“Hey, give that back,” I shouted.
Evalyn leaned over the back of my seat with a pair of earbuds in hand. Brilliant blue eyes framed with pale skin and blonde banes contrasted the malicious grin that spread across her face. “Not so fast.”
“It’s mine and I said give it back!” I reached for them, but she swiped away just in time. All The While laughing at me.
“Kid, sit the fuck down,” said the Driver. Though wide aviator shades obstructed most of his face, I knew he was looking right at me. The old man pulled a lever, closing the bus doors.
I plopped back down in the seat and crossed my arms.
“Ooohh, you got in trouble,” said Evalyn, her taunting words rang in my ears.
“Not as much trouble as you’re going to be.”
“Oh, what? You’re going to tell on me?” She scooted towards the window and pressed her face towards the back of my seat. “Do it and watch what happens.”
I glanced through the small space between the window and the seat to find my special edition Mario Brothers earbuds pulled tight between her tiny hands.
“Don’t!” The shout punched through the other sounds on the bus. I felt his stare. His cold dead stare. I turned around. His beady black eyes peeked over the brim of his aviators.
“If you want these back, then you’ll have to play with me.” Her words like the whisper in some unforgiving nightmare.
“I don’t want to play with you,” I whispered, as I waited for the Driver to release me from his gaze. “Remember last time?”
“I thought you liked playing doctor with me.”
With my face pressed against the seat, I snuck a peek at her through the small space. “You made me drink frog pee. I don’t like drinking frog pee.”
Evalyn laughed, so did her friend, and so did just about everyone else. I was not aware that the bus had stopped, and as a consequence, my voice was a lot louder than expected.
“Kid, I’m gonna let that one slide,” said the Driver, as he opened the doors. He waved at the parents that stood outside.
I fumed as my face burned with rage, but she wasn’t finished. Evalyn snuck into my seat and produced a backpack. A simple pink JanSport bag with all sorts of things to complicate my life.
“What do you want me to do?” I watched as she unzipped the bag. She dug a hand inside and looked at me.
“Have you heard of the Pedo Nazi?” Her smile was the pleasant wrapping for a horrible gift.
“A pedo nazi?” I knew I didn’t want to ask. Her hand shuffled around in the bag, something clanged. She brought the bag closer to her when I tried to look.
“No peeking. You need to know how to play first.”
“How do I play,” I asked, with a pout.
“When it’s night, and your parents go to sleep, you need to go in front of a mirror and drink this.” Evalyn slipped out a glass bottle of what looked like liquified dog turds, and presented it in her hands like a treasure. “This is pumpkin spice coffee.”
“Coffee? My parents don’t let me drink that stuff.”
“Neither do mine, but I snuck one out from their fridge. My parents blamed each other and threw like this huge fight. It’s okay, trust me.” She must’ve noticed my hesitance. “Watch.” She twisted off the top, took a sip, and seemed to have enjoyed it. “It’s good. I promise no frog pee this time.” She placed the bottle in my lap.
“I drink this in front of a mirror when my parents go to sleep and then what?” I studied the odd mermaid design on the bottle.
“Then the Pedo Nazi comes to play!”
“What’s a Pedo Nazi?”
A paper airplane nose dived into my forehead and a fat head with glasses popped up from behind the seat in front of me. “The Pedo Nazi? Oh, I know this one. Doesn’t he chase you around the house?”
“Yeah,” said Evalyn. “He chases you, but you better not let him get to you.”
“Why,” I asked, glancing at Evalyn. “What happens when he gets you?”
“Uhhh,” said fat face. “Don’t tell him E. I don’t think frog piss can handle it.”
“Tell me,” I said, pleading. “What happens if the Pedo Nazi gets me?”
Evalyn and fat face shared a grave stare before uttering the words, “you die.”
“Nnooo,” I shouted with a sudden panic. I dropped the bottle and it rolled down towards the front of the bus. “I don’t wanna play.”
