After several missed turns and misunderstood directions, we finally reached my apartment complex.
I stand up off of the dangerous motorcycle and nearly fall over, my legs not being used to solid ground quite yet.
The boy chuckles. “I see you’ve got your bike legs. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” Blushing, I handed him back his helmet. He takes it back, clasping the head piece back onto the hook inside the bag, preventing it from rolling around.
I watch his deliberate movements, eyeing his nimble fingers maneuver over the straps.
“So this is a goodnight then?” his low voice startles me.
Do I want him to leave yet? He did save me, and he showed me that no matter what one person can look like they can be the nicest, most kind person you’d ever meet.
“Uhm, this might be odd, but would you like to come inside? You probably have somewhere to go, but if you aren’t too busy perhaps you would like to well, come inside?” I fidget with the sleeve of my pale grey cardigan and look back and forth between my pastel pink converse and the boy’s face. I met this boy in the dark alley, he rides a motorcycle, he can obviously beat someone up, he looks like a criminal, and here I am welcoming into my home. I don’t even know his name, let alone whether or not he’s a serial killer.
The boy seems to ponder my offer for a moment. He finally twists the key on his motorcycle, turning the machine off. “I don’t see a reason why not; I ain’t got anywhere to go tonight.” his grammar makes me cringe internally, but I’m secretly pleased that he’s decided to join me.
He clasps his helmet to the handlebars of his motorcycle and swings his long leg over the top, coming to stand beside me. “Lead the way,” he states, gesturing with one hand and attempting to fix his helmet-hair with the other.
I nod and begin up the stairs that lead to the lobby. Hopping over the broken stair, I warn him of the obstacle so he doesn’t harm himself. The lobby of the complex wasn’t that fancy. To be frank, it wasn’t even clean. Despite my parent’s vast amounts of money and the savings accounts they had set up for me, I was a very poor girl. I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the money they put in my accounts, claiming it was for emergencies only. Even when I had discussed my severely uninhabitable living conditions, they still refused to release their hold on my accounts. They claimed I had to work for the money myself, and figure out how to get myself out of that situation alone.
In the lobby there was a few orange floral couches that looked extremely dusty, for no one ever mingled in the lobby for more than any more time than they had to; usually to get a room temperature can of diet cola from the dirt-old vending machine in the corner, or to complain about rats being in the ceilings again to the uninterested desk clerks, who often were on break for a large majority of the day. The ceilings were about ten foot tall, and covered with yellowed foam tiles. Black mold began to grow in the corners of several of the tiles, causing many to cough and wheeze when they spent too much time in the immediate area. The walls were once covered in beautiful art deco era wallpaper, but now peeled and hung in thin and thick strips, alternatively. The once well-polished wood floors were now cracked and scratched, worn from hundreds of people moving in and out in a rush, not caring what was damaged in the process. A majority of the boards themselves were missing, revealing the piping and mouse infested insulation underneath. Often where the boards were gone, management had torn out the scratchy insulation and stuffed newspaper in the gap instead, due to many mothers complaining about how their children had fallen in and now were covered in slivers and scratches.
I was embarrassed for this boy to see my living conditions; for some reason I wanted him to be impressed. Perhaps it was because I wanted to prove to everyone that I could handle myself, and I wasn’t just some ‘daddy’s little spoiled princess” like many had thought of me before, or if I just was truly embarrassed of what I lived within. Which, I’m not sure of.
“Nice place,” he mutters behind me, making my cheeks flare up with an embarrassed heat.
“It’s all I can afford right now.”
I look back to see him nodding understandingly. “I can relate to that. Although I’ve stayed in much worse places. So if I were you, I’d be pretty grateful for what I had.”
I nod, silently acknowledging his wisdom and advice. Despite how horrid the conditions here were to me, I knew that pain was relative and many would be extremely grateful for what I had here.
Walking to the stairs we passed the elevator. Although many had promised me that it was safe, I refused to even consider it as an option. The strange creaking sounds terrified me. I lived on the third floor, I can walk up two flights of stairs and survive the trek.
After walking the two sets of stairs and jumping over several more shattered boards and steps, we finally reached my floor. I walked exactly three doors down on the right side of the hallway, and pulled out my keys. I looked back to the boy patiently waiting, glancing around us in the gray, dimly lit hallway. Shuffling forwards I unlock my door, and step inside, motioning the bot to follow me. A low growl resonates through the room as he shuts the door behind him.
