“We should not be in here. This is a bad idea.”
I watched as Ozzie dug through the clothes in the back of Recognitions. We had broken into the store late at night. Recognitions was the store that had all the hot clothing everyone would be wearing the first day of school. I’m talking labels. Ozzie wasn’t stealing. He just wanted to know what the hottest new trends would be because he HAD to top them. He was a dramatic like that. You think that stopped him. Nope.
Ozzie didn’t give a damn. Ozzie was the Honeybadger.
“There is no way Adrian McCoy is going to beat me this year,” Ozzie stated.
Adrian McCoy was Ozzie’s archnemesis. Adrian was the other fashionable guy in school. The difference between Ozzie and Adrian was straight and Ozzie was a big queen. Adrian also was really popular. He didn’t seem to try. It just came naturally. The girls loved him and Adrian got a ton of attention. I had no idea why Ozzie would compete with someone like Adrian but it didn’t matter.
“You guys have two completely different styles,” I tried to tell him.
“Honey, there are only two styles. Hot and Not.”
“And that is not…”
Ozzie had picked up a dashiki with the brightest colors imaginable.
“You think. What if that is the hot new trend?” Ozzie stated, “We need to go find us some dashikis. I bet you everyone is going to be in school wearing this shit but us. And we will be the late boys. I REF– USE…”
“HEY, HEY what are you guys doing in here!”
The flashlight came streaming through the room. I was sure it was like a security guard or something. I knew we would get in trouble for being in here.
“Shit time to book it!”
“What were you thinking?” Pristine asked, “You sneak out in the middle of the night with that…that peasant to steal! I didn’t know you had to steal. Are we poor now? I didn’t get the memo. Preston, are we poor now?”
Preston was the butler. I was sitting around being chastised clearly after being caught out with Ozzie. Pristine wasn’t my mother. My parents had died from a car crash 7 years ago when I was 10. Since then I had been living with the Hills. They were my godparents and truth be told they were loaded. I mean they had a butler for godsakes. A damn good one too he even had an English accent and the old white man reminded me a love of Alfred off of Batman.
Preston was loyal to Pristine to the core. I wasn’t surprised when he shook his head almost immediately, “No Ma’am.”
“Now Quashie, your mother and I go way back but you’ve been nothing but trouble since you came here. You’ve been acting out and I don’t get it. I know it’s hard but that she died years ago. I look at you…like a son and this hurts me…it hurts me!”
Queue the waterworks. Pristine started to cry almost immediately. Her husband Oscar Hill even rolled his eyes. She had dragged him in the room for the lecture as well hoping he’d provide her emotional support but he looked bored out of his mind. I called him Mr. Hill because he was old as dust. Pristine had to be 40 and Mr. Hill was pushing 70 something. He didn’t act like it. He was actually my favorite in the house which didn’t mean much.
“I’m so sorry Pristine,” I stated, “I’ll never act out again.
I wasn’t sorry. She was being a drama queen as usual. I knew I’d have to apologize a few more times to stop her crying. Mr. Hill looked like he was a half asleep just standing there. I almost wanted to laugh but I knew it’d just make Pristine worse.
That was when Pristine said the unthinkable, “Why don’t you just stop calling me Mom?”
I’d rather die.
“He’s not going to do that Mom, you have to be crazy. First off you didn’t adopt him, second off he knew his Mom. That’s ridiculous for you to ask.”
This came from Lauren who Pristine’s daughter. She was 14 and she was the REAL rebel of the house. She was the only one in the house that didn’t back off her mom. She was a 14 year old devil and the real problem child in the house. She was beautiful just like her mother, tall, caramel complexion and not a flaw to think of. She could easily have been a model but she seemed to run her life just being a BITCH to everyone around her.
Luckily Lauren came in handy at times like this. She easily took the attention off of me. It was just seconds until Pristine turned to Lauren and started to put her wrath on her.
“Why would you say SUCH a thing—“
I used that as my queue to escape.
