Sympathy for the Devil

June 14, 2011
By
Martin was face down; dead in a pool of him own blood. Shot right in front of me, I saw the devil that day and his name was Greg Steadman. That man took nine lives with a pull of a trigger.

“I could have done something to stop it!”

“Wesley there is nothing you could have done to stop it from happening.”

“Don’t give me that bull-s***! I could have prevented this!”

“Wesley calm down, have you been taking you medication?”

“That prescribed crap does nothing except make me tired.”

“Wesley it is important that you take your pills to help you manage your depression.”

“Listen, I’m not going to take that stuff anymore, I can survive and deal without it.”

“Well Wesley there is nothing I can do to stop you; I can only give my opinion.”

“I don’t need your help, the only reason I’m here is because of the stupid school.”

”Wesley I think you do need someone to talk to about your experience, the only way to move on is to talk about it.”

“I’ll move on when I’m ready to, regardless of talking to some shrink.”

“Well your time is up, remember come back at 3:30 pm tomorrow to talk some more.”

“Whatever, I’ll show if I feel like it.”

Secretly my shrink knew I’d be there, every day on time for six months I have gone there. The place is called Sunny-Crest Psychological Treatment Center off of the highway next to McDonalds. I haven’t missed an appointment since my school referred me there from too many violent outbursts. It didn’t take much to put me over the edge but I have made a lot of progress since then. I always act like a hard-ass at the shrink even though I don’t mean it. I’m merely putting up a “defense mechanism”. I had read about it in a magazine before my first even appointment with Doctor Henson. She even told me that I was putting up a wall to protect myself from showing any emotions towards anyone. I mean how you can trust anyone anymore? Back in school people would talk. Just pointless rumors and some people would say them to my face. That is where I would get violent, sending a few to the hospital from fights. Luckily the school didn’t expel me but rather send me to Sunny-Crest instead. I live on my own now, the government helps pay for my living expenses so I never will have to work a day in my life. I’d trade it all in for my parents back. I know that wont happen but it goes through my mind everyday. It has taken a lot of time to cope with their passing and it will take a long time to move on. I hope to continue to make progress with Sunny-Crest. Sometimes I forget that it all happened only two years ago and when it finally hits my stomach sinks and I get eat, sleep, or think. This is happening about twice a month and starting to fade a lot faster. Sometimes it is nice to not be able to sleep though, considering I have the same damn dream every time. I can’t fast forward though it either. The medication is supposed to help me not dream but it makes me fall asleep during school and hurts my grades. I sell my pills to some stoners under the bleachers of the football field every month. I just need dependable people in my life to help me grow and one day move on with the memory of my parents still intact.

“Wesley I’m glad your back, I didn’t think you’d be back after yesterday. What would you like to talk about today? Remember you’re here until 5:30 today.”

“I want to talk about the whole thing, from beginning to end.”

“Are you sure? Do you want me to push back my meetings?”

“I need to talk about it and you’re the only one I can really talk to Doctor Henson.”

Doctor Henson was a young lady a few years out of college and sharp as a tack. She knew me pretty well and I think I know her pretty well. She will listen to me talk and know exactly how to help.

“Ok Wesley let me cancel my 6:00 meeting with Doctor Shepard.”

Doctor Shepard was a real prick.

“Thank you Doctor Henson, I think we can make real progress this week.”

I see Doctor Henson twice a week at 3:30.

“Ok Wesley, tell me everything that has happened, from beginning to end.”

It was spring of 1996 and a few weeks from summer vacation. I was going to be a junior in September and time was going quick in high school, but at least I had two years left to go. It was spirit week at school; everyone was showing their pride by dressing up in yellow and black. Our school is the Bay-Cliff Yellow Jackets; our mascot is Stingy, a big yellow wasp with a goofy hat. Honestly though, people respected the mascot despite his appearance. We had a pep rally in the gym and everyone was there, cheering and clapping for our sports teams. I played basketball, we were shooting baskets on the baskets for the fans, and the football team was in full uniform sitting in chairs behind us. I couldn’t help but notice that our season was coming to an end; we had a good team that year. I didn’t play the following year. We had a big game against some team in south Pennsylvania for the state finals in one week. The pep rally only distracted us from practice. We muddled through the school week in anticipation for the big game. Everyone was exhausted from four hour practices and the bus-ride there seemed to take four hours. The game ended with us edging out the opposition by one point. I shot a game winning three point shot to take the game.

We had a huge party when we got back, a cookout at the school for the team and our friends. It was a good time, we all just talked about the season and whatever funny stuff took place as well. Then we got into the last week of school everyone was signing yearbooks and we had a special section this year for out basketball team. It was a laid back week no homework or projects, just random movies we could find in our class-rooms.

