I thought he was the best person in the whole world- second only to mommy and daddy, of course- so I never could quite figure out what had gone wrong.
I prefer standing
And you take your seat
In an attempt to stay the impending frostbite, I stuffed my fingers under my armpits for a few minutes. I hoped this would- at the very least- drain the scarlet color from my fingertips, but no such luck. When I pulled my hands out, they still held the same appearance- long, thin, and red. I scowled at them, and not for the first time, heavily regretted running away.
I’ll take this time to explain that my decision was entirely justified, but stupid nonetheless. My dad was an abusive, drunken asshole, and my mom a submissive wimp. With no one to protect me from the abuse, bruises began to accumulate on my arms and legs. I hid them well, by use of long sleeves and makeup, so no one would ask intrusive questions. No one did, which was ultimately what I thought desired, but I still wished a bit of pity could be spared on me.
So why did I keep hiding?
Because I was an idiot- and an attention whore, on top of that. So far the only remotely smart thing I’ve done is run away, unfortunately paired with the stupidity of having no plan beyond that. So, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be missed if the cold got me.
It’s fine. I said to myself. It’s okay if you die. There’s nothing left for you here, anyways.
I looked down at my two-sizes-too-small sneakers and flexed my toes. Stretch. Point. Stretch. Point.
I was having a mental debate with two sides of me- one that was ready to give up, find a park bench and die. But the other side... the one who didn’t want to give up yet. I didn’t know which one was cowardly or courageous, but they both made up one big scaredy-cat, however you looked at it. Knobby-kneed, skinny, insomnia bags blossoming under my eyes, hands and feet too big for my body- the very image of a paranoid psychopath-to-be.
I kicked at the loose stones in the sidewalk, wishing that I had worn my scuffed duck boots instead of the damn sneakers- but I had a special attachment to them in particular. A long time ago, I was still knobby-kneed and scarecrow thin, but my feet had been six sizes smaller than their current size. It was the day that we- my family, when it was still whole- were baptized into the church, and- as the service was more geared towards young families- the whole process took place in a kiddy pool on the stage in front of the church. Our old minister had been the one who had baptized me, before he got kicked out. I thought he was the best person in the whole world- second only to mommy and daddy, of course- so I never could quite figure out what had gone wrong.
On the day I was to be baptized, I wore my favorite pair of sneakers to church- Converse high tops, a deep coral color. They were an inch too wide and two sizes too huge, so they resembled clown shoes more than sneakers, but I loved them like no other. Imagine my distaste when those very shoes were ruined by the whole baptism ceremony.
“Oh, darn it!” I cried sadly, looking down at the sopping canvas that enveloped my feet. “My shoes...”
“Hey, s’alright.” the minister said happily. “I came prepared.”
With that, he disappeared behind the curtain on the stage, and came back out holding something behind his back. Like a magician or a page presenting a new crown for the princess, he produced a pair of brand-new, olive green sneakers. I happily accepted them, immediately replacing the old, sodden ones for their stiff new replacements.
“Thanks, mister.” I said, already skipping around in the enormous shoes, almost tripping but not caring.
The minister’s name had been Gerard Way.
By way of coincidence, I found myself standing at his very residence- I knew, because after the sneakers, my parents had driven to his house to deliver a thank-you note, and the address had stood out to me- 0012, Cemetery Drive.
The house itself would’ve been beautiful; a Georgian-style, two-story home, but the barren, draughty grass that surrounded it was heavily off-putting. It was like how my old friends described me- hidden grandeur under a thick layer of mold and decay- you just had to look closely to see it. I waved off their flattery with a dismissive hand, knowing they were just pandering to me and my insecurities.
The neglected lawn was surrounded by a pointy, unwelcoming wrought-iron fence- a more subtle ‘Get Out!’ sign, than the doormat, which read in large block letters- ‘You’re standing on my doorstep- I think that’s enough human interaction for today.’
The house towered over me, making me feel twice as small as before. Tentatively, my hands reached out and pushed lightly on the unlocked gate. It swung open creakily, following the rusted arc it had created from being opened and closed so often. I ran a quaking hand over my dark braid, still hesitant about entering a man’s home whom I haven’t seen in eight years. Why was I doing this? Was I so scared of dying that I would stoop so low as to begging?
