The Credo of Darwin- by Crunch

Has it really been nine months since I updated? Funny how the time just FLIES by when you're lazy and doing nothing. Anyhoo, I present the official first chapter of Credo, which I may say, I am SO excited about. Yes, it's been nearly a year. But I'm telling you folks, if you haven't forgotten all about me, read on, cause this is going to be SO cool. *toots her own horn avidly*

P.S. Loves to Kezzles, Sawa, and Seaspray for their input, without which, I probably would never have updated at all.

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CHAPTER 1: DARWIN JONES

It wasn't hot. It wasn't cold, either. The window beside Darwin's pillow was cracked open, with the shade peeled up to show a slice of sky, and every time a breath of air scrubbed across his cheek, he could tell what kind of day it was. The kind where you stepped out your door and held your breath, waiting for the wind to kick in and chew through you like rice paper, or else, for the heat to lay an iron blanket across your neck. But neither one happened, so you held your breath till you were blue in the face. It was the kind of day where you squinted your eyes, waiting for the sun to burn through, but it never did. Darwin could hardly see the sun today. When he could, when the clouds rolled up, powder-gray and wrinkled, like an elephant's eyelid. The sun only shivered there, white and cold and runny.

He knew this. He'd lain awake in the motel bed since the sun'd been born, around five o'clock that morning, puddling on his nearly-paper sheets like cold milk beneath the shade. And before that, he'd stared at the ceiling, tracing an imaginary finger across crumbs of spackling and flaking chips of whitewash as big as bullets, too busy to realize he was awake. Only now, there wasn't another way around it. After all, once you opened your eyes, that was it. You were good as wide-awake forever. Darwin gave up and squinted towards the window, though he didn't need to squint, not really. There wasn't any sun.

The girl in pink stirred beside him.

Darwin jumped and tugged at his sheets, because he'd forgotten she was there. He calmed down of course, when he remembered she was supposed to be there. It was just that she hadn't made a peep all night, since she'd knocked herself out whispering in Darwin's ears and stroking his chest. After that it had gotten lonely in the bed, and quiet. Too quiet to sleep. So Darwin hadn't.

The girl in pink's boyfriend had slept. all night, in fact, on the shag carpet beside the bed; an ugly rusted color, like spilled blood. It hadn't been his choice to sleep. It happened because of Darwin, and a whack on the head by a standing lamp, a sure mistake. that was, mistaken because Darwin had only meant to hit him hard enough to stop him from leaving with the girl in pink. Not hard enough so he'd have to spend the night on Darwin's motel room floor. The bedroom, with its flannel orange sofa and one stuffed barstool by the television, was alright after dark, but pretty queasy during the daylight. Darwin could've done with out the added atmosphere of an unconscious boyfriend. And then there was the smell. without the boy on the carpet, the room stunk like tuna. With the boy on the carpet, the room still stunk like tuna, but with a distinct whiff of Budweiser beneath.

Still, the girl in pink didn't seem to care. She'd spent the better part of the night draining a bottle from the motel's mini-bar, a plastic rack of beer bottles that sparkled like sea glass in the gloom beneath the bathroom sink. When her boyfriend had shown up and caught the pole of Darwin's standing lamp with his left ear, she hadn't spilled more than a drop on the bedspread. So, unconscious man on the carpet aside, Darwin's mistake didn't worry him just now.

What worried him was that the sky was up, the dusty clock on the windowsill was buzzing eight o'clock in the morning, driving it home in three inch red neon, and the girl beside him was stirring. There was no easy way to dodge a room with a wide-awake girl inside of it. Darwin guessed he had slept too long, even though he hadn't slept a wink.

Still and all, time to get up.

Taking care to move silently, he peeled off the quilt- a sticky flannel thing that hugged every groove in his body like cling wrap, wrinkled and half useless, torn out of the box to clumsily. Padding barefoot across the carpet, doing his best to tell himself the carpet was not crunching underneath his soles, but only doing what clean, healthy carpets should, and high stepping over the unconscious boyfriend, Darwin snatched up his old TJ Max canvas bag from the lone barstool in the kitchenette. He straightened his shoulders, working out the kinks that had nested there overnight , and squinted into every shadow of the bedroom, frowning. There wasn't much to take. Every corner of the motel room leaked hard yellow cheapness, squeezed drop-for-drop from the tightest penny possible. Just about oozed with it.

The door, a plastic-wood slab with six deadbolts and chain locks spread across it from knee-height to head-height, buckled in the middle, bubbling out in battering-ram shaped bulges. Darwin was certain this had a great deal to do with the sprinkling of puckered bullet holes in the wall paper just across the way. Between the battered door and the shot-up wall, room 6 of the Sunny Skillet motel lay in its full glory.

A burnt orange carpet rippled across the room, beneath the single twin bed, now occupied by the girl in pink, and towards the television. It sat in an awkward place beneath the window, which was smaller than the TV, and, since it looked out onto the brick wall of the next building five feet away, only slightly more useful. The television itself only received a news channel and a fuzzy porn channel, where everyone came out yellow-skinned, and when they moved too fast, they ran like watercolors. That was alright, because Darwin didn't much care for porn anyhow. The girl had thought it might heat him up a bit, but he rarely ever made it past luke-warm. It did make him a little hungry, though.

Too bad the kitchenette, a square patch of linoleum opposite the bed, had no food in it. It did have a coffee maker in working order, which was nice, and a sticky red stain that ants chewed diligently at all through the night. Darwin liked to imagine it was Kool-Aid, because that made it easier to step across and get to the coffee maker.

