“I understand why you went behind my back. Young men will drink, regardless of what their elders say. If you’re old enough to undergo an ancient Norse ritual, then you’re old enough to drink. Besides, your parents told me to take care of you in their will. Cuddling you won’t do you any services”, Hermann says in a voice of doom.
We’re home, in the villa. Hermann brought out his old Volksvagen, and actually drove me home. That doesn’t happen very often.
“What I am mad about, is the fact that you didn’t call anyone when you were obviously too drunk to get home by yourself. Greyscale took you there, didn’t he?” Hermann’s face has started to color. “Ehrm, yea?” “And didn’t he offer to drive you home?” He becomes even more red. “Well-” “And so you could have called me. You could have called Greyscale. Even in the worst possible case, you could have took a taxi.” He’s Soviet red now.
Hermann’s momentum reaches an apex and he seems to make a decision. The color leaves his face. His dark eyes sharpen. He makes a pyramid with his fingers.
“You’re grounded.” The sentence falls between us, like a thrown gauntlet. “Wait what?”, I ask, incredulous. “Did I stutter Rune? G-R-O-U-N-D-E-D.” “Let’s just calm down here a second-” “This is not a debate. Go to your room.”
Hermann pushes by me, and enter his office. And I just sit there. /Boy, are you groundeeeed…/ Verde drags out the last syllable, like a prepubescent girl. I don’t respond. Eventually I get up and knock on his office.
“What?” “You said that you were fine with me drinking; so don’t you think it’s a bit hypocritical to change your mind, and ground me?”
Hermann talks without opening the door. “I didn’t say that I was fine with your drinking, I said that I understand why you did it, which are two very different things. And I am not grounding you for drinking.” He pauses, albeit reluctant. “Well I am grounding you for drinking, but that’s the lesser reason. I am grounding you because you should have called me, not walk home with Nevena in the middle of the night when there is a monster walking loose.” The tirade stops momentarily.” I am grounding you because you didn’t stop drinking in time, which you could have and above all, I am grounding you because you lied to me.”
I take a step back, struck by his words.
Without another comment I walk down to my room, dazed and confused.
I start my computer, but the combination of a heavy, pulsing hangeover, and the weird feeling I am having in my chest stops me from getting any schoolwork done. The feeling I have… it’s odd. It’s like a sphere of lead in my stomach, absorbing my gastric juices, becoming swollen and thick, increasing in size with every second. Shame– what I am feeling is shame. Shame that I have disappointed Herman, who means the most to me.
Someone who- KNOCK.
I rotate my chair, and look at the window, which is filled with Greyscale’s tall figure. I open the window, and let him in. “Hey…?” He’s carrying something in his left hand, something that I can smell without even Verde’s help. Something greasy.
He halts suddenly. Green eyes zero in on me. “Rune, your room smells like boy, masturbation, sweat and shame. I can understand the three first, but you shouldn’t be feeling the fourth.” I suddenly feel nine again, with Alexandra catching me red-handed in the cookie jar.
“Hermann is mad at me. Really mad I think.” “Ah”, Greyscale says, and plonks down next to me. “Because you didn’t call anyone after the party, and he’s afraid that you were going to get murdered/kidnapped/ have your virtue stolen in strange and mysterious ways?” “Something like that”, I say with an involuntary smile, prompted by his question.
“Hermann is, ironically enough one could say, angry because he cares about you.” I try to make sense of that. “He sure has a strange way of showing it”, I mutter.
Greyscale tries a different tactic. “Have you ever… have you ever felt an emotion, and been at odds to express it?” “Sure. Happens all the time.” I stare at him, wondering where he is going. “Oh you can’t be that dense. Am I going to have to spell it out?” “I think you need to.” “Hermann is worried about you, worried about the fact that the barrowman attacked you-” “But I wasn’t technically attacked-” “and to make it worse, the barrowman now sent a message, which tells us that there is a connection between you and this would-be necromancers, and by sending it, the barrowman tells us that he knows where we live.”
“But he wasn’t scared when I asked him yesterday?” “Of course he isn’t going to show you, a kid, that he’s afraid.” I mull on that for a while. “I think I understand it a little better now.” “Great”, Greyscale says, and stand up. He brings forth the greasy bags.
“The previous century was pretty shitty. Hitler, Stalin, Bush. Two world wars. Reagan and that fucking commercial, good morning my ass. Olof Palme was shot– and he was a real nice guy. But-“, he says, and holds up a bag with a familiar red uppercase ‘m'”- fast food became a thing. A great thing as it turns out.” He lobs the bag at me. “I bet you’re hungry. Your body cries out for salt. A nice glass of coca-cola.” I open it, and inhale the fumes. My stomach responds with an earth-shattering gurgle, again. Geez, you had pancakes just some hours ago I rebute.
I am an atheist, so I don’t believe in that imaginary friends-stuff, but damn if it doesn’t smell like heaven. “Enjoy your meal.” As he jumps out the window, he slams it shut. I put the two burgers and fries next to my computer.
“Ah, you and I, we’re going to have a little conversation…”