BY CARLOS RODRIGUEZ & ALEXANDRA LIGHT
Copyright © 2015 by Carlos Rodriguez and Alexandra Light
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the authors’ imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Cover art copyright © by Carlos Rodriguez.
As sixteen year old Brianna Lee stood on the little weight scale in her room, her stomach growled from starvation. The little ticker on the scale jumped from zero to just below a hundred in less than a second and her grin, which almost always looked like a smirk with her eyebrows squinting, almost spread from ear to ear.
“Ninety-nine pounds!” she exclaimed to the empty house. She had finally achieved her goal of weighing a hundred pounds or less. She put her hands on her hips and stared at her naked body in the full size mirror which was attached to her closet door. Her grin wide, she looked at her brown eyes (which were filled with passion) and said, “I did it!”
Her stomach growled in protest, and she decided that it wouldn’t hurt to eat at least a little bit. Searching through the fridge, she found some Ritz crackers and some squirt cheese with some milk to go along with it.
After she had ate, she checked her Iphone and noticed that she had two messages. One was from Connor, which read, Hey, can I come over? And the other message was from the cute unknown Jared Thompson.
She had been talking to Jared ever since yesterday over Facebook until he asked for her number. She did not hesitate and they talked almost all night yesterday. He even had a car.
We still down for the mall tonight? Jared’s message read, and she waited a few minutes to reply. Didn’t want to reply so quick to sound desperate or anything.
After she texted Jared with the reassurance that they are still hanging out, she told Connor that he could come over. Jared wouldn’t come by to pick her up until another hour and a half. Connor lived right across the street from her so she put away her snack and put some clothes on.
After he knocked at the door, Brianna opened it for her longtime friend and grimaced at him. “Connor, you really know how to dress.”
His eyes went from hers to some faraway place at the sound of her comment. “Well, my body temperature is hot, so that’s why I got these sandals on, even though it’s like November, and this striped polo makes me look cute and—”
Brianna roared with laughter. To top it all off, Connor was wearing these khaki shorts which went right above his bony knees. “You’re a natural! I need to get you signed up for the annual model contest!”
Seeing him blushing in the cold, Brianna calmed herself (but still grinning) and let him in.
“Where are your parents?” he asked.
“Work. They usually work longer on Fridays.” Brianna’s parents were doctors, so of course she felt like she didn’t get enough time with them. “But I mean, we have the whole place to ourselves.”
“Come on,” she said and led him to her room, where he sat on her bed.
“Soooo,” Connor said awkwardly.
“Soooo,” she chimed in, sitting down behind her large dresser with a mirror attached to it so she could do her make up. “What are your plans tonight?”
“Umm, nothing. I’ve been pretty bored. And this weekend is going to be borrrrrring.” He let his back fall to the bed and he closed his eyes as Brianna began to make herself look pretty for Jared.
“I’m sorry Connor. I would chill with you and stuff, but I have a date.”
“I hope it’s not one of those bad boys again.”
“Aha! There you go again, trying to play little wittle dadddy!”
“Shut up! No I’m not!”
“Then stop it Connor. For your in-for-mation”--she swiveled her office chair to face Connor with eyeliner in one hand-- “This guy is pretty fucking cute!”
Connor slowly sat up and rolled his eyes at her. “Of course he is. Would you ever date someone who was ugly?”
“Ew no,” she said and swiveled back to do her makeup.
“I wish I could go to the mall or something, but my parents are at work too.”
Brianna thought for a moment, did some prediction calculations of future events in her head and finally said, “Hey, why don’t you come with me and Jared tonight?”
Connor laughed. “Me? Tag along with you on your date?”
“Well, not exactly. But I bet Jared would let you tag along for the ride and hang out at the mall by yourself while we get to the goody good stuff.”
“Hmm, that sounds better than me staying at home by myself. You should probably ask him just to make sure.”
“Okay,” she said and texted him. He said he didn’t mind. Brianna finished her makeup and hair curling when someone knocked at the door.
It was her parents. Right as they entered their house Brianna and Connor were standing in the hallway and they met eye to eye with her parents.
“We were just going to the mall.”
“As long as you don’t invite anyone over here, I don’t care what you do,” her father said as they started walking up the steps to their bedroom.
That stung her. They only noticed Brianna for a brief moment, and confirmed that the boy she was with, the one standing in their home, was Connor, Brianna’s buddy, who the Lee family didn’t care if he was there at their home or not. Because he looked like a fruitcake and knew that she wouldn’t fuck him.
“Well screw you too,” Brianna said under her breath, and said, “Come on. Let’s go Connor.”
“Right behind yah.”
Brianna messaged Jared to meet them both at the secluded playground a few miles from her house. They walked, Connor trailing a few feet behind and panting.
“What are you panting for?” Brianna asked.
He caught up to her. “I’m not used to all this walking.”
