Jake sat alone at a lunch table with his bag settled at his seat before him. By sheer luck, Angela was seated at the table in front of his, so he was able to watch her as she laughed and joked around with her friend Sarah. That was until Stan, Dave and Ash joined them. He hated that she greeted Stan so warmly, and had to look away when they locked lips.
He spent most of the rest of his lunch period focusing on eating his sandwich, and little baggie of carrots. It wasn’t until he heard Stan and his friends bragging about picking on some underclassmen that Jake snapped his attention back to their table.
“So, I was punching this kid in the stomach, right?” Dave started, “And then the rude little fucker just pukes all over me. Like all over my arm.”
“Ew,” Ash groaned.
“Right?” Dave said, “Can you believe that asshole?”
“Why were you hitting this kid?” Sarah asked, “Did he try to start something?”
“He called me a bully,” Dave said, “So I was like, ‘you want a fuggin’ bully I will give you a fuggin’ bully.’ ”
“Classy,” Angela said disgusted, which Jake was pleased to see. Stan, however, was laughing hysterically.
“He really puked?” Stan asked.
Angela slugged his arm, to which Stan just cocked his eyebrow and grinned.
“I’m fuckin’ hungry, man,” Stan said.
“You know,” Dave began, “I was under the impression that they serve food here in the cafeteria.”
“I’m broke, though,” Stan said. “Funds are running short because of this one here.”
Stan tried to embrace Angela, but she wiggled out of it.
“Excuse me?” Angela asked indignant, “What was the last thing you bought me?”
“My company,” Stan said simply, “Isn’t that what guys pay you for? Your company?”
“You dick,” Angela said sharply, “You only act like this when your damn friends are around. Why do you have to be like that? It’s not funny!”
“Bitch, calm down,” Stan said, “I’m just joking.”
“It’s not funny,” Sarah said.
“You look like an ass,” Angela stated.
“Baby,” Stan said soothingly, “I’m sorry. I know I show off in front of them. I’ll cut that out.”
She smiled at him, which sickened Jake.
“So, what are you gonna buy me for lunch?” Stan asked.
“You just finished calling me a whore and now you want me to buy you food?” Angela asked, “Get it your fucking self or ask one of your little friends, but I’m not buying you food.”
“Oh my god,” Stan said angrily, “Would you just take your ho money and buy me a sandwich or something?!”
Jake had begun to fume. He could feel a slight twitch overcome his face at the same time a velvety voice in his head said, You have to take a stand.
Jake mustered up all his strength and got up from the table. He walked straight up to Stan and slapped him in the face.
The cafeteria froze. Stan looked up at Jake in complete shock, but it was nothing compared to the shocked look Angela gave him.
“If she wasn’t gonna do it, someone had to,” Jake shouted.
“Are you gonna get in my face?” Stan asked, seething with rage as he stood up and got an inch from Jake’s face.
“Looks like,” Jake said, not backing down.
Stan’s rage was palpable. Jake could see him try and control it, but then he saw Stan nod which signaled to him that he had made his decision to release his anger. As Stan balled up his fist, Jake prepared his body for the punch, but it was a punch that never came because out of nowhere Mike was at their collective side and grabbed Stan’s wrist.
“Back off!” Mike yelled. “Now!”
“What are you gonna do?” Stan said, pulling his wrist out of Mike’s grasp powerfully.
“I’ll break your fucking jaw if you touch him,” Mike said just loud enough to only be heard by Jake and Stan.
“Try it, mother fucker!” Stan shouted.
Stan raised his fist and had begun to pull back and strike Mike when a teacher came running in to separate the two.
“STAN!” shouted Math professor Mr. Wheeler. He grabbed Stan’s arm and pulled it back to his side, “You are coming with me.”
“They started it,” Stan argued.
“Not from what I saw,” Mr. Wheeler said.
“You two are fucking dead!” Stan yelled to Jake and Mike.
Mr. Wheeler guided Stan out of the cafeteria, chastising him all the way.
“That took a lot of sack to stand up to that asshole,” Mike said, “When’d you become Superman?”
“I don’t know,” Jake said, “I just couldn’t listen to his shit anymore.”
“Come sit with us,” Mike said, indicating a seat at the table he and Alicia were sitting at.
Jake smiled then sat down opposite Alicia and a few other kids that he only knew by sight.
“That was amazing,” Alicia said.
“It really was,” said a velvety voice from behind Jake.
Jake turned around to see Angela standing before him. She smiled kindly and took a seat at his side.
“Thank you for shutting him up,” Angela said before adding, “You didn’t need to do that, but it was sweet.”
“He’s a pig,” Jake said, hardly able to speak. Finding his voice, “I couldn’t let him talk to you like that.”
She smiled that warm smile, but looked at him with eyes Jake could not read.
“I’d like to properly thank you,” Angela said softly, “What say we get a coffee after school? My treat.”
“Seriously?” Jake said, caught off guard.
“Yes, seriously,” Angela said with a smile.
“I’d like that,” Jake said, almost dreamily.
“Cool,” Angela said, “I’ll meet you in the lobby entrance after last period.”
Jake was engulfed in happiness so pure, he had to pinch himself to verify that it had been real and not all a day dream. His eyes followed her as she sat back down next to Sarah and the two astonished looking drones of Stan. She flipped her beautiful red hair out of her eyes, and catching Jake’s gaze, gave him a wink with that gorgeous eye of hers. Jake turned his attention to Mike and Alicia sitting opposite him, and they too were looking awed.
