If I Can Do It

"So don't you think if I can do it, than you can?"
(Midlogue to They Never Came Back)
—A short story I wrote for my Creative Writing class

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1. If I Can Do It

Her footsteps echoed like a knife to a chopping block. The hallway that enclosed her projected the clip…clap…clip…clap of her six-inch stilettos. Her breath sounded perhaps just as loudly, and her body would not keep still, quivering in its overdosage of adrenaline. At the end of the way a window poured the supposed moonlight onto one spot on the ground and only there. As she drew closer and closer to the pane the discomfort grew by and by. As if a violinist were situated somewhere beyond and had found the highest note he could play, and wanted to see just how high he could go. Until finally she had made it into the beam, and her features were now revealed. A gorgeous head of hair, dyed a deep red and permed to perfection. Her face slathered in a conglomeration of inks and blushes that would make Madonna envious. She donned a dazzling blue dress that shimmered under the light, and that should have been worn to a prom, and not a haunted house with a serial killer running rampant.

“It’s gonna be a hand; I’m calling it now.”

Too bad the angelic idol couldn’t hear. For if she had, she might have actually acted much more intelligently than she had been for the past hour.

“Aaaaaand…now!”

And she might have been spared the shadowy hand that grasped her neck, and drew her into the sea of darkness without a sound, but brass horns booming their long anticipated notes.

“Oh, c’mon!” he shouted in anguish. “You’re ruining the movie!”

A television blared in front of an olive green sofa that had seen better years. The pastel wallpaper had taken a danker feel due to the lack of lamplight, an absolute necessity for immersion. A cassette revved in the VCR below, and its cardboard sleeve tipped over upon the device’s corner. Upon the ragged cushions two children reclined, one of which who was certainly irritated.

The other, a slumped teen, looked over at her brother. Her t-shirt’s neckline was purposely too big, and allowed her right shoulder and the strap of what her parents assumed was a tank top to remain exposed.  

“You sear?” she said, gesturing to the screen with a flared hand. “There’s not much to ruin. It’s by-the-book, Lev. A five-year-old could guess what happens next.”

The boy fell into the couch in a similar manner. “It is to you!” he said. “I wanted to enjoy this without you guessing every scene!”

Her face scrunched in bewilderment, as she reached a hand to pull her brown hair behind one ear. “Then…why did you wanna watch this with me?”

He opened his mouth to snark, but he stopped himself. She had a point. His sister did this all the time. She was a contemporary Sherlock Holmes—if Mr. Doyle’s famous detective were a sixteen-year-old girl calling poorly written plot points and jump scares. She was able to predict practically every movie they watched, whether in the theater or at home. Did he think she would stop just this once?

“I don’t know,” he huffed in defeat, rattling his head to swing his bangs from his eye. He gazed back at the movie that had been left playing, showing a scene of two guys throwing incredibly fake punches. “Never mind.”

So it was settled (sorta), and the siblings commenced their show. For a mere half a minute there was no sound but the screams and cliché lines from the one-dimensional characters. Until the boy broke the quiet with a statement that made his sister smile.

“Nice job though. You called it on the spot.”

And also until a heavy thudding rang from the entryway and throughout the establishment.

The two of them ripped their eyes from the screen and peered at their front door, which situated just to their left. Both puzzled at the noise and its sudden arrival.

“Who’s that?” the boy asked in all sincerity.

“I dunno,” his sister answered as genuine as he. “You expecting someone?”

He shook his head, and as if his gesture were a trigger the banging stopped. An angry voice roared from the other side of the barrier, and he knew exactly who it was.

“Leveret! Open the door!”

He wasted no time once he recognized the tone, but was still just as confused. He rose from his seat on the couch and hustled to the door, which took barely any time at all.

“Wait, is that Vixen?” his sister asked.

“Yeah,” he affirmed, but didn’t look back. He twisted the nob in his hand and pulled. The door swung open to reveal a heated friend at his front doorstep, her fists clenched and her nostrils exhaling a monsoon.

