Tag Archives: building the story

In the Tenderloin

The Tenderloin. 11:30 a.m. November. 

Hey, you how ya doing? You look lovely today.”

He was youngish, somewhere between 19 and 30, with dark brown skin the color of wood smoked oak. His head shaved with new hair growing a shadowy crown of ebony. His face was fine; Swazi nose, Zulu chin, Xhosa face, a child of ancestral Southern Africa whittled away over a century of abuse, and replaced with poverty, drugs and anger. An American boy.

He was such a good boy when he was little.” Grandma used to say. “Such a nice boy.”

(Grandmothers cry a lot these days. )

His dark brown slacks sagged slightly over a practiced limp in his walk. Swagger. His jacket oversized and bulky, black, and worn, but kept as clean as the streets allow.

“Thank you.” I said. My heels clicking against the sidewalk. The sound loud and obtuse. I had bought them recently, put them on layaway and made small payments. I had wanted nice shoes. Heels that were good for my feet but also flattering. This was an expensive requirement that took two months to pay off. They seemed too loud now.

He matched my step never looking at me always looking around or forward. If he glanced my way it was only to look at my body never my face. I forced myself to look at him to not allow fear keep my head down. A “nice” woman keeps her head down. This tactic has never worked in history, and yet we repeat, repeat, repeat.

He pulls out a phone from his coat, and I wince at the movement. Don’t be silly, don’t be silly, I think, keep walking, don’t slow down, don’t speed up, maintain the pace- maintain the pace. Nothing is wrong and I am not scared.

“Can I have your number?”

I keep walking. I don’t change my speed. I keep the same pace. I wonder how long he is going to walk with me. He holds his hand behind his back, and I wonder what he has hidden there. It is mid-day, but the light, and the people do not give me feelings of safety. I have stumbled unsuspectingly into the Tenderloin.

He leans heavily onto his right leg and swings his left forward in a well rehearsed strut. It’s so rehearsed that now it is his natural walk.

“When he was a baby he would stick out his belly and it would lead him around.”

Another man, gaunt face, chestnut skin pulled taught over his high jutting cheekbones, passes us. As he does he holds up two fingers. My unwanted companion nods. The chestnut man brushes against my shoulder, like a dying twig on a fall branch snags a sweater, and I am like a ghost to him; invisible in his world.

Another man pulls his car up to the curb. He rolls down his window and sticks his out his shaved head. His dark eyes and high cheekbones eclipse all other features nearly erased by his bone skin. He reminds me of pictures of boys in Southern Eastern European. I can see his blue track suit and automatically I think he is Russian. I secretly smile at my assumption- how do I know he’s Russian? Television? Magazines? Track Suits? He probably is Russian. He nods to my unwanted companion and lifts two fingers in the same manner as the chestnut man. My new-friend nods in response, but never stops walking alongside me.

As we share this walk, on a San Francisco street block that in my mind suddenly became the size of four city blocks, more men pass with nods and raised double digits. We were waking through a wave of nods and fingers.

His hands have been behind his back the entire time hidden under his heavy dark jacket. I wonder what he has under that jacket and if he will use it on me. I balance on the edge of fear and reason.

“So what do you do for work?” He asks me.

“I’m a teacher.” I say.

“A teacher?”

“Yes.”

He takes this information in like a fine cognac, inhaling first before placing the words to his lips and slowly sipping, then swallows with a nod to no man on the street but himself. He shifts his hands and arms but doesn’t reveal  them.

‘You know,” he begins, “I’m tryin’ to get back on my feet.”

“Such a good boy. And so smart too. Just whip smart.”

I don’t say anything. I just keep walking. I know at this point that he isn’t going to ask me for any money, not that it mattered, but if he didn’t want money, what did he want? Why the long walk?

“So, can I have your number?”

“I dont live here.” I say.

“I don’t either.” He says, “What does it matter? I want to be your friend. I’ll go where you are.”

“You gonna go to China?” I say, half smiling at his friend request. I still want to see his hands.

“I’m tryin’ to clean up. I’m thinkin’ about gettin’ my G.E.D.”

“You should.”

“I don’t know what I want to be yet.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Grandma asks. “I wanna be a police man so I can save people!” Baby says.

“Doesn’t matter.” I say, “Start with your G.E.D. You can be anything. Imagine what you can be.”

Grandma must have said that more than once. “Momma? Poppa? Can I be anything? Anything I want? Momma? Poppa?”

I look at his face. His young dark face already too old. Twenties? Thirties? Maybe, just maybe a teenager in the body of a hardened man.

“I wanna be your friend.” He says, “Can I be your friend?”

He never looks at me. Never looks at my face not the way I look at his face. I make him human he doesn’t do that for me.

He brings his hand out and holds a phone ready to take my number.

“We can’t be friends.” I say. “We can be acquaintances.”

“What’s that?” He says finally looking at me.

“Doing what we are doing right now. Walking together to the end of a block. We talk. We’re friendly. We say good-bye. We leave each other.”

“Oh. Well. I don’t want to waste anymore of my time.” He spins on his heavy leg and turns back up the street.

And leaves me with no good-bye, and like that I was dumped. In the Tenderloin.

My are you lookin’ lovely today!” A  giant black man with shiny skin is standing akimbo and yelling at me as I walk toward him. His white bleached shirt white as his teeth and tucked into pressed blue jeans stretched over colossus muscles. Huddle at his legs like a frightened children are a frail lady tweaker and a pile of rags with a toothless grin. They all smile at me. The woman’s skin which was once white is yellow and dry with a red sore on her chin and one on her cheek. Too much picking. Her clothes are dirty, but no where near the level of muck that is the Raggedy Cousin It hunched beside her.

“You sure are lovely.” The man yells again, and his voice is booming a deep rich baritone. The tone is to warm to be bothered, and only exasperated amusement rises into my being.

“Thank you.” I boom right back.

They were all children once too.

They all smile, and laugh cheerfully as I step off the curb onto the next block.

This new block is empty except for a schizophrenic man who is yelling to his invisibles.

“I know! I know! I’m upset! Yes! Yes! I am because that’s not what it’s about! I’ll gut it! I swear, I’ll gut it out! They’ll get it! They’ll get it!”

I walk pass him without incident. I am not a part of his visions.

I smile in the Tenderloin.

The banter is not cheap on the sidewalk, and it’s full of visions and monsters. Men and women who were once children shrink into reptiles because the light is too harsh and too cold. This is a place where the light is evil and the dark is good. A person can’t help where they were born. Not everyone was given equal opportunity, no matter how American one is.

“Fluorescents! It’s the fluorescents!” The man yells, and his voice falls behind me.

I agree with him it is the fluorescents. The grey pale light steals all the color. Whitewashes even the white.

Hunger suddenly diverts my thinking. I too am reptilian. I think of food. I could snap in a single jump to catch my prey, and everything else like fear of the street, fades in this one impulse of hunger. I must eat.

The Olympic cafe.

An old diner with faded pink linoleum tables, and a black and white checkered floor. Black  stools line the bar. I take a seat at a small single style booth. This is a place that once had smoking and non-smoking separated by this side of the room and that side of the room. I order bacon and eggs and black coffee.

