April 4th, 1977.
My first time ever going.
I didn't expect the trip to be anything special; just another public park crowded with screaming children and cantankerous parents craving their next smoke. If anything, I was expecting the absolute worst going in. But boy was I mistaken. What started as an average visit ended up becoming a beautiful experience; an experience I'd never, ever forget. I went in with nothing, but came out with everything I ever wanted and more. I was only eight years old and, even today, I still can't help but feel intensely happy whenever I step foot into this park.
Of course, today might be the one exception for obvious reasons.
The three of us made it to Fulton Park relatively safe. Paul was hacking up his lungs quite a bit whenever I lit up another cigarette. Heidi, of course, gave me an earful over it. She was willing to forgive me for giving her boyfriend a bloody nose, but not for smoking around him. That's right! We don't wanna give Paulie cancer, but it's totally cool if I break his bones.
Point understood, Heidi.
I'll be sure to kick Paul in the ballsack every time I feel the craving for a cigarette.
Who knows; it may work at making me drop the habit for good!
“You shouldn't be smokin' anyway, Genghis. That shit's bad for your lungs!” You know what's even worse for your lungs, baby? Contusions, tears, foreign objects, and any kind of bullet. I'm just saying.
Either way, I snuffed my smoke out upon our arrival. Paul, despite living in New York for a couple of years now, really wanted to stop by the Robert Fulton Statue smack dab in the middle of the park. “It's a fuckin' piece of stone dedicated to a guy that built a boat,” I told him, aggravation clear in my voice. I had no patience left in me at that moment; I just wanted to relax and forget about literally everything.
Paul, of course, wanted to try his luck anyway. “Robert Fulton's steamboat was the first to successfully transfer people from one part of the country to another. You understand how much that changed the world and helped us move forward in America's technological advancements?” I growled loudly at him as Heidi put her hand on my shoulder. “Let Paul look at the statue, Genghis. He ain't been here as much as you.” I rolled my eyes and stuffed my hands into the outside pockets of my jacket. So Paul oooh'ed and aww'ed over Robert Fulton for a good five minutes before he was ready to move on.
When I was finally allowed to enjoy the park, Heidi walked in the middle with me to her left and Paul to her right. They chatted and I found myself staring off at the trees behind the long row of benches along the path. The air was brick, but the Autumn atmosphere was enough to make me care a little less. Christmas might've been close, but not close enough for the beautiful orange and red leaves to be replaced with snow. After all, it was only the second day of December; gotta at least be a week in before people started obsessing about seeing the first snowflake on their windshields.
The first time I ever came to Fulton Park, the air was warm, but breezy. The flowers and trees teemed with Springtime delight. Pollen was always a pain in the ass, but what can you do about that? I used to be sensitive to it way back then. I must've sneezed a billion times that day; ain't no telling how many times my old man smacked me in the back of the head for it. It ain't as bad now, but I do sometimes have sneezing fits if there's too much pollen in the air.
“Must be nice being able to sneeze. Some people can't do that anymore.”
What the hell?
Where'd that thought come from?
Quickly shaking my head, I tried to disregard...whatever that was.
While in the middle of my thoughts, I felt Heidi's hand gently wrap itself around my arm. I didn't look at her, but I did genuinely smile at her touch. I may get pissed at her sometimes for her constant nagging and worrying, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate any of it. All she did was touch my arm, but it was enough to tell me that she hadn't forgotten why we came here in the first place. Most of the time when Paul's around, she just sorta forgets about me. Even as she was holding onto my arm, I just knew her other hand was lovingly intertwined with his.
I got it.
I really did.
But that didn't make it suck any less.
“Why would she ever love a murderer like you?”
Criminy, there was that voice in my head again. Who the fuck was invading my headspace now? Didn't I get enough of that at the gas station?! I shook my head again, just trying to tell myself it's just in my head. The voice ain't real.
The voice ain't real.
The voice ain't real.
The voice ain't real.
“Genghis, you alright?” Heidi's voice jolted me out of my racing thoughts. I looked at her, trying my damnedest to keep my calm. “Yeah, I'm good. Just, uh...head hurts a little. That's all.” She looked at me for a second and offered me a gentle smile. “Why don't we sit down? Maybe a little rest will help you.” I faked a smile back at her. “Yeah, that's a good idea. You know where I like to sit.”
