Three Go In, Two Come Out, and a Squirrel Follows
Part 3 (The Last Part)
"So I saw Zizzy this morning," Trakis mentioned the next morning at breakfast. Cam was having bacon and eggs; Trakis, the head cheerleader. When I say "having" I donít mean "eating", at least, not in both statements. I mean that Cam was "having" bacon and eggs as in "eating" and Trakis was "having" the girl as in "having sex with". You see, itís a very tangled web we weave.
"Yeah?" Cam asked innocently through a mouthful of egg.
"She happened to mention that you two made up."
"Yeah?" Cam felt his heart sink.
"And when I asked why"
"Yeah?" His voice was barely a whisper now.
"She said you agreed that I was the squirrelliest."
Cam said nothing.
"I." Trakis repeated it, just for effect.
"Now, you know thatís not true."
"Oh, come on, Trakis," Zizzyís voice rang from the doorway. Both boys looked up to see her standing there, smirking. "With your chubby cheeks and fondness for nuts?"
"I donít have chubby cheeks," said Trakis. "Sex fiends do not have chubby cheeks."
"Normally theyíre not that chubby," Zizzy agreed, "only when theyíre full of nuts."
Trakis would have beaten her down, but Cam held him back.
Zizzy took a packet of peanuts from her pocket. "Wanna nut?" she cracked wittily.
"Rraagh!" Trakis cried, and, shrugging, Cam let him go. Trakis lunged at her. She screamed and jumped out of the way, but Trakis grabbed her and the two engaged in combat for about seventeen minutes before Trakis caught a girl walking by in his peripheral vision.
"Thanks a lot," said Zizzy haughtily, tearing up her shirt to soak up the blood.
"Sorry," said Cam, "but you asked for it."
"Maybe I did, at that," Zizzy conceded, putting her arms around Cam and kissing him gently on the lips. "Are we still friends?"
"I guess so, but you know, you really shouldnít make fun of Trakis just because you have insecurities about your own squirrelliness."
Zizzy drew back abruptly. "Are you saying Iím the squirrelliest?"
"Iím just saying itís a possibility."
Zizzy threw her blood-soaked rag-shirt at him. "God damn you, Cameron Reicy! I donít know why I even bother with the likes of you!"
As she stalked out, Trakis re-entered, a pink-clad girl in his arms. He watched Zizzy go. "Who needs her," he commented.
"Me, for one," said Cam. "Damn, sheís a pain sometimes, but I canít live without her. Yíknow?"
"Of course I donít." Trakis picked the girlís shirt buttons off with his teeth. She giggled. Spitting out a button, Trakis commented, "I donít even know this girlís name!"
The girl was giggling too hard to answer. Cam didnít blame her. Heíd have giggled too, if he had someone licking his belly-button.
"Listen, Trake, maybe sheís right, you know?"
"I mean, you are kind of chubby-cheeked. Maybe you are the squirrelliest."
For the second time that afternoon, Cam had something thrown at him. This one screamed.
It was a day and a half before Cam heard from either of them. Through four meals, he sat alone, trying to catch the eye of one of his friends. Whenever he did, they turned, crying "Hmph!" By lunch the next day, he was pretty used to it. So he was surprised when, at dinner, Zizzy approached him.
"Iím not here to apologize," she said immediately, "or listen to any lame apology you have. Iím just here to say thereís only one way to settle this dispute and we both know what it is. Tomorrow is the last day for the science fair. Iím going to be at the convention center tonight at midnight. You had better show up too."
"You mean break in and use the squirrelliness machine?"
"But one of us will be a squirrel," said Cam. "Forever."
"Are you afraid?" Zizzy asked tauntingly. "Are you admitting youíre the squirrel?"
"No! Iím just..." Cam frowned at his meal. "Fine. Whatever."
"Youíll be there?"
"You better," said Zizzy. "Trakis is coming, too. If one of you doesnít show up, weíll all know whoís the squirrelly one."
