Luca and the Boy with the Thorn in His Side
By Christopher Ward
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He watched her across the viewfinder, like a moth
surrounded by a ball of light. She wore a short, and
her sun-dyed hair tied back pristinely, though he
preferred it when she wore it down as it beautified
her, even more so, and filled him with an unnamed
passion, his heart drumming wildly, and his mind
racing with anarchic thoughts.
His nights were spent replaying shakey images of her
as she sat alone, closely examining her flawless
beauty, her hair jumping slightly as she walked
proudly past his home, schoolbag slung over her taut
She gazed up toward the 6 foot figure with an ardent
admiration akin to a child watching the dizzying
movements of a roller coaster. Craig had noticed she
was more in awe of him then he was of her, and he
understood why this was so. He had just recently
pulled up in his car, and with a steady eye Craig
followed his movements out of his Ford and into the
arms of his girlfriend.
Being this close to her created chaos inside of him
that was close to insanity. The film of his vision
clouded with possible sentences, conversational
pieces, actions, intentions. The suggestions bursting
into his mind in one quick motion. As he took her
hand and listened to them talk, he lowered his head
and used a scruffy shoe to toy with a small rock.
"Forget the bus, I'll give you a lift." He motioned
to his car and pulled her toward it.
"Okay, fine, but I am not going back to your house
today. I have homework to do." She moved to kiss
him, causing him to jerk his head away quickly. He
smiled, and climbed into his car.
"I'm playing a game against Northlands this weekend."
The music from the car drowned out anything else that
was said before his tyres screeched and the couple
sped away at an insane speed.
When the bus finally arrived, Craig was redefining his
jealousy as an ever-growing hatred. A hatred which
had begun life as a deflated balloon, limp and
lifeless, but which was growing with every slight puff
of air. Apathy became dislike, which soon became a
burly balloon of hate.
He kicked the stone he had been toying with, and
boarded a bus, one filled with sweaty school-kids and
The tapes were all marked 'Zoe', with a different
number accompanying it, and they lined the cabinets of
his bedroom. He picked one of them as he kicked off
his shoes, throwing himself onto the bed and eyeing
the TV set.
Her image flickered across the screen, the soundtrack
of noisy cars and squawking birds accompanying her
graceful pose. As he watched her body move within his
unflinching frame, he talked to her. Random
compliments falling out of his mouth, involuntarily,
his lips curled almost in a smile.
He soon buried his head in his hands and whimpered
He used grubby hands to brush back dirty blonde hair
in one strong swoop, and eyed a childhood scar on his
knee, protruding from a skinny leg. He was catapulted
back in time, to years past, where laughter was heard
accompanying happy voices, as he swung stupidly from a
tall tree. And when a girl passed by with tan skin
and blonde hair, all he did was continue to swing, his
uncontrollable laughter piercing the surrounding
quietness, feeling the smooth bark of the tree against
his dirt-laden skin.
On the third floor of an apartment complex in an area
of the city which was left for those with a less than
average income. She lived with her mother, a small
eccentric woman who had divorced her husband little
over one year past, and was determined to succeed with
little, against all the odds.
The husband and father's visits were sporadic and
badly-timed, seeming to almost always lead to
confrontations with the new boyfriend. Egos and
alcohol had lead to many a situation, Luca watching on
with dull eyes which sat in a pale face almost clouded
with died-black hair, hanging wildly.
"You only come here to fight with her"" Her voice
gruff, she held back her tears.
"Luca, stay out of this. This is private!"
"How can it be private when you're both making enough
noise to wake up the neighbours?!"
"Luca to your room, please."
"We hardly see you, and when we do it always leads to
a fight. You're only supposed to be here to see me."
A tear slid down her face, tickling it, before she
brought up a hand and wiped it away. "You make me so
sad. You never stop hurting me." She said these
words walking toward her room, slamming the door. A
framed picture popped out of its holding and fell to
the ground, shattering loudly.
"This is my moment, this is my moment, this is my
moment." Hushed words he spoke as he eyed her
He thought endlessly about how to initiate
conversation, and initially they all sounded
acceptable, but the more times he recited them in his
over-critical mind, the less acceptable they sounded,
and the more insipid he thought they became. He
watched with bated breath as the boyfriend arrived,
and as he clasped her hand, then swinging them
Next Monday, he thought. He would see her again next
Monday. There would always be another opportunity.
He had seen him kissing her on a chilly September
morning, adjacent from a bustling shopping complex.,
their bodies appearing then disappearing, the traffic
abominably, but typically treacherous, and this
obstructed Craig's view.
