Walking along the road, the two teenage boys strolled together in companionable silence, one with his book bag swinging in his left hand, the other with one shoulder strap through on his right side. Theo and Marty had been friends for years, at least since early grade school, and they usually did this routine, every day, walking to and from the school.
The only exception had been when Theo’s ‘condition’ had prevented him from attending school, or of course, when their respective parents had taken them on trips that the other couldn’t go on, during summer and winter breaks. That didn’t happen quite so often, now that they boys had entered into their teens 4 years ago, and they were actually rather glad of it. They really just enjoyed each other’s company so much more than some of the vacations that their parents thought were ‘restful’ or ‘educational’, or ‘exciting’.
Theo was a pale skinned lad, with long blond hair and strange eyes – the right being green, and the left being blue. His slender frame was a little small for his age, but he was quite active, and an outgoing young man, even if he was so attractive as to be called pretty. He got picked on at times, because of that, and Marty was usually the one to try to step in and diffuse such situations.
Theo was wearing a pair of black jeans and a dark red thatched pattern sweater, with a black jacket with buttons outside the lapel in a prominent. He had black Doc Marten’s on, and a black belt design, as well. His long hair was loose and flowed out occasionally with the autumn breeze, but didn’t seem to bother Theo, as he reached up to brush locks of the silken shimmering mane out of his eyes, and try to tuck it behind his ear. His fingernails were painted black, on his nimble ‘watchmaker’ fingers, as his father called them.
Marty was about a head taller than Theo, tanned and more muscular of build. The young man was going to easily grow taller than his father, if the growth kept up, and his father was a good nose over six feet tall. Marty had mouse-brown hair, and shimmering green eyes, like jade in firelight. He was ruggedly handsome, with a square jaw, a hawk nose, and what would probably wind up being a widow’s peak hairline one day. But for now, his shoulder-length brown locks were tied back in a ponytail, and swayed gently in the autumn breeze.
Marty was wearing blue denim jeans, and a dark blue button down shirt, that was untucked from his belt and pants. He had on a brown leather bomber jacket, and brown hiking boots, and he had on his friendship bracelet that Theo had woven out of leather cord for him. He also had on a black leather wristband with stainless steel snaps, and a class ring on his middle finger of his right hand.
He had a necklace, too, dangling on a black cord around his neck, with a silver medallion showing a man wielding a sword. It was only visible when it would slip out and over his shirt, but that happened occasionally, since the broad shouldered young man could barely keep the top buttons fastened on his shirt when he went to gesture. He needed some larger shirts, Theo kept telling him.
The two were striding along the sidewalk by Central Park, glancing around and sometimes breaking their silence, to chat aimlessly, about the school day, the odd behavior of Jenny Parks, and the strange biology teacher, Mr. Finch.
Central Park was an older park, with many mature and old growth trees still standing, and there were bushes and shrubs and all sorts of things for children, like swingsets, merry go rounds, and monkey bars strategically placed in various places around the park. They had even installed a skate park in the last 10 years, and the kids flocked to that, as well.
They continued their deconstruction of the school day, when ahead of them, on the sidewalk, Billy Faldor, and his brother Joey, stepped from behind a massive old oak. Then, they heard a noise behind them, and it was Lenny Joblick and Rocky Whitt stepping out from their hidding place behing the hedge. All of these boys were thick-necked goons from the football team, and all of them had picked on Theo at least once or twice this school year, usually by themselves or in pairs. But all four of them, gathered together at once, seemed unprecedented.
Billy, their apparent leader, blocked their path, and smirked at Marty, easily equal to him in size and stature. “What are you two punks up to?” His tone tried to sound light, but there was a sneer in that voice, that spoke of wanting trouble.
Theo was the first to speak, however, and he shook his head, “It’s not a good time to start this now, Billy. Our parents are expecting us in the next few minutes, and you know they’ll come looking as soon as we’re not there. We have a thing to go to tonight.“
Billy and the other boys laughed, knowing that the ‘thing’ was Theo’s family reunion. The du Claire family was one of the oldest families in the city, and they were thought to be eccentric. But still, they had prominence in their own way.
Billy shook his head, and shrugged. “I’m not doing anything, punk. I wouldn’t DREAM of making you late for your little necrophiliac of a date tonight. After all, that’s when you and your family go down into the family crypt and give those old bones some loving, isn’t it?”
Theo grabbed Marty’s arm before the larger boy could even think of stepping forward, catching him in mid-motion. “Marty.. I’ll handle this, “ Theo said in a soft tone sotto voce to his friend.
He turned back to Billy, and stepped up to the young tough, and looked up at him – he was a head taller than Theo, after all. But Theo was simmering with … something… it wasn’t bravado. It was a certainty, or a confidence that Marty didn’t often see displayed in the young man.
“If you really knew what you were talking about, you’d know that my family was a clan of necromancers, not necrophiliacs. And if you knew what that actually meant, you might also have the sense to be very afraid of what could happen to you, should you decide to be so foolish as to get in our way. Even mine, the littlest necromancer of them all.”
