He opened a door and went into a room that looked like an old, empty kitchen. The floor was a dirty white and blue tile. The walls were once virgin cream but now a nicotine-smeared yellow. There was a goldenrod-colored refrigerator from the antique days against one wall and it hummed like an old man sleeping in a comfortable chair after a few too many Rob Roys. He went and pulled on the handle of faux wood and hardened aluminum. There was no food inside but instead a hot gray sky with spotlights of white gently boiled there like mystical magic dreams. The bare branches of trees reached toward the stars in the upper corners like crooked black fingers. Rows upon rows of Wizard of Oz green corn below stretched toward some infinite horizon he puzzled over.
He stepped inside and closed the door behind him. It was suddenly dark and smelled a bit musty. He wanted to get back out and so he pushed on the door, but it would not open. He started pounding on it, but it was useless. There was no one out in that old vacant kitchen that would help him. He was alone. His breathing sped up. His heart began to race. He was scared. But they said it would be fun. They said it would be a great exercise in imaginative play. Now he was trapped, and somewhere in the distance, on the crest of the junk heap, they were pointing down and laughing at him. They shook their heads and climbed onto their bikes and rode home with an odd sense of war-time victory.
Someone had left out a plate of cookies for the leader of the young gang of present-day bullies, future politicians and obnoxious assholes. He was big for 13 and he had a round head and orange curly hair and freckles on his ever-angry face. He scooped up the plate and took it into the room where the video game console was set up. He plopped down into the worn couch with crumbs scattered about, turned on his game and started killing bad people with medieval weapons. He laughed and felt superior when the blood splashed, and the bodies fell.
The leader’s cell phone lit up. It was his mother sending a text, and she was going to be late coming home from work — again. He shook his head and tossed the phone aside without replying. “Bitch,” he mumbled, and he went back to slaying the innocents that wandered the cobbled streets of some historical playground.
The kid’s name was Rude Rudy, and his gang was known as the Black Disciples — a crew of white suburban middle school latchkey bullies who thought they were invincible kings in their sheltered kingdom of neon convenience stores, strip malls and fast-food hangouts rung by littered forests and low hills perfect for hideouts and fooling around with chicks. Rude Rudy’s “queen” was a neighborhood girl by the name of Veronica Genesis — a rich kid intellectual with shiny chestnut-colored hair who wanted to be a psychiatrist when she grew up so that she could “Mess around with people’s brains,” as she liked to say.
Now she came calling.
“Come in!” Rude Rudy yelled out, for he could not be troubled with getting up and opening the door, not when he was in the midst of a deadly multi-combo barrage of melee attacks.
A moment later, she stepped into the room.
“Hi,” she said, and she went to sit down uncomfortably close to him.
He bucked his shoulders to get her off of him. “Not when I’m playing. Never when I’m playing,” he reminded her.
“You’d rather play your stupid game than kiss me?” she asked him.
He turned his head but kept his eyes on the game. “Do it quick,” he told her.
She gave him a short peck on the corner of his mouth. She suddenly pulled away and made a face. “Have you been drinking?”
He laughed. “Yeah. It’s so cool.”
“Where did you get alcohol?”
“Our high school friend, Steve. He works at the grocery store and sneaks it out, duh. I thought I told you that we can party whenever. When I talk, people listen. They react. They do things for me.”
Veronica Genesis sighed aloud. “I don’t know why I waste my time on you,” she complained.
Rude Rudy laughed again through a sneer. “Because I’m the best you’re going to get, little lady. I’m a powerful figure in the underworld of Grainer Falls.”
She shook her head in befuddlement. “Are we going to go do something or not? I don’t want to sit around here watching you play video games for the rest of the day. Can’t we go to the mall or something?”
He suddenly hit the pause button on his controller and turned to look at her. She was wearing makeup and her face looked like a glossy picture in a teen magazine. “Do you want to see a dead body,” he asked with all seriousness.
She stared at him, stunned, and then she laughed. “What are you talking about? What dead body?”
“You know that kid, Adam Longo?”
“The new boy you’re always picking on?”
“Yeah. What a loser dweeb.”
“Did you do something to him?”
“Me and the fellas dragged him down to the dump and shut him in an old refrigerator,” Rude Rudy bragged. “He might be dead by now… Come with me and we’ll go check.”
Veronica Genesis put a finger to her lips and thought about it for a moment. “If he’s still alive, I would like to document the state of his mind… For scientific purposes. The research could help me get into a good university.” He looked at her and shook his head and then he leaned in and awkwardly kissed her. “Let’s just go take a look.”
MORE TO FOLLOW
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