Chapter 11 – Maybe, I’m Good Maybe, I’m Bad


The Karate Kid.

I found it. I finally found it. I found it! I found a person, once & for all, with a voice & an accent that exactly mimicked & was identical to Salem’s Brooklyn raspy way of talking. As I was in our living room laying on my belly eating some kettle corn popcorn in a giant metal bowl by myself, I had caught a re- run showcasing of the first Karate Kid film in the middle of the movie while it was playing on TV while I had been flipping through channels and pressed “DVR” on our Optimum remote to record it. After the first movie, the sequel to the film, then, followed. I recorded it as well. And, the entire time I watched them that Thursday afternoon, a few days after I had darted out of my new boyfriend’s side door, I couldn’t help myself; I smiled most of the time that I was watching it. I couldn’t stop. It was so strange! Hehe! He moved and acted exactly like he did. It was so weird. Only, Salem was a bit more uhm… intense, sometimes, to say the very least; that was definitely saying the least.

I won’t lie. That Karate Kid boy was cute. God. He had a fit body, nice lips, & a dasher smile. I mean, wow. I never really noticed boys in this way before. But, the more that I began to notice other guys walking around, I started to take more notice. And, that Taylor Lautner guy from Twilight? No offense, but, his body was by far the sexiest thing that I had ever laid eyes upon. Sorry, Salem. You’re still amazingly gorgeous. But, I can’t deny the reality of other beauty when I see it. And, I definitely see it & notice now as strange as it is that I had not noticed, before. Is that wrong of me to do such a thing? Sure, I was technically in a relationship, but, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my eyes and ‘certain parts’ suddenly stop working, all together. Please. I’m sure even Salem has a few soft spots for others he has seen or knows. Maybe, some are girls.

It may sound strange, but, me imagining him being in a relationship with a girl is just so cute to me. In my opinion, he’d make such an incredible boyfriend for one. I’m sure she’d be all over him. I would be. Oh, that’s right. I already am. Sigh. I wonder if he had one before? He technically did say that he never had a BOYFRIEND, before. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean he hasn’t had a girlfriend, all together. And, his dad did mention some girl who had a crush on him who had already been at his old house back in the day. Also, he never did tell me whether or not he was gay that one day when I asked him; that was the same day that he completely cracked on me when I asked him that very question. Was Salem one of those bisexual kids? I mean, no offense. I’m sure he’s slept with both. Given his old ‘job’, and information that I’ve been able to obtain and piece together about him so far, I was certain that sleeping with all kinds of people was all just a standard procedure for his ‘business’ whether you liked it or not. It was just ‘business’ as he would call it. “Nothing personal.” he would say.

As I slipped 3 popcorn pieces into my mouth while I continued to watch the Karate Kid 2 and one fell on the floor underneath me in between my elbows from me not really paying attention as my thoughts were swirling in my head about he and I also concentrating on the film, I began to wonder. Why did he get so emotional about me asking him his sexuality in the first place? Sure, a shy or bad reaction was normal. But, the way he acted was way over the top. I couldn’t help but wonder what the reason or cause for that was. Hmm. Maybe, it was too dramatic for him. Maybe, he hated it. Maybe, he hated himself and was embarrassed about having feelings for boys. But, could that really be it? I doubt it. I’m pretty sure that there’s more to that story & behind that reaction. I guarantee it. I don’t blame him if he felt uncomfortable or shy about it, though, if that was a part of the reason. I know I was. It was unusual. I felt like I was a pervert for eyeing some guys down in the boys locker room at school every here and there. Come on. Everyone does it. They’re RIGHT THERE. What am I supposed to do? Close my eyes the whole time? Its not my fault if someone’s underwear covering sexy body is right next to me and I see it. Its not my fault if I, then, against my will, accidently like what I see & what’s there as it’s displayed right in front of me. Oh, so I can’t like guys and subtly admire their physical bodies in a sensual way, but, boys in school can act all perverted and talk about girls and gross lewd things? Yeah. Show me the book where it says that that’s even remotely fare. I’d love to read it. Because, it’s not & it doesn’t exist.

