WHAT LIES WITHIN, Part II:
"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
-- William Shakespeare
I sat in the chair, idly studying the gun in my hands. My anger and determination had not lessened one bit, but I was beginning sense the cloud of emotional exhaustion creeping slowly into the background of my thoughts.
It'll be over soon, I reminded myself. Just hang in there a little bit longer...
Almost six years of pain and heartache were agonizingly close to resolution...so close, I could practically taste it. I was determined to sit here in this fuckin' chair, which I had placed in the middle of the room facing the front door, until he walked in. Then, I was finally gonna kill him. But, not before he begged me to let him live, of course...and not before he gave me an honest answer. I just wanted to know why? Why did he do it? How could he do something like that? Was he just totally inhuman? Part of me was convinced that simply knowing the answer to that question would ease a lot of the pain...
Every fiber of my being insisted that he simply had to die. In my heart, I knew he was responsible for Billy's death, and now he had almost killed Ian...my most precious, lovable, amazing dude. The thought of all the agony and heartache I had been through in the last few days because of him brought fresh tears of anger to my eyes, and convinced me more than ever that he was simply just an evil person. He didn't deserve to walk the same planet...to breathe the same air...as someone so decent, caring and humble as my boyfriend...my love.
My precious dude
God, I just couldn't wait to pull the trigger! It was an easy decision, really. Maybe it was just the adrenaline talking, but I felt like I was thinking more clearly than I had in a very long time. It seemed almost too simple...too obvious...he had to die. He had to be removed from my life one way or another. Somehow, I had convinced myself that the simple act of pulling that trigger would release me from all of the pain...like flipping a light switch. Gone.
I looked at the gun again. Kinda ironic, I thought to myself, that I had always been so deathly opposed to guns. Scared to death was more like it! I hated it when my dad brought this stupid gun into our house, and put it in a locked box under his bed. He and my brothers just laughed at me and called me names when I refused to go to the desert and shoot it with them. Fortunately, he made no real secret of where he kept the key to the box, in case we were taken hostage by home invasion robbers, or something. Ya, right...What a paranoid idiot! At least he should be happy that I'm finally taking up his challenge to shoot his stupid gun. Well, I only plan to shoot it once, really.
That should be enough.
I adjusted myself in the chair, noticing that my leg was beginning to fall asleep from lack of circulation. With my free hand, I rubbed my eyes again. I had been sitting here almost an hour. Now that the initial burst of brain chemicals was spent, I just wanted to get this over with. What has to be done has to be done.
Come on! Just get here, already...asshole!
I knew I was fading fast. I had been running on pure adrenaline since I left school. I had skated all the way home as fast as I could, hoping I might find him still here before he left. But, to my disappointment, he wasn't here. So, I set up my chair and waited. I still had some hope of resolving this today, because Mom had left a note that she wouldn't be back home until or so...the same time Dad usually gets home from work. She even promised to pick up a pizza for dinner on the way home.
At least I know that I'll be in the mood for a celebration by then, I thought to myself darkly.
The late afternoon sun was now streaming in sideways through the living room windows. I watched impassively as the little bits of dust and fluff floated through the air... highlighted by rays of sunlight...then disappearing into the shadows...only to re-emerge again into the light. As a new wave of emotional exhaustion washed over me, I closed my eyes for a moment, and my mind wandered off into a semi-daydream...
Billy Jenkins and I hurried home from school together. Once we arrived at my house, we looked cautiously around my backyard. Finding nobody there to spot us, we quickly slipped behind the garage and safely out of sight.
Billy looked shyly at me. "So, uh...Rusty...what'ya wanna do?" he asked, with that cute little husky voice of his, and a shy smile.
Oh god; Billy was just so cute...my heart was totally on fire for this boy. I sighed as I gazed into his big pale crystal-blue eyes, and his cute little face surrounded by that short-buzzed light brown hair. I reached up with my hand, and brushed his freckled cheek softly as he smiled nervously at me again. He was so sexy; I just couldn't stand it any longer. My hands reached out tentatively around his waist, and gently pulled us together. I leaned in and kissed him. Instantly, my head was spinning from my very first kiss. Billy groaned in ecstasy and his hand immediately found the raging boner in the front of my jeans. My hand quickly reached for his excitement, and in no time, we were stroking each other feverishly as we continued that first long sexy kiss...one that we both wanted to never end.
