The Monster’s Ball (Part 1) by Kevin Lazarus

(From: The Dark Side of Carthage Falls – the Anthology – by Kevin Lazarus – Continued)

“Dude—that night when your step dad came in yelling at us, did he even ask why we were so scared?” Brett stared at me, waiting for my answer. Somehow, during our lunchtime discussion, of just about every gross thing we could imagine, Brett zeroed in on that night—and the shadow. We weren’t alone, sitting at our favorite table. Kelly and some other kid named Derek, who wasn’t there that night, were sitting with us—participating in the gross fest.

Irritated with Brett’s diversion, I realized what it was that had caused the course change. In my attempt to one up the other guys, I brought up the old man barging into my room, showing up in his BVDs. I figured that there were enough witnesses to that night sitting at the table, it would be an easy win.

Of course, Brett refused to concede. But the others were backing me up. That is until Brett decided to point out the fact that my step father was a little hinky—walking around like that—especially with a bunch of kids being there.

“I know he’s weird—what can I say—I didn’t pick him!” It was a mouthful to spit out all at once, but I was embarrassed. I didn’t want any of them to think that I was related to him in any way, other than by my mother’s marriage to him.

Anger flooded through me at Brett’s trickery—he knew how I felt about my stepfather. He knew that I hated him and that it would throw me off, bringing him up. Brett was pretty sharp that way. At this moment he could see I was pretty upset too. All of sudden he gave me a friendly nudge and said: “Tell the guys some of the things he does to you!”

I stared at him in shock, becoming angrier at his continued violation of my trust. It seemed to me that this kid didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut! It would’ve been one thing if he was sincerely concerned for me. But it seemed to me it was a peculiar fascination; like I was one of those bugs he’d trap and then torture mercilessly—all the while wearing that slight slip of smile—his sinister little grin.

The thought of revealing too much about my life was unnerving. But the prodding of my friends to “continue” was hard to resist. Somehow, my thoughts drifted past my desire for revenge against Brett, and with a long paused breath, started—hoping that I truly was in the company of friends.

My words faltered a little, awkwardly tumbling out of my mouth as I began to speak. “Well—one time he pinned me to the floor. I think he thought we were having fun, but I was stinking scared. He pinned my arms down and my legs so I couldn’t move—”

Kelly interrupted. “Aw, my big brother does that to me all of the time, what’s so unusual about that!”

“Shut up piss ant and let him finish!” growled Brett. “He’s not done yet!” Kelly zipped it almost instantly. He and Brett had had run-ins before so he knew Brett wasn’t kidding. Kelly leaned back and didn’t say another word.

“Go on—” Brett insisted patting me on the back.

“Well—he had this kind of sick, creepy look in his eyes,” I said. “It’s hard to explain, and he doesn’t have it all of the time, just some of the time—when he gets all weird about something I’m doing wrong.”

Derek squirmed a little in his seat, but didn’t say anything. He just continued to watch me intensely, listening like he didn’t want to miss a single word.

So I continued. “He leaned down real close to my face and whispered to me that he was going to take me down to Mexico and strip me naked and leave me there with the other kids. It’s like he really liked the idea, and I don’t think he was kidding!”

Derek’s lips wrinkled a bit with apparent disgust as he struggled to speak—he looked horrified. “He—he wasn’t in his BVDs was he?”

Almost instantaneously the other two broke out in a chorus. “Oooh YUCK!”

“That would’ve been really sick,” I said, shaking my head and grimacing.

“Yeah!” Brett said flatly, “really sick!”

“So what happened next?” demanded Kelly, now more intrigued. “Did he do anything else to you?”

“Nah, not then, because my mom came in and I started screaming for her to make him get off of me.”

Kelly started eyeing me a little weird, as if he didn’t believe me. At least that was what I thought until he finally spoke up. “My brother doesn’t do that—I don’t think I like your old man—”

“He’s not my old man,” I growled, “he’s my stepfather!”

“Well—I don’t like him anyhow—he’s weird,” Kelly groused.

A little frustrated by the incessant interruptions, Brett snapped at everyone. “Will guys shut up and let him continue!”

I looked around the table waiting for them to settle, one-by-one their eyes focusing back on me. “Yeah—he gets a whole lot weirder than that. I woke up in the middle of the night one time and had the feeling that I wasn’t alone—I wasn’t!”

Derek’s eyes widened to where I could almost see all of the white of his eyes.

“At first, I didn’t know what it was that I was feeling and you know how your eyes are when you first wake up—I couldn’t see anything either.” I looked at Brett and Kelly. “You remember that light coming through my window?”

Brett just nodded, silent. But Kelly got a real serious squint in his eyes and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Are you crazy?!” he snapped. “I will never forget that night—EVER!”

“Well, as I began to see better, I just felt like I shouldn’t move, so I didn’t. But I tried to look around my room and—” I still don’t know if I just unconsciously paused or if I did it to be dramatic, but it drove them a little crazy.

“AND WHAT?” demanded Derek.

“And—I saw something—well—someone—”

Kelly’s voice cracked as he interrupted me. “Someone?!”

“Yeah—standing in my bedroom doorway!” I felt my throat tighten slightly as I revisited the image in my mind’s eye, and my friends could see it in my face.

(Part 2 of The Monster’s Ball, Continued Wednesday November 30th)

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Copyright 2011 Kevin Lazarus/DreamStream Productions Inc.

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