Richard Winters stood on his porch, watching as rain drenched every inch of the outside world. Fields stretched out in front of him, and the distant honking of horns reminded him of the modern world. He had lived on this small farm all of his life, crippled with extreme anxiety and fits of paranoia. Doctors told his parents that it would be best to keep him inside, that he wasn’t fit for society.
When he was younger, Dick believed the doctors. His parents confined him to their farm, his only outside interaction being with their neighbours and family members. He thought of the world as scary, dangerous, even evil.
Eventually, with age, Dick became curious. He would ride his bike to the edge of their property, which was just down a dirt road from the main street, and listen to the cars. He would rest his arms on the wooden fence beside the mailbox, itching to open the gate and escape from his confinements.
As the rain fell, Richard took in a deep breath. It was his twenty fourth birthday, and his parents weren’t home from their trip. For as long as Richard could remember, his parents would leave on the third saturday of the month to sell whatever crops they had grown, as well as their home made jams and dairy products.
It didn’t matter that today was Dick’s birthday, work was always more important. He drummed his fingers on the wooden rail of the porch, thinking about his escape. He was going to leave tonight with the help of his neighbour Ethel, whom he called Elle, but she was late. He had stepped onto the porch with his bags five minutes before the time they had set, but she still wasn’t here.
Headlights soon cut through the fog that had developed due to the rain, and Richard’s heart pounded in his chest. Had his parents come home early? He wasn’t prepared for what would come if they found him ready to leave.
His knuckles turned white as he held onto the rail, and he bit deep into his tongue until the taste of blood filled his mouth. The wait was unbearable, and doom seemed to creep into his mind until only one car door opened and shut.
Through the darkness and fog he saw a pale blue dress and slightly curled blonde hair atop the skinny frame of a young woman.
Elle waved at Richard with a smile, and his hands released their grip of the rail. The relief that flushed over him felt like a wave of happiness, and a small smile appeared on his generally blank face. She held an umbrella over her head as she walked towards the porch in a slow manner to avoid slipping on the wet ground.
“Dick!” She smiled, standing at the base of the steps that lead to the porch. “Are you ready for the outside world?”
He smiled in response, picking up his bags with little to no hesitation. “I don’t think I’m ever ready for anything, Elle, but I’m pretty damn close this time.”
He walked down the steps and took his spot beside her underneath the umbrella, placing a small kiss on the side of her head with warmth. She was his best friend, and had been his entire life.
Elle was like a sister to Richard, always has been. She’d help him whenever he needed it, and he often regarded her as a guardian angel. Sometimes Dick wished he felt more for Elle, as she would make the perfect wife for someone so... troubled as he was. But he felt nothing but familial love for her. Sometimes he didn’t understand why his heart never skipped a beat at the sight of her. From what he knew of the general man, he would fall head over heels for a beautiful young woman.
The two friends took off towards the car, getting inside as quickly as possible. Dick threw the bags into the back seat of the pickup truck before sitting in the passengers side. He felt bad for making Elle drive, but without a license he had no choice.
Elle turned on the local radio station before turning the car around and heading towards the road. Music played in the background of the pouring rain, and even the sound of the windshield wipers was more apparent. Dick sat with his elbow rested on the window frame, watching the trees seemingly flash by as she drove.
His anxiety generally made him tired, and from the short attack on his porch he was exhausted. He nodded off into deep sleep, and the world around him melted away as he dreamt of what his life would become.
When he was a child, his parents let him watch television, and the sights of big cities and different landscapes excited him. He knew that there were horrors beneath every pretty picture, but he still couldn’t imagine what things would be like up close. Skyscrapers lining every bustling city, beaches with rolling waves.. different animals of all kinds and different people, too. The world was very different from what he had experienced living on a farm.
“Dick, wake up. We’re here.”
Dick opened his eyes and looked around with blurry vision. It was morning, around 7, and birdsong could be heard through the car windows. Elle smiled at him, and he turned his attention to the large house that sat before them.
This was the Nixon residence, where he knew he would be staying until he and Elle could afford somewhere else. He had never met the couple that supposedly lived here, but Elle assured him that the two were respectable and kind.
As Richard opened the car door and stepped out, he noticed a man sitting on the porch with one leg draped across his knee. He held a cigarette, which he took a drag from as he noticed Richard’s gaze. The two locked eyes before Dick looked away, his heart pounding. He pushed the seat forward within the car to retrieve his bags, taking his time to avoid the same situation.
