“Brad my man! How’ve you been?”
“Ughhh... It’s too early. Go away.”
“Is that really any way to speak to your main man, Rator? Only man really,” he chuckled to himself as he bounced around the room. “And it’s not too early, I’m bored. GET UP I SAY YOU!”
Rator was short for Ratorniob Loneflute. Which would be a weird name if he was, you know, human. Or real. Of which he was neither.
Ratorniob, or Rator, was actually an elf. His skinny frame was about 2 feet in height and rather pale. His hair was blonde and curly and always matted. And his tiny emerald eyes had a habit of glowing with great intensity whenever he was excited, which is how they were right now.
Bradley reached over to his nightstand to grab the pill bottle that sat next to his alarm clock. He wasn’t able to lay a finger on it before Rator snatched it away from him.
“Not today man. Jeez, what kind of friend are you?”
“We aren’t friends Rator.”
“That hurts Brad, that really hurts.”
“Don’t call me Brad.”
“Then don’t hurt me so.” He sneered.
“Fine, I’m sorry. We’re friends. Can I have the bottle back now?”
“Ummm.... Euhh... Nooo...” He laughed and bounced around more jubilantly.
“Come on Rator, I mean it!”
“So did I when I said NO.”
“I’m warning you Rator, I don’t feel like doing this today.”
He broke into another laugh “So what are you going to do about it, Braddy-boy?”
Bradley lunged out of his bed and grabbed out at Rator, who easily bounced out of his reach and began to run down the hall, pill bottle still in hand. Bradley went to stand but had become tangled in his bed sheets, and merely fell to the floor once more. He managed to free himself, and took off after Rator, whom he found in the kitchen.
“Oh no,” Rator’s voice dripped with sarcastic empathy. “You’re too late!”
“Where is it?? Rator!”
“I hid it. And I’m not going to tell you where it is. So you can either waste time using your shrilly voice to whine at me, ooooorrrrrr you can go get dressed so we can have some fun.”
“No day with you is fun...”
“Feelings Bradley! I have them! Seriously though, this is why you don’t have any friends.”
“YOU are why I don’t have any friends.”
“Well yeah okay, maybe that too.”
“Oh I just feel so giddy! It’s gonna be a great day, I can feel it. Can you feel it Brad?”
“Bradley…” He murmured.
He had showered and gotten dressed, feeling nothing short of wanting to rip Rator in half. Now they were out on the city streets, just a few blocks from his apartment building.
“Yeah whatever Brad. So where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Oh I love surprises! You know how I love them. You did this just for me didn’t you? Didn’t you Brad?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure.” He didn’t see the point in correcting him anymore.
“Oh Brad. You know, our friendship has had its trouble, sure. But what friendship hasn’t? I feel like we’re really turning over a new leaf here. Things are only going to get bet…”
“Will you just shut up already?”
“Annnnddd you had to ruin it. Why do I even bother Brad, why do I even bother?”
Ignoring him, Bradley turned and made his way up the stairs of an old Brownstone. Rator stopped dead in his tracks.
“Brad, you suck at surprises. I don’t want to go in there.”
“I never said it was a good surprise.”
“Technicality. Surprises are implied to be fun.”
“Whatever, we’re going in.”
“Correction, you are going in. I’ll wait out here.” Rator plopped himself down on a step and grinned smugly up at Bradley. “Have a swell time.”
Bradley expertly navigated the halls, he’d been here so many times before that he could probably walk the route with his eyes closed, and went right to Dr. Stevenson’s office.
“Oh Bradley,” Dr. Stevenson peered at him from overtop of his glasses, “I wasn’t expecting you today.”
“Yeah, sorry…” He muttered. “It’s kind of an emergency, I hoped you wouldn’t mind.”
“No not all at. Here, take a seat.” He motioned to the chair across from his desk and Bradley was in it in a heartbeat.
“He’s back again.”
The doctor sighed. “Rator?”
“I don’t like how he says it.” Bradley jumped in surprise and found Rator sitting on the arm of the chair next to him.
“I thought you were waiting outside!”
“He says is like the ‘gator’ part in ‘alligator’. And with an accent like someone in the bayou of Louisiana. I would like to think I’m more civilized than that. Tell him to say it like ‘ra’, like that sun guy, and ‘tour’. That sounds better.”
“What, are you French now? And I’m not telling him that.”
“Well it is MY name, I would like to think I have a say in how people pronounce it.”
“Bradley,” the doctor cut in, “Is Rator here now?”
“No don’t tell him!” Rator jumped from off the chair and landed low on the floor. “Don’t! Don’t!”
“Uhhh… yeah he is.” Bradley confused.
“You’re a horrible friend Brad. A horrible, horrible friend.”
“Now Bradley, we’ve talked about this. Rator is only a figment of your imagination. He’s a hallucination, this is why you are supposed to take your medication.”
“But he hid it!” Bradley protested.
“He can’t do that Brad, and you know that. You hid it, and you know where it is. You need to calm yourself down and think, where did you put it?”
“I don’t know! He took it from me this morning when I tried to take it.”
