‘Thank God it’s Friday, huh?’ Eddie heard Victor Criss guffaw to his two best friends, ‘Almost summer too! Can’t wait to fuck up the Losers then.’ He had grinned, flashing his oddly crooked teeth much to Eddie’s disgust. Nobody would be surprised if Victor came into school with a brace; most of the time Vic attempts to hide his teeth by not smiling so much, however quite a few people have commented in the past. All those said people really regretted their snide comments. Especially that Richie Tozier!
Henry and Belch had both agreed, chortling and making plans for the holidays. Turning his back on Henry and his gang, (feeling kind of left out of their plans) Eddie cleared his throat. Clenching and unclenching his tense hands, he let out a deep sigh. Apprehension churned inside his stomach full of butterflies – he was going to ask Veronica Grogan out this Saturday – God help him.
His heart hammered as he caught sight of Veronica at her locker. She had her back to him, showing off all her long brunette hair that cascaded to her narrow waist. Veronica was pretty. Hell, she was gorgeous! Fuck Patrick, he doesn’t know anything about girls!
Just as Veronica was about to slam her locker and skip off to home room, Eddie brushed past her shoulder lightly. Flinching, Veronica glared coldly up at him.
‘I’m sick of all these stupid boys that think they can touch me! I wish daddy could send me to an all-girls academy, far away from this dump!’ Her face pinched in anger, yet Eddie still thought she looked rather beautiful.
‘L-look I’m sorry for disturbing you, but I’d like to know if you’re… doing anything this weekend?’ Eddie breathed, his face aghast with nerves and his usually tanned skin turned a fair white.
Veronica remained grimly silent – perhaps worried that he would attempt to kiss her or something, in front of all her friends. They had reputation, you see…
Eddie could sense his peer wasn’t keen to talk, so anxiously raked a hand through his dark hair and tried again: ‘Umm, so what do you say? We could catch a movie at the Aladdin. If you wanted to, that is.’
‘No,’ Veronica said firmly, head held high, ‘No thank you.’ She had noticed Greta Bowie on her left, glaring ferociously and mouthing ‘say no!’ and that awful Bowers boy to her right, snickering behind his hand. The peer pressure was great, and she had to admit, Eddie was a good looking boy – however her father was taking her for a road trip down to the beach that weekend, so unfortunately she had to decline.
Eddie had never felt so disappointed in his 12 short years of life. He briefly wondered if it were something to do with his eyes; everybody said they looked a bit girly. Shrugging his shoulders in a ‘suit yourself’ gesture, he swung his backpack over his shoulders and left the girl to get back to her own business.
‘The only man you can trust is your daddy.’ Greta Bowie whispered softly, leaning her cheek against her friend’s in a failed attempt of comfort.
‘Hmmph, I guess you’re right, Greta.’ Veronica smiled a sweet, sunny smile and linked her arm through Greta’s. ‘That Corcoran is from the poor side of Derry, anyway. What would mommy think if I were to go on a date with him!’
‘Heehee~ She’d probably think you’d gone completely mad!’ Greta beamed, ‘You deserve so much better, Ronnie.’
Eddie had given his spare ticket to Henry Bowers instead. He figured the older boy needed a bit of fun in his life, something besides tormenting others that is. There had been a lot of teasing – although that had been more than expected – although Eddie couldn’t ever recall seeing Henry on a date with a girl. Although this one time he thought he caught him ogling that stupid Hockstetter kid.
Henry and Eddie had ended up seeing The Blob together, and throughout the film they were bitching about Patrick Hockstetter, and school, and girls and Mrs Reichs and her strict methods of teaching. After the movie had finished, Eddie felt just a little better about being turned down by Veronica Grogan; although he had to admit, Bowers sure did act funny about Patrick! Whenever he wanted to bring up the topic of Hockstetter, Henry had abruptly changed the conversation back to Grogan, a nervous grin plastered across his face.
He didn’t seem to like talking about Patrick all that much. Too bad.
It was late when Eddie got home that Saturday night. He was honestly terrified that his mom and step-father would be angry with him for getting back at 9pm. Watching Henry swagger back down his road had been inspiring. Many people looked up to Henry despite him being so cruel. He was… bold, and fearless, with an air of authority. Nobody knew that Henry was absolutely petrified of the dark. The way he was bopping down the street, not one person would have thought differently.
‘Sorry I’m late, mam,’ Eddie called, closing the door behind him. Night air leaked in through the porch. ‘I was out with a friend, Henry, if you know who he is.’
His mother was sewing something pretty at her craft table. It was lacy and pink by the looks of it. Probably a brassiere, Eddie thought, resisting the urge to giggle childishly. At a closer glance, Eddie could see his mother was obviously in a bad state of mind. Tear tracks ran down her gentle face, and her eyelashes were wet with mascara smudged across her cheeks.
‘W-what’s the matter, mommy?’
‘It’s just… Oh, check the newspaper, Edd!’ She sniffled, rubbing at her panda-eyes miserably.
Eddie tentatively picked up the local newspaper and scanned the headlines with disregard; almost expecting to see an article on his family in there. After all, it was so darn obvious that his step-father had murdered his baby brother! Unexpectedly, his body froze, cold all over. Shocked tears splurged down his frigid face, devoid of any emotion.
‘Oh, Eddie. I know it hurts. I don’t know what I’d ever do if I lost you! This girl… Veronica. Did you know her?’
Eddie wasn’t sure he wanted to have this conversation. Grievously shaking his head no, tears flew from his eyes, collecting on his lashes. He let out a hiccup-y gasp and attempted to escape to his bedroom. His mother grasped his hand and pulled him closer, lulling him to stop his sobbing. Under normal circumstances Eddie would be embarrassed to be held by his mom. Today was different. Veronica was dead and there was no going back now.
Dead. It sounded odd and foreign in Eddie’s mind. Once before he had been faced by death; his own baby brother’s in all honesty. It was unnatural. Disturbing. Terrible that a kid of just 12 years old could die. Terrible that a kid of just 2 years old could die. Terrible that any kid could die at such a tender age. Eddie would give anything to die an old man, warm and safe in his own bed, surrounded by loved ones and with a dog at the foot of his bed. Instead, kids in Derry were dropping dead like flies. Every now and again a new report was aired on the TV, or an article printed in a newspaper of yet another kid being ripped open and mutilated on the streets of Derry. Funny how that happens, huh? Why kids? Why not elderly folk, or hookers, or beggars? Those children had died, their faces frozen with a ghastly expression. On a street corner, or maybe a sewer some place, blood would be spilled almost certainly every day.