“It’s just a few more miles.”
“Oh, come on. It’s good exercise.”
Connor didn’t think she needed any exercise, as skinny as she looked. Her whole body was thin, and he bet that if he saw her naked (what a dream that would be) he could see her ribs.
“So, what is this guy like?”
“Well, one thing’s for sure, you’re not stealing him away from me.”
“Oh my god,” Connor said in disbelief, because he could not believe that she was still using him as a punching bag. They both knew he wasn’t gay, so what was the deal?
“You know I’m kidding,” she said after a moment, but her eyes went from straight ahead to at Connor for a moment, as if she was somewhat in disbelief about his sexuality.
Sometimes I think you’re really not kidding, he thought, but kept on walking because he really didn’t have anyone else to talk to. Maybe it was because the way he dressed?
“Ah, we’re almost there,” she said, and they both saw the playground. It was a small one, the ones meant for middle schoolers, but it did its job.
As they got closer, Brianna noticed the swing set (which was her favorite), the few slides it had and a rock climbing wall that led to a passageway of more slides and a wanna-be firehouse pole that led to the mulch ground of dirt. She also saw that there was a hot guy doing chin-ups on the monkey bars.
Connor and Brianna got on the swings and started going up and up, and down and down, and the guy on the monkey bars didn’t seem to notice, since his back was to them and the swings they were on groaned and whined from being rusty and not oiled regularly. She saw that he had a military haircut of black hair, sweat soaking his gray tank top, his large muscles popping out even more as his chin went just above the bar, and he had some exercise shorts on, revealing toned legs, too. From behind, Brianna thought that this guy looked pretty fucking hot.
Brianna slowed to a stop on the swing. “Hey,” she called to him.
The boy (or man) stopped his exercise and turned around. His blue eyes met her brown ones.
“Hey,” he said.
She noticed that he was indeed attractive. Broad shoulders, a strong jaw line, big hands, with veins popping out at his wrists, and a square forehead with normal sized ears, he was very, very fuckable (considering she was a virgin).
“Why don’t you come over here?” she asked him.
He walked over to them a little sluggishly, like he had taken a multiple shots of vodka, and Connor stopped swinging.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
His voice was a little deep and southern. “Brianna.”
“Nice.” He finally looked at Connor, who eyed away from him as soon as Levi noticed him. “Soo, who’s this? Your gay friend?” A goofy smirk spread across his face as he said it.
Brianna’s eyes widened in comedy. “Oh yeah. He just hasn’t came out of the closet yet!”
“Bri-anna!” Connor almost shouted, and made the swing links shake as he shook them in his grip.
“Calm down, Connor. We’re just playing.”
“Oh yeah? Well maybe I should just go then.” His face looked flushed and his upturned lips and squinting eyebrows told them that he was not playing these games today.
“Yeah,” Levi said. “Maybe you should go.”
Connor got out of the swing and was about to leave but Brianna stopped him. “No, no, Connor. Please stay.”
“Why? So ya’ll can just make jokes about me all the time?”
“No more jokes,” she said, mostly to Levi. Levi nodded at her.
“Alright, fine,” Connor said, and then they heard the honk of a car up the hill from the park.
“Who’s that?” Levi said.
“That’s our ride to the mall,” she said. “Wanna come?”
“Sure,” Levi said, and they all made their way up the hill to the car, Brianna realizing that she was about to go on a date with Jared, yet this new-hotter-guy Levi was tagging along with them. How would Jared feel about this? Would she cause the two boys to get into a fight? She thought deeply about this as she slowly made her way up the hill, hoping that she didn’t make a bad decision by inviting Levi to tag along with them.
When Jared Thompson pulled into the parking lot of Ramseur Park, he expected only one person to be waiting for him. He recognized Brianna’s slim yet curvy silhouette, but he didn’t know who the other two were. As they neared, Jared thought he recognized the shorter guy as the one who seemed to be constantly following Brianna around at school. The taller guy, however, he did not recognize one bit.
“Jared!” Brianna squealed when she got to the car. Before he could ask who the others were, she leaned in and gave him a huge kiss on the mouth, one that hinted at more to come. For a second, he was distracted by the way all the blood seemed to rush from his head to other parts of his body. He grinned.
“Hey, I didn’t know our date had turned into a field trip.” he joked lamely. Brianna let loose a few giggles as if he’d just said the funniest thing in the world. She used these giggles to hide her disdain for the use of the word “date.”
“C’mon,” she smiled, “everyone knows the more the better.” Jared cocked his head to the side. His smile thinned in slight irritation. There were a lot of things people didn’t want more of, but he didn’t mention that.
“Hey, is there a problem?” the taller, bulkier guy took a step forward from behind Brianna. Sharp, cunning blue eyes peered at him from beneath a head of short black hair. He looked like a total meathead.