Luckily there were a ton of escape routes in the Hill Mansion. The Hill Mansion had been in the Hill family for years. Mr. Hill got it from his father who got it from his father. Mr. Hill was old money…literally. The house wasn’t like a figurative mansion it was a real mansion. I loved the idea of escaping away from Pristine’s nonsense. I made my way out of the dining room and into the front. There was the huge grand staircase with ivory statues in front of it. The Hill Mansion used to be a hotel and it still had a very old Hollywood feel to it. Pristine wanted to update it a million times but Mr. Hill refused. I actually agreed with Pristine on that one. This house was creepy as hell.
I made my way up the grand staircase to the second floor and then climbed then walked through the pathway on the second floor that led to another staircase. My bedroom was on the third floor. It overlooked the beautiful garden out back. The gardeners came everyday and I would watch from my bedroom.
I laid on my bed which was an old fashion Victorian thing and put my earphones in. Then I took out my canvas and I started to sketch. Sketching was what took me away from all this. Art was my life.
And I’d lose myself once again in the Hill Mansion but unlike when I was a child it wasn’t purposely. This time I’d lose myself in my mind and create magic on paper. It was my love. It was everything that meant anything to me.
I was drawing the room around me catching the light. Then I realized something.
I walked up close to it and saw in wood something scratched on the bedpost.
I put down the canvas and looked at what it was.
I wondered who it was…Jonah? I didn’t know why it even mattered but it seemed so strange to me.
“Did Prissy bitch yesterday after the cops brought you home?” Ozzie asked.
“Of course. She called you a peasant,” I stated and laughed.
He laughed. He shared the laugh with Ms. Simons who was the cook. We were having breakfast before school start. It wasn’t rare for Ozzie to come over to have breakfast. Ms. Simon had the best breakfast ever. Pristine would always whine and complain about Ozzie being there but he never seemed to give a damn and honestly he was my best friend so I wasn’t going to stop him either.
“She’s been a little sensitive lately,” he stated.
He was being sarcastic of course. Pristine had been an ongoing joke to us since I met him. It was our own personal entertainment.
“She’s upset that she’s not in Mr. Hill’s new movie.”
Mr. Hill was a big shot director. As if he didn’t already have enough money he was one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He had met a young actress by the name of Pristine on the set of one of his movies and married her. I could see how he fell in love. Pristine was like a black Nicole Kidman. She had all this elegance that oozed off of her. Mr. Hill was of course still a big name while Pristine was something like a washed up actress. She was DEFINITELY a “has been” and never made a big enough mark. Now that she was middle aged she’d been replaced and of course we in the household never heard the end of it.
“Listen good black ass!”
I rolled my eyes. I knew who it was already. Only one person called me that. It was Pristine’s other little monster. His name was Jackie. He called me black ass because I was obviously darker than he was. His skin was a little lighter than his mother’s and truth be told I struggled a lot to see the resemblance between him and Mr. Hill but I never mentioned any of that.
“What is it now?” I asked Jackie.
“Stop stealing my stuff. Three of my shirts are missing, my pants are missing and my jacket is missing.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
This happened all the time. Jackie was such a dickhead to me. He hated me since I came in the house and was always saying I was stealing his stuff which I never did.
“Who else in this house wears my size?” he asked.
I shrugged, “Who knows…”
“I’m telling mom. I swear.”
Jackie stormed out of the room. He was definitely his mother’s favorite. I don’t even think Lauren was in the running. I rolled my eyes at this knowing Pristine would probably chew me out for a good hour about something that I didn’t even do.
I looked over at Ozzie for support but instead I could just see him staring at Jackie as if Jackie was something to eat.
“Your god-brother is so FUCKING sexy. How do you live with him?”
“Time to go.”
I drove to school thinking about Jackie’s little blow up this morning. Jackie was extremely attractive. When my parents died and I moved with with the Hills I definitely had a crush on him. It was hard not to have a crush on Jackie. The two Hill children both inherited their mother’s strong genes. There were no flaws at all…ever. Jackie was popular as fuck. He made my life a living hell. I’d never seen someone s racist against his own race. I was pretty sure he hated black people and all his friends were white. They were mostly all racist as hell too but somehow managed not to notice that Jackie was just a light skinned black guy.
