Green Legacy 5 (musc)
How could we be going to meet dad? I had no idea what Billy was up to but I followed him out the back door and nearly tripped on the newspaper lying on the steps. I can’t believe mom still got the newspaper. I tried to tell her that the internet was a much better way to get news, but she wouldn’t listen. I reached down and grabbed it as I hurried after him. But there was no real need to hurry because he stopped at the curb. He had his cell phone out and he was calling someone.
While he was on the phone, I opened up the paper. I was anxious to see what they’d said about the mess at the freight yard. I expected a huge headline that said something like EIGHT FOOT MONTSER DESTROYS FREIGHT YARD: Police Clobbered. But the head line had nothing to do with that. It was all about some fire they had downtown. I flipped through the paper looking for the story and finally found it on the bottom of page six! It was in the fucking weather section. According to the paper, it had been a freak tornado that had destroyed the freight yard. There was no mention of muscle monsters or cops or strange men in black… nothing. That was beyond strange.
I flipped through looking to see if there was something about the junk yard, and I found a small piece on the back page called The Abominable Junk Man. The reporter treated it like it was a joke. The way he told it, the workers had just come back from lunch, after having one too many beers, and saw a terrifying gigantic man-beast that wrecked the junk yard. They were so shaken up they had to rush right back to the bar where they’d had lunch, so they could calm their nerves…with more beer, of course. He concluded by saying the police would begin investigating who had trashed the junk yard as soon as they figured out who had dumped all that water in Lake Michigan.
Billy hung up the phone and I showed him the newspaper. “There’s practically nothing about you in there at all,” I said.
He shrugged it off. “There never is. No one would believe it anyway.”
“Someone believes it. Who were those guys last night?”
“What guys? You mean the cops?”
“No, the guys in black.”
“I don’t know. Some special kind of cop, I guess.”
“They almost got you.”
“Yeah, well almost doesn’t count.” He looked down at the ground and kicked a pebble. “I guess you helped saved my ass last night.”
I guess I had; but it had seemed kind of natural at the time and I really hadn’t thought about it since. “What else are brothers for?” I said.
He looked at me, grinning sheepishly. “Kind of weird… having a brother… I mean, I never… It’s just weird.”
In my view, weird didn’t really cover it, but it was close enough. “Yeah,” I said, “weird.”
That’s when we saw Jeremy on his bike. Neither of us saw him coming, we just kind of looked up and there he was.
“Hey,” he said.
“How long have you been sitting there?” snapped Billy. “What did you hear?”
“I…I just got here,” he said, looking toward me for support. He was, after all, my best friend, but I still hadn’t quite forgiven him for running out on me yesterday at the tracks.
“What’s up, Jeremy?” I said.
“What’s up? We were going to hang out today, you know, play a little Halo.”
“Oh crap. I completely spaced.”
“Sammy’s busy,” said Billy stepping forward, and clenching his fists.
“Ok, I’ll just go,” said Jeremy backing away.
“No, wait a minute,” I said. “Lay off him, Billy, ok?”
“It’s up to you, dude, video games or the answer to the million dollar question.”
Leave it to Billy to give me a choice like that. “The million dollar question will wait a minute.” I turned to Jeremy. “Look, dude, I’m sorry I forgot about today, but something came up.”
“Something with Billy?”
“I can’t believe you’re blowing me off for him.” He nodded at Billy who glared at him. Jeremy took another step back.
“No, it’s not like that. Billy and me, we’re…” I looked over at Billy. He had this serious expression on his face and he slowly and deliberately shook his head no. He didn’t want me to tell Jeremy about our being brothers. “Why?” I asked. “He’s my best friend.”
“Just don’t,” he said. “I’ll tell you later.”
Well, it was his secret as much as mine. If he didn’t want me telling Jeremy, I guess I shouldn’t. “I’m sorry, dude, I guess I can’t tell you.”
“Why? Because he doesn’t want you to?”
“That’s right, dick weed,” said Billy, walking up to him, and getting right in his face. “You got a problem with that?”
“Jesus, Billy, back off.” I said stepping forward.
Billy looked over at me and for a second I thought he was just going to ignore me and start beating the crap out of Jeremy. But he didn’t. He stepped back. But the look he was giving Jeremy wasn’t exactly friendly.
“Maybe you better go,” I said to Jeremy. “I’ll call you later.”
“I think I see what’s going on here,” he said, but he didn’t look like he understood at all. In fact he looked really upset. If I didn’t know better I’d say he was on the point of tears.
And then a cab pulled up and stopped. The driver rolled down his window and yelled, “Your dad call for a cab?”
I was about to say no and wave him on his way when Billy stepped forward, “No. my fucking dad didn’t call a cab. I did.”
“Ah, Jeeze,” said the driver, “you’re just a kid. I don’t have time for this.”
