“Hi, can I help you?”
“Hey there-big fellah, I’m JJ Flash and I’m with Queen Together System,” flashed the stumpy man, returning his business card back to shirt pocket. “You look like the breadwinner of the house. Are you the homeowner-sir?”
“No, my mom-”
“Well that’s all right. I’m just gonna take a little bit of your time here and tell you about our company. QTS is a full proof home security system that’ll alarm you if an intruder is attempting to break into your house, you see?”
“Yeah-but this is a pretty safe-”
“See what we do is, well we install all types of communication systems around your home. We do video surveillance and install alarms inside your house for things like fires, burglars, electrical issues-things of that nature that you can really chew at you know? We also install-garage door codes,” stuttered the salesman, trying to reel in the six feet gorilla teenager.
“Alejandro!” screamed an old female voice. Jano jumped, looking back up the stairs and then back at the salesman.
“We don’t even have a-“
“Now listen, what I’ve been doin was I’ve been goin door to door here in your neighborhood, asking all the homeowners what their number one fear would be if their private lives were ever invaded. You wanna know what most of em’ answered?”
“Nah,” countered Jano, shaking his head.
“Someone taking their valuables,” the little man laughed. “But I’ll tell you what man-I’m gonna tell you what the real answer is.”
Jano began jogging slowly up the stairs-past the living room and into the kitchen where his petite mother was fixing up a hefty supper.
“You heard me, did you? Quien fue?”
Jano looked up and saw his mother chopping vegetables. She began hopping as she attempted to chop down on the potatoes and onions with her fragile forearm. The thick burgundy counter top began crumbling as the virile old woman continued mounting pressure with her small body. She looked back at him and allowed her glasses to slide down her nose as she raised her eyes.
“He was tryin to sell somethin,” explained Jano, crouching slightly to pick up the six bags with ease. While coming up he heard a tremendous explosion coming from close by. He dropped the bags and grabbed his abnormally large chest thinking his time had finally come.
“Everybody want to sell something always. What’s it to sell?”
He opened his eyes and looked up at his mother. His mother’s kitchen would be the last place on earth he’d be before his young death. Her obnoxious presence made the situation worse and caused him much agony in the afterlife.
“Everybody want to sell something always. What’s it to sell,” laughed the mother as she returned to her vegetables.
“You can’t be the last thing I see,” he shouted.
His heart exploded into oblivion. Alejandro ran after it-following it into the darkness.
Luckily he decided to speak less meaningful words.
“Vamos Jano,” yelled his mother as she glanced at the trash. “It looks like rain. Hurry-okay.”
Jano leaned his body over towards the side windows and noticed an attack of dark clouds hovering towards the town. A flash of light appeared near his house followed by a peal of thunder causing Jano to jump once more.
“Okay-ma’,” Jano sighed. He grabbed the bags and made his way to the back door, looking up as he walked outside.
Jano slammed down on the garbage bin lid and noticed a sheet of rain quickly approaching towards the house. He turned around and wobbled to the back door as quickly as possible as the rain began pouring down heavily around him.
“Zapatos Alejandro!” yelled his mother, pointing to the floor mat with her long knife as she turned back at the counter. Jano threw his hands in the air and began bouncing his body around as he wiped his grassy shoes on the floor mat. He slowly leaned over and began taking his shoes off, placing them near the glass door. He pushed down on the dented latch as he watched the storm hit against the glass window.
Jano made his way towards his mother when the back door broke open and a gush of cold air blew dirty leaves into the house as Melantia stood near the doorway smiling.
“Melantia-h-hey, come on come in,” blurted Jano surprisingly as he grabbed her hand.
“Ocean,” she laughed pointing back at the pouring rain as she walked in. Jano laughed quietly with his head lowered and began motioning towards Melantia’s shoes-until.
“Ah-Melantia,” hissed the charming mother. “Please, please,” she pleaded as she leaned her head back with her teeth extended forward.
“Oh-I’m sorry,” said Melantia softly. She wiped the sweat off her forehead and began shaking her legs trying to get the dirt off her shoes.
“You hungry for dinner, yeah?” asked the mother impulsively, forgetting what type of timely appetite Melantia had.
“Oh-thank you, yes,” smiled Melantia. She pulled out a seat at the tall kitchen table and gently sat down, making herself comfortable. Jano brought bowls over to the table and placed two close to Melantia and the third on the other side of the table.
“Thanks Jano,” said Melantia.
Jano raised his eyebrows and attempted to smile kindly in response but shivered frighteningly when his mother’s thick accent pulled him away from the table.
“Here-Jano,” she hollered, handing him a large pot. Jano turned back at the table and placed the pot in the middle of the oval table, directly on top of a beautiful Mayan placemat. He looked up and maneuvered the ladle towards Melantia.
During dinner Jano and Melantia talked around mother’s pestering remarks, wondering what they should do later that night.
“How about a movie,” thought Melantia.
“Why always dark places?” asked the mother.
Jano followed Melantia up the burgundy colored ramp, taking his time as he carried a tub of popcorn and large tray of cinema goodies balancing on his forearm. She looked back, waving her extra hand saying:
“Hurry Jano, it’s starting.”
Jano stumbled forward with his head down as he found himself hovering behind Melantia’s long dark hair, hearing the start of the coming attractions being played in the cinema.
“Where do you want to sit,” she whispered, looking around for open seats.
“They look-small,” he remarked quietly with a concern look on his face.
“It’s because it’s dark-all you see is their faces,” she laughed abruptly, quickly grabbing her mouth as a box of milk duds dropped from her hands onto the gum-filled floor.