Its not like I didn’t like Salem. I love him. He’s… he’s… he’s my baby. Oh, god. It feels so hot for me to say that. Heh. I see, now, why people call their significant others those kinds of cute names. It’s almost like putting a playful spin on them. It’s like adding some smexy flare to who they are and what role they play in your personal life. It’s like putting a love stamp on them. It’s like claiming them in a way, to ME anyway. Like- “Heyy, your mine, baby. And, I’m yours. You own me and I own you.” Hehehe. That’s sexy! That’s hot. I began to squeeze my legs together and involuntarily grind my pelvis on the floor as I was laying down, relishing in my own sexy thoughts. OWN ME, Salem. Take me, ‘baby’. …I’m yours. Okay. I needed to calm down. I was getting a little too ‘happy’ and I really wanted to finish watching the movie, and not have to go run in my room, take all of my clothes off, and ‘take care of this’ even if it WAS on DVR for me whenever I wanted to watch it again, later.

Sigh. Its not like I didn’t want Salem to have sex with me. I just got freaked out. I didn’t like how he was acting with me when I was in his room alone. It was just weird. I felt like I had two choices- stay or leave. If I stayed, I felt like some murderer was alone with me, holding a knife. If I left, I at least granted myself the time to think, breathe, and figure out what to do. I didn’t know what else I could have done. I didn’t know what else I SHOULD have done. I-

*RIIIIIINNNGGG*

My iPhone rang the ‘Iphone Apple Ringtone’ on the couch behind me. I was already comfortable and I really didn’t want to get up. I ignored it.

*RIIIIIINNNGGG*

Yeah. I still wasn’t interested in getting up. I was eating my popcorn. It was good. And, I ate this on occasion to remind me of the good old days when me and my old bestie would eat this stuff, being his favorite flavor, as we would just chill and watch films.

It stopped. Okay, good. Maybe, it was my mom asking if I was okay. That was something she did, occasionally, whenever I was alone in our house and she was out. I wasn’t at Salem’s this time, to which when she asked me why I wasn’t going, I went silent and lied and said he was sick. Well, I mean that was SORT of the truth. Remember how she taught me never to lie? Remember how I’m a bad liar? Yeah, so bending the truth was my only option, here. I wasn’t going to be caught dead revealing to my own mother about how Salem wanted to have some kinky wild, crazy, & pleasure enhancing sex with me. God forbid I ever did that. She’d be mortified & I would be, too.

*RIIIIIINNNGGG*

Ugh. Really? Again? I ignored the call the second time. Oh! This is a cool scene. He’s about to fight. Yeah, sorry Mommy. Cute boys that remind me of Salem first, chat later. The scene was getting really good. He was about to loose the fight. But, just as he mustered all of his strength with blood on his face he-

*RIIIIIINNNGGG*

…Seriously? I almost laughed to myself from how ridiculous this was. Yup. That’s something that Salem would do. I’m starting to understand him. Good thing this is on DVR.

“HELLLO?” I said. Okay. Johnny, calm down. Get those little hormones of yours together. Is Salem contagious? Maybe, he is & I was starting to act like him against my conscious mind.

“Hey.” It was Sarah. Huh? She never calls me. All us high school kids really only text or chat on Discord. In fact, this was the first time she had ever called me.

“Oh, hi. Whatsup?” This was a bit strange. I wanted to apologize to her for darting out of her house so quickly and practically ignoring her when she last even tried to speak with me. However, I really didn’t even want to bring it up. It was more than awkward; it was anxiety inducing. I just wanted to relax. I was already in a good mood. I liked this movie. It was cool. Maybe I’ll tell my old best friend about it.

“Sorry to call you. But, I need your help.” She paused. “I don’t know what else to do or who to turn to. You’re the only one that seems to get in his head.” She said with her voice cracking.

