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Has anyone ever created there own torrent file?

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I Can Tell You The Exact Moment My Childhood Ended [Finale]

Part 1
Phase Two of began later in the afternoon. James brought his Nerf Vortex, which he received for Christmas, but never got to use. We yanked it from its packaging and tossed it on the lawn where Ricky could see us. From the view atop the hill, Ricky could see us playing from his living room window. The foam football also had these howler grooves on each side. The ball whistled sharply as it split the air. It was an invitation to join it. It was bait.
And it worked.
I was having so much fun, I'd almost forgotten the purpose of our being out there in the first place until Ricky came riding his bike down the hill. A wave of cold chills went down my spine. My heart pounded in my throat. Anxiety got the best of me, and I started running home.
“No! Come to me!” James barked. Yet, I still couldn't help but want to run away. Humans are supposed to run from danger. James didn't budge. His blue eyes were cold and determined. His chest heaved with a nervous breath. He was ready, though. I could tell.
“Let me handle this,” James said sounding more adult-like than I’d ever heard. There was a serene, calmness to it, which set me at ease. I calmed myself and stood next to him until our target arrived.
A wicked smirk widened across Ricky’s face. He dropped his bike to the ground with a crash. Mischief filled his eyes. He came at us like a cat toying with mice trapped in a corner.
“Why aren’t you pussies running?” Ricky asked, stopping in his tracks.
“We want to make peace,” James said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a folded up piece of paper. Unfolding it, both Ricky and I stood in amazement at what we saw: a busty, blonde Hustler model in all her naked, leg-spread glory. Ricky snatched the page from James’ and brought it close to his face. For a moment, I thought he was going to eat the page. He licked his lips and turned back to James with a completely different expression.
“Where’d you get this?” Ricky asked, pocketing the page.
“There was a huge box in the garbage full of magazines and tapes. We took it into the woods to save it. We’ll give them to you. You have to swear you won’t hurt us anymore,” James negotiated.
He extended his hand to seal the deal. Ricky glared at James and then at me. My heart nearly stopped in my chest. I didn't think he would go for it. He nodded and smiled at James, which freaked me out more than when he usually just frowned and sneered at us. Ricky took James’ hand and squeezed it hard. James grimaced. Ricky shook his hand so hard he nearly knocked James over.
“You’ve got a deal. I’ll leave you two alone,” Ricky promised. “Now, show me the box.”
A few moments later, our unlikely trio headed for the woods. It felt surreal riding alongside our torturer. After spending so much time running away from him and getting our faces and bodies pounded, it felt wrong to have him beside us. At any moment, he could turn on us. We'd be as helpless as always. The promise of a box of pornography must have been too great a prize to pass up. Or maybe he was waiting until he got the goods to turn on us. Another part of the plan, James and I hadn't thought of it. Either way, we were in the shit now.
We reached the mouth of the trail again and dropped out bikes. Ricky walked between the two of us, with James leading us straight to the side of the creek where our weapons were hidden. It was then the gravity of the situation hit me. We were leading Ricky into the woods, intending to hurt him. This wasn't something we should be doing. This is what people like Ricky do to others. We weren't like him. Revenge was a sweet fantasy at the time we were planning it. The thought of actually following through with it felt disgusting the more I thought about it.
Part of me wanted to run, but I couldn't abandon James to suffer Ricky's punishment alone. James could have left me to take the beating alone the day before. He'd come back for me and tried to help me. Leaving him behind would be the worst possible betrayal. I owed him.
“Where the fuck is it?” Ricky asked, not even bothering to attempt to hide his enthusiasm. His hand was rubbing at his crotch like he'd been itching. He licked his lips again, and a creepy grin was stretched across his face.
“It's over there in the bushes,” James replied, pointing to where we'd hidden our weapons. My hands were shaking. My feet felt like I had cement shoes on. I trailed behind Ricky, not too close, and hoped he wouldn't notice the weapons hidden away in the grass.
“Holy shit!” Ricky shouted. To my surprise, James wasn't lying. There was a cardboard box on the ground. Ricky dropped to his knees and rummaged through it like a child on Christmas morning. He yanked out a pile of porno magazines and videotapes. I picked up a magazine from the ground and thumbed through it. Ricky didn't pay any mind to me as he did the same.
