Hot LeatherA Story by Simply Short Stories
Maddox Winters is a bully, plain and simple. No one likes him (by choice, anyway). But the outlook of one Kristapor Lorrytanes changes forever one hot September day. And all it takes is a jacket.
Kristapor and Myrtle were haunted by goblins.
Ugly-faced creatures descended from every corner of their minds, leering, taunting, digging their claws into places where neither sibling had feeling anymore. Their swords were always sharp and ready, the blades glistening with the blood of those who had dared to oppose. The survivors, not that there were many, were left to hobble off into the darkness, their chests brutally slashed open and their emotions spilling out like black water.
And at the head of the army, the ugliest of them all raised his knobby fists to the heavens in triumph as the bodies in the street piled up toward the sky.
In the schoolyard, this goblin’s word was law and his sheriffs didn’t need no stinkin’ badges.
The chance to produce immature little quips concerning Maddox’s striking resemblance to Draco Malfoy was nonexistent in the minds of every 13-year-old unlucky enough to step in his shadow. Besides the fact that his hair was the shade of flame, he was the spitting image of the well-known foe.
In personality, he would have sent Draco to the chains of shame in one round.
The beginning of school was there safe place.
The fact that Maddox relished a late arrival was the one palladium of the day. Kristapor and Myrtle could go about their business, indeed as any normal student would, fear pushed to the back of their minds.
The middle was the worst. A tragedy borne from a nightmare.
The goblins would be waiting for them around every corner. There were no safe houses, no chance to escape the crushing pierce of the blade. Swiftly, without delay, the beheadings would begin.
“Hey Myrtle, you got that fifty bucks The King needs?”
The King. An idoneous, yet not idoneous, agonem for someone like Maddox. In the history of the school, there had been only one occasion that someone had dared to stand up before the King, a weedy little shrimp at that. Barnaby Mellions, age 10.
“You do know what the word “king” means, don’t you? To be a king means that you treat your subjects with respect. Throughout history, there have been stories of brave rulers sacrificing themselves for the good of their people. How can you call yourself a king when you’re really just a petty thief and a heartless bully?”
That was the last time anyone saw Barnaby Mellions.
No one dared utter the word “killed” or even “disposed”. They knew if such words came back to someone as piacular as Maddox, they’d be the next ones beaten. Or worse.
Myrtle and Kristapor knew just how doomed they were the moment Maddox caught sight of them for the first time across a crowded lunchroom.
It didn’t help that Myrtle spoke with a lisp, that her hair hung like the legs of a black widow over a pallid visage. It didn’t help that Kristapor’s name had a feminine air to it, that he was named for an author that no one his age even knew existed, that he was so skinny and weak-looking that even girls smaller than him felt compelled to abuse him physically.
They were nature’s targets, and nothing could change Maddox’s mind.
So the blade came down and found its reward of flesh.
The attic in Grandma Muriel’s house had a comforting feel to it, like a dream wrapped in a memory. Each box was like a casket, sealing the ghosts of half-forgotten memories within.
Myrtle and Kristapor would never admit it to anyone, not even themselves, but the attic was their only refuge from reality. Among those old suits, trophies, dollhouses, were remnants of a eudemonic past, something that Myrtle and Kristapor had never known.
Which is how they found themselves there on one hot September Saturday.
And how they found the thing that changed everything.
The box they found it in looked fresher than the rest, a 50-year-old smiling out of the corner of a picture frame housing only those in their triple digits. It was this aura that drew the juveniles to it, that pulled their hands toward the brown material.
It was empty.
Save for one single garment.
“A yellow leather jacket?”
Kristapor had always loved leather jackets. In his more naïve days, he had imagined himself as the dashing hero with slicked-back black hair, the kind that women swoon over and bullies shrink before. The King of the Goblins. The King of the Schoolyard. Maddox could stuff it.
Then he had grown up and realized that a king can’t be made from a poltroon.
Still, to find something like this…
“It’s hideous.” This from Myrtle, forever the pessimistic, brutally honest semi-adult even at 14. Feared by her parents for her honesty, feared by the school for being on the goblins’ Get ‘Em! list.
