Speak & Listen

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SERENITY IN WAR

SERENITY IN WAR...

To be quite honest, I could feel from the tension in, from bone to marrow, that this was the part of the story when the protagonist’s life began falling apart. I was now thee protagonist of my story, who began as a naive boy who didn’t understand his very own mind, who felt isolated from his own mind and body. Now I feel the burden of being human, the burden of sweat and sensation, the heaviness of my skin.

Now, everything wasn’t a secret. I had spent my entire summer vacation in conflict with my abuser who happened to be my mother, Cynthia. Then, after her disappearances and relapses, a man who I considered to be a loyal, loving man took me in. An acrimonious man who had a fire set, ready to burn me in it as he rejected me because of his insecurities after killing a boy we all wanted dead. Before that, I was a witness in the death of five victims from my school who four of them were my well-known rapists.

I, later on, was first-hand responsible for the death of my fifth rapist, Niall Johnson who happened to be the half-brother of who I considered being not just a friend, but an embodiment of my father...Gabriel Greene. The Judas of the story, who sold the protagonist for financial benefit. Understandably, I would have done the same as well if it was an attempt to escape excessive abuse from Cynthia.

After thinking everything is over when dad took me in, more secrets unravelled. Things got more complicated when Alejandro finally told him that the man who helped him escape Egypt was Charles Greene, who he worked for for months. The story was still true, that he was homeless before being found by David. However, the money he stole from Gabriel’s father didn’t last him for up to 22 years from 16 years of age. By 20, he lived on the streets of Alex and apparently stole purses or wallets to survive, sometimes he involved himself in hacking jobs as a discreet incognito on the internet to help other people steal money so he could be paid money.

When David found him, Alejandro Mostafa, he worked for him when it came to highly sophisticated technological stuff which involves hacking and other various online illicit methods of getting money. David does not feel at all apologetic for this, for she managed to maintain financial balance and best quality of life intended for his then-wife and son. I have to admit, I was not mad at him for the kind of business he and Alejandro were involved in. Maybe I had lost the ability to be shocked or astonished by any news concerning illicitness and crime. Besides, even if Cynthia was to kick me out, I would have lived comfortably in a private motel for a while til I get a job. I had a car too that David bought for me, and not Cynthia.

Alejandro was most of the summer in and out of the house, as David’s tail and trail of footsteps. He followed where Dad went. The shy character he had at first was a facade to me commanded by my father until I understand the whole story. Yup, it’s fucked up as it sounds.

I was always left with Gabriel in the house, who made sure I did not exit the house. This was a few days after Benjamin’s death and everyone thought I was crazy, except Alejandro Mostafa and David, my father. My friends, on the other hand, Gabriel included, was instructed to make sure I do not leave the house. They were planning something David had promised to tell me about once verified and through; it had something to do with diverging attention away from me but to someone else, who I still am not informed about. Between Walter from Bellington, who I knew, and Sophia...I couldn’t guess otherwise.

My father now HATED Sophia the more Alejandro informed him about everything. All I knew, which opinionatedly was nothing more than stupidity, was that she was back with Matthew, the unhygienic bastard who not only cheated on her for a less obese woman but embarrassed her in front of Ryan Hunter, involving her in a dangerous world of crime and later on, throwing her away like a used condom. I was there. I saw the misery and heartbreak and the apathy she had.

I would have sympathized with Sophia if my first love wasn’t Alan. Alan, although was a dick at first, seemed to be very supportive and literally texting every day to see if I was okay since I was prohibited from making contact with the outside world. Jason too, who even called just to check up on me. Jeremiah would also call, but like Gabriel, he found phone calls cheesy. He texted, A LOT. Mia...not so much. She had said her father is getting more sick and just yesterday, he was taken by an ambulance to the ER.

Did I go to the ER to morally support my friend? No. Everyone was there beside Gabriel and I.

“Can I come in? Is the crazy over?” Gabriel knocked timidly on my open door.

Oh yeah, I went a bit crazy from the day Benjamin died until yesterday, at which I felt better. I threw a lamplight at Gabriel, blaming him for everything. But Gabriel was in a world where he was trying to change so bad, but the world did not let him. I too have a blaming and a part in me that still remained unforgiving for the things he did to others, but as I have said, for the act of treason he attempted against me, I have wholeheartedly forgiven him.

“Yes...” I scratched my head awkwardly. “And sorry about that.”

“You’d think I don’t get it, but I actually do.”

I then remembered that he suffers from ADHD. “I get it. I just don’t get why I’m caged like this. Charles will kill me in my own home if he wanted to. I think it’s you he’d be looking for, but...” I trailed off. “He didn’t kill you when he had the chance. Your dad was furious, Gabriel. I don’t understand what this feud between dad and Charles is. Did dad steal Charles girlfriend back in college or something?” I groaned.

