The next morning, as Ryan and Collin got off the bus, they were still discussing the plans for Thursday's barbecue when their 'girlfriends', Megan and Shelley, came up and asked them if they heard about Brittany.
Both boys were stunned by the question, as they hadn't listened to the news last night, nor this morning, so they asked the girls to explain what they meant.
"Ryan, I can't believe you two. You would think that you two, if anyone, would be interested in what happened to Bill and Raleigh and Brittany and Hannah!" chastised Ryan's girlfriend.
"What? We were busy planning a barbecue for Thursday, after school. It takes a lot to plan that big of a get together," pleaded Ryan,
"Yeah, right, you to probably said, 'let see how many hamburgers and hot dogs and buns and sodas do we need Mr. Ken to buy for us' and then suddenly remembered chips and the other stuff," shot back Megan.
"Hey, you forgot the chips and sodas and lettuce and tomatoes, Collin!" said Ryan, and he lightly smacked Collin's arm.
"No, I told you figure that out in your head," retorted Collin, "and you were also supposed to figure out napkins and trash bags and charcoal," laughed Collin, as Ryan joined in the laugh.
Shelley and Megan looked at one another and then at their 'boyfriends' and knew it was a 'lost cause' and this time Shelley yelled "Time Out!"
"Guys, this is important," began Shelley, "They said Bill and Raleigh were arraigned in court, yesterday, and were charged with one count of aiding and abetting an assault and battery, which was probably on you, Ryan, and one count of assault and battery, which was probably on you and Collin, at the water park.
"The big one, though, was one count of assault and battery with attempted murder. That must be for what they did to Rodney. We all knew they were in big trouble for what they had done, but … when they said that Brittany … was also being charged as an adult … and for being an accessory before and after the fact of the assault at the water park … that almost floored us."
"What about Hannah?" quickly asked Collin.
"There was nothing said about her, directly, but they did say another person of interest agreed to a plea bargain, and that's all they said," filled in Megan.
By then, the majority of their friends had gathered around and listened to what the four were talking about.
"Yeah, I was shocked when I heard that last night," offered up Abby. "I knew that girl was trouble when I saw her and Bill and Raleigh talking together more than once."
Then Tabatha and Jenny voiced practically the same thing.
"I wonder what made her get involved with those two losers?" asked Christy. "And how involved was Hannah in all that. My bet is she is the one who took the plea bargain, so she wouldn't get thrown in jail."
"Collin, I bet Brittany was totally pissed you told her you weren't going on a date with her at the water park," piped up Nic. "Her entire life, she has always been a control freak. My bet is she somehow knew Bill and Raleigh were the ones who were out to get you, so she made a deal with them to 'teach you a lesson'."
With Nic's input, the rest of the group all added up what they all knew of Brittany, since virtually all of them had gone to school with her their entire lives.
It wasn't long before the first bell of the day rang, sending the teenagers to their homerooms for morning announcements and the usual 'crap' as the kids called it. They would see one another in the halls during breaks, between classes, but they only had three minutes between to get to their next class, so they didn't have much time to share any new information.
At lunch, Ryan and Collin sat at their regular table and they met Megan and Shelley and a few others there. As they ate, and exchanged any other rumors they got during their morning classes, Vince saw Ellen coming towards the table and said, "Collin, here comes Ellen. You better watch yourself. She's been hanging around Brittany and Hannah, forever."
The table got very quiet as Ellen slowly walked up and looked at Collin.
"Collin … all I want to say is … I WAS wrong," softly spoke Ellen … "and I am very sorry for what I said, and … how I've acted towards you … ever since the water park's opening. Brittany and Hannah … they told me about your supposed 'date' and since we've been friends, ever since first grade, I believed everything she said. But, last night, that's when I found out what she was doing, was … was planning on having you, and Ryan, beaten up, real bad, for dissin' her that way."
"But, why did she have them go after me?" Ryan asked Ellen.
"After it happened, I asked her about what went down and she told me she wanted it to look like a random thing. She said they were only supposed to 'rough you up a little' as she put it. The thing was … she did have a big smile, on her face, when she told me that, and I didn't even consider it meant anything because she was always smiling in her weird sort of way.
"Anyway, when I heard that she was being treated as an adult, and charged in your assault and battery, too, I knew she had played me for a fool. It was her who wanted me to … well, to act the way I've been lately towards you, Collin and … and now I know … how wrong I was. Collin, I hope you'll accept my apology, but … well, if you don't, I won't blame you," finished Ellen, and then began to walk off.
Collin quickly called to her, as she walked away, and then went to her where she stopped. The gang saw the two talking for a few moments and then they hugged. They could see Ellen walk off, with tears running down her face, and Collin returning with a big smile.
"Whoa, what just happened there?" asked Ryan openly, but the rest were probably thinking the same thing.
"By the looks on all your faces, I think I'd better explain," said Collin as he rejoined the group.
