“Hey, where’s your mom tonight? I was hoping to meet her,” Kayla asked when I answered the door.
“She got called in early tonight. Again,” I said with a deep sigh, “Come on in.”
“Man, that really sucks.”
“Yep. I’m sure you’ll meet her soon enough, though. She works a lot. She wanted me to invite you to dinner next Friday.”
“Okay cool. Sounds good,” Kayla said as I closed the front door and led her to the living room. “Hey, so are you ever going to tell me more about the mystery guy?”
“Mystery guy? What mystery guy?” I said, trying evade her questions as we settled down on the couch to watch a movie.
Kayla rolled her eyes at me, not fooled, “You know who. Jude? Aside from his name, you’ve told me absolutely nothing about him. I’m like dying here.”
“Okay. What do you want to know?”
“Anything at all would be great,” she said with a laugh, “I’m starting to think you made him up or something.”
“Shoot. Forgot the popcorn and drinks. Be right back,” I said jumping up to get the refreshments and snacks, thankful for the welcome break from twenty questions.
“Okay,” she drawled, crossing one leg over the other, “But when you come back, you’re going to spill your guts. I do not give up easily, mister.”
“I can tell,” I mumbled under my breath, from the kitchen before heading back into the living room.
“Yay! I’m excited we’re doing this. I have been dying to see this one,” Kayla grinned, popping some popcorn in her mouth, dropping some into her lap.
“Pig,” I teased, plopping down next to her.
“Shut up,” she laughed, nudging me, “So?”
I sighed feeling pressured, “There isn’t much to tell. We haven’t talked in a week and a half.”
“Whoa, why? Big fight?” She said, eying me curiously.
“No. He just hasn’t been around lately,” I munched on the salty snack and tried to mask my sadness.
“Have you tried texting or calling?” She pressed.
“Uh...he has no phone,” I said evasively, deliberately avoiding eye contact.
She scoffed, “No phone? How about social media?”
“Nope,” I muttered.
“Let me guess. No computer? No Wi-Fi?” She said mockingly.
“Right. Crazy,” I said, sipping my soda and peeking at her from the corner of my eye.
“Is he from a third world country or something? Who doesn’t have a phone or Wi-Fi?” She ranted.
“I don’t know,” I dodged, pointing to the television, “Hey, look it’s starting.”
She growled in frustration, but grew more excited as she watched the opening credits to the new horror flick “Bedside Manor.”
“What’s this movie about again?”
She paused mid bite to turn towards me, mouth agape, “Dude! Have you been living under a rock? It’s only the supposed to be the scariest horror flick of the year. Just watching the trailer gave me nightmares.”
“I play video games, remember? I don’t watch much television,” she narrowed her eyes at me in protest, “It’s not that unheard of, you know.”
“Yeah, I guess not,” she said with a shrug, leaning forward to focus on the movie, adding as an afterthought, “But it’s still pretty weird.”.
It was pretty intense and gory. I loved it, but she kept shushing me, which got on my nerves. I like asking questions out loud and she likes watching movies in complete silence. So, I took a quick bathroom break from the movie, not wanting to be gone too long. It was a great flick, but I liked to hash out details during movies and Kayla was the opposite.
“Boo,” came a soft whisper by the sink.
I didn’t see him at first when I looked around, then there he was, right in front of my face, “Ahhh! What the heck dude?”
“You should have seen your face, man. Classic,” Jude said, popping out of the mirror to sit on the sink.
I laughed, trying to slow my racing heart, “I have to admit that was a pretty cool trick.”
“Why thank you,” he blew on his nails and buffed them on his shirt, smirking all the while.
“So, what are doing here? I haven’t seen you in forever,” I said with my eyebrows raised, curiosity filling my voice.
“Thanks for the warm welcome,” he said in mock offense, “I can leave it’s inconveniencing you, you know? Just say the word.”
I snorted, lowering my voice to a whisper, “You know that’s not how I meant it.”
“Why are we whispering?” Jude asked, leaning in, his eyebrows raised, wearing a toothy grin. He was so adorably annoying.
“My friend Kayla is in the living room watching a movie. I can’t talk right now,” I said, hoping he knew how much I wanted to hang out with him.
“Oh. So, you do want me to go?” Jude said, sitting up straighter and narrowing his eyes into little slits.