"What the fuck is goin' on back here!" screamed my 17-year-old brother Mark, spotting us as he came around behind the garage to light a cigarette.
Shit, he was home early from school! He must be ditching...Damn! Billy and I were both frozen in terror. All we could do was just stand there with our pants down to our knees, and our hands wrapped around the other's boner.
"Jesus Christ Rusty! What are you, some kind of faggot or something?" he said in shock, as he charged closer to us...backing us both up against the wall of the garage, cowering from his anger and his intimidating size, as compared to us.
I turned to Billy and said to him quietly, "Uh...maybe you better go now."
As Billy grabbed his pants up and tried to slink away, Mark grabbed him around the neck with his hand, and threw him back against the wall. He held him there for a moment with his hand still clamped tightly around his neck.
"If I ever see you again with Rusty, or even hear that you talked to him, I'll kill you so fast you won't even know you're dead, you got it?" Mark threatened, staring coldly into Billy's eyes from just inches in front of his face.
Billy's face was turning red, and it looked like his eyes were starting to bulge out. But, he managed to weakly nod yes to Mark's demand. He tossed Billy aside roughly, and immediately focused his eyes on his next victim...me.
As Billy hurried away, our eyes connected briefly just before he disappeared around the corner of the garage. I'll never forget the look of sadness and helplessness I saw in his eyes at that moment.
"You! Just what the fuck do you think you're doing faggin' off back here with yer little boyfriend?" Mark screamed at me, now wrapping his hand firmly around my neck. "Don't you know what we do with faggots around here? If I EVER catch you doin' that shit again, you are dead meat, boy. It's just not NORMAL!" I watched in what seemed like slow motion, as his fist pulled back. As it began to accelerate towards my face, I closed my eyes and braced for the contact I knew was coming...
"Aaaaaaaaaaaggghhhh!" I screamed out, as I sat bolt upright in my chair, my heart beating wildly. I looked frantically around the room, searching for a way to escape my perceived attacker. I felt the weight of the gun in my hand, and quickly I realized that I was still sitting in this damn chair, waiting for him to come home. My cold resolve returned immediately. I knew I had to pull this trigger when the time came...I had to kill him.
It was the only way to make the pain go away...it just had to be.
I looked at the clock. It was almost now. Shit! He better fuckin' get here soon, or I don't know what I'll do...because, I don't really have a back-up plan here, I admitted to myself. As I pondered that thought for a moment, I was brought back to attention by the sound of a car door slamming. I recognized the sound immediately, as I felt a cold sweat beginning to form. But, as the doorknob began to turn slowly, I felt a sense of calm wash over me...just like the feeling of relaxed, but intense, concentration I have when I'm really skating good.
It took Mark a second to fully comprehend just what he was seeing as he came through the door. The look on his face flashed from confusion, to anger, and finally to concern...as his eyes grew a little bit wider when they focused on the barrel of the gun in my hand, which was pointing right at his head.
"You're dead, asshole..." I muttered with disgust.
"What the fuck..." he said, taking a partial step in my direction.
"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!" I screamed at him, as I calmly pointed the gun a few degrees to his right, and squeezed slowly but firmly (well, ok...maybe more than just once, I noted dryly to myself).
Mark sank to the floor in shock, as the only family portrait in the house that showed all three of us brothers together exploded in shards of glass and wood framing, as it flew off the wall. I smiled to myself. My dad believed that if you were gonna have a gun around; you might as well have a good one. The semi-automatic 9-millimeter had plenty of firepower, I noticed.
Angrily, I kicked the chair I had been sitting in towards him, but it ended up in the corner of the room.
"JUST SIT DOWN, AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! I ordered.
