Rotten Apples

Chapter 9 – Sascha Ludovic Konovski

“Sascha KONOVSKI?” Liam said and giggled to himself a sarcastic laugh as we were walking to his house for the very second time, the same day of my cooking class when I served all the kids my apple pie, later that afternoon. Liam insisted on inviting me to hangout and eat a snack at his house that afternoon that his dad would throw us together. ‘You’re stuck with HIM?” He said. “Jeez.”

“Well…” I said trying to start what I wished to say. “He’s… He’s not SO bad.” I said. Liam stopped walking, immediately and I did as well and turned to see him just give me a serious look.

“Not so bad?” He shook his head. “Dude. I know you’re new and all, but, you don’t know what you’re messing with. You don’t know who he is; Sascha is nothing, but, problems. Stay AWAY from him as much as you can, understand? Got it? You STAY away from him.” He seriously warned me and began walking.

I stood there a moment before I walked. “But, what if he’s not like that, really?”

Now, Liam got mad and walked back to me and grabbed my arm, getting his face closer to me, scaring me a little bit. “Lemme tell YOU somethin’…. Sascha is nothing, but, a snake who poisons people behind their back. He even got ME in trouble with my dad, saying I beat him up and pulled a knife on him, JUST to mess with me. He’s crazy. My dad practically almost beat ME to an orange juiced pulp, until I was, somehow, able to proove he was lying. The principal found out, but, he could do nothing since it was out of our school. They always save their worst for out of school and do it when you don’t expect it. They’re real smart. You STAY THE FU++ away from him and them. That kid is trash…. you hear? FU++ING stay away from them.” He finished annoyed and let go of my arm which started to hurt from him grabbing it so hard. He scared me, but, I could tell he was mad about what happened before and probably didn’t want to have to baby me if I got myself into that kind of trouble myself again by being foolish and walking right into it even after a warning.

“Sigh.” I really didn’t even know what to say to that. It was both a shock and also not a shock at all to hear that happening in the past. I also really didn’t want to debate with someone as strong and as good of a fighter as Liam, especially after my long day. No thank you. So, I just continued to walk to his house. But, something about that story didn’t seem right. For some reason, I felt like there was more to it. I felt like Sascha did that… But, maybe didn’t WANT to do it. I had a strange & eery feeling that something worse was going on that not even Liam knew about and it was beginning to frighten me as we were walking and I looked into the shadows of bushes as we passed by. I felt like Sascha was in some sort of dilemma for some reason. Why? I don’t know. It wasn’t logical. But, my heart was telling me something other than my brain wanted me to believe.

______________

*Woof Woof*

Walking up to Liam’s house, I noticed a very large metal fence which guarded and surrounded the entire front and back lawn and I heard a dog from inside. I already knew that he owned one from the last time that I was here when he was licking my leg as Liam attended my wounds from Jesse Bradford’s merciless beating on me, but, hearing his ‘woof’ and seeing him wagging his tail in a happy manor from seeing Liam walk up to his house made me instantly remember MY dog, Spartacus. I remembered how much fun he and I had and dwelled on what he was doing with my Nan the entire time I’d been gone. I won’t lie, the memories of my dog, were all painful and not happy. I really missed my Spartacus and even more so, I kept imagining how cute it would be if I could bring my dog to play with Liam’s dog while me and Liam hung out. But I couldn’t. I COULDN’T.

“Hey, dad.” Liam said, casually locking the door behind us.

Turning around and walking inside, I met his father for the very first time. Sporting a nice dark blue T-shirt, a pair of dark blue jeans and no shoes as their house was a ‘strictly no shoes’ zone, I also took notice of his scruffy beard and strong arms. You could just tell. He had a ‘history’. He was one of those men you meet that just interest you and capture your attention as though, just their features alone, make you realize they have a story to their life, whether it’d be a good one or a bad one.

“Who’s this?” He said nudging his head at me and I sort of tensed up from natural nerves of meeting someone new.

Wrapping his arm around my shoulders and giving me a good & friendly few approving pats, Liam said, “This is my new friend. He’s Billy. Same as me. Funny eh’?”