“No, there’s no problem.” Jared said after a moment. He gestured to the back doors with his head, “Get in.” Without another word, the guy opened the door and slid in. The smaller guy, Brianna’s dog, scurried around the back and got in through the other side. Brianna, however, stayed by the driver window, staring at Jared. As he watched, she bit her full lower lip with a smile. Then, when she knew she had his attention, she sashayed around the front of the car, swinging her hips, enjoying the feeling of being watched by the three males.
“Hot,” the taller guy said from the back as she stepped into the passenger seat. She gave him an appreciative smile but said nothing. Her eyes were on Jared. For the moment, at least.
“This is a nice car,” Brianna’s dog piped up from the back as they sped off. Jared snorted.
“What makes you say that?” Jared asked politely, glancing at the boy’s freckled face in the rearview mirror. He saw him shrug.
“It’s a car,” Connor replied.
Jared chuckled at that. “True.”
“This is a piece of crap,” the other guy said, as if all he wanted to do was get Jared riled up. Jared looked at Brianna from the corner of his eye. She stared silently out the window.
“Who are you guys anyway?” he asked. Brianna turned suddenly.
“That’s Levi,” she pointed behind Jared, to the big guy. “And the shrimp over there is Connor. I’ve known him since we were kids, but Levi-”
“Where are we going again?” Levi interrupted. Jared glanced again at Brianna, just in time to see the expression of hurt on her face before it smoothed over into a cold, uncaring one.
“The mall.” He answered for her.
“Lame,” Levi shifted, kicking Jared’s seat in the process, “Let’s go to the bowling alley.”
“The bowling alley?” Connor laughed a little, “That’s your better idea?”
“Shut up, faggot,” Levi growled, “when I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.”
“Let’s just go to the bowling alley,” Brianna said, “the mall sounds lame anyways.”
“Won’t Skippy’s be full though?” Connor asked from the back.
“Who the hell goes to that kiddie place?” Levi laughed, “My god, you are such a pussy. No, we gotta go to this place in Asheboro, I know the guys who own it.” Jared scoffed.
“I have to get on 64 to get to Asheboro,” Jared told him, “Do you know how long it takes to get there? Fifteen minutes.”
“Not my fault you guys live in the middle of goddamn nowhere. Hey, Beyoncé-”
“Whatever. Don’t you wanna go?” Breanna turned to look at him with a mollified expression on her face. A second later, Jared felt her gaze on him. She sighed.
“Just go, Jared.”
“Whatever the lady wants,” he said before turning the car and heading for the 64.
“Man, isn’t there anything good on?” Levi said as Brianna kept changing the radio stations. There was deep irritation in his voice.
“Not real—” she began.
“And why, Brianna, did you leave me sitting beside this faggot?”
Everyone in the car froze. Jared and Connor both cursed at Levi in their heads and wondered why on Earth Brianna had brought Levi along.
Even she looked perplexed. “Umm . . .”
“How much longer?” Levi raised his voice.
“Hey, lighten up,” Jared said kindly.
“Lighten up? Kid, I could kill you if I wanted to.” As if to prove his point, he grabbed Jared’s whole face in his hands and shook it.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Brianna yelled.
“I’m trying to rearrange his face,” he said with a smirk. “And then I’ll—”
Whatever Levi planned to do next was never going to happen. Because in the next instant, Jared steered a little off the highway, and the two boys in the backseat saw a figure with overalls get run down by the old sedan. The car jerked up and down over the lump of a man, causing Brianna’s head to slam into the dashboard.
Levi let go of Jared’s face and said, “What just happened?”
“Ow!” She was massaging her forehead. “Am I bleeding?”
Jared was furious. “What the fuck did we run over?”
“We . . . you mean you,” Levi said. There was a hint of fear in his voice.
“Was it an animal or something?” she asked.
“It was a . . . man,” Connor almost whispered. Then he grew louder. “You ran over someone!”
Jared had to turn around to see that Connor was talking down to Levi, not him.
“Hey, now listen, faggot—” Levi began.
“The only faggot in this car is you, Levi,” said Jared.
Levi said something else but Jared didn’t hear him because his mind was racing. Did I just run over someone? His eyes focused out the back window and he saw streaks of blood running from the guy in overalls to the car. The guy was face down, a pool of blood coming from his head. It was hard to see in the dark, but to Jared the guy’s head looked like, well, not like a head.
“My God,” he whispered, and everyone else stared along with him. Brianna’s breaths were coming out in short panicked gasps, Connor’s eyes began to tear, and Levi and Jared stared in shell shocked silence.
“Holy shit,” Levi said after a while. “Holy shit!”
Levi burst from the car, past the dead man, and bolted into the dark.
“Hey!” Jared turned the car off and got out. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?!”
But Levi was already gone, running as if Death himself was on his heels.
The other two stepped out. “What do we do now?” Brianna said.
