Chas is struggling with inner issues that are causing his rebellious actions. Audrey, I would strongly recommend having a consultation with a counselor so you can work through these issues with your son before they begin effecting long term academic and social performance.

Chas crumpled the paper in his hand and threw it down into the nearest sewer as he walked. It was the last paragraph of a letter sent by his AP Chemistry teacher, Miss Keaton, whose hand he almost incinerated today in an unfortunate acid spill.

It wasn't like he meant to almost burn her hand off. He was just impatient with waiting on the teacher to instruct all the slow kids. The directions were right in front of him, he could read them clear as day, so why not continue?

Chas kicked another rock down the sidewalk, where it bounced and catapulted and hit a woman walking in front of him in the back of her leg. She looked over her shoulder and scowled, but Chas just flipped her the bird and continued walking.

"Didn't even wanna have that goody-two-shoes tattletale for a teacher," he muttered under his breath, shoving his hands in his pockets. He knew he'd have to go home eventually, face his mother's anger and disappointment once again, but if he waited until three in the morning to come home she'd be too tired to verbally rip out his jugular. Therefore, he could put the second phase of this whole deal off for another day.

He reached the bowling alley and spotted three of his friends standing outside, Brian, Tony, and D-man. Tony saw him and waved him over, and Chas joined them.

"Where you been, Kramer?" Brian asked, offering Chas a cigarette. Chas pulled out his lighter and lit it, taking a long drag and exhaling heavily before answering.

"Had to deal with my mom. She's on a damn roll today," he said, and D-man chuckled.

"We heard about Miss Keaton endin' up in the nurse's office. What'd you do, Kramer, kick her in the nuts?"

"Nah, just tried to burn her hand off."

"You serious?"

"Acid lab today. Fuckin' ace, dude."

That seemed to impress them all. They quieted down, though, when a man in a black suit and black trenchcoat stalked by. The man smelled foul and looked like he was coming back from a war, smoking furiously on a cigarette. The boys watched him pass, and then a few of them chuckled.

"He's fuckin' crazy, dude. I heard he's one of those wacko exorcists," Tony pointed out, exhaling smoke with his words. Chas took another drag off his cigarette, watching as the man turned to go up the stairs to his apartment.

"No, man," Brian was saying, "I heard he tries to summon demons and stuff."

"I heard he murdered some guys upstate. Chopped 'em up, ate their dicks and gave the rest to the sharks," D-man added even quieter, flicking ashes onto the ground.

"You guys are full of it," Chas said, lightly dragging the tip of his cigarette across his palm, letting the slight pain sink in. "He's just a guy who wants to scare people off lookin' all creepy."

"I'll bet he's a pedophile," Brian said, his eyes lighting up. "That's why he hides up there all the time, so he can jack off to kiddie porn."

"Don't project your bad habits on others," Chas said, shoving Brian with his elbow and gaining a laugh from the other guys.

"C'mon, Kramer, don't tell me you're not scared of that guy. He's fuckin' scary as hell," Tony said, looking up at the windows of the man's apartment.

"I'm not scared of some crazy hermit," Chas said, taking a drag off his cigarette.

D-man puffed up his chest proudly- obviously, the dusty, flickering light bulb went on inside his head for once. "Prove it."

"What?"

"You heard me, Chas. Get some spray paint, sneak in the guy's apartment, do some artwork on the walls and take a picture to prove you did it."

"You're crazy."

"What, you scared?"

Chas snorted, dropping his cigarette and stomping it out. "The only thing I'm scared of is the guy callin' the cops. I'm not real interested in staying the night in jail and explaining that to my mom too."

"Aw, Chassy's scared of his mom," D-man taunted, giving Chas a hard nudge.

"I am not, I just don-"

"If you're not scared then you'll do it. Come on, Kramer, it's not that hard," Brian said, and Chas looked between his three friends, and then crossed his arms.

"And what do I get if I do it?"

Tony shrugged. "Respect?"

"Not good enough."

"A box of cigarettes, on us," Brian said, and Chas shook hands with him.

"Deal. I'll do it tomorrow night."


As planned, Chas didn't return home until 3:30am. His mother was sitting in the recliner in her housecoat, dozing until the door shut. She opened her eyes, blinked a few times, and looked at the clock.

"Chas Benjamin Kramer, it's 3:30 in the morning," she scolded, standing up. Chas shrugged, dropping his jacket on the couch.

"Whatever."

"No, not whatever. It's a school night, young man, and I told you that your curfew on school nights was ten," she continued, crossing her arms. As Chas walked by her, she wrinkled her nose. "You smell like smoke."

Chas shrugged yet again. "So I hang out with people who smoke, so sue me."

"I told you I didn't want you hanging out with those boys. They're a bad influence."

"You know, you tell me a lot of things, and somehow you expect me to listen. If you hadn't already noticed, I never do," Chas said, a singsong, mocking tone to his voice. Audrey sighed heavily, looking down at the floor for a few moments before speaking.

"Chas…your grades have been falling, you've been smoking-"

"I don't s-"

"Don't lie to me, young man, I found the cigarettes in your sock drawer."

Chas froze, his gaze hardening. "You searched my room? You searched my fuckin' room? What are you, a damn cop now!"

"I won't have you using that language in my hou-"

"No, fuck you! I'll talk however I wanna talk! And hell, if I wanna fuckin' smoke, I'm gonna do it! You don't fuckin' run my life!" Chas screamed, and his mother bit down on her clenched fist, her eyes brimming with tears.

