4.2 - Bedtime Prayers [Wesley]


 

It is important that educators have some basic grasp of psychology. It can assist in the understanding of different learning characteristics between children, adolescents and adults. Individual differences and disabilities also play a large role in the classroom. I honestly can’t believe professors are giving homework during the first week of classes. We haven’t truly adjusted to our schedules yet and here we are, two chapters deep in the textbook with an online quiz due Sunday. Psychology courses always seemed to bore me. It should be really interesting stuff, and maybe it will be helpful when I’m a teacher, but so much of the material feels to be unclearly wordy or difficult as if by design.

I need a break, for my own sanity. I grab a small bag of Doritos from the cabinet. Cool ranch has always been my favorite. I think I loved them as a kid because they looked like little beige Christmas trees. All the red and green looking like lights. Kareem didn’t have any snacks or any real food here before I came. He wasn’t picky about what I chose to buy but he also doesn’t seem to eat much food at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen him do anything other than watch movies in the few days I’ve been here. As far as I can tell he doesn’t work, and he isn’t exactly rich either. I don’t know anything about him other than his tattoos at this point.

I’ve noticed he changes underwear and socks each day, but I never saw him in actual clothes until this evening. He followed it up with some great smelling cologne before he left. I asked where he was going but he didn’t do anything but grunt at me. If it wasn’t for his constant film watching I’d be sure I lived with an animal. Kareem just has no intentions of ever socializing with me, I’m just another person in the house, when he actually acknowledges I exist. I offered to cook him dinner last night, but he only ate a single piece of chicken after I went to bed and didn’t mention it when I saw him today. I’m really wondering where he went tonight. I can’t see him going out and having a good time anywhere or meeting with friends. He doesn’t seem to be the friendliest person. I’ve got so many questions for him, and I know he’d just give me that cold vacant stare if I were to ask. I just wish I could force him into a game of 21 questions. Where are you from, what’s your favorite color, why do you love movies so much, did you ever go to church, what’s your favorite sport?

“Shouldn’t you in bed schoolboy,” a voice startles me.

I drop my bag of Doritos in a panic before realizing the voice belonged to Kareem. He managed to catch the bag before it hit the floor. Eating a single chip before handing the bag back to me. Kareem’s shirt is ripped and there’s some kind of red liquid splattered across his entire body. It blends well into his black shoes and jeans; it’s most obvious on the white shirt and jacket he has on. I take the bag of Doritos but can’t seem to pull my eyes away from his.

“Past your bedtime,” he reminds me again.

“I can stay up late if I want to.”

“Yeah, but things get really scary at night. Especially for normal people.”

“What do you mean normal?”

“Just, normal. You’re not special.”

“Oh, well thank you.”

“Just trying to give you my best Joe Clark impression. Have to keep the kids in school.”

“I’m pretty sure we’re the same age.”

“Yes, but I am the HNIC,” he smiles and I force a laugh to ease the tension even if I’m the only one feeling it.

The face tattoo is really unappealing, as are the neck tattoos. When he smiles, it’s almost adorable. He smiles like a kid that hasn’t figured out all of their facial muscles yet. I’m pretty sure he wanted to show his teeth as he smiled, but his lip got caught on those same teeth and he chose not to. Still, it is a nice smile, one that could light up a room. Instead, he sits in the dark, bottom lip poked out in a perpetual frown. I smile back, and he instantly stops smiling as if I were making fun of him.

“Why the fuck are you smiling,” he asks.

“I thought we were just having a nice moment.”

“Speaking to you is a moment? Is your life that pathetic?”

“No. I just want to know about you if we’re going to be roommates.”

“Then ask away.”

“Where are you from?”

“Here, Saint Paul.”

“How old are you?”

“twenty-seven.”

“Woah, you look nineteen at the most.”

“Is that it?”

“Where did you go tonight,” the question I’m most curious about.

“I went to a rave.”

“Is that where all the red spots came from, and how you ripped your shirt?”

For the first time he seems to be aware of his appearance. Glancing down at his clothing he pokes his fingers through the holes in his shirt before moving and examining each piece of red on his jacket. For a moment he stops and stares at his hands, unsure if they have the same red on them, only letting out a quick sigh when he realizes they do. He removes his jacket and runs the inside of it across his face and hands, attempting to clear it away from himself but only manages to smear it across his face. He does all of this as if I’m not standing here waiting for him to finish the conversation. Feeling unsatisfied he opens the door to the basement to leave again without speaking.

“Are you okay?”

“Why do you care?”

“Because we both live here together now. If something is affecting you, then it will eventually have an effect on me.”

“So, you’re just caring about yourself. Thanks, but I don’t need fake caring.”

“Cary each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

“What?”

“Galatians, chapter 6, verse 2. When you read The Bible, that’ll be your favorite chapter and verse.”

“No, it won’t. I’m not going to read The Bible, The Quran, or any other holy book you throw at me. None of them will solve my problems.”

“I might be able to, if you just told me what’s wrong.”

