This is my one shot for a challenge! Hope you all like and feel free to comment :) Thanks a bunch!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Brea stares at Vanessa as though she said the most ridiculous crap she has ever heard. “Nessa, you better be playing with me. Christian? You’re seeing Psycho Chris?”
Vanessa squint her eyes, “Don’t call him that.”
“Well it’s true! Do you not recall his ‘emo punk’ looking ass walking around like Lurch back in high school? All black everything and not in a flattering way…” Brea leans back in her seat and takes a sip of her sweet tea.
Vanessa sucks her teeth and pushes her waist- length dreads to the side. “Christian was not like that… I can’t believe you would feed into all that bull…” she grumbles as she swirls her ice cubes with her straw.
Brea puts down her drink and patiently waits as a few people walk by their patio seating before speaking. “Vanessa, it ain’t bull. That dude is messed up. Didn’t you hear that he had to move down here to live with his uncle because his parents were in a cult… not that the uncle was much better…” Brea continues when she spots her friend’s skeptical glare, “Not only that, I heard that he was hospitalized for trying to kill himself. And you know what’s more, Michelle says that he dabbles in a little bit of the dark arts. He even got away with murder… Now what you think about that?” she asks, fluffing out her fro-hawk before taking another sip of her beverage.
Vanessa watches as the light from the sun dance on the surface of her water. “They’re all rumors.”
Brea sucks her teeth, “Fine. You don’t have to believe. But don’t come crying to me when you find that I was right.” Brea watches her friend for a response. She crosses her arms and frowns, “What the heck is wrong with you? You got all of these fine brothers’ noses wide open and you’d rather mess with that crazy white boy?!” Brea turns to her left and looks across the street, “Take Exhibit A. That man has been trying to change that flat for a good minute, but he is so distracted by you, he can’t seem to get the job done. I mean, ole boy has been staring hard.”
Vanessa glances over to her right, and sure enough, a handsome Boris Kodjoe lookalike was on bended knees with a tire rod. He tilts his head up, giving her an inaudible “what’s up”. Vanessa gives a small wave in return before giving her attention back to Brea.
“See what I’m talking about?!”
“Look. Who I date is my business, Bre. If I want to see a white boy, then I’ll see a white boy. Christian is nice and he treats me good.”
Brea’s mouth twists, “He’s ‘nice’ and he ‘treats you good’? Exactly how long have you been seeing this joker?”
Red tints Vanessa’s espresso brown skin, “About eight months…”
Brea’s southern accent thickens, “EIGHT MONTHS?! And you ain’t said a word to me?!” Brea’s hollering attracts the attention of a few other Peach Tree Cafe patrons. “That’s cold V… Real cold.”
Vanessa shakes her head, “No need for the dramatics.”
“Ain’t nobody being dramatic, Vanessa. I’m your best friend. I’ve been knowing since we were like eight years old, around 20 years. And then you have the nerve to act like I shouldn’t be upset when you spring this on me.”
Vanessa stares at the hurt expression on her friend’s face, “I’m sorry, Bre. I just didn’t tell you because I knew you would wild out.”
Brea plays with her gold hoop earring, her head nodding slightly, “I know that, but dang! What else aren’t you telling me? Did y’all get busy? Did you spend the night at his house?”
Vanessa looks down, “None of that happened, but he did come over to my place…”
Brea’s eyes widen, “What the freak was he doing over there?!” Once again, her twangy shout attracts attention. “You know what? Never mind that. Where did you meet him? You better not say it was in the backwoods of Georgia around a bon fire with people chanting.”
Vanessa rolls her eyes and adjusts the silver bangles on her arm, “I met him when he came to my store.”
“And what exactly was his butt doing in a women’s boutique?”
Vanessa wrinkles her nose and tilts her head forward, “Bre, for real?”
“Alright, go on.”
“Thank you,” Vanessa straightens up. “Well, as I was saying, he came into my shop when a co-worker of his referred it to him. He said that he was looking for a gift to give a retiring department head.”
“And where does he work?”
“He’s a Technology Instructor over at Georgia State. He teaches some programming course.”
Brea nods and responds, “I can see that. Continue.”
“Anyway, I showed him a scarf and when we started talking, I could not help but get that familiar feeling. It doesn’t click that he’s Christian until he hands me his debit card.” Vanessa takes a taste of her water, “I felt so bad that I barely remembered him! We did have Computer Technology together after all… We were classroom buddies… We even studied together.”