Had he done this while he said he was taking a nap? I wondered.
I stopped flipping through the pages to admire a redhead. That's when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye from Ricky’s direction. When I looked, Ricky had his pants down around his ankles and his manhood in his hand.
Being too young to know about masturbation, I thought he was trying to take a piss. For the life of me, I couldn't fathom why he didn't go out into the woods to pee in private. Figuring he wanted a moment to himself, I turned to where I'd last seen James and realized he was nowhere to be seen.
He'd left me alone with Ricky.
“James!” I called out and started walking back to the trail.
“Where the hell are you going?” Ricky asked and grabbed me before I could get away from him.
“I need to find James,” I replied, hearing the dread in my own voice.
“Don’t worry about him. Come here,” Ricky said and yanked me back to the box. He pulled my wrist, and there was nothing I could do against the strength of the older, much larger boy.
“Get on your knees,” he commanded and kicked the back of my knee. He brought me to the ground quickly and grabbed a handful of my hair. He pulled my face toward his erect penis. Once again, being young and having no real concept of sexual matters, I thought he was trying to piss in my face again. The realization of what he actually wanted me to do came to me a few years later. It sickens me to think about it and what would have happened if James hadn't saved me.
Pleading with him not to piss on me made him laugh. Fighting against him was out of the question. His grip was too firm. He pressed himself against the side of my face. His penis nearly touched my lips. I cried out for him to stop, and he did.
I can still hear the ting sound of the aluminum baseball bat smashing into the back of Ricky's skull. Ricky's grip on my head loosened, and I rolled out of the way before his unconscious body came crashing down on top of the box of porn. The cardboard box split under the dead weight. James stood over Ricky with the bat locked and ready for another swing. He hissed through bared teeth. His face was flushed of color, and the veins in his neck throbbed. My best friend was nothing short of terrifying. Unrecognizable from the kid who'd been my best friend.
Ricky didn't stir, yet James swung the bat down again, hitting Ricky in the spine. There was a deep thud as metal pounded into bone and flesh. James swung again. And again. And again. Each hit filled with more fury and rage than the last. James bellowed as he lashed out, sounding more like a primal beast than a pre-teen kid. Saliva dripped down his chin as he continued to mercilessly annihilate the bully who'd tortured, beaten, and abused him for years.
Unable to move or speak, I froze in place, watching the savagery unfold. I wanted to tell James to stop. The words wouldn’t come. Ricky hadn't moved or cried out since the first blow to his head. He was defenseless and vulnerable. Just like us all the times he'd hurt us. A small part of me felt good to see him suffer. The better part of me wanted it to stop. James needed to stop before Ricky got hurt too badly, or God forbid, he killed him.
There would be no stopping him. One look was all anyone would need to know James wasn’t home. He’d broken. Blood spatter painted my friend’s face.
I cannot tell you how long it lasted. All I know is James only stopped because he grew exhausted. His swings slowed down as he grew tired. The bat fell from his hands. It thunked dully as it hit the ground. James hunched over, bringing his hands to his knees, and put his head to the ground, inhaling hard. Thinking he was finished, I reached for the bloody bat so James couldn’t use it anymore. It was the only action I could take to save Ricky’s life.
“Get out of here. Leave the bat,” James commanded. He kicked Ricky’s on his bare ass like a punter kicking a field goal. Ricky still did not stir.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I pleaded. He didn’t hear me. James reached out and waited for me to place the bat into his hand. I shook my head, telling him no. I don’t know what possessed me to try to be brave. James yanked the bat out of my hand, throwing me to the ground in the process. He cocked his hands backward as if getting ready to hit me with the bat. I curled up into a ball and put my hands over my head, waiting for the blows to come raining down on me. My bladder let loose. Warm urine pooled in front of my pants.
I pleaded for my best friend not to kill me.
The hits never came, at least, not on me. The sickening crack of the bat, striking Ricky’s skull, filled the air again.
Ting.
Ting.
Ting.
