**I lied. There will probably be another story post after this. Also, I'll explain any of the Jewish stuff. There is Jewish stuff. Don't die of shock. (Even though I know some of you speak Hebrew. Disclaimer: I made up these prayers. Sort of. Don't kill me.)**
***In a totally unrelated category, but one I know most of you will enjoy more than this story, Bo Burnham's going to be in a movie called Sin Bin that is coming out this year. Just thought y'all would appreciate knowing that.***
It seems like I puked out my innards, from my esophagus down. Finally, my sides heaving, I pull it together. I'm trembling with puke aftershocks and my mouth tastes like coconut bile, but I'm alive. Ronnie glances uncomfortably down at me.
"I should've held your hair or something, shouldn't have I? Though admittedly, that isn't the reaction I get when I slay a demon. Usually chicks dig the display of muscles and chivalry." I try to scoff, but my throat burns, so I just end up coughing.
Ronnie looks at me, and something in his face softens. He reaches into his pack and brings out a rag. Delicately, he crouches down in front of me and wipes my face like he's my dad.
"You've had a tough night, haven't you, kiddo?" he asks. I nod miserably.
"C'mere." He beckons. I balk. "It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you!" He holds up his hands in the classic 'I'm nonthreatening' manner. I stumble forward as he retrieves his pack. He shoves all of his assorted weaponry into it. As he finishes, he rummages around in a pocket and finds a t-shirt.
"Here ya go." I hands it to me. I realize with a start that my dress is ripped and I'm just standing here with my bra hanging out. Suddenly embarrassed, I snatch the shirt and turn my back to Ronnie and Bruce's unseeing eyes.
"Oi, are you embarrassed? Oh, god, I'm sorry I didn't get that to ya sooner. My bad." I can almost hear him smiling. Also, I finally realize that he has an accent. It's very faintly Irish.
"I would bet a lot of money that I don't have that you didn't mind." I retort, pulling the shirt over my head. It smells like strawberry gum and soap. "It's not like I'm anything special. You probably go around saving damsels in distress all the time. That, and my bra isn't even that pretty. So stop grinning, your glee is palpable." I turn, scowling. He's trying to hide his grin behind a hand, but I can see the mirth in his eyes.
"To date," he begins, still grinning like a cat that's got the canary, "seventeen minutes is the shortest time it's taken for me to get a girl in my clothes." He somehow smiles wider, his face about to split in two.
"You know what-" I say, pulling it off. He stops me, grabbing my elbows.
"Keep your shirt on!" He says. He makes a face, then laughs. Oh, his unintentional pun is so hilarious. "Honestly though, I can't get you out of here with your dress torn open like that. They'll lynch me. I'm too pretty to be lynched." He strikes a model pose.
"So?! Dude! I was just almost-" I can't say it "-'you-knowed' by a Godzilla demon! And then you fucking behead the thing! And then you make fucking puns?! Excuse me if I don't laugh. All I want to do is go home. Just take me home." I pull the shirt back down and cross my arms in front of my chest. I fight back the tears that are threatening to pour out. "And I wouldn't care if they lynched you!" I choke out around the huge ball of tears that has taken residence in my throat.
"Wow. Okay then. My bad." Ronnie smiles nervously. I glare at him. He holds up his hands in defeat and retrieves his pack. He opens the door, all courteous. I'm almost out of the room, out of that nightmare, when Ronnie smacks his head and lets the door swing closed.
"Dam - I mean, darn! Ladies present. Hey girl, ever seen a demon burial? This is a special treat. Normally the people I save have screamed their heads off and run away or have blacked out. So..." He sets his pack down and retrieves Bruce's liberated cranium.
I freeze between the door and Ronnie. He arranges Bruce so he looks like he's sleeping, or as much as a Godzilla demon can look like it's sleeping. Then he takes little baggies of herbs and begins to sprinkle a mixture over Bruce's prone form.
"I usually do this alone, so I just think the words, but since I've and audience today, I suppose I'll speak them. It's been a while since I've done this out loud, so pardon my cadence." He crumples the baggies and stashes them in his pack.
I take tentative steps forward. Ronnie stands, holding his hands behind his back, his head bowed. He clears his throat.
"Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam. You give us protection from evil and You spurn the wicked. Take unto you this immortal tortured soul and in exchange, return its form to Gehenna from whence it came. In respect for the dead, I pray.
Yitgadal veyitkadash shmei raba bealma divera chireutei,
veyamlich malchutei bechayeichon uveyomeichon
uvechayei dechol beit Yisraeil,
ba-agala uvizeman kariv, veimeru: amein.
