Author Topic: Printed in solid gold  (Read 701 times)

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on: 04:48 PM, 03/10/18
Small towns are the most isolated communities of all time and I would be lying if I would say that doesn't scare the hell out of me. Ninety-nine percent of small towns in America could become satan-worshipping, weapon-stockpiling radicals overnight and no one would notice because of how isolated and small they are. So, if you ever want to hear some really weird stories, ask anyone about the small town that they came from because you are sure to get a really weird story.

Talking about worshipping the devil, that was basically my hometown. Everyone in my town knew Tommy and if you wanted to be anyone important or you wanted your life given to you on a platter, you wanted to be friends with Tommy. Tommy gave you everything you wanted for a price and that price was usually doing his homework or something else. Do you know how, in the movies, the popular kids have literally what appears to be hundreds of kids as their friends? Tommy seemed to have thousands and made those movie kids look like chumps. The thing I remember reading in one of my classes is that a person can only really have one-hundred-and-fifty friends and reading that, even hundreds of miles from my hometown, brought back memories of Tommy and his few thousand friends. They made me imagine him having a little black book of friends, which I could really imagine him doing. Tommy Jones was one of the most organized and the most to-the-point person I had ever met. If you wanted Tommy to come at half-past-twelve, he would be there at twenty past and if you said that you wanted to hang out for an hour, you hung out for exactly an hour. No ifs, no buts; an hour was an hour and Tommy's time was very precious. One of my memories was that of sitting in the park with my friends and just seeing Tommy walking up and down the high street around twenty times, visiting people and going into shops. It was pretty insane to watch but he managed to have it, he seemed so superhuman in how he was able to schedule everything.

One of the funnier ones was that of Toby and I am going to talk about Toby because it kind of shows the lengths Tommy went for people. Toby once jokingly asked Tommy if he will send him off to MIT to get the Pirate certificate and Toby, a week later, was on a Greyhound bus to Massachusetts to start his lessons in archery, fencing, pistol shooting, and sailing. For those who don't know, MIT awards official "Pirate Certificates" to students who have completed said courses. Just going to say that Tommy somehow got one of his friends into being a student at MIT simply because of a joke about wanting a pirate certificate. That's how much money Tommy had and how many strings Tommy could pull. Toby came every holiday to talk about how much he loved MIT and how much he loved his courses but he always spent what felt like a day simply praising Tommy and thanking him for paying for him to go to MIT. People started to just call Toby "Pirate" because it just seemed so funny and the name has stuck. However, this has to be the most insane thing about the whole situation because, at eighteen or nineteen, Tommy had enough burnable income to send his friend to one of the highest Universities in the country. I checked, MIT has an eight-percent acceptance rate; eight-percent.

You may be asking how Tommy got his money and you would be the same as the rest of our town. Although his father seemed to have his fingers in every single legal money-making idea that could be possible and it seemed that he worked at almost superhuman levels to keep himself afloat, considering that he seemed to have a different Lamborghini for each day of the week. Theories stemmed from being an oil baron (in the middle of Kansas), to being a banker, to be a stockbroker, to be a major lawyer, and even to being a drug dealer. Despite the fact that his mansion had never been raided by the DEA, he seemed too friendly and too nice to be a drug dealer. Tommy's father donated to charities, to schools, went to church, helped veterans, funded local businesses, and many people tell stories of seeing him hand over almost small fortunes to homeless people on the street. Hell, even my old high school has a "Brad Jones science lab" which is a top-of-the-line science lab that makes the rest of the school look like an archaic museum. So, lots of people think that Tommy gets his money from his dad but no one could really have that much money, it would almost be impossible to have that much money if you were getting a dollar a day off of everyone in the world.

I could try my best to document the best stories of Tommy but I think that would ruin the history of my town. What do people say? That only victors write the history books. Well, in this sense, the survivor is going to write what really happened and I don't want to sit here and write about how much Tommy was a good guy. He really wasn't. So, to get it off my chest, I am going to rant about Tommy for a little bit. He was a goddamn psychopath with so much money that he was able to buy people off into being his loyal cult members, pay people to be too friendly to just be friends. He was like Bruce Wayne if instead of Batman, he became some kind of serial killer. Tommy isn't a serial killer by any means but he had every single aspect that a serial killer would have except a body count.