I kicked the sprawling weeds off the sidewalk as I walked towards the imposing mansion, the front door mounted with an antique pewter knocker, rather than a doorbell. I got closer to the door, and realized that the knocker was actually spotty, unpolished silver, which made me feel a stab of disgust at his negligence. From the porch’s eaves hung two wind chimes- one a bamboo wind chime, the other a sort of butterfly wind chime- but when I got closer I realized that the butterfly was actually a bat. I kicked at a stray pebble and it flew at the bat-chime, making a loud, clear ping.
I tried to remember why I was walking up to the front door of an almost perfect stranger’s house again. There was no reason, no form of logic that I could grasp that could explain my whims, as was the situation for this.
My scuffed shoes scraped audibly against the pavement as I walked up the steps, taking note of the lack of doorbell, and silver ring that hung from a lion’s mouth in the form of a door knocker. I lifted the ring and let it slam against the wood, once, twice, three times.
While waiting for the door to be answered, I recalled everything I could about my former pastor, Gerard Way. He was single. He liked comics and horror movies. He joked about his incurable social distortion often during service. He inexplicably wore two watches- one on each wrist.
After that, my mind drew a blank, and I slammed the knocker into the door once more. A moment of silence occurred before a grouchy, raspy voice answered my knocking.
“God, I’m coming, I’m coming! Don’t fuck up the paint job, damn it.”
I flinched, unaccustomed to the foul language. Maybe I had gotten the address wrong? No, I was sure it was correct...
The door violently swung open to reveal a rather disheveled-looking young man, with wrinkled black clothing and a red tie- the same tie he wore to church every Sunday. He looked at me for a second, and then finally said something.
“Didn’t I already tell you I don’t want any fucking Girl Scout cookies?!”
We both stood in the frigid air, him glaring down at me, and I contemplated running away as fast as possible. But my legs stood, rooted to the ground like the fence posts. The silence was awkward and everlasting, it seemed.
“Well, if you’re not some commie Girl Scout, then who are you?” he said finally.
I then realized that the idea was five times as stupid as I thought it was, at least. I had no way to really prove my identity, other than...
I doubted he would even vaguely remember such a distant event, but it was certainly worth a shot. Anyways, it was the only hope I had left, if any.
I pulled the worn green sneakers off, holding them up with one hand. “Remember me?”
Another silence blanketed the air like new fallen snow. His formerly angular face softened the slightest bit.
“Atropine?” he said quietly, leaning in for a better look.
I flipped the sneakers over, showing the graying soles and the large, sloppy lettering that read ‘PROPERTY OF ATROPINE.’ Mom had helped me spell ‘property’ at the time. I waited a moment to let it soak in, then leaned back down and slipped the shoes on again.
I looked back up at Gerard, who had a strange expression on his face- shock? Confusion? I didn’t know. Before long, he began laughing. He leaned on the doorframe for support, absolutely cracking up.
“Wow,” he said in between laughs. “Just... damn. Wow.”
The shoes had an effect on him that I couldn’t describe. One minute he was about as friendly as a rattlesnake, and the next it was almost like meeting up with an old friend. Then there was a strange darkening in his eyes, the kind that turns white eyes to black. He turned back into his house and his movement sent a wave of heat billowing over me, but despite the tantalizing warmth, I knew I shouldn’t be walking into this man’s house. Something about him was wrong, or off-center or something. I didn’t know.
But as soon as I took a step back, Gerard turned to me and said, “Do you want something to eat or what?”
My stomach answered for me in the form of a loud rumble.
“I guess that’s a yes, then.”
As he pulled the door open wider to let me in, I saw that the inside of the house was in as much disrepair as the exterior- the top half of the walls would’ve been burgundy, but instead it was a more washed out scarlet from the sun’s bleaching effects, the golden hue of the bottom half receiving the same treatment. The cherry-colored wooden floorboards were scuffed and looked as if a tub of acid had been poured on them. Such a lovely house, in such a state of disrepair- it made me sick. I followed Gerard into the kitchen, which was actually in okay shape- the walls light gray with wainscoting, the black-and-white checkerboard tiles mostly clean. He opened the refrigerator and pulled out a clashing assortment of condiments including mustard, paprika and a strange sort of spice called ‘Urad Dal’... whatever that was.
I sat at the wooden table in the breakfast nook, eyes darting around awkwardly, trying to find something to look at. They fell on a wooden barrel of pink calla lilies, their tubular petals flecked with nutrients from the dirt. I remember my mom buying a small pot of these- the memory was a lot like the overused flashbacks in cliché movies- blurry and distorted, a little hazy around the edges. Almost like watching a damaged TV- as if it wasn’t really my life.
