"Drink!” James insisted, and pushed the shot glass forward to Gretchen’s astonishment. Gretchen, who had been waiting to be captured and resurrected. James, who would take her and to turn her pride into a wild beast. She would not refuse her damnation, of course, she knew the risks. James pushed the shot glass again, tempting her. Gretchen took another swig, and this carried on for hours until the sun went down. Until, it had become weeks that they were getting drunk and high, having fun like idiots, stumbling about—to the lowest peak of existence— where they could see a view of the whole world before the downward spiral to oblivion.
It was the way, they both feared, they had to do erase the pain. To escape, to get to the bottom of their sorrow. And so on his and her journey together they found their destination simplified by the being and the breathing—not the getting to nowhere. And when they both realized how time had reversed, it seemed stupid to worry about falling--for no one would ever catch them. In James’ version of the story, heaven was hotter than hell. For heaven was that place everyone talked about. The place where the roots gave way to atoms and energy and embers of understanding.
They were becoming good friends or so it seemed. She introduced James to her Kink friends, her ex roommate with a split personality, and the BDSM scene. She was delighted as she watched him getting flogged, at a kink party she organized. James was a party monster and had different shades, like a chameleon and the more that Gretchen saw every side appear, the more it hurt to know she was secretly in love with his darker side, and it hurt her to see his darkness—and she loved it…because she didn’t know how to be good. She could not change anyone—at least her father always said that. Nevertheless, why should she? She couldn’t help it that people never behaved in her presence. She craved the darkness as much as its benevolence.
Together they trashed Spin like Club Kids and turned the whole place upside down. That was where they met Timothy, a guy who turned out to be a friend to everyone and who probably was a part of the Club Kid scene back when it was real. There was no excuse for their behavior, and each role was performed so excellently. But when James almost got evicted for having so many parties at his house, her friends started coming to Gretchen’s little apartment… through the parties she hosted, came the introduction of James’ best friends.
Harriet started dating Gretchen’s ex roommate three days later, and then came Jared, who shook her world up. Soon she became a different person. A happier one —Gretchen began building a relationship of her own with a porn addict she met online, and we can not forget that particular night when they all got high on spice. But then he squealed like a whore on crack as James pounded his ass for more than the first time. Did she really want to settle for bottom? Soon she forgot all about the escapade with the hit-man who died a drunk, that car accident, and let go of the biggest dick and settled for the worst drugs, gossips, and bad parties.
Was it all becoming something really dangerous? Disturbing? Now her boyfriend started getting fucked by her hedonistic gay “fake” best friend. Or was James even thinking of how she felt about the whole thing? She didn’t even know. Crying all night because Ally and Harriet were going to destroy them all, and break up all his friendships and ruin his life…she wondered…as the gay dude was crying on her shoulder, drunk and dissociating and rambling. Who else but Gretchen loved being the scapegoat? And yet, she was never an actress. Gretchen thought it was funny that everyone she now associated with was either disturbed junkie or an idiot running with a knife who randomly showed up and James found himself madly in love with his seven inch cock, James wasn’t shocked to find that Digital Jesus as he called himself…was dropped off one night and jumped out running n the direction of his house waving that sucker.
Because they all knew that James was fucking Digital Jesus because he enjoyed his body and the control it gave him, and didn’t mind the insanity but was actually rather turned on by it. It didn’t take long for Emily to move on from thinking James was borderline to realizing he just loved danger and darkness. Eventually she fucked him too, and sat with him for hours talking and learned that he had head trauma and PTSD from a car accident. It all nearly came crashing down on Saturday, after Jackson invited her to the local Halloween Masquerade but ditched the thought at the last minute.
She walked around in red fishnets in town as the beast inside stirred and pulled her down to the center of the earth, and as a last attempted effort to kill the destructive beast inside, she went to her old hangout restaurant that was having a fundraiser. But she was kicked out after 2 cigarettes and ten minutes for not having five dollars. She had been part of planning the Amnesty Event, but failed to learn that there was a cover. Who woulda thought she would be kicked out for a charity event on violence against women when she looked like she’d get raped any second now?
Waking up without a headache, her mind was clearer than before. She had OD’d on whatever she felt like the night prior to finding Rock with a dent in Jimmy’s car. Rock apparently had called his ex-girlfriend because…well, his ex was also raped that night. He came to rescue her and drive her to the hospital, but everyone thought Rock was a liar and told Gretchen to leave it at that, because they didn’t trust him…and she didn’t want to say what she saw in his eyes, because it scared her. She had always been psychic, but learned to be passive rather than active to be guarded from the worst potential outcomes.