He stood up slowly, and hobbled over to the chair. I stared at his knee brace, comparing the blue nylon, the black Velcro straps, and the silver metal rods and hinges to the image I retrieved from Ian's camera. Once again, my blood began to boil uncontrollably. Using both hands together, I pointed the gun at his head once again. I agonized over my desire to pull the trigger, and just get it over with...but some part of me just insisted...not yet.
I just had to know.
"WHY?" I screamed at him. "How could you do that to him? What did he ever do to you?" I asked, with angry tears streaming down my face, "You didn't even know him! So what if he's gay? So what if I'm gay? How does that affect you?" I sobbed.
I paced across the room for a second to collect my thoughts. I turned to him with renewed anger.
"I've always known that you killed Billy. Somehow, I just knew you were behind it. But, I was too young...too weak to do anything about it. For the last five years, I've hated myself every single hour of every single day because of that! I hated myself because all I could do was just sit there and watch as they beat the hell out of Billy. I couldn't protect him from you, or anyone else. All I could do was hide," I spat out with disgust...as much with myself as with him. How could I have been so pathetic? So useless? I asked myself angrily.
"Just put the gun down...You're out of yer fuckin' little faggot mind, Rusty!" he sneered at me.
I whirled around and pointed the gun at his head again. This time I aimed a few degrees to the left, and squeezed again. Mark's senior photo from high school exploded off the wall, as he cringed from the blast (Well, fine...Three shots, max. I swear!).
"I told you to shut UP!" I shouted again.
I paced a little bit more to regain my composure.
"...so then, I finally meet someone who could help me get past what happened to Billy...what YOU did to Billy! Someone who showed me that I could still feel what it was like to be in love...to be loved. And what do you do?" I asked, breaking into tears again. "You put him in a fucking coma for TWO DAYS!" I yelled at him through my sobs. "You're not even a human being, in my book! You're just a giant piece of crap!"
I walked right up to him, and pointed the gun at his forehead.
"You have no idea who he is...what he's like!" I said coldly. "He's the smartest, kindest, humblest...most caring person I've ever met. You don't even deserve to breathe the same air he does," I concluded hastily. "He's just so amazing...from almost the very first instant; he looked right past all the pain and anger in my heart...and saw the real me trapped inside. He helped me find myself again. You just have no idea how special he is..." I said, wiping away the tears.
I could feel the trigger resting against my finger. Calmly, I rubbed it up and down, feeling the smooth, hard metal. Part of me was begging to let it finally pull that trigger. But, another part of me was still saying no...not yet.
"Before I shoot your sorry, piece of crap, ass...I just wanna know why? Why would anyone do something like that to Billy? To Ian?" I asked, staring into his eyes with all the contempt I could manage.
He just shrugged. "Hey...that Ian kid was just an accident...I didn't know he was such uncoordinated little homo...But, hey...No big deal in my book They were both just faggots...just a total waste...like you," he sneered.
Unfortunately, his answer had the desired effect. Suddenly, I felt like I had been kicked right in the gut. I staggered back across the room, still keeping one eye on Mark. I paced across the room a few times before I could finally figure it all out. Then, it just hit me like a brick.
I realized with a start that he was basically telling me the truth. There was no reason! He killed one person, and almost killed another for absolutely no fucking reason!
I rambled across the room a few more times, completely blown away by that thought. Billy had died for absolutely no reason? Ian is in the hospital right now for no real reason...and all my years of pain and agony have been for no real reason at all?
I felt an uncontrollable wave of anger rising inside me, and I turned and screamed at him again.
"FUCK YOU!!! I...I HATE YOU, YOU PIECE OF INHUMAN SHIT!!!"
For some reason, as I stood there and stared hatefully at him across the room through my tears of anger and frustration, I once again noticed those shafts of light that angled sharply across the room...and how they captured the constantly disappearing, and re-appearing, dust motes in their beams. I looked down to blink the tears out of my eyes, and then I slowly raised the gun again with both hands.
This was it. This time, I was truly ready.
What I saw, as I raised my eyes to sight down the barrel of the gun, took my breath away. Through the beams of sunlight and floating bits of dust, I thought I could see a vague image beginning to form...an image I could never possibly forget. An image burned into my mind...one I have seen countless times in my dreams.
