Trigger Warning: My stories are known for exploring things like mental illnesses, crime, drugs and alcohol. The following story will also feature extremes from various regions or belief systems of the United States. These extremes and not the truth for all people of the featured belief systems or region.
Before I start I have to thank @OzLoGo for helping to sculpt the beginning of this story. He has been a wealth of information, and helped me shape the city we will all soon explore.
Chapter 1: God Forsaken
All it takes is a flash. One single moment to change your life forever. Sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes for the worse. But me, I’ve never had a flash for the better. I’ve been around fifteen years, and things, they only seem to be getting worse. My name is Arthur Price. Welcome to my living nightmare.
I quickly wiped the tears from my eyes as I got to my feet and looked down at the casket in front of me. So it’s just me then, all alone to try and figure this journey out. More tears seemed to flood my eyes as the reality of the situation weighed down on me.
Why did you have to be taken, couldn’t it have been anyone else in this world? Why me? Why my mom? I don’t even have a dad! Bastard just up and left my eighteen year old pregnant mom and never turned back.
She was a great mom, made it on her own, never once in her life did she quit. She took the punches life threw her way and kept her smile through it all. So I will too.
“It’s okay Artie.” My mother’s best friend tried to comfort. “I miss her too, but she wouldn’t want to see you so upset.”
“I know.” I sniffled as I finally turned away from the casket.
“You’re a strong kid.” She attempted to encourage. “If anyone can make it through this, it’s you.”
I slowly nodded my head before turning towards my Grandparents. “Do I really have to move in with them?”
“I’m sorry.” She apologized. “You know if I could take you in I would.”
“And you’re sure she left me with them?” I complained, looking back to her. “Please Sadie, there has to be something you can do.”
“Unless we find that her will says otherwise we’re stuck.” Sadie exhaled as she placed a hand on my shoulder.
“I don’t get it.” I shook my head. “They kicked her out when she was pregnant, why would she send me back there?”
“I wish I knew.” Sadie replied as she began to rub my back. “But I’ll always be around for you, okay? I was by your mother’s side when she was changing your diapers, and I’ll make sure I see this through. For the both you and Sarah.”
I nodded my head and went to say something else but froze when I noticed a man who bore a striking resemblance to my mom walk in. “Adam.” Sadie sighed as she gestured for him to stay put.
“Is that him?” I asked, but got no answer back. “Sadie.” I called out as she ignored my words. “Sadie,” I repeated a little louder. “Is that my uncle?”
“Yeah.” She conceded in a sigh. “Let me go talk to him.”
“Can I come?” I asked, unable to remove my eyes from him.
“No.” She quickly shot down.
“Why not?” I whined, finally looking back at her. “He’s my uncle.”
“It’s complicated Artie.” She dismissed as she walked back towards the lobby.
That’s all they say when I ask about my family! That it’s complicated! I’m not a little kid anymore, I can handle complicated things!
I couldn’t help but sigh as they both disappeared out of the small room. I don’t get what the big deal is with him. So he got kicked out of my Grandparents’ house too? Who cares? Mom got thrown out and she was an angel! She is an angel.
I connected eyes with my grandfather as I looked around the room, but quickly looked down as I saw the intensity in them. If you’re wondering what kind of monsters would throw both their kids onto the streets, well there they are. The devil and his wife.
No one ever bothered to tell me the full story, but from what I gathered they threw my mom out right after she had me. Apparently it was put me up for adoption or leave. The funny thing is she had all the paper work ready to go, but swore that when she was giving birth to me, when she was in that mix of drugs and pain, she saw a vision of God that told her to keep me.
To this day no one believes her, not even Sadie, although she’ll never admit it. But me, I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care. It’s not that I think religion is dumb or anything like that, it’s just, if there was a God, how could He let anything like this happen?
How could He let such a religious family be so divided? And how could a couple as reverent as my Grandparents be so hateful?
“No, I’m going in there.” I heard a male voice insist as he forced his way back into the room. “That’s my sister.” He debated in an irritated voice. “I have as much of a right to say goodbye as them.”
“Fine.” Sadie surrendered as she walked back in and made a b-line for me.
I noticed my Grandparents exchange disgusted looks before turning and avoiding looking at my uncle. “Why do they hate him so much?” I asked, looking up at Sadie.
“They don’t hate him.” She tried to clarify. “It’s just, complicated.”
“Everything is complicated.” I rolled my eyes. “My mom’s death is complicated.” I began. “So the least you could do is tell me why my Grandparents and mom didn’t like my uncle.”
She exhaled a deep breath and looked down into my eyes. “He didn’t think like them.” She finally explained. “He was always so independent, even when we were kids.”
“So they kicked him out because he thought differently?” I asked with a skeptical look.
