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Chapter 5 - Family

“So you’re telling me that creep stalked you off the bus too?” She asked in astonishment.

“Yup and vanished just like he did earlier too.” I replied with a sigh.

Elle lived in a cul-de-sac in the nice part of town. The houses made my small house look like a filthy shack. We looked like two dirty hobos who didn’t belong in this magical fancy place. I’ve only been in her house once before, and let me tell you, I didn’t know the definition of loaded till I met her parents. They’ve never even heard of ramen noodles! Not a joke! She has, like, eight bathrooms in the house, three floors, an arcade room with actual arcade stations (her dad’s a huge nerd) and a robot thing that slides on the floor and eats their trash. I guess my dog Fenrir counts as a living trash eater, specifically with food and crumbs though (and the occasional game cartridges.)

Her house was in the middle of the cul-de-sac, and was arguably the biggest. Her house was this giant, pure white mansion looking place. She had column pillars on it and everything. There was balcony where her room was in on the right side of the house, which held most of her paint canvases and buckets. That stained her pure white balcony a shade of rainbow splatter.

“Man, if we see him again we need to call the cops,” She said softly as she fiddled with her thumbs. She seemed to still be a bit worried as she was staring at her hands. I needed to lighten the mood.

“Pffft- I think I’ll just call you, with that monster swing of yours. Who knew those noodle arms packed such a punch?” I said chuckling as I nudged her.

“Oh, shut up!” She said as she playfully shoved me. Then the familiar sound of a motorcycle engine pierced the quiet streets.

I could see the lights of Aden’s motorcycle from down the road now. I could also see the sparkles in Elle’s eyes, as she saw Aden coming down the street. Damn charming. I had completely forgotten about my whole test from earlier. I had missed my window of opportunity. I was just having such a good time laughing... I stood as Aden parked his bike in front of Elle’s house. He took off his helmet and rushed over to us.

“Hey, you both okay? You look like hell.” He commented with a concerned look on his face.

“We’re fine! Totally fine! After all it was just a silly fumble, by our clutz of a friend Elle here!” I announced a bit loudly, as Aden nodded catching my drift quickly. Elle elbowed me with a grunt.

“I mean I’m not surprised. This is the same chick who fell in the lake because a duck scared her”Aden joked with a wink, which genuinely made me laugh. I could see Elle’s face turn a rosy shade of red now as Aden and I got a good laugh out.

“Oh! This is coming from the guy who almost broke his phone over an ant crawling on his arm.” I kid you not, I about died at the memory of Aden’s girlish screams. He freaked out and swung his arm around like a lunatic, almost flinging his phone into a tree. Luckily, he missed.

Soon after all the laughing, we said our goodbyes and went to leave. I gave Elle a quick side hug, and Aden gave her a hug as well. But this was a full hug, a full, long hug. I sighed and walked over to his motorcycle’s sidecar and stared up at the stars, trying not to think about it.

But the thoughts just chased me down, I couldn’t help but think about it. Aden and Elle, Aden and Elle. Here I am, after being chased through the woods by a crazed lunatic, and all I can think about is how I wish Elle would look at me, the way she looked at him. It was always this way, charming in the limelight and me on the side lines. I was always a shadow in his shining presence. It reminded me of the first time I played football willingly, I wanted to impress my dad. But all he could do was praise Aden for being an all star.

“I guess the nickname Batman really does fit me,” I said softly to myself. I leaned against the smooth cold surface of the sidecar. I could see Aden waving goodbye to Elle as I tried to perk myself up. What was I even doing? Feeling sorry for myself? I grabbed the helmet in the sidecar and strapped it on before hopping in. I relaxed myself and tried to move my thoughts elsewhere.

“Hey, mind if we hang at my place for a bit? I gotta finish up some stuff,” Aden asked as he hopped on the bike fixing his hair. I just shrugged and looked back at the sky.

“I don’t mind, it’s not like my dad’s gonna care,” I replied.

