No Way Home

BY : Flagg1991
Category: +G through L > The Loud House
Dragon prints: 762
Disclaimer: I do not own the Loud House nor will I profit in any way from this story

Lemy Loud came sharply awake to the sound of voices, his eyes flying open and his heart seizing in his chest. Oh, shit, he thought, the landlord.

He lived on the third floor of a crumbling tenament on the corner of West Ave and 54th Street, the kind of place with a grimey brick facade, wide windows, and dirty hallways littered with cigarette butts, empty beer cans, and condom wrappers. His landlord, a perpetually glowering Arab man named Abdul, liked to come in unannounced - he figured hey, it's my building, fuck you. Funny, he came right in without so much as a knock, but he was never there when you needed him to fix something.

Since he was behind on his rent, Abdul was one of the last people Lemy wanted to fuck with. He sat up, and his head spun, his stomach going with it; the taste of old beer filled his mouth and for a second he thought he was going to puke.

"...after police say she, get this, shot her husband...for snoring."


A woman laughed. "Snoring? Really?"

"58-year-old Debbie Hicks of Armand, Kentucky, shot her husband, 63-year-old Dale Hicks, over the weekend and told police she did it because his snoring was quote unquote driving me crazy."

Lemy existed in a perpetual haze of drugs, alcohol, and regret, but he'd never been more confused in his life. Who was in his apartment? He started to get up, wishing he had a gun, then his eyes fell on the clock radio staring back at him from the top of his dresser. 4:30pm.

"I'll say," the woman replied, her voice filtering through the speaker, "my husband snores loud, but I wouldn't kill him. I'd just make him sleep on the couch."

The man laughed, and Lemy did too. Every day he did this. Fuck, I'm being robbed and...oh wait, it's just The Jackson O'Brien Show on 106.7 WRFK.

Shifting out of bed, Lemy got to his feet and stretched - he was naked save for the same dirty jeans he wore yesterday and a sweat soaked red bandana tied around his forehead. He forgot to take it off most nights since he was usually busy being drunk, so it, like the jeans, tended to just...stay on.

Kicking through empty Natty Ice cans, he went into the living room/kitchen, a tiny space with sticky tile floors and food splattered walls. Roaches scurried out of his path and a rat slipped through a crack in the wall. Lemy called him Winslow after the rat in CatDog. He crossed to the counter, grabbed his Newports, and lit one, the smoke rolling into his lungs and pinching the back of his throat. Next, he hit the bathroom, took a fat I-drank-too-much-last-night piss, then snatched a tallboy from the fridge. He cracked it and leaned against the counter as Jackson and Maureen went off the air, replaced by distorted guitar and organs. Lemy took a long drink and shuffled over to the front window; beads of rain sluiced down the pane, and more hissed in the street below, leaves and bits of litter rushing in streams along the gutters

Of course it was raining. It does nothing but rain in this fucking city. It's worse than London and Seattle combined.

Did he still have that umbrella hanging around? He threw his head back in thought but couldn't remember.

He took the beer into his room and looked around, but didn't see it. It was closing in on five and he had to get ready for work. Fuck it. He'd just get wet.

Setting the can on the dresser, he opened the top drawer, grabbed a pair of green socks, then sat on the edge of the bed and pulled them on, followed by his boots: Brown, dirty, and falling apart. Hey, just like him. Except the brown part.

Chuckling sardonically, he got up, grabbed a black T-shirt from the dresser, and yanked it over his head; his nose pinched when he caught a whiff of his armpits and he gagged. "Oh, yuck." He didn't have time for a shower, though - he was gonna be late as it was.

He picked his green military coat up off the floor, shrugged into it, and left the apartment, locking the door behind him. The hall was dim and trashy; the smell of cooking drifted out from a dozen apartments and combined with the stench of mold and mildew, forming something truly fucking ratchet. Zipping up his coat, he shoved his hands into his pockets and went down the stairs, passing a big blonde girl with vibrant green eyes. "Hey," she said happily.

"Hey," Lemy muttered and kept going. Her name was Candy...or that's what she went by at any rate. She lived on the fifth floor, and for a hundred bucks she'd let you fuck her. An extra fifty, and she'd let you go in raw. She usually gave him a discount because she liked him. You're a nice guy, she said once. Hahahaha. Honey, if only you knew. Of course, she was probably judging him against her pimps/boyfriends, in which case, yeah, he probably was: He was into a lot of things, but slapping women around wasn't one of them.

In the lobby, he stopped to check his mail. Junk, junk, turn off notice from the power company, junk, junk, medical bill that wasn't going to get paid any time soon, junk. He shoved it back into the slot, locked the little door, and went out into the cold rain, his head bowing.