"Billy!" I whispered to myself in amazement.
The image of Billy seemed to be looking at me with an expression of tremendous sadness. Instantly, I knew he didn't approve of my plan. I lowered the gun tentatively, and he smiled. His eyes locked onto my heart, and suddenly I was flooded with a million different feelings...I was completely overwhelmed, and I closed my eyes for an instant.
When I opened my eyes again, the part of me that had been begging all along to just pull the stupid trigger and get it all over with gave one last gasp...half-heartedly, I raised the gun again as I looked up.
I had to blink a couple times, to be sure of what I was seeing. Instead of the image of Billy that I expected to be there, I saw someone else standing between Mark and myself.
"Goddamit, Rusty! I said give me the fucking gun!" Tim demanded.
I looked at him for a moment in confusion and surprise. I glanced towards the front door, and noticed it was now standing wide open.
"C'mon, Rusty! ...give...me...the...gun," Tim said firmly, but more softly this time, as he slowly approached me, staring me directly in the eye.
Shocked to realize that I was still pointing the gun at Mark, and thus at Tim, I quickly pointed it down and handed it meekly to him. I was in a state of shock and confusion...and the flood of emotions that Billy had literally poured into me still had me spinning.
I collapsed to the floor, crawled into a corner of the room, and simply cried from the weight of all the intense feelings that were flooding my heart. One at a time, I began to slowly unravel and identify all the different emotions that Billy had left in me.
At the same time, I was vaguely aware of other happenings in the room. As soon as Tim had the gun, Mark began to get up. Instantly, Tim turned...keeping the gun trained on him.
"Just stay where you are, asshole..." Tim growled at him. "Nobody's gonna get killed today, but you are goin' down for killing my cousin, and for what you did to Ian, dude. The cops will be here in a few...so just sit tight."
Just as he said that, several uniforms followed by Detective Rodriguez stormed into the room. Carefully, Tim put the gun on the floor, while Detective Rodriguez informed his men that Tim wasn't the primary suspect. I watched in utter amazement as my brother Mark was handcuffed, and hauled out of the room.
Knowing that the whole sick episode was finally over, I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms tightly around my knees. I let myself go...wailing loudly as I opened my heart to all the feelings inside me...desperately wanting to feel every last ounce of Billy's final gift to me...and to find a way to finally purge myself of all these painful emotions.
Right away it was clear that the first thing he wanted me to feel was his forgiveness. As much as it went against almost everything in my head at the moment, Billy wanted me to know that he had already forgiven Mark. He made it clear that justice, or vengeance, wasn't for me to decide. Mark would be taken care of, he assured me.
The next thread of emotion that came to me was Billy's own sadness. He was really gone now, and I knew in my heart that I would never see him again...not in my dreams, not his ghost, or spirit (or whatever the heck it was I saw today...). Nothing. Just my memories. As a few of those fond memories drifted in front of me, the last thread swelled inside me.
It wasn't something you could easily describe with words, but it was full of powerful feelings...Billy was saying goodbye to me in his own way. I savored each of his emotions as they washed over my heart...the agony and regret of a final parting...the incredible depth and intensity of his love...his joy and happiness that I had found someone so special to be with now...how proud he was of me as a person for coming to grips with my inner demons...his optimism and utter confidence in my...no, our...future happiness...our future life together. I even felt his admiration for Ian, and maybe even a tiny speck of jealousy.
I felt a hand on my shoulder.
"Rusty, are you ok, dude?" Tim asked me gently.
I looked up at him, and realized that I was still crying profusely. But, I smiled weakly at him, because they weren't tears of sadness or anger anymore. I nodded my head slightly, and let out a deep sigh.
"I'm really sorry about this dude, but he says they're gonna have to take you in also," he said with moisture in his eyes too. "I just wish I could have gotten here sooner," he said sadly.
"It's ok Tim. Billy stopped me. He made it in time."
"I know," Tim replied with a wistful smile.
"I think I was really gonna do it," I said to myself in horror and amazement.
He helped me stand up, and watched sadly, as I was handcuffed and led out the front door to a waiting patrol car parked in our driveway.