KDvtM Chapter 3: Albatross / by Kyle Darnell

Here is chapter 3 of my NaNoWriMo project Kyle Darnell versus the Multiverse and my increasingly burdensome trials of accountability.

Chapter 3: Albatross

Kyle has a plan to rescue his brother Chris from whatever has abducted him. Armed with a slotted wooden spoon, a metal spatula, and a blue miniature bat he received from going to the San Diego Padres baseball game with his church's youth group last year, he exits the front door.

Standing now on the walkway that connects all of the second floor residents of the Continental Apartment complex, he leans over the railing to survey his surroundings. Looking right, just down the stairwell next to the gated front entrance he sees the landlord leading a small karate class. Kyle, in exchange for helping to clean up the place, has received lessons from him the past year. He will act as a last resort in case Kyle can’t find Chris on his own volition.

The apartment complex, all four sides standing three stories high encircles the main common area. Not for swimming since it is filled with dirt, the kidney-bean shaped raised pool has several gardens planted by residents which acts as a community service project. Upon harvest of the corn, tomatoes, and the like, will celebrate with a department wide block party lead by the Super. Last years party got out of hand as some of the residents became too drunk, which of course leads to fights, broken windows, and mercifully ending with the cops coming in to break up the nonsense. While Kyle doesn’t look forward to that, he has helped tend to the garden to help procure a small  10x10’ section for all of the kids to play marbles.

Kyle had become really good at marbles in the time that he has been there. While not necessarily interested in it from the get go, it did offer parents a way of keeping their children inside of the complex and away from the gang activity just outside on the streets.

From the ledge, Kyle spots a small group of older kids hanging out in the the pool, hunched over the marbles circle, throwing down their bets for the upcoming match.

“CHRISSSSSS!” Kyle yells as he spots his brother amongst the group.

An inaudible but very visible “Fuck” comes out of Chris’s mouth as he stands up and looks up to the walkway where Kyle is standing jumping up and down, waving his arms like a goddamn idiot.

“I’m coming down.” Kyle raced down the stairs barefooted, over the grass and onto the swimming pool  jumping on his brothers back. “I defeated monsters and zombies and demons and Satan but I rescued you!”

All of the older kids in the circle around Chris started laughing. He shrugged Kyle off of his back, “Alright, you found me. Good job.” Chris says sarcastically. “But were just about to start the next game and I have five bones bet on this one, so please wait over there.” Chris gestured towards the outside of the pool.

“Nope,” Said Kyle, brightly looking up at his brother, “you need my help, I’m the best there is.” Kyle beamed with a chance to help coach Chris through this match.

“Okay you can watch,” Chris responded, “but please don’t get in the way.”

“Ill stand right here,” pointing at his feet, just outside finger dug ring of the marbles pit. “Ill be a tree!” Kyle raised his arms in the air, mimicking branches.

“Fine whatever, just shut up.”

Chris was playing against an older kid, Mexican, maybe eleven or twelve, towering over both of them.

“Drop your rocks” the older kid threatened, “I aint got all day.”

“Aint isn’t a word you dumb-dumb.” Kyle quipped.

“Was I talking to you? Chris, get this punk ass to shut up.”

“Sorry Manny,” Chris glared at Kyle. “He won’t be a problem.” Kyle motioned his pinched fingers across his lips, twisted at the end then threw away the imaginary key.

Both Chris and Manny dropped their bags of marbles into the circle, spreading them out by chance of them knocking around each other. The point of the game was to knock the other players marbles out of the ring using your two “boulders” which were slightly larger marbles. The winning player is the one left standing. Very simple to learn and very simple to loose. Kyle considered himself a champion because he had won three matches in a row this month, completely oblivious to his previous record of three wins to fifty-six losses.

“Chris got a pretty spread”, Kyle thought to himself. “All of his are pretty evenly spread out while Manny’s are grouped in clusters towards the edge of the ring.

Chris was up first, on his hands and knees he flicked his first boulder towards the ribbon filled marbles designating the opponent, ahead of him at the edge of the circle, knocking three out.