"Yes, I think that would be a wise thing, and it better be good!" said Shelley, with her arms crossed and her face looking as though she was really pissed off.
"Hey, hold on there! I was only a few feet away from you, so you know nothing happened there. And besides, Ellen came to me to apologize, and I hadn't replied to her. So, well, I wanted to make things right, and I went to her to tell her I accepted her apology. She was brave enough to come forward, in front of all of US, and I thought that it was 'first class' for her to humble herself, in front of so many people.
"She could have waited to find me alone, or with just Ryan, but she took the high road and did it in front of us all. She hugged me when I told her I also invited her to the barbecue Thursday afternoon," smiled Collin, as he looked at all his friend's faces at that revelation.
Shelley lightly hugged her boyfriend and didn't say what she normally did as they departed for their afternoon classes and they agreed to talk later that night, on the phone. The rest of the day, the students were bored and couldn't wait until the last bell of the day.
It was late in the evening when Collin came into the study and flopped down in one of the soft leather chairs. Ken didn't see the lad as much as he herd the teen, as he sat down, which made the man look up to see the lad was in some sort of distress.
"Hey, 'lil bro' what's that face all about? Your grandmother didn't like something about your summer plans?"
Collin looked up and asked, "What is it about woman that you have to explain everything you do to them in minute detail? Huh?"
"How about you fill me in from the beginning, so I can understand your conundrum?" asked the lad's mentor.
"It's Shelley! I told her I'd call her after dinner and I did. But, she wanted to know why it took me so long to call. Then, she wanted to know why her and Megan weren't involved with planning the 'School's Out' Barbecue. All she did was bitch at me the entire time, Bro. I've heard that woman go through some sort of 'time' every month and that it's the wrong time to get on their bad side. … I'm not totally sure of what that is all about … but, I think I just found myself on her 'bad side' and I mean BAD side, Big Time.
"Bro, can you sort of fill me in on what they mean about this 'period' thing the guys talk about? I have NO IDEA what just happened, I really don't, and I need to know for the next time. That is … IF … there will be a next time. Shelley sure sounded pissed and I didn't get too many words in edgewise," complained the 16 year old.
"Oh, my poor little brother, I take it this is the first time Shelley has ever given you the 'treatment'" laughed Mr. Ken.
"See, that's what I mean. You know what this 'time of the month' means and what they mean about 'her period' and now you talk about the 'treatment. How does a guy learn all this stuff, Bro?" seriously asked Collin.
For the next half hour, Ken Thomas tried to explain to Collin what he meant about all the different terms he used, when he talked about women in general. It took that long as Collin, really, didn't believe, at first, that women acted like that every 30 days or so.
"Bro, if I hadn't known you for as long as I have, I'd have said that you were shitin' me. But what you just told me sure sounds like how Shelley acted tonight," revealed Collin. "But what gets me is … I don't really know what brought it on," finished up the teenager.
"Let me ask you a few questions, and let's see if we can pinpoint what made it happen. You game?" asked Mr. Ken.
Getting the okay Ken began. "When you saw her this morning, at school, how was she towards you?"
"Like always, we hugged and kinda snuggled some, without getting caught," replied Collin as he smiled real big.
"So, whatever happened … did it occur after first bell?" was Mr. Ken's next question followed up by "Did you see one another between classes?"
"Well, we see each other between classes, but we don't have any time together, so all we can do is smile at one another and exchange a quick hug, when no teacher is looking," answered the perplexed lad.
"So, what happened had to have occurred at least at lunch, or after school? So, think back to those times and concentrate on what was going on then, between you two," encouraged the lad's Big Bro.
Collin sat there thinking and thinking and then all of a sudden he yells, "That's IT! She's pissed at me … because … I hugged Ellen. That has to be it, Bro!"
"Whoa there sport, you hugged … another girl, in front of your girlfriend? Are YOU nuts? What were you thinking?" sarcastically said Mr. Ken.
"Bro, it wasn't like that. Ellen came up to the group at lunch and … well; she apologized to me … for how she treated me, the past few weeks. She asked for my forgiveness and then … she walked away. So, I called to her and went to her to tell her I accepted her apology, and hugged her for being so brave to speak up like that, in front of everyone. Then, I invited her to the barbecue. So what did I do wrong, Bro?" the still befuddled teenager explained.
Mr. Ken just laughed and then took the next half hour trying to explain to Collin what he did 'wrong' and how he should try to make it up to his girl, the next day, before school began.
It was almost eleven PM before the two guys made their way to their own beds. Mr. Ken walked to his bedroom still smiling at how his younger 'bro' got into trouble, so easily, with his girlfriend.
Collin walked to his bedroom; still perplexed over the entire thing. He was still confused as to what boiled down to his girl being on some kinda 'rag'. He knew he still didn't totally understand and that he'd have to talk to Ryan, first thing, to get his ideas.