Modern day Chicago, the wind city, home to the Sears Tower and Chicago-style pizza. Chicago is where my story takes place, and if you dare to stick around and listen: you've got guts.
My name is Richelle Payton, I'm almost seventeen, and I've been wishing for adventure my whole life. What I've never expected was that even today, after my death, I still couldn't rest in peace. Whether it was my crazy imagination, or the fact that a clown named Harry Falls Clearwater stole my shoe, I still ended up dead. How I'm telling my story must be bugging you, so I agree to let my deepest darkest secrets out, but only for you.
The wind was whipping around hard and fast, not exactly normal for my hometown, but still, it didn't seem to bug anyone else. Pedestrians cluttered the street, most using this afternoon's overcast as an excuse to get home early. Frankly, I'd rather just stick around outside. The rain always made me feel good and happy. (Also I just didn't want to go back to my foster dad's house.)
As everyone scrambled inside, I sat on a bench and watched last minute cabbies drop off CEOs and their assistants. There's nothing like witnessing a famous businessman lose his bearings and slip in fresh mud. It was pretty hilarious to me.
The last assistant for James Shuman stepped out of the cabbie and said something into her Bluetooth. Already the rain was pouring down and her nice business suit and papers were soaking wet. Internally I laughed at her. They all tried to impress James, the owner of Toyota. I could understand it too; he was tall in stature, with slicked back black hair and a Hollywood white smile. His eyes were the color of stormy rainclouds. (Yeah, I've met him before.) He was easy on the eyes, but what people didn't understand until they got to know him, was that he was a huge nerd. He would correct you on any grammar mistakes you made. He had a calculator in his pocket at all times. Though why he does, get's me. He has his time charts to fifty memorized completely, and if you asked him how much sugar to put in a quadroopled chocolate chip recipe, on the spot he'd give you a confident answer. No need to check on it: he was always right. He was a nerd in other subjects, but mostly English and Math, two subjects that never go together easily.
Oh, one more thing? He is my biological father.
From across the park, James Shuman winked at me and disappeared into a corporate building. I felt my fake smile shrivel into something of disgust. Already I was soaked to the bone, so I decided to hang out in a music store a few blocks down. The store manager, Rick, would always let me listen to demos for free. My favorite band was 30 Seconds to Mars, but I had listened to every song Rick owned by them, so I resorted to Linkin Park and Three Days Grace. Granted, it was a drastic change, but they were my other favorite bands.
Things were different today though. For one thing, Matilda Peterson, a girl who worked for Rick at the front counter, was there; which turned on my red alarm. Matilda hated me. She always sent me out if ONE thing went wrong. (Which was often,) Rick liked my better than Matilda, so that also opened up a position for "Matilda's-hated-enemy". Lastly, I once spilled chocolate ice cream on Matilda's white blouse while attending Rick's mother's funeral. (Don't ask; Rick has some serious issues.)
So when I walked into the store, I narrowly missed a sweep of her Medusa-like gaze and hid behind a rack of CD's. It was because of those actions that Medusa—I mean Matilda—wanted see through shelves. (Yeah I know, she's crazy.) Rick really didn't care.
Anyways, I switched into clumsy spy-mode and listened in on how Matilda handled this really weird customer. (The guy looked like a clown!)
"Are you going to pay or not?" Her annoying, nasally voice cut through the weird man's browsing.
"Oh, yes." He slammed down a stack of CD's and grinned stupidly at Matilda.
She scoffed and scanned the items. "Card?"
"How about a check?" His voice regarded Matilda as if she were five years old.
"Okay…" She frowned, but never stopped that annoying chomping of the gum.
The guy wrote out a check and gave it to Matilda. Rudely, she took it and read his name. "Your middle name is 'Falls'?"
"Harry Falls Clearwater," He cleared his throat.
She shrugged and finished the purchase, boredly repeating the motto, "Listen hard, have fun, and remember: Rick's music emporium is always here."
A snort escaped my mouth which brought two pairs of eyes to my attention. Evil ones, and wild ones. "Wuh-oh." I bounded upward, just as Matilda rounded the corner and began a wild goose chase with me. At one point I remember losing my shoe, but I didn't stop.
By the time Matilda gave up, the man dressed like a clown had just left the store, sporting his purchases, and (you guessed it) my shoe.
"Hey!" I called after him, beginning to follow. "That's my shoe!"
The man paid me no attention and just continued walking like nothing ever happened. He was a mugger that didn't even mug me! I was already tired from running away from Matilda, but I took off after the clown. Unsuprisingly, he turned into an alley, which worried me. Was this a trap? Quickly I evaluated my options. I couldn't defend myself well, but I bet I could bite or punch. Thing is, I had absolutely no fighting experience whatsoever, so I knew I was screwed if I tried to fight to my shoe.
I know what you're thinking: just ditch the shoe. The thing is, these shoes were given to me by my birth mother when I was younger. I wasn't about to lose them to a clown.
