It took two weeks to prepare for the move. Apparently, Mr. Jeffries and his friend from Ohio had been planning this for a while. Cam found out that they had made some kind of pact in college, saying that if either of them ever made it big, they'd hire the other. Of course, neither of them thought that it would actually happen, but when it did everything seemed to fall into place. Cam spent most of the time hiding out inside. After spending so much time as a recluse, he found it hard to force himself outside. Besides, he didn't want to face anyone. No reason to, really. The time passed quickly, and before he knew it he was leaving Northtowne for good.
It was a long drive to their new city, and it gave them a lot of time to talk things out. By the time they had hit the Ohio boarder, there wasn't much on any of their minds that hadn't been said. The conversation died down, save for a quick sentence here or there to point out a field full of cows or horses. After a while, though, they had seen enough cows and horses, and stopped pointing them out. Cam slipped on a pair of headphones he had picked up specifically for this trip and fell asleep listening to a classic rock station on the radio. It wasn't that he enjoyed classic rock, it was just that he hated it a little less than everything else on the radio.
When he woke up, night had already fallen. Mrs. Jeffries was asleep in the front passenger seat. The classic rock was gone, replaced with some political talk show. Two guys with annoying voices were screaming at each other about something, but he wasn't sure what. They must have passed out of his station's range while he was asleep. He groaned, half out of tiredness, half out of annoyance, and flipped off his radio. This elicited an even louder groan when he found that his dad was listening to the exact same political talk show on the car stereo.
"What? Better than listening to some guy screaming over an electric guitar."
"Yeah, listening to two guys screaming over each other. Much better."
"Ha. Come on, this is important stuff they're talking about."
"Really? What is it?"
"Well, you see, it's when...Um, sometimes people in court...you know, I guess it's not important to us at all. Still, their screaming is keeping me from falling asleep and driving into a river."
"Well, I guess that's important. How long was I out?"
"Couple of hours. We're just about there. You might want to keep your eyes open for a while."
They had gotten off of the turnpike and onto the interstate. Not that big of a difference to anyone in the back seat, so Cam sat back and watched the street signs.
"Hey, look at this." Mr. Jeffries pointed to a specific sign above the road. Due to its placement, Cam had to struggle to see it.
Gordon, OH Next Exit
"Gordon. Weird name for a city."
"Get used to it. We're Gordonites now. Gordoneers? Gordonauts?"
"None of them sound all that appealing. So, is our stuff already there?"
"Yeah, movers got everything in earlier. Good thing, too. As soon as I stop driving, I'm going to pass out, and I'd really prefer that I do it on a bed."
They reached their new house just before midnight.
Cam awoke to the sound of voices downstairs. He had slept late, as he stayed up the night before exploring the house. Following his usual morning routine, he looked around for his clock, and ended up rather confused until he remembered that he hadn't unpacked it yet. Standing up brought another notable absence to his attention: His clothes. His closet was empty. None of his boxes had been brought up yet, either. It looked like he was stuck in the same clothes as yesterday. He grabbed them from the floor where he had shed them the night before and pulled them on before heading downstairs.
"Morning." He mumbled, entering the living room. He was relieved to find that most of the furniture was already set up.
"Not quite. Afternoon." His mom replied.
"Oh. So I guess that means you found a clock, right?"
"Yep, sorry. Looks like you'll have to actually be on time for things now."
Cam shrugged and mentioned that he was going outside to look around.
Having thoroughly seen the inside of the house, he wanted to check out the outside, and maybe walk around the neighborhood a bit.
"Alright, but be back in an hour. We've got a lot of stuff to unpack."
He stepped outside and stretched, starting to wake up. He was surprised at how familiar the place looked in the daylight. Just like Northtowne, really. Rows of houses, lawns, gardens, the occasional fence. Nothing spectacular, but what would you expect from a place called Gordon, Ohio?
"Cam, over here!"
His dad was calling from the driveway. As he walked over, Cam noticed that there was someone else standing with him.
"Son, this is Mr. Rowan, who I told you about before."
"Oh, so you're my dad's new boss?"
"Boss?" Mr. Rowan replied. "Nah, I could never get used to him calling me boss. Let's just go with business partner for now."
He missed the last half of this, because his attention was caught by the boy who had just pulled up to his driveway on a bike. He looked to be about the same age as Cam, with light brown hair that hung just over his eyes. He raised a hand and called out.