The kisser was Antonio, but the one being kissed was
definitely not Luca, but a taller brunette, with a
glaringly green school uniform, and a shorter skirt
that was a long way away from reaching her knees.
Antonio moved away from her, but their hands remained
locked. She pulled him back for one more kiss, and
then he left her side. Craig's darting eyes focused
on the two, each in turn, for several minute before
they were both out of sight.
The day Antonio had stopped appearing Luca called his
home, her heart pounding, her cheeks flushed,
expecting the worst, preparing herself for a
confrontation she knew she was too weak to handle
successfully. Her sweaty hands clutched the phone,
biting her lower lip and taking deep breaths in the
vein hope that they would calm her down.
"No, I mean, no. What's this all about?" His voice
was calm. Almost smug. Undeservedly smug, as always.
"You didn't show today. Why not? Where were you?"
"I can't be your personal fucking taxi service all the
time, Luca. Give me a bit of a break." No longer
calm, his voice was agitated. She could picture him
making ferocious movements with his hands as he talked
"If you didn't like picking me up after school all you
had to do was say. I don't mind catching the bus."
"I have to go." Was his response.
Silence for an eternity.
"Antonio, what's wrong with you?" Why are you
treating me this way? You've been treating me like
this for way too long now. I want to know what I've
done wrong. Whatever I have done to upset you, I am
sorry. Forgive me, please."
"Let's just forget this."
"Forget what? Us?"
"Antonio we can work out whatever it if that's wrong
with me. I can change. I will change. I give you my
"Zoe, we, uhm, we are no longer. I am sorry. You
understand?" Silence before he shot upright in his
seat, clutching the phone so tight his hand had turned
an insane shade of red. "Luca! I mean Luca! Shit!"
"I knew it." She could hear his slow breathing, as her
eyes swelled up.
"Oh, Luca, so what? We're young. I can't be tied
down to one fucking person."
"I've lost my flavour now you're spitting me out."
"Luca, " he sighed, and a few seconds passed before he
spoke again, as if contemplating whether or not to say
it. "I wish you'd had a flavour to begin with."
He hung up and she listened to the dull buzz of the
phone line for what seemed to be an eternity. She
thought about this conversation, thought about it for
the first time in a series of recollections. She knew
this conversation would haunt her mind during
sleepless nights and meals she wasn't hungry enough to
She looked around her bleak room where posters of
obscure rock bands graced the walls. Walking toward
the window she opened the blinds, and grimaced at the
protruding sun. She shut them just as quickly and
made her way to the bathroom, where she opened a
cabinet and examined its contents.
In the quietness of the bathroom she could just about
make out her mother's voice.
"I heard her opening the cabinet."
"Watch her. Keep an eye on her." This gruff voice
could only have belonged to her mother's boyfriend.
"We do not want a situation like last month."
She made her way to her bedroom. Lying on her bed and
staring at the ceiling, she lost herself in a sea of
thoughts as she listened to the consistent buzzing of
the light overhead.
Angry dogs barked endlessly behind high electronic
gates. The echoes of their noises bounced around the
neighbourhood, welcoming those dressed for what was to
be a sickeningly hot night, with a cloudless sky and
and lack of even so much as a hint of a breeze.
As Luca adorned herself with cheap make-up, Craig was
picking out a shirt from the hamper. He eyed a small
stain suspiciously, before putting it on and hunting
for a pair of jeans.
They both eyed themselves in the mirror, staring
motionlessly. Luca fingered acne, cursing its
persistence. Their minds were host to much craziness
as their unflinching reflection stared back at them in
the cold, darkened space of their respective bedrooms.
"You're going out tonight? Where?"
"With friends." Telling parents too much was akin to
shooting yourself in the foot. Craig made his way to
the front door, moving quickly.
"Tell us where you are going." This again from the
"The movies, Dad. The movies." He slammed the door
behind him and raced down the steps to the garden
Luca was out the door at almost the same time,
descending the flight of stairs which lead to the
gates of her apartment. The keys she toyed with
jangled noisily as she let herself out, walking down
the path to the exit, meeting someone on the way and
choosing to stare at her moving feet as she passed the
middle-aged woman, clutching a cane and a small bag.
Her heart beat noisily, the sound it made almost
blocking out the noises the world made around her.
Their hair was wet from sweat, shirts unbuttoned and
underarms drenched. Their laughter and screamed words
created a sound of anarchy, juxtaposed against the
heavy petting which the better-looking kids engaged
in, next to the pool, under the snooker table, and an
in the semi-private quarters, of which there were few.