The bus stop was three blocks north on the corner of West and Central. By the time he got there, he was going to be soaked. Fucking bullshit; it always did this to him. There was a saying: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. That applied to him in every way, shape, and form - his life was a long string of failures, disasters, regrets, and buttfucking. Metaphorical buttfucking, but sometimes, he'd prefer the real thing. At least a rapist eventually goes away, the universe doesn't, and if it hates you, you're in a for a shitshow of a time. The universe hated him. He didn't know why, but, eh, he was used to it by now.

A block and a half from the stop, he caught sight of the bus sailing by. What? I'm early!

That's when he remembered the clock in his room was ten minutes slow.

Just as it had been for weeks.

Damning himself as a fool, he started to run, the soles of his boots slapping the concrete and splashing in muddy puddles. Please wait, please wait, please wait! He rounded the corner just as it pulled away from the curb. Shit! He ran faster, waving his hands and yelling "Hey! Wait!" like a maniac.

He didn't know if the driver saw him or not, but if he did, he ignored him. Lemy came to a stop, panting, and growled as hot rage detonate in his chest. He lashed out and kicked an overfull metal trash can so hard it dented, and threw his elbow against a NO PARKING SIGN, making it quiver with a low thrum. Goddamn it! The next bus wasn't for forty-five-fucking minutes and if he wasn't at work in fifteen minutes, Elise the security guard was going to bitch to his boss.

With a heavy sigh, Lemy put his hands on his hips and stared down at the slick pavement. Well, this was nice. Sean, his boss, already wasn't happy with his work. We're getting too many complaints, what's going on over there? It wasn't him! They were just too fucking nitpicky. And even Sean admitted Elsie was a crazy bitch - no one liked her. Hell, what do these people want, their building to be completely spotless? Maybe they shouldn't be such fucking slobs. It wasn't his fault. He left the front door unlocked one night and now they were walking around looking for a reason to be mad.

Fuck them.

And fuck that bus.

He went into the shelter and sat down,

Then his Tracfone rang.

Oh, God, what fresh hell is this?

He whipped it out, opened it, and pressed it to his ear, ready for a fight. "Yeah?"

"Lemy," a firm, familiar voice said. Sharp. Like an accusation.

No, that can't be…

He already knew that it was.

Fuck. How did he get his number?

Hanging his head, Lemy drew a deep breath. "Hey, Dad."

"I need to ask you something," Dad said curtly, ignoring his greeting. That didn't surprise Lemy. He never got along with his old man; he thought he was better than everyone else. Mr. Middle Class, Lemy called him; it's always the little guys who are really stuck up. Once you got so much money, you just stop because whatever. The guys like Dad, though, the keeping up with the Jones BS motherfuckers, are all in your face with what they have and what they think of people like you.

Four years ago, Dad finally, thankfully, kicked him out of the house and told him to "Stay away from my family." Pfft. Guy acted like he never saw a meth lab before. Hahahaha.

Only four people had his number, one was Mom, but he doubted she would give it to him; she left his ass two years ago and moved to Portland. Said she couldn't take him anymore.

"What's up?" Lemy asked, already knowing.

"You never sent me back that paperwork. Do you still have it?"

Lemy sighed. No, he didn't; he lost it when he moved out of the motel room he lived in last winter. "I misplaced it," Lemy said.

Dad sighed in frustration. "I told you how important it was, I told you to get it back to me in less than a week. All you had to do was sign your name. What, you couldn't even manage that? Your name has eight letters. L-E-M-Y L-O-U-D. It shouldn't have taken you even a week to do it, but I know you, so I gave you ample time."

This is why he didn't want Dad having his number. Dad said he knew him, well...he knew Dad too; he held the phone away from his ear and rubbed his grainy eyes. Dad squaked and squaked and squaked. Ugh. "...sign this paperwork."

"What?" Lemy asked.

Dad snorted. "You weren't listening, were you? I said you need to get your ass out here and sign this paperwork."

Lemy had had enough. "Or what?"

"Or I'll sick my lawyer on you, that's what."

Lemy laughed out loud, a deep, genuine, from-the-gut belly laugh that turned passing heads. "What's your lawyer gonna do to me? I don't have shit."

"You'll go to jail," Dad snarled, "get your ass out here and sign this paperwork. You can stay at the house, and if your nose is clean, we can talk about you moving back out here. Not into my home, but somewhere."

"Yeah, okay," Lemy said, "I'm walking into work. Gotta go." He closed the phone and shoved it into his pocket; cars sped by in the street, kicking up sheets of mist.

If Abdul was one of the last people on earth Lemy wanted to fuck with, Lincoln Loud was the last. And that fucking paperwork...yeah, Lemy agreed to it, but now he was having second thoughts. He knew he was a piece of shit, but signing those forms...that was the point of no return. In more ways than one.

