The story so far: After Andrea’s drink gets spilled, she goes off to find a towel. Andrea returns from the kitchen with Tom Meany, the cutest guy in school, who has a thing for Kate. Kate’s excitement is diminished when she sees Brian rush upstairs to aid Allison. The year is 1987.


I know exactly what I’m going to do when Brian comes back downstairs.

After hearing Sarah describe how Dennis reacted when he saw her with another guy, I wonder how Brian would respond under similar circumstances. Would he be pissed? Jealous? Would he have the same panicked look on his face like he did when I saw him running upstairs to rescue Allison?

I can’t change that they remain friends. I never gave Brian an ultimatum to choose between Allison and me. When he told me about their kiss, he promised me it would never happen again and that he didn’t have romantic feelings for her. Yet, ever since she went into the hospital, Brian has been distracted. Even this afternoon, when we were laughing in my car, I could still sense a tentativeness about him that made me feel that he wasn’t all there for me.

Well, now it’s time to find out how there he is. There’s a possibility that our relationship may blow up in the next few minutes; might as well find out with the assistance of the gorgeous Tom Meany.

Hard to believe I’m actually thinking about breaking up. This morning I was so in love with Brian. Tonight, I’m tired of the stress this relationship is causing me. The not knowing exactly how he feels is getting old.

Everyone else is talking about what movies they want to see this summer. Tom keeps ”accidentally” bumping into me, which is both tantalizing and irritating at the same time. Shivers run up my arms and thighs.

Come on, Brian, where are you?

Sarah and Dennis say their goodbyes, with Sarah promising to call me in a couple of days. Andrea, Tom, Mike and I stand awkwardly, trying to think of something else to talk about.

Tom comments about the song playing. Janet Jackson’s ”Control.” How appropriate, as that’s what I’m about to do with my relationship. Tom proudly admits that he’s an immense Janet Jackson fan. Funny, I pegged him for more of a Bon Jovi or Poison guy. Tom, Andrea and Mike go on about their favorite bands: Prince, Madonna, Phil Collins. I’m not paying too much attention to their conversation, though. I’m focused on the staircase.

At last, Brian walks down the steps, pausing at the bottom to look around. When I’m sure he’s looking in our direction, I grab Tom and kiss him.

KateKissesTomTom responds quickly. He grabs my waist. Then he tries to clean my teeth with his tongue, moving it all over the place. It’s… not good. It’s awful. Tom Meany is the worst kisser I’ve ever planted my lips on. Worse, his mouth tastes like smokeless tobacco. But, I keep it up, with one eye open, so I can see Brian’s reaction.

He’s fucking livid.

I continue kissing Tom for as long as I can stand it. When I think I may puke, I push Tom away from me.

”Oh. My. God!” Andrea gasps.

Mike whoops. ”Yo, that was dope!”

Tom stands back, proud of himself. I want to knee him in the crotch.

Brian storms over, his face red, his eyes squinted, and both hands in fists. He’s ready to kick some ass. If I’m being honest, it’s a little sexy.

Tom catches sight of Brian and nearly pees his pants. He quickly looks around for a way to exit. Coward. Brian puts his arm around Tom’s shoulder.

”Oh, hey, Tom,” Brian says coolly. He’s looking only at me.

”Brian, shit,” Tom starts. ”Look, uh, uh, she kissed me, man, yeah. They saw it. Seriously. I’d never try and make a play for some other guy’s girl. You know?”

Wow, he really is a coward.

”It’s all good, buddy,” Brian says, patting Tom on the shoulder.

Everyone else clams up, waiting to see what Brian is going to do. I’m not scared; I’m calm and collected.


”Yes, Brian.”

”Do you think we could talk for a minute?”


”I meant in private.”


Tom swallows, relieved. Brian starts for the front door. I reluctantly follow him, glancing back at Andrea. She looks scared. Brian turns down the front hallway.

”Where are we going?” I ask.

”This way,” he replies   .

He opens the basement door and walks down the stairs. I trudge behind him and stop at the very bottom. It’s pitch-black. Brian walks into the darkness and turns on a swinging bulb. He stares at me. In this light, with his face in shadows, he looks almost evil.

I’m not intimidated.

”What?” I ask.

”What?” he replies, incredulous.

”Yeah, what?”

”That… that assface was… you were kissing him! In front of everyone!”

I don’t move an inch.

”Does it bother you more that I was kissing him, or that I kissed him so everyone could see?”

”What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

”You know, Brian.”

”No, I don’t.”

I stand silently, anger building.

”Kate?” he asks.


”What about her?”

”What was that all about? You ran to her side… in front of everyone.”

”She was having trouble.”

I tilt my head in the old ”yeah right“ look. Brian’s eyes slowly widen. He comes closer.

”You still haven’t forgiven me, have you? That’s why you kissed Meany. Revenge, Kate? Really?”

”It was just one kiss.’ Brian.”

He sneers. ”It was just one kiss, Kate. That’s all that happened with Allison.”

”No!” I shout back. ”No, Brian, it was more than just one kiss! It was your heart. When you kissed her… you gave her your heart.”


”Admit it!”

Brian stares at me with hatred. I don’t recognize him.

”Why are you being such a bitch?”

I slap him so hard he nearly falls over. It feels good. As he’s recovering I’m already up the stairs.

”Kate, wait.”

The basement door slams behind me. My stomach curls into a tiny knot and a sick, numb feeling rushes through me. I try to catch my breath and rush for the front door.

Did we just break up? I mean, it feels like we did, but I don’t think either of us said the words.

I walk outside, where the temperature is considerably cooler. Standing over the plastic Santa Claus, I pause to compose myself. My racing heart slows down and I feel like I’m back to reality.

Kids have spilled out on to the front lawn. Two boys are playing a game of basketball. Tom is leaning on Eric’s car with his arm around another girl. Already? Guys, geez! He slurps from a plastic cup and calls out, ”Hey Kate, thanks a lot!

I stop in my tracks and turn slowly. I narrow my eyes at him. He swallows, nervous. I’m prepared to make a snide remark about how rank his mouth tasted when the heartbreak gods show that they’re on my side.

One of the basketball buddies shouts, ”Ball!”

The basketball sails right into Tom. A direct hit in the face.

The asshole lurches forward spilling beer down the front of his shirt and all over his lap. The basketball buddies double over in laughter. Tom’s latest conquest shrieks. As he curses up a storm, I begin my walk back to my car.


Today’s artwork was by Paula Spence. Paula is a designer and art director working at Cartoon Network in beautiful downtown Burbank.  If you are very quick, you can see her name in the credits of Regular Show, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, and early episodes of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants, among other cartoons.  She likes to read and eat more than anything else, and she has too many cats.

Janet Jackson’s song, ”Control,” is found on her 1986 album, Control.

Previous Chapters: Chapter 24, Chapter 23, Chapter 22, Chapter 21, Chapter 20, Chapter 19,  Chapter 18,  Chapter 17, Chapter 16, Chapter 15, Chapter 14, Chapter 13, Chapter 12, Chapter 11, Chapter 10, Chapter 9, Chapter 8, Chapter 7, Chapter 6, Chapter 5, Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1, Introduction

Read Chapter 26 of Legendary.

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About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Follow him @MrMalchus

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