Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Newest Story

A storm. Rain is coming down in sheets, each one a battering ram on the windshield. Lightning flashes across the sky every few seconds. It’s the apocalypse. At least it is for the two boys in the back of the car.

The boy on the left trembles, tears spilling down his cheeks as his body wracks with sobs every few minutes. His hair is dusty blonde, no longer stuck in its usual crew cut. He clutches his GameBoy like a life preserver, hoping desperately the Pokemon in his team would spring to life and save them like they do in his games.

The boy on the right is completely still. His face is an ashen white, his jaw clenches hard. His hands are balled into tiny fists shoved deep into the pockets of his green coat. His eyes stare straight ahead, but they do not see the road.

“Don’t worry boys, Noah got through his storm and we can get through ours!” The man driving calls out from behind the steering wheel. Rain continues to pelt the car. He wants to turn and give them a grin, but he chooses to concentrate on the road.

“Well, to be fair, he did have advance warning and supernatural assistance.” The woman next to him responds. She is sitting up very straight, her hands grip the door and the console, knuckles white. She couldn’t let that mistake go unspoken.

“True, but he didn’t have our technology. Think how easy it would have been with windshield wipers huh? And we Warhol men like a challenge, don’t we boys?” The man tries to muster up a laugh, but it sounds a lot more like a cough.

“Daddy, I’m scared. There’s too much lightning! Can’t we stop driving?” The boy on the left calls out from behind his GameBoy.

“Don’t worry Parker, we’re just getting to the next exit so we can pull over safely,” the woman says through clenched teeth.

The man glances at the dashboard, the needle passes 70mph. He wipes his forehead.

“How you doing back there Jack?” He calls to the boy on the right.


“That’s what I like to hear Jack Rabbit. We’ll be out of this rain in no time, trust me” The man squints against the lights in his rearview mirror.

“We’ve got to keep going Andrew, let’s get off here.” The woman grabs his arm.

“Alright Sally, you know the way from here?”

“I can get us there from the side roads.”

The car rips to the right and shoots down the exit ramp. Lightning continues, thunder shakes the boys’ teeth. Lightning strikes and the inside of the car is bright despite the clouds outside.

“Go the right Andrew, the right.”

“I know Sally, tell me when I need to get off the main road.”


“I know where I’m turning right now Sally!”

“No, Andrew…”


“The headlights, they’re gone.”

Andrew noticed he had stopped squinting.

“Oh god no, boys get-"


Lightning flashed and the world erupted into noise and fire. The boys watched as the car went headlong into a tree and then-

I snapped awake, sweat pouring from me. God, I hate that dream. It’s bad enough we had that accident, why do I have to live it over and over again?  Some kids are unlucky enough to have both their parents die in the same night. I’m just unlucky enough to have them both die and continue to relive it every few nights. I could still smell the burning smell of the tires, and of hair and skin. Seriously, who else has to deal with this?

I slumped back onto my bed, I had no interest in getting up for class today. Especially considering I only had a few weeks left in my college career. I’m graduating in like 4 weeks. All I have left is like two or three projects to finish up and then I’m done. I don’t even have to worry about finding a job; I work at a marketing firm and they’ve already guaranteed a promotion in their IT division. I’m living easy right now, why go to class? I snagged my phone from the table, and of course I’ve got a dozen emails. Dude, it’s Thursday. Chill.

I checked my texts too. I had one from Jack and five from Matt. Jack sent me a screenshot from a dirty joke. Of course. And Matt sent me five links to different fan theories concerning his favorite anime. God I love those weirdos.

But I was really looking for something, anything, from Rachel. Nothing, not since I responded to her text last Friday. And I will not be the one to double text her. She gets enough attention without me getting all up in her biz.

Finally, I checked the clock. It was 10:43 in the morning. Geez, My sleep schedule is messed man.

So, time to get up. And then- is that barking I hear? Oh no…

My door flung open and Grey leapt onto my bed, his limbs flying every which way. Grey was Matt’s German Shepard, short for Grey Wind, the name of a tremendously large wolf on his favorite live-action fantasy series. Because he couldn’t pick a normal name from a popular series, that would be way too mainstream.

“Come on Grey, get off me! It’s still technically morning, I shouldn’t have to get up yet!”

