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 16: Mary Part 1.
Let me set the scene real fast. This is after Dracula. This is after it has done two extra nights because it sold out every night. This is the day of auditions for the next play and after class an absolute mob has descended on the drama department. After Dracula, everyone wants to be an actor or an actress. And the Dracula veterans are movie stars. Bootheel and I are sitting at two desks in the back, making fun of people, when Greens walks up to us blushing and stammering all over herself.
“Okay so, oh my God, I am so nervous,” she said.
I looked at Bootheel and he sighed.
“I have prepared a monologue and I am wondering if you would watch it,” she said. “I want to get your opinion on it because I am really nervous and—”
“You said that part,” Bootheel said.
She looked as if she had been slapped and she nodded. “I know but—”
“He is method,” Shadow said. He knew she didn’t know what that meant, but let it slide. “He is doing a monologue from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and to get into character, he is sitting with me, making fun of people. You just happen to be people, so if you stay, he is going to make fun of you.”
She looked at me and then to him.
“I won’t. I’m a nice guy. But right now, Bootheel is an asshole,” I said.
He smiled at her.
“Let’s see your monologue,” Shadow said. He thought she was cute. Too young for him, but cute as hell, and he wanted to see if she could act. She couldn’t, and Shadow nodded, gave her some notes, and sent her on her way. When she turned to Bootheel, he smiled at her with his evil smile. The boy had an evil smile and he said, “Can I tell you what I thought?” He chuckled and looked her up and down. “Please?”
“Go away, for your own good,” Shadow said. “Don’t listen to him.”
She hopped away. Mary came up next. She was a pretty, but plain girl who was smart, but naïve and dressed well. She was the kind of girl who would say terrible things about people just to hear them come out of her mouth, and she looked at us and said, “What was that?”
“A mess,” Bootheel said.
“She wanted us to hear her monologue,” Shadow said. He looked at Mary and felt as if she would be tender to bite. She obviously looked up to him or she would not be standing there. She wanted Dracula fame and was willing to pay respect to anyone who had been in it to win that fame.
“How was it?” Mary asked.
Bootheel grinned. “I’m not sure if I watched it or stepped in it, to be honest.”
Mary giggled. “What was it about?”
“Not sure,” Bootheel said.
“It was Joan of Arc in prison. It was not too bad,” Shadow said.
“Let’s hear yours,” I said to her. “That is why you are here, isn’t it?”
“To be honest, yeah.” She waved her hand at me and frowned. “Don’t you guys have to work on yours, though?”
“I am working on mine,” Bootheel said.
“I got mine right here,” Shadow said. He tapped his temple and lied. He had nothing. He was going to make something up and leave it at that. He usually just read lines. He never did very well at auditions, and he was just there for the coffee. He was just there to watch it all go down. He knew he would get a bit part. He knew he would not want to work too hard.
She did her monologue. When she was done, Bootheel, ever in character, stood up and walked away. She stared after him, hurt, and Chalice dropped in where Bootheel had been.
“Let’s see it,” he said. He had been a friend for a while but Draconic had turned him against me. Now, we just took little nips out of each other when we could. We still liked each other, we just hated that about ourselves.
“He just saw it,” Mary said, looking at me.
“He knows nothing,” Chalice said, waving his hand dismissively in my direction. “Let me see it. I’m the actor.”
She looked at me.
“Star of stage and screen. Didn’t you see him in Dracula?” I said. Chalice had been the understudy but had never seen action. He had memorized every line of every male character in the script, and just for good measure, every girl, and had learned everything about every move and gesture the director was looking for, but all of it had been for naught.
“I was the understudy,” Chalice said.
“Yeah, not a waste of time at all. So, go ahead,” Shadow said. “Show him your bit. I’m sure he will be very helpful.”
“You’re a bitch,” he said. Oh, Chalice is gay. He knew, but didn’t accept it yet at this point, but every now and then a bit of a queen would pop out and he would flare up real good.
“Action,” Shadow said and clapped loud right in front of her face.
She jumped back and giggled, then began.
Chalice actually did help her quite a bit. When he was done giving his notes, she dropped down beside us and started to talk. She was not called for a while, and we were not called for a while, so we waited. We talked, and with the confidence only Shadow possessed, he said, “I ought to take you out on Saturday.”