School was the same on the first day. We lived in a sort of small town that overlooked the city. It was a private school mostly for rich kids which I found it funny that Pristine called Ozzie a peasant. His father was middle class and far from being a peasant. Still he did need a scholarship to get into a school like this. He got one from art. I mostly hung out with Ozzie and some of the artsy kids. Jackie was the popular football player that hung with all the popular kids. Lauren was the rebel who cut classes and hated everything around her.
It was very cliché.
“What floor does Jackie sleep on?” Ozzie asked.
Ozzie was obsessed. We were in lunchroom looking over at Jackie’s table. Jackie was with his girlfriend Aaryn, his best friend Adrian McCoy and a few others. Ozzie was always sociable except when it came to Jackie. When it came to Jackie he’d freeze up completely and lose all recognition. He stared at him all day. It was ridiculous.
“The 5th, why?”
“This morning…I thought I saw him in the attic from the windows.”
“Why would he be up there?” I asked shaking my head.
Ozzie shrugged, “I don’t know. Maybe he snuck that bitch Aaryn up.”
Aaryn seemed to have sonar. I saw her shoot us a look at that moment from across the cafeteria. She was a blonde girl. She was really pretty and by the look of her you would think she was one of the most innocent girls but she wasn’t. She was just as bad as Jackie if not worse. She was a class act mean girl and unlucky for me she was always around. She had managed to kiss Pristine’s ass so much that she literally had keys to the mansion.
“Great you have her looking over.”
“Who cares? God look at Adrian McCoy he looks perfect…I’d give anything to be her right now sandwiched between Jackie and Adrian. Oh god.”
I didn’t look back over there. Adrian McCoy was definitely my weakness.
“Stop looking,” I warned.
“I can’t…oh my god…look they are calling us over. Oh my god! C`mon, c`mon.”
I looked over to see the Aaryn was calling us over the table. It was the popular table. I wanted to warn Ozzie about it but he was too quick. He got up off the table and like a lapdog ran to Aaryn’s call. I got up immediately. I had to save him. I knew the type of person that Aaryn was.
As Ozzie got to the table I could see almost immediately Aaryn shoo people away from the table to clear spots. Ozzie wanted to be popular so badly. It was kind of crazy how much he wanted to be popular. I realized now that Ozzie was wearing the same shirt as Adrian McCoy. It was just in a different color. Adrian of course looked sexy in it. He was half Filipino and half white and had this real exotic look to him. Adrian eyes connected with mine as Ozzie got to the table.
Ozzie immediately sat across from Jackie, Adrian and Aaryn. Rebecca was also there. She was Adrian’s ex girlfriend and Aaryn’s best friend. I really didn’t mind her as much as Aaryn. She was always just the follower. She was actually ok when she wasn’t around Aaryn. Aaryn was just the devil though. I was smarter. I lingered over my best friend. I was wary to sit at the table.
“Hey guys!” Aaryn stated.
“Hey, you called us over,” Ozzie stated smiling.
He was such an idiot when it came to this. I rolled my eyes at Aaryn.
“What’s wrong with you?” Aaryn asked me, “Why don’t you sit?”
I shook my head, “Nothing. I’m good standing.”
Aaryn looked over at Jackie, “Your godbrother is an asshole.”
“And a thief,” Jackie stated clearly still thinking I was the one who was stealing his stuff. He looked irked by my presence.
“You would think his mother would have raised him better. But she probably fucking died first huh?”
It was a low blow but she said it with a smile as though she didn’t mean anything by it.
Adrian shook his head, “Be nice guys. Quashie you can sit. It’s ok.”
He was the only one who somewhat took up for me. Unlike the others he seemed to have a conscience. I took a seat next to Ozzie just because Adrian asked. Truth be told I had a crush on him. It wasn’t a crazy crush like Ozzie had on Jackie but it was definitely there. Adrian actually smiled when I sat. He was handsome as hell. Him and Jackie were the most muscular guys in school. His little tanktop showed off his muscular arms. I sat just to have a closer look at them.
“What’s up?” I asked, clearly still uncomfortable.
“Besides you being a fucking thief?” Jackie asked.
He was not letting this go. Aaryn seemed to have her eyes set on Ozzie though, not me. She was sucking down her chocolate milk and eyeing him like a lioness.