“Eb! Don’t you growl at me, young man!” I authoritatively said to my large dog. Eb was a Great Pyrenees. He was waist height on me and had long, fluffy white hair. His tail curled at the end, and he vaguely resembled a monolithic albino pomeranian.
Eb wagged his fluffy tail back and forth, and ran to greet me from his spot by the window. “Yes, I missed you too, buddy.” I said, kneeling down and scratching through his thick fur coat aggressively.
The boy coughed behind me, and I suddenly remembered that there’s a stranger in my home.
“Oh, my bad. Uhm this is my best and only friend, Eb. He’s a Great Pyrenees, and he will eat you if he doesn’t know you. Just a warning is all.” I inform the boy that he is a protection dog, and what’s his is his and you aren’t allowed to mess with it. “Eb, this is…” I begin to say to my dog, but trail off, not knowing this stranger’s name.
“My name is Michael.” he says, and I roll his name through my head a few times.
“Michael, Eb this is Michael. Go say hello.” With my instruction, the canine pads over to Michael and proceeds to jump up on his back legs to lick his face. Eb rests his front feet on Michael’s chest, and Michael grasps Eb’s shoulder’s and scratches his fur.
“Ah, hi Eb. Good doggy, okay, okay, stop licking me!” Michael giggles, pushing the large dog off of him. Eb trots back over to his pile of blankets by the window, and lies down, watching us from the corner of his eye.
Michael wipes his face on the back of his sleeves. “He’s friendly enough.” he comments, inspecting the jacket for any large globs of drool.
“When you’re supposed to be here, he is the sweetest baby ever.” I truly love my dog. He is the single greatest thing I never asked for. I was on my way home from my freshman classes at the community college when I saw a grey flash from the corner of my eye. It darted in the direction of a medium sized box, so I stopped to check, ready to run if it was another 10 pound sewer rat. I lifted the flap of the box with the toe of my sneaker and saw a dingy grey puppy. I stooped to look at it eye level, and it slowly crept out to sniff my outstretched hand. It licked my finger gingerly, and I slowly placed my hand on it’s head. It was love at first sight. I took it home, cleaned it up, scheduled it a vet’s appointment, and the rest was history. I named him Eb and he’s been with me for two years now.
“So I know your dog’s name, but not yours?” Michael half asks, half informs me.
I’m an idiot, I think to myself.
“My name is Maeve.” I tell him, looking at his face to see how he responds. He seems to be confused by the name, baffled by the rarity of it.
“I’ve never heard that name before, is it foreign?” He asks me.
“It’s Celtic. It means “cause of great joy”, amongst other things. My mother didn’t have a name chosen when I was born, but my father, who is Irish, saw me for the first time and called me Maeve, after the legend. He said he saw me and just knew that I would be his cause of great joy.” I relay to Michael, who seems quite interested in what I had to say.
“What a weird name.” he states. “I mean, like it’s a cool weird. Not that it’s not awesome or anything but it’s definitely something different than what I’ve heard before. It’s cool.” he splutters out after he saw my somewhat offended look.
“Thank you. I’m very proud of my Celtic roots, and my name.” I say with pride swelling in my bosom. My heritage really did mean a lot to me, especially on my father’s side. When I was but a child he used to weave me stories of our family being related to famous kings and queens and how someday we’d inherit glorious castles and beautiful green meadows across the plains of Ireland. Even now I sincerely hope that those tales would come true, even if they’re childish and petty.
“That’s really neat.” he says, looking around my small living room.
“Oh, I apologize, please sit.” I say, motioning for him to relax on my miniscule couch. Despite it being a three-seater, I was still quite close to Michael. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Uhm sure.” He says, adjusting himself on my furniture.
“What would you like?” I ask, getting up to go to my kitchen.
“What do you have?”
“I have water, milk, strawberry pop, diet Coke, whiskey, and beer in stock.” I rattle off my inventory, glancing throughout my fridge.
“I’ll have a beer if that’s okay?”
“That’s perfectly fine.” I grab a Guiness for him, and one for myself. I literally plop myself down onto the couch next to him, and hand him the tall can.
“Thanks.” He cracks open the can, and takes a swig. I follow suit.
“So, why did you save me back there?” I finally ask him, taking a large gulp of my can.
Michael watches my every move. “I’m not entirely sure why. I just did. I don’t usually play hero, that’s not really my thing.” he tells me, fiddling with the tab on his own can.
“Well I am very grateful that you did, because no matter what I tell myself, I almost got my ass handed to me, so thank you.” I inform him, watching him process my gratitude. I truly was thankful, despite my constant need for pride and self reliance.
“No problem. But I have a question for you.”