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1. Actor’s Craft

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She was a child. Young, pure, innocent. A child just like anybody else. Born into the world just like the rest. She was curious and bright, yet dark and solitary. She had loving parents and a good home. And the child was happy. She had her father’s name and her mother’s tenderness. She was even-tempered and timid. She was five then. And her name was Harvey.

She was five when her mother died, five when she started learning some of life’s most important lessons. She felt alone, betrayed – forsaken. But she found a friend in her childhood misery. From the darkness of a child’s tortured soul came Jack. They had each other, always. It was a secret she kept for herself, for her own sake. Something that nobody could take from her, ever. And so she grew.

Her mother left her early, but her father survived. When she turned 16, he went blind, mostly anyway. And she took care of him. He needed her and she needed him. She had Jack to help. It worked out well over time. She’d grown up lacking a mother, but she’d turned out all right in the end. Or as close to “all right’ as you could expect. Her heart was lacking, she tuned out the world most of the time. She was a loner for life. Jack was her only true companion. It’s hard to describe him, he just “was”. He had perfect timing, a flawless intuition, everything clicked. Jack and Harvey; Harvey and Jack.

She was a good kid, just…different. She grew technically alone. But if one person cares about you, just one, that’s more than enough. There was Jack. She had him and that was enough to make it worthwhile. She was still unusual, nobody bothered with her in school; they blocked her out and pretended that she wasn’t there. It’s a hard thing to live your life with the world hating you; everything you are, never being good enough. Never. She handled it well in my opinion. Quite well, considering. But she’d had a good upbringing, she was a good student and a hard worker. She held a job after school at a tattoo shop. She wasn’t allowed to do much, but they let her design patterns for the windows. She enjoyed it and they liked her.

The parlor was called “the Black Dragon,” it was run by a bunch of freaks. Some of them she’d gone to school with, others were strangers to her. Either way, she liked them all just fine. They accepted her and even though they might’ve been a bit paranoid of her, they didn’t treat her like an outcast. Not ever. They were a second family to her. It was great. Kind of like a fairy tale, only reversed; the pink was really black and the shine was shadow but nonetheless, it suited them all. Everything was as it was meant to be. The world was as peaceful as it gets. Perhaps.

It’s not a fairy tale because those are boring. And ordinary. Harvey was far from ordinary. She was an only child; her parents couldn’t handle two. She was raised just like every other little girl, or so it would seem so. But she had Jack. He changed with the seasons it seemed, always a new or different color. That’s how he was – eccentric. Aren’t we all? At least slightly, that little bit is what makes life worthwhile. The fact that every day is new and different, that is what makes us get up in the morning.

Harvey worked after school for a couple hours, then she’d meet Jack and head home. He was usually quiet, content with the world, happy to be with her and she was happy as well. The parlor was great too. Harvey was good friends with. Pike and Syn, they’d been put in charge by the Drakes. She’d only met them a precious few times, always wishing that they’d stay longer. There seemed to be a secret there, a darkness buried in their hearts. It was obvious. She wondered if they knew. They might’ve, they knew everything. Or seemed to. They were above all else.

Harvey was obsessed with the Drakes, she found them completely fascinating. They had something that she could only dream of. She was obsessed; she would stay at work, even on her days off, in the hopes of seeing them, even at a glance. There was something inspiring about what they had. Pike thought it was cute, Syn thought it was dangerous, and Harvey didn’t care what either of them thought. She knew what she felt, and that was enough. She was young, as we all are at some point.

The Drakes were the owners of the parlor, given to them after the passing of its’ true owner. They were kind and patient, yet dark and freakish. The kids loved them and they loved the kids. They were young, yet had kids of their own. The Drakes treated the employees as an extended family; they cared dearly for everyone and respected everyone as a person. They were all freaks, the Drakes most of all. But it was a family.

Raine and Darius Drake were the object of Harvey’s obsession. They were in love, a love beyond all limits and rules. Absolute devotion, a force you don’t reckon with.  They had it. All the odds were beaten; all the rules were broken. They were something else, they really were. Together they were powerful; their pure dedication was present in everything they did, it penetrated their surroundings and contaminated everything. Harvey was just another casualty. And the Drakes understood their effect and were very careful with it. They were always compassionate because they knew from experience that we’re most vulnerable in our younger years. Like I said, they know everything.

