This is a short story I have been working on here-and-there over the last month or so. It was based off of a conversation I had with my friends that slowly spiraled into…um…whatever exactly this is. It’s unedited and I have no idea if any of it even makes sense, but I think it’s amusing. Please forgive me if the tense changes or if there are any basic mistakes, I didn’t really do much to make sure it was consistent, it was more of an exercise to just write.
Anyhoot, that was my disclaimer. Enjoy!
P.S. I’m not a huge fan of the very end so I might edit that later. Might being the key word.
I am a gentleman prophet.
How do I know?
It might have started with the visions. Or it might have started before that.
How long before that?
Maybe it started when I was young. Yeah, it probably started then. Some people say that weird shit starts happening to you when you hit puberty. You know, that’s when Superman got his powers. Or was it Spiderman? Either way, puberty messes with your shit, and then you don’t know which ways up, or how you got so many zits, or why that guy from third period science won’t answer your texts.
Probably because he never actually gave you his phone number; you just happened upon it when he left his phone on his desk and you ‘accidentally’ picked it up. And kept it.
And only returned it half an hour later when you’d had a chance to add him to your contacts.
Or maybe it started at birth. Maybe I was born weird. I mean, it doesn’t sound too awful far from the truth if I’m being honest. I think it was the eyes.
You see, the thing people hate more than something they can’t explain is something they can almost explain; something that is just strange enough to cross beyond normal, but not bizarre enough to warrant true suspicion.
My eyes, for example. One is brown, the other is hazel. But not ‘kind of’ hazel—like the ‘oh, it just got a little screwed up in the making process’ hazel—but orange hazel. Like a cat; a freaky cat with orange-yellow eyes. And one brown one.
People don’t like it; they don’t know where to look. Should they semi-stare at the normal brown one, or fixate on the eye that they’re truly interested in? If I’m being truthful, I have the same reaction when I look in the mirror; like somehow I’ve forgotten since the last time I saw myself that I am half-cat.
And yet, somehow, this strangeness gives me the ability to do something most people can’t. I say most because that way I am not completely alone. I don’t really know either way, but this way makes me feel a bit better, so that’s what I’m going with.
To reiterate: I am a gentleman prophet.
What does this mean?
It means that no one is going to tell me a (successful) lie. Not if they are of the gender that involves a significant amount of outdoor architecture in the lower region of the human physique. Don’t get me wrong, they can certainly try, but as of 2:53p.m. two years, seventeen days, and thirteen and one-sixth hours ago exactly, I have been boy-vincible.
And yet, as of seventeen hours, forty-six minutes and twelve seconds ago, I cannot for the life of me read Bloomfield Parker’s mind.
Bloomfield Parker was named the way many rappers are named: the city you live in, and the name of your first pet. That’s his shtick. He doesn’t go around telling people that, of course, that’s just what I was able to draw from the darker recesses of his mind one day during Algebra.
(What? I wanted to make sure he wasn’t an axe-murderer or something!) He’s not, by the way.
But he does make it known to his friends every-so-often (aloud for all of our homeroom to hear) that his not-so-normal name is not the strangest in our school’s history; and thus, is not one to be made fun of.
Take Michelle Blewhymn for example.
I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Bloomfield Parker is special in other ways, too. Like how you can’t just say one piece of his name, you have to say the whole thing all at once or it’s not right. Or how he has silver eyes—silver!—did you know that was a color eyes could be? Because I certainly didn’t until I met him. But he’s most special when it comes to knowing stuff about rocks.
He knows a lot about rocks.
It sounds really lame and, I mean, it kind of is, but he knows so much about them that I can’t help tuning into his mind channel every so often just so I can listen to the prattle that is his rock-train-of-thought.
Petrology is what it’s called, the study of rocks, a sub-field of geology, and that’s what he wants to specialize in when we graduate high school. I can’t help but wonder if that’s even a thing. At the very least it would be a peculiar conversational piece.
What is your major?
Liberal studies. How about yours?
Geology with a specialization in petrology.
Oh, um, cool. What’s that?
It’s the study of rocks.
Oh, that’s nice.