“OK, just fifteen left to go!” Kyle exclaimed. Chris glared at him once again.

He picked up his boulder and moved to his right, aiming at another small cluster of Manny’s marbles he shot, missing wide right and out of the circle.

“I wouldn’t have done that.” Kyle quipped.

“Well too bad no one want’s to play with you then.” Chris responded.

Manny was up. He got down, aiming at chris’s marbles he shot. Bouncing around, it knocked five of Chris’s stones out of the circle.

“How in the hell?” Said Chris.

“It’s because you missed” said Kyle.

Manny shot again, knocking out two more marbles. Again, chris was held in disbeliefe, he had eleven remaining and things werent looking good.

“Did I tell you I beat up the devil?” Said Kyle as he raised his fists. “He was in the bathroom and I needed to” he cuffed his hand around his mouth and whispered, “you-know-what.”

Manny knocked out three more. Eight to go.

“You didn’t beat up the devil.” Chris turned to Kyle, “I just closed the bathroom door because I knew you woudn’t go in there to clean your pissy sheets, or at least it would take you longer.”

Manny missed, it was Chris’s turn. He got down and shot, knocking out two of Manny’s marbles.

“But why would you do that?” Kyle cried.

Chris bent over and shot his next boulder. “Because you are a pest, Kyle.” His shot misses wide left. Chris stood up. “I never wanted a younger brother and I definitely didn’t want Mom and Dad to divorce because of it.”

Manny, noticing that everyone was looking at Chris and Kyle argue, swiped seven marbles out of the circle. “Match point” he exclaimed. Everyone turned back to watch as Manny shot, knocking Chris’s final marble out of the ring.

Chris collapsed down in disbelief. “God dammit, I needed that for dinner tonight.”

“Then why did you play?” Kyle snapped, “If we needed it then you just hurt everyone.”

“You talk about hurt? Kyle, you are the reason Dad left. Everything was great before you came along.” Chris raised his voice louder. “You know we used to own a house right?”

“Why does that matter?”

“Because it meant that we didn’t have to live in a shitty apartment, I didn’t have to walk through gang territory just to catch the bus for school. We didn’t have to live such a horrible life.” Chris kept walking towards Kyle, approaching the outside edge of the pool. “Everything was better before you came along.”

“But I didn’t do anything.” Kyle looked back, noticing that the six foot drop off of the edge of the pool was approaching.

“You did everything!” Chris shoved Kyle, sending him back. Kyle stumbled, then tripped over a rock, spinning around trying to catch his balance, falling forwards over the edge.

Kyle flew through the air, spinning head first to the concrete. Momentarily, he caught a shared glance with Chris. Time slowed to a halt. What was fear, the assumption of impending pain and possibly death, slipped away. And was replaced with bliss. Kyle didn’t think that he actually caused his parents divorce, and if he did, it wasn’t his fault. This comforted him, he was good kid and he knows it.

Staring at Chris, whose gaze wrinkled from the strain of anger, turning to the same fear Kyle felt before, he smiled. Still spinning, but slowly in the stalled time flow he was now in, Kyle stared out. First at the group of kids, dressed just as poorly from hand-me downs and thrift store conquests, they were in the same place as he and his brother were. Squalor and shame. Kyle realized that people in their condition were doing the best they could, whose pride had afforded them to live beneath the means that most of America were accustomed to. But they embraced it, and supported each other. A sense of community is what made them strong, but it is what also kept them in their place, running in molasses towards an inexorable goal of fostering children who would hopefully not make the same mistakes they did. Ultimately the cycle would return.

Kyle noticed them laughing, but what else could they do. The airing of dirty laundry in public ultimately leads passersby to guilt and an aversion of the eyes. But kids, they recognized it for what it is: comedy gold. Time slowly started to speed up. Kyle saw their looks of laughter turn to serious concern. His moment of bliss was quickly fading, and the concrete is readily approaching.

His head hit first with a loud crack. The rest of his body collapsed down over it, arms and legs sprawling uncontrollably like the first steps of a newborn baby colt. The rest of his weight followed, leaving him unconscious on the ground, face first.