That paperwork Dad sent him last year...yeah, he didn't really lose it. He signed it...then ripped it up and threw it away.

He sighed and held his face in his hands.

He really, really didn't want to sign it, though he probably should.

I'll put it off, he thought.

Mind made up, he waited for the bus.

Lincoln Loud, clad in a white polo shirt and black slacks, laid the phone in the cradle and leaned back from the gleaming oaken desk, his hands coming to rest on the arms of the plush leather chair in which he sat. A look of distaste pinched his wrinkled features, and he drew a long, slow breath through flaring nostrils, then let it out in a rush.

It was just past 4 in the afternoon, and weak November sunlight waned against the window overlooking the sloped front boughs of the oak tree dominating it wavered in the chilly breeze, and shafts of amber rays filtered through the final dead leaves clinging stubbornly to the branches. He gazed out into the day, his eyes going to the roof of the house across the street. Beyond that was open sky, and beyond even that was Lemy, his only son. A source of endless aggravation since he was a child, Lemy was, Lincoln sometimes thought, more trouble than he was worth.

Make no mistake about it, he loved his son, but he didn't like him, the same way he didn't like Leia but loved her regardless. They were a lot alike, those two; they both never met a bad choice they didn't like. If they came to a fork in the road, one route leading to bad and the other to worse, they would both gleefully skip down the latter, holding hands and singing like elves in a Disney movie. Then there was Loan; she took so goddamn many pills for her problems she practically bled Xanax. She was stable now - she worked a job and even dated - but all it would take was a stiff gust of wind, and down she'd go like a house of cards. It happened before, and it would happen again.

All of his children faced their own set of challenges, but all of them, even Leia, managed to pull through...except for Lemy. From the time he was twelve, he was a thorn in Lincoln's side; drinking, smoking, staying out late, running wild with his hoodlum friends and terrorizing Royal Woods. By the time he was sixteen, he had a rap sheet thicker than a telephone book, and when he was seventeen he spent six months in juvenile hall for stealing a golf cart with his friends and using it to play midnight bumper cars on Main Street with a second stolen golf cart. Lincoln and his friends got up to things when they were that age, but that was ridiculous.

Lemy's problem was respect: He didn't have any. He thought the world owed him something and didn't believe he had to work or take responsibility for his actions. I'm a victim, dude, he could hear him saying, and his grip on the arms tightened.

If Lemy was a victim of anything, it was himself.

And, in Lincoln's more charitable moments, not being disciplined well enough. Lincoln worked three jobs during Lemy's childhood and just didn't have the time to do it. Luna, on the other hand, stayed home all day long, and the most she ever did was yell and send him to his room. That's now how you deal with a delinquent...not that she cared. She'd rather drink and write music that no one bought or cared about. She was lazy, shiftless, selfish, and dulled her broken dreams with chemicals both legal and otherwise.

She and Lemy were just alike.

The only difference was: He was genuinely happy the day Luna left. With Lemy, he felt a vague and muted sense of head shaking loss, the kind you might feel when watching a very close but very, very stubborn friend making a terrible mistake.

No, there was another difference. Luna leaving made no impact whatsoever on his family, but Lemy leaving a good way. He was always stealing from people, slipping twenties out of Leia's purse and filching things from the attic to pawn. Lincoln wasn't sure, but he thought he pawned Pop-Pop's war medals - how goddamn low can you get?

Then there were his friends; he brought them over at all hours of the day and night, and all of them were just as bad as he was. They'd go into Lemy's room, turn up the music, and do drugs. The next day, if you made the mistake of walking in, you'd better be wearing shoes because you were guaranteed to step on at least one needle. Lincoln didn't want that crap around his family, and because it stuck to Lemy like flies to shit, him leaving was the only solution.

Lemy was his son, however, and Lincoln was prepared to put up with a lot from him. The last straw was the meth lab. He walked into the garage to get something, and there it was, two facing tables crammed with crap lifted from Lisa's lab - beakers bubbling, rocks cooking, meth...being made, he didn't fucking know, he saw it and flipped, reaming Lemy and his slut meth head girlfriend (Sandy? Sondra) new assholes before throwing them out.

It was like a tooth being pulled under anesthetic: Mildly uncomfortable but ultimately necessary. Lemy stayed in Royal Woods for a few years afterwards, sleeping on couches and in cheap motel rooms; Lincoln didn't allow him at the house. If he was honest with himself: He hated looking at his son, because he saw so much potential in him...and with every breath that boy took, he steadily pissed it away. He was smart in many ways - deep, philosophical, good with his hands - but smart doesn't mean a thing if you drown it in booze and hard drugs.