Pop
Running past James, I sprinted back to the neighborhood. In my panic, I nearly twisted my ankle before reaching my bike. I peddled home as fast as my legs could go, ignoring the burn building up in my thighs. Taking the ride up the main street, I didn't care if anyone saw me covered in piss and with blood on my hands. Luckily, there weren't many people out, and they were too far away to see me even if they noticed. It was all a blur.
As soon as I got home, I took off my soiled clothing and threw them into the washing machine. I didn't bother putting soap in or adjusting the settings. I just wanted it gone. There was still blood on my hands. Ricky’s blood was on my hands. It sickened me to nausea. Running into the bathroom, I jumped into the shower and turned the water to the hottest setting it could go. I scrubbed the blood on my hands with soap and water. It didn't seem to be coming off. I washed and scrubbed until my senses came back to me. There wasn’t any more blood on me.
As I came down from the adrenaline rush, I felt drained. I curled up into a ball in the tub. With my knees drawn up close to my face, I started to sob. The whole day seemed like a living nightmare, unbelievable, and horrifying. My thoughts kept returning to James beating Ricky. Ricky pushing my handlebars and sending me crashing into the parked car. James crying in my mother's arms. Mom and Dad at a loss as to what to do to keep me safe.
I closed my eyes and then I don't know what happened. Most likely, I'd fallen into a state of shock. I wasn't quite sleeping or awake. I merely existed without a thought in my mind. I don't know how long I stayed in the tub. The water was freezing by the time I heard a knock at the bathroom door.
“Are you okay in there?” Mom asked.
Unsure of what was happening, I responded, “Yeah, I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Okay, dinner will be ready soon,” Mom said. I heard her footsteps walking away from the door. I took a moment to collect myself and my thoughts. Shivering, I turned off the water, grabbed a towel, and dried myself off. Checking myself in the mirror, there wasn’t any blood on my face, fingers, or hair.
Rushing out of the bathroom, I pulled on pajamas and wrapped myself up in the warmth of the comforter. It felt warm and cozy. A moment later, there was another knock at the door.
“Dinner is ready,” Mom announced, opening the door an inch or two.
“Thanks, Mom, but I’m not very hungry. I don’t feel good,” I replied. She walked into the room and stood over me.
“Yeah, you don’t look so good,” she said. “Your eyes are red and puffy.”
She pressed the back of her hand onto my forehead. Unsatisfied, she moved down to my neck before coming to her conclusion.
“You're cold,” she said.
“I was feeling hot earlier. My head was hurting, too,” I replied. Mom left the room and returned with a glass of water and Advil.
“Take these and try to get some rest. I’ll make you soup for later. Try to get some rest.”
She left the room, shutting off the lights, and closing the door behind her. The moment the door shut, I lost it. All at once, the weight of the world came crashing down on me again.
What would Mom and Dad think of me if they found out I helped James lure Ricky into the woods?
The thought of disappointing my Mom and Dad sent me over the edge. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My heart raced. I curled into the fetal position wanting nothing more than to rid myself of the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. It felt like I’d swallowed a boulder. My muscles felt tense and tightened like the core of my being was drawing into itself to dematerialize from reality. The uncontrollable trembling was the worst of it. Despite being soaked with sweat, it felt as if I was still freezing.
Eventually, I passed out. Thankfully, I didn’t dream. It was a restless sleep. Each position feeling more uncomfortable than the last. Then my mother came into the room with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and crackers. My appetite wasn’t there. I forced myself to take a few bites for the sake of appearance. Even still, I relished the warmth and saltiness of the broth. Without realizing it, I’d emptied the bowl. Having food in my stomach seemed to settle me. It didn’t take much effort to get back to sleep this time around.
Feigning sickness for the next two days wasn’t difficult with the constant panic attacks leaving me debilitated. Too many times, the desire to confess to what happened almost overwhelmed me. Even when I wanted to do it, I couldn’t find the words. They seemed to get stuck in my throat each time I made the decision to bare my soul.
How could I look at my mother and father in the eye and tell them what happened with Ricky?
I tried to reason through it. If I told them what happened, it wouldn't be so bad. They could help me. They could go into the woods and find Ricky. They would make sure he was okay. James and I would get into trouble. At least, we'd know Ricky was okay.