He nodded and put his helmet on and revved his bike. Soon enough we were off. I decided to try and focus on the creep. Trying to decipher what it is he could want. However I had nothing. The only person I pissed off (besides the people who hate my jokes) was Jesse. That man could’ve been an old graduate or family friend of his. He had to be local if he knew the woods so well. But that still didn’t explain his rather odd behavior.

Plus my physical reaction to it. I’m a logical person, but when I’m near this guy, all I can think about is running or fighting. Granted I’ve never been in this situation before, so I don’t really know how I’d react. But I would imagine I’d handle it a lot better than what I did. But just the sight of him, it makes my skin crawl. Not to mention running on all fours, and his great Houdini disappearing act. I could just chop all it up to being an odd creep, who decided to fixate on me. But this feeling in my stomach. I can’t just ride it off. I sat there and let my mind wonder, trying to see if there were any details I had overlooked.

“Earth to Eden!” Aden called out to me in my ear, which made me jump. “We have arrived.” He chimed as he parked his bike in his driveway.

Aden’s house was decently big. He lived near the woods so his backyard was more or less vast wilderness after a bit. His house was two stories high and a light blue and white color. This place was spotless, like straight from the catalog spotless. You’d think being surrounded by so much nature would cause issues, but no. They kept this place shiny and clean. Aden and his mom worked on keeping this place clean almost every day. It never ceases to amaze me every time I come over. Aden put his helmet on his bike handle and I tossed mine in the sidecar.

“Geez did you guys polish the walls?” I asked jokingly, but Aden just didn’t reply. His chipper smile and relaxed demeanor was gone. He looked like a man on a mission now. He ran up the white wooden steps to his door, and hurried inside. I quickly followed behind and Immediately I was hit with the smell of sweet vanilla. Like someone was baking right next to me.

“You can hangout in my room for a bit, I gotta finish in the kitchen,” He said as he took his shoes off at the door. I took my shoes off and nodded as he sped walked off into the kitchen. I slowly crept my way down the hall after him. Something wasn’t right. I looked around the corner into their fancy chrome styled kitchen, and my mouth drooled like Niagara Falls. There were stacks of cookies, brownies and cupcakes on the table. Aden was swiftly putting on his kiss the cook apron and dashed over to his fridge.

“Awww,” I whispered to myself. He must’ve gone all out for my birthday. A smile slowly etched its way onto my face, as I walked back down the hall.

I walked upstairs to his room. It was a pretty basic room. White walls, a black bed frame with a bookshelf built into the frame (those poor books that have never seen the light of day.) One big flat screen TV on a black wooden stand. And one Huge window, that was basically a wall overlooking the woods. I sat on the wooden floor and knocked on the floorboards, until I heard the lovely hollow sound I’ve been looking for. I used my nails to hold onto the sides of the wood and pulled upwards. Then I pulled a few more up and found the hidden treasure. Games, comics, manga, and hundreds of magic cards. Aden had a stash of his hidden nerd stuff. I grabbed an old Batman comic and put the wood back. I plopped onto his nicely made bed and made myself at home. That is, I tried to make myself at home.

Soon after I heard a car pull up in the driveway, I figured it was his mom and got up to say hey. I set Aden’s comic down on his bed stand, and headed to the door. But I stopped as I heard multiple guys laughing outside. Then it all became clear to me, the cleaning, the baking. It was Aden’s brothers coming home to visit.

I groaned when I made the realization. The heck were the three stooges doing here so early in the year? They usually visited on weekends or holiday breaks. I opened the door and saw the three of them walking in the house. And to my surprise one of them had a girl around his arms (the first sign of the apocalypse). His brothers names were Dustin, Jeremy and Alex.

Dustin and Jeremy were twins, however you could tell them apart by their height. Dustin was the tallest brother, and the most built. Jeremy was pretty fit too, but he was more of a pretty boy then anything else. They both had dirty blonde hair, but jeremies was longer. He had his tied back in a man bun. He was wearing all name brand clothing from American Eagle. Dustin wasn’t to into fashion,he had on a simple white Tee and jeans.

