SATURDAY 22nd January
Seacliffe, it’s not much but it’s home. Well sometimes it is quite pretty, like when the moon is over the bay and the water becomes a rolling dark blue that’s pretty, much more so than the brownish-green tinge it had during the day, and the view from the top of Ridge Road was the best. It was a place I stopped many times on the way home from dates but tonight I was just walking home with takeaway dinner for Doc and myself.
The dinner was getting cold but I took my time since Doc was always home later than he said he would be.
Especially if the museum had new artifacts for him.
But that’s what happens when your guardian is also the local history expert I suppose, at least I’ve never had a failing grade in History class.
Sigh, I was just going home to an empty house again, Storm had band practice and the rest of the Flying Tigers (the martial arts club I belonged to) were busy tonight. Last Saturday before we went back to school and I was spending it alone with fish and chips, sigh again.
I leaned against the guard railing at the top of the cliff, absentmindedly playing with my long blonde fringe which I always had plaited off to one side to keep it out of my face, watching the bay ripple in the moonlight and wishing Storm was there with me, we could watch the moonlight on the water together, although we probably wouldn’t be watching for long before…. I blushed thinking of the kiss. Even after a year and a half together I still blushed every time.
I drifted happily in my thoughts for a while until a voice called out from behind me.
“Look what we have here,” the voice sneered, “A little kitty cat.”
I knew that voice and spun to face my very unwelcome visitors, they were three boys I went to highschool with.
And they weren’t friends.
The ringleader of the three, Shaun was tall, platinum-blonde and had the kind of generic good looks that would suit a Hollywood bad-boy (which in addition to being rich explained why so many of the girls at school went nuts for him). He’d been the one who spoke.
Now he was looking me over like a hungry dog. “Looks like someone needs some company,” Shaun said.
“Bugger off Shaun,” I shot back. Shaun and his cronies were members of a rival martial arts club, the Cobras, as well as being the biggest bunch of creepos ever. I guess being a girl and a Tiger made me a favourite target for the jerks.
I was trying to decide whether to run or fight but the decision was taken away from me as Buck (a huge dumb ape) and Richard (greasy emo nutjob) fanned out to surround me.
Okay, three against one it is, let’s hope I paid enough attention in the dojo.
“Come on babe,” Shaun said, “No need to be like that, we just want to have a little fun.” Shaun reached out to grab my shoulder but I blocked his hand and kicked him above the knee, dropping him down enough so I could jab-punch him in the jaw.
“That fun enough?” I asked as Shaun stumbled backwards, I tried to rush through the sudden gap but was yanked backwards by my hair, “OW!” I was barely able to keep my footing.
As Buck’s grip on my hair loosened I spun, whipping out my arm and striking the hulking jerk in the neck with the blade of my hand. Unfortunately his neck was so thick of fat and muscle the blow barely registered.
“Ooh that tickled,” chuckled muscle-bound Buck.
I took another swing at Buck only to be blocked, the big Neanderthal grabbed my arm and spun me around into a body-hold. With my back stuck firm against the big guy I tried to butt him with the back of my head but Buck was a good foot taller than me so my head merely bounced off his chest.
“Hold her still,” said Richard as he approached eagerly.
I shuddered, of all the boys he frightened me the most, not because he was a good fighter (in fact I would already be strolling home if Richard was my only opponent) but because he had been obsessed with getting his hands on me for a few years.
Okay Harli, think, what’s the rule for multiple attackers who are bigger than you? Use their strength against them.
When Richard came close enough I took advantage of how Buck held me tightly, kicked out with both feet knocking the wind out of Richard before bringing my heels down hard on Buck’s feet. The muscle-bound bully let out a pig-like squeal of pain and let go of me.
I quickly regained my footing and delivered a front-kick to the still gasping Richard. He fell backwards, a spurt of blood came from his lip where my foot connected. Buck came at me from behind, with no time to turn I stuck out with a back-kick that caught him in gut, doubling him over.
My attackers down for the moment I made a dash to escape.
Only for my legs to be swept from under me.
I’d forgotten about Shaun, stupid me, he now stood over her with his foot raised to stomp on me. I cringed as the foot lowered. Then I heard footsteps running along the cement path and Shaun looked away towards the sound which stopped suddenly an instant before a blur passed my vision.
Then the only thing above me was the starry sky.
I rolled over, getting to my feet. To the left of me I saw a figure in a white t-shirt and blue bandanna fighting against both Shaun and Richard, the newcomer was more than a match for the two bullies.
Which only left Buck for me to fend off. Moving like the enraged bull he was, Buck sent a flurry of punches at me, most of which I was able to block until one slipped through my guard and hit me hard in the chest, another clipped the side of my head but I managed to dodge the worst of it.
“Am I too much man for ya?” Buck taunted.
I answered him by feinting a kick at his groin and when the big guy jumped back in fear he bent forward just enough for me to grab his head with both hands, I leapt off the ground and drove my knee hard into Buck’s face.