With that, I led the two through the row of benches and into the grass. The sound of fallen leaves crunching under my shoes calmed my nerves a little. However, I knew the peace wouldn't last. After all, sensory stimulants can only do so much for you when your mind is actively working against you.
Paul made some kind of joke about ignoring the benches, but his joke was largely ignored by both me and Heidi. Hard wooden planks that are covered in bird shit ain't exactly my idea of a pleasant place to rest my ass. Besides, it was too far in the open. Public seats may be a convenience, but at the cost of having every nosy bastard in the city stare holes through you. It would be one thing if people looked at me because they thought I was the most handsome sonuvabitch they ever laid eyes on. But in the case of public parks? People always—always—look at me like I committed the worst felony of all time.
Sitting on a goddamn bench.
Besides, I liked this one particular patch of grass the best. The downside to Fulton Park is that no matter where you go, you can always see the street on the outside. But, you can still find a place where the street ain't so busy. For me, that would be under this small group of Pin Oaks framing Chauncey Street. Sure, you had a lot of parked cars outside being eye sores, but that was because of all the apartments neighboring the park. People came and went, but it never bothered me none so long as they kept to themselves. It was the perfect spot; it was my spot.
Once we found the spot, I sat against my tree and rested my head against the trunk. Despite the hard wood of the Pin Oak, I was always able to get reasonably comfortable in this position. More often than not, these trips always resulted in me taking a nap against this very tree. I ain't had too many troubles with bozos trying to rob me while I slept. The very few that tried something got a .45 pointed at their faces.
Wrapping my arms into my jacket, I hummed quietly. Heidi must've heard me, though; her cutesy little giggle that she does made that abundantly clear. I looked up at her and smiled. “Thanks for this,” I told her earnestly.
She sat beside me against the tree. “It was nothin',” she said as she wrapped her arms around me, “Anythin' to help, you know?” Heidi rested her head on my left shoulder, her pretty hazel eyes now closed. The sudden closeness made my heart pound inside my chest, but I tried to not make it too obvious. Of course, it didn't stop me from giving Paul an overly smug look.
That's right, Paul.
I got your girl now.
Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?
The wimp just laughed. “Glad to see you in a happier mood, my man. A smile suits you much better than that scowl you always seem to be wearing!” Oh I bet it does, you babbling cuck. “Would you be sayin' that if I hadn't snuffed you in the snotlocker?” Heidi lightly smacked my chest. “Play nice, you. He's just tryin' to help.”
He can help by getting the fuck out of here.
“Whatever,” I grumbled as my eyes closed against the Pin Oak. Finally, time for some relaxation. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Quickly, I began the process of tuning out the outside world. Usually one or two things would always come through, but it ain't too bad.
“He seems calm now.”
“Yeah, thank God.”
“Relax all you want. It won't change your future.”
Annnd of course the voice has to return.
Day one of crazy hallucinations and I'm already annoyed. I was gonna have to pacify this thing before it got the best of me. “Who are you and why are you fuckin' with me?” I said inside my head. The voice laughed in response. I wasn't sure if I should've been relieved that I was gonna get answers, or scared that I'd really gone off the deep end.
“We already met before, you idiot. Remember? In the men's room?” See, that was a trick question. I met like three people in that bathroom. It couldn't be the kid talking to me because he was too much of a fearful little kitten to ever say this kind of shit to me. That really just left Zombie Bastard and Genghis Two.
“So Heidi...have you put more thought into my question?”
“I've been thinkin', Paul. And I just...don't know.”
“Why? What's got you conflicted?”
“Why are you fuckin' with me?” I repeated, “surely this ain't all because I killed somebody.” The voice was silent for a moment, and then sighed heavily. “Do all humans have such poor short-term memory? Do you remember nothing about what I told you less than an hour ago?” I growled heavily in my thoughts. “All you told me was that there's a place I can go to called Casa do Diaño, which I doubt even exists, to tell you the truth.” The voice growled back at me. “Why on Earth would I be lying to you, boy? Just how often do reanimated corpses materialize before your very eyes?!”
Yerp, this ain't Genghis Two.
“Listen here, you dead sonuvabitch,” I started fiercely, “I ain't got time to lose my mind. My current level of crazy is comfortable enough for me to function. I doan need you muckin' things up for me, got it?” The voice cackled again. “You did that to yourself when you decided to be reckless and kill an innocent boy.” Oh boy, was I getting tired of him repeating that over and over. “So the hell what?! It ain't the first time I've killed, Buck-O. Why is this time such a big deal?”
