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Stranger in Town

Inspired by the song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"

By Meredith HarmonPublished about a month ago 7 min read
Cigarettes, jeans, faded memories...

He suddenly showed up in seventh period class. To this day, I don't remember what teacher or what subject, but oh I can tell you every curve of his face, his shadowed cheeks, his dark hair that flopped over one eye and made me want to run my fingers through it.

Typical tall dark stranger. He was a walking cliché, mysterious, alluring. And Susan wanted him bad.

Susan. Yeah, she's a predator. The nice guys in our class, Susan had already broken each and every one. She did that with her toys, and that's all people were to her. The smart ones got nice, smart girlfriends that they stayed glued to, the really smart ones got even smarter girlfriends that they paid all their attention to, and the sneaky ones played dumb to get in Susan's pants. I hung with the ones that smoked out back during lunch, and we openly mocked her to her face as well as behind her back. She didn't care either way, as long as we stayed out of her games.

But I got to make the first move on this one. See, he smoked too, and he'd "forgotten" his pack. So when he joined us at the end of the day and asked to bum one, I didn't hesitate. I had my back to Susan when I gave it to him, and muttered, "Watch out for that one. She will eat you alive and not even notice your carcass when she moves on."

My friends nodded and added their own comments. Dark Stranger just kept looking over my shoulder. I knew she was there; my jacket would have been on fire by her look alone if she'd had her way. "Vampire?" he said half-mockingly - then noticed the look on my face. His gaze flicked to the rest of us, dead serious. "Oh, one of those? Hunh. Do you mind if I seriously mess with her?"

"Sure! Do whatever you-" He reached out, pulled me close, and kissed me. Hard.

I melted. My buddies cheered. And my hair would have been on fire too, if Susan traded her eyes for lasers.


We were inseparable.

I was in heaven. Two whole semesters of the new cute guy all to myself! We hung out everywhere - well, except my house. I avoided "home" as much as possible. I actually slept in my bestie's back yard in good weather to avoid my "father.” I told Barry why, and we spilled our secrets to each other.

I paid for his secrets with sex, but neither of us minded. He was really good, and taught me a few things. That tent out back rocked some nights!

Susan was seething. My friends and I kept close in the halls, because she wasn't above tripping or kicking me, and she wanted to do serious damage. She even tried to spread some quite vicious rumors about me, but everyone knew what she was like at this point. You know those people who peak in high school and fade away? Yeah, that was her. Even her circle of kiss-asses was shocked at what she tried, given that my existence was ignored until I bagged the guy she wanted.

But, see, we knew this was a fantasy, and like dreams, they have an end. We knew how this particular story would be forced to go, so why not force it into something we wanted instead? We plotted, and planned, knowing our enemy was also plotting...

End of the year dance. Timing was crucial, Barry always told me. And using a person's weaknesses, and their strengths, against them. Two birds with one stone. So we'd spread rumors to our friends that things may be breaking up between us, knowing how rumors travel at the speed of light. And I'd very carefully let good ol' Daddy-O know through a well-meaning "friend" that I'd be at the dance, and left a big bottle of doctored Jim Beam "hidden" where I knew he'd find it.

You know those "friends,” that think all families MUST get along, and that all must be forgiven? Yeah, one of those asshats.

Susan was predictable. She was planning on getting knocked up by some poor schlob and accusing Barry publicly of being the baby daddy. Barry and I were very carefully spending all our time monitored - by teachers, by our friends, by my bestie's parents. We even kept a journal of where we were, and with whom. Just in case we got accused. Except, of course, for one period of time, when we had a very private meeting at the local church with the pastor. I don't have much time for religion, but if there is a god, that pastor is a true believer. Cares for anyone who crosses his path like his own kids, including corrections and all for bad behavior.

Sure enough, the dance was packed. Barry and I cuddled on the dance floor and at the tables, but we made sure to look like it was forced. We'd only go to the bathroom with a lot of buddies surrounding either of us. Sure enough, Susan kept trying to get him alone or cut him out of the herd, and the more she tried the more our friends stuck together. It was laughable, and I almost gave it all away by losing it on the dance floor. Barry whispered in my ear, and I turned it into a half-sneer.

By this time most everyone knew something was going to explode, even the most clueless teachers getting stoned in the corner.

When we figured Susan was about to bust with seething jealousy, Barry leaned in and kissed me on the lips. As planned, I pulled back and hauled off and slapped him as hard as I could. We proceeded to have a screaming fit in the middle of the dance floor, much to everyone's delight. Even the ones who knew it was coming - and prevented anyone from interfering! - were pretty impressed with the show.

And, just on cue, the door broke open, and there stood my father. Drunk, stoned, and insane.

I won't tell you what he did to me over the years. You're smart; you can guess. There was a reason I never went home, that's all you need to know. But there in front of everyone he frothed and ranted and told everyone what he'd done to me, what he wanted to continue to do to me, in glorious and disgusting detail.

Barry and I, when we talked to the priest, we'd told him what my sperm donor was really like. He believed me, and talked to a cop buddy of his. Both were in the shadows waiting, and by the time dear old Daddy thought to take a swing at me, they were both there, putting the cuffs on him. I wouldn't even need to testify; he'd said it all right there in front of all those witnesses. The priest already had my diary for extra proof.

By the time he was dragged off, Barry had vanished. So had I. My bestie told me later, said most everyone looked for me to make sure I was all right, but we were already out of town. I appreciated the sentiment though, even if it was too little too late. Where were they when I screamed for help when I was being molested?

See, I'd begged Barry to tell me how to live on the road, from town to town, safely. How to pick the right person, love them and live with them a while, then move on when the local competition lost their mind.

Barry had been heading east, roughly. And he kept going. We'd said our goodbyes before the dance.

I'd gone south.

After talking to the nice admissions people in a school a state away, I showed up in seventh period class. I'd chosen my clothing carefully for the clean-but-kinda-shabby look, and already there were a few boys looking my way.

At lunch I found the smokers, and bummed a light, and asked them who to watch out for.

My sperm donor? Doing forty to sixty upstate for statutory rape multiple counts, destruction of property, terroristic threats, fraud, drugs, the works. My diary proved very useful to the prosecution. Enough in there for them to find other evidence of crap he'd tried to hide from the cops. Including mom's body. I don't know if he killed her, but he didn't report her dead, just missing to collect the social security checks. That's what forensics are for, they can earn their pay on that case.

Susan? Her plan was going to dramatically announce she was pregnant at the dance, and publicly accuse Barry of being the daddy to trap him into marriage. With everyone vouching for his whereabouts at all times - including that priest - she had no leg to stand on. Even the real baby daddy abandoned her, and her rich little daddy's rep was ruined by all the boys who lined up to swear she'd been in bed with them and they all needed to get tested. Susan's dad sent her to a girl's camp for the rest of the year, and then the year after. Not sure what happened to her kid, if she even had one.

So, what's your story? You look as though you'd really like to bum a smoke off of me, and you look like you need a lesson or three in how to leave town. Or how to make the girl you love so jealous of me that she'll love you back.

Got a safe place for me to stay? I have a few ways I can repay you...


About the Creator

Meredith Harmon

Mix equal parts anthropologist, biologist, geologist, and artisan, stir and heat in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, sprinkle with a heaping pile of odd life experiences. Half-baked.

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Comments (1)

  • Harbor Benassaabout a month ago

    Love the twist at the end!

Meredith HarmonWritten by Meredith Harmon

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