Rusty Heart | Teen Ink

Rusty Heart

June 6, 2022
By 64chocolatestrawberries BRONZE, Franklin, Wisconsin
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64chocolatestrawberries BRONZE, Franklin, Wisconsin
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Author's note:

This piece was inspired by a writing prompt that my teacher gave to my class one day. I wanted to add more, but the piece was shortened due to time constraints. I do still want to finish it, though, and I might publish an updated version if this one becomes well-received.

The author's comments:

I hope you like what you see. I do wish to add more to it, and I might publish an updated version if the original does well!

At a dining room table in one of 8 rooms of a white and maroon micro mansion somewhere in Florida, Richard set his Egg McMuffin back on his plate and reached for his “Number 1 Dad!” mug filled with piping hot coffee.

“‘Best friend.’ I wouldn’t want that crackhead anywhere near me,” Richard muttered to himself with a shake of his head. He took a tiny sip of coffee and recoiled as the heat lay itself on the tip of his tongue.

He placed his mug back on the dining table and continued to scroll through the news story on his phone. Apparently, Friday evening, which was only yesterday, some 26-year-old rando by the name of Jacob Simmons was caught mid-shoplifting spree outside of a Mikey’s Music Shop from a local strip mall with bags and bags full of copies of Rusty Heart, Richard’s newly released album. Apparently, the guy’s trunk was already loaded with yet more bags filled with Rusty Hearts that he stole from three other Mikeys’ and a Top Record. However, the strangest part of the article was when one of the witnesses, a waiter from the Bluebird Diner next door to the Mikey’s, described what he saw as he was exiting the diner at the end of his shift:

“So, first of all, while I was giving some of my last customers their bill, I noticed him closing his car door shut and standing out in the parking lot, talking on the phone. At that point, I didn’t really think much of it. As I was leaving, though, the instant I stepped outside, I was met with the sight of two or three police cars zipping past me and stopping in front of the guy, who now had, like, three or four shopping bags hanging off his arms. He was completely calm the entire time; he wasn’t even trying to fight back or anything. It’s like he hardly cared if he got caught or not.”

By the way, this was after his wife Josie showed him the same story on TV, which presented an audio recording of Jacob attempting to rationalize the act by admitting that he “worked at a sucky job and was broke as shit,” and that he “had felt lonely all [his] damn life, and Mr. [Richard] Langley’s music resonated with [him] as a result. He’s what got [him] into rock music, and [Jacob] only ever wanted to be his best friend ever since.”

So, if Jacob wanted so badly to be my “best friend,” then you’d think he’d care more about the fact that he was being arrested, since this whole friendship thing sounds pretty important to him. I don’t think you’d want this negative attention for that reason.

He shut his phone off. Who am I kidding? That’s exactly what he wants: attention. He doesn’t care that much as long as he has my attention. That’s why all those other fanboys and fangirls act out in the name of their favorite celebrities. How could this guy be any different?

The sound of a little pair of feet slapping lightly on the wood floor as they neared the kitchen was all it took to snap him out of his thoughts. He smiled and turned to face his son as the latter rounded the corner outside of the hallway and ran into the dining room with his arms spread wide out.

“Good morning, Cal!” Richard exclaimed with joy as he got up from his chair and crouched down to exchange hugs with the excited 8-year-old. Calvin’s father spent so much time recording music in his studio out in the city that it wasn’t often that he had a full day to spend with his family, but Richard had off for the weekend as celebration for the release of Rusty Heart, so the whole family was planning to spend time and have a fun day together.

“Good morning, Daddy!” Cal replied.

“Look what I got for you…” Richard said as he stood back up. He reached for the McDonald’s bag sitting next to his plate, rifled through it, and retrieved a sausage and egg McGriddle with no cheese, just the way Cal likes it. The boy gasped.

“Thank you!!” Cal exclaimed, excitedly taking the sandwich.

Richard smiled and ruffled the boy’s sandy brown hair. “No problem, Kiddo. Now, you should eat it quickly, because we will be leaving once everyone is ready to go.”

As the two continued to eat, Richard quietly let the news slip itself from his thoughts and lock itself in his memory. He knew that he should definitely not forget it and thus leave himself vulnerable, just in case any other lunatic fans were after him, but he refused to let it ruin this special day.

As long as nobody else he cared about was put at risk, he reassured himself, he would be just fine. Let’s just hope for the best.



It was 7 PM when the Langleys drove their car back into the driveway. Josie helped Cal carry 3 large Lego Batman playsets, a brown teddy bear, and a green plush T-rex into the house while Richard lugged in a house plant and three mystery novels (Richard and Josie both love mystery novels, and they share a large collection with each other). Josie made Cal leave his playsets in the living room and let him give hugs and kisses goodnight before leaving to his bedroom to get himself ready for bed.

“Thank you for such a wonderful day, Honey,” Josie said with a smile as she brushed her fingertips through Richard’s long, brown hair and kissed him on the cheek.

“Oh, it’s no problem, Jo,” Richard replied, smiling back. “I’m just gonna go to my office to get changed, and then I’ll meet you in the bedroom.”

“While you’re at it, make sure you brush your teeth tonight now that you have the time. Twice a day, not just in the morning.”

“Oh, come on now. You know I only skip it at night ‘cause I’m always pooped at the end of th’ day.”

“I know, that’s why I’m reminding you, so you don’t forget, Blackbeard Mouth!”

“Don’t get me started, Mrs. Clean!”

They both burst into a chuckling fit, which soon evolved into joyous laughter before devolving into yawning.

