Hey, guys, I’m back! So sorry for the long time away. Been super busy with school (senior year is a bit of a bitch in university, but I got this!). Anyway, here is Chapter Eight. This is my personal favorite chapter as it gives you a glimpse of how Alma, Momma, and Kansy were trying to fix things as best they could for Manny; you also get a bit of glimpse into Manny’s emotions and mindset about what happened to him and Kansy. This was such an emotional chapter to get through and bring to life. I’m very proud of it. Also, things make much more sense if you read Chapters One through Seven first before tackling this bad boy. WARNING: this chapter has some very offensive language and violent crimes directed toward Manny, Kansy, and Alma. Just a heads up. As always, comments are welcome! Give it a like if you want. Neophyte Punk, over and out!
They had found out. One of them found out about them and blabbed to the rest of the team. They waited until after baseball practice, until after coach had supposedly gone home. But Kansy remembered seeing his car in the parking lot when they knocked him down and kicked him in the stomach, back, crotch, ass, legs. They avoided kicking in their faces, though. They had their fists for that. They wanted to hurt them and get their message across (“No fudge packers on the team!” “Dirty little faggots!” “Cocksuckers, you freaks!”), but they weren’t willing to kill them over it. Not yet, at least.
Manny and Kansy put up a good fight. Got in a number of good licks to most of them, but there were just too many. Manny got the worst of it. They hit him in the stomach with a bat. Over and over and over. He spent a week-and-a-half in the hospital for fractured ribs and a concussion. (Doctors couldn’t believe that he didn’t have any internal bleeding. “It’s a miracle,” one of them said. “That’s all I can see it as. A pure miracle.”) Both of their faces were bruised and swollen to hell.
When Manny came home, he wasn’t the same. He stayed in his room and stopped going to school, stopped running. It was even a challenge to get him to go to the front porch for a talk.
“We have to go, man,” said Kansy, after managing to drag Manny outside. The setting sun dove behind the river birch trees and twilight danced above them. “We don’t and those fuckers will know they got to us.”
“Wake the fuck up, Kans!” Manny threw his cigarette at him. “They already go to us. We both got the shit beat out of us! I’m not going back there. Besides, I quit the team this morning. Called coach and he accepted without any hesitation.”
“Oh, what the hell? You’re doing exactly what they want!” Kansy pushed Manny, forgetting that his ribs were still sore. Manny grabbed at his right side and winced in pain. “They want this. This whole fucking town wants to see us give up and give in. We can’t do that. We aren’t doing anything wrong! Goddamnit, Manny, they have no right to tell us how we should feel about each other! I fucking love you and nobody’s gonna tell me that’s wrong!”
“There’s no place for people like us in this town, Kansy.”
“Two options, then. We go to school and walk down those hallways beaten up but holding hands or we hold out for graduation then pack our shit and get the fuck out of here and never look back. We’re both going to UT anyway. We can move to San Marcos and find a place to call our own.”
“How is everything so easy for you?”
“Because I know we have something good here. Something pure. We just have to hold onto that until we can leave this fucking town in our rear-view mirror.”
“I’m still not going to school.”
“You don’t have to. I’ll bring your work home. I’m going back because I’m done hiding. I want the whole school to see what they did to us, Man. I don’t want to keep who I am a secret anymore.”
Manny reached over and caressed Kansy’s cheek. He leaned in and placed their foreheads together. “That’s what I love most about you,” he whispered softly. “You’re so strong…like Alma. Stronger and braver than me.”
“You make me brave, Man,” whispered Kansy.
Manny smiled a little (the first in days) and closed his eyes. “You’re both so tough. Tough like I could never be.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I’m scared, Kans. I jump whenever there’s noise outside. I mean, I can’t even go get the fucking mail without turning over my shoulder.” Manny pulled away from Kansy, biting his thumb nail and fighting back tears. He stood up and paced around, breathing rapidly. “I’m scared. I have fucking nightmares, Kansy. Only it’s not a baseball team, it’s complete strangers that are beating me to death. I mean, that’s a real fucking possibility, isn’t it? If guys that we’ve known since we were in diapers, guys we’ve had over for dinner God knows how many times, can put all that aside and beat the shit out of us, what’s stopping strangers from doing the same damn thing? I’m fucking scared shitless, and I don’t know what to do to make it stop!”
“Make what stop?” Kansy tried to grab Manny, but he pushed him away.
“Everything! I just want everything to stop! I just want everything to be still and quiet so I can breathe! I feel like I’m drowning!” Manny turned away from Kansy and sobbed quietly. “I want…I want to stop feeling like such a piece of shit. I want to go into fucking town and not have eyes on me all the time. I just…I just want to stop being scared. I feel so alone.”
