilet in two parts. One slithered off to the left, the other to the right, both disappearing under adjacent stalls.

Hillary turned her head side to side, judging cheekbones, lips, chin, hair shape and blonde highlights. The hangover bloat was gone. She looked tight and lean, like she had just shed five pounds in the girls’ room.

There she was—one of the prettiest girls in school.

Back in class, she hurried to her desk and whipped through the remainder of the quiz. Luke and Tony turned around to check on her. They were obviously a little surprised at the instant restoration of her healthy, radiant appearance. Just like that, the fit, bronze blonde was back in effect.

She filled in the last couple of multiple choice bubbles and put the eraser between her lips, making flirty eyes at both guys. They smiled back at her and at each other.

Between bells, Hillary walked to second period bookended by Tony and Luke. She was hugging two books against her chest, schoolgirl style. The guys moved in sync with her stride like a security team, ice grilling other guys who looked at her.

“Hillary!” Laney Alexander came hurrying up from seemingly nowhere, on her way to chemistry, which she had with Hillary. She looked worried and sounded out of breath. Laney was pretty too in an understated way, several pounds overweight with brown-black hair and a soft, pale face that would have been a ten-plus in Golden Age Hollywood. “Hey.”

“Hey, Laney.” Hillary said with laid back contentment, eyelids at half mast. “What up, mama?”

“What happened to you last night?” Laney whispered in a downward trajectory as if to bypass the eardrums of Luke and Tony.

Neither guy seemed remotely interested in anything except other guys putting their eyes on Hillary. They were sentinels on guard against lascivious glances.

Antoine Baker pulled a reverse scope-out on Hillary’s legs and booty only to find Tony glaring back at him with a murderous crease in his brow.

“Last night?” Hillary might have been acting coy or maybe not.

“You went off with those guys.” Laney whispered emphatically.


Laney looked back and forth, frustrated and sweeping the hall for eavesdroppers.

“Alyssa just told me you seemed brutally hung over in class.”

“Oh.” Hillary said serenely. “I’m feeling waaaay better now.”

Stopped at his locker, Antoine snuck another glance at Hillary in that short denim skirt. Something slender, dark and shiny waggled between her thighs like a black tongue wetting its lips. Antoine turned away suddenly, shocked and embarrassed, focusing on the contents of his locker, moving books and folders around vacantly as if at a loss regarding the subject of his next class.

American Lit. That was it. Black and white book cover. Janet Jackson folder.

He shut his locker door to find Ali Vincent on the other side of it, staring at him.

“Hey, Ali.”

“Tell me you saw that.”

“Saw what?”

“Whatever that thing was swinging around between Hillary Lund’s thighs just now.” Ali was into girls and she didn’t hide it. She wasn’t obvious like some of the boys but she looked. “Stop looking at me like that. I’ve had an insane crush on Hillary since fifth grade.”


“Don’t act like you didn’t know I was a dyke.”

“I wouldn’t.” Antoine stammered, totally uncomfortable in every way.

“I saw you looking at her. I was looking too. Tell me we didn’t see the same thing.”

Ali was pretty underneath all the punk rock rebellion. She had a mohawk at the time but often wore conventional makeup spiked with some splash of subversion like dark blue eye shadow lifting Daryl Hannah’s Blade Runner look, yet inadvertently suggesting a raccoon. She also dressed in preppy tops juxtaposed with shredded jeans and ten-hole Doc Martins. And, yes, if you’re wondering she did go on to become the celebrated underground fashion queen of the late 90s, Alison 5 (shortening Vincent to V aka the roman numeral 5).

“I wish I could tell you I hadn’t seen what I saw just now but, uh, yeah. I cannot tell you that.”

Antoine had graduated from Jeri Curl to high top fade which complimented his face in a way that attracted girls like never before. He played tennis and the clarinet in jazz band. Nerdy white girls were all over him. He never became famous but he did go on to invent a piece of software bought by the NSA and sewn up in an NDA so the details are unavailable but the point is that he, like Ali, made it out of high school alive. Not every student at Johnson High did.

“So what do we do about this?” Ali insisted.

“Do about what?” Antoine said. “I have lit right now.”

