Levi Cranston was a freshman in high school, and he was in French class with his neighbor and friend, Matthew Rhodes Bacaluso-Leyman (Rhody), a sophomore in high school, and two other people, Zach Niornski and Steven Beisswanger, closer friends of Rhody’s, and also a sophomore in high school.
They were taking a test in class, and the teacher stepped out of the room for a few minutes.
When the room was very quiet, and everyone was focused on their tests, Steven let out a loud fart, causing everyone to laugh.
“STEVEN! WHAT THE F*CK, MAN! I was trying to focus on my damn test!” Rhody shouted at the top of his lungs. A few seconds later, everyone in the room burst out laughing.
Levi, Rhody, Zach, and Steven lost it more than everyone else.
When the teacher came back into the classroom, everyone was still laughing really hard.
“Levi, Matthew, Zach, and Steven, get the HELL out of my classroom and to the principal’s office. NOW,” the teacher nearly scolded.
Matthew Rhodes Bacaluso-Leyman (Rhody) was visiting Boston for a few days. He and a few other friends, Levi Cranston and Kevin Maggliardi just came back to Levi’s apartment from a run. A few other friends, Jack Andrews and Asad Prejesh, were at the apartment watching TV.
“Sup, Rhody,” Jack greeted Rhody. Levi and Kevin came in behind him and went to different rooms.
“Hey, guys. What’s everyone up to?” Rhody asked.
“Just watching TV and waiting for Jing Hao and Wong to come over. Mackenzie is out with her friends for the afternoon.”
“Nice. You guys didn’t miss much today. The run was brutal.”
“Yeah, it’s chilly outside, so that’s why we took a pass,” Jack replied.
“Kevin, Levi, and I all have reactive airways, so it hit us all a little harder than usual,” Rhody said.
“Where are Kevin and Levi? I didn’t see them come in.”
“They’re resting for a few minutes. They were both complaining of some chest pain from the cold weather.”
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m better now. My chest hurt for a few minutes, and I spent a few more minutes after that coughing up a lung. But that didn’t last for long.”
“So my parents have decided to move to their house in Rhode Island for the time being, since Covid and Evelyn Maeve graduated from high school,” Levi Cranston said to his friend and old neighbor, Rhody Bacaluso-Leyman, on the phone.
“Oh nice. So you guys still have that house as well?” Rhody asked.
“Yeah, my parents have had that house for years. They own like 2-3 other houses as well. Two in Valpo, one in Chicago, the one in Rhode Island, and one in Connecticut.”
“My parents only have the other house in Chicago that they go back and forth to. Now, since Jayne and I don’t live with them anymore, about 75 percent of their time is spent in Chicago. They stay not too far away from a couple of my friends who live in the Gold Coast, but technically they’re in Lincoln Park.”
“Fair enough. I’ve actually been thinking about the house in Rhode Island recently,” Levi remarked.
“Many fun times were had there,” Rhody replied. “Especially that one year when you brought me with you. Jack, Asad, and David had plans with their families, so it was just the two of us. And we were sick with the cold during the whole trip.”
“Best and worst trip ever honestly. It sucked since we were both so sick, but we got out of some family stuff, which I appreciated. I remember one day when everyone else was out doing things, you and I watched cartoons for the whole day.”
“And we had so much tea that day. We had a tea party.”
“Yes, it was indeed a tea party. And everyone came home to see us passed out on in the common area.”
“Did Mackenzie ever join you?”
“Mom wouldn’t let me take her.”
“Hi Rhody, how are you doing?” Matthew Rhodes Bacaluso-Leyman’s (Rhody’s) best friend, Zach Niornski, asked over the phone.
“Like complete shit. This started a couple days after my dad and I came back from our college visit in Evansville. Literally one of the worst colds I’ve ever had,” Rhody responded.
“Sorry to hear that. But how was the weekend getaway?”
“We were gone from Wednesday night to Sunday evening, and we had a blast. Didn’t realize how awesome the college is. As of now, that one is my top choice.”
“And you’re planning to go into engineering, right?” Zach asked.
“Mechanical engineering. And you’re planning to do something in computer science, right?” Rhody responded.
“Yes, I think so. Just not sure where I’m going yet.”
“Yeah. I just can’t think that far ahead right now.”
“Did you go to school today?”