So what was so interesting about Jack and Harvey? Not much. They were freaks, they cared for one another dearly and were each other’s balance. Without the other, one would be unhinged and frantic. But what made them interesting? I’m not quite sure. By observation, Harvey appeared to be a perfectly well adjusted teenage girl. But upon closer inspection, one might realize the truth. She wasn’t well adjusted or happy. Harvey was housing a mixture of hundreds of opposing emotions. She was bitter and lonely, and it was during these times that Jack seemed to surface. He always knew when he was needed, he was there right away to hold her close and make it better.

Harvey had her quirks, as we all do. She carried a deck of cards with her at all times and loved to walk in the rain. She would write from time to time, nothing fancy, always free form. She drew a lot; she wanted to be a tattoo artist when she was old enough. And she could write music; it was her primary talent. She was born to be a musician, but she refused her destiny. She loved music, too much to risk society adulterating her efforts. She locked that side of herself away.

In school she was teased constantly for being the loner that she was, but she didn’t seem to care. That was a lie. She’d find somewhere to lock herself away and cry until her eyes had nothing but blood to shed for her sadness. She’d compose herself and go back out there, head high, and pretend that nothing happened. And in her mind, nothing had happened; it was just a part of the day-to-day routine of life. Wake up, go to school, have a small breakdown, go home, do homework, go to work – it was just part of the average.

Then the typical changed.

Harvey was on her way home from school; she was going straight to work today. The people never bothered her and she kept herself to herself. She walked at a fair pace, she walked everywhere, not that there was anywhere to go. But she went along as she usually did, but something caught her attention. Being the curious child that she was, Harvey went to look. And she saw a guy being beat up by a group of kids. They all stopped at once as the biggest guy took out a gun. He shot the other kid twice in the chest. And they all turned to leave. Harvey had watched in horror as someone was murdered. She ran. She ran all the way to work, without caring if they’d seen or heard her there. She ran until she felt her lungs might explode, running without looking back. She reached the parlor and went straight to the back to catch her breath. The artists watched her go by, but nothing was said because everybody knew that Harvey was a tad strange.

She stayed in the back, forcing herself to believe that it was just a nightmare and none of it was real. But there were footsteps in the front of the store, powerful, steady steps, steps that weren’t familiar to her. And she knew. She knew right away that they’d seen her. She stayed curled up in the back, rocking quietly. Pike came back to find her there, rocking with her eyes closed. He put a hand on her shoulder.

“Are you okay kid? Someone’s asking for you.”

Harvey’s voice was pleading. “Please tell them I’m not here.”

“Alright, then where are you, and when will you be here?” Pike was speaking with a hint of sarcasm, he sat and put an arm around the child. And she broke. For the first time in her life since her mother died, Harvey cried with someone watching. She had reason to be upset, but she cried about everything in her life that she hadn’t cried about before. All of the pain in her heart came out, and Pike just held her like the child that she was. Syn came to find him, she left quickly to send the stranger away. This is where the story really starts. This was the beginning of something more, the first of a chain of events that would spell disaster for Harvey. This is her trip to Hell, her eventual downfall.

She cried for hours until nothing was left and it hurt to breathe. And Pike, her boss, held her. In the meanwhile, someone had entered the room, Harvey felt the piercing eyes but couldn’t explain who it might be. Glancing up, the shadows shifted, and Darius crept out. When she got there and how, nobody noticed, not even I know.

Who am I? I’m not real, though I might’ve been at one time. Maybe I was always dead and I’ve just come alive now. Maybe it’s all a pleasant fiction and none of it is real. Perhaps. Regardless, here we are. I’m going to give Harvey the story; it’s hers after all. I watch everything as it passes, I say what is necessary from time to time. But I lack the emotional part of it, which is crucial. You can’t tell a proper story without knowing what’s going on in the character’s heads. You just have to know, otherwise there’s a void that lacks purpose. I’ve set the time and place, I’ve given you some of the cast, I’ll leave it to Harvey to explain everything in detail. Have fun kids, enjoy the ride. We’re all children from time to time, sometimes we always are. So, take care friends. If anytime, you never know, you need a friend, give me a call. The name’s Jack.

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