I tried to write it down on a sheet of paper. Each time I started, I ripped out the paper from the notebook and tore it to shreds.
After the second straight day lying in bed, my mother thought I should see a doctor. Knowing the doctor was going to tell her I wasn't really sick, I told my mother I was feeling better. On the third day, I had no choice but to get out of bed and pretend everything was okay again.
Finishing up another shower, I was drying myself off when I heard the doorbell ring. I heard James' voice echoing down the hall. Everything inside me tensed up. There was a knock at the bathroom door.
“James is asking for you, honey. Do you think you're good enough to go outside today?” my mother asked. Tears formed in my eyes. I didn’t want to see him. A part of me didn't think I'd him ever again. To confront him now seemed unreal.
Swallowing hard and taking a deep breath, I replied: “Just need to throw on some clothes.”
Tossing on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts and prepare myself to see James again. Walking out into the living room, James greeted me with a sheepish smirk and asked if I was ready to head outside. I nodded, not feeling like I had any other choice.
“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” my mother asked, overhearing us.
“Yeah, mom, I’m fine,” I lied, hoping she wouldn’t press the issue. A smile of relief spread across her face.
“Good. Have fun out there, boys,” she said, turning back to the dishes in the sink. “If you see that Ricky boy, come home immediately.”
A knot formed in my stomach. I felt sick again. Turning to James, I stared at him for a moment before he turned his eyes away from mine.
“You want to go for a bike ride?” James asked, looking at the floor as if it was the most exciting design in the world. His tone was awkward and sheepish. It was like the first time we’d met by the dumpster.
“Okay,” I answered, not being able to form any other words.
“Playground by the pool?” James asked.
“Yeah,” I replied.
Without another word, we left the apartment and got on our bikes. We said nothing the whole ride hoping the other would break the silence. It didn’t stop until we reached the playground.
When we arrived, James dropped his bike to the ground and climbed onto the jungle gym. Following his lead, I sat down next to him on a small set of steps. We looked out to the pool and the rest of the neighborhood. It was like an awkward first date until James finally spoke up.
“I’m sorry about what happened,” James apologized.
There was only one question in my mind.
“Ricky…is he…-“ I stammered, unable to complete my sentence.
James averted my eyes. His lower lip trembled. He shook his head, mournfully.
“Yeah,” James said, finding the strength in his voice before breaking down. He covered his eyes and sobbed loudly into his hands. He kept repeating himself, begging for me not to tell anyone what happened between his whimpers. “I…I.I don’t…know what…happened,” James choking out between sobs. “I just kept hitting him…and hitting him.”
The impact of Ricky’s death left me speechless.
Ricky was dead.
Ricky
Was
Dead
I watched James murder Ricky right in front of me. James continued muttering to himself like he was trying to convince himself of something he didn’t believe. I didn’t know what to do or say. Nothing was coming to me. Hell, what could I say then? What could I possibly even say now?
“Please don’t tell on me,” James begged over and over again.
“I won’t tell,” I said, unsure if it was the truth. I placed my arm around his shoulder and let him cry it out until he regained his composure.
“What are we going to do?” I asked, hoping James would have an answer. To my surprise, he actually did.
“I told my mom,” he answered and wiped away snot from his nose. “She said she would take care of it.”
Astonished, I pressed him for more details.
“I’m not supposed to tell anyone anything,” James replied. “Mom said too many people knowing a secret could get us in trouble, including you.”
A chill spilled over my entire body like a tidal wave.
“Mom said as long as I told her everything, she could help us.”
“Help us?” I asked him, unable to comprehend what he'd said. Adults were supposed to yell at children when they misbehaved. The police were supposed to be called when someone was killed. None of it made sense to me.
“I don’t know what she’s doing,” James admitted. “She told me to show her where Ricky was. I took her into the woods, and she told me to go home. After that, she’s been coming in and out of the house all day and night.”
“What is she doing?” I asked.
“I don't know. She just told me I needed to talk to you to see if you'd told anyone what happened,” James said.
“I haven't. I've wanted to tell my parents, but I haven't been able to do it,” I answered.
“Then we should be okay,” James said. “Mom said since you were a part of the plan, you would get in a lot of trouble, too, so you shouldn’t tell anyone.”
