Chapter 28, Leftie
“Well, this is awkward,” I comment to my fellow SS gang member next to me. I can’t say I’m not relieved though. I’m pretty sure I would’ve shitted my pants and found a nice little corner to hide in if a fight actually broke out.
Hein looks over with an unimpressed expression. “It’s not awkward. It’s how things turn out sometimes,” he says.
I snort at my bulky friend. I mean, I’m pretty tall myself, but I don’t bother going to the gym every day like Mr Broody over here. “This is so embarrassing. You were all so ready to fight and die and then boop. Wrong location, come again next time,” I chuckle.
“It’s not embarrassing. We’ll fight another day. And what do you mean by ‘you’. Weren’t you ready to fight and die yourself?” Hein asks. I look over and some of the other Southerners come strolling closer. Ah damn, I’m exposing myself here. If the guys find out what a coward I am, I’ll be the joke of the gang again.
“I’m willing to pew-pew a few Northerners, but I’m not about to game over myself at a wedding,” I answer. An empty wedding at that, I think to myself while glancing around. We’re at some secret venue in the middle of a damn forest with decor and no guests. This really is embarrassing for us. But everyone’s too embarrassed to admit it.
Hein curls his lip at me and I’m all too familiar with the look. It’s the same look everyone hands me when I don’t swear my very life to our leaders. Honestly, Kyle can be as good a guy as Jesus for all I care, but I’m not going to jump in the fire just because he’s asking nicely. Not Chad, no. Maybe I would’ve been more enthusiastic if instead of throwing ourselves into the fire, we only have to roast marshmallows at the fire. Why’s nobody giving us those kinds of orders? Hell, I’d gladly pledge my soul to Kyle if he started giving us orders like: Go take a vacation at the Bahamas or something. Now that’s leadership I can get behind. God, why’s every leader I know always giving out shitty orders?
“Hey, Chad, what’d you say?”
I look over and sure enough, the other guys heard me. Great. Spanner and his friends come sauntering over - hands in the pockets of their matching grey jackets and shoulders pushed back to look more intimidating. Spanner is definitely the one that stands out from the scruffy-looking bunch with his cropped hair and a distinct scar running through his right eyebrow. I heard somewhere the scar has something to do with his gang name.
I sigh. “I just said I’m not throwing my life away in a situation where it isn’t needed,” I answer.
“If Kyle orders you to kill yourself, you should do it. What’s with this piss-poor attitude of yours?” Spanner asks. Whenever Spanner shows up, my mood immediately sours. And trust me, it takes a lot to get my mood down. I thought I managed to become immune to idiots at this point, but alas, it’s a never-ending battle.
“If Kyle orders me to kill myself, he’s not a very good leader now is he?” I counter.
I watch Spanner go red as most of the knuckleheads do when you even hint at not joining the Kyle Cult. Urgh, I’m not saying I’m disobeying orders. All I’m saying is I’m not following unreasonable orders. Don’t these guys get it? When it looks like Spanner is about to punch me, Hein steps in to calm the situation. “Hey, he’s only been in the gang for little more than a year. He doesn’t know what Kyle’s done for us yet. Let the kid go.”
Kid? Kid?!?! I’m eighteen thank you very much.
Though, I am grateful to Hein, because Spanner and his cult leave after one last warning in the lines of me better getting my priorities straight. They go to scour the area. I attempt to thank Hein, but he just goes back to ignoring me. I wouldn’t call the two of us friends, but also not not friends. I mean, he has my back. He’s just not very friendly about it.
I stuff my hands into the pockets of the grey jacket and kick a rock at my feet. Miss D’logiram as well as Kyle are both at the rows of empty seats, talking with the laughing guy who I think is Blake Bowmen. I can’t be sure since I don’t really keep up with who’s who but he looks exactly like Kyle so I can only assume it’s his brother. Southern Sterling’s leaders look nothing short of pissed. Kyle calls over Spanner and his guys and they grab Blake before dragging him away. Oh great, another prisoner who’s piss I’ll have to clean up. Fucking hell, it’s jobs like these that make me want to go back home.