Nobody answered. Jared walked toward the body.
Inhaling through his nose, exhaling through his mouth, Levi’s heart pumped blood to his legs so he could escape the bloodbath. It wasn’t the dead body that made him run; it was the people he was with.
What would happen when they told the police that Levi had grabbed Jared’s face, causing the death of a passerby? Levi would surely get time in prison, and despite his tough exterior, he knew he would never survive there. So he ran.
How much farther he could run, only time could tell.
“Nine-one-one what is your emergency?”
“Um, hey, I just . . .” The woman driving down 64 didn’t know how to begin. “I just got off work, and I’m on highway 64, and I think I just saw a body lying in the road. I think he might be dead.” After they exchanged more information, the operator sent police to investigate.
Blood covered the sedan’s front-left tire. Connor stared at it horrified of the knowledge that it had been powerful enough to do that to a man.
He bent over and puked on the road. Brianna was there beside him, patting his back, her face a mask of anguish. How could this have happened? she thought. All she wanted was to have a good time, flirt a little bit, and maybe get Jared to second base. But no. Levi just had to fuck everything up. She suddenly loathed herself for bringing Levi along. It was her fault for all of it. She hated Connor, too, because he was purging, and she was not.
She wanted to feel pain. Deserved it; wanted it.
Connor was still bent over, not puking anymore, and Jared was making his way toward the body, so while no one was looking, she stuck her finger down her throat and puked beside where Connor’s pool was.
Well, there went those cheese crackers.
“Ah! I think there’s vomit on my feet!” Connor rasped. “You okay, Brianna?”
She nodded. Then they both walked toward where Jared was, hand in hand, scared and shivering, toward the body.
“I don’t even have to check his pulse to see if he’s dead, from the looks of him,” Jared said.
The middle-aged man’s gray hair swayed in the wind. He wore nothing but overalls, a little obese with the smell of sweat on his skin and his glasses cracked, one lens completely shattered. Blood was still pooling around his head, and a gash showed a flap of skin flop sickeningly from the top, revealing the gore within.
“What do we do now?” Brianna asked. No one answered because they didn’t know what to do themselves.
Call the cops? Run? Those seemed to be the only options. They could just drive off, but that didn’t seem right to anyone, except maybe to Levi.
The teens saw headlights in the far distance, like the sight of a faraway star. On instinct, Jared said, “Quick! Everyone get down in that ditch!”
They lay hidden under the ditch until they could hear the car no more. The head was on the road, the other half in the grass leaning down toward the ditch. Did the passerby see the body and the blood? Would they call the police? Or would they have mistaken the mushed in head for a road-killed animal?”
She said, “What do we do n—”
“I don’t know!” shouted Jared. “If I knew, I’d tell you!”
“This is all my fault . . .”
Both boys turned to look at her, and then she burst into tears. Jared, however, was more concerned with what to do next. If the passerby called the police, then that would mean they’d be in big trouble within the next few minutes.
Suddenly he knew what to do. They had to find Levi. Had to put the body in the trunk. At first he didn’t understand why they should hide the body, but then it became obvious: if anyone came across the corpse, the cops would hunt them down sooner, so it’d be easier to just take the body with them until they found Levi and held him responsible. Which he was.
“C’mon!” he ordered them. “Help me with this!”
“With what?” Connor asked.
He told them his plan, and after the task was done, they got back in the car, made a U-turn, and headed back, away from Asheboro, toward where Levi was still running.
There was blood on their hands, and they could already see Levi, a figure in the distance.
Jared stepped on the gas pedal.
The old sedan passed Levi about fifteen sprint paces from where he was running and the car halted, screeching.
Jared put it in park and got out, opening the rear seat door. “I’m going to try to stop him. It’s possible someone saw and called the police. I just gotta restrain him, somehow.”
“Good luck,” Connor said.
Levi saw them, slowed, then sped up again. Was he planning to run past them? Jared couldn’t—wouldn’t—let that happen.
Levi was sprinting straight toward Jared. There was a fierceness in Levi’s eyes, and Jared planted his feet firmly onto the pavement, ready to take him down and hold him until the cops’ came—
Levi ran beside Jared with his arm outstretched, slamming his arm into Jared’s neck. Jared fell backwards, clutching at his throat which throbbed in pain.
Levi shut the backseat door, hopped in the driver’s seat, and sped off into the night, leaving Jared hopeless and alone.
Breanna and Connor stared at Levi with expressions of shock on their faces. He grimly ignored them as he floored the gas pedal. The sedan shot off with a groan of protestation before settling into its usual noise. They had only gone fifty feet before Brianna frantically grabbed for the steering wheel. Levi growled low in his throat and held her off with one very muscled forearm. Connor, who had been cowering in his seat, suddenly lashed out and covered Levi’s eyes.
