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Rachel was in tears as she walked home. It was easily a two and a half mile walk, but she had little choice. It started out so great: Scott Lister asked her to the senior prom. THE Scott Lister, captain of the Arkham High School football team, asked fatty Rachel Tarunen to the prom.
She had been heavy all her life. Part of her size problems came from genetics, but her bookish nature and her love of cookies and pastries were mostly to blame. She was the type that would rather curl up with her well-worn copy of ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ and some Oreos instead of exercise. And she didn’t necessarily think that this was a bad thing. But the ostracism had been getting worse and worse. It wasn’t so bad in elementary school; she was rather well-liked and had quite a few friends. It wasn’t until middle school that the teasing began, worsening through high school. She never thought it would get this bad, though.
It started out so perfectly. Scott showed up in a beautiful white limo and he looked like a movie star in his tux. She felt just like Molly Ringwald in some bad John Hughes movie. And when he held her close in the limo, she thought she would faint dead away right then. Then they arrived at the reception hall where the prom was being held, which was when he decided to abandon her. She waited patiently while he socialized with his teammates, then he just disappeared. It wasn’t until she went to the ladies’ room that she found him with Jessica Davis, the head cheerleader, with his head between her legs. That was bad enough.
Thankfully, neither of them noticed her, nor did they hear her as she made her way back to the main room. She took her seat and waited patiently for Scott to come back. When he finally returned, she confronted him as loudly as she could, thinking what few friends she had would stand behind her.
Instead, everyone laughed as Scott said, “Do you really think that I’d go out with a fat cow like you?”
With that, she ran, but not without tripping on her high heels and sprawling across the floor which seemed to entertain the crowd even more. The memory only served to bring the tears in even greater force. Carrying her shoes, she began walking faster. Then, as if she weren’t miserable enough, it started down pouring.
“Great,” she mumbled to herself, “now God is laughing at me.”
She didn’t even care as two vehicles, a car and a van, ran through a mud puddle and soaked her to the bone, the last of which was blaring loud, raucous music. She cursed at them and kept walking. It was then that she saw the death metal-mobile turn around. Oh goodie, she thought to herself, I guess once wasn’t enough for that asshole. The van drove a little further down the road and approached her slowly.
* * * * * *
Randy drove along at a fairly good clip on his way back to the dorm at Miskatonic. He’d had a fairly successful gig in Somerville and was in good spirits. He liked college much more than his brief stint in high school. He might have stuck around for the full four years had it not been for that incident during his freshman year.
He had always been one of the geeks in school. He was extremely bright with a keen aptitude with math and computers. He was also fluent in Japanese and Korean due to the fact that his mother emigrated from Seoul with her family when she was in her teens. His grandparents didn’t speak a word of English, so in order to communicate with them he learned his mother’s language. His father was a successful businessman who made regular trips abroad. At first, his grandparents objected to their daughter marrying a white man, but he won them over with his knowledge and apparent respect for their culture. And at least he waited until Randy’s kid sister was born to start fucking around . . . the son of a bitch. He just up and left when Randy was twelve and his sister was only four.
That was the beginning of when things got harder. He withdrew into his books and video games, although he had a few good friends, some of whom were even geekier and nerdier than him. They’d spend hours playing AD&D and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was from those times where his friends affectionately dubbed him “Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy,” or just plain Rex. The jocks were all asses to him, sure, but most of the time he was able to ignore them.
It was at the beginning of his freshman year at Arkham High that the worst of them, Scott Lister, thought it would be funny to trip a chubby girl on her way to class. She fell straight to the floor, her books strewn about. Scott and his buddies thought it was a riot. Randy helped the girl to her feet and gathered her books, and she smiled gratefully. Her smile melted his heart, which only served to enrage him further at Scott.
“C’mon man, what’d she ever do to you?” Randy yelled.
“What’s the matter, Rex Dart?!” Scott laughed. “Mad ’cause I tripped your fat assed girlfriend?” That last bit amused his cronies even more.
“Don’t be an asshole, Scott,” Randy seethed.
“What you bahis firmaları call me, punk? You better watch your back, you little pansy.” With that, Scott stormed off, his crew in tow.
Now Randy had to admit that the girl was quite cute, especially the way her smile brought out the dimples in her chubby cheeks. Unlike a lot of the girls at school, this girl had real curves. Granted they were rather large curves, but Randy didn’t think that this was a big issue. In fact, he rather liked it.