Yehei shemei raba mevarach lealam ulealmei almaya.
veyitpa-ar veyitromam veyitnasei,
veyit-hadar veyitaleh veyit-halal shemei dekudesha,
berich hu, le-eila min kol birechata veshirata,
tushbechata venechemata, da-amiran bealma, veimeru: amein
Yehei shelama raba min shemaya vechayim
aleinu veal kol Yisraeil, veimeru: amein.
Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu
veal kol Yisraeil, veimeru: amein."
Ronnie says the whole thing with his eyes closed, a look of reverence on his face. With the final 'amein' he lights a match and drops it onto Bruce. Bruce lights up like he was dosed in gasoline and he burns and burns.
I catch a glimpse of Ronnie in the fire. In the firelight, I can finally see him. He's a James Dean lookalike, with pale hair and dark eyes. He's smiling as Bruce barbecues on the ground, a sad smile, contrasting with the demonic lighting that the flickering fire is giving off. The light peters out and again we are submerged in darkness. This time it seems impenetrable after the bright fire.
"Won't they find the ashes?" I whisper, not wanting to break the silence after such a tense, spiritual moment. I stare at the still smoldering pile of what used to be Bruce.
"No. Watch." Ronnie crouches and blows on the ashes. They puff up, swirl into a cloud, and fly out of a crack in one of the windows.
"What just happened?" I'm incredulous. Did what I just see actually just happen?
"Well," says Ronnie, leaning back onto his haunches before awkwardly getting to his feet, dusting his hands. "That is what happens at a demon burial. I sent its earthly remains back to Gehenna, and its soul to Olam Haba. Or that's what's supposed to happen." He picks his pack up and opens the door again.
"This is without a doubt the weirdest night of my life." I say, walking out the door. He chuckles softly as I pass.
"Hopefully it stays that way. If they get any weirder, you'll have beat me on the weirdness scale. And I practically own that top spot." He shuts the door quietly, as to not disturb any of the couples. None of them seemed to notice what had just gone down in the past twenty three minutes.
"C'mon girl. Let's get you home." He steers me out of the hallway by my elbow. We're almost out when he stops abruptly and reaches into his pack. "D'you want some gum?" He holds out a stick to me. I grab it greedily and snarf it. My mouth tastes like barf. Now it tastes like strawberry.
We make it back out into the dance and manage to walk unscathed through the mosh pit. When we get to the doors, Ronnie wraps an arm around my shoulders and smiles wide at the chaperone.
"Hey," his Irish accent is gone, replaced by a perfect imitation of a teenager from Weatherton High. Oh, God, do we really sound like that? "We ate curry earlier at that place downtown, you know the one," the chaperone nods. I try to look as pitiful as possible, seeing where Ronnie is going, and it isn't too hard to fake. I feel miserable. "And something didn't sit to well at all. She just puked her, like, guts out for the past, like, twenty minutes. Can I take her home?"
This guy is crazy. First he saves me from getting raped by Godzilla, then he kills the freaking thing, and now he's giving me an alibi? This night is just too weird.
"Sure, sure. Get her home. Drink some fluids, sweetie." The chaperone opens the door with a sympathetic smile, ushering us out.
Ronnie rubs my shoulder like a comforting boyfriend as we walk down the path. He smells good, like soap and fire. It's a boyish smell. I lean in closer and sniff.
"Do I smell good, girl?" Irish accent's back.
"Um...No, it's just my nose, my nose is running. And I'm Tris. My name's Tris, not girl." I detach, staring him down, daring him to contradict me. I begin to shiver. How could I have forgotten a coat when it's almost November?!
"Gi - Tris, it's cold out. I know and you know that your nose ain't running, but it will be if you walk to my car without a coat. It's a long walk, and I'm warm enough for the both of us. C'mon, girl." He holds his arm out, beckoning with a small smile. I hesitate, then the cold gets the better of me. I huddle under his arm. He really is very warm. It has to be the flannel.
"See, isn't that better?" He rubs my shoulder gently. I nod. We walk under a streetlight outside the center, and he stops. "Did he hit you? In the face?" He asks, tilting my chin with his thumb so he can see better.
"Yeah, it's no big deal. It just throbs a bit." I turn away. It throbs a lot. I feel like my face is broken, but I've puked in front of this guy, so I don't want to seem any weaker than I already am.
"It is a big deal. It looks like he broke your face." Can Ronnie read minds? He inspects my face closer, this thumb rough and calloused under my chin.
"When we get to my car, I'll give you something that will fix you up. I promise that tomorrow you'll feel good as new." He gives me my chin back, but I stay turned toward him. In the fluorescence I can see him clearly. He has dark green eyes, almost black, and his hair is pale blond. He smiles at me, his eyes betraying a hint of tenderness. I decide Ronnie reminds me a bit of my dad.
"Let's get you home to your da. The sooner you get there, Tris, the sooner this will seem like this never happened."