Elle’s yell brought Richard’s attention away from his bags, and he looked up as he shut the door.
“Lewis, Grace! How are you?”
A woman, and the man from before, were now standing at the base of the porch with smiles on their faces.
“We’ve been great! Lewis and I finally got married in the fall.” Grace looked up at the black haired man, Lewis, who smiled in response. “Of course, we missed you there.”
Elle smiled before motioning in the direction of Dick, who had approached as they exchanged greetings.
“This is the man I told you about, Grace.”
“It’s nice to meet you both,” Dick said as he shook Grace’s hand. He hesitated for a moment, which he thought to be unnoticable, as Lewis outstretched his hand. He took it shortly and shook hands, making eye contact to stay polite, even though it made him uncomfortable. “My name is Richard, but you can call me Dick.”
The man smiled back, gripping Dick’s hand with respectable strength. “I’m Lewis, and this is my lovely wife Grace. I’m sure Ethel told you all about us.”
Dick nodded, and the greeting ended. Elle made small talk with Grace and walked up towards the house while they left Lewis and Dick to retrieve the bags.
From what Dick had heard from Elle, Lewis was an outgoing yet extremely personal man, and she didn’t know much about him.
Richard watched as Lewis retrieved Elle’s bags from the car. He was nicely dressed in a button up shirt and slacks, and his hair was cleanly combed back with gel. But the amount of stubble lined across his jaw gave Richard the sense that Lewis only dressed nicely to make a good impression.
Lewis looked up and met Richard’s gaze with a grin. “Liking the view?”
Dick was quick to respond with, “You’re taking a while.”, but Lewis just chuckled and looked away. It was not the kind of response Richard was expecting, and he figured the pounding in his chest and the warmth spreading across his face was anxiety. It bared the same symptoms.
Dick turned around shortly and began walking towards the house. Lewis noticed Dick leaving and gripped the bags he had already been holding a little tighter. He, of course, ran to catch up with Dick.
Lewis let out a huff of air as he made pace with Dick, walking close enough beside him that their arms constantly brushed against one another's. It was like Lewis was trying to make Dick feel uncomfortable. While, in reality, Lewis didn’t even notice that what he was doing made Dick embarrassed.
“So, what do you do for work?” Lewis mumbled, letting out a sigh. Richard stayed quiet for a moment, thinking of an answer. He didn’t work, but he had hobbies that some considered jobs.
He blurted out, “I’m a writer.” before really thinking about it. He did write, that was true, but his work wasn’t restounding.
“Ah, a writer,” Lewis grinned and looked over at Dick, “You seem the type.”
Richard scoffed, cutting in front of Lewis as they approached the porch. He jogged up the steps, moving to the side to allow Lewis to open the door.
Richard couldn’t help but think that Lewis was strange. Every other person would’ve taken offense to Lewis’ jokes, but Richard didn’t.
Lewis held the door open for Richard to enter before him. The estate was as large as it looked on the outside, with an entryway and stairs leading to an upper floor. A sense of elegance filled the room as a chandelier glittered above Dick's head. It was clear from their home that the Nixon family had wealth. It amazed Richard that the couple did not flaunt their wealth like every other wealthy family- they were reserved, and dressed as if they were in the average middle class. That lasting impression of the two gave Richard the feeling that he could belong here in their residence, even though he wasn't close to possessing as much money as the others.
He could hear Elle and Grace talking in the resting area, obviously catching up. He watched as Lewis motioned for him to follow him up the steps. He obliged, carrying the bags to the upper floor.
The house tour began with Lewis showing Dick all of the different bedrooms. There were several different guest rooms, a master bedroom, and another smaller bedroom which Lewis explained was his "foxhole" whenever he and Grace had a disagreement. Each bedroom held at least a king sized bed, with the master bedroom homing a queen.
Will you and Elle be sharing a bed?"
The question was asked without any implications, but it still made Richard blush.
Lewis mumbled "Suit yourself." before showing him to his room.
It was a medium sized space, which only contained a desk, bed, and a few cabinets. Richard set his bags down on the bed, and Lewis left the room to head back downstairs.
At that moment, Richard did not know where things would end up. He figured he would live in the Nixon estate for a few months at most, and that he would eventually move out with Elle.
Of course, things never turn out the way we usually think they will.