Sometimes, I want to be an old man, anonymous, and alone with my shot of whisky, my cup of hot coffee, and my cigarette: “You youngsters you look at me and think I am sad, lonely, and pathetic, but I’m just sitting here being fine lost in my thoughts. My stimulants are small as you binge in your excess of partying such reckless youth. Now, I, I ease into my drink like a sage wrapped in a single sheet of bourbon: not a lake, there is no need to drown just to float. I am not waiting to die like Dylan Thomas. I am not gently waiting for the night to take me; I’ve a fine life. Leave your projections at the counter”.

I dream about being an old man. I will be an old woman. I want them both.

My thoughts are interrupted by an old black man his skin ash with age and the street. His hands in prayer shaking with pious pity and true religion. The owner of this timeless diner stares through the glass with dark Greek eyes. Pain through pane glass. The owner slowly shakes his head closing his eyes, he is hard-nosed, but not angry. “No.” He says.

They have a history these two.

Two old men. Old Americans: one stolen, sold, and bought; one who sold himself to come to the new country. Choices and no choices. America in the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin in America.

All babies grow old. Come little children, let’s play kick the can ’cause all babies grow old. Hey, little baby’ll be an old woman soon. An old grandma looking at old men staring at each other through windows of pain. I want to be them both at once. I want to be the old America, the grizzled broken dream; the death of a salesman and the raisin in the sun.

I eat my eggs, and drink my coffee in the Tenderloin.

Version 2

 

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 6, pgs. 204-209

The man grabbed three shot glasses from the shelves above my head and immediately poured the liquor into each one. He turned with a drink in each hand one for me and one for Marco.

“I see you’ve met Koontz.” Said Marco looking with disgust at the shot. “Mutherfucker didn’t you hear me in there puking out my spleen. I’m dead man. My shit is fucked.”

“You’re funny, Marco.” Koontz said as he pressed the drink closer.

Marco relented and took the shot. With a resigned moan, I grabbed my glass. I knew how this day was going to go. Friends in town, even ones we don’t know, and it’s a celebration. I sneak in from not shacking up in a dorm room, it’s a celebration. Marco throws up from the night before, it’s a party. I was getting to know the drill. I felt a little laissez-faire to the whole thing. I really just wanted to go to bed. Koontz picked his shot up from the table and held it up high over his head. “We toast. To friends and crazy days.”

Marco and I glanced at each other. We both had the look of defeat: drooping eyes filled with water and down-turned mouths, not that we put up much of a fight. With simultaneous shrugs we knocked back the sweet powerful shots of Becherovka. I was already wondering why I made such a bad decision, and so early in the morning too. I usually wait until noon before making such a bad choice.

Koontz howled, his head bent back toward the ceiling, and slammed his glass on the table. He pulled the glasses out of our hands as Marco lurched like he was about to gag but managed to just release a short convulse.

Koontz poured three more shots.

“Oh fuck.” Said Marco, and he rushed into his room and slammed the door. Leaving me alone with Koontz. I looked to the door shocked and dumb. Why would he shut the door? That bastard.

Koontz turned to look at me. I rushed to sit in the chair as if sitting in the chair was the safest place to keep from getting an embrace. It was about the equivalent to putting my head under the covers. As Koontz moved toward me I grabbed the shot glass and held it to his chest, stopping his forward motion.

“To American pants! ” I said and swallowed my drink with a throat-burning gulp. With my thumb I pointed back toward the shower room. “So I think I’m just gonna-’

Before I could finish he spun my chair out to the center of the kitchen and climbed onto my lap.

“Marco!” I yelled. I also laughed because I could not believe this scenario was actually taking place. I had just consumed two shots of hard liquor before eleven a.m. and now I had a pygmy wrestler sitting in my lap. What were the odds? I just wanted to sneak into my bed.

He put his head to my chest like a child. “I want you.” He said.

“Oh. My. God.” I moaned. “Listen,” I said trying to get up from the chair. “I just want to go to sleep. By myself.” He moved his hand toward my face and I grabbed it with a firm squeeze. He looked at my clenched fingers like it was a romantic gesture and then back to my face and placed his other hand on the back of my head, like he was petting my hair. He smiled showing several crooked yellowing teeth. The entire act was non-threatening, but it may have been that I was tired and already felt buzzed, so any fear I should have had over some stranger creeping all over me was lost, but if he tried to kiss me I was going to punch him. I figured he’d probably like that, though.

“Marco!” I barked. “God Damnit! Come out here!”

Marco pulled the door to his room open and stared at us for a moment. “I’ll leave in a second so you two can be alone.”

“No!” I yelled, and I shoved Koontz off my lap. “No, no non no. What the hell? Do you think this is mutual? Koontz is trying to molest me here. Aren’t you? ”  I said turning to Koontz.

“Yes! Yes! I like a lovely woman.” He roared out a laugh.

“Some friend and protector you are.” I said crossing my arms.

“Shiiit girl—” I never got to hear Marco’s response since Koontz interrupted him by jumping up and lifting Marco off of his feet, and spinning him around.

“Put me down mutherfucker! I ain’t your goddamn girlfriend.” Marco struggled against Koontz’s embrace.

As funny as it was to watch him swing Marco around the room, I decided to make a break for it. I made a quick dash for the door, but Koontz grabbed me by the back of my shirt and pulled me into an embrace with Marco. “I like you both.” He said squeezing us both tightly and nuzzling into us like we were pet bunnies.

“Oh Christ.” I moaned.

Marco looked at me from over Koontz’s shoulder, the edges of his eyes wrinkling into a narrow scowl.  “This is your fucking fault.” He said.

Koontz let us go and grabbed the bottle to pour more shots then pulled a couple more beers out of the paper bag.

“My fault?” I said rubbing at my arm. “I didn’t bring him home. You knew his name.”

“I didn’t bring him home either.”

Koontz raced around the kitchen like a spastic child.

“Did you load him up on Pixi Sticks before bringing him home?” Marco accused me.

“What? Me? I told you I never saw this guy till I walked in a few minutes ago. Then next thing I know he’s putting my hand to his heart. Where the fuck were you last night anyway?” I said.

“I don’t remember. To his heart? Hmm girl that weren’t his heart.” He looked me over and a mild smirk danced over his face. “Where were you? Comin’ in this mornin’ mm chil’?”

“Do you remember this guy?” I pointed at Koontz who beamed a smile at me then held out two shots.

“Yeah. He’s with some Norwegian Death Metal band.” Marco said taking the shot glass and holding it in his hand.

“What? You mean like burning churches and eating each other’s brains?” I grabbed my shot.

“What the fuck is you talking about?” He swallowed the shot.

“Something I read once.” I drank my shot and threw my head back.

“That’s some sick shit.”

We both handed our glasses back to Koontz . He immediately poured two more shots and held them out. We stared at the shots.

“There’s so much fucked up about this moment, Marco,” I was beginning to whine, “I cannot even bring words to my mouth.” I grabbed my shot from Koontz’s hand and spilled the liquid over my fingers.

Marco grabbed his glass and mumbled something about being sick.

I watched as Koontz stuck his head out the window and began to howl.

“So if you didn’t bring him home, and I didn’t bring him home, how did he get here?” I asked still watching Koontz bark and howl at the construction workers.