“What the fuck are you doing!” the larger boy shouted. A car honked in front of them and he quickly swerved.
“We can’t just leave Jared back there.” Brianna spat through gritted teeth. She was pulling as hard as she could on Levi’s arm, trying to keep him from driving, to no avail. Suddenly, Levi turned onto the shoulder and parked. He shook off Brianna and glared at them.
“You wanna know why I left him behind?” he asked with furious eyes. They were silent and still and said nothing. “It’s because no one in the whole fucking state will believe that this random guy died out of nowhere. It’s pretty fucking obvious that someone ran him the fuck over. With all the shit they have these days like fingerprinting and Google, I’m pretty sure they’ll figure out soon that it was this piece of shit car that did it,” he looked directly at Brianna, “Now, this car is obviously under your friend’s name, or at least his parents’, so they’ll go looking for him first,” Levi glanced out the back window, as if he could still see the accident site, which was already about three miles behind them. “I’m just speeding the whole process up by leaving him there.”
“Why don’t we just explain to the police what happened?” Connor pleaded, tears in his eyes. He ran a hand through his already messy blond hair. “I-I’m sure that they won’t – can’t – arrest us for this.”
“Oh please,” Levi scowled at him, “you think they’ll accept it was an accident? Four teens in one car run over a guy and it’s an accident, sure, but they’ll add something on. They always do. We were drunk, or doing drugs. Maybe Brianna here was giving me a goddamn blowjob while I was driving, and you and your boyfriend fucked in the back and that’s why we were so distracted. Or we’re just stupid because we’re so young and that’s what caused the accident. Not paying attention to the road. Whatever it is, they will find something, and then we can kiss our lives away, ‘cause we’ll be in prison.” For a few moments, all that could be heard was the sound of cars as they drove past, oblivious to all but their own problems.
“Telling the truth has still got to be better than running away or blaming it on someone else,” Connor croaked in the voice of someone who was obviously crying.
“Did you not just fucking hear what I said?” Levi roared. Connor flinched back but opened his mouth to retort.
“We could hide the body,” Brianna suggested quietly. The boys looked at her in surprise. She licked her lips nervously and glanced at the dashboard clock, “It’s been ten or so minutes since we,” she glanced out the window, “since the accident. If anybody called the cops, they’d probably take some time getting there, especially if they’re from our town, because the police department there is not that big. It’ll take them twenty minutes to get there, and if they’re from Asheboro, they should already be there. However,” she added when the boys stiffened, “we haven’t seen any police cars pass by, so we can assume that the call went out to the Ramseur police department. It’s dusk right now, and we’ve got a few minutes before night completely falls. That may just be our saving grace, because that means that seeing the body is probably near impossible, unless, of course, someone looks too closely. Putting all the factors into consideration,” she licked her lips again, “if we go back now, we’ll probably have twenty or so minutes to go back to the body, hide it somewhere, and drive off. Maybe thirty.” This was a total lie. Levi didn’t know the body was in the trunk. She just wanted him to go back for Jared. Levi smiled and caressed her shoulder. She unconsciously leaned into his hand, feeling gross about it and only doing it to persuade him.
“Well aren’t you smart,” he mockingly cooed. He tapped her forehead and leaned back in his seat, “Fine. We’ll go. But,” he held a finger up, “if we go to jail, I will make sure it’s hell for you. Both of you. I know enough people to make that happen. Got it?” Brianna nodded meekly. Satisfied, Levi reached for the gear shift. Before he could so much as touch it, the car door opened and a panting, sweaty Jared grabbed him from the armpits and hauled him out. Surprised, Levi fell to the blacktop and was barely able to block Jared’s kick to the ribs with his upraised forearm.
“Stupid piece of shit,” Jared gasped, “Did you really think I wouldn’t catch up to you? Jesus Christ that was a long run but I would have gone longer if I had to.” He aimed another kick that met its mark. Unfortunately, he was too weak to put force behind it, allowing Levi to grab his foot and pull it out from under him, knocking him to the ground as well. For a few seconds, they rolled around on the street, punching and kicking whatever they could. A splash of strongly fragrant liquid stopped them, and they separated.
“Did you just throw perfume at us?” Levi sputtered, gagging at the taste on his lips. Brianna, who had gotten out of the car and stood next to them, nodded grimly and threw the bottle back in the car.
“We don’t have time for this,” she said. “If we want to hide the body, we need to do it now.”
Jared’s eyes widened. “Hide the body? Are you crazy?”
“That’s what I thought,” Connor’s voice was barely audible in the back seat since he was the only one in the vehicle.
“That’s what we plan to do,” Levi said as he straightened and got up. “And that’s that.”
They were all frozen for a moment, all taking the information in. Levi said, “Hey, Brianna, you look like you’re just dying to say something, so spit it out.”
“I just think we should take a vote. Don’t you all agree?”
