Life can become so much better when you find one best friend.
This is a sequel to the story One Warm Coat on Codey’s World.
Mike and Jeremy walked the two blocks from Broadway Plaza to the Cheesecake Factory. Jeremy’s new coat kept him warm in the unusually frigid weather. He thought about how his luck had turned to good, maybe even great, since he’d met Mike.
They didn’t say much until they arrived at the entrance to the restaurant.
“Remember, this is my treat,” Mike said, as he pulled the door open.
“Okay,” Jeremy agreed, “as long as next time it’s on me.”
“You got it. Next time it’ll be on you. And, like tonight, it’ll be in both of us.” Mike bumped Jeremy’s shoulder and they both smiled as they walked in.
The girl at the reception desk greeted them. “Hi. Can I help you guys?”
“Sure,” Mike replied. “Two for dessert, please.”
“Would you prefer a booth or a table?” she asked.
Mike looked at Jeremy and raised his eyebrows. Jeremy shrugged his shoulders.
“How about a booth, then.” Mike said.
“Okay,” the girl responded. She picked up two menus and smiled at them. “This way, please.”
They followed her to a nice booth that seemed to be more isolated than most of the others. She waited while they took off their jackets, tossed them and Jeremy’s backpack on the inside of the booth seat, and sat down. Then she handed them each a dessert menu.
“Your server will be with you shortly.” She looked at Jeremy. “Do you go to Las Lomas? You look familiar.”
Jeremy looked up. “Yeah, I do. I’m a junior. Do you go to Las Lomas?”
“Uh huh. I’m a senior. My name is Sandra Eakins.”
“Hi. I’m Jeremy Sievers. This guy is my friend, Mike Butler. He goes to Northgate. Other than that, he’s a really nice guy.”
Mike grinned and waved, then stuck his tongue out at Jeremy for his remark about Northgate High.
Sandra chuckled. “Nice to meet both of you,” she said. “Jeremy, maybe we’ll see each other around school. Enjoy your desserts.” She smiled and walked off.
“I think she thinks you’re cute, Jeremy,” Mike said, grinning almost from ear to ear. “Maybe you have a new girlfriend.”
Jeremy blushed and shook his head. “I don’t think so. She’s a senior, I’m a junior.”
“You know,” Mike said, “older women prefer younger guys. Maybe she’s after your hot bod, you think?”
“No, I don’t think.” Jeremy couldn’t hold back his laughter. He shook his head and looked at Mike. “And besides, what makes you think I’ve got a hot bod?”
“Hey, I know you’ve got a hot bod. Don’t forget, I saw you taking your clothes off in the dressing room earlier this evening.”
Jeremy frowned, scrunching his eyebrows together. “Dressing room?”
“Yeah, you know, out there in the plaza when you were trying on the coat. You stripped. Well, okay, all you did is take off your hoodie. But wearing that T and jeans meant I could see the shape of your bod. Ergo, you have a hot bod.”
Jeremy didn’t have a chance to respond because the waiter walked up and asked if they had any questions about the menu.
“No questions. I’m ready to order,” Mike said. “Are you ready, Jeremy?”
“Sure. You suggested Key Lime Cheesecake, and that sounds great.”
“Okay then, two slices of your Key Lime Cheesecake, please,” Mike told the waiter. And I’ll have a latte with an extra shot of espresso.”
The waiter asked Jeremy for his drink order.
“I’ll have the same thing, a latte with an extra shot of espresso.”
After the waiter left, Mike looked at Jeremy.
“So, let’s get back to this hot bod thing,” he said. “Why would you think you don’t have a hot bod?”
“God, that’s such a personal question.” Jeremy looked up and stared at Mike for a few seconds. “How the heck am I supposed to answer that? If I say yes, then I’m boasting. If I say no, then I’m asking you to contradict me. That’s the kind of question for which there is no good answer.”
“Ah ha! So I’ve left you in a quandary. My job here is a success,” Mike stated.
Jeremy laughed, then asked, “What’s that mean?”
“You have no way out. It means that you’ve got a hot bod.”
Jeremy grinned. “So, do you think I have a hot bod?”
“Absolutely,” Mike stated with finality.
“If you say so, then it must be true. I accept that I have a hot bod.” Jeremy shook his head, then chuckled.
Mike looked across the table and stared at Jeremy. “You have to excuse me,” he said. “I tend to make jokes at people’s expense. I hope I’m not embarrassing you too much.”
“Not at all. It came as a surprise, though. I’ve never thought about my bod being hot. I’ve seen other guys, and girls, who I thought had hot bods. But never my own.”