Marco and I heard a moan from behind us. We turned to see Francisco standing in his tiny boxers and stretching in the doorway, his body filling up the entire door space.

“Whaaaaaat’s going on here?”  He said with a yawn.

“Put some goddamn clothes on man.” Marco’s face was contorted and pinched, “Nobody here wants to look at your package.” He threw his shot back. “Shit’s disgusting.”

Francisco chuckled as Koontz ran to hug him and then brought him a drink and they toasted. Francisco drank then threw the glass into the sink and it shattered against the metal.

“Goddamn it.” Marco tossed his arms into the air. “Now I gotta steal more glasses from Feste’s.” He let himself fall back into the recliner and pouted.

I was starting to feel loopy from the last couple of shots mixed with the drinks from the night before. I looked at Marco. “There’s no escape.” I really wanted to feel sober right at that very moment, but I knew the day was lost. I had a choice, I still had a choice, but I was swept up into the early morning madness. It was senseless and I knew it.

“No goddamn escape.” Yelled Francisco spitting out the window.

Koontz danced around the room stomping and howling and spitting.

“Don’t leave me alone with that guy.” I whispered to Marco.

“Don’t you leave me alone wit’ em.” He whispered back. “My shit is fucked.” He said as he dropped his head into his hand, and closed his eyes.

I looked at him curled up in the chair and I stared at the CDs circling his toes. The potential for this day was lost. I knew it. Marco knew it. I watched Koontz and Francisco drinking and spitting out the window, occasionally howling toward the morning sky. This was Francisco and Koontz’s day, and the potential had not even been breeched- they were the minions of chaos. It wasn’t hard to figure out how Koontz got into the apartment. I didn’t know where this day would end up. I hoped it would be in my bed, by afternoon, and alone.

CIMG6879

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 6, pgs. 200-204

I woke with a start. I was not staring at neighboring windows that looked into an apartment with lace curtains, but instead at a white stone wall. I felt a warm body around me and had that feeling of dread. I turned around to look at Endres, and sighed with relief as my memory flooded back. I looked at him and then at the bottom of the bunk above us. Endres smelled like stone fruit. When he was sleeping his sharp features softened and looked even more fairy-like or more elfin. I felt the urge to touch his face but I fought it off and instead thought of an escape plan. He stirred awake and opened his eyes to look at me. He squeezed me and pulled me into him and began to kiss my neck and shoulders. Someone stirred on the other side of the room.

“I gotta go.” I whispered sitting up and climbing over him.

He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me on top of him. “No” he whispered, “Stay.”

“No.” I said pulling myself off him nearly falling onto the ground, but Endres caught me and set me on the floor. I stood up and looked around at all the sleeping bodies. Some people were up packing, and others were reading in bed. I found my shoes under the bed and slipped them on. Endres walked me to the door of the communal room shutting the door behind him. He hugged me in a long embrace. I was in a strange panic mode, but managed to fake it.

“I don’t know why you would sleep with me here.” He stepped away from me. “Too noisy. Too many people. It is bad.”

“Yah. I know. Well, bye.” I gave a quick wave and rushed down the stairs toward the bar and out the front doors onto Bořivojova. As I walked I realized I was still wearing Endres shirt. I lifted my arm and smelled my armpit. I smelled like apricots. I was such an asshole. I didn’t know how I felt about Endres. I didn’t know how I felt about anyone when it came to intimacy.

I pushed the door to the flat shut, making little sound, and pressed my back and head against the door. I took in a deep breath. I wasn’t sure why, but I didn’t want the guys to know I had stayed the night with Endres. I didn’t know why I felt awkward about the whole thing. It wasn’t like I did anything wrong, and I was an adult, I could be wrong if I wanted to be, but I couldn’t shake this overwhelming weight of embarrassment. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from; after all I could do whatever I wanted. I was a young American woman traveling free. Hell, backpacking across Europe was permission for a sexual revolution. The damn stereotype was that I was easy. In my travels I was rarely easy. I was complicated, and I knew this about myself, and complication in the lifestyle of a traveler isn’t fun. I didn’t want to reveal this “I’m not a fun easy chick, I’m complicated, and don’t know what to do with myself and that’s why I’m here now” part of me.  I didn’t want to reveal it to anyone, not even Marco. It was a strange secret to keep.

The place was still. All I needed to do was sneak into bed without waking Marco. I peeked into Francisco’s room. He was geometrically splayed on his bed like The Vitruvian Man, and snoring, and wearing his small tight boy shorts that were grey and blue. I had the sensation that I was looking in at my half-brother half naked, and the longer I lingered the more wrong it was. I shuddered and turned away from the room. I had seen more of Francisco than I had wanted to. He was an attractive man, but I wasn’t interested in knowing every detail of his body.

I turned the doorknob to the kitchen as slow as possible, to not make any noise, and tiptoed into the room. I shut the door behind me with a quiet click and turned around to see someone sitting in the easy boy. It was a man I had never seen before. He was drinking a beer. It was ten in the morning. Even we didn’t start drinking at ten in the morning. We stared at each other for a beat than a crazy grin spread over his face. I stepped with mild trepidation into the kitchen then I looked toward Marco’s closed door. I wasn’t scared, as much as cautious, like I didn’t know what kind of animal I was facing. It seemed small and fuzzy, but did it bite?

“Hi?” I said.

He didn’t answer but smiled larger. I could tell even as he was sitting that he was short, his stocky build protruding from the chair like he was a pro wrestler sitting in the corner of the ring in between bells. His head was shaved, and he kept rubbing over it, massaging the surface of his skull. He tugged on his baggy brown cords then stood up to adjust them. They hung low on his hips. They looked like Marco’s teacher pants. He returned his gaze to me and started smiling again. I gave a quick smile and then grabbed a glass, and filled it with water from the sink. I could feel him staring at my back. I spun on my heels to look at him. He was still standing in front of the chair. I wondered where Marco was and who the hell was this smiling man. I got the psycho vibe off of him from the second we locked eyes. Not killer psycho, just crazy psycho. I was pretty sure this was one of those humans are animals moments.

“So…I’m Annabelle.” I said taking the first move.

“You are lovely.” His voice was gruff and stocky like his body.

“Thanks. Uh is Marco here?” I pointed toward the bedroom door.

“I wear Marco’s pants!” He shoved both of his hands into the pockets and flared the pants out like a parachute. “I look American huh!”

Marco’s door flew opened and he rushed from the room, physically pushing the guy then me as he ran toward the water closet, while holding his hand over his mouth. He slammed both the kitchen door and the water closet behind him.

The man in Marco’s pants started coughing a laugh and smacking at his belly that was slightly protruding in his stance.

“Here!” He yelled. “I bring you this.” From a paper bag he pulled out two bottles of Becherovka and set them with an aggressive clunk onto the table. “Today we drink!”

“We drink every day.” I said swallowing the kitchen’s water with a mild distaste. “We drink a lot.” I said turning to wash my glass. “Too much.” I said, more to myself than to the man. When I turned back around he was standing close to me. I jumped back startled. He grabbed my hand and pressed it to his chest.

“I want you. Feel my heart. It beats.”

“Holy shit.” I said choking on the last gulp of water. I couldn’t tell if I should be afraid or start to laugh. It was ten in the morning, and already some drunk guy was asking me to feel his beating heart. I knew it was going to be one of those days. He dropped his head to my shoulder.