“Thoughts turn into actions Artie.” She replied, looking back to him.
“But what could possibly be so bad, that even after my mom got kicked out she wouldn’t talk to him?” I pried as the expression on Sadie’s face grew more upset than it had been.
“Your mother was strong willed, and yes, she marched to her own drum.” Sadie began. “But she always held onto her religion and that was something your uncle and her just couldn’t get past.”
“So they kicked him out because he’s an atheist?” I asked, trying to connect the pieces. “But that doesn’t make sense.”
“It goes deeper than that, and one day you’ll understand.” She dismissed. “Besides, you’re quite the believer yourself. Imagine living with someone who thought your beliefs were crazy.”
“Oh.” I forced out as I pretended to understand. What’s the big deal? He doesn’t believe, and they do. Why can’t they just co-exist? They’re family, aren’t they?
My mind drew blank as my uncle rose from the kneeler next to the coffin and approached us. “I’m sorry for your loss.” He offered with an outreached hand.
“Thank you.” I accepted as our hands connected. “I’m sorry for your loss as well.”
“Artie.” Sadie whispered in an annoyed voice. So she doesn’t like him either?
“What? That’s his sister, he lost someone…”
“It’s alright,” He interrupted in a nod. “I’m Adam.”
“I know.” I responded looking back at a face similar to my own. “My name is Arthur, but people call me,”
“Arthur.” Sadie repeated in her strict voice. “I think your Uncle should keep moving.”
“Come on Sadie, he’s my nephew, I have a right,”
“She kept you separated for a reason.” Sadie warned him. “She didn’t want you near him.”
“I know.” He accepted as he took one last look at me. “Stay strong Arthur, it’s what your mom would’ve wanted.”
Sadie scoffed at his words as he made his way back towards the exit. Yet, those words were all I could think of for the rest of the night. Why did she keep us apart? What did he do that was so bad? So what, he had different beliefs? Like I said, I just don’t get it!
The drive back to my Grandparents’ house seemed to make it abundantly clear. “I don’t want you talking to your Uncle again, understood?” My grandfather warned.
“Why?” I asked, but only received a steely eyed stare back. “Yes sir.” I finally grumbled.
He sneered. “You don’t question me. What I say is law. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir.” I repeated in a defeated voice.
“He should’ve just stayed in California.” Grandfather complained to his wife. “Where he could hang around with his prostitutes and snowflakes.”
“That place tainted him even more than he already is.” Grandmother supported. “You lose God in your life and you lose your soul. Just look at him, cursed by the hand of the devil.”
“How’s that?” I asked, but got the same angry stare as before.
“Children should be seen, not heard.” Grandmother instructed as she turned back. “Keep your mouth shut unless you’re spoken to.”
“Yes ma’am.” I conceded. I can’t believe my mom came from these people! She was nothing like them! Sure, she was super religious, but she was kind and loving. She always said we needed to be living examples of God, not whatever this is!
“Sarah really screwed this one up.” Grandfather complained.
“Does that surprise you?” Grandmother asked, as they began to speak as though I wasn’t in the car. “You open your legs for any man that comes along, and this is what happens!”
“She wasn’t like that!” I forced out as their words became too much to ignore.
Before I knew it I felt the crack of an open palm catch me across the face. “What did we say about speaking?” Grandmother demanded in an angry voice. “You better ship up before we ship you out boy.”
“Sorry.” I grunted as I turned to look out the window.
“You have a long road ahead of you Arthur.” Grandfather began. “Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.”
“Yes sir.” I spoke as I let quiet fill my mind.
The rest of the night I was forced to sit idly by as abuse got thrown at both me and my mother. I was the bastard they were forced to take care of after their whore of a daughter died. The only hope they had was that I could be saved. But I don’t need to be saved! I don’t even have anything to be saved from!
When the abuse wasn’t hurled at me or my mother it was thrown at anyone different from them.
“Another mass shooting today at a High School in Florida,” A newsman began as my grandmother flicked the T.V. on.
“God damn Muslims.” Grandfather complained as he stared at the old T.V. set.“How long are we going to let them stay in this country before we realize they’re the issue?”
“I always said they were the false religion.” Grandmother added as she took a seat in her rocking chair.
I went to say something, to say the odds are that the shooter wasn’t even Muslim. That he was probably some kid from the school who snapped. That it had nothing to do with religion. But I found myself growing quiet. I learned what it was like to speak out in this household, and I really don’t want any reminders.
“What are you doing boy?” Grandfather asked as I wandered close to the staircase. “Too good to watch the news with us?”
“I’m just tired.” I forced out as they both stared at me.
My Grandmother rolled her eyes as she heard those words. “What have you done all day that you’re so tired?” She asked, but I stayed quiet.
“You’d be wise to sit and learn with us.” Grandfather instructed. “What if one of these towelheads decides to shoot up the school you go to?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged as they both awaited my answer.
“Just go to bed.” Grandmother dismissed. “You’re even more clueless than your mother.”
I nodded my head and quickly ran up the stairs and to my small cramped quarters. I couldn’t help but sarcastically laugh at the cross above my bed. What a load of bullshit! Like they even know what that thing means! They don’t know what forgiveness is! They only know how to help themselves!
As I got changed and laid in bed I couldn’t help but feel water coating my cheeks. Just like the night before all I could do was cry myself to sleep. If there is a God He’ll save me. If there is a God He’ll send me far away from here! My mom told me He wanted her to keep me, so why’d He take her from me? Why’d He leave me here? Why’d He leave me alone?
As the sun rose I felt hate and animosity fill me. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to live another day in this life. I don’t want to see those two people downstairs. I don’t want to do this without my mother.
As tears began to drip from my eyes once more I grabbed her silver cross necklace from the nightstand and threw it over my neck. I’ll do this for her. I’ll stick around for her. She made it in this household, and so will I.
Breakfast was layered with more abuse as they continued to speak as thought I wasn’t there.
“They shouldn’t even let her be buried in a Christian cemetery.” Grandmother complained. “She’s in hell for a reason.”
“Hope your life was worth it.” Grandfather instructed as our eyes connected.
I stayed quiet and finished my food before struggling to get my suit on. How the hell am I going to do this without her? I can’t even tie a tie! Or fold dress pants properly! I don’t know how to make myself food, or run a laundry machine!
My grandfather sneered as he saw my crooked and loose tie, but refused to help me fix it. “We did you the favor of sitting at her wake.” Grandfather began as we pulled in front of the church. “But we’re not going to her funeral.”
“But she’s your daughter.” I argued as I pushed the door open.
“She’s a disgrace.” Grandmother corrected.
I ignored their words before slamming the car door and walking through the big church doors. “How are you doing?” Sadie asked, patiently waiting for me in the lobby.
“Terrible.” I confessed, letting the weight of my world show in my eyes. “You can’t leave me with them! They, they’re monsters!”
“They’re your Grandparents.” She warned as a stern look grew in her eyes.
“They’re monsters.” A male voice corrected as my Uncle walked around me.
“Adam!” Sadie reprimanded.
“They are.” He insisted taking a long look before fixing my suit jacket. “That’s better.” He remarked, before getting to work on my tie.
“I can help him.” Sadie asserted, trying to force him away.
“I know.” He nodded. “But that needed a man’s touch.”
“Some man you are.” She sneered.
“Sadie!” I warned, looking over to him. “He’s my uncle.”
“I don’t care what he is, your mother said…”
“My mother is dead.” I coldly interrupted. “I’m not exactly in a place to be turning family away.”
“Unfortunately it doesn’t matter what you want.” He sighed as he rose back to his feet. “I’ll catch you around Arthur.”
“Can’t you sit with us?” I asked but he ignored my question and kept walking.
“Arthur,” Sadie began as she placed her hand on my shoulder, but I quickly pulled away and entered the main room of the church.
I wish I could say my mother’s funeral was beautiful. That it was covered in flowers and bright colors, but the truth is barely anyone came. A few people from her workplace that respected her, Sadie, me and my uncle. That’s it, that’s all who made up Sarah Price’s funeral. Those are the only people who will remember her.
“Do you want to go to the cemetery?” Sadie offered as I fought off hysterical tears.
“No.” I shook my head trying my hardest to wipe the water off my face. “I-I can’t.”
“Okay.” She accepted, giving me time to grieve a little longer. “I, uh, I have to drive you home now.” She interrupted in an uncomfortable voice.
I nodded as I slowly forced myself out of the pew and to her car. It’s crazy the way color can fade from your world after a tragedy. I always thought the sites of Texas were so beautiful, but not anymore. Not in this world.
“You’re sure there’s nothing you can do?” I groaned as she pulled up to the house.
“I’m sorry Artie.” She apologized, hardly able to look at me. “This is the way your mother left it.”
“According to what though?” I began to argue. “The hospital just handed me to them without checking with anyone!”
“Arthur.” She scolded, finally turning to me. “They’re your family. There’s nothing I can do.”
“Fine.” I grumbled, forcing my way out of her car and towards the house. For a second I thought about waiting for her car to pull away then making a break for it. But I’ll have a better chance for that later. Once I can actually prepare with food and clothing.
The saddest truth in all of this is she could fight it if she wanted. We could make a case or something! I’m fifteen! Don’t I have any say in who I get to live with? But I guess she doesn’t want me. I guess all her words to my mom were empty promises.