“You shouldn’t put yourself down, Jeremy. You’re a good looking guy. Now, tell me, why wouldn’t Sandra make you a good girlfriend?”
Now the conversation moved to a topic that Jeremy didn’t want to share with anyone. Despite a little voice telling him where Mike was trying to lead him might be a good thing.
“Okay,” he replied, “so Sandra and I start going out. I don’t have a car, I don’t have much money, I don’t live near school. So how far would this girlfriend thing last? Besides, she’s going to graduate in the spring and go off to college somewhere. Then what am I supposed to do?”
“Good arguments,” Mike said. “I guess you can strike Sandra off your list.”
Jeremy decided to turn the conversation around. “What about you? Who are you dating?”
“Oh, I’m not dating anyone. I just haven’t found the right one yet.”
Jeremy caught the ‘one’ instead of ‘girl’ in Mike’s reply. ‘Could he be…?’ he thought. ‘Nah, no way.’
“Okay, that works for me. I’m gonna borrow that reason and adopt it as mine, too.”
Their lattes were delivered, and they took a few sips. Jeremy closed his eyes. “Mmm, that’s wonderful.” He took a spoonful of the foam off the top and put it in his mouth, then just let it sit there so he could savor the richness.
Mike watched Jeremy. He liked Jeremy a lot. He realized that he wanted to get to know him better. A lot better. He was definitely nice, friendly, handsome, hot, and sexy. Very sexy.
Across the table Jeremy watched Mike. He liked Mike a lot. He realized that he wanted to know him better. A lot better. Mike filled in every checkbox on Jeremy’s mental wish list: friendly, generous, caring, handsome, cute, hot, sexy… Jeremy ran out of checkboxes. He could add more, but the ones he filled in were enough for now. However, there were a bunch of line items listed below the checkboxes, and those needed to be filled in.
“So, Mike, tell me about yourself. I know a few things about you. Your name, that you go to Northgate High, your granddad’s name, what he does, and that both of you are kind and generous.” Jeremy grinned, and started to laugh when Mike blushed.
“And you blush!” he said. “That’s one of your best attributes.”
“You can tell?”
“Sure. Your cheeks get this reddish color. I like the way you blush. You should blush more often.”
Mike covered his face with his hands, then peeked out between his fingers. “That is so embarrassing!”
The waiter interrupted their conversation, bringing two large slices of Key Lime Cheesecake.
“Enjoy. I’ll check back in a bit to see if there’s anything else you’d like.”
“Okay, thanks,” Mike replied.
They sat and each took a bite of the cheesecake.
Jeremy looked up at Mike. “Oh, my, god! I think this is the best dessert I’ve ever tasted,” he said.
Mike grinned. “I agree. It’s my favorite.”
Over the next few minutes they concentrated on finishing every last morsel of their desserts.
Jeremy sat back. “So, Mike, before the waiter so rudely interrupted us you were starting to tell me about yourself.”
“I don’t remember that!”
“Then let me refresh your memory. Tell me about what you like to do, what classes you like and don’t like, what sports you like, your favorite books and movies and TV shows, your favorite music, you know, stuff about you.”
“Man, that’s a lot of questions. Okay. I like school, and do pretty well in all my classes. My favorite classes are English and Creative Writing. I like to read, mostly science fiction, mysteries, comedy. I like to run, and I’m on the cross country team. I like pop, rock, indie, jazz, ska, reggae, and even classical and opera. I like to laugh, so when I go to the movies I like comedies and animation. I like to draw and paint. I don’t watch much TV except movies and documentaries.
“I’m the middle of five kids. I know that sounds like a lot of kids, but my younger brothers are triplets and they’re in the eighth grade, and I have an older sister who’s in college. My mom likes to say that she had three kids, meaning she went to the hospital three times. When my brothers hear her say that, they ask ‘so who are those other two people?’ pointing at me and my sister.”
Mike continued, “My folks both work. My mom’s an English teacher at Clayton Valley High. My dad’s a programmer. He works for Adobe in San Jose. I’ve got friends, but no best friend. Yet.”
They stared at each other for a few seconds. Jeremy realized that Mike might have implied that they could become best friends. That was something Jeremy would like a lot.
Having Mike stare at him made him feel like everything in his mind and soul could be read like a book. That was something that scared Jeremy; there were things that he had locked up inside, things that he wasn’t sure if he’d ever let anyone discover.
Then Mike smiled. “Your turn. Tell me about you.”
