Vivian and VIctor Circle had been married a year before Vivian had gotten pregnant. They had hoped to hold it off for a couple of years, after the initial “settling in” time that newly married couples usually have. Victor worked as a coach for Highland Grove Middle School in the city of Sierra Madre, California. He was trying to get into a university or community college or something other then a middle school. He wanted to be around people his own age. Victor’s sense of humor was sharp and at times wicked. One of the traits he prided himself on was his humor. It had gotten him out of a lot of sticky situations in his life. Now, while teaching a bunch of kids in affluent Sierra Madre who’s parents were all to willing to lodge the slightest complaint about anything that their little darlings might encounter seem like the ideal job, Victor didn't think so. He didn’t like stepping around the mines of extreme good taste.
Vivian had been a pretty girl in high-school and then college. She had studied Business at college and never used it. College had been fun but ultimately she had bought the american dream of meeting Mr. Right and getting married and having children. She liked Victor when they first met because of his sense of humor. He liked her because she spoke her mind. The night they met he had said perhaps the stupidest come on line she had ever heard. It was something along the lines of “Can I check your shirt label? I want to see if you were made in heaven...” She would have laughed a guy who tried such a lame line on her out of the room, but the look in his eyes showed that he knew this line was stupid but he didn't care. He had no fear whatsoever, and that fearlessness excited her and they went out and as they said the rest is history. Now that she was pregnant, she was initially worried. But as the idea of it settled in she felt much more comfortable about her upcoming child. It seemed predestined.
The pregnancy went without any complications and the birth was easy. Vivian had been in labor for only a couple of hours and when the time finally came for the child to be brought into the world, everything was pure textbook. She had given the world a new pale child who weighed in at 10 pounds. There was an initial worry because the child didn’t cry when the doctor withdrew the baby from the womb. The doctor was nervous because this usually means that the baby’s retarded or has some kind of brain damage. But then the child opened his eyes and looked around the room with his light blue eyes and furrowed brow that strangely seemed like the child was visibly thinking “So, this is earth? Not to impressed.”
The naming of the child was the next issue. For nine months Vivian and Victor had bantered back and forth about the name of their child. Victor had always liked the Sex Pistols and Sid Vicious so as a joke he had brought up the name Vicious as a possible idea. She had laughed but he pressed on how since their names were Vivian and Victor, Vicious kinda fit, and with a name like that bullies would definitely steer clear of him. As a couple of minutes filtered by the idea seemed more and more plausible. Even though the child had not been born, the name seemed perfect.
So Vicious Circle had been brought into the world.
Vicious was a quiet kid who listened to everything that everyone around him said and seemed to take notes on everything mentally. As per quiet children, when Vicious said anything, you listened. He didn’t seem to excel at sports because he seemed bored with it. To be exact Vicious seemed bored with everything. It seemed that the idea of being a child was a necessity, something that had to be endured to what no one, not even Vicious knew.
The years went by and Vicious maintained a good grade point average and continued to grow into a tallish, skinny kid. His hair was pale blond, bordering on white and his eyes stayed light blue with a tint of grey. Vicious also seemed to not have time for friends or company of kids his age. He never brought anyone over and was never invited to birthday parties. Vivian would have been angry if Vicious cared either which way, but he didn’t seem to at care at all, so neither did she. Vicious never mentioned the kids at school to his parents. No school yard buddies, no girls he liked, no pushy bullies stealing milk money... no one. One day Vivian dropped Vicious off at school and instead of driving off sat in the car and watched his interactions with his fellow students. She watched as Vicious walked in a straight line right through the throngs of school children milling about talking and carousing. Vicious seemed like a ghost, no one noticed him walk through without raising the awareness of any of the kids. It was as if he didn’t even exist to the other children. Vivian felt a cold finger of trepidation start to scratch across her psyche.
Although Vicious was a strange kid, Vivian and Victor couldn’t have loved him more. Vicious didn’t show affection comfortably and he kept to himself almost to the point of being a hermit, but Vivian and Victor felt their chests swell with pride when they thought of their odd little boy. They knew their son marched to a different drummer but it never mattered to them... ever.
The years flew past and Vicious seemed to show more and more impatience with just being young. He seemed like an old man, an ancient man, in a young child's body. His pale blue eyes looked at the world with cold steel seriousness that could at times be more then a little disturbing. Sometimes when Vivian and Victor would bicker or fight, Vicious would appear in the doorway without a sound and flash them a look like that of a patient grandparent, who’s patience was running out. It was an odd thing to be reprimanded by your own 10 year old child without a word.