It’s not like I joined Southern Sterling for the same reason as the rest of these guys, but I definitely would’ve reconsidered my options if I knew I’d get such shitty jobs all the time.
“We’re leaving,” Kyle announces to everyone before he and Jane disappears to their cars. Everyone else looks around confused for a few minutes before they reluctantly follow back over the wall and head to the vans. With not much of a choice, I follow Hein as we head to the van we came in. Thank God nothing happened today. I was not prepared to get hurt.
I climb the wall easily before jumping over and walking back the way we came. Already the sun is getting ready to set. And we’ll have to endure another seven or so hours of sitting in a van. Great. This is just great. What a great, useless expedition this was. I almost actually voice my opinions, but then Hein hands me a look that says he can already predict what I’m going to say and I decide that it might be best to keep quiet after all. It would seem that I’m the only one that’s in a good mood right now.
We get into the vans and head back to base. The ride is awkward at best. Everyone’s mood is down so conversation is out of the picture and I already wasted my phone’s battery on the way here so suduko is out of the picture for me. I quite literally twiddled my thumbs to keep me busy. And by the end of it, I concluded that my left thumb was in fact bigger than my right thumb.
“Get out,” Hein says with an angry nudge.
“Oh, we’re here?” I ask and swipe some drool away from my mouth. I had to zone out to get through the whole ride. My sanity was on the verge of abandoning me.
“I WILL HAVE THAT BROTHER OF YOURS PAY FOR WHAT HE DID!” Miss D’logiram yells as she storms towards Kyle.
She must have arrived seconds before us because Kyle was still walking up the steps to the front door of the mansion. He turns around and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Yes, Blake will pay. We will discuss an appropriate punishment tomorrow,” Kyle answers and heads inside.
“You know damn well there’s only one punishment I’ll be satisfied with,” Miss D’logiram growls before following Kyle inside.
Everyone admires Kyle, but I don’t think a single one of these people would want to be him in this situation. Miss D’logiram is famous for being... a lot to deal with. Where Kyle keeps people in line with loyalty and respect, Jane is keeping everyone in line with an iron fist threatening to murder anyone so much as moving an inch out of place. I’m not quite sure which is more effective. Either way, nobody will dare question them. They’re the perfect good cop, bad cop duo.
“Well, everything seems to be in order,” I comment before turning on my heal to look at Hein. “Let’s head to the gang house then. I left dinner in the fridge, with my name on it, and I swear if I don’t get back now, Spanner is going to take it for himself,” I say to Hein.
“How can you think of food when our leader is upset? He had to imprison his own brother,” Hein says.
I roll my eyes. “Yeah but it’s been a really long day and I’ve been in a van for more hours than I’d care for. Right now all I want is food and sleep.”
“Hey, Chad!” someone calls.
I feel my body grow heavier as I turn around to look at who’s calling. “Yeah, what is it?” I ask one of the guards. I think his name is Bill or something. Either way, I’m calling him Bill.
“You’re washing the prisoner at West-Wing,” Bill says.
“What? No way. I’m heading to the Gang house. I’m in charge of feeding the prisoners in East-Wing in any way. West wing is your problem!” I argue.
“Hey, don’t disrespect your senior, kid,” Bill says as he walks up to me. I’m taller than him, but he still hands me a look like I’m somehow inferior. “I told ya’ to wash the prisoner, so you wash the prisoner. I never signed up for giving some prick a bath every other day.”
“See you tomorrow,” Hein says as he starts walking away.
I turn around, betrayed. “Hey, Hein! Don’t leave me! I’m not required to do this. Tell him!” I beg my friend. Hein doesn’t answer and leaves me with Bill instead. Annoyed, I accept the job.