Grey proceeded to cover me in slobber, fur, and dirt. But his tail was wagging and he had a huge puppy grin on his face, so how could I really say anything else? That is one cute dog.

“I surrender Grey, I surrender! Get back beast!”

Grey hopped off my bed and wagged his tail frantically. His eyes stayed locked on mine; he was really good at staring contests.

“Oh fine, I’ll take you out. At least let me put on some shorts. And probably a shirt, it’s a cold one out there.”

“Ruff!” Grey barked happily at my movement. Damn, I’ll probably have to feed him too.
I pulled on my favorite baggy shorts and my most comfortable hoodie. Then I slipped on my favorite shades and snagged my flip flops. I don’t have anyone to impress today. Never do really.

I snapped on Grey’s leash and he yanked me out of the apartment.

“All right dude, let’s do this thing. You, me, and that shrub. Piss like a fire hydrant Grey!”

His ears cocked back as I spoke. He was definitely judging me, I could tell by the angle of his head.

“Oh come on man, I’m just goofing around. Don’t give me that judgy face. Seriously, go pee.”

He sniffed once and turned toward his shrub. I swear that dog is smarter than he lets on.

As Grey did his business with his personal shrub, I looked around the apartment complex. Cars were coming in and out; things seemed pretty busy. I saw first and second year students leaving in nice clothes, their bags stuffed to the brim with anything they might need. And I saw upperclassmen wearing the most comfortable clothes and some of them had a notebook and maybe a pen. What a difference four years makes.

I saw a white Jetta roll up with a battalion of young ladies that Jack, Matt and I have dubbed “the Blondetourage.” They were all in the same sorority, all had the same blonde haircut, and all had the same look when they glared at you down their nose. Jenny, Jessi, Jennifer, and Kara. They lived next door, and we never really got along. As such, I felt it my duty to say hello as loudly and irritatingly as possible.

“Hellooooo ladies! Good morning, I hope you aren’t too exhausted from the only two hours you spent doing any work this week.”

“Hi Parker, looks like you’re on clean up duty today huh? At least this job really challenges your talents!” Jessi smiled at me as she stepped out of the driver’s seat. She was wearing one of those fancy rain jackets with her letters on it. And what I thought was far too much makeup.

I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, until I looked where she was looking. Grey was dropping a nice one right in front of the stairwell. Damn.

I matched her horrifying smile with one that was equally strained.

“Oh someone has to do it. Just like some people have to coast on the money their parents’ make, it’s the way of the world!”

This comment received a synchronized glare from the entirety of the Blondetourage. Man I’m good.

“Get over it Warhol, don’t hate on our success. You just look jealous.” Jenny decided to chime in on this one.

“I think you mean to say envious ma’am. Jealousy deals with the anxiety regarding losing something you have, while envy describes the feelings associated with desiring what someone else has. A common mistake, to be sure.” Ba-zing.

“Whatever Warhol. Shouldn’t you be shoveling some dog crap right now?” Jennifer (or was it Kara?) said as she flipped her hair.

“I- I guess you’re right.” I looked over to Grey as I spoke. He sat next to his creation with his tail wagging. What a pleased expression for a dog to make.

The Blondetourage giggled at me as they turned to go. The surest sign of their victory. Damn.

I spun around and grabbed a plastic bag from my pockets; do I really just keep extras in there? Man I hope that was a one-time thing. Grey hopped about as I collected his artwork. What a dog.

“I’m here scooping up your left overs, and they say humans are the advanced organism in this world. I swear, the only thing more devious than you would be a cat.” Grey’s ears flattened against his head as he glared at me. How smart is this dog?

As I brought Grey inside after depositing his business in the dumpster outside, I checked my phone again. Matt texted me asking if I took his dog out. Classic. Jack sent me the same screenshot asking if I got it yet. Nada from Rachel. A guy can dream can’t he?

My text to Jack: Classic Jack! Dude, I just had a run in with the Blondetourage. I got em good man. Wanna hit the beach later today?

My text to Matt: Grey took me outside so he could take a dump. That dog is smarter than us, you know that right? Anyway, how about coming out to the beach with Jack and me?

My text to Rachel: Hey! How have you been? I’m laying low today, graduating and all that. Want to meet up with me and the guys on the beach? I’d love to see you out tonight.

…I promptly deleted that one and never sent it. No double-texting, remember? I’ve got to play it cool.

I don’t do that particularly well.