I shuffle my way across the aisle, along with the rest of the fleeing frenzy of scavengers. The once civil civilians, once sitting calmly, act as if they believe resting at the end of this treacherous journey lay stacks of gold, saved for the first lucky contestants to make it out of the plane of fortune. Is traveling so disorienting for some people they feel the need to exit the very second the plane reaches their destination?
I suppose it's better than trying to evacuate in the midst of reaching the destination.
I carry forward with making my way out of the plane before I am knocked off balance by a handsome gentleman anxiously trying to leave the plane. Throughout my life, there have been a lot of things I have been proven guilty of. For example, I can't remember to let screaming women out of the trunk of their husband's mustang, but I'd never, ever push somebody down.
I have my principles.
James does not.
He turns back while I regather myself and shrugs it off before carrying onward. He wants the gold, and it is clear, even friends aren't to stop him from winning the make-believe game-show. I finally find myself out of the plane, carrying my darkly-colored blue backpack on my shoulders. The same backpack often carrying the wolf's clothing. The black and gold ensemble that I hold so near and dear to me. Now, it carries nothing more than a change of clothes, and a toothbrush, that is, if I felt especially venturesome.
Oh, what would Cepheus say if could see me now?
Wait, why do I even care what Cepheus has to say?
I don't care!
Why should I? Of course, I couldn't help but linger back to the fictitious, yet exhilarating adventure that bumped and guzzled the jogging hamster that kept my gears turning.
A spectacle bringing my clock to a certain time, and leaving me alarmed. It was a dream, but it felt like more than that, whether it be my mind trying to guide me through the maze, or something different entirely. I have not a clue what to make of it. I walk my way down the stairway of the plane before once again meeting up with James.
“Hardan, Maharris, at last! That felt like it took forever,” James says, adding extra emphasis on his pronunciation of “forever”.
Well, I don't know, I thought it was kind-of nice, I slept like a baby. A baby that got shot in his chest with a gun by his father for what felt like the millionth time, but a baby, nonetheless.
“We were only in the plane for a couple of hours, your boat wouldn't even have had a chance to sink in that time, DiCaprio,” I respond, deciding this comment is more suited for the conversation than the latter.
“Details,” James says, waving off the comment as we walk with commotion, who has been visiting the airport today. I hope he didn't plan on being here long because I don't think I am too fond of him. Commotion, that is.
I soon decide that it is time to stop personifying nouns as we continue walking through the airport, the scurrying people having now greatly subsided and slowed their pace. The airport's massive space giving them the opportunity to disperse and not be cluttered. I start to hear a faint raspy sound plunge itself against my eardrums. A grating but feminine whisper repeating itself, over and over, and over again.
You don't have to be alone.
The words as they reiterate themselves, send shivers up my spine, and suddenly another voice joins the chanting. This rough and scratchy voice brings with it a sort of sternness, but carries the same message. The voices reminds, in unison, that I don't have to be alone. Belladonna saw what I am, and saw something she could relate to. A supposed understanding was suggested, an understanding of the madness parading around and pulling at my cords. She loaned an ear to the demonic and harmonic composition orchestrated by the bloodthirsty vocalist. But are we really marching to the beat of the same drummer, is the fragmented loop repeating in each of us from the same black symphony? A disease, a cancer, rests within both of us, that much is clear, but is her's the same? Is the tarantula hiding in the crevice of her heart the equivalent of the snake inside mine, constantly rattling its tongue, wanting to come out of the hole and inject the devilish poison into its prey?
Whenever I go prolonged amounts of time without indulging myself in my addiction, I begin to feel feelings of withdrawal. I have a dependency to it. This started happening long before the addiction was first fed. A sickly feeling, a journey without a definite destination, and when I found a way to engorge in something that would halt the rumblings in my stomach, I threw myself at it. If Belladonna is anything like me then why did she stop me from killing Silvia Garcia?
James and I successfully make it out of the airport as we set our sights on trying to hail a cab.
“Doesn't matter if we're in Acera or Hardan, hailing a cab still takes forever,” I say with an annoyance broadcasting itself through my voice.