The rest of the school day went without incident, so Randy thought Scott was only bluffing as always. After school, however, he realized just how wrong he was. The entire Arkham High School football team encircled him and Scott. Scott proceeded to beat the tar out of him in front of the entire ninth grade class. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, the entire team took turns teabagging Randy when he was down. He blacked out, but not before he saw the chubby girl he stood up for look on in horror, then run in tears. His friends brought him home and explained to Randy’s mother why her son was bruised and bloodied. She had gone to the police, but not before pulling him out of school.
He was home schooled for the next two years. The police investigated the incident, but curiously, no one saw what happened. Randy’s friends, or as he called them “Rex Dart’s Eyes on the Inside,” related to him that Scott threatened everyone into silence, everyone who cared that is. Which, Randy knew, wasn’t really that many – just his friends and that girl. Randy wracked his brain trying to remember her name . . ., he knew it began with an ‘R’. Was it Rita, Rhiannon . . .? It was at the tip of his tongue; he knew in the off chance he ever saw her again, he’d remember.
Randy was accepted into Miskatonic University on a full computer scholarship. Thanks to his grandfather, he began studying Tae Kwon Do, and through one of his fellow students, discovered heavy metal music. Randy had already been playing classical guitar since he was two, so the transition to electric guitar was an easy one for him. In college, he began hanging out with other musicians, soon growing his hair out and wearing a lot of black. It didn’t take long for him to be invited into one of the death metal bands in the area. When he was only seventeen, he became the lead guitarist of a band called Bloody Solstice.
He quickly grew to love being in a band. For the first time in his life, crowds cheered for him. Girls asked him out and guys respected him, things he wasn’t really used to. Through it all, he kept in touch with his old friends, inviting them to some of the band’s parties and putting them on the guest list of every all-ages gig Bloody Solstice took part in. According to them, most everyone in school had forgotten about him, and to his own surprise, Randy didn’t care as much as he thought he would.
A pothole snapped him out of his thoughts. “Fuck!” he exclaimed out loud.
He pulled over as soon as he could to check to see if there was any damage, noticing that it was pouring out. Satisfied that there wasn’t any damage to his van, he turned around to go back to the driver’s side. It was then he noticed that he had soaked a pedestrian. Helluva night for a walk, he thought to himself. He noticed that it was a woman, a somewhat familiar one, but he couldn’t tell through the rain.
He got back into the van and turned it around; he must’ve soaked the hell out of her, so the least he could do was offer her a ride to wherever she was going. He recognized the woman as he passed her a second time. He saw that she was wearing what was once a beautiful prom dress, but the rain and mud had soaked it through and ruined it.
“God dammit, what was her name?” he screamed mentally. “Was it Renee, Rebecca, Ramona, Raquel, Rosemary . . .?”
Turning around, he approached her slowly, turning his CD player off as he did so. He opened the passenger side window and called out, “Are you all right?” feeling a little idiotic doing so. She didn’t look all right; in fact, she looked like she was having the worst night of her life.
She turned to him and glared hatefully. “I’m FINE, thank you,” she growled.
Randy’s eyes went wide as her name came crashing into his memory.
* * * * * *
“Rachel Tarunen?” the long-haired Asian guy behind the wheel said, staring bug-eyed at her.
“Do I know you?” she continued to growl. She was still pissed. Bastard probably is some psycho who thinks he found the perfect mark.
“C’mon, get in,” he said with a warm smile.
Come to think of it, she thought, he does look kind of familiar, but it can’t be him, not in a million years.
“Please,” he continued softly, “you’re going to catch pneumonia in this rain. At least in here you can warm up and dry off a little.”
Her shoulders slumped as she accepted his offer and got into the van. Sitting in the passenger seat, she examined him closer. He was handsome, in a sort of heavy metal rocker sort of way, and he was kaçak iddaa obviously of Oriental descent. He wore a sleeveless black shirt and black jeans. His hair was also black, long and wavy well past his toned, tattooed shoulders. Only his smile was familiar to her.
“You still didn’t answer my question,” she said, softer this time. “Do I know you?”
“Put it to you this way,” he replied, “this isn’t the first time Rex Dart has come to your rescue. Except this time I won’t be teabagged for my efforts.”