“Charles had been that way before even you and I were born...this isn’t about me, because I certainly know he hates me or you, because more than your father, he’s after you because of Niall...probably.” He handed out his hands. I didn’t know if I could confide in those hands again.

But Alejandro was right. I was one naive motherfucker. I took his hands as he sat on my bed now. “We’ll get through this, Adrian. But now most of us haven’t paying attention to your mental state. This isn’t caging you, but making sure that you get better...mentally. Healthier. You’ve seen more than you were supposed to...”

“Okay okay...I understand that part but...Benjamin...he’s dead and...he never apologized for the things he did to me. Gabriel, if Jeremiah had turned his back on me and everyone else that night he kicked me out, I was going to remain homeless.”

“You have Mia...you have Jason...”

I looked at him by the mention of Jason. “There’s something about Jason that...remains mysterious and subsequently weird about him. He’s always the guy to call, always there. But...I wonder if he ever needs anyone. Can you imagine him, at least, crying?”

He shook his head. “Maybe he’s just one of those selfless people who never really go through shit. Or if he does, he’s able to deal with it on his own.”

I smiled. “But you have to admit...”

He looked back at me with an eyebrow-furrowed smile.

“Jason and Alejandro are brain-sickly beautiful men.” I shrugged.

He laughed. “Eeeh, Jason may not be my type...I can’t see the ‘beautiful’ everyone’s talking about. He’s athletic, has a creepy Jim Carrey grin when he smiles or laughs and his eyelashes are huge. I think y’all are just seeing the abs and biceps and probably ’cause he’s a light skin brown guy who has a sarcastic voice, even not being so.”

I laughed out loud. “Jason is pretty not only because of that...but have you seen his feet? His legs?” I melodramatically gasped. “They’re feet and legs of a god.”

“Uh...hello?” He lifted up the thobe and his legs showed. “Tanned and hairless.”

“Hairless is good...” I giggled. “But you have the worst toenails. Why do you even let them grow like that?”

“They grow every second, I swear.” He giggled as well. “But you find the Arabic guy cute?”

I kept silent for a while. Gabriel laughed at how I failed miserably to hide my blush. “My word. You want to get under that thobe so bad, don’t you?” He cackled out loud. “Is it the hair that attract you? I bet his chest and legs are hairy too with that disgusting smooth pubic hair Arabic people...”

“Eew. Fuck! First of all, accidentally, I have gotten into his room thinking, as usual, he’s just reading a book and apparently...he had just gotten out of the shower.” I groaned under my pillow. “His back is so wide and muscular, you could almost bite parts of him if you were close enough...if I was close enough. I mean, have you seen his hands and feet? His legs?”

“I forgot you have these weird fetishes.” He grimaced. “And no, I haven’t seen anything in particular except the noticeably hazel eyes and the hair...”

“THE BEAUTIFUL, CURLY, GOOD-SMELLING, SMOOTHLY-TEXTURED HAIR, you mean?” I blushed, burying my face on the pillow again.

“You got it bad for the boy, huh?”

"Man. That, is no boy.” I laughed.

“Fortunately he’s exactly gay and...you might get a chance.” He suddenly frowned.

“What? Why are you frowning like that?”

“Don’t be mad, okay?” He winced.

I froze for a second. “Okay?”

“I was into you when started dating Jeremiah...I never got a letter, so I assumed you didn’t see me that way. Partly why Ben and I bullied you. It made me even angrier knowing that I can’t...you gave everyone a letter but not me and that made me jealous of your relationships with Jeremiah and Benjamin. But seeing how things ended up now, you would most definitely see nothing else but a distant friend.”

I sighed with bored eyes. “Gabriel?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you think David is sexually attractive?”

“Eew! No!” He winced.

I laughed. “That’s the reason why. I see him in you, that’s why when I looked at you, with a gun pointed at you in my hands...I couldn’t kill my father. Ben got an apology letter, not a crush letter. I wrote it after the ‘incident’ of his overreaction.”

“You had sex with your father, then?”

“High, yes.” I winced.

“You are one strange man, Adrian. But I like our distance now. How things can never be the same. I’m not the dad I used to be to you and vice versa...things’ve changed. Four is my lucky number and my wish for your fourth boyfriend, nevermind that ‘whatever you called it’ with Jeremiah...that your fourth lover is exactly a perfect fit in all physical, mental attributes and every other aspect.” He smiled.

“I think Alejandro’s Jewish thobe is getting to you. You do notice we’re in my room talking about boys, my crushes and all these weird traits I’m looking for from them.” I giggled. “Gabriel Greene!”

He giggled. “Still feel like puking when I think of a boy touching you. Remember the scooter boy by the cafe? That punk was a backless plank.”

“The guy was only being nice to me and when Gabriel Greene arrived, you were all like ’you got a problem with my boyfriend, punk?’, the guy almost urinated on himself.” I rolled on the bed laughing.

