"Mr. Horan, do you think you will be able to come in on Monday to start your training?"
"Yes, I will be there."
"Alright, I'll see you at seven in the morning. I look forward to seeing you."
"I look forward to being there. Thank you."
With mumbled goodbyes, I hung up and let out a heavy breath I had been keeping in. This is surreal. I finally got a call from one of the places I had applied to; I finally got a job. I'll be working at this pizza joint called Rocky's Pizza, but I don't care if I'm tossing dough, cleaning up or taking orders; I have a job and will be earning money so I can support myself. That's something to be proud of. I sent a quick text to my dads to let them know, and sat at the couch flipping through channels on the TV. Sure I could celebrate, but it's not an accomplishment. After finding nothing on because I don't want to watch Dr. Oz, Judge Judy or some news, I turned off the TV.
Maybe I should go check out that comic bookstore I found by my favorite taco stand. It looked sorta dead there, but this isn't some densely populated city like San Francisco or Los Angeles which happen to be the only other cities I know in California besides the state's capital, Sacramento. Okay, maybe I do need to get out and socialize more. I could use a friend or two here. Not wanting to second guess my decision, I got up from the couch and grabbed my keys before leaving my apartment.
"Philly, I swear you better fucking piss off." I heard a familiar girl hiss. I looked around the hallway and saw Emily and Philly having an intense face-off.
"What are you going to do to me? You won't do shit, Emily. Why don't you just stay in your cramped up room because that's all you're really good at? Go smoke another pack of your cigarettes and waste your life away."
"Fuck you, Philly! You don't know shit!"
"Because there's nothing to know!"
Silence fell and I started feeling very uncomfortable standing there watching them. It's like one of them is going to bite the others head off, and if it happens, I don't want to stick around to see it. Besides, if they catch me staring, they surely won't hesitate to bite my own head off and stomp on it. I sort of felt bad and wish I could somehow stop it, but I have no clue why they're arguing and will just screw things up more. I quickly turned around to leave like my original intention, but I wasn't quick enough.
"Hey, what the hell?" I heard Emily say after I took no more than four steps. I didn't want to believe she was talking to me, so I returned to walking.
"Niall, what the fuck?" I heard Philly, and I knew I was screwed.
"Hey," I said after turning around and awkwardly waved at the two of them. This wasn't the same as when my dad caught me sneaking a cookie from the kitchen when I was supposed to have dinner or when my dad caught me trying to take his '70 Mustang convertible out for a drive.
"How long were you standing there?" Philly asked.
"You have to stop staring, freaking creep. It's fucking irritating." Emily crossed her arms over her chest and glared at me. Philly just ignored her and waited for my reply.
"Not even two minutes. I was just on my way to this comic bookstore."
"Nerd," Emily muttered.
"Niall, maybe you can help us with our... dilemma."
"Fuck no, not him. This is between you and me."
"At least you know how to use your pronouns correctly." Philly joked horribly. I could see Emily growing angrier by the second.
"You know what, I don't think I would be much of a help to you guys."
"Emily came over to complain to me for listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I don't see anything wrong with it because she likes to listen to her rock music and I don't complain."
"Red Hot Chili Peppers freaking suck. Try listening to some Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Guns N' Roses, or some band that's good."
"Half of those people are dead or old! You're living in the wrong generation."
"Red Hot Chili Peppers aren't so recent! Just keep your shitty music down for the sake of everyone who lives here."
"Well, keep your shitty music down, too."
"You can't call legends shitty!" Emily stormed down the hall to the third door on the opposite side and slammed it shut.
"You know, that's not what we were arguing about." Philly said, and I gave my attention back to him.
"Yes, I admit, I started it. It's just that we were passing each other in the hall in front of your place, and I noticed she had a smile on her face. I have never seen Emily smile. So I teased her about it, and she got all fucking defensive. I started calling her reclusive and that's pretty much it. There wasn't a problem. I just wanted to bring someone else in to it to get her to go back in her cave." I nodded.
"Is she really a bad person?"
"Of course, she's a bitch who worships the devil himself. One day, she's going to die of lung cancer if the black hole where her heart is doesn't get her first. I don't know how Jerry deals with her. Actually, I don't know where she gets money, even a penny, to pay for everything like those expensive cigarettes."
I stayed quiet as I processed what Philly said about Emily and while he seemed lost in thought. She really is mysterious and the only thing intriguing about this city so far. No one can be as mean as everyone portrays her to be, can they?
"Niall, you don't seem as drag and lame as I thought you were." I shrugged my shoulders, not sure of what to say to him right now. I could have sworn he hated me.
"I like you because for starters, you're new here which means you don't know a shit about anything, and the next reason is based off the first where you don't know anything, so I'm honored to be the one to wreck you." He gave me a smile that seemed genuine, so I just smiled back.
I'm pretty sure this is worse than getting my head bit off. I should've stayed in and watched Dr. Oz, or Judge Judy or some mid-day soap opera. Even the news would've have been better than this. Well, I had said I wanted to start a new chapter in my life. Maybe I'm starting a new book or novel or series.
"I'm going to Rocky's, wanna come?"
"You mean Rocky's Pizza?"
"Oh, new guy knows!" He seemed shocked and, well, shocked.
"I start training on Monday."
"Ah, Press left for college a week or two before you came. He's doing summer school. He's one of the lucky ones that managed to make it out of this dump. He worked at Rocky's for four years. Damn, you have a lot to learn."
Philly somehow managed to lure me with him and into his car, and on our way to Rocky's to meet his friends who are staying in this dump as he calls it. I guess I followed because I heard him yelling and, to be truly honest, was sorta afraid of him. I'm a weak guy who played football. Do you see the irony in my life yet? So, there's that reason, and the fact that he wanted me to follow him around like I was some dog who he just found and was going to teach me all these magnificent tricks. I'm hoping I'll be more of a friend to him than anything.
I had expected the drive to be quiet, but it wasn't. Philly wouldn't shut up about this place like it was better than Disneyland; not Disney World, because Philly doesn't like to go big because that's too mainstream. You can learn a lot about someone in a car ride, I learned today. Also, nobody likes Emily- at all. So, like the good Samaritan I am, I listened to Philly gush like a girl going off about her crush.
"Rocky's is absolutely amazing. On the outside, the place looks small and like some cheap ass place that's a hole-in-the-wall. But when you walk inside, the atmosphere is incredible. The place looks old, but it gives it character. You walk straight ahead inside, there's the counter where you order. Just to the right of that there's this room where you can sit and eat. By the front window, there's a mini stage where someone brings their acoustic guitar and sings. Sometimes someone joins or there's a small group.
"Now, if you're back where the entrance to the room is, and you go left, there's a bar. Just past the bar, there are stairs that lead to the basement. The owner is some fucking genius because he turned the basement into a concert area for bands. Every time you go there, there's someone playing whether they're upstairs or downstairs. It's probably my favorite place to go to since high school. It's more geared towards the younger people. There's also tons of stickers from bands and shit covering the walls. Best place, ever."
This is more than I expected from Philly since our first and last encounter almost a week ago in the hall when I bumped into him. I thought he was some cold, tough guy. I picture him playing Danny in Grease, but he would play the part way better than John Travolta. He seems alright and trustworthy as if he redeemed himself somehow. You know, I'm probably over thinking this which is why I didn't have many friends in high school, but I had friends- true and genuine friends. After two weeks of no contact with them- text, phone calls, etc.- I guess you can say it's time for new ones.
We'll see where this goes, hopefully this day doesn't get weirder and Philly doesn't pull some prank on me like I suspect him to. I'm the new guy, like he said.