BOOM! LIKE THAT
Chicago, Illinois, Early Evening
I had to blink to re-engage my mind that was still processing his insults.
I just stare at the tunnel. Minutes before, the train was right here. Then it slipped into the dark maw surrounded by dull tags and bleed out graffiti. Rain keeps sliding off my black hair into my eyes. I cannot cry as all I feel is raw emotion
Dean left me.
Dean and I argued.
He denied uploading the three pictures. He denied he lied to me. He denied that he did it for bragging rights with his fucking friends. He denied sending the pictures to Corey a primo dickhead Youtuber who likes to prank girls with all sorts of degrading shit. They think it is funny. He has thousands of hits and followers. So many people love that shit. Even girls think it is funny. I think it is sick.
On the train platform, in the rain, I told him he was a liar and a fucking loser. He called me a skank. I laughed and said our relationship was based on my submission to being a dirty slut, at your need 24/7. Dean laughed and said I was like all the other chicks that complained about being victimized. He commented on my lack of interest in fucking and sucking. He even accused me of being a freak of nature.
So we exchanged our insults, and he got on the train and left. I was numb. He uploaded those pictures to gain status. I told him to delete them. He said he did. He lied to me.
You know what is funny.
I’m an orphan. I live with foster parents. It has taken me a long time to trust someone. It has taken me so many times to try and find someone to believe in me. I am the one that moves from one place to another. Foster family to foster family. Now to this, two years here and me in a better situation than previously. A nice family. I even had a best friend.
So, what does dumb Priya do, she shows him one of my special powers, I can heal my body. Stab me anywhere on my body, and it takes minutes for my body to recover. It is crazy, insane and so unbelievable it is believable as I know. I have tested my body with all sorts of wounds. How does this happen to a person? Why now when he accepted me for my strange ways. Why now when I showed him my secret.
Why did I do that!
Dean just thought I was full of shit and it was some magical illusion. He could not deal with what he saw. After that, Dean became aggressive, possessive and demanding me to perform sexual acts that I was not comfortable with.
He did not care what I felt.
The rain covers me in pain, my eyes slowly blink, and I mumble “Time to go.”
I walk back, under cover of the train station’s dreary canopy. The creaking of the iron roof, the constant tapping of rain battering its surface makes me feel empty.
Over next to graffiti sprayed auto ticket stand, sits an old lady in a brown raincoat clutching her tattered handbag.
I turn and look down towards the black tunnel and see your face smiling at me. Then it fades as quickly as I imagine it. I brush my black hair to the side of my face. I shudder in my soaked leather jacket yet feel strangely warm.
I look at my phone between the shattered screen lines and see someone has sent me a message. I see it is from Corey. I open it, and my eyes scan the vulgarity.
It is a non-sensitive, abrasive, and padded with slang, tough-ass, testosterone-fuelled manly manliness of jumbled taunts and vulgar insults.
Pangs of doubt rip through me like a tray of daggers. Am I a slut, a skanky whore that has used my body as a weapon of mass destruction? Am I at fault for him to disappear? Am I that person you are tearing up on my broken screen? Why are you so angry? Why are you so heartless?
I respond – Fuck u and hit send.
I pocket the phone, and a reply has already pinged. I ignore it. A strange noise like a bell dinging goes off except the sound resembles a bell noise underwater.
“North Central Line arrives in Two minutes,” a female computer voice crackles somewhere above me. I notice the old lady, adjust her raincoat and approach the yellow line. I don’t move. Eventually, the train comes roaring into the station like an ancient behemoth smiling as it eats up the track. The train settles with a hiss. Doors open slowly. No one gets out. I move to an open door and step in. The cabin is empty, sprayed with so much graffiti that it looks like a horde of five-year-olds with crayon, markers and pen were given a case of energy drinks and locked in there for days.
I take a seat on cold steel. My wet, ripped jeans slide somewhat on the seat. I look at my soaked black converses; I notice a hole on the left side of my left shoe. It wasn’t there this morning, that’s weird. I feel the behemoth train chug forward and hear the familiar clang, clang, and the wing, wing as the train started to move faster. Buildings, backyards, laundry flapping, and other moving things, cars, dogs running, hooded people slide past my eyes in a blink, blink seconds. I close my eyes, sucking in time. I breathe deep and sigh. I have no music to listen to, so I don’t bother reaching for my right pocket. My phone pings back to back. More insults no doubt. I ignore it, again.