Mr. Rowan turned and waved back.
"What's up, kid?"
"Just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be at Lunar for a while."
"Oh, is there a show today?"
"Not an official one, but there should be some of 'em out."
"Alright, have fun." Mr. Rowan started to turn back to Cam and his dad, but snapped back around. "Oh yeah. This is Mr. Jeffries and his son Cam. They just moved into town."
"Oh, hey." He looked at Cam closely for the first time, flashing him a quick grin and a half-wave. "I was just on my way to the park, you want to come?"
Cam looked back at his dad, who nodded.
"Yeah, sure. Let me get my bike." His voice cracked slightly, but it wasn't too noticeable. His throat felt dry, and he noticed his hand shaking a bit as he reached for the garage door. He shook his head, trying to get ahold of himself. He was more nervous than he thought he would be.
Those last few months of solitude had really done a number on him as far as shyness went. Ugh, he'd have to get over that. He quickly retrieved his bike and wheeled it outside. Soon enough, they were both peddling down the street.
"So, where are we going again?"
"Lunar Landing Memorial Park. It's just a few blocks from here. Today's the first really nice day of the summer, so I bet there'll be a few Lunatics around."
"You don't know The Lunatics? They're pretty much our city's only attraction."
"Nope, haven't heard of 'em."
"Oh. Well, they're kind of a club. They're a bunch of street performers that hang around in the park. There's a bunch of them. Dancers, jugglers, sketch artists, a few college guys that play incredibly lame love songs on acoustic guitars to pick up chicks...you know, pretty much anybody with some kind of hidden talent. People come from outside of town for their official shows, but you can usually find some of them out on any clear day."
"Sounds cool. Um...what was your name again?"
"Oh, that's right, I never told you. Sorry about that. I'm Andrew. Your name's Cam, right? That short for something?"
"Cameron. Not a big fan of it, so I go by Cam."
"It's not so bad. Kind of cool, really. At least it's different."
"Well...better than my dad's name, anyway."
"Why, what's his name?"
"Jeffrey. Jeffrey Jeffries." He snickered.
"Your grandparents actually named him Jeffrey Jeffries?"
"Yeah, they're not all that creative. That's why he goes by Jay."
"So, see, you got off easy with Cameron. You could have been Jeff Jeffries Junior."
Cam laughed at the thought.
"My grandparents are going to be crushed."
"You managed to out-do them as far as ridiculous names go. They're very competitive."
"No shame in that. So am I." With that, he lowered his head and sped off in front of Cam, racing ahead.
Cam sped up, but not too much. He lagged back a bit, taking the opportunity to stare at Andrew as his legs worked the peddles, his long bangs being blown backwards by the wind.
'Wow, what a cute guy. Ach, got to stop thinking like that. That's behind me. I left that in Northtowne. I won't let it catch up with me. I can't.'
He sped up, matching Andrew's pace the rest of the way to the park.
The Lunar Landing Memorial Park was filled with people, but Andrew said that it was actually a slow day.
"Well, slow for this time of the year, anyway."
A large statue of the lunar lander was in the center of the park, an American flag flying from the top. The plaque said that it was completed just a few weeks after the first lunar landing, and that Neil Armstrong himself had been there to speak at the opening ceremony. He lived only a few cities away, after all.
The area was filled with music, different sounds coming from every direction at once. A couple of the "gangsta" types had set up a huge stereo system and were blasting hip-hop songs while break dancing. At the other side of the park, a small rock band was playing an acoustic set. A guy and a girl were over in that direction as well, doing back flips and headstands and such. Cam noticed that all of the performers were wearing the same shirts. Dark blue, with a large, white crescent moon on the back and a smaller one on the front pocket.
"Oh yeah, that's how you can tell which ones are actual members of The Lunatics. Something about wanting people to support the locals, and not the out-of-towners. I guess a bunch of people from other cities were coming here to get free exposure, and taking all the money from the local acts." Andrew explained. "The outsiders still come here to perform sometimes, and people will still throw them some money, but now they know that they're not supporting The Lunatics."
They circled the park, watching the different acts. Some of them frowned when they saw them approach, knowing that kids hardly ever paid off, but most of them were just happy to have the extra attention. Cam liked the two acrobats a lot. They flipped and twisted across the grass, cracking corney jokes the whole time, pointing out each others mistakes and making fun of the other acts. He checked his pockets. Broke, as usual. Not even a hand full of change to toss at their hat. Ah well.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt Andrew take hold of his wrist.