“True,” James agrees while he twists and pivots himself back in fourth, flailing his arms wildly, trying to make as much of a spectacle as he can.
A few vehicles zoom past us, some of them are taxis either off-duty or already occupied, and some of them are civilians practicing their stink-eye. I couldn't decide whether to whistle or yell “Taxi!” and partly because of this, I simply stand and watch as James imitates a crazed baboon. The sun gleams with a sensibility that leaves droplets of sweat dribbling down from both of our brows.
My mind drifts back to the fact that Belladonna has found something inside of her justifying her actions, not a hopeful stab in the dark of something accepted by popular consensus, but something she genuinely believes in. I am not sure that I can find myself to believe the same. Has Cepheus been right about me all along? Is it true I don't care at all about the individuals around me, and that I see them only as prey? Not as people that deserve it? Am I only looking for a kill and care of nothing else? Would I have killed them whether they were innocent or guilty?
No, this isn't true, there's something more, I know it!
“God dammit!” James yells before throwing a directionless foot at the air.
“Relax,” I reply with a pleasant smile.
“This is taking forever! We've been out here for over an hour!”
James is right, and I watch as time hurries past us, arms glistening with sweat. Time doesn't need a taxi, because it's going by fast as it is. Eventually, after more awe-inspiring waves and hollers, James manages to retrieve us a cab. The taxi comes to a halt and James bolts into the car like a man on a mission. I follow closely behind. The vehicle is what one would expect, a traditional yellow and black Lincoln Town Car with a dark interior.
I sit down next to James, and rest my backpack on the floor-mat below, next to my feet. The taxicab driver is a man that looks to be in his mid-thirties or early-forties with short gray hair and glasses.
“Hello there, and where are you guys headed?” The man asks, offering us more youthful enthusiasm than expected.
“Um, yeah, we're headed to the Blue-Top Inn at Veremere Street,” James replies with uncertainty in his voice.
We are going to the Blue-Top Inn, a cheap hotel, to meet up with James' father, George Schultz. He is, of course, the sender of the invitation for this fine field-trip away from our humble abode. I am beginning to feel more confused by George asking for us to come out here. After all, this is the same man who would come home drugged out of his mind, hurling vomit in the toilet after hurling beer-bottles at James.
This is the same man that seemingly took pleasure in torturing his son. These are some of the colorful proclamations that were vented to me my James, who, needless to say, never saw eye to eye with his father. Probably because George would sooner smack him then look at him.
I have only briefly met George.
Once, when I came over for James, I saw George in his underwear, sitting leaned back in a recliner, while he sipped beer from a can and flipped through channels on the television. He didn't say anything to me and I didn't say anything to him. Instead, he looked at me with an out of it stare before belching and resuming with whatever show he was watching. Other-wise though, both of us have kept our distance from one another.
Still, while he doesn't sound lovely, I haven't actually spent much time with George, and because of this, I can't confirm my suspicions of James' rumblings being accurate.
I wonder if James would have liked my father, if he would have known him back then. I wonder even more if I would have liked my father, if I would have known him back then.
Was he the same warm and cuddly individual he is today?
This question, along with other questions pedaled their way into my mind, sending it cycling fast. The question of whether or not there is truth to what he has said remains maddeningly asked. That Belladonna doesn't have the disease that sneaks and peaks into the inner depths of both of our psyches. But, another question was pondered, the question of how things would have been had he not left my life as abruptly as he did.
Cepheus not being there to tuck me in at night forced me to spend over a decade in an orphanage before joining a family that really wasn't a family to me at all. Were all the splashes and waves in my childhood capable of being reduced to mere ripples if Cepheus had been around to look over me? Better yet, could they have been avoided entirely?
* * *
The time for freedom and sugar-induced mayhem was in-session.
This is what was happening, but only mostly, not all.
There were other events transpiring as well after the bells had rung, setting my fellow adolescent free, other events that wouldn't be held in the same fondness for some people. Things that went on unsupervised by authorities, things that even at this point in my life, I knew weren't right.
Never really harassed often as a child, I blended in with the masses, I was just THAT kid. I didn't have a problem with this perspective being directed where I stood. I didn't welcome it, but I didn't care much either.
