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- XV -


I haven’t said a single word to him on the way back. I just pressed my forehead against the cold glass and stared outside for the whole time that took us to get home. When he pulled into his driveway, I opened the door, climbed out and found my car keys in one of my pockets.

“You are leaving?” Dylan asked with raw confusion on his voice.

“Yeah”, I said without looking at him. “I’m gonna go home.”

“Okay”, he said slowly. “So do you want me to follow you or something?”

“No”, I said shortly. “I have a bitch of a headache. Wanna be alone right now.”

“Okay”, he repeated as slowly as before. “Do you want me to call you tomorrow? Or come over?”

“I’ll call you”, I muttered. “I’m gonna go now, good night.”

He came closer to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He looked puzzled.

“Good night”, he said and leaned forward for a kiss.

I all but pushed him away.

“I can’t…” I muttered. “Dylan, I can’t, okay? I’m sorry but… I can’t even look at you right now… I gotta go…”

He looked like I just spat in his face. Then he nodded seriously, turned around and went inside the house without saying anything else. I got into my Jeep and took off so quickly as if someone was after me.


****


When I got home it was one in the morning. I realized that my shirt was covered in blood and I pulled it off so quickly as if it was burning me. At first I wanted to throw it away but then I shoved it into the washing machine instead, along with my jeans. I poured shitload of bleach in there and I could care less if it ruins the color or not. Then I put clean clothes on and while I was doing that, I realized that I had tears streaming down my face. I felt like breaking something. Instead I decided to get filthy drunk.

I stumbled into the kitchen, my hands shaking, and I rummaged through all the cabinets and cupboards. All I could find was a bottle of some old wine that wasn’t even half-full. Well, crap. I looked at the clock. One fifteen. They stop selling booze at two in the morning, I have enough time. I grabbed my car keys and went to the door. Right when I was opening it, the thunder clapped so loudly and unexpectedly that I dropped my keys. Then the rain came down with a fury that matched my own an hour ago. Was it an hour already? Christ…

I picked up my keys and absent mindedly patted the back pocket of my pants, checking for my wallet. It wasn’t there. I frowned for a second and then ran to the washing machine. I stopped it, pulled my soaked jeans out and went for the pocket, knowing that the wallet is probably ruined by now. Yeah, it would be if it was there which it wasn’t. I dropped the jeans back into the washer, closed the lid and went for my jacket. The damn wallet wasn’t there either.

I stood by the door, frowning thoughtfully for several minutes and then I remembered. I left my wallet at Kay’s house. Now that I figured it out, I could even remember exactly where I put it. On top of the TV. Shit… I bit my lip, thinking that maybe I should just go to bed for now, screw the booze. But then I had a bright flashback of me slitting Billy’s throat and I stopped thinking. I went outside, ignoring the rain and mad thunder, got into my Jeep and drove back to Kay’s house.

…I got there at one thirty. Okay, I thought while getting out of the car, if I move quickly, I’ll be able to get some booze before two in the morning. I knocked on the door and there was no answer. I rang the bell. Same thing. Great, I thought bitterly. He is probably asleep by now. Dreaming of lollipops and unicorns. Jesus, I can’t believe that he… I told myself to stop thinking about it. I rang the bell again. No answer. I tried the doorknob and to my surprise it turned smoothly. I walked inside and shook the rainwater out of my hair as well as I could.

“Dylan!” I called. “It’s me… I left my wallet here!”

Silence. I sighed. Fine, let him sleep. It’s a good thing too because I really didn’t want to see him right now. I went to the TV and sure enough, there was my wallet. I grabbed it and put it in my pocket. I was about to leave when I’ve noticed a dark red spot under my thumbnail. I stared at it for a couple of seconds and then realized that I managed to get blood there somehow. I shook with revulsion and went to the bathroom. I have to wash it out before I gnaw my thumb off.

I pushed the door open and blinked when there was something on the floor in the middle of the big bathroom. It looked like a heap of clothes. I frowned and reached for the light switch. Did he just dump his clothes in here or something? I turned the lights on and for several seconds I just stood there, blinking like an idiot.

It wasn’t the heap of clothes after all. It was Dylan. He laid on the tile floor, face down, blond hair spilling around his head like a halo. Then I saw bright red spot of blood that was slowly growing bigger and bigger and it was emerging from underneath him. For one horrible second I actually believed that he slit his own throat. I started to shake. All the thoughts of hurting him, hating him, dumping him evaporated from my head immediately. I lunged towards him and fell on my knees.

“Dylan… Dylan…” I muttered, grabbing his shoulders. “Oh God… Dylan…!”

I rolled him over and realized that he didn’t slit his throat. He slit his wrists instead.

