Rex shifted uneasily in the passenger seat of the van as Jimmy drove him away from town, towards his family’s trailer. The teen knew next to nothing about the man sitting to his left, had met him for the first time all less than two months ago. Back then he was a nameless worker for the catering company at Annie’s holiday party —
Worker? Yes, Rex remembered that was his assumption that evening. It wasn’t until a month later, the afternoon practice when Coach Dan had introduced him as the new assistant fencing coach, that Rex had found out from Annie that this man sitting next to him wasn’t an employee, but the owner of that catering company. His initial assumption about Jimmy had been wrong, just as wrong as the assumption the officer had made this evening as they’d waited for the log to be cleared from the road.
The tall teen glanced over at Jimmy, whose eyes were focused intently on the road ahead of him, his jaw clenched a little tighter than Rex thought was usual. The hum of the van’s engine, the rhythmic sweep of the windshield wipers, the soft patter of wet snow on the metal roof — there was not enough sound to distract from the awkward silence that had descended after the episode with the log.
“Hey.” A trial balloon of a syllable.
Jimmy’s jaw relaxed. “Yeah?”
Rex cleared his throat. “Thanks for the ride.”
Jimmy nodded. “You’re welcome, Slim.”
Rex smiled at the nickname Jimmy had given him during that first practice. He believed Jimmy had a nickname for every other member of the Bark Bay High School fencing team — Annie was Mustang, he knew (he didn’t know the reason why, but Annie’s pleasure was evident). Whether he had a nickname for Double-J, or what his friend thought about that name, he did not know.