A young man by the name of Malcolm stood on the steps smoking a cigarette. He was a normal looking fella, whatever that means to you. That’s the best way to get a grip on him. A normal looking fella; pleasant looking if you get to thinking of him fondly and definitely with physical flaws if you observe him from the most critical lens. He stood on the steps and waiting until he saw her come running down the street. He began to rhythmically descend the stairs, somewhere between speed-walking and jogging. He greeted her at the base of the stairwell, reaching the sidewalk only a split second before she reached him.
“You look a little bent out of shape,” he said.
“No shit,” she responded. Her name was Maralou. She was a trip. If you asked ten of the closest people in her life to describe, at least five would say the same thing. The girl was just a trip.
“You’ll be alright,” he said, not sure how to quell her noticeable discomfort.
“I don’t know how you could know that,” she began in response. “I couldn’t even look up as I walked through the street to meet you here. Every time I picked my eyes up I could feel someone’s eyes calling mine and all of a sudden I’ll be looking at them and I can see so much more than what’s in front of me.” She pulled out an oversized vape and covered both of them in a cloud of smoke.
“That’s pretty heavy. What do you think it is?” He asked.
“Something ghoulish you think?”
As the cloud of smoke cleared, Maralou looked up at Malcolm and his eyes widened as he looked at her.
“You can feel it, right?” She asked.
“Yes, mam. Something’s watching from inside of you.”
“Don’t tell me that.”
“Sorry.” They stood in silence briefly.
“No, I’m sorry,” Maralou began. “You were just giving me your opinion andI told you to meet me here so I could hear your opinion, so I shouldn’t act like that when you give me what I came here for.”
“Apology accepted, but unneeded. If someone told me that something what looking through my eyes and it wasn’t me I’d be pretty snotty, too. So, what’s your plan?”
“I think we gotta go see Evangeline.”
“Why can’t you just call her Evie like everyone else?”
“I told you: I will never call her Evie. Evangeline is too pretty of a name to turn into the name of a Pokemon.”
“It’s about the speed of saying it, not the alternative. No one with a four-syllable name goes by that name in everyday life.”
“What about Alexander?”
“Who calls him Alexander?”
“She doesn’t count.”
“Cuz she just calls him what you call him.”
“Why does that matter?”
“None of this matters,” Malcolm blurted out, tossing his cigarette into the street. “So we’re going to see Evangeline then?”
“I guess. It’s the only idea I got.”
“Let’s get going.”
Malcolm and Maralou walk down the main part of town, past little shops and local businesses that got grandfathered in before my grandfather came to this country. They walked past the strip of town and stopped at the train station. Malcolm sat down, locked his fingers behind his head and rested his head against his hands. Maralou sat for a second, but quickly got up and began to pace back and forth. His eyes moved quickly, like she was trying to see every detail that surrounded her but was simultaneously paranoid that someone will accuse her of staring.
Evangeline lived out in nowhere’s land. She didn’t have a place or anything. Her and a bunch of other random people lived out there, sharing the space, squatting in the abandoned structures that used to serve some purpose when the farmland pounded out the profit and drove the local economy. Malcolm had lived out there for a week, but he couldn’t deal with being surrounded by a bunch of vegans and not having anyone to talk sports with. Maralou couldn’t even make it a night out there, too used to the comforts of the bourgeois lifestyle to ever leave it.
When the train arrived, Maralou waited for Malcolm, who allowed the other waiting passengers to enter to get on the train first. Maralou and Malcolm walked on and took a small loveseat in the back that faced the window. Within a minute, the train began to move.
“Look at me,” Malcolm said to Maralou.
“I really don’t want to,” she responded, keeping her eyes forward despite Malcolm’s attempt to line up their eye-lines.
“Mar, come on, just turn your head, look at me and count to five.” Maralou’s eyes began to shake, filling with tears before she turned towards Malcolm, made eye contact, counted to five and then turned her head back. When she moved her head he blinked several times and fell silent.
“What happened?” Maralou asked.
“First I started seeing things, random things. Like… like memories, but they weren’t yours I don’t think. Then I felt something pulling at my eyes and then I hated you for a second. I can’t remember why.”
“That’s horrifying,” Maralou said as she bent her head towards her lap and rubbed her forehead with her hand.
“I just made that up.”
“No, that really happened. Just don’t want you getting freaked out by any of this.”
“I’m already freaked out.”
“Well… I just don’t want you getting any more freaked out by this. Look on the bright side, at least we’ve got something to do,” Malcolm says as he nudges Mararlou. “I mean, you can’t say that you expected this to happen today.”
“You’re right about that.” Malcolm looked over at Maralou covered in concern before regaining his looseness, slouching deep into the seat. He sat back and leaned the opposite way of Maralou and she did the same.
