I don’t know why they decided to let me out of the room. Maybe a sense of guilt or some fucked up way of taking me through the ups and downs of a classic abusive relationship. Probably trying to turn me into a battered woman. *chuckle*
I don’t know and I’m glad I don’t. What I do know is that the dinner we had that night was amazing. I’d gotten so used to the same shit sandwiches they’d left me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that getting to taste something different was a god send.
You like Indian food?
Right, you’re here to listen.
Well I do. I didn’t care how awkward it was to sit there and pretend like nothing had ever happened. That food was…I ate that shit up!
They asked me if I wanted to watch a movie with them and before I could tell them no my uncle stood up and said, “If you’re gonna be living with us then we’re going to start acting like a goddamn family. The past is the past. They say you cleared so we’re going to watch this movie.”
How do you respectfully refuse that?
I’m sorry, I’m probably making it seem as if they were bad people. They weren’t. I’ve had a lot of pent-up anger toward them for ages and over the years I’ve slowly come to realize that they were in the same boat I was. My aunt’s sister had just been brutally murdered and she was grieving through that while being told that she had to take care of the person who may or may not have been the one to do it.
I didn’t know much about their lives but it seemed like they had decided against having children, and yet, there I was.
After the movie, they let me know that I would be allowed out but they expected me back every day before sun down. A list of rules and chores, random inspections of my room, drug tests, no bad company, daily cleaning, bunch of other shit that made it feel more like a prison sentence than family life really, but I agreed to it all just to make sure I had the ounce of freedom. Even the ‘no girls at the house.’ Like if they had to worry about ever being able to seduce a girl.
It had been a good day and I felt happy. For once in the last few years, I felt like I belonged. I only wish it would have stayed that way.
Screams outside my window woke me up. They were panicked, desperate. They got closer and closer until a massive slam against the glass put me on full alert.
“Help! Please!” came the melodic voice that I immediately recognized as Sugar’s. “E! Let me in! They’re after-”
I sprung out of bed and peeled back the curtain to find Sugar already running away from the window, his head turned as if scanning the darkness of night for whatever nightmare was following him. I looked in the direction he was but couldn’t see through the pitch black.
“Eric!” my aunt’s voice burst through the door along with the rest of her. “What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know ma’am,” I lied. “It soun-”
The front door slammed, causing what felt like the foundation of the entire house to tremble. “Let me in! Please!”
The pounding at the door was repetitive and hard. From where I was, it sounded like the door would break down before we ever even had the chance to open it. We made our way to the front door where fists had turned to kicks, earning my uncle’s presence.
“E!” screamed Sugar. “Fucking help me! They’re after me, please!”
My aunt shot me a look but before she could say anything, my uncle was picking up the bat by the door. My mother flashed before my eyes, just briefly enough to send a chill through me. I could feel that something bad would come of this.
My uncle’s fist gripped the knob tight as he tried to psyche himself over the rapping and screaming at the door. He hadn’t unbolted the door, yet he didn’t stand against it to keep it from crashing in either. I think he was hoping that somehow the problem would disappear and he wouldn’t have to do anything.
A loud thwack was heard and one final thud against the door that caused all of us to tense further. My uncle checked the peephole and without hesitating unbolted the door and swung it open.
A man with short, cropped hair, slacks, and a button up crouched over Sugar’s body. Exactly what you’d expect a detective to look like in slightly warmer climate. To the T. He was sheathing a batton and didn’t even flinch when the door swung open.
“The hell is this all about?” said my uncle.
I saw something out of the corner of my eye, like awkward twitching movements. Another man of similar appearance was adjusting himself as if he had just sprinted a mile. He stared right at me with intense authority. Other than adjusting his clothes, he seemed to have no other sign of exertion. No heavy breathing, no sweat, nothing.
-Maybe they didn’t run very far, or maybe they were just in great shape?
*smile* Benny said the same thing.
“Stay inside sir,” said the guy cuffing Sugar. “This doesn’t concern you.”
“Fuck it doesn’t!” growled my uncle. “This little fucker was trying to get into my house. Woke up my whole family. Pretty sure it concerns me.”
That’s when the man finally bothered to look up. His eyes went directly to me, trying to burn directly through me. He stood, picking up Sugar as if he weighed nothing but never once releasing his glare on me. His partner walked up next to him and held Sugar up by his other shoulder.
“You know this guy?” he asked me.
I looked down toward his feet, then at Sugar’s who’s head lulled around as he was held up by his pits as if being crucified.
“No sir,” I said, shaking my head.
The man nodded toward his partner who wrapped his arm around Sugar and began walking off with him. “What’s your name?”
I stayed quiet. I didn’t want to answer him. I didn’t want to get involved in yet another mess.
“Go on,” said my aunt, pinching my arm.
I mumbled my name.
“You know why this guy would come out here Eric?” said the man.
“No sir,” I said, watching Sugar being dragged off into the darkness. “Where are you taking him?”
“Back to the squad car. Fucking junkie made us chase him a few blocks to come straight here.”
“What did he do?” said my aunt.
His eyes rested over my aunts sympathetically. “Aside from trying to stab my partner there, we’re still not sure. From the calls we got from his neighbors, though, it’s nothing good.”
“Oh my god,” said my aunt, covering her mouth and playing up the innocent damsel card. “He’s okay, right?”
“He’ll be fine,” said the man, turning his attention back to me. “You sure you don’t know him?”
“Yes sir,” I said.
“Well, if you think of anything son, just stop by the precinct. Sorry to have woken you,” the man prepared to turn away.
“How are we supposed to go back to sleep after that?” said my aunt.
“You’re safe ma’am,” he said. “But I’ll have someone keep an eye on the house just in case.” His eyes glanced at me suspiciously, a red ring flashing over the dark iris of his eyes that only I seemed to notice. My heart began to thud in my throat. “You have a good rest of the night now.”
“You as well,” said my uncle, waiting a moment for the man to clear off the property before shutting the door. “I’m going to bed.”
“Hold on now,” said my aunt. She turned her attention to me. “Who was that kid?”
“I…” I knew the truth would land me into a mess, but a full on lie would be read through in a heartbeat. “I’ve seen him at the park when I played football after school but I don’t know him.”
My aunt looked ready to press me, to accuse and torture until I confessed, KGB style. It was my uncle who saved me.
“You could’ve told us that’s what you were doing,” he said lazily. “Nothing wrong with sports.”
“I didn’t think you’d care,” I said, quick to let the subject drift.
He grunted like usual and said, “Let’s go.”
“But-” started my aunt.
“Sleep, woman. It’s more important. Get your answers in the news tomorrow.”
And that, they did.
First opportunity she got, my aunt was up with the TV blaring. Anything my mind had thought of during the night was made worse by the reality. They were labeling it ‘Butter Cooks Again: The next victims of the new and extremely dangerous drug that is being called Butter.’
I couldn’t believe it. Sugar was dead.