Green I - Forrest
Passing Indivar on the way through the basement, I nodded at him, and he smiled back. By the looks of it, he was taking care of Leslie again, something some of us took turns doing. It wasn't really a "Who wants to take care of Leslie tonight?" sort of thing. It was more of an "Okay, Leslie's drinking again, can you go look after him? I've got some sleep to catch up on," sort of thing. The night before, I was with him in the studio downstairs, the same place I was returning to. In the swing of his arm, he knocked over one of my easels and sent water crashing over top of a painting I'd been working on for a little less than a week. Needless to say, I was upset. If it had just been any old painting, and not an art assignment, I would've been able to handle it. The entire issue was that it was due that same week, and if I didn't make up for it, my professor would be sorely disappointed in me. I wasn't one to hand assignments in late, let alone not at all. That was the only reason I had gotten up at three in the morning, groggy as hell after a short nap. I was destined to live for that painting within the rushed amount of hours I had left.
Frowning, I looked at the painting, up and down, close up, and finally, from far away. It still needed quite a bit of work. I had blocked in all of the main colors, and gotten some detail on, but it wasn't complete yet. I stared at the image, a portrait of Rory's profile in heavy reds. I had taken some photos of him one day from the living room window, as he sat on the front porch with a cigarette stuck in his mouth. If it had been anyone else, they would've found it creepy, but Rory was an invasive person, so I figured he needed a dose of his own medicine. If he were to have known that I was painting him, he probably would've destroyed it before Leslie even had the chance.
"Hey, Forrest!" I heard faintly from the recreation room.
"No, I'm not taking care of Leslie. I did that last night," I responded immediately.
"Just come here for one second!" Indivar called back again.
Dropping my palette on a small table, I left the studio and stood in the doorway, watching Indivar play with Leslie's hair. He was passed out, and honestly, I was pretty positive he would be okay if he just slept there like that.
"Can you give me a hand? I want to put him on the couch."
Laughing, I shook my head. "Are you sure? He looks pretty comfy where he is."
Indivar turned his head to the resting one beside him and nodded. I walked over and slid my arms underneath Leslie, bending my knees. As I stood, Indivar watched with a gleam in his eyes, as if I was an angel who was taking Leslie away from him. Gently, I set him down on the couch, and his body nestled into the soft cushions with ease. Just as I let go, both of us turned our heads to the stairs, surprised by what seemed to be a ruckus coming from one of the bedrooms.
"Who do you think is up there?" I asked. "I know I saw Rory and Caelen, but they went upstairs..."
My stomach sank as the words came from my mouth. Yes, they had gone upstairs. Rory had led Caelen there, and something was going on. As soon as Caelen had given me that look, I knew that something wasn't right. Why I let it go, I don't know. It could've been because I was just waking up, not thinking about just what those things were that weren't right. I remembered that Caelen was acting strange, other than appearing to be so tired, but I couldn't name what was wrong.
"Caelen's been drinking...that doesn't sound too right, does it?" Indivar remarked.
"What, that they went upstairs, or that Caelen's been drinking?"
"Well...both," he answered after a moment of thinking it over himself. "Personally, I wouldn't risk waking Rory up. He might get pretty angry at you, if you know what I mean."
It would be too easy to wake Rory up and have him pissed off at me for it...if something was going on - and we could very well hear that it was – I had to do something about it.
"Shit," I thought, "What about Ave?"
As the thought crossed his mind, too, Indivar paled in comparison to the pigment his skin had been a moment before. I knelt down beside him and told him to stay where he was. He seemed to be okay with the idea, and wrapped a thin blanket around himself from the armchair.
"I'll go check it out."
When I was about halfway up the stairs, the sounds became slightly more tuned in. I wasn't sure if they were groans of pain, shouting, or any other feral cry of sorts. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. I took large steps as I went up the next flight of stairs to the top floor, the sounds continually distinguished as I went on. From what I could hear, someone was sobbing, or agonized. On the other hand, I could also hear aggressive grunts and demands. Someone was clearly engaging in some sort of sadistic ritual, whatever was going on. Mostly, I was concerned about who it was and exactly what was happening. At the same time, however, I wasn't sure if I wanted to delve into that. My heart was already pounding with anticipation. As quickly as I could, I checked the rooms that it wasn't coming from. Everyone was in their place other than the two downstairs, and the two in that bedroom. I knew exactly who was in there, but I was somehow shocked to find Caelen's empty bed. I guess I had known in a way that something was happening with him, but something was clearly not right. Caelen wasn't the guy to do that sort of thing. Maybe he had freak sex when he didn't think anyone else was listening, but as far as I knew, nothing like that had ever taken place before.