Jared finally stood up, and when Levi gave him the death-glare, Jared put his hands up by his side to say ‘I give up! No more fighting!’ They both took a step back and settled into positions of forced nonchalance, although the tension in the air was unmistakable.
“Sure, let’s take a vote,” Levi said. “But I think we would get in less trouble if we just hid the body.”
“You’re only saying that because it was your fault. If you weren’t in the picture, none of this would’ve happened,” Jared said to Levi.
“Hey, now listen, faggot—”
“Levi! Shut! Up!”
Everyone turned to look at Brianna. Her hair was a shadow of the perfection it had been when she’d left home, and her eyeliner was running in black trails down her cheeks. She leaned heavily against the side of the car and thumped it with a fist, “Can we just get this vote done before we get hauled off to jail?”
They continued to stare at her. She closed her eyes and said, “Fine. I vote that we hide the body.” She raised her hand. “Who’s with me?”
“You’re nuts,” Connor said. Brianna shot an accusing look of hate and irritation at him, and he shrunk back into the seat like a scolded puppy.
“I’m with you,” Levi said and raised his hand. “What about you, tough guy?”
Jared’s heart was climbing in his chest. He was torn between two different options. They could still confess that Levi had killed the man, although now it would be pretty difficult to restrain him since he was so strong. On the other hand, they could make everything easier—or total hell—depending on how they did it, if they disposed of the body.
“Wait,” Jared said, “Bri, why do you want to hide the body? It could just make things a lot worse for all of us.” He glanced at Levi. “If we just told on Levi—”
“Hey, good luck on pulling off that shit. There’s no way they’re going to believe you if you say that I did it. Do you know why? Because your alibi has no proof. They’ll accuse all of us, because we were all involved, and you saying that I caused it doesn’t mean shit. Who would believe that? Where’s the evidence to support that?”
“They’ll believe the alibi if it’s three against one,” Jared said coolly.
“No, Levi’s right,” Brianna said. “We dug too far into this mess. Let’s just get it over with.”
Jared seemed to contemplate longer still, but eventually said, “Alright. Alright. Let’s do this.” Right as he said this Brianna’s eyes grew wide. “What’s wrong?”
Brianna cursed and bolted into the car. The other three looked behind them and scrambled after her. Faint blue and red lights flashed in the distance.
“I’m driving,” Jared spat at Levi before Levi could sit in the driver’s seat.
“Whatever you say, fag,” and they got in and drove away from the Asheboro cops, toward home.
Jared turned left to hopefully evade the cops. He went a different route back to where the park was. The dashboard clock read 7:25. Everyone was silent, and it got under Jared’s skin, because his heart ached with realization of what they were about to do. They were going to help a dude who had indirectly man slaughtered a helpless old geezer, just so they could all get away with it. He wondered what God would say, or perhaps He had abandoned them already.
Oh well. Perhaps Brianna and Levi were right; even if they had told on Levi, or said it was an accident, the jury would probably just say that it was a lie since there was no evidence.
It was a cruel world they lived in.
But suppose they were found out by the cops, that it was accidental manslaughter, they couldn’t face that much time, could they? It was better than being caught trying to hide the body, which would prolong their jail time immensely.
He already felt like a criminal. But it was too late. The body was in the trunk, and to make matters worse, he and the others (except for maybe Connor) had already agreed that they should just hide the body. But how?
“So,” Jared said with a dry mouth, “Does anyone know how we’re going to do this?”
Nobody said anything for a long time, contemplating. Finally, all hope was not lost as Brianna spoke. “My dad has a shed. I think there’s a shovel in there somewhere.”
“Okay, but where are we going to bury him?”
“At the church graveyard,” Levi said.
Bri and Connor turned to look at him. “Are you crazy?” Connor said.
“It’s not like I’m planning on going to heaven anyways, ya know?”
“Still,” Brianna said, “A church?”
“No one’s going to look for him in another dude’s grave,” he said.
No one responded because he was right. A church would be a perfect place to hide the body. They would never find out. “Levi is right, and the good thing is, we’re in luck, because there’s a church a few miles from the park and they have graves directly behind the church, so we’ll be obscured from view,” Jared said. He was surprised that he sounded so casual, like he was used to doing stuff like this on a regular basis. His heart wasn’t beating as hard as before; he was calmer, more methodical, because if they didn’t do this right, they would all be screwed in the end.
“I guess it sounds logical—”
Connor cut her off. “Hey, this sounds great and all, but I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. Could you just drop me off at home, Jared?” The car fell silent. “Please?”
Jared thought. Could Connor be trusted to keep his mouth shut? He just met the boy, and he seemed like the kind of kid to confess if the guilt got under his skin. No, Jared thought, he needed to stay with them, where they could watch him. Where they could intimidate him into keeping his mouth shut. Fear kept a person in check, not mercy.
