Alternate Universe-1990s, Small Towns, Referenced Anxiety, Societal Homophobia, Moving Out
It’s not that he thinks it’s wrong—weird, maybe, but not wrong in the sense where he thinks he shouldn’t be doing this. It’s difficult to find such regret within him when Donghyuck feels so nice against him, warm, and scarily, a lot like coming home.
The kids stay with Buddy Red (whose real name is Robert Green) and his mother that night. She mutters around the kitchen about how she wasn’t ready for no guests, and she wishes she had some food to feed these little babies. She eventually finds an old looking box of ready-to-cook gumbo. “Y’all like gumbo?”
“Looks dusty,” David says.
“Yes, baby,” Ms. Green says. She puts an equally dusty pot on the stove and fills it with a random amount of water.
After they eat, it’s time for bed. “Y’all can sleep on the couch,” Buddy Red says. “Get them some blankets, Red!” Ms. Green shouts. Buddy Red listens to his mother.
The trailer finally settles into quiet. Ms. Green begins snoring before long. The boys sleep with heads meeting at the crook of the L-shaped couch. “Do you think they’re really gone?” Judah asks.
David doesn’t answer for a moment, which scares Judah just because that never happens. “I think they’re gone,” he finally says.
Judah tries not to sniff, because it is finally dark enough for him to cry without being seen. “Buddy Red is a ghost. Maybe they can be ghosts, too.”
“I have no idea what to think right now…”
Judah finally sniffs, revealing that he is crying. “What are we going to do? Do we have to live here now?” The unfamiliar place is dark, and creepy, and old, and sad, and makes Judah feel like jumping out of his skin. His stomach is still turning from that terrible, salty Gumbo. His mother’s gumbo was so wonderful, and that makes him cry more.
David sniffs too. “I don’t know, but don’t worry, I’m going to make sure we are OK. Buddy Red needs to show us something, and we will figure it out from there. Everything will be OK, I promise.”
When the boys wake up, they don’t know how long it was that they were actually awake on that couch, or how much of what terrorized them in the night was real and what was just their nightmares. They ask each other questions until they sort out reality, as good as they are able.
Buddy Red arrives from his room in the back, looking the same as yesterday and the same as every day. A trucker’s hat, a green button-down, a weight lifter’s belt (because, as he once explained to Judah, he bent over a lot for work), and jeans. “Y’all ready for a little trip?”
The boys wipe the dry drool from their faces, and feel ready.
Buddy Red leads them to the little car that is always parked in Honey’s parking lot early in the morning. In fact, it is early in the morning now. “Aren’t you usually working right now, Mr. Red?” David says.
Buddy Red looks at David with some mixture of derision and understanding, like how you forgive a small dog who barks at a bigger one. He starts to speak, but he sees that David understands, and does not. Judah watches, as he does. David lowers the seat for Judah so that he can crawl in the back seat of the little Honda.
Buddy Red advises them to duck down in the car as they drive through town, just in case. Coincidentally, they are unable to see the police cars, police tape, and people standing all in their front yard.
“Why can’t we go to the police again?” David asks, watching his little brother huddle up in the back seat of a stranger’s car, afraid.
Buddy Red fixes his mirrors to give his hands something to do. “Lee has ghosts because Lee don’t have no future.”
“That’s why you exist?” David asks.
Buddy Red nods. “Yaw sir.”
“So…” David searches. “Why can’t we go to the police?”
Buddy Red glances at David, some surprise and amusement in his chuckle. “The Danielsons were the only hope of this little town. Mr. Honey’s was the only business that don’t sell liquor or payday loans. Now, y’all boys are the only hope for this little town.” The clock tower of the old town hall passes by the window from where David is ducking. “Mr. Jackson could take out a small army from the plain hopelessness he feeds off of in this little town. When people find out y’all boys are alive, it will weaken him, but he will find you, and he will kill you.”
David and Judah take this in for a while. “Doesn’t that mean you’re stronger too?”
“Yaw sir,” Buddy Red says. He grips the steering wheel of his old car tightly, cables of muscle in his arm rippling.
“Can’t you protect us then?”
Buddy Red shakes his head. “Folks don’t miss slavery as much as they miss the glory of the Confederates.” He gestures out the window, and there is a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and the namesake of the town.
“I wish they would take that down,” Judah offers.
“Guess who stopped that happening,” Buddy Red says.
The boys both guess it was Mr. Jackson, but neither say it. They turn off the main street, and down a road lined with huge, beautiful live oak trees. There are lovely, restored antebellum homes all down both sides of the street. Some folks sit on the porches and rock in chairs. Suddenly, Buddy Red and his shabby old car seem dangerously out of place. One man in a rocking chair is even cleaning a gun, and looks up menacingly. Buddy Red seems unsurprised, and ready to make some distance from this neighborhood. His eyes grow heavy and his posture slouches.
“Are you OK?” Judah asks.
“Yaw sir,” Buddy Red says. “This place ain’t too friendly to me.”
They arrive at wherever it is they are going. “Y’all can get up, now,” Buddy Red says.
“Oh!” David says. “This is Thompson College. We came here for field trip.” Another antebellum structure, but huge and built majestically on a hilltop, surrounded by a forest of mostly live-oaks. The road leading in is stately and well-maintained. “What are we doing here?”
“Need to show y’all some history,” Buddy Red says. He looks around to make sure no one is around. They walk up the hill.
“It’s locked!” David says.
Buddy Red closes his eyes and pushes his hand, almost as if through jelly, through the glass of the door. His arm turns a little translucent. On the other side, his fingers turn opaque again, and he works the lock. It opens with a click.
“Wow!” David says. “Ghost powers!”
Inside is now a museum, artifacts displayed with plaques explaining them. Buddy Red leads them to a picture framed on the wall. It is the class of 1861, all the faces are exed out and under it is scribbled in cursive, “Students have all gone to war. College suspended. And God help the Right!” They follow Buddy Red’s Finger, pointing to a photo of a fit, slim, handsome man. They wouldn’t recognize him if it weren’t for the name under, which reads, “Jason Jackson”
apparently there’s this place in Alaska called Whittier and the entire town lives in one building???
#whittier#alaska#whittier alaska#small town #like how?? #also there are only like 250 ppl so i guess it's not super crazy #and there's like only one tunnel out #but it's barely usable and it's just a pain #it reminds me of a dystopia or like a town in a story
[Image Description: Trees in the foreground and a cove to the right with a small pier in the distance and a larger body of water beyond that. To the left is a winding road through grass with a few houses and small farms along it. In the distance are large hills.]
i’m extremely excited to hit the tags tonight! i’ve always wanted to do a rpg set in the beautiful state of arizona, so here it is! fairvalerpg is a new rpg set in the small fictional town of fairvale, arizona!