She beamed. She nodded and her fingers gripped the edge of the desk. “That would be fun.”
Chalice never one to be outshined said, “I was going to take her out on Friday.”
She giggled and blushed. And in that moment, she looked gorgeous. She looked like a young girl and a sex goddess all at once. Like she was both designed for love and awkward at it as well. She nodded emphatically and smiled.
“You can decide which of us to love forever,” I said.
She was called and she skipped away to the stage.
“You gonna take her out?” I asked.
“God no, she is a mess,” he said. “You?”
“No,” I lied. “Not really the preppy girl kinda guy, myself. I like them dark,” I said. My eyes went to Draconic, who was flirting with Bravo and making sure I was looking.
Okay, before we go on any further, I need to stop here just for a tick and tell you that Draconic was driving me mad. She was trying to kill me, torturing me. Servant loved every instant of it. He still defined love as pain and anguish, so he would follow her around and watch her with other boys. He would weep and write sad letters that she would laugh at and all of that.
She was too hard for Shadow to pin down, so he left her alone unless she wanted to make out. Guardian was still drawn to her. He made a victim out of her because of her hand, and Artist still opened his wings for her any time she wanted him to. But for the most part, we had all decided we needed another option. Draconic was too painful and frustrating to continue with.
Chalice heard his name and drew in a deep breath. He looked at me.
“You’re a badass. Just go pick out a part for yourself,” I told him.
He grinned. “Love you,” he said.
“Yeah, you too,” I said.
Draconic stormed over, snatched me up and dragged me to the boy’s bathroom, and threw me in. She attacked me with her hips and her hands and her lips, and she grabbed me by the hair and jerked it hard, down to her face, and snarled. “That girl is off limits. Never speak to her again. She likes you and I will kill you before I let her have you.”
Draconic stormed out of the bathroom and Bravo walked in staring at her as she left.
“What was that about?” he said.
“She wanted to threaten to kill me, pull my hair and kiss me,” Shadow said. “Basically, just another day.”
Bravo nodded and went to piss.
Shadow began to make a plan.
Mary was in our first hour English class. From the day of the audition she sat in the desk in front of me and flirted with me. I ought to tell you how that started though.
See the Monday after the auditions, Shadow came into class, looked at her and shook his head. “I am furious with you!” he said. “Don’t even talk to me!”
She stared at him as he dropped into his chair, then stepped up to him, held her mouth and said, “What did I do?”
“You stood me up,” he said. “You said we were going to go out on Saturday, and you didn’t show. You didn’t even answer when I called you, and I called you all day.”
She scoffed. “Liar.”
“Don’t call me a liar. You were gone all day Saturday,” Shadow said.
“I was, but you shouldn’t know that,” she said.
“I called your house thirteen times. I called all day. I even have your number memorized.”
She laughed. “No, you don’t.”
I recited her number perfectly while staring her in the eye and watching her eyes widen and her mouth fall open. I pointed at her. “You owe me a date.”
“How do— How did— You can’t possibly— But, how did you do that?” she said. “My father is in the army. Our number is unlisted in your white pages. None of my friends would give a boy like you my number. How did you get it? That is impossible.”
I pointed at my chest. “When I see something I want, nothing is impossible. Nothing.” I held my hand up in front of her. “I wanted your number so bad, I needed it to get to you, so I reached out and took it.” I closed my hand delicately before her eyes. “I’ll pick you up at three on Saturday. Be ready. Don’t dress up. I’m not a dress up kind of guy.”
And from that moment, Shadow owned her. He had choir with her brother. Shadow put her brother in a double mixed quartet and collected everyone’s phone numbers so he could call them for practices. Mary would eventually figure it out, but Shadow made her wait for a while for it.
Just like his character, his methods became clear very slowly. In the end, she barely survived either. But things were getting dark now. For the rest of Junior year and the beginning of Senior, things were challenging.
After losing Destiny, after failing with Draconic, Shadow needed something clean. Mary was that something. He kind of lost control of himself with her. They were good for a while, but then Char came back into our lives, and Shadow darkened from a street rat, to a monster.
I’m getting ahead of myself.