It's a dreary mid October as the clouds rumbled across the sky. The wind blew at the colorful leaves from the baring trees dropping them down onto the neighborhood sidewalk. School buses stopped at every street corner letting kids off. One bus stopped at the front of an old gray house. The wood had cracks all over and the windows were full of dust as if never been cleaned. Dead trees surrounded the house along with vines that climbed to the roof. Black steel pointed gates enclosed the property.
   The doors of the bus opened and a tall slender young man wearing a black rounded hat walked off with his head lowered. The length of his slightly waved black hair reached just below his jawbone and he wore a black coat that reached down below his knees. Insults and laughter were heard from the windows.
   "Back to your dungeon, Dracula!" shouted a young man.
   "Whew! The smell of decay is finally lifting now that you've stepped off!" shouted another.
Paper wads were flung from the windows at the young man as the bus drove away. He then noticed three boys that stood watching him. He turned and looked at them waiting for an insult or laughter, but the faces of the boys showed fear as they quickly ran away.
   The young man turned back around opened the gate then closed it behind him. He slowly walked towards the front porch, stopped then sighed.
   "Jacob? Is that you?" shouted the angry voice of an old lady from inside.
   "Yes Granny, who else would it be?"
   "Get your ass in here and help me, you good for nothing fool."
He walked up the steps and went inside. "Where are you?"
   "I'm right here, you idiot. Are you blind?" she asked as she rode in front of him in her wheel chair. "I've been starving all day. Cook me something to eat."
   "Yes, Granny."
   He took his coat and hat off then walked into the kitchen. After putting a pan on the stove, he lit the gas with a match as his grandmother watched. "I wish I could get out of the hell-hole," he thought to himself.
   "Now I want something good. I'm tired of chicken," she said lighting up a cigarette.
   "All we have is chicken."
   "Chicken," she huffed, "it's your fault. If you would get a job instead of sitting on your ass in that school, we'd have more to eat than chicken."
   "I don't just sit on my ass, I learn so that when I'm finished, I can get a real job and get away from here."
   "Ha, learn? As if you think you're smart. You're no smarter than your mother was when she left you to me fourteen years ago. She never made anything of herself except becoming a prostitute. I made sure I ended that, rest her soul."
   "What do you mean by that?"
   "None of your damn business! Hurry up with my food!" she shouted as she banged at the dinner table.
   Jacob served her a plate of food and watched her eat as he always did every evening waiting for his turn to eat at whatever was left. She took her time eating each bite teasing him and when she finished, she was sure to leave a mess for him to clean. She moaned and groaned as she'd wheel herself out of the kitchen puffing away at her cigarette. Finally, it was his turn to eat then clean up. "Rats make less of a mess than she does," he said as he wiped up the food from the floor. "I'm tired of being treated like the back end of a dog. She couldn't even say happy birthday. Why would she, the old prune. Well, happy eighteenth birthday. Your gift, nagging and cleaning like a maid."
   After the cleaning the floor and washing the dishes, Jacob went to his room at the back end of the house. He closed the door, sat on the bed, removed his boots and socks then shoved them under the bed. He sat for a while looking at the peeling burgundy wallpaper on his walls. "Why is my life this way? Why does everyone treat me like I'm nothing? Why did my mother leave me to this, with her?" He looked over at the end table next to his bed and moved over to it. He opened the small drawer and took out a picture. "You weren't a prostitute, you couldn't have been. I don't have many memories of you, but the ones I do, are good. You loved me." A tear dripped down his cheek as he placed the picture back into the drawer.
   Jacob spent the rest of the night in his room. Not long after falling asleep, he was awakened by the sounds of his grandmother who is in the next room.
   "Take me now, I give myself to thee. Merciful dark lord, aaaeeh, aaaeeh!" she cried as she pounded the walls.
   "Not again!" he said as he covered his head with his pillow as he did every night.
   After a long night and little sleep, Jacob cooked breakfast then waited for the bus for school. He rolled his eyes as he watched the bus pull up hearing the usual laughter and insults from the windows.
   "Oh the smell!" shouted one as Jacob stepped on and sat in the front seat.
   "Hey, don't vampires sleep in daylight?" shouted another.
   Paper wads hit him from behind, one landing on the top of his hat.
   Jacob usually sat through the torment not saying a word, but this time he quickly stood up and faced everyone behind him. 'ENOUGH! I've had enough!"
   "Awe poor reaper is mad!"
   "Get off my bus!" shouted the bus driver as he pulled up to the school.
   Jacob's first class was History which he hated. His teacher, Ms. Lansbury, called him the devil's child. She criticized his black clothes and the paleness of his skin. She wore nun's clothing ever day even though she wasn't a nun. As Jacob walked in, she flung holy water at his face soaking the front of his clothes.
   "I'm not the devil," he said angrily as he wiped his face with his sleeve and sat down in a desk.
   "You know not of the evil that possesses you," she said slamming a Bible on his desk. "He will free you."
   "I'm not the possessed!"
   "Satan's child," she said as she picked up the Bible and went to her desk."
   Laughter and insults were heard from behind.
   "Child of Satan, back to your fiery pit!"
   "What's that? Mother Satan's calling; she wants you to do some dirty work!"
   "SHUT-UP!" shouted Jacob as he stood to his feet. "Shut the hell up, I can't take anymore!" He picked his desk up and raised it above his head as everyone quickly became quiet, then threw it to the center of the room.
   "Jacob Connelly!" shouted Ms. Lansbury.
   "I'm tired of everyone's bullshit, especially yours!" He pushed over her desk, ran out of the classroom, out the school doors and all the way to his house. He stood at the front door and caught his breath before he went inside. He quietly made his way inside and into his room trying not to alert his grandmother he was home, but as he sat on the bed, the sqeak of the springs gave him away.
   "Jacob, I know that's you. Get your ass in here."
He clenched his fists tightly as he went to the living room where she sat.
   "Cook me some food, you worthless son-of-a-bitch."
   "What did you say?"
   "You heard me. No!"
   "You dare speak to me in that tone. That's what got your mother in trouble."
   What do you mean by that?" he looked confused.
   "It's time you knew the truth." She wheeled up to Jacob and gave an evil grin. "I killed your mommy!"
His face looked in horror as he fell to his knees in disbelief. "No, you said she left me."
   "I had enough of her mouth, so I poisoned her, then burnt her body in the back yard."
   "How could you?!" Tears poured from his eyes.
   "Her eyes, blue as her dress, her pale face, how she burned in the flame. My dark lord had the sacrifice he asked for." She raised her hands into the air and laughed.
   Jacob stood in anger and clenched his hands around her neck.
   "You don't have it in you," she gasped.
   But his hands squeezed tighter and tighter until his grandmother was no longer breathing. He slowly let go and she dropped to the side of her wheel chair. He stood in horror and disbelief of what he had done. He then went to his room and got out his mother's picture. "I'm so sorry." He put the picture in his pocket and went into the kitchen. He took a box of matches from the stove and a bottle of lighter fluid from the cupboard. He squirted the fluid all over the walls and floors of the house then lit the matches throwing them in each room. The flames grew as he made his way back to his room. He sat on his bed and lit the last match. "No more laughter, no more insults, no more life," he said tears streamed down his cheeks then threw the match to the floor. He lay down as the flames topped over him. He didn't even scream and within minutes, the old gray house was no more.