Stepping into the café / record shop, an odd smell hit me. “You'll get used to the coffee smell.” Laughed Freddie leading us through. “This is the café bit.” he added. The room was painted white but had light blue beams hanging from the ceiling. Their were block wooden tables everywhere littered with mismatching chairs. At the end of the room was a long service table with dozens of cakes and sweet treats lined up and preserved under glass. My eye widened and I just wanted to eat it all.
“Freshly made every morning.” Said Freddie. His Gran, Lillian, looked at the three of us and gave a wave before returning to her work. “And through here is the record store.” Freddie led us through an archway and within a second the décor had completely changed. Where the café had what I guessed were Lillian's tastes but the record shop was of Freddie's tastes. Edgy whereas the café was cute and a little kooky.
The dark grey walls were home to thousands of posters of people I had never heard of. Little black boxes were stood every where holding various square pieces of card. Somewhere a the tones of music flittered through the store. Mounted on the walls were vinyl players I recognised from my blurred memories, with headphones draped around them. I walked around my hand dusting the records until I stumbled upon something interesting. The Sex Pistols. I remembered Spencer telling me about them and in curiosity I pulled it from the box and took it over to the player. Carefully I slid the vinyl out of the packaging and placed it on the turn table. Not quite knowing what to do I hesitantly I put the tone arm on the disk. I slipped the headphones on and waited. Thrashing filled my ears all two loudly and I shrieked chucking the headphones off of my ears.
“Hey.” Said Freddie running over to me. I put my hands over my hands to protect them, the music still thundered through my head. “Always turn down the music before you listen, people often turn it up really loud.” He said, turning the player off. He looked at the vinyl. “The Sex Pistols, eh? What did you think.”
“I didn't really listen I was busy trying not to go deaf.”
“How about you listen to them at a lower volume?” He said, staring down at me holding the record carefully in his fingers.
“No thanks.” I laughed, before moving back over to records. Freddie stood for a moment before placing the record back in it's sleeve and putting it back into it's box. He then addressed the three of us. “If you work here it'll either be to help sort out the records, bake the café produce or to serve, ok?”
“Sounds great.” Said Vespa drily.
Freddie suppressed a smile. “I can see you're a bundle of joy.” I bit my lip and tried not to laugh as Vespa eyed Freddie, ending at his feet with an 'uff'.
“Can you take us to our room please.” Said Vespa moodily. In that moment I wanted to hit her, she was being so rude and yes we were tired but that was no excuse. Freddie and I shared a pained look.
“This way.” Said Freddie moving past Vespa as though he was moving past a guard dog who would bite with the slightest move. We went back through the café and out the door. Freddie led us down an ally coated with flowers. The sun filtered through and as Freddie took us to the back of the house I couldn't believe that we had stumbled across such a pretty place. Freddie locked the gate door behind him and moved through us to go to the front door of the living side of the house. The cafe looked just like a normal house from the back. Freddie pushed a key through the duck egg blue door and turned, showing us to our new home.
Just like the café everything was decorated very delicately. The hall way was white, with a simple wooden and was home to picture frames and little flowers. There was a white shoe rack and a simple statuettes dusting the little tables that were home to bowls of keys and other such things. The hallway led to the living room, a large room that the sunlight poured through. Again the walls were white but the furnishings kept the room alive. A grey turquoise sat proudly in the sun and underneath that a dark wooden floor made the room effortlessly classy. Pictures of Freddie and Lillian’s family hung proudly in an array of different frames giving the room a cosy finish. Everything about it was perfect in that non perfect way, it suited Freddie and Lillian amazingly.
“My sister moved out three years ago and then we have two spare rooms. It used to be two houses. My grandmothers family owning the café and my grandfather's family owning the record store, only it wasn’t a record store then, it was a shoe shop. The two fell in love and when they got married decided to knock through the walls and combine the shops. My dad made the shoe shop into a record store after my granddad passed away.”
“That's sounds cool.” I said, looking around.