“Hysterical.” His father said with a sarcastic tone and grinned at us both. For some reason, I felt comfortable with his father, the more minutes that went by. It was almost like seeing a German Shepard. They LOOK intimidating, but, once they show you they’re friendly unless you give them a reason not to be, they’re nice. That’s exactly the vibes Liam’s father gave me. I trusted him. I couldn’t explain, why. Perhaps, it was because of the past that I knew he had in the United States army.

____________

“Here.” Liam said handing me his X-Box One controller as I just stared at it as I was sitting indian style on his bedroom floor. He had a GIANT flat screen TV in his room with a game system, cable box, Fire stick for movies, and the works. I marveled at it all. I didn’t have any of these things and I felt like an utter idiot trying to figure out what he wanted me to do.

“Uh. Can you help me, …please?” I asked him.

“What? With… With the controller?” He asked.

“Yes…” I said meekly.

“Don’t tell me…. You never played X-Box, EITHER?” He said almost annoyed over the fact and that I should have known how to play, like it was a major part of his life. He wasn’t really annoyed AT me. He was annoyed FOR me.

“I ain’t never played a game in mah life. I- sorry.” I said looking down and embarrassed.

“Hey, hey.” He saw me upset and sat next to me on the floor from where he was sitting on his bed. He rubbed my back. We looked into each other’s eyes for a few moments and he said “I’ll teach you.”

“Okay…” I replied as he proceeded the next half an hour to show me the basics and the works of how the system and game we were playing operated.

Half an hour later, we were playing and I was trying as HARD as I could to remember what he had taught me. God it was hard for me. It really was! But, it was so fun. It was so cool! I loved it!!!

“Uh-huh. Yeah. You. Yes… YEAH!” He mouthed as we were playing and he was guiding me to try and beat him.

*Knock knock knock*

“Come in.” Liam said to his father from behind the door.

His dad opened it and spoke. “You boys eating dinner or what? Billy, you joining us? You like a steak I hope?”

I thought about it. The last time I was invited with Liam to eat a meal at Burger King, my parents didn’t seem upset, despite, that I saved my belly for a homemade meal at home. So, I was going to give it a try and see if I could eat dinner out, without any permission this time. Not like I could CALL them or anything, other than the house line. So, I smiled. “Yes, sir. My daddy BBQs alot. Steak’s one o’ mah favs.”

He gave me a thumbs up as his dog barked and he spoke, “Alright, cool. That’s uh. That’s cool. Dinner’ll be ready in 35 minutes.” He said looking around and rubbing the back of his neck before walking out.

Unknown to me at the time, those were some classic body language signs of someone dealing with PTSD; avoiding eye contact at times, rubbing parts of the person’s on skin roughly, & looking around while talking were all telltale signs, but, I didn’t think much of it at the time. I had no idea what he’d seen, had to do as a sergeant, and worse, what he had to live with as a result that haunted him. He hid it all very well. I did notice a beer bottle in his hand, but, to me, that was normal. And, for the most part it was. According to Liam his dad drank no more than 2 drinks a day, the daily average limit that the FDA states a grown male can consume with little to no negative effects.

_________________

Eating at Liam’s dining room table was an interesting experience because I felt like I actually didn’t have to TRY to belong there. It was just us three guys and their dog. His father not only knew how to cook a steak pretty darn well, but, the sides of mash taters and some veggies were perfect. And, I was always somewhat of a picky eater when it came to dinner time. So, that was a compliment and I was sure to tell him just how much I truly appreciated and enjoyed the meal that he had created for the three of us. All of it, however, kind of made me wonder where Liam’s mother was. But, I didn’t ask him about that, whatsoever, out of politeness. My parents always taught me never to pry with new company, especially, if I was the guest. It was an overall good and satisfying evening. I really felt at home, there, which was a relief, considering how much I liked Liam and how nervous I initially was to meet his father. However, even after I left that night, and Liam introduced me to a few new things, there was one major thing that I was missing. And, it had been bothering me since the very first day of school; I didn’t have a way to communicate with him, Donny or anyone else for that matter. I didn’t have a cellphone. And I felt like SUCH an outcast for it. I HATED myself because of it. It may seem silly. But, the same feeling I had ,was as if everyone at school wasn’t dressed up for Halloween, but, you were and looked like an absolute idiot. I felt so, so, ‘targeted’ as the next thing Jesse would bully me about the very moment he’d find out.