Evalyn pulled out my earbuds from her backpack and dangled them in front of me. “Are you sure?”
I shook my head and winced when she brought out a pair of My Little Pony scissors.
“I bet Mr. Scissor wants to play.”
“Okay, I’ll play,” I said, watching with absolute vigilance as the chord to my earbuds dangled between two sharp metallic blades. “Just leave them alone.”
“Hey kid, this is your stop,” said the Driver. “Hurry your whiny ass off this bus.”
I grabbed my backpack, and felt the other kids staring at me as I stepped into the aisle.
“You better not forget,” said Evalyn as she snapped her scissors.
I gulped, turned around, and continued towards the exit. The doorframe glistened in the sunlight. The handrail and steps basked in vibrant rustic tones. I stopped just before the steps, and shot a glance at the bottle of pumpkin spice coffee under the Driver’s seat.
“What’s the matter, kid,” said the Driver, staring at me while tucking away a tall can of beer. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Pumpkin spice,” I said, darting my eyes towards the floor board.
“Pumpkin spice,” he asked, while following my gaze. He groaned as he reached for the bottle. “This stuff taste like melted candle wax processed through a pig’s asshole. I wouldn’t drink it if I was you.”
I grabbed the bottle, but he tugged when I tried to pull it from his grip. He leaned in closer, and took off his glasses. His eyes looked like he’d been crying, and his breath smelled like my dad’s. “Kid, if it’s about impressing that girl over there, take my advice and don’t do it. It ain’t worth it.”
“She’ll cut it if I don’t,” I said, as I tugged on the bottle again.
“My ex said the same thing, and it’s still in one piece. Now go home.” He let go of the bottle and I carried it with me.
Tucked in my bed with the bedroom door closed, I waited as my dad continued to go about his routine for the night. Footfalls from the kitchen to the living room, cheers and exclamations from the TV, and the occasional pop of a crisp can. I waited as quiet as I ever could for fear that any sound, even that of a silent fart, would alert my dad. I didn’t want him to barge into my room and threaten me with this or that, and I most certainly did not want him to question why I snuck a warm bottle of pumpkin spice cold brew under the covers.
Minutes passed, maybe even an hour, and a heavy silence permeated throughout the house. The sort of silence that punctuates the slow drip of a leaking faucet, the hum of a rotating fan, and the groan of worn floorboard. I slipped out from beneath the covers. Dressed only in my underwear, I felt a cool air on my chest, and a chill from the floor. With a cautious finger on the knob, I open the door without it making a single squeak. I tiptoed down the hallway and slithered through the ajar bathroom door, closing it behind me. I flicked a switch and saw my reflection gleam back at me, as I adjusted to the light. I raised the bottle of coffee and rubbed a finger over the smooth glass.
“There’s no such thing as a Pedo Nazi,” I said, as I popped the top. “This better not have frog pee in it.”
I downed the beverage, or at least tried to, but I gagged on the first taste. Liquified playdough, sweetened with cups of sugar, and warmed from hours without refrigeration did not make for a good experience. I chugged another mouthful and quivered like the time a kid, within an arm reach from me, squirted poo in the public pool. I closed my eyes and tried to power through. The image of my headphones dangling between the jaws of her scissors haunted me. I shook my head, braced the counter, and dared to take another shot. I shuddered as soon as the pumpkin spice touched my tongue with such disgust that I dropped the bottle. It shattered in the sink.
“Pedo Nazi?” My whisper was followed by another as I looked in the mirror. “I don’t see you.”
“Pedo Nazi?” Using the mirror, I spied around me for something, for anything, only to find nothing.
A teddy bear popped from behind my reflection. I shrieked and turned around to find that it was gone.
The door opened and my dad, a tower of thick fat and old muscle wrapped in bronze flesh, shoved fat a finger in my face, “What the hell are you doing?”
“The Pedo Nazi. He’s real!”
“Pedo Nazi? What the Hell are they teaching you at school?”