“What’s the matter?” said Billy, producing a hundred dollar bill and waving it for the driver. “My money’s not good enough for you?”
The driver’s eyes widened and he popped open the door. “Sure, kid,” he said. Where you wanna go?”
“The stockyard,” said Billy hopping in. “You coming?” he called to me when I didn’t immediately follow.
I turned to Jeremy. He still looked really upset. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Are you ok?” I asked. He kind of shrugged and his lip was twitching. I almost decided to forget about Billy and stay with Jeremy, but I just had to know what Billy knew about dad. “Sorry,” I said to Jeremy. “I’ve got to go.” He dropped his gaze and wouldn’t look me in the eye, but I still got in next to Billy and the driver pulled away. At that moment I didn’t like myself too much.
I had never ridden in a cab before. It was a new experience for me. I didn’t know what to say to Billy during the ride because anything we said the driver would overhear.
“You know Jeremy’s my best friend,” I said, “since kindergarten.”
“He’s a pussy.”
“No, he’s not.”
“Any guy who pisses his pants just ’cause you look at him funny is a pussy. You wouldn’t have done that, would you?”
“Of course, not. You’re not a pussy. He is. You can do better.”
“You could find a better best friend.”
“I don’t want a better best friend. I like the one I’ve got.”
Billy looked at me like I just turned down a Portia for a Hyundai. “Suit yourself. I still think he’s a pussy.”
“Well, you don’t have to like him, but could you try not to kill him?”
Billy appeared to be thinking it over. “Ok, but only as a favor for you.”
Gee, thanks a lot. Time to change the subject. “We going to the stockyard to get our bikes?” I asked.
“Of course, moron, what did you think? I was hot for the cows?”
“Well, no. But now that you mention it…” Then he nailed me in the arm. “Ow!”
“That’s for being insulting.”
“Sheesh!” I said. “When we get to the stockyard, I’ll be sure and apologize to the cows.”
He looked at me like he was going to hit me again, but instead he bust out laughing. “Apologize to the cows… That’s pretty good. You’re ok Sammy.”
When we got to the stockyard Billy paid the driver but told him to wait. And it was a good thing, too, because when we got down to where we left our bikes, they were gone.
“Damn!” said Billy.
“My bike!” I cried. “Someone stole my bike! And my backpack with all my books and homework… and my ipod! Damnit my ipod was in there!”
“Jesus Christ! Calm the fuck down,” said Billy. “I’ll get you another one.”
“How are you going to do that? Those are expensive. And what about my bike? How am I going to get around now?”
“I’ll get you another bike, too. Jeeze, I owe it to you for saving my butt last night.”
Ok, Billy’s words were starting to penetrate my panic. He was going to replace what I’d lost. That helped calm me, but how could he do that? That stuff cost a lot of money. But then I remembered his overstuffed wallet from last night and the way he paid the cab driver. “Where’d you get all that money?” I asked.
“Don’t ask fucking questions you don’t want the answer to,” he barked.
Jeeze, he was getting mad again. And it really wasn’t my business. Except, I was his brother; so, maybe it was. “What, did you rip apart a bank vault or something?”
“Look, don’t ask, ok? I’m telling you. Don’t fucking ask.”
I could tell he was trying to protect me from something, maybe from being an accessory. I decided to let it go for the moment. “Ok, I won’t ask.”
I walked over to the fence and peered across the tracks at the freight yard. There was a small army of workmen over there clearing things up. There were backhoes tearing up the broken asphalt. There were four or five different crews with acetylene torches cutting up the broken freight containers, and a convoy of forklifts hauling the pieces away.
Billy joined me after a second. He chuckled a little. “Too bad,” he said. “I could have probably cleaned up that whole mess in ten minutes flat. Hey, what do you say I go give them a hand?” He reached down and picked up a scrap of rope and nodded at the tracks.
“No way, dude. You were going to introduce me to dad, remember? And you’re not ripping up my clothes.”
“You promised,” I said.
Billy’s eyes went back and forth between me and the tracks. I could tell he really wanted to get huge again. I couldn’t blame him. It was pretty damn awesome. But I held my ground. I wanted to see whatever he had to show me even though I was pretty sure it wasn’t really going to be dad. I still needed to know what he had in mind. He could always get huge later.
He sighed. “You win,” he said dropping the rope. “But I’m giving you fair warning. It’s Saturday, and I always do it on Saturday.” He clenched his fists and made his arms bulge a little. I could tell by looking at his smile, he wasn’t feeling the normal arms he had now. He was feeling those impossibly massive pythons he’d had last night, and was obviously planning to have again soon. “Let’s go.”
Billy told the cab driver to take us to Burr Oak Ave. In our little corner of the world, Burr Oak Ave. used to be the big shopping area, until they opened the mall. Now it was a collection of small, rundown, forgotten stores. I assumed Billy was getting us bikes because I knew there were a couple of decent bike shops around there as well as a game shop Jeremy and I went to a lot. But that’s not where the cab dropped us off.