Marco kicked the kitchen door open and I pushed the man’s head off my shoulder with a shrug.  I looked to Marco for an answer. He took two large steps into the kitchen and glared at me.

“My shit is fucked.” He said.

CIMG6400

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 164-170

The daylight was blaring and harsh. Yet, aside from the need to brush the moss from my teeth, I was feeling pretty okay. I didn’t take it as a great sign that my body was adapting to the copious amounts of booze that I was pouring into it, but at the same time I was happy to feel relatively healthy.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to find my way back. It was all about landmarks. Pass the park; cut across the college with the bronze statue of Winston Churchill; across the tram tracks; down past the chicken place; and a sharp right turn up the cobbled shit-covered potholed street to the lime-green building across the street from the faded and dirty lavender building with the angel awning. I hit the buzzer and waited for my queue to open the door. I had made it. Success.

“I accomplished something today.” I said to myself as I climbed the four flights to our flat. I reached the door and knocked once before Marco yanked it open and stood in the doorway like a diva glaring at her costume girl who didn’t buy the right perfume.

“My leg’s broke.” He said. He spun away from me, and walked without a limp into the kitchen. “My shit is fucked!” I heard him yell as I shut the door behind me. I followed him into the kitchen where he was slumped over in the mustard colored easy chair.

“I think I threw up in the corner of the bar.”

“You did? When?” I sat down in the wooden chair across from him, and watched as he effortlessly moved to the sink on his allegedly broke leg to wash the dishes.

“I don’t know. I think I did.”

“I did see you making out with some girl.”

“Oh god!” He dropped the washrag and looked at me. “I hope I didn’t throw up on her!”

I started laughing, “I don’t think you had the time.”

“I hope I didn’t.” He said, shaking his head and going back to his dishes.

“I’m sure you’ll find out.”

“I know.” He wiped a plate dry with a blue rag then put the plate on an open shelve. “Oh shit, I gotta walk you to work.”

“Uh huh.” I opened the mini fridge and pulled out a carton of nectar and soda water then poured myself a glass. I stood looking out the window staring into the skeleton of the building under construction. There were two men in overalls and hardhats sitting on the sixth floor, their legs dangling over the edge. They were eating sandwiches. The building didn’t even look worth saving.

Marco sat back down in the easy chair.

“My leg’s broke.” He moaned.

The door to the kitchen flew open and Francisco stumbled in rubbing his jaw. “Someting is not right. I have feeling of being punched to the face. Did you see some person hit me?” He asked me.

“Not that I saw.” I said, “Maybe you and Marco beat each other up.”

They looked at each other.

“I was of the opinion dat was possible, but the conclusion was no it did not happen dat way.” Said Francisco.

“Well it may remain a mystery.” I said, “I’m going to take a nap.”

“You’re in my room now.” Said Marco, “I already put your things in there. You can take the bed under the window.”

“Yah, You need the most premium of sleep to keep up to me.” Francisco smiled. It was a sly almost flirtatious grin, and I suddenly didn’t know what he meant by keep up.

“Okay.” I shut the bedroom door.

I heard Marco’s voice. “I saw that muthafucka.”

“What?” Francisco.

“She aint gonna be interested in yor nastiness.”

Francisco laughed loudly. He had a huge roaring dark laugh. It was warm and simultaneously dangerous.

I curled up on my new bed. It was firm but comfortable. A nice change from the quarry pile I had been sleeping on previously. I couldn’t imagine that Francisco thought it was comfortable. Then again I couldn’t imagine that he cared. As I was drifting off to sleep I heard Marco asking Francisco if he saw him puke on a girl at the bar.

*

The evening sky was turning lavender as the light faded behind the buildings.

I was ready for work and I waited for Marco to take a shower so he could walk me to the Joyce. I was brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink and heard the large explosion from the water heater. “Shit!” I heard Marco yell. I spit into the sink and watched, mesmerized by my own spit and foam, as it spun and swirled into the drain.

I could hear Marco talking to himself in the bathroom. “What are you doing tonight that you are able to walk me into old town?” I yelled to him.

Marco stepped out of the shower room wrapped in a dingy grey towel with frayed edges. He rushed into his bedroom and shut the door. A few minutes later he opened the door and sat down on the side of his bed while pulling on a pair of boots. “I have to meet my Korean student for English lessons.”

“Oh right. Kim.”

“She better not fuckin stand me up again or I’m chargin extra.” He stood up and threw his bag over his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

We walked out of the kitchen shutting the door behind us. Francisco’s door was open. He was lying on his bed, wearing a tiny pair of blue and beige boxer shorts, and reading a book.

Marco stuck his head into the room. “Hey, you going out today?”

Francisco looked up from his book and glanced out the window behind him then back to his book. “When the sun goes down.” He said.

“A’ight. See ya.”

Marco led me to the Joyce. As we walked through the confusing streets he pointed out important landmarks: the strip club with the live sex shows; the alleyway with the crying gargoyles hanging over the rounded archway; all to help me find my way back home. We had arrived early, and I had time to walk with him to the place where he was to meet his Korean student. We walked up Wenceslas Square to the statue of St. Wenceslas sitting on his bronze horse frozen in a forward march. The great horse’s front hoof permanently poised to strike the earth. Standing at the top of the square, which was more like a long boulevard, I stared back down the hill toward the buildings that stood like a Titan’s army flanking both sides. My eyes followed the long street to the cluster of buildings at the base of the boulevard pass the green tree-covered hills and on to the pendulous soft lilac clouds in the distance.

Everything was so old, so immense, so— resplendent. I had the sensation of standing on the edge of a diving board like an Olympic diver. I felt the impulse to raise my arms over my head and dive a perfect swan dive into the thin line of a pencil falling until the tips of my fingers broke through the green grassy hills and I disappeared into them without leaving a ripple. I felt my body heave a great sigh and my breath drop into my feet feeling the concrete beneath my rubber soled shoes, which reminded me that I was still standing under the shadow of St. Wenceslas, and his great metal horse. All these statues and monuments to the dead, the great men, the conquerors, and the leaders, dead so many year’s before my country was ever discovered by Europeans. What would have happened to someone as small as me? I knew nothing about St. Wenceslas except that he was murdered by his brother and cut into pieces, the stuff that inspired Shakespeare. I always learned the gory details before the history. The square was crowded with people taking pictures and pointing in various directions. Marco tugged at my shirt and we wandered down to the photos of the two students Jan Palach and Jan Zajic. They did not have a statue. My fingers traced over the dates of their deaths. I remembered reading about them when I was younger. Prague spring. I remember learning about the Prague spring, not in school, but from a movie. I had been in high school when the Berlin wall came down, but even then we never learned about the velvet revolution or the orange revolution. I learned about these revolutions from movies and then from my own curious research. I knew about these boys. They had set themselves on fire right where we were standing. It didn’t stop the tanks and no one was able to save them. To end the regime, to have freedom. That’s why they did it, but they weren’t carved into bronze. I stared down at the black and white faces of the young dead men. I didn’t know oppression; not real oppression. I was not willing to die for anything at this point in my life, to kill myself in protest. I hoped I would never have to feel what they felt. I wondered what they were like when they were little children. Tourists snapped photos of the photos, and then turned to take photos of the statue.

