The Groom

A story of revenge.


The rounded head of my hammer struck the side of Brad’s midsection. Beneath its heft I felt two of his ribs crack, reverberating through the handle, along my arm, and up into my teeth.

“God, why?” he shrieked as I reared back for another blow.

“You know why.” I spat into his lap.

Brad was tied to a wooden dining room chair. I had come over a few hours earlier under the guise of sharing a particularly fine whiskey with him. He was ironically easy to drug.

I was what we will call “a bad kid.” By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had already developed a strong hand with a spray can. My friends, hoodrats that they were, admired my work enough to begin trying to copy the pattern. We worked so hard at our art, in fact, that I and two others - Kyle and the aforementioned Brad - failed our first go-round at year one. As a fifteen-year-old sophomore, armed with increasingly loaded friends, a spraycan, and a scary-sharp switchblade, I was pulling girls twice my year. Once I even managed to visit the bedrooms of a senior and a freshman in the same night. They were sisters, but still.

I was slated to graduate at nineteen. That did not come to pass, however, as in April of that year I finally got too cocky and broke into the school to leave a mural in the gym. The school apparently had numerous security cameras that I had failed to take into consideration, so instead of walking at graduation, I instead walked into county for petty vandalism. The judge who sent me there was an old, old man whose voice sounded like the rasping gasp of a mummy buried for fifteen thousand years. But under his severe, decrepit exterior, I saw who he really was, who he had been: a little scar across the eyebrow, a laser-removal discoloration from a long-gone neck tattoo, a crooked nose. He understood. And he was lenient.

Finally, at age twenty, I graduated from high school. During my stint in jail, Brad, Kyle, and two new friends we had picked up in our high school career - Matthew and Clay - had graduated, but they didn’t forget me. In fact, I almost failed that year again, but this time due to spending too much time bringing girls to their house parties to drink. How their parents never caught wind of this, I never knew. As for my own parents, they gave up trying to shape me early on. My visit to county was no surprise to them, and seemingly no disappointment either. I was not an only child. My two sisters had graduated long before me. But I was the last, and if that hadn’t been evident enough from the empty home in which I was raised, then it certainly became evident when my parents decided that trying to raise me was more effort than they cared for.

Yep, high school was pretty great for me and the boys. Kyle introduced us to the magic of cocaine before any of us turned eighteen. Brad’s step-dad bought us booze. And Matt and Clay? Well, put it this way: They knew which girls came from broken homes.


My hammer’s rounded head descended on Brad’s helpless form once more, this time on his kneecap. The strange sensation of another man’s bones breaking beneath my ministrations went up into my teeth again, but was somehow different. It felt less alien, this time. Easier.

Brad’s head snapped back and his eyes glazed over, darting wildly across the ceiling, as he loosed a guttural howl.

“Don’t be such a baby,” I mocked as he ran out of air, “it can still get so much worse.”

“We just wanted,” he gurgled around his own terrified snot and tears, choked, and tried again, “just wanted to help.”

A bitter laugh crawled from my throat. “Oh yeah? ‘Help’ is what you want to call it?”

Brad’s head had lolled forward against his chest now. I could see pinpricks of sweat beading along the browline of his high ‘n’ tight black hair, running down his temple to his jaw, and falling between his legs to the chair below. In lieu of response, he simply groaned - or tried to groan, as it quickly turned into a terrified whimper.

“So much worse,” I whispered to myself as I took a swing at his shoulder.

You might think that a bunch of nearly-dropouts like ourselves would have gone on to burn out in a ditch somewhere, each dying a junkie’s death of exposure or overdose. But life has a funny way of rewarding assholes. Yes, I know we were assholes. I know a lot of things that my ignorant, feral younger self didn’t know. Couldn’t know, really. None of us graduated with GPAs worth a shit, but we had the good fortune of having been raised in a college town. Middleton Q. Ginglewich University (or, as we called it, “Midwich U,”) had an on-going scholarship program for underperforming local youths just like ourselves. It was designed to, in some way, give back to the small village the school had completely bowled over in the last three or so decades. I don’t think any of us originally planned to apply to any sort of college, but somehow Clay had caught wind of this scholarship program and thought that we, in his words, could “find dumbass drunk fucking college chick strange! Co-eds, dude! Girls what don’t know how much to drink yet!” This last remark was always accompanied by either an actual or implied wink. The girls may well have known how much they could drink, but the pocket full of pills hanging inside Clay’s camo cargo shorts would make their knowledge useless. So, at his recommendation, we all met at Clay’s place on a weekend while his parents were on a Vegas bender. We split an 8-ball, each drank enough beer to embarrass a feudal king, and filled out our Midwich U and scholarship applications.

Brad’s shoulder broke with a gratifying crunch beneath my hammer. He jerked to the opposite side and let out a keening wail that cut into my abdomen and took hold of my lower intestine. In a fit of rage, I swung back, and then forward down onto his groin. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that to make the screaming worse. From the strength of the blow and the reaction from Brad, I’m certain I completely obliterated his testicles. His legs and hips began to shake uncontrollably and his keening wail pitched up into a register I never thought he could enter. His face wrenched into an expression of the purest, most exquisite agony I had ever seen. He soon ran out of air and began to hyperventillate and squeal.

“Not so fucking funny when you’re the one having your life ruined, is it, dickhead?” I laughed at his suffering.

In response he twisted his head to look at me through tear-drenched eyes. He tried to speak, but only a hissing gasp came out. I smiled and waited as he tried to speak, but found his diaphragm was twitching too hard for him to do so, three or four more times. Finally, though, he managed to get a few words out. “I’m sorry,” he wheezed, barely below a stage whisper, “help meEEEEEEE-”

I interrupted him by swinging the sharpened, nail-removing end of the hammer up into his chin, where it punctured the soft, dangling tissue beneath his mouth and impaled his jaw.

EEEEEEEEE-” he continued to squeal.

For a moment I found myself struck dumb by the thought that, if a fish on a line could scream, it would probably look and sound a lot like Brad here. Then, laughing quietly at my own thoughts, I gave the hammer a good, two-handed tug, and broke his fucking jaw off.

Moving day out of my parents’ home was uncomfortable. Mom and dad had, as I outlined before, written me off long ago, so I didn’t expect any tearful good-byes or see-you-soons. But, nonetheless, as I slammed shut the trunk of the hatchback I had bought from Matthew’s middle-aged aunt for fifty bucks and one no-holds-barred night of methamphetamine fueled passion, my dad awkwardly made his way down the front driveway to see me off.