“Oh my god, Randy?!” Rachel shouted.
“That’s me, Rachel,” he replied with a smile.
“Wow, you’ve changed!” she said. “Randy, I felt so bad that those guys beat you up and humiliated you like that because of me.”
“Don’t,” Randy said, putting his hand on her shoulder with a warm smile. “I’m proud to have defended the honor of a lovely lady like yourself.”
She really did look really damned good, even with her hair matted and tangled, her makeup streaked, and her gown wet and caked with mud. Her deep brown eyes, her bright, sincere smile, and those dimples outshone all the grime.
“Oh please, Randy. You better get your eyes checked. I’m fat and ugly, and look at me! I’m a mess!”
Randy reached out back and grabbed a towel, handing it to her. “Hope you don’t mind that it smells a little. It’s the towel I take with me to Tae Kwon Do classes. But it should get you dried off and some of the mud off of you. And there’s a hairbrush in my glove box which you’re welcome to. But Rachel, you’re totally not ugly. You do look like you’ve had the worst night of your life, however. What the Hell happened?”
Rachel noticed that he didn’t disagree with her assessment of her size, but she let it go that time. She then related her story from the very beginning, from the point of Scott asking her to the prom to her humiliation at his and Jessica’s hands.
“Just one question: why did you accept his offer knowing what a creep he is?” he asked.
“He convinced me that he felt really bad about all the horrible things he had done, both to you and to me. And silly me, I wanted to believe that there was some good in him. Look where it got me . . . “
“It’s not all bad. Yeah, your dress is ruined, and all that money your family must’ve spent on your dress went down the shitter . . . and you were utterly humiliated in front of people that in a few months you’ll never see again. But you ended up seeing an old friend again, one who is determined to make this night a good one for you.”
“You’re really sweet, Randy, but no thanks. I just want to go home and forget this night ever happened. Besides, why would you want to be with a fat cow like me? You’ve probably got chicks all begging for a piece.”
Randy began getting annoyed. “First of all, quit downing yourself; I hate it when girls do that shit. Secondly, none of them interest me. I’m too busy to deal with someone in dire need of a cheeseburger and fifty IQ points. Thirdly, you say you’re fat like it’s a bad thing. Now buckle in; the least I can do is drive you home.”
Rachel was too tired to argue, and she had to admit that she was enjoying Randy’s company. She complied and asked him to relate what had happened since he left school, and “what’s with the ‘Rex Dart’ thing? I thought your name was Randy Eriksen and that you were Japanese or Korean.”
“My mother’s from South Korea. Her birth name is Cho Ji-Won, but when she came to America, Grandfather changed her name to Jennifer Cho. Anyway, my friends called me Rex Dart because of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
“I love that show! Which one was it?”
“The one where they do ‘Godzilla VS Megalon’,” Randy said with a smile. “Anyway, I got my name from that, and the fact that I was the only Asian kid in our little group. It didn’t bother me, though; I knew they liked me and I thought it was funny. After I left school, Grandmother tutored me at home. Thankfully she was a teacher in Seoul; a very good one, too. My grandfather owns the local Tae Kwon Do studio and is also the head instructor. He taught me so another incident would never happen again.”
“Sounds like your family loves you very much.”
Randy smiled and said, “Yeah, my sister and I are very lucky. Grandfather felt that it was wrong for me to be punished for defending a woman’s honor. Now if Scott gives you shit, I can properly stand up for you; it would be an honor for me.”
Rachel blushed and said, “Thank you, Randy.”
* * * * * *
Randy drove for a bit in silence, Rachel relaxing in the passenger seat. Glancing at the dashboard, Randy said, “Looks like our little roadside chat kinda ate up my gas. No worries though, my favorite gas station is coming up!”
He then pulled into a store marked ‘Kim’s Citgo’. “I know the guy who owns this place. Is there anything I can get you?”
Rachel reached into her purse and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. “A pack of Turkish Jades, a Diet Coke, and Reese’s. Oh sorry, am I allowed to smoke kaçak bahis in your van?”
Randy opened the ashtray which was stuffed with spent cigarettes. “All I ask is that you don’t set my van on fire.” Looking at the ashtray, he said, “While I’m here, I better empty this bad boy out, eh? Heheheh.” With that, he left the van.
