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From Inside the Flap
Daryl Lawson sat in a booth at the neighborhood's fast food restaurant, giving his problem some thought as he absent-mindedly shoved the straw of his strawberry milkshake up and down in the cup. It wasn't his fault that no female was willing to give him what he wanted more than anything else - a chance to discover his inner sexual self. He was only human, for crying out loud. His body ached, yearning to experience something that the rest of the world took for granted. How was he supposed to compete with all the other sexually active males in the world when he couldn't even get to first base? Every time he tried, whatever fair young maiden he was with fled from him in fear and loathing. There wasn't anything so terrible about him. Why did they always run away in terror?
Besides, it's not as if he knew exactly what was going to happen. So far, his little problem hadn't done him any real harm. It was only reasonable to assume that it never would. He was willing to go the extra few yards to find out for sure. Why couldn't the women he went out with? He was honest - at least for the most part. And he could be trusted. More than a few of the women had commented that he had a nice face. Couldn't they see that there was nothing menacing behind his eyes? Couldn't they see the truth - that he wasn't trying to hurt anyone? He was simply looking for a partner who could lead him on that last voyage of discovery.
A partner who'd have sex with him.
The setting didn't have to be anything fancy. Any place would do. Some out-of-the-way spot where they could enjoy a little privacy - the back seat of a car, or a secluded area among some trees or shrubs. Anywhere where he could have a precious half-hour or so of some willing female's time. It wasn't an unreasonable request. What was a thirty or forty-five minute period of time? Especially when you considered the overall numbers that made up one person's life. In the span of seventy or so odd years, it added up to a trifle - a miniscule amount.
He paused in his deliberation and scanned the restaurant full of patrons. At least half were of the female persuasion.
Why? he thought. Considering the tiny amount of time involved, why did the women he'd been with treat it as if it was so important? Why did they act as though he was asking them for the key to Fort Knox or the secret of the Holy Grail?
It was just sex, for crying out loud. What was the big deal?
Frowning back down at his milkshake, he realized with a heavy heart that he couldn't answer that question honestly. He'd never had any experience with it, so maybe it was a big deal. It could be that he'd received some misinformation. Maybe the porn films and magazines showed only one aspect of the experience. From the way his peers talked in the bars and classrooms, it didn't sound so important. A mere physical act that almost everyone over the age of sixteen participated in (at least, that's what he'd heard). The "natural perpetuation of the species" one drunken buddy had called it as he laughed boisterously over his Tequila Gold. The man followed the comment with a couple of nudges and a wink, so his meaning was still a mystery to Daryl. The sad truth was that someone who'd gone sailing couldn't adequately explain that experience to someone who hadn't.
Eventually you had to get into a boat and try it for yourself.
Daryl sighed heavily and slumped forward on the table, encircling the milkshake cup with his arms. He'd waited long enough for fate to make it happen. Twenty-two years was way too long for anyone to have to wait. If it was true that most people over sixteen were sexually active, then he already had six years of catching up to do.
But with whom would he do the catching up?
Surely not with the neighbor girl he'd kissed one day behind the garage of his parents' house when he was ten years old. The kiss was nice, but what happened a few seconds later wasn't. The girl ran away screaming when his hair caught fire. The fire went out a few seconds later, only leaving a slight hint of singed hair follicles behind. There was never any real danger. Besides, how could he possibly know what would happen? At ten, he was just discovering his unique talent and realizing that he wasn't like other people - a circumstance that his mother and father were determined to keep from him. He was the only child of overprotective parents, who had made it their goal in life to shield their son from the fact that he was different. They loved him so much they didn't want him to get hurt. But he did get hurt. After he found out the truth.
Which came when he entered the public school system.
For thirteen years he was the object of cruelty and the butt of everyone's jokes. He was branded as the "Weird Lawson Kid" or sometimes called "Stevie King" because of the movie Carrie, in which a girl with telekinesis wrought havoc on her cruel classmates. However, if the students at Maple Street School in Becket, Ohio, had any worries of telekinetic reprisals, those fears were quickly dispelled when that "Weird Lawson Kid" got beaten up on a weekly basis by not one, but three neighborhood bullies, and none of them shot up in flames or became the victim of any "strange accident."
