Trials of Zeke

“What do I do now?” I asked myself aloud.

It feels like my entire world has just been torn out from underneath me. How could he do this, what was he thinking? I questioned myself. Because of my brother’s stupid decision now my life has to be hard, and today’s black eye proves it.

Why did he do that? Why sell drugs? How many people has he hurt? Does it even bother him? I hope it kills him in his cell and I hope that the throbbing in my eye socket goes away.

I defended myself well enough but Marcus got one good shot in before I returned a solid hit between his eyes. I think I broke his nose, and it feels like he broke my face. Mr. Allen’s art class was the only thing that I could still enjoy and today Mr. Allen promised a surprise.

“Okay class, so today we are going on a trip. Not a physical trip, mind you, but one that involves using that space between your ears. For the first ten minutes of class I want you to put your heads down and imagine what life would be like if it were the opposite of what it is now.”

Mr. Allen is my favorite teacher, hands down. Being in the eleventh grade has some perks, but double blocked B-Day with his class is the best. He always comes up with the craziest paintings and pencil art, stuff I can’t imagine if I wanted. Things like a droopy whale looking thing with a princess from a world of dripping things.

After listening to Mr. Allen’s first assignment, I gladly put my head down. I already had so many people giving me strange looks in the hall because I look like a panda in the face. Thank god for art. I thought to myself.

The world faded out quickly. With my eyes closed, I started to see a multitude of colors mixed with random pulses of lights, nothing of which made any sort of sense. I felt the cold air conditioner, which had been strategically angled at my table, blowing on the back of my arms and my neck. Parallel world huh? Leave it to Mr. Allen to come up with a topic like that on a whim. I realized I was talking more to myself than trying to pay attention to the topic I was given, so I let out an aggravated sigh. My face hurts.

If this were a parallel world, I wouldn’t have to watch my brother hurt people. If this were a parallel world, he couldn’t hurt anyone. If this were a parallel world, Amy-

“Okay class, now that you’ve had a few minutes to think your entire life over from start to finish,” Mr. Allen joked. “-go ahead and put pen to paper.”

Most of the class lifted their heads up and got to work, a few remained down on the desk, and one was fast asleep. I sat motionless, my head still spinning from the pulsing lights, barrage of colors, and unfortunately, my thoughts. I ran my fingers through my hair, man I needed a haircut, and I wonder how many people in my class also thought that. Well, I wondered until I remembered that since I look like a panda now, they probably don’t notice my hair, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Picking up the pen from the communal pen cup, I placed the ball end on the paper and sat there, just like that, with the pen on the paper. Mr. Allen walked up beside me and squatted next to the table. He was a tall man so even doing that only gave me the height advantage of a few inches or so.

“That’s a nice puddle of ink you got going on there.” He joked at my expense. “Stuck?” He asked.

“No, I’m not stuck.” I replied more apologetically than I intended. “I just don’t have any motivation to draw.” I said, recalling my ten minutes of colorful pain.

“Hmm.” He puzzled. “Come speak with me after class, sound good?”

I shot him a look of fear, knowing full well my black eye was going to be the topic of discussion, and probably CPS would be the next. I didn’t really want to tell him about the fight I had with my brother, or why I even had the fight in the first place. That was way too personal and I didn’t want to make the only thing I enjoyed right now tainted with the thought of him.

Fear and anger must have been written all over my face because Mr. Allen gave me a pat on the back.

“It’s not the school talking, just me.” He said in a calm but concerned tone.

I nodded, but I still was against the whole thing.

The hour long class flew by after that, and by the end of it, the only thing I had to show for it was a humongous dark puddle of blue ink and one empty pen.

. The bell rang and students flew out like doves from a basket, until only I remained seated in the classroom. Do I have to do this? I asked myself, knowing the answer. I didn’t want to be there, I should have snuck out when everyone was running, but I didn’t.

“Mr. Relik?” Mr. Allen called, breaking my train of thought.

“Yes sir?” I replied.

“Will you come in to my office for a moment?” He asked, leaning halfway out of his office.

Silently standing from my table, I collected my things and walked as slow as reasonably possible to Mr. Allen’s office.

“Have a seat Mr. Relik, there are a couple things that I want to talk to you about.”

This is it. I imagined perfectly the parallel world in which I had escaped this talk with him.