“W-who?” I asked pretending like I didn’t know who she was talking about.

“Johnny, Salem… Salem is really acting different.” She said. “After you left, I figured something happened so I went upstairs to his room and…” she trailed off.

“Oh, yeah I’m sorry I left. Uhm… I, you see…” What do I say? I didn’t want to lie, but, I couldn’t tell her what happened. Eww. That’d feel so weird. She’d probably never want to talk to me again. She’s one of the only cool people I have met around here and she was my new best friend. No way would I do that. I’d never want to loose her. I sat on our couch and grabbed my popcorn and kept eating. Honestly, the more time that passed while I was with Salem or had anything to do with him or his life, it felt like I really WAS gambling. I was taking chances and risks. I never knew what would happen next. I caught myself always in the position to have to bluff & lie. And, if I wasn’t careful, I’d suffer the dire consequences of loosing the game, entirely. Only, I wasn’t betting with money. I was betting with myself. And, I’m sure everyone else who was playing with me who were in his life, were all caught up in the same position as me; his father, his sister, the cops, and his old principal, were just some of the people sitting around that poker table with me as we all shared the same anxious facial expressions, nervously, wondering just what the HECK to do next.

“He- he was all the way in the corner of the room.” She said.

“Oh, oh he was?” I kept the conversation going as best as I could without unveiling any information to her about what had occurred. I was careful with what I said; I always had to be. This is all going to make me sick, I tell you. I was already feeling sick, which is why I even left his room in the first place, just to release myself from the terrible feeling for a few moments as I caught my breath again.

“Yeah. He was- he was sitting on the floor and was just staring at the window. He looked so tired. And when I walked up to him and knelt down to try to ask him what happened and if he was okay, he kept staring out the window. He was like… lost. He acted like I wasn’t even there and never moved an inch or said anything. He stared at that window all night until the next morning when he had to shower and get ready for school. He didn’t sleep one bit, despite my dad I trying to convince him to rest over & over again.” She trailed off. “My dad has been trying to get him to talk, but, he won’t speak a single word to us or anyone at school. His teachers called and told us that he’s refusing to talk in class. He just stares into nothing. Johnny he’s not eating, either. He won’t eat one bite. I think- I think he’s really depressed. I don’t know what happened, but, it really changed him. He’s slipping like he did before…” I didn’t know what she exactly meant by that. But, I’m sure it wasn’t good. It was really weird. Salem isn’t talking? Him? He’s the type that if you looked at him in the wrong way, he might just throw out your very own art project that you just finished working on for weeks right at you and make you regret ever even ‘dissing’ him if you caught him in his ‘bad’ mood.

“Oh. Oh, wow. Uhm. I’m so sorry about that.” That’s all I said. Maybe, me leaving really made him realize how he was acting wasn’t ‘normal’ sexual or loving behavior. Maybe, I made him question his ways. Maybe, no one else did that before in regards to his sexual tendencies. Maybe, I made him, putting it simply, sad. I never meant that I-

“I know this is asking a lot… but, he had Anemia last week. That’s why he was at the doctor’s because he fainted from not eating. Our mom brought him here for certain reasons thinking I’d be strong enough along with my father to team up and help him. But, Johnny… I don’t think I can do this anymore. I can’t take this.” She said, finally confessing the stresses of Salem being in her and her father’s life to me and her and him trying to ‘cover up, hide, and suppress’ all of the problems, tension, and turmoil from society as a respectable social formality. “Its not that I don’t love him. He’s my best friend. But, I’m going crazy. He’s driving me NUTS. And now it’s breaking my heart to see him like this. Johnny, I need you to please help us. Please help me to convince him to eat tonight. He hasn’t eaten all this time and if he doesn’t have some certain minerals in his body, soon… he’ll die.” She softly admitted to me. I blanked out for a moment. Die? Salem can…. Die? I almost dropped my phone from my fingers going a little limp as a result of me hearing those words echo from my ear into my own mind. It’s not every day that you hear that someone you know and love can pass away. I- I loved Salem. I loved him. I really loved him. I don’t want anything bad to hurt him or happen to him. This, suddenly, got too real for my tastes. It was to ‘raw’. It was terrible. It was like someone took a gun and put it on my forehead and said… we’re playing Russian Roulette, here, whether you like it or not & it was fully loaded, minus the empty ‘slots’ to correctly play the game. I felt as though someone threatened to kill my own mother. That’s it. I felt threatened, even though, no one had technically threatened me.

