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Leaves


A chunk of bark scraped off of the trunk of the solid, tall, wise oak tree as Dan Schaffer’s thick, muscular legs propelled his own ape like body up into the branches. His calves rippled as they worked like well oiled machines to propel this mass up into the leaves. His heart was visibly bursting out of his chest as he quickly swung behind the oak’s thick arms. His entire body thumped to his heart beat in the craziness of the moment. The tree accepted him intertwining himself in her leaves like a loving mother embracing her young child. But this mother was a protective mother bear, shielding her young cub from danger. He caught his own intense breath and tried to slow his heart rate long enough to monitor the man that was chasing him. This awful, brainless, drunken human, who claimed to have some part in “caring” for his son, had been drinking his mind away for hours now. He thought he could douse the pain with liquor, but he was too far gone to realize that liquor is flammable. His eyes peered between the leaves like yellow lizard eyes just soon enough to see his own father burst out of the back door of his sad excuse for a home. The sweat dripped from his father’s neck and onto his shirt creating a gross stain on his chest and mixed with the ones that secreted from his underarms. He held a dark, tinted bottle of Captain Morgan. He tried to take a swig and the rum swam down his wife beater and crested his gut that jutted out from his abdomen. Then he smashed the bottle against the brick wall that surrounded the door that he had just burst through. “G-get back ins-side, you little s***!” His father pelted the drunken words, aimlessly, at the backyard like he was getting ready to have a fist fight with the air. Dan watched and made sure to stay hidden.
I am sixteen and big. I passed him up on height years ago. I climb this tree every day due to this mindless animal’s drunken antics. It made me strong. It made me tough. I could kick his ass anytime if I actually gave it a shot,” He thought, but where would I sleep after that? He tensed at the thought. The confidence of defeating his father in a battle of fisticuffs was matched with the knowledge that he would be thrown out of his home after all was said and done. His father stumbled back into the house after five minutes of trying to scan the yard for human life. Dan heard a sharp whisper come up from behind him. “Hey, man!” Dan, startled, flipped around and threw the speaking mass against the branch below him and pinned it down. “Hey man chill! It’s just me.” It spoke again. Dan took a second and actually realized it was his best friend, Sean.
He uttered some more words. “How bad was he today?”
Dan replied. “It was pretty bad today. He chased me outside then threatened me with a shattered bottle of Captain. Where have you been? You haven’t been answering your phone and no one has been at your house for the last four days.”
“We flew out to drop Sam at Texas A and M for the year. All of us flew out and there’s a decent amount of fly time between Michigan and Texas. Plus, I forgot my phone at home.” Sean explained. “And now I have a proposition.”
“Alright man, I already told you. My father can still hear firecrackers in the backyard when he’s drunk. He’d bring hell on us if he heard anything, especially when he’s drunk.” Dan responded rolling his eyes. Sean had always been obsessed with explosives and fireworks like a cat is obsessed with yarn. He would watch his colorful explosions cause destruction and stand still, mesmerized by the flames.
“No man, that’s not what I’m talking about! Plus, we blew all my fireworks to crap last week, remember? There aren’t any left. So listen, you hate it here, right?”
“No one likes hell, Sean.”
He remembered back when he was eight years old and his mother passed away from liver cancer. He had no one to comfort him except his best friend. His father was too busy comforting himself with alcohol and the periodic trip on absinth that drove him into cutting his left earlobe off and pulling five of his teeth out.
“That’s what I thought. So my brother is off in Texas for good. He already has some internship lined up out there for being an engineer.”
Dan’s ears perked up like a dog smelling a new milk bone in his house.
“That’s awesome! I hope he gets a job quick.”
“Listen. My point is that he’s not coming back and we have an empty room. It’s yours if you want it.”
Dan sprang up to his feet. “Yes! Anything to get me away from that drunken bastard! Thanks so much for helping me out with this, man. You are saving my life. I don’t know how long it would be until his next absinth trip. I might lose an eyeball or something.”




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