Kansy wrapped his arms around Manny and held him, planting small kisses on his neck. “Those fuckers have no right to make you feel this way. I’m sorry, Manny. I tried to stop it, but there were too many of them. I tried to protect you. But nobody is ever going to hurt you again like they did that night. And you’re not alone. I’m right here.” He held Manny tighter, afraid he would fade away into his nightmares if he let go. “I’m holding onto you. We’re all right here holding onto you.”
“You, Momma, and Alma. The Divine Comedy.” Manny choked out a little laugh on Kansy’s shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s us against the world.”
They heard Alma’s truck driving up the gravel driveway. Kansy placed a small, chaste kiss on Manny’s lips before letting him go. Manny wiped his face and winced at the bruises there. “They’re worried enough as it is. Don’t tell them what I said. I just wanted to let some steam out.”
They could tell by the way Alma drove that she was pissed. Even in the dim light, they could see Momma bouncing up and down on the bumpy road. The truck jerked to a stop next to them and Momma jumped out as the engine’s rumbling stopped.
“Nina rebelde! Que casi nos matas!”
“I’m guessing things at the sheriff’s office didn’t go so well,” said Kansy.
“No, they fucking didn’t,” said Alma, jumping out of the truck. She walked around to them, still red-cheeked from anger. “He wouldn’t even consider arresting the team because he can’t arrest boys for being boys. Never you mind that it was assault. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Just boys being boys. They can settle it themselves.’ Pinche culero. You know, I wonder if I were to kick his daughter’s ass, would he feel the same? Oh, sorry Sheriff, you can’t arrest me. It’s that time of the month. You know, just girls being girls. Imbecil.”
“Violence is not going to solve anything, mija. You’re just going to make this worse. We have to show them that we are better than they are,” said Momma.
“Well, it’d make me feel a hell of a lot better.”
“We’re not giving up that easy. We’re sending letters to the district attorney and asking for help. They are not going to get away with this. Not this. I don’t care how many letters I have to send to people or how many news stations I have to talk to, they are not getting away with this.” Momma looked at Manny with heavy eyes that screamed a silent apology (I’m sorry for not being there. I’m sorry for letting you down. I’m sorry for being a shit mother. Perdoname, forgive me, I’m sorry.) before plastering on her everything’s-going-to-be-okay smile. “Mijo, it’s so good you’re out of your room. Como te sientes?” Momma touched his forehead with the back of her hand to check if he had a fever. She always did that even if whatever they had had nothing to do with a fever.
“I’m fine, Momma. Just getting some air.” Manny smiled but Alma caught his eyes. Something was wrong.
“Good. I’m gonna fix dinner. Kansy, will you be staying?”
“Yes, ma’am, if that’s alright?”
“Esta bien. You’re more than welcome. You like enchiladas, verda?”
“Yes, ma’am, I do when you’re making them.”
“Well, we may be eating a bit later than usual, okay,” said Momma walking into the house.
“Caute,” smiled Alma.
“Cauta,” smiled Manny.
They opened arms and hugged. It was the silent-voluble hug that only siblings can understand. Soft and strong in embrace, but thunderous in emotion. Each knew what the other was feeling. Panic and anger. Fear and loneliness.
“You’re okay now, alright. You’re here and you’re okay now.”
“Yeah, I know.” Manny let her go and smiled. “I’m gonna go help Momma with dinner. I haven’t helped her in a while. I want to do that with her.”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice,” encouraged Kansy.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Alma’s voice sounded more frantic than she meant it to.
“I’m fine. I’m better. See you guys inside.”
They waited for him to disappear into the house before talking.
“Did you tell the sheriff what they did to our food at school?” asked Kansy, lighting two cigarettes. He passed one to Alma.
“Yep. But apparently somebody cumming inside our school lunches isn’t that big of a problem. Especially since there’s no evidence. Some asshole threw everything away while you and I were throwing up in the bathroom.”
“They don’t give a shit. This whole fucking town is becoming one giant shit of a bully and there is no one to stop it.”
Alma exhaled smoke. “Did he say if he was going back to school?”
“He said he’s not. He’s scared.”
“He’s been having really bad nightmares.”
“Yeah, he said that too.”
“It’s better that he doesn’t go to school, though. Things are way too out of control there. We can’t be with him every second at school. We can’t protect him. At least here at home I know he’s safe. Nobody can hurt him.” They stayed quiet for a moment and listened. Cardinals chirped and grasshoppers began their nightly serenade. The cool wind moved through the trees, a rushing waterfall sound danced around them. “He feels lonely…and I don’t know how to make it stop for him.”
“How did you know?”
“He’s my twin. I know. I always know.” She looked at Kansy, panic in her eyes. “Same way I know something’s coming. I don’t know why but I feel that…death is coming for him. Kansy, I’m afraid some fucker is gonna try and kill him soon.”