I was content with it.
A mere spoke on the wheel is all I was. I was nothing more than a mere shade in an incredibly large rainbow, although, I was one of the more colorful ways. However, some of the actions of my peers, they bothered me.
They bothered me a lot. One of the most troubling individuals of my youth was a thirteen year-old boy named Bobby Ray. A thick, burly boy that was always against showing tolerance and respect, and instead created himself an asylum based on the mean-spirited torment of other children. I wasn't fond of him, and I wasn't very fond of many bullies for that matter, but he was special. The king of the jungle gym, the bulliest of all bullies at our school, which is exactly why I admired him.
I looked at him with a certain intrigue. An infatuation... an obsession?
Bobby had a crew cut, probably not unlike his father's, his father, who had been spending his days lately fighting a war against terrorism. Bobby made his father proud by terrorizing his fellow classmates. I couldn't help but wonder whether or not his father not being around had anything to do with his hateful behavior. I could sympathize with Bobby if that were the case. I hadn't had the opportunity to meet my father, most of my life had been spent inside of an orphanage, and only just recently had I been adopted.
The origins of my prey didn't tweak the fact that he needed to be taught a lesson, he needed for somebody to defy him of his demands. I was willing to act out of the role of this character, but under my own terms. The idea of standing up to a bully usually doesn't work out the way it does in the movies. You don't put up your fists and defy the odds before sending the credits rolling.
I had absolutely no doubts whatsoever that in a fight, Bobby could rip me into smithereens and floss using my spinal cord. I wasn't going to go the theatrical route, I was going to articulate my methods, and I also was going to give him the chance to realize the error in his ways before I struck. I gazed at myself in the mirror, my hair came over my eyes, but I saw my mission with complete clarity.
I had to stop Bobby Ray from hurting anybody else. This little neonate would soon be slithering over to give his first malicious bite, not yet fatally poisonous, but vicious, nevertheless. I held some of my foster-mother Hillary's eyeliner in my hands, and drew a small streak on both of my cheeks, beneath my eyes. I didn't think Hillary would mind too much, considering all of the other things that they thought were wrong with me, I figured they wouldn't be surprised when the day came that I was wearing makeup. Not to say that there's anything wrong with makeup.
I looked in the mirror, and there I was; a hunter ready to bestow justice onto a quivering capillary of deviousness. I left the house, steering clear of my foster-father, a psychologist, who was sitting in the living-room reading a book. I met the outside air, but was far too determined to sooth in the breeze. I needed weaponry before I struck, and I got my wish. I found two long and somewhat thick sticks beside a large tree in my front-yard, and went on my way.
I knew exactly where Bobby would be, and had a real good idea of what he was doing. Bobby liked to hang out at the school after hours, he'd play basketball at a medium-sized court just outside. A large square of black asphalt with a chain-link fence around it. People called it the “black-top” and that's where I knew he'd be. Two basketball goals on both ends, and he and his friends liked to spend their time shooting hoops and smoking.
To my knowledge, they never once got caught doing it, and if they did, they never got in any trouble for it. I figured he would be there, and I could wait for his friends to leave, or wait for him to go to some quiet location, then I could act. I carried my way down the street, ignoring the curious stares from others, and could feel the anticipation brewing inside me.
I had felt this … feeling, this, impatient and rumbling … feeling, for a long time, and I was happy that I would soon be getting my chance to nourish it. So angry... The school wasn't that far of a walk away, only a few short blocks, and I made it there in a little over ten or fifteen minutes. The black-top was on one side of the school, but I was on the other. I couldn't see whether there was anybody playing basketball so I swayed my way to the back of the school, going through the unoccupied playground where swings, a merry-go-round, and a jungle-gym resided.
I made my way mostly to the other-side of the school, but I stopped before I did entirely. Breathing heavily, holding the sticks in my hands, I put my back against the wall of the school. I peeked my head out and looked out toward the black-top and I was surprised to find that nobody was there, nobody except for Bobby Ray and a petite boy that also went to our school named Ryan Hill.