The last day of school came around with everyone saying their good-byes and making plans for the summer. There were going to be a lot of parties and times to be laid back in the summer. I know my parents were going to have their class reunion for 1976’. They have been planning it for a few weeks now so they didn’t have much time to do anything else. I didn’t mind so much then, if I knew what was going to happen. I would have made time for them, skipping a party for family time. Back then though, I just went my own way and let them plan, it was important for them so I let them have their reunion. Most of the time anyway I would just go hang out with my friends while they planned at home or worked. During the summer especially my friends and I would go down to the river and skip rocks for hours or go on the rope swing we put in the year before. I had found the list of the invitees to the reunion. I also found their yearbook in the dining room closet. I matched up the names to see who was going to show up. People back in 1976 really dressed differently than students now but that’s natural as time goes on. I found my parents and had a good laugh. I couldn’t even describe how weird their hair looked. I never told them this but I’m sure they knew I had seen their yearbook at some point.

I always find it annoying that during the summer you try to sleep in but always wake up early because we all are programmed to wake up in the morning for school. I would wake up 6:30 during the summer for some reason even though I wanted to sleep until noon.

It was about a week into summer and my parents decided to have their reunion at our house. We had a fair sized backyard, enough for the amount of people invited. I didn’t know what I was going to do, stay home or go out that day. The reunion was going to be on July 17th. That day didn’t mean anything to me until much later.

“Wesley don’t jump ahead, I only want to hear it from start to end.”

“Jesus woman all I said was it only meant something later on.”

“Keep your tone down Wesley, just continue with the story.”

As I said my friends and I were just hanging out everyday, making plans to see movies or play some basketball at the local court. June was over and July was starting, I had been living off of fast food for the past month because my parents had no time to cook. July fourth was coming and we had a block party in the neighborhood. All my friends were there so we had a big basketball game under the fireworks. I was stuffed with picnic food and was running lethargically. We lost by nine points when we’d usually win by twenty. We must of played until midnight because all the parents and their kids were all gone, nothing but the courts lights illuminating our game. The next day I woke up to hear my parents talking to someone downstairs. I assumed it was about the reunion. I walked downstairs, my parents were sitting on the couch and a short-plump bald man was sitting on the rocking chair perpendicular to them. I walked into the room and they all stood up. My parents introduced the weird looking individual.

“Wesley, we’d like you to meet Greg Steadman, he went to high school with us.”

“Very nice to meet you Wesley, I have heard a lot about you,” Steadman said in a very relaxed voice.

“Pleasure to meet you too Steadman.”

I could tell he was a real ass so I called him by his last name only. Just to piss him off.
I went outside to go swimming in the river and told my friends about Steadman and his somehow greasy bald hair. We all had a laugh and I called my parents to see if they were home. I was going to take my friends over to see Steadman and his greasy bald hair. My parents said they went out to run errands and would be back later tonight. We went back to my house anyways to watch TV. We were walking down the street kicking pebbles that washed onto the sidewalk. Martin looked up and stopped walking. He nudged my back quickly, stopping all movement.

“Wesley your parents aren’t home right?” Martin questioned.

“No man they are out running errands for the reunion.”

“Who is that in the window?”

I looked up and saw a silhouette of a short, plump thing. I made a quick double-take but the shadow was gone.

“That looked like Steadman; I’m not joking guys that was Steadman!”

“How could it be Steadman Wesley?” Martin asked. “Your parents are gone. Nobody is home at your house.”

I didn’t have an answer for him, I had no clue what was going on and just to be safe we ran to out friend Dave’s house right across from mine hiding in his room periodically peering out over to my house. We took some food up there; we didn’t know how long our stakeout would last. There was no car on my driveway and all the windows were locked. We thought it was the sun reflecting off the window. We sort of felt stupid for thinking that Steadman would be in our house, but a little part of me thought there could be that possibility. After we completed our survey of my house I walked home at about 6pm carefully looking at every dark corner of my yard in case Steadman popped out to scare me. I grabbed the key from under the mat in front of the door. It was gone; the key was always under the mat. I figured my parents took in case they couldn’t get into the garage. I went around to the back of the house; all of the windows were locked. I found our little garden gnome nestled under the willow tree in the corner behind the house. We always kept a spare under in a slit in his back. I propped him back, the key gently slid out into my open palm. I unlocked the door, putting the key back into the gnome. I called him Chompski because of his wide smiling grin. Not a weird grin or a fake grin, his was natural.