“Well, son,” he meandered. “Guess this is it. All grown up now. Outta the house.”

“Yeah,” I grunted.

“Sad to see you go,” he said, turning his head to look at the hatchback’s a-pillar and away from me.

“No you’re not,” I snapped.

“No,” he admitted with some chagrin. “I’m happy to see you go-”

“Fucking great,” I barked, “me too.”

“Look,” he turned to stare me down, eyes suddenly aflame with a bubbling resentment and hate I had thought him incapable of possessing. “We did everything we could, and you-”

“And I,” I interrupted again, “found a way to live my fucking life without your fake ass fucking bullshit pity!”

He back-handed me and I recoiled, grabbing my stinging cheek. “Ungrateful wretch,” he growled, “we kept you fed, clothed, and housed while you,” his voice rose to a shout, and I was suddenly acutely aware that our neighbors could certainly hear him, “squandered every fucking opportunity to grow, every fucking chance to-”

“Fuck you, old man!” I straightened back up and screamed in his face. Though I try not to remember it this way, I know my voice broke, and I sounded like the immature child I was. “I don’t need you, your bullshit, or your whore wife’s-”

He slugged me in the gut and, as I doubled over, kneed me in the face. I fell sideways onto the grass, hands wrapped around my jaw, feeling it for breaks.

Fine,” he said. “You don’t want your family anymore? Then you don’t fucking have one.” He spat on my face, turned, stalked back up the driveway, and slammed the door, leaving me outside laying on his lawn, face swollen and red from the blows and a shame I couldn’t keep myself from feeling.

Brad’s jaw ripped from his face in a spray of his blood and viscera. Pulled taught by the hammer, torn tendons and shredded muscle tissue snapped and sprang back, slapping him along the cheeks, sending flecks of blood and tiny fatty fragments flying across his lap and my chest.

“See,” I shouted at him over the wet, gurgling screams fighting to make their way out of his quickly-filling throat-stump, “now I’m gonna have to steal one of your fucking shirts, too!”

There was no response from Brad, who simply began to choke as he ran out of air. We stayed there together for a while, he and I, his terrified eyes staring into mine, silently begging me for help as he aspirated his own blood. When a man begins to drown, his eyes take on a peculiar tone. He knows his life is ending. And in Brad’s case, he knew exactly who was doing it to him, and why. This, I think, accentuated his suffering like salt accentuates a meat’s flavor.

“Well, Brad,” I leaned in close to his face, hands on my knees, as his eyes began to cloud from want of oxygen, “looks like this is it. Last stop.”

Eyes still foggy and unseeing, he shook his head violently and made one last desperate attempt to squirt the blood from his clogged esophagus. This attempt failed, and he finally, finally felt remorse. I saw it in his eyes. It is rare for a man to feel genuine guilt for his crimes, I think, but Brad certainly did, during those final seconds of his life.

“If there’s a Hell,” I whispered, barely an inch from his face, “I think you’ll fit in just fine.”

What little spark remained in his eyes dulled and their subtle movements stilled over the next few seconds as the life drained from Brad’s body. Then, limp at last, his head lolled forward once more, and a river of blood began to stream from his stump onto his lap.

One down. Three to go.

The rest of my move into the Midwich U dorms was fueled by my hatred for my dad. I know, upon retrospect, that I should have hated my mom too, but I didn’t. Towards her I felt only apathy. She did her best, I guess. Or maybe she didn’t. I’m partial to the neglect theory now, as an adult, but at the time I couldn’t find it in me to really blame her.

The boys helped me move in. I don’t think I’d ever describe any of them as generous, but they all clearly wanted me there with them. All-in-all it only took an hour or so to get everything inside and my half of my room set up. Matt and Clay had gotten a room together, as had Kyle and Brad, but regrettably none of them wanted to sleep near me due to a problem observed and described by all as “sleep-masturbating.” To this day I don’t know whether this was something I actually did, or merely something they thought would be funny to convince me I did, but regardless, the school placed me in a room with a much younger kid named Tyler.

Tyler was a good boy until we got ahold of him. Never a straight-A student, mind, but he had gotten through high school with high Bs and without ever trying cocaine. We remedied that situation on our first night together.

Brad’s keys were hanging on a hook by the door to his garage. I snagged them and made my way into the darkened garage using the flashlight on his phone, which I had stolen off the armrest of the couch on which I had roofied him. By the flashlight’s glow I made my way to his BMW, clicked the fob eliciting a chirp from the vehicle and a spark from the turn indicators, and slid into the driver’s seat. His garage door opener was clipped to the sun visor. I made sure to shut it again after I had rolled the car out. No reason, I figured, for him to be found sooner than necessary.

Tyler took to us disgracefully well. In less than a month, I couldn’t see any trace of the high-performing accounting major I met on move-in day. Gone were his dress shirts and slacks, in were cut-off t-shirts and ripped jeans. The man liked to drink, but more than he liked to drink, he liked blow, and brother let me tell you there was more than enough of it. My parents had cut me off, of course, but Brad’s step-dad saw a lot of himself in Brad and kept us loaded - or at least, loaded enough to keep visiting Kyle’s contact. Lord almighty, to this day I don’t know how any of us survived that first month.

Next on the list was Kyle. Kyle and Brad had always been close and, true to form, had bought houses just a few blocks from one another. Well, I say “bought.” Neither of them had the money to ever buy, as in purchase, a dwelling. They rented. Well, I say “rented.” Neither of them had the money to rent anything, either, but towards the end of our time at Midwich U, Kyle’s parents bit it in a car crash. They had, we then learned, taken out hefty life insurance policies and arranged for an accountant to manage the money, which Kyle found convenient. Where once he had called his parents when he was broke, he now just called Mr. Carrieworth. His overall lifestyle, therefore, only improved after the departure of dear ol’ mom and dad. With their family home now vacant, Kyle immediately sold it at well under its value so he could move to be near Brad.

The home he rented near Brad was a tear-down. This, he had once told me, was a tactical decision. He was, after all, still a huge fan of cocaine and preferred to, as he put it, “buy in bulk like an adult.” The worse his house looked, the less likely it was to be broken into, he reasoned. Perhaps this reasoning was correct, but personally I would have taken my chances in a building without roach nests in the walls. Whatever. The dilapidated state of his house proved useful to me now, at least.

