May 26th, 2019 by P.Starks
When I first entered the world, I didn’t have a clue what the world was about or what I was destined for. Things were as my parents had put it, complicated, but complicated wasn’t really the answer I was looking for. At first, I thought the world was a little like Disney, filled with magic and everlasting love. And not to say that those things don’t exist today, it’s just… well, not as exaggerative as it has always been displayed.
I was originally born in Venezuela but came to the states when I was about 5 years old. My mom had told me that it would be a fresh start, for all of us, although, I couldn’t really see how it was any better knowing how the place we lived before was somewhat like a palace; birds chirping away in the far away tropics, the sound of the ocean always by your bedside, and the smell of anything that you could think to have for breakfast when you awoke. But now all I’d hear were gunshots, drunken cursing, and our neighbors doing god knows what through the walls at night. I think they were into like freaky stuff, like 50 shades of grey or something like that. But I guess that was Harlem for you.
Nevertheless, the years had gone by fast. I was in high school now. I was a little bit taller than my dad. I had a slight hint of peach fuzz around my chin, that of which mom wanted me to shave off, yet, dad had thanked the gods that his son was becoming a man. But freshman year all the way to senior year was when I noticed just how different my life was than others, more so, how different I was.
For whatever reason, there would always be two security guards within reaching distance of me. The smell of nicotine lingered on one of them, and the other had a scar by his left brow that said he’d looked the devil in his eyes once and still lived to brag about it. Although he never said a word.
Celina, my best friend, who sat across the table from me was, off topic, but by far one of the prettiest girls in school. She had long dark hair. Her eyes were of the same color, but with the opacity set to fifty percent, which I guess would’ve made them grey, but not in a sexual way like my neighbors. Maybe it was her they were protecting, I thought. Maybe she was like Jasmine in Aladdin, a princess, I mean… she was Arabic. But maybe I’m fantasizing a little bit. Maybe I’m losing my mind and I’m just dragging you by the hopeless romantic string.
“You got something you want to tell me?” asked Celina. She smiled, and the light of the room reflected off the metal in her mouth. It was blinding but ironically, in a good way.
“Hello? Anyone in there?”
“Yeah sorry. I was just spacing out.”
Celina then gave me the look. The look that said she didn’t like it when I kept secrets from her. And I know it might sound like we were a couple, I wish, but this was just a close friendship. I think.
“So, what’s up with the guards? They’ve been here for weeks now. And for whatever reason their always near our table.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe we should move.”
Celina rolled her eyes and looked down at the dried-up mashed potatoes she hesitated to eat. “Yeah, um, we tried that the other day, and they still followed us. And can I just add that that guy with the scar gives me the creeps.”
“Same,” I replied.
The bell to head back to class had rung. Before heading back to class, me and Celina dropped our plates off to cafeteria lady Marietta Marzela, she preferred to be called. And just like that, first name and last name.
“Hi Marietta,” smiled Celina, sarcastically. “The food was delicious.”
And then Marietta Marzella in return had given Celina a cold stare.
“I mean, good afternoon, Marietta Marzella,” Celina corrected.
And then Marietta Marzella smiled. Her teeth were as yellow as butter. Her lips were traced with red lipstick, that of which was slightly crooked from the drive she’d made to the school in the morning. She wore a hair net, but the hairnet was not large enough to confine the amounts of hair that was on her head. Strands of black and grey, strands of curly locks expelled from the holes of the hairnet, like vines through cracked cement. Awkwardly, Marietta Marzella had taken our plates, and both me and Celina headed to our class right afterward.
We walked down the hallway and could already see the two security guards standing by the door. We walked in between them both and still, not one of them had said a word. I don’t even believe I had ever seen them talk to one another either, but that wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone. But if anything, maybe Mrs. Tumble would know. Just by looking at your body language and the way you talked, Mrs. Tumble could tell if you were a troublemaker or an angel. And not to toot my own horn, but I was without a doubt one of her favorites. I don’t know why I was. I wasn’t exactly what you called a straight-A student. But still, it was easy to say I was a teacher’s pet.
I’d given my backpack to Celina to take to the place we usually sat in class. Right by the window, where the garbage man with the green jumpsuit came. It had always brightened our day to watch him kick around the garbage in frustration. Little did anyone know, not only was it not eco-friendly to put plastic bottles in the garbage, but it was also more work for the ones doing the job to pull them out. There was at least one day that I remember where the garbage man had been out there for all six periods of classes. It was extremely exhausting to watch.
