Authors: goodbye_sun & dolly_riot
warnings: child abuse
AN: This is the end, thank you all for reading along, we appreciated every single comment. =) And yeah we’re sorry about the unstable updating, guess we’ll never really improve on that one. – And again remember you can catch us at Tumblr. ^^
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
The sunlight coming through the cafe window gently illuminated the newspaper Troy was reading. He was half-hardheartedly scanning the articles while he waited for Barbara to figure out what she wanted to order.
”Darling, do you think I should get the smoked salmon salad?” she asked.
Troy looked up and smiled, ”I think you should order whatever you feel like.” His gaze returned to the paper, Barbara was actually a nice lady, but he didn’t feel guilty the least. He wasn’t gonna rob her completely blind, just make a tiny dent in her ridiculous fortune. It wasn’t like she didn’t have it coming, she had done the same thing back in the day. Married some old geezer to inherit his money when he died a couple of years later. She told him the story one day in bed, drunk on champagne, her Southern accent coming out in full force. Barbara Stone had been Barbara Lynn McElvoy, poor white trash with only her curves to help her get what she wanted. So she used them. Troy smiled to himself, when the conman fooled the conman, great times indeed. He flicked over to the next page and stopped dead, paling.
Barbara looked up from the menu and noticed the odd expression on his face. ”Is something wrong?” Barbara asked, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
”No…I’m just tired,” he lied, smiling at her for reassurance.
She winked at him, ”We have been keeping some late hours. Look, I’m gonna go to the ladies room.” As she stood she added, “Could you order the lobster bisque for me please Clark dear?”
”Sure thing,” Troy nodded. He waited for Barbara to leave and looked back down into the newspaper. It was an article about a couple that had been apprehended for keeping several kids in deplorable conditions. None of the children were theirs, and no one knew for sure where any of them had come from. The police thought they might have busted open a predator ring. Troy sucked in his breath as he stared at Lydia’s frowning mugshot. ”Oh god,” he blinked and shivered, his arms covered in goosebumps that wouldn’t disappear.
Suddenly, he could smell the cold, rotting smell from Hank and Lydia’s house, he could even feel the burn on his skin from scratching, insect bites and the nauseating touch of both adults. Troy bit his lip, no matter how he tried he would never be able to wash away the shame and the guilt of putting other children in this exact situation. He sent a thought to Jack, funny how he still missed him in some odd way. He had been the closest to a dad he had ever had, and when all was said and done, Jack had looked after him, hadn’t he?
He still wondered what had happened to Jack, had he really left him with Hank and Lydia for good? Troy closed his eyes as he felt bile rise, he remembered so vividly laying in Nina’s bed listening to Lydia and Hank arguing, they were arguing about him, the sickening sound of flesh against flesh as someone was slapped. He would have buried himself under the damp, moldy pillow and blanket was it not for his sixth sense that told him he had to stay alert.
Hank had been swearing he would take Troy out to the barn and ‘take care of it’ and Lydia kept calling him a pussy, saying that he would never be able to go through with it. Troy’s head had been reeling back then, just as it was now. They were gonna kill him and bury him somewhere on the farm, and no one would be none the wiser. It would have been so easy to just let it happen, he was less afraid of death than the future. And to this day, Troy was not sure what had made him crawl out the window and sprint out over the dark fields. His lungs burned from running, and his pant legs was wet from dew on the plants, he had no idea where he was going or why.
He had stopped and looked up at Penny’s house for a while, having a cigarette, he should maybe toss a stone on a window, but he didn’t know which was Penny’s. It saddened him that he couldn’t at least say goodbye, but he had to keep moving, had to get the hell out of this place before Hank and Lydia discovered he was gone.
Troy turned around in the darkness and made his way around the hill and the cornfield, up to the shack where he and Penny had spent so many hours just hanging out, her reading to him, or them talking about nothing.
Once inside, he looked up at the small jar with coins in it. Penny had been saving up for something, but he didn’t know what. He had been torn about taking her savings, but he was desperate, and maybe she’d understand. He unscrewed the lid and poured the money out on the table and scooped them down into his pocket. Just about to leave, he noticed the book on the table. It was the book that Penny had been reading to him, without thinking twice he grabbed it and rolled the thin book up and stuck it in his pocket before he left.