“Oh, hey,” he said, slightly concerned at her presence and anger. “What’s u—”

Leveret didn’t get to ask what was up, as he sensed a hand at his shirt collar. But he never saw it; she was too quick. And in an instant it seemed the world around him transformed, from a cramped and darkened home to the lush of nature and the crinkling of tires against the pavement. It was like he had jumped into another world, except he had only been yanked through his front door and onto his porch. The girl let go of his black shirt and pulled the knob, as wood slammed against wood.

“Oh my God!” he yelled once the girl leered back at him. “What is wrong with you?!”

Vixen jabbed her index finger straight at him. “Don’t even start with me!” she scolded like a mother to her child, the sort of way she was known to act. “Did you seriously say no?!”

The boy was still angry, but couldn’t have been any more confused. He had no idea what she meant. “Wait, Vix, what’s going on?”

Her deep dark eyes pierced through his soul, yet as of now they were hopeful. As if she wanted to be in the wrong more than anything. “You aren’t coming, are you? Did you tell Bernard no?”

He stared, and that was it. He hadn’t talked to her for the last hour, since before he had spoken with Bernard over the phone. She was absolutely right.

But how did she know that? Nobody knew that.

“How the—“

“You did!” she screamed in his face. “Danget, Lev!”

Leveret placed his hands before himself as if to push away a stampeding Vixen. Yet he only leaned back and balanced, and looked quite stupid in the process. “Whoa, whoa, chill out!” he desperately advised.

“Don’t tell me to ‘chill out!’” she yelled. “Here I am standing outside Freddy’s alone like a complete idiot and you don’t even show up! You seriously told Bernard no! I am furious with you!”

“Stop talking to me like that!” Leveret shouted.

“You shut up, Lev! You are an inconsiderate friend and you are going!”

“No, I’m not!”

The young lady propped her hands on her hips while she stood on that porch. “Oh, you most certainly are!” Her eyes dug into his mind, those pupils like bayonets jabbing into his brain.

“You know, last time I checked, you’re not my mom,” Leveret pointed out, just in case she had forgotten. To show just how snide he was he folded his arms over his red-and-white Letterman jacket.

His Letterman jacket. He thought he had everyone fooled.

The girl huffed. “Don’t even go there with me,” she said. “You won’t go to a kid’s restaurant with your friends just because you’re being a jerk!”

“Excuse me?!” he tried to sound hurt, turning the blame back on her. But those bayonets positioned at the ready, so he gave up. “C’mon, do you blame me?” he pleaded. “That place is an acid trip.”

“Yes, Leveret, we are well aware,” she grumbled. This was no new line of dialogue. He said this whenever the pizzeria came up in conversation. Always a spawn of drug overdose, and nothing other than that.

“So you get it then?” he spoke.

“No, Lev, I don’t get it!”

“What’s there not to get?!”

“Your friend asked you to hang out, and you totally shot him down!”

Leveret made the intent to argue, but closed his mouth immediately. She was right. He had denied the invitation to accompany his best friend, Bernard, while he took his little sister to dinner. The voice over the phone had been quite angered from his response; Leveret’s sarcasm was a torment all on its own, like nails to a chalkboard.

He thrust his hands into his jean pockets and shifted his weight to one leg. “Y—yeah, I know,” he admitted. His eyes began to beg. “But c’mon, Vix! If someone sees me there I’ll be a laughing stock!”

The girl inhaled sharply, for she had much to say. “You can’t be serious!” she fumed. “You act like you’re so popular! Well, newsflash: you’re not! No one’s gonna care! You’re being ridiculous, Lev!”

Leveret said nothing, and continued to stare. The world seemed to slow, allowing him time to consider things. It was true; he wasn’t popular. He wasn’t well-known—in a good way at least. He was a conformed bully with the most unlikely of pals. A soft-spoken and shy, yet surprisingly firm, young man named Bernard, who had invited him to the pizzeria half an hour ago over the phone. And the girl that stood before him now, in her sea foam sweatshirt and light blue pants, midnight curls pulled back in a bun as best as she was able. The outgoing, athletic, kind, loving, humble, understanding, and overall beautiful Vixen.

Yes, Leveret thought all those things.

But he would never say it.