“Evalyn told me about it. If you drink pumpkin spice in front of a mirror the Pedo Nazi comes.”
“Pumpkin spice,” said my dad, eyes drawn to the sink. “What the Hell is this!? I don’t want to hear it! Get your ass in bed before I give you a whoopin’!”
“Yes, sir,” I said, sulking around him, half expecting the sudden sharp pain on the rear to follow and, as expected, it did. I shuffled to my room, closed the door, and went under the covers.
“Goddamn school is poisoning my kid’s mind.” My dad’s mumbling grew softer “I’ll give that fucking school a call tomorrow.”
His footfalls faded and then a sudden slam.
I turned onto my side, facing away from the door, and closed my eyes.
My body tensed, blood went cold, eyes wide open.
I turned around and out from the cracked door marched a brown teddy bear dressed in a Nazi SS uniform with a Hitler mustache. The stuffed animal moved on its own, and gave seig heils as he advanced closer to my bed.
“You better be quiet kid, or else you get a spanking.” It said in a cute voice with a slight Austrian accent. “You don’t want me to spank you, too hard, do you?”
“Dad!” I jumped onto my feet. “Dad, come here now!”
My bedroom door flew open with such force the knob punched through the drywall.
“Dad, look! The Pedo Nazi.” I pointed at the teddy bear, but my dad didn’t even seem to register. I begged him to look at it, but instead he charge at me. I tried to scurry away, but he grabbed me, placed me over his knee, and spanked me over and over again. I cried, tears streamed from my eyes, but that only seemed to anger him more.
“Dad, stop. I don’t want a spanking.”
“Then man up, and shut up. Otherwise, I’ll give you a lesson my dad gave me when I was your age.”
My dad picked me up like a cheap toy and tossed me on the bed.
“Shut up and get some fucking sleep.” He kicked the stuffed nazi bear into a far corner and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
I curled up in bed, slid the covers over, and watched the corner with a vigilant eye. My rear raged in throbbing pain, and though it hurt more than the previous times, it failed to direct my attention away from the teddy bear. It moved. It crawled and rose back to its feet.
“You should’ve been quiet. Now, how about I give you a hug?” It dusted off the uniform, and resumed its Nazi march.
“Go away,” I whispered, glancing at the door for fear my dad might’ve heard.
“But we could have so much fun together.”
I shook my head, and kicked it away. A shiver shot through my foot the moment it touched the Pedo Bear’s fur.
“Yes, please, touch me some more. I love it when the young ones touch me.”
I lept away from the bed, raced into the closet, and closed the door.
“And I especially love it when they run from me.”
I held on to the knob, feeling the warmth of my breath as it brushed against the door.
“I know where you are.” The Pedo Nazi’s voice grew louder.
“I know you’re in the closet.”
I heard him brush against the door.
“Why don’t you come out of the closet and play with me. Oh, I love it when the kids come out of the closet.”
A furry paw poked out from under the door, and I stomped on it. Ice raged through my leg, followed by a numbing wave. I backed away from the door, and the stuffed freak tugged away like a dog digging for that precious bone, banging the door against the doorframe.
My dad shouted my name, and cursed me from down the hall, and yet the little fuzzy paws were still at it. I heard my bedroom door fly open, the lights went on, and the Pedo Nazi stopped.
“Jesus Christ, Kid. I’m trying to get some fucking sleep. Where the Hell are you?”
“I’m over here dad. In the closet,” I said, flinching as bright light washed over me. “Dad, that bear, it’s trying to get me.”
“What bear? This piece of shit?” My dad went to grab the stuff animal.
“Don’t touch it. It’ll hurt you.”
My dad shot me a puzzled look and grabbed the bear. “Where did you get this fucking thing?”
“Dad, be careful. It’ll hurt you!”
My dad yanked me out from the closet, smacked my rear with a leather belt, and threw me onto the bed. “The only one that is going to be hurting is you. I told you to shut up and get some sleep. I don’t want to smack you around like how my dad did me, but I swear to God, I might just lose it. Now, get in the bed and get some fucking sleep!”
