“Nervous?” Lisa said, casting a
glance at Les’ rapidly jiggling leg.
“No,” Les replied. His leg stilled.
“So, how was it staying at nana’s
? How’s La Jolla
Les shrugged. “Okay.”
“Did nana make her green chile?” Les didn’t respond. Lisa gave him a
prolonged glance. “Talkative today, aren’t we?” she said archly.
Les said nothing, just stared straight
out the windshield as they raced along the freeway.
As she drove, Lisa’s eyes flitted between
the road and her brother. “You’re nervous about flying by yourself, aren’t
“No I’m not,” he answered curtly.
In fact, Les was nervous about the flight to Seattle, and growing more so by
the minute. But he knew better than to admit it to his older sister. Years of
bitter experience had taught him that.
“So what’s bothering you?”
“I’m fine, Lisa. Just drop it.”
Lisa was silent for a few moments.
“Les, it’s okay,” she said, her voice assuming a softer, lulling quality that
Les knew all too well. Here it comes. The
heartfelt invitation to spill my guts. How many times have I fallen for that
one? It was her one of her most effective tactics, and it always began the
same way: she would ply him relentlessly with sincere, sisterly overtures to
confidence. He could tell her anything, she would say. She would listen to him
without judging, no matter what it was. Mom and dad would never find out. And
she sounded so authentic, so convincing, that, even though he knew she was
lying, she would still somehow persuade him into believing her. He would reveal
whatever dark, horrible secret he was hiding, or the embarrassing incident at
school, or the lamest, most stupid little thing; it didn’t seem to matter how
big or small it was. It only mattered that she could get it out of him. Well, not this time, sister.
Les leaned back, looked sideways
out the door window. The city of San
sparkled in the bright blue sunshine, the towers
and skyscrapers stark and straight and proper against the ocean. Behind them, the
graceful curve of the Coronado
rose and dipped.
“So, how’dja do in your games?” she
asked after a time.
like I don’t know this one, Les thought. Change subjects, get me to lower my guard, and then come back in for
the kill. You’re being way too obvious, Leese. Hardly one semester away from
home, and you’re losing your touch. “We went one-and-two,” he said finally,
in answer to her question.
“Oh,” she said. “Not so good, huh?
Les shrugged as if it wasn’t
“So what team are you on this year?
Les nodded once. If she was set on
dragging something out of him, he was going to make her work as hard he could.
“Well, that’s good,” Lisa replied,
undeterred. “I mean, at least you’re not on that freshman team you hated so
much last year.”
Les stared down at the floorboards.
“Yeah, well, that really wasn’t an option, since I’m a sophomore now,” he said acidly.
“I know that. I just meant, well, I
mean, you made the cut, right? Plus, now you get to be on the same team with
your bestie, so life’s a beach, no?”
Les turned from the window, leveled
his eyes coldly at his sister. “Yeah, it’s a real beach.”
She looked at him, perplexed, until
she had deciphered his response. “What, Omar made Varsity?”
“Of course he did,” Les said,
“because that’s how things always work for me.” He paused, and then groaned
loudly. “No, that’s not fair,” he said. “I mean, he totally deserves it. He led
JV in scoring last year. Offensive rebounds. Steals. He was their best player,
hands down. ‘Course it didn’t hurt that he grew five inches in the last twelve
“Really?” Lisa said, evidently
surprised. “So what is he now?”
“Six-one-and-a-half,” Les said. “He
said his doctor told him he probably had four or five more inches left to
“Omar?” Lisa said, surprised. “In
eighth grade, you two were the almost the same height.”
“Thanks for the reminder,” Les said
icily. Then, sensing an opportunity to take a shot of his own, added, “Besides,
you haven’t been around in forever. If you had, you would’ve seen him.”