When I was too young to understand, I did want to be Tommy’s friend. I was six-ish or seven and I always noticed how his friends always got the good birthday presents, he even got a kid a top-of-the-line TV for his room (I think the dad sold it for beer money). So like any kid who wanted a TV, I wanted to be the guy’s friend. My parents called me selfish but my friends egged me on and so I tried it. I walked up to Tommy and struck up a conversation about his Gameboy (which had a weird custom paint job, looked like Roger Rabbit), asking him what he was playing. The only thing I remember about that conversation is Tommy’s eyes, which I would catch quick glimpses of when I remembered that you were meant to look people in the eye when you were speaking to them. Tommy’s eyes didn’t really move. When people speak, they move their eyelids around and their pupils dilate or even just slightly move, it’s how people are. Tommy’s didn’t, they were simply fixed and they looked almost painted on. An intrusive thought told me to poke the eyeball and see if it was wooden and luckily, I didn’t go through with that plan.

Luckily, we managed to reach the end of the conversation without me poking him in the eye or anything else that would land me in prison. However, he did invite me to his house after the end of school and looking back at it, I find it rather strange that he would bother to do that. How long were you friends with someone until you invited them to your house? Usually, it is a month or even more than that. Maybe I am a little bit secretive but I can't imagine inviting someone around the very day you met them. I accepted it though because I was young and stupid, so after school, I followed him to his house.

We met up with his group of friends afterward and they were the strangest group of people. Usually, there is a connection between friends that you can easily see. All the nerds hang around together, all the jocks hang around together, and that is the kind of thing that happens with everyone but Tommy's friends were all over the place. There was three of them and there was a massive jock who seemed to blot out the sun, a kid wearing a muscle vest who had no muscles, and a thick-spectacle-wearing nerd that I always remembered answering every question in class. We all walked to the end of town, letting all the liquor stores and corner stores fade over our shoulders until we were surrounded by crop fields and in the distance, a large white monolith to the Jones family.

The Jones family house was one of the richest family I had ever known and their house displayed that in a strangely wonderful way. I say strange but I should mean extravagant but not wasteful, they were showing their wealth in the greatest way possible; practically. While their nick-nacks and paintings were in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, their appliances and necessities cost way more than those nick-nacks. For example, Tommy showed off a katana that was in his living room and he wielded it around whilst talking about its price and where it was from. Was it a Shin Gunto? I think it was but anyway, apparently it was a Japanese officer's sword from World War 2, Tommy said it cost almost over a thousand dollars and he wielded it around like it was a toy. He even pressed it against the muscular kid's shirt. After he eventually put it away, we went into the kitchen for some snacks and I saw his fridge. Although the fridge may seem like an odd thing to notice, it should be said that his fridge was the size of a master bedroom and looked like something you would find in a butcher's shop. Every kind of drink, meat, and food was being cooled to a calculated degree. It must have cost thousands but Tommy didn't care about that, he simply snatched up a few ice cold drinks and gave them to us.

I had never had red coke before, the kind that my mom would call "full fat" and to me, it tasted almost heavenly. As the large kid pressed the coke against his chest, Tommy started to talk about how people always want things and he really hated people who were simply his friends for his money. The nerd unconsciously grinned at hearing the possibility of having something and I have to admit, I was thinking about all the things that I could possibly get. I really wanted a comic I think that I saw in the shop but the comic guy wouldn't sell it to me, saying that The Shadow wasn't for kids. Although I have to admit, even for a comic printed in solid gold, I wouldn't have followed Tommy down his dark path.