The train stops at several places that mean nothing to me. No one gets on. No one that I see gets off. I’m waiting for my stop. My phone rings. I answer it.
“Where are you?” The voice is shrill almost frightening. It is my best friend, Arabella. I know her as Bell.
“Hey. On the train,” I reply. I notice my voice is shaky and uncertain.
“Are you okay? What happened? I’ve been flooded with messages.”
I pause. I spot a purple splotch of a crooked smiley face on the wall facing me. “No. Not good Bell.” I shift my weight in my wet jeans.
“Babe, how far are you away?”
I hear the concern in her voice. She is a real caring, sincere person. Not the heartless vessel that roams in my soul. My eyes well up and tears flow out down my cheek, some splash on the phone. I sniff.
“Not far. I’ll call you when I arrive.”
“I’ll be there. Ok. No tears, later.”
No tears. Bell is a fantastic friend. I have known her for nearly two years and sometimes wonder why she is helpful, protective and caring towards me. Tears will come. Dean, my now ex-boyfriend and I had been going out for six months. He worked for his dad at the $3 Autowash on Highway 45. I work not far from him at the Royal Cinemas. People got all excited because we had an IMAX theatre. Big deal.
My phone goes off again. I decided to look who has messaged me. It’s Dean’s friend, douchebag Corey, again, and fuck-knuckle, Rick. I don’t look. I can’t. My heart slams against my chest. My chest tightens. Am I to blame? Am I the heartless whore that has drawn the guys to me then turned them into wanton puppies begging for more? What have I done? I just don’t get it. My head hurts. I open Facebook and see that some massive superstorm is forming over Northern Canada and some jackass has blown up a truck in a Burger King parking lot in Trenton, New Jersey, killing forty-seven and injuring many more. More senseless violence, great.
The train suddenly stops abruptly with an unearthly screech. I grab the steel pole next to me. It feels cold and slimy. I get up and look down the cart. A conductor comes into the cart, and up to me, his uniform torn, and sweat on his brow. He hits the emergency door button.
“Get out. Go. Something big has happened, and it’s only going to get worse.”
“No. My stop is Buffalo Grove. What are you talking about?”
“Listen, kid, South Chicago is in a mess, something about some bioweapon. Please, get off.”
“Oh, you’re bleeding by the way. How am I supposed to get off, jump?”
He puts his hand up to his temple smearing blood on his fingers. I move past him and look through the open doors. It’s foggy. The rain has stopped. I can’t see anything. I hear an explosion in the distance and screams. What is going on? The conductor pushes me.
“What the fuck?” I manage to say while I fall face first off, the train. I hold out my hands out. Bushes envelop me, small sticks jam into my jacket, my hands, and my legs. My fall is broken, partly by my satchel and partly because I land sideways. Good. I roll away and look back to the train. It is in blackness. I don’t see the stupid, frightened conductor. I stand up and look at my phone.
I ring Bell. She answers right away. “God, there is something about an attack and a massive storm over the Arctic. The shit has hit the fan, Priya. Where are you? I’m coming for you, don’t worry.”
I feel anxiety rising like a bitch. I want to answer, but the rising tide of panic is setting in. I must control it.
I look around and see that I am in the backlot of a car wrecking yard. I remember this place as it always looks so twisted and sinister. Uncle Tony’s. Yeah, that’s the name!
“Uncle Tony’s Bell. I will follow the side track, just head straight to me.”
My phone dies. That’s strange. I push the on/off button. My finger holds the button. I wait. Nothing. I push again. Nothing. What the? I push the cracked screen. I swipe. Nothing. I put the phone back into my pocket. I spy a hole in the wire fence. I pop through and notice it is darker than before. I hug the train line and walk with intent. I’m starting to feel nervous.
“Priya!” I hear the familiar voice of Bell. She comes running up to me. Her long brown hair tied in a ponytail. She has a Chicago Cubs hat on, denim jacket, black stretch pants, and black and white skater vans. She is slightly taller and less buster than me. When she looks at you, her green eyes dive into your soul, and it drives me crazy. I always say to her; how do you not have a boyfriend with those soul-destroying eyes. She always laughs and replies it is not the eyes that guys go for. She has a point.