When he got to the highway, he started jogging along the shoulder, his entire body screaming for a break that he wouldn’t grant it. How could Jack do this to him? Leave him here! If he ever found him, he’d kill him. That was when he had to stop to vomit, his body so stressed out that it started to shut down. The memory so vivid that Troy had to close his eyes and fight back the bile.
And then Frank had happened. Frank had opened the door to his red Ford Taurus, and asked Troy if he was okay. Troy had wiped his mouth and looked at Frank, mumbling ‘yeah’. Frank had asked him what he was doing out here in the middle of nothing, and even after Troy had shot him down and told him to mind his own business, Frank had laughed and told him if he needed a lift to hop in, that he’d take him to the bus station.
It turned out that Frank was actually a real cool fella. He had given Troy a candy bar which he had wolfed down, then asked if he was running away. When Troy didn’t bother to answer, Frank apologized for his nosy nature, going on to explain that he was an author, and got most his ideas driving the long highways.
Troy had introduced himself as Clark, just like Superman. They had talked about expectations and girls. Not that Troy knew a whole lot about either, but he was good at making shit up as he went along, and the longer Frank would drive him, the better.
Troy blinked in the sun, looking down at the paper again. He had buried all of this deep, he wasn’t that kid anymore, in his unwashed second hand clothes, that boy was a far cry from his Armani suits, Dior cologne and Berluti shoes. But, somewhere under all that which made up Clark, Troy was still just Troy. He searched for Jack for a long time, wanting answers, but eventually he gave up, and started to do what he was best at, pretend he was someone else. Sometimes he wondered if he had be acting for so long, if anything real was left any more.
He had never spent a day in school, yet he had all the transcripts to show he had graduated. Crazy how easy it was to fool people who wanted to be fooled. When he arrived in the city, he just started over. There were plenty of dark days at first. He had had nowhere to go, and spent more than a year with no identity. Unlike the other kids living on the street, he had not spent his money on drugs, but on fake documents. And now, when he drove his Mercedes down the streets where he used to live, he saw some of the same people he knew from back then, still stuck and without purpose.
Barbara came back and smiled at Troy. ”I thought the food would be here by now,” she said sitting down.
Troy shrugged, and looked out over the street. A part of him missed Penny, wishing she could be here instead of that plastic woman in front of him. Many were the times where he wished he had just made her come with him, he was sure she would have. He often dreamed about that walk home with her from the fair, that he had just taken her into his arms back then and kissed her. And when he woke, it was always next to these fake people, so ugly and empty that they had to be perfect on the outside to compensate. Not one single redeeming quality. And he was just their trophy boyfriend, the color of his eyes matching the carpet.
Troy looked down at his watch, ”Oh, it’s late. I’m sorry honey, but I gotta run.” Troy glanced up at Barbara and asked, ”Rain check?”
”But I thought -”
”I know, I know, I’ll make it up to you.” He smiled his most charming smile and took Barbara’s hand over the table, ”I’ll come by later, okay?”
”Okay,” Barbara said smiling disappointed.
Troy leaned in over the table and kissed her softly, ”Later.”
It took all his control to not flee the restaurant, but once he was out of view, he stumbled straight to the first public bathroom and emptied his stomach. Staring at himself in the mirror he saw nothing but his dull lips and his too blue eyes. He had heard many compliments for them, but right now, when he looked at himself he saw nothing but a scared kid looking back. He splashed some water in his face, god he needed a drink, bad.
Four days later, the mail man knocked on Penny’s door. He was smiling at her, amused, as he handed over a small package. Looking down at the address she saw what he had found so funny, ”Pretty Penny, my golden haired girl” she read, and under that it just said the name of the town and the state. She laughed too, ”Yeah, that would be me, no other Penny around here.” She checked the envelope front and back, but there was no return address. “Doesn’t say who it’s from.”
”Looks like you have yourself a secret admirer,” the mail man snickered.
Penny stood in the doorway and opened the package, it was a book. ”What?” Penny grinned, ”I lost this back in high school, or I thought I had at least.”
The Mail man shrugged, ”Guess someone found it and knew it belonged to you.” He nodded and wandered off to continue his deliveries.
Penny stood on the porch, and opened the book. The front cover was so tattered and creased you could barely make out the title any longer, the binding had been patched up with layers of green tape over and over again, and the pages had been dogeared so many times that the top corner had curled over and worn off. She flicked through the book, looking for something left behind by the sender. Her smile grew as she read the hastily written message on the inside cover.
“Thought you might want to know how it turns out. The beginning sucked, but it got so much better.”