“Shh!” lashed out the annoyed crowed. Melantia leaned her head towards Jano, asking him to make a quick decision.
“Then what should we do?” she thought.
“Shut up fat girl,” muttered a male voice from near the back of the cinema. A young collection of laughs quickly followed from a similar direction. Jano covered his body over his array of snacks and awkwardly rushed over to the handicap seats as he waved his head towards Melantia, deciding to his regular movie seating decision. Melantia quietly walked next to Jano’s seat and sat down. She gripped her shaking hands on the arm rests as she sat back and attempted to keep her large, whimpering eyes on the big screen. Jano placed his snacks around him accordingly and began whispering into her right ear-attempting to console her.
“You know what most people fear if-if their private lives were ever invaded?”
She looked over at him, shaking her head as she waited patiently for his next words.
“That people would realize they don’t believe in what they portray to others.”
“You believe that,” lowering her eyebrows.
“No. I believe in what I am. But I’m also reminded of it every time I go out in public. You know as much as I do what type of putdowns and bullshit I take Jano. Look-I know-“
“Shh!” snapped a lady two seats down as the next trailer began.
“-I know what I look like Jano,” she whispered.
“Fuck those guys,” argued Jano, pointing towards the back of the cinema as he leaned in. “You can’t let all of this overpower any belief you have in yourself,” he said as he motioned towards her body. “You don’t deserve the things you go through and it’s so easily taken straight to your head to the point where you isolate yourself from everyone, and now-now you’re just use to it.”
“What about you? You’re bigger than I am,” she whispered angrily, attempting to raise her voice without disturbing the people around her.
“So-I don’t care how these people see me. You’re like-hiding in the shadows and you believe that this is who you are and you’re okay with that.”
“No I’m not.”
“Then do something about it Melantia,” he said brutally, leaning down at his snacks as he tried to keep his eyes on the screen.
She couldn’t keep her eyes away from him. The last trailer was set to end when Melantia began looking around the theater. She glanced over at a blue figure in a wheelchair next to her seat and began wondering how she ended up here.
The movie theater announced to the audience to put their 3-D glasses on and to enjoy a special ride before the opening picture. Jano placed the small plastic glasses on his nose, trying to keep it on his face. He waited patiently for the “special ride” to begin when he looked over towards Melantia and noticed she was gone. Jano tried getting out of his seat but his snack tray and his oversized tub of popcorn were strapping him down to his chair.
When he finally broke free the rollercoaster show of light and music began with an instant impact of bass, knocking him back down on his chair. Jano looked up, staring at the screen. Colorful patterns began emerging and flowing into intricate designs throughout the screen, attacking the joyful audience using an abruption of hidden base. Jano began gripping the seat handles as he heard another tremendous noise coming from his back. The base began to grow louder as it attacked all the seats, pulling back and forth on Jano’s spine as he felt a rush of heat from under his left armpit.
This was certainly the moment of his death. With Melantia leaving him alone he knew an attack on his heart would cause no response from the sidetracked movie goers. The theater got darker and the noise grew louder. He thought of his mother and confessed to wishing to his see her one last time. He closed his eyes and saw Melantia’s smiling face, wishing he could have picked his last words to her a little more carefully. He tried moving and getting up but he thought the sudden rush would only speed his death. He peaked his eyes open and closed them again as she reappeared. He smiled and whispered to himself what he wished to tell her.
“I love you.”
After the theater incident Melantia stopped barging in through Jano’s back door. For the first time since they met in the late stages of elementary school, the two had a falling out. His unwillingness in running out after her nearly cost him his life and changed Melantia’s as well. Jano’s subtle verbal attack took her by storm and sent her into a world of solitude and insomnia. She spent her nights replaying all the weight jokes that have been told to her in her life like a video reel in her mind. Images of lean school boys and girls mocking her and shadow figures from the top of cinema seats were driving her wild. She began thinking about Jano and the things he told her that night. She realized she was fooling herself in pretending she was comfortable in her own body when she wasn’t. Her strength was weakening in constantly thinking about the past and the school children who would continuously tease her. She was tired of hiding in the shadows and Jano’s remarks became a catalyst for change.
After the movie Jano drove home in pain. Not only from the bass attack to his armpit but from letting Melantia leave his side. Ever since they’ve met she had always been on his mind. His verbal attack on her prompted an unlikely separation that would last for years. Their last confrontation during graduation ended with hugs but nothing was ever said. The next weeks were filled with a lack of motivation and a disinterest in eating. His mother was concerned. She continued to cook and bake for him but became agitated when leftovers were being wasted and his chores weren’t being completed. He began to ignore her snarling remarks and rude commands and decided it was time to leave.
Jano’s fears of dying alone and his reoccurring “heart problems” took a massive toll on him as he promised himself to never leave the world with regrets or “what if’s.” His fear of thunder and bass impacts were fading as he focused his attention on Melantia and starting a new life in a new city. Once he found a new place he couldn’t stop shaking from excitement. He watched his thumb twitch as he opened his front door. He walked in and took a look around as he walked into the bathroom and saw himself in the mirror and decided it was time for another change.
Jano dug his fingers into the back of his skinny jeans to pick out his house keys. He looked up at his apartment door and noticed a glimmer of light appearing from underneath the door crack. He stuttered as he walked forward, thinking he might have let a light on by mistake.
He stuck out his key directly into the key hole, placing it perfectly as he turned it slowly to unlock the door. He walked into his apartment and closed the door behind him, flicking on the light as he began pressing in the security code of his new QTS system.
Jano turned and was startled to see a very thin attractive stranger sitting happily on his sofa with her glistening leg resting on top of the other.
“You slotted your key in quite smoothly,” smiled Melantia.