Yeah, it's true.
“I dunno, Paul...we're just so young. Should we really be thinkin' about marriage right now?”
I've killed before today.
“We're in love, aren't we? Isn't that all we need?”
Two other people, to be exact.
“D'eres a lot more to marriage than that, Paul.”
I won't bore you with all the details, so I'll just summarize.
I was fifteen years old when Benny Murray and Jason Frisk were slain by my bullets. I got invited to this big house party just a couple blocks from my apartment. The host was this college guy named Steve, and he got his kicks by selling drugs to minors. Naturally, I went and got my fill of all the blow and horny girls I could get my hands on. Until, at one point, I heard a girl crying for help. I, high as a kite, felt like I was fucking invincible and decided to be this broad's Superman. I found her being forced onto the ground by Benny and Jason, one removing her skirt and the other squeezing her right breast. Without hesitation, I yanked Myra out and shot the two bastards. The stupid bitch called the cops on me for killing the guys rather than just beating them up. Luckily, I had time to bolt home and hide Myra before the cops came knocking.
Shows what happens to you when you try to help.
I didn't get sent to Rikers primarily due to my age, but I was forced to undergo psychological treatment. Spoiler alert, it worked similarly to how shouting “Open Sesame!” often works when trying to open doors. But I digress; the point is that I've done this shit before. It ain't no new thing to me.
Benny Murray made one.
Jason Frisk made two.
And now, five years later, the kid from the gas station makes three.
“Everybody makes mistakes, Genghis Boy. The only two options for handling said mistakes is to either learn from it and never do it again, or let it shape who you are. You, clearly, made your decision to continue down this grisly path. You're not a minor anymore; the NYPD won't pity you for your upbringing this time. As far as they're concerned, you're just another scumbag who deserves to rot behind bars. I'm offering you a way out. A way out of this hole you've dug yourself into. You'd be wise to accept my offer, lest your life end prematurely.”
I bit my lip, not willing to give in to this mumbo-jumbo. “You still ain't told me where this place even is. How am I supposed to go there when I doan know where to look?” It was honestly a good point I made, if I do say so myself. Gotta ask just the right questions during times like this, know what I mean? After all, a large part of me was still inclined to believe that this entire situation was nothing more than me having a fairly moderate psychotic episode, leftover from earlier. But I was gonna pull out of this mess by myself. I don't need anybody's help; especially not some zombie dick's.
“Boy, you'll only know where to look once you accept this all as truth. Until then, it will only serve to drive you even more mad. Best just make it easier on you now and accept this destiny that's been set up for you.” I shook my head again, very much finished with this conversation. “Blow me. I ain't goin' to your bullshit fantasy world.”
He growled one more time.
“You'll come around eventually. Humans are naturally curious folk. Let's just hope by the time your interest is piqued, it isn't too late for you.”
With that, I felt his presence disappear from my system.
And I immediately opened my eyes, returning to the outside world.
“...and so, it took my parents a while to get married, too. So I completely understand where you're coming from, Heidi.” Heidi smiled and kissed his cheek. “Thank you, Paul. That means alot to me.” He gave her a wink—a proper wink, this time. “Anything for my girl, right?”
I cocked at eyebrow at the lovebirds.
Aye yai yai, ain't they glad I wasn't involved in that conversation.
Don't need to make it four today, right?
“Am I interruptin' somethin' here?” I interjected coldly. The two looked over at me. Heidi looked reasonably uncomfortable and Paul looked outright nervous. Good, I wanted that reaction from them. Heidi needed to remember that I still existed and Paul needed to remember not to cross the line.
“No, just tawlkin',” Heidi responded rather hastily. I gave Paul a look and he swallowed hard. “You know, I need to go tinkle really quick.” He stood up and backed away from the growling junkyard dog sitting beside his woman. “I'll be back in a moment.” And with that, Paul walked away with a fairly brisk pace. I kept my eye on him, making sure he was far enough away before speaking to Heidi.
“I hate that sonuvabitch,” I announced.
She sighed heavily, eyes lowering a bit.
“He knows you do, Genghis. He knows.”
At the moment, I couldn't think of a proper response to her. How could I? The day was anything but boring, but in all the wrong ways—mostly. My head was a cluttered pig sty.