Remember that eery, creepy, and haunted feeling I felt when he and I were in the park and he casually spoke to me about sexually pleasing me like a wild animal and I felt as though some…. Demon or spirit or GROUP of spirits were watching us at the park? I felt that again after she said those words. I felt like they were all creeping up on me in my own dimly lit house. It was terrifying and I felt like whatever ‘they’ were, were moving closer to me. Something… something very powerful was coming for me. I just felt it. I felt horrifyingly sick to the very bottomless pit of my stomach, my arms had goosebumps all over them, my throat tied in a knot that threatened to take my own life from the clenching hold it had on my breathing, and I felt the sudden urge to just leave the TV on, hang up, and RUN to the bathroom and dart out of my house. I wasn’t alone and I don’t care what ANYONE says. “Uh—UUUHH —uhhhm” I said all panicky. “Uh-sure. I’ll be right there, Sarah. Don’t worry. Uhm. Sigh.” I tried to finish my sentence. Get out of there, Applebee. SHUTUP and get the hell away from that house. “Yeah, sure I’ll help. Uhm… you & I can talk some more, there. Uh. BYE!” I HUNG up, shut the TV off, left my popcorn on the couch, grabbed my coat which USED to be my father’s, and slammed that front door shut even harder than I slammed Salem’s side door. Forget the bathroom. I’ll use a bathroom on the way there, someplace. I don’t care!

_________

*Knock Knock Knock*

I didn’t even ring the doorbell. Waiting for whoever was about to answer Nelly’s front house door was not stressful; it was not anxiety inducing, nerve racking, or panic wrenching. Despite, what Sarah had just briefed me on in regards to Salem’s current life predicaments & how it had been affecting her and her father, no matter, how well they have struggled & managed to hide it from society was not, in any manor, a concern of mine as I stood on their front stone steps, bopping my leg up and down from the previous panic filled frenzy I had just experienced of me running outside of my own house. It was a relief. I was relieved to be free of the terrible fear and tremor of horror I had felt creeping up inside the very pits of my soul in my very own house. I couldn’t explain it. But, something felt… alive in there, hauntingly so. It felt dead and it also felt alive. And, so did I as I just stood there waiting for someone to open the door, not knowing what I was going to walk into next.

“Heyy.” Sarah said behind the door frame after she had opened it briskly. A weak smile spread across her lips as she looked into my eyes. I smiled, too. I missed her. Even though we had technically still seen each other on a regular basis, somehow all of the commotion and drama Salem had brought to the table drifted us apart, emotionally, against our will without us even noticing it.

I couldn’t help it. I walked up to her and snaked my arms around her neck as I got on my tippy toes to reach her. Sigh. Being this short still makes me feel like such a baby, sometimes. Yes. I’m still growing, I suppose & it’s natural. In situations like this, however, it just makes it become so… obvious. Like, what’s she gonna do next, pick me up in her arms and feed me a baby bottle?

“Thanks for coming.” She giggled her laugh and took my hand as we both walked inside. Even though I didn’t know what would happen, I did know one thing; I wasn’t alone. And, it felt good to remember that I still had people in my life who were holding my hand and keeping me safe and close to them if I ever felt like I was falling too deep or quickly down the rabbit hole of my knew spiral shaped life. And, I remembered that as I was holding her hand. I remember that. And, it felt good.

I wasn’t alone.

Black Paper
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