My feet hit the ground at the same time the bully’s backside did.
Oh man, he got blood all over my favourite white jeans!
I left Buck sitting dazed and turned to help take on the other bullies but they were already running off, shouting insults back at my rescuer.
“Well that was fun,” said Eric, tossing back his longish brown hair.
I laughed, “Hey ‘Ric, thanks.”
“Hey us Tigers have to stick together,” said Eric. He shrugged as he turned around, “Besides who can pass up the chance to kick some Cobra butt?”
Eric’s words seemed those of cheerful enjoyment but something about the way he was standing made me think otherwise. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah I’m fine,” Eric said a little too quickly, adding, “Just needed to get out and get some air.”
“You sure?” I asked as I walked towards him.
Eric gave a half-hearted smile. “Just fighting with Dad as usual,” he admitted.
As I got closer to him I noticed that Eric’s dark-blue eyes seemed wet, since Eric seemed to get into fights with his father twice a week I wondered what else he wasn’t telling me. But I didn’t want to push so she went to retrieve the paper-wrapped bundle of cold fish and chips that was my dinner.
“Well my food survived the showdown,” I said forced-cheerfully.
Eric gave another weak smile as he went to lean on the railings, “That’s the important thing.”
“’Ric…?” I began to ask.
“So Kayla called,” Eric began in a tone that suggested the phone call from his girlfriend wasn’t a pleasant one.
“Oh,” I said, “How’s she settling in down south?”
“Fine I suppose,” Eric said staring out over the bay, “But she doesn’t think the whole long-distance thing is going to work out.”
“You guys can make it work,” I said encouragingly. They’d been together six months before her parents pulled her and her little sister out of school and moved down to Coolangatta.
Eric blinked back some tears and said, “She’s already made up her mind.”
“Oh dude,” I said, “I’m sorry, you guys were great together.”
Eric shrugged, “Not great enough I guess. Oh well I’m going to keep walking, see you tomorrow.”
As Eric started to walk away I called out, “Hey why don’t you join me for dinner?”
Eric paused, “I really don’t feel like…”
“Come on,” I interrupted, “Storm’s got band practice and Doc’s probably still at work, don’t make me eat all alone.”
“Ah hell,” Eric said, “How can I say no to cold fish and chips.”
“There’s this machine for heating up food you know,” I said cheekily, “It’s called a microwave.”
Not long after Eric and I had settled down in front of the living room television with dinner Dr Chan arrived home. A young good-looking (in a nerdy kind of way) Chinese guy, he was my brother’s best friend and my legal guardian ever since my older brother Hunter disappeared on his trip two years ago, not only was he the town’s only archaeologist he was also the instructor down at the dojo.
I turned around to tell Doc his dinner was in the fridge when I noticed the dirt stains all over his light gray suit and laughed. “Fun day at work?” She asked.
“Huh?” Doc was puzzled for a second before realizing I was staring at his suit, “Oh yes, I spent the day sorting out some relics from that wreck they found off the north of Bay Island.”
“Anything good?” I asked with polite interest.
Dr Chan shook his head, “Nothing particularly special, but the joy is in the hunt not the treasure.”
“I don’t know the treasure sounds pretty good,” Eric said without turning his attention from the TV.
“But you wouldn’t be able to donate it to a museum,” I countered.
Eric smiled, “Nope I’d spend it all.”
Doc laughed and went into the kitchen to fetch some food.
“Dinner’s in the fridge!” I called after him.
A moment later Doc’s voice came from the other room asking, “Why are your pants soaking in the sink?”
“I had a little incident with the Cobras on my way home,” I said casually.
Dr Chan came out of the kitchen holding the wet white pants which had a large blood stain over the right knee. “A little incident?” He asked.
“Don’t worry that’s not my blood,” I said, “I think it was Buck’s.”
“It was three against one Doc,” Eric said in my defence, “At least until I wandered by.”
Doc gave a little nod of his head and said “Fair enough but can you soak these in the laundry sink not the kitchen?”
“There was a frog in there,” I said quietly, with just a little hint of embarrassment.
Beside me Eric laughed so hard he started to choke on his food.
“Hey!” I said embarrassed, “That is so not shiny!” I punched him in the arm to punctuate my statement.
Doc smiled indulgently, he knew I couldn’t help my fear (in fact he and Hunter were to blame for the childhood prank that caused it), so he merely said, “I’ll go put it outside.” And made his way towards the laundry.
Eric on the other hand was far less sensitive taunting me, “You know there’ll probably be tons of frogs on the camp.”
“Eurgh, don’t say that,” said I.
“Sorry,” Eric laughed, “Well thanks for dinner I really needed a laugh.”
“You’re welcome,” I said, giving him a very displeased look. Then I added in a caring tone, “Hey I’m really sorry about you and Kayla.”
“Yeah,” said Eric as he stood up stretching, “Me too Harlz. See you tomorrow okay?”
“Okay,” I said, “Later ‘Ric.”