“You can’t. Make sure you cut the lawn tomorrow. It looks disgusting.”

“Do we have a lawnmower.”

“Check the shed, if not find a crackhead. I’ll pay you back whatever they charge.”

“Anything else you want done tomorrow?”

“You could stop speaking to me.”

“I thought we were becoming friends.”

“I don’t need friends.”

“Then why did you get a roommate and make the rent so cheap?”

“You think you got it all figured out don’t you. You probably love quoting Bible verses at people. All your Bible thumping and prayers haven’t gotten you anywhere.”

With those words Kareem vanishes into the darkness of the stairwell as the door closes behind him. I try to peak into this mysterious basement that is off limits, but I can’t see anything but darkness down there. I stare at the door after he’s gone, waiting for some kind of sound, maybe for him to reemerge, but there’s nothing. If it weren’t for the sound of me chewing Doritos, there would be absolute silence.

I wonder if Kareem is on drugs. I’ve worked with people who are recovering or still using drugs. When we spoke, he seemed joyful, and even smiled. Then he had a mood swing that took him to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. Mood swings aren’t uncommon for drug addicts. Then there’s the sitting around in his boxers all day doing nothing but watching movies with no reaction. Drugs aren’t something I can rule out. I know he says this isn’t my business but he needs help. It’s my duty to help carry his burdens so that he doesn’t stumble and fall. I don’t know much about detoxing, but I can help him find a rehabilitation center for sure. The student resource center may have something. I’ll stop by and ask some questions tomorrow. For now, there’s only one thing I can do for him, pray.

“Heavenly father, thank you for surrounding us today with your blessings, I’m standing here for Kareem, asking for your grace, even if he doesn’t know it. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray that you rebuke every spirit of rage, and addiction that flows through his body. Amen.”

4.1 - Ground Rules [Wesley]


Pulling into the driveway I'm not sure I'm in the right home, or even neighborhood. Half the homes look like small cheap places but a few blocks away there are huge homes with pools. This one is the largest for at least three blocks but looks to be neglected. The grass is almost to my knees despite the rest of the homes on the block having neatly manicured lawns. There’re a few pieces of siding starting to sag away from the house. Those will need to be fixed before winter comes. It might even need some insulation.

I knew the house would be in bad shape when I agreed to move in here, but the rent was so cheap. All I have to pay is $100, do the yard work, clean and make some repairs around the house. To be honest, it looks better than I thought it would. My dad was a handyman so I was forced to follow him on jobs for most of my life. Making small repairs should be no issue. As long as the roof doesn't leak, the basement doesn't flood and there’s no need for electric work, I shouldn't have any problems.

I make my way through the overgrowth up the stairs to the porch and reach the front door. Before I can knock on the door, it opens. A thin man with a naturally tan skin and dark reddish nappy afro opened the door wearing nothing but boxer briefs. He's thin, but there's no real muscle definition, the love handles and puffy nipples means he doesn't work out much. I could take him in a fight if things go south, clearly this man is not in the business of caring for himself. His arms are heavily tattooed while his torso is bare with the exception of some that make it appear his skin has been peeled back. His sunken and sleepy red eyes tell me he's either just woken up or he's just gotten high. Right beneath those eyes is his most distinct tattoo, in red letters, "vampire," is written in all caps with the letters “ire,” in extra thick font.

"You Wesley," he asks.

"Yeah."

"I thought you'd be a white boy."

"Well I didn't think you'd be one," I joke, but he doesn't seem to laugh.

"Because my name is Kareem," he asks bluntly.

"Yeah," I'm somewhat ashamed as I answer.

"Well I'm not. Don't forget it."

"Sorry."

"Do you want to bring your stuff in or just keep looking over me?"

I expected Kareem to help me bring my stuff in, but he just went back to watching whatever movie he was before I came in. Once everything was inside he finally paused the movie to talk with me. I thought he'd want to get to know me, as roommates usually do. Instead he just wanted to lay some ground rules.

"You know you've got the yard work and repairs, right?"

"Yes," I almost feel like I'm talking to an old man.

"If it's something you can't do, tell me. I'll hire someone to do it. I don't want you screwing things up because you got ahead of yourself," as if his home was in great standing already.

"I should be able to handle most of it. Doesn't look too bad."

"Whatever. Next rule, there's wine in the kitchen. Don't drink it. That isn't for you. You can have whatever else you want, but never that."

"You make it sound deadly."

"It isn't, but you'll wish you were dead if I find out."

"You're a funny guy," I try to force a laugh.

"How am I funny?"

"What?"

"I'm just trying to see how I'm funny."

"I just think you're funny."

"You mean, let me understand this cause, you know, maybe it's me. I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how? I mean funny like a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fucking amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I so funny," he stands up and starts to pace back and forth.

"I was just saying that the way you speak it's sarcastic and-"

"Sarcastic and what? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny? What the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny."

"I'm sorry, you're not funny. I'll go," I stand up. "I didn't mean to offend."

"Sit down you idiot," he easily pushes my much larger frame back onto the sofa with surprising ease.

