I'm playing my guitar on the hammock in the shade of a palm tree. Due to the terms of the deal I struck with the Feds, I'm not singing about trash. I've given up garbage, and everything that comes along with it, for good. I did it with a sigh of relief, really. I mean, I have other songs to sing; songs I began making up months ago when I went searching for a way to let Perky know my heart.
I don't miss our silly songs about Trash. Well, maybe I miss that rush I got being up on stage. I loved that feeling. But I love Perky more.
It's totally worth it if I can live with Perky, a.k.a. Belle Ami (her new name), and not look over my shoulder all the time. It's worth it if I can finally live without being measured up to my father on a daily basis.
Perky says there's no comparison. She makes me smile.
She's right, though. Carmine Cullenieri's in prison and I'm in Glendale, Arizona, living out my life as Adam Masen. Perky voted for Adorable Masen as my new name, but come the fuck on, right? I mean, I only want Perky calling me Adorable. In bed.
And speaking of bed, Perky, Pixie and Sparkle were totally right on about the butterfly stroke. It really frees you up to, well, thrust… as long as you've got the upper body strength to support yourself like that – and I do. I've never been more thankful for the workout that trashcan slinging can give a man. You've got to trust me on this one, because the shit about the butterfly stroke doesn't come up if you Google it… yet. Perky and I submitted it to the Urban Dictionary. Our entry is under review by their editors. Hopefully they publish it, because I know there are other clueless guys out there looking for ways to make it work in the bedroom, just like I used to do.
I take a break and gaze across the backyard and through the kitchen window. I can see Perky and Pixie laughing as they get dinner ready.
Yep. Crackle and I both sung like, well, songbirds, I guess, and enrolled in the witness protection program. We turned in my father. I never thought I'd have the balls to do it, but the idea of a lifetime with Perky gave me the will. My dad set himself up, really. He made me work for him for three days, he gave me access to some pretty fucked up information. I told everything I knew to the Feds, and I hope I never have to speak about all of that filth ever again.
Pop and Sparkle wander into the backyard holding hands. They didn't have to, but they came along with us for the ride. Sparkle had nothing to lose, except her sparkles. She had to give them up for good in order not to bring attention to the six of us. Aro still has men out there hunting out sparkly shit for their incarcerated boss. Pop talks a little too much though, and I happen to know that there's one part of her that always glitters. Perky told me that Sparkle found a salon as soon as we all got here.
"I've been thinking, Edwa-, I mean Ador-, I mean, Adam," Pop says as he sits down in the grass by my feet. He never gets my new name right.
"Me too," I say with a smile. Personally, I've been thinking about a little seventy-two, followed by a butterfly stroke after dinner.
"We can't do anything with…" Pop glances around furtively. "Rubbish," he whispers.
"Rubbish?" I laugh. "Who says 'rubbish'?"
"My grandma said rubbish. Leave me alone!" Pop answers with a push to the hammock. I hang on tightly as it swings underneath me. "Anyway, I was thinking that here in Arizona it's always warm, always sunny, so you know what that means, right?"
"There's always sunburn?" Perky asks as she picks her way over the too-tall grass in her bare feet. She's wearing one of the silk robes I got for her that snaps up the front. I wanted to make sure that her body's just for me. So far, the robes have been about eighty-two percent effective. You know Perky, she doesn't think when it comes to that kind of stuff.
I can't help smiling as I pull her onto my lap. The hammock swings. My guitar falls to the ground.
"No, well, yeah, there is always sunburn, Perky, but that's not what I was thinking about," Pop replies. "I was thinking that the grass is always growing and that lawns always need taking care of. I mean, look at this lawn here. It's a mess. You guys need some good landscapers."
"Do you know any?" Perky asks as she rocks on my lap a little. I can tell that she's doing it on purpose by the demonic twinkle in her big brown eyes. I can't help it. I roll her over so that she's pinned underneath me on the hammock.
"You don't need a landscaper, baby. You've got me." I whisper in her ear as I rub Mr. Ed, just a little, because we've got company.
"I do have you, don't I?" she asks with a kiss. I nod and kiss her back. Mr. Ed's dying to get under that little robe. "And Pixie and Crackle, and Pop and Sparkle," she adds, reminding me that we have guests.
"Yeah," Sparkle says. "Who needs to pay landscapers when you've got three big, strong men around?"
"That's what I'm talking about, Edw-, I mean, Adam," Pop says, obviously flustered. "Landscapers, man – I think the three of us could do it. Why not?"
But I don't really care, because I've got my girl beneath me smiling up at me, I've got the sun shining behind me, and I've got my whole life ahead of me. Landscaping can come later.
Did I leave some holes in the story line? Probably. Sorry...
Did I leave this open for a Landscaperward sequel? Well, I guess I did. No guarantees, but please thank Allison Cullen if it happens.
Many thanks to FicFreak 95... This silly story wouldn't have been written without her.
Also, thanks to Rose Winters for saying 'rubbish' so much. She passed away during the writing of this story, so I guess I dedicate it to her…
And to everyone else, thanks for the laughs! Mwah!
I'll leave you guys with a teaser for my next fic: There is a Light, coming sometime in May, 2011…
I gently close her bedroom door. I tiptoe to my room and find the box at the back of my closet. I haven't opened it since long before my daughter was born. I sift through a dozen little notebooks filled with the twisted cursive handwriting I carefully constructed as a teenager. The books are full of poems and quotes and lyrics and drawings. A handmade card flutters to the floor and my breath catches in my throat.
Tears spring to my eyes. It was made for my eighteenth birthday.
I tend to think just of the good pieces of this story, but so many of those parts only happened in my head. The reality of it all is stuck between pages of my fantasy, thrown away with old memories, and buried deep in the sandy soil of Long Island, New York.
I know the story won't be the same without those bits.
I hope I tell it well.
I know one thing for sure: it all began with a question.
Do you know The Masens?
Until then, keep laughing, xxx, M