I went inside to grab some food. The lights were all off, but it was still a little light outside making it possible to see. I went into the kitchen to grab some leftover Chinese food. It was gone too, I know I didn’t eat it yet and my parents hate Chinese food. I micro-waved some hot pockets and laid down on the sofa. There was nothing on the television to watch, so I watched our basketball game on our high school channel. It was like I was there again, except the last shot didn’t take forever to go in. I guess since I knew it was going in there was no reason for my mind to slow it down. After I watched the game, I went upstairs to wash my hands. I grabbed some paper towels to dry them off. I always put them into a ball and shot them into the garbage. This time I went for a tomahawk dunk. I heard a crunch in the garbage. I took the towels out and saw broken glass. My parents were very clumsy so it was natural to see things knocked over. They never put glass in the upstairs bathroom though, unless they were in a hurry. I took out the garbage bag and threw it into the garage garbage bin. I ran back upstairs to replace the bag and to turn to lights off. The lights were already off. I put in the new bag and went into my room. I turned on the radio and went to lay down on my bed. I was tossing a basketball up and down for some extra practice. I could spin a basketball on my finger for minutes on end.

My house was quiet except for the music on the radio. I listened to Metallica a lot; the station I listened to played their music a lot. I guess I was in my room for almost an hour, my parents were not home yet either. It was around 7:30 and I started to hear a faint scratching coming from my parent’s room. I grabbed my baseball bat from when I played little league, turned the radio down, and carefully walked down the hallway to their door. I slowly grabbed the doorknob and turned it until the click of the lock sounded. I flung the door open diving into the room with my hands clenched onto the bat. I backed up to the corner of the room quickly standing up. I guess it was paranoia from before but I felt like someone was there with me. I heard the scratching again; I walked over to the window with that feeling of utmost stupidity. The willow tree was scratching on the window; I was supposed to cut those branches off the week before. I was looking outside along the fence line between our house and the neighbors. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the same shadow from before.

My heart sank as it quickly stumbled around the willow tree. I fell back over a stool the bat flying in mid air. I sat their motionless I didn’t know what I was going to do. I tried to get up but something was stopping me. All I could muster was an army crawl under my parent’s bed. I was laying down there until my parents came home. When they got home it was 9:00pm. I didn’t eat, drink, or sleep until their car rolled into the driveway. Everything was becoming eerie. The Steadman-like shadow around our house was making me think twice about this guy. I told my parents about what happened that day and they reassured me that Gregory had left when they did to run errands. I figured it could be possible but on the other hand I had that haunting suspicion that there was a red flag.

The next day it was pouring rain so we had a huge tackle football game with our neighborhood. I was always looking over my shoulder in case Steadman was lurking in the bushes. Steadman became taboo in our neighborhood amongst the kids. People who were weird or stalkers around girls became Steadman. If someone called you a Steadman they meant it. After our football game Jerry Lewis the freshman from the next street over called Martin a Steadman because he was asking about Jerry’s sister and Martin beat him up. A common thing to do for us was to play man-hunt, just hide and go seek mixed in with tag. We called it Steadman, one person was Steadman and everyone else had to hide from him. If you were caught by Steadman he would make you have greasy bald hair. We wouldn’t really do that though, however one time this eighth grader Carl West had his head shaved because he wouldn’t be it. He ran home after that and the next day he was wearing a baseball cap. That was July 8th, nine days before the reunion.

July 9th was my birthday; we had a small party with friends and family. My Aunt Tina always got me the greatest gifts. The year before the reunion she got me a dirt bike for my birthday which I rode around the neighborhood. The year of the reunion she got me a dog. It was a retired German Shepard police dog. His name was Rex but I changed it to Bear. He looked like a bear in a way because his fur was brown and black. I have only seen a bear once in my life, when I was seven a bear ran through our neighborhood. It had escaped from the circus and we were alerted by the police to stay indoors. It climbed over our backyard fence and ran into the road where it was shot with a sleeping dart by the Game Warden. I felt bad for the bear as time went on, having to be cramped up in a cage for people to look at. He should be free to roam in his natural home. From the moment I saw my dog Bear I knew he was going to be my best companion. He only liked people I trusted which were most of my friends or kids in the neighborhood. He was trained by experts so I could say a command and he would follow it. He would go with me to play basketball and guard my water. My other gifts were also great. My grandma gave me a check to spend on whatever I wanted which was nice. My least favorite gift was from Martin although I understood why. He re-gifted a pair of striped dress socks to me. I laughed when I opened the bag because I gave him those socks for his birthday when we were in 8th grade. We had pizza and cake and played party games for a while, all the while I still had Steadman on my mind.

