It was long, it was wet, it was hot, the two of them were full on glued together sucking face and they were both having swell time at it. I turned bright red, ashamed to even be watching such a passionate display. Of course it wasn’t meant as a display they’d found a corner to hide and there I was some dead beat just… watching. The color slowly drained out of me and when it was done a pale sheet stayed in its place as I stumbled away dumbstruck. Why was he kissing her!?! More importantly why was she kissing him back, the answers were obvious but I didn’t want to think about them. The kid had coke bottle glasses a goofy grin and spindly arms. I couldn’t imagine what she saw in him but they clearly seemed to get along. It was her first summer here and the moment school ended they couldn’t keep off each other. This wasn’t a one time experience, it happened at the park and at the theater, at her house, at his house, in the woods, by the gorge, at the shopping mart and on the side of the bridge. It was breaking me to pieces, suddenly instead of wanting to be around her I wanted to be as far away as possible so I wouldn’t have to watch.
My illusions had only lasted the length of the school year because Alisa had wanted to gather friends. Geek boy had been in the background the whole time and now that she no longer had a reason to pretend with Shoulder Pads there was no point in hiding anymore at least that is my current summary of the events because she and Shoulder Pads never had a falling out of any kind. So as they came out I went away. Let me live in my closet and never see daylight again. Then again I had to know more…
His name was Dean; Dean was fifteen a full four years older than me or Alisa which is why he was developed enough to enjoy sucking face. Alisa (who was already taller than me by the way) had none to recently hit an early growth spurt and was already in the beginning stages of uh… changing. She was a very early bloomer. I myself was at a complete loss, again… Why him? Why her? Why like that!!! It wasn’t something I was terrible interested in doing, I just knew I really liked her (This is about where I was at on the ‘Realizing I Love her’ scale). So what if I did actually lock myself in my room for a week, I came out and started stalking them again like I’d never left. I would have preferred to just stalk her, but they were never apart, it was almost like Ray and Bones you just didn’t see one without the other. The closest I could get to separating them was by performing a stage dive into them and hoping they fell in different directions. Of course I never actually tried this, but after a few weeks of trailing and moping I discovered I could get close enough to breathe on one of them and they wouldn’t even notice. This wasn’t her super power in the slightest it was the distracting company but it’s what finally opened my eyes, I was irrelevant. It was the headstone on my timid and short reaching dreams that bordered on something that resembled romance, it couldn’t be allowed.
I needed a miracle; I needed a handshake from the one person in town who could get you anything. Okay not anything, he couldn’t make her love me, but he would know how to make her see me, he could give me a chance even it was a fleeting one. I had to talk to Ray Arden; the only problem was I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in several a months. I checked all his regular hangouts, from the desolate street corner by the old outdoor basketball court all the way to the public library. No sign of him anywhere, not at the little store with stock so old, the cigarettes didn’t have warning labels on them, or at the grand plaza hotel. I checked every street and corner but today Ray seemed to be a ghost. He might have been out at the Oak Ridge Farm, which wasn’t very likely, but at this point I thought it was between that and the observation deck.
The mine was old and big enough to attract tourists; it was just a building on a hill next to the mine full of pictures with a big deck outside and a few stands including some binoculars. If ever Ray needed money for a plan it usually contained a sub-plan for tricking some stupid tourists out of a few dollars provided it was that season. It’s where the company scammed random people so I don’t see any reason to feel guilty about my involvement in any of these sub plans, there was nothing to see and nothing to do it’s almost as if these people came to be scammed anyways. Seriously who in their right mind pays thirty dollars for a hat so they can walk around as free advertising? Ten bucks for rock candy yippee, we could buy it for a dollar anywhere else on earth, or even make it ourselves by stirring thirty cents worth of sugar into some boiling water. Even being near the place made Ray pessimistic and angry, I don’t really get why. Granted I could see plenty reason for sarcasm and disbelief that should be generated by the simple act of people coming to see a big dirty ditch. I mean I kind of get the whole Grand Canyon kick but that’s a freaking pent house by comparison.