Brea frowns when she sees a small grin lights up Vanessa’s face, “Mmmkay. What happened next?”
Vanessa shrugs, “Well he invites me out for coffee and we exchange business cards. And the rest is history.”
“How romantic… Why didn’t he just take you to the bar like other guys would? I mean that way, instead of hit you over the head like a caveman; he just gets you hammered so y’all can live happily ever after.” Vanessa cuts her eyes at the remark, “Just kidding. But seriously, you would have to get super wasted to like a mug like his.”
“Um, Vanessa?” Both women look up when they hear a masculine voice with a slight Brooklyn accent. Brea’s mouth drops when she sees hazel eyes staring down at them. He smiles warmly at the gawking friend. “Hi. I’m Christian DeMount,” the 6’2’’ man sticks out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Miss…”
“Brea Anderson,” she says smoothly as she takes his hand to shake. She glances over at Vanessa to see that she wore a hint of a smirk on her lips.
“Brea Anderson? You went to school with me and Vanessa, right?”
“Um, yeeeah,” she responds flatly. She slides her hand from his.
The bearded man rubs his chin, “I remember you. We had Algebra II together.”
“What a pity, I don’t recall ever taking a class with you…”
There is a moment of silence before Christian starts up again. “Yeah… you used to come into class late all of the time. Mr. Lisp even slammed the door in your face when you started mouthing off…” Vanessa looks as though she is about to bust out laughing.
Although Brea’s mouth curves into a smile, her eyes were throwing daggers his way. “Yes. It seems that I am unforgettable; unlike some people…”
Christian smiles warmly and nods, “It was good seeing you again.” He turns to Vanessa, “Are you ready to go? The show starts in like an hour but it’ll take us a while to get there.”
Vanessa nods and takes his out reached hand. He lifts her into a stand. “See ya later Bre.”
“See ya girl. And remember what we discussed!”
“Okay Christian. You’re movie privileges are officially suspended,” Vanessa chuckles as she and her date leave the theatre. She looks over at the man how rubbed his head in confusion before stuffing them back into his jean pockets.
“The previews made it seem like there was at least a story to it all… I swear the trailers did not portray the amount of Elvish sex we just saw…”
Vanessa leans into him and laughs into his arm. “Chris, didn’t you read the reviews? Didn’t you see all those low ratings?”
He blushes, “No… I didn’t want to see spoilers…” He turns a deeper shade of red, “Must you laugh that hard? Is it really that funny?”
Vanessa wipes a tear from her eye, “Yes, yes it is. I mean, the story had holes, the computer FX were mediocre at best, and to top it off, the two elves were doing it on top of a flying dragon! Ridiculous! It added absolutely nothing to the story.”
A smile cracks through Christian’s embarrassment, “It was a sucky movie, wasn’t it. Did you see the look that guy in front of us gave you when you busted out laughing?”
“Oh my gosh, yes! Not only that, but he had the nerve to start arguing with me! I mean, Ordial was supposed to be this powerful, High Elf. But you mean to tell me he couldn’t even prevent a lowly troll from clubbing him over the head and stealing his ‘essence’ so that they can have mutant troll-elf babies?! Blows my mind…”
“Good thing it was only the three of us. You would have disrupted the whole room!”
“It’s even better that we didn’t waste three hours of our time on that mess. But it is a shame we had to spend $22 just to see that it…”
Christian stares down at Vanessa before taking her into his arms and kissing the top of her head. “Do you want to eat something?” She looks down coyly and shakes her head. “Then, you want to go home…”
Vanessa looks up when she hears a hint of disappointment in his tone. “I didn’t say that…” She plays with her stud earring. “…How about we watch a movie?”
She stops when he does. “You want to go back inside? I don’t mind, but the next movie doesn’t—"
“No,” she grabs his arm. “I mean, maybe we can watch one… at your place…” She looks down at her boots when their eyes meet. “I mean, we don’t have to… We can just go eat, if you want …”
The two stand in the parking lot, neither one of them saying a word. A car drives past the couple, the smooth music of R&B spilling from its windows. “That sound like a nice idea,” he finally says. His voice is soft, “I mean, I don’t have any current flicks or anything, but it would be nice to just chill with you.”
Vanessa lifts her eyes, a shy grin surfacing her face as he opens the passenger door. She looks at the darkening sky when she hears rolling thunder in the distance and bashfully scurries her way past him, taking her seat as she thanks him for holding her door. Her smile widens when he slides into the driver’s seat. “What are you cheesing for?” he asks, his own lips curving upward at the ends.