“I did not put it that way!” He sang. “The boy was just a punk.”

“You think Alejandro’s a punk too?” I laughed.

“The guy’s tougher than the mean look Craig has!” He cackled. “The boy borrowed a gun from Jeremiah, can you fucking believe that? That’s fucking badass dangerous. The dude’s a psychic, I’m telling you. Probably having telekinetic powers too.”

“No, he doesn’t.” My eyes rolled. “Craig would throw a mean punch before Alejandro would think of doing so. Craig can be a bear sometimes. He’s fine too until I saw him in a fight and I was like...′ Nope. That letter can’t get to him.′

Gabriel rolled on the bed laughing. “The day he fought Cain? And won? Yo, there’s nothing attractive about that. The guy would beat your ass just for being pretty. ‘WHY YOUR ASS PRETTY TODAY?!’ AND WHAM! A slap. I might be bigger than him but in a fight with him...Nah I’m good.”

I giggled, now my stomach hurting. “Regardless, Craig is still cute. He has that ’Aye papi!′ thing, you know?” I laughed even harder seeing his exaggerated expression of disturbance.

“No, I do not know. Agreed that we’re never having conversations about men you wish to fuck ever again?” He stuck out his hand for a handshake. He still had a melodramatic wince, which made it funnier.

“Not every person I crush on is my sex ‘admire-ree’, Gabriel. You think I was thinking of having sex with Mason in fifth grade? That’d be some wild thoughts for a kid!” I giggled again.

“As I said, let’s agree to never have this repulsive conversation about men who you...have a crush on.” He was still wincing like he was seeing it in his mind. That made me laugh even more.

“Agreed.” I shook his hand with a mischievous grin.

“Knock knock...” Alan knocked on my door. “If you were my security guard, I’d have fired you, Gabriel.”

“I didn’t think you’d invite yourself in.” Gabriel looked back at him blankly. They still didn’t like each other much.

“Yeah, well I’m here to check up on Adrian.” He smiled at me.

That smile brought various memories of us, back then, still dating and in love with each other before we grew apart. Damn, I loved Alan so hard. It was hard to believe a picture of beauty like Alan would be attracted to a toad-like me. I remembered the day we met.

Flashback:

I was playing a grand piano from the school, in the mood for Claire de Lune. The piano had a way of tranquillizing my heart and alleviating my body and soul. Growing up, particularly at the age of seven, mom took me to a music store with no intent of buying me the instruments, but she knew my irrevocable love for music. When I saw this large keyboard, I gasped to myself and wanted it so bad.

Let’s just say...mom had to drag me out crying from the store.

Back to the story, as I floated through every key, every note every chord...until I was distracted by drums, building a contemporary style of Claire De Lune by adding an 80′s rock style. My eyes opened and I stopped playing.

He stopped too, with a grin. He was on the stage and as he stood up, I noticed this boy who was wearing black all over. Black jeans, black jacket, black hair, black eyes, black nails, black boots...he had a black eyeliner too, which you could stereotype to emo people or ‘goths’. “Hey...You know Bella’s Lullaby from Twilight?” He yelled from the stage. We were a bit distant from each other, as the room was full of instruments.

“Mhm...yeah. Kind of.” I was still distorted.

“We’ll modernize that. Start playing...”

I inhaled nervously. Miss a note and he’ll think I’m an amateur and an idiot, I thought. But I played, went for higher keys when I forgot the actual harmony. At some point, the drums kicked in with the cymbals. He orchestrated a slow 80′s rock tune that matched well with the pace of the tune, as I had to slow down as well to make it rhythmic.

Just when I was acclimatizing to the sound, someone strummed an electric guitar and Chris walked in with Brandon and Mia. “Hey, guys. Mind modernizing Think Twice?” Mia smiled.

“The Celine Dion song?” I asked not because I hated it. On the contrary, I loved it. But I was thinking of how we could possibly modernize such a song. I wasn’t worried about the jumbling we would do with the instruments. I was worried about Mia being able to hit those high notes, until I remembered that she was an Opera singer which complemented Celine’s operatic voice.

“Brandon and I will help with the background singing. Mia, grab a mic.” Chris smiled. “Adrian, I’m Chris by the way. That’s Brandon and the creep there is Alan. I’m sure you and Mia know each other.”

“Yeah, we do. I know her through Sophia.” I said timidly. “Nice to meet you guys.”

Alan smiled at me. ”Weird is the new normal, baby.”

I shook my head in disbelief, uttering cackles. I harmonized the song in piano as Chris and Brandon followed with the electric and bass guitar.

“Don’t think I can’t feel that there’s something wrong

You’ve been the sweetest part of my life, for so long.

I look in your eyes, there’s a distance light

You and I know...there’ll be a storm tonight..." Mia astonished everyone in the room and she was only singing in the first and second octave. Her voice was a pure, strong and soulful flow of frequency. It was hypnotic. It fit perfectly for a Celine Dion song.