“Not a lot to tell. Let’s see. School. I get good grades. I love going to school. It’s my favorite thing to do. I’m taking as many AP classes as I can cram in. I want to get a scholarship to U.C. Berkeley or U.C. Davis, and having a straight-A average is the only way I’ll be able to get one. Without a full-ride scholarship I won’t be able to afford to go to college. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. My mom works, she’s a waitress, but the place where she worked closed so she’s not working right now.
“I like to ride my skateboard, and hike and backpack. I love to read, anything and everything. I probably like science fiction best, but I also like history and biographies and mysteries and… well, just about everything! I spend a lot of time in the library.
“Music. I like pop, folk, indie, and rock, and like you I like classical and opera. I especially like some of the new English indie bands. I don’t watch much TV either. We only have basic cable, so what I mostly watch are movies. I can’t afford to go see movies in the theater very often, unless it’s a low-price matinee.
“Let’s see. Movies. My favorite of all time is Young Frankenstein…”
“Oh, that’s my favorite, too,” Mike interrupted.” And my second favorite is Galaxy….”
Jeremy joined Mike in saying the rest of the title, “…Quest!” They burst out laughing, and Mike blushed when he saw people at nearby booths turn and stare at them, probably to see what was so funny.
“And,” Jeremy continued, “I like Monsters, Inc. and Shrek, but just the first ones.”
“I like those too, and Frozen. Have you seen Frozen?” Jeremy shook his head. “The song from that movie is great.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard it on the radio,” Jeremy replied. “My current favorite song is Passenger’s Let Her Go. The first time I listened to it, it got into my brain and just stayed there. I love that song.”
“Oh, my god, I love that song, too,” Mike said. “I like to watch the lyrics when I play it on my PC, and I sing along. Drives my brothers crazy.”
Jeremy couldn’t believe that. “They don’t like Let Her Go?”
“They like it as much as I do. They don’t like my singing along with Passenger, especially when I switch some of the words. They yell at me and say ‘Let him sing it!’ but I ignore them.” Mike smiled.
Jeremy returned his smile, and tried to suppress a laugh. He knew Mike wouldn’t understand why he’d laugh. His reason was that he’d change the ‘her’ to ‘him’ when he sang along with the lyrics. He wondered what words Mike changed.
“Where do you live?” Mike asked.
“On Bearwood Lane. That’s bear like the animal, not bare like being naked.”
Mike started laughing. “Oh, I’d much prefer that second definition. I can just picture you being bare out in the woods.” He wiggled his eyebrows. That made Jeremy laugh, too.
“I live on Shellside Court, just below Treat,” Mike said.
“Say, I think I know where that is. Isn’t Shellside just past Cherry?”
“If you mean just east of Cherry, you’re close, but no cigar. That’s Shellside Road. From Treat you go south on Shellside Road. Shellside Court is the second right.”
“You can walk to my house!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Take Treat to Cherry, go north, stay on Cherry and hang a right on Brighton Way, then a right on Bearwood Lane. We live at the second house from the end. I’d guess that on foot we live about fifteen or twenty minutes from each other. By skateboard or bike, half that.”
“Okay, then there’s something I don’t understand. Why you go to Las Lomas instead of Northgate? I’d think you’d be in the Northgate attendance area.”
“Nope. The dividing line is Walnut Creek, the creek that gave the city of Walnut Creek it’s name. It’s between where I live and where you live.”
“How do you get to Las Lomas? That’s quite a long way, isn’t it?”
“It’s about three and a half miles. There’s a bunch of ways for me to get to school. I usually skateboard from my house to the Iron Horse Trail to Las Lomas. The Iron Horse Trail runs along the back side of the campus. If I’m in a hurry I ride my bike; that’s the fastest way. If it’s raining I take BART from the Pleasant Hill station to the Walnut Creek station, then take a bus to school. Sometimes I take BART then the free bus from BART to downtown Walnut Creek and walk the rest of the way to school.”
“Damn, that sounds like it would take you a long time to get to school.”
“It’s not bad. If I skateboard I can get from my house to school in about a half hour. Riding my bike takes about 20 minutes. Either walking or using BART and the bus takes about an hour.
“So Mike, you’re not very close to Northgate from where you live. How do you get to school and how long does it take?”
“I ride my bike unless it’s raining. It takes about 20 minutes. The school bus takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how long I have to wait once I get to where I can catch the bus.”
“That sounds easy,” Jeremy said.
“Yeah, but it can be bad. The school buses are scheduled to get you to school on time in the morning, which is okay. Problem is, to get home I have to catch the bus between the time school gets out and about a half hour after. If I have to be at school longer, like for cross country practice or a meet, then I have to get someone to give me a ride or have my folks or granddad pick me up. Or walk home, and that takes about an hour. Those days I usually ride my bike if it’s not raining.