“Dylan!!” I screamed and his eyes slowly peeled open.

“What…” he muttered. “What are you doing here…?”

“Jesus Christ!!” I dropped him back on the floor and jumped up.

I rummaged through the cabinet behind the mirror, dropping bottles of shampoo and hand cream all over the floor and even into the bathtub. Finally I found bandages and I ripped the bag open with my teeth. Then another awful thought hit me.

“Did you take any pills?” I muttered and he just looked at me, his eyes empty. “Did you take any pills?!” I yelled and he blinked.

“No…” he said weakly. “God… No, I didn’t…”

I grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up. His wrists were bleeding so bad it didn’t even seem real. Somehow I managed to remember something about what to do if someone slit their wrists. I turn the faucet on and shoved both of his hands under the cold water. He didn’t resist. In fact he didn’t do anything at all. It was like handling the rag doll. After ten minutes of holding his hands under icy cold water, I decided to turn the faucet off. I dried his mutilated wrists with the towel that immediately turned pink from his blood and then I bandaged him up as tight as I could. That’s when it hit me hard. I started sobbing like someone who is suffering from hysteria.

I realized that if I wouldn’t notice that blood spot underneath my thumbnail and if I didn’t walk into the bathroom, he’d be dead in a couple of hours. That made me sob so hard that I started to hyperventilate. Finally I told myself to shut up and when that didn’t work, I slapped my own face as hard as I could. That did the trick and the tears stopped. I wiped my face with the bloodied towel and pulled Dylan up.

“I am not going to the hospital”, he muttered when I pulled him out of the bathroom. “If you take me there, I’ll just do it again… More successfully next time.”

“I am not…” I almost choked on my own saliva and coughed. “I am not taking you to the hospital… I am taking you to the kitchen.”

I shoved him onto one of the kitchen chairs and turned the kettle on. Then I walked back to him, feeling disoriented. I fell on my knees in front of him and buried my face in his lap. He ran his fingers through my hair slowly, his hands still icy cold from all that water. I grabbed one of his palms and pulled him off that chair. He slid to the floor next to me and then we just sat there, holding each other without saying anything until the kettle whistled shrilly on the stove.

…“When is Kay coming back?” I asked half an hour later after I made him drink several mugs of tea with tons of sugar in it.

“In four days”, he said in a small voice and I nodded.

“We’ll clean the bathroom in the morning then.”

He wrapped his fingers around his tea mug and glanced at me quickly.

“You don’t have to stay”, he said softly. “I won’t do anything else. Just go home.”

“You want me to leave?” I frowned.

“No”, he wouldn’t look at me now. “But it doesn’t matter what I want… I don’t want you to stay out of fear or pity. You can’t even look at me right now so…”

“Shut up”, I whispered and got off my chair. “Just shut up… Please…”

I pulled him up and his body tensed for a second as if he was afraid that I’ll hit him or something. I wrapped my arms around him and his shoulders relaxed. He dropped his head onto my shoulder and I hid my face in his hair and closed my eyes. Nothing mattered right now but him. I had no idea if it made me a worse person and I didn’t care.

“Let’s get some sleep”, I muttered finally and he pulled away slightly.

“Connor”, he said in a low voice. “Before we do that I have to tell you something, okay?”

“What?” I asked, my lips numb.

He had this look in his eyes. The one that promised something bad.

“Wes Graham”, he said.

“What about him?” I muttered.

“I fucked up the brakes in his car”, he said evenly without looking away.

I stared at him without blinking. He looked like he was expecting me to storm out of the house for good this time. I traced his eyebrow with my finger slowly.

“Let’s get some sleep”, I said finally and he closed his eyes.

“Okay”, he whispered after several seconds.

…I knew that I won’t be able to sleep that night. I was positive that I’ll just lay there staring at the ceiling all night. I was out before I hit the pillow. The very last thought in my head before I fell asleep was: “I have to leave him otherwise we are both screwed…” Then I fell asleep, my arms wrapped tightly around Dylan’s body, his face close to mine, his breath on my skin. We woke up around noon the following day and we were in the same position. It seemed we didn’t move away from each other during the night. Not even an inch.


****


There was a report in the papers a couple of days later. Apparently we had a hell of a thunderstorm that night. A huge lightning struck the tree down in the middle of the woods. The same tree we left Billy under. The body burned beyond recognition, and it seemed like the rain washed away all traces of gasoline.

Billy Vaughn simply disappeared. Everyone assumed he just took off and nobody was surprised about that. Billy was the type, all right. And he was never reported as a run-away or as a missing person because he turned eighteen two weeks prior to his disappearance. Billy Vaughn became just another high-school dropout.
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