There was something odd about him and I was determined to find out what it was. After everyone left the party I immediately went to sleep. My new dog was sleeping at the edge of my bed. I hardly ever dreamt about anything, I just went to sleep and then woke up in the morning. I dream now though, horrific dreams I wish I could get out of my mind. The next morning I took Bear on a walk through the neighborhood so he could familiarize himself with the residents. People would come up and pet him or ask what his name was. We were walking past the basketball court when I saw an old rusted van with tinted windows. I kept walking past it starting to cross the road. As soon as I had stepped into the road the van took off blowing through a stop sign and almost hitting me. Nobody I knew drove a car like that; it could have been a person who was lost. I thought this was the case however I was wrong. After I took Bear on a walk I went into my parent’s office room. They were finishing planning for their reunion. I was told when they were done that we could go out for dinner, and that they made reservations at a fancy restaurant. I was excited that their work was almost over. They were freaking out because my mom couldn’t find her event planner. I told them it would turn up; it was probably at their office at work. Our reservations were July 11th at 6pm as it said on the calendar. The doorbell rang from outside, eager to see who it was I ran downstairs and opened the door. Nobody was there, some kids playing a prank on me. I went into the kitchen to get some leftover pizza from the party. I took out the box looking for four or five pieces. It had one slice in it. I walked upstairs asking my parents if they ate it. They said they didn’t so I was weary about the food missing this time. I went to my room to see if Bear had gotten into the pizza but he hadn’t snatched it. I ate the lone slice and a few peanut butter sandwiches at the kitchen table. My mind was racing through the possibilities that someone else had come in and been messing with our family. There have been people coming and going eating our food. I was glad that it would soon be over and Steadman would be out of our lives. He was supposed to come over before our dinner reservations to reassure the seating arrangements. I was going to do some investigating while they were working. I devised a reconnaissance mission to dig up dirt on Steadman.

“Doctor Henson, may I speak to you for a second?” Doctor Shepard interruptedly asked.

“This isn’t a good time to talk Doctor Shepard.” Doctor Henson exclaimed.

“I don’t care if it isn’t a good time to talk, come outside now.” Shepard demanded.

“Listen,” I said, “If it isn’t a good time to talk you prick than close the door, turn around, and walk your ass on out of here!” I yelled.

Doctor Shepard was devastated, walking away in utter embarrassment.

“I could have handled that myself Wesley.” Henson quietly muttered.

“Don’t ever let anyone push you around like that.” I said.

“Let me continue with the story Doctor Henson.”