"Chas, I just want the best for you…"

"Then stay out of my fuckin' life, bitch!" Chas snapped, stalking to his room and slamming the door. He reached under is mattress, pulling out his extra carton of cigarettes and lighting one up, taking a drag off it with shaking hands. He couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt when he heard his mother sobbing in the hallway, heard her slowly slide down the wall to the floor.

"Fuckin' bitch. She deserved every word," he muttered, wondering where else she searched in his room.

You just made your mother cry, Chas. What would dad say?

It doesn't matter. Dad isn't even here to say anything, and it's her fuckin' fault.

He took his time, savoring the cigarette down to the filter before snuffing it out on the hardwood floor. He sniffled hard to hold back his own tears as he lay back on the bed, looking up at the familiar cracks in the ceiling, cracks that vaguely made the shape of a sailing ship.

His dad had pointed that out, a long time ago.


It wasn't three hours into the school day, and Chas was already sitting in the principal's office.

"Chas…this is the third time this month that we've caught you smoking in the bathroom," the pudgy man said, pushing his glasses up on his nose.

"What can I say? I've been stressed lately," Chas muttered, looking out the window.

"I understand your recent loss," the principal said. "And that's the only reason that you haven't been expelled, young man. I know that it's hard for you, I know it's only been eight months, but this…all these behavioral issues are absolutely inexcusable."

Chas remained silent, his gaze locked on the cars driving by. Principal Faile stared at him for a few moments, and then sighed and stood up, walking around the desk to lean back against the front of the desk right in front of Chas.

"Mr. Kramer, let me make myself perfectly clear. You are falling apart. Last semester you were a straight A student, now you're struggling for D's. You took up smoking. You're careless in your work and your labs. You have no concern for the feelings of others. And on top of all that, you show no signs of wanting to better yourself."

Faile stopped to wait for a reaction. He received none.

"Your mother came to see me this morning. She was inconsolable. She said you screamed obscenities at her relentlessly last night," he said, and Chas snorted, but said nothing.

Faile waited once again. When he once again was ignored, he pursed his lips angrily.

"Fine. Fine. If you want to make me do this the hard way, I will, since I have the permission of your mother," he said, walking back around his desk. This got Chas's attention; slowly he looked back at Faile, his glare suspicious.

Faile continued talking, not noticing the glare. "Your mother was adamant that we find any alternative but suspension should you cause more trouble. So…I'm putting you in in-school suspension for the rest of the semester, with constant supervision. You won't so much as blink without an aide's eye watching your every movement," he said, and Chas's jaw dropped.

"You can't do that!"

Faile looked up, his eyes showing unbending will. "Oh yes I can. And I am. Starting now, your ass is mine, Mr. Hot Shot."


Of course, none of the day's events kept Chas from trying to fulfill his end of the bet. If anything, it made him even more determined.

He stayed out once again that night, sitting on a bench across the street from the bowling alley, cans of red and black spray paint and a disposable camera in his bag. He pulled up his hood, and simply waited- and the wait paid off. About eleven o'clock, the man in the suit left the apartment.

Chas waited until the man turned the corner, and then he headed for the alley beside the building. He jumped up and grabbed onto the fire escape, swinging his legs up and scrambling up onto the platform. He took the stairs up to the window, using his elbow to shatter it, sticking his hand through, unlocking the window and pushing it open.

He was shocked when he crawled inside. The place was insanely creepy, with a cage around the bed and huge jugs of water around all the outside walls. He stood shock still for a few moment, but then remembered his mission and walked into the kitchen.

He tried to ignore all the weird stuff in the room and instead set his bag down on the table, pulling out the red spray paint first, popping off the lid and shaking the can. He cringed because the sound was so loud, worried about getting caught even though he knew the owner of the apartment was long gone.

And so he set to work with the red paint. He went around the entirety of the kitchen and the bedroom, spraying various curse words and obscene sayings on the walls, including many that referenced to pedophiles and such. He couldn't help but feel like he was being watched- the whole apartment was just insanely scary, and the drip of water in the sink scared him every time it made that metallic 'ploop' sound.

After he'd thoroughly exhausted ideas with the red paint, he went back to the kitchen and grabbed the black paint. He used that to spray pentagrams and gang symbols on the walls.

He knew he should've walked out then. He'd done a helluva lot of damage, but somehow, it wasn't enough. He grabbed the red spray paint again and decorated the floors and ceiling as well, and then followed suit with the black spray paint, until practically every surface in the apartment was covered.

When he got done, he packed up his stuff and picked up his bag- and then he spotted something on the counter. He put his bag back down and headed over to it, picking up the box and studying it.

"No way," he whispered, realizing what they were. It was a box of extremely expensive cigarettes, obviously imported…too good to pass up. He turned around to put them in his bag…

And ran right into a dark figure.

"Oh shit!" He yelped, making a beeline for the window, but the man grabbed him by the wrist and easily pulled him back.

Of course, it was Mr. Suit and Trenchcoat, back long before Chas had expected. Chas swallowed hard, his eyes wide as the man kept an iron grip on his wrist.

"Having fun?" the man asked, his voice low and dangerous.

"Man, don't call the cops," Chas pleaded shamelessly. "I don't wanna get arrested."

The man cocked his head, the dim light from the street making him look absolutely like Satan.

"No. No cops. I have a much better idea, kid, and it'll be worse than the cops for your scrawny little ass."

"Dude, don't rape me either!"

The man snorted. "Don't flatter yourself, kid," he said, grabbing the phone with his free hand. "Your home phone number. Now. Or I will call the fuckin' cops."

"You can't be serious."

"You wanna take that bet?"

Chas gave him the number.