After a peculiarly long speech about how we were his real friends and he would do anything for us (strange because I had only met him that very day), he asked us what we really wanted in life and by that he meant, what we wanted right now. The large muscular kid said that he wanted some weight-lifting thing that he saw on TV, meant to make you look like Arnold in his prime, and it cost almost a grand, muscle vest kid wanted some TV for his room, one of the biggest available at the time, and the nerd wanted a statue of Boba Fett. After a few chuckles had died down at the nerd kid's expense, Tommy asked me what I wanted and I really didn't know. I mean, I did. I wanted the SNES with that really cool custom TMNT painting I had seen in a magazine but it felt weird to say that I wanted that, it felt really materialistic. Quickly, I remembered what my mom used to say if she won the lottery and that was to put me into Benedictine College, one of the best colleges in the whole state. So for my mother, I said that, said that I wanted to have money to go to college. Tommy seemed to grin at this and only later did I really think about it. Muscle kid's gift was about a grant, Muscle Vest's was even cheaper than that, and I still don't know how much a Boba Fett statue is but I am going to guess it is less expensive than a few years in college. Something about the price made Tommy smile and remembering that smile makes me nervous, it still makes me wake up at night. I have to admit, even now, I still see that smile in my dreams and even without the rest of his face, that smile makes me wake up in sweats.

Tommy grinned his grin and he started to talk about games, completely making the last conversation disappear into the back of my mind as he talked about Monopoly and Grand Theft Auto and games like that.

Tommy seemed to be able to hypnotize people with his words because before I knew it, we were wandering towards a peculiar door underneath the stairs. I say peculiar because it was blue whilst the rest of the doors in the house were white but despite the massive colour difference between the wooden slabs with handles, the basement door seemed to fit in the wall too well. You could walk by that door a thousand times and still not see it unless you hit the handle with your elbow or were actively searching for the basement. So, in the midst of a conversation about stealing helicopters and shooting at pedestrians, we were all standing by the basement door before I even realized we had moved and the only thing that snapped me out of it was the heavy, click thud of the door handle turning. The basement was surprisingly well-lit and well-cleaned, the concrete was surprisingly spotless. Tommy quickly walked into the basement and the rest of his posse quickly followed him down into the surprisingly, sweet-smelling cellar. It smelled like clean chlorine and pines, like a lovely pool surrounded by a forest. I could hear giggling coming from the basement and I quickly followed them through the door and down the crystal-perfect stairs.

When I reached the bottom, I turned and saw them surrounding a dog cage. Inside, there was a beautifully-groomed and visually well-fed German Shepherd and I recognized it immediately. It was the dog that was plastered all over town, flyers, and posters that blanketed every tree, telephone pole, and wall. It had been missing for a whole two weeks and it had been in Tommy's basement the entire time. As I looked towards the dog cage, I remembered the name of the poor dog. It was Al. The poster even mentioned how he would respond with a smile to "Al the pal" but the dog in the cage wasn't really smiling, it was trying to back away from the people surrounding the cage but they were surrounding it and it couldn't back off to any corner of the cage.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I said. I know I didn't sound strong or resilient, I just sounded like I was confused but I don't remember being confused. I just remember feeling a pit of dread that grew like stones in my stomach.

Tommy ignored me and slowly slid the cage door bolt away from the door, the door drifted open and the dog quickly shot to the back of the cage, cowering and shaking at the simple sight of Tommy. Surrounding the cage was the same collection of shit you would see in any basement, boxes and boxes of useless family heirloom crap, tool, and sports equipment. In the hands of the muscled kid, there was a baseball bat and in the hands of the nerd, a rusty hammer. Muscle Vest was searching through the boxes, trying to find his own tool to do whatever he was about to do.

I repeated myself, trying my best to make myself loud.

Tommy simply told me that all I wanted to get was in the basement and if I wanted it, I would have to get in on this. In his outstretched hand was DeWalt nail gun, offering it to me. That type of DeWalt nail gun was one that I used later in life and I could remember the power of it, it could punch a nail through three two-by-fours and I remember hearing horror stories about it destroying peoples' hand.

I ran out of that house as fast as I could. I don't really remember that much from it. In my memory, one second I was in the house and the next I was booking it down the road and the next I was bursting through my front door, almost collapsing onto the shaggy, green carpet. I don't know if adrenaline fucks with your memory but something about that day caused me to drop twenty minutes from my memory forever but even if there was a way to remember it, I would not spend a single cent on remembering those things. God knows what lurks behind those black spots in my memory.

I escaped that town later on in life but Facebook always reminds me of my hometown and all my friends they are still there. The amount of missing pets posts I see every week...