“It’s not like I can refuse him,” I mumble to myself as I make my way to West-Wing. Compared to everyone else, I’m still new. And I’m pretty useless too. I haven’t even spilled blood for our lord and savior, Kyle, yet. It’s not that I’m against murder, it’s just... I can get really squeamish at the sight of blood. I’ll faint with just a mere glance at the stuff.
When I get to the door leading to the basement, I roll up my sleeves. Bill explains the situation and warns me about the prisoner being a tough customer. What get’s my attention however is Bill warning me not to accidentally injure the prisoner. Apparently, Miss D’logiram will have my head for it. The previous guard has been missing ever since he slapped the prisoner in front of her.
Why would someone make such a fuss over a prisoner? I don’t get it.
Deciding to just get this over with, I decent down the stairs. To be honest, I expected the place to smell worse. God knows it’s a shit hole at the East-Wing. The basement is still depressing as hell with concrete walls and plumbing system running across the ceiling, but at least it’s cleaner than what I’m used to. Maybe I should switch locations. I get to the bottom of the stairs and nearly mistake the prisoner for a corpse. Though he’s dressed warmly in a grey hoodie and sweatpants, he’s still tied to the pillar in the center of the room. He’s sitting with his back against the pillar and his head hanging down - making his hair cover his eyes.
“Hey, you’re Shuan right?” I ask.
“See-an,” he corrects without looking up.
“Sean, got it. Well, I’m supposed to take you for a bath or something now.”
“Just leave me,” he sighs lifelessly.
Jeeze, the guy’s got about the same amount of enthusiasm in him as my grandma. And my grandma’s dead. “Yeah, no, as much as I’d love that, Grumpy upstairs has ordered me to take you for a bath. And I’m missing dinner for this so let’s not make this harder than it already is,” I say and move over to untie the guy.
“Let go!” Sean yells, finally lifting his face to glare at me.
Oh look at that, he can have a tantrum. At least there’s some life in him. Then again... he’s cheeks are so sunken in and his eyes are devoid of any light... What happened to this guy? “Not happening,” I say just as I finish untying Sean and scoop him up in my arms. God, my cat back home weighs more than him! Even so, with a broken leg and bony limbs, he still manages to resist. “You can stop slamming me with your fragile little fists now,” I say and start walking to the stairs.
“Let me go! Let go and leave me to die,” Sean insists.
“Die?” I ask, “Aren’t you being dramatic? As prisoners go, you’re having it quite easy.”
Sean doesn’t reply and instead stops struggling. He goes unnervingly quiet and I have to glance down to make sure he’s not actually dead.
“Drama, drama, drama,” I sigh. With little effort, I carry Sean upstairs and pass grumpy with a nod. I take him to the bathroom around the corner and make sure to lock behind us. Kinda awkward to have someone walk in on me giving another dude a bath. Last time I was with a guy in a bath was with my brother, but I was four so that doesn’t really count.
“Okay, there’s no need to feel awkward here,” I say while feeling awkward, “But I will need to undress you and stuff.” I put Sean down on the floor in front of the bath and open the tap to start pouring in some hot water.
“I can do it myself,” Sean says.
“Okay... but I was told to watch you since you have uh, tendencies.”
Sean starts undressing. And I focus on making sure the bath is the right temperature while I keep him in the corner of my eye. Feeling like something’s missing, I straighten up and get bubble bath from the cabinet before adding it to the water.
“Bubble bath?” Sean asks.
“I can’t bath without it,” I admit sheepishly.
“But you’re not the one that’s about to bathe. And I’m a prisoner?”
“You’re a human first and foremost. And it would be inhuman to let you bath without some bubble bath,” I say while dunking the whole bottle of bubble bath in the water. So much for using it sparingly. Oops.
“Hey... uh, can you help with my pants? I can’t bend my left leg,” Sean asks shyly from the floor. He avoids eye contact.