“Can you imagine setting yourself on fire?” Marco asked standing beside me.

“No.” I said, without taking my eyes away from the Jans.

“I mean you gotta be certain that’s what you wanna do. Fire, kerosene, burning flesh, shiiiit. I’d be like, I changed my mind somebody throw some water on me. Somebody get a bucket.”

We walked back to the statue and sat on the steps beneath the hooves. Marco had told me this was the best place to meet anyone and that was why there were always so many people standing or sitting around the statue. Kim, his Korean student, was nowhere in sight.

I left him alone and grumbling about tardiness, and how much he was going to charge her. I had time to kill so I decided to walk over the Karlov Most and wander into Nove mestro. Hordes of people crossed the bridge daily. I knew it was best to avoid the bridge during spring break, but I couldn’t help myself; I had never walked over a 14th-century bridge before, in Prague anyway, and I wasn’t going to be deterred by a small crowd.

I wasn’t able to make it to the other side. Between the tourists, the artisans, the buskers, the suits, and those just wandering around, it was impossible to walk in a straight line. I found a space between a craftsman selling jewelry and a woman selling photographs of the bridge. They were set up beside the statue of Christ hanging from a cross with statues of a kneeling Mary Magdalene and Virgin Mary on either side of him. It was too crowded to enjoy. I leaned far over the bridge to stare down into the dark water of the Vltava. A couple of jet skis shot out from under the bridge. They chased after the waves that were created by a large tour boat that carried people dressed in bright colors and flashing cameras that sparkled in the darkening purple sky. This was my Prague right now.

CIMG8052

 

NaNo- Struggling to keep writing…

Time: 1986

Han Solo

Han Solo

“When are you going to be finished?” I whined.

I was sitting in the library waiting for Roseland to finish her research homework. Her mom had invited us over to bake some cookies and to play some board games. Wendy was grounded as usual, and Angel had made plans with some of her other friends. I wouldn’t say that Angel was popular not like a normal kind of popular where all the kids want to hang out with you, but she had a group of friends, and those friends had no desire to hang out with the other popular kids. You knew they were the bad kids. Most of them were the younger siblings of older bad kids. Families that had bad reputations. I was never exactly sure why they had bad reputations it was just known that good kids did not hang out with them and if you did then you would turn bad and there was no going back to the good side. For some reason it all kind of sounded to me like the Star Wars movies. The dark side and the side that was protected by all the Jedi nights. Once you turned to the dark side that’s it you’re done. The more I thought about it though I started to get a little confused on who exactly was the dark side. Angel’s friends, hung out with older kids, and we knew those older kids did bad things like drink and smoke. Some of the twelve year olds even smoke. I think even Angel has tried smoking. I know some of the older kids have sex too which grosses me out to even think about, but I had heard stories about Angel, stories that she once lifted her skirt in the boys bathroom and showed off her underwear. She also wears a bra which is totally funny because she doesn’t have any boobs at all, and sometimes in her class she likes to let her bra strap show on her shoulder so that all the boys know she is wearing one. I had heard even worse things about her from some of the other kids. You usually get all of your information on the playground or when your waiting outside for the teacher to let you into the classroom or when you work in groups. You can hear all of the gossip even if you don’t hang out with the people gossiping. Probably the only kids who don’t know anything that’s going on at school are the kids that are the total rejects that have been left out so much they don’t even know that people are talking. If it wasn’t for me and Roseland that would be Wendy. I don’t even know why we talk about other kids. We shouldn’t care what other kids are doing, but I guess we just get bored sometimes.

Roseland got up and walked over to the card catalogues to look for a book and then disappeared into the halls of shelves. Normally I really liked the library. I liked it when the librarians shushed you like they really cared about the books and the quiet. I liked to be surrounded by the books and it was always quiet and the perfect temperature. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It was funny how none of the classrooms were ever warm enough or cool enough, but the library was always perfect just like baby bear’s stuff. I had read all of the Grimms Fairytales after my brother died. I already felt like I was an orphan because neither of my parents would pay any attention to me so I would just get lost in those stories and I could be anything. Sometimes I would be the princes or the prince even but lots of times I’d be the bad guy but in my head I would change the ending and I would win. I liked to pretend I was the wolf the most of all. I doodled a tiny R2D2, and thought back to my idea that our elementary school was like Star Wars. This dark and jedi thing wasn’t not working in my head. Like the dark side was supposed to be bad, and the kids Angel hung out with when she wasn’t with us were bad. Then the Jedi’s and the rebels where all supposed to be good, and who was that? Was that suppose to be all the normal kids the kids that I used to play with? But Angel’s friends were bad like they smoked and said bad words and hung out with older kids and didn’t study and I know for a fact that they sniffed glue because I saw some kids doing it on the bus once, but they were never mean to other kids. They just stayed by themselves and did there own thing. They were never mean to all the kids that didn’t fit in or to kids like Wendy. I didn’t think they ever wanted to be there at school at all. Then the good side which were my old friends all were mean and made fun of the other kids, they made fun of me and Wendy and Roseland all because we were a little different. They sounded more like the dark side. Maybe the school was the federation and all those kids were the federation soldiers all wearing the same clothes and looking and sounding exactly the same, and the bad kids were the rebels. But, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia would never smoke or sniff glue, so maybe they are all the aliens in the bar in  the first Stars Wars where they meet Han Solo. So, who was the Emperor and who was Darth Vader? A teacher maybe? Mrs. Crabtree? Sam Rider had to be a good guy like a rebel leader Luke Skywalker maybe after he gains the force.

Roseland sat back down with some books.

What about us? I kept on daydreaming. We didn’t fit with anyone we were our own group. Maybe we were the Han Solo team. They were criminals and so were we. Han Solo and Chewbacca smuggled intergalactic stuff and we egged the houses of old racist people. Heroes and criminals. I was really onto something here and I had to share my discovery with Roseland.

“If we were the main people in Star Wars who do you think you’d be? I want to be Han Solo.”

“Shhhh.” The librarian hushed us and gave us a quick glare.

I felt myself smile. I spoke loudly on purpose just to hear that wonderful shush.

Roseland began packing up her backpack. “I’d be C3PO.” She said.

“Really?” I asked. “But he’s always whining and complaining.”

“Yeah, but he’s smart, and I like his gold color and his best friend is R2D2.”

“But R2D2 is like the cool droid.” I said.

“Yeah, sure everyone likes R2, but no one really knows or is connected to R2 like C3Po and I think that is pretty special. C3PO is loyal and under all that whining is a faithful friend that would die for you.” She grabbed the books off the table. “And he’s a really pretty gold color. And I always just liked him when I was little cause he made me laugh really hard.” She walked over toward the library counter. “I have to check out these books and then we can go.”

“What is your report on?” I asked.

“I have to do a report on something about the California gold rush like the 49’ers and stuff like that.”

“Oh that sounds kind of boring.” I said.

“Yeah.” She said. “But were are working on California history and all the good stuff already got taken.

NaNo- Roughly 20,000 words to go….

Time: 1986

 

We hid the bags of candy between some garbage bins that Angel’s house shared with their neighbors. She said the couple that lived there were really old and went to bed early so Angel knew that no one would see us putting them there. Then we set out on the streets to do some fake trick or treating. I thought it would be smart for us to look like we had really been trick or treating in case anyone wanted to know where we had been all night. Angel said it was our alibi. We stayed in a group of three taking turns with the one holding the bag of poop hiding somewhere. Once we got to Persons road we turned onto the next street so that we wouldn’t be seen trick or treating anywhere near the scene of the crime we were about to do. I didn’t think it was really a crime. It was those two awful people that Roseland said were racists that  did a crime. Roseland told us that racists were people who hated you and were mean to you because of your skin color. No one was ever mean like that to me or Angel because were were white and everyone in this town was white, but sometimes people who knew Wendy’s dad was an Indian called her all kinds of names. Her skin looked the same color as ours, but she got darker in the summer, but still they knew she wasn’t exactly like everyone else. I hated those people. I thought everything they did was wrong especially the old man and the woman who watched the church. How could they say they believe in God but wouldn’t protect a kid just cause she had dark skin. It made no sense and it burned me up to think that if the man in the red corvette had got Roseland and maybe killed her that those two people would be to blame, and no one would  ever know. It was hard to tell who was more evil the old racists or that man in the car. I think the man in the car, but it was going to take more than egging him to teach him a lesson. I thought that maybe Roseland was right about him he was a grown-ups problem. Only thing was the grown-ups didn’t know where he was. A few times as we trick or treated Roseland tried to talk us out of it. It was strange that she was the one that they treated so terribly and Angel and I were the most angry and wanted vengeance. I didn’t know, maybe I was just mad. Mad at the whole damn world and I saw these two people as people who just shouldn’t be in the same world as us. I just couldn’t stop myself from wanting to really do something to them. Angel was more determined to see it through to the end too ever since her fight with her mom, and Wendy, well Wendy just wanted to be with her friends. I couldn’t understand Roseland. It made me think we were about to do something so awful that maybe Roseland wouldn’t be friends with us anymore. But egging a house can’t be as bad as putting a hose on a kid that needs help just because you don’t like their skin color or was it? Roseland, made me think that maybe we were about to be as bad as them, but I couldn’t stop myself.

We ducked off into a cluster of trees that was behind the church and we quietly pulled out our supplies and went over the plan for the last time. We pulled the white sheets out of our pillow cases and put them over our bodies so we all looked like cheap costume ghosts. We all wore black gloves. Angel said you had to protect yourself from fingerprints. She had read all kinds of detective novels and fingerprints were the way that they always caught the bad guy. The day that I told them about my idea for Roseland’s revenge we had walked around the back of the church and we found a hole in the fence by the woods. It was probably made by some teenagers so that they could cut across behind the church to get onto Virgina Way that took you to the river instead of walking on Person. We made the hole  bigger so that we could slip through easier to make our escape. Wendy was the look out she would stand and watch the road and the church to let us know if anyone was coming. The rest of us would throw the eggs, the toilet paper and the poop. We were going to leave one at a time. Wendy first, then Roseland, then Angel, and then me. I had the least chance of getting in trouble. Although, I could be sent to a foster home if they caught me, but at least I wouldn’t get beat, and we didn’t want Roseland’s mom to be disappointed in Roseland, even though I think if her mom knew what these people did to her daughter she’d be the first to throw the poop. We left Wendy’s pumpkin and our pillow cases by one of the largest trees along with Angel’s witch hat and Roseland’s cat ears. We had to make sure we took everything with us or there’d be evidence Angel had told us. Roseland held the bag full of poop, I had the eggs, Wendy had the toilet paper and Angel carried her brothers bottle of fake blood. Then in our white sheet ghost costumes we snuck through the hole in the fence and tip toed onto the church property.

It sort of struck me as stupid that we were dressed all in white sheets instead of all in black sheets or dark colored sheets because the moon was out that night and it seemed like really thinking about it people could probably see us better, but I didn’t want to think about that because I was afraid I’d chicken out. The church was dark and quiet, and so was the little house were the two old racists lived. We weren’t exactly sure what they did for the church. Maybe he was a pastor or maybe he just took care of it but whatever they did they were allowed to live on the same property. On the porch was a God bless all little children sign.

“Unless their black.” Roseland whispered under her breath.

It didn’t seem right that a person could carry so much hate and meanness and be allowed to say who God loved or didn’t love.

The house was quiet and dark, but in the back window we could see a flickering light like a tv set flashing. Wendy stood behind a tree and watched the street as the three of us silently threw rolls of toilet paper over their house and on all the trees. We didn’t talk or whisper we just threw the toilet paper and watched the streams of white fall onto branches and dangle like twisted ribbons in front of their door and all over. Then Angel grabbed the bottle of blood and sneaked onto the front porch and dumped the entire bottle all over their white porch and their welcome mat. She gently set the bottle down right in front of the door. She tip toed back to us. We were both surprised that she had been so brave to walk up there like she did. That blood was going to be sticky and nasty. I felt excited deep in my stomach. She signaled for Roseland to give her one of the bags of poop. We had three plastic bags and Angel grabbed two. She dumped both bags of stinky dog poop all in the blood and all in front of their door. I had made up the plan, but Angel really knew what to do in the battle. Once we had set up the trap we told Wendy to go to the tree and take off her sheet, grab her pumpkin and to walk toward Main road where we had last been seen trick or treating. We waited till Wendy was out of sight. We all knew she was the one most likely to get caught. Once her white sheet disappeared into the woods. We each grabbed a couple of eggs. We looked at each other through the holes in our sheets where our eyes could be seen. I smiled and even though I couldn’t see their faces I think I felt them smile too. Then Angel threw the first egg and we threw the eggs as fast and hard as we could. They made loud crashing and popping sounds against the side of the house. The eggs burst and exploded leaving yoke and slime dripping from the door and the windows. I felt like something was exploding inside of me each time an egg smashed against the house. All of the lights came on and there was a thundering noise like the house was shaking. We knew the old man was running toward the front door.

“What the hell is going on out here!” He yelled. The porch light came on and the sudden light hurt my eyes. Right at that moment Angel threw her last egg and it splattered against the screen door.

He screamed out bad words I had never heard of before and he kicked open the screen. He made like he was going to run out after us but he tripped over the blood bottle and fell into the sticky blood and all of the dog poop. Angel let out a huge laugh and then took off running for the fence. I threw my last two eggs at him as her struggled to get up off the porch.

“What’s happening?” His wife yelled as she ran toward him.

“Call the police.” He cried.

Roseland ran forward toward the door. I almost called out to her but stopped because I didn’t want them to hear my voice. With all her strength she chucked her last egg right at the woman and hit her right in the middle of her forehead. The woman cried out in pain and then ran inside the house. The old man tried to get up but had sprained his ankle when he fell and he limped toward his lawn. He was covered in fake sticky blood and dog poo.

“You kids are gonna pa-” but his voice got stopped in mid shout as Roseland took that final bag of poop and threw it right at his face and right into his open mouth.

“You can eat shit and die you old bastard,” she yelled in a deep voice trying to sound like a boy.

I could hear the sounds of sirens in the distance.

“Come on! Come on!” I yelled sounding too much like a girl.

Roseland took off running across their lawn toward the fence and I followed behind her. We scrambled threw the hole and ran toward the woods. Roseland threw off her sheet and ran toward the two pillow cases that were left. Angel’s sheet was on the ground along with Wendy’s. Roseland grabbed a pillow case and took of running disappearing down the street. I could hear the sirens getting closer and I threw my sheet off and grabbed the last pillow case. At that moment I heard a sound behind me. It was the old man struggling to get through the fence. He screamed in my direction and I ran as fast as I could down the road toward the others. I was wearing a baby blue onesie and I was terrified he had seen me. I turned the corner onto Main, and ducked behind a tree. I could see Wendy knocking on someone’s door trick or treating for candy and Angel was standing next to her with her tall witch hat back on like they had both been trick or treating this whole time.

“Hey.” I turned to see Roseland who was out of breath. “I lost my cat ears.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. What if they find them and look for someone dressed like a cat?”

I put my hand in the pillow case and mixed with the small amounts of candy were her ears. “Here.” I said. “I have them.”

She put them on her head. “Do you think we’re safe?” She asked.

“I don’t know.” I said. “I think the old man may have seen me. He tried to get threw the hole in the fence but he was too fat and he got stuck.”

We both giggled. “But he might have seen me because I had taken my sheet off.”

“Let’s get home before the police start looking.” We walked out of the shadows and onto the street like we had just come from a house.

“Do you think they knew that we were girls?”

“I don’t know.” I said. “I kind of wish they did.”

“I wish they knew why we did it.” She said.

Wendy and Angel met us on the corner of the street toward her house. We watched  a police car drive by with a flashlight as it shined onto the bushes. The flashlight washed over all four of us.

“You girls should be going home now.” One of the police said to us.

“We are almost home right now.” I said, pointing to the house were Angel lived.

The police man looked at us. “You Rogers kids?”

Angel spoke up. “I am.”

“You seen your any of your brothers tonight?” He asked.

“Not since this afternoon.” She said.

“Well you tell them we may want to talk to them.” He said.

“Why?” She asked.

“Just tell  your mom and dad.” He said and they drove off toward a dark street.

“I hate that they just think it’s my brothers.” Angel said.

“I thought you wanted your brothers to get blamed.” Wendy said.

“Well yeah, but at least with some evidence. They just know we’re Rogers and then suddenly its my family. It isn’t fair. My brothers’ll probably will get blamed just because.”

“Well, you know.” I said kind of quietly. “There was a Rogers there.”

She stopped and looked at me. “Yeah, well it wasn’t a Rogers idea.” She walked ahead of us then turned around again. “And besides, it was for honor.”

“Yeah. I was just teasing.” I said. “I’m sorry that people blame you just cause of your name.” I was thinking about how I blamed her family for my brother’s death.  I knew they were all there, but was it their fault? I didn’t want to think about it.

“That felt great.” Angel whispered. “Like we did something right. Even though it was bad those people deserved it so much. I think we’re heroes.” She smiled.

“Secret heroes.” I said.

“Yeah just like the boys in the movies.” Said Wendy. “You’re right. We did it. We did something special and brave.”

“Yeah. I can’t wait till I see my brother this summer. He’s gonna be so proud.” Roseland said.

“Are you gonna tell him what happened and about the man in the red car?” I asked.

“Yep. Everything even not coming out from under the porch. I think he’ll think it’s okay. Because we won.”

“You told that old man to eat shit when he had shit in his mouth.” I giggled.

“You said shit?” Angel asked. “You never say bad words.”

“You got it in his mouth?” Wendy asked. “So gross!”

We snuck between the garbage cans and dumped the candy into each of our bags to make it look like we had made out like bandits during our trick or treating. The party was loud at Angel’s house. We could hear her mom’s laughter from the street. We all walked Roseland home but we went around the graveyard so as not to accidentally get attacked by dumb teenage boys.

“You can stay the night here.” Roseland said to Angel.

“No. It’s okay. I’m used to it. I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”

We then walked back to Angel’s house and sat on the porch till my grandpa arrived to pick Wendy and I up.

On the drive to our street I thought about what Wendy said. About how we did it that we were like the boys in those movies that we were heroes. I didn’t think it was enough. I knew getting back at those two old jerks was just the start. We needed to do something really big something we would remember for the rest of our lives. A real real life adventure. Something that would change us forever. We just needed an idea and a plan.

NaNo-Days behind, and unsure if I will make the deadline.

Time: 1986

“Without Wendy who are we going to have for our look out?” Asked Roseland. She was rubbing her arm because one of the boys who grabbed her pinched her skin right above her elbow. “I mean. It’s like we have so many things to have to watch out for. The mean old church people, the man in the red corvette, the police, other adults, Angel’s brothers and their friends- what are we supposed to do? We shouldn’t do this.”

“It will be fine.” I said, “In fact, it’s perfect because we can blame it on her brothers.”

“How?” Angel asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe we can get some blood from your brother’s costume and leave it there so that way they’ll know its a kid that was bloody, and we’ll tell your mom they are out there beating up kids and causing trouble.”

“Yeah.” Said Angel gleefully, “Let’s get them all back at once.”

“I don’t know.” said Roseland. “I’m scared.”

“It will be okay.” I said, “although having a look-out is important.”

As soon as we walked into the door of Angel’s house Angel began yelling to her mom about her brothers jumping us in the graveyard. Her mother was quickly moving around the house only half listening to her.

“Listen, Angel, She stopped moving and picked up a lit cigarette and took a quick drag then blew the smoke towards the ceiling, “I’m having some friends over tonight we are going to be having a little party, so I told your brothers that they could go out to their own party. Why don’t you and the girls go with them?”

“What?” Angel’s mouth dropped open.

Both Roseland and I stole glances at each other before looking back at Angel’s mom.

“Mom!” Angel was yelling, “We are twelve that’s a teenager party. And I just told you they grabbed us in the graveyard. Rodger totally pulled my dress up while Sonny held me.”

“He’s just flirting with you.” Her mother stabbed the ashtray and then grabbed a glass filled with ice and a brown liquid like a watered down coke. She took a drink and then carried it with her to the kitchen. She set the drink down on the counter and started putting cans of beer in the fridge and pulling down bottles of liquor.

Angel was yelling that type of yell that only kids can make. They kind where you are yelling and whining at the same time. My mom would say she always hated it when I used that whine and that I sounded childish. To which I would always reply, but I’m a child.

“He’s my brother. He can’t flirt with me. That’s totally gross.”

“I meant Sonny. Now get away from me Angel. I’m trying to get stuff ready for tonight.”

“But, what about me? You said you would take us trick or treating.”

Roseland and I glanced at each other again. We had no intention of going trick or treating with her mother.

“Angel.” Her mother gave her the stare that all mom’s do when they are fed up with their kids. “I never said that. I said you girls could stay here and sort out your candy and go trick or treating but I did not say I would go with you.”

“But, it will be loud here. And I have school tomorrow.” She gave out a final whine.

“Angel. Don’t give me this shit. I know that you can sleep through anything. Or you can stay the night at one of your girlfriends. We are not discussing this. I’m your mother, and I deserve to have a good time every once in awhile. Your useless father never takes me out and he’s off doing god knows what so I’m having a party and I’m not having a child tell me what I can or can not do in my own house.”

