In reality, Kenny’s name is Carlos.
Not sure where I got started calling him Kenny. I guess I always did like the name, and it just fit. Kenny was short, sharp-featured, and pretty much the only reason I didn’t drop out of school the minute I turned sixteen.
My footsteps echoed uncannily in the soundless hall as I hurried toward the lockers on the south end of the school. A few teachers milled about quietly, preparing for another day. I spotted Ms. Noelle, my chemistry teacher, at the far end of the hall. Rolling my eyes back slightly, I breathed a sigh, nearly inaudible in the semi-darkness. She would be disappointed in my last assignment. I could feel the weight of it, dragging down my wearied backpack like lead.
With a shake of my head, I dismissed that thought. I stuffed my things into the old locker I generally used. Nothing I could do about it anyways. Might as well make the most of what I did have. I had another assignment that I could finish before school; for Algebra I. That was a class that I felt I did well in; I actually got an 89\% on my last exam. A smile spread across my face as I pulled the workbook out of my backpack and grabbed a pencil. Hey, I’m good at something. The sharp slam of the steel locker door punctuated my thought nicely.
Spinning on my heel, I nearly ran into another student. Startled and mumbling some kind of unintelligible apology, I looked up into the merrily snapping eyes of an amused Honduran.
“Well, well. If it isn’t my favorite consulting detective.” Kenny grinned lopsidedly, like he always did.
I rolled my eyes, fruitlessly trying to hide my bright grin. “Just ‘cuz my last name is Holmes doesn’t mean I’m a consulting detective.” I tossed my tight curls and smiled up at him.
“Certainly not, Sherlock. It’s most definitely because you invented the job.” He winked at me.
I laughed brightly. “How was book club yesterday?”
“Fantastic. Almost as good as soccer practice, really. This semester is going really well so far.”
My brow furrowed. “Man, sure wish I could say the same. Anyways. Why are you here so early?”
Kenny chuckled as he fell into step beside me. “Because. I knew you’d be here.”
My smile edged a tad bigger. “Really? Just to…to talk to me?”
“Sure I did. Why not?”
“I dunno. Nobody else really spends time with me. And you’re…you’re like…successful or something.” I frowned at the rip in my old, green Converse shoes. It mocked me, dancing below me as I walked.
“Ha. Not really. I’m from the Third Ward, you know.” Kenny ran a hand through his glossy black hair.
“But you obviously don’t live there anymore. You live in Champion Forest.” I could almost see the mansions in my mind. Course, Kenny didn’t live in one of those, but he lived close.
“My mom still does. Remember, I live with my grandma.”
“Yeah. I remember. And your dad…he’s not around either, right?” Somehow, it gave me a vague sense of comfort to know that even the kids who lived in houses, and not apartments, had messed up families too.
“Yeah. Yeah. Good riddance.” Kenny spat on the concrete. “Drugs, women, crime…literally a walking disaster.”
“Heh. Sounds like my life.” I sighed, and a shadow slipped across my face. “Just my mom, though…I don’t have a dad.”
Kenny looked over sympathetically and took my hand. “It’s okay. Don’t think about that stuff. You’re here now.”
“True.” I brightened. “So how’s applications to University of Houston going?”
“Good. I’m hoping my application for pre-med gets accepted.” Kenny grinned crookedly. “That’s like…I’ve been dreaming of medicine since I don’t know when.”
“I do too.” I squeezed his hand. “You deserve it.”
“Eh. I don’t know. I need scholarship money too.” He shrugged, and nodded toward the papers in my hand. “Whatcha got there? Need any help?”
“Yeah. Well, actually more so with Chemistry. I’ve done pretty well in this class.”
“Go get it.” Kenny grinned. “You know how much I love science.”
Chemistry rolled off my shoulders like a weight. “Thanks, Kenny. You’re the best.”
“Anytime, Sherlock.” He winked.
Kenny was a bright spot, that’s for sure. I’m sure you’ve figured out by this point that he’s successful. Maybe not exactly popular, but he’s a smart athlete who could blend in to almost any crowd. He was definitely accepted by the vast majority of the students, unlike myself.
Why he, a beautiful Honduran rising senior at Klein High, chose me; the failing student, the African-American girl from Tucker Street; I didn’t know.
But I was sure glad he did.
Chapter two of Redeemed on Tucker Street, a novel that follows the story of a true to life, yet fictional, abortion vulnerable woman.