Some people said Sam had robbed a Get n' Go in Okeechobee. Some said he was an undercover narc. A reliable source in the girls' bathroom claimed he was Mick Jagger's illegitimate son. We were bored with our gentle lives, and dark, silent Sam was the object of much speculation. As the new guy at school and the only male in AP Bio to sport a black leather jacket, he was asking for it.
Sam rode a motorcycle, no helmet. In the sea of entry-level Chevy sedans and sober parentmobiles, the big Harley in Student Lot B commanded attention. It spoke of mangled limbs, decapitations, promising lives cut short. Conjugating verbs from my window seat in Spanish class, I couldn't take my eyes off it.
I suppose, given that Harley, not to mention the rumors, that it didn't surprise me when I happened, one Monday after school, to witness Sam Cody's inevitable demise.
I was sitting under a tree in the middle of an orange grove near my house. Snickers, my Arabian mare, was grazing nearby. The day, warm and clear, dazzled like a prism. I had my history textbook open on my lap, which I figured was almost the same thing as reading it.
I went to the grove from time to time--sometimes to study, more often to daydream. The star of my reveries was Lance Potts, the golden-boy-blue-eyed-honor-society-junior-class-president-football-center guy I'd fantasized about for months, practicing pillow kisses after SNL on Saturday nights. Although Lance had no idea I existed, he was always kind enough to make an appearance in my daydreams at a moment's notice.
But lately, Sam Cody had been making unscheduled appearances in them as well. I was not sure what to make of this development. Sam was not, after all, the kind of guy I was attracted to.
Although, to be fair, Sam did have very nice eyes.
The hoarse whine of a motorcycle broke the stillness. I tossed my book aside. This was not a bike trail. Technically, it wasn't even a horse trail. Yelling a few expletives, I dashed out to the narrow dirt road that bisected the grove. Then I saw the black jacket, the too-long hair, and I knew it was Sam.
It was one thing to ponder Sam's dark history over a bowl of Orville Redenbacher Light on a dateless Friday evening. It was quite another thing to be trapped in the middle of nowhere with him, armed only with my pepper spray, the one my mom had stuck in the toe of my stocking the Christmas before.
"Hey!" I screamed. "Get off the trail!"
Suddenly, as if he'd reined it in at my command, the bike bucked and twisted. It careened off the trail, carving a clean arc in the still air. Sam clung to it like a bronco rider as the bike plummeted to the ground near an orange tree. It somersaulted once before coming to a stop.
The Harley silenced, the field came alive again with chirps, buzzes, whirs. I waited, hoping for a moan, some sign he'd survived.
As I ran to the wreck I steeled myself for the bloodied corpse and lifeless stare, the horror-movie scenes from those driver ed movies. I conjured up pages from my first-aid book. A, B, C: A was airway, B was breathing, but what the heck was C?
The grass stirred.
Sam was wrapped around the twisted carcass of his bike. A tiny trickle of blood made its way down his left temple.
He opened his eyes. "This isn't hell, is it?"
I shook my head, incredibly relieved that he was alive.
"Florida," I said.
"I'm here to rescue you," I said nervously. "Don't move."
I leaned close to check his eyes. If his pupils were dilated, that was a bad thing, although I couldn't remember why. Close up, his face was all angles and planes, a geometry lesson. His eyes were nearly black, thick brows, thick lashes. I couldn't be sure about the pupil situation. I caught the faint, acrid smell of tobacco. It figured he would smoke.
I examined a gash on his left hand. "You have a death wish or something?" I muttered.
He touched his bloody temple and swore. "I blew a damn tire. I can't believe it. I just changed that tire two weeks ago! Oh, man, this sucks."
"I mean, why don't you wear a helmet, for God's sake? It's the law. Plus," I added, "you smoke."
Sam stared at me as if I weren't quite in focus. "I'm lying here bleeding to death, and you're nagging me?"
"I hope you realize how lucky it is you landed in a hunk of grass. It could have been a hunk of rock."
"Don't move, I have to think. I took first aid in Girl Scouts, but that was seven years ago."
Sam started to pull his leg free. He winced.
"Stop!" I cried. "Don't move the victim."
"I'm not the victim," he said, stroking a twisted fender.
I checked his head wound. It was bleeding, all right, although not very dramatically. I needed something to bind the cut. There was only one thing to do. I took off my T-shirt. Fortunately, I had a bathing suit top on underneath.
"Maybe I'm in heaven after all," Sam said.
I tried to rip the T-shirt with my teeth. It always works in the movies.
The movies, it just so happens, are full of crap.
"I'm Sam Cody, by the way."
"I know," I said, and was instantly sorry. Strictly speaking, there was no reason I should know his name.
"And you're Alison Chapman."
I blinked, my mouth full of T-shirt. Strictly speaking, there was no reason he should know my name.
I could feel my throat starting to blotch. It was tacky to flirt while binding a wound.
"I'm just going to tie this sucker around your head," I said. Before he could fuss I crouched behind him, folded the shirt into a long strip, and tied it around his forehead. The back of his hair curled sweetly over his collar.
"Ow." He winced. "Just my luck I get the Brownie paramedic."
I stood, brushed off my knees, and admired my handiwork. "You may go into shock at any moment," I said. "I think I'm supposed to cover you with a blanket."
"You could use your jeans," he suggested helpfully.
"I'm going to go get my horse. I'll put her blanket over you, then ride for help. But you have to promise not to move--"
"Time out." Before I could stop him, Sam pulled free of his bike and struggled to his feet. "This is getting way too weird."
"I told you not to stand. You've had a brush with death."
Excerpted from Sharing Sam by Katherine Applegate. Copyright © 2004 by Katherine Applegate. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.