Somebody grabbed Johnny's sleeve, causing him to whirl around. Lacey was giving him a scathing look as if she were trying to tear apart his innermost secrets.
Which she probably was.
"You and I still haven't had our little conversation," she continued, letting go of his sleeve. "I hope you did plan to eventually tell me, right?"
He shrugged. "I guess I wasn't really expecting you to leave before you forced some sort of explanation out of me," he admitted. He glanced over his shoulder at the others, Laura still asleep and Mercedes chomping down at her ice-cream. Leah, of course, was with her sister- and newborn nephew.
"Oh, don't worry about them," said Lacey. "We're going for a little walk. You can tell me what I want to know when we get to the garden thing."
Johnny nodded. "Okay. What do you want to know?"
Lacey frowned. "Well, start with why Jetty wanted you dead..."
Blood was streaming down his arms. Nothing seemed right, nothing, nothing.
The look on his face...it was so...broken...
Like something inside of him had collapsed, tearing him apart from within.
He saw me looking. He gave me a small grin. Not the grin of a crazed murderer, but the small, shy smile he gave every now and then. The smile that was appearing more and more in my little black book.
He lifted a hand and waved at me. The white stripes along his sleeves had been stained red and were slowly turning the colour of rust.
One hand was hidden behind his back.
He slowly brought it forward.
Held carefully in his hand was a red peony, it's delicate petals the same shade as the dripping fluid on his hands.
He held it up to me, right beneath my chin.
Then it was a knife, held at my throat.
The steel was cold against my skin.
He gave me that smile again, this time with more than a touch of sadness.
He stepped closer and leaned over me.
Whispered something to me:
"Why would you trust a man with blood on his hands?"
I opened my eyes and rolled over on the couch. I had, once again, fallen asleep while reading. I'd gotten so used to not sleeping that I never expected to sleep. Oh, and somebody was sitting on my stomach.
"Oh hey, you," said Mercedes.
I groaned. "Goose, why are you sitting on my belly? It no likey that..." I then pushed her to the floor. "Crappah-dappah, that was one hell of a dream..." I yawned explosively.
Sadee was dusting herself off. "You'll hafta tell me about it later," she said. "Otherwise, we're gonna be late for classes."
I groaned and sat up. "Is it that time already...?" I yawned. The dream was already fading away from me...except for that sad smile Johnny had worn, and that broken look on his face. I felt my heart clench. *Nobody should have that expression...nobody should look so lost.*
Then a bundle of clothes wacked me in the head.
"Yo, hurry up and get dressed!" Scolded Sadee. "We gotta be gone in, like, 15 minutes! Get yo' ass up already!"
I grumbled as I got dressed.
Just another day, I suppose.
[And the dish said to the spoon, 'well, I really wish we hadn't run off now, seeing as it turns out dishes and spoons are terribly incompatible with each-other.' And the spoon, her little heart shattered to bits, shattered the dish just as much as her heart had been broken. The End.]
Johnny shook his head, as if trying to dislodge a bothersome voice from out of his ears.
[How about I tell you of Jack and Jill's realization?]
Johnny gritted his teeth and tried to focus on the painting in front of him. It seemed that as long as he excluded a particular primary colour from his work, he could paint with a peace of mind.
But if he tried to paint, say, a beasty in that particular primary colour, his thoughts were invaded by the nuisance that was Reverend Meat.
[Oh, Johnny, won't you listen to my stories of love, heart-ache, and death? Of starvation, of want, of yearning?]
Johnny put down his palette and brush and sat down, glaring at Meat. "I'd rather not even hear you," he said. "I just want to paint. I want to go back to this image on canvas and lose myself in another world, like how Mercedes loses herself in music or how Laura loses herself in a book. Come to think of it," he said, tapping his chin. "I haven't really read anything lately. Maybe I'll go to the book shop later..."
[So you don't want me to tell you a story about the girl...?] As Meat almost innocently.
Johnny scowled and stood up again. "I have no interest in your 'stories', your little twisted little anecdotes about fuck knows what." He started walking away.
[Wait, Nny. Could you do something for me?]
Johnny spun around and shot a glare that would've rivaled one of Lacey's. "What?" He snapped.
Meat chuckled. [Tell Little Miss Laura that I say 'hi'.]
"Great. I'll make sure to not do that," he grumbled back. Then he walked out of the house.
My hands flew over the sketch on my lap and smudged the meticulous charcoal lines. "Ah, shit..." I groaned. "Now I have to erase about half of it...Man, I was starting to like it, too..."
I had been drawing a picture of Mercedes with a head-set over her ears. Using one of my least-favourite mediums.
And my sneeze had alerted her to my presence.
"What gives, were you drawing me?" She said, glaring up at me from the fork in the tree she normally rested in. "No, nuh-uh, you know how I hate having my image recorded in any way."
I sighed. "I thought you were over the whole 'I'm hideous and nobody should have to look at my face' thing."
She shook her head. "Nope, I'm pretty sure I'm still hideous."
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Yeah, and your voice is so terrible, and your artwork is absolutely atrocious," I grumbled, each word dripping with sarcasm.
She smiled. "Yep, and don't you dare try to tell me otherwise, cuz I'm just gonna disagree with you."
Then she peeked around me and lifted up and arm to wave. "Hey, Johnny!" She called. I spun around and, lo and behold, Johnny was walking out of the book store across from the park, a bag of books under his arm.
*Oh yeah, I still need ta pay him back for those other books...* I remembered.
He made his way over and Mercedes turned off her CD player.
"Heya, Johnny," said Mercedes as she slid down the tree. I made a face.
"Nny, you made my subject move," I called down.
He smirked. "How was I supposed to know you were sketching her? Besides, I could hear that sneeze from the book store. Are you by any chance part pterodactyl?"
"Ha, ha, yeah, that's the first time I've heard that one."
"Oh hush, you," called Mercedes. Then she turned to Johnny. "I think she is part pterodactyl," she said in a stage whisper.
"Okay, that's it," I muttered, jumping down from the tree. Mercedes stared at me and I smiled. "I'm gonna chase you around the park now, okay?"
She smiled back. "I think I'm gonna go running now, okay?"
And we were off.
Johnny sat at the base of the tree and watched the two girls run about the park. Laura was just like a child sometimes (okay, most of the time) and Mercedes did nothing but encourage her. They could both be annoying sometimes (okay, with Laura, most of the time) but they never failed in being entertaining.
He sat back and stretched his arms over his head.
*Might as well get comfortable,* he thought. *They could be a while...*