______________

 

The next day in the lunchroom at school as Donny & I were chatting and he was eating Jello, something I HATED since the moment I tasted it, Sarah and Jessica walked up to us with their trays half eaten and smiled at me and, especially, at Donny.

“Hi.” Jessica said to me and then looked at Donny. “Hello.” She said to him. “Can we sit with you guys? Our friends are over there… but, we wana hang with you if that’s cool.”

“Allo.” Antonio said. “I’m Antonio. You can sit. Yes… Please.” He said, politely as he smiled at them both and gestured for them to sit with his hand.

“Cool. Thanks.” Sarah, the darker haired girl, said. Sarah sat to my left. And, Jessica sat next to Donny.

Not only did all four of us gel pretty well, but, during the course of those seven minutes when we all began to introduce each other and explain who we were, what we enjoyed doing, and when Donny & I told them about our new cooking class, I began to realize that I was with an actual group of friends. What shocked me even more, was when I saw familiar face walk up to me with another boy at his side, holding their trays as well.

“LIAM!” I said, probably a little to loud, unable to suppress my excitement. Liam had an “A” lunch period while we all had a “B” lunch period. This disabled he & I from being able to eat lunch together, however, there he was with a friend of his. It was a complete surprise. And, everyone looked at me as I smiled dreamily at him as they sat with us. Liam sat to my right. “Hiiii.” I said sweetly. Against my will, from the jitters of having him sit with me at lunch, I giggled a little to myself as I looked at him and his tray which was right next to mine. Sarah looked as though she was trying to muffle a laugh, but, I couldn’t understand why. Not until later, that is. “What eh’yu doin’ here?” I asked him.

“This is my friend, Jamie.” He said. I recognized him. He was the same Jamie who tried my apple pie in my cooking class!.He was Liam’s best friend? Wow! I couldn’t help the involuntary smile that crept it’s way onto my lips. “I got the Dean to switch my lunch schedule.” He said to me. That made me instantly wonder how he could do such a thing and also why he would even want to do that considering that Jesse and his friends were not that far from us. Why would Liam even remotely want to do that to himself? Apparently, Liam’s father is good friends with the Dean of our grade so he ‘convinced him’ to allow him to switch, but, Liam didn’t tell me his true reasons why he did so.

The moment I thought that, I looked up and saw Jesse Bradford, Sasha Konovski, and Michael Smith glare directly at me as though they were searing an absolute laser of fire from their eyes into my soul. They, obviously, hated the fact that I was with him and, on top of that, that I had a bunch of friends that were now sitting happily with me.

I, then, took notice of someone to my right against the wall of the cafeteria giving a suspicious and serious look at them, and then, at me as he slowly paced around. My principal took a break from his office for some reason and obviously knew there was tension and hidden things going on between us all and he seemed to give Jesse, especially, an unreadable look. He seemed concerned for me. It was like the type of personality he knew that I already had made him uncomfortable to know that someone like Jesse could possibly be messing around with. My principal knew I was a fragile person and I suppose seemed more worried for me, than, upset. At least, that’s what I saw through his eyes, anyway. It made me feel I had some sort of support besides, Liam, my homeroom Teacher, and Donny when it came to them, even though Donny was completely oblivious to the entire ordeal.

Introducing Liam to Donny and having Liam introduce Jamie to me was a really interesting and fun experience for me. It made me feel like I have someone of my own to show off to Liam and, then, Liam showed off his friend to me. It may seem odd, but, it was like we were ‘trading’ and showing the other person parts of our life. And, I felt like an equal. I was equal.

“YOU should have tasted his pie, Liam. It was so good. Better than anything mah momz makes.” His friend Jamie said after he took a bite of a french fry.

“Thanks.” I said to Jamie with a smile.

“You bake?” Liam asked me giggling as though it was a bit of a shock to him.

