I released Teardrop Road on June 23, 2021. I think it was a Thursday. It was pretty devastating to put it out in the world on the big stage. Having your secrets on a blog is one thing. The worldwide stage opens up doubts and fears that I expected but could never prepare myself for. However, this release is a win. It’s a win for me. It’s a win for my family. For mental health in general. And I hope if you’re in pain and you’re going through anything, any kind of abuse, any kind of loss, I hope this book can help you and that you can see it as a win. I’m celebrating the release of Teardrop with another blog blast. These are chapters of the second volume of Reality of the Unreal Mind, called Normal Street. I’m releasing a chapter from that book every two hours and fifteen minutes. This is the story of Hollow Man. This is the story of how I figured out love through a series of heartaches and confusing episodes. Because love is not easy to navigate for anyone, and it’s almost impossible for a shattered mind to prepare for their soulmate. Here is Hollow Man 11: Fit.
Yeah, do you remember her?
Think Strawberry. Think terrible moment in Servant’s life. The girl he loves is broken because Shadow wrote this terrible note and now there are a dozen girls around him, and one in particular is screaming at him that he is a piece of shit and all that. This girl takes Strawberry’s note out and reads it in front of the whole class. Then she slaps Servant across the face. She points at me and snarls that no Waynesville girl will ever date me again and I can keep my Laquey skanks.
Yeah, that girl. I have a romantic story with this monster. Can you believe it? We are still in sophomore year here. Still no D, no Aimes. But now my sister has been placed in a hospital for kids with mental issues, and she is writing Guardian, telling him how horrible it is there and how scared she is. She is begging him to come see her, but he can’t because he is in high school and that is unfair, and now with all of this, here comes Fit.
See, Fit is a junkie. Now, I am not saying she is doing drugs. The girl is named Fit for a reason. She took her body and her appearance very seriously. She would never get hooked on a drug. But she is a junkie. One of the worst I have ever seen. And her drug of choice, the thing she needs to get by and get right, is Smear Lord of Ire.
I’m alone. Not alone exactly, but without the people who make me feel good about myself. Spider is back. He was the desperate genius who wanted me to run that first game for D on the bus to the Observatory. Yeah him. He is part of this, too.
See without D, Dungeons and Dragons was sour for me. I was playing every now and then with Robert, but he was getting tired of me. He wanted a different life and he was finding it with a girl I had warned him about. So, Robert was gone now. His new girl chosen over me. I’m not pouting. The woman married him and gave him two boys before breaking his heart. It’s not his fault that he turned from me for love. Best reason to turn from a friend, but that was the last straw.
Now, all my extra time is divided between two activities. One is a new game. It’s a few years after Anne Rice’s masterpieces have been released and vampires are everywhere. The new game is a modern-day vampire role-playing game. The other activity I am engaged in, when I am not playing Vampire the Masquerade, is planning my suicide.
It’s gotta be great. I need every detail plotted. It has to be painful. I’m thinking about skinning my arm. Not enough blood, but if I can slit my wrists after, then I’ll be gold. I’m thinking about a gun, but they are not really my thing and it is over too quickly. Car fumes is a no. No garage, and though you can do the hose thing pretty easily, it seemed wrong. I wanted a display. Maybe my body should fall on the church steps. Maybe I ought to do it at school in hopes that just the right person finds me. It has to be complete, and it needs flare. A suicide like this takes planning. I’m taking my time.
Spider and I are playing Vampire when Fit walks up to us at a picnic table and stares at us. I look up at her. Tight muscled body, tan, beautiful with a thing that her mouth does that Artist can stare at all day. Just the way she smiled, it made her look hungry. As if happiness made her want to devour something. She stares at us for a while then, without asking or saying a word, grabs the rule book off the table and reads the cover.
I look at Spider, who smiles. He likes watching people be rude. That is a weird thing to say about a person, I know, but it is true with Spider. He is used to people treating him like shit, so when a person starts to do something horrible, he kinda watches with an amused look on his face. Kind of an, “I can’t wait to see how bad this gets” look.
Well, I wait for a while until Fit looks at me. “What is this?” she snaps.
“It’s a book,” Shadow says. Now Fit is sexy and she is popular, but she is too damn mean to be very popular. She is the low level of the upper echelon. Way too hot and way too popular to be spending any time with me, but not so popular that she will hurt her social life to be seen with me. Either way, Shadow looked at her with the hate of the Strawberry incident in his mind, and grinned. “Words. Cover. Art. Rules.”
“What kind of rules, asshole?” she said.
“It’s a game,” Spider said. “You play a vampire in modern day and you, you, are a vampire.” Spider was one of the most brilliant people God ever made, but not a great speaker at the time.
“This game is about vampires?” she said.
Shadow grinned. He wanted to tell her to fuck off, and he wanted to fuck her, but most of all he wanted to back talk her. “Wanna be a vampire?”
She looked at him and he saw it in her eyes. A nearly insane gleam that spoke of desire and obsession. “How do you mean?” She sat down. She looked around to see if anyone was watching, but she sat and stared.
“I can turn you into a vampire,” Artist said. “You can walk the daylight. You can eat your favorite foods but when I start to talk, you will crave blood. You will know violence and love. You will feast, and you will fight, and you will be a vampire.”
She leaned back and looked over her shoulder and whispered when she said, “What do you mean? Talk plain, Jesse. What do you mean? I need you to explain.”
“There are rules in that book to a game that will help you create a character that is a vampire.”
“Like a board game?”
“Not even close,” Spider said. “We’re in the middle of a game right now.”
“Yeah, Fit, you are interrupting,” Shadow spat. Then he disappeared before the blowout. There wasn’t much of one.
“How is this game played?” she asked. She looked as if she were starving, her eyes slicing across every feature of my face and body.
“We make you a character, and I come up with a story about how you were changed from a human into a vampire. Then, we go from there. You pretend to be your character and I tell you what is happening to you in the world you are in. You meet other characters, some run by actual people, others run by me, and you play your character,” Artist said.
“You end up running for your life and trying not to get killed as he burns the world down around you and you do the most amazing, most daring and darkest things you can imagine,” Spider said. “He is the Storyteller. That is the title of the guy who runs the games. In DnD it is the Dungeon Master but in Vampire, it is Storyteller. It’s a fun game.” Spider pointed at me and grinned. “He is a genius.”
“I want to play,” Fit said. “When can we play?”
“We are playing right now,” Spider said.
“I have to talk to you about your character,” Artist said. “And get an idea of what you want to do and—”
“My character’s name is Miranda, and I want to be old. Really old, but beautiful and powerful and deadly and—”
“You’re getting ahead of yourself. You’re getting ahead of me. When can you give me a bit of your time?” I asked.
“After school. Today after school. Can we do it here?” she said.
“After school? You, Fit, want to make a vampire character with me?” Artist said.
She didn’t answer. She just stared.
“How will I get home?” I asked.
Spider laughed. “I can bring you home. How much time do you need to make the character?”
“Hour, maybe two,” Artist said.
“Make it three. Come get us three hours after school and give us a ride home,” she said. “Three.” She pointed at me. “Three hours. After school meet me in front of the school.”
“Side doors,” Fit snarled. She turned and I saw a completely different girl than I had ever seen before when looking at this person. She seemed desperate and scared. “Please make it good,” she said.
“What just happened?” I asked Spider as she walked away.
“I think you have a date after school with one of the hottest girls in the city,” Spider said. “My advice is don’t fuck it up. I’ll see you at five thirty. We will drop her off first. Have a good story to tell,” he said. He patted me on the back as the bell rang to get us back to class after lunch.
Miranda was turned into a vampire by a biker named JC. He was a big badass with a shotgun and a huge motorcycle. He had long hair, a trench coat that somehow worked fine on a bike, and he wore sunglasses at night. He was everything I wanted to be, and he would become her greatest obsession. She would begin to have dreams about him. To write notes to him. To confess to me about having sex dreams about him and touching herself after. Fit was all in when it came to JC. But I was not him. And every time I did not end one of our gaming sessions with us jumping on the back of a motorcycle, she got furious.