“But I didn’t do anything!” I shouted. His smile went away from his face leaving him only with a look of sadness.
“I know. I told her that, and she said it didn’t matter since you were a part of the plan,” James explained.
“I don’t want to get in trouble,” I said. Being a lawyer and an adult, I didn't question his mother's knowledge. What the hell did I know anyway?
“Good. You just have to promise you won’t tell anyone about what happened,” James warned. “If you do, we're all going to get in a lot of trouble. We're going to go to jail.”
I nodded my head, “I promise I won’t.”
“Swear it,” James said.
“I swear to God I won’t tell anyone,” I swore.
Once we calmed down, we spent the rest of the day riding around the complex, pretending like everything was okay. We didn't go near the woods at the end of the neighborhood, we stayed as far away from there as possible. As the sunset, the street lights were coming on. James and I headed back home as night fell. We didn't speak to each other on the way back. We both had our heads down. Our hearts heavy with a secret we'd both be carrying for the rest of our lives weighing down on us.
Ricky's mother apparently hadn't noticed her son was missing for close to a week. I'm assuming she probably told her brother about it because once she did, the nightmare truly began.
Local news crews descended upon our neighborhood. They swarmed the apartment building at the top of the hill. Seeing Ricky’s mother crying and pleading on television for the return of her missing son was heartbreaking. It was like being directly confronted for my sins through the television.
Mom and Dad couldn’t stop watching the coverage. They couldn’t believe something like this could happen in our quiet little town, let alone right in our neighborhood. Photographs of Ricky were displayed on the screen as the anchor gave a phone number for people to call if they had any information on the missing teenager.
Flyers and posters went up around town overnight. Ricky’s sneering smile followed me wherever I went with my parents. The post office, the supermarket, and nearly every lamp post for miles around. Each photograph a grim reminder of the part I played in his demise.
There were a few times I choked up when I saw his picture. Ricky’s gaze seemed to drill a hole of guilt through the core of my soul. More than once, I wanted to spill my guts out about it. I found myself on one occasion, standing in front of my Mom and Dad’s bedroom door, about to knock and tell them what happened.
Yet each time I felt brave enough to do it, I remembered James at the park telling me I’d go to jail too. I didn't want to go to jail. I didn't want to break my parent's hearts either. James' mother had to be right about everything. She was a lawyer and knew what she was talking about. She'd also been handling everything afterward. The fact that we were still enjoying our freedom was evidence enough for me.
Those feelings of guilt and wanting to confess soon faded away. The news coverage took over the narrative, and it made me absolutely sick to my stomach. Everyone, including my parents, seemed to have forgotten how horrible Ricky was. Those who were interviewed talked about him as if he was a fallen little angel who deserved to be pitied. No one ever mentioned what a depraved, sadistic piece of excrement he was. No one told the truth about him, not even his mother, who sobered up long enough to make a plea in front of the cameras for anyone with information to come forward. It would have been sad if it all hadn’t been a complete and utter farce.
Seeing all this was like having someone plunge a knife into my back and twist it. Our tormentor was now being treated as if he was a saint. If it wasn't bad enough when Ricky was only thought to have been kidnapped or missing, it increased tenfold when his body was discovered.
A group of surfers found him washed ashore at a beach in the southernmost part of the state. When the newswoman made the announcement, I sat there dumbfounded. It had been weeks since James and I had our conversation on the playground. He’s said his mother had taken care of it. I’d thought they’d never find his corpse.
After discovering the body, fearful parents called for the police to double their efforts in apprehending the monster who’d murdered a child. No one let their children out onto the streets unsupervised any more, especially not in my neighborhood. No parent was willing to take the risk of having their child be the next to get killed mine included.
Even though they didn’t want me playing outside, my parents always asked if I wanted to go to James’ house or if I wanted to invite him over. Not having seen each other for weeks, I told them a semi-truth. James and I didn’t hang out anymore because James had started hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood I didn’t like. To top off the lie, I mentioned they smoked cigarettes and drank beer they stole from their parents. It was an easy enough lie to live with, and it didn’t require me to confess my involvement with a murder.
