Tyler could see Antonio standing outside down the block, near an open garage. They shared the exact same birthday and felt like non-identical twins, except his Latin friend looked much older than he did. Compared to Tyler, Antonio was athletically built. The party always started when Antonio arrived with his striking good looks and ready-for-anything attitude. Lately, though, he was going through a rebellious, spiked hair stage and hanging out with guys very unlike Tyler. This was exactly what he was doing at that moment.
As Tyler and Christina approached, Christina covered her ears. The sound of raucous behavior and dissonant music upset her. Tyler grasped her hand. He already regretted bringing her here.
"Hey, Antonio, what’s up?" Tyler asked. The music stopped. Several boys snickered at the sight of the conservative boy and his little sister.
Antonio joined Tyler and Christina. "Hey, Tyler!" he said. "I didn't expect to see you here!"
"Tell them to get lost," a rough voice yelled.
"Knock it off," Antonio said. "They’re my friends."
Tyler appreciated Antonio’s sticking up for them, knowing it wasn’t the easy thing to do. But he didn’t understand why Antonio wanted to hang out with these guys, especially since they seemed to be getting meaner lately. They didn’t used to be, but they were turning into bullies. A couple of them had even been suspended from school.
"It's happened!" Tyler said.
The biggest of the boys in the garage came out. He leered at Antonio and said in a fake sing-songy voice, "Why don't you just run along now and play with your little friends? Maybe you can play a game with the girlie who can't talk and her freaky little doll." The other boys laughed.
Tyler glared at them, picking Christina up and wiping away her tears.
"I told you to knock it off!" Antonio said in his face.
"You'll never be good enough to stay in our band anyway."
Antonio looked stricken.
"He’s better than you’ll ever be!” Tyler yelled. “Come on, Christina, don’t pay any attention to these jerks.” Before turning away he said to Antonio, “Will you meet us later?"
"Sure, just give me a few minutes," Antonio replied. "But what's this all about?"
"You'll find out soon enough.” Tyler lowered his voice. “Just meet us in thirty minutes at the corner of Oak and Willow."
[excerpt from Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton]