Simon looked back at the boy, who was sandwiched between Penelope and Charles. He was leaning over Penelope when he looked, not trying to avoid Charles—although he still looked like he was eager to loom over the boy—but to move closer to Penelope.
“You smell very pretty,” the boy said to Penelope. Her face changed instantly. She looked flattered. Simon could not believe what he was seeing.
“You better watch the road,” Charles said, at first quietly, but then scared at the end of the sentence. Simon turned around and saw that the car was about to run off the road. He turned the wheel hard to bring the car back into the lane. When he looked in the rearview mirror, he saw that the boy had used the opportunity of the violent change in the car’s direction to move closer to Penelope. The boy seemingly was huddling on Penelope’s lap, his hands dangerously close to her breast.
“That’s enough of that,” Simon said. He tried to keep his eyes on the road but they kept turning back to look at Penelope and the boy.
“It is okay,” Penelope said in a higher pitched voice, the kind of voice she used on those special occasions with Simon when he was particular good. She did not try to remove the boy’s hand from her breast area. Charles reached over and grabbed hold of the boy’s arm.
“You are one little skinny thing,” Charles said. “You should be careful where you point those bony appendages.”
The boy glared at Charles and leaned back into the seat. Simon smirked in the front seat.
“Which way?” Simon asked, breaking the silence as he approached the fork in the road the boy had warned him about.
“You bear right when you come to the next fork,” the boy said quietly. His voice was quieter than before. He kept giving Penelope sidelong glances, and returning his eyes to the front, fearfully stealing glances at Charles to ensure he was not watching too closely.
“And where are we going first?” Simon asked again, unsatisfied with the boy’s answer only a few minutes before.
“You said you wanted to go to your sister’s house,” the boy said. “It is where I want to go as well.”
“If you think you will use this opportunity to be with Penelope,” Simon said, heading in that direction before he realized what he was saying. “Then you are mistaken. She is my girlfriend, and I do not appreciate you putting your oily paws all over her.”
“Don’t be so silly,” Penelope said with the tone in her voice that really said she wanted him to be even more silly. It was not unusual for her to act this way in front of Simon. She was always trying to rile him up, attempting to make him into something that he was not: a jealous person who attacked anyone who even looked at Penelope in the wrong way. Simon was generally not a jealous man. He appreciated Penelope, and enjoyed it when other people also appreciated her. He also knew that Penelope had a weakness for jealous men. It was also a weakness for men who cared a bit too much about what other people did and thought. Simon thought that if she had her way, she would probably date a man that beat her up and anyone who looked at her sideways. Simon thought it would be good for her to date such a guy. It might make her appreciate Simon a bit more.
But even before the thought was out of his mind, he realized how disgusting it was. He could never wish anything bad on Penelope. He loved her too much, and the thought of her being hurt by anyone, hurt him tremendously. He rid his mind of the images of Penelope hurt and returned to the matter at hand.
Simon turned on the road where the boy had indicated, and followed the boy’s direction for the next ten minutes. Three left turns and a right. There were no lights on in the street, and the few scattered houses they saw from the dark road were dark. It was not surprising as the sky was still black with night.
“It is right there,” the boy said, pointing to a dark house in the distance. A single lit window was all that Simon saw of the house. He drove up to the house and pulled into the driveway. The sky, which he could have sworn was dark moments before, now had a bit of lightness to the blackness.
Simon pulled the car over to the side of the driveway and turned off the engine. He sat in the car for a few minutes, wondering at the long journey that it had taken to get him, Penelope and Charles to this place from Houston, Texas. He could not believe how far into the journey he had gone with nothing much happening. That was not true. He did have the long drive, and the red contraption right out of town. There was the chase scene where he tracked down a pimply faced kid, which he went on to kidnap in the back of his car by using the large breasts of his darling if slightly insane girlfriend. All had not gone well, he knew. But with everything moving along, he was ready to put an end to it. It was time for him to step up to the door and find out what secrets his sister and the rest of the family were hiding.
“Stay here,” Simon said to Charles and Penelope. “I do not want to wake them, but I will see if anyone is up in the window.”
Simon stepped out of the car and carefully closed it behind him, trying not to make any additional noise. There were bird or bugs of some sort that were crying in the night. The rubbing sounds ebbed and flowed and filled the night with a scary type of cacophony.
He felt an enormous weight close down on his face. A tightness in his head replaced the weight and he felt tears well up behind his eyeballs. Seeing the house again was extremely emotional. He knew that his mother and sister had repurchased the house they had lived in growing up. They had talked about it on the phone, and his sister had even sent photographs of the house. But seeing photos and seeing it in person were two very separate realities. He approached the house with trepidation. Memories flooded back toward him. He remembered where he had ridden his first bicycle. He remembered where his father, when he had been very small and before he had died, had played with him near the front of the house. He remembered a lot of things.
But it was not the memories that flooded his emotional banks. It was the feeling of the place. It was the extreme hatred he still felt for the place He had such good memories mixed with the bad that he was unsure of what if anything he should feel as he approached the door.
The house itself was not large. It was laid down with brick, which had been painted over with a thick coat of grayish paint many years before. The brick was overlaid with vinyl siding along parts of the house. Its shape reminded him of an unfinished ship, with the first half complete, and the second half, including the bow, floating out in space. There was a small room off the back of the house where he had lived for so many years. It had a single port window, and cantilevered off the side of the house, seemingly hanging in midair. It was the most amazing thing about his time in Fishs Eddy, and the only thing he was incapable of sharing with anyone except his sisters because he did not have any friends, and the few that did pretend to be his friends would never come over to see his house because of the curse.
His father had died when he was eight, and it widely known amongst his friends that he had died in his house. He had been in the she building a large model boat, which had been his time-consuming hobby, when the one fifteenth size model bow that he had been building collapsed along a weak angular joint. The front of ship fell forward, and as his dad tried to reach out to save his months of work from the kindling pile, the log that held the sail of the boat came flying off the middle of the bow and into the side of his father’s head, killing him instantly. Simon had not found him or even knwn what had happened to him until much later in the night, when his mother had returned with his sister Darla from the hospital.
After that time, no friend of Simon’s would get near his house. They had closed off his father’s hobby shop, and a few years later moved out of Fishs Eddy to escape the bad memories of the place. Simon would have liked to have pointed to that time in his life as the cause of his social problems when he was growing up, but to do so would have been unfair. He was never a social kid, and his father’s death pushed him toward the Emo lifestyle: he was emotional and was fascinated with death. He listened to loud electronic music, which at the time was very early in its infancy.
Now returning to the house brought all these memories washing over him. He wished more than anything that Penelope would come out of the car to join him, to hold him for a few moments. He was not nervous about her being with the boy in the car. Charles was in the car as well, and the truth was he was not jealous of her time with other men. Even had he been, he was certain that the boy would not qualify as a man.
Simon took his time as he approached the dark house. He looked into the windows, looking for any movement in the house. The house was quiet, as he expected it would be at this time of night. The shades were closed up tight, and he was very surprised to find the large pile of garbage off to the side of the house overflowing. He knew his sister as a very neat and facetious woman, and it surprised him that she would not remove the garbage on more frequent times.
While the windows had shades pulled over them, he felt a presence in the house. He was not a suspicious man, but he knew when he was around people as around empty space. The house felt like it housed a lot more than a few people. He heard the car door open behind him, and saw Penelope stepping out with the boy in close pursuit.
“What are you waiting for?” the boy asked, pushing passed Penelope who tried to slow him, and up to and past Simon. “If you are going to go in, then go in. The front door is always open. I do not see why you are staring at it like a dolt. Darla will not mind. And if your mother is still around, I am sure she would be very excited to see you and your beautiful girlfriend.” The boy took another moment to turn around and find Penelope. He held her gaze for a beat before turning around and heading toward the house.
Simon followed the boy as he approached the front door. As Simon grew closer to the house, he realized that the light in the house was coming from the master bedroom. He also realized that it was not an electric light. Instead, he watched it flicker. It was a candle of some sort. Before he could ask the boy why there was a candle burning in the middle of the night, the boy opened the front door of his childhood home.
Word count: 2,024
Total words: 30,936
Words remaining: 19,064
It’s very late and I’m very tired. This was another painful day. We watched “Shaolin Soccer,” a rather enjoyable Chinese film, and ate a comforting pizza before I sat down to write. It was a good evening until I spent the last two hours banging my head against the screen. Tomorrow is Friday. I am looking forward to Friday.