BMW parked at the curb, I made my way up Kyle’s driveway to his porch. The screen door had fallen off long before he had moved in, and only the rotting wooden main door remained. This door gave way easily from one quick whack of the hammer against its knob. It groaned painedly as it swung open into Kyle’s darkened living room.

“Kyle?” I greeted hesitantly.

A loud, apneatic snore came as the reply. How convenient.

Slowly, to allow my eyes to adjust, I entered the main living area in Kyle’s tear-down. Though the space was fairly large, all that it contained was a ceiling fan (broken), a couch (rotting, full of insects and currently also Kyle), and a television (no cable service) placed on the floor opposite the couch. Oh, and it also contained bugs. Lots of them.

Kyle had a high tolerance for the disgusting, or at least had developed one in the two years since he’d dropped out. There was, upon retrospect, an incident in the dorms involving two co-eds, anal sex, a severe lactose allergy, and a distinct lack of cleaning supplies that may have broken Kyle’s grossometer. High tolerance for nastiness aside, though, Kyle was also a man who thought himself High Class. This, incidentally, was the reason behind our exposure to cocaine in high school: he felt it was a classy businessman’s drug, not like the “faggot stoner burnouts” who “wouldn’t stop fucking smoking fucking dope” behind the school dumpsters. A High Class Man would, in Kyle’s mind, make at least a nominal attempt to put a stop to the roaches, so scattered around the crumbling structure were numerous roach motels. It would take a little time for me to properly leverage them, but I figured it would be worth it.

By the end of our first semester, I had managed to score five two-girl threesomes, one uncomfortably homosexual two-man threesome, and more one-time hookups than I could count. All thanks to Clay, of course. He always did have a way with women.

Tyler took a month or so to get comfortable with our party routine, but by October, he was out tearing it up, drinking it down, and sticking it in like we were. God, how the time flew. Looking back on it now, there are weeks that blurred into days. I liked to imagine it was primarily due to our collective coke diet, but in actual fact I think essentially all of us started mixing a not-insignificant amount of meth into our diet too. It wasn’t until I had flunked the spring semester that I started to consider the fact that if we didn’t turn things around, we’d get kicked out, and what would we do then? Get real jobs? Try to meet chicks at bars? Good lord, they would all be over twenty-one, barely even worth the effort. So the following fall, the boys and I had what my eldest sister would have called a “come to Jesus” meeting.

Kyle was still snoring the sort of snore that a man can only emit after losing large swathes of his nasal tissue to a coke habit by the time I had finished my preparations. Using his scissors, I had cut open a handful of roach motels and removed the fragments with bait-scent on them. These plastic shards I then dropped into an enormous empty plastic container that, the label on the side assured, had once contained cheese-balls. I then laid the container on its side by the wall with the most roaches around it, and waited.

Sure enough, within a few moments, what seemed like thousands of roaches poured out of the wall and into the jug. With a quickness to which I am unaccustomed, I snatched the jug off the floor and slammed on the lid before any of the horrible things could escape onto my skin. If I spilled them, I would probably have woken up Kyle, and while I could do this another way, I felt that this method would be the most satisfying. Then it occurred to me: Kyle would need to be restrained. How was I to accomplish this? I hadn’t thought to bring a rope, or to buy a paralytic agent. For a few awful seconds, I stood there in his darkened living room, left arm wrapped around a jug filled with live roaches, and sweated in irrational terror. I could do this another way, of course. But dammit, dammit, dammit, I wanted to do it this way! It had to be this way! But as quickly as it hit me, the terror passed, and I knew what my solution would be.

“Fuck off,” Kyle had snorted dismissively. “We already paying-”

“We’re not paying for shit, Kyle,” I had interrupted him. “Scholarship, remember?”

Clay nodded along. Kyle did not.

“I don’t like having to buy our way outta this crap any more than you do, but you know what I do like?”

Kyle grunted resentfully.

“I like girls, I like beer, I like fucking girls while drinking beer.” I counted up to three on my fingers for emphasis. “Do you know what happens if the school makes us leave?”

Kyle just glowered at me.

“No more girls,” Matt contributed from behind me. “No more beer.”

“Well, not ‘no more beer,’” added Brad, “I mean, it’s not like the gas station will stop serving us if the school kicks us out.”

“But certainly no more ‘fucking girls while drinking beer,’” I pointed out. “Look, you all like college pussy, right?”

The boys nodded and murmured their general agreement.

“And until now, it’s been free, right? Minus Clay’s fee, of course,” I said, nodding deferentially towards Clay.

They all nodded and murmured again, and Clay smiled proudly.

“Well, all that changes now, is it’s not quite so free no more,” I concluded. “There’s services for this shit. We go online, send someone our homework, PayPal them a handful of bucks, and keep slippin’ on through.”

“Slippin’ on through the pussy!” Matt shouted joyfully.

“Exactly,” I laughed and nodded, “exactly.”


It was happening again. My hammer was impacting part of one of my best friends and cracking their bones beneath my grip. This time I was breaking Kyle’s hips.


There. Got both before he fully regained consciousness.

Then he yowled in surprise and pain as he awoke completely to discover me, standing over him, and his hips, broken. “W-what the fuck, dude!?” he yelled up at me, sleep still coloring his voice.

“Kyle,” I intoned, voice flat and even, “good to see you again.”

I brought the hammer down on his shoulder. He tried to throw up an arm to protect himself, but the sleep still weighed heavily on his body, and he was too slow. The joint of his shoulder cracked, and the ball slipped out of it with a dull pop.

This time he screamed a far more lucid scream. Then, gasping and trying not to squirm too much, lest he hurt his shattered hips further, he looked searchingly up at me and choked out, “Fucking why!?”

“You took everything from me,” I told him before slamming the hammer into his remaining good shoulder, eliciting another squealing yell. I could barely imagine the pain and horror he must have been feeling, going from a comfortable heroin-nap into this torture at the hands of someone he thought a friend. Trying to imagine it nonetheless made me giddy, like a kid about to lose his virginity.

“What,” his breath hitched and he sobbed before trying again, “What did I even do!?”

“You may not have hired her,” I growled, “but you took the shots. You showed them off. You told her the lies.”

“It wasn’t,” he gasped out, “just me, you know this.” He tried to push himself into a seated position but, of course, none of his limbs obeyed. With a brief squeak, he fell back onto the couch, helpless.

“I know,” I said with a smile, and dangled Brad’s BMW keys an inch over Kyle’s head.

His eyes widened. “Oh fuck,” he whimpered, “am I number two?”