It takes about ten minutes to walk to Ronnie's car. It's tucked away in the alley between a nail salon and a sub shop. The car is black, and old, but extremely well cared for. It gleams in the night.
"Hop in," says Ronnie, tossing his pack in the back seat.
I gingerly sit myself in the car. My legs throb. As does my face. I lean back into the leather seat and just breathe, closing my eyes.
"Here." My eyes jerk open. Ronnie is holding out a flask. I take it.
"Drink up, then!"
"What if it's poison? How do I know it's not poison?"
"Tris, I just stopped a Ski'reil demon from eating you-" I shudder "-I think you can trust me when I say I don't want you dead." He inclines his head. "Drink."
I do. Whatever it is, it's bitter as hell. I splutter, and hack-cough for a minute. Ronnie eyes me, watching warily. I hold my hands above my head, gulping down breaths.
"What on earth are ya doing?"
"Holding" cough "your hands" cough "above your head" cough cough cough "helps you" cough "breath" cough cough "after choking."
"Did your da tell you that? Smart man, your da, knowing all those bits and bobs."
"He is." I hand the flask back. I feel less throbby already.
"Alright, Tris, I feel that you deserve to go home, kiddo. What say you? Shall we?" He starts the car, and downshifts.
I lean back, letting the hum of the car lull me into a stupor.
I feel something brushing my hair off of my forehead, and I open my eyes weakly. I must have fallen asleep. Ronnie is removing his hand from my forehead. I blink and try to move, but I can't. Suddenly my door is open, and Ronnie is lifting me up, carrying me like I'm a sleepy toddler.
"Put me...put me down..." I wriggle limply, then give up. Ronnie is just so warm. I snuggle into his arms.
"I'm your friend Paul from Trig," he whispers to me as he shifts me to ring the doorbell.
"I take PreCalc," I whisper back, my tongue fumbling over the words, like I'm trying to talk through cotton.
"PreCalc then. Ah, and let me do the talking, kiddo. You sound drunk as a skunk. Try and wake up a bit." He glances through the side window and rings the bell again. I hear scuffling inside.
"Here's your da. I'm going to put you down, alright? Look ill now."
Like I need to pretend. Standing is making me naseous.
Dad answers the door. He unlocks both deadbolts and the chain, the rattling metal clanking away inside, diminished by the door. He's talking to himself.
"Who on God's green earth would be coming around ringing doorbells, like some travelling salesman, peddling his wa- Beatrice! What on earth?! Kiddo, what happened? Are you hurt? Who the hell is this? Tris?" He grabs me by the hand and drags me inside, eying Ronnie like he is the devil incarnate.
"Sir, I'm sorry for the scare. I'm Paul, Tris's friend from PreCalc. We were hanging out at the dance, and she must've eaten something bad because she was puking her guts out. It must've been twenty minutes till she was through, sir. It was nasty." He hands my bag over. How'd he found that?
"Tris, did you really puke? Was it the curry?" He wipes my sweaty hair off of my face, searching.
"It sure smelled like curry, sir." Ronnie remarks from the door. Again, his Irish accent is gone.
"I'm asking my daughter. You're a really good friend, Paul, for bringing her home, but I need to care for Tris right now. So thank you, but now you need to go." Dad is icy. Arctic. Ronnie smiles at me.
"I understand completely, Mr. Hunter. Again, sorry it took me so long to get her home." He reaches out and pats my shoulder. "Feel better, Tris. See you in PreCalc." He walks to his car, and drives away. Dad and I watch him go, and I know in my heart of hearts that I'll never see him again.
As soon as Ronnie peals away, Dad guides me to the stairs, makes me sit. Then he does up the door, the deadbolts clicking with a dull finality.
"Tris?" Dad crouches in front of me, concern all over his face.
"I just want to go to bed." I whisper. I'm so tired.
"Alright," he says. He picks me up, and carries me just like Ronnie was not even five minutes ago. He brings me to my room. My bed feels like a dream. I'm out like a light.
Okay, so that is the third installment, and I promise the next one will be the last story post for a while.
I hope all of you survived Irene, if you're on the East Coast. I know I did. And today looks like it's going to be beautiful. Which is awesome since it is my last day of summer!
Ahhhh, school starts tomorrow!!!!!
For those of you already in school, I'm so sorry. Seriously.
Anyway, I have to go do shit. I don't know what, but I have shit to do.
Oh yeah, the Hebrew stuff! I said I'd explain that, didn't I?
Okey dokey. Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam. That is just a basic blessing. It means 'blessed are you, Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe'. The really long prayer is the Mourner's Kaddish. I'm not translating it. You can look it up online if you want a translation. Gehenna is a Jewish idea of Hell. Olam Haba literally means 'the world to come' and is a Jewish idea of Heaven. I'm not an expert on either, so that is all I'm going to say.
What's blue and smells like red paint?
Love and kisses,