Vanessa shakes her head, “Nothing. I’m just excited is all.”
Vanessa stares out of the window with her hands folded in her lap. She chews on her bottom lip and glances over at Christian before looking back outside. Both are silent, the sound of windshield wipers and soft rock music is heard. Christian places a hand on hers, “Are you nervous?”
She shakes her head, “I already told you. I’m excited.”
“And why is that?”
She grins, “Because I’ve been kinda looking forward to this.”
Christian raises an eyebrow, “Really?”
Vanessa blushes, “Um, well, I mean… It’s like your opening up to me. You’re letting me in… It takes a lot for people to do that.”
Christian licks his lips while turning the steering wheel to the left. “So um…” he starts hesitantly, “Did it take a lot for you to let me in?” He glances over at Vanessa when she gives a little laugh.
“Yeah. I guess you can say that. Well, for me, knowing where someone lives in itself is a bit personal. But to actually let someone into your home, that’s a form of intimacy, ya know?”
Christian straightens his shoulders and clears his throat. He turns the wheel once again, this time to the right. “Well, if it means anything, I wanted you to come over the day I met you at your store.”
Vanessa raises her eyebrows, her words coming out as an amused chuckle, “Oh really?”
Christian sighs, “Not like that!” The slight frown he wore on his face slowly transforms into a mischievous grin, “Well, maybe it was kinda like that…”
He cracks up when she delivers light punches to his arm. “Alright, alright! Uncle! Uncle!”
“You dang right, Uncle!” Vanessa leans back in her seat and runs a hand through her locks. She looks around when the car suddenly creeps to a slow. “What’s going on?”
Vanessa’s jaw hangs open when she sees the beautiful two story brick home. She stares at the arched windows as they roll past the house and into the 2 door garage. Vanessa’s leg bounces up and down when he parks the car. Christian turns to her “So, you ready to go inside?”
Vanessa blinks at him, “Um sure,” she stammers. “That sounds nice.”
Christian gives her a small comforting grin before grabbing her hand and kissing it. “If you feel uncomfortable, I can take you home.”
“No, I’m cool.”
“Good! Let’s go!”
Upon entering the five bedroom house, Christian gives Vanessa a quick tour showing her the den, kitchen, bathroom, and living room. “Now, for my favorite room.”
“Don’t tell me it’s the bedroom…”
“What? No, it’s my study.” He pushes open the door, “Voila!”
She raises her eyebrows. “Wow…” Vanessa walks into the room. She stares at the shelves full of books, cd, cassettes, and vinyl records. “Pretty old school, aren’t we?” she asks pointing at his floppy disk collection. “I don’t think they make computers with floppy drives anymore.”
Christian crosses his arms and strolls over to Vanessa, his head nodding in agreement, “No, they don’t. But the computer I built myself does.”
She turns around, “You build your own computer?” He smiles and nods “That’s wild.”
“Thanks. C’mon, I’ll show you.” He grabs a disk off the shelf, “This is one of my favorite games.”
“Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender? My big brother used to play that!”
“So you already know what’s up,” he comments, pushing the floppy in.
They watch as the game boots on. “I always wanted to play, but my brother wouldn’t let me. He said it was for boys only.”
“And rightfully so. This game has quite a bit of T&A.” He moves out of his seat, “Here, come play.”
Christian laughs when Vanessa’s character dies with every move she makes. “I promise this game seemed fun when my brother was playing…” She takes her hand off of the mouse and swivels in her chair to see Christian staring at her. Vanessa smiles, “What is it?”
“I was just thinking about how beautiful you are.” Vanessa blushes when she hears his rugged tone. When she looks down, Christian lifts her chin. After another low rumble of thunder sounds, he leans in and kisses her full, plump mouth. With one hand he holds the back of her neck, pulling her deeper into the kiss while the other rubs up and down her thigh. Reluctantly, he pulls away and looks at Vanessa, who still had her eyes closed. “I guess we better get a movie started.”
Vanessa slowly opens her eyes as her fingers touch her lips, “Yeah, I guess so.”
Christian stands up, “Make yourself at home. The movies are in the den if you want to pick one out.” She nods and follows him out of the room. “I’m going to get some snacks ready. Be sure to pick something good.”
