You would have to be Braxton to understand how important this day was to him. He had just finally felt like he had arrived as it pertains to being someone on his Del Norte High School campus. He was now a junior, but more interestingly, he was famous after having one if not the best game of his life on the Friday night of homecoming week, which on a varsity football team full of seniors, he had made his mark. People were reciting his name as he would walk by, girls would smile and wave, which ultimately lead him to get invited to a party at Brooke Miller’s.
Brooke Miller was like the campus socialite; all the girls looked to her for personal advice and fashion sense. Pearl was a massive booster club member, planning events all year round to keep the athletics well feed and her schedule full. So to be personally invited to one of these events was a big deal. Not that being on the varsity team wasn’t enough; it sure helped that had played well, helping the team to win a game. The underlying theme was consistently winning.
Braxton’s problem was he didn’t drive; he didn’t even have a car. His parents were putting that money into his college fund; he’d have to work if he wanted a car, so he just never applied to get his license or bother studying up. To that end, he had always relied on someone to give him a ride. The night of the party, his parents would be out for their weekly date night, which usually meant dinner and bingo at the YMCA, so that option was out. As for the rest of his teammates, he tried asking, and everyone agreed, but when it came down to it, they rather not, or they had other ideas of how they wanted to spend theIr night and not become a chauffeur.
Braxton was a little hurt by that till one of his mates saw how down he got when everyone began to turn him down. Neville was a teammate who rarely played but was close with Pearl and Brooke and got the invite due to his charm and know-how to be gracious. Neville agreed to pick up Braxton, so relieved that he nearly hugged Neville in the locker room where the male-to-male contact like that was frowned upon.
So the night of the party, Braxton was looking tiptop. His Dad had tied his tie and left it knotted and then left Braxton to wait for his ride. Upon Neville showing up, he was in a shadow grey minivan, jerking to a stop in front of Braxton’s house. The driver-side window rolled down, and then came the honk, as Neville shouted out from the van, “Let’s go, man! Braxton rushed out from his house and moved to the still running minivan with no idea what would follow.
He got in the van buckled his seat belt over his sport coat and striking red tie. He looked incredible, while Neville was in a pair of shorts and a pale blue oxford shirt. Braxton, now strapped in, turned to Neville, who set the car in drive, and the vehicle sped off, sending Braxton back into his seat like he was fighting against g forces in a Mig 1 fighter jet. From the jump, this was why not many people wanted to ride with him; he was one of those crazy drivers weaving in and out of traffic, gunning the van at a green light and slamming on the brakes at a red. The smile Braxton once had for the night had now switched to a look of terror gripping the door panel handle for dear life as Neville whipped the van around a corner, nearly hitting a traffic sign.
Braxton looked over at Neville as if to say something but only looked at him in hopes he’d see the immense fear that filled him, and he’d slow down or at least drive less like a crazed maniac. From up ahead, Braxton could see a pile of cars quickly come up. Beginning to feel nauseous, Braxton looked to Neville, who zoomed through the pile-up and on down the road. He then made a quick u-turn and jerked it into the park as they had arrived at their destination.
Braxton went for the door, forgetting to unbuckle his belt; he just wanted out, to which Neville exclaimed, “Made it!” in a playful tone in his voice as if he had broken a new record. Braxton finally exited the van, feeling shaky in his legs, adrenaline coursing through his veins as Pearl and Brooke Miller out in front of their home was greeting other guests. As Braxton gathered himself, still nauseous, he and Neville walked up to the house. Walking side-by-side, Neville patted Braxton on his back to which Braxton uncontrollably spewed his stomach contents at the feet of the Miller’s whose expression was of utter disgust.