“You’re a real piece of shit, alright,” I joked as I put down the hammer and hefted the roach jar.

“Wait, wait,” he begged, realization dawning on his face. “Please, please, Greg, please, I swear to god,” he became hysterical. Tears ran freely down his cheeks and despite his agony he squirmed where he lay trapped. “I didn’t mean for it to go this far, Greg, you gotta believe me, Greg please-”

His voice pitched up an entire octave as he saw me unscrew the lid on the roach jug.

“God, no!” he screamed. “Anything but this! Not like this!”

I leaned down close and held the roach jug in hands that trembled from excitement. Oh, to hear his terror, to know he was now, over the course of this ten minute interaction, experiencing all the horror and fear and sadness and betrayal that I have been sitting on for the last year. When I tell you it was as close to orgasm as a man can get without porking, I make no exaggeration.

“Please!” he sobbed openly, unashamedly. “Please, please, please not like this not like this not like this-”

He went on chanting even as I flipped the jug over and mashed the opening over his mouth.

“When I’m not looking, you. Are. Some. One. Else,” crooned the song playing over the frat house stereo. One of the boys - I think it was Matt, but honestly it could have been any of them - had scored us an invite to the Delta Epsilon Kappa Halloween party during our sophomore year. I was collapsed on a couch, a joint of the finest Gorilla Glue I’ve smoked to this day hanging limply from the edge of my mouth. It had been one week more than two months since our “come to Jesus” meeting, and I was the only one still taking the routine seriously. Each week, we were supposed to get our assignments, pool them into one large document on Google Drive, and then send them to a kid Clay’s brother knew online who ran a small group of completed-homework-peddlers. By mid-September I was the only one who still bothered, and it had begun to occur to me that mayhaps my friends were somewhat less clever than I had originally taken them for. Depression hung from my head over the rest of my body like a blanket woven from my own overgrown, unkempt hair.

“Hey,” sighed a beautiful woman as she sank into the couch next to me. Her flawless, platinum blonde hair flowed across her shoulders like mercury and her angular, hawk-like features accentuated her crystal-clear blue eyes. She turned to look at me, and I let my head fall to the side to look at her, and when our eyes met, I swear to you on my life, my mother’s life, and whatever god or God you hold dear, that she saw straight through my soul. She saw the weakness inside of me, the gnawing pit made by parents who never gave a shit, the pointless rage and hate and casual cruelty that I had used to cover up that pit. My very essence was laid bare to her, in that moment, and she forgave me.

I opened my mouth to speak.

Roaches flowed like liquid from the mouth of the jug into the mouth of Kyle, thousands of legs skittering, grabbling, clawing, clicking and clattering. His eyes flew wide open in terror and he tried to wriggle his head free with his neck, but he was far too weak from his wounds and the heroin he had all but certainly mainlined prior to my arrival. A muffled scream made its way around the edges of the jug, but was quickly choked and silenced as hundreds of my tiny brown soldiers flooded his mouth, throat, and sinuses, their chitin scraping his soft tissues and their teeth tearing his flesh. Kyle’s whole body thrashed, and his wild eyes locked onto mine, and he silently screamed with them, Do something! Do something to stop this! Please, God, end this suffering I am so fucking sorry for all I’ve done please forgive me-

Matthew, Bradley, Kyle, Clayton, and Tyler had dropped out by the next January. I made sure all my homework got done - not by me of course, but done - and they didn’t. That’s just the way it is. And though I did miss them, I found the spring semester actually went by very quickly.

The girl I met at the DEK party turned out to be named Caroline, but she preferred Lenny. I fell for her immediately, of course. I didn’t stop partying similarly quickly, but instead tapered off. The boys had naught but disdain for this choice, try though I did to help them learn to slow their roll a little like I had done. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

Lenny became my whole world by the time the spring semester began. With the boys out of my hair, she had time to convince me to start actually making an attempt at learning the material I was theoretically studying. When finals rolled around that May, we, in the middle of an all-night study session, finally made love. We didn’t fuck. We didn’t have sex. We made love. Our bodies rolled and bucked and moved and, yes, came together in an expression of utmost devotion. For hours after, while we were still trying to study, we would occasionally glance over at the other and just laugh, a pure, blissful laugh. We held one another as we worked. When the morning rolled around and we had to go actually take the final, I didn’t even feel the sleep deprivation.

Kyle’s terror had given me an erection, the first one I had since that shameful night last year. He, however, would never know this, as he was at that moment drowning in roaches. As much as he, or perhaps you, reader, might hope that I am speaking figuratively, I am not: Kyle’s windpipe was clogged with a flood of insects, crawling, biting, clawing at his unnaturally expanded nasal cavity, his esophagus, his lungs, his stomach, eager to feast on his helpless flesh. He shook violently all over as his body struggled to clear itself of the tiny invaders, but regrettably, the human form is just not made to expel a hundred furious roaches.

Realizing what must be done, Kyle began to chew for his life. The snap and crunch of the creatures beneath his teeth echoed through the jug, amplifying the sound. The muscles around the edges of his jaw tightened and tensed, struggling to work through the flood of chitinous exoskeleton. Between his lips I snagged a glimpse of what seemed to be a million legs and wings, caught in his teeth and giving them the impression of having fur. Then, as he tried to bite down once more, Kyle’s jaw locked (I guessed from lack of oxygen). His eyes rolled back up to meet mine, and we held eye contact as his death throes weakened. Eventually the flood of roaches subsided, but there were already far too many filling his upper body’s previously-empty spaces. Mouth still full of putrid insect parts, Kyle tried to mouth a request for help with the last of his strength. I nearly came as his eyes dulled and his face went slack.

Two down. Two to go.

Lenny and I spent that summer in each other’s arms. For the first time, I had someone who genuinely understood me, who loved me, who trusted me. She had seen my past, and seen what it had done to me, and wanted to walk away from it with me. We loved, we ate, we drank in moderation, we made merry. Once a week or so, I’d get a call from one of the boys asking me to hang out with them, but I turned them all down. They had refused to change when life came a-callin’.

Once they were kicked out of school, they were forced to get real jobs. In less than a month, Tyler realized how much we had helped him torpedo his future. He left us each a voicemail filled with fury and tears at what “we had done to him.” I felt bad at first, but Lenny convinced me that this was a manipulation tactic, and that he had done it to himself by choosing to join us. Her wisdom made accepting his suicide almost frightfully easy.

