We both had agreed that becoming a big brother seemed excellent on paper. Most good ideas do, for that matter. Ghoul wanted to please and assist the community of Knowlton as much as he possibly could. When Guy Stone reached out to us saying that he had a way for Ghoul to do just that, he jumped at this opportunity without question.
I just didn’t expect for Ghoul to be baited-and-switched by one of the State Police’s finest.
“I didn’t even think the program still existed,” I said as we pulled into the barracks.
“Me neither,” he said. “Oh look, that must be little Timmy right there.”
The fact that Sergeant Stone was waiting outside with a shackled youth should’ve been enough of a red flag for both of us.
“Where is Guy going?” I asked.
He ran back inside after removing the shackles and never once looked back. My breath hung in the chilled afternoon air as I hopped out from the passenger side. Something about this didn’t feel right. There was nothing little about Timmy, nor was there any professionalism in the ink that covered his arms, face, and neck.
“Heya sport! You must be little Timmy. Nice to meet you,” said Ghoul as he offered a gloved hand that was never received.
“It’s Lil Tim, asshole. Let’s bounce, I gots to go get my bae,” he ordered.
“What’s a bae?” Ghoul whispers.
“I have no idea. Maybe it is something at the dry cleaners? Like a suit?”
“Oh, makes sense,” Lil Tim shoved pass Ghoul and made for the passenger side. “Wanna go see a movie afterwards? Or maybe get something to eat?”
“Man, didn’t you hear a word I said? Let’s bounce.”
I squeezed in the back seat and sat on Ghoul’s side. Lil Tim reclined back enough so that I was almost eye level to him.
“Those are nice tear drop tattoos. What do they mean?”
I wasn’t fond of Lil Tim and I knew this was going south, quick.
“What’s with all the questions? Drive, fool.”
“How about a little more respect,” I said.
“How about I jack-you-up and add another drop?”
We drove in silence. It was suffocating and I could feel my nerves question the very existence of life and all the existential queries that went along with it. Why are we here? Who is God and is there even one to begin with? What happens when we die?
And what the hell is a ‘Bae’?
Lil Tim began to suddenly laugh. It was more of a chortle that reminded me of the Hyena’s from the Lion King. Dry, wheezy and ultimately antagonistic.
“Yo homes, what’s that shit on your face?” He pokes Ghoul on his cheek a few times and then rubbed the putrefied goop that stuck to his finger on Ghoul’s coat. “That shit is nasty, yo.”
“I wouldn’t do that. Could be contagious,” I add.
“Did I ask you, boy? No, I didn’t.”
Whenever Ghoul became upset his head would quiver side-to-side like a bobble head. I just hoped that it stayed on his neck this time.
“How about some music?”
He was doing his best to stay positive while avoiding Lil Tim’s provoking. I just don’t know how long it would last. His thumbs turned on the dial to his preset and Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter played.
“What is this shit, man?” Lil Tim switched over to a rap station playing an offensive beat of vulgarity that I knew would not stand.
“Rule number one: Don’t touch my radio,” he said
“Or what? You gonna get that pussy po-po on me? You ain’t ‘doin shit, yo.”
Ghoul’s hand was slapped away when he tried to change it back. The bass thumped behind my head and I felt a migraine creeping-on.
“Sam, do it.”
“Are you sure? I thought you said you never wanted help to—
“I said do it!”
I pulled out the emergency roadside kit from underneath Ghoul’s seat and took out the syringe. Lil Tim was luckily too engrossed in his abhorrent tunes to realize what was happening. I jabbed it into his neck as hard as I could and thumbed down the plunger. Lil Tim was out cold.
“What now?” I asked.
Ghoul pulled over and slammed the door behind him. His fist slammed on the hood and he yelled other-worldly obscenities to passersby.
“Look, I’m sorry,” he was composed and behind the wheel once more. “I will never ask that of you again but I will not stand for aggression towards the ‘Zep. Not ever.”
His eyes! I’ve never seen such rage in those ghastly, decomposed orbs of milky, dilapidated mush.
“But what are we going to do about Lil Tim?”
“I’ll take care of it.”
He pulled up Guy Stone on speaker phone.
“Hey it’s Ghoul,”
“I am not picking him up. He’s your problem now.”
“So you don’t care that he fell into the ice while we were ice skating at Knowlton Lake and is probably dead from hypothermia?”
“I am going to ignore that until tonight. By then, it’ll be too frigid to safely perform a search and we’ll assume that the deep waters took him.”
“No, thank you.”
I still don’t understand what a ‘Bae’ is to this day.