“Take that thing with you,” I said, hiding under the blanket.
“Trust me, I intend to. This thing is going in the fucking trash.” My dad tucked the bear under his arm, and turned off the light on his way out.
Balled up like a wounded animal, I mustered the courage to sneak at my open door. The hallway faded into a darkness, void of even the slightest light. No movement. Not even the flicker of a shadow. Yet, I stared relentlessly as if expecting that thing, that Pedo Nazi, to poke its demented head out from the nether. I heard the metal clang of the trashcan. I heard the thump of something soft and cuddly thrown into the bin. Yet, something gnawed at me. Something that refused to let go, something that festered at the back of my mind. The image of my limited edition earbuds in her hands burned into my eyes. I watched as she dangled them in front of me, teasing me like a dog, like a weak pathetic dog. And as the weak and pathetic dog, I did nothing to stop her. But if I survived the night, she’ll give them back, right? She’ll have to, she gave her word.
Oh no, I forgot to make her promise!
The horrifying thought sent me pacing around the room. Evalyn’s smile haunted me, her laughter taunting me as she chopped her scissors. Her stupid My Little Pony scissors.
I jumped to my bed.
“Dad,” I said, fear dripping from the simple three letter word.
“Dad,” I said again, as I managed to build just enough nerve to crawl out of bed. I crept towards the door with my body plastered to the wall.
“Dad is that you?” Weary legs inched me closer, and I leaned against the opened door with trembling fingers.
I wormed along the wall and peered just a bit around the corner. The metal trashcan basked in the pale illuminance.
“I love it when they call me dad,” said the The Pedo Nazi, as it thrashed inside the can.“Now, get me out of here!”
I went back behind the cover and sighed.
“You asshole,” it said. “I know you’re there. I can feel your presence, your youthfulness. Now, get me out!”
The trashcan thrashed about.
“You’re so going to regret not playing with me.”
“Fuck,” my dad roared as he charged out of his room. “Why is it so hard to go to fucking sleep?”
“Dad, It’s not me. It’s the Pedo Nazi,” I said, knowing that he must surely believe me by now. The trashcan rocked about as if a cat tried to get out.
“For the love of Christ, stop it with this Pedo Nazi shit!”
“Dad, it’s real. Look at the trash can.”
My dad watched as the can thrashed about and scratched his head. “No way,” he said, as he stepped on the foot lever. A wild ball of fur sprang into the air. Fangs embedded into this nose. Claws buried into his face. He released a stream of obscenities the like of which I’ve never heard before as he pried the wild beast from his flesh.
“It’s the Pedo Nazi,” I said.
“It’s your mom’s fucking cat,” he said, as he held the frantic thing by the back of its neck. “And it’s one dead motherfucking cat.” He tossed the rabid feline into the living room without any regard for what it hit.
“But I could’ve sworn it was the Pedo Nazi!”
My dad turned towards me. He raised a swollen hand high up into the air, curled his sausage fingers into a fist, and brought it crashing down into an open palm. “For the last time, go to your fucking room and shut the fuck up!”
Legs frozen stiff, crotch warm with pee, and eyes engrossed with fear. I couldn’t move, not even when my dad drew near. He grabbed me by the neck, and hurled me into my room with even less regard than he had for the cat. I banged against the wall, smashed into the dresser, and collapsed onto the cluttered floor.
I woke into a world of pain. My head throbbed. My back ached. My skin pricked by the jagged edges of scattered Legos and Hot Wheels. I dragged my body to the bed, and struggled to climb on top. I had no clue how much time had passed, but the dark window ensured me that the night wasn’t over. The hurt lingered around, reminding me of its presence like a friend that had overstayed her welcome, and as tempting as it was to give in and cry, my mind was preoccupied with the Pedo Nazi staring at me from the corner of my room.
“I hope you’re ready to play!”