I loved it. It always smelled nice, there were plenty of kids to hang out with, and I made some really good friends on the first day. One of the girls, Amber, remains a good friend to this day.
I had no trouble making new friends, a trait my brother Jim did not share.
Jim was trouble, he liked to smoke pot and drink alcohol. When we were with our dad, he never paid much attention to us. He worked, gave us spending money, and made sure we went to school. With Tammy, it was her way or the highway. Jim was to remain sober or he would have to find a new place to stay. He was 18, so she could legally send him away without the law doing anything about it.
At 15, I was in sports, got good grades, and obviously Tammy's favorite.
At first, Jim seemed to do well. He tried out for band, but was no accepted. He tried out for sports, drama, and ultimately did not receive the credit he felt he deserved. He bitched about it and said he was better than everyone in those clubs and they just didn't see his greatness.
Then he met Steve. Steve was 19 and had been held back.
Steve was not popular. He lacked personal hygiene, morals, and a filter. He was forbidden from coming over by Aunt Tammy, which caused Jimmy to gain even more of an attitude.
One day, Aunt Tammy caught Steve and Jim in the basement, smoking pot. I was at work and they had ransacked the whole house for money. Tammy threatened to call the police and Jim was out on the street. Jim, of course, called my dad. However, instead of siding with Jim, Dad agreed with Tammy.
Steve took Jim in and their party lifestyle continued. Jim dropped out of school and I didn't see him for almost six months. He showed up at the house, trying to use his old key to get in. Steve was with him and I called the police. Jim left before they got there, after discovering Tammy changed the locks.
Steve was still in school and tried to hit me up for money. I told him no. I found him trying to break into my locker a few times, which ended when I told the principal. Steve was suspended, and seemed to hold a grudge against me for being a snitch.
Jim must have told him where I worked, because he showed up at Subway a few times. Then he started messing with me, more than just being an asshole. He started to view me as "a female." That is what he told me, I should be his woman. I laughed in his face and told him to get real.
He was creepy, needy, and desperate.
Some of the things he did to me:
Showed up at Subway and asked for “extra meat” on his sandwich, asking for lots of cheese. Then, when he had to pay, he tried to convince my co-worker that we were dating and I always gave him a discount. My co-worker charged him full price, after I refused to come out of the back to talk to him.
He told people I blew him under the bleachers. Everyone laughed at him, because I pretty much vomited when he came near me and he smelled like garbage.
I finally told Aunt Tammy what was going on and she went down to the school. When they tried to ignore the problem, she threatened to go to the media. He was kicked out for sexual harassment.
Jim and Steve ended up leaving town for some reason. My cousin Terra told me about it online and I was relieved. I didn't see either of them until I was in my twenties.
It became a rather interesting story to share with my peers, to show I had 'street cred.'
I went away for college, but returned after my graduation. Tammy had been sick for a long time. My dad was remarried and lived in South Dakota. He was trying his hand at cattle farming, or some boring crap like that. Tammy had become the mother I never knew, the only parent that really mattered. My dad was more like an uncle, my aunt like a mother. He had become a bit of a bastard after his new wife learned I could think for myself and didn't kiss the ground she walked on.
Aunt Tammy passed when I was 22. I inherited some money, her house, and her car. After paying her bills, there was a bit left to live on. I went to work at one of the local schools and kept in touch with my cousins (on my mom's side.)
Jim got nothing, didn't even show up for the funeral. I am pretty sure no one told him she died. I had no way to reach him and didn't want him to ruin the funeral anyways.
When I was 23, Jim and Steve came back into town. Jim swung by the house but left after finding out his old key didn't work. I am pretty sure he thought new people lived there, I had repainted the home and changed the decor inside, not liking the 1950s look my aunt was fond of.
He tried coming by a few more times, but then he stopped. I wash hoping they wouldn't find out I was still in town but I wasn't so lucky. Steve stumbled into the coffee shop I favored. He wanted black coffee and looked ten years older. He obviously got into harder drugs, because his mouth looked like a graveyard. He was missing teeth and looked sickly.
He saw me and tried to hug me. I balked and one of the workers told him to move on. He just watched me from outside the window. He rushed off when another man walked me out to my car.
Veronica sent out a facebook invite to her wedding party. She had a civil ceremony and was inviting us to see the wedding video and honeymoon pictures. It was supposed to be very small and intimate, with about twenty people. More showed up and we ordered pizza, bought more beer, and spent the time playing drinking games and teasing the newly wed couple. Most people lived up the mountain, but Veronica told me to spend the night.
I was pretty tipsy and agreed.
Around midnight, Jim showed up with Steve in tow. The party was still going strong, most people having just arrived at 10.
Veronica answered the door. She started arguing with Jim. I looked down the hallway and there is Steve, standing beside Jim, looking smug. He sees me and heads down the hall, not bothering to even introduce himself to anyone. Veronica is telling them to leave and Jim ignores her.
Jim goes for a beer and sits outside, looking off down the mountain. People tolerate the new people, mostly because they are drunk and no one wants to upset Veronica, who seems resigned to them being there. Jim doesn't look very good. He looks older, sad, and he starts crying when Veronica's husband, Todd, asks him to leave.
He moans that he just wants to watch the sunset. He is out of his mind, talking about how the trees are whispering to him. He is left to his craziness and the only concern is Steve.
He stands in the kitchen, trying to top off my wine, and rubbing my shoulder. I keep jerking away and tell him to back off. Todd’s friend, Devin, ends up standing between us. Steve gets upset and tells Devin we are together. Devin smirks and asks me if that is true. I tell him no, I am single, and Steve was the last choice.
Steve storms off, outside, and smokes on the porch even though Veronica tells him not to.
I can tell it is pot smoke. One of the girls, who is pregnant, asks him to stop. She is one of the few designated drivers and has been careful not to be around anything harmful the whole night. She has a water in her hand and her boyfriend goes up to ask Steve to stop.
Steve takes a swing and falls off the back of the porch, landing five feet down with his arm at a weird angle. They call the cops and he is taken away, Jim in tow. Veronica looks ready to cry, but I tell her not to worry about it. We all had a good time. Jim is just retarded.
At this point, it is about 3 am and I am sobering up. Devin and I hit it off. We get serious, he moves in with me after dating for two years, and we have a few Jim+Steve incidents. Mostly them asking for money.
Steve and Jim end up in jail for drug possession and it is the best time of my life. Devin asks me to marry him and we have a small ceremony planned.
It goes well.
Devin is given the option of moving for his job. I don’t want to sell the house just yet—it was filled with memories. We agree to rent it out while we make our choice.
We look for a new home, move to New York, and find a cute little apartment. We are making enough money off the rental property that we think it best to keep renting it out. Amber moves out and another couple moves in.
They start calling about strange sounds in the attic. It sounds like someone scrapping things across the attic. Since it was locked, as we were storing things in there, we sent them the key and said they could look.
There, in the middle of the room, is Steve. He had been living in there for the last two weeks. He had food, flashlights, and had been going through old pictures of me. It happens.