Bobby had Ryan driven up against the chain-link fence and was grabbing him by his collar.
“What did I say!?” Bobby yelled with a roaring ferociousness.
“I'm sorry, I don't, I don't have anything for you,” the little boy, Ryan Hill cried.
“You're not sorry yet, my friends will be here soon, and then we'll decide what to do with you.”
Ryan's face was already drenched with tears brought about by the altercation as Bobby pulled Ryan back. He pushed him forward against the fence causing for it to rattle. I stepped out from my hiding spot, and I could feel my sweaty hands shake, almost as bad as Ryan's entire body. I walked forward.
This was it.
The big kid versus the weird one.
I took a couple more steps until Bobby turned in my direction and stared at me.
“What the hell are you looking at, queer-boy?” Bobby hollered with a detectable ignorance in his voice. Such gratuitous language.
I just stared at him, the words weren't going to make their presence felt, even if they tried. Bobby pushed Ryan more forcibly against the fence until releasing him.
“Stay there,” Bobby said angrily, leaving for Ryan to simply nod, almost frozen with fear.
Bobby walked ahead in my direction until we were finally nose to nose.
“I said, what are you looking at?” Bobby asked again.
I opened my mouth, wanting to speak, but no words came out, and I closed my mouth again. Bobby looked at me before shoving at me with one-hand. I stumbled backward for a moment until regaining my balance. All at once, I whipped Bobby's exposed arm with my stick. I could quickly see the whelp form on Bobby's skin, and I did it again, this time hitting him in the side of the neck.
Bobby fell, and looked almost as if he was going to weep. I stared down at him with a strong glare of satisfaction in my eyes before flinging the sticks to the concrete ground and dropping to one knee.
“I want you to stop doing what you're doing, Bobby,” I said with a vigor in my voice that I hadn't yet come acquainted with. “Do you understand? If you do this again, it'll only get worse for you.”
Bobby made a swipe at my head, but I moved out of the way and punched him in the stomach, bringing him back to his subdued state. I returned to my feet and watched as Ryan ran away from the scene. I glanced down at Bobby a final time, he was rubbing the side of his neck. Finally, the time came where I was done, and I turned around, and left my fallen prey to simmer. While I was walking, I couldn't overcome the feelings of how good I felt.
I stopped something that needed to be stopped for a long while. I wondered if this was the beginning of anew, and with certainty answered my own question that it was. I was about halfway back to my house when …
“YOU!” I heard a voice say.
Me? Who could be calling me at this ungodly of an hour? The voice was somewhat faint, like it was coming from a distance, but it was still loud enough for an exclamation mark to be given to it. I turned around and was tackled off of my feet by a running Bobby Ray. He had me pinned to the ground for a moment, but I squirmed free and began throwing several punches to his rib-cage.
Before I could deliver any sort of significant offense, I was kicked in the side of the head by another boy, a friend of Bobby's. The kid's name was Rodney, and beside him was a boy named Alex, another friend of Bobby's. I continued trying to get control of the situation but I soon came to realize that it wasn't going to happen. Bobby pulled me back to my feet and drove a forearm to my skull, sending me falling back against the sidewalk.
Blood was shooting out of my nose and decorating the sidewalk. One of Bobby's friends, Rodney, stomped on my hand. I pulled it back to my torso and cradled it protectively, rolling over to my knees as I breathed. Finally, Bobby rolled me on my back and grabbed me by the throat.
“We should kill you right now, freak!” He said insultingly. “You lay your goddamn hands on me again, and we will.”
The leader of the trio of eleven year-old's brought himself back to his feet, and spit toward my direction, before walking away with his friends. I rolled to my side, and felt the blood dripping down my cheek onto the sidewalk. I glared up at the school with reddened eyes, and could see the brick-wall looming over me.
* * *
“Hey, 'Rion, hey, wake up, man, we're here,” James says with a smile on his face after nudging at me on the driver's side of the taxi.
I flinch, and stare at him for a second with my eyes widened, and my face, an angry reddish color, before I nod at him. I open the car-door and leave as James follows and we make way down the walkway to the Blue-Top Inn. We will be hunting soon, and I look forward to it.