“You keep glancing at me,” noted Tim. “Am I even more handsome than usual?”
It was around six-thirty in the evening. The sky was still bright outside with small patches of pink and orange scattered about. The sun was slowly creeping closer to the horizon. Tim had been restocking the shelves in Retro Records while humming some of his favourite tunes. His leg smarted as he squatted down to squeeze a record into its rightful place.
Jenkins squeaked in surprise. He had been sweeping the floor while shooting what he had believed to be discreet suspicious looks at Tim. “N-no … quite the opposite. You look horrible today.” He seemed very reluctant to answer Tim.
“Ouch,” said Tim, shrugging. “It can’t be helped … accidents follow me wherever I go.”
Jenkins shot another suspicious look while muttering under his breath, “That wasn’t the case before …”
“Stop doing that, man!”
“S-stop doing what?” Jenkins asked, feigning innocence.
“You’re looking at me as if I were some kind of delinquent!” said Tim. He wobbled back up, using a shelf to support himself. “The gangster thing was just a joke!”
“W-what if you're just trying to make me believe you aren’t bad so you can trick me later?” He stared at Tim, scared that he was up to no good.
“Bad guys dispose of people who know too much you know,” Tim responded, grinning evilly at his co-worker.
Jenkins stopped sweeping for a moment as he considered Tim’s words, then he abruptly swept the same spot over and over again, his face distorted with distress and horror.
“Hey! I was just joking again!” Tim added quickly. “Oh … never mind …” he gave a big sigh as he turned around and continued to restock. It’s tiring trying to talk to him … maybe I should just shut up …
Haley hadn’t been too far off when she claimed that Tim lived in the middle of nowhere. The Thompson residence was in the outskirts of town, far northeast, deep within a forest. They didn’t live close to anything at all, but that was the way his paternal grandfather, Markus Thompson, liked it. “Who needs spying neighbours?” he had remarked.
Unlike the majority of the people in Little Rockwell, the Thompsons knew about the Blood. They were a family of Keepers, people who had sworn to protect the Blood of the Earth. Ever since the town was created — or even before that — their family had been a line of Keepers.
Sarah Thompson, fifteen years old, was sitting at the kitchen table with her grandfather, Markus, who was reading the newspaper. She wore a lavender-pink tank top and black track shorts. To Tim’s dismay, Sarah was almost as tall as him — and still growing. Even now, he could remember her cute beaming face during his Blood Oath. He still found her cute at times — until she stood up.
Sarah was looking rather irritated. Her cellphone was against her ear. Its pink case had sparkling swirls which converged into a dragon. Tim had bought it for her when he got a raise at work. The phone kept ringing on the other end of the line, but no one answered. “Pick up already! Why do you have a phone if you don’t use it?!”
Markus chuckled. “Still can't find our boy?”
Sarah’s mother, Tabitha, had dropped the plate she was washing. She always did that when she was worried about something. The family had given up once she had broken an expensive fine china dinnerware set, ceramic plates, and most of the glassware — on separate occasions — and replaced everything with plastic instead. They were still breakable, but at least they were cheap.
Markus and Sarah turned to look at her. Tabitha kept her jet-black hair in a tidy a short ponytail. Dirty dishwater was splattered all over her beige light sweater and grey pajama pants.
“Mom, are you okay?” Sarah asked as she ended her call.
“Do you need any help, Tabs?” Markus asked, though he already knew the answer.
“Oh, no. I’m fine. I can handle this.” She always insisted on doing things on her own.
“Are you sure, Mom?” Sarah was a bit skeptical.
“Alright,” said Sarah as she returned her attention to her phone, tapping her left index finger irritably on the table. “Tim probably put his phone on silent again …”
“He can take care of himself,” Markus reassured her with his hearty voice. He flipped through the newspaper again and grinned when he reached the Sudoku and crossword puzzle section, the highlight of the whole paper. The articles had been rather boring; nothing ever happened in Little Rockwell.
“He’ll be fine,” said Markus as he reached for a pencil in his red checkered shirt pocket. “Sad to say, the boy’s been through worse.” He began filling out Sudoku boxes, rustling his short grey hair when the puzzle stumped him.
“I know …” said Sarah as she continued rapping the table. “I want to at least give him some kind of warning …” She speed-dialed Tim’s number for the umpteenth time. Stupid brother, answer your phone!!