“Don’t say what you’re about to say

Look back before you leave my life

Be sure before you close that door...

Before you roll, those dice

Baby think twice...” Her eyes opened as she looked at Alan with a smile.

Alan smirked once and concentrated. He kicked in the drums as Mia continued singing.

“Baby think twice, for the sake of our love for the memories

For the fire and the flame that was you, and me...

Baby I know it ain’t easy when your soul cries out for higher grounds

’Cause when you’re halfway up, you’re always halfway down”

Chris and Brandon joined in after the instrumental bridge. ”Baby this is serious(this is serious)

Are you thinking bout you, or us? Baaabyyyyy...” Mia’s voice rose an octave higher as she used the ‘a’ and ‘e’ vowels to protrude her vocal projection. I smiled to myself, thinking how did I even for a second doubt her vocal talent and abilities.

After the juxtaposition of mixing Think Twice with contemporary styles, the song ended. Alan climbed off the stage. Beyond the goth, the hypnosis of his crystal white, perfect teeth instantly cast me under a spell. “That was...”

“Crazy?” I chuckled.

“I know. But if we disturbed your personal moment, we’re really...”

“No, not at all. I’m Adrian.”

“I think I’ve seen you ’round the school, just didn’t think you’d be such a great pianist.”

“I can play more than five instruments, actually. But thank you.” I smiled.

“Pfft! WHAT? Are you serious?!” His eyes widened.

“Yeah. Cello, electric, acoustic and bass guitar, drums, ukulele, piano, organ...” I laughed. “I’m still keen on learning sax.”

“Since when?”

“Between 8 or 9, I think. My dad is Dave from the Black Alaska and I used to play with him in some of his concerts. I don’t know if...”

“SHIT! BLACK ALASKA!? You’re David Spector’s son?” His eyes widened even more, now throwing his arms above his head. “We’re huge fans of the band, man. I’d love to meet your father.”

“Believe me, he’s not as on stage as he is at home.”

“What, he’s one of those celebrities who...”

“No, he’s not a Justin Bieber or anything...he can be a bit too...inviting and comfortable around my friends. It’s quite embarrassing. He’s one of those dads who would give you piggy-back rides in a mall full of people.”

“Of course, he’s Dave!” He laughed. “Regardless, it would be an honour to meet him. So you’re Adrian Spector?”

“Famously, yes.” I felt awkward being recognized as ‘Dave’s son’ than just a kid in Clever Cats.

“I’m sure girls are fangirling over you in this school.”

“I’m an eighth-grade student who walks with head down with a hoodie. So no. Besides...I would hate the attention.” My voice lowered.

“I’m doing my sophomore year. But we can still be friends, right?” He smiled.

“ALAN, DON’T FLIRT WITH A KID!” Chris yelled from the stage.

He laughed a bit. “They actually have no idea I’m actually trying to.”

“Why would you...” I squinted, until it got to me. “They don’t know you’re gay?”

“Bi. The spectrum’s wide, you know?” He smiled.

“I’m a member of the community too, so I’d know.” I tried to hint subtly.

“Bi too?”

“No. Gay.” I said shyly.

“Oh thank God. I had no idea how awkward it would have been if I asked to take you out if you were straight.” He laughed out loud. “How about you go on a date with me? Oh, and just so you know...I don’t know what ‘no’ means.” He grinned.

“No means...”

“Jesus! Just say yes, Adrian. ‘Yes, Alan. I’ll go on a date with you’ with a fangirling voice.” He pouted.

“You seriously want to go on a date with a closeted weirdo like me?” I now fidgeted.

“Yes. I’m closeted too, hello? And as I said: Weird is the new normal. I don’t want to waste our time saying we should be friends when I just want to kiss you already.” He looked back at the stage, his friends were gone. “So?”

“Alan...even if we would kiss, I’ve never kissed anyone before. Look...I don’t think you should anticipate something beyond friendship when you’re closeted and clearly a magnet.”

“Firstly...people learn how to kiss. It’s like an acquired skill, no one just knows ‘how to do it’. And secondly, I might have my five seconds of fame here but I know they like me because I just look distinctly different and b) because they don’t know the real me. The bi me. Adrian, I’m looking for someone I’m gonna come out with...together. Hold hands together while walking in the school corridors to show that I don’t have to explain who I date or fuck to anyone.”

“You just met me. How do I know if you’re just finding a way of getting close to me to meet my father or something?” I stood up, now actually convinced that might be the reason why. “I don’t think you want to see what’s beyond a kid who’s the son of a celebrity.”

“I want to go on a date because I want lessons. But I’m not going to lie and say this is about Dave because I felt this way the minute I saw you from the stage, before I knew you were Dave’s son. Okay. If it will make you comfortable, how about we hang out then when you feel like finally introduce me to your parents, that’s when I’ll get the chance to meet him.” He shrugged.

