Sorry for the delay in posting this, but sometimes life happens and when it does, it's usually not the happy-happy-yay-yay thingy. So it was my turn to get fucked - not literally, of course, but anyway... when shit happens it's best to quit everything else, grab a shovel and start cleaning up the mess, which is what I did, and which is why the long pause. But I'm not dead, and I still love the feeling of a pen scratching the white paper, so as long as you still want to read my weird little story, feel free to do so.

That being said, I give you Red Blooded Smile, Chapter 2: New encounters

Enjoy!


Benjamin James Masters opened the door of his silver Toyota and stepped out into the fresh bright sunny day. He stretched his body, numbed from the long hours of driving without pause, and took a deep breath of air, allowing the freshness to clean his lungs. Feeling all better, he figured it was time to take a quick look around. This place is perfect, he decided, smiling happily to himself. And, for someone as highly preoccupied with his own health as him, so it was: clean air with an extremely nice scent which came undoubtedly from the surrounding forest; clean streets for a clean town, filled with healthy strong people. Actually, what stroke him at his first visit here, about a month ago, was exactly that: the people ‒ they all seemed to get along so very good, always smiling, always friendly, always welcoming. His research proved this town had very low crime rate, so low it almost didn't even need the police forces, if it weren't for the small number of individuals who got lost in the mountains. So this little mountain town was, indeed, the perfect place for him. Or at least that's what he thought at the time.

As Benjamin stepped into his newly bought house, thinking about the new beginning, he noticed all his luggage had safely arrived, the furniture placed in all the right places and the rest of the boxes set in the middle on his wide living-room. He couldn't help liking his new home. It was just the way he had always wanted it to be. He checked the lights, the water, gas and phone line, and was satisfied to see it all worked just fine. After a speedy unpacking, he took his wallet, his keys and went out.

The town was medium-sized to small, so checking it all out in less than a day was actually very doable. There wasn't much to see. Lots of small streets and lots of beautiful houses, but no apartment houses. A main street, along the side of which lied all the important buildings ‒ the hospital, the police station, the town hall, the bank, the cinema and lots of stores. The only one that wasn't here was the school, but he already knew where to head to in order to get there.

The school was situated on a small hill, at the eastern end of the town, and the only reason for that arrangement was the fact that this school needed to sustain all children from kindergarten until high-school, so naturally it had to be quite enormous. He tried to imagine what it would be like tomorrow, when school would start, with all the kids running on the halls and outside, with all playgrounds filled with laughter and pranks and the occasional crying of a momma's boy or two and teachers trying to control their students but failing miserably as usual. He grinned at the thought of it.

‒ That's a really creepy grin you have there, mister!

Benjamin turned his head to the left and spotted a little boy, looking about ten years old, grinning back at him.

‒ What exactly are you doing here, mister? asked the kid in a playful tone.

‒ Well, I could ask you the same exact question, you know, answered Benjamin, finding the situation quite funny. What are you doing here, kid ?

The little boy's smile widened on his face, making him look like he was shining in the warm sunset light.

‒ Heh-heh!said the boy. Well, mister, in case you haven't noticed, although I doubt it pretty much, this ‒ and he pointed towards the school ‒ is obviously a school. And I ‒ he pointed towards himself ‒ am obviously a child. From the little knowledge of the world that I have gathered in this early stage of life of mine, I'd say children like me usually go to schools like this one.

‒ Oh, I get it now, said Benjamin like he had suddenly discovered hot water*, so your love for this school is so extreme, you'd even come here on Sundays, huh? What an admirable little fellow, he continued mockingly.

‒ Hell no! the kid shivered. I just came here to play football! He said and shone his wide smile again. But you still haven't answered my question, mister! continued the kid while staring at him, eyes filled with curiosity. Why are you here, mister? Are you a pervert?