In my time knowing Bell, which is just over two years, I have wondered about her sexuality and my own. I have had some intense dreams about being naked with Bell, which didn’t really freak me out, more turn me on. I kept this deep down, unable to comprehend my attraction to her.
I run to her, and we hug. It’s a tight hug. Tears stream down my face. She pulls away instinctively knowing me. She wipes my face with her hand. She has such soft hands.
“Hey, there kiddo. No tears right.”
I smile at her. I can only manage to nod in agreement.
“What’s going down?” I ask. She pulls me ahead towards the Dog Park.
“It’s bad. The news is going into overdrive, something about bioweapon attacks. The news is saying Russia, not sure.”
A loud explosion, louder than the one I heard on the train, blasts through the air. The sound comes from the Golf Course off to our south-east. Bell grabs my arm. “Come on.”
We run up the tracks for what seems like forever. I trip, and Bell lifts me up. We hear vicious dogs barking behind us. They sound close. We climb up on the train platform, and Bell pulls me to the right down some steps. The strong smell of piss hits my nostrils. She points to her green jeep. I run around to the passenger side and get in. I immediately strap in while Bell starts up the Jeep. She whips into reverse and spins the tires. I notice the dogs.
“We got trouble,” I yell.
The dogs leap off the platform and come at our Jeep. One black dog leaps onto the jeep’s engine, smashing its black head into the windscreen. Its eyes are pus-like, and I get a glimpse of its horrific mouth salivating some sort of green goo. Another dog leaps up and lands on the roof.
“Gun, it Bell!”
She wastes no time, and we lurch forward, hitting something hard. I hear a snarling sound and the tearing of the canvas.
“Shit, we got company!” Bell yells and hands me a baseball bat. A dog is growling climbing forward drooling green stuff all over the back seat.
“Where did you get this?”
“Shut the fuck up, hit it!”
I quickly snap off my seatbelt and turn around. The dog’s face, teeth, green shit and all is right there. I push the bat as hard as I can into the face of the dog. It’s front paws scrap along the wood. It yelps. I lift myself up and pull the bat back three times and ram it three times as hard and fast as I can. On the last push the dog’s right paw scraps and digs into my right arm, and it pulls me. I scream as I am pulled into face the dog’s teeth. With my left arm, I punch the dog in the head and use all my weight to push it out the back. With the last of my energy, I manage to push it out.
“Out you fucker,” I splatter the words through gritted teeth.
I lie in the back, wasted.
I don’t answer. I feel the blood coursing down my right arm.
“Hold on Priya.”
I feel the jeep go around a few corners and eventually pull up. Bell tears away the torn back canvas. I raise my head and right arm up.
“Holy Jeez,” she wheezed.
The dog tore away the whole right arm of my leather jacket. My arm is shredded, and a large hole is in the forearm, blood was pooling and oozing down. Bell moves to the glove box, starts swearing like a trooper. After what seems like hours she came back with a first aid kit.
“Bell, um, there is a little problem. You might get scared.”
In the time she was rummaging around looking for the kit. The wound was gone. Boom, like that. Healed. Back to my normal skin. I gulped and wiped my forehead. Slick sweat runs into my hand.
“How much pain? I’m coming.”
Bell looks at me. Her piercing green eyes stare at my arm. An audible gasp comes from her full lips. She looks into my eyes, then right to the spot where the dog bit me. Her face was ashen white.
“What the fuck, Priya.” She gulps hard. She shakes her head, confusion, shock and something else is on her face. Is she disappointed in me? Huh?
“I can explain. I …”
“Are you serious? Is this a joke? Your arm …” Bell blows out hard and runs her hand through her hair, adjusting her ponytail and shaking her head around.
“Priya, we need to talk.”
I can feel her disappointment, but I also know I need to explain. “I can heal. It’s my secret. I’ve known since I was little. A scratch or something deep or anything I can figure. I just heal up.”
“This isn’t supposed to happen. Not now anyway.”
Huh, what did that supposed to mean? “Bell I’m scared. We need to get out of here. Those dogs. That was freaking crazy.”
Bell shakes her head in agreement, reaches around and adjusts her purple ribbon in her hair.
We climb into the jeep, start up and drive off in silence. I can feel the weight of the last hour seeping into my body like someone pouring liquid depression into my veins.
Bell breaks me out of my falling into a black hole. “We got to check on our parents. We’ll go to your place first,” she states. That meant we had to get off the Parkway.