“Yeah, kitchen's through there and then that leads to the café kitchen. I'll show you up to your bedrooms.”
I sat on the bed of the bedroom I had been given, it was small but oh so perfect. I had been given Freddie's sister's, Becca's, room and I had a feeling it was the nicest. Freddie had left us to get settled whilst we started and I could Noah and Vespa talking in the room next, by the sounds of it Vespa didn't seem too happy.
The room had simple wooden furnishings and grey walls but the curtains were brightly decorated and looked like something from India. On the right side of the room, the wall was a maze of shelves, filled with books and various outfits. It seemed Becca was a mix of Lillian and Freddie, she had edgy items like a white skull statue but vintage items like the typewriter which sat proudly in the centre of the shelf maze. The books looked really interesting too and I was happy to find a dog eared copy of Alice in Wonderland. I wondered whether I would of got on with Becca had she of been here. From the room next door, the sound of Noah and Vespa talking grew louder, well Vespa's voice got louder but I decided to leave it to them and skipped down the stairs to see the kitchen.
“Hey.” I said lightly sitting on a stool next to Freddie as he stood cutting something at the wooden island.
“Hey.” He said not looking up.
“What are you cooking.”
My brows furrowed. “Curry?”
“You don't know what curry is?” He looked up from what he was cutting and tilted his head in confusion. “So you just turn up here with literally nothing, you haven't heard of the Sex Pistols, you don't know what curry is...” He paused looking me up and down. Nervously I licked my lips. “Are you an alien or something.”
“No.” I said insulted, I wasn't even green. Freddie laughed and I realised he was joking. “I don't get your humour.” I said my voice dry like Vespa's.
“Oh, come on.” Freddie nudged me with his elbow. “But seriously, have you been living under a rock?”
I didn't answer I didn't know what to say, I couldn't tell him about the hospital and I didn't have the heart to repeat the story we had told Tiger. I recalled the books I read and came up with my story.
“We lived on the other side of the woods and when Noah turned eighteen he said he wanted an adventure, Vespa and I were looking for that too I suppose. We packed up our things and ran. Our stuff got stolen a while back. My parents weren't exactly adventurous with food so I've never had curry.” The story sounded exciting and a whole lot better than reality, was lying just another version of escapism, I wondered.
“What's your story then?” I asked. I picked up a bit of what Freddie was cooking and dropped it into my mouth.
“I wouldn't do that if...” Freddie began,
“Ugh! What is that?” I said spitting it into my hand.
“Garlic.” Freddie laughed.
“That's not nice.”
Freddie moved around the kitchen and pulled out a white board, a knife and a package of pink stuff, chicken I guessed. “Do me a favour and cut this up please.”
I did as he said and began cutting the chicken into strips. “So, your story?”
“There's not really much to tell. My dad and mum ran the store, the marriage ended in a divorce, Dad walked out and Mum's gone soul searching in Europe, Becca left because it's too boring here.”
He spoke clearly but there was hurt behind it all.
“Do you want to leave?” I asked.
“Strangely no. I have Gran, I have my friends, I have the record shop, why should I leave.” His voice was sincere and considerably lighter than before. “Plus I like living by the sea, it's calm here.”
“Don't you want to go on an adventure.”
Freddie looked at me and I looked back, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” It was then I realised just how different we were. I had been kept in seclusion for so long that seeing the world made me want to jump and scream. I knew travelling would fulfil that high of freedom.
“Is that from a book?”
“No it's from a film. Peter pan, we can watch it if you'd like.”
I looked down at the chopped chicken bits. “That sounds cool.”
Around thirty minutes later Vespa and Noah came down the stairs, giggling and laughing. It seemed Vespa's mood had improved.
“Hey Harley could you go help Gran shut up the shop.” Said Freddie stirring the green curry sauce.
Vespa's good move evaporated. “It's Vespa not Harley.”
“Same difference.” Shrugged Freddie.
“No one's a scooter and one's a motorbike.” Vespa argued.
Freddie stared at her, his expression confused, half amused, half irritated. “Sorry.”