Presently, Lincoln sighed and looked away from the window. His mood was darkening, as it always did when he thought too much about Lemy; he needed something to get his mind off it. He glanced around the room, his eyes darting from the framed portraits on the walls to the over crammed bookshelves. When he was a child, this was his mother's office, now, forty odd years later, it was his study - there was no stone fireplace, but there were busts and rotting hardback tomes, many of which he hadn't read. He always liked the idea of having a study like a Victorian gentleman, a place to sit in an armchair, wear a smoking jacket, sip brandy, and forget life's little worries for a while. This half-hearted modern derivative was as close as he would ever get, though, a fact he came to terms with years ago.

Getting up with a weary sigh, he went to one of the shelves and scanned the spines of a hundred works, none of which arrested his attention. Finally settling for The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, he returned to the armchair and sat, one leg crossing over the other. He reached out, took his reading glasses from the desk, and slipped them on. He was only fifty-one, but some days he could swear he was much older: His eyesight was failing, he couldn't sleep most nights, and his back was always so damn sore.

He opened the cover and read the title page, already decided that he wouldn't actually finish the book - he bought it at a yard sale ten years ago because he remembered it from history class. Published in 1906, it dealt with an immigrant working in a meat packing plant. Sinclair's focus was on the hardships of the protagonist, but the rest of the country was appalled by its well-researched descriptions of the meat packing industry, leading directly to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Sinclair wrote: "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

Lincoln considered it a classic, but as Mark Twain once said: A classic is a book everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read.

That brought a sardonic smile to his face. Twain, known for Tom Sawyer, was a humorist, and a damn good one for the late 19th century. Lincoln had never read any of his longer works, though.

He flipped to the first page and began to read:

It was four o'clock when the ceremony was over and the carriages began to arrive. There had been a crowd following all the way, owing to the exuberance of Marija Berczynskas. The occasion rested heavily upon Marija's broad shoulders—it was her task to see that all things went in due form…

For some reason he imagined Marija (how does one even pronounce that name, anyway?) as Lemy, and instantly she went from a hardworking woman to a lazy bum who shot up and blasted rock music to cover the sound of his own life crashing down around him. It was his task to see that all things went in due form, and he fucked it up so badly the whole world stopped for just a tick as if in sad acknowledgement of a failure so catastrophic.

And what failure was that?

God only knew; Lemy had a never ending supply of them up his sleeve.

...and after the best home traditions; and, flying wildly hither and thither, bowling every one out of the way, and scolding and exhorting all day with her tremendous voice, Marija was too eager to see that others conformed to the proprieties to consider them herself.

Lincoln's mind wandered; he didn't even fully understand what the last sentence was even trying to say. Maybe people would read classics more often if they weren't so bland and confusing.

He snapped the book closed, tossed it onto the desk, and removed his reading glasses, which he sat atop the text. He got up and went into the living room; Lucy sat on the couch in front of CNN; hooligans in mask ran wild through the streets of Seattle and clashed with police in riot gear over the G8 Summit or some damn thing. They did this every year, and every year Lincoln hated the lawless little brats even more. If Lemy was politically minded, he'd be there in a heartbeat, failing on live TV and bringing shame to the family.

Ignoring the screen, he went into the kitchen, where Lori stood at the stove, stirring dinner with a wooden spoon. Smelled like beef soup; perfect for a cold, blustery day such as this. Lori looked over her shoulder then away, her pearl earrings swinging back and forth against the aged-leather like skin of her neck. She was fifty-seven this past September, and looked it every bit: Her hair, once like summer wheat, was pale and graying, and deep lines puckered the corners of her mouth and eyes. Faint affection stirred in his chest like the last embers of a dying fire, and he went to her, one hand fluttering to her hip. She leaned slightly into him and stirred the pot with nary a word.

Fifty-one isn't very old by modern standards, but it was old enough for one to be confident and assured, and for one to no longer delude themselves. Of all his sister-wives, Lori was his favorite, and always had been. She was firm and centered, a practical, no-nonsense, and disciplined woman with a clear understanding of the way things were and the way things ought to be. "That smells good," he commented.

"Beef stew," she said. She spoke few words any more, and when she did, her sisters and the kids listened.

"It's a good day for it," Lincoln said. He gave her hip an affectionate squeeze, then went to the refrigerator. "Loan's coming, isn't she?" He opened the door and took out a bottle of Beck's. He sat it on the counter, grabbed a bottle opener, and popped the top.

Lori tapped the spoon against the side of the pot. "She said she was."

"Let's see if she keeps her word." he grumbled and took a drink. Loan was always making plans and then cancelling them under the pretense of having something else to do. In actuality, she retreated into her apartment and hid from the world like an anxious mess, too overwhelmed to function like a normal human being.

Setting the spoon aside, Lori nodded. "We'll see. She should be here shortly."

And see they did.

Loan did not come to dinner.

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