'Oh my god, oh my god...he's holding my hand! What do I do, what do I do?'
"Hey, take it easy, I was just going to give you some change." Andrew turned his hand face-up and dropped some coins into his palm. "Jeeze, you must have been really into the act. You looked like you were about to have a heart attack over there."
"Y-yeah...shocked me, that's all. Heh...thought I was...uh, getting kidnapped or something. You don't have to give me-"
"Don't worry about it, I only gave you half of what I was going to throw these guys. It'll all end up in the same place."
"Want to go see something else?"
Cam smiled and nodded, his heart still racing. Yeesh, that was a close one. So close, in fact, he could only think in short nonsensical words like 'yeesh'. Andrew pushed forward toward the front of the crowd, Cam following his lead. When they reached the front, they both threw their change into the hat that the performers had set out. The acrobats noticed, and pointed it out.
"Hey, Julie, look. We're getting charity from kids."
"Yeah, Mark. You guys sure you can afford it? I'd hate to see you lose your milk money for the week."
"Quiet, Jules! That milk could be ours!"
"So, any of you high-income types want to help out? Remember, the best gift you can give is something you made yourselves."
"Yeah, like money."
"Or are we going to have to keep bankrupting our city's youth?"
Andrew pulled Cam him to the side and whispered to him. "It's just a bit. They're trying to guilt the others into paying them. They always do it when kids donate, and it usually works. Watch."
Just as he was saying that, a few of the adults in the crowd stepped forward and dropped some bills into the hat.
"Notice how every one of the guys that's here with a girl is throwing in a wad of cash. All ones, of course, but they're trying to look like big shots for the girls. It's hilarious, it happens every time."
Laughing, they walked over to where the band was playing. Just as they were approaching, the band finished up their slow, soft song and moved into a fast, loud, popular song that half the crowd started singing along with.
Andrew joined in, belting it out loudly and out of tune, much like the rest of the crowd. Cam just stood and listened, not feeling confident enough to sing in public. By the time they hit the third chorus, though, Andrew was prodding him and motioning for him to join. Ah hell, why not? Couldn't look any worse than anyone else, right? He started singing along as best he could, throwing in some inarticulate mumbles now and then whenever he hit some lyrics that he was unsure of. The crowd was really getting into it toward the end, jumping and screaming, pumping their fists in the air to accentuate the lyrics, splashing each other with their bottles of water.
One of them caught Cam in the spray, soaking his hair and the top half of his shirt. He just laughed and kept singing.
For the second time that day, Cam nearly had a heart attack. Andrew, completely lost in the song, threw an arm around Cam's shoulders and raised his fist to the air, screaming along with the last few lines. Something about running or hiding or something...hell, it could have been about anything. Cam didn't hear a word of it. His eyes were barely focused, and he was off in his own world. The song probably ended or something. It looked like the blur that was the audience had stopped jumping around.
"Hey. Hey, can you hear me? Come on, I know I didn't scream loud enough for you to go deaf on me."
Somebody was saying something. Oh yeah, Andrew. That's right. Should probably answer.
"I was asking if you were okay. You kind of zoned out for a second."
"Oh. Oh, yeah, I'm fine."
Andrew tossed some change into the band's collection jar, which was stuffed. After putting on a show like that, it was no wonder. Cam checked his watch. Three thirty.
"Jeeze, I'm late. I was supposed to be home half an hour ago."
"Oh, let's go then."
"I can find my way back, you can stay if you want."
Andrew just shrugged and followed him back to the bike racks. He and Cam swapped phone numbers before riding back home.
His parents weren't too mad when he came home late. Mostly they were just glad that he was looking happy for a change. He did have to explain why his shirt and hair were dripping wet, though. He told them about The Lunatics and all the cool stuff there was in the park while they unpacked.
Before long the new house was looking familiar, filled with the same decorations and pictures as their old place. That night, he tossed and turned in bed, flipping between happiness, sadness, and fear. Going to the park with Andrew had been the most fun he had had in...well, as far back as he could remember. On the other hand, those old feelings that he had been trying so hard to leave behind were creeping back on him. He cursed under his breath. Something great like this happens, and then he had to go and ruin it all by being...being...he didn't even want to think it. No, he was normal now. Normal. He'd be normal if it killed him.