I was crying my lungs out in the bathroom stalls. The bell had gone off 20 minutes ago and I still wasn’t in class. My tear ducts were dry and my mind a ball of flames. I heard the bathroom door open and I saw a pair of shoes walk in from under the stall door. They walked up to the stall and stopped in front.
“Hey kid, I decided to come back.”
“Walter? Is it you, Walter?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“I’m so sorry Walter, I am so sorry, God, Walter, I’m so sorry, I screwed up so bad this time.”
“You going to let me in? Are you going to stop keeping me out?” I opened the stall door and wrapped my arms around him tight as to prevent him from ever slipping away again.
“Why are you like this, Walter? Why do you selflessly help me this way?”
“Because I care. You can’t explain things like these.”
“Oh thank God you came back… They betrayed me and took from me what I cherished most… You and Iris…”
“Do you want to get back at them?”
“Will you listen and do what I tell you?”
“Good.” He patted me on the back and returned the embrace.
We were out in the yard.
“Okay, I’ll teach you how to beat the living Hell out of someone now.”
He threw a punch. I narrowly dodged it. As I did so, he threw another. It hit me right in the jaw. I was sent back onto the grass.
“Get up, son, and try to hit me.”
He threw a punch, I dodged it. He threw a second one, I pushed it aside with my forearm and tried to punch him. His foot wedged itself straight into my stomach and I was sent reeling.
“What?” I exclaimed as I gasped for air, “I didn’t know we could use our feet!”
“Son, first rule of fighting is that there are no rules. You do whatever the hell you can to win. Ya hear?”
We spent all afternoon trying to slug each other. He kept on beating me.
We kept at it for the next few weeks, every day, after school, we’d go out into the yard and fight. During our very last fight, I threw the first punch. He grabbed my fist and pulled me towards him. I twisted my body and jammed the elbow of the opposite arm into his nose. He let go of my hand. Trying not to waste the opportunity, I kneed him in the stomach and he dropped down to his knees. I threw all I had into punching his face. He was lying on the ground motionless. For a second, I thought I had killed him. He painfully laughed and tried to get up.
“Good job kid, you did good.” He held his stomach. “Let’s go patch ourselves up now…”
I was eating lunch with Ezra, just me and him.
“So I hear Iris and Luke are gonna get back together…” I said, playing with the food within my plate.
“Yeah… I know this sucks…” he answered, looking down into his own plate.
“You know, I know you helped him do this, you don’t have to pretend you didn’t know, or that you were unaware.” He looked up at me.
“I’m sorry, buddy. I really am. You know, I don’t know if anyone’s told you, but he told her everything you thought of her. Like, that’s what made her want to see you.” A cold fire of rage started up inside me. On the table behind Ezra, there was Walter. He stood there, his face under the shadow of his hat.
“Yeah… He saw you at the party and that’s when he started his little thing. I only learned of this after that…incident you had with her.”
“Who told him? You? Who helped Luke take back what he threw out? You?” I bursted out.
“Look, Hal! I’m telling you this, which I shouldn’t, I tried to help you out with her, what else do you want? I was kidding with him when he talked about that, I was the first to know about Amanda, and I pushed him to go for her! I didn’t actually think he’d go back to Iris, and I agree, that was a dick move he pulled, but learn to grow up and walk past! It’s not like it’s that important!” There was a silence, in which we both contemplated our plates intensely. “Besides, you didn’t really have a chance, Hal…”
I saw Walter get up, and leave. Walter had been right again. That’s when I understood they weren’t to be trusted. It was me and Walter against the world.
The cigarette between my fingers slowly burnt to ashes. Through the smoke and loud pop music, I watched them. She was in his arms, and he was whispering words into her ear. She looked so happy with him, just in pure bliss. I wanted to take that happiness away from her, just as she’d torn mine from me. A voice that was not my own kept spinning in my head. “We all make our choices. He made his. Now he will pay for it.” This is where it all leads. This is where it’ll all go. I took a drag. I was going to kidnap him this weekend.
“Hey Luke,” I yelled over. He looked up away from Iris and at me. “Can ya come over please?” He rolled his eyes, stood and walked over. “I was wondering, you wanna go see the sunset one of these days? I dunno, just feel like finally going to do so. Plus, I always see you and Ezra doing these things.”
Luke smiled at me.
“After all this time… Where you gonna go?”
“I think off to the fields, we should get a really good view from there.”