“I love your shirt Ozzie,” Aaryn stated.
Adrian smiled, “You buy it from Recognitions? That’s where I got mine.”
Ozzie nodded, “Yeah. I try to keep up with you. Honestly Adrian you are like my muse.”
Rebecca and Aaryn laughed to each other finding this funny and I heard Aaryn say something like “how sweet” under her breath but I didn’t really get it. It seemed something was underhanded about everything that Aaryn said.
“How’d you get it?” Aaryn asked, “Did Quashie steal it for you?”
“I don’t steal,” I stated, “Ozzie can we go…”
Ozzie clearly didn’t want to leave, “No I bought it.”
Did he not get it? They called him to the table to rag on him. It was like he didn’t understand things at all. It was like he was living in his own world or something.
“Aren’t you like poor?” Jackie asked.
Aaryn shook her head, “I’m sure Quashie helped him out…you know with his insurance?”
She flipped her blond hair, “You know…welfare. Isn’t that like nigger insurance?”
My mouth shot open completely shocked that she would say something like that. What was worse was that people started laughing. Adrian looked annoyed but the rest of them were laughing. Even Jackie was laughing and he had black IN HIM! How does that work!
In the midst of laughing I could tell Ozzie came to the realization of what was going on.
He turned to me, “Sorry…lets go Quashie.”
“Wait…” Aaryn started, “You forgot something.”
She then did something I didn’t even see coming. She splashed the chocolate milk all over Ozzie’s shirt. A part of me felt bad for him but it was his fault for coming to this table in the first place. Ozzie jumped to his feet and Jackie did as well. I was thinking Jackie thought Ozzie was threatening his girlfriend or something but I doubt it.
Ozzie ran away and I knew there was no way he was going to stay in school after something like that. After seeing his face I felt so bad. I couldn’t believe this girl.
I wasn’t scared of Jackie though.
I looked over at her, “You are a fucking bitch, Aaryn. Jackie you have a real classy one.”
Aaryn shook her head, “Why are you upset? The chocolate milk looks good on him. Now all he needs is Nigger lips and the two of you can be twins.”
I held up my middle finger the entire time as I walked away from the table. I hated the bitch. Ozzie may have wanted to fit in but I was happy being the artsy one. I had no intention of being anyone’s popular crew.
“Do you have the report or not?”
I completely forgot the report. Science was not my subject and it was embarrassing because I had the entire time to work on the report this summer. How could I forget for the entire summer? I had kept talking about it with everyone around the house but I managed to still forget to do the damn report. I noticed everyone looking over at me. Adrian was sitting next to me and his eyes seemed to be looking right through me. It was almost like he was looking through me. It made this moment even more intolerable.
“Quashie this is a simple yes or no answer. You are holding up the class.”
She was standing over me. I was the only idiot who forgot something. Even Keyanna Simon who was the class clown had turned in something. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten to do it.
“No I don’t…” I finally stated.
“Then what is this?”
She was looking down at my notebook. Right behind it was a paper. It was written on a computer. I looked at the paper as she held it up to me. It stated Science Research Paper by Quashie Denton. HOW THE FUCK!
“Quashie I don’t have time for games ok. Tighten up.”
She walked way and I dropped my head. I was losing it. There was no way in hell that I had done the paper. Someone had done that paper and put it in my book bag. Who would do that? Pristine, Mr. Hill, Lauren and Jackie were out of question. Could it have been Preston the butler? I mean I had been talking about it all of the house. He probably heard me and decided to take it on himself to do it. That was weird though. Preston and I were cool but I don’t see him going out of his way to do something like that for me. Even if he did why wouldn’t he have told me that he did?
The class ended and it was clear that I was looking more and more crazy. I was actually surprised when I was stopped in the hallway.
I turned to see Adrian.
It was the rare occasion that he talked to me.
“You mind if I ride to your house with you?” Adrian asked, “I’m supposed to be meeting up with Jackie but he left after 2nd Quarter. I don’t have a ride.”
“I only have a two seat sports car and I always drive Ozzie home.”
Truth was I didn’t want to help out any of Jackie’s friends anyway even if it was Adrian. He knew the type of person Jackie and Aaryn were. He CHOSE to hang out with people like that. He was guilty by association as far as I’m concerned.