Nice: the words you use to describe the things you actually couldn’t give less of a shit about. Oh, you went on vacation to the Bahamas? That’s nice. Your favorite color is mauve? Ooh, nice.
I sometimes wonder how far that kid will make it, but then I catch myself and remember: it’s Bloomfield Parker. Where won’t he make it?
It’s not just his looks—the stick-straight auburn of his hair, just dark enough to make his silver eyes shine at a peculiarly high velocity—or his passion for science that will get this kid places. It’s just…him. Bloomfield Parker isn’t just his name, it’s his way of being.
Bloomfield Parker just is. And he’s great at it!
It’s just that sometimes I wish he would be a little less great at it, and maybe that would give me a chance to understand his thoughts. You see, other than the rock stuff, there is something peculiar that happens every time I try to listen in on the mind of Bloomfield Parker.
Not completely empty, there are thoughts there, but it’s like they have been shielded by a door, a thick oak door with a small man, kind of ugly and surely unhappy with the state of his life, standing behind it, and I don’t know the password.
In the two years since I woke up with this aching nosiness in my head, this is the first time thoughts have been denied to me.
I don’t like it.
I wouldn’t say that I used my newfound superpower for either good or evil, because in the moment how are you really supposed to know? (A rhetorical question that doesn’t really work for murder, but we’re not talking about murder). I would simply say I use it to my own benefit, including things that I think will benefit others, make of that what you will.
Like two weeks ago, for example, I overheard Mike Micklewadd (another one of the unfortunate names that plague our school) thinking about how the local amusement park is getting a surprise performance from Green Day in two weeks (his dad’s the CEO, not that managing the chief executive officer position of Wild Walley’s is surmountingly difficult). The tickets would be given away via a call-in to the local radio station. I spent an entire week working out my telephone dialing strategy and working with my friend, Janine. We were going to get these tickets if it killed us. Now guess who is taking her best friend to see Green Day backstage?
The performance sold out in under a minute. I was the second caller, right behind Mike. Ironically, Amber, the girl he had meant to impress with this information, was the one hundred and twenty-seventh caller. She didn’t even get a seat.
It just so happens that Mike also got backstage passes, four of them, and so of course he invited Bloomfield Parker, seeing as how they’re friends and all. So now, here we are: the day that will probably lead to the best night of my life. Two straight hours of Green Day and Bloomfield Parker; in the same room!
I can hardly contain the girlish giggles that threaten to burst from my throat in English class. It gets even worse when the final bell rings and Janine and I head to the bus—she’s coming over so we can plan outfits and make-up strategy—and it just so happens that Bloomfield is going home with Mike today, too. And Mike rides my bus! Things are falling into place.
On the way home I try to listen in on the boys’ conversation, and what I can’t hear myself (they’re two rows behind us and buses are noisy), I manage to etch-a-sketch from their thoughts. Mike is easy to read, it’s all BLTs and Sports Illustrated, but once again, I am stumped by Bloomfield Parker. What about him is so special?
What about him is not special?
I’m about to give up hope when Janine nudges me in the side and wiggles her eyebrows, our sign for: did you just hear that? Which, of course, I didn’t because I was too busy eaves-dropping on people’s thoughts; or trying to, at least.
“What?” I mouth silently and she sighs, rolling her eyes.
She leans in close to me, her voice rising in pitch as she excitedly squeals, “They were just talking about you.”
“Like what? What did they say?” There were loads of things they could have said about you, and seeing as how Mike’s thoughts were still on the Miss December Sports Illustrated model—about half a year belated seeing as how it’s nearly June—it couldn’t have been all that important, but I strain harder to hear anyway.
“—tickets too,” Mike is saying, and my chest gets all befluttered. They must be talking about the concert. “There were only eight sold, so that’s us, Billy, Joel, them—cause she’s probably taking that blonde friend of hers—and two other people.”
“Who are the two others?” Bloomfield Parker asks and my inflated heart sags ever so slightly. Why does he care who the other people are?
“Dunno,” Mike says, sighing and flipping the page of his not-so-secretly hidden magazine; he makes a noise, somewhere between a chuckle and a grunt and it gives me uncomfortable goose bumps. I mean, really, can you not? This is a public space that you’re reading that magazine in and you’re sitting next to Bloomfield Parker; how could you possibly be doing both of those things in the same sentence?!