“My throat is on fire,” Matthew Rhodes (Rhody) Bacaluso-Leyman said to his older sister, Jayne, who was in his room with him at the moment.
“How long has it been since you had your tonsils out?” Jayne asked.
“I don’t even remember, like a few days ago, I think. I’ve just been playing video games for most of the time, though.”
“Did you want ice cream or something? Dad wanted me to ask you.”
“No thank you,” Rhody replied.
“Okay, Dad and I are going out for a few hours. Mom is here if you need her,” Jayne said.
“Ok. Thanks, Jayne.”
“Levi said he’s free to come over if you want.”
“I’ll think about it. I’m really not feeling too well.”
“Alright. See you in a few hours.”
Brody Ingram woke up slowly. He was still not in the mood to do much of anything. His throat was still a little sore from the cold that he was battling, and it was pretty hard for him to breathe. David, Brody's brother, felt pretty sorry for him, since this was all very bad timing, but he still needed to get ready for his move to San Francisco.
In general, Brody was pretty excited about the move, but the cold was not doing him any favors whatsoever. While waiting for Brody to take his sweet little time getting ready for the day, David invited Julia Jaconetti, Brody's girlfriend, inside their apartment for a cup of tea. They both knew Brody would take a while, so why not wait for a bit?
“How’s Brody doing?” Julia asked David.
“Well, he could be doing better,” David half-joked.
“Of course. I’m assuming it’s just a cold?”
“That’s all it is, the man cold.”
“He needs to man up, then!” Julia joked.
“Of course!” David replied.
“What time do we need to leave?”
“I think noon. Andrew, Adam, and Toby are coming over around 10 am.”
“What kind of tea would you like?”
David set out his pot of water on the stove, and waited for it to boil. Julia couldn’t wait for her oolong tea fix. And, once Brody would finally wake up, he would likely make English breakfast tea for himself. Since that is always his go-to flavor.
Julia noticed David’s shirt, since she has never seen him wear it before. It said, “Deutschland” on it, with the German flag showing underneath the letters. She has seen both him and Brody wear t-shirts that they got from London a while ago, but she somehow didn’t know that David studied German in high school and college.
Brody also studied German in high school and some college.
“When did you go to Germany?” Julia asked David.
“In 2013. Brody and I both went there for a month during the summer,” David replied.
“Oh awesome! Did you like it?”
“Absolutely I did. Running in Germany is so much different than it is here.”
“I’ll bet. I didn’t know you run,” Julia said.
“Sometimes, but Brody is much better than I am,” David remarked.
“What did you guys do there?”
“My parents gave me and Brody a package to Germany. One of their friends had planned to go to Germany, but their plans fell through, so we took that opportunity.”
“That sounds like it was a great opportunity. Where were you?”
“Mostly in Munich, but we explored as much of Germany as we possibly could.”
Matthew Rhodes Bacaluso-Leyman (Rhody) spent the weekend in Evansville, Indiana with his dad, since he went on a college visit. They decided to make a foodie trip out of this, and had planned to spend time in southern Indiana, northern Kentucky, and they had even planned a day in St. Louis to try out some barbecue places there.
It was Saturday morning, and they had planned to go to St. Louis for the day. Around 8 am, Rhody woke up to his heart pounding really hard in his chest, and he could hear it in his ears He also had some slight nausea, and his breathing was relatively shaky. He had realized that he had a panic attack in his sleep and did what he could to calm himself down in order to enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Matthew Rhodes Bacaluso-Leyman (Rhody) spent the morning out on a run with a couple of his friends. He had been feeling a little under the weather for a few days but started to feel worse today. He did not feel bad enough to stay home but did not feel well enough to stay out for too long.
About halfway into their run, Rhody had to stop because he had a horrible cough and couldn’t catch his breath.
“Rhody, you alright?” One of Rhody’s friends asked him.
“I will be. Just need to catch my breath is all,” Rhody replied, breathless.
“Rhody, you sound horrible. You need to go home.”
“I’m going to be okay I think.”
“You have no business being here. Your cough is horrible, and that will make things worse if you’re not too careful,” his friend told him.
“Okay, fine. I’ll head home,” Rhody said.
“I’m going to be honest, it sounds like pneumonia.”
“Oh boy. Then fine, I’ll go get checked out.”
“I definitely would.”
“I’ll head out now, and I’ll see you guys later.”
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