I kept replaying my mission over and over again, looking at every angle of attack. I had originally planned on going through his car while he was inside. It didn’t work out that way but for a good reason. I woke up at around 8am on the 11th. Steadman had not shown up yet. I told Bear to come with me for his keen sensing ability. He could smell Steadman’s greasy bald hair better than I could. I was waiting at the window in the downstairs lounge. I didn’t want Steadman to know I was there so I was going to climb out of the window with Bear and investigate. It was about noon when his little sedan with wood vinyl on the side pulled up to our driveway. I waiting for him to ring the doorbell, our windows creaked when opened so I had to time it perfectly. I quickly pulled the window ajar and let Bear climb out first. He landed softly on the ground sitting there waiting for me to follow. I heard footsteps coming towards the door so I rushed climbing out of the window almost hitting my head. I closed the window before the door opened. It was just my dad looking for his glasses. I told them I was out playing basketball with some local kids. I waited under the window next to the willow tree, until I knew my parents had started to work with Steadman. I was crawling on all fours underneath all of the windows so they wouldn’t see me. Steadman left his window cracked open just enough to open the door from the inside. I got up next to his car; Bear was waiting under the window still. I stood up next to his car. His greasy bald hair still smelled in his car. It smelled sort of like formaldehyde. I slid my arm down into his car looking for the knob to unlock the door. Our front door clicked open I frantically pulled my arm out of the car tearing my shirt on a part of the car. The door was almost open; frantically I dove back under the willow tree scraping my knees up. I had to control my breathing, almost hyperventilating, my hands covering my mouth. Steadman appeared from the door, hunched over walking to his car. I could tell Bear wanted to bark at him but was calm. We were both lying down in the shadows waiting for Steadman to go back inside. He put something into his coat pocket, it was shiny and round. I also saw his put something away into the glove compartment. I knew I should check it out. Steadman was looking all around him, like someone was watching his every movement. He was right, I was right there, within feet of him. He finally closed the car door; the cloth from my shirt caressed the air landing on his shoe. He looked down picking it up off his loafers with a confused look. Then I knew I may be caught when he had an angered look on his face. He put the cloth in his back pocket while walking back into the house. I let out a large breath of air, trying to regain my composure. I wiped the leaves and sticks off my clothing, checking my scraped knees for blood. Once it was clear again I slowly made my way back to his car. I placed my arm back through the window moving my fingers around the door lock until I could pull it open. I heard the pop from the lock, taking my arm out and opening the door. I had to open it very cautiously so nobody would hear it. I started searching in the backseat, only to find some old dusty shirts and muddy boots. Under the seats I found some old Chinese food boxes. Steadman had eaten my leftover food. I checked the glove compartment finding a first aid kit and an old voice recorder with no tape in it. I pushed aside the first aid kit and found the license for his car. It was stuck to another document, after peeling it back the other document was a license for another vehicle. It was for a van, the same type of van that almost hit me the day I was walking Bear. Steadman had tried to hit me, or at least was a bad driver. It was odd that he had another car; I’ve seen that van around here for the few weeks. It was parked around the neighborhood. I put the papers away, looking for the tape to the voice recorder. I popped the trunk open making an irritating screeching noise. Luckily nobody heard it, I sat behind the car holding the door down incase someone looked out the window. I climbed into the back, it was filled with food boxes and clothing. I dug through all of the garbage, he was a big slob some of the food had been three or four weeks old. Under a bag of old potato chips was a duffel bag. It was dark green and almost stuffed under the backseat. I pulled it out almost falling out the back of the trunk. I untied the drawstrings pulling both sides of the bag open. I poured the contents out from the bag finding the tape to the voice recorder. I also found some shards of broken glass, a pocket knife, and a key. At the time I just assumed it was a spare house key or another car key. The glass could have been from one of the bottles in the trunk. I put the tape in my front pocket and slid the key into the bag. I didn’t bother to put the glass back in, trying to keep my cuts to a minimum. I climbed out from the trunk slowly closing it from behind. My parents had an old voice recorder so I listened to the tape on it later. I double checked the interior making sure that everything was as I found it. I took bear over the Martin’s house to lay low until Steadman left. I told Martin I rummaged through his car; he was shocked that I would do such a thing. I told him what I found in his car unsettling both of us. We decided to do as much research on him as possible. My parents and I still had dinner reservations that night. After Steadman went home I climbed fence and walked through the backyard into the house. The door was unlocked, my parents sitting at the table. They saw my knees along with my ripped shirt and asked what happened. I told them I fell running in basketball. They told me to get washed up for dinner and wear my best clothes. I still had my suit from the basketball banquet we had after the season ending. I went into the bathroom to take a shower and change. I saw a little book on the floor next to the sink. I picked it up wondering why there would be a book in the bathroom. It was one of those books with the tassel you have to untie to open it. I unwound the string and opened the book up. It was Steadman’s address book, filled with all his contacts and his own address. That was a huge break for me and my research. I took the book into my room hiding it behind my TV. I had a lock on my door and two keys one for me and one for my parents. Steadman lived about fifteen minutes away by foot. After we were all ready my parents and I went to the restaurant. We were seated quickly and enjoying a night to ourselves. I hear a nasally voice ring out from behind me. It was goddamn Steadman, sitting at the table in the corner of the restaurant. He was sitting with some lady, wearing a weird dress and an even weirder yellow hat. She looked like a hostess Twinkie; I can tell why Steadman liked her. She was going to the reunion too; Steadman must have scammed her into going to dinner with her. The odds that they had reservations at the same restaurant at the same time made me get goose bumps. Steadman was really pissing me off now; I was close to figuring this guy out. I think he knew that I was fiddling with his car, when I met him I was wearing the same shirt. He got up from his chair, his date walking to the bathroom. If I were her I would have just ran. He strutted over to our table pulling a chair up right next to me.

“Hello everyone, what are the odds that we both have reservations here?” Steadman asked.

“Hello Gregory,” my dad replied, “How is it going?”

“Not bad, not bad at all. My date and I are enjoying a night on the town.” Steadman said.

I got up from the table and walked to the bathroom.

“Wesley, show some manners!” my mom said.

I had already turned the corner to the bathroom.

“It’s ok, he’ll come around.” Steadman said, reassuring my parents.

I ran into the lady that was unfortunate to be on a date with Steadman. I accidentally bumped into her. She was on the phone talking to her friend about how terrible the date was going. I laughed to myself when she mentions how she was going to have to pick up the check. I was sitting on the stall trying to waste time when someone walked in. I lifting my feet up incase Steadman had walked in. I didn’t want to talk to him at all. I crept up the wall standing on the toilet. Steadman was talking to himself. He was whispering random words under his breath. I couldn’t piece together what he was saying. He must have been angry; he was furiously washing his hands. After he washed his hands he took out a pocket knife, the same one from his car. He was running the blade slowly through his fingers. He wasn’t blinking, he was fixed on the knife and at one point he cut his finger on the sharp blade. He let out a loud curse punching the mirror with al his might. He shattered the glass all over the floor. I slipped into the toilet rolling my ankle. He heard the splash and continued to yell. I waited in the stall for him to calm down but he wasn’t losing his rage. He began to bash on the stall door. Punching it with all his might, he was planning on harming whoever was behind the door. I crawled underneath to the next stall just as he broke the door open. He continued to yell at the person inside the bathroom.

“Come out right now! Get the f*** out right now and face me like a man!” he screamed.

