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The Unfortunate Occurence at Shenandoah High 2020 - 21. Chapter 21

Tristan confronts his new reality and an unexpected guest makes an appearance in Theater class.

"Fuck. This. Year."

"Tristan, sweetie, it's way too early for fuck," Keisha says as we walk towards the front entrance of the school.

It's Monday morning and this is what you've missed. Finn Montgomery and Leah Platt are Shenandoah High's new it-couple. Yes, you read that correctly. Finn and Leah are officially dating. Leah's even changed her relationship status again, this time to in a relationship with Finn Montgomery.

This is a nightmare. Yeah, move over Pennywise the Clown. Finn and Leah being a couple is officially the scariest thing I've ever seen. I would've poured bleach in my eyes this morning had it not been for the French exam I have in fourth period.

The hallways are pretty quiet because it's Monday and no one, not even the teachers, want to be here. Keisha and I pass by Jon-Jon as we take the stairs to the second floor. He's too busy looking pissed to even notice us. I'm sure he's heard the news by now. I always figured me and Jon-Jon had nothing in common but right now we are the two jilted lovers in this bizarre situation. If this were an early-2000s romantic teen comedy, we'd get revenge by pretending to date only to discover we are super into each other.

Yeah, not going to happen.

"Bitch," Keisha hisses as we pass by a group of girls.

Leah is at the center of the small clique. She's straightened and darkened her hair and for once she's not dressed like a little girl in a JC Penney's catalogue. I can't hear what she's saying but the small group of girls around her appear to be hanging onto every single one of her words.

Leah Platt is popular. What is Things I thought I'd never see in my lifetime, Alex?

"You're surprisingly calm," Keisha says. "If I were you and she took my boyfriend, I'd be dragging her by her Fisher-Price hair extensions up and down this hallway."

"Trust me. I want to be mad at her. But if you really think about it, she's really done nothing wrong. It's not like she knew about me and Finn."

"You sure about that?" Keisha asks. "Jon-Jon knows. So does Andy."

"I seriously doubt they would've said anything. Especially to her. Besides, Leah's a lot of things. Condescending. Annoying as hell. But she's not vindictive."

"You're right," Keisha says after a few moments. "I still want to punch her in her face though."

The two of us are standing outside of Keisha's homeroom. From the other end of the hallway I notice Andy heading in our direction. He makes eye contact with me and shoots me a sad smile. Next thing I know he's throwing his long arms around me and pulling me into a hug.

"I'm so sorry, Tristan."

He turns to Keisha and waves and then turns his attention back to me.

"How you holding up."

"You know the whole five stages of grief? Well, currently I'm firmly planted between denial and wanting to take a baseball bat to a certain person's Jeep."

"We can borrow my little brother's," Keisha says.

"Last time I checked, destroying other people's property is a felony."

"I know," Keisha says. "But it would make you feel better."

"Well," Andy says. "I just want you to know, I'm totally hashtag Team Tristan. I can't believe Finn did this to you. I thought he was .... different."

Out of the corner of my eye I catch something green from down the hallway. A green jacket. Finn in his letterman jacket is walking in our direction. Of course - he and Keisha have the same homeroom.

"I appreciate it, Andy," I say, keeping my eyes trained on Finn. "I really hate to run but the bell's about to ring."

"No worries," Andy says. "I'll see you two in Theater."

Shit. I've been so caught up in all of this I totally forgot we'll all have to see each other this afternoon.

Keisha leans in and gives me a hug and says she will text me. As we separate, I walk as fast as I can in the opposite direction towards my own homeroom class.

~

"Since it's officially October, we really need to buckle down," Sheldon announces as we all stand around him in a small circle. Keisha's on my left and Andy's on my right. Finn's direction across from me but Sheldon's blocking our view of each other.

"With next week being fall break, we really don't have a whole lot of time between now and opening night?"

"Have we heard anything about Nick?" Leah asks. She's on Andy's right standing next to Finn.

"No," Sheldon says. "I've tried texting and calling but he's not answering either. At this point, I think it's best I step in and take over his role. Even if he came back today, there's no way we'd be able to teach him the choreography on top of everything else we have to do."

"Can't believe he bailed on us," Jon-Jon says.

"He didn't bail," Andy pipes up. "He's been really sick."

"I literally just saw him the other day while I was out jogging," Jon-Jon says.

I look over at Andy. He opens his mouth to respond to what Jon-Jon's just but decides to bite down on his lower-lip instead.

"Regardless, I'll be taking over the role of Richard Ramirez which I realize is somewhat problematic considering I'm black and Richard Ramirez is not. But, we have to make it work. Is everyone okay with that?"

"I'm totally okay with it," Leah says in her obnoxiously cheerful voice. "After all, men used to take on female roles."

"Good point," Sheldon says. "Well, since I won't be able to play while you guys performed, I spent the weekend recording instrumentals of each of the songs."

Sheldon walks over to his backpack and pulls out his MacBook.