Everyone said in unison, “No Connor.” Except Levi said “No faggot. You’re staying with us for the whole fuckin’ ride. You can’t be trusted.”
“But I won’t tell—”
“I don’t even trust you, Connor,” Brianna said. And with that they soon arrived at Brianna’s house.
The clock was ticking.
“Now, don’t take too long and make sure you’re not noticed,” Jared said to Brianna as she stepped out of the car, leaving her purse behind. She didn’t say a word and then she jogged toward her house, leaving the other teens in the car with the headlights turned off.
It was two minutes later when she came back, shovel in hand. Jared popped the trunk and she went around to put it in. She saw the body, a hideous concoction of sweat, white skin, and a bare head full of spores. His gray hair hung around his face, and one eye glared at her as if to say, ‘Yup, I’m dead, what are you gonna do about it?’
In that moment his body jerked once, like he had just been shot with a Taser, a wheeze of air escaping through his dried lips, and then nothing.
Brianna screamed and hit him with the shovel, a metallic BUNG! sound as the shovel connected with his head.
Jared and Levi quickly got out and went over to her. “What happened?”
Fresh tears came out of her eyes. Whispering, “He’s alive . . . . . . . . . . . . ALIVE!!!!!” A dried throaty shriek, her face turning pale and looking like she might faint.
“Keep your voice down,” Jared said.
Levi was shocked. “What? How?”
She held the shovel like one holds a baby. She looked pretty pathetic. It was hard to hear her since she was crying. And shaking. “I don’t know. He just jerked and wheezed and I hit him with the shovel.”
Jared put a finger to the man’s neck, checking for a pulse. “He’s dead. I think he was already dead when we hit him with the car. He just had a little bit of life left in him. That’s all.”
“So I didn’t kill him?” Alice croaked.
Jared shook his head. She carefully put the shovel in the trunk behind the body, and there were a few bloodstains on the interior, and the trunk was already beginning to smell.
Levi shut the trunk.
“Let’s get out of here quick,” Jared said, and they left towards the church.
Jared parked behind the church, and everyone got out. The sun was setting in the direction opposite the gravesite, so it was beginning to get dark. The church was a small one, with a steeple as high as the trees. The brick building didn’t show any signs of wear, but the white doors that made up its entrance and backdoors were splintered and the paint was peeling. Did anyone go to this church anymore?
Jared unlocked the trunk and they all looked inside. They all avoided looking at his head, because it was the most gruesome, and they all took a step back as the smell hit them hard. His body had released what had been left in his intestines.
Connor turned to puke again, and they all wore faces of disgust. Except for Levi. Levi began patting the old geezer down, and he came up with a wallet and a .22 pistol, fully loaded.
“Whoa,” Levi said, like a kid at a carnival who had just saw the rides for the first time. “This is the shit!”
“I can’t take this anymore,” Connor said, and he began fast walking around the church and out of sight.
“Connor!” Brianna shouted. “Come back!”
Usually her dog came back to her, but it really seemed as if he’d had enough. The sound of her voice made him run quicker, and they were all taken aback by the smell of the body, the presence of the body, and they all just stared at Connor as he ran away. It was like they were in a trance.
“I’ll catch that little fag,” Levi said with a shark’s grin and began sprinting towards him, tackling him to the ground and aiming the gun at his chest. “Say it! Say it!”
Connor was too stunned to do anything but spread his eyes wide and choked on his own spit. “Say what?” he blubbered.
“Say ‘I’m a faggot!’” He was grinning when he said it.
“Let go of—”
Let go of me, was what he was going to say, but that last word never escaped his lips, because Levi had leaned in on him too hard, accidentally squeezing the trigger of the gun, firing a bullet into Connor’s chest, right where his heart lay. There was a loud echo of gunfire as the shot went off, blood pumping out of his chest, and Levi’s eyes first widened in shock and horror, but then they shifted into an uncaring, humorous, if not maniacal grin, “Well, looks like we’re gonna need to dig a bigger hole,” Levi smirked, then busted out laughing. The other two teens just stared at him as he got up. “Hey, at least I did the world a favor! YOU HEAR THAT WORLD? I DID YOU A FUCKING FAVOR, GETTING RID OF THIS FAGGOT!”
For a few seconds, all that could be seen were four teenagers in a graveyard, one dead, two frozen in time, and the last laughing as if the devil himself had possessed him.
Then all hell broke loose.
Brianna sunk to her hands and knees, hysterical. Her stomach emptied itself out without her help, and though it slightly comforted her, this familiar feeling, she could not separate herself from the aching pain and confusion at the loss of one of her closest friends.
Jared mourned as well, but he had not known Connor so well. Rather, he mourned at the loss of another life in such a sacred place, at the dawn of his life. Anger overcame him, and before he knew it, he was tackling Levi to the ground. As he did so, Levi accidentally squeezed the trigger and a shot whizzed a few inches from Brianna’s ears. It hit a gravestone and embedded itself in.