Benjamin's mouth opened in astonishment, and then closed, and his eyes popped out, just like a fish out of water. 'What the fuck is wrong with kids these days?!', he thought to himself. 'This one's definitely way to smart and cheeky for his own good. A pervert?! Bloody hell!' He tried to keep it in, to suppress the gargling laughter that was sneaking it's way out of his mouth, but he couldn't help himself, so he just burst into big loud healthy laughs. He managed to stop doing it just about a millisecond before the little smartass in front of him decided to call the police. Or the nice friendly people dressed in white that give other people free straight jackets ‒ a.k.a. the psychiatrists.

‒ Sorry for looking like a loony just now, he said, still trying to catch his breath after his laughing fit. And sorry to spoil your fun, but I'm no pervert. Not al all.

‒ That's what she…

‒ And don't give me the whole 'That's what she said' speech, 'cause there's really no real need for it. Anyway, as I was saying, I'm not a pervert. I was just visiting. You know, the whole I-just-moved-to-a-new-town tour. So I eventually ended up here ‒ he made a gesture pointing towards the school and its surroundings. But now it's getting late so I should be returning to town. I guess I'll see you later, kid!

He turned around and took off, leaving the shorty alone, probably wondering what the older man meant by 'See you later". After all, the question of the day still remained: "Is the mysterious mister a pervert?"

***

Back in the town, Benjamin was just passing hurriedly on the streets, trying to get home, when a sudden growl made him stop and stare. He looked around but saw nothing, and was ready to start walking again, when the growl came again, stronger. But this time he didn't waste time looking around for the source of it. He realized it was him, or more specifically his stomach. He had passed by a little family restaurant, and had smelled the smell of Paradise, and that had awakened the little beast dwelling inside ‒ a.k.a. his stomach. He figured it would take waaay to long to get home, start and finish cooking ‒ by then he'd be passed out, drooling on the floor and dreaming of a big juicy steak or something. 'Why only smell Heaven, when you can taste it?', he thought and stepped into the restaurant.

It had a really cozy, welcoming atmosphere and it smelled deliciously. He sat down at an empty table, the only empty table available, actually, because the place was full. And then she came. The moment he laid eyes on her, he knew instantly why the little restaurant was so full. She was nothing like the regular waitresses ‒ she didn't wear short uniforms that would expose more than required, she wasn't thin, and didn't have huge boobs, she wasn't a teenager ‒ as a matter of fact, she wasn't even in her twenties. But despite all that, people came to this shop every day. Because they all felt welcomed and at ease, and when she smiled her kind, motherly smile for them, they all felt like they were literally one big happy family.

‒ What shall I get you, sir? she asked.

‒ Well, um, I don't usually eat anywhere else but home, so I'm not sure what to order. Um, do you have fish? And salads? And um, milk?

‒ Actually, we do, sir, the waitress said smiling gently. Is there anything else you'd like to order? Like a dessert or something? she added when she saw Benjamin's troubled face.

‒ Oh… No, that'll be all, thank you. Oh, could you, um, get me the milk while I'm waiting for the food, please?

‒ No problem, answered the woman and left the table.

In less than a minute she was back with a big glass of milk. Benjamin thanked her politely, took the glass and right before taking a sip he started chuckling.

‒ Something funny? asked the woman curiously.

‒ Oh, sorry, said he, still chuckling. I just remembered a strange encounter from earlier today. It was this little short brat I met on the school grounds. He asked me something that left me dumbstruck.

‒ Don't tell me, said the waitress laughing quietly, he asked you if you're a pervert!

‒ That's exactly it! he said surprised. How'd you know?

‒ Well, it must've been little Richard Stone, he's the only kid around here crazy enough to splurt this kind of words to someone. He always does this, and a lot of other things. I guess you could say he's the town's most talented prankster. I'm Ginny, by the way. Ginny Walter, proud owner and waitress of this diner.

‒ And I'm Benjamin James Masters, the new guy in town, said Benjamin shaking her hand.

‒ Oh, then you must be the new Arts teacher, I've heard about you from Jack.

‒ Jack? said Benjamin not understanding.