With the summer coming to a close, the news coverage on Ricky’s murder waned. The news moved on to the juicer stories of the day. Soon enough, Ricky was forgotten by the media. Our town and neighborhood remained on edge and cautious. With no other children turning up dead or going missing, the panic subsided, and it seemed as if everyone was ready to move on from the tragedy.
The start of the new school year cemented everyone's willingness to move on with their lives. On the first day of school, parents accompanied their children to the bus stop. Clusters of parents and children stood together until the bus driver arrived to haul their unruly brood to school. After a few days of the charade, only a trio of stay-at-home mothers continued to hang around the bus stop in the morning.
Generally, on the first day of a new school year, I’d be worried about the typical kid stuff. Would I be able to find my classes, okay? Would I like my teachers? Would any of my friends be in the same classes as me? All those worries were inconsequential compared to the anxiety I felt in anticipation of seeing James again. Not having seen each other since our discussion at the playground, it was nerve-wracking thinking about how we’d act around each other. Would we talk to each other or not? Would we say hello and then go our separate ways?
With so many scenarios running through my mind, it was a relief to arrive at the bus stop and see James wasn’t there. Hanging out with a couple of the other neighborhood kids, the topic of their conversation turned to Ricky, as it would with most of the other kids I encountered for the rest of the day.
Rumors spread like an out of control fire. The more gruesome the tale, the more traction it gained. A friend of a friend heard Ricky’s father was the main suspect. Then it was his mother killing him after flipping her shit in an alcoholic rage. A cousin of a boyfriend of a sister on the police force said Ricky had been raped before he was murdered. In the span of an afternoon, they managed to tack on stories about cannibalism, satanic rituals, and necrophilia.
Kids imagine the darnedest things.
Keeping my mouth shut was tough, with all the stupid rumors circulating. The thought of telling them it was one of the kids in the neighborhood responsible for the murder came to mind. It would get soaked up in the whirlwind of rumors. It would allow me to tell the truth and get it off my chest. To say aloud in a public place. Still, I decided it was better not to get myself involved with it at all. There was no reason to risk it. Plus, I promised James I wouldn't tell anyone. Even if our friendship was over, I'd made a promise which intended to keep.
The first week of school passed, and rumors about Ricky started dying off too. It was a relief, to say the least. I wouldn't have to think about him anymore. I also didn't see James anymore, either. I expected to see him on the first day of school at the bus stop. He hadn't shown up. He hadn't gone to school the entire first week. I always feared I'd have to see him walking through the halls or end up having the same lunch period with him.
I never did because James and I never went to school together. I only saw James one more time.
Coming home from school, filing out of the bus, I noticed a police car parked in a spot close to the bus stop. An officer sat inside, watching everyone make their way out of the bus. At this point, I'd stopped being paranoid about policemen. I thought it was an officer taking a break in the parking lot, pretending to be watching out for the children.
Walking home, two other kids accompanied me. We talked about our classes and other crap. A couple of blocks before I got reached my house, both of the other kids said their goodbyes to me. They warned me to go straight home to avoid any trouble. I knew what they meant and stifled a laugh. Continuing down the main street alone, unlike the rest of the community, I walked through the streets fearless of all predators, whether they were the bullying kind or the child abducting variety.
Getting inside the house, I tossed my book bag into my bedroom and went into the kitchen to fix myself a snack. Preparing a chicken-flavored Ramen noodle was the extent of my cooking prowess. Setting the water to a boil, I pulled some cold cuts and mayonnaise from the fridge. Then bread from the pantry. As I put together a sandwich, the doorbell rang.
My parents wouldn’t be home for several hours. I had no idea who could have been ringing the bell. I thought it could have been James but thought against it. He hadn't been around in a while. I figured it was the mailman needing me to sign for a package, I walked through the living room to get the door. Instead of seeing the tiny white postal service vehicle, there was a police car parked out front. The sensation of being on a roller-coaster plunging down the track at breakneck speeds suddenly hit me. A scream almost escaped my throat. A hard knock on the door brought me out of the trance.
“I know you’re in there,” the officer called out from the other side of the door. “Let me inside.”