I know what you're probably thinking. “Genghis, you need to tell Heidi what's goin' on.” I'm gonna give you guys a giant “FUCK YOURSELF” to that suggestion, alright? The first time word got out that I was a killer, it tore her heart to pieces. Even after explaining why I did it, she still refused to speak to me for two long, grueling months. She eventually came around, sure...but she made me promise I'd never do it again.
I did a damn good job at keeping that promise...until today.
So yeah, getting Heidi involved in this ain't a goddamn option.
I only had two possible choices to choose from in this predicament. One choice was to ignore everything and keep my dwindling sanity under wraps as much as humanly possible. That meant no more hurting people, no more crime, and especially no more killing. Perhaps I could take Heidi's advice and get myself a job that will keep me too busy to obsess over particular thoughts. Take the chance to become an honest, law-abiding citi—okay, I almost got through that one without cracking up. Give me a little credit, alright?
I didn't feel like I'd get figured out by the NYPD. I was sure to avoid touching the kid with my hands, so my prints shouldn't be anywhere on the body...that I know of. I did blackout and wake up to find the body already in a stall. Did Zombie Bastard put him there or did I? Surely Zombie Bastard, right? I also didn't assault him sexually, so they won't be able to find any stains of mine on him. As far as I know, there weren't any cameras in the gas station. As for witnesses...
Okay, I did make a scene by punching out Paul.
That could possibly fuck me over.
But without any proof that I killed this kid, the police ain't got shit on me.
But then, there was choice number two: embrace the wild thoughts in my head. Zombie Bastard had good points, as much as I hated to admit it. As confident as I was that I'd get away with murder, there was always the possibility that I'd get caught. I mean, I got caught the last time, too. Then again, I was younger, dumber, and out of my head on Charlie.
But what if, you know?
But really, I needed to stop thinking about this crock of shit. Zombie Bastard mentioned this would drive me mad, so I ain't gonna give him the satisfaction of being right. Fuck 'im! I'm my own man. Nobody forges my destiny but me!
I needed to move on.
Forget about what could be and just focus on what is.
And I knew just the way.
Escaping from my thoughts, I looked over at Heidi. She was off in her own little world, too. No doubt I was on her mind, keeping her fairly on edge. I hated that she always felt this way. Don't get me wrong, I loved having her to myself. At the same time, though, I just knew I was a massive drain on her. Always having to justify my actions to others, be there when I was having an episode, find new ways to channel my inner happiness...I knew I didn't show her the amount of appreciation that she deserved.
I decided to break her out of her thoughts by gently rubbing my stubble against her cheek. It worked like a charm and she gave me her cute giggle once again. “Genghis, that tickles!” She turned to look at me with those gorgeous hazels. Naturally, with no Paul around to stop me, I leaned in and gave her a kiss.
Yeah, don't act like you're shocked or anything.
Before you ask, three out of the five years her and Paul have been together.
She gave me a quick kiss back and pulled away. “Genghis, you know we can't do this when Paul's around.” I waggled my eyebrows at her. “I doan see him. Do you?” She giggled, but more than likely over my eyebrows rather than at my point. “He'll be back any minute, you know.” I grinned, leaning back in for another kiss.
“Then I gotta make this quick then, don't I?” My lips pressed themselves into hers, my tongue teasing her bottom lip. She moaned faintly to the sensation, now cupping my face with her hand. I placed my index and middle fingers against her neck and lightly dragged them along her jawline.
The added touch made her moaning a little more audible. Of course, this was the benefit of having been intimate with somebody for as long as we had been. You kinda learn every little touch and saying that gets their motor running. And, in turn, they learn the same thing about you.
For example, when Heidi bit my bottom lip, she knew exactly what she was doing. And judging by my increased heart rate as well as the moan that escaped from my vocal chords, I'd say her purpose was fulfilled. I pulled away and planted a kiss on her neck. “I can play that game too, baby,” I said in a breathy voice.
I leaned up to her ear and brought out the big guns to this party.
“Sei tutto per me.”
She whined quietly. “Genghis, you know what that does to me!” I chuckled darkly. “Good. That just makes it easier to fulfill my purpose.” I kissed her neck again, which led to a short series of “Question & Answer”.
“What purpose is that?”
I gnawed on her earlobe.
“To win a bet.”
“A bet with who?”
“And what bet is that?”
I grinned deviously against her ear as my answer came out in a quiet rasp.
“To make you cum before Paul gets back.”