One day Victor decided to breach their quiet understanding and ask Vicious about himself, trying to see what made him tick. Victor walked into his sons room. The room was sparse with a desk, dresser and a bed. There were no pictures on the wall and no clothes on the floor. It reminded Victor of a hotel room.
“So... how was your day Vicious? Did you have a good day at school?” Victor asked his son. “Anything cool happen?” Victor realized that he was going to not go for any humor. Humor never worked with Vicious.
Vicious slowly turned his head and locked eyes with his father. “Dad... I’m in grade school. Nothing cool ever happens. It’s just another day.” Vicious dryly replied.
Victor studied his son’s face and couldn’t go past his steady stare. He finally said “Vicious, doesn’t anything make you happy? It makes me sad to see you so miserable.” His tone was that of trying to make someone understand a notion and not whine about it. All of Victors humorous lines were on vacation in his head... nowhere to be found.
Vicious broke eye contact and looked off into what seemed the future and finally told his father “It’s like this Dad... you know when you were in college and you just couldn’t wait to graduate? How it seemed like life was just on the other side of the street but you just couldn’t seem to get there quick enough? How everything would get under your skin and make you antsy? That’s how I feel a lot of the time.” Vicious stopped when he saw the look of quiet discomfort on his fathers face.
“ I don’t have an answer Dad. I’m sorry if I worry you. But I know that soon... It will be all done. Everything always works out... you’ll see...” Vicious said with a forced smile.
Victor never asked his son about his day again.
Life went on. Two years later Victor finally got the college sports job he had wanted all along and Vivian and Victor were happy. Where normal thirteen year olds are starting to think about girls and friends and such things, Vicious was still quietly restless with his life. He had grown into being a tall, thin kid with sharp features. He didn’t wear the kind of clothes that the other kids liked. His mother would take him out to Macy’s by their house and try and like any mom would try buy him the clothes that she had seen or heard about on TV. Instead, she would show Vicious a shirt with a screen printed surfer on it. Vicious would look at the shirt, and then look at her not even trying to feign false interest and walk into the men’s wear department. Vivian followed Vicious and found him in the young adults section. He had found a black dress shirt and and held it at arms length, looking it up and down. He turned to his mother and handed her the shirt. Twenty minutes later Vivian and Vicious walked out of the store with three of the matching shirts, a pair of black dress shoes, and a couple of pairs of slacks. One black and one charcoal black.
One day it all changed.
It was a Sunday when there was a ring at the door. Victor went to the door and opened it. Standing at apt attention was a thin delivery man. He wasn’t from UPS or Fed Ex. He wore a blue delivery outfit and hat like something out of a fifty’s era television show. In his hands he held a package wrapped with brown paper and tied together with twine. Before Victor could ask the delivery man anything, the man said quickly, cutting Victor off. “Package delivery for Vicious”. Victor was taken aback. Something in his consciousness made him look over his shoulder. Vicious stood there, as if he was waiting for this. Victor stared at his son as his memory unreeled back over the last thirteen years. Pieces fell together as a larger picture came together in his mind. “That’s me.” Vicious said and walked forward and took the package.
“Can you sign this?” The man asked as he pulled out a pen and handed it to the gangly thirteen year old. Vicious scribbled his name on a line and took the package from the man. The delivery man tipped his hat and turned on the balls of his feet and walked away down the driveway. A bland white van awaited him that he entered and off he drove.
As his son held the package Victor studied it. There were no addresses on the package. No sender, no receivers address, no name, no postage... nothing. Just a plain brown package.
A brief, almost imperceptible ripple of joy went through Vicious as he walked to the dinner table in the kitchen and put the package down. A larger picture continued to assemble itself in Victors mind as Vicious pulled on the twine as the tie gave away. The package opened up as both men leaned forward and looked inside.
Inside was a automatic handgun.
Victor’s head hurt as an image of a bigger picture blossomed in his head. His mind was numb with an imperceptible, vague uneasiness that he couldn’t put his finger on. Vicious reached inside the package and withdrew the gun. Victor turned and looked at his son who held the gun up. When he saw his son’s face his uneasiness grew exponentially.
For the first time in a long time, perhaps forever... a smile creaked across Vicious Circle’s long, pale face.
Vicious seemed to become animated and alive after he had received the mysterious package. His parents were worried about this gun that their son had been given from... well... someone. Who would send a thirteen year old kid a gun? The idea of it was too absurd. Victor had asked Vicious to see the gun and Vicious handed him the gun proudly. There were no words engraved on the gun and no caliber size. The gun was light yet it was a dull polished metal. It had the heft of a real gun that was empty. He looked for a cartridge or magazine of something. Nothing. There was no safety.
