(c) Copyright 2010 Andrew Taraba All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication, montanization or reproduction is punishable by law. Copyright provided via Legal Zoom. Remove this after final publication.
"Imagination is so much different from reality, yet it's impact on reality is far greater than we could ever imagine...."
The morning sun shined on the trees. Glowing comets of dew dripped to the dirt. A light air made the leaves shiver in the trees.
An old man woke up and smelled the fresh air, a tear came to his eye. He sat up against what looked like wall made of cardboard. "Not again!” He searched around the area, under the newspaper and behind the dumpster. Footsteps from behind, he turned around, "Sir? Have you seen my house? I'm sure I left it on top of me last night!" The man lifted an eyebrow then continued walking...
"I hate sleeping on the ground!" Long said rubbing his back. "A stuffed animal would make sleeping much more comfortable!"
Mark turned around, his smile turned into a more serious shape, "You gotta help me man! I need to raise enough money to pay the fine or my dad's going to jail!"
"Yet another child must pay for the mistake of a parent..."
"Oh nothing--" Long stopped as Luke showed up.
"Uh, Mark there's something I need to tell you." Luke said.
"He found out about Mark's dad?" Long asked himself. "I don't recall telling him about it."Luke opened his mouth and took a deep breath, "I'm sorry Mark. I should have told you earlier..."
Mark looked around, Long held his breath and Andrew shrugged, he looked back at Luke.
"Uh... This guy right here... is Matt!" Luke said as a boy with black hair, ragged shirt and tattered pants walked from behind. "He's the guy that plays guitar!"
Long almost fell out of his seat. Luke pushed Andrew over and Matt sat down.
"So this is Matt huh?" Mark smiled. "Hey Matt, by any chance, did your band play out in the streets last night?"
"Huh? No, why?"
"Well on my way back from the grocery store, I saw this band playing really nice music. When I looked over to see how much money was in the guitar case I jumped at the sheer sight!"
"What! How much money did they get?" Matt leaned closer.
Mark leaned a little closer and whispered, "Nothing!" He started cracking up. Matt looked down. "Welcome to our table!" Mark grinned.
"Hey my name's Long, Nice to meet you!"
"Oh thanks!" Matt said. "Nice table you got here, so that's Mark and uh, who's that guy?" Matt pointed over to Andrew who was eating alone at the edge of the table.
"Don't mind him..." Mark said, "His name's Andrew, he just follows us because he has no friends... I heard he’s a level zero!"
Matt started laughing, “A zero?”
“By the way Long’s a level three!” Luke said, “two more levels and he gets to go to the upper town schools!”
“I’ve been trying my best!” Long replied, “I just wana leave this damn town.”
“And I’m still a level one...” Matt laughed.
“Me too!” Mark said.
“If I ever make it, I’ll be sure to let you guys move in... They have huge houses up there! Could probably fit two or three families...”
“Well you better study more!” Luke spoke.
“I’m not your slave!”
"Oh! Guys I saw something weird on my way over here! Some guy walked behind a tree and another guy was waiting, and he handed the other guy a bag and that guy gave the other guy money!"
"Could you be any more confusing?" Mark laughed, "What was it?"
"I don't know it looked green! I'm going to find out!" Luke said.
"Yeah I saw it too." Matt added. "It looked like maybe forty or fifty bucks!"
"No not that green stuff!" Mark shouted, "The other green stuff!"
"I don't know... but I though you'd at least be a little interested in the fact that some kid has forty or fifty bucks!"
"Maybe that kid was the rich kid!" Mark snapped his finger.
"You really think so?" Luke replied.
"You guys heard about the rich kid too? I guess the rumor's gotten everywhere by now!" Matt laughed.
"We need to get some of that Green Stuff!" Mark shouted.
"We'll find it, sell it and split the money between us!" Luke added.
"Wait, you guys need to give me the money for now..." Mark tilted his head downward.
Luke and Matt started to laugh.
Long jumped in, "No he's serious."
"Selfish huh?" Luke laughed. "Sure you can have all the money!"
"Wait..." Mark made a sad face, "You don't understand."
"Yeah, we'll do all the work for you!" Matt and Luke laughed.
Mark hit his fist on the table, "Yesterday my dad got caught stealing from the market and now we have to pay a huge fine!"
Luke stopped, Long paused and Matt sat still. Long made eye movements with Luke and elbowed him. Luke hesitated, "Don't worry Mark... I'll find out what the Green Stuff is... For your dad..." Lunch ended with a ring and everyone went to their classes. "You didn't tell me that was Mark's dad!" Luke puled his hair.
"Just get to class." Long said, "We'll worry about it later..."
"What! This is serious!"
"Get out of here!" Long kicked Luke far to the door of his next class.
The classroom had trash in it. Long watched the paint peel. "Hey buddy you want to see something funny?" He whispered to the boy sitting next to him.