The next morning, blood was on someone’s hands, well knew it wasn’t hers. James cradles his Cheshire cat in the little cottage by the hill and wonders if he should take another pill. It was obvious the dent was from him smashing into the poll on the way out from the apartment. Were they trying to make right or fooling them all? The morning was rising, slowly, as the night tapered away. The moon was dead beat and gone. And don’t forget the other half Jared, who came over to Emily’s house and drank with the dying starlight, because his mother left him for a man with no money and no future, because Jared's mom refused to love her son over the abuse.
The lonesome wolves began to howl, it was breakfast time—and the beast was hungry. How would justice be served? Through sacrifice or safety? And who would sacrifice safety, sanity, or satiety for the truth…for justice? How would it be done, slow or fast?
Whimper. One blow? Two blows? And who’d of thought the one to commit this atrocity without a reason to commit the crime?
James tried to hold himself together, because his sun was shining brighter this morning than ever before. The answer was forgiveness. If only there was a way back from nowhere. The black bleak world fleeting through their arms. His chest heaved, his throat itched and burned. He rose above it. As did she. Polar opposites united by friendship, not madness. While the world threatened to tear itself apart, there is only one way through the door to the core of the Universe. It is your heart. And in the end, what appeared to be true was what threatened to tear them all apart.…
I remember when Jared set off my car alarm, and sent Lincoln to console my sobs to distract me from the fact that she had grabbed my computer and put it in the other car while they were parked outside. “I heard he’s handing them out like candy,” Jared said while laughing. I pictured them huddled around the dude in a circle while he tossed the pills in the air to them and they went for them like pigeons to crumbs. That’s when I finally stood up for myself. “No, I’m not driving you to ---- to go get these stupid Methadone pills!” I screamed. Jared responded by calling me a self-centered bitch and saying that I thought the world revolved around me. I began to sob and then tell him to pull over at Chris’s house who had become my friend.
Digital Jesus and his sister came out of the house, they tried to console me, while Jared took the initiative to seek revenge. He grabbed the new 1,800 dollar mac out of my book-bag, but the doors had been locked, so when Lincoln opened the door from inside through the window, it set off the car alarm and I ran back out. But just then Lincoln walked up to me with her arms outstretched and gave me a huge. this distracted me momentarily, before she walked back to the car and they drove away. I looked in the backpack right after they left and I knew they had taken my laptop.
It took a lot of effort to convince them to give it back. Finally, after me and my friend tim went to the police and reported it, Lincoln’s sister called and said we could come pick it up. Me and tim drove to the house, un-aided by the officers who refused to help. Lincoln’s young autistic brother walked up carrying the mac in his hands. I didn’t feel relieved. I just accepted it, and when I saw the note on the dollar general receipt I didn’t even cry. “You shouldn’t have killed your baby” It read in Jared’s chicken scratch writing. I had just had an abortion. My brother had dropped everything at school to come and talk me out of making the mistake of believing Jared’s Baptist propaganda that an abortion was a sin.
Gretchen who was sinful, especially when I tried to break Lincoln out of her relationship with her then Heroin addict boyfriend by bringing up that she told me she didn't want him in her life which she had said earlier in the car as we went to get cigarettes “I’m thinking of giving him the knife” she said sarcastically, “He’s not right for me. He scares me Gretchen.” I recall how I stood between them “She doesn’t need or want you anymore!” I shouted, but then he got angry, threw her onto the ground outside his yard and Lincoln cried then both of them were mad because I had tried to break them up, which I had. It had been a long episode of carelessness and poor decisions, but honestly it was the fact that I was with Lincoln that made everything ok, that makes me ok with being there and doing what I had been doing.
I was sitting outside his window, when Lincoln leaned in and we kissed. I didn’t want her boyfriend, like he always joked. I wanted her. I loved her. And I never wanted to have the party after I took Jared to his dentist’s appointment. I didn’t think it was a good idea from the get go, “No no come” Jared smiled and said over the Danni’s phone. “It’ll be like a party, we’ll buy booze and have fun” Of course they weren’t at her uncle’s house when we got there, because they were driving down from her mom’s house for Jared’s “party.
Jared busted into the house while we waited and we saw a big pile of bleach crystals that Jared convinced us to try because he thought it was meth, and I recall thanking God I didn’t throw up like Jared and his little friend. I can still see the image clearly in my mind, the last time I saw Lincoln. She had just cut her hair. One by one, Jordon, John Brown, and Lincoln piled out of the back of her Uncle’s Truck. Her Uncle kept ranting about Lincoln stealing his ring, which must’ve been worth a lot. Apparently there were three rings, and her uncle and Jordon thought she had 2 of them. They bickered and then sent us to go get beer.
