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 21: Deception.
I’m torn here because things are starting to heat up now and I want to keep moving. I want to get past graduation and to the fact that when we broke up that summer, Mary went to SMSU. I want to talk about how Guardian chased her there and begged her to come back to him. How she let it happen, and they began to kill each other slowly again. I want to talk about that. Want to get there, but Deception is so important in a little but huge way. I am going to stop at her. You need to hear about Deception in order to understand everything that came after.
They held a meet at our school my senior year. I was asked to work it. I wasn’t in Drama Debate, but they needed time keepers and Precious was in charge of putting the whole thing together, so I agreed to help. I came and watched the meet, or is it tournament? I think it is tournament. Let’s go with tournament. I went, and I kept time, and after a few hours of mind-numbing boredom I went for a walk.
It was basically over. The last of the finals were taking place and there was a lot of standing around. I was not needed, but there were a lot of girls there and Shadow wanted to try to spend some more time with Precious.
She had realized the day we got back from Christmas break that Mary and I were back together, but she took it in stride. See, they were all fed up by this point. Every girl in the school was done with this dance me and Mary were doing. They didn’t think she was good enough for me. They wanted her gone, so they were working at making it happen. Every girl in school was flirting with me or trying to make out with Shadow. It was an unwritten mandate that the girls of the school had to break us up, so they came at me all the time.
Precious didn’t care because she would try again. I remember one day, Precious told me to drop Mary and I refused. We talked and Shadow kissed Precious, but it was obvious that it was not real, so she left. As she was leaving, I heard her tell someone where I was, and Trashy came around the corner. She instantly started hitting on me. None of them cared who ended up with me as long as they got Mary out of my life. So Precious didn’t fight it. She just waited. We would have one more attempt, but Guardian would break that up without trying. We will get there.
She walked right up to me while I was talking to Ty and she looked at me. She was tall, much taller than I usually liked girls, and she was wearing an odd dress for the occasion. It was sequenced and black. More of an evening gown than anything that one might find at a drama debate tournament. We said it was tournament, right?
Well anyway, she walked right up to me, pointed at my face, and she said, “You have a beautiful nose.” She smiled at me and walked away.
Ty looked at me. He looked at her as she sauntered. That is the right word. She sauntered away, and he nodded.
“What was that?” he asked.
“Hell if I know,” Shadow said.
“You should go find out,” he said. He was done with Guardian and Mary, too.
I followed her. She teased me a little, turning down abandoned halls, then when out of sight, sprinting to the next turn just in time for me to see she was still there, then walking around the corner. She had her high heels in her hand, and she kept looking at me.
Shadow loved her instantly. She was coy and sexy, and she wanted him, there was no doubt. He wanted to play this game as long as he could, so he kept walking as she turned down blind avenues she was unfamiliar with.
Shadow saw it before she did. She was walking into a dead end. When Shadow got to her, she turned, leaned against the wall and waved her shoes at me. “Hello, Nose,” she said.
Maybe one of the greatest lines of all time. Who was this girl? What was she made from? She was older than me, I was sure. Much more advanced, but Shadow could hang, so he played.
They talked. She joked with him, and finally they kissed. She laughed after she kissed him and smiled. “My name is Deception. I don’t need to know yours.”
“Well, you are going to get it,” he said. “Tonight, in your dreams, you’re gonna need to know what to call me. I’m Jesse. Been waiting for you for a while.”
“Is that so?” She touched my nose again and kissed my chin. We were leaning against the wall, sitting on a heater that was not running.
“Wanted an equal. Wanted someone I could get invested in,” he said. “So, who are you?”
“You know my name.”
“I need to know everything else.”
“I’m a senior,” she said. “I’m not going to college out of school. I’m going into the Peace Corps.”
“Peace Corps?” Of course, I had heard of it but had never known it was possible. Remember pension and factory job? Yeah, Peace Corps didn’t fit into that.
“I’m going to work the Peace Corps for a while, then they will pay for my college and I’m out.”
“Out for what?”
“Good, well that is fine. We can do that. When do you leave?”
“What do you mean?”
“Boots up? When do you leave for the corps?”
“Month after I graduate.”
I took her hand. “Then you belong to me until that moment,” Shadow said.
“Oh, yes I do,” she purred. They made out and they laughed. He had never seen anything like Deception. Never imagined it could be attainable. He would hold on to her for as long as he could. She lived at the Lake of the Ozarks and he went to visit her.
Turns out she was a sophomore. Turns out she had no plans to go into the Peace Corps at all. She had a job at a fish place, and she wanted to play it out. She asked if all of that was okay.
Shadow told her it was. But it wasn’t. For a split second he had something to grab onto. He had a handle on an equal. He wanted it bad now. Ached for a soul that could challenge him. Someone smart. Someone sexy. Someone self-assured. He wanted someone he could banter with. A person he felt in over his head with at times and at others way on top of.
Deception is important because it is at this point when he realizes he wants an equal. He does not want anyone pining for him. He wants to chase a girl down a hall. He wants, “Hello, Nose.” He wants the one thing he can’t find anywhere.
He wants a Bonnie. Needs one. He will try to find it everywhere until he meets Bekah. She will challenge him. She will say the most impressive, devilish things and he will be in way over his head with her at times. At others, he will own her. Bekah would be his real Bonnie. But she was years away.
One day he just dropped Deception. She barely noticed. All she did was make him ache.
He never forgave her for that.