It was hell waiting for midnight. Cam tried several times to start his homework, but he was too nervous and ending up just writing answers like "The answer to this question is lies deep in the heart of the beast who keeps the eternal secrets of the universe" and "If you think about it, there really is no one answer to this question--or any of its brethren."
He lay on his bed for awhile, but he was afraid heíd fall asleep, so he sat up and turned on his music. He just sat there for awhile, sitting on his bed tensely with the music on. He wished Zizzy and Trakis would just drop the whole squirrelliness thing, but he knew they never would. They were both far too stubborn. Hell, if they werenít, they probably wouldnít be his friends. But it was a pain in the ass sometimes.
Finally, at twenty to twelve, Cam put on his jacket and headed out. He wasnít three blocks from the campus when he spied Trakis walking in the same direction.
He walked behind Trakis for awhile, afraid to speak. But finally Trakis stopped. "I see you there, Cam. Come on."
Cam jogged forward a bit. "Hey, Trakis," he said, as cheerfully as he could. "No girls tonight?"
"This is between you, me, and Zizzy," he said seriously.
"Yes. I know."
Trakis stopped suddenly. "Cam, youíre my best friend." He sounded almost on the verge of tears. Cam had never seen him this serious. "If one of us doesnít come out of this..." He swallowed. "Listen, man, Iím sorry I got mad at you before. You were just standing up for your girlfriend. I know, I know. Sheís not really your girlfriend but... you love her. I know that. Iíve never really been in love, you know?"
He sounded nervous. Cam said, "Trakis, this isnít like you..."
"I know, god damn it, Iím being serious for once. So listen up." Trakis stared at him hard. "Cam, whatever happens, if one of us doesnít come out of this, Iím not mad at you. If one of us doesnít make it..." He swallowed. "I love you, man."
"Trake..." Cam trailed off when Trakis put a finger to his lips.
"Thereís more," said Trakis quietly, moving his face towards Camís. Cam was surprised to feel his friendís soft lips press against his.
"Trakis..." Cam whispered when it was all over.
"Nothing. Letís get going."
They met Zizzy at the gate to the convention center. "I thought youíd never show up," she snapped.
"Zizzy, listen to me," Cam said sternly. He grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her.
"Iím listening," she said.
"Didnít the kiss say it?"
She shook her head.
"Iíll say it then. I love you. Hear that? I love you."
"I love you too," said Zizzy quietly, making little circles with her finger on Camís shirt.
"Then why do you want to lose me?"
"You wouldnít necessarily be the one to..."
"All right, Trakis then, or you. I donít want to lose you. I donít want to lose Trake either. I donít know about either of you, but Iím stepping out. I refuse to go in. You can go in there just the two of you. Iíll be the squirrelly one, if thatís what it takes!"
"Donít bother," said Trakis. "I refuse, too. Itís either one of us. Hear that, Ziz? Youíre safe."
Zizzy was staring at the ground, tears welling up in her eyes. "I donít care. Itís probably me anyway."
"Aw, come on, Ziz. Itís not you."
"It is. You guys are too good to me, you know that? Youíre only trying to protect me, donít think I donít know it... you know Iíd be the squirrelly one so you refuse to go in there with me. Even if it means you officially lose."
"Zizzy..." What she said wasnít true, but it did make Cam and Trakis sound more valiant. Cam wasnít sure how to put things right.
Trakis knew, though. He just smiled at her and put his hand on her shoulder. "You know I donít hit on you because I know Cam is so goddamn in love with you."
All of a sudden Zizzy threw her arms around Trakisís neck. Trakis just held her for awhile. Cam didnít think heíd ever seen Trakis just stand there for so long with his arms around a girl, not trying anything funny. As soon as he did start fooling around Cam stepped in.
"Come on," he said, redirecting the girlís attentions towards himself. "Letís go home."