It was an odd looking shop, but I knew it. The sign out front said 5&10, a weird name for a weird store. I had been avoiding it for years. Not for any good reasons really, it just that when I was really little I’d had a pretty bad scare there and… Suddenly I knew exactly why we had come. I looked at Billy. “Big Green? You’ve got to be kidding.”
He grinned and nodded. “Yup. Big Green.” Then he walked into the store and I followed after.
Inside everything looked old and dusty, like some of the merchandise on the shelves had been there for years. Billy didn’t stop to look at anything but headed directly for the back… for it. I followed him very slowly. I mean, I hadn’t seen the thing since I was like five, but the thought of seeing it again was seriously creeping me out. But I forced myself onward. When I finally stepped out of the aisle, there it was and suddenly I was five years old again. It still scared the crap out of me. I wasn’t about to run screaming back to find my mommy the way I had back then, but it still had its effect. The statue was massive, at least ten feet tall, an insanely muscled green giant. The head went right to the ceiling. The shoulders were about as wide as I was tall. The pecs stuck so far out in front you could actually stand under them and be in a shadow. The legs were so thick around that if the statue were hollow I could completely fit inside one. But that isn’t what scared me nearly ten years ago, and it wasn’t what was creeping me out now. It was the expression on the face. The sculptor had made him so he was looking down, at the viewer and the expression on his face was so fierce, with his bared teeth and his glaring eyes, you knew his next move would be to step on you and crush you into pulp.
I swallowed. “That’s dad?”
“Are you sure.”
“But how can dad be Big Green? He’s a myth like Big Foot or the Jersey Devil.”
“Not so much.”
“No. I think mom would have mentioned if dad were ten feet tall and green. That kind of detail isn’t something you forget.”
“No, you stupid shit, he wasn’t always like that. Sometimes he was normal. You know, kind of like what I do.”
“Then how do you know he was Big Green?”
“What the matter? Don’t you see the family resemblance?” and then Billy struck an identical pose to the statue and made his face fierce. Fuck. I suddenly remembered last night when Billy was chasing those guys in black. The expression was the same.
“Besides, Mom told me,” he said.
“And how did she know?”
Billy leaned in and whispered. “Because he changed while they were making me.”
Oh God. “She told you that?”
“In so many words. It really freaked her. Wouldn’t have anything to do with him after that. She wouldn’t even talk to him.”
“Jeeze, I guess I can’t blame her.”
“But she kept a real close eye on him, even after he started dating your mom. That’s how she found out about you.”
Just then this old guy came out of the back and we stopped talking. He saw us and stopped and smiled. “Back again, are you kid?” he said to Billy.
Billy just shrugged. “Yeah.”
“And this time I see you brought your brother.”
“What?” I said. “Who said we were brothers?”
“I’m not so senile I can’t recognize a couple of brothers when I see them.”
I didn’t know what to say. I looked at Billy but I could tell he was just as surprised as I was. I guess we did look a little alike. We both had sandy brown hair and blue eyes. But Billy’s face was broader and he had a dimple in his chin. My face was narrower with high cheek bones. But, Jeeze, was it that obvious?
“Not brothers,” said the old guy. “Well, cousins at least.”
“No,” said Billy, “we’re not related.”
That was weird. Why did Billy say that? Why didn’t he want anyone to know we were brothers?
The old guy shrugged and looked up at the statue. “Not too many people remember Big Green these days. There was a time, though, people came from miles around just hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Used to have this thing out front. Drew ’em in like flies.”
“Anyone ever actually see him?” I asked.
“Sure they did. I saw him. How do you think I carved this?” He pointed at the statue. “Most terrifying thing I ever saw in my life. Took out half the block before he disappeared.”
“What do you think happened to him?” asked Billy.
“Dunno. There was a time they were spotting him all over the country,” said the old guy. “And everywhere they saw him, they gave him a different name. But no one’s seen him for at least ten years, now. Myself, I think he’s dead.”
The old guy wondered back to the front of the store, but Billy and me stayed staring at Big Green. Holy crap, I was the son of a fucking monster. And he was a huge fucking monster. Looking at those mammoth arms and that massive chest I could easily see him tearing down half a block with his bare hands. I thought of all the power he must have in his body and I got hard.
Then Billy nodded toward the door. “Come on, let’s go.”
“The Elm Street Bridge.”
“To jump off it, dip shit, what else?”
If anyone else had said that I’d have thought they were joking or crazy, because that bridge spanned a fifty foot gorge, with a rushing river at the bottom of it. Jumping off it would mean instant death… for anyone but Billy.
“In broad daylight? In the middle of town? Anyone could see you.”
