The battle of the high school titans looms at Farrington High School with the arrival of new student, David Albacore. Senior Malik Kaplan is the long-term leader of just about everything in this school; guys don’t cross him and girls don’t leave him. But now there’s a new student, David Albacore who transferred in and began taking a lot of attention from teachers, students and the basketball coach. Suddenly there’s someone bigger than Malik, an unknown who has Malik’s long-time girlfriend staring, and who won’t back down.
It took a long time to get Malik to agree to an interview. Today was a short schoolday, and he agreed to hang around and talk to me. If I were a teenaged girl I guess I’d feel lucky. He knows how to let out buckets of charm. He is tall, with a build and confident air that makes him look much older than seventeen. His deep voice fills the room. No wonder he was Homecoming King, and is a sure bet to be Prom King as well. Maybe the other students don’t like him much, but they fear him. Maybe he thinks that’s enough.
“I heard there’s friction between you and the other members of the basketball team.”
His eyes narrow. “No trouble. We’d be fine if that pack of scrubs knew how to play.”
“What about David Albacore? He seems to know his way around the court.” Bringing up the new student in school is tricky. David and Malik have been enemies since David’s first day at Farrington. It’s like survival of the fittest, law of the jungle, two predators cannot occupy the same space, one has to go.
Malik’s lips turn down at the corners and I wonder if this show of emotion is an indication of anger, or unhappiness or something else. “Albacore—no refugee from a fish tank takes over my school. How’d that make me look?”
“The guy’s a good basketball player.”
“Got you fooled too? He came from nowhere and needs to get back before someone hurts him.”
I don’t think Malik likes me. He’s just tolerating my questions like some people tolerate a yappy dog. And when I ask, “Someone being you?”, he shrugs and starts for the door.
As he reaches for the doorknob I say, “David’s bigger than you.”
Just as I expected, the words make him whirl and return. “Like I give a–”
“Girls like him. Yolanda especially.”
“Yoyo belongs to me and what’s mine, I keep. People need to know who I am and the penalty for messing with me.”
“What brought you two together?” I asked her the same question but got no real answer. I look at how he acts and ask myself why girls flocked around him. Yes, he’s handsome, and his family has more money than most around here, but still, if he has a mean streak. Or was Yolanda wrong, is there more to this guy than just the ‘bad boy’ attitude and lifestyle?
“Then she should give me what I want, shouldn’t she? I made her what she is. That girl was a nothing before I met her. She needs to appreciate what I do for her. Stuff Albacore can’t.”
“Yolanda said you were sometimes violent when you didn’t get what you wanted.” As I speak his jaw clenches and I notice the balled-up hands at his sides. I remember that we’re alone in this office and that some people only tolerate that yappy dog for a little while.
“Piece of advice,” he says. “Don’t ask too many questions. You may not like the answers.”