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The Nightingale (Memories Bird)

Short story By: Michael Lange
Mystery and crime

Trapped in his home town a shadow of a boy is forced to deal with memories he does not want to remember. He tries to avoid them via sexual acts and drug trips that send him even deeper into his almost ghost like self.

Submitted:May 6, 2011    Reads: 93    Comments: 4    Likes: 0   

The Nightingale

In secret he was a passionate lover. Beyond the shadows of lustful pleasure he was a nothing, invisible to the human eye. Days before his eighteenth birthday he sat on the shore of his home town lake. Sand had found its way through his clothes and into every pore. The moon bore down making milk out of the skin on his arms and face. His newest secret was still halted by ecstasy on the lifeguard stand behind him. Their clothes had stayed on but were now a bit looser due to tugs made by eager hands. The face of his newest conquest finally opened its eyes. They had both thought it better a deed kept anonymous.

"I'm going." The pleasure concurred body stood up, readjusting its clothes back to a fully covered state. The deed was done, it was heading toward its car, putting its keys in the ignition, flooding the beach with its head lights and finally driving off into the dead of night.

Unseen as usual, the boy slipped off his shirt and jeans. Releasing his body from a shell, he then surrounded it with one of water by sliding into the lake. It wouldn't have mattered if he had gone in clothes and all; there was nothing in his pockets, no I.D., no wallet, no money and no phone. His body now had no attachments, not even a name. His name had worn out many years ago. He walked back onto land, shook off as much moisture as he could, and then returned to his clothes.

He walked home under some dim street lights and through the yards of houses that he had gone to for birthday parties from when he was a little kid. The invites had stopped in fifth grade, for reasons unknown to him. He passed Poplar Street and the church. He was now at the highest elevation in his hometown. He could see all the way down the main street. It reeked of nothingness, which was worse than any other smell he could think of. Memories passed by him like gnats. They were big enough to be noticed, but too small and too many for swatting to do any good. Beyond one of the town bars, which was letting out like a midnight Christmas mass, was his street, Piper Avenue. His feet led him down the road he had grown up on. He withdrew a key from under an ill colored rock. His parents weren't around to care how late he had been out; they were off on a world vacation for the summer. He was old enough, and had been for every summer since his fourteenth birthday, to take care of himself. Soon his key slipped into its lock, a perfect mate. CLICK.

"HELP" a child's voice screamed from the water. His body flung itself from the lifeguard stand. His feet hit wet sand, in a second water surrounded him. The child was in his arms. Then it was under his hands, pressing, pulsating. The young boy coughed up some water, breathing again. The boy's mother yelled at the lifeguard for not acting sooner, as if he could see the future. They quickly left for a safer activity. He sat back down on his lifeguard stand. His body soaked, red trunks clinging to his legs as the sun tried to bake his skin. The rest of the day nothing occurred that he would be necessary for. As always, a few kids got into a fight, which ended in him blowing his whistle loud enough to seem like he cared if they strangled each other. He never even talked to these people that he was being paid to rescue and control from on high, a.k.a. his lifeguard stand. Not unless he really had to. If he was forced into answering a question he used the words out of the manuals and pamphlets he had to read to get certified. The classes he had to take prepared him to be educated in the way of a "hero" or, as he thought of it, a drone. He laughed deep within his own mind at the irony that surrounded his life. He was supposed to be a guardian of sorts by day, at least during the summer, and by night he drained the seed of what should be a new human life out of whatever had walked into his willing and very able body. Sometimes he would justify this as saving the world from another life, his life force seemed to exist when he assisted another male after said male had been teased into turning blue by a heartless female. What if the male had tricked his girlfriend into committing the sin of sex before marriage? Their punishment would become having to care for a life when said male had not even started his own life. Why not save these boys from little versions of themselves that would tear his world apart even more than it already was torn. The little thems could show the people he drained how to "love," or care for other people, or that they could be truly cared for and loved unlike he found himself to be. The strangest thing about him was that he did not consider himself gendered or having a sexual identity.

A new night came with a new sunset, leading to new darkness and a long walk to the playground. This was a place he used to go to day camp before he got too old for it. It was down the street from his house and he had ignored it till about four years ago. He realized in the street light and dusk that even though the park was supposed to be closed, it came to life with high school students much like him. They would go here to get into smoking, drinking, and taking little pills that came in many colors and dosages. The first time he had come here was a summer night right before his freshman year, the smell clung to his clothes and he had gotten grounded for a month. But his parents cared less and less the deeper he dug himself. His trips had been pretty normal for his first two years of high school, tripping and smoking until his body shook so violently he simply couldn't move. Then hours would be spent getting back into a normal state so that he could go home again. Some nights had been so bad that he remembered entering the park and then suddenly waking up to the ice cold mornings with the fog hanging around his sweaty, pale, unfit body. This was another one of his addictions, drugs, it added to the nightly activities that he craved. There was a difference, though, when he was high it was something he never wanted to remember or learn about later on, when he was performing his talents he wanted to remember every tiny freckle and hair that surrounded the organs he would never learn about in school.