On the contrary, all three of them grew up strong in limb and went on to terrorize the rest of the neighborhood, once they realized that the kid they'd been beating on - the one who could move things with his mind - couldn't do their bidding. As much as they tried, their efforts to get him to unlock the door to one of the bullies' parents' liquor or gun cabinets proved futile. Even sticking a knife to the kid's throat and threatening his life didn't work. He couldn't muster up so much as a tickle of the tumblers. Soon afterward, the bullies decided that the strange kid down the block wasn't worth their efforts. They therefore ignored him and moved on to more profitable pursuits.
After the rest of the neighborhood and community arrived at the same consensus, they followed suit, and Daryl was simply demoted to the status of the town weirdo - an interesting topic of conversation and a necessary evil about which to complain. He became a local jinx that everyone could blame things on - from their crop's failure to their flunking a history exam. The grumbles never escalated to the point where the townsfolk showed up on the Lawson front lawn bearing torches and demanding that the family leave town. They were kept as an angry undercurrent and exhibited in the eyes of almost everyone he met on the street. Even the people who tried to act cordially had a hard time masking the fear and distrust in their eyes.
After his talent made itself known in grade school, the school board - prompted by a group of angry parents - tried to talk his parents into sending him away. Some place "more fitting," they called it - an institute that studied people with similar mental abilities.
His parents wouldn't hear of it. They were smart enough to know the psychological effects of such a decision. Therefore, they were completely against it. They wanted their son to grow up normal. In spite of their best efforts not to have him ostracized, they doomed him to a life of just that.
However, time has a way of glossing over even something as different as a kid with telekinesis. After a few years, the people in his hometown got used to him. Thus, by the time he attended high school, he'd been more or less forgotten - by everyone, including his teachers. They tried to be nice and not make a big deal when things would move mysteriously or without reason. Like the piano's sliding slowly across the stage when the music teacher played an emotionally charged rendition of Liszt's Symphony No. 5, which inspired Daryl so much that he closed his eyes and found himself imagining the notes floating across the stage. Only after a girl sitting behind him screamed and abruptly brought him back from his daydream did he consider himself lucky that his vision hadn't matured to the point where the piano floated right off the floor.
Or the time he'd fallen asleep in study hall after reading a few chapters of Treasure Island, and the plastic human skeleton propped up in the biology class next door suddenly came to life and began twitching as if it was trying to get loose from the metal hangar to which it was attached. Once again a series of screams brought him back to consciousness, and the skeleton reverted to its inanimate usual self. No one came out and accused him, but his classmates weren't stupid. Only one boy in school had the ability to make things move without touching them. After that, he was relocated to a study hall on the other side of the building, far away from any breakables or objects that might succumb to his special talents. He was never allowed to sleep in study hall again, either. Whenever he would nod off, one of the teachers was always there to give him a not-so-friendly slap on the back to keep him awake.
Many other incidents occurred, including his being banned from all sporting events after the girls' volleyball team kept experiencing trouble keeping their cotton jerseys on during a game in which he sat in the stands and fantasized about a few of the prettier team members. Likewise for the school plays and any event to which the public was invited. He was asked to stay away and did. Being segregated in such a way would have traumatized most teenagers. But not Daryl. He was used to being treated that way. He also didn't mind because along the way, he made a friend.
After his freshman year, the faculty considered giving into the continued gripes by the students and parents and asking to have the boy who could make things move with his mind removed from school - something even Daryl's parents assumed would eventually happen. It never came to pass, because of one voice of conscience - one lone teacher who didn't treat Daryl like an outcast: Lawrence Caswell, the ninth grade history teacher. It was Mr. Caswell who took the strange boy under his wing and built up his confidence by showing him examples in history of other such "weirdoes". The list included a boy who was deaf but who cut the legs off a piano and put his ear to the floor so he could hear the vibrations of the notes. That particular outcast - Beethoven - went on to write beautiful symphonies. Daryl then learned about another ostracized boy with polio who went on to become an Olympic champion - Scott Hamilton.
Mr. Caswell then showed him other documented cases of telekinesis and how it wasn't altogether that rare. Some doctors and scientists even speculated that telekinesis was the next step in the evolutionary ladder, and that, in the future, everyone would be born with the ability.
Suddenly Daryl realized that he wasn't an outcast. He was simply one of the first few in an upcoming and genetically superior generation.
He wasn't weird after all. He was the link to the future.
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing