20 Mar

I stared in disbelief.  A boy, he could not have been older than sixteen, was asleep on my stoop with a newspaper draped over his body.  He wore a strange cape, with a skull at the shoulder, and under one hand, he held a wicked-looking staff.  He was a nice-looking boy, with his strange pale hair and his bow-shaped lips.  His large nose looked comical on such a smooth face.

Slowly, I nudged him with my fuzzy, purple slipper.  The boy jerked awake and stared up at me.  His eyes were an unusual green in color, and looked clouded with confusion. “Hey, get up.  Spent the night partying too long?” I asked.  He simply stared at me.  The silence quickly became awkward. “Do you want to sleep on my couch?” I knelt beside him, and he scowled as he puzzled through my words, then nodded and forced himself upright.  With sluggish limbs, he slipped past me as he held his cape shut.  He looked around, then flopped onto the plush seat with a quiet grunt.

The boy closed his eyes as I draped one of the throw blankets on him, and he fell back to sleep.  For a few moments, I simply watched him.  Just what did one do when confronted with a homeless kid in creepy clothes?  I scratched my head as I watched the boy.  Perhaps, I decided, when he woke up, I would ask him where he lived.  Perhaps he wasn’t homeless, just a runaway with weird fashion sense.

There was nothing I could do about it while he slept, so I began to make breakfast for myself.  I heard stirring from the living room, and wondered if I was being too noisy, and woke up the boy.  Absently, I glanced back.  There he was.  He was eyeing my skillet hungrily.  Slowly, he walked over, then pushed me aside as he grabbed the bacon and laid it out on the hot surface. “Make eggs.” he ordered. “Toast, too.  Toast should be medium-light, my eggs need to have runny yolks, but a firm white.” His voice didn’t sound like a kid’s voice.  Was he an adult?

Surprised, I began to follow his orders, unquestioning.  First, I made eggs, then popped four pieces of bread into the toaster.  The boy seemed to approve, and the help was appreciated. I mustered my courage and spoke. “Do you want sausage?”

“Too spicy.  Remember to butter the toast.” His words were curt and blunt.  He had a vague idea of how to cook bacon, but I worried he might pull it off too early or too late; he kept fidgeting and flipping it.

Finally, I became annoyed by his fidgeting. “Do you want me to take over?”

He suddenly hissed and pulled his hand back. “Sure.  Ow.” He stuck his finger into his mouth a moment, then shook it. “Damn grease…” He sighed and walked back out to the couch.

I looked out and pondered asking his age, until too much bacon grease began to spatter.  Carefully, and as fast as I could, I drained it from the pan, then continued to cook the wonderful meat candy. “Could you come in and talk to me while I cook, at least?”

After a few moments, the boy walked in.  In the light of the kitchen, I realized he wasn’t just some blond kid.  He had white hair, and looked about a quarter Asian, maybe half.  His nose was too big to be some teen’s, I thought.

“What’s your name?” I asked.  I tried to sound friendly.

“Armand.  Armand Bloodstar the second.” His response was automatic, like he’d been trained to say that, instead of ‘Manny’ or ‘Armand’.

“Quite the name.” I commented weakly. “Where are you from?”

“Not here…” He trailed off. “I doubt you’ve heard of it.”

“Maybe I can look it up.”

“Nah.” He shrugged. “Thanks for the couch and breakfast.  I should probably get going after food’s done.” His uneasiness was clear.

“No need.  I live here alone.” I pulled the eggs onto plates, then placed the buttered toast beside them, followed by several slices of bacon.  Before I carried the plates to the table, I turned off all of the various cooking utilities. The stove and toaster were both electric, and neither was any type of electric risk, but I still unplugged the toaster and made certain the stove was off before I picked up the food-warmed plates and carried them to the table. “Silverware’s in that drawer, by the fridge.  Grab some for both of us, please,” I requested as I scurried about, getting drinks. “Do you like OJ?  Whole milk?”

“Just milk, please.” He grabbed two forks and two knives, then looked around. “Napkins?” he finally asked.

“On the table, in the middle.  They’re just paper napkins.”

The boy nodded and set about preparing the table.  He placed the napkins on the left of each plate, with the fork atop it, and the knife on the opposite side, all by its lonesome.  Once I set the glasses out, he arranged them directly above the plates.  My two cups were arranged by size, with my large milk glass on the right.  He seemed very particular about table-setting, so I let it be, despite my unease at the idea of the glasses directly above my plate.  At least, I consoled myself, we weren’t having soup.

Finally, we sat down, and he began to eat as though starved.  The whites of the eggs disappeared first, and the toast was quickly slathered in egg yolk and devoured.  Finally, all that was left was bacon and milk.  The entire meal, he never took his eyes off it, save to ensure he didn’t let any of the runny yellow yolk spill over.  The bacon soon disappeared, and the milk right after.

“Thanks for breakfast.” He held in a burp. “That was good.”

“I’m glad you liked it-” I began.

Suddenly, he interrupted me. “I’m not used to women who are so great at cooking.  That bacon was perfect.”

For several long moments, I had no idea if I should be flattered or offended.


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