"Give me a moment to get my laptop connected to the sound system," he says. "We're going to start with "Can You Blame Us" and then we're going to practice each of the solo performances. Everyone get into position."

"Can You Blame Us" is the final song of the show and my personal favorite. Basically it's this huge dance number that ends with each of us taking center stage and taking a bow before leaving the stage.

We slowly get into position while Sheldon works to get the audio connected. Finn's in the middle because he's the tallest. On either side of him is Keisha and Leah. I'm next to Leah and Andy's next to me while Jon-Jon and Nick ... well I guess Sheldon now ... is on the other side of Keisha.

Piano music fills the auditorium as Sheldon quickly jumps in line next to Jon-Jon. Our moves are a bit creaky but we manage to get through the first half of the song without anyone stepping on anyone's toes.

There's a part where I have to tango with Leah and I royally mess up the steps. I hear Sheldon from behind me encouraging me to keep going. He assures me we're going to practice this until we get it right.

Towards the end when it comes to Andy's part where he takes a bow, he does a high kick which causes his shoe to fly off into the audience. There is laughter all around me. Sheldon tells us to stop and to focus.

I take my bow without incident and quickly march off the stage. After a few beats I turn around and march back onto the stage along with all of the others. Together we take one last bow and presumably this is the part where the curtain comes down. The piano music stops and we are all panting and sweating profusely.

"Good job, everyone," Sheldon says walking over to his computer.

There's slow-clapping coming from off stage. Seven pairs of eyes all look to our left to see where there the clapping is coming from.

I'm pretty surprised to see Nick walk out onto the stage. My first thought is that it's good to see him, in the flesh. My second thought is, where has he been? My third thought is, what the hell is he wearing?

Nick looks like he hasn't showered since the Obama administration. His hair which is on the longish side is so wild I wonder if he or anyone else would be able to get a comb through it. He's wearing a black Led Zeppelin t-shirt and a pair of dark denim jeans with holes at the knees.

No one speaks for literally an eternity. Andy's at my right and he looks like he's seen a ghost.

"Nick," Sheldon says. "You're back."

"Yeah but it looks like I've been replaced," Nick says coolly.

"Not replaced," Sheldon says, his voice not as confident. "You weren't here and ... we have to keep practicing."

Sheldon's voice gradually trails off the more he speaks.

"Dude, you left and we moved on," Jon-Jon says rather matter-of-factly.

Jon-Jon slowly folds his arms across his chest which he's puffed out for further intimidating.

Instead of looking intimidated, Nick laughs and shakes his head.

"Still an asshole, I see," he says staring Jon-Jon dead in the eye.

Before Jon-Jon has a chance to respond, Andy pipes up.

"Nick," he says. His voice is thin and hollow sounding. "Why are you here?"

"Why am I here?" he asks.

Nick steps towards Andy and that's when I noticed how pale he looks. Whether Nick was sick or faking it, he looks sick right now. He's also sweating but then again we're all sweaty. But Nick just didn't finish performing a seven-minute musical number.

"Don't act like you haven't spent the last week calling me and standing outside my house like some weirdo," Nick hisses.

"I was worried about you," Andy blurts.

Andy looks terrified and I don't blame him. I have never seen Nick Ramirez like this. I've never seen him look so menacing.

"You don't give a shit about me," Nick screams into Andy's face.

Andy yelps and then whimpers as tears begin to fall.

"If you really cared about me," Nick continues. "You would've told your parents to fuck off a long time ago."

"Nick, enough." This time it's me that's speaking. My heart is beating so hard and so fast in my chest. I don't do tense situations but hearing and seeing Andy cry is clawing at my heart right about now.

"Fuck you, Tristan," Nick says not even bothering to look at my direction.

"How about you back off,"

Finn has a vice-grip on Nick's arm.

Nick somehow manages to pull himself from Finn's grasp despite Finn being bigger and stronger. Nick lunges at Finn and pushes him backwards. Finn stumbles a bit but manages to return the shrug.

Andy's crying.

Nick is cussing.

Leah wedges herself between the two angry men but Nick flings her to the ground like a ragdoll.

I try to move but I cannot will my legs to move. I try looking for Keisha but my eyes are too glazed over with tears. I cannot believe any of this is happening.

There's screaming and yelling and the sounds of metal folding chairs moving across the floor. I squeeze my eyes shut and fill the tears that have gathered there trail down the sides of my face.

"Fuck you," Nick roars again.

There's more scuffling sounds and then a cracking noise followed by a gasp.

Then there's nothing. No yelling. No shoes squeaking across the wooden stage floor.

I feel a hand on my shoulder and I know instantly that it's Keisha.

"What did you do?" Andy screams from my right.

Hearing those words turns my blood into ice.

Something's broken.

Something's broken and it cannot be fixed.

Thank you for your continued support and readership!!!

Copyright © 2020 imperfect _pisces; All Rights Reserved.
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I've suspected Nick would end up in the role of the dead body, but not exactly this way. Tristan's emotions are in a mess. Continuing to totally avoid Finn is doomed to be a temporary solution and isn't sustainable.

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