Sitting in the hand crafted chair in front of Mr. Allen’s desk, I set my backpack in front of me and leaned my back against the wood backing of the chair. Despite the chairs uncomfortable appearance, it was quite comfy. The wood looked like it would give you splinters if you touched it, but it was all an illusion. Don’t ask me how but Mr. Allen managed to keep the appearance of wood but have a resin coat that didn’t give it a glossy finish.

“So your eye.” Mr. Allen began, straight and to the point. “Wanna tell me about it?”

I avoided eye contact and scanned the room trying to collect my thoughts. There was no avoiding answering that wasn’t going to get CPS called, and answering was just as bad. I guess the truth is better than getting called out on a lie. I thought, trying to grab a reasonable answer.

“Well, to be honest, no.” I stated in a shy but matter of fact tone. “There is nothing I can really say that won’t lead to the same conclusion, so I will tell you about it.” I said. It was true though, there wasn’t anything I could say. My brother tried to kill me versus someone else tried to kill me, either way CPS is going to have to intervene. I tried to choose my words carefully, key word being tried.

“My brother and I got into a fight.” I kept my answer short and to the point.

“Oh?” He sounded surprised. “What happened?”

I looked down at my feet and fidgeted with my thumbs. “He got mad because I disagreed with his life choices. I told him what I didn’t like and he returned a punch instead.”

“Your brother’s name is Marcus isn’t it?” Mr. Allen asked, staring at me fidgeting.

“Yes, how do you know that?” I asked dumbfounded. I didn’t want him to know my good for nothing brother, I didn’t want anyone to know my good for nothing brother.

“He was a student of mine a few years ago.” Mr. Allen answered and started shuffling though the papers in the top drawer of his desk.

“He wasn’t like many of the other students, he was quiet and reserved. His paintings and line drawings were something I felt the need to compete with. The main thing that stood out though, he always titled his paintings right in the middle of the page.”

As if sensing my curiosity rising, Mr. Allen pulled out a beautiful portrait style painting and held it out for me to look at. He was right; right in the middle of the painting the words “Deadbeat Drowns in Self Hatred” were painted as eloquently as the rest of his piece. I studied the horrific scene that had been unveiled before me and wretched in disgust. So vile.

“This was the last piece Marcus turned in before dropping out of school.” Mr. Allen explained. “I didn’t quite understand why this was so dark, compared to his other paintings it is very out of place.”

Out of place? I don’t think so! He painted himself perfectly in this, from the hair to the dirty syringes! My anger rose quickly at the thought of my brother knowing such a nice teacher as Mr. Allen. He had no right to have anything nice at all. I seethed.

“Zeke?”

Mr. Allen was waving his hand between my face and the painting before I realized it.

“I’m sorry, I just hate my brother.” I apologized, handing the painting back before I ripped it up and threw it in the fires of hell. “He isn’t a good person.”

Mr. Allen started to say something but stopped, nodding his head. There wasn’t anything he could say that would make the situation better. He took the painting and put back in the desk, covering it with the same papers it was buried under earlier.

“Am I done?” I asked flatly. “Can I go?”

Mr. Allen nodded and I stood up quickly to go before he could say anything else. Damn it! Why does he have to ruin my life? I thought, throwing on my backpack and rushing out of the office.

The school day was over after art class, but because I had the meeting with Mr. Allen, my time for exercising had been spent, so I walked home.

Walking home became immensely easier after I moved out of Mom and Dad’s house. Since I lived just right across the road from school, I had much more time for doing things such as exercising and jogging, except today. There was no one to come home to and that was both a happy and sad thought. My parents never knew how to handle me and my brother and even less how to handle when Marcus got mad. He didn’t just go off, he exploded. Every cell in his body lit up with a rage and even a black hole couldn’t contain. Simple things would set him off, like when I asked him why he threw my rubber bouncy ball in the lake and then told him I “had more where that came from.” He got so mad he pushed me off the tree and into the lake where I almost drowned.

I reached the door of my apartment and pulled my keys out of my backpack. Mom use to tell you “welcome home!”. I thought as I unlocked the door. The keys clicked the locking system and I turned the doorknob at the same time, pushing the door open.

The smell of vanilla and yesterday’s meal of Hamburger Helping greeted me. It wasn’t mom but it was nice.

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