“Uh,” Mike said, turning to Alicia, “Do I get a date for being a hero, too?”
“Jerk,” Alicia said laughing.
* * *
Jake waited in the front lobby as a rush of students passed. Several students gave him impressed looks as they passed him, clearly privy to the scene in the cafeteria. He noticed Julia approaching, and he nodded to her.
“Hey, Jake!” Julia said, “Want to walk home? Maybe catch up on some homework?”
“Um…” Jake said, unsure of how to respond delicately.
From behind, Will came and patted him on the back.
“Very cool, man,” said Will, “I heard about earlier. Never thought you’d have it in you. Catch you later.”
Will passed by just as abruptly has he arrived leaving Julia with a confused look on her face.
“That was weird,” Julia said with a hint of a question in her voice.
“I kind of stood up to Stan today,” Jake said with a note of pride, “I’d like to hang out, but I’ve actually got plans.”
“Oh…” Julia said disheartened, “Maybe tomorrow?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Jake said, without sincerity, “See you later, though.”
Julia nodded and walked off towards the exit, just as Angela arrived.
“Who was that?” Angela asked smirking, “Girlfriend?”
“Ha!” Jake exclaimed a little too loudly, “Noooo, She’s just a friend.”
“I see,” she said playfully, “So, anyway, I was thinking we could check out this cool place that just opened. It’s called Prescott’s Coffee Grounds. Ever been?”
“No,” Jake said truthfully.
“Oh, it’s great,” Angela said, “They usually have a band playing, and they have some really cool art done by local artist on the walls. It’s a nice place. I think you’ll like it. It’s not far from here, if you’re up for walking it.”
“Yeah, sure,” Jake said.
* * *
Angela and Jake exited the school and began crossing through the football field.
“That was a brave thing you did back there,” Angela said, “Standing up to Stan. He could have pummeled you.”
“Nah,” Jake said as he smoothly took of his glasses, “Not too many people know this about me, but I come from a planet far away, and my body is super enhanced by Earth’s yellow sun.”
“Did you just make a Superman joke,” Angela asked through laughter.
“Yes, I did,” Jake said replacing his glasses.
“You know,” Angela said with a smile, “You’re kind of a dork…but it works for you. It’s charming.”
“That’s good.” Jake said, and then after a long pause followed with, “You know, this is probably a stupid thing to say, but I have to ask. If Stan treats you like that, calling you names and such, why are you still with the guy?”
“He didn’t use to be like that,” Angela said visibly uncomfortable, “And, he’s really not like that unless he’s with his friends.”
“He’s actually a huge jerk when you aren’t around,” Jake cut in, “He has been the source of my daily torment for years. I come home with bruises because of him. Almost daily.”
“I didn’t know that,” Angela said stopping, “I really didn’t. He was always nice and gentlemanly around me until recently. Anyway, let’s not talk about him. Look we’ve been going to school together for ages and I don’t even really know you. Tell me about yourself.”
The two talked and laughed and got to know each other quite well over the several hours that followed. They chatted away until late evening inside Prescott’s Coffee grounds. Jake felt euphoric. He actually bonded with the angel his heart desired so.
He walked her home, and as the temperature dropped she cozied up to Jake for warmth.
Standing at her doorstep, she leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek and thanked him once more for treating her so well. Little did they know, Stan was sitting in his car across from them, voyeuristically watching them with ever increasing anger.
Still, in the moment, Jake was paralyzed by the kiss she had given him. During his whole walk home he kept brushing the spot where her soft lips gently pressed.
* * *
On his living room couch, Angela was cuddled up close. That same nightmarish movie played as it had the night before. The muscular, Clinton mask clad psychopath was hacking up a young teen with a sharp axe. Jake tore his eyes away from the screen to look at the beauty at his side. She looked up into his eyes, allowing him to gaze into her gemstone eyes. Even the frightening music and odd screaming couldn’t break their gaze.
“You are my everything,” Jake whispered.
The beauty smiled and kissed him passionately. He felt true connection when their lips met, something he had never felt before. But, it was over all too quick for once their lips separated Jake noticed Stan standing before the couch.
He violently grabbed Jake and raised him to his feet. Angela remained on the sofa, smiling and bouncing her exposed leg over her knee, as if she was enjoying what she saw.
“What are you doing with her?” Stan demanded. It was only then that Jake noticed Stan was dressed identically to the axe wielding Clinton…minus the mask.
“You don’t get to be part of her life anymore,” Jake said roughly.
Gracefully, Angela rose to Jakes side and whispered in his ear.
“It’s ok, Jake,” the siren whispered softly, “He deserves what he gets. You have to take a stand remember?”
“Stand up to this,” Stan said with force.
When Jake turned his attention from Angela to Stan, he saw that suddenly Stan was wearing the Clinton mask. With swiftness Stan raised his hand which was clutching a blood splattered hatchet and plunged it deep into Jake’s chest.
* * *
His radio blared awake upon the moment of impact, playing “Your Ex-Lover is Dead,” by the band Stars. Jolted into consciousness, Jake tried to shake the dream, which felt fully real. He gripped his chest, and felt everything intact. Slowly he raised his hand once more to the place the ruby-haired goddess had granted a kiss.