Rachel sat alone with her thoughts, occasionally glancing at Randy. She really did appreciate him sticking up for her back then. At that time, she found him cute in an awkward, nerdy way, but she never thought of him like ‘that’. Looking at him now, thinking of him in ‘that’ way was nearly possible to avoid. He grew into a lean, muscular young man, but with a round, soft face with kind eyes and a warm smile . . . and a tight, cute butt.
“No way in Hell he’d want a girl like me,” she thought to herself.
Still, she couldn’t help but notice a little bit of his old awkward self come through when he looked at her, and if she wasn’t mistaken, he did say something about her weight not bothering him. However, she wasn’t a hundred percent sure what exactly he was getting at.
The dome light came on as Randy sat down in the driver’s seat handing her a small plastic bag and her change. With a mock Korean accent and a laugh, he said, “Old Kim he say, ‘You make sure you bring her home safe!’ Mr. Kim is great – I’ve known him my entire life.”
Starting the van, he added, “Are you sure you don’t want a bite at Denny’s or something? My treat!”
Rachel lit up a cigarette and offered the lighter to Randy, who lit up one of his own. “No thank you, really,” she said with a smile. “I just want to get home, get out of these clothes, and take a shower.” She put her hand on his leg and said, “I don’t ever want to forget this night, though.”
Randy smiled and said, “Okay, I’ll get you home. Just guide me and I’ll get you there safely.”
Rachel gave him easy directions, although deliberately giving him the long way there as she didn’t want the night to end. She feared that she’d never see Randy again. After a period of silence, Rachel gulped, took a deep breath and said, “Do you really think I’m pretty?”
Randy smiled and said, “I do. I always have, actually. In fact I developed a bit of a crush on you in middle school, but after the fight, I never thought I’d see you again.”
Rachel was stunned. Randy had a crush on her? “Wow,” she said. “My body doesn’t turn you off?”
Clearing his throat, Randy said, “No, quite the opposite actually.”
Rachel was stunned even more. She couldn’t believe that someone could be physically attracted to her. “Can I ask how exactly?” she inquired, still skeptical. “I’m sorry, but I’m not used to guys thinking that I’m pretty, let alone sexy.”
“Well, to be blunt, I like girls with a large pillowy butt, big boobs, and a soft belly.”
Rachel blushed harder than she ever had in her life. She was a little embarrassed at Randy’s bluntness, but nevertheless appreciated what he was saying. All she could choke out was, “Yeah?”
“Yeah. I’ve always thought you were really beautiful. I could just never muster the nerve to tell you.”
“Well, you were pining for Scott Lister, so I didn’t think a gangly geek like me had a chance in Hell.”
“I am so, so sorry Randy. I’m sorry it took me so long to fully realize what an asshole that guy really is. I feel so stupid now . . . ” Putting her hand back on his leg and gently squeezing it, she smiled and said, ” . . . and thank you.”
Randy clasped her hand with his and gave it an affectionate squeeze, smiling at her. It was at that moment that it became painfully obvious that this is the first time in his entire life that a woman has ever touched him in a remotely sexual way. Clearing his throat, he said, “How about a little music.”
“Nothing too brutal, okay? At least not yet,” she replied.
“Not a problem – I’ve got a bunch of music in here. In fact, I’ve got a CD that has something quite fitting.”
He pulled over briefly to get a burned mix CD, adjusting the erection in his pants as subtly as he could while doing so. Rachel noticed, however, and tried to stifle a slight giggle. Randy caught it and turned the potentially embarrassing situation into a joke.
“AAAAH!! Much better . . . anyhoo, I figured a little Springsteen would be in order.”
He put in the CD and selected a track. At that moment, “Born to Run” began playing, The Boss telling the story of two alienated teenagers in love. Rachel had to admit that the song was quite appropriate for that moment.
“Good choice,” she said. “I’ve always felt that this was Bruce’s best song.”
Randy nodded and began singing, “Will you walk with me out on the wire? ‘Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider but I gotta know how it feels . . . I wanna know if love is wild, babe I wanna know if love is real . . . “
Rachel had to fight back the tears; she had never been serenaded before. She took his hand into hers and said, “I’ll walk with you anywhere if I can,” and placed his hand on her thigh.
After a time, the pair finally pulled in front of Rachel’s house. Randy sighed heavily and said, “Well, here you are, safe and sound, my dear.”
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