I stood in the next stall waiting for him to bash on that door. I started to kick it instead, I had to make a move quickly or face Steadman’s wrath. He stopped kicking the door for a second to finally catch his breath. I unlocked the door and took a step back. He let out another yell right before he was going to kick the door in one last time. I lunged forward with my strength and kicked the door back at him. His leg was in the air and it was the first thing to hit the door. I saw Steadman fly back into the wall. He smashed into the tiles knocked them off the wall itself. I ran out of the bathroom before he could see who had knocked him down. I sat back down at the table with my parents, acting as if nothing happened.

“Wesley, what was that commotion about?” my mom asked.

“I don’t know mom, I think some people outside the restaurant were fighting.” I calmly replied.

Steadman’s date sat alone in the corner for almost and hour. Steadman had left her alone to tend to his wounds. I had no clue he had that much rage built up, but it explained all the broken glass in his car. His date finally left and she did have to pick up the check. My parents and I left after she did heading home the long way to savor our dinner. Traffic was really bad on the way back; there was a terrible car accident. I saw the back of the ambulance; it had one person on a gurney face up. It was the lady in the yellow hat. I saw her hat drifting off the road from the wind. Her car was upside down in an embankment on the side of the road. The police were directing traffic, we rolled up past them, and there was a lot of blood on the ground.

“What happened here officer?” my dad asked.

“The lady crashed her car into the embankment, seems like something scared her.”

We drove off past the accident nearing our house; my parents were talking about what could have scared her. My mom thought a deer jumped out and my dad thought a car on the other side of the road weaved into her lane just enough for her to crash. I didn’t dare say what I thought happened, I believe Steadman killed her. How could it not have been him? He was filled with anger from the restaurant, and he could have taken it out on her. I just sat in the back-seat; head perched on the window agreeing with my parents. They didn’t see Steadman the way I did, especially after the incident at the restaurant. He didn’t see me kick the door open or running out of the bathroom. He never found out about it either. I felt good about kicking him into the wall, it was self-defense. Steadman is a dangerous man when angry. Even though he is short and pudgy he can punch extremely hard. We got home from the restaurant at about 9:00 pm; I went straight to sleep after brushing my teeth. I noticed some red dots on the wall, from the middle of the wall to the floor. At the time I figured my parents had a nosebleed or something. I couldn’t piece everything together, assuming I had the right pieces. I was perched on the bed, the radio softly playing in the background. I looked out the window, past my yard into the neighbor’s backyard behind ours. They were in Florida for the daughter’s wedding, the lights on, dimmed down though. I was looking into the upstairs window, trying to see if I could see out the other side. My eyes wide open, in deep focus when I see a shadow quickly fly by the window. I see it running down past the other windows and then a large crashing expels through the house. Then it was quiet, the lights turned off and nothing more. I was dumbfounded, for a split second I knew who it was but I couldn’t accuse him. I called the police right afterwards telling them a burglar was in the neighbor’s house. There was a huge scene at their house. My parents came out into the backyard. I told them I saw a burglar and called the cops. They didn’t say a word except stare at the neighbor’s house. The police eventually made their way to our house where the call came in from. I told them what I saw, a shadow running in the house and a large crashing noise. They said a mirror had been smashed and a basement window broken as forced entry. They also said there were no people of interest, bizarre for the neighborhood we lived in. Normally there is no crime or robberies. The police couldn’t do anything else to help except document the broken window and mirror. I went back inside to go to sleep; Bear was sitting at the window on my bed. He was in a blank stare looking across the street back at the neighbor’s house. He knew it was Steadman, I knew it was Steadman. I finally got to sleep, locking my door and windows to make sure I was safe. It seems like a silly thing to do but I wasn’t going to take any chances.

There were five days until the reunion. Those four days went pretty quick. I played more basketball and went to the river. My parents were relaxing since everything was done. I had to help set up tables, chairs, and shop for food. I found their voice recorder so I could play the tape I stole from Steadman’s car. I went into my room and locked the door. I sat at the edge of my bed, putting the tape into the recorder. I re-wound to the beginning of the tape, and pressed play.

“Reminder, buy another first aid kit, I cut my hand on the window. Another reminder, go to the locksmith and get a spare key made for the house.”