"See if I put my foot right here!" Long said putting his foot at the edge of the boy's desk. "And I give a little push!" He pushed the corner and the entire desk crumpled down.
"No! Why'd you do that!" The boy yelled in a panic, "I need to study! You jerk!"
Everyone in class looked at them, "These darn desks always falling apart!" Long announced, before turning back to the boy and whispering, "Oh crap! You need to study? I'm so sorry!" Long helped the boy as quick as possible. He reset the legs and desktop and everything was back to wobbly position again. "There you go! Good as new!" Long said with a thumbs up. "Now go on and study!"
The boy grumpily got back to studying. Long sighed, "That was a close one!"
The instant the tests were passed out, the boy immediately flooded it with answers. "Hey stop laughing!" He whispered to Long.
"Sorry!" Long said covering his mouth. Crawling up the boy's shoulder was a curious eye, and every word the boy wrote down, so did Long. “Level four? Here I come!”
After school Luke spoke with Long. "Why didn't you tell me!" Luke started jumping around. "What are we going to do?"
"Calm down man!" Long started thinking to him self, "Now listen, all we have to do is find the rich kid, ask him for money and help Mark's dad! Then Mark will still be friends and everything will be okay!"
"Yeah, like we'll ever find the rich kid!" Luke said.
"We got close didn't we? What about your bonus? Give it to Mark!" Long replied.
"What? no way! How about I find out about the Green St--" Luke and Long got quiet... Mark stepped to the front of the school followed by Andrew.
"Don't follow me!" Mark shooed Andrew away.
"I have to go to work now." Luke said as he walked off.
"See ya!" Mark smiled and waved at Luke.
Luke shyly waved back, "I'll try to find out about that Green Stuff!" and he started walking faster.
"We need to find that rich kid!" Mark said.
"What should we do?" Long replied.
"We trap him, mug him and be friends with him!" Mark smiled.
"Good idea!" Long laughed.
"Hey wait up!"
Long and Mark both turned around.
Matt ran up to them, "It was nice meeting you guys today! Interesting lunch table, uh, I'll see you tomorrow... And I hope things get better for you Mark!"
"I hope so too!" Mark replied.
"Well I better get home..." Matt ran the opposite direction.
Long and Mark started walking home again. They passed the mountains and mountains of trash. As they walked an old man stopped them, "Do you think you can help me build a new house?"
"Go back to the slums!" Mark shouted, "Before the gang finds you!"
Long looked at Mark, "Gang?"
A small group of dark clothed boys approached them. “So this is the legendary Mark, the Gold Dragon!” One of the boy’s stepped up, “They say you only lost one fight...” He grinned, “That is... Until the market incident!” They all started laughing.
Mark’s fists began to shake. Long spoke, “Do you know these guys?”
“Not in the good way...” Mark replied.
“The Green Gang is growing, Mark, soon they’ll beat us and then... Just like your mother...”
Mark grinned, “They say you can never get bored in this town!” He clapped his fists together. “Watch an learn, Long! This is how you clean the streets!” He charged at them with fists held high....
Andrew pulled out a long, shining sword. "So no more training swords I see?" A young girl spoke.
"Nope!" Andrew replied, and their swords clashed. The sound of metal and sparks echoed as they fought.
"You fight well!" She replied, "Maybe someday the student will be able to surpass the teacher!"
"That day is today!" And Andrew swung his sword and the clash of metal dinged throughout the air. His sword snapped like a broken pencil, metal glistened in the air.
"Hahaha! You think that puny sword can beat mine?" The other persons sword lifted above Andrew's head and she swung it...
Andrew opened his eyes, he saw his hands gripped around a broken tree branch.
"Oh, I must have been day dreaming again..." He said hitting himself in the head. He dropped the stick and continued climbing up the stairs. At the top of a stair case trees were shaking in the wind. Gaps of light shined through and off the reflections of leaves. A smile crossed his face as he watched a cat stretch its paws across the grass. It layed flat in the sun bleached flower bed and relaxed, "That looks comfy!" He smiled looking down at his raggedy pants and old shoes.
"You stupid shit!" A voice called out.
Andrew's shining smile turned into a frown.
"You left the door unlocked again!" A fat man yelled, "I’ll take this house back if you keep it up!”
Andrew covered the scar on his right hand and walked passed the man.
"In this town everyone will try to steal from us higher ups!"
Andrew turned the golden knob. He ran inside the giant house and slammed the majestic door behind him.
The fat man looked through the door's oval, stained window and saw Andrew running up the stairs. "What a cry baby..." He turned around and stared at the trees, the sun set and the cat. "That kid’s so ungrateful... He doesn't even call me uncle anymore..." Andrew’s uncle marched down the stairs.
The moon shined brightly above the slums. “Thief!” Someone called out. The weak old man closed the lid and smiled, "No one's going to take my house!" He cuddled closely inside a mesh of newspaper, and held up a knife, before slowly drifting to sleep in his torn up cardboard box.