While Celina had gotten settled. I then walked up to Mrs. Tumble to ask if she knew anything about the men that stood outside the door of the classroom. She wore a white and blue polka dotted dress. She smelt tropical but with a slight hint of coffee for how much she drank. Her hair was like Celina’s but much shorter, in fact, above the shoulders. And her eyes were like mine, dark brown.
“Good afternoon Landam, what can I help you with? Class will begin here in five minutes,” she said.
Mrs. Tumble was taller than most women, so, she had to lean down a bit to address me. But, of course, that was all due to the designer heels she always felt the need to wear.
“Hello? Landam, you still with me?” asked Mrs. Tumble, concerned.
“Yes, sorry. I just spaced out a bit. But I had a question about the men outside the classroom. Do you know who they are? Or who they might be?”
Mrs. Tumble’s eyes then rolled over my shoulder straight towards the door behind me. She had a twitch in her eyes, like when an eyelash gets stuck and needs to be plucked out or brushed to the side.
“Umm… no,” she replied. “No, I mean. Well, from what Principal Kilpatrick said at our last meeting. They are here to provide a safe environment. There just have been too many school shootings in the past few years, and so, he wanted to ensure that nothing bad goes wrong here.”
Mrs. Tumble then straightened herself up, rubbed my shoulder and sat down in the chair behind her desk. Before I’d walked to mine, she had one last thing to say.
“And oh, Landam.”
“Yes, Mrs. Tumble.”
“Let’s just keep that between us okay. If any of the other kids find out, and the word gets back to their parents. It could… Well, you’re a smart kid. You know. Just keep it a secret okay. Now please, go to your seat and prepare for class.”
I’d nodded and walked back to my seat by the window. Celina stared at me confusingly. But she had always done this with me. For whatever reason, out of all the guys in school, I was the most difficult for her to read and that drove her nuts. Like Mrs. Tumble, Celina knew a lot about everyone, but as close as we were she still couldn’t help but feel she had not read all the pages to my life story.
“So, what did she say?” Celina asked.
“I’ll tell you later. It’s complicated.”
“No. You always do that I want to know,” Celina stood.
“Ms. Abadi!” shouted Mrs. Tumble across the room. “Do we have a problem?”
Celina then slid back down in her seat. “No. Not at all Mrs. Tumble. Just excited for the day. You know History is my favorite subject.”
Mrs. Tumble gazed her and smiled suspiciously. “Fantastic Ms. Abadi! Then I guess you wouldn’t mind reading the first few pages of Chapter 12 in The Burden of an Empire.”
“Of course,” smiled Celina, sarcastically.
She looked over at me before she read. “Landam Bubble, your so dead,” she whispered.
“Now Ms. Abadi! We don’t have all day,” again, shouted Mrs. Tumble.
Chuckles echoed around the room, but by the snake-like stare Mrs. Tumble had given, everyone in the room was immediately silenced. And it was then Celina began to read.
As usual, and right on time, the garbage man had shown up. He paraded the trash cans like always, but this time he didn’t get mad at all. In fact, he was quite calm. It was as if he was looking for something. But what? I wondered. I was ready to tap Celina on the shoulder, but she was still in moment of reading. She was missing everything.
The trash men then stopped at one of the trashcans and pulled out the bag that sat in it. I assumed he was just going to throw it to the back of his truck to be crush but instead he’d opened it. He pulled out a grey suitcase, with what looked to be a wood grain handle attached to it. Was it money? Was it drugs? Oh god, was it body parts? I turned my head away from the window, but not long I had turned it back. I needed to see what was inside. The garbage man looked around, up and over his shoulder. His eyes beamed up to the window, and I then slid down in my seat, even further than what Celina had done previously.
When I sat back up the garbage man was gone. But the garbage truck was still parked by the sidewalk. I squirmed around in my seat, thinking about all the possibilities of what I’d just witness. I needed to go to the bathroom. I raised my hand.
“H-Hold on Ms. Abadi,” interrupted Mrs. Tumble. “Yes, Landam?”
“I need to go to the bathroom. I tried to hold it but I just can’t. I think I need to…”
“That is all we need to know Landam. You may go. And Ms. Abadi, we will pick up where you left as soon as Landam returns.”
Celina smiled. “Thanks,” she whispered.
But it wasn’t at all like that. Yet, I was still willing to take the credit in order to recover the friendship points that had been deducted prior.
I then walked out of the classroom. The two security guards were gone, however, the smell of nicotine still lingered which gave me the indication that they hadn’t been gone for long. On my way to the bathroom, I’d noticed that the school door was opened but didn’t pay much attention. Janitor Bob was known for leaving it open during the summer. From what I was told he was originally born and raised in Alaska, so heat wasn’t really a familiarity for him.