I looked at him. He was grinning, still optimistic. I was afraid, butterflies flapping in my stomach because I had never spoken to a boy for such a short time knowing him, only to accept to go on a date with him afterwards. This all happened once. He wanted us to skip the pretentious stage of friendship and genuinely wanted to ‘date’ me.

I had never dated before and that made me even more anxious. This wasn’t the typical sequence I had seen from romantic films. The boy becomes your friend until an accidental kiss happens. Then I run out and feel awkward, only to talk about it the following day. We then date. Alan didn’t want all that. He wanted us to ‘get straight to the point’. He was okay getting to know and eventually date a kid two grades apart from him.

I scoffed. “The day I’ll introduce you to my parents is the day I come out to them.”

“Let’s talk about now. Now I need to know if you want to take this risk with me? Date a boy two grades apart, gothic and weird...the guy you dated the following day you met. Or now. We, someday, come out together saying ‘fuck them’ and we make our own fairytale. But I need a yes, Adrian.” He bit his lip.

I sighed as I walked to him. He walked closer. “Shit. Why do I feel like you’re about to hurt me and ruin my life?” I spoke with my head down, still fidgeting.

He was now an inch or two away from me. I could feel the warmth of his body around me, his hot breath blowing my hair. “I am.”

I looked up to him, as he was taller than me. He laughed through his nose with a grin. He was so beautiful. Yet he had this aura of badass violence with motorcycles and cigarettes and guns, however it was exactly what attracted me to him, somehow. I wanted his badassness, his risk...I wanted the thrill of feeling anxious around a man yet safe.

My hands landed on his chest pecks as he embraced me and kissed my head. “Don’t worry. You’ll only feel a pinch.”

Present:

“As you can see I’m not in a straight-jacket yet.” I sang euphraxically.

“So...” He, Alan, grabbed a seat. “What are we talking about?”

Alan was always inquisitive, which irked Gabriel. I was used to him. “Things that probably do not concern you,” Gabriel answered.

“We were talking about men I’m currently crushing on.” I gave Alan a blank stare, thinking that would disinterest him instantly.

“Ouu, is it Craig? Y’all have been kissing a lot in these Truth or Dare games. Am I wrong?”

“Wait...how many people actually think I’m crushing on Craig?” My eyes widened.

Gabriel and Alan lifted their hands. “You even know how to touch that bald head of his when he gets mad.” Alan laughed.

“At some point, I thought y’all secretly dated.”

“Remember the freshman party at Gabriel’s? Well...we almost kissed.” I cringed.

“But?” Alan and Gabriel sang together.

“I needed to know his sexuality first before we could do anything together.”

“Was this party before or during our relationship?” Alan squinted.

“Before, Alan.” My eyes rolled.

“Why does it matter so much to you? Whether I’m straight, gay, curious...” Gabriel shrugged. “I mean, I don’t give a shit anymore.”

“I need to engage with someone who is at least self-defined. I don’t want to assume. Most of the letters I wrote for...my crushes back then...assumed that these people may be gay.”

“Cain and Ben were recipients, Adrian.” Gabriel’s eyebrow furrowed.

“I said most, not all. Ben’s letter was an apology. Cain’s was a letter that...not even I understood. He had never been at all a good person to me, but I believed that behind that mean face and his constant involvement in crimes and bringing weapons in elementary school...was maybe just a facade he put to cover up the real him. Remember when we came out and after the humiliation, I ran to the restrooms?′ I looked at Alan.

“The risk we took.” He smiled.

“Well...I found Cain on the floor, having an asthma attack again like back in fifth grade, if I remember correctly. I took his bag and found his pump and...helped him. Although, when he got better, I got a slap for trying to help him out...because, well, I am a faggot.”

Gabriel huffed. “He slapped you after you saved his life?”

“Yeah. I wrote him a letter talking about that day and seeing through him that he wasn’t the monstrous person he seemed to be. I guess that’s why Ben and Cain, and...Sam decided to gang up on Niall. Sam’s letter was probably one of the oldest and it was just about appreciating his kindness to me until...Chris and Brandon became friends with him, hating my homosexual guts.” I shrugged.

“Chris and Brandon, the day we came out, gave me a look that showed beyond disappointment. I knew then that whatever friendship we had with him was over. The letters made it worse.” Alan did an awkward smile. “But enough about the trash, let’s talk about the person you’re actually crushing on. Is it someone we know?” He smiled.

“Yup,” Gabriel said with a bored tone.

“Jason? You know he’s straight right?” Alan’s eyebrow arose.

“No!” I smacked my face. “I’d rather date a machine than date the most sarcastic friend I’ve ever had.”

"Me again?” He made a dramatic deep-voice impersonation as he grinned.

