The taste of some type of fake leather seems to do the trick in shutting me up, especially when it’s forced onto my face like an octopus’ sucker. The thought grosses me out when I look into the guy’s eyes. There’s something wrong with him. The black ski mask doesn’t help me think otherwise.

“What the hell?” Ed starts to raise his voice when he comes back inside to investigate this very questionable situation.

The guy motions for Ed to stop but still keeps one hand over me. “Shh…” he says.

“Larry?” Ed speaks a little more calm. And then outside a hesitant thunder of boots come rolling by the door.

We hold our breath. I do mostly because he allows me so little room to force my breath through. Through my nostrils is where I’ll get most of my air, pushing in and out the smell of wet wood.

I can’t move my head. I can’t see Brynn. I can’t hear her. Why would there be something wrong with her why is she quiet? What is going on? Am I… Am I…

And then very slowly, he releases his grip from my face. Rebooting my oxygen, every breath makes my chest heave heavily as I try to catch up to what’s happening. I look around everywhere but at this stranger. Brynn is pale but respectfully stays quiet keeping her mouth shut with her own hands.

Until, “Oh my god get this guy out of here!”

“Shut, up!” Ed shouts, breaking his own rules I can see he realizes. He’s already pulling the leech off me and directs me to keep my mouth closed and don’t answer that door if anyone knocks. “same goes to you Brynn sit on the couch, Larry you go into my room actually girls go sit outside on the balcony.”

We all do exactly what he says as he’s saying it so in a matter of seconds the living room is deserted.

“What the fuck was that?” Brynn asks as she paces back and forth the closet sized balcony. I can’t sit either but lean on the poled barrier looking out. She picks up the only cigarette on the ledge and she takes a drag to sit down on. Through a breath of smoke she asks “we can’t get in trouble can we?”

“I think, first, it’ll be best that we try and not get anyone in trouble.” She takes another drag.

Everything seems to have appeared at once. Far away there are ambulance sirens. Over by the student deli is a police car with silent flashing lights. I’m sure that’s got something to do with this “Larry, is that what he called him?” But I hope those ambulance sirens aren’t because of him. I don’t know if I can fully commit to the morality of covering that up. How badly could the person be hurt? Brynn doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the faraway sirens and the silent cop car so I keep this frightful thought to myself.

I look back through the glass doors into the empty living room in time to see it quickly become occupied by Ed who looks like he knows something. He looks at the door and then at us. And then I hear Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

*** *** ***


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