Then there was Alex, he was the youngest of the two, and the least athletic of the bunch. He definitely was the black sheep of the family. Alex had died his hair blue and black a few months back. He was one of those, aesthetic style type of people. I could sometimes get along with him, he was a pretty chill guy. He was more into his music than anything else. He was the one with a girl around his arm. Oh, and all three of them have a British accent, fun fact.

“Hey Aden were home!” Jeremy called out chipperly into the house. I hated his voice, it was like the guy hadn’t hit puberty yet.

“Oh! Hey! I’m almost done with all those snacks you asked for.” Aden called back to him from the kitchen.

I walked down the steps slowly and the brothers turned my way and noticed me. Alex smiled slightly and waved my way. I gave him a small smile back and waved. I looked over to the twins, and I could see Dustin’s jaw clench as he squinted at me. Jeremy just looked over to Dustin raising his brow at him.

“Oh isn’t it old Bean sprout? What are you doing here?” Dustin asked me with genuine shock in his voice.

“What’s it’s to you?” I spat back. Dustin stepped up to the steps and I stepped down more to meet him, my eyes staring daggers back at his.

“I’m sorry! It’s Edens birthday and-” Aden had scurried out of the kitchen now with a tray of cupcakes in his hand. He stopped mid sentence once he saw us. Dustin averted from my gaze to look back at Aden. He cleared his throat and slowly stepped down from the steps.

“Well I promised Alex it just be family here.” Dustin said softly as he walked over to Aden. As he stopped in front of Aden, I could see just how much taller he had gotten then him. Aden was a just a few inches shorter.

“It’s not a big deal Dustin.” Alex said with a bit of agitation now. His eyes were going back and forth between his girl and Dustin.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t know-” Aden was cut off by Dustin.

“Well you’ve made me look like a liar now. Ya know mom wouldn’t be happy to-”

“Come on bro, it’s not that big a deal.” Alex attempted to speak up again. But Dustin just rolled his eyes at him.

“Please! Leave her out of this. I made the mistake alright?” Aden pleaded now. He looked back up at his brother with a desperate look in his eyes.

“I guess I can” Dustin said as he tapped his finger on his chin. I could see a smirk slowly form on his face.” But what do we do to make sure you learn a lesson huh?”

“Let me take a joy ride on his bike!” Jeremy called out. He had his hand raised up like a kid in a classroom. I could see Dustin nodding in approval of the idea. I looked over to Aden as I could see his grip tighten on the tray he was holding. I knew how much that bike meant to him. The last time he took his bike out for a joy ride, he lost the front tire..

“Hey wait!” I called out grabbing all the attention in the room. Dustin squinted his eyes at me and groaned.

“Stay out of it, bean sprout!” Dustin snarled back at me.

“Hey, I got about thirty bucks on me, and a coupon I been saving for a rainy day at Ambrosia. Leave his bike alone and you all get ten each. Plus Alex can treat his girl to a free meal. Deal?” I asked as I stared into Dustin’s eyes. I could tell he didn’t want to cave, but I knew he wouldn’t turn down my offer.

“Eden you don’t have to do that.” Aden spoke up. I glanced over at him for a moment and gave him a smile. I really, really didn’t want to give away my coupon. But I knew Dustin would be more willing if I offered something to Alex. He had a soft spot for him.

“Fine, fine, I’ll take your deal instead ” Dustin groaned as he slowly stomped over to me. I took out the money and the coupon and held it out for him. He looked into my eyes for a moment and then snatched the money and coupon from me.

“Now can you back off?” I asked as I crossed my arms looking at him.

“What was that short stuff? You say something?” He asked getting closer to my face now.

“I said, back, off.” I looked back into his eyes again. He got another smirk on his face now as he started poking my chest.

