Rose-Colored Glasses

Eli's senior year had to be his most memorable. He had it all!  Melvin Ross had been replaced with a new-comer named oddly enough, Porter Round. He was a strapping young man, with hair as black as coal, that was perfect.  He had the focus of an eagle on the field, along with the speed of an African male predator, in pursuit of his prey.  Together, Eli and Porter created a force that would be scripted into the Athletic departments playbook, forever.

Porter and his family moved away from the steel and glass monoliths of Chicago and said, "Farewell," to it's windy corners, and dirty streets.  They bought Ashley's house. After the parents divorced, it sat empty for years.  The place were it all began, now had it's classic storybook ending.  The once crystal clear waters of the outdoor swimming pool, was now blanketed with a black and green colored ooze that filled the air with a putrid odor, after each Winter thaw, and could be detected within a mile of it. The leaves that had fallen and gathered beneath the grounds, dead shrubbery, piled high against it's faded brick walls.  When Eli heard that Porter's family now inhabited it's inner rooms. He dreaded any invitation inside from him.  It was said that Melvin lived inside of the abandon mansion, for sometime, when his father could no longer understand him.  He set up a dirty mattress on the basement floor and drank himself into a state of constant inebriation and misery.  Eli blamed himself for Melvin's pitiful state, but would never dare admit this to anyone. He made the mistake once,  of trying to see Melvin, while he was alone at the house.  Melvin swore he saw a devil standing behind Eli. The same devil he saw standing on the hood of the Buick. The morning he killed the Wane Brothers.  It looked over at him and shouted out to Melvin, as Eli drove by the farmhouse. "Look at me! Your friend has the balls to end this!  If he only knew what a coward you really are!  It then began jumping up and down with excitement, laughing manically, as Jackson's life began to expire. Melvin couldn't be sure about what he just seen and heard.

The demon that had been standing on the hood of that Buick, was now standing right behind Eli, peeking out from behind of Eli's head. "Look at you! Just like I said, "A coward!" He snarled in an inhuman, throaty voice.  Melvin picked up the whiskey bottle and threw it at the  creature.  He frantically fumbled with the straps on his pack, then reached into it,  for his loaded pistol and began shooting, wildly.  The demon,  then appeared behind Melvin, took his hand, and guided towards his head, and pull the trigger.  Eli never flinched. He just turned and walked away, unmoved by his friend's tragic ending. The demon remained behind, and tore away at the limbs and legs, calling out for the others to join him.  Sheriff Ross buried what was left of his son, and moved away from, "The Green Mountain State." He died years later in a car wreck on his way back from the hospital with his new wife and baby girl. 

Life for Eli carried on. He was months away from graduation and had decide to take the offer from Notre Dame College, as their new star-quarterback.  Porter was also drafted as their new runningback. It seemed as though, a new world of possibilities had opened up for the boys and for the first time, in a long time, Eli was truly happy.  That nagging feeling that had been hanging over his head like an axe, for abandoning his once good-friend Melvin. Watching him press that pistol, hard against his temple, and squeeze off a round into his brain. Why didn't he try and stop him? ..Why did he just stand there and watch as his head exploded into fragments?  Am I evil?... Am I insane?  he questioned. Eli never saw this, "demon" Melvin had seen on the hood of the Buick, nor did he see it next to him, when he ended his life.  Although, when he heard that voice inside of the car with him that morning, that could have been, "Melvin's demon." talking to him.  Eli shook his head and just wanted to forget it all.