Miranda was abusive to JC and she would yell at him and beat him, and he would walk away. Fuck her, he didn’t need her. And then she would get herself in trouble with some villain, and when she was damn near dead, he would swing in on his bike. Throw her a gun and the two of them would shoot their way out.
Miranda had no real story arc except that she wanted to be with and hate JC all at once. She got into so much shit and when it was just us playing and Spider was gone, she would want detailed descriptions of the things he did to her body and the way he pleasured her. I don’t remember the first time Fit kissed me, but I was playing JC at the time. She was not kissing me. She was kissing the violent, cynical, horrifying and monstrous vampire boyfriend she had.
What I can say is that I didn’t kill myself. I am still here. Probably because of this girl. But she was emotionally violent, physically violent, and she hated me. I got in the way of the person she really wanted. Jesse was just in the way of JC. And the more I failed to carry her off into the darkness as a vampire lover, the more evil she got.
At one point, D stepped out in front of me. I had seen him in the lunch room, I had seen him in choir class, but we didn’t talk. By the time he came at me this time I was angry. He stepped out of nowhere and shook his head. “I keep seeing you with Fit. What is going on?”
I wanted to yell, none of your business. I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself. But what came out was, “She is just kinda obsessed.”
He looked at me and frowned. “Obsessed how?”
I turned to him and threw my arms in the air. “What do you want, D?”
“She is bad news, man. She talks shit about you when you are not around. I have heard it, brother. Get away from her.”
“She is all I have. She is all that is left. You want to step in and hang out, then cool. See you after school, but if not, then she is all I have. She is my only option.”
“Listen man, I am just trying to look out for you here.”
“Look out for me? I can tell you right now that is what I need. For sure I need someone to look out for me, because my whole fucking world is burning down right now! But no one is looking out for me,” Shadow said.
D’s eyes started to sweep the area. People were looking.
“I gotta go,” he said. “Just remember what I said. She is not good for you.”
“No one is.”
He walked away and I wanted to scream. I wanted to punch him. I wanted to get in his car and go to his house.
Fit was raised by her grandparents and they owned a few businesses around town. I think I am doing enough to her reputation by telling you this story so I will not tell you what businesses, but I will say that the last day we hung out was at one of those businesses.
They were setting up a new store. They needed to bring in product, and they needed to clean shelves and they needed to do all the things that go into building a new location. On the phone she said she couldn’t play because she had to help with the new store, and I offered to help, too.
Guardian was good with father figures and he loved hard work. There was no better way to a man’s heart than to show him you are a good worker. Well, when he got there the guy didn’t even look at him, and within a few minutes he sent us out back behind the store to the basement.
When we got there, she said to call her Miranda.
“This is not a good place to play,” I said. The back wall was missing on the basement level and we could see the entire vacant lot behind us.
“I don’t want to play, JC. I don’t want to play. Just grab me, call me Miranda, and kiss me.”
I looked up at her and saw that she was burning. I had never seen anything like it before.
Lust shuts the mind down slowly, like a body that is losing blood. When lust is not answered with lust, it begins to bring the person pain and hurts their mind. They start to shake. They start to ache. This was what was happening to Fit.
She was trembling. She was sweating. She held her stomach as if she was cramping. Her eyes lost focus and she just stared. “Call me Miranda,” she whispered. It was a begging. It was a pleading.
“Get your ass over here, Miranda,” Shadow said.
We made out. It was, to that point, the most passionate, most physical I had ever been. Our bodies moved as if we were sexing one another and every now and then, she would call out to JC.
When I left that place, she knew she had gone too far. She knew she was losing it. Her hate for me bloomed and she started to punish me for being around.
Out came Servant, as trained by Kit, and he followed her around for about a month, but she was gone.
I’m just glad we had not been alone that day. Glad that her grandparents had been upstairs. Because if we had been alone, then I would have had sex with her. And she did not deserve that. Not that.