Vanessa walks down the stairs that leads to the den. She smiles when she sees shelves full of DVDs and VHSs. “...Old school,” she chuckles. She traces a finger over each title before picking up a tape to read the back of the box. “Crap!” she shouts when the tape falls out of the sleeve. She drops to her hands and knees after accidently kicking the tape under the furniture.
“Everything alright down there?”
“Yeah, it’s good!” She looks under the entertainment center and grabs the VHS. She is about to stand until she saw another black object. Vanessa reaches for the item and pulls it out. She blows the dust off the label-less VHS. She plays with the tape, rotating it between her palms.
“Did you find anything?”
“Um… I don’t know. Not yet,” she responds, her eyes frowning at the mysterious VHS. Slowly, Vanessa walks to the television and turns on the VCR/DVD player. She changes the channel to station 3 and pops in the movie. She stares at the black screen. “Not working…” She is about to press the eject button when all of a sudden, she hears sound coming from the TV. She leans in closer when she hears what sounds like a music box playing and then turns up the volume when she hears a female voice singing.
“Kind meines Lebens, Ich liebe dich, du bist schön, mein einziger Sohn.“ Vanessa moves closer to the speaker. “Do you know what that means, Christian? It means I love you very much, my little boy. You are so precious to me.” Vanessa cracks a smile when she hears the laughter of a child followed by the sound of kisses. “Mein liebes kind... what do you want to do? Do you want me to read you a story?”
“Yessh.” Vanessa smiles at the way the boy pronounce yes, her mouth repeating his speech.
“Alright. Was sollte ich lesen?”
“Ah, Corduroy. Okay. Let’s see…”
Vanessa listens to swishing movements of the camera. She sits in silence, listening to their banter, when, all of a sudden, “Marion!” Vanessa jumps when she hears thumping and clashing on the video tape. “Marion!” Vanessa scrambles to the television to turn down the volume. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Vanessa covers her ears when she hears a slap and then the cries of a woman and her child.
“Christian, stay over there Sweetie.”
“Daddy, leave Mommy alone! Leave her alone—oof!”
Vanessa’s hands ball into fists when she hears the little boy heart wrenching screams. Tears well up in her eyes when she hears more hitting. She closes her eyes as the mother pleas with the man to stop hurting Christian.
“My father was a real bastard.” Vanessa’s eyes flip open and she whirls around. Her eyes widen. “Christian… I’m sorry.” She watches as he places down the bowl of chips and heads over to the TV. He turns it off, shutting up the screams that spill through the speakers. Vanessa places a hand on Christian’s shoulder before going in for a hug; however, the embrace is brief because he breaks away. Her brown eyes watch as he takes a seat on the leather couch. “Christian—“
“Where did you find that tape?”
Vanessa looks over the shelves of movies and points, “I found it under there. I dropped a tape and went to pick it up…” She looks over at him. “Christian, what happened?”
The man massages the bridge of his nose with his thumb, middle and index finger. “Vanessa, I rather not talk about it.”
She shakes her head, “But, all the stuff I heard. The screaming… the hitting. I can’t ignore that…” She waits for a response, “Christian tell me.” Still no answer. “Christian please…”
“Fine!” he shouts, slamming his fists into his lap. He wipes his reddening nose. Frowning, Christian points at the television, “What you just heard on that tape, it was a part of a ritual.”
Vanessa looks confused, “Ritual?”
“Yes, a ritual,” he lifts himself out of his seat and slowly approaches Vanessa. “You see, every night, when my father came home from work, he would go straight to the bar. It got so bad that Ma took me to my room just so that I wouldn’t see him drink. At first, he would just sit and watch TV with his scotch, but then he decided that he needed to do more than that.” He stops in front of the fidgety woman, “He decided that he would use Ma as a punching bag. He couldn’t just drown his disappointments and frustrations with liquor. He had to abuse his wife to express how unhappy he was. He would do this every night. I can barely remember a time when my mom wasn’t crying,” Christian pauses. “She tried her best to protect me. She tried to build a world free from the violence… That’s why I looked forward to Saturdays and Sundays.” He smiles, “Those were the days Ma and I would build pillow forts, read, draw, and make movies. Dad was usually out of town during the weekends. He said that he had business trips. But now that I’m older…” Christian shakes his head, “Anyway, the weekends belonged to us. It caught us off guard when he came in unexpectedly. The stench of alcohol was strong that night. …Poor bastard must have driven home drunk.”