He picked a little green pill out of his pocket leaned his head back and dropped it down his gaping mouth, a straight shot for his stomach. He didn't need to gulp; there was no gag reflex to stop the small green pill from reaching its destination. He blinked.

"BODY FOUND IN LAKE, more details page 3." The front page of the paper read. Sometimes if the news had been slow an article like this would be printed on the front page, but because of how often people died from boating accidents, or the case had gone unsolved as to who might have caused the "accidents", these bodies meant less and less each time.

"______________ was found floating by the beach this morning. Police said the body had been in the water for at least seven hours if not longer. It had no name or form of identification, and there was no sign of a boat wreck. It is unsure how ____________ died but the out of towner had been seen in the grocery store as well as around the church before police assume he made his way down to the lake to meet his fate. The beach will be closed until further notice."

He left the paper there on the kitchen table unsure of when he got home last night, unsure of where he had gone to as well as how long he had been staring at the newspaper. He must of gotten up to get it from the lawn, where it sat with the dog leash, unused and uncared for. His red trunks still sat in a soggy puddle on the floor from the day before; they never really seemed to be dry. Without the option of lifeguarding today he would have to come up with some other activity. He stepped out of the house in the same clothes he had on the night before, they reeked of skunk and dirt. When the sun hit his face he closed his eyes tight covering them with his still muddy hands. He could hear the memories whispering, floating around his yard like joyful spring birds that wished him to get out the shotgun.

When he opened his eyes he could see them, the spirits, running and playing like their day was still happening even though it had been years since children had played in this yard. They rolled and tumbled, skipping about in the phantom grass. A child about five years old passed through him with a tuft of brown hair that glistened a hint of red in the sun. The little boy's skin was pale and soft but the way the sun hit it instantly warmed it into a glowing radiant color. The little boy turned to face him, and the boy's bright blue eyes caught his cold gray steel gaze. He could read the boys lips as they tried to tell him something but no sound came out, the other children playing called him over. One of them was the same It that had been to the beach many times in the dark of night, another was a girl that had a very familiar but long lost giggle. He could not step or turn or breathe. He was trapped watching something he didn't want to ever think about. A man as tall as him burst through the door and through him. This man's hair was a dark brown and his eyes as cold and gray as his son's. As the man passed through him he could feel rage building up, the boy had returned to the porch unsure why his father was so angry. Their father pushed the boy to the side and stormed down the sidewalk into the car and took off. The child was there lifeless on the cement porch, blood trickling out of him from somewhere unknown. When he finally blinked it was all gone again, he lifted his hand to feel for a scar on his scalp, it was still there. He stormed off the porch and down the street keeping in the shade as much as possible.

Even in the light of sun he could see the cracks and shadows that covered every building that he looked at, each one of them a ghost of its supposed former self. He could force himself to be in the world alone with just a blink of an eye. But he didn't need to, no one was there. The ground was getting wet underneath his feet and his face was becoming moist but there was no rain. He looked up into the bright blue sky and squinted hating the color blue his eyes would turn because of the glowing sun. He became drenched in an instant. He collapsed on the spot and like the wax of a candle his world melted away.

She was there again in the darkness; she was fourteen, with the same giggle slipping out of her crimson lips. She had been dead. So had the child she held inside her, his child. The child that never made it, the child that because he never saw its face he couldn't remember. It was just a bundle of cherry pink blankets. He could not remember her name and refused to bring it from the vaults within his mind.

In the dusk there he was leaning against a tree, a lit cigarette burning bright sending grey smoke into the heavens. Something new had just stumbled upon the collection of isolated souls that included three stoned skater boys, a zanexed goth creature, two girls on LSD that liked finding the new flavors in each other's mouths and the nameless entity with his red tipped smokes. The new thing was a boy with copper tinted brown hair that walked casually over to the tree.
"So this town has a few shadows, huh?" the new boy asked as he got closer to the tree.
"Yea sure what ever."
"Can I have a smoke?" The new boy let his flat palm slip out of his pocket.
"Can you handle it?"
"What's in it?" The boy became more and more curious.
"It's more of the pills…" he grinned.
"Show me what else you got." The new visitor swiped the cigarette and inhaled.
"Kid fuck off this isn't a game, I do this shit to forget."
"What's there to forget?"
"I can't remember. Here take two and call me in the morning, if you're alive." He handed over two pills one green and one blue.
"Does one take me deeper down the rabbit hole." the new boy laughed and smiled.
"Kid I fucking told you this isn't a fucking game, if you wanna lose it all take 'em. If you don't give 'em back, end of story."
"No rabbit hole, no fun."
"Fuck off."

The boy left. This new soul had been saved due to the abrasive nature of the lost soul that would one day die alone in the dark, only to be sent to the place where good souls go because even though he could not save himself, he saved plenty of others.

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