“So what? It’s fucking Saturday, dude and I’m ready to explode! Besides, what are they going to do about it? Nothing. Because there’s nothing they can do about it.”
Holy crap! He was right. At that moment, I was struck by intense conflicting emotions. First I was shocked at Billy’s attitude, his lack of regard for anyone but himself. And I felt horror realizing the kind of power Billy had, how he could do anything he wanted, rip apart whatever he liked, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. Nothing. And then I remembered that I was going to be like that, too. I felt myself getting hard again. I realized I wanted it. I wanted to know what it felt like to be that massive, to be an irresistible force of pure strength, to be able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and to hell with anyone else. That would be awesome.
What snapped me out of it was Jeremy. He was hiding at the side of one of the shops, trying to get my attention. I guess he was just that scared of Billy. I couldn’t say I blamed him. And if he knew what I was becoming, I bet he’d be scared of me, too. I don’t know why but for some reason that thought excited me. Regardless, I needed to find a way to talk to him without Billy being around.
“Ok,” I said, “But I still don’t want you ripping my clothes.”
“Fuck the clothes. I’ll get you new ones.”
“Get yourself some new ones. There’s a shop right over there,” I said pointing. “You’re going to need two sets, anyway, one for now and one for…later.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he said, grinning. “Let’s go.”
“Um, you go ahead without me. I’ll meet you over there. There’s something I’ve got to do first.”
“Ok,” said Billy. “And while you’re at it, tell that fucking pussy to stop following us around. He’s really starting to piss me off.” And then Billy turned and headed for the store.
Apparently Jeremy was really bad at hiding. I turned and went to find him. He wasn’t at the corner anymore. He had moved about half way down a narrow alley that led between two stores. There was nothing down there but trash bags and dumpsters. As soon as he saw me, he gestured me over. I followed him to a space between two dumpsters where we were pretty much hidden from view.
“Ok, what’s going on?” he said as soon as I got there.
I couldn’t tell him. I’d promised Billy and more than that, he wouldn’t believe half of it if I did. And that was funny because there had never been anything I couldn’t tell him. “I can’t tell you,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t get it,” he said. “What did I do?”
“You didn’t do anything…” I tried to think how I could explain this to him without giving away any secrets.
“He called you Sammy,” said Jeremy. “You hate it when people call you Sammy. You said the only one who could call you Sammy was your mother.”
“I guess Billy can call me Sammy,” I said, thinking out loud. After all he was my brother.
“Can I call you Sammy?” asked Jeremy.
“No,” I said a little too quickly. Oh God, I’d upset him. But, I didn’t want everyone to suddenly start calling me Sammy again. It had taken me a year to get people to drop it the first time.
“It’s like he’s drugged you.”
“He didn’t drug me…” How could I put this? “It’s Billy,” I said. “He showed me something, something about himself… and something about me. And something I never would have guessed in a million years. It’s one of those mind blowing, life changing things… I’m sorry. I really can’t say more than that.”
I had been trying to help Jeremy understand, but he just looked more upset than ever.
“Oh God, oh God,” he said, almost whimpering. “I know what he showed you.”
He nodded. “I just want you to know that I’m that way, too.”
“I just wish I’d told you sooner. I’m such an idiot, so stupid, stupid, stupid. I was afraid you wouldn’t understand, that I’d push you away, and now it’s too late.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You mean it’s not too late?” He said looking up at me with hopeful eyes.
I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t completely sure I knew what he was talking about. But I would have said anything to cheer him up so I said, “No, it’s not too late.”
And then he leaned in and kissed me. He kissed me on the lips. I didn’t know what to do. I was completely unprepared for it. When he pulled back I was speechless, in a kind of shock, not just at the fact that he’d kissed me, but also because I had enjoyed it. I stood there just staring at him. He was still the same guy, still my best friend, Jeremy, but somehow not. A line had been crossed, and now things between us could never be like they were.
I guess my stunned reaction must have been showing on my face, because now Jeremy looked nervous and frightened. “Oh God, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s just that I’ve wanted to for so long, and… Please don’t hate me.”
“I don’t hate you…” I said and then almost without thinking I pulled him in and kissed him back. It started soft and sweet, but then began to get harder and rougher and suddenly our tongues were darting around each other, colliding and swinging. It was like we were two ravening creatures trying to swallow each other’s mouths. And then we broke apart.
Jeremy was looking at me, breathing heavily. “There’s something else I’ve wanted to do.” Then he reached down and pulled down my zipper.
“Jeeze, Jeremy, what if someone sees?”
“No ones going to see,” he said, and then he sank to his knees. And that’s when I heard it, a pop, and then Jeremy collapsed. He just toppled over onto the ground. There was this dart sticking out of his neck.
“What the…?” I started, but then I heard a second pop and suddenly there was another dart, this one sticking out of my chest.
And then the alley spun and went dark.