“I try.” I said with a playful little smile of my own. He bumped his elbow into me, teasingly, and I did the same to him in return.

The entire time that we were all talking I couldn’t really understand it at first, but, the one who was connecting all of us together was ME. Everyone knew me. In fact, they were all sitting there because they knew me. I was the center of the group. I was the center of attention. And, as I was telling them all stories of my old apple orchard and they all marveled at how amazing and beautiful it sounded, I felt beyond appreciative. It really meant a lot to me. I was making my own group of friends without even trying or changing who I was as a person. They were attracted to my personality. They liked my sweetness. They liked me. They liked ME. They really did. But, I was still sad when I had to come up with a lie and excuse AGAIN when Jamie, Sarah, Jessica, and Donny asked me for my number that day before we left to our next classes.

____________

Later on that day, as I was walking home from school, being that Donny’s mother had to pick him up and take him to his father’s new office for something, I decided to just enjoy the rest of my day. However, leaning against a brick wall, smoking a cigarette with one leg up the wall to casually hold himself up I saw Sascha. I ignored him and just kept walking as best as I could. Turning around slowly I saw he noticed me. He was waiting for me.

“HEYY.” He said, taking a puff and, then, throwing the rest of his ciggerette bud away and proceeded to follow me with a serious look on his face. At least I thought it was a serious look.

I walked a little faster as I noticed he was basically jogging towards me. He was alone and so was I.

“COME HERE.” He said.

“You stay the F++k away from him.” I heard Liam’s voice echo in my mind of his warning to me of how I shouldn’t be around Sascha and should not trust him.

Then, he started to run to catch up to me. Forget it! The moment I saw that I started to run. Now, little did Sascha know, that having so much running practice with my old Collie back in Georgia, I was an extremely fast runner, so, once I did it was hard for him to keep up at first. But, little did I know, Sascha was a soccer player one of the stars of the team, so, once he picked up HIS pace he was alot faster than I would have thought. This startled me and I, then, initialized my running to Full on speed. Even with his soccer history, there was no way he could ever even dream of catching me. I was easily faster than any kid on his team, including him.

“COME BACK HERE!!” I heard him yelp from behind me.

Okay good. He’s falling behind all I have to do is reach the main road and-

“OWWW!!!” *Crash*

I turned around to see Sascha on the ground with his head on the grass and dirt. He, apparently got caught on a bunch of fallen branches and fell on a large pile of stones to his right. I wanted to just leave and started to keep running. But, something stopped me. My PaPa and God wouldn’t be proud of me if I just… Left him there like that. And, I felt bad seeing him laying there and not moving. I think he really hurt himself.

I slowly walked up to him and he tried to get up and looked at me with a searing look of anger that was so sharp it could have burned through clothing from how annoyed and upset he was. He apparently blamed ME for him falling.

“YOU IDIOT. I JUST WANTED TO TALK.” He spat at me with his head down looking up at me.

I just sort of froze. His leg was bleeding really badly on his knee and lower part. Being so we’ll versed with helping my little brother with cuts and first aid care, I knew full well how to tend to wounds and noticed the severity of his fall. I couldn’t believe this. I felt bad for him as he winced in pain and some tears came out of his eyes as he grabbed his leg.

“Uh… Let let me help you.” I said trying to grab his hand to pull him up.

He smacked my hand away, shocking me as he said, “Don’t TOUCH me.” And, proceeded to get up, but, fell from the pain and blood oozing out of his cut.

“Maybe, you should call your family or the hospital.” I said.

“No!!!” He said with wide eyes. “You… You can’t tell anyone I’m here.” He said. “You better not!!” He said. That was strange. Why wasn’t he allowed here? What’s going on? I thought.

I knew he needed help and my house was 4 blocks away. Just like when Liam helped me… It was my turn.

“Follow me.” I said forcing my hand around his shoulder. This time, he let me help him up.

“Ow. Ow. Ow.” He said as he got up.

I was holding him up with my arm around his shoulder and we looked at one another for a moment. It was… Very close. “Mah house just 4 blocks from here.”

“I’m not going to YOUR HOUSE!!!” He said, stubbornly. “I CAN’T.” He said, confusing me, once more.