And as his own temper had cooled, so had hers. Those bayonets had lowered finally, gazing down upon the front deck. “Look, I’m going to be straight,” she spoke, a lot shakier than before. “I’m afraid of those animatronics; you know that. Phobic. But I’m going because Bernard asked to hang out with me. And…even though I’ll be super uncomfortable, I’m doing this for him.” She raised her eyes back to him, no weaponry attached. “Because he’s my best friend. And he’s yours too. So don’t you think if I can do it, then you can?”

Leveret couldn’t look away from her. He thought upon all Vixen had thrown at him. She really was afraid of the animatronics at the pizzeria, and he hadn’t the foggiest idea why. Her phobia was certainly real; he had seen his friend’s face when she came across one. Immediately the color would drain from her complexion, and he was positive she had ceased breathing altogether.

And Bernard was his best friend, and he really had turned him down on the spot. Quite rudely, in fact. Leveret was in the midst of learning to discern what was considered offensive and what was okay to say, thanks to Vixen’s extensive and sporadic lectures on the topics. Such phrases like “I’d love more than anything to hang with you guys at that acid trip of a restaurant, but I have a reputation to keep,” and, “If someone sees me there, I might as well tattoo ‘nerd’ on my forehead,” were not the type one is alright with being told.

Was it really all that difficult to imagine himself traversing out of his comfort zone if the so dubbed “Freddy-Phobia” Vixen could?

"Yeah, you’re right,” he said, for it wasn’t hard to imagine at all. She looked back to him, and their eyes met and locked. “If you can do it,” Leveret spoke, “then I definitely could. I mean…who cares what they’re gonna think, right?”

Vixen finally, after all this time, was able to force a smile. It was the most gorgeous of smiles, one fit for royalty. And the way her eyes sparkled like stars in the vastness of space. Looking down upon her friend with gratification, indeed, like a mother watching her own child taking his first steps. Though, the comparison wasn’t too far off. His response in itself, even with a glimmer of selflessness, was a wobbly foot forward. Leveret was gaining closer to his final destination: humility. Well, that was a bit of a stretch. As of now he wanted to get to at least “common courtesy.” But no matter his goal, he was just that much closer to it. And that was why Vixen smiled, witnessing her best friend demolish this tiny hurdle.

She gestured with a nod down the concrete path. “Well, c’mon then,” she said.

Leveret had meant to follow her down the wooden steps at once, until he heard the door behind him open, along with the joyful bid, “You two lovebirds have fun!” 

He spun around to find his sister peeking from the doorway, grinning ear to ear. Leveret went pale. “Scarlett!” he hissed, praying that Vixen wasn’t listening. And a quick glance behind him shown that his friend was still making her way across the path. He took that as a sign that she hadn’t heard.

Vixen giggled under her breath.

“Oh, don’t be a dork,” his sister said with a roll of her eyes. “Just go have lots’a fun! We can finish our movie when you get home.”

He didn’t want it to show, but a grin peeked at the corner of his mouth. “Thanks,” he said, and sped down the sidewalk.

Scarlett still stood in the doorway, viewing her little brother as he made off in her long lost Letterman jacket. And slowly realizing that Leveret hadn’t given her a farewell hug. It was quite an uncommon thing for him to forget. Even in his time as a bully under the constant watch of his cruel peers, he had never missed the opportunity to give her at least a hearty high-five. But she wasn’t bothered that he forgot; in fact, she was ecstatic. He must have been so excited to hang out with Vixen that the thought hadn’t crossed his mind.

Ah, young love: a rare instance to see. Nowhere else can one find a bond so intimate, yet so innocent. And at the early age of eleven her little brother had found it. Whether or not Leveret had the guts to confess it, Scarlett was positive Vixen felt the same way. From all her years of predicting and critiquing cinema, she could identify the eyes of a lover from a mile away.

Scarlett beamed brighter than the sun, as she watched the young couple stroll together toward their destination.

Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.

But she remained joyful. She had no reason to worry. It was only a pizzeria, built for children no less. What was the worst that could happen?

Exactly the reason why the concern had never even arisen in her mind.

So Scarlet closed the door behind her, with the full expectation that she would see Leveret later that evening when he came home. That she would be able to finish The Haunted Killer with her little brother, and most likely spoil the entire ending for him before the climax.

She nonchalantly climbed the staircase to her bedroom to finish her homework, without any anticipation that Leveret would never come back. 

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