My chest bouncing up and down, I leaned closer to the door. It was Rory's bedroom, or possibly the portal to hell, judging by the things I was hearing. Although it was slightly muffled, it was loud enough to be able to picture what was going on. They were having sex, most definitely, but what was I supposed to do? Just break in, 'accidentally,' and stop everything? I felt more pressure than I'd felt in a long time, and all I could think about was that painting. Maybe it was never meant to exist. Maybe Leslie and Rory both had a reason to want to destroy it.
"Fuck! Aah...please, slower..." Caelen panted, his voice low.
"...Just let me screw you, dammit!'
"...God, but it hurts...it hurts so bad, Rory, please..."
"Oh, but you know it feels good..."
Still frozen against the door, I felt my heart even stronger than before. What would I do? Break in? Knock? Do something? Anything? I thrust the door open and aimlessly stared towards the window. I knocked my head against the glass and listened as Rory scrambled and cursed at me.
"Who's there?" I heard Caelen slur.
"Fuck...it's Forrest," Rory answered, seeming to have a slightly calmer tone.
"Shut up. He's asleep."
"...Oh. He's just sleep-walking. Should we wake him?"
"No! You never wake them...you could scare someone shitless doing that. I woke him up once and he almost pushed me down the fucking stairs."
I stood, listening to all of it, wondering what else they said when I wasn't there, or I was unconscious. Of course, this obviously didn't happen often. At least, not under such strange circumstances. It was the only thing I could think of that wouldn't put me at risk of Rory's threats, and the only thing that would give me an excuse to be in his room when I had 'woken up'. Stirring slightly, I cocked my head and blinked several times.
"I think he's coming out of it," Rory commented.
As I slowly regained consciousness (or pretended to) I turned and looked around as if piecing together where I was and what had happened. Rubbing at my eyes, I turned and faced the rustling noise of Caelen pulling his clothes on. I was embarrassed to pull my hands away and see him completely naked, tugging his boxers on. I hadn't intended on seeing him in that way, and I was actually quite surprised when I did.
"Christ," I murmured, stretching my arms. "...I didn't mean to come in here. What's going on?" I asked, sounding rather disoriented and turning my eyes away from Caelen.
I could feel my face becoming hot, still in shock of what I had seen. I had heard a lot of things, but I felt embarrassed to have looked at him while he was obviously trying to cover up. I could just see that he looked so exposed, standing there, trying to cover up as quick as he could.
"You've been sleep-walking again. Did you just wake up now?" Rory asked with caution in his voice.
"Ah, fuck...yeah, I did. I didn't mean to um...wait, what exactly is happening in here? It smells like sex..."
It did smell like sex, especially at that very moment, but I was alarmed to hear the words coming out of my own mouth. Was I asking for trouble? I was almost certain that Rory would kick my ass. At least he had the decency to stay under the covers. Fortunately, I'd been spared the vision of Rory's private parts that night. In that household of guys, it was a granted that I would see them eventually, but I had escaped a close brush with destiny on that instance.
"I'd watch your mouth if I were you," Rory snapped. "Just get out. Both of you."
Caelen and I looked at each other and made our way quickly into the hallway before all hell broke loose again. As soon as I closed Rory's door, I grasped Caelen's shoulder.
"Hey, are you okay? I know something happened in there...I don't know what, exactly, but..."
Tears welled in his eyes, but he heavily shrugged his shoulders. I brought him against me, holding him tight. His back shook in silent sobs, and I wished that I had gotten there sooner. I wished I had never let Rory take him up those stairs, but there was no turning back. I had made some sort of small effort, if any, to get him out of there. I couldn't have something happening to him, especially anything harmful, and whatever Rory was doing seemed to be just that.
"Come on. I think you could use some sleep."
When I woke up next to Caelen, all I could feel was anger. Why had Rory fucked around like that last night? I didn't understand what made him think he had the right to take advantage of someone that way, and I realized that it could lead to more than just that situation having happened. If no one else was around, Leslie could easily be targeted, seeing as he drank so much. I made a point to keep an eye on Rory from then on, as well as anything similar going on around the house.