“Do you think your father could find out?”
“Dunno,” Mike says again. “Why? Are you hoping they will be some hot models or something?”
Bloomfield Parker doesn’t say anything, but the way he doesn’t say anything sounds a lot like a shrug. Did he shrug? I’m not sure. I don’t dare turn around or he’ll for sure know I’m staring at them. I guess I could pretend I’m staring at Billy Ferterno in the row behind them, but I wouldn’t want to give him false hope. It wouldn’t be fair to Billy, and frankly, I don’t need that kind of stigma attached to my name. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Billy is a good guy, but he’s also Billy Ferterno. So, like, ew.
My stop is next so I don’t know what happens next in the conversation. Already Mike is distracted with Miss April and I don’t need those kind of thoughts in my head, so I pull out of his brain quickly before launching myself down the steps of the bus and onto the sidewalk that leads to my front drive. Janine is right behind me and as the bus pulls away, I glance one more time in the general vicinity of where we were just sitting. There’s the empty bench seat, the ugly gray leather just as depressing from outside the bus, and two rows back, there is Bloomfield Parker, perfectly perfect and staring right at me.
I’ve been stared at many times in my lifetime, all sixteen years of it. Only twice has it been by a boy. The first time was in the third grade when Andrew Milson swore in front of the whole class that I was, in fact, the girl that played Hermione Granger in all of the Harry Potter films. While I concur that, like Emma Watson, I do possess a sort of subtle elegance, I’m not sure I would go as far as to compare myself to her. Although, at the time I was completely fine with Andrew thinking so, I just never approved it myself.
But only once have I ever been stared at by someone I truly cared about, and my stomach gets all tingly thinking about the fact that Bloomfield Parker—the Bloomfield Parker—had been caught staring at me!
And now I only have four short hours to put together the best hair, makeup, and ensemble combination that will not only win me the attention of the cutest boy in Wingsburry Park, but also outshine those trampy models that Mike so uninspiredly guessed are also going to be in attendance at tonight’s concert.
Whatever, models or not, my silver-studded leather mini-skirt, Green Day baggy-enough-to-be-chic t-shirt, and (my mother’s) Louis Vuitton heels (that she doesn’t exactly know that I’m borrowing) are going to be the stars of a one-lady runway: me.
Janine looks great but not quite as glamorous as me. We both decided that if I want to get Bloomfield Parker’s attention, I am going to have to stand out in the best way possible. She has a turquoise shirt on with a pair of black skinny jeans and ballerina flats. Altogether, it’s a cute outfit, and it really emphasizes her long blonde hair, but not too much that it outshines the awesomeness of my legs in these shoes.
I tie my hair up in a loose makeshift braid, ponytail, bun thing that looks messed in all the right ways without seeming like I put in a bunch of effort into it. I didn’t really. It took about five minutes. Whoever originated this style should be given an Emmy. Here’s to you lazy high-school student who didn’t have time to wash her hair in the morning! I feel her on a spiritual level.
But not as much as I feel the anticipation of backstage passes and Bloomfield Parker! It feels like I haven’t even breathed a full breath before the long handle on the clock is swinging dangerously close to the seven, as in o’clock, and it’s already time to go.
If my spirit had a physical representation in this world, I can’t help but think that I would be a cheese platter. Here me out. Cheese platters are universal, kind of like rocks. They are the first thing on the list for an organized event, because really, what screams formal more than a stinky platter of cheese that only the truly snobby pretend to like, but really, does anyone? But still, it’s a necessary ingredient for every necessary get-together. That is not to say that I am arrogant or stinky, but instead, that I am a necessary part of any quality, big event.
Green Day has a cheese platter.
And so far, I think I have eaten half of it.
Janine and I arrived exactly on time to gain entry into the backstage with our passes, which I guess is still an hour too early, because it’s been a while and still no one of any really importance has shown up. Sure there are some other girls with mini-skirts just high enough to cover the space undoubtedly covered by a tramp stamp. But, like I said, no one of real importance.