The party had only commenced and already the sight was
anarchic. Music vibrated the room, sounds from
randomly-placed speakers eliminated most audible
Antonio walked in and greeted the room, high-fiving a
sixteen year old with short blonde hair, who spat beer
when he talked, bursting his words out as if there
were a time limit.
"I miss anything?"
"Samantha's giving blow-jobs in the back room in about
fifteen minutes. Couple of bucks a time, I hear."
"Good thing I got to her before she started charging."
Antonio nudged his friend, and they both laughed.
Zoe turned back to her boyfriend and smiled her sweet
innocent smile, baring perfect teeth.
"What are you two talking about?"
He smiled, ignoring her question, bending down to talk
directly in her ear.
"Want a beer?" She nodded after short deliberation,
and he left her side, squeezing through the crowd,
greeting people as he went.
Craig paced aimlessly outside, head hanging low, as if
searching for something on the pavement. He looked up
occasionally, daring himself to go in. He checked his
reflection in the window of a car, smiling weakly, and
patting his hair down.
He turned his camera in the direction of the noise.
Zooming in and out, his fingers toying with the many
buttons on his camcorder. He looked inside the
viewfinder, and found a strange comfort staring at the
black and white images of his surroundings. Clutching
the camera tightly, his hands soon turned sticky with
A plump girl with a bad complexion passed through the
frames as he breathed in deeply and made his first
steps toward the driveway, in the direction of the
event. They avoided making eye contact with each
other, walking slightly apart, almost unaware of the
other person's presence, both pre-occupied with the
trivial pursuit of seeming relaxed and self-assured.
He caught another glimpse of himself in one of the
windows of the house, and cringed before turning away
Craig sat down in a corner of the room and watched two
people play fight over the alleged rules of the game
of pool. Below the table two teens were slaves to
their hormones, their bodies meshed together in a
frenzied fit of passion. From across the room someone
called a boy's name, to which a response came from the
girl under the table.
"He's busy!" They both relaxed for a few seconds and
smiled, before unleashing a crazy spate of laughter
which reduced them to insane wrecks.
A noisy rock band threw out a poem about love as Craig
watched Zoe walk into the room and sit down next to
her boyfriend, admiring her awesome sight and
overwhelming elegance. He unflinchingly watched them
kiss, their eyes closed and hands wandering, trying to
contain his repulsion as he listened to his heart pump
blood threw his veins. It was as if the world was
moving at the incorrect speed, creating his own
surreal universe where sound was muffled and vision
selective. He was living behind a kaleidoscope,
transfixed by the swirling imagery, almost nauseous as
he watched the two and only people, in the centre of
his crazy vision.
Luca had joined the people in the pool house, a
well-lit and spacious part of the house which
contained a bar and another stereo system atop a
table. Nervously watching the crowd, she fingered a
bottle of beer, keeping her head still, merely moving
her eyes, clouded in black mascara.
Thoughts of Antonio made her weak, tightening the knot
in the pit of her stomach.
"Luca!" A voice from outside the pool house. She
battled to see who it was until they had entered the
room, swaying from side to side and spilling beer they
held in their hand.
"Oh, Caroline." The hand which wasn't carrying the
drink was joined to the hand of a spikey-haired
mature-looking boy with tan, and clear blue eyes which
darted to and fro.
"Girl, what are you doing here tonight?"
"Aren't I allowed to be here, or something?"
"Of course not, I was meaning, you know, Antonio.
He's here, too, did you know that? With some new
"He is? Well, hope he has a good time. Hope he has
fun." She glanced at a group of people laughing in
one of the corners of the room. She faked interest.
The boy looked at Luca, almost glaring before throwing
his head back and laughing. "Oh my gosh, are you the
girl he dumped?" Luca looked at him, and nodded.
"And two days later he's going out with some other
girl? That is just too harsh, just crazy."
Luca got up off her seat and walked off.
"Luca, maybe we'll bump into each other later on
tonight." Caroline shouted before poking her
boyfriend in the ribs, for punishment. Luca continued
walking, ignoring her friend's words, passing the pool
and into a small room, eyeing it suspiciously before
finding a place to sit.
Craig lay still in the same position, in a darkened
corner, like a hungry lio watching its prey, and as
the night grew older, his anger ballooned in size, the
sweat on his forehead gathering, then rolling down and
stinging his eyes.
Taking occasional gulps from a bitter beer, he watched
his peers as they danced around the room, laughing and
As Craig watched them kiss again, his heart pounded
and his sweat poured.
