Boys Don't


delia_icon.gif ghost_icon.gif jose_icon.gif luther_icon.gif

Scene Title Boys Don't
Synopsis Irreverent and seemingly irrelevant creeping by a psychic ninja.
Date 10/11/18

Seedy Manhattan Apartment

It isn’t a particularly shitty day, wet weather notwithstanding. But the Ghost quits training early and goes to his apartment, knowing very well what he wants long before he’s told himself what he’s going to do.

Every man needs a vice according to most narratives including Catholicism, but there’s a trick to finding the right one. The Ghost has tried a few. More than a few. He’s had half an extra lifetime to try a few extra vices.

There was a short time in the other world where it was cocaine. Three or four times. But then Hana asked one day what was wrong with his face, adjusting his head with her fingers on his chin and searching for obvious contusions. Cocaine has a bullshit reputation. You hear it’s a drug for the rich, expensive, wears out your septum after a few years, makes you skinny. And it would get you through the LSATs, in the time when there were such thing as LSATs. What people don’t talk about is the coke bloat, which his vanity will not abide.

Alcohol, of course. He’s always liked his drink. Fighting doesn’t count anymore; it doesn’t count when you’re a soldier in a neverending war.

He has gone through phases where he’d fuck people who looked like the others he knew. A slew of redheads, both genders; skinny older men, sometimes greying in their hair but preferably vibrant in the eyes; lanky Jewish women; tall dark men with big noses, small dark women with glottal stops endemic to their accents. It has not been a pattern observable to literally anybody else on the planet, he imagines, and that bothers him even less than the vague possibility of catching the clap. But he’s always made sure they were always a little younger than the original person of reference. Often a little bit prettier. Perhaps incorrectly, it makes him feel he is being less creepy. It’s not like he tries to get nipple colors to match or anything.

(He doesn’t fuck anybody who looks like Eve, though.)

But tonight, the Ghost is lying in a bed alone. Needle-flashes of rainwater are drying on the window pane, and if he opened it up, he knows he would smell petrichor, rich and mineral, and it would cut through the artificial sweet pungency of aftershave, which he had freshly applied some minutes ago. But instead, he rolls onto his back.

Old saying: power corrupts. The latest update to that is that there is no better vice than powers.

He closes his eyes.


Satoru Memorial Garden

Winding paths slip between wood frames filled with soil, each growing its own, unique variety, giving the garden a mosaic of greenery. The northwest corner holds plant beds dedicated to seasonal plants, each blooming in turn and providing flowers almost all year around. Centered within these beds is a tall menhir with a plaque inscription reading “Satoru: Forever Loved, Always Remembered”. The Satoru Memorial Garden was reclaimed from old parkland in Elmhurst and the residents of the Safe Zone are welcome to rent out a plot to grow whatever they choose. The eclectic nature of the garden and its gift of beauty and nourishment are all part of the dedication, whether the people partaking know it or not.

Much like the Safe Zone itself, the garden is fenced to prevent theft of food and is patrolled regularly not only by garden customers but other volunteers that Delia has helped with donations of food.

Suddenly, he is tending a garden. He doesn’t recognize it— the Ghost himself doesn’t recognize it, but the hands that he is observing move with deft familiarity. Pruning shears snip through browning stems. The person is holding a small flashlight between their teeth. Her teeth, probably; he can feel the long ends of stormy flyaways tickling her cheek, the nape of her neck under the hood of her raincoat. It seems like a needlessly difficult time to be gardening, and so soon before winter; the dedication that she demonstrates kind of confuses him. She glances down, and he sees sakura petals matted under her boots. It’s the wrong season, he thinks. But the weather has been weird.

It’s not his scene. There’s another Teo who’s into gardening. He doesn’t get it, but there’s worse shit to not have.


Elsewhere In The NYC Safe Zone

Suddenly, he is riding down the deserted street at 50 miles an hour. This modest take on speeding seems to be more than made up for by the noisy, boyish bravado of the car. Convertible. It does smell like petrichor out here. Subwoofer bass pounds through the floor, the smooth-swelling amplitude of EDM soundwaves jarred by engine vibration. Ghost glimpses street signs blinking by. He still isn’t far from the apartment, which is in a generically shit part of Manhattan. This shitlord— a young man, who he glimpses in the rearview mirror— should probably be worried about getting car-jacked. Kidnapped. Ransomed for whatever monstrous trust fund is responsible for importing convertible cars when the majority of America languishes in post-apocalyptic waste.

The wind blows. It’s fun for a minute. And then Ghost notices, the kid is being followed.

They’re pretty good, it’s just hard to subtle when your quarry is going twenty over; even more difficult when you’re being observed by a psychic hitchhiker who can literally look out of somebody else’s peripheral vision as easily as a normal person could find the edge of a movie screen. These people have two cars. Taking their turns a little too quick, trading off the tail. The kid doesn’t notice.

It’s not what he was looking for, but the Ghost is slightly curious. He looks at the blurry, distant silhouette in the mirror, the pinhole head of his target framed in a windshield with Ford’s emblem.


And suddenly, he’s in the other car.

But something is fucked. Jammed up. It’s like trying to put the wrong glove onto your right hand. The sensations come through patchy and delayed. Steering wheel textured like leather under her flexed fingers, ten and two, a Bluetooth earpiece prised to fit into the hollow of her ear, the souring taste of coffee flicking in and out of register.

The driver knows he’s here. She’s running interference. Evolved motherfuckers, go figure.

“This is Ayala,” says the voice in the Bluetooth.

“Go dark,” the driver answers, tersely. “I have to deal with a guest.”

This is definitely his scene. The Ghost is all about creepy following people. But there’s different kinds of indulgence, and he’s only ever beat a telepath in an actual knife fight. (Gun fight. Whatever.) Fuck it.



Suddenly, it’s quiet. But it’s the right kind of quiet. It’s the silence that a person can hold outside their body while inside their head is all churning blood pressure, disoriented, clenched teeth, and perfectly unbroken isolation.

This person is crying.

It’s impossible to tell whether they are a him or a her or something else, even after the sobs start to leak. Male voices get higher, women get louder. People sound like animals when they cry. They can’t see anything, not even the shape and color of their own hands. You could be anyone.

There are some nights it takes the Ghost a dozen jumps. Three dozen. He makes up stories to himself on those longer nights, about wandering so far away that he gets lost, leaves his body behind to die. About accidentally happening upon the right host, one in six billion, whose body and decisions will fit seamlessly into the screwy farcical narrative of his own mind for the rest of a natural lifespan, just like they say that a thousand monkeys on typewriters might eventually crap Shakespeare out of their hairy fingers. Shakespeare has a lot of weird magic and homicidal egomaniacs, right? He could hijack one of the other Teodoros, again. He could learn from and eat at the table of a master crepe chef. Sometimes, he even fantasizes about accidentally dropping in on Walter, and making sure he’s doing okay.

But none of that is really what he’s here for.

He is here for the pitchy inhale, the shudder. The broken whine. He always leaves before they come back to themselves.

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