“Think your so tough little man?” He asked as he stepped up on the steps to me. He was towering over me now. He then proceeded to ram his finger into my chest again, and again. I was trying to hold myself back from sparta kicking him down the steps. I knew violence wasn’t smart right now, but I was at my limit with him. I smacked his hand away from my chest.

“Ya know, I would insult you back, but I think mother nature has already done such a fine job. I just couldn’t compete.” I could hear Alex chuckle a bit but Dustin just rolled his eyes at me. “Oh! Keep rolling your eyes! Maybe you’ll find a brain back there!” That’s when I heard Jeremy, Alex and his girlfriend chuckling now.

“You gonna let this maggot insult you like that bro?” Jeremy asked between chuckles. I could see Dustin’s jaw clench as glared back at me. I could trace the veins on his billboard forehead start to pop, as he grunted lowly. I could see him lurch his arm back now, he was gonna try to punch me. I smirked and readied myself to weave it.

“That’s it you little shi-” Suddenly Aden yanked his brother back. He tripped him from behind and threw him to the floor. Dustin dropped like a rock to the floor. Aden followed up by ramming his knee into his chest. Aden dropped to the floor and stepped on his wrist. He used his free hand to hold his other arm down and looked down at him.

“You can mess with me all you want, but you won’t lay a damn finger on Eden!” Aden yelled to Dustin who was now groaning in pain. I could see him struggling to get up now, but Aden had him pinned. I looked over and I could see Jeremy moving like he was gonna attack Aden. But I hopped down the steps and intercepted him.

“Ah, ah, ah. Where do you think your going barbie?” I asked as I popped my knuckles. ” You know it’s been a good couple years since me and Aden teamed up on you guys like this. And I’ll be glad to remind you how that felt.”

“Eden lay off.” Aden called out to me. I could hear him stand up from his brother who was now having a coughing fit. I looked over to Aden who had an oddly somber look to him.

“You done it now. Wait till dad hears this.” Dustin coughed out. Then I could see Aden’s shoulders slump down. His arms hung down to his side in a defeated manner as he seemed to be thinking intently.

“Get out. Now.” Aden demanded.

“I guess you really stopped caring about that old harlot huh?” Jeremy happily chimed in. I could see Aden tense up as he said that. His fists were balled and I knew he wanted to throttle him. “ I guess we’ll just skip visit-”

“Forgive me. I’ll take Eden home and I’ll make it up to you, whatever you want. Just, please, leave mom out of this.” Aden said softly. He hung his head in defeat as he stared to the floor.

“Yeah, I think that be a good idea.” Dustin grunted as he stood and dusted himself off.

“Come on Eden.” Aden said softly as he walked to the door. I was confused, this was not the time to give in to their crap! They needed to learn a lesson.

“Aden!” I yelled back to him. “” We need to-”

“Eden! Please, ” I could hear his voice crack a little as he spoke. I never seen Aden so fragile before. I decided to drop it for now and followed him to the door. Aden hurried and got on his bike. He started it up and I got into the sidecar.

“Aden, I’m sorry I opened my big mouth.” I said softly as he revved his bike. He didn’t bother looking at me, he just put his helmet on.

“It’s fine. I know you were just trying to look out for me. But please next time, stay out of it.” I could feel the anger and hurt in his voice.

I put my helmet on, and he sped off into the night. We didn’t say a word to each other going home, or when he dropped me off. He just looked so worried and frustrated. I wish I could’ve done something, but there was nothing to say or do. I messed up. All because I let that guy get under my skin..

I walked back to my room and something was off. There was this horrible stench in the house, and it only got worse the closer I got to my room. I opened my door and turned on my lights. Guess who decided to leave me a present? My wonderful dog! He left me a bunch of turd nuggets! All. Over. My bed. So I managed to piss off my best friend and make his already hard life even harder. My dad’s forcing me to join a football team. My dog has crapped all over my bed! The girl I love might love my best friend! And to put the cherry on top of this craptastic birthday cake, I have a creepy stalker trying to attack me. Yup, what a great way to end my birthday. But after what I did to Aden, maybe this is what I deserve.

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