The Saints

Page 34

“I can’t believe it,” Lucy said.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool up here,” Bart said. “That Geek, Lane, you met, could only hook us up for a little bit before the show starts, but I figured it’s way better than the same old Geek show stuff.”

That wasn’t what Lucy was talking about, but she was happy to keep it light. “Definitely,” she said.

“I love heights,” he said. “When I was little I was pretty sure I could fly.”

Lucy laughed. “Really?”

“Yeah, one day I flapped my arms so hard I dislocated my shoulder. My mom freaked out when I came back in the house with one arm hanging to, like, my knees.”

Lucy covered her mouth in shock. “No way.”

Bart grinned. “The next week I built a pair of wings out of tree branches and bed sheets. I jumped off the roof and broke my leg.”

“Shut up,” Lucy said, snorting a laugh.

Bart nodded, his grin getting bigger.

“What did your mom do?” Lucy said.

“She just left me in the yard for a week. Said it was the only way I’d learn my lesson.”

“What?” Lucy said.

“Honk. Sucka. Nah, she took me to the ER. Again. The doctor laughed at her. She didn’t talk to me for a month. I was a pretty big spaz when I was little.”

“I would’ve never guessed that. You’re like the most chill person I know.”

“My dad helped me focus after that. He was an engineer. I mean, is,” Bart corrected himself. It was something a lot of people did when they talked about their families. “He taught me about drafting, and we started making designs for real planes. It’s what I’m going to do.”

“Build planes?”

“I’m gonna build one faster than the X-43,” he said. Like he meant it. Like it was a fact.

Lucy didn’t know what the X-43 was, but just the fact that Bart was so sure of what he would do in life, or that he would even have a life outside, was impressive.

“Maybe you’ll take me up in it?” Lucy said, leaning over and bumping him playfully.

He shook his head. “You’d die.”


“I mean, it’ll be too fast. It’ll have to be unmanned.”

“Oh,” Lucy said. “Now I know why you went Nerd.”

Bart laughed. That laugh she loved. He touched her knee. The glow of a blue stage light clamped to the catwalk railing above them made his perfect teeth gleam.

“Want to make out?” he said.

“Uh …,” Lucy said, a little surprised. It made her wonder if all of this, the catwalk, his plan to build jets, was all an equation in Bart’s head that equaled “make out.” It probably was. What boy didn’t have a plan when it came to that?

“Yeah, okay,” she said.

They leaned toward each other at the same time and kissed. He was pretty good at it. They scooted closer to each other, and he put one warm hand on her thigh and one on the back of her neck. Every move he made was steady, the rumble of the crowd below pleasantly filled her ears while she gave in to the pleasure of their kiss. It had been too long since she’d felt the rush of lips on lips. Long enough for it to feel brand-new and exciting. It was what she’d wanted the other night at the bonfire, but he’d never made a move. Maybe that was part of his plan too.

“Time’s up,” someone said from the adjacent catwalk. It was the Geek that had shown them up there. “Sorry, but Zachary’s starting his show now, and if anything goes wrong up here with the lights, he’ll kill me. Can’t risk it.”

Bart pulled back from Lucy and shrugged. “Bummer,” he said.

He was so cool about it, it made Lucy smile, even though part of her wanted to smash Zachary’s spotlight while she had the chance.

“Should we grab a seat?” Bart said.


Lucy had to hand it to Zachary. If he was good for anything, it was putting on a show. Just the set alone, in front of her, was impressive. Thanks to a delivery of new lumber and paint, courtesy of Gates, the Geeks had constructed a stylized version of McKinley High on stage. A looming row of gigantic lockers, nearly three times the size of real lockers, dominated the stage. Actual, piled-up salvage from the basement, clumps of tangled chairs and desks, gave the rest of the stage depth and dimension. In combination with the nightmarish lighting, the McKinley world onstage looked like some surreal wasteland.

“Way to go on the seats,” Bart said when he walked up, holding two bags of microwave popcorn.

“Ooo, popcorn,” Lucy said. “I can’t remember the last time I had that.”

“Well, keep dreaming, because they’re both for me.”

“Ha-ha,” she said as Bart handed her a bag. He sat down next to her, reached across, and held her hand.

As the houselights went down, she smiled.

A spotlight cut across the dark and settled on a locker onstage in the center of the row. The locker door flew open and Zachary stumbled out, wearing massively exaggerated shoulder pads underneath a football jersey. He wore a cartoonish coif of blond hair that immediately drew boos from the Varsity guys in the crowd, but peals of laughter from everyone else. Sexed-up moans and groans echoed out from the open locker, and anonymous girls’ hands clawed at Zachary’s jersey.