That night was the worst in my life. I would go into detail, but some things are just better left unsaid. The hatred, the absolute bigotry, it’s to a level I never could’ve imagined. There are misconceptions about us Texans, and these people are the reason why! This town is the reason why!
When the next day finally rolled around I stayed as quiet as possible. This is it. This is the day we meet with the lawyer and they sign the custody forms. This is the end of my life!
“The Price family?” The secretary asked as we entered the waiting room.
“Yes.” Grandfather answered before I could say anything.
“Right through here.” The woman instructed as she opened the door to a small office and motioned me in.
“We’ve been waiting for you guys.” A man in a suit announced as he pointed to empty chairs. I froze as I realized it wasn’t just a lawyer in the room, but my Uncle Adam as well. “Everything okay Arthur?” The man checked.
“Yeah.” I nodded as I snapped back into the moment and took my seat.
“Shall we begin?” The lawyer asked, drawing yes’s or nods from everyone in attendance.
“This is the last will and testament of Sarah Mary Price,” The lawyer began as he started to read through the document, for seemingly the first time. My Grandparents stared forward unamused as they ignored her last words. Not even her will is good enough for you bastards? She’s not the disgrace, you two are.
“She leaves her estate, and all that comes with it, including its belongings to her only son Arthur Uriah Price.” The lawyer announced. “And custody of Arthur shall be left,” The man froze. “I’m sorry, who are his legal guardians?”
“Well us of course.” Grandfather quickly answered.
“And where did you get that?” The man asked as small seeds of hope began to bubble in me.
“Well the hospital handed the boy over to us after the accident.” He explained. “We were told Sarah was leaving him to us.”
“Custody of Arthur shall be left to Adam Daniel Price.” The lawyer read, freezing my heart. I immediately looked over to him, but he refused to move his eyes from the floor.
“What kind of hack lawyer are you?” Grandfather began to lash out. “What is this? Your first time looking at the damn thing?”
“No, I read it over this morning and,” The man lied as he tried to worm his way out of the hole he had dug himself.
“And what?” Grandfather argued. “You thought you’d invite me and my wife to find out we’re not getting anything?”
“This is the reading of your daughter’s will.” The lawyer reminded him. “Not some company giveaway.” The room grew quiet as everyone tried to recompose. “So Adam, what do you say? Do you accept?”
“Do I accept?” He finally spoke. “Accept what? Arthur?”
“Well yes, you’re listed as,”
“It doesn’t matter what he’s listed as!” Grandfather shouted. “We have custody of Arthur.”
“Clearly you don’t.” Uncle Adam said, turning towards him.
“Why not? Because some stupid piece of paper said we don’t?” He angrily argued.
“We’ll be fighting this in court.” Grandmother suddenly supported. “We live in his hometown, close to the school he’s grown up going to. He will be living with,”
“You just want the money she’s leaving him!” Uncle Adam finally realized. “And the money the state will give to take him in!”
“We want no such thing we,”
“You kicked your own kids out at the drop of a hat!” He argued as his temper began to flare.
“Can we please keep this civil?” The lawyer pleaded. “Arthur is only fifteen after all.”
“Sorry.” Uncle Adam apologized as grumbles sounded out from my Grandparents.
“So what will it be Adam?” The lawyer began. “Do you accept custody? Or do you defer to your parents?”
“I don’t know,” He began, staring straight ahead. I tried my hardest to get him to look at me but he wouldn’t budge. “I don’t think I can,”
“Please!” I suddenly pleaded. “Please, please take me.” I shook my head as all my strength began to unravel. “I can’t take another night in their house! They called my mom a whore, and I can’t,”
“Dad!” Uncle Adam shouted as he rose to his feet. “You called Sarah a whore? Are you insane?”
“She was.” He grumbled as he crossed his arms. “Arthur’s a bastard, that’s no secret.”
Uncle Adam let out a deep breath as he tried his hardest to ignore their words. “Alright,” He nodded his head. “I accept custody, but that means he has to move to San Francisco.”
“Arthur,” The lawyer offered.
“That’s no problem.” I quickly accepted. “I-I need to get out of this town anyway.”
“There’s no going back.” The lawyer warned.
“I don’t care.” I shook my head and smiled towards my uncle. I could tell he was nervous, but that doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if he even makes me get a job and pay him rent. I’m just happy to be getting away from my Grandparents, and more importantly, to be getting away from this backwards town.
“It’s done, I just need you two to sign a few things.” The lawyer accepted as he began to write something down.
I have no idea what I just agreed to. I have no real idea why they kicked my Uncle out, or why my mom refused to talk to him. But I do know one thing. I know he can’t be any worse than his parents. I know he can be a serial killer who eats his victims and wears their faces, and I’ll still be happier with him!
Get ready San Francisco. I’m ready for my new start.