The other four fared better. Matthew and Clay found night-security work at our town’s Amazon distribution facility. Apparently being big and stupid were the two job requirements there. Brad ended up working at McDonald’s, where he was promoted to manager. Kyle, as I mentioned, inherited a shitload of money and spent much of it buying drugs for himself and Brad. Essentially every weekend, they would get together “for a ho hunt,” they would say while inviting me. This, I at first assumed and was later told, involved cruising the bars closest to campus for girls obviously under 21. The boys would get her drunk (courtesy of Clay), find her real ID, and blackmail her with it. This tactic was dishearteningly successful.

I kept my distance. Caroline was the only woman, no, the only person for me now. That summer, I experienced growth that I could never have imagined. Life suddenly had meaning, other people suddenly had humanity, and my past suddenly had regrets. She showed me a new way to live, and I embraced it. All the while, the texts and voicemails from the boys got first aggressive, then distant. It hurt me to watch them fall away like that, but every time I tried to help them like she had helped me, they laughed in my face. Whatever, I thought. It’s fine, they’re wasting their own time.

Clayton lived in a trailer. One might assume this meant he owned a truck, but one would be incorrect. Clayton owned a battery-powered low-CC dirtbike that he had stolen from a child. He defended this dirtbike viciously with a machete (also stolen). Sprinkled throughout the curtilage surrounding the trailer were a number of poorly-hidden security cameras, which Clay used to pounce on intruders. One such intruder ended up becoming our state’s first case of a beheading in self-defense, or so Clay told me. All this is to say, I approached Clay’s trailer with my hammer tucked into a back pocket and my hands up and bare by my shoulders.

“Howdy-ho, Clay!” I said at slightly raised volume, with a cheerfulness I did not feel. “Brad just wanted me to pop in for a moment, got something to ask you about!”

When I was about six feet back, the door to the trailer slipped open a crack and one wild eye peered through. “Hi, Greg,” hissed Clay. It would seem I caught him on the tail end of a meth binge. “You still with it?” The words slid greasily from his lips.

“Not today, Clay,” I said, trying to assuage his hallucination. This was a common one of his. For some reason, when he had been awake on meth for several days, Clay came to the bizarre conclusion that I had an angel of vengeance riding my shoulders. Couldn’t imagine why.

“Hmm,” he meant to hum, but it came out as more of a feral growl. Single visible eye still darting back and forth across his “yard” (dirt, fragments of broken metal, and clumsily strung up security cameras do not a yard make), Clay bumped the door open further and disappeared within the trailer. Accepting this as the invitation it was, I stepped up the rickety metal stairs leading to the trailer’s door and gently clicked the door shut behind me.

Nearly the same second that the door shut, another click sounded, and all the lights in the trailer flicked on. Momentarily blinded, I shielded my eyes with my hand and staggered back into the door, exclaiming, “Jesus, Clay, a little warning next time would be nice!”

“Sorry,” he hissed, standing hunched at the opposite end of the trailer, leaning halfway out of the bathroom, “I had to look. See. Y’know. For it.”

“Understandable,” I muttered exasperatedly. “Listen, Brad’s waiting in the car so this won’t take long,” I told him as I advanced into the RV.

The interior of the trailer was long but thin. Directly in front of the door and to the right of it was a small kitchenette. To the left was a passageway, abutted on either side by a dining table booth and a couch, leading to the back of the RV, where the passage ended in one door straight-on and one door to the right. Inside the right door was the bathroom - where Clay was currently cowering - and inside the back door was the bedroom.

“Oh yeah?” asked Clay rhetorically as he finally relaxed a little, straightening up and leaving the bathroom behind. “G-good to, to hear from Brad,” he stammered. Putting sounds together to form words in a logical sequence seemed to be challenging to him.

“How many days is it this time?” I asked, a mirthless chuckle escaping my throat.

“It isssss,” he trailed off into a serpentine hiss as he turned to look at a nudie calender hung up on the wall (this month featured a disconcertingly young woman spreading her legs and covering herself with one extended middle finger), poked it as he counted the days aloud under his breath, leaving greasy fingerprints behind, then turned triumphantly towards me and barked, “eight days!”

Luck was with me tonight, then. I considered this a blessing from whatever the fuck “almighty” might be out there. “Sorry to hear that,” I said instead, feigning sympathy. While he had been distracted with the calender, I had pulled an enormous knife, meant for cutting vegetables, off his kitchenette counter. It was currently held behind my back in my right hand, blade down. “Well, Brad was hoping you’d have something left that we could pick up for tonight’s ho hunt. You still got any of your, ah, ‘yesmakers’?”

“I might,” he mewled. “Just let me check the ol’ goodie bag, hehe.” He turned around and squatted, back to me, to open a hidden-panel drawer under one of the dining table booths. The way he spoke made my skin crawl. I flicked the blade in my hand to rotate it, point up, preparing it for the next step.

My freshman year, as I said before, passed in a drug-induced fog. My junior year, however, passed in an entirely different fog: Lenny and I were well and truly infatuated with each other. She had met me at my worst, and pulled me up out of the depths of Hell into a Heaven I had only imagined as a naive child. Love, it seemed, truly did cure all ills. We studied, we worked, we cuddled, we made love, and life was good. Never before or since have I felt such a profound warmth, both in myself and towards another person, as I did through that fall and spring. That summer, I decided to take it one step further.

During a warm, but windy, July evening, Caroline and I drove her truck out into the boonies surrounding the town. We had brought a pair of joints and two acid tabs. Laughing, we laid down in the truck bed together on a huge, thick blanket. As we stared up at the stars, we dropped acid, and soon found ourselves both there and somewhere else, somewhere beautiful, somewhere all that mattered was here and now and the stunning majesty of the heavens above and the grounding profundity of the Earth below. Something changed in me, that night, and as we came down off the acid, we each smoked a joint, sitting together in blissfully exhausted silence.

Staring up at the stars, and the smoke curling up from my joint far below them, I murmured to her, “let’s do this forever.”

She just smiled and nodded.

“No,” I said, turning to face her, “I’m serious. Let’s do this forever.”

Her smile turned quizzical, but still she said nothing.

“Marry me. Let’s make a life together. I wasted so much time without you, I don’t want to waste another second.”

She lunged forward, grabbing the back of my head and slamming her lips against mine. Lips locked, our tongues thrashed together, sharing our love and saliva in equal measure. When she finally decided it was time to come up for air, she pressed her forehead against mine, pulled her lips back, whispered “yes, please,” and sighed the same sigh I heard from her the night we met on a decaying, booze and piss stained couch in the DEK frat house.