“Can’t you take a County Connection bus?”
“There’s no public bus to Northgate High. The closest bus I can take is at Ygnacio Valley Road and Walnut Avenue, and that’s about two miles from school, and it takes about 40 minutes to walk just to get to a bus stop.”
“Wow, that sucks. And I thought I had it tough getting to school.”
“Say, how did you get to school today?” Mike asked. “You didn’t use your skateboard because you don’t have it with you, or if you did use it then you left it somewhere. And I’m pretty sure you didn’t ride your bike.”
“I walked. I had some things to think about this morning. It was cold, but walking was okay. Then during the day it got a lot colder. I heard somebody say it was in the high twenties when school got out.”
“Yeah, it’s too cold for you to walk home, or to walk to BART and then walk from BART to your house. My granddad is taking me home. I’ll have him drop you off.” Jeremy started to say something, but Mike shook his head, put up his right palm, and continued, “No arguments. We’ve just met and I like you. I think we’re becoming good friends.” Jeremy grinned and nodded. “I don’t want my new good friend to freeze to death getting home.”
“Thanks, Mike. That’ll be a huge help.”
The waiter brought the bill, and after checking the amount Mike put a credit card in the slot and stood the folder up so the waiter would see they were ready to pay.
“So, what are you doing tomorrow?” Mike asked.
“Homework. I always make sure I finish the homework that’s assigned on Friday either on Friday night or Saturday morning. I don’t want to spend the rest of this evening doing homework, so I’ll do it tomorrow morning.”
“Yeah, me too. What if I come to your house and we work on our homework together?”
Jeremy thought about that for a few seconds. He’d have to come up with a reason for his mom not being home. “Sure. Thing is, my mom went out of town with her boyfriend, so no adult will be there. Will that be okay?” Then he quickly added, “They travel a lot.”
“Sure. Why wouldn’t it be okay?” Mike asked.
“Well, sometimes a friend will tell me their mom needs to talk to my mom before they can come to my house. I guess to make sure there will be a ‘responsible adult’ where their son is going.”
“My mom trusts me. If there’s any question about you being responsible, I’m sure my granddad will vouch for you. He met you and likes you.”
“Well, okay then,” Jeremy replied. “What time do you want to come over?”
“I’ll leave my house around ten and I’ll walk so I’ll be at your house between ten twenty and ten thirty. Is that okay?”
Jeremy grinned. “Yeah, that’s perfect. I usually don’t get up early on Saturdays. That’ll still give me time to shower and have breakfast.”
The waiter returned the bill and the credit card receipt, Mike added a carefully calculated seventeen percent tip by doubling the amount of the eight and a half percent sales tax, signed the receipt, and pocketed the his copy along with his credit card.
“I’m surprised you have a credit card,” Jeremy said.
“Anyone sixteen and over can get one. It’s a prepaid card that can have a daily dollar amount spending limit, but that part’s an option. The main thing is that it’s prepaid, so you won’t be approved for anything that makes it run over the limit. You should be able to get one too. Just go to the bank that your mom uses.”
“Cool.” Jeremy realized that would solve a lot of his lack of cash problems.
“I’ll call my granddad,” Mike said. “He said he’d pick me up when we finished. I’ll ask him to take you home since it’s near where we live. I know it won’t be a problem.”
He made the call, and Jeremy heard Mike say, “Okay, thanks. See you in twenty minutes.”
“Let’s exchange cell and house phone numbers,” Jeremy suggested. “That way if there are any changes to our plans for tomorrow we’ll be able to get hold of each other.”
“I should have thought about that,” Mike said. “Good catch, Jeremy.”
They exchanged their street and email addresses, and phone and cell numbers, then gathered their coats and Jeremy’s backpack and headed out.
They walked through the hall from the restaurant into the parking structure and stood waiting for Roger Butler to arrive and take them home. They didn’t say anything, they were thinking their own thoughts. What would have amazed them is that both were thinking the same thing:
“I finally found someone who could become my best friend”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing One Best Friend
If you enjoyed this story,
you can read the other stories in the series on Codey’s World:
|One Warm Coat|
|One Best Friend|
|One Perfect Boyfriend|
|One Complicated New Year|
|One Sexy New Neighbor|
|One Cute New Neighbor|
|One Questionable Outcome|
|One Satisfactory Outcome|
|One Confusing Phone Call|
|One Acceptable Outcome|
|One Life Changed|
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