“Uh sure, no problem!” I say and dispose of the babble bath. “Hey, it must suck having your left leg broken. My condolences. That’s like, the best leg,” I comment. I let the water run while I move over to help get Sean’s pants off, as well as his underwear. Not awkward. Not awkward at all.
“I’m right-handed so it isn’t really a problem. I only use my left leg to clutch,” he sighs.
“Ahh... you’re one of those people,” I say.
“So, like most of the population?”
“Yeah. Lefties are where it’s at.”
“Pfft, yeah, said no one ever.”
I smile and leave the comment at that, though when I finally get Sean’s clothes off, I immediately lose the grin. Seeing the guy naked makes me gasp... He’s only skin and bone with a sickly colour to him... His hips and arms are covered in self-inflicted wounds and I can’t help but feel sorry for him when I can count his ribs as easily as I can count my own fingers. What happened to him? Why’s he like this? I look closer and there’s a wound on his chest the shape of a broken heart.
“Dude... you need some pasta. Pasta will fix this,” I tell him.
“Can you just put me in the bath already? It’s cold.”
“Oh, right,” I say and lift him up before gently placing him into the water. The bath fills up so I turn the tap off before just standing there. Feeling a little awkward, I put the toilet seat down and sit there. “Should I wash you or?”
“I can do it myself,” Sean says and takes the bar of soap.
I watch him as he washes himself. The bubble bath has taken over and I can’t help but chuckle when he starts to struggle getting around the mountains of bubbles.
“What’s so funny?” Sean asks.
“Man, maybe I’m a sadist or something, but you’re cute when you struggle like that,” I laugh.
“Cute? What kind of man calls another guy cute?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” I say innocently, “It’s like calling a dog cute.”
“So, now I’m a dog?”
“Something like that,” I chuckle.
Sean glares at me from under his bangs before he sinks a little lower in the tub, to the point where only his eyes can be seen above all the bubbles.
“Are you sulking now?” I ask.
“Can you do me a favor?” Sean changes the subject.
“Can you drown me?”
I’m startled at the question. “Uh, no, I’m not really into that kinda stuff.”
Sean rolls his eyes. “Not in a weird way. You don’t even have to drown me yourself. Just don’t do anything when I drown. Just watch while it happens. Or go away. Doesn’t matter. Humans are great at that either way,” Sean says.
I don’t get angry at his request. Instead, I cross my legs and lean back, relaxed. “Aren’t you tired of that?” I ask.
“Drowning while people watch. It seems like you’ve been doing it for a while,” I comment.
Sean looks at me strangely and I kind of get uncomfortable under his gaze. “Uh, I mean, what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to sometimes be your own hero. Don’t wait for a lifeguard and instead just start swimming on your own. Take life in your own hands. Fuck the rest of the world, y’know?” I explain. Feeling kind of embarrassed about it, I rub the back of my head and hand Sean an awkward smile.
Sean stares at me for another second before he goes back to washing himself. “It’s not so easy,” he says.
I snort. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. You’re not the only one that feels like your life isn’t yours to control,” I say, “Trust me, I’ve had plenty of experience with that.”
Sean doesn’t say anything else and the two of us sit in silence as he finishes up. I use the time to come up with wild conspiracies as to why he is the way that he is. And I start wondering why Miss D’logiram is so protective over him while he’s her prisoner. She’s barely nice to her ‘friends’. Only once Sean’s done and I’ve got him dried, dressed, and back in the basement, does he bother to talk again.
“Hey, Leftie,” Sean says.
I was about to leave, so I turn just before I reach the stairs. “Yeah?” I ask.
“That thing you said about swimming... About taking life in your own hands... Do you really think it’s possible? For a guy like me, I mean.”
I hand Sean a smile. “You’re still here after years of drowning. I think it’s more than possible,” I say.
Sean doesn’t return the smile, but he doesn’t scowl at me either. “Well, goodnight Bubble Boy. Don’t really know if I’ll see you again,” I say and leave the basement.
God, I hope Spanner didn’t eat my dinner.