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Equality and Balance, by Benjamin Sparks, staff reporter

My palms were sweating and I felt a slight chill go down my spine as I stepped into the train station. As I walked down the steps the smell of cigarettes and alcohol filled the air, I was completely on edge, the butterflies of nervousness were beginning before the date did, I wasn’t even there yet. My brother Derek had set me up with another blind date. My brother Derek and I had a very balanced relationship, and because of my bad luck with girls he constantly set up blind dates for me; in return I protected his dumb self from raging boyfriends, and fathers.The last girl he had set me up with looked like a prettier version of me, but in all seriousness I just was never able to find a girl that I actually liked. I’m not like my brother who can just fool around with any girl and not care. Of course he said the same thing about me and my fighting, he didn’t travel with me anywhere since I’m always ready to fight for the littlest things. My train pulled into the station with a loud screech like fingernails on a blackboard. I stepped in and sat down in a corner by myself. There were a few elderly people and a couple of teenagers on the train. I put my head back and took deep breaths to calm myself.

    The ride was pretty uneventful until my stop came. As I got up one of the kids walked up and asked me if I knew anyone named Derek. The kid was taller then me, and he had on black jeans, a snap back cap, and a leather jacket.
    “Yeah,” I answered.
He then signaled to some of the other kids on the train, and they all came over to me. “Are you related to him?” the kid asked.
I stood up so I was right in the kids face, and he backed up. “Yeah, he’s my brother, what’s the problem?”
    “You better tell him to watch what girls he talks to,” he said.
    As soon as he said that, the bell rang signaling the closing of the doors, and I jumped through barely making it. As the train drove away one of the kids threw up a gang sign in my face. I immediately regained my composure since there was an MTA cop right there. I turned the other way and began walking up the steps leading outside. The sky was an amber color as the sun began to set; looking like the clouds had fire around it. The air was thick and muggy, and I began walking down the crowded streets towards the resturant “Curios”, a nice italian place. I walked inside and the smell of pizza and different types of pastas filled the air, I took a deep breath savoring it. There were little round tables in the middle of the room and booths on the side walls, and the room had dim lighting that glared off the glass windows. Derek had told me that I’d recognize the girl by a rose in her hair. Only problem was that at least five girls had roses in thier hair, and only three of them were with someone. Guess all I could do was sit next to one of the two, and hope it was my date. I sat next to the one farthest down in the room. She was spanish, and was wearing a red sleeveless dress and had a black gucci hand bag. She looked very elegant and it made me wonder what she was doing around here. I felt stupid in my black leather jacket with a t-shirt and grey jeans.
“Hello,” the girl said, and I returned the greeting. We sat there in silence for at least ten seconds before I held out my hand.
    “Hello, my names Barry.”
“I’m Sabrina,” she said shaking my hand, then the nervousness once again began to bother me; my palms became damp. I needed to start a conversation.
    “So, you don’t look like you’re from around here, where you from?” I asked her with a hint of desperation in my voice.
    “Why don’t I look like I’m from around here?” she replied.
    I froze. I was always able to hang out with my crew, and I had no problem speaking to girls designated as “friends”, but once I was trying too go out with a girl my brain became a black hole. So I decided to be frank with her, just to take a little chance.
    “Well it’s just that the way you’re dressed you look a bit more privileged than most people here.” I said.
    “Well, even in a place like this there are certain ways to make money,” she replied.
    Now that could mean one of two things; both I won’t name, and both are types that I’m not interested in. I could only react to that statement in one way, so I got up to leave, but then she grabbed my arm.
    “C’mon I was just kidding.” she said and I sat back down. Just then a waiter appeared at our table with a red vest, black pants, and a long curly mustache; he then asked for our drink orders. She got raspberry iced tea, and I got a Coke.
The waiter left and once again there was silence “So where you from anyway?” I asked her once again.
    “Oh I’m actually visiting here at my aunts house. I live in Manhattan,” she answered.
    “Wait, so how did you meet my brother?” I asked her
    “I never met your brother… Wait. My girlfriend Giselle set this up.” And that’s when I realized that I was with the wrong girl. I spun around to look for the other one that was there, and she was on the phone. Just then she jumped up.
“Derek your stupid brother stood me up!” She yelled. My mouth popped open, my brother was gonna be pissed; I had better head home. I started to dash for the door,”hey wait at least give me your number” she called after me.It went in one ear and out the other. If that pissed off girl found out who I was, embarrassment was sure to follow.