Victor handed the gun back to his son. He took it and held it with barely concealed joy in his eyes. Victor again thought about the big picture that was too vague and large to see in it’s entirety, and realized now his son was now both more and less human simultaneously with this macabre present. As Vicious held the gun Victor realized with a strange fatherly pride that the gun seemed to complete his son... and it looked awfully at home at the end of his arm.
Victor and Vivian never spoke openly about the gun. It seemed like whenever they would start, something inexplicable would happen. Or their trains of thought would seem to derail and their minds would go blank and slip into another topic of conversation. One thing they were sure of was that their son was finally happy and alive for the first time in his life and that was fine with them. They felt oddly safe that their son had adopted a gun as his first and only friend.
Vicious’s teacher Mr. Philo though was not hindered by such warm thoughts. Mr. Philo was a tall and lanky man with dark hair and features. He had curly hair and a black mustache on his thin face. His eyes were thin and slanted nestled over his hooked nose. Vicious was pulling out his exercise book in english class and Mr. Philo with an ever watchful eye saw the gun hidden in the bottom of his bag. He snatched the bag away from Vicious and pulled the gun out. “What the hell is this!?! Why the hell would you bring a gun to school! Come with me RIGHT NOW!” Even though Mr. Philo was a wiry man, he grabbed Vicious by the arm with incredible strength and brusquely and pulled him out of the classroom, down the hallway to Principle Ledger’s office. Vicious was dropped roughly into the “hot seat”...the chair that you would sit in to get chastised by Principle Ledger. Ledger was a man in his mid forties who had the grey crown of of hair and ponch of fat that marked a man who had made administrative work his careers ambition. The Principle sat there looking at some documents and looked up from under his glasses. Only his eyes moved to focus on Vicious, his head made no movement.
“So... what’s going on here?” asked the Principle as he placed the papers down with a mirthless smile. It was obvious that this exact situation had put the screws to hundreds of kids over the last decade and a half of his job, but for some reason though this Circle kid seemed unfazed. Actually, Principle Ledger was the one who was more then a little unnerved in this instance. Vicious’s cold stare seemed to just bore into the Principles face.
“Mr. Circle here brought a this to school.” volunteered Mr. Philo as he dropped the gun on the Principles desk with a metallic clang. He proceeded to cross his arms and stare at Vicious, waiting for the axe to ultimately fall on the kids neck. A stern look etched across Mr. Philo’s face.
“Hmmm... so, how do you explain this, Mr. Circle?” asked Principle Ledger who’s interest was now piqued. “Seems something like this is better left at... ah...home?”
“No, I keep it with me at all times. It belongs to me and it has to always be with me. That’s just the way it is.” said Vicious. Mr. Philo’s jaw dropped.
“No, it doesn't work that way! How dare you say that! First you’re going to apologize to Mr. Ledger and then we’re going to expel you and maybe press charges!”
Vicious sighed quietly and looked at the angry teacher. “I’m not going to apologize. I haven’t done anything wrong and I think that Mr. Ledger would agree with me.” Once again Mr. Philo’s jaw dropped. He looked at the Principle to see if he was as outraged as he was.
Principle Ledger looked at Vicious and smiled. This is it. Mr. Philo thought, the kids about to get the book thrown at him. “I have to say...” Principle Ledger said clasping his hands together. “That you’re right, Vicious.”
“WHAT!?!” Mr. Philo yelled in shock. “How can you say that, Bob! What the hell’s wrong with you!?!”
“Pete, Pete...” Principle Ledger said calmly, “It’s obvious it’s not a real gun. Look at it. It looks like it’s made out of tin or something. And I would ask you not to raise your voice to me in front of a student like that. It’s not professional...”
Steam and sparks seemed to erupt out of the teachers ears. “Buh...buh...” was all Mr. Philo could stammer out. Principle Ledger took a finger and pushed the gun across the desk towards Vicious. “Here you go son. Just keep it on the down low and we won’t have any problems...OK?”
“Yes sir.” Said Vicious as he put the gun back into his bag and closed to opening. “Can I leave now?” Vicious asked as he stood up.
“Yes, get back to class. Pete, will you stay here for a minute? I’d like to talk to you.” Principle Ledger gestured towards the “hot seat”. As Vicious closed the door behind him, the last thing he saw was the look of shock and worry on Mr. Philo’s face as the door closed shut.
Principle Ledger was a good man. Besides his demeanor that would intimidate any child under the age of thirteen, he was just and fair and would give you the shirt off of his back. He had been married for twenty years to his high-school sweetheart and had two children. Everyone who knew him would say that he was a just man with, deep down, a good heart. Mr. Philo on the other hand was a pushy, arrogant man. If you had asked anyone in the faculty about Mr. Philo they would had said that something about him rubbed them slightly the wrong way. A couple of years later, when Mr. Philo was arrested for several counts of sexual abuse with past students, no one was incredibly surprised.
