I ran down the road after finishing packing to make it to Neil’s in a matter of three minutes. He lived on the bad side of Georgetown in a small Victorian style town house. His mother died when he was about ten so he lived alone with his dad since.
His dad answered when I knocked. He stared at me the same way he stared at his son. Like he didn’t care.
You see, his dad didn’t understand Neil’s choices. His dad was one of those dads who said that his son must play football or wrestle to be a man and obviously Neil never went along with that. His mom was always supportive of Neil and his feminine tendencies, but his dad was not. Neil lied to his dad all the time about going to dance, saying that he’s going to do homework with me at the library so I always had to cover for him, which I never mind. Neil had been too afraid to even tell his dad that he’s gay, afraid he’ll be kicked out. I told him not to worry about that, but I would believe that his dad would kick him out, so I never pushed him.
“Neil!” His dad yelled, not saying a word to me. I didn’t really understand why he hated me so much, but it had been like that since Neil and I first became friends. Maybe it’s because Neil was more feminine than I was sometimes, but I couldn’t be sure.
I sat down on the step because Neil’s dad went back to watching the game with a beer in hand or whatever he was doing before I interrupted his fulfilling life.
I turned. “Hey.” I tried not to sound so crushed internally.
“I didn’t expect to see you anymore today. Thought you’d lock yourself up in your house for the next couple days.”
“I need your help, Neil.”
“Are you going to tell me why you called my ex?”
I thought for a minute, squinting in the late afternoon sun. “Probably not, no.”
He laughed and shook his head. “You’re so mysterious, Eryn.”
I rolled my eyes. “I need your car.”
I cleared my throat. “Your car.”
He leaned against the railing of the steps and folded his arms. “Are you going to tell me what you’re doing and why you’re not inviting me on this quest?”
“You can’t come, Neil.” You’d talk me out of it, I thought to myself.
There was a pause. His voice became one of unease. “Eryn, seriously, what are you doing?” A look of pure concern crossed his face.
“Neil, I’m not doing what you think I’m doing. Trust me.” It was like I was on suicide watch now that my dad died. It was annoying in all honesty.
“Then, what’re you doing?”
“Neil, it’s better for you if you don’t know. I’m sorry. Please, can I just have your car?”
“Well, that’s the oldest line in the book. ‘It’s better for you if you don’t know.’ Is somebody trying to be noble?” He mocked.
“Neil, I’m not screwing around here,” I said as my blood started to boil. “I’m not changing my mind. I’m going with or without your car. Taxis are expensive and I can’t…subway won’t work. I need a vehicle of my own for a couple days.”
“What about your mom’s?”
“She sold hers, remember?”
“Right…” He thought for a second. “No damage will come to my car?” One of the more “manly” traits that Neil possesses was adoration for his vehicle (granted it was a Prius, not some giant truck or hotshot convertible). He would hurt me if something happened to his car.
“No, Neil. I will make sure it’s safe.”
Another pause. He was still waiting for information about where I was going. I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t. He couldn’t know. “I just need to get away from my mom for awhile.” That he would believe.
“That’s all your doing?” He still looked suspicious.
“Then, why’d you call my ex?” He sat down next to me. “Eryn, please. I know you’re in pain, but I’m trying to help. Trust me.” He cocked his head, his eyes pleading. “Something more is wrong. You’re up to something and you look like hell washed over your face.”
“Well, what do you expect, Neil? My dad’s dead!”
“I know.” He put his arms around me. “I know. But you can’t shut me out. Not now. I did that and it didn’t do any good.”
“This will help me, isn’t that enough? Why do I have to subjected to interrogation just because I want to get away? You know how I feel about my mom. I will feel better if I’m away from her for awhile.”
He pulled away and looked at me. “Do you promise to come back and work it out with your mom?”
“Yes. I should be back in a few days. I just need to clear my head.”
He pulls out his keys from his pocket. “Fine. But I’m calling you several times to make sure that you’re okay. I’m only doing this because I trust you and I want you to deal with this and feel better.”
I kissed his cheek. “Thanks. I’ll be back I promise.” I stood up and moved to the garage, and he followed.
He shook his head again. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Eryn.”
I opened the driver’s side of his Prius. “Hey, you’ve dealt with me for this long you can’t abandon me now.”
He laughed. “Right. I trust you.”
Don’t, the voice inside my head told him as I entered the car. Neil scurried out of my way and watched me leave, shaking his head the entire time.
I stared straight in front of me, stopped at a stoplight. Though it only took an hour and a half to get to Virginia, it seemed like days. Every minute seemed to be moving more slowly the farther along I got. I hit my head on the steering wheel purposely, forgetting that I still had a concussion. I rubbed my head in pain.
What am I doing?
I tried to think clearly, but anger just creeped back, clouding my better judgment. It’s this guy’s fault that your dad is dead and you have one arm. So don’t act so scared. He deserves everything he gets.
I looked at the bag in the passenger’s seat. I saw the loaded gun and the knife I grabbed shining from the street lights. I took a deep breath and I felt my nostrils flare, remembering the night when I watched my father’s chest move its last. I reached over to cover my weapons (merely used to frighten of course) as the light turns green. I accelerated forward.
Charlottesville here I come.