The shock of near death jolted through Brianna, throwing her into a haze of confusion and panic. Her survival instincts kicked in and she crawled a few feet away, sobbing in terror. She covered her head and peeked at Jared and Levi, who wrestled for the weapon.
“Stop it! Just stop it!” she yelled, but it seemed as if they didn’t hear her. She couldn’t even hear herself, due to the sound of the gunshot.
Levi head butted Jared and he fell to the floor like a pile of bricks.
Brianna screamed again, and Levi shot a bullet in the air, stopping her sobs altogether. Through the fog of adrenaline, terror, and pain, she wondered if Jared was dead.
Levi cramming the gun in his pocket, he grabbed the shirt collar of both boys in each hand and walked out of the view of the public eye, behind the church, where no one would see any of them, dragging both boys in the dirt like tools.
Tools in his own sick game.
Brianna followed him with her eyes but stayed where she was, lips trembling, heart racing with the need to survive.
Levi let go of the boys and got the shovel out of the trunk. Throwing it to her feet, he said, “Now, get digging.”
She was too stunned to react.
He aimed the gun at Jared’s head. “Get digging or I’ll make sure he’s dead!”
“NO!” her hoarse throat cried.
“Then. Get. Digging. Right now.”
She grabbed the shovel with weak hands and walked aimlessly around the gravesite, looking for a place to dig. “Right here,” Levi said, and pointed to a fresh grave. Brianna rose, and picked up the shovel. With as much dignity as she could muster, she began to dig.
Levi, on the other hand, sat down on the cement backdoor steps, watching her with contempt.
Everything was going his way. Perfect. But then a sinister idea struck him cold, and he got up, walked casually over to where Brianna was digging, and shoved her to the ground, slamming her side into the dirt. He got on top of her and began to strip her down violently.
She screamed, a high, innocent but weak scream. “Let go of me! Let go of me!”
He had managed to take off her shirt, exposing a lacy bra and the pale, silky white of her breasts.
He tore at her pants, eager to take them off. Suddenly, a gunshot sounded, and terrible, horrible pain raced up his leg.
Levi howled in pain. He tried to get up, only to fall back on his victim. He got a glance at his leg, and the small chunk missing from it. He yelled in fury and turned back to Brianna, who stared at him with quiet, triumphant acceptance.
“Freeze!” Five police officers suddenly erupted from the back church door and surrounded them, weapons aimed. One stepped closer than the others, “Get off the girl and put your hands up. Now!”
His voice deafening, Levi slid off Brianna in the dirt and put his hands in the air. Brianna scrambled away like a cornered animal, given at the chance of freedom. A female police officer quickly wrapped her in a blanket and helped her up, supporting her.
Levi, staring as the cop slowly approached with gun aimed, realized that he was fucked. There was no way he could escape any of this now. The cop had seen him try to rape her, and now Jared and Brianna would blame him for everything that had happened, which was true, but he didn’t want it to be true. How much jail time would he get? Would he never get pussy again? Would he have to resort to gay sex in the jail cells for pleasure?
He would never let that happen.
In one quick movement, he grabbed the gun from his jeans and shot two of the cops. One in the head, one in the arm. He turned to run, but fell back on his damaged leg. An officer shot the grass next to him in warning.
Levi stopped cold, then smiled that shark’s grin of his and aimed the gun at the cops, planning to kill them all and bury them all. And Brianna would do it, because he was the one who had all the power, he was the one who had everything at his control and everything would be just fine as soon as he fired all shots into the cops and then he could go back to raping Brianna before making her bury everybody. Even Jared. Hell, even Brianna, too, if he felt like it.
But Levi didn’t get a chance to shoot any more cops, because, seeing the intent in his eyes, and the twitch of his hand, the cops quickly emptied their shells into him.
Brianna watched it all emotionlessly, two streaks of tears running down her face. She swallowed the bile that threatened to crawl up her throat and let the female cop comfort her. It was finally over. It was done.
Brianna curled up in Jared’s arms. They lay on a picnic blanket by Connor’s grave, celebrating his birthday four months after the entire ordeal. They had been there for an hour already. Now, they stood and packed the blanket they were laying on away.
“See you later buddy,” Brianna whispered before following Jared to his car. Not the sedan, but a 2008 Honda Accord Jared’s parents had let him borrow for the day. Before she could sit in the car, she heaved.
“Calm down, Bri.” Jared said as he wrapped his arms around her. He knew about her bulimia; she’d confessed. He, in turn, had told her parents, and, although she had been angry with him, she had agreed to seek help after her parents uncaringly threw money at a therapist for her to see rather than be admitted to a hospital. A month later, Brianna took Jared to third base, and for once, they both felt the past slowly begin to ebb away from their minds.