"What?"

"When you watch Goodfellas that'll be your favorite scene. I thought you said you liked movies?"

"Doesn't everyone like movies? That's just not my favorite genre"

"Whatever. Key is on the coffee table. Pick any room upstairs you want."

"Where do you stay?"

"Basement."

Before I could reply, he had already pressed play on his movie, sat down and put his feet up on the coffee table. I could keep trying and failing to have friendly conversations with him, but I figure the whole thing would be pointless. He didn't seem interested in anything but movies and trying to scare me. I wonder what his deal is. 

He really might be crazy. The tattoos should have told me he was out of his mind. The only people with face tats are famous rappers, criminals and people who gave up on life a long time ago. I've never seen any rapper like him before and if he was a criminal he might be able to pay someone else to fix his house. That leaves a person who gave up on life a long time ago which makes sense. I don't smell any marijuana, but he has to have been using it.

I settle on the master bedroom upstairs. It already has curtains, even if they're tacky floral prints, they'll work. It also has an attached bathroom. None of the other rooms were small, but this one is by far the biggest. It isn't messy, just dusty. The entire second floor is dusty, even the other bathroom looks untouched. I'll need to get some furniture. There's a bed in each room, but nothing else. No dresser, no nightstand, and even the beds are haphazardly thrown into each room. Why is he living like this? 

"Hey, I thought of another rule," Kareem scares me.

"I didn't hear you come in."

"Yeah, I'm just a quiet guy."

"What's the other rule."

"Never go in the basement. Even if I invite you in." 

"Are you running your own Saw game in the basement?"

"Want to see," he asks with a smile. Despite the calmness in his voice my heart drops into my stomach and it’s almost as if the room got colder.

"No, I'm good."

"You catch on quick."

"Always been a fast learner."

"Anything you want to know?"

"Is there a church around here?"

"Do I look like I would know where to find a church?"

"No, I guess you'd probably burst into flames if you walked into one."

"Now look who’s being funny,” I don’t get a chance to respond before he’s gone.

I honestly don’t know if this is going to work out. Kareem just gives me a bad vibe. Some people aren’t very extroverted but it feels like he’s going the extra mile just to make sure I don’t talk to him more than a few minutes at a time. Still he’s the one who started both conversations; maybe so he can cut them short. Earlier he made a joke quoting the movie scene I’ve never seen before. But even then, he really worked hard to intimidate me. I felt like he might really attack me, I don’t think I’d ever been so afraid of another person. Then he just goes back as if nothing happened. If I could examine his body, I’m sure his tattoos would be odd or filled with threatening designs.

Maybe he’ll just keep to himself and watch movies or stay in the basement. I’ll be at school most of the time and once the semester is over I can move out. It’s too late to find somewhere else to stay. I just have to keep telling myself that God wouldn’t put me through anything that I couldn’t handle. Kareem isn’t an obstacle to overcome but a person that God placed in front of me to teach me a lesson, or perhaps I’m here to teach him a lesson.

I wonder if he would be willing to go to Goodwill with me. I could grab some furniture and he’d be help getting everything in the car. Maybe he knows somewhere else I can get some stuff, I’m not from around here so it’ll be good to have the extra set of eyes. I can make this work, I just need to stay positive.

2.35 - Rythe: From Death



When I checked the morgue after Ci-Ci killed Jonah, he had broken out of his metal cabinet. Somehow, he’s still out there kicking. Since then I’ve been taking self-defense classes and practicing my magic. Next time that monster and I come face to face, I’ll be ready. Sometimes I miss fairy dust, but I don’t need it. Coping mechanisms and controlling my emotions, has been a big help. Learning to control my magic for the first time is probably beneficial as well.

He’ll be back next year, or maybe sooner. Zodiac is probably the only killer that just stopped killing, or Jack The Ripper. Most go back to killing, it’s in their nature. Ci-Ci won’t be here to save me, so I’ll burn his ass into dust if he comes for me.

I finished my story, but I never sent it out to be published anywhere. Decided to publish it on the site I had the kid build for me. I realized there’s a market out there that doesn’t really have news like they should. The supernatural world. I published it there instead. I’ve decided I’m going to report on the supernatural world. The people who read will know what they need to know, or they’ll think it’s some really detailed online fiction. I’m fine with that, the majority of people will just think I’m really into magic and Chicago, but some people will be helped.

That’s my new thing, finding ways to help people, which is really just to help myself. I’ve been fighting internally for a long time but I think I’ve finally found a way to be at peace with myself. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, people felt inspired by my story in Narcotics Anonymous. I’ve been studying, I plan to start my own group, maybe not like NA. Something similar, something with less praying for help and more helping yourself, or getting help for others.

I make my way into the kitchen and fill a bowl of ice cream. I haven’t had a good binge in a while. I head over to the cabinet, to grab some iced oatmeal cookies. There aren’t any, I always keep some. Who could have taken my cookies? Tituba. I can hear her laughing now, I told her where the cookies were when she was here. That old lady owes me some cookies.