Getting back to my point Ray preferred stealing junk to buying something of quality, money was a last resort. Me I would have gladly conned more of these suckers to save us hard work later down the road which is just me straying off topic again. I need to focus. Okay here goes, Ray probably wasn’t anywhere near the observation deck, but if I was going to walk three miles to get out there I might as well check the corners so to speak. It wasn’t much of a surprise when I didn’t find him so my next move was to ask the cashier at the smoothie shack if she’d seen him. She was the older sister of someone in my class so we almost kind of knew each other. It took some doing to help her remember which one was Ray and when she finally connected the dots she nearly blew me away when she said, “Oh the Arden boy”. WHAT THE HELL, everyone called Ray, Ray, even the teacher. Stranger still saying it like that seemed to imply that she knew Ray as an extension of THE ARDENS, never mind what Ray had told me two years ago I was sure he was an orphan. Lying was what Ray did after all.
After a great deal of confusion and some light bickering that flew between us like wind she gave me a vague point off into some neighboring hills, “Just over the rise there”, she said clearly meaning that’s where Ray lived. Impossible of course, but now I had to look. Half an hour later, mostly spent wandering around in those hills and I found it. A house made of planks so old gravity must have squeezed them into iron because I swear that wood was rusting. I needed tetanus shots just from looking at it. The image was completed with one rusted over car without wheels sinking into the ground. Most of the windows were shuttered and I could already hear the floorboards creaking, a lovely place to live… if you were a ghost.
Ray Arden lived here? In this fossilized excuse of a tree planted in the flat muddy patch crammed between hillsides. No roads led here, not so much as a worn dirt path through the grass because there was none except for the occasional forlorn tuft of overgrown yellow. Abandoned for years by the look of things, so what harm could there be in knocking on the door. The girl at the smoothie shack must have talked to someone spreading rumors about Ray, you know the usual, but I’d never heard this one before. Just the newest thing I suppose. I knew that Arden boy thing was complete bogus. I rapped three times waited twice that then turned tail and fled the scene of the petty door ditching crime at a brisk stroll, about seven or eight steps out from the porch the door creaked open behind me.
It was too far for me to turn around without feeling weird about it but at the same time not heading back to the door would be stranger. I slowly performed an about face taking much smaller steps as I returned to the porch in a march of shame. The man waiting for me at the door ever so patiently was short for an adult beyond that he looked nothing like Ray, he had curly bright orange hair, wire rim glasses, green eyes and a long forehead to tie it together. I mean it just kept going, right past his hair and halfway to the middle of his head. Is this what everyone meant when they said receded, odd? “Mr. Arden” I asked
“Doctor”, a thin reedy voice replied
"Dr. Not Mr.”
“Oh… Dr. Arden…” the man blinked disinterestedly pushing up his glasses.
“Do you want to come in?” he asked when I didn’t say anything else
“Is Ray home?”
“Will my answer determine yours?” should I even dignify such a useless question with a response...
“Yes”, I said cautiously
“Then what will you do if I refuse to answer it”, it was my turn to blink, “stand there until you die of old age it would seem. I’ll have to test that won’t I”, he opened the door wider and walked away. I checked left and right because that’s what any sensible person does before crossing the street and this felt much the same, then I followed him into a world where the floor was covered in vibrant vines and the ceiling sprouted flowers that all bloomed a false blue in the lights that bathed them. On the outside it was a ghost house, but inside it was a full on jungle. Through another door left ajar I glanced what I could only assume was Ray’s mother, a not entirely unattractive woman in her early thirties, I also figured she was a great deal easier to communicate with than the Lune in front of me but since she hadn’t let me in the house I hurried my steps to catch up with the Good Doctor as I had just named him. I picked this solely on the grounds that if I asked him what kind of doctor he was I would imagine that he’d say ‘a good one’. “You were wrong”, the Good Doctor said pointedly
“Your answer didn’t require mine first”, he explained simply
“Oh, no I guess not”
“Can you change your mind and un-walk through the door then, is what could not have been so readily altered, yet that you should need to guess? Were you perhaps uncertain until you yourself crossed the threshold”. . . like I said a Lune,
“You are Dr. Arden right?” he didn’t answer.
Created: Mar 23, 2014SuburbanPeace Document Media