“You gots to. That ain’t healing on its own. Imma help you. I promise.” I said to him.

He thought, angrily for a moment. “FINE.” And, I slowly helped him walk to my place.

________________

Having Sascha sit on my dining room table chair with his pants off and me carefully disinfecting, bandaging, and wrapping his wounds, just like Liam did to me, while I knelt on the floor, was the most intimate moment we both shared up until that point. It was nerve racking. I was soooo close to him. My God. His skin was right by my face! I tried not to, but, Sascha’s body was absolutely beautiful to me. But, he was my bully and I, well, couldn’t help, but, like what I saw. Plus, he was only in boxer breifs! But, I HAD to take off his pants to properly address his injuries. I told him he could borrow a pair of my black sweatpants after when I was done.

“Okay.” he said not making eye contact with me. During the process, he would occasionally look at me and I could tell he was appreciative of the nursing I was getting him. Despite, whether or not he wanted me to notice it or not or even admit it to himself.

“Who’s this?” I heard my mother’s voice ask behind me and I jumped up so fast and faced her with Sascha KONOVSKI in his underwear and legs opened and feet up on a chair as we both stared at her. Oh God.

“NOBODY!” I said, fully guilty of being infatuated with the boy that was sitting in my own dining room as I looked at my mother with flushed cheeks.

Sascha gave me an annoyed and dull look as he said to me, “I’m NOBODY?”

My mother looked at him and then at me and furrowed her brow contemplating what was going on in her mind.

“What’s going on, Billy?” She said looking at him in his underwear and recalling my position that I was just in.

I froze. “Uhm. Well.”

“Hello, I’m Sascha Ludovic Konovski. Billy was helping me with a pretty bad fall I just had. And, it wasn’t far from here.” He said politely and full of manners.

“Huh.” She said staring at him. “You two have been doing alot of ‘falling” eh, Billy? Isn’t that funny?” She asked me trying to piece together who he really was to me.

“Hysterical.” I said, sarcastically in return, just like Liam’s father stated about the name He & I shared.

“Well, why don’t I call your folks. They-” she started.

“NO!” He said. “Please, don’t. It’s no big deal. See? Billy fixed it good & tight for me. Hehe. He suuuuuure is good at bandages.”

She really debated it, but, didn’t want to pry more than necassary. But, I could tell she wasn’t comfortable about it.

“Alright if you suree. Yah here? Won’t you stay for supper, then if it’s alraght with your folks?” This statement from her made me almost want to smack her.

“Supper?” He asked me as his cheeks turned red. “Uhm…. Okay. Thank you.” He said and looked at the floor as I helped him up.

____________

While my mother was tending to dinner, my father was in his office, and Shannon was in his room, Sascha and I sat next to each other on my couch. It was so AWKWARD. He’s at my House!!!

“Why are you here?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was utterly brain dead and said, “Yooouu brought me here.”

“No I mean, why you follow me?” I wanted to know.

He paused for a moment and looked to his side in thought. “You’d better not tell anyone this or that I’m here or anything, understand?” He said serious. “No one can know I’m with you, got it? You’ll have to promise me…. PROMISE ME!?” He looked at me almost like he was in trouble.

“O-okay. Ah’ promise.” I said, completely confused and frightened.

“I brought you something.” He said.

“Wait. What?” I asked him, shocked.

Out of his backpack he took out a little box and handed it to me, shyly.

I took it and opened it slowly, and the first thing I saw was an apple logo.

“My dad got me the 11 Pro. I don’t need this anymore and he didn’t even bother to trade it in. He always wants me to have the best. I want you to have my old iPhone XR….. I know you don’t have a phone. And, I know Jesse will hog you about it if he finds out.” He said looking down and not up at me.

I was so shocked. He’s giving me a PHONE??? HIS PHONE? “You can’t tell ANYONE I gave this to you. It’s our secret. Jesse never saw it out of my case so he won’t recognize it.” He informed me.

