Image Chapter 5 by Wil Moore

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SUMMARY: About a boy growing up and his unusual friends.

5

Joey's grandparent's house was set back from the road and hidden behind a miniature forest of naked trees. Kak and the other occupants of the black sedan pulled into the driveway; the engine stopped and the headlights blinked out. The gang of four marched up to the front door and entered. Kak was the last one in and had to turn sideways and slip through at the last second before the door was closed. He wanted to find it odd that no one would wait for him to enter, but instead he found it down right rude, almost cruel.

Joey's parents had never introduced themselves to him, not ever in the many years he had lived with the boy, and not even now after riding in the car with them. In fact he only knew them as ‘mom and dad' and when he talked to Joey about them he referred to them as such, no matter how awkward it made him feel. They would come up stairs on occasion to talk to their son but never paid any mind to him or Frankie or Jelly or Old Bill. He often wondered if there was something he should know about the four of them, perhaps that they had some sort of disease or handicap, and mom and dad were kind enough to allow them to stay in the house but didn't want to be bothered by them. As if the bunch had a virus they didn't want to catch, the parents always kept their distance as well as their eyes facing the other way. He'd thought tonight was going to be the turning point, the time he was finally introduced and accepted into the family, but it seemed it was going to be no different than it was back at the house, ignored, avoided, left to his own devices.

The troubling thoughts about Joey's family were immediately interrupted when he walked into the living room. As if a fairy had tapped him on the top of the head with her magic wand, all malignancy was evaporated from his mind. Joey and the rest of the family continued into the room but Kak was stuck at the entrance, mouth hinged open, eyes watering and reflecting light from all directions, arms stiff at his side, and lungs holding a long forgotten breath. To his right a steady fire burned in the fireplace, it gave off just enough light to touch the faces of Joey's family with a warm pink glow that made them look as though they were blushing. Above the fire, on the mantle, were Christmas cards and ornaments all shouting red and green to commend the season. On either side of that were bookshelves packed with old hard bound books. Directly across from him on the far wall sat a deep blue couch which was overstuffed with relatives. To its left was a large blue chair with yet another body on top of it. In the corner of the room to Kak's left was the ominous Christmas tree.

The tree towered over all, looking down with its single shining five-tipped eye while holding countless shimmering bulbs with its infinite hands. And below, most exciting, of all, the presents. They were piled all around the green monster tumbling over themselves in an endless battle to reach the top of the gift mountain. Red bows, green bows, wrapping of every color and every pattern stuck out at every angle from every direction, it was enough to make him feel dizzy.

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