Blasted, stupid rain.
It wasn’t like he was against rain. Cloudy days gave his inner emo all sorts of happy fits, and his inner romantic, his emo’s twin, wanted to look up all wet and sexy into the sky for girls to see.
But today of all days—today of all freaking days.
“It doesn’t look that bad.”
“I don’t need your encouragement.”
He could still hear Paul’s laughing, though: silent, wheezy, like a dog with asthma. Best friend or not, he wanted to punch him. Anything to vent the humiliation burning in his gut. The wings he had spent months scavenging cans to buy the materials (and hundreds of band-aids for his tortured fingers), were wilted and dripping down his back into something that looked like tar. The black make up he had so meticulously coated on with the guidance of Youtube (thank you beautiful Cheri), must be running down his face now.
Paul, on the other hand, who was coated in tin foil as a baked potato, was unharmed…so far.
“I can hear you, Paul, I said shut up.”
“No need to be so mean. I’m just a little black spud, completely harmless.”
“Was that what you were planning on telling all the girls?”
Paul tittered between his wheezes, white teeth flashing against his purple lips. “You still don’t understand. The art of picking up girls is about making them feel comfortable and safe. My waiting angel will easily see past my aluminum exterior to the luscious love machine within.”
“Good for you.”
Lee wiped furiously under his eyes with his fingers and made weak attempts to squeeze the water from his wings. His only reward was a hand pink with cold and covered with black downy and eyeliner. He tried to wipe it off on his pants, but being made out of black leather, the feathers stayed with a squeak. Wet leather. Ugh. It was going to be a pain to take all this off.
“Maybe it’s for the best.” said Paul, trying to grimace, but looking far too happy.
“For the last time, I do not look like David Bowie’s pants gone goth.” Lee sighed heavily. “Just…just go on without me.”
Paul finally found the kindness to look truly flabbergast. “But…but a party like this—you’re going to let it go completely down the drain, what if your,” he framed the next word with quotation marks and a sarcastic roll of his eyes, “’heart’s other half’ is there?”
“Forget it. I’d probably scare her away looking like this.” Lee lifted his arms. He could even feel the tank top beneath his jacket rolling up. “Besides, parties like this always have drugs, alcohol, and stupid horny people grinding on each other. Girl of my dreams probably wouldn’t be caught dead there.”
“Everyone’s going to be there, Lee, ho’s and tight pants like you. Besides, you can still tell what you are.”
“And what is that?”
Paul grimaced successfully this time—and at the wrong time. “A crow, of course! A crying one. Even I want to hug you.”
Lee knew he was trying to make him laugh, but it wasn’t funny. A crow wasn’t even close to a fallen angel. “You are an idiot.”
“I love you too.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Paul tugged him back by one of his homemade black wings. “Aw, come on, man, you can’t let me go alone.”
“You’re a big boy, dude, you’ll live. Besides, if anything, all this cold leather will freeze my balls off.”
“Wow, Lee said balls.”
Lee scowled. “Bye.”
“Wait! Aw, come on, man, it’s Halloween!”
“And I’ve got a bowl of candy at home.”
“But it’s not that–”
With that, he turned around and stepped out from underneath the little overhang they had found and back into the rain. He could feel his wings growing heavier and heavier. His leather pants squeaked when he walked. Lucky for him, the street was empty.
If he just had a car, any kind of car, this wouldn’t have happened. But he had to be so damn poor…
Five blocks down, shivering and drenched to the bone, he huddled up under the plastic roof of the tiny bus stop. In the distance, through the mist of rain, he could see the neon blinking of the club’s lights teasing him, and he tried to cheer himself up with images of Paul, the African American baked potato, dirty dancing it up with every hot babe he could find. It worked for a minute. But then he realized he couldn’t feel his fingers anymore. Teeth chattering, he rechecked the laminated schedule on the post, checked the old, brass pocket watch in his jacket, and groaned. Twenty-seven more minutes until the next bus. Wonderful.
His shoulders and back was starting to hurt from the weight of his water-logged wings. He longed to take them off, but that would involve stripping down and peeling off all the duct tape he had wrapped about himself in order to hold the flat board of zip-ties he made to be the wings base. He knew it would hurt—probably peel off several layers of skin and hair while he was at it, but the look would be worth it.
Damn rain. Maybe if he had checked the weather first—nah. He wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it anyways. Mom would be at work till late tonight, and though she had agreed to letting him come, she had done so grudgingly, and he didn’t want to encourage her changing her mind.
Man, it was cold.
He sighed, leaned his head back against the bench, and tried to pretend he was somewhere warm, maybe like a huge jet tub with fluffy towels and a fireplace. Yeah. That would be the life.
Someone plopped down on the bench. He could hear their breath hissing as they breathed through chattering teeth and a stuffed nose. Wondering who else could be as unlucky as him to come out in the rain, he peeked out from beneath his eyelids. What he saw made him sit up straight and stare.
Sitting at the other end of the bench, looking as wet and miserable as himself, was a platinum blond girl dressed all in white, and with what looked like a mass of white feathers on her back. She sniffed, wiping away at running mascara on her face. She was shivering so bad her knees were knocking together.
By the time he was ready to believe what he was seeing, a few minutes had already gone by with him staring at her, and she was starting to give him uneasy glances. He flinched when she scooted even farther till half of her was not on the bench at all.
“I’m sorry, I’m not a creep, I swear,” he blurted. “It’s just,” with an uneasy chuckle he turned to show her the wet black feathers on his own back. “Think I just found my twin.”
She blinked at the wet wings on his back and frowned. “I’m an angel, not a bleeding crow.”
Her rich British accent threw him off. “Are you British?” he asked before thinking.
“No, I’m Chinese.” That was some pretty rich sarcasm right there. If she was Chinese, he was blacker than Paul.
“Sorry, I’m…man, I’m just screwing this all up.” He reached his hand out across the bench between them. “Hi, um…I’m Lee.”
She eyed him uneasily, then cautiously shook his hand as well. “Gwen.” She let go quickly, but she did ease herself back onto the bench.
“Heading to that party down the street, yes.” She sneezed. “Bloody rain. Guess I shouldn’t be too pissed.”
“The place probably is stuffed to the gills with stone drunk gits and half-naked bints.”
“Um, sorry, bints?”
But he smiled. Despite her running make up and stringy wet blond hair, she was pretty. And he still had twenty bucks in his pocket that he had saved up for this night.
“Um…” Now how to approach this without sounding to creepy. “Since you’re evening is about as cold and lame as mine, uh, would you like to get some…tea with me?”
She leveled a flat, unamused glower at him. “Did you just say tea instead of coffee because I’m British?”
He blinked. “Yes?”
To his surprise, she pitched back her head and laughed.
“Sure,” she gasped. “Since you’re so honest. I take it you’re buying since you offered, yeah?”
With that, when the bus hissed to a stop before them, they loaded up together, careful of one another’s soggy wings.