“Stop eating,” Janine scolds and I flick the edge of a cracker toward her. It’s one of those expensive ones that taste like cardboard but cost fifteen dollars, and I plan to eat every single one of them. I spent more than two weeks’ salary at the ice cream bar on this outfit, and I don’t plan on missing out on anything.
“I can’t,” I hiss back and she frowns at me. “I’m nervous.”
“Then drink water.”
Could she have made a dumber suggestion? I make sure this is clear in my tone when I say, “But then I’ll have to pee.”
She shrugs, giving me the semi-defeated look of: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.
Our bickering is suddenly halted upon the entry of Bloomfield Parker. As usual he looks magnificent. He’s wearing a black leather jacket that makes his sleek auburn hair look the perfect amount of edgy without being douchebaggy. He’s wearing a black v-neck, dark gray skinny jeans, and converse. All in all, Bloomfield Parker looks like a rock god.
His entourage is all right, I suppose, and Janine keeps whispering in my ear that she never thought of Mike as hot until right now, but I can’t tug my eyes away from the truly handsome of the bunch.
“I think he’s looking at you,” Janine says excitedly and I don’t dare look over at the approaching group of guys. “Oh my god, they’re coming. What do we do? They’re coming—” She cuts off abruptly as the guys finally make their way across the room to where we are standing at the refreshments table. If she hadn’t been so nervous I could have easily told Janine to just be cool, but sometimes I wonder if that’s even a thing she’s capable of.
Mike is the first one to speak; which, as gang leader, makes sense. “Hey Janine.” That’s it, no group hello, just Janine, and she giggles. Giggles!
She resembles a deer in headlights when she whispers back a startled. “Hi.”
I almost get mad, almost, but then the unthinkable happens. Before I know it, Bloomfield Parker is standing next to me, smiling, and nodding a shy, “Hi Penelope.”
Bloomfield Parker. Bloomfield Parker knows my name!
“Hello Bloomfield Parker.”
His eyebrows pull together in an expression of mild confusion and I realize my mistake. “Sorry,” I say quickly, “it’s just that…” What? That your first and last name are so perfectly in sync with one another that it’s just not possible for me to say one without the other?
I don’t want to freak him out!
So, instead, I say the next most brilliant thing that comes to mind. “Yeah.”
He laughs. At me!
Maybe not the greatest thing in the world, but it is progress from nothing, so I will take it.
“So, you’re a fan of Green Day, huh?”
Well no shit, but I’ll let it go since he looks so good right now.
“Yeah, the American Idiot album was my life for years. The entire thing is just one massive jam.”
“Agreed.” He smiles at me and I’m pretty sure my heart has frozen in place. No, really, how many seconds are supposed to come between beats? Because I’m pretty sure too many are passing at once for my heart to still not be beating.
Oh, wait, there it goes.
Okay, no, yeah, it’s fine.
That’s all the conversation that passed between us for a good solid three minutes. And then the inevitable happened. No, inevitable is not the right word. Inevitable implies some sort of expectation. This requires a whole new set of words. It was maximally horrendous. Excruciatingly hideous. Abominably abhorrent.
And it all came in the shape of a five-foot-two, blue-eyed, strawberry-blonde haired angel-devil. She was the first of her mini-posse to walk in the room, and immediately the group of guys could look at no one else. Her heels (Prada) could have caked dust on my semi-stolen Vuittons without even receiving a scuff mark, but what’s worse: her dress, all-leather with a flash of blue satin on one side, is a perfect match in edginess to Bloomfield Parker.
I could have moved on, I could have blocked her from my mind. I would have, too, if it wasn’t for one tiny little detail: and that is Bloomfield Parker himself.
The moment she walked in his face lit up like a thousand fireflies dancing behind his eyes. That’s the lamest simile ever, but it’s the best way of describing the sudden light emanating from him. He smiled and she sauntered over, wrapping her arms around his neck which required her, first, to lean up on her tip-toes, pressing her chest against his to do it.
I didn’t need to see the next part to confirm my suspicions, but I couldn’t help but watch it, like I was witness to some horrible accident and the morbid fascination was just too real. He leaned down slowly to place a kiss on her forehead.