“Yeah, hehe, I got a whole unopened bag of ‘em right here,” Clayton chittered as he pulled a clear plastic baggie full of tiny pills from the hidden drawer. He rose to his feet and turned to face me, which was a fatal error, as once his eyes were above my beltline I slammed the knife forward and buried it to the hilt in the right side of his belly.

“Ow, shit!” he wheezed, startled, and dropped the baggie which fell to the floor with a plastic-sounding rattle. I wrenched the knife to the left before he could further react, and slit his guts open all the way from his right side to his left.

The lower half of the wound sagged open like the mouth of an elderly stroke victim, drooling blood, intestine-tongue unspooling hungrily from this new jaw-line, demanding sustenance.

“Greg, I…” he trailed off as he grabbed with both hands at my knife-holding wrist. I allowed him to do this as he sank to his knees atop his own entrails, trying to hold himself up on me.

“It’s funny,” I told him in a tone that indicated I thought no such thing, “Brad and Kyle screamed and cried like bitches before they went, but you,” I sneered. “You’re too far-gone to ever understand any sort of justice.”

“Why?” he asked breathlessly, tears welling up in betrayed eyes that stared uncomprehendingly up at me, like a kicked dog.

I bent down and gripped the side of his head with my left hand. “For Lenny,” I whispered an inch from his face before, wrist still held in both his hands, driving the blade into his throat.

Still holding eye-contact with me, Clay fumbled at my hand gripping the blade. He did not choke, whimper, wheeze, or struggle, and I felt almost cheated. After Kyle’s gratifying display, I had expected better from Clay. No matter. Just like the last two, I was granted the privilege of watching Clay’s soul ebb from his body, leaving only bleeding meat behind.

Really, it’s all my own fault, I suppose. This was my fatal error: I still loved them. Horrible people though I knew they were, immature dickheads though they acted, Brad and Kyle had watched my back when I was a kid. Matt and Clay may have come along later, but they had proved their value just as well. They were more than my friends; they were my family. And when it came time to add Lenny to my family, I wanted them present.

So I called them up. All of them. I explained that I was marrying “that slut from the DEK round-up” as they called her, and that I would be honored if they would attend. Not just attend, in fact, I went on, but to be groomsmen. Brad and Kyle I asked to jointly take the honor of being my best man, but all four would be groomsmen. They agreed, seemingly excited for my upcoming marriage, and I believed them.

The engine of Brad’s BMW roared as I flew down the highway to Matt’s house. Last stop. Like any self-respecting cunt named “Matt,” he was renting out an enormous house in the suburbs, safely far from the stomping grounds of which he and the others were so fond. The speedometer crept up past 80, to 90, to 100, to 110, to 120, and I finally felt the frame begin to shake. It was the middle of the night now, and mania buzzed through my skin. I had just killed three people. Not just three people, three of my brothers. And now here I was, driving a dead man’s stolen car at speeds that carried a mandatory jail sentence, to go meet the last one. To go kill the last one, I self-corrected. My foot felt heavy, and the pedal sunk a little further.

Wedding planning went beautifully. Lenny had a better eye for those sorts of aesthetics, as well as a family with a budget to draw on, so I spent my time concentrating on helping the boys write appropriate speeches and avoid any awkward faux pas like “smacking the ass of a bridesmaid” or “referring to the caterers as ‘the help.’” All through the process, they smiled, they were kind, helpful, genteel even. We sat through rehearsal dinners together, held rehearsal speeches together, and posed for rehearsal photos together. All smiles, all grins, all good.

The tires squealed as I made the ninety degree right turn into Matt’s neighborhood at sixty miles per hour. My hands were shaking violently now, and my whole body was covered in a cold sweat. This was it, this was fucking it, the last one, all I need now is to keep from fucking up this last one. Breathe, breathe, breathe motherfuCKER BREATHE, calm those nerves, yeah, that’s it. Settle down. No good to lose your shit right before the last one, especially not this last one.

Matt, you see, owned a massive firearm collection. If I made too much fuss showing up, he’d come out armed to see what’s happening. I didn’t think he’d shoot me outright without provocation, but since I intended to murder the man, I think he’d eventually feel provoked. I would be better served, therefore, if he was unarmed.

They offered me a bachelor party. Their treat. I agreed, but on the condition that we only drink lightly, and smoke pot. No coke, no whores, no bar-hopping, just a nice night in. They agreed to the first three, but laughed at “night in.” We, they explained, would be going to a casino, getting our drank on, and losing a large quantity of Kyle’s dead parents’ money on blackjack tables and slot machines. While this wasn’t my ideal evening, it sounded relatively kosher by their standards, so I agreed. Casino, drinking, smoking. No bar-hopping. No snorting. No whoring.

I dropped Brad’s BMW into 2nd and let the resistance from the engine bring it down to a reasonable speed for the suburban neighborhood in which I was maneuvering. Matt’s house was fairly deep into the subdivision, but I made no rush to get there. Roaring engines, squealing tires, god forbid a fucking car crash, any of those noises would have put him on edge. Paranoid man that he was, Matt would walk around his home with a pistol strapped to his hip for hours if he so much as heard a vehicle backfire three blocks away.

The night started out just as kosher as they had made it sound. We hotboxed Matt’s SUV, then went inside reeking of pot and flashing hundreds. The blackjack table blessed us, and we took our winnings over to the slots, where we conveniently found five open in a nice line.


I pulled the lever, time after time, occasionally winning back what I had lost the last three or four spins, and every once in a while, a waiter bearing a tray loaded with drinks would bring them by. If I was distracted by the spinning of the slots, one of the boys would take my drink and hold it for me.

Brad’s BMW was almost too low to clear Matt’s driveway, but thank god it cleared without a scrape. I pulled all the way up to the house, killed the engine, and went up to his door, where I knocked gently. After a few moments, he greeted me.

“Greg!” he said, pleasantly surprised. “Pleasant surprise to see you here this time of night, what’s up?”

“Hey, Matt!” I said, feigning an identical pleasure. “Listen, I was hoping you could lend me a firearm. See, this creepy-ass prowler has been wandering near my house recently…”

It was definitely Brad that started it. He handed me my last drink. I know he put something in it, because my coherent memories stop right there like someone laid a brick fucking wall in my head. From then on, the evening is just flashes of events, which occurred something like this:

I fell down off a slot machine stool. I was hustled, essentially carried, by two of the boys into a suite they had rented out above the casino. The air conditioning was cool, but I felt hot, and dizzy, and nauseous. I asked to be let go so I could vomit safely. I was laid down in a bed, and almost immediately rolled to the side and threw up my guts into the nightstand drawer on top of a King James Bible.