“I’d rather date Gabriel.” I squinted at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Gabriel scoffed with a smile

“It means I’d rather date David.”

“OOOOH!” They both sang. “The new guy? Alejandro?”

Gabriel and I looked at each other. Gabriel laughed. “I still wonder if you crushed on the sixteen-year-old him or the 22?” Gabriel giggled.

“You should be the last person who speaks about age differences. You’ve had sex with minors, virgins...” I grimaced.

Gabriel play-punched me. “I’ve only sexed matured chicks, kids of age. Er, now I suddenly feel paedophilic.”

“I don’t know, Gabriel...are you?” I laughed.

“Wait, are you really crushing on...”

“Greetings.” Out of the blue, Alejandro was standing at the door with a smile. “Your father and I are back. I assume they’re keeping you good company. Oh and Gabriel, if you were my personal security guard...”

Gabriel interjected. “Yeah, I know. You’d have fired me.” His eyes rolled.

“I don’t need to be babysat...babysitted?” I suddenly felt dumb.

“See why you need babysitting?” Alejandro did a narrow, hidden smile. “By the way, we have new updates on Niall’s case. All good news, I promise.” He grinned before disappearing.

“That was close!” I whispered. I laughed as I exhaled. “Yes, it’s him.”

“The investigative detective slash geek slash valet slash Harvard formal English speaker who happens to be secretly psychic?” Alan smirked.

“He’s not psychic!” I groaned. “He’s just...a charm. I don’t know.”

“Okay, I’m tired of talking about the psychic boy with curly hair dressed in thobes...I want to hear the news and...” Gabriel stood up from the bed. “I’m going.”

Alan and I laughed as soon as he got out because Gabriel was also wearing a thobe and literally had no outfit and had to borrow from Alejandro, who just happened to buy him more thobes than ordinary Western clothes.

“Thank you for being here. They make me feel like a psycho, but you still make me feel like a normal person. Alejandro literally observes both when I drink my pills and fall asleep.”

“He watches you in your sleep?”

“Only recently.” Now I began to masticate this. He actually did watch me in my sleep.

“Dude, that’s weird. Even I never watched you in your sleep.” He cringed.

“He’s not weird. I think he just has a fascination, which I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. He didn’t kill me because he was fascinated by my outspoken sexual orientation and well...me.”

“Don’t associate that with your crush for him, Adrian. I know you. You can get a bit too expecting when it comes to such stuff.”

I looked at him with an awkward look. “You never knew me as far as knowing my expectations. Besides, his pretty ass probably doesn’t have any feelings towards...”

“See what I’m talking about? Thinking that you’re undeserved and under-looking yourself. You are beyond beautiful, Adrian. Whether or not the crush is requited, it doesn’t mean anything about you. You’ve grown a big ass since the last time we saw each other, let me see that ass!” He did a seductive voice, which to me was just hilarious because his voice just didn’t fit the character.

“Respect your boundaries as an ex, Alan, This ass ain’t yours anymore, honey.” I laughed.

“Ouch!” He bit his lip seductively. “Let’s go and see what others are up to.”

Oh, I forgot to say, during my episode the day Benjamin died, I had sprained my ankle and up until now, it still hurt. Partly the reason why David saw it best I stay quarantined. So Alan had to help me down the stairs. They were downstairs, in the study.

Alan knew by now that he had to knock before entering. After receiving an invitation, we got inside. Gabriel was seating on a futon as Alejandro preferred standing. Dad sat on his office chair behind his desk. He always had a cup of camomile tea after coming back from outside. I understood why he needed it. Personally.

“You should be lying down, Adrian.” Dad said with a serious tone.

“No, I should be involved. I need to know what leads back to me and not. Besides, Alejandro said he had good news.”

“Ryan Hunter didn’t disappear. He was just out partying and for some reason didn’t want to come home. I assume he must have been hungover, but no one knows where he went after the party. He’s back home and okay.” Alejandro informed.

I nodded anxiously. “Okay, and Niall’s case?”

“After investigation, and our correct theory about the mother being suspected of child abuse, it is believed that it’s an act of suicide and the case is closed. They failed to find evidence that Niall Johnson was abused by his parent, except it was estimated that the bruises he frequently had were from fights with his peers and not from the mother.”

“How can a mother do such a thing to him? I mean, Niall was a dick, but what if we just looked at his behaviour narrow-mindedly?” Gabriel stood up. “He was abused, Charles left her with a child she probably never wanted. I know how it’s like to feel unwanted...”

“I can’t believe this...” I laughed maniacally. “Cynthia abused me and my father and none of that resulted to us being bullies. Niall didn’t want to change, he wanted to die as the narcissistic, remorseless jerk he was to me and everyone else.”

Gabriel brushed what I said away with a mocking laugh. “Don’t stand here and act like angels. Niall was a bad person because of his bad background. You had David...”