“Well that’s perfect because Ozzie went home early after that accident.”
Shit… I forgot about the milk thing already. Adrian smiled with his charming demeanor. He was sexy as fuck. He knew he was too. I wonder if he knew how attracted I was to him. He didn’t seem gay at all but he dressed really nice to be a straight guy. A rumor had started that he broke up with Rebecca because he was gay but I was pretty sure it was Rebecca who started it because she was scorned. If he was really gay why did she follow him around trying her hardest to get back with him?
The ride was awkward as hell. I was trying my hardest to be shady to Adrian. It wasn’t working though. He was so damn charming. It was so easy to like him. I didn’t think Adrian had an enemy in the world.
“I’m sorry about what Aaryn did,” he told me, “She’s such a bitch.”
“If you know that why do you hang out with her?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know. She’s funny sometimes. Other times she’s just an asshole. Not like I have a lot of options.”
I rolled my eyes, “Yeah ok.”
“What’s that for?”
“I’m serious. I don’t have a lot of options. The rebels think I’m too streamlined. Your little crew hates me.”
“No one hates you.”
It was the opposite.
He shook his head, “Everytime I talk to you it’s like you don’t want to carry on any conversation.”
It’s because you hypnotize me.
I shook my head.
“ I don’t know what you are talking about.”
I was quiet again right after. It was awkward as hell talking to him anyway. I needed to just stop while I was ahead. He kept trying to start a conversation and I kept avoiding him. It was a lot having THE Adrian McCoy in my car. I had a crush on him for the longest. I was trying not to be awkward but found in my silence that Adrian was actually the awkward one. Him forcing a conversation seemed awkward to me but hell he probably thought me avoiding a conversation was awkward as well.
Dinner that day was awkward. Adrian had been over and was forced to listen to Pristine’s endless bragging and celebrity name dropping. Jackie spent the whole time just giving me sick little stares. I really felt like this guy hated me with something serious. I was more than excited that it was over. I wasn’t sure if me or Lauren jumped from the table quicker.
I did manage to get to see Preston right after dinner and asked him about the if he was the one who did the report for me but he just denied it.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about man.”
“Maybe it was the ghost,” Lauren stated, “You know Hill mansion is haunted right.
“The Hill ghost.”
“Humph,” was all she said before walking away.
Knowing Lauren she was bullshitting though. I had never met someone with more angst then Lauren before. She was gothic but without all the black. I rolled my eyes as I walked away.
You would think that would have gotten out of my mind but I found myself unable to sleep that night. Someone had done the homework for me. Someone had typed my homework. Did ghosts type? Did ghosts print? My bookbag was in my room. That meant someone was in my room without me knowing. Someone had been stealing things from Jackie.
I couldn’t sleep.
My eyes opened in the middle of night. I just couldn’t sleep. I had this feeling of almost being watched or something. That was when I saw it…a ghost.
At first my heart beat fast!
I started to panic!
Should I scream?
The ghost looked just like…Jackie.
I clicked on the light next to my bed immediately trying to see Jackie playing some sort of joke on me but it…it wasn’t Jackie. The person was just standing over my bed looking down on me. He had wanted me to wake up. He WANTED me to see him.
He looked…just like the Hills. He looked a lot like a darker Jackie.
“OH my god!”
“Please…please don’t scream,” he said, “I’m not here to hurt you I promise.”
How the hell did he get in my room? I always locked the door from the inside incase Jackie and his friends wanted to play pranks or something. No he had somehow gotten into my room. This couldn’t have been a ghost. He looked too real.
“Are you a ghost?” I asked.
He laughed. He was extremely handsome…even more handsome then Jackie. He had this look on his face that said he didn’t mean any harm. I was getting excited by him being in my room but not because of fear. I was excited because of wonder.
Who was this handsome stranger?
“I’m not a ghost,” he said shaking his head.
His shirt…it was the same shirt that Jackie had bought a few days ago. I saw Jackie showing the shirt off to Pristine. His jeans were also Jackie’s jeans. What the fuck? He was the one who had been stealing Jackie’s clothes. I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Jonah…Jonah Hill.”