“It’s my house too!” Angel screamed.

“When you start paying the bills and putting some food on the table then it will be your house but until then you listen to what I say. I feed you, I clothe you, you get whatever you want. You’re ungrateful. And look at you starting a fight with me in front of your friends. Get out now. You either get out of my sight right now or you get out of those clothes tell your friends to go home and go to bed.”

Angel scrunched up her face. “I hate you!” She screamed. She spun around with her witch skirt twisting up around her knees and stomped off to her bedroom.

“I hate you too.” Her mother mumbled before taking sip of her drink. “Kids.” She said shaking her head at us like we totally understood her point of view. “Go girls.” She nodded her head in the direction of Angel’s room. We both ran to find Angel.

When we found her she was lying face down on her bed and crying. We sat down on the bed at her feet. “I hate her!” She screamed into her pillow and then kicked her legs hard onto her bed. Roseland and I moved out of the way of her tantrum. Angel lifted her head and looked back at us. Her green make-up had smeared onto her pillow and there were light green streams running from under her eyes wear her tears had fallen. “She doesn’t even care about me. She doesn’t even know or care.” She dropped her face back into her pillow.

Roseland sat back down on the bed and put her hand on Angel’s back. “You can stay at my house tonight. My mom won’t care.”

I looked out the window. The sun was quickly beginning to set. Kids had already begun to start trick or treating and we still needed to get our supplies.

“You guys. We have to go.” I said.

“Why do you care so much about doing this?” Roseland asked. “Let’s just stay here.”

“What? Don’t you want to?” I was surprised out of all of us I thought for sure Roseland would be the one who would want to do it the most.

“No. I don’t care.” Roseland looked down at Angel. “I don’t ever want to see those people again.”

“But, Roseland, they were awful to you. You can’t let them get away with that.” I said imploringly. In truth I don’t know why I wanted to do it so bad. Maybe it was if we got revenge on those people it would be like getting revenge on all the awful adults in the world. All the adults that didn’t pay any attention to us, all the adults who didn’t see that we were people too, all the mean kids that picked on other kids, and all the people who were terrible in the world. I didn’t understand how Roseland wouldn’t want to go after them. “Well… we can’t stay here. We should at least go trick or treating.”

“No we should just stay here and hang out with Angel.” Roseland said.

“We can’t. There’s going to be a grown up party here. A grown up party with Angel’s mom’s friends. Have you seen these adults? They’re like bikers, and dirty people and they drink.

“It doesn’t matter.” Roseland snapped at me. “You go. I’m staying here with Angel.

“No!” Angel yelled. She sat up and looked at us both. She wiped the tears from her eyes smearing more of her green make-up. “We’re going. And we’re sticking to our plan.” She stood up and looked in her mirror. “I need to fix my make-up, but we should get some of the stuff ready first.”

“Are you sure?” Roseland asked. She had her hands in her lap and was picking at her fingernails.

“Listen, Roseland, if you want to be a sissy that’s fine. They were mean to you so I don’t know why you don’t want to do this, but Brianna and I are gonna do this with or without you.”

“Maybe I can just be the look out?” She asked.

“That’s fine.” I said. “But you carry the poop.”

We had big white pillow cases as our trick or treat bags but inside our bags we had shoved toilet paper, and four white sheets, and bags of dog poop that we shoveled from Angle’s backyard. It was her brothers’ responsibility to clean the dog poop from their three dogs in the back, but they never did so we had plenty of poop. Angel’s mother had been so busy greeting her friends and making drinks that she didn’t notice us with the shovel and plastic bags. We stood in Angel’s room checking all of our supplies. Her bedroom stunk like a poo factory.

“Ugh. This is so gross.” Roseland said holding out her bag of poop.

I pulled out the extra white sheet. “I should pull this one out since Wendy isn’t coming.” I tossed it onto the bed.

“No we should take it with us and hide it so my mom doesn’t see a white sheet missing. If she finds out I stole her linen she’ll kill me.” Angel said.

“I don’t think we can ever give the pillows back. My bag is going to stink forever.” Roseland said.

There was a rapping on the window. We all jumped back. It was dark outside so we couldn’t see who it was. The rapping continued. We moved towards the door.

“It’s probably my stupid brothers.” Angel whispered.

“You guys!” We heard a familiar voice. “You guys, it’s me Wendy.”

“Wendy?” We said her name all together and stumbled over each other too get to the window. Angel opened the window and the three of us looked down on Wendy, still dressed as a hooker, and holding a huge bag of eggs.

“How did you get here?” I asked completely shocked to see her.

“I walked.”

“From our houses? That’s like so far.” I said.

“I know it took me forever.”

“You walked here dressed like that? On the road?” Asked Roseland. “How did you not get seen or picked up or what about your mom?”

“Oh my mom’s so stoned right now she doesn’t even remember she has kids. That’s what my brother said before he snuck out of the house. I snuck out after him so he couldn’t tell on me. I took the old Billie road. You know the one that no one drives on anymore. It goes all the way along the Pearson road, but it’s more in the woods so no one sees you.”

“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.

“Totally.” She smiled, “but I wanted to be with you guys.” She held up her bag. “I brought eggs.” She stuck her head into Angel’s room. “Man your room smells like dog poop.”

“I know. Get out.” Angel said pushing her head back out the window. “Did anyone see you?”

“No.”

“Good. Now we can make it look like four kids then adults who saw us out together will think there are only three of us.” She threw the final sheet out the window at Wendy. “Here.” She said. “Now shove that in your pillow case.”

“I don’t don’t have a pillowcase. I only have this pumpkin.” She held up a small plastic pumpkin.

The three of us groaned.

“Do you have the candy?” I asked.

“Yeah it’s under my bed.”

Angel pulled a box out and then grabbed two giant bags of candy. She gave them to Wendy who was standing outside. “My mom’s going to be so pissed when she sees all the halloween candy gone. She’ll totally think my brothers took it.”

There was a quick knock on the door and then it swung open and her mom stepped inside. “Woah! It smells like shit in her. Really bad. You girls need to check your shoes. Angel. You need to keep you window open.”

“We know. Brianna had some dog shit on her shoe and we just finished washing it off. We’re leaving to go trick or treating now.”

I shot her a dirty look. Why was I the one that was to take the blame for the room smelling like shit?

“Okay, well Brianna, I think you should leave through the window I don’t want you tracking that shit through the house.”

“Yes mam.” I said.

“Don’t you dare ever call me mam again.” She said.

I dropped my bag out the window and then climbed out. Roseland decided to do the same.

Angel looked out the window. “I’ll meet you two out front by the road.” She winked and then shut her window leaving it open a crack.

“Why doesn’t she want to meet all three of us?” Wendy asked.

“Oh just come on.” Roseland said grabbing Wendy by the shoulder of her pink t-shirt that she was trying to pretend was a hooker dress.

Angel walked toward us and stopped. She looked back at her house that now had cars and motorcycles parked on the lawn and people walking around laughing and growing louder. She lifted a jug from out of her bag. It was a full bottle of fake blood.

“If my brothers can somehow be blamed for what we are going to do then I will be  happy. Let’s go do some tricking.”