“So we’re gonna pretend this didn’t happen?”

“I’m not pretending anything. I have class. Yes, I saw something. It was gross. I don’t know what else to say.”

“What do you think it was?”

“You want me to say it?” Antoine said.

“I do.”

“You know what I’m going to say.”

“A turd?” Ali said. “You think it was a turd?”
 Antoine sighed and looked both ways, embarrassed by the word, “turd.”

“What else would it be?”

“A sentient alien turd?” Ali proposed.

“Yes,” Antoine said. “That makes more sense. You should go straight to Nurse Kelly and tell her that.”




Antoine’s mother’s name was Anita at a time when a soul singer named Anita Baker was becoming a huge star on MTV and the radio. Mrs. Baker had mused aloud about changing her name but then she realized she was almost three years older than the singer so “why I am changing anything? I was here first. She should’ve checked with me!”

Mrs. Baker had gotten prettier, more dignified and confident with age.

“You’re right on, mom.” Antoine said from the breakfast table where he was doing some Algebra II homework and doodling in the margins of his scratch paper. His lettering was a little Iron Maiden and a little Wild Style. That made perfect sense when you saw the cover of his English notebook with various band logos he had drawn including without limitation Metallica, Prince, Run DMC, Fishbone and, of course, Iron Maiden, which troubled his mother because, “son, those album covers are terrifying.”

The doorbell was ringing right around sunset as Mrs. Baker emerged from her bedroom wearing the sweats she liked to lounge around in after work while she got dinner together and straightened up around the house. Antoine had started to get up from the table but she was already at the door, checking the peephole.

“There is a teenage girl out here I bet likes Iron Maiden too.” Mrs. Baker said. “I don’t think she’s here to see me.”

Antoine moved quickly to the door with a look of befuddlement as Mrs. Baker moved aside to let him open up. Ali was standing on the porch with her backpack dangling from one shoulder and an algebra II textbook without a proper cover on it.

“What are you doing here?”

“Thought we could study for the quiz tomorrow.”

“Okay, yeah, but I mean, normally one schedules a study session in advance.”

“Is that what normally happens?” Ali said.

Mrs. Baker stood back grimacing skeptically at the both of them.

“I’m not normal so I often don’t know what normally happens.”

“How do you even know where I live?”

“I used to sell girl scout cookies. I know where everyone lives.”

“Well don’t stand out there making the neighbors nervous.” Mrs. Baker said. “Come on in. You two can study for the quiz while I finish getting dinner ready. Rodney’s coming over tonight so I was already making extra.”




“Who’s Rodney?” Ali asked upstairs in Antoine’s bedroom as she studied his environment, starting with the books, records and tapes on the small bookshelf next to his desk. His clarinet case leaned against one wall, standing next to a bright orange Jackson V, shaped just like the one Randy Rhodes played in Ozzy’s band.

“Mom’s boyfriend.” Antoine said pridefully. “He’s rad.”

Their house was recent suburban construction with new, clean everything. The new carpet smell was still noticeable throughout the second floor. Antoine had a skylight in his ceiling. Just then it was glowing pink from setting sunlight.

His bed was all made up with a black and gray comforter. Above it hung a framed Ferrari poster. Ali flopped back on the bed and sat toward the foot with her hands supporting her from behind. She had recently died her mohawk back from bleached to something one might have mistaken for her “natural” dark color. She crossed her legs at the ankles, showing Antoine the waffle soles of her slip-on Vans as he took a seat in his swiveling desk chair.

“What’s rad about Rodney?”

“Well first of all he’s a mechanic at the Ferrari dealership, so I mean, that’s stupid fresh.”

“Stupid fresh?”

“Yeah.” Antoine frowned. “People say that now.”

“They do?” Ali grinned playfully. “Okay. So it’s stupid fresh. Right on. What else?”

“Why do you wanna know about Rodney?”

“I want to know about you.”


“Because. I want to know who I’m partnering with on solving the mystery of the slimy thing between Hillary’s golden brown thighs.”

“Oh, you mean Luke’s penis?” Antoine swiveled around and paged through his textbook for something relevant to the quiz.

