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'That' Story [8/11]

That Story, or Ten Reasons Why Priestly Doesn't Like Chicago

1. The Little Old Lady | 2. The Weather | 3. The Computer Genius | 4. The Bars | 5. The Crazed Psycho | 6. The Women | 7. The Tripper | 8. The Lost Boy | 9. The Skateboard | 10. The Little Old Lady (Again) | 11. Epilogue
The next couple of months passed without much incidence. Aside from the crazy itching in the first couple of weeks, Boaz nearly forgot he even had the tattoo. It was only when he looked in the mirror that he was reminded of the fact. He stayed away from shopping malls where Grace and Tina (and all women) seemed to frequent. After his impromptu tattoo, he hadn't been back to Jake's (and consequently, visit Andy), though the teen had apparently said that his van was always open. (He'd have to take Jake's word on that, he still didn't remember. In fact, he wouldn't be surprised if he never did.) His time had been spent working and hanging out with his friends afterhours.

He'd finally managed to pull together the two thousand that he owed Ash, and was happy to finally cross that off his list. The last thing he wanted was some super hacker turning him into a wanted criminal because he didn't square his debt.

He left the apartment and crossed the street to his skateboard much like any other day. On his way past the alley he caught sight of a small, pale head peeking around a dumpster. Feeling charitable (as people are when they have a lot of money in their pockets), he decided to stop and investigate.

Skidding the skateboard to a halt, he kicked it up and leaned it against the wall. "Hey kid," he called, just so the boy would have fair warning he was approaching.

When he rounded the dumpster, he saw the boy curled in on himself, trying to take up as little space as possible. "Hey, it's alright." Boaz said. "I'm not gonna hurt you."

The wide-eyed youth looked up at Boaz, his bottom lip trembling ever so slightly. "I'm lost."

"Well, that's an easy fix - where do you live?"

"W-Weller Street," he mumbled, as though he wasn't sure he should be telling him.

Weller Street, he knew where that was. At least he thought he did. It was between here and Ash's, only a little off track. "Shouldn't be a problem," he smiled.

He stuck out his hand, and the small boy took it. When he stood, Boaz was able to get a better look at him. He was pale alright; skin so white it left a haunted look around his eyes. He couldn't have been older than six or seven and his clothes were ratted hand-me-downs from the seventies. He had no shoes on, and Boaz reminded himself to keep an eye out for any broken glass.

When they got back to the street, the boys' eyes lit up at the sight of the skateboard resting against the wall. He sped off to it before Boaz had time to blink. The kid laid it flat on the ground and hopped on, a picture of happiness as he tested it out. If he didn't know better, Boaz never would have guessed the child before him was close to tears not twenty seconds ago.

"You like skateboards, I take it?"

He nodded. "Yeah. I got it for Christmas."

The child rode along the sidewalk at a leisurely place whilst Boaz kept pace alongside.

So that's whose skateboard it was. Still, it didn't explain what it was doing all the way out here. "What are you doing out here if you live in Weller Street?"

"I was looking for my skateboard."

It was a good thing the kid's attention was elsewhere, or he would've noticed the guilty look that came across Boaz' face. He'd been nicking the kid's skateboard for months now.

Something about that didn't make sense, but he shrugged it off. "What's your name, kid?"

By now the boy had sped down to the end of the street, a good ten yards away. He spun around at the corner and shouted something that Boaz couldn't quite make sense of, so he decided to adopt his fail-safe and just not bother using his name.

The conversation pretty much died out after that point anyway. The boy was having too much fun zipping past Boaz and back, waiting for him to get to the end of the street so he knew which way to go next. Boaz didn't think he'd seen a man love his car as much as that kid seemed to like that skateboard.

After twenty minutes of navigating the roads (guesswork on Boaz' part), they finally stumbled onto Weller Street. The kid shot off like a rock down the pavement and Boaz had to jog to catch up. When he did he almost went straight past the house.

Of all the buildings on the street, the kid happened to live on the one that looked like a typhoon had been through. The general state of the house was in disrepair in nearly every way. The paint was peeling, the windows were broken, the front door looked as though it had been broken off years ago and was just now resting against the frame haphazardly. It had to be some kind of trick; surely no one actually lived here.