My Bloomfield Parker.
It takes him a minute before he remembers proper manners; though I’m not really sure if he has any of those in the first place. That is, until he says, “Penelope, this is my sister, Laura.”
Sister. Right. I didn’t know he had one of those, but it’s Bloomfield Parker—the only mind I can’t read—so who’s to say he doesn’t. Still, I narrow my eyes suspiciously at her until Mike, who had up until now been in a rather enthralling discussion with Janine (judging by the twittering giggles that would emerge from the back of her throat every minute or so), came springing up behind her, and giving her a half-bear hug.
“Laura, the famous sister makes an appearance, I see.”
She slaps his arm, unphased by the sudden bombardment of teenage male flesh, and extends a hand to me. “Hello Penelope, it’s nice to meet you.”
I smile and take it; if there is still anger on my face, it isn’t from the immense betrayal I had just felt, but because I had no idea he even had a sister. I’m supposed to know everything about Bloomfield Parker!
“You too,” I say, and I mean it. She smiles up at me and I can already tell we’re going to be friends. Call it a gut feeling.
But then the really bad thing happens.
She claps her hands together excitedly and her eyebrows shoot up, like she’s just remembered something great. Laura tugs on Bloomfield Parker’s sleeve. “Oh, and Justin is here too.”
His beautiful face falls immediately.
“Oh, yeah? So?”
She wiggles her eyebrows up at him, poking a finger into the corner of his mouth in an attempt to lift it into a smile. “So, I heard he broke up with—” She clears her throat. “You know who.”
Wait, I don’t like where this is going. You know who who?
“Really?” He perks up a little, his shoulders rolling back just a little bit further than usual, broadening his already perfectly broad shoulderline.”
“Is that a good thing?” I ask, inserting myself into the conversation, and both Mike and Laura laugh rather maniacally.
“It is for Bloomfield,” Mike says with a smirk.
“Shut up,” the auburn-haired god says with a slight blush. Blush!
No, I’m definitely not liking this at all.
Okay, so…what is going on? I ask the first thing I can think of. “Why? Do we not like Justin?”
Laura frowns. “No. We definitely don’t.”
I nod. “Okay, and that’s because…?”
Two more guys, the second more attractive than the first, enter the room (I thought there were only supposed to be eight of us!) The first is a tall blond, and judging by the way that Laura is frowning at him, I’m guessing he’s Justin. The second guys is even taller, at least six foot three, with dark brown hair, florescent green eyes, and a smile that could very well be just as heart-stopping as Bloomfield Parker’s.
Laura side-steps until she’s close enough to whisper in my ear. “We don’t like Jason, we like Jack.”
The way she says it implies that it is not we at all, but rather he.
As in Bloomfield Parker.
As in the boy that is absolutely, one hundred percent, beyond a shadow of a doubt, supposed to be irrevocably perfect for me.
As in the boy who is currently staring at Jack just like I’m sure I stare at him; awed and a little open-mouthed.
This is it.
This is the end of me.
I want to read his mind; I want to know what he’s thinking. No, screw that, I already know what he’s thinking, but I want confirmation. I want to make sure that I know that he knows what he’s thinking.
He does: I don’t have to read his mind to confirm that.
But still I try.
And this time something goes through. There isn’t the white-noise void that I usually get when I try to pick at Bloomfield Parker’s mind waves, and neither is there a lecture on rocks—the other of his brain’s favorite pastimes.
No, instead there are memories. Lots and lots of them like still-shot pictures hanging up on a wire. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful face inset with stunning green eyes. Pictures that aren’t meant for me, I’m sure, but when has that ever stopped me from snooping?
Pictures from years ago, with faces a little more round, arms just a little more gangly. Pictures of baseball, smiles, kisses, warm hugs, open fields, birthday parties, repeated ‘I love you’, and, worst of all, two happy faces that leave no room whatsoever for me.
Janine comes up behind me, tugging at my arm, but I don’t want to meet her pity look. It can’t be worse than the self-pity look that’s surely sprawled out over my face.
So much for being a Gentleman Prophet.