I was getting ready for the night to come in my room. It was 18:30. I walked out of the shower and put on a shirt, feeling it stick to my still-wet skin. I looked at my face in the mirror. I looked different.
“We all make our choices. He made his. Now he will pay for it.”
I buttoned on my shirt and looked at myself in the mirror. I was in the mood tonight. I saw the bag behind me squirm a little.
A cold wind blew. The tall grass in the valley swayed with the wind. I breathed it in. The chilled air burnt my lungs. I ignored it. I close my eyes. My hand clenches around the big bag I carried out to here. Crows crowed as their wings fluttered and gathered on the branches of a dying tree. Like in a dream, I walk down to the stream running through the valley. I’d already imagined this. I put the bag down and open it up. Gagged and tied up, there he was. Luke looked up at me, scared pale. I pulled him completely out of the bag and untied him.
“I’ll be fair with you. Fight me.” On the hills in the shadows cast by a setting sun, there was a silhouette. Walter. Looking down at me. “I’ll let you take the first shot. Seems that’s always what you were good at. Just this time, I’m ready for it.” Luke got up, and looked about himself, puzzled and scared.
“I have no idea what’s gotten into you, Hal? What are you doing? What the fuck is this? I don’t want to fight you… We’re friends, recall?”
“Come on and hit me. You know I’m better than you. You know Iris should have been mine. You’ve dug your own grave buddy. Now you have the choice of either burying yourself, or burying me in it.”
“Oh what the hell, is this seriously about Iris? Take her if you want, I don’t care, just stop this insanity!” He cried out, hysterical.
“No. Fight me.”
“Oh what the hell!” Luke turned to run, and started running. I lunged after him. I was faster than him, and threw him to the ground.
“Don’t even try.”
“You know what, fuck you!” He punched my jaw. I was thrown back. He does pack quite a punch. I wiped the blood off of my face.
“Come on, I’ll give you a second shot. Hit me again. I like it when you do so, come on.” I started licking the blood that curled down my chin. Luke looked sick. I advanced towards him. He closed his eyes, and threw a punch. I grabbed his forearm and pulled him towards me. My left hand met his face with a loud crunch. My knuckles were open and bleeding. He stumbled around for a few seconds, dazed. I briefly glanced at my knuckles, and then pulled his head up by his hair.
“This is for all the pain and suffering you made me go through.” I thrust my hand into his stomach and then landed my elbow in his kidneys. “Get up. GET UP!”
He mumbled incomprehensibly. He was on all fours spitting out blood from his mouth. I kicked him straight into the chest and he flipped over. Blood was flowing from out of his mouth and right ear. He was coughing.
“You always act so tough, but deep down underneath you’re just a scared little boy, aren’t you?”
“Stop… Please…” he choked.
“I’m afraid you’re too late for that.” I kneeled down onto him, jabbing my knee into the area between his lower ribs. He coughed up more blood. “You took my trust and turned it over, you son of a bitch. You stabbed me from behind. I will make you pay.” I started hitting his face, repeatedly. Over and over and over again. I couldn’t even see his expressions through the blood, but I kept on hitting. And hitting. I must have been hitting him for five minutes when I stopped. He was still, painfully, breathing. I looked at the mess at my feet. The mess that broke my life. I looked up to the hill side as the last rays of light came from the sun. In the shadows, I thought I saw Walter’s silhouette. It was probably just an illusion. My hair blew back, and a freezing wind blew. It reeked of death. It was me or Luke tonight. I grabbed him by the hair and dragged him through the grass until we reached the stream again. My mouth had stopped bleeding. With a final burst of effort, I wrapped my hands around Luke’s neck and pressed my thumbs into his throat. He coughed blood up. I saw the life drain out of his sunken eyes.
“Hal… Please…” Were Luke’s last words. I pulled him into a hole in the ground, hidden from any casual observer, to be decomposed and forever destroyed. I closed the hole off.
Once back at the stream, I removed my clothes and quickly washed the blood off of me. I set fire to the clothes I’d worn. Out of the bag, I pulled some new clothes. I was cold, and the wind made me colder. The last snow of the season was slowly melting under my feet. I walked back to the road. The sun was just about to dive down under the horizon. The wind grew stronger and blew on the grasses in the field.
“No one will ever find out.”
The sun set.
“That’s what I keep telling myself, that’s what I keep telling myself.” I said as I slowly made my way home down the road.