Home > Uncategorized > Day Two Hundred and Thirty: Eviction

Day Two Hundred and Thirty: Eviction

Peter moved supermarket bags from one arm to the other so that he could pull the eviction notice off of his apartment door.

He felt his pulse rise as he read – “‘…for non-payment of utilities dating back to -‘ Non-payment?” He shoved it into one of the bags so he could dig through his jacket pocket for keys. “I paid everything,” he muttered to himself. “I have no idea what they – where the hell – what they think they’re doing…” He jammed the key into the front door lock and turned it.

Or, rather, tried to turn it. The key didn’t move.

Peter put the groceries down on the floor and gave the door a good smack with the flat of his hand. The tingling pain shot up his arm, and he started cursing through gritted teeth.

The door to 5A opened up, one apartment over from his. The teenage boy who lived there with his family poked his head out. “You okay, mister Gordon?” Even from where he was standing, Peter could hear the tinny music piping through the headphones around the boy’s neck, and it just made him angrier. That he didn’t know why it made him angry really didn’t help.

“No, Zane, I’m not all right.”

The boy stepped out, letting his door close behind him. “Your door stuck?” He strolled over to Peter’s door, already reaching for the handle.

Peter shoved the hand away. “No, it’s not – just go back to your place, Zane, okay?”

Zane blinked, but didn’t move. In the years that Peter had lived there, he’d known Zane to be one of the most laid-back kids in the complex. He never seemed to get angry or upset about anything, and he was unflinchingly polite. When Peter had gone over to ask that he turn down his favorite new music – some kind of bass-heavy electronic cacophony – the kid apologized and nary a sound was heard again. Now he was here, watching Peter lose his cool over an eviction that wasn’t even supposed to be happening. A whole new wave of shame washed over Peter, and he felt that twinging in his throat that meant he was probably going to start crying any second.

“Hey, what’s this?” Zane asked. He took the eviction notice out of the bag and started reading it. For a moment, Peter wanted to tackle him, rip the notice out of the boy’s hand and tell him that he’d never seen it – it was all a mistake, and if he ever told anyone about it then he’d regret it for the rest of his life.

He didn’t, of course. And at least part of him noted that he didn’t, and thought that his sister would be proud. The anger management classes seemed to have worked.

“Woah, mister Gordan – is this for real?” Zane held out the papers.

Carefully, deliberately, Peter took them back, just as if he wasn’t upset at all. “I’m sure it’s just a mix-up, Zane,” he said.

“I mean, they can’t just kick you out, right?”

“No, Zane,” Peter said. He folded up the notice and put it in his pocket. “No, they can’t.”

The boy leaned up against the wall. “‘Cause that would really suck if they could do that.”

Peter sighed. “Yes, Zane,” He said. He nearly said, “Yes it would,” but by that point the tears overtook him and he sank to the floor in a sobbing mess.

If he had been Zane, he would have put his headphones back on and walked away slowly. There was nothing sadder than watching a grown man dissolve on the hallway floor, especially when you were sixteen – a time when a disdain for adults was pretty much hard-wired into your brain.

“It’ll be okay, mister Gordon,” Zane said. He crouched down next to him, a hand on his shoulder. “I mean, there’s gotta be something -”

Peter’s phone rang. Still crying, he managed to get it out of his pocket, but couldn’t make out who it was. The picture blurred and swam in front of him, and he could barely make out that it was a phone at all, much less who was calling. Zane took it gently from his hand. “Hello?”

The boy was silent for a moment. “No, I’m the neighbor,” he said. “He’s just out for a minute. Can I take a message?” More silence. “Okay,” he said. “Bye.”

Zane handed the phone back to Peter. “It was your brother,” he said.

His guts went cold. Peter wiped his eyes clear and tried to collect himself. His face burned and his nose was running, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to kill himself or just will the earth to swallow him whole. He sat up straighter, his back against the wall, and it took him a couple of tries before he could say something. “What – what’d he say?” he asked. He didn’t look at Zane.

The boy was quiet for a long while, and Peter wasn’t sure what that meant. He was about to ask again when Zane said, “Gotcha.”

The floor opened up underneath him. “What?”

“That was your brother’s message,” Zane said. “Gotcha.” He reached behind him and rapped a knuckle on the door. A moment later, the lock clicked and the door swung open. Peter looked up and saw his brother grinning like an idiot, swinging a set of keys on his finger.

Ethan looked worse when seen from below. Pale, flabby, with circles under his eyes from whatever manic thing had kept him up all night. Some kind of plan, some kind of scheme that had gone horribly wrong. Ethan had been pulling pranks on his younger brother since he was old enough to know what a prank was, and if he was pulling pranks like this then things had probably gotten way out of hand already. He tossed the keys in the air and caught them. “Hey there, Petey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

Peter responded by launching himself up off the floor at his brother and slamming him into the wall. Their relationship had never been very good. They weren’t quite Cain and Abel, but on a bad day it would be hard to tell them apart. And this had become a very bad day.

The anger management lessons blew away like leaves in the wind. Peter felt his rage punch through his self-control, filling his every cell and pulsing through his nerve like liquid lightning. The care that he had taken, the counting backwards and the deliberate attempts to see thing from the other guy’s point of view were all forgotten in that moment. All he knew was anger in its many terrible incarnations.

He didn’t know what was happening until Zane pulled him away, and earned what would probably be one hell of a black eye for his troubles. The boy was breathing hard and screaming, and his headphones were shattered against the wall near the door. Peter’s chest hurt and his throat burned and his hands didn’t want to move properly.

On top of that, his brother appeared to be dead.

Peter looked away from the bloodstains on his carpet and the mangled ruin that was his brother’s face. The boy was in the corner trying to put himself through the wall so that he wouldn’t have to run past this madman to get out. His face was white and he was whimpering.

Ethan’s foot twitched.

“Oh,” Peter said. “Oh, this is not good.”

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