The bathroom was quiet. But at the end was a stall that was locked, which was strange for me being the only one there. Or at least that was what I thought. Still, I went to the other stall next to it and paid it no mind. The question was still bugging me though; if someone was in there with me. So, I looked down to see if there were any feet. All black dress shoes, as shiny as wet metal rested on the floor. However, underneath them was what really frightened me. Like ketchup or something..
The door to the bathroom had then swung open and heavy footsteps made their presence well known. I lifted my feet up from the floor. And in that moment a man whistled to the sound of the bathroom sink as he washed his hands. The man whistled a song that sounded familiar, something I had heard from when I was a child. But how the man knew it was what really gave me the chills.
Footsteps then made their way down the stalls, until they had reached the very last one. I could see the man’s feet and legs, as I leaned back over. Green pants and black boots but damaged to the point that not even a dog would’ve wanted a go at them. The man had stopped whistling and opened the stall.
It then dawned on me, green pants—the garbage man. The door then swung open again and that was when all hell had broken loose.
“Hey!” yelled a man. “Who are you? You can’t be here?”
The man in the green pants didn’t respond. Horrifically, he’d started whistling again.
“That’s it! You stay right there! I’m calling the cops!” the man shouted.
Footsteps again made their presence well known, but this time more aggressively rather than subtle. Struggles, grunting, chocking, all the sounds that now echoed in the room. But then the struggling had stopped. The same footsteps had gone back down to the very last stall in the room, and when I looked down it was no surprise to me that it would be the man in the green pants, the garbage man. He opened the door to the stall once more, and then a big thump hit the floor. I looked down again. And my heart had sped up as fast as it would whenever a drank an energy drink or tow. It was the security guard with the scar. He was all beat up, bloody and battered. And as my eyes followed to where he was being drug, there lied the Principal pale as the floor he and the man with the scar now lied lifeless on. Not long after both bodies would be drug out, which was my chance to leave but honestly, I couldn’t move a muscle. I was traumatized.
There was then a knock on the door.
“Landam. Are you still in there?” said a voice. “Landam, we’ve all been waiting for nearly fifteen minutes and still haven’t heard back from you. Is everything alright?”
It was Mrs. Tumble. “Yeah, I think so,” I replied.
“Hold on I’m coming in.”
The door swung open and along with it, my body shook as if we were in the middle of winter. The sound of designer heels clinked and clanked across the floor. Slowly, I placed my feet back on the marble floor and exited the stall. Mrs. Tumble had that same look Celina had always given me when she wanted to know what was going on. But at the time, I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around what I’d just witness. But then desperately out of fear, I had told her the whole story.
Not once did Mrs. Tumble flinch, or move a muscle for that matter. She stood calmly as if she’d already known the truth. And when I explained to her what happened to Principal Kilpatrick, that was when she’d broken her silence.
“Landam… I need to tell you something. I know your parents won’t like me telling you this, but you need to know for your own safety,” she said, as she bend the knee.
“You. Landam you are a Prince.”
“What? Prince?” I swallowed. “Of what? How? No… What are you saying?”
“I know it’s hard to believe. But you are the son of the International King, the one who rules all continents, the one who most seek to destroy in order to build a world of their own.”
“No… I don’t understand. How can my dad rule the world, he barely even knows how to use his iPhone, let alone understand what it takes to… No, this is stupid.”
I walked away but then Mrs. Tumble stopped me in front of the door.
“A king does not need to concern himself with such things, for it only distracts him from his purpose to help those in need. Your father is meant for a far greater purpose than some electronic,” Mrs. Tumble explained.
Still, I’d exited the bathroom. Mrs. Tumble followed me out. And then the fire alarm went off and all sprinklers poured throughout the hallways. As everyone exited their classrooms, everyone had slipped and fallen until they’d made their way to the exit doors of the school. In a matter of seconds, the hallway had cleared. It was just me and Mrs. Tumble, or at least that was what I thought. Down the hall stood the garbage man and Celina. He had a knife to her throat. And tears rolled down her eyes like rain on a glass window.
“Don’t!” yelled Mrs. Tumble. “You hurt that girl and you’ll be sorry you ever came here.”
From under her dress, Mrs. Tumble had pulled out a gun. I’d seen them in movies all the time, but never up close as I was now. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I felt safe but scared all in one.
The garbage man smiled cynically and laughed. And then whistled again, as he’d cut a little enough into Celina to make her bleed a little. Mrs. Tumble aimed her gun straight for the garbage man’s eyes, and for the time being, no one had a word to say.
To be continued 😉