Vanessa blinks. She looks down at her trembling hands before speaking up, “Was this the first time he hit you?”
“I don’t know,” he responds with a shrug.
“Chris,” Vanessa clears her throat, “why do you keep it? Why do you still have this tape?”
Once again, Christian shrugs, “I got it for a lot of reasons. But the main one is so that I can remember.”
“What… What do you want to remember?”
He turns away, “I don’t know. Not to be like my father. Not to be the deviant coward he was. I want to remember that I was once loved. I want to remember my mom. The sound of her voice…” Christian breaths out a small laugh, “You know, I never learned German. I mean I tried, but then I gave up.”
Vanessa looks downward and rubs her arm, “Why?”
He looks over his shoulder at Vanessa. When she sees the hurt on his face, she tries to retract her question, telling him that it was okay if he didn’t tell her. Christian simply shakes his head and turns around. “The reason I stopped is because my father took away the only person I’d speak it to. He killed her…”
“And you want to know what’s more, this is the only thing that I have with her. Before he murdered her, he burned all our family pictures and home videos. He tried to barbeque everything, but I managed to save this tape.” He smiles bitterly, water gathering in his eyes. “You know, my father said that doing all of that showed loyalty to his goddess, whoever or whatever the hell she is… He’s a sick fuck. He deserves to rot in hell...” Christian wipes his eyes and clears his throat when he sees Vanessa watching him. “Yeah…um. That’s all. I moved in with my Uncle and made a life down here. That’s my story, in case you were wondering... in case you wanted to know about…”
“In case I wanted to know what?”
Christian looks into her searching brown eyes, “I know what people said about me back in school. They called me a killer, psycho, cultist… I even heard it from your friend’s mouth.” He looks away, “Honestly, I could give a damn what they say, much less think, about me. But you…”
Vanessa’s eyebrows furrow, “Hey, I don’t listen to vicious lies and rumors. If I did, do you think I’d be in your house? Do you think I would have let you into my little home or life at that?” She steps forward, “I wanted to know more about you. I wanted to get closer to you, cause I like you… I more than like you.” She grabs his left hand, “And everything that happened tonight doesn’t change the way I feel about you. You aren’t your father. You will never be him. You’re kind hearted, smart, and funny. You are Christian. You are you… and I am in love with you.” Vanessa’s bottom lip quivers, “I love you Christian and you don’t need a tape to remind you of that.” She brings his hand to her cheek, “I want to be with you. And…I wasn’t going to say this at the risk of scaring you off, but I think about one day having a future with you. I even told my mama about you, so I am serious about this relationship.”
Christian swallows, his Adams’s apple bobbing up and down. “I’m… I’m serious, too,” he manages.
Vanessa’s eyes cast downward, “So you understand why you would have to get rid of this tape if we were to go any further, right?”
Christian nods hesitantly, “I do.”
“And I’m not saying that you have to do it now, because there are some things that need addressing, and I will help you. I will be there for you. However, the thing is, you are holding on to a very painful and traumatizing memory. And if we are going to move forward, I can’t have you physically looking back at this… We can’t have this damaging roadblock in the way… Does that make since?” Once again he nods. “All the memory you need is in here,” she says placing a hand on his heart, “do you understand?”
“Yes.” He watches as Vanessa wipes her nose and walks away, “So, I’m guessing you want to go home…”
She shakes her head, “Boy, why do you keep saying that? Do you want me to go home?” He shakes his head, “Good because I want to watch a movie.” She pulls a VHS off the shelf, “How does Bebe’s Kids sound?” Without waiting for a response, Vanessa ejects the other tape before putting the cartoon in. “Get over here and sit with me. I need some warmth.” Christian breaks into a smile when she tries to put on a sexy pout.
The couple laugh as Robin Harris spent his time running after Bebe’s bad ass kids. They laugh at all the trouble they get into and damage they cause to the amusement park. Before the movie is over, Vanessa is fast asleep in Christian’s arms. He calls out to her but she just responds with a snore. Seeing that she is in a deep slumber, Christian eases himself out of the seat and heads over to the TV. He is about to turn off the movie when he sees the nameless tape laying on the television. He stares at it for a minute or two before grabbing it. He heads upstairs to the kitchen’s garbage can. He opens the flap of the VHS and unravels the black tape before shredding it into pieces. Christian steps on the trashcan pedal thus popping open the lid, and throws the tape in. He breaths a light sigh and turns to go downstairs to be with his lady.