“Do you think that maybe you hallucinated that he stole it from you because you actually didn’t wish to take it? Hm? This isn’t the first time this has happened.” The doctor has this way of looking over his glasses and turning his face downwards when he spoke so that he was peering up at you. It made everything he said sound condescending, and gave him an air that he thought himself so much better than anyone else that he didn’t find it worth it to exert the energy to hold his head up at face level. While it would normally bother most people, Bradley was rather used to it by now, and not just from the man before him.
“No! I want to take it, I want him gone!”
“Hey!” Rator interjected. “You guys don’t have to talk about me like I’m not here you know. It’s hurtful.”
“My god, SHUT UP!” Bradley’s sudden outburst shocked the doctor, and the two sat quiet for a while.
“Bradley…” The doctor started slowly, his voice soft. “I’m going to put in a request that you be readmitted to the ward, just for a little while.”
“No!” He jumped up. “No, I don’t want to go back. I won’t. I… I remember where I put it now, where I hid my medication,” he stammered. “I’ll be alright, I’m sorry to bother you. I shouldn’t have come.” He hastily made his way to the door, but wasn’t able to cross the threshold before the doctor stopped him.
“Bradley, I’m going to have them stop by and check on you tomorrow. If things aren’t well, you’re going to have to be readmitted. I’m sorry but you won’t have a choice in the matter, you were released under my care, making me responsible for you.”
Bradley turned to stare at him before abruptly storming down the halls and back onto the street.
“So where are we going now, huh? You know, I’m kind of hungry, we should get something to eat.”
“I thought you were staying out here? Why did you follow me in there?”
“I got bored. How about Italian?”
“No, we aren’t getting anything to eat. I have something to do.” He briskly made his way down the street, shoving his hands in his pockets and tucking his chin into his chest all in an attempt to make himself as invisible as possible.
“Where are we going?” Rator was skipping in endless circles around Bradley as he walked, who was doing his best to ignore him.
“It’s uhh, a surprise.”
“Is it at least a good surprise this time?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It’s probably going to suck…”
“Can you please just stop talking?”
“Can you please just stop talking?” Rator mocked him in a rather high pitched, squeaky voice. “That’s what you sound like. Annoying isn’t it?”
After what seemed like an eternity spent in hellfire, Bradley arrived at his destination. It was a shabby looking apartment building at least 20 or so stories in height. During his several block walk there he did his best to ignore the ever persistent Rator, but not with much avail. His lack of responses didn’t necessarily discourage Rator, who was more accustomed to it than not.
He entered the building and made for the stairs, with Rator bouncing at his heels.
“What, looking for a new place?” He questioned.
Bradley ignored him and continued his journey up the staircase.
“Which floor are we going to? We’re missing all the good apartments, no one wants the ones at the top.”
Bradley didn’t stop until he was on the roof of the building. Once there, he paused and looked up at the sky. It was a grey and dismal day, the sun wasn’t able to muster the strength to shine through the clouds. Bradley didn’t mind.
Bringing his eyes back down, he made his way to the edge of the roof. There was a ledge about chest high, which he hoisted himself on to.
“Whoa whoa, Brad. You know I’m always up for a little reckless endangerment, but isn’t this a tad much?”
“No, I think this is just enough.” He now stood almost entirely over the ledge. The only thing that kept him grounded were his heels that were positioned right on the edge and on which he steadied all his weight.
“Brad, what are you doing man? Stop it, get down from there and let’s go get some food. I’m freaking starving over here.”
“You can go do whatever you want. I’m done.”
“I can’t do anything without you Brad, you know that. And what do you mean you’re done?”
“Stop calling me Brad.” He began to teeter, shifting his weight forward and back all while balancing on the arches of his feet.
“What’s this about man?”
“Everything! This is about everything Rator! I’m tired of living like this, I’m tired of you and I’m not going back there… So I’m done.”
“Alright alright, calm down. It’s not so bad, I’m… I’m not so bad.”
“You’re relentless Rator! You never stop! I never get peace when you’re around, and you’re never gone.”
“Ok fine, I’ll be better. I promise. Just get down from there.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I will, I promise.”
Bradley didn’t respond. Instead, he simply began to lean forward.
“Bradley stop. Come on.”
Still no answer.
“Fine. If you really find me that horrid, I’ll go. But you have to promise me you’ll get down from there if I leave.”
Bradley shifted his weight back and looked back at him.
“If it’s really what you want Bradley….”
And with that he was gone. Right before his eyes, Ratorniob Loneflute was no more. Bradley hopped down from the ledge and peered around. It couldn’t have been that easy. He walked over to the door that lead back into the apartments, opened it and peered into the stairwell. Still no Rator.
For the first time in a while, when Bradley began descending the stairs, he felt at peace. He felt like a weight was lifted. There was no longer a tiny elf bounding behind him, whining about what they were and weren’t doing. There was no longer anyone stopping him for doing what he wanted to do, accomplishing what he wanted to accomplish. His time was, for once, all his. To be spent on him alone. He felt truly free. But by the time he reached the last step he felt empty, and for the first time in a while he felt truly alone.
The next morning Bradley awoke to the harsh blaring of his alarm, and rolled over to smash the off button. He laid in bed for a moment, rubbing the morning haze from his eyes. And when he sat up and opened them-
“Brad my man! How’ve you been?”