“Not at all, but I can’t outright talk to you while she’s here. At least not without explaining what’s going on and I don’t even know how to begin a conversation that complicated right now.”
“She can’t know about me. No one can. That’s how they find you,” Jude said, his mood darkening considerably, as did his unusually icy blue eyes.
“What? I mean, I guess I agree, but why did you say it like that? What’s going on that you aren’t sharing with me? Is someone after you?” I asked in a hushed tone as I sat on the closed toilet seat to better see his face.
“Nothing I can discuss with you,” Jude said, floating into a standing position and poking his head through the door. “Now, let’s get a good look at this friend of yours. I only caught a glimpse last time.”
“Wait, I don’t think-” I started to protest, but he was already gone.
“Wow. The hair is interesting. I like it,” Jude pointed out as I entered the living room, perched on the armrest next to her.
I sat back down next to Kayla, attempting to ignore the uninvited guest to the best of my ability, even though he was all I could think about. “So, what did I miss?”
“Oh not much. Just the set up. But I can rehash it for you if you want.” Kayla took a sip of her drink, not taking her eyes off the screen for longer than a second or two at a time. “The doctor is actually a serial killer who kidnaps patients once they’re released and carves them up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. It’s so awesome.”
“Well, that is just disgusting,” Jude said, to which I nodded in agreement.
What I actually said though was, “Ewww. Gross.”
“Well, I think it’s pretty freaking amazing,” Kayla said quietly with a smirk, mindlessly shoveling popcorn into her mouth, once more absorbed with the movie.
“Your friend is pretty sick and twisted, you know that?” Jude asked, moving to sit beside me. I shivered at the coldness, “I kind of like her though.”
“I’m going to go get some more soda, do you want anything?” I asked Kayla while gesturing with my head at Jude as discreetly as possible, indicating to him to follow me.
“Nope, I’m good thanks.”
“I have to agree with her. I can’t tear myself away from this movie. Who knew something so gruesome, could be so fantastic? It’s actually got some pretty great plot points,” Jude commented, turning to me with a slow grin spreading across his face that made me think he was up to no good.
I cleared my throat and gestured again, but Jude shook his head at me and laughed in delight. My eyes flashed in anger and he either didn’t see or simply ignored the fact that I was upset with him. Either way, I was pretty peeved about the whole situation. I walked to the fridge, trying my best not to stomp like a pouty baby of course. I grabbed my soda and shut the fridge. I didn’t know how to make him leave. Which was ironic because before our last encounter, all I could think of was spending more time with him, but today he seemed so different. He was sarcastic and bitter, more so than usual.
“Oh my freaking god!” Kayla shouted, making me jump.
“What’s wrong?” I said rushing into the room to see what was up, thinking Jude had done something horrible that I’d have to try to explain.
“She’s still alive! I can’t believe it,” Kayla shrieked, actually looking surprised at the revelation.
“Scared you, didn’t she Kai? Wow, you sure are jumpy tonight. You think you’d have seen a ghost or something,” Jude teased, winking at him, “Seriously though, this girl is a hoot. She’s been sucked into the boob tube all evening. I think I may even like her.”
“Boob tube? Really? What century are you from?” I mumbled under my breath at Jude, who rolled his ghostly eyes at me.
“Well, when you figure that out, why don’t you tell me?” Jude countered.
“Did you say something?” Kayla asked, turning to look at me distractedly.
“It was nothing,” I said and Kayla nodded, turning her attention back to her horror movie.
“Hey Kai. Watch this,” Jude said as he hopped off the armrest to lift a book off of the end table beside the couch, dropping it with a loud thwack onto the hardwood floor.
Kayla jumped, shrieking like a little girl and then slapping a hand over her mouth, “What the--? What was that?”
“Looks like a book fell off the coffee table.” I nodded towards the floor, then turning to glare at Jude, my gaze laced with fury.
“Good God, I almost had a heart attack. Where’s your bathroom?” Kayla asked, standing up, her breathing a little heavier.
“Over there. Down the hallway, last door on the left.”
“She may have peed herself a little,” Jude chuckled, leaning in to whisper in my ear, even though there was no real reason for it. Kayla couldn’t hear him.
“What are you doing?” I said angrily, trying to keep my voice low.