Chris jumped down and poked at his side, “Hey Kyle, are you okay.” There was no response. So he tried again, holding back the tears in his eyes, “Kyle, get up, Mom’s home!” Still there was no response.

Blood started gushing from the right side of Kyles head. The other kids jumped down, Manny with his winnings in hand. “I don’t think he’s going to be okay, man.” Said Manny.

“Dude, I fucking know.” Chris yelled at Manny, “Nobody touch him, I’m going to go call 911.” Chris ran upstairs to the apartment but couldn’t get inside. Apparently Kyle, in his hurry to find Chris, accidentally locked the door. Chris ran to neighbors knocking on the door, yellling for help. The complex Super came out the manager’s office on the first floor, with his cordless phone.

“I got em on the line.” He yelled to Chris, “They want to talk to you.”

Chris ran back down the stairs and grabbed the phone.

911: “911 dispatching, your brother is hurt?”

Chris: “Yes it’s my younger brother Kyle, he fell off of the ledge of the pool and hit his

head. Theres so much blood.”

911: “Is he responding sir.”

Chris: “No”

911: “Is he breathing?

Chris: “A little, I just checked him and blood is starting to go into his nose and mouth. What should I do, did you send an ambulance?

911: “We have sent units to your location. It is important you do not move him as he might have spinal damage.”

Chris: “Spinal damage isn’t going to matter if he drowns in the blood.”

911: “Sir, you need to remain calm.”

Chris: “Fuck that, you guys never get here in time.”

Chris threw the phone to the Super, “Here, you talk to them.” He was right to worry, emergency services took on average thirty minutes to arrive in their neighborhood. As part of his fifth grade class, Chris had learned the basics of CPR. He rushed over  to the side of Kyle’s lifeless body and flipped him to his back..

On his knees, Chris looked up to the circle of concerned adults and kids, “Alright, it’s to Stayin’ Alive.” With his hands crossed, palms down, he placed them on Kyle’s chest over his heart. “Ha,” he pushed down. “Ha,” he pushed again. “Ha,” he pushed a third time. “Ha,” he pushed one last time. “Stayin alive!”

There was no response.

Chris put his finger under Kyles nose. He wasn’t breathing anymore. He slapped Kyle a couple of times in the face, “Come on buddy, we can get through this. I didn’t mean any of that.” Chris pinched Kyles nose and started to breath into his mouth. Kyles chest began to swell then went down again. “Your not the reason mom and dad got divorced. Come on, come back.” Chris check his breathing again, still nothing.

“Shit!” Chris repeated the chest compressions. HE pushed up and down on his chest, “Ha, ha, ha, ha Stayin’ Alive, Stayin Alive.” He went back up to his face and tried to breath air into his lungs. He moved at such a frantic pace that blood soaked his hands and face. He moved back down to the chest.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha Stayin’ Alive, Stayin Alive.”  everybody joined in, hoping to will Kyle through this.

There still was no response. The sound of sirens could be heard off in the distance. Chris went back up to the face and blew again into his mouth. The sirens we just outside of the apartment complex, their lights casting alternating blue and red, illuminating Kyles face.

As Chris frantically tried to save Kyle, the pool of blood started to grow black, absorbing all light around it. “What the hell is this?” He noticed. It became dark out, even the lights of the ambulance and cops cars couldn’t seem to escape it’s suction. Chris stopped his compressions.

The black started to glow from white dots, growing brighter and brighter till they seemed to pop and went back down to a pinhole size. Fantastic colors pulsed in a chaotic pattern until they seemed to settle on blue and gold, fading into the black blood.

“I know what this is,” said Chris. “It’s a nebula... but how?”

Kyle’s body began to float up, separating itself from the nebulous blood encircling him. The paramedics stopped and looked up, he was just out of their reach. Everyone stared in disbelief as he slowed his ascension.

He began to glow with an intensity rivaling the sun. “Boom.” the light shot out of him in every direction and he disappeared. The light returned all around and the blood quickly dried up. Everyone looked about themselves, questioning what they had just saw, but Chris knew exactly what happened. He had killed his little brother.