Billy guffawed at the smaller boy’s display of courage or machismo. He didn’t know what to make of it, but he wasn’t going to let a little punk like this make a fool of him in front of the tough boys he’d allied himself with.
Billy took a step forwards and bumped his chest into Theo’s face, his denim jacket half open displaying an “Iron Jade” T-shirt, and his blue jeans and black combat boots were making up the rest of his ‘tough boy’ outfit. He smelled of the locker room, and Theo wrinkled his nose at the young man’s odor.
“Is that supposed to scare me? Your family is just weird, and I don’t think we care so much for your arrogant little displays. So what are you going to do now, lil punk?” Billy’s voice carried a laughter laden challenge, as he stood blocking the way still, and the other boys had all closed in.
Marty glared at the oppressive boys, and he was balling his fists, ready to spring, but he usually followed Theo’s lead, and he growled low in his chest when Billy said those things.
Theo took in a breath, and took a half step back. Billy advanced, staying in his face. He leered at the smaller boy, and Theo narrowed his eyes. “I’m not going to take a swing at you, if that’s what you’re expecting, Billy.” Theo raised a hand above his head, and then stepped back again, and Billy advanced, as did his brother behind him.
And that’s when the branch from the tree above fell and clobbered the two boys on their heads. There was a crack, and a hiss of leaves, and the old deadwood fell down to hit them square on the head.
The two boys went down in a heap, pinned down by the rather large branch, and they gasped, shouted, and squealed like two little pigs when they couldn’t seem to get the leverage to move the massive limb off. They were a little dazed as Theo stepped around and over the mess, and Marty quickly joined him, his eyes wide but his lips pulled back in a grin. The other two boys rushed to help their trapped friends, as Marty and Theo sauntered down the street, at a quick walk, and then at a steady jog, trying to put some distance between themselves and the bullies.
They rounded the corner, and made it past the entrance to the old shrubbery maze, a hedge of tall shrubs that made a winding and amusing little puzzle, on the southern end of the park. There was a small sitting area outside the maze, and a vendor wagon was set up, but closed for the evening nearby, its umbrella down.
Theo flopped down on his back, on a bare patch of ground, a few leaves scattered around the brown hard packed earth, and stared up at the sky, giggling and laughing and breathing fast, his face flushed. Marty plopped down on the ground beside him, chuckling and grinning, and he put a hand on Theo’s shoulder and gave it a warm squeeze.
Both boys were red-cheeked and puffing from the jog, and Theo grinned. “Did you see the look on Billy’s face when that branch hit him!” The blond boy threw his head back and his long blond hair tumbled around his face and shoulders to get in his mouth and he had to brush it out of his dace.
Marty couldn’t help but laugh with him. “That was pretty priceless!” He chuckled and smiled at his friend, knowing he had somehow caused the branch to fall. Things like that just happened around Theo.
Marty spotted a long thin whip of a long twig, so he grabbed it up. It was a very thin branch with leaves still clinging to its reedy length. His hands almost unconsciously started to wind and weave it into a circlet, before he realized what he was doing.
When he’d finished it he held it up, and then looked over at Theo, and nodded. Without a word, he slipped it onto the head of his friend. “The king of the trees,“ he said, with a mock bow at the waist. “Your crown, m’lord, “ he said with a grin.
Theo chuckled and shook his head, as he layed back, and looked up at the sky. It was the last days of Fall, and they would soon have nothing but snow and ice driving them indoors most of the time. He looked over at Marty, and reached up to adjust his crown. “I’m glad that what I can do doesn’t scare you, Marty. You’re a true friend.”
“Who says it doesn’t scare me, Theo? But you and I are .. well.. We’re brothers in all but blood. I’ll always be there for you, and I know you’ll always be there for me.”
Theo smiled warmly, and reached out to Marty, taking his hand and they held and squeezed the other’s fingers affectionately. “You know it, Marty. Always. But I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of the Billy Batshit fanclub, though. I might have just started something… “
Marty shook his head, and sighed, “You didn’t start anything, but next time, you might have to finish it. Those guys may not be operating with a full box of crayons, but they are cunning and mean spirited. They will either leave us alone, or plot something more sinister for next time. “
Theo looked at his friend seriously. “If they provoke me, it could wind up getting.. Nasty. I hope they have the good sense to leave it alone. But I suppose that’s me being too much of an optimist. “ He smiled a rueful smile, and Marty could see the elongated teeth that Theo always had had, and he wondered, yet again, if the rumors that his family was somehow related to night creatures or not were true.
“Come on, Theo,” Marty said, finally, standing up, and offering his friend his hand. “Let’s get home, and we can worry about the Dumbass Brigade later.”
Theo smiled and took his friend’s hand, and nodded, as they sauntered in victory for the day.
Story by: Dehrynn Shepherd
Eyeshadow & Lipstick- Zibska Voirrey & Visare (Shiny Shabby)
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