I leaned back in the chair and crossed my legs, then uncrossed them. My arms somehow folded themselves across my chest, then slid down to lie limply into my lap. I stared at them, the redness of frostbite slowly leaking away. I felt an annoying itch beginning to come on, a sign that feeling was returning.
Gerard continued rummaging around the cabinets. Reaching up for a particularly high shelf, his shirt rode just above his belly button, showing a belt- with a Batman insignia as a buckle. I bit back a laugh, wondering how someone so grouchy and weird could like such a thing- ever since I learned how to crawl, I had been glued to the television every time the memorable theme song buzzed into focus. That was the one thing that I felt loosely tether the two of us together, the only thing that kept me from walking out of that sun-bleached hovel of a mansion as soon as he set my food in front of me.
Our fates were sealed.
I prodded the lump of spaghetti (at least, I think it was spaghetti- I couldn’t quite tell what with all the paprika it was drowned in) with a fork, already having second and third and fourth thoughts about accepting any hospitality from this man.
While I was performing my investigation of the unknown food substance, Gerard sat down in the chair across from me, looking sheepish.
“Yeah, I’m not much of a cook.” he said, shrugging. “Not used to company, either. Usually I just throw a TV dinner in the microwave.”
I was quiet, not out of rudeness, but I was nervous. What if this was like Misery? Where I’d be like Paul Sheldon and Gerard would make me... do things I didn’t want to, and if I didn’t... just the thought made the pile of strange food look even less appetizing than before, if possible. I contemplated asking for something else, but doing so would probably get me on his bad side and the protesting grumbles that came from my stomach were too much. I twirled a strand of pasta around my fork and sniffed it, finding it tolerable, at least for my sense of smell. Slowly putting it in my mouth, I tried not to gag on the taste. Paprika isn’t too strong a spice, but the flavor was overwhelming- he might as well have just given me a plate full of paprika and left it at that.
Still, I choked down the remainder of the meal and sat, gazing absently on Gerard’s watches. Impulsively, I blurted out a question.
“What’s with the two watches?” I asked, instantly regretting it.
Luckily, Gerard didn’t seem insulted, if the scary flash in his eyes wasn’t too significant. He pulled back both sleeves of his shirt to reveal two pale, thin arms that didn’t seem to have any hair. I had to lean forwards in my seat to see if they were, in fact, hairless- they weren’t.
“This one,” he tapped on the mahogany strap around his left wrist. “Keeps regular time.”
He straightened out his left sleeve before gesturing to the other watch, which was a blocky gray wristwatch patterned with skulls.
“And this one...” his thumb and forefinger jammed themselves under the winder. “Helps me remember the last time I gave in to... temptation, I guess you could say.”
The way his lips moved, the way her drew out the vowels, made the whole sentence seem unbearably erotic. It was almost foreboding, in a way. I shouldn’t have been listening to his voice- it was very nearly immoral.
“Or...” he extended his right arm outwards, offering me a clearer view of the watch. “The last time I had sex with a teenager.”
I felt sick. I felt worried. Another minute in here and God knows what could happen. But the same fear that prompted me to run away as fast as I could was also my undoing- it kept me in my seat, nonchalantly picking at a meal I couldn’t eat.
Pulling back, he saw the look on my face and said, “It’s only the ones that live on the streets that volunteer- the runaways. I had no part in taking their innocence away... but gradually degrading their self-worth.”
He said this with an expression so flat that I visibly cringed. How could a person be so heartless?
“I guess you’ve figured out why I’m no longer a preacher,” he said while winding the clock. The winding click jeweled together with the wind gears ominously, the only sound in the house. “I’ll have to reset this. Hold on.”
Busily he set the watch to a time I couldn’t see, and the small grumbles in my stomach had transformed into something more like concrete tossing in a washer.
“And what day would you be setting it to...?” I asked quietly, nearly a whisper. Honestly, I was too scared to know. I hoped he wouldn’t tell and then I could be on my way.
Our fates were sealed.
I couldn’t move as his mouth opened agonizingly slow, as if he was teasing me with suspense.
I didn’t quite figure it out until he leaned across the table and kissed me.
Okay, I know. A very strange concept for a story, but I have confidence in it. I mean, I posted it on another site and it got good reception- yeas that means it's basically completed, and how fast I update depends on how many reviews I get. Yes'm, I'm a review whore and I DON'T CARE! REVIEW AWAY, MY LITTLE MUFFINS!