Josie brushed her bobbed hair out of her face and rubbed the tears out of her eyes. “Okay, okay. I’m going to the bathroom right now, but when I’m all ready, I’ll be standing in the bedroom doorway so I’ll know if you brushed your teeth.”

“Aw, geez,” Richard sighed. Richard’s office was on the second floor of the mansion, and the stairs, the bathroom, and the couple’s bedroom were all right next to each other, so watching Richard from the bedroom would not be considered a difficult task. Also, he knows that, even though it sounds like his wife is joking when she says she’s gonna spy on him as he does something, she usually means it, and whether he has his guard down or not, Josie always manages to scare the crap out of him. That’s always a good incentive to get your things done.

The two then parted ways, Richard went up the stairs to his office and Josie to the bathroom. As Richard passed the family area — it took up most of the second floor, and two of its walls were mostly made up of windows — and reached the end of the hallway, he noticed something very strange.

He heard the rustling of papers.

He tiptoed into the hallway, listening carefully for where the rustling could be coming from. Two rooms down, he noticed that his office door was also slightly ajar. Sure enough, the rustling was coming from in there.

Richard’s hairs all stood on end. He knew he didn’t leave the window open in there, and he also could’ve sworn that he closed the door the last time he was up there. Either way, he’s the only one that should be up here right now, much less in his office! He crept closer and closer to the door, fear zipping through every vein, and slowly wrapped his hand around the doorknob. Trying to use every ounce of strength in his body to avoid producing a squeak or making his presence noticeable, he eased the door open. Apparently, he failed in either one or both of those regards, because the sound of a young man’s voice, one that had just barely reached the age of 20, excitedly greeted him.

“M-Mr. Langley, is that you?”

“M-MOTHER FU—” Richard nearly lost his balance, causing him to swing the door completely open. Now he could see who the hell was in his office.

The young man, who looked the exact same age as his voice would lead you to believe, sat crossed legged on the floor with his head turned to face Richard. He had a medium-sized build and bleached blonde hair that reached his shoulders and showed evidence of it formerly being a dark brown color. He wore a large, black T-shirt, maroon bootcut jeans adorned with holes, and a pair of black Vans. With scrawny fingers and painted black nails, he held a manilla folder labeled “Rusty Heart” filled with song lyrics from the album. Surrounding the young man were even more song lyrics, either strewn all over the floor or crammed back into their album-labeled folders: “Model Trains,” “Silver Lining,” and “Incriminating Evidence” were among the many folders with their contents spilled around him.

He sprang to his feet. “Uhm, t-this isn’t what it looks like, Mr. Langley…”

He didn’t even get to explain himself before he was nearly hit by a brown, airborne loafer.

“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!” Richard screamed, completely flustered. “A-AND WHY ARE YOU IN MY HOUSE?!”


Suddenly, they both heard the sound of somebody thundering down the hall and toward the office. Josie skidded next to Richard, still wiping toothpaste off of her face.

“Honey, I heard you screaming from downstairs, are y- AAAUUUUGH!!” Josie screamed as soon as she locked eyes with the boy. The sheer terror in her voice was soon mixed with rage. “Who the hell is this? Honey, call the police, I got this!” She snatched one of the electric guitars off of the wall display next to the door, charged at the boy, and swung it toward his head. He ducked just in time.

“AAHHH! Please stop! I can explain!” he pleadingly cried as he stood back up. He tried to get as far away from her as he could, but he slipped on some of the lyric sheets and fell flat on his side. Josie continued to whack him with the guitar until Richard stepped in.

“Jo, Jo,” he said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “That’s enough now, you’re gonna kill the kid. I got this.”

“I-wha-Honey, he br-” Josie started but reluctantly stopped herself. Better Richard doing whatever he was going to do than risk her potentially being tried for manslaughter.

Richard turned to the boy, who was still lying on the ground but tried to ease himself up, and whipped his phone out of his jean pocket. “Listen here. If you say you can explain yourself, you better do so right now. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t call the cops on you right here, right now.”

The boy looked up at him with an expression of worry and contemplation.

“Um, I…” his eyes darted between the two adults hovering over him, one interrogating him like a police detective and the other definitely willing to pounce on him if he makes the wrong move.

Finally, he came up with an answer.

“I-I was just looking through your pieces. I wasn’t gonna take any of them. I,” his voice quivered, and his gaze dropped to the floor. “I’m one of your biggest fans, and you’re one of my greatest role models. I choose living one day with you over a whole lifetime with my own parents in a heartbeat. P-please don’t take any of this the wrong way. I don’t wanna hurt anyone.”

Richard thought about that for a moment. This story sounded familiar to him. Then, he held a hand out to the young man and pulled him up until he stood upright.

“Just this once, I’m gonna let this one slide,” Richard declared. He stopped and thought for just a little bit longer before he spoke again. “Say, what’s your name, kid?”

The boy audibly gulped, then leaned closer to Richard and lowered his voice to a whisper. “Jacob. Eh-Jacob Simmons.”

Richard’s eyes widened.

Wait a minute… you know what, it hardly matters right now.

“Okay, Jacob, I-”

“You can call me Jake. Or Jack, I really don’t care.”

“Sure, sure. So, Jake, I don’t wanna find you in my house without my consent again, otherwise I will call the cops on you. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Mr. Langley,” Jake said with a nod.

“You can call me Richard, you know.”

Jake nodded again.

“I’ll lead you to the door,” Richard said, walking out of the office. Jake followed him, and Josie warily stared at both of them as she watched them leave, her clammy grip still wrapped around the guitar’s neck.

Once they got to the front door, Richard held it open, and Jake stepped out. They waved goodbye to each other and departed without a word. Little did either of them know that this encounter would change both of their lives in the long run.

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