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Pen Your Pride

Skittles, Monster, and Ronnie Radke

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First off, let me introduce myself: I’m Oliver, but call me Oli. I’m 17 years old, and I live entirely on Skittles and Monsters – my drug of choice. For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived next door to a group of crazy guys you probably know as Escape The Fate. Lucky, I know. We’ve always been close, but not quite as close as we used to be before. Before Ronnie left. I think it may just be better to tell this form the beginning.

          I’ve lived in this dump for my entire life, and never had a problem with it until now. I was walking home and passed a group of guys smoking, one of them has been following me for about 6 blocks now, I don’t have to turn around to know he’s there, the smell of cigarette smoke coming from behind me was almost suffocating. I realized I was only about a block from my house and picked up the pace, the footsteps behind me doing the same. Even if this creep DID know where I lived, at least there would be a locked door in between me and this fucker. I heard the footsteps behind me pick up and it took everything in me not to break into a run, I didn’t know anything about him, he could be a marathon runner for all I knew, and I really didn’t want to risk him overtaking me like that. Slowly, I passed the first house on my street, then the second, third, and then my house came into view, all I needed to do was get past my neighbor’s house and up my front walk and I’d be inside. I vaguely noticed someone leaning by the front door of my neighbor’s house, smoking. I was about to call for help, but stopped myself when he pushed off from the wall and began sauntering down his front walk towards me. I was able to see the tattoos covering him, his teased hair and the cold look on his face and my heart stopped. He looked so much like the guy following me, they were probably friends. I felt my stomach sink as I realized I was probably going to be raped, kidnapped, or even killer, and I was only 15 years old. He smiled slightly at me as I passed him, confusing me, but I didn’t take it for granted and turned down my front walk, pulling out my keys as I did so. As soon as I unlocked the door, I ran inside and slammed it shut, locking it tightly behind me and putting the chain on too, just in case. Curious, I peeked out from one of the windows at what was going on with the guys. They were talking when I saw the guy from next door pull back his arm and punch my stalker, right in the face. I gasped as he fell to the ground, blood gushing out his nose. Tattoo guy glared at the creeper as he got up and ran off, holding his bleeding nose, which was most likely broken.

Tattoo guy cut across the grass and knocked on my door. I didn’t answer and I heard him chuckle and mutter, “Smart girl,” through the flimsy wood the front door was made out of. He cleared his throat and called out, louder now, “Hey, um, neighbor, I just wanted to see if you were okay and introduce myself, I’m Ro-,” he stopped short when I swung the door open and looked a him. “Thanks for helping me with that guy,” I said. He looked surprised when I spoke, but composed his face quickly. “Oh, uh, yeah, no problem.” I held out my hand and introduced myself, “I’m Oliver, but call me Oli.” He took my hand and gave it a quick shake, “I’m Ronnie. And if you ever have to deal with a creep like that again, don’t hesitate to just come knock on my door, someone’s always home, they’ll help you if I can’t,” he told me, showing a small smile. I nodded and an idea popped into my head. I had been having trouble with my school work and here was someone who could possibly help me. Some people would probably call this stupid, but I always did whatever I happened to think was a good idea at the moment, “Are you any good at math?” I asked him. “Uhm, what?” Confusion covered his face. “Do you know how to do algebra?” He shook his head, “Sorry, no, but Ray does, why?” I tilted my head to the side, “Who’s Ray?” “My friend, why, do you need help with math?” I nodded. My mom left when I was 4 and my dad doesn’t get home until 10, not that that drunk of a father would be any help anyway, but I wasn’t about to tell a total stranger that. “Yeah, my dad works late,” I told him. He nodded, “Well, you’re welcome to come over and see if he’ll help you, if you’re comfortable doing that, that is.” I shrugged, “What the hell, if you’re sure no one will mind.” He shook his head. “Alright, let’s go,” I told him, motioning for him to back up so I could get out. He let me out and I closed the door, locking it as I did so, before following him next door. I put my keys back in my school bag as we crossed through my dying front lawn to the concrete path in front of his house. “You may want to wait out here for a second,” he told me before slipping in through the unlocked door. I heard Ronnie yelling and laughed. “MAX! Put some goddamn pants on! We’ve got company! RAY! Get your ass down here!” The door swung open and Ronnie stood there, grinning, “Ignore the mess, Ray’s in the kitchen.” I nodded and stepped inside as Ronnie closed the door behind me. I looked around at all the beer cans strewed around the room as I followed Ronnie into the kitchen. I surveyed my surroundings, a small table with four chairs sat in the middle of the room, which a guy wearing dark sunglasses with some SERIOUSLY curly hair was sitting at, a sink stacked with dirty dishes, wooden cabinets sat on the walls and a light fixture hung above the table.

Ronnie sat in a chair and kicked the one across from him out, motioning for me to sit down. I shrugged my bag off my shoulder and placed it gently on the floor before taking a seat. I smiled at the guy and held out my hand for the second time that day, “I’m Oliver.” He nodded and shook my hand, “Ray.” Ray leaned back so the front legs of his chair were off the floor. “So,”

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