“DAVID WASN’T FUCKING THERE!” I yelled. “He wasn’t there because he had to run away from that crazy woman and if I had known where to go, if I had a gun, I would have gladly killed my own mother. But I didn’t. She, at least, was trying to change. Niall kept on abusing people! Who knows how many people had been humiliated, victimized or assassinated by him?”

“He didn’t deserve to die. Cain did the same thing to you and so many others...”

“Excuse me, but how is Cain’s story related to Adrian? Cain redeemed himself by at least trying to get back at Niall...probably for Adrian and everyone’s sake. You speak of him as if he would not have shot you dead after he eats your flesh and spits the bones. You were used by your unknowing half-brother and instead of being defensive, you should be glad he’s dead!”

Gabriel infuriated, now with tears running down his face. “I always wondered what it would have been like to have a brother. Niall could have been that. He possibly would have changed if you let him escape, like me.”

I limped to him and as much as they thought I was to hold and hug him, I threw a hot slap across his face. Gabriel’s eyes widened as his head was still facing down. “You don’t get it, do you? You think we don’t all have sob stories to tell, busy crying for the same ‘brother’ who probably plotted death on you. Listen to me, Gabriel and you better listen good...” I whispered in a roar. “I wanted him dead!”

“Well kill me, then!” Gabriel raised his arms in the air. “No one deserved to die at that moment more than me.”

“Sure.” Alejandro took out a revolver in just split seconds, out of nowhere, and pointed it at Gabriel. “With your permission, Mr Spector?”

“WHAT?! NO....PLEASE PLEASE! NO! PLEASE...PLEASE!” I screamed and begged from the pit of my lungs as if I was experiencing another episode. I could already imagine him dead. The darkness of life. It was as if I was suddenly becoming blind, or a dagger was being pulled from my chest. I felt the pain by saying those words.

“Alejandro put the gun down.” David said calmly as he approached me from behind with a hug. But it’s like I was blind in the darkness, like I was shot and died. But I could still feel myself breathing, however heavily. “Son, you’re okay? I need you to look at me.”

My vision returned, but first in long blurs before I regained proper sight and I looked at Gabriel while hyperventilating again. Apparently, I was still whispering, but I had gone mildly deaf.

“You took away what could have been the best prize in my life. A brother. Alejandro, David...I have nothing to fucking lose so you can kill me and fry me in the furnace for all I care. If your boyfriend Alejandro won’t kill me, I’ll do it myself.” Gabriel stormed out and impulsively, my body shot up and I held him from behind before he could walk out, locking him between my arms.

“Gabriel...I’m sorry. Calm down. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m sorry.” I whispered as I cried on his back.

He paused for a long while, his body jerked as if he was crying. Gabriel did a long sigh before turning to me. He touched my face with both his hands. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to hear those words...someone needing me to be alive.”

“I know.” I whispered as I properly embraced him as he did too. “But I need you alive, Gabriel. We cannot fix broken mirrors...but it gets better, I’ve learned it.” I mumbled under his shoulder, but I was sure he could hear me clearly.

“So Gabriel’s the crush?” Alan laughed.

Gabriel giggled behind my back and I couldn’t help laughing too. He stopped hugging. He hated being wiped tears, even seen crying. I wiped my river of tears that had flooded on my face.

“What crush?” David asked, now looking serious again. His eyes were bloodshot from crying, but of course, silently.

“Adrian’s crushing on someone. I wanted to sprain his other ankle when I found out it wasn’t me.” Alan smirked.

“Dad, you seriously don’t want to know. But no, eww, it’s definitely not this crybaby.” I pouted.

Gabriel laughed softly. “You cried first.” He warmly smiled, afterwards. “Yes, David. I’m the crushee because of the despicable spell I had cast upon your son...the spell of charm.” He shrugged.

“Hold up. Are you two a thing?” David grimaced.

“No. Jesus! Dad, you know how I feel about him. About anyone of you, actually.”

“Well I...need to go out for a cigarette.” Alan stood up and walked to the door and opened and just before he closed...“The crush is Alejandro.” He rapped and ran out.

“You piece of...” I literally limp-ran after him until we were outside. Alan was everything else but a runner. I caught up with him, and I was limping and play-punched his chest, but I was honestly mad and embarrassed. “He was in the fucking room, are you crazy?” I whispered.

“Relax. I just made things easy for you. Be grateful.” He lit a cigarette. “Smoke with me.” He gave me my own cigarette. If we were still dating, we would have shared one. It felt awkward to both of us when I had to smoke from mine.

“Cool. Thanks.” I lit the cigarette. “You know he’s inside right?”

“Yeah. I like him for you. He’s what I wish I was for you...protective, present, overly-informed that you’d swear he created the internet with his weird phonetics and his Jewish look...”