As usual, Kristapor brushed away Myrtle’s words. They were irrelevant in the face of such an unexpected, amazing discovery.
Holding it up the light, the yellowness seemed to stand out against all else. It radiated warmth, love, and happiness.
Maybe that was why it suddenly felt so heavy in Kristapor’s hands.
“Who do you think it belonged to? Grandpa?” Their grandfather had died before the two came into the world, but their grandmother had always praised him highly. “An angel with brown eyes,” she had called him, her voice always boiling over with emotion.
What angels wore yellow leather jackets?
“You cannot be serious,” Myrtle uttered a moment later.
But her brother was deadly serious. He was putting his arms through the sleeves, relishing the silky smoothness of the leather…..feeling the smoothness of his own soul, it seemed…..
Myrtle made a face and said something about bacteria that was particularly nasty.
But Kristapor didn’t hear a word.
Someone had started speaking in his head.
Maddox had started speaking in his head.
“Everyone knows I’m the king of the school. You cross me, you get messed up. I don’t care if you’re 14 or 8, you’re going to get your face destroyed if you get on my bad side. But you know what I really want to be king of? My house. If I was king of my house, my mom wouldn’t drink so much. My dad wouldn’t have left and had a kid with my mom’s “best friend”. And my stepfather would slap me, or throw me down the stairs for standing in front of the television, or flush my little sister’s head in the toilet for accidentally touching his vintage baseball cards with her dirty fingers. And my mom would believe me when I told her that my stepdad destroyed my new game system on purpose, that he calls me names that make me want to cry. She wouldn’t just slap me across the face and say, “You’re a filthy little liar! No wonder your dad left!” But I know he didn’t leave because of me. He left because Mom was having two affairs behind his back. And when I found out and threatened to tell him, she threatened to tell the police that I had shoplifted a stereo. Which is unfair, because a bunch of big kids tricked me into doing it. They said it wasn’t stealing if I took it after the store closed, and like a complete idiot I believed them. The police still haven’t found out that it was me, but my mom had proof. Dad found out about the affairs anyway. My mom’s still holding the stereo thing over my head, and if my stepfather finds out he’ll probably tell. I don’t want to be a bully, but I can’t help it. If I don’t steal money from kids, how am I supposed to get enough money to move out with my little sister when I turn 18? No one will give me a job because Mom’s been spreading it around town that I’m a worthless chump who doesn’t deserve a nickel for any sort of work. And besides, I can’t help bullying kids. When I see all of those kids with their happy families, it just makes me sick inside my stomach. Why can’t I have a family like that? Why can’t I have a mom who doesn’t blackmail me and slap me, but makes me lunch and kisses me goodnight? Why can’t I have a dad who plays baseball with me, instead of throwing things at me when I get in his way? I wish I could change things, but my stepdad says that even if I call the police they’ll never believe me. That I’ll just sound like a stupid punk trying to get his family in trouble because he’s in a bad mood. So the only thing I can do is hope that someday, somehow, I’ll be able to leave all this behind, take my sister to safety, and apologize to everyone that I gave a hard time in school. Everyone might hate me, but that’s okay. I hate myself.”
A brief flash of something, a crying little boy in an empty room….a wine bottle….
“Hey! Come back!”
Myrtle’s voice leapt to the center of his notice.
Kristapor shook his head, trying to shake away the pictures that had descended upon his mind.
Goblins. Their faces slashed, their ears cut away so they couldn’t hear the sympathy of their peers. Their hands ripped away so they couldn’t take hold of a better tomorrow.
The flames leapt higher, as if reaching for the sky.
“You done?” Myrtle stood a little ways back, watching. Watchful.
Higher. the flames leapt. Their motion almost hypnotic. The smoke twisting upward into the September air.
In the center, yellow turned to black.
© 2012 Simply Short Stories
Simply Short Stories
AboutI've always loved writing and I'm glad I get to share my short stories with the web :) more..