The copy of “The Aquarian Drunkard” that Francis had brought back from Washington was beaten, the spine only hanging on by a few select pages. I stick my face into the book taking in the smell of it. Feeling transported to its original Long Island home where Elizabeth Milloy (whose name is scrawled just before the first page) would sit alongside the Shinnecock Canal until her eyes would be strained from reading all day. Then travel back home, bypassing all her chores and homework to instead finish the book in the wee hours of the morning. With thoughts of how wonderful it will be to reread over and over comforting her to sleep.
I try not to wake Francis as I slip out of bed again, quietly working my way into the living room. I pull the curtains to expose a new day, seeing the gang of dark skinned 20- something’s standing outside the Red Barn parking lot. Their leader Maxwell Maxwell swinging around his trademark aluminum bat. He glances up to my window and gives me the intense death stare that only he could give.
I had heard about Maxwell’s gang here and there throughout the year but had never seen them. Many stories were tossed around about how they would almost to the point of torture beat their victims. Toying with them, dangling false hope then beating whoever senseless with that very aluminum bat Maxwell was so handy with. David once told me about the time they attacked Claire Farlow. He said he heard it from someone who was there but I’m sure if you ask that person they would say the same. The story goes that Maxwell liked Claire quite a lot, which is a problem with him being 27 and she not even close to 18. I’m told he followed her around, trying to pick her up every chance he got but to no avail. After school basketball games, after her family was done unloading the car from shopping, during an oral report in her history class where he told the teacher that he was a relative trying to surprise her. She called the cops several times on him but it was only an attempted deterrent
The night Maxwell attacked Claire she was helping replace the old chairs in Sky View 6 with the owners. They were only halfway done when she was told to go home and they would finish the next
day. Claire took notice of how the winter was starting to fade into spring. Letting Astin Springs return to its natural state of stillness as opposed to the unpredictable weather encountered in the
months prior. Maxwell was waiting outside in the shadows; he would have been invisible if not for the fluorescent green shades. By the time she was halfway across the street he was on her
like a dog on raw meat. Chasing her into the nearby ally, he corners her quickly. The sounds of her cries and pleas for help echo out into the street but no help arrives. Maxwell raises his right
hand in a god like fashion in an attempt to calm her frantic trembling, trying to place it upon her cheek only to have it rejected and slapped away.
This is where details get fuzzy. Depending on who told you, Maxwell would then become enraged at her rejection for his touch. Deciding to do away with the aluminum he has become accustomed to and deliver a more personal punishment. Instead having his right hand repeatedly glide ever so gracefully into Claire’s nose to create a river like flow of blood, Swift kicks to the face that tear apart her vocal chords, then finally deciding he can wait no longer and puts it upon himself to be the man he thinks she has always wanted.
The other theory goes along the same lines only the ending is different. Before Maxwell can get to her, she draws a knife bringing it to her defense against whoever should try, the click of it opening sending him into a frenzy. He takes an ill-fated step and Claire slices his arm wide open. His face slams into the ground shattering his Ray-Bans into vibrant pieces. The screams and wails overpowering any and all sounds in the neighborhood just long enough for her to get away. Maxwell now unrecognizable with the amount of blood on the ground giving the appearance of a newly formed lake.
Sound begins to stir from the bedroom and realize my effort at being silent has failed. I go into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. Turning on the shower, I let the room fill up with steam before I take even a sock off. The tub is just big enough for me to sit down crisscross, bowing my head the warm water rains from the showerhead. This is my 3rd shower already; I use them as an escape.
Nothing on TV? Take a shower
Read 2 chapters? Take a shower
Can’t Sleep? Take 2 showers
The showers are generally very short, only last five or so minuets but I’m often in there for hours at a time. I thought about how long it would take for everyone to forget about me. Coming out of the bathroom to find 50 years have passed but I haven’t aged a day. I sit until the water runs cold or my legs begin to nod off. Then I just lay back and get lost in how beautiful the ceiling tiles are. Everything wet drying by the air, running my fingers through my long hair that hasn’t been cut in 7 months.
“Are you okay?” Francis says giving 3 quiet taps on the door “I hope you didn’t fall in”
“No I’m alright. I’ll be out in a sec”
“Well, There are some things I have to do today. If you want I could wait if you wanna come with?”
I don’t answer. Thinking of reasons why staying home would be better than venturing out into the world.
Yeah. God forbid something life changing were to happen in the bathroom
I let out the remaining air in my lungs and stand up looking at the naked reflection in the mirror. Admiring nothing, seeing how easy a body can be destroyed
“Where are you planning on going?” I ask
“Just come with me!”
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