The thought of scrambling out the back door and running away crossed my mind. It was tempting. So tempting, in fact, I took a step back away from the door. I shifted my weight onto my right foot to turn away, then I dismissed the idea. There was no point in running. I’d be caught. A whole police force against some dumb kid on a bicycle. How stupid.
Fighting off the urge to run, I took a deep breath and wiped the tears which I hadn’t realized were crawling down my cheeks. Trembling, I resigned myself to my fate and unlocked the door.
The officer standing at the door was a massive bulk of a man. He was tall and wide chested like he did nothing else but lift weights and grow taller in his spare time. I strained my neck to look him in the eyes. There was something familiar about him. I’d never met any police officers before in my short life. Despite this, there was something instinctual telling me I knew this man even though I didn’t.
“Are your parents home?” the officer asked, looking past me to survey the apartment.
I couldn’t answer him. My throat muscles tightened. I fought to keep myself from panicking, and I lost. I let out a wail and tried to speak through the grief. A torrent of babbles and nonsense came out instead. I wanted to tell him the truth. I needed to tell someone what happened.
“Aw shit, don’t cry, kid,” the officer said. He wrapped an arm around my shoulder and escorted me to the couch. It was oddly comforting.
“Listen, you aren't in any trouble. My name is George,” the officer introduced, showing me his badge and identification as if it mattered to me. “I’m James’ father.”
All at once, the familiarity hit me. It was in the eyes. George and James had the same blue eyes.
“Hi,” was all I could manage to say through my shyness and sobs.
“Listen, there’s no need to cry. I know all about what happened. I’m here to talk to you,” George said. He paused for a moment and smelled the air.
“You cooking?” George asked. I nodded. He walked into the kitchen then signaled for me to come in with him. We went into the kitchen. George was turned away from me, tending to the boiling water on the stove.
“I’ve got this. What do you want on your sandwich?” he asked.
“Ham…cheese…mayo,” I replied, unsure of what was happening.
“Sounds good. You mind if I have one too?”
I nodded as he made the sandwich and place it on the table in front of me.
“Eat up.”
I’d lost my appetite. Sitting there and staring at the sandwich, I watched the police officer stir the soup in the pot. He made himself a sandwich too and then came to sit down at the table with me.
“So, you’re James’ friend?” George asked, taking a seat at the table. I nodded once again and took a bite of the sandwich, even though I wasn’t hungry. It didn’t seem like the proper moment to tell him James and I hadn’t seen each other in weeks.
“He’s told me a lot about you,” George said, taking his own bite of the sandwich and continuing to speak. “I’m glad to finally meet you. I mean, I wish it was under better circumstances, of course, but we can’t pick and choose the circumstances which bring us together.”
“Yeah,” I replied, unsure of what else to say.
“Why don’t we get straight down to business? I feel as if that’s probably for the best. What do you think?” George asked, standing up from the table and tending to the soup again. He turned off the flame, poured the steaming hot soup into the bowl I’d set up on the counter, and then placed it in front of me.
“Yeah."
“When are your mom and dad coming home?” George asked, looking at his watch.
“Five."
“Good. We have plenty of time to talk,” George said. “Just so you know, I’m not here to arrest you or anything. It’s actually the opposite of that. I’m trying to make it so that you and James don’t get arrested for what you did.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. My expression must have told him as much.
“You and Jimmy are good kids who happened to make a huge mistake. There’s no reason for you guys to serve time when that fucking little punk was tormenting everyone, and the locals were letting him get away with it.”
“I’m only here to hear your side of the story. James told me his side. I want to hear yours from your own tongue. I want you to tell me everything that happened. In details. Don’t leave anything out of it. I’ve heard the story a bunch of times. If I think you might have missed something, I’ll ask you about it,” George explained. “I'm only here to make sure Jimmy didn't leave out any details which you might remember. It's important so that if he missed something important that you may remember, we could take care of it, so we all don't go to jail.”
And so I told him...
“Did you touch anything else besides the golf club, the hockey stick, baseball bat, or anything in the porn stash?” George asked after I finished recounting the entire day of the murder.
“My bike,” I answered. George made a note of it on the small pad he’d been using. He hadn’t written much while I told the story and he hadn’t interrupted either.
