Rise of the Tellers 2: Bell

Disclaimer: I have limited knowledge on warthogs, their breeding habits or their average dimensions. I would not know a good-sized warthog from a petite warthog. I do not claim to be a warthog expert or enthusiast.

When I walked away from Siren I walked away from an entire group of friends. In that one move Bekah and I lost Red, Fish, and Lean, along with Siren and several businesses and hang outs. When I walked away from Siren, Bekah and I had each other and nothing else. Close by we had her extended family in Waynesville. Let’s go check in on them for a minute and then we can talk about Bell and I do want to get to the warthogs, too. First K.

Now when we got to Waynesville nothing was said. No one got rude and no one did anything uncouth or in any way insulting but you know when you know. It was not Bekah’s most popular move accepting me back into her life and if I were less of a judge of character it would have passed right by me. But I am an excellent judge of character, I can read almost anyone like a book and I had at this point been in therapy for over six years. I had examined people. Every one of the ones in my life and behavior of people in general. I knew the moment I walked into the house that I was not wanted.

It’s not the way they talk. These people don’t really know how to be rude. It’s not the way they give. I was still taken out to dinners and other sorts of things. It was in the eyes, the way they would flick across my face and my body. The way the words being spoken were not being spoken to my eyes but my chin. It was in the subtle things that they don’t train you to look for. Grandma and Grandpa were not excited to host the weekend with me as their guest.

If we were talking about any other people it would be a problem. Grandpa would have pulled me aside and had stern words with me. He would have made some cutting comment or made some sort of gesture to show that he hated my guts. But these are not just any other people. These people love Bekah. And they are good at it. They have been loving her as long as she has been alive and so they do not get in my face. And they do not snarl at me in any way. They just have me to their house and they have long interesting talks with me and take us out to dinner whenever we want to go.

They are in every way as pleasant as can be expected. When I shook Patron’s hand, I could see that he was still not over it. We had spent the entire weekend with them and I had been on my best behavior but his dismissive handshake was enough to let me know how he felt.

K on the other hand was different. As I was walking to the door, she stopped me. She looked me in the eyes and she placed her palms on my chest. She smiled at me and she sighed. “You’re okay now, aren’t you?” she said. I can still see her eyes when she said it. I can still hear the tone of her voice. Cracked a bit with age but still strong and willful.

I smiled at her and I said, “I am better now. I have worked very hard to get ready for your granddaughter. We have both worked very hard for this.”

She kissed my forehead and hugged me. “Welcome to the family.” And from that moment she was good to me. She was the kindest, most brave and most badass elderly woman I ever met. She was a fierce supporter of me when it was not popular to be and she backed every play I made for the rest of the time I knew her. When she passed our family took a blow we will not soon overcome. She was the very heart of our family and I will miss her all the rest of the days of my life.

For now I’m going to lovingly set K aside and we are going to talk warthogs.

Bekah and I went to the zoo. Middle of February, perfect zoo season, right? Well you will begin to see a pattern here. I will point it out to save time. Bekah and I love the off season. We love to go to resorts when half the amenities are shut down. Go into boom and bust tourist towns when no one is there and half the restaurants are closed. We love that shit. Can’t get enough of it. We booked a resort last night with a gigantic outdoor pool. The pool is beautiful. We are going in October. Yeah so, no pool but why let that spoil our fun, right? It’s our 15th wedding anniversary. We won’t be out of the hotel room often.

So, zoo!

It’s a small zoo. It’s called Dickerson Park Zoo and it is supported by a medium sized city. Not a very large or impressive zoo but they did have an albino alligator so I wanted to go. We had nothing else to do so off we went.

I don’t remember much. It was cold. The animals were not amused. However, when we got as far as the warthogs I lost my mind. They were huge! I mean HUGE! Now as the disclaimer says I know jack and diddly about warthogs but I’m pretty sure this was excessive.

For those of you who don’t know or can’t picture the animal I am talking about, do you remember the Lion King? Pumba. That is a warthog. There were two of these things and they were immense. Half the size of a car maybe. No exaggeration. They were massive. Two massive warthogs. No one told them what to do. No one. They did what they wanted to and they asked for no one’s permission. These were not animals you messed with.

At that moment they kinda reminded me of Bekah and I. Bigger than we should have been, unapologetic. Scary and confident. All of the magic of an enormous animal and dangerous. When lovers talk about the animal that most reminds them of their lover warthog is, I would wager, very low on the list of animals picked. I’m not at all sure. Like I said, no warthog authority. But when I think about Bekah and I back in those days those two massive, no nonsense warthogs get me all misty eyed.

We were alone. But it was fine. When I had run away with Bekah, I had known that it might be a bad idea. There would be no one to supervise me when she was gone. No one to watch over me and make sure I didn’t hurt myself. That constant suicide watch concept was gone. I knew it was dangerous. But I knew trying to live without her was deadly.

Well, we were about two weeks into our seclusion and I have to say it was amazing. No complaints. But it was just us two when I got a call. I picked it up and it was Bell.

“Hey brother, what’s up?” I said.

“You live in Springfield, right?” he said.

“Yeah, why?”

“Want to hang out?”

“Always, where are you?” I said. “You in town for the day?”

“No, I live here now.”

“What? Since when?”

“Well, I was at a party in Columbia and I met someone and we hit it off and there was kind of a whirlwind and soon I am moving to Springfield. Well it didn’t work out and now I live in Springfield with a roommate that I kinda hate who kinda hates me and well,” he chuckled. “Want to hang out?”

Bell came over and we made a life out of it. For the first year it was Bekah, Bell and I. Having him around was awesome. He was a solid rock. A person I could hang out with when Bekah was busy. We suddenly had a gaming group again and I could work on issues and run some amazing games. We had family in town.

Bell had met Siren on one occasion and that had been enough for him. He was so excited to find out he would never have to deal with that ever again.

We had given up Siren and her friends to be with Bekah and Bell. I’ll make that trade every time. The loss of Red still plagued me. He was good for me and losing him had cut me pretty bad but with Bekah, and now Bell, we were fine.

A few weeks in Bell had nowhere to live. He came to Bekah and she came to me.

“Bell asked if he can move in and sleep on my couch for a while until he gets his feet set,” she said.

“Okay.”

“Well I am not taking another man into my house unless you tell me to,” she said. “I know he is a Droog. I know you two are brothers for life, but I am still not making this decision without you. Tell me to take him as a roommate or it will not happen.”

“Take him as a roommate. Don’t charge him rent.”

“Done.”

Family. We had family in town. Bell would be great for me and Bekah’s relationship. A guy to bounce ideas off of and a guy to slap me when I was being an idiot. I had a Droog. I was set.


This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.

Vol. 1: Teardrop Road is available now on Amazon.

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