Pulling my covers off, I gently crawled out of bed. Caelen was still sleeping, as I hadn't wanted to leave him alone in his own room. I made sure that nothing else would happen that night, and while he may have felt strange crawling into another bed that wasn't his own, it was all I could really do to make sure he would be safe. So, I got dressed, remembering that I had to hand my painting in that day. Easily, I could've said, "Yeah, he'll dock marks, but I'll bring it in." That was too easy, though. Instead, I brought it outside into the backyard, stomping on it, kicking through it, doing anything I could to destroy what else was left of it. There was no way I was going to hand in anything that had to do with Rory after that night, especially if it didn't reflect my apparent feelings of frustration towards him. I didn't even care about what my professor would think, or what the other students would think when it came time to show our pieces. I wasn't handing that in, and it was too late, anyway.
On the bus ride to school, I got a few concerned looks from its occupants. I wasn't sure if I looked like a really distressed insomniac, or a serial killer on the rampage. When I sat down, I watched the same thing that I'd watched every morning. Yeah, it was a short walk to school, but I had woken up late, as I often did. The bus was really my only hope of making it there on time some days. Besides, it was raining outside, and even though I was covered in a warm hoodie, I still would've been likely to freeze if I had walked to school. That or I would've ended up looking like someone had thrown a bucket of water on me. 'Raining' was probably an understatement.
Arriving in class, I instantly saw the confusion over the absence of my painting. One of my friends who I had met in the class walked up to me and whispered in my ear, "Our pieces are due today, man...did you forget?"
"No, I didn't forget. I'm not handing it in," I said, loud enough for everyone to hear it.
He gave me a questioning look, as if he wondered if I was angry at him for pointing it out, but it was more that I was looking for the reactions of everyone else. Even though it wasn't particularly a tiny class, with a knit group of students, we still knew each other fairly well. Either we knew each other from high school, around the block, or work places. It was a part of the city where you tended to see everyone you knew walking around, or running some sort of errand.
A girl who I didn't really talk to all that much stood up and made it known that, "If you don't hand it in today, he'll wring your neck. He always says that you're one of his best students for that, and that if we don't meet that potential, you'll kick our ass in the real world."
"Well, I guess I didn't kick anyone's ass today. Here's your chance to look good."
Stunned, she looked at me as if I was crazy. As I turned around, I saw her sit back in her seat in disbelief. My professor walked in, dropping his bag on his desk and then sitting on its flat surface. He was a rather quirky man, with round glasses and various shades of brown clothing covering his body. No, he wasn't a hippy like a lot of people assumed. One thing he made very clear during art classes was that he was not a hippy, and that he didn't think like one, either. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of his sixties' influence, but nonetheless, the man knew himself well. To me, he was more of an insane genius. He went off on several rants and although some of the students who weren't very bright got lost in translation, the smart ones understood what he was saying, and understood it well. Everyone had something to learn from Mister Smite.
"So, kids, who wants to go first?" he smirked, crossing his legs. "Everyone knows what day it is!"
As he pointed to the blackboard, there was one kid who glanced over and instantly had a look of regret on his face. 'DUE DAY – OCTOBER 5th' was printed in messy chalk. It looked like I wasn't alone, at least in that I hadn't brought my painting to school that day.
"Jeremy, you look worried! Did you forget it at home?"
"I, uh...I forgot the due date, sir."
"Well, bring it in as soon as you can. You know that I've made today's due date very clear, several times. There's no excuse for forgetting about it. Now," he continued, "Why don't we start off with someone we know has their painting, hm?"
In my gut, I felt a churning that I couldn't calm, as he scanned the group of us and stopped to find my hands empty.
"Coincidentally, he doesn't have his, either...Forrest? Would you care to explain? I'm assuming you lost it in a car accident, what with the way you look this morning!" he chuckled.
The students laughed along with him. Apparently, it was more obvious to everyone else that I looked like shit, but then again, I hadn't even looked in the mirror that morning.
"A lot of stuff has been going on at home right now...one of my friends destroyed the first painting I was working on, and I destroyed the last one myself."
"Well...I suppose it was some form of therapy for the both of you. How do you plan to make up the marks?" he asked, picking up a clipboard from his desk. "If you can think of anything right now, I'll mark it down for you."
"No, Sir. The painting's gone, and it's not coming back. I don't deserve marks for a piece of rubble."
"...Understood. Whatever your reasons are for destroying it, they must have been good. You've never done this before, Forrest."
I could tell from underneath his round glasses that he was disappointed. It was like my father when I had suddenly come home from quitting the baseball team. I felt like he was peering over his newspaper at me, knowing what had happened, but wanting to make sure. He couldn't believe what had happened, and he didn't want to. It was a fork in the stream that wouldn't stop going in that same direction. It seemed that after that day, my performance in school dropped significantly.