I dashed out of the restaurant. The sound of cars and the smell of exhaust filled the air. I ran to the train station, and when I got to the platform two of the kids from before were there. They saw me and tried to stare me down, but I walked right past them never taking my eyes of them. Once I passed they started following me until we were out of the crowd, and I sat down on a bench to wait for the train. They both sat next to me on either sides; one put his arm on the headrest behind me, but I smacked it away.
    “That’s not very nice,” he said. He was a short Spanish kid with slicked back black hair; they both had flags hanging out of their pocket. Just then a cop walked past and began staring at their flags. They both got up and walked away, and then the cop started staring at me.
    “Don’t look at me, I don’t have anything hanging off my butt”
    “Just stay out of trouble son” he said. The train came in fifteen minutes and I hopped on. It took me about another thirty minutes to get home. I walked in the door, and my shabby apartment greeted me, and so did the dust. All the windows were open to air the place out.
    My mom still wasn’t home, it was only seven thirty. I walked down the hall with boxes stacked up against the walls. There wasn’t enough room to unpack all our old stuff even though we’d moved about a year ago. I stepped into my room and my brother was sitting on my bed with his chin in his hands, in a thinking position.
    “I just cant fathom why my brother would stand up the girl that I so painstakingly tried to hook him up with.”
    “I can explain,” I answered.
    “I don’t even care today just isn’t my day.”
    I sat down next to him on the bed, “what happened? Do me and my boys need to knock someone out?” I asked.
     “No,” he replied, “it’s just that this girl punched me today” he said slowly.
    I tried to hold it back, really I did, but I just couldn’t. A huge laugh burst forth from my lips, and my brother gave me the evil eye. Just then my brothers phone rang, and he picked it up. I left and went to the kitchen to get something to eat. I made a cheese sandwich, and put it in the toaster oven.
    My brother walked out smiling, “this girl I just talked to is one I wont stand up.” He then threw on a jacket and left. The oven rang and I ate the sandwich whole heartily. When I finished I was pretty tired, so I decided to take a little nap.
I woke up the next morning on the couch not knowing where the time went, it was eleven A.M. The sun was high in the sky sending rays through the windows accompanied by solar dust. I walked passed my moms room, and she was on the phone.
    “Bout’ time you woke up,” she stopped and said, “wonder what could have made you so tired.”
    I chuckled “It’s Derek you should be worrying about, not me.”
    I walked into my room and Derek wasn’t there. Must have stayed with the girl all night. It was Friday so I was off from work, but I still wanted to go get my paycheck, just a couple of more hundreds until I had enough to go back to school. I’d dropped out my second year of college, and I’d never gone back. My brother had dropped out his first year, except he wasn’t trying to go back. I was twenty three  and he was nineteen. I took a shower, and the warm water woke me up instantly. When I got out, I got dressed. I felt like being bright. I put on a red leather thriller type jacket with black and grey Rockin Republic jeans, and red and white Adidas.
I walked out and stood at the bus stop. As I was waiting for my bus, I received a phone call on my cell. It was my boy Steve. He was waiting for me at my job, so we could chill after. The bus came, and the ride was pretty quick. Toys r Us, a place where I’ve been working for two years. The manager wasn’t that bad, but he didn’t like me after I had messed up pretty bad with his daughter. My boy Steve was no where to be found, I walked in and went to the back where the trucks we got our products from were parked. Ephraim, the manager, was back there talking with one of the delivery men; he was Spanish, short, and dumpy wearing a striped shirt and tie. I made things quick, and got my paycheck fast. When I walked out of there, there were four kids outside hassling Steve. Were these kids stalking me? Two of them were from the train station.
    I ran up “What the hell are ya’ll doing?”
    The one from the train looked at me, and the hate in his eyes almost felt physical.
    “You’re the guy whose brother has no respect for other peoples property.”
    Then I noticed that two of the kids had gone behind me and Steve. Steve looked at me
    “We got this,” he said, and I nodded. I swung outward catching the guy from the train in the jaw. He fell backward when someone grabbed me from behind. The guy I got recovered, and started punching me in the stomach. Then I coughed up blood, staining my jeans. I swung my leg up catching the kid in the shin, and he dropped. I stomped on his head really quick, and began to struggle with the guy behind me when Steve hit him with a rock lying on the floor. Then a police car pulled up, everything stopped, and we both began to run. I must of ran for five blocks untill I sat down on some random person’s stoop. My stomach felt like it was about to implode. Then guess who walked out of the house whose stoop I’ve been sitting on?
    “Hi Barry,” she said.
    “Hi Sabrina” I answered back.
    Today might just become good
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