The system update seemed to be a blessing in disguise. For about a week now Anthony, Kelly, Ryan, Nick, and John hung out instead of playing the game online. Of course, Anthony was more interested in playing the handheld more than socializing. Today, they had claimed a local mall food court as their hang out spot.
Ryan arrived first, as he usually did. Seeing that he was the only one here he took to a small table in one of the corners. It didn't take long for the others to arrive and swarm to Ryan.
"'Bout time you four showed up." Ryan said as he got comfortable in the hard metal chair.
Nick jumped on the table and leaned against the wall, "We told we'd get here eventually Country Boy."
John, Kelly, and Anthony all sat in the chairs around the table. John let out a sigh, "Anybody heard from Chris lately?"
Anthony shook his head, "Nah. He doesn't want anything to do with us. He told me he was done with the game."
Kelly frowned, "Quitting after one loss. That's a pathetic and immature thing to do."
Nick laughed, "Well what do you expect from a nerd?"
They sat without speaking for a few hours. Nobody knew what to do or say. Anthony took out his handheld and balanced it on his thumb, Nick and Ryan went over to the burger stand to see what they could buy, John stared off into the distance, and Kelly watched the people walk by. None of them would admit what they were all thinking and what they all knew: They weren't really friends. They were just hanging out because it seemed like the proper thing to do.
Kelly stood up and sighed, "Well I assume I've wasted enough of my day. I'll see you gentlemen later." She started to walk away, but Anthony stood up and chased after her.
She ignored him and kept walking. Nick and Ryan returned to the table with a tray full of burgers. All that was waiting for them were three empty chairs and a spaced out John. Nick put the tray down and snapped his fingers in front of John, "Yo, brainiac, where'd Ant and Kelly run off too?"
John pointed to their chairs, "Dunno. They were here a minute ago."
Ryan sat down and took a burger, "I figured I'd buy y'all lunch, but I guess there'll be more fer us."
Nick grabbed two burgers and started taking monster sized bites out of them, "Amen to that brother!"
John ignored the food before him and returned his gaze to the ceiling. Most of the burgers were gone by the time Anthony returned to the table, his breathing was heavy.
Ryan tossed him a burger, "Here City Boy, eat up."
Anthony caught the burger and took a bite, "Thanks."
Nick took off his hat and ran his fingers through his messy brown hair, "So, where's the party pooper?"
Anthony smirked at Nick's nickname for Kelly. "She went home. When I finally got her attention she told me she had some report or something to do."
The boys sat together telling jokes and stories of their past. Nick hoped to one day start a metal band, Ryan wanted to open a cattle ranch, John wanted to be a secret agent, and Anthony didn't really know what he wanted to do.
Nick put his hat back on, "Bros, I say we go pay Chris a visit. I think he should hang with us."
John and Ryan nodded in agreement and Anthony shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know you guys. He seemed pretty upset the last time I talked to him."
Ryan put all the trash on the tray, "What's the worst that can happen?"
End of Chapter 8