Dr. Joule' called Eli down to his office, after learning about the offer from Notre Dame College."Young Eli!" he said, proudly as he extended his hand out to his for a firm handshake. "You have put this High School on the map and made a good name for yourself, Eli.  I wish you all the best youngman. This is the beginning of a promising career!" he boasted, proudly. Eli shook the man's hand, and made his way to his locker.  He passed Sharon Wilkerson in the hallway, and reached out and took a hold of her arm.  "Sharon?" he asked. "I wanted to tell you, that I think you have a real talent for art.  You should think about going public with it oneday." He quickly said to her, before she ran off again-like before. Sharon was confused by his declaration of admiration for her drawings. "When did I ever show you a drawing?" she asked. "You didn't. I saw just one. Of me, at the Championship game when I was a junior." he said. "Where did you happen to see this drawing?..Did you go into my bag?"  Sharon queried. "Yes..It was sticking out of your pack in English 1...You broke Mr. Wong's plack, that was sitting on his desk." Eli said nervously back. "I remember." she nodded. "I'm sorry about Melvin!...You and him were good friends." she offered. "That was a long time ago. But, Thanks." There was a brief pause, between them. "I heard you got drafted for Notre Dame?" she quickly changed the conversation. "Yeah! Yes, I did." "Well, I'm happy for you, Eli. Your a great player, with lots of talent, Eli." Sharon said, sweetly and she lowered her eyes towards the floor.  "What about you?" he asked. "What's next?...Paris, Maybe...to study drawing?" Eli joked with her. "Paris!...Me?..No." she stated, modestly.  "Why not?...Your talent could really take you places!" Eli's enthusiasm for her work, made Sharon feel special. "I wish I had your optimism, Eli..Things are different for me. I don't see the world like you do. The view from where I'm standing...is not endless,...it's filled with limitations....I would only be setting myself up for heartbreak...I can't allow myself to be foolish!...Good Luck with everything Eli,..I sincerely mean that!" Sharon turned and walked away from him. Eli watched her leave, as her slender fiqure moved across the floor, and the warm breeze from the Spring air, made her fine blonde hair swirl around her head, as she opened up the heavy steel doors.  He was saddened by her words, and knew she was right. Not everyone in this small town had plans for college after high school.  People here just moved through life with simplicity and hard work. They had no illusions about their choices.

Eli turned his attentions towards the pictures inside of the school's display case, just outside of the main office.  The rows of finely- polished trophies stood proudly, next to countless awards and achievements the school had been honored with.  There, right in the middle of the shelf, was a picture of Eli and Melvin at last years' Championship Football game.  Melvin had his arm over Eli's shoulder, his uniform was torn from the fall he took in the endzone. It was also the team's winning touchdown pass he had caught.  Eli starred at that picture for the longest time.  "I'm sorry I let you down." Eli thought to himself, as he started his confessional in secret to Melvin.  "I had to do it, Bro!...Please...understand...What I did...had to happen...there was no other way!...I thought you could live with it!...I really did!....But, you couldn't....you fell apart on me and took the coward's way out!"...Why!..You had to have known it was going to end badly for them!...Look at where I'm at...Everything, all of this....is a memory!...No more small town, small talk!...I've worked too dam hard, for too dam long!...Nobody! and I mean Nobody will ever jeopardize my future! Again!"

"Eli!...Yo, Eli?...Hey! I've been standing next to you, watching you drool over that picture!...Haven't you heard me?" It was Porter. He'd been there the entire time. "Is that Melvin in that picture?" Porter asked. "Yeah, that's him." Eli looked away from the display case and turned his attention towards Porter. "I heard some bad stories about him!...What happened to him?"  "What ever you heard...it ain't true!...Melvin was a good person." Eli tried to defend his friend's honor. "They say he killed himself!...In the house, my parent's bought." "Who told you?" Eli questioned him. "The real estate broker told us!...It's the law...they have too!" Porter stated. "Oh, I didn't know that." Eli admitted, shaking his head. "So, What happened to him?...Did he go nuts, livin all alone up there?" Porter again asked.  "I don't know?....One day he was fine...and then he just lost it!"  Eli tried hard to pretend that he knew absolutely anything about Melvin's demise. "I don't want to talk about him, anymore! So, What were you sayin' before?"  "Oh, Yeah...Right!...Why don't you come over and celebrate with me and my folks?..They'd been asking me to get you up here to meet em'. What ya say?" Porter had understood his new friend's reasons for not wanting to come over.  After all,  his friend did die there, alone. "No Man!...I can't...I'm not ready!"  Porter didn't push back too hard on Eli. He gets it. "Well, How about you take a drive with us to New York City?" Porter asked.  "New York?...What's in New York?" Eli was tempted to accept Porter's offer. "My parents' have an apartment in Manhattan.  It over looks Central Park..Come on' You'll be a changed man!...the woman there will do things for you, you never dreamed possible." Eli let out a quick laugh. "What?...No Way!" "Yeah, Way!...I made a girl crawl around on the floor, on her hands and knees before I paid her. It was hilarious!" Porter bragged. "That's cold, Dude!" Eli replied. "Let me see if my dad needs me to stay behind on the farm this week-end?..Then, I'll have an answer for you. Fair Enough?" "I can respect that.  Cool!...Let me know." Porter grinned with that,"winning smile" he always wore and took off. 

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