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Merkin

Special Delivery (from the vault)

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I've brought this back from the AD Flash Vault in honor of Valentine's Day. I figure the newer readers won't have seen it and, of course, our older readers will have no memory of it. James

heart.gifSpecial Delivery

by Merkin

Jesse was getting more than bored waiting for his mother to finish her shopping. If only he didn't have to depend on his parents for transportation! Being thirteen really sucked big time.

He sighed and turned to look over the rack of Valentine cards. He couldn't believe the prices for these fancy cards. Luckily he could still get away with making the only card he'd need, the one for his mom, out of construction paper at home. Plus these store cards were all disgustingly mushy. In fact, he'd better not even be seen looking at them. He turned his attention to nearby shelves filled with vitamins and tonics. Where was his mother?

Finally Jesse saw her moving into the checkout. He walked quickly toward the front of the store so he could meet her at the exit without having to stand with her in line. He was so engrossed in avoiding his mother that he walked right into the customer who was leaving the other checkout.

"Oof! Sorry!" Jesse looked down with dismay at the Valentine card fluttering out of the customer's bag and landing onto the floor. He couldn't stop his right foot from treading firmly on part of the big red envelope. "Ohmigod! Really sorry!" His sneaker had left a slight mark. "I'll buy you another one!"

He looked up to see a vaguely familiar high school boy grinning at him. "You're an even bigger klutz than I was at your age. Forget it. I can clean that up."

"Th-thanks," Jesse stammered. "Ya know, those big ones take more than one stamp or they won't deliver it." Jeez! Had he really said that?

"I'll worry about the stamps. You'd better practice steering those feet of yours." With another grin, the older boy scooped up the card and envelope and turned away. Jesse's relief was short-lived as he heard his mother behind him.

"Jesse, don't dawdle. We're late as it is."

"Right, Mom," he said with a sigh. Thirteen was the pits.

* * *

"Did you get any Valentines?" Jesse's best friend Artie had met him as usual as school let out and they were pushing through the crowd of students toward their bus. Since the upper school students had already boarded, the remaining seats were all in the front unless they hurried to claim a space further back.

"Are you kidding, Artie? We're in eighth grade. Nobody gives out Valentines."

"I got one. From Judy."

"Well, you've practically been married since first grade."

They pushed up onto the steps of the bus and Jesse stumbled into the student who was boarding ahead of him. He looked down as he caught himself and saw a familiar red envelope fall to the floor. In fact, it still had a faint footprint on one corner. He grabbed it and stood up. "You dropped this," he said to the retreating form wearing the varsity jacket.

Keith Eliot, star forward for the high school basketball team, looked back, scowled, and grabbed the envelope from Jesse. "That's mine, kid."

Ohmigod! Jesse's thoughts churned as he stumbled down the aisle. "Ooh Keith," one of the girls said, "who'ja get a Valentine from?" The rest of the crowd was in full throat as they oohd and aahd. Keith grimaced and quickly shoved the envelope inside his jacket.

As Jesse turned to look for Artie his eyes caught those of a student in another seat. It was the boy from the drugstore. He was staring intently at Jesse. Jesse hesitated, gave a jerky shrug, then continued his turn as the boy looked at him and smiled slightly.

"What was that all about?" Artie had saved him a seat.

"Nothing," Jesse sat down heavily and dropped his backpack onto the floor. "Just a little special delivery."

______

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