That’s all it said. I don’t know what he needed a spare key for; I guess it was the one in the duffel bag from his car. I could understand why he would need a first aid kit, Steadman was a psychopath. I put the recorder in my dresser drawer for future use. That same day when I was taking Bear for a walk I saw the van again. It was sitting near the basketball courts as usual. There was nobody inside of it. I assumed it was Steadman. I kept walking, with that feeling that someone is following you from afar. I acted like nothing was wrong; with Bear by my side we turned the corner past the maintenance shed and ran as fast as possible. We got to the edge of our development near the high-school. We finally stopped at the high-school; it was empty except for a few janitors cleaning it up for the next year. I walked around for a while with Bear, showing him the football field and soccer field. I kept a tennis ball with me so we played catch for an hour or two. Bear was a very fast dog, he was also extremely strong. He had to be to work with the police. I didn’t feel like we were being followed anymore until I heard a car peel out in the parking lot. I ducked behind a garbage can, and Bear was tucked up next to me watching for every movement. It was the van, just pulling through the school to turn around. It stopped for a minute and then took off. I was felt a little unsafe in my own neighborhood. My summer was interesting so far, a little adventure never hurt anyone or so I thought. I got back to my house after taking the long way through the park. There were a few parents and their kids on the playground. I went along the pathway were people run. Bear and I hopped the fence leading to our development. The grass behind the fence was relatively high helping us sneak through. We got home at noon, my parents reading on the deck talking about this and that. They were eager to see their friends from high school, I could tell from the way they talked. I decided I would hang out at the basketball courts that day with Martin and some other friends. After my parents got done reading they went to run errands. They called it “Last minute plans.” I told them to lock the doors on the way out. I went upstairs, locking my bedroom door. I fell asleep listening to music and woke up at about six. My parents were still out; I guess they went to the bar with some reunion friends. I went downstairs to get to get a glass of water for myself. While I was down there I refilled Bear’s water bowl. I was at the window looking out into the yard, Chompski our garden gnome was knocked over. I decided to take a kitchen knife with me and prop him back up. I open the door and ran off the deck into the yard. I picked up Chompski checking for the key; it was still lodged in the slit in his back. I got up and ran back inside locking the door behind me. Everything was fine, the wind had knocked the gnome over, if it was something else the key would have been taken. My parents arrived home shortly after and slightly inebriated. They passed out in their room at 8. I fell asleep shortly after watching TV on the couch. The blanket pulled lazily over my body and a stiff couch pillow supporting my neck.

Then it was three days until the reunion. The next two days went by quickly, my Aunt Tina and her husband came over for brunch, Bear was eager to see her. I showed her the dirt bike she got me and I cruised around the cul-de-sac with it. Aunt Tina also heard about the car accident from the other night, I think she knew the lady that died. She said it was her boss’s secretary; there was still no word on how exactly she crashed. The relatives left pretty late, after I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night, Bear was barking into the dark night. I got up from bed, my joints were stiff and the floor was freezing cold. I hobbled down the stairs each stair creaking under my feet. The dog was still barking when I reached the kitchen and barking when I got to the living room. I petted him softly on the head ceasing his barking. I could tell something was wrong, grabbing a flashlight I perched myself under the window in the office room next to the willow tree. I turned the flashlight on scanning the front yard for intruders. I turned toward the road; a van slowly crept up to the driveway. The lights turned off, the door opened, and a shadow appeared from the car. I dropped the flashlight onto my foot; the batteries perfectly fell out, under the writing desk. I could no longer see the van or the shadow. I had to think on my feet and sprint through the dark house to turn the flood lights on in the front yard. I jumped over the couch in the living room, barely making it over. I ran into the kitchen knocking over stools and taking out a basket of fruit. I turned the flood lights on all the way, Bear was barking again waking my parents up. I didn’t care that they had woken up; I ran back to the office window, the van was just starting to peel out of the road. My dad had the baseball bat that rolled under their bed from earlier and my mom was right behind him. I told them I saw a van pull up to the house and that Bear wouldn’t bark unless something was wrong. I told them I saw the shadow get out, and I also told them I saw the shadow in the house. They told me it was just someone at the wrong house. I couldn’t believe them; I knew it was not a coincidence. Nothing that was going on was mere coincidence. I went back to sleep, I planned on going to the library the next day with Martin to do some research. It was one day before the reunion, Martin and I got on our bikes and rode to the public library. The library was about a mile or two from the high-school. We got their right as they opened at nine. We both took a computer in the rear, starting our research on Steadman. We found some old police reports on parking tickets he had gotten from years past. The parking tickets were all under the station wagon and not the van. We also found that he was a suspect in the death of Miranda Heffernan, the lady from the restaurant. There was nothing big we dug up, except we hacked into the Sunny-Crest Psychological Treatment Center to see if he had been a patient.

“You hacked into Sunny Crest?” asked Doctor Henson.

“I had to; I needed to find out who exactly Steadman was. I know he was a patient here, I know everything about him. Like how he changed his name, or that you had an affair with him!”

“That is a lie!” scowled Doctor Henson.

“Don’t pretend like you don’t know, I found the picture of you both at the balloon festival. His name wasn’t Steadman though was it?”

“This isn’t the time or place to talk about that.”

“Where would we talk about it? I think your husband would like to know about that wouldn’t he?”