Silence ensued behind him. Perhaps Ali was offended but that seemed impossible. He spun back around and found her laughing so hard she had gone straight from zero to silent.

That went on in recurring bursts until Mrs. Baker called up from the bottom of the stairs that dinner was ready.


Rodney set the table and helped Anita serve and he did all the dishes when they were finished. Antoine got up to help him but Rodney shook his head.

“You and Ali should get back to studying for that quiz tomorrow.” Rodney said.

He was a quiet man whose kindness was immediately evident. He wasn’t conventionally handsome but he was built. He had nice hands ideally designed for precise work like tuning up high end race cars. Whatever he had going with Anita was probably something he had been seeking for a long time. They were friends and allies. That much was obvious.

“Can we put on some music?” Ali asked when they returned to Antoine’s room.

“Can you study to music?”

“I don’t really need to study.” Ali said. “But we can if you want.”

“I just want to make an A on the quiz.”

“I’ve never seen you get anything less than a 95 on any quiz in that class.”

“Do you like Fishbone?”

“I do.”

“Have you heard the new album?” He held up the cover of Truth And Soul.

It had been lying flat on the dust cover of his three-in-one turntable-receiver-cassette-player.

“I have not.” She said. “But I love In Your Face.”

“Me too!” Antoine smiled enthusiastically. “I love how they blend soul, jazz and ska, you know? This one’s a little more rock but it’s pretty brilliant I have to say.”

“Throw it on.”

Antoine already had the record spinning and he carefully dropped the needle on Fishbone’s cover of “Freddie’s Dead.”

Ali was back on his bed leaning on her elbows, moving her Vans to the beat and then toeing them off one at a time, each sneaker hitting the carpeted floor with a muted thud. She was looking at Antoine, making heavy eye contact and smiling warmly and mischievously at the same time. He smiled back, nodding his head to the music, psyched to be grooving out with someone, sharing the hot new record.

All of a sudden Ali sat up and took her baggy shirt off, revealing a sexy black bra and a very nice body. She was lean with curves she hid under oversized boys’ clothing most of the time.

Antoine struggled through a moment of delayed comprehension. “What are you doing, Ali?”

“What’s it look like?”

“It looks like you took your shirt off.”

“I did.” Ali said, reaching behind her for the bra clasp. “So that’s all correct. Wanna see my boobies?”

“What?” Antoine was up and out of his chair, glancing around the room for a tarp or something he could toss over Ali.

“You don’t want to see them?” She asked, unfastening her bra. “Or you do?”


Ali sighed. “Do you want to fool around or not?”

“What does that have to do with anything. You told me you like girls.”

“I do.”

“So what,” Antoine motioned frantically at her loose bra, held in place by structural memory alone, threatening to fall away completely at any second, “is this.”

Ali cupped her own breasts to hold the bra in place.

“Look. I like girls. Everyone knows that. Hence all the mean shit people have written on my locker. However, as you might have ascertained, there aren’t many other girls like me at school and whoever they are, they’re keeping their secret. So think about it from my point of view. I get horny like everyone else but there’s no one around who wants to play with me.”

She pouted seductively.

“Then you come along and you’re all cute and sweet. And I’m thinking maybe we can help each other out?”

Antoine’s eyes softened with consideration as Ali’s hands began letting go and revealing. Fishbone was just loud enough to drown out approaching footsteps.

The bedroom door swung open.

“Rodney brought a peach pie for desert,” Anita said, holding a tray carefully with two small plates on it. “I thought you two might want some.”

Antoine’s closet was built into the most interior wall, creating an alcove for the bedroom door. One had to step in a few feet to actually see the bed.

Anita was still finishing her thought as she moved into visual range. “It’s from the nice,” her eyes landed on Ali, who she’d given just enough time to retrieve her Minor Threat T-shirt and cover herself, “grocery store.”

“Mom. It’s.”

Anita was so embarrassed. She had no idea where to go from there. She set the tray on Antoine’s practice amp and backpedaled apologetically. “I should have knocked,” she said from the alcove, “pardon me.”

She closed the door behind her. Ali and Antoine stared at each other in total wide eyed shock for an unknown number of seconds.

“That was intense.” Ali said.


“Are you in trouble?”

“I don’t know.”