Jared complained, “why do we have to go get the beer? We’ve been waiting here for 2 hours!” So Jared and I went to retrieve some beer, the rest of the night is still fresh in my memory. Lincoln told us to go with Jordon because Jared was getting on her nerves. Jared was nagging her a lot about something, they would disappear then reappear. There was a safe in her uncle’s bedroom. Her uncle said someone had tried to break into the safe. I don’t remember seeing anyone go into his room. Then they were in the bathroom.
Now me Jared and Danni are waiting in a bomb shack of some trailer park for Jordon to see her boyfriend. This somewhat obese black woman is snorting Vyvanse and offers me some. I said that you can’t snort vyvanse, because i used to take it and I dissolved it in water to stay awake during our drive to Myrtle Beach. But she assured me I could, and she piled a line on the table and so I just did it. Then I was in the clear. I kept looking around at the wires and weird shit, they talked about weed. We might have also smoked some weed. Then Jordon finally came back, and we headed back to Lincoln’s cousin’s house. “She’s always gone” Lincoln said through the haze of marijuana smoke. I was uneasy, she was nodding off.
Then we went inside, and Lincoln started nodding off in the chair…then somehow she disappeared into her Uncle’s bedroom. He left the door open a crack, so I went to the door and looked in, she was laying on his bed and that’s when the alarm bells went off in my head. Then her uncle comes out with xanax and Jared breaks up a xanax and we split it between the three of us. Then we’re all sitting around the table in the kitchen adjacent to the bedroom in the house, and I remember just looking at them. Just looking and waiting for someone to say something, anything. I keep thinking, this is it you need to say something and I did. “Why is Lincoln in that man’s bed?” They didn’t answer. I saw eyes glazed over with a sort of absence that chilled me to the bone. I saw death in their faces. “That’s it we have to leave. i need to get home.” I had skipped class to come here, and I said I still had a chance if I went back and I had a doctor’s appointment. Jared said, just try to get some sleep. But i couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t sit still. It was all just stupid. I argued with him.
Lincoln had said that it was her home there, that she had moved in and got everything she wanted, but said that her cousin was never around. I now realize that i had absolutely no idea of the situation, and if I had known the truth I would never have left. But i had to leave, and her uncle had locked the door to his room. Maybe I was disgusted with myself, with everything, I don’t really know. Maybe I was just really strung out on the stimulant and so I convinced them to come with me. I thought that if I didn’t leave then, and seeing how everyone was so fucked up, that none of us would make it back…at all… I had a vision of us all piled in the car with lincoln sitting across them and then…then what? I knew something was going to happen, I didn’t know what. I just wanted to avert it. I could focus well enough to drive, and then the cops pulled my car over for my headlight. Danni had a drink in the cupholder. I looked to my right, and oddly I hadn’t even noticed it until that moment.
So I got out and was given a breathalyzer, and I had 0.0000, the cop let me go after the test, but gave danni a citation…I thought we were lucky….I cursed Jared, you see. I cursed him for writing that note, for stealing my sense of happiness, for getting me to trade my soul his heroin. For preying on my emotions. I was doing it to protect myself, but in that curse I failed. Because I wanted Jared to destroy everyone around him until he realized the truth, and then I wanted it to destroy him. That’s how mad I was.
So we threw a bottle with his name on it into the river, and then turned our backs on it, and him. I didn’t think it would actually work… If only I could have just forgiven him, not by letting him tie the noose around my neck, but by tying the noose for him and watching him fall to his death. I didn’t want anyone but him to suffer for it. Damnit, I didn’t even want him to suffer. I wanted him to be sorry to change to apologize to reconcile. The curse…it had three options. Either he’d see the light or the light would blind him so much he couldn’t hurt anyone anymore or he chose to continue doing what he did, and it was going to kill him.
He would die seeing what his actions had caused, all the suffering, all the torment would hurt so much it would kill him, literally. Lincoln wasn’t a part of that curse, but she was. She was his cousin, and what I realize now is that I’m just as guilty as he was. That I’m just as to blame as he was. That even if that curse is just a metaphor for what I knew was to come, that we shouldn’t be cruel to those we misunderstand--and compassion is the highest level of human expression. If Jared saved himself by destroying everyone around him, that was his choice. I gave him three paths and I told myself I wouldn’t stick around until he was truly sorry, but oh how he fooled me. For he chose destruction and I chose to tell the truth. I chose to let the truth destroy him. It wasn’t out of revenge for what he had done, I cursed him out of fear of him hurting me anymore than he already had, I saw my life becoming merely a game-show. He has told so many lies, and hurt so many people. Of all the people who were affected…. Lincoln had become his masterpiece. Now she is free from the bitterness, free from the pain, free from the madness, like a flower in the rain...