‒ That would be me, my boy, shouted a lively man from two tables across the room, waving his hand at them. Jack Burton, the Principal, you must surely remember me! Then he got up, took his plate and moved to Ben's table faster than one would assume a fifty year old fat man could.

‒ Hello Mr. Burton! Benjamin said quickly.

‒ We were talking about Richie, said Ginny when Jack saw them grinning from ear to ear, and looked at her inquiringly. They met at school today, when he was taking the town tour, she continued.

‒ He's a funny kid, isn't he? Jack smiled grandfatherly. I bet he called you a pervert, didn't he? he asked and started laughing too.

‒ So he really does do this often, huh?

‒ Yes he does! answered a woman from behind Ben's back. Her voice had a nice texture, like she was singing while talking, and when he turned around, Benjamin was nicely surprised to see the beautiful voice had an even more beautiful face to it. Hi, I'm Marla Ferguson, the Music teacher, she said with her lovely singing voice. And this is my husband Leslie, she continued pointing to an equally beautiful but more stern looking man behind her. He's a lawyer, she whispered softly, then burst into laughs. And since you look like you're new 'round here, it must mean you're the new Arts teacher, let's see… Ben… what was it again?... Ben…nedict Masters?

‒ It's Benjamin Masters, said Ginny showing her sweet smile. Will you all sit at this table? she asked, getting back to her job. That way you can torment your neighbor more effectively.

‒ Say what?!

‒ Don't worry, Benjamin my boy, Jack winked at him, it's only psychological torture, that's what they do best. Just kidding, just kidding! But they are your neighbors, you know, so it's best if you start getting along from right away.

‒ Neighbors?

‒ Yes, neighbors, said Leslie calmly. Our house is the closest to yours, if I'm not mistaken…

‒ And he's never wrong, interrupted Marla.

‒ So if you ever need anything, just come looking for us, or give us a call and we'll be right there. It's only five minutes by car. Or about fifteen by foot, if you feel like walking, he added.

‒ Thanks, Benjamin said. And now where is that food? I'm starving!

***

It was about ten o'clock when Benjamin finally arrived home, with a strange feeling of unease crawling its way from his cold back to his mind.

Sometime around nine in the evening he had reached the Fergusons' residence, where he politely refused to come in for a drink, or get a drive home. He wanted to walk the last part of his road alone, to relax and think about tomorrow, when he was supposed to start his new job. Walking always helped clear his mind, and it was also a good opportunity for him to jog a little, and stay in shape. He was glad he'd picked a house so far away from the town, and so close to the forest, because the air was refreshing and silence was all around him. Benjamin was a people person, and liked socializing quite a lot, but he also knew hot to appreciate a good moment of quietness in the middle of the nature.

So he was jogging his way back home, when he noticed a white silhouette moving away from the clearing and closer to the forest, until it vanished like a ghost. The night sky was clear, the moon and stars lighting his way, and the silhouette appeared to be shining in the moonlight. He followed its steps through the clearing, and reached the border of the forest, and then he stopped. Curiosity was eating him alive, and he really wanted to walk further, but what with being dark and all he wasn't so sure it was an intelligent thing to do. So he walked away, and headed towards home.

By the time he reached home, he had already started to doubt that what he'd seen was something more than a figment of his imagination running wild because of the night. He went straight to bed, decided to keep the weird event out of his mind, at least for now. He was sure that when he wakes up, in the morning, what he'd seen will be already forgotten. After all, there are no real ghosts now, are there?!


* - about that, I'm not sure it makes perfect sense for you, but where I come from, we have this lilttle phrase we use when we talk about discovering something that is actually not so new: 'ai descoperit apa calda', which literally means 'you've discovered hot water' - which is of course nothing new nowadays, so, um, there you have it... I hope it makes more sense now...

anyway, I hope you didn't found this chapter to be completely horrible and/or boring, but I couldn't introduce new characters any other way

And for Rin-Paytah, who got so worried about me not fnishing this story, I'll say it again, I'm sorry for the long delay!

That being said, read and review, and you'll hear from me again!