Vespa grunted and then walked through the doors leading to the café. Noah joined me at the kitchen island.
“That smells amazing.” Said Noah, picking up a piece of garlic from the chopping board and dropping it into his mouth.
“Ew, what is that?” Freddie and I shared a look and then burst out laughing, as Noah, eyeing us weirdly, spit the remaining garlic into the bin.
Dinner was eaten quickly, with everybody grabbing something from the Island and going upstairs (Vespa) or going to the sofa (Lillian). Noah, Freddie and I sat at the island and as Noah and Freddie discussed the town I busied myself dipping my naan in the curry.
“Yeah I’ve lived here my whole life, it's pretty good.”
“What is there to do around here then.” Said Noah blowing on his food before eating it. Freddie licked a blob of curry from his lips. “Uh, well during summers there's a theme park by the beach, i'll take you there. And then sometimes we go tomb stoning.”
“Huh, I’ve never been to a theme park.” I said thoughtfully, I knew what they were though.
“We should so go one evening the ghost house is just hilarious.” Freddie laughed. It seemed Freddie was always laughing or grinning or amused, the boy couldn't be upset if a wasp stung, he'd probably jump for joy because the wasp noticed him in the first place.
I licked the green curry sauce off of my thumb. “It's a ghost house isn't it meant to be scary.”
Noah stared at me as though I was stupid. “They're meant to be scary but they are so over dramatic that they're funny.”
“How do you know?” Noah didn't read books, how did he know it.
“I used to go to them as a kid.” Right, unlike me he could remember his past, clearly. For that I envied him, what I would give to remember something that seemed happy so clearly, instead I was stuck of memories of a young Spencer and the possibility that I had killed my parents. I wanted to bang my head against the wood or the island but refrained from doing so because I didn't because that would be weird.
Later that evening as Lillian sat watching TV and Noah, Vespa and Freddie were sat in their rooms I had a long hot bath. I had underestimated the luxury of a bath. For a solid thirty minutes I sat in the tub being hugged by the warm water and fruity smelling bubbled. I closed my eyes and let my head drift into dreamland. A land where were everything was perfect, no not perfect, normal. Freddie's life wasn't perfect but it was normal compared to my last ten years. As I got out the shower I heard the notes of a guitar pass through the walls and an oh so soft singing voice. I dried my body with the soft – not scratchy like the hospital's – towels. I pulled on my clothes and followed the sound of the music, my hair dripping behind me.
I stood in the door way and watched Freddie leant over a guitar, his back facing me. I stood in the door way and listened. I definitely like his music more than the Sex Pistols, not that the Sex Pistols weren't good to some people. But Freddie's voice was the personification of freedom. It wasn't perfect but soft and rough at the same time. It was the type or voice that good into your head and turned everything upside down. It was the sun rise and set all in one, mesmerizing.
“Creep.” Muttered Vespa as she walked past. Freddie must of heard because the music stopped playing but before he could turn I was gone. I ran into my room and shut the door. I heard his steps
down the hall coming closer and closer, a knock on the door.
“Hey Fre-” I opened the door to Noah. “Oh, hello.” I said blushing a little.
“Is their something you wanted?”
“Oh er yeah, tomorrow after work do you want to go clothes shopping. It's just that we only have these clothes and they're gonna start to smell soon.” He said quickly.
“Um ok. Bye then.” Noah waved and I closed the door. Well that had been awkward, strangely awkward. Noah usually wasn't that weird around me.
“Really?” I asked
“Yes.” Jessie said plainly. “It's a proven fact that if a boy likes you he acts nervously around you.”
Wait, I thought remembering a bit from a book I had read. Was Noah acting nervous because he liked me? I leant against the bedroom door and bit my lip dazedly. I hoped he liked me that would just make this day perfect. A new home, a warm bath, a cosy bed and Noah. I fell asleep that night, his face looking down at me when I closed my eyes. His unruly hair, his bravery and the daft look he got on his face when he ran.