Vicious was getting older and seemed to finally be settling into his skin. He excelled at school and stayed out of trouble.
One night a couple of days after Vicious’s sixteenth birthday, the childhood that Vicious had been grudgingly waiting to come to an end did just that. He left the house and said good bye to his parents, who were going out for the evening. He was walking to the neighborhood seven-eleven for a chocolate bar when a feeling in the pit of his stomach made him stop. He could feel the cool breeze whisper onto his neck. It was a feeling he had never experienced before. He cautiously started walking again as the feeling became more substantial. He stopped and looked down at his bag for what seemed like an eternity. He slid open the pack that he was carrying and withdrew the gun. It seemed a little heavier then usual. The night seemed to shimmer preternaturally as he walked forward to meet his destiny. He placed the gun in his pants under the belt. He dropped the package where he walked, not noticing it.
As the seven-eleven came into view from around the corner of the street, Vicious felt a magnetic draw to the front doors. Inside he saw a familiar man standing behind the counter. He was a Palestinian man named Henry who was pleasant enough to Vicious. He would always say hello with a smile as you entered and would say good bye with the same smile as you left.
As Vicious entered the only noise he was greeted with was the ding-dong of the door sensor. Henry looked at Vicious with a quiet stare. Vicious nodded as walked past a man reading a magazine and grabbed a Thousand Grand candy bar and put it on the counter.
“That’s a buck.” said Henry who was staring at Vicious with a slight spakle of perspiration on his upper lip. Vicious put the dollar bill on the counter and turned around and headed for the door. As he opened the door to leave he looked over his shoulder at Henry and nodded. Henry looked back with no visible reaction.
Vicious stood in the dark of an adjacent tree in the parking lot. He reached down and grabbed the gun, withdrew it, and slightly juggled it, feeling the guns weight in his hand. He looked at it and took a deep breath and closed his eyes. His heart was hammering, more and more... and then he opened his eyes. His heart was beating a normal pace once again. The gun had gotten to be heavier in his grip. His eyes went towards the 7-11’s door.
The man reading the magazine dropped it and held a .22 pistol with tape on the grip. There was no sound through the glass but the intent was clear. The man raised the gun and silently yelled at Henry, who held his hands up, blanching.
The door dinged.
Vicious stood there in the door way, the gun swaying too and fro at his waist slowly. By all accounts he should have been scared, terrified even. But he felt like Sunday morning, like when you walk through the park on a summer night and smell the jasmine. He had to stop himself from whistling “High Hopes”.
“You again!” the gun-man said. “I let you go be...” He saw the gun. His eyes reflected shocking horror. But when his eyes darted back to Vicious’s face his blood went ice cold and all color left his face. Vicious noticed this as he felt his underbrow stare and thin grin grow darker. The gun-man ran and grabbed Henry and put the gun to his temple. He was shaking.
“I’ll kill him if you don’t leave now! I’m warning you!”
Vicious raised his gun arm smoothly. It raised as if powerful magnets pulled it upwards. The gun seemed hungry. He smiled and said nothing.
The gun-man snuck behind Henry with only his gun hand visible. Henry gulped and his breathing was heavy. He closed his eyes and prayed.
Vicious fired right into the center mass of Henry.
The gun-man seemed to explode back as if a grenade had gone off in his guts. He flew back 10 feet into the slurpy machine and slid down. He was dead before he hit the floor.
Henry opened his eyes. He looked at his chest then at Vicious. Vicious said nothing and didn’t react at all. he lowered the gun and put it back in his pants. He turned around and left. Henry looked at his shirt and felt himself all over and then looked back, just as shock was peeking around his vision. He called the police right away but when they took his statement he failed to mention who had killed the gun-man, saying it was his friends because it was a botched stick up. He stuck to that story.
On the way home a breeze passed over Vicious. He stopped and felt... sad... for a moment. He had taken a big step through an even bigger door. When he got home there was a call from the police. Not for what had happened at 7-11, but for the car-wreck that had happened involving his parents. They both died on impact.
He put the phone down. He looked at the gun in his pants and felt nothing... only that everything is where it should be and should always have been. Somethings can’t be tied down with nostalgia, emotional feelings... or even maternal love.
They just need to be.
Copyright © D.W. Frydendall, All Rights reserved. 2009. Any and all copying or usage of material will result in your fool heart being cut out and displayed in the local town square.