Matt led me into his basement armory where no less than (he said, with some pride) eighty-seven firearms hung from the walls. I stared at them each contemplatively and pondered which would be the easiest to heft in this enclosed space. Then, upon second thought, pondered which one was the least likely to give me hearing damage down here.

“This prowler,” I said, “he doesn’t look like he’s, y’know, in great shape. Probably a junkie of some sort. Got anything small-ish? Like, a nice .22 that won’t rupture my ear-drums?”

Matt nodded. “Smart man. The nine is usually the go-to self-defense weapon, but by God will it fuck up your ears. This one, however,” he leaned across a workbench, covered in various weapon parts, tools, and other workshop detritus, to grab a small revolver off the wall, “should do you just fine. People joke about the smaller rounds, but quite frankly, dead is dead no matter the size of the bullet. Aim center mass, put that fucker to sleep. Lights out." He laughed an abrasive, cruel laugh.

I held out my hand for the pistol.

I know I lost consciousness after puking on the Bible. I don’t know how long. What I do know is that when I next opened my eyes, there was a naked woman on top of me with sagging breasts, an obvious c-section scar, and bags under her eyes big enough to steal multiple TVs out of Walmart.

“The fuck…?” I mumbled as I realized two things: I couldn’t move, and she was unzipping my pants.

“Shhhh,” she shushed me, “ya boys tol’ me how it is. You jus’ stay down, I’ll do the work.”

“No, no,” I grunted and tried to push her away, but my hands would not obey. I was fucking paralyzed. It suddenly hit me in the worst way that, my God, this is what Clay had been putting those poor fucking girls through. What we had been putting them through.

She ignored my protests and kissed my shaft until, despite my burning hatred for what was happening, I hardened to my full length.

“Please stop,” I choked out, but she just laughed. “Bill’s already paid for, honey,” she said in a tone that would have been comforting if that had been my problem.

She sat on my erection without putting a condom on it. My shaft slid into her and, god help me, I felt the familiar tingling of an orgasm building already. Then, as she began to ride, the door to the room flew open, and my friends piled in, laughing, drinking, and smoking cigarettes indoors (which I, for some reason, was lucid enough to realize was certainly a violation of casino policy).

“Help me,” I whispered to them.

“What was that?” asked Brad mockingly. “Help you? Well, if you insist!” he joked as he pushed down on the whore’s shoulders, driving my shaft further into her.

“I said,” I moaned, “I said no whores.” Why were they doing this to me? My head swam with betrayal, confusion, and terror.

“Y’see Greg,” laughed Kyle, “it goes like this.”

They each pulled out their phones and held them up, facing us. They were recording.

“When you left us for that DEKunt, we knew you’d gotten whipped, pusssssssssssy-whipped as they say,” Matt told me. “We know a man in desperate need of a little, uh, masculinization when we see one.”

“No, no,” I could barely get out. The tingling in my genitals was growing. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want this. I didn’t FUCKING want this.

“So we thought, hey,” Clay continued for Matt, “if he’s too weak to leave that isolating bitch, we can help with that, we can do it for him!”

“What??” I asked, suddenly delirious. My head was spinning, I was nauseous, my stomach was cramping, and then I was experiencing orgasm, in front of my friends, on camera, inside of a filthy whore, with no condom, with my loving fiance at home, waiting for me, the night before my wedding.

“Feels good in the hand,” I told Matt as I hefted the weapon, feeling its balance. “The wood-carved grip is a nice touch.”

“Isn’t it?” he said wistfully. “They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Goddamn antique, that thing is, you keep a good eye on it.”

“Oh don’t you worry,” I said, unable to keep a sardonic tinge from coloring my voice. “I’ll keep a damn good eye on it.”

“Good to hear,” he chuckled. “Listen, Greg,” he clapped me on the shoulder and stared deep into my eyes, “I know last year was, let’s say, traumatic.”

I just nodded.

“But my dude, my guy, you’re on the other side! You are out! O-U-T, out! And man, I’ve never believed in that supernatural shit,” his hand dropped, and he turned away from me to walk up the stairs. I leveled the gun at the back of his head. “But what a hell of a night for you to drop by! You’ll never believe who I’ve got over!”

The videos they recorded were, of course, for my fiance’s “benefit.” They left me there, still in delirium, still covered in my own unconsenting juices mingling with those of the whore, while they went to our home. To my home. The home that Caroline and I had built, the home that we had moved out of the dorms for and the home to which we intended to return each night after getting our first real adult jobs. All solemn-faced, playing the “good friends,” they knocked on my fucking door and told my fucking fiance they needed to talk. Once inside, they sat her down and showed her the videos, all carefully clipped around any protestations on my part.

By the time I got home the next day, all her shit was gone. There was no sign anyone had ever lived there besides me. When I called her phone, I discovered my number was blocked. Same result from calling her parents. Of course, I sat down, tried to regroup a little bit, and ultimately chose to visit their house the next day. When I did, her father came out to greet me holding a 12 gauge.

“Sir,” I said, “please, I need to explain-”

“Any explanation you want to give her about that slut your friends caught you with,” he replied, “can be explained just as well to Betsy, here.” He hefted the shotgun up a little.

“They didn’t catch me at all, they set me up-”

“Sure, sure, they made you get hard, they made you willing to fuck that nasty old fucking whore when you had a beautiful wife-to-be, my beautiful daughter who loved you and trusted you-”

“It’s not like that!” I protested.

“Oh is it now? Is it not like that?” Lenny’s father taunted. “Then explain why four of the kindest men I’ve met - kinder than you ever were to her-”

“Kind!?” I spat, almost laughing with shock. “Those monsters-”

He laughed so hard and so loud in my fucking face that I just stopped talking until he was done. “They told her everything,” he said. “You can call them ‘monsters,’ but I’ll tell you what I saw: I saw four horrified young men tell my daughter about your infidelity. I saw them show her proof. And I saw them cry with her when she broke down.” He slung the shotgun up over his shoulder in one hand. “I’m not gonna shootcha, Greg, though I do think you deserve it. I’m just gonna tell ya to get off my property and the hell away from my daughter. And you know why, Greg?”