I laughed. “Thobes aren’t religious, Alan. And...thank you. You’re at least the best ex I’ve ever had. You were a friend to me and I think I like this...distance now. How we both know we can’t fix broken mirrors but...” I looked at him with a smile. “Ours just cracked apart, in half. Fortunately, we still look good in broken mirrors, right?” I smiled.

“Yeah...yeah, we do.”

“Adrian...Alan.” Gabriel got out with Alejandro. “Why are you guys sitting on the lawn?” He laughed with Alejandro smiling behind him.

“I wrestled him and won, even with a sprained ankle.” I did a cocky smile.

“Adrian...I think it would be safe to smoke your cigarette inside.” Alejandro added as his face changed, looking far from us.

“ADRIAN!!” Dad yelled.

Everything, from my dad’s voice, happened in slow motion. A black mustang with tinted windows sped like a cheetah after its prey on the road as multiple gunshots fired. Alejandro and David were the ones equipped with guns. Alan was the one who effortlessly grabbed me and ran with me in his arms while Gabriel, in a way, shielded us.

We ran to behind the house, to the rest of the yard where it was the first time seeing it with my feet set outside. But that was not what my brain and heart believed and focused on, that I was fine while dad and Alejandro ‘got this’.

“Adrian...look at me. We’re okay. We’re okay!” Gabriel held my face. I looked into his blue eyes and I began to acclimatize to the silence.

I looked at Alan, he was looking back at me with concern. Was I the main concern? Why was I, if so? Wouldn’t you save yourself when someone tries to kill you? Why did they found the necessity to be nursing me while I felt fine? “Where’s David and Alejandro?” I whispered, out of breath not because I was running(well, because Alan carried me), but because of my thoughts thinking beyond the impossible...

Dad...he’s dead.

No, he’s not! Your father is okay, so is Alejandro.

Where the fuck are they? I need to see them now.

For the first time, both Alan and Gabriel saw that it was not a metaphor when I always said my thoughts did not belong to me. “Adrian, who are you talking to?” Alan asked as Gabriel ran off to check on them.

What if Gabriel dies?

What if I die? Not much will take place there. I’m already a piece of shit

Gabriel’s going to come back with dad and Alejandro. They can’t die on me.

“You’re not dying, Adrian.” Alejandro knelt to my level. “Your dad is okay, they shot his left arm but the bullet didn’t penetrate inside his flesh. Hey, look at me. You need to calm down now and walk inside with me. Take this.” He gave me LSD. I instantly put it on my tongue

“Where the fuck did you even get acid, Alejandro. You can’t make him eat that!” Gabriel yelled furiously.

“If we give him reasons to panic, he’ll have a bad trip. Is that what you want?” Alejandro looked at them and they both didn’t respond. “Let’s get you inside. I have a playlist I used to play for my mother, it might help.” He whispered to me

I nodded as my lips were beginning to numb. When I blinked again, Gabriel was giving me water to drink. I was already tucked in my bed upstairs. When did this shit start happening?

Then from visions blurring, I got into the deep silence in the world I seek for. A short startle began when music began playing and I noticed the voice instantly...Enya.

I had a dream, one that was hallucinogenic. I was flying to the moon, then couldn’t breathe but it felt like I wasn’t supposed to. I was naked, so I hid my body as my body felt warm, like I had encompassed the warmth of the sun.

Like scenes changing in a play, I was now in a garden with a planet-sized moon gleaming during nighttime in the cloudless skies and all the glitter and gold that rained from the sky created a bliss of a deep, sweet delirium. My body relaxed as scenes changed, my body and soul connecting with celestial beings in the universe. The mission of acquiring deep, sound peace and serenity began, but in that silence, It was only the heavenly voice of Enya that I listened to, that I wanted to hear.

I wasn’t making sense of the dream, too. Maybe it was meant to be pointless and futile to figure out. Maybe it was just what it was supposed to be. For once, I was selfish and didn’t feel the need to jump to save or worry about a soul, including mine. I felt otherworldly like I was God and omnipresent. Knowing the past, present and the future as if I was the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning of things before life began, when life began, and when it ended. It was a subtle dream, fortunately, I had understood to a certain extent, that as much as I was surrounded by a garden of arid thorns and poison ivy in actuality, I still yearned for one thing...

Peace. Momentary peace. An out-of-body experience that I didn’t want to see the end. But after the highs begin the lows. And I was afraid of how high I had ascended from the ground full of spikes and thorns, but soon I was to land on my face and skin as the swords will continue to cut the sins of murder from my body. Like the apocalypse, like how things end. From the highs to the lows, I crash to the ground and I’m stoned to death and just when I still think I’m breathing, the enemy in a dark cloak with the invisible face, tramps with his sharp shoe on my head.

And that was the end, but not of the dreams. The dreams, or now only a dream, continued as dark silence in which I couldn’t hear or see. Ironically, it was exactly the feeling I need.

The feeling of envying the dead.

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