“You ready?” Malcolm asked Maralou as they approached the best spot to jump off the train to get to the deserted farmland. The train conductors refused to stop at any point other than the edge of town and the state line. Apparently the train company was hoping to sell off their tracks to the highest bidder if the farmland was approved for real estate development. In the end, the town voted to keep the land as it was, believing that the abandoned farmland could provide a sanctuary for the outcasts, hippies and gypsies, and that’s exactly what it did. There was no mental hospital around, so a tax free collection of squatters scraped off the underbelly of a well-functioning bourgeois neighborhood was the next best thing.
Malcolm jumped out and Maralou quickly followed, both landing on their feet. The conductor pounded on the horn as the train pulled away, seemingly wanting them to know that they didn’t sneak out undetected. Malcolm turned towards the train and gave it the finger, while Maralou didn’t seem to notice what the conductor did.
From the spot they jumped out, they had about a mile to go to get around where Evangeline lingered. Each time they went to see her she was within 500 feet of this big green barn where she slept.
“What do you think she does all day?” Malcolm asked Maralou.
“Evangeline?” Maralou responded.
“Evie. Yes. Same person.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Isn’t it like a five to one male to female ratio out here?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“That’s gotta be a little dangerous for her, don’t you think?”
“Eh, it could be… but I don’t think it is.”
“I don’t mean this in a rude way or anything cuz people like what they like in the bedroom, but is she the kinda chick that would do a few at a time? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it if she is; I just get the feeling that she’s the kinda girl who could take a couple at a time.”
“I should tell her you said that.”
“Or you could just tell me if she’s that kinda chick and we don’t have to mention it to her cuz that conversation is just gonna be rough on all parties involved.”
“Yeah, she is. But it’s weird. It’s not like she wants to have a bunch of dudes run her over at once. What she likes it controlling multiple dudes at once. Like, shifting her attention from one to the other, having them both under her thumb at the same time. It’s weird.”
“Not that weird. I get it.”
“You trying to tell me you want two guys going at you at the same time?”
“I never want any guys going at me ever. But if I could have a handful of consenting women trying to please me simultaneously I would certainly accept the offer… And I bet I would be interested in having that become the focus of my life if that were an option.”
“It’s not an option.”
“Yeah, it’s not.”
Just then a man came up to them. His name was Dent. He was a dirty fellow. His hair was greasy and his teeth were greenish brown. He was average height and scrawny. He had a limp, which was accentuated by the fact that he wore only one shoe. His t-shirt was oversized and the print on it was meant to look like a pair of overalls. He kind of looked like a piece of white trash who still made fun of people for being white trash.
“I wouldn’t go that way,” he told them as he approached.
“Why not? Something happen?” Malcolm asked as Maralou kept her eyes from meeting the stranger.
“Didn’t happen yet, but I could feel it, understand? You understood?” Dent stared at Malcolm, his weight leaning forward.
“Um, I understand that you have the feeling that something’s going to happen… Was there something else for me to understand?” The man scowled at Malcolm and then moved his attention to Maralou.
“Hey pretty girl, you understand? I’m Dent by the way,” Dent said as he introduced himself. He reached his dirt-covered hand out towards Maralou. She kept her eyes facing forward and ignored his hand. “This your woman?” Dent asked Malcolm.
“A little,” Malcolm responded, moving himself between them and keeping an eye on Maralou.
“Somebody’s gonna shake my hand or you won’t be getting out of here the way you came in.” Dent left his hand out and widened his eyes. Malcolm looked back and forth between Dent and Maralou. Abruptly, Maralou reached her hand out and shook Dent’s hand.
“Let’s go,” Maralou said to Malcolm and the two of them jogged on. After a few second they turned back and saw Dent standing white as a ghost, his hand still being held out, shaking.
“I was wrong. You ain’t got nothing to worry about pretty girl! You’re too far gone to worry! Your boy better find a place to leave you! Something ugly’s got you. Something ugly’s got you by the throat!”
Malcolm and Maralou moved quickly towards Evangeline’s resting place.
“He’s right,” Maralou said after a long silence of contemplation.
“Na,” Malcolm responded. “He’s never right. Ever. About anything. Seriously. He looks like he showered in Boston Market gravy for a month. His opinion means nothing.” Maralou laughed and they continued.
Within a minute or two they could hear the sounds of camaraderie. The truth about the area was that most people lived alright. They lived off the land, sold some things that they made to the stores in town, grabbed supplies with the cash and, generally, were really good at sharing what they got. There were some inner disputes, people came into the community and left, but they were pretty much your average hippies.
Malcolm and Maralou followed the voices, which seemed to come from a large green barn that was at the center of the land Evangeline and the rest of her Phish-fan friends lingered. The barn door was closed, so Malcolm knocked. Maralou was still anxious, her teeth grinding and her mouth letting out little sucking noises.
“Who is it?” An unfamiliar female voice yelled out.