“Why?” I asked flatly. My body felt numb. All the love I felt for Caroline had turned into inwardly directed hate. I was disgusted at myself for getting hard, for coming inside the whore. For letting it happen. For trusting the boys.

“Because, Greg,” Caroline’s father told me, a grim smile resting on his lips, “God has a funny way of givin’ you what’s comin’ to you.”

I let my gun arm fall limp to my side. You’ll never believe who I’ve got over. Matt’s words echoed and swirled like furious clockwork inside my head. You’ll never believe who I’ve got over. Who I’ve got over. I know last year was, let’s say, traumatic. Who I’ve got over. I followed him up the stairs, revolver swinging limply at my side. Who I’ve got over. The din of Matt’s voice running up and down the walls of my skull as our feet made their way up the stairs from his basement was driving what little sanity remained out of me. I trembled and shook and had to lean on the wall to stay upright as we made our way up the stairs.

I know last year was, let’s say, traumatic.

You’ll never believe who I’ve got over.

My ears rang like the sirens from a freeway full of fire-engines.

We emerged from the stairs into the main corridor, the one which we had come down from the front door. “In here,” Matt laughed, leading me through another doorway into his living room where I saw-

I saw the whore they had paid to fuck me sitting on his couch, languidely laid back, facing the ceiling. She was blowing out a thick cloud of marijauna smoke taken, I was sure, from the bong on the small coffee-table in front of her.

My vision swam. My head throbbed. Equal measures of rage and delight flooded my body, and I became aware of a whining sound that threatened to deafen me.

“Jesus, Greg!” shouted Matt, “Are you good?”

The whining, it seemed, was coming from me. I pulled a harsh breath in and stopped it.

You’ll never believe who I’ve got over.


We just wanted to help.

I fell to my knees, clutching the left side of my head and pressing the side of the revolver into the right side, trying to massage out the emotional war going on inside. What luck! What divine fucking providence! My God, my God, you really do have a funny way of givin’ what’s comin’! That I might find, not just the last one responsible for destroying my life, but the one who had done the fatal act, too! Both the hitman, and the customer! Hysterical laughter started bubbling up from inside me, bubbling up my throat and out my mouth in wet, disgusting hiccups and coughs.

Matt knelt beside me and put an arm around my shoulders. “Are you fucking good, dude?” he asked me. Genuine concern tinted his voice. That such a man could have genuine concern, even now, for my health convinced me that God had, indeed, delivered him and that disgusting whore to me. Why else would he still feel for me, if not so I can make him suffer with it? I turned his pistol towards his chest and shot him.

Matt fell backwards with a cry of surprise, grasping at his chest.

The whore stood up and screamed. I spared her no time and shot her in the head. The entry wound was clean, but the exit wound exploded out the back of her skull, sending fragments of bone and chunks of brain flying, turning Matt’s wall into a red Jackson-Pollock. For a moment, I caught myself wondering if, inside those chunks of brain, splattered and stuck to the wall, there was still a memory of what she had done to me. Then I stood, and turned to Matt, who was writhing on the floor, screaming, “What the fuck!? You fucking shot me! I’m fucking shot, you fucking shot me!”

“And her,” I murmured when he had to pause for air.

“Fucking why!?” he yelled up at me.

“You took my life from me,” I said, delight being slowly overtaken by rage. “You just couldn’t fucking grow up, you stopped aging at what, thirteen!?”

“What, the fuck,” he gasped out as his chest started to seize, “are you talking about?”

“Lenny freed me from the bullshit, self-destructive life you were so addicted to,” I spat, “and you had to take that away, you couldn’t just let me grow and change and leave your stupid, cruel, filthy ass behind.”

Then he had the gall to laugh at me, which was a mistake. I leveled the gun at his groin and shot his cock off. His pants, fortunately, contained the viscera. As amazing as it felt to finally torture him, I knew if I saw his mangled genitals I would certainly vomit.

At first I couldn’t hear his wail over the ringing in my ears from the gunshot, but I could definitely see his mouth working and wrenching and screaming. When I could finally hear again, I was satisfied to hear the beautiful tell-tale high-pitched shriek of hysteria.

“They’ll fucking,” he squealed, breath hitching and chest convulsing, “fucking find you, fucking kill you-”

“They’re fucking dead,” I replied and threw Brad’s BMW keys at his face.

For a moment, perhaps due to blood loss or perhaps due to genuine unfamiliarity, Matt stared at the keys as if they were an artifact from an alien world. Then I saw recognition dawn on his face. Anger and pain quickly drained away, replaced with raw fear.

“Greg,” he whimpered, “listen to me, listen, listen, it doesn’t have to go this way-”

“No,” I admitted, “but it will anyway.”

No! No, no, Greg, you’re gonna,” he laughed maniacally here, and tried again, “you’re gonna call an ambulance, we’ll tell ‘em the whore did it, I’ll be ok-”

I kicked him as hard as I could in the ribs. That shut him up. Broken by terrified agony, Matt curled into a ball on the floor, clutching his cracked ribs and bubbling chest wound, hips helplessly twitching, trying to find a position that didn’t send streaks of miserable fire shooting from the frayed nerves in his shredded genitals up his spine. Graceless, gut-wrenching sobs wracked his body as he cried out half-spoken apologies, begging for mercy.

I just watched him weep and bleed. Inside, where there should have been satisfaction at my revenge, or revulsion at his state and what I’d done, or at least anger at his past crimes, was simply nothing. I had been consumed by rage for the past year. Going to therapy had not helped. Drinking had not helped. Pot had not helped. For three-hundred and sixty-five days, I had been furious beyond sanity and now, abruptly, all the objects of my rage were gone. What was I to do?

Blood loss began to overtake Matthew. His cries turned to soft mewls, and his begging for mercy changed to begging for death. I sat down on the floor next to him and watched, empty inside, as the icy fingers of death grasped his body, first stilling his limbs, then his throat, torn ragged from screaming, and then taking his soul entirely, silencing his cries and stilling his chest at last. I think we were there together for a half hour or so before he died.

So what now? Well, obviously I know I left a shitton of evidence. The cops will all but certainly find me, and when they do, I’m not going in cuffs. My life is already over anyway. But I felt I had to write all this down - to leave a note, if you will - even though I know there’s no one left who would even care about my motive besides a ninety-cent tabloid. I don’t have a final statement or wish or manifesto or nothin’ like that. Though I will tell you this: I wish the satisfaction I felt at their ends was even half as intense as the year’s worth of suffering that preceded them.