My fingers slip on the mud of the ditch bank. I dig deeper, pull harder. If we’re unlucky enough to be someone’s alibi, the least we can do is return what’s due. The headlights bump up and down on the torn dirt road. The car’s brakes squeal, that make my headache squeal as well. The window rolls down, he walks up to the mysterious visitor. “You boy’s all right?” the stranger asks. My travel companion answers before I can even rationalize the question.”We’re alright, he just had a tad more sauce than he should have. So I picked him out and now taking him back home.” Feeling the man in the car eyes on me I sway like a pole in the wind. Putting the car back into gear we watch his taillights disappear. Turning to me he slaps my shoulder. “Ain’t nobody going to believe this shit, though I probably won’t I tell them…” I stare at him dazed. I still couldn’t believe. “You dropped this back at the house.” He hands me the lighter. “Too bad we don’t have a frajo right now.” he starts walking down the road. Back to which we came.
Feeling like I should pick the envelopes up off the floor as they begin to overtake the mound that was the coffee table. Throwing them into a trash bag I get all but one. I sit staring at it and be it sits staring at me. I find myself unwrapping the ribbon before I recall asking for the action. Each page, each one, is nearly identical. Child molestation repeats over and over as if each word was sporadically replaced with it. The counts grow, I believe, god be damned, there are over 400 different counts. Over 400 lives scarred. Tarnished, to live with it. I get the time and date and memorize the face. I brand the picture right into the center of my head. “This is probably one person, for many reasons, that I wouldn’t mind snuffing before it starts.” I think as I watch the papers and ribbons turn into embers, then ash. If I couldn’t do it for anyone, I could it for them. My hellfire ready I pull out my device, to burn things down.
Autumn feels strange against my skin as the pitched roof, the stance of the house comes clear in front of me. I take one step forward and the leaves crack. I try to take a slower step. Less sound, I inch closer and closer to the house. Only the monster was inside, that’s what the paper said. I lift my leg slowly in front of me as the hairs on my arms and neck stand on end. It, whatever it was, collides someplace close to my temple. I can remember how much my ear hurt, but that’s it.
I wake-up with the world black. I open and close my eyes several times before I can feel the wound on my ear scrape against the wool fabric of the hood. I struggle with my bounds, I struggle with the darkness. I want to scream, so I do. “You fucker, I will fucking kill you!” I yell. Though I wasn’t in the position to give anyone even a scratch, it was more a promise for the future. There’s a slight voice next to mine, it isn’t a whisper, just a broken voice. “Shh… she’ll be angry, don’t say that. We got to be good boys, good boys…” his voice trails off as a stomp is heard from the house, it booms loader then loader. As if the gates to the end of the world were open the door crashes against what I assume is a wall. Her voice is sweet, but a vicious type “What was that dear, want me to fuck now?” I hear one pair of feet close the distance as another scurries. “It wasn’t me, he said it, he did!” the broken voice yells. Her steps stop next to my right ear. “Doesn’t matter, dear. You have to play the part.” He screams as I hear the sound of dragging. I yell “Stop!” over and over, but the gates of hell close all the same.
Walls thinner than they should be, I listen to the footsteps, the dragging. “It will be easier if you don’t fight, honey.” the woman’s voice cuts like paper. He screams, he tells her he’s sorry, he begs for mercy, but the sound of the twisting springs on the mattress echo their ineffectiveness. His screams soon turn to bleak murmurs of a spirit broken. The wool of the hood becomes soaked with tears. I can’t tell how long the sounds went out, but when they stopped, so did my heart. My blood is chilled as the door whips open again. I hear his flesh slump on the floor before the door closes again with a slam.
I must have passed out as the sounds around me changed. There were birds, I think there were birds. I listen as he pulls himself up and walks over to me. His breath is wet and hot as it stings my ear “I’ll kill her, I will. I don’t know why you’re here, but I’ll get her. I’ll kill her. I’ll show her who’s deeper…” He pauses to wince away his pain. “I’ll show her how deep she is, I’ll put it so deep inside her all of her insides will pop out, I’ll show them to her, see how far she can take. I’ll show her…” There are more steps, maybe against the tile. Yes, it has to be tile. The steps grow closer and closer. His voice trails off with him. It feels as she stands right over me as she speaks “We still need lessons on who’s a bad boy?” He screams and I scream. I try to pull myself free from the bounds as she drags him away to teach him things, things that shouldn’t be taught. “No! You can’t, stop! It’s my turn, it’s mine!” I yell unsure of the words coming out of my mouth. I didn’t notice I was rocking the chair until I feel the air rush the hood. I slam against the concrete floor as the pleas continue. A warmth covers my face and leg. I piss myself and cry, begging for his screams to stop.
Why not me, why not me. I go over and over. For moments of his shouts of pain I am glad it isn’t me, and for others I wish it was me. Someone and uncertain who picks me and the chair upright again. In a daze, the shallow but loud footsteps come again. I don’t hear him scurry or attempt the fruitless getaway. My head throbs as mumbles are shared. I feel the moist sting against my ear as he speaks “She wants us to go.” his hands shake as he undoes the rope around my waist and arms. Pausing at my ankles he gets close to my ear again “Don’t run, I have a plan.” The hood shifts as I nod my understanding. His fingers no longer tremble as he undoes the ropes around my ankles. I want to rub the sores, but I don’t. Pulling me by the ropes that tied my hands together he leads me out of the room, out of the house, then into a car. The darkness feels darker as I wait.
The car comes alive and I soon feel each progressive bump as we travel along the road. Maybe there was shouting, everything happened so quickly. The water fills my shoes, then washes over my legs. Catching the hood on the head rest with several yanks it comes free. The brown water begins to surround the interior of the car. Sliding to my side I use my feet to kick at the rear window of the car. It doesn’t budge at first, but few more hard kicks the window gives way. I hit the water fleeing, there’s a swooshing vaporous like sound behind me as I struggle to wade the murky, filthy water. The ropes become looser and looser, and with a little effort, I slide my hands free. I soon find the bank of the ditch. My body feels heavy as I pull myself up.
The car that drove away left a little cloud of dust as I watch him walk down the road. His face etched into my head. “So many faults, even in the light of the events, can I justify the punishments?” I stand there pondering this when he turns around to look back at me. There’s a glint of a grin, the same grin in the picture. A blind a furious rage, the kind that god himself couldn’t quantify, spouts from me. I hit him full on with my shoulder and his body falls. He strikes me, weak, his blows are minor. I feel a large stone at my urine and ditch soaked knee, I fish for it as he struggles. So many wrongs, can at least this one make a right? I pull the stone up from its resting place. I let gravity and the force of my arm do the work. There’s a cracking wet sound.
I stand staring at the mirror after scrubbing my skin raw. I try to hide the monster I have become behind the recognizable, but at the crest of the shallows the scenery breaks to expose where the deep darkness lies inside. A visitor upon my own residence, an occupied being that seems incapable of feelings . Is it then can I reach a point where we’re wrong and right, is it impossible? To be a monster, can it not breed monsters to be just like them. Am I a monster? Can a match be struck unaware of the fire it will cause?
Breathing like I never knew what air was, I stalk my way to the door, which is another way to say I fall flat upon myself and crawl. I take in the must before I pick myself up. I question what it is to be picked-up myself, or well, the worth of it. Fuck, I am going to fight for this, if I could have come arms swinging I would have, but there isn’t a damn thing worth thing hitting now. A knock, an answer, more envelopes. A stack again forms. I pile them next to the pile of the rest of me.