“Um… My name is Malcolm and I’m with my friend Maralou. We’re looking for Evie.”
“You mean Evangeline?” The voice responded. Maralou shot Malcolm a look.
“Yeah… I was just abbreviating because it has four syllables… But do you know where she is?”
“Who’s asking?” She asked again. Malcolm and Maralou went silent for a second.
“She just asked us that,” Malcolm whispered as he leaned down towards Maralou’s ear. Before Maralou could respond, the barn door flew open and a young, pale girl stood wearing a pair of sweatpants and no shirt.
“Were you guys like ‘what the fuck’ after I asked you who you were again?” She said as she laughed. “I’m Tonsha. Evangeline is just getting herself dressed right now.”
Malcolm and Maralou awkwardly introduced themselves, Maralou doing so without looking up and Malcolm attempting to do so without staring at the exposed breasts in front of him.
“You guys want anything?” Tonsha offered. “All we really have is bread and milk.” Malcolm starts to giggle and Maralou does the same, both wanting to ask the source of the milk.
Evangeline comes walking up to them.
“Hey guys!” She says as she walks over. She walked up to Tonsha and licked her earlobe as Tonsha slides her hand down Evie’s thigh. “These are my friends I was telling you about, babe.”
“Oh my god, I heard mad stories about you two. So happy to meet you guys!”
“Are your tits always out like that?” Malcolm blurted out.
“Mal, what the fuck?” Maralou lashed out.
“Yeah, what the fuck, Mal,” Evie agreed. “It’s just a body. Would you bat an eye if a guy was shirtless at the beach?”
“I’m sorry; I’m just not used to having tits out in front of me.” Malcolm turned his body away from Tonsha and Evie. Tonsha and Evie turn towards each other.
“I’m so sorry, baby. Are you okay?” Evie asked Tonsha.
“I’m fine, babe,” Tonsha responded. “We can’t expect everyone to live by the standards we’re living by. Some people are just so trapped inside the standards of modern society; they can’t help it.”
“Come on,” Malcolm blurted. “I’m pretty loose in my standards, but I feel a little weird when someone’s got their tits out in front of me.”
Maralou diffused the situation with some girl-power support and quickly left the barn with Evie and Malcolm as Tonsha said she was going to need an hour to find her center after Malcolm body shamed her.
Once they got outside, Evie starts laughing.
“What was that Eve? You turned on me. Judas,” Malcolm said half joking, expecting an explanation.
“I’m sorry, man,” Evie began, “we’re just rolling right now on a sexual level and I gotta keep going with it.”
“Really?” Maralou interjects. “You come out here and become a lesbian? You kidding me?”
“I’m not a lesbian,” Evie started, “But, like, there’s not that much going on out here, so we spend a lot of time expressing ourselves physically. She’s opened me up to a whole new world and there’s times when I just…” Evie stopped abruptly as Maralou accidentally made eye contact with her. “Dude, are you okay?”
Maralou attempted to respond, but struggled to find the words.
“That’s why we’re here,” Malcolm explained. “Figured we’d come see you about it cuz you seem to know all types of gypsy stuff and…”
“And we both feel like there’s something ghoulish going on,” Maralou said, finishing his sentence.
Evie began to walk quickly in front of them.
“Hurry up!” She yells back at them. “We need an electromagnetic field that’s gonna be stable enough for me to analyze you safely.” Malcolm rolls his eyes and Maralou begins to jog towards Evie.
When they got to the tree, Evie told Malcolm to take a walk.
“Why?” Malcolm responded.
“Because I need all of my attention on her right now. Just take a walk and come back in five minutes.
Malcolm walked away and left the two girls at the tree. Evie immediately started to inspect Maralou, moving his hands over her energy fields as she asked her questions.
“Any symptoms in the eyes?” Evie asked.
“I can’t look at anyone,” Maralou responded.
“Why? What happens?”
“Do your eyes hurt?”
“Nope. Mal said his eyes hurt when he looked at me, though.”
“Bad sign. What about heart symptoms? Any pounding in your chest?”
“Yeah. It’s been coming and going. I’ve been doing some of that deep breathing when it starts to bother me and that works, but it takes a couple minutes.”
“Good, good. Now, when did this all start.” Evie gets down on her knees and moves her hands over Maralou’s stomach with concentrated, calculated movements.
“Today. Woke up feeling like this.”
“What happened last night?”
“Nothing. Went to bed early. Slept a lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Like, 10, 11 hours I guess.”
“Without waking up?”
Evie stood up in front of Maralou and wiped off her knees.
“What do you think?” Maralou asked.
“I think you got yourself a demon.”
And it was at that time that I had to leave. I was driving the girl crazy and it would have taken every ounce of energy I had to get her to start doing the things I wanted. I headed towards the barn, hoping to slip inside that chick Tonsha’s throat. She was a sure thing.