His face oddly blank throughout all of this; as he
rose from his seat and made his way past the pool
table. It was all happening so fast for Antonio that
his reactions were slowed. Craig glided toward him,
pushing a drunken teen from his path, grabbing Antonio
by the collar of his leather jacket, forcing him to
stand up, before proceeding to push him down to the
ground again with a grunt. Dazed, he blinked his eyes
and looked around the room, and saw Craig standing
above him, teeth bared and eyes crazy.
"You could take the place of ten men in Hell. You
treat this girl the way you treat every woman we all
see you with, like you can get away with anything.
I'm here to tell you you're not getting away with it
Silence except for the music which continued to play.
"Did you hear me? Did you hear what I said? You are
worthless! I called you athletic!"
Antonio's flushed, expressionless face stared back at
him, an empty shape, taking in long gasps of stale
air, the chest steadily rising, then falling.
"What is this?" He asks.
"You're not getting away with it anymore." Craig
repeated, fists clenched, and teeth gritted.
Antonio motions to some of his friends, gathered
around Craig in an ominous circle. Wiping a thin line
of blood which ran from his lips to his chin, as he
spoke to his entourage.
"Take him outta here and beat the shit out of him."
"Forget them. You do it. Punch me. Hit me. Come
on!" Craig felt no ache when Antonio punched him,
rising sharply and hitting him hard in the gut. He
still felt nothing when he landed hard on the ground.
Antonio reached forward and pulled the dangling
camcorder off of Craig's neck. Throwing it onto the
ground and kicking it into a corner of the room.
Craig was numb to any feeling, physical or emotional,
other than his immense indignation. Glancing at his
camera, then looking back at Antonio. He smiled at
the person who had just destroyed one of the few
things he had to live for.
"He's right." A loud voice from behind. "He's right
From the crowds of people who had gathered, Luca
appeared and made her way over to the situation, as if
gliding, gently pushing past people to gaze into the
eyes of her past boyfriend. Staring at each other
"This is the night you pay for how you treat people."
Antonio laughed, throwing his head back. "I'm getting
out of here. This is so fucking stupid." He looked
at Zoe, whose eyes darted back and forth, her mind
quickly trying to make sense of the situation.
"You are a poor girl, Zoe. A poor, duped girl."
Zoe held back her tears with strong conviction, not
wanting to lose control of her emotions, which were
insane amidst the glaring eyes and intermediate
"Antonio, what's going on?" Zoe squeezed the words
out through a dry mouth. "Who is this girl?" Her
words initiated silence for the longest time, before
Antonio spoke again.
"Zoe, did you know he was still fucking me while he
was fucking you? Did you know this?"
"Grow up, Luca. Fucking ugly bitch. Go and get a
life." He glanced at Zoe, who stood silent amidst the
insanity. "This is a farce. I'm outta here." And
when he left, she followed, throwing her hand out to
The rest of the night he nursed a stinging wound above
his right eyebrow while talking to his companion. He
sat opposite her under dim lights in a quiet suburban
"He killed it." He spoke quietly, and without looking
at her, instead focusing his attention on the large
clumps of camcorder which lay cluttered in his hands
before releasing them, letting them fall to the
ground. "And you know what?" He looked up at her
face, staring attentively at his. "I don't care."
Luca touched his hand and smiled. "It was impressive
tonight what you did." She watched him closely,
finally making eye contact, and it was held. "I
couldn't believe what was happening when I saw it.
Your courage was admirable."
"I'm really not that courageous."
Looking away from each other, and watching a bird
swoop through the cloudless sky. Silence apart from
the noise it made as its wings moved through the air.
"I could be a good friend." He waited for a reaction
from her. She looked at him, face expressionless.
"I'm a nice guy." He continued, breathing in deeply,
looking away from her. "If only people would give me
the chance." Tears blurred his vision. He wiped his
eyes before continuing. "If only people would give me
the chance of showing it." She listened to him with
total attention, her sad eyes fixed on his.
"I noticed that tonight, well "
"You renewed a belief."
He looked at here for the longest time, then spoke
again. "A belief in what?"
"That possibly not all men are the way I see them."
"You know what they say about nice guys."
"What do they say?"
"They finish last." He whispered.
And she looked at him sternly as she whispered;
"Perhaps the race isn't worth winning in the first
place." She answered.
And he copied her when she smiled, clutching her hand
in his. In a lengthy quiet moment they shared a small
The birds darted and sang as the night ended. They
day was only beginning.