“Okay. That shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll check it anyway,” George replied. “Now, tell me something. When Ricky forced you to your knees, did you have any contact with his penis?”
The question nearly made me spit out the spoonful of soup in my mouth.
“No, he didn’t pee on me,” I answered. George’s expression gave away his confusion. He didn’t ask any further questions about it.
“It's not about peeing on you,” George said. “It's about your saliva. Don't be embarrassed to tell me if something happened. It only shows how bad Ricky was.”
“No, James hit him with the bat before he could do anything,” I answered.
“Is there anything else you can think of you might have forgotten? Something you might have touched or left behind? Anything?” George asked, seemingly satisfied with the story I’d told him.
“No, I don’t think so,” I replied.
“Good. Thank you so much for telling me what happened,” George said.
“What happens now?” I asked.
“If everything goes okay, nothing. If what you and Jimmy told me were right, nothing should happen to either one of you. If something goes wrong, we’re all going to jail,” George answered.
He stood from the table and yanked some paper towels from the roll on the counter.
“I’m outta here, kid. With any luck, we’ll never see each other again. It's a damned shame too. Jimmy really thought the world of you,” George said, extending his hand out to me. We shook hands, and he walked to the backdoor. Before unlocking it, he hesitated and turned to face me.
“Listen, I’m sorry about what Jimmy's put you through. This has been absolute Hell for us. We’re all going to get through this if we keep our mouths shut. I understand keeping such a big secret from everyone is hard. It's a miracle you haven't run out and told everyone everything already. You're going to have to keep this to yourself for the rest of your life, you know that right?”
I hadn't thought about the rest of my life. I only thought about the present. I wasn't thinking about myself at age thirty, forty, or eighty. With all those years ahead of me, I wasn't going to lose out on them because of Ricky.
“I made James a promise,” I replied. “And I’m going to keep it.”
“Good to hear, son. Take care,” George said, patting me on the shoulder and then making his exit. He went down the steps and turned to my bicycle on the lawn. He examined the handlebars and sprayed it with something in a bottle. He wiped it off with a paper towel and stuffed it into his pocket.
With a wave goodbye, George walked around the side of the building and disappeared. I locked the back door behind him and went into the living room. George walked across the lawn and entered his police cruiser. After a few moments, he pulled away from the curb and turned left onto the main street of the development.
The last time I ever saw James was about a month after the visit from George. As my mom, dad, and I made our way out the door, I noticed a moving truck parked in front of James’ apartment. My father waved at James’ mother. Ever since I’d told them about James getting involved with smoking and drinking, Mom and Dad hadn’t been too keen James or his mother. James’ mother waved back politely. Then she quickly disappeared back into their apartment. James walked out of the apartment a moment later and saw us.
He waved to me, and I waved back. It wasn't the goodbye I could have hoped for, but it would suffice. He darted into the moving truck and didn't come back out.
“Did James ever stop hanging out with those kids?” Dad asked as we loaded up into the car.
“I don't know. I haven't talked to him in a long time,” I answered.
“It's a shame. He was such a good kid. Maybe them moving is for the best. Who knows what kind of trouble he could get into hanging out with the wrong crowd?”
I couldn't help but let out a laugh.
To this day, I still haven't seen the inside of a jail cell. As far as I know, Ricky's murder hasn't been solved. If it was, I wouldn't know anyway. I don't live in the country anymore. Employment opportunities overseas have left me out of touch with news from my hometown and out of the reach of law enforcement. A few months into the school year, my parents purchased a home in a much better neighborhood on the other side of town. Ricky's murder left a blemish on the apartment complex, which wouldn't soon be forgotten.
As time passed on, living with this secret got easier. I hate to say I didn't think about it much. Why revisit such terrible memories? Thinking about what happened only brought pain. This pain wouldn't bring Ricky back from the dead. It wouldn't make James any less of a murderer and his family less culpable in covering up what happened. It also didn't make me any less of a witness or active participant in the crime.
Even worse, as time passed on, and as I went back over it in my mind, I've realized I don't feel sorry for what happened anymore. Ricky was a monster. Judging by his behavior back in those days, James did the world a fucking favor
submitted by Human_Gravy to nosleep