As he stepped up onto the porch, his foot fell through the second step into watery mud underneath. Cursing under his breath, he pulled his leg free and decided to just stop where he was at the top of the landing. "So, this is your home?"

The boy was sitting on a torn up couch, his feet dangling over the side of one of the arms. "Yep."

"...Right." Boaz didn't have much to say. The inside was probably (hopefully) better and besides, it wasn't his place to judge. "Well, take care of your skateboard." He nodded at it.

The kid caught him looking at his skateboard and his eyes narrowed. "It's mine." He hissed possessively.

Not wanting to get in an argument (especially considering he knew he'd been riding someone else's skateboard to work every morning), Boaz put his hands up in the universal 'I surrender' manner. "Didn't say it wasn't."

"You can't have it."

A shiver went down Boaz' spine at the amount of venom in the kids' eyes. If he had been paying attention, he would've noticed his breath came out in vapour, but as it was all his focus was currently on the small child in front of him.

"I don't want it, seriously."

"It's mine and you CAN'T HAVE IT!" By the end the kid was screaming, and Boaz thought now would be a pretty good time to get the hell out of here.

He backed slowly, intent on getting down the steps and far away. But in his haste he forgot about door in the way. His foot kicked it, tilting the top to spin out towards him. Instinctively he leaned back, and ended up falling into the house, the door completing its spin and landing on the left half of his body.

He barely had time to slip the door off him when a fist-sized flower pot flew into the house, smashing on his shoulder.

"Hey look kid, calm down!"

Boaz leapt into the living room as three more pots sailed into the house, narrowly missing his head. He didn't have time to turn around and check, but he hazarded that the kid was still angry, as projectiles continued to fly towards his person as he ran to the back of the house.

When he got to the kitchen he slammed the door and leaned against it with a sigh. It was short-lived as, not five seconds later, a fire poker speared through the door an inch to the left of his neck. Realising it was little use barricading himself against a door so old and worn a friggin' six year-old could shove a poker through it, he left his post and darted across to the other doorway leading into the dining room.

The wind seemed to pick up, gusting in through every gap and opening. And as much as he didn't want to go out in the middle of it, he'd choose it over the mentally unstable youth chasing him through this decrepit excuse for a house.

As he just passed through into the dining room, the kitchen door slammed open with a bang. Boaz halted in his step and turned around. The screaming had stopped, so he was hoping the boy had finally calmed down.

Seeing the child holding a large knife in his hands and a murderous look in his eyes, Boaz reconsidered and bolted through to the front door.

It was at that moment his exit was blocked by his own personal psycho friend from the bar wielding a shotgun.

"Jesus Christ!" Boaz shouted and about-faced into the dining room.

Caught between a psycho rock and a just-as-crazy hard place, Boaz skidded to a halt between the two so suddenly that he lost his footing and slipped over. It turned out to be lucky as the man with the gun fired off a round that just went sailing over his head... straight into the boy. But by the time he looked up, the kid was gone.

Normally Boaz would be up and thanking the person who had scared the mini-sociopath off, but seeing as his rescuer was a delusional man with a shotgun, he decided to stay right the hell where he was. If I don't move, maybe he'll forget I'm here.

It was the naive voice talking, he knew. The realistic one countered that he was simply breathing too hard from adrenalin to possibly pull it off. And besides, the guy was now standing over him with an unreadable expression on his face.

After what seemed the longest length of time, the man offered his hand. Not wanting to offend the guy, Boaz took it and offered a hesitant, "Thanks."

The man opened his mouth, and then closed it. Two more false starts later and he sighed. "Look De... Bo." There was a slight gap as though he wasn't sure that was his actual name. "Why don't you head on home."

Boaz was indignant at being dismissed like some lackey, and was about to retort when he caught sight of the gun.

The man realised the source of his apprehension, and cocked the weapon forcefully. "Now."

Not wanting to turn his back on the nut before him, but not wanting to trip over something again even more, he spun around and left the house at a half-jog.

It wasn't until he was on the sidewalk that he even glanced back. There was no sign of neither the boy nor the man, which did nothing to ease the tension in his shoulders. Only when he was at Ash's door – having jogged off the rest of his adrenalin – did the paranoia ebb.

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