“Uh. Uh. Wow. Sascha. Uhm…. Thank yu.” I said stunned and then I just proceeded to give him a hug. I teared up a bit. I got what I always wanted. I had my VERY own phone that I can communicate to all of my new friends with. I couldn’t believe it. I was one of them! I was fully one of them, now. And, it was given to me by my main bully’s best friend. “Why are you givin’ me this?””

“Because, it’s the least I can do. It’s my way of saying, sorry for Jesse Beatin ya…” he paused for a moment and then looked up at me. “I’m sorry for callin’ you HillBilly and everything…. Even though, HillBilly WAS sort of funny, you gotta admit that.” He said. He, then, looked down and looked so GUILTY.

“Oh…” I said and rubbed the apple logo. My God. The apple was perfect. It was like it was meant for me. It looked JUST like our Forbidden Fruit Orchard logo with the bite taken out of it. “I love it, Sascha. Thanks.” I said to him.

For a moment he paused and said, “I tried to stop him, you know.”

“What?” I asked.”

“I tried to stop him from beatin’ on ya. But, he’s stronger than me and pushed me away. I’m- I’m so sorry he hurt you so badly. You- you were all bloody. You were really hurt.” He swallowed deeply his emotional build up.

“It’s it’s okay. You didn’t do it.” I said.

“But, I’m responsible, too. But, you don’t know Jesse like I do. That’s why you CAN’T tell him I’m here. We have to pretend we’re not friends or anything in school or…..” He trailed off.

“Or, what?” I asked. Friends? Did he just say friends? What the HECK is happening?

He paused…. “He’ll… he’ll  beat me. He’ll hurt me.” I knew he was talking about Jesse & possibly Micheal Smith. What, does Jesse dictate his life or something? What, is Sascha his slave? What the hell is happening?

“I-” I started, but, my mother yelled.

“Kids! Dinner’s waiting!” She hollered to us all.

Having Sascha sit at my dining room table sitting next to Shannon made me honestly want to throw up. “So, how do you two know each other?” My father asked us.

“I’m…I’m in a culinary class that Billy is in. I’m his partner.” He said, not knowing the cat that he just let out of the bag.

Everyone froze and my mother looked at him and nodded with a slight and annoyed grin. Oh, God. They all knew!!! They knew he was the very same bully I was talking to them about the other night at that very same table he was sitting next to me in. If he found out I said that, who KNOWS what he’d do. My father gave me a serious look. He knew the kind of person he was. And I just tried to finish my dinner off as fast as I could no matter how good it was.

40 minutes later, Sascha asked me to see my room. Regardless, of how I wanted to avoid that whole scenario, all together, I obliged and told him where it was as I followed him. He walked in and began to look around as I closed my door.

For some reason, the entire time Sascha had been in my house I was waiting for the Venom that I knew he had within him to come out and strike me at any moment. And, this was the perfect moment.

“So what do you like to do in here?” He said looking around making his wonderful locks of hair swish & sway wherever his head bent. He analyzed my ceiling as well.

I didn’t really answer him. I couldn’t really answer him, anyway. But, what he was about to do would change my view of him, forever.

Then, with a wicked grin he slowly turned to me and said, “Oh, IIIIII know what you do in here.” For a moment, I didn’t realize what he was talking about or why he was grinning so much, out of innocence. But, then, my cheeks burned SO hot from embarrassment and shyness, that I also felt my mouth dry up. Is that even possible for the two to be correlated?

He walked closer and closer to me. “No TV, no computer, no video games…. Gotta have SOMETHING to keep you occupied, right?” He said. “You know…” He started as he grabbed my shirt a little and tugged it a bit in a seductive manor and rubbed my hip slowly with one hand. “If you ever wanna….”

“I THINK MAH MOMMA’S CALLIN’ ME!” I yelled. ‘UH, …BE RAGHT THERR’ MOMMMA!!” I said at the door and ran passed him and opened my door and slammed it behind me.

“JESUS!” My mom yelled as I ran into her by accident in the hallway and fell on the floor.

While I was looking up at her with my butt on the floor she spoke, “Billy-Decker WHAT has gotten into you?”

I shook my head, “Uhh, nothin’ momma.” I said looking at my bedroom door. “Nothin’.”

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