Next to the kitchenette was the old standing lamp, grand and brass and three-pronged which had had three working bulbs last night, but was down to one this morning. Beside that was a stretch of carpet strewn with glass shards like dewdrops, currently occupied by the boyfriend; a bare-chested linebacker of a guy with his polo shirt draped across his face, sinking in and puckering with his breath. It had been the girl in pink's idea, and not a bad one. It was easier than checking for a pulse every half hour.

And that was it. That was all there was. Three steps to the left of the boyfriend, and you were back at the motel room door. There wasn't much to admire in room 6, and there was even less to take. The clock on the windowsill was too heavy, and the TV too big for his knapsack. Damned if he needed a bible, when he'd only end up propping a wobbly table with it. They made phonebooks for that, anyways.

As a last resort, Darwin headed into the bathroom, a real standing-room- only, airless pothole of a place so miniature you had to crowd into the tub to get at the sink across from it. Darwin had lived in smaller.

He scooped up sample bars of soap and palm-sized plastic shampoo bottles from the edge of the sink and into the canvas bag, because you never knew when you'd need to shine yourself up, and threw in a hand towel for good measure. His toothbrush, too, though the bristles were half bald. Then he jammed himself into the tub, his naked feet sticking to the vinyl, and pulled his knees up to his chin so he could pry open the cabinet beneath the sink. The bottles from the mini bar were no good. Too small to sell, and Darwin never drank. Never. It wasn't good for the blood. Instead, he grabbed a coffee mug and few pack of instant. If ever he came across a pot of boiling water in the middle of the road, he'd be ready for it.

When Darwin stood, stretching out like a billfold, he caught a look at himself in the mirror, and it almost sucked the steel from his bones, because he hadn't prepared himself. He was smaller than he'd remembered. Not skinny, though. He wasn't all bones and pipe cleaners. There was muscle there, straining beneath the surface, bungee cords coiled to snap. Only his body was small, like a great man crushed down to size by a trash compactor. Darwin could see himself bursting out at the corners of his hundred something frame, like white stuffing. He shoved it all back inside and left the bathroom.

Once his feet were firmly back on the ground, and his breath back inside of him, He realized there wasn't a lot left to do. Things in the motel room were the way they'd been when he'd come. more or less. The girl in pink would wake up, and after crushing ice against her own hangover, she'd use it to nurse her boyfriend into the here and now. Darwin would be gone by then, paid up on his bill- only eighteen dollars, or he'd have stuck them with the tab, feeling only a little bad about it later. He had his bag, and he had his wallet, not to mention the boyfriend's wallet. With a snap of his head, he caught sight of a Timex shining on the girl in pink's wrist, and he slipped it onto his own, because he'd always had small wrists. So now he had the time. And he had his toothbrush. He didn't need his jacket, which he shoved inside his bag before slipping out the hotel room door. Because it wasn't cold.

Of course, it wasn't hot, either.

~*~

The hours ticked by on Darwin's Timex, and white morning turned red around the edges, holding its breath, then flushed into a purple afternoon. Darwin watched it all from the bench at the bus depot, around a film of Marlboro smoke. He sat at the Bus Depot, not because he had anywhere in particular to go, but because there was nowhere left for him to go here. He'd used up the town. the hotels, the grocery markets, and every scummy little backstretch there was. Time to spit it all out and move on. Though he'd only gotten here the night before.

He'd come to this particular bus stop, in this particular town, with twenty- three fifty in his Levi pockets. well, not really Levis. Cheap rip-offs from an overly air conditioned department store, jeans that had frost on the zipper as they swung from the sales rack, and almost nothing in the knees as it was. Now, they had plain old nothing where the knees should have been, and the seat was getting dangerously thin. Threads crackled and snapped like cellophane when he sat down. Still, his jeans had seen him through five towns, two states, and eleven girls, ages eighteen to thirty. Plus one so far over, he hadn't thought to ask, because she had a roof over her apartment, and a down quilt on her bed, and junior mints on her kitchen table. Yes, his jeans were getting pretty worn down by now.

The girl in pink hadn't minded. Darwin had a good idea it was his jeans that had caught her eye, and their almost complete lack of jean in all the places that mattered. She'd probably noticed them before his eyes. That was alright- people put out less for your pretty blue eyes, and more for all your places that mattered.

The girl in pink happened to be at the bus stop when he stepped off the Greyhound. she happened to be sitting on the bench of the bus stop, under the almost-plastic ceiling of the hut, the kind that kept the rain off people's suits while they waited. There she'd been, her legs crossed, wet with suntan lotion, her blouse wide open, peeling the skin off a chocolate Popsicle, because it HAD been hot yesterday. She'd looked up, and fallen for his jeans. Darwin had been hungry, so he'd fallen for her Popsicle.

The boy beside her hadn't noticed at all.

Well, that was yesterday. Today was new, though gray already, and it wasn't hot, and he wasn't hungry, because of the Twinkie he'd bought along with his Marlboros at the CVS down the road. The boyfriend's old wallet, now his wallet, had only had a few bucks left in it, but it'd been enough for a ticket and a Twinkie, and a few cigarettes for the road.

And that was really all Darwin needed.

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Well, are you not thrilled? Are you not enticed? Are you not ENCHANTED? Well, if you are not, stick with it. You may be soon. Review?