“Back, Pretty Things! Back!” he shouted in a faux-meathead voice, and he kicked the locker door shut. Zachary turned to the crowd and tugged at his collar with wide eyes. “Yeesh, sex slaves … can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without ’em.”

Lucy snorted a big laugh. She couldn’t believe what Zachary had just said.

“Oh, sorry,” Zachary said. “Lemme introduce myself. My name’s Dork Baloney. I know you all think every Varsity guy is just some total, complete, roided-out asshole that is looking for somebody’s head to crush and—”

Zachary stopped suddenly and pointed at Bart in the crowd.

“What are you looking at, Nerd?! Do you want me to rip your head off?!”

The crowd erupted in laughter. Bart slapped his knee, loving it. Lucy looked behind her to see if Varsity was storming the stage. They weren’t. They were laughing with everybody else. Not so long ago, what Zachary was doing might have started a riot, and Lucy wasn’t sure it still couldn’t. These jokes felt dangerous. Maybe that was what made them so funny.

Onstage, Zachary was shaking his head.

“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. What I was trying to say is that us Varsity guys are more sensitive than you think we are. And me, in particular, I was thinking about how there’s been new kids in McKinley for months now, and nobody’s given our new friend a proper tour of the school.”

“Oooh,” the crowd said in anticipation. Lucy gave Bart an excited look.

“Is he really gonna go after everybody?” she whispered.

“It’d be pretty pimp if he did,” Bart said with a low-key shrug.

“After all, it’s only the polite thing to do,” Zachary said. “Right?”

“Suck a dick, Baloney!” someone in the crowd heckled.

“Maybe I will!” Zachary said in his most ridiculous meathead voice. “Follow me to the cafeteria!”

The crowd was giddy with anticipation of the Sluts getting roasted. Lucy knew Violent was in the audience somewhere. She’d headed out earlier in the night with a bunch of the others, and Lucy craned her neck to try and find them. She spotted Violent in time to see her watch a Geek boy onstage portray her as a brute who kicked Dork Baloney’s ass when he tried to kiss her. Only three rows back from Lucy, Violent was close enough to see by the glow of the lit-up stage. Slowly, her flatline mouth turned up into a smile. It was all the cue the Sluts needed to laugh and really start enjoying themselves, Lucy included.

Onstage, Dork Baloney traveled to the teachers’ lounge where P-Nut, depicted by a Geek in a harness and wires, was doing bigger and bigger, high-flying tricks on a skateboard. It was such fun to watch. He fake-crashed and fell on the floor, and started yelling that he’d broken his back and was going to die. A nurse girl came running to his side from offstage. The crowd was in hysterics as P-Nut’s character tried to get his Nerd nurse to sleep with him, instead of stop the bleeding. The actual P-Nut thought it was hilarious and he applauded louder than the rest of the audience.

Sometime during that scene, Bart had let go of Lucy’s hand. He’d put his arm around her instead, and now they were nestled up next to each other. She was crying from laughing so hard. Bart kept whipping his finger at the stage.

“Awww!” he said. “They got you, P-Nut! They got you!”

It was the first time Lucy had seen Bart this animated; he was usually so subdued. But everyone was caught up in it now. The crowd had tipped. There was a fever in the air. Gang lines had kept everyone on guard and frustrated for so long under Sam’s rule that now that there was permission to laugh, it was like a tidal wave.

And that was just in time for Leonard’s big stage debut. Lucy couldn’t have been prouder. Dork Baloney was visiting the Freaks, and Leonard was playing Bobby. Because the Freaks had notoriously dyed their hair with blue toilet cleaner pucks, Leonard wore a giant papier-mâché urinal like a mascot would. His face barely poked out of a face hole. The urinal even had blue liquid by the drain. To Lucy’s surprise, Leonard had a shockingly strong stage voice. He hammed it up as Bobby. He was a natural. Everyone cheered his performance. Everyone, except for the real Bobby.

Bobby stood up in the crowd. “I’ll kill you, Geeks! All of you! You know that!”

The audience booed Bobby. Zachary never broke character, neither did Leonard. They never acknowledged Bobby at all, and it only made the crowd love it more. When Zachary’s character moved on to the gym and Leonard exited the stage, Bobby’s big moment was over. The more he protested, the more the crowd turned against him, until his fellow Freaks had to pull him down into his seat.

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