I slowed to a walk when I neared the alley, already my heart was pounding and my legs were shaking. My body was beginning to react to some serious fear. I was almost to the alley when a heavy hand clamped down on my shoulder, literally making me scream. A hand wrapped around my mouth, cutting off my air supply for several seconds. It took me a minute to realize it wasn't a creepy clown. It was a man. A tall man. A man with black slicked hair and a Hollywood white smile. My father was there. The English nerd. The computer nerd. The mathematician and scientist. He was here, telling me to calm down. Of all people. Shoot me.
"Be still, Richelle." He demanded, pulling me away from the alley corner. James was very strict and tense, his voice grave. "Harry Falls Clearwater was recently fired from a minimum wage mechanic job at a Toyota car dealership in Ohio. He came here with a vengeance for me. Why he'd take your shoe…I'm not quite sure, but it must be a trap. That is why you're coming with me."
I was still trying to comprehend the clown while he dragged me towards the nearest subway station. I wondered why we'd need to go in there. "Hang on!" I begged, trying to pull away. His grip was a little too tight on my arm.
"What?" He snapped, looking around carefully.
"My foot is cold. Can I at least get a new shoe?"
"No, you'll have to deal without."
Cruel. Well alright, we can play it the hard way. I followed silently while he dragged me down a few steps and passed a booth. "I already got tickets for the train, but you need to remember that once we get to Detroit, there is no coming back."
"Back to Chicago?" I asked worriedly.
That one word said it all. Even he didn't expect to come back. Okay, whatever, that's fine with me. (Not really, I'm just playing cool for my readers.) We disappeared underground and passed a few homeless people on our way to the boarding train. People were glad to be out of the rain, but they all looked gloomy and depressed. Not exactly a warm welcoming. People recognized James though, so I figured that was some good luck. Maybe. It'd be great if someone stood up and pulled me away. I'd go back to my foster dad's house now, just so I wouldn't have to deal with any shoe-stealing clowns…
"Shoot. He's here already." James muttered under his breath.
"Who do you think?" He shot me a look and began pulling me towards the nearest gift shop. Souvenirs were everywhere, most of big city items and expensive looking knick knacks. But that clever man found a T-shirt and a funny looking hat that said Chicago, enjoy the wind. I couldn't help but point and laugh, but obviously he was a little over the edge. He pushed me out and put my hair up in a pony tail, yanked off my jacket, and rolled down my pants. I looked only slightly different, but probably enough for James.
Once we boarded the train, James finally relaxed. "He won't notice us for a while, but I can't be sure once we get off at Detroit."
"Why Detroit? I hate that place. There's NOTHING out there." I whispered.
He shrugged, "It's more conspicuous."
"It's more hidden." He dumbed up for me.
"Oh." Well. He didn't have to use such big words. So I may not be the smartest, I still know my periodic table. So ha!
It wasn't time for any commentary though, because just a few seats down from us, Harry Falls Clearwater, with his crazy yellow balloon pants and bright orange and blue jacket, was holding a green converse shoe tucked under his left arm and rocking back and forth. His eyes darted around ferociously. For a minute, we locked gazes and I had to rip my eyes away from that wild look of his. Harry was up and running for the emergency stop button in seconds, which made James jump up and grab Harry's jacket. The clown stumbled forward, dropping my shoe and the many CD's he had bought earlier. I stood, just as other passengers around me stood. "Crap." I muttered.
"Crap is another word for waste—" James was cut off when Harry's left hook came in contact with James's nose. I flinched at the sight, but James was merely up and kicking at Harry. I grinned when Harry cried out, but people around us were getting agitated, so they pulled out cellphones and called the cops.
Before I could react, the train was boarded by silly looking minion clowns. "God." I groaned, making my way to the back.
"HEY! YOU STOP!" A clown shouted, and I turned to see him chasing me through the crowd. I squealed and sped up, hurrying to get to the next passenger car, until one popped out of my exit and tackled me to the ground. I cried out curses and tried hitting him, but like I said before, I had no fighting experience. My hit was pretty weak. All it did was annoy him. His big red nose bonked into my forehead and made a loud SQUEAK!!! I flinched and tried to get out from under him, but he had most of his weight on me and I cried out for help. People everywhere, just innocent passengers, were being tied down and tackled by other freaky clowns. I knew this was a little odd, so I gave up and tried to see what my biological father was doing. Oh shoot. He was already tied up. What happened to him being all awesome and spy-like? Not a chance, Richelle, I told myself.
The clown above me squeaked again, and I struggled to see what he was doing. My eyes zeroed in on a very ugly looking drill, battery powered. On the tip was a triangular point, pretty sharp if you ask me. I kicked and screamed again, because I will admit, that thing was very scary. If he was going to use it on you, you'd scream and cry for your mother too.
I didn't want to play operation today, so I just did everything I could.
"Richelle! STOP MOVING!" I heard James's voice, but I didn't care. Stupid! I'm not about to let him pierce my heart.
The clown cackled and sent it flying towards my face, but I whipped my head away, causing pain, but oh well. This caught him off guard and he went flying backwards by a tall police man who had finally boarded the train.
I'm going to stop right here, because I think you should realize, that I'm not going to tell you about how I died. Let's just say when I tried to get off the train, that English nerd shot me with a pistol and I went down. So, how did I end up living to tell you the story? I never exactly lived. I just sort of told a spirit story and let the police have it so that STUPID clown could get put in jail.
They didn't believe me.