“Shut your mouth Wesley! Just shut your god damn mouth!” Doctor Henson got out of her chair yelling.

It was rare to get her mad like that; I knew it was all true.

“Ok Doctor Henson, I have some medication you can take to calm you down. It works wonders for me.” I said sarcastically.

“Just continue your story!”

Martin found out that Steadman had changed his name after high-school. His new name was Michael Douglas. He changed it back a few years ago according to Sunny-Crests records. He was there for extreme rage and multiple personalities. His multiple personalities weren’t severe but it caused him to change his name. He was there for seven years, developing feelings for his psychiatrist Doctor Amy Henson. She broke it off after a violent outbreak four years back, and Douglas changed it back to Steadman to prevent suspicion. Martin and I were starting to get goose bumps staying at the library until closing time. We rode back to my house to tell my parents what we found, a lone note stood attached to the front door.

Wesley, you father and I went to Aunt Tina’s to help her move in new furniture. Martin’s parents said you can stay the night over there.

“S***,” I thought, Martin and I couldn’t get a hold of my parents and the reunion was one day away. My parents were not coming home until tomorrow morning and they didn’t know that Steadman was a crazy person. We told Martin’s parents about Steadman; Martin’s dad was in my parent’s high school class. He told us that Greg Steadman was a normal guy in high school. Friends with everyone and part of class council. He also told us that he lost it shortly after graduation. He didn’t know that he changed his name until we told him, but he did clarify that Steadman had some rough edges to himself. We didn’t know his intentions, but we had to get home in the morning to warn my parents. There were no disturbances that night, no shadows or broken windows, no weird vans creeping into the driveway, no nothing. It is always calm before the storm, we could sense it. I didn’t sleep that night, I was on their couch processing the past weeks. It all started to click in my mind. I had stumbled upon our basement window being shattered, when Martin and I rode from the library. That glass I had found in the garbage can after returning from basketball was from that window. The blood I found on the wall was not of my parents but Steadman after the restaurant. The key I found in Steadman’s trunk was the exact mold of our house key. He must have tried to take the key from our garden gnomes back when it got knocked over. The tape recorder proved that. He was in our house! Steadman was sneaking in our own house, that sick man. He could have killed us all. He was the shadow moving around, and he was the man in the van. He was also there after that basketball game when I found the glass. He could have killed me right then! Everything made perfect sense now; I couldn’t believe Steadman would do this. This only meant that Steadman had to have murdered his date from the restaurant. He had single handedly mingled his way into everyone’s lives. It was all way over my head, I didn’t know what to do, call the cops or wait until morning. If I had called the cops Steadman could have gotten away. I waited until the reunion like an idiot.

I woke up to Martin who had shaken me awake. It was noon, I slept in. We ran outside across the street past traffic coming and going. The front door was wide open. Cars were parked all around the neighborhood. I couldn’t see Steadman’s car anywhere, reassuring me that he had not showed up yet. I ran into the kitchen, people from the reunion were eating food and talking of past memories. I found my parents in the backyard with a few guests. I ran to them, confessing everything I found out about Steadman. Just as I finished, a gunshot rang out from inside. The screams of the people was deafening, more gun shots rang out. People ran from inside to the backyard, followed by a slow moving Steadman with a handgun firing shots at us all. I knew I was going to die, everyone was, especially Greg Steadman. He pointed right at my direction, firing rapidly. All I could hear was screaming and all I could see was people hitting the ground. I called out for my parents; I saw them motionless on the ground, next to where they had been sitting. Martin was adjacent to me; Steadman had not seen him on the way outside. More gunshots rang out. It was all unreal, the fact that Steadman could kill these people, or that my parents were dead. My deceased parents’ just mere feet away from me had not processed yet into my mind. All I could focus on was stopping Steadman. Then I heard a click, he had run out of bullets. Without thinking I ran from behind the table and with all my strength tackled Steadman. I forced the gun from his hands. It slid across the yard hitting the fence. I grabbed the gun clip from his pocket, starting to run towards the gun. Right as I loaded the bullets Steadman grabbed it from my hands. We struggled for a few seconds and a lone shot busted out. I tried so hard to keep my finger off the trigger. I turned towards where I thought the bullet was released. I saw Martin on the ground, motionless, the same fate as my parents. I was still struggling to maintain control of the gun, Steadman’s rage made it hard to keep up. I started to kick him in the legs, it was working. He finally let up enough for me to start landing punches on his torso and face. He also started to throw punches, missing every time. I pushed him away from me, the gun in my hands. He looked at me and I looked at him, police sirens in the background, people screaming still, the air was somewhat quiet. I aimed the gun right between his eyes. Nodded my head sideways in disgust, and pulled the trigger. I killed the devil that day and his name was Greg Steadman.





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