“Relax. I’m having some fun is all,” he shrugged and zoomed around the room, just for the fun of it I guess.
“Well stop. Please? I want to hang out with you too, but I can’t exactly do that with her here,” I said pleadingly.
“Tell her to go home then,” he demanded, a hardness taking over his expression, “Then we can be alone.”
“No way. The movie isn’t over yet and I shouldn’t have to just because you’re being sulky.” I grunted, pausing to take a deep breath to abate my anger, “I’m sorry, Jude. She’ll go home soon. Then we can talk.”
“Promise?” Jude’s eyebrows folded together like that of a child, his eyes sad and large as he stuck his lower lip out in a pout.
“Yes, I promise, but you need to stop making things float and stuff. Deal?”
“Deal,” he said with a grin, extending his hand. I just looked at him and he laughed, “Oh yeah. Right. Forgot.”
I rolled my eyes and masked a chuckle with my hand as Kayla came out of the bathroom, whispering to Jude, “Behave yourself, please.”
“Scout’s Honor,” Jude said with a grin as he held up three fingers in the universal Boy Scout hand gesture.
I furrowed my brows together as I stared at him, incredulous at the familiarity of his words. They were the same thing my dad said to me the night of the accident to get me into the car. Was this some kind of bad omen?
“Did I miss anything good?” Kayla asked pointedly as she plopped back down on the couch.
“Uh no, not really,” I replied, glad she couldn’t see my embarrassed blush in the dark, because I wasn’t paying attention to the story while she was in the bathroom.
“Cool. You okay?”
“You seem quiet tonight is all.”
“Tired I guess. Sorry,” I answered, not really telling a lie since Jude was an exhausting handful, a fulltime job all by himself.
“We can pick this up later if you want,” Kayla offered, concern flashing in her eyes.
“Sounds good to me,” Jude said with a wink.
“No, that’s okay. It’s only got a half hour left. I don’t want to bail before the end of the movie.”
“You sure?” Kayla asked, an eyebrow cocked.
“Kai, I thought we were going to hang out,” Jude said, looking slightly deflated. “Are you too tired to talk after she leaves?”
“No,” I replied without thinking.
Kayla glanced over at me weird, one eyebrow raised, “No, you don’t want to finish the movie?”
“Huh? No, I’m sorry. I do. Just ignore that,” I said waving my hand in a shooing motion.
“Okay then,” she laughed, “You must really be tired if you’re answering the voices in your head.”
I chuckled, looking at Jude for a moment, “Yeah I guess so.”
Kayla turned back to the movie, absorbed in what she was watching. I slumped against the back of the couch, fully aware Jude was watching me from the other side of the room. Sometimes he seemed to get moody and odd, while other times he was cheerful and playful. But I suppose that happens when you’re dead and only one person can see you. It must be pretty tough. I made a silent vow to myself that I would help him figure things out, find his light if necessary. That thought made me the most sad.
We watched the rest of the movie, mostly in silence, only accompanied by Kayla’s reactions and our banter. Jude was pretty quiet as he actually waited patiently for us to finish the movie. I was pretty surprised.
“Wow. That was not the ending I thought we were going to get stuck with when we started watching this,” Kayla said, standing up, picking up her bowl and cup.
“Yeah I know, me neither,” I said turning off the television, yawning loudly as I also got my dishes and walked with Kayla to the kitchen sink.
“I thought for sure they were going to kill the evil doctor, but it went a completely different direction.”
“Who would have thought that the main character was actually involved in all the killings from the very beginning?” I put the dishes in the sink, starting the water.
“Right? Need any more help cleaning up?” Kayla offered.
“No I’m good, won’t take long to load up the dishwasher.”
“Okay cool. Well thanks for the invite. I should probably get going so you can get some rest,” she said, hugging me tight.
“Okay. No problem. We’ll have to make this a weekly thing or something.” I hugged her back, wetting the back of her shirt with a half full cup of juice, “Oh my gosh, sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she chuckled, shaking her head, “Can’t wait, it was fun. See you later.”
“I’ll walk you out,” I said, following her to the door.
“Such a gentleman,” Jude said with a grin.
“Bye, Kai. It was fun,” she said, opening the door.
“It was. See ya,” I replied.
We both jumped out of our skin to see a figure standing in the doorway, in the dark, silhouetted by only the lamplight.