I turn on the radio and scan the stations.
“…Emergency Alert System… Civil Authority, Department of Homeland Security is issuing an emergency alert to the Greater Chicago Area … crackle, fizz, crackle … all citizens … crackle … indoors … stay indoors … these areas are under quarantine … please … until the scenario is under control …”
As I am adjusting the radio Bell suddenly hit the brakes, I lunged forward and turn off the radio.
“Roadblock. Flashing lights up ahead, shit,” Bell says. She puts the jeep into reverse and turns around.
“Can’t we go up Hidden Lake, then go onto Thompson? We just passed Hidden Lake Drive.”
Bell nods. “Good thinking.” She turns around quickly and zooms up Hidden Lake Drive passing at least six motorbikes going the other way.
My parents she was referring to, are my foster parents, Jodi and Tom Forsythe. We lived in a standard, I suppose, nice house in Green Lake Park. They just had me to fuss on, spoil and love. They were nice. I had been with them for four years. Before that, I had been on the run for three. I got picked up in Ottawa, Illinois for breaking into the Catholic Church. The cops IDed me as a runaway, and I went back into the system. I didn’t kick up much of a fight as I thought there would be no way I would end up with another family. Things change. This couple in their forties were kind enough to give me a chance, and I took it. I have never been a big one on friendships as I have always felt alone. It was kind of cool, having parents actually talk to me and take me around places.
I’m a senior at Buffalo Grove High, so is Bell. I met her on her first day, two years ago. I was waiting to see Principal Richards about apparent locker break-ins in G Block. This brown hair, green-eyed girl with impeccable skin sat next to me, and I suddenly felt at peace. I swear I felt like I had met her before. It was such a strong feeling. We got chatting about music and jujitsu. From that moment we were pretty much inseparable. We started sharing our thoughts on some boys and low and behold; these particular boys asked us out. That was Corey and Dean. Well to cut a long, long story short, I ended up with Dean. Bell pushed Corey away, said he had bad breath and a dull personality, she even hinted that boys were really not her thing. I thought that was cool admitting that. I mean I did have thoughts about kissing Bell because her lips were, what is the word, kissable. Pouty, open, warm and wanting lips. Damn it, I always thought, that would just ruin our friendship, and we would end up hating each other.
Anyway, Dean did try to crack my tough interior. He tried to show me that making love was the way to go, not spank-banging, he would say. Something to do with fucking a chick the hardest possible way while she is pinned down facing away. Guys and their weird ass slang shit. It sounded disgusting to me. He wore a condom every time, and I kind of liked it, but it didn’t set off alarm bells or have me singing from the rooftops. He always wanted me to suck him off, but that was not my thing which did piss him off. A girl can say no, I pointed out on more than one occasion. The funny thing is I actually fell for his charms, his cute face and patient manners. He played lacrosse, and I loved going to games and watching the speed and violence of the sport. He showed me how to be tender and …
I snap out of my reminiscing.
“Dead dog on the road. Make that two, no three. Shit. Bell swerves the jeep to the other side of the road nearly hitting a parked Toyota hatchback.
I hold on as Bell zooms by the carnage. The strange thing was that there was little traffic for a Thursday night. We make it to my house in no time. 1371 on the large mailbox. It’s funny because my foster dad kept forgetting to put the three back in the number, so it looked like 171. I got out of the jeep and came to the front door. I slip my key inside.
“Jodi! Tom! Anyone home?” I call out.
The house is in the dark. No lights, not even the coffee pot in the kitchen that Tom liked to have on until he went to bed.
Where were they? I pick up the phone. The line is dead. My heart pounds in my body. Was the power cut? I run upstairs to my room. I grab my leather satchel and stuff some clothes in and other bits and pieces. I change into a new pair of jeans, my favorite black ones and put on my faded red doc martins.
“Priya, they are not here. This is weird. Come on, let’s go to my house.”
I run down the stairs. My head is spinning from all the crazy things going on. I stop in front of Bell. She is looking worried. She reaches out to take my hand, she spins me into her and surprises me by kissing me briefly on the lips.
“We are going to be okay. Let’s go, girlfriend.”
I take her hand and leave my house. That was a nice reassuring kiss. It didn’t feel sexual just nice. God, she really is a nice friend.
As I get into the jeep, I have a deep feeling that this is the last time I would see this place and the last time I would see Tom and Jodi Forsythe.