No day can last forever.
No matter how long it seems to drag on.
With every mishap and turn that occurs, there are still only twenty-four hours in a day.
Everyday ends eventually.
A new day is just a wink away.
I repeated these words to myself obsessively like a wacko waiting for the nice nurse to spoon feed him his favorite can of SpaghettiO's. Each utterance felt fake, though. Like my mind knew that I was just trying to make myself feel better by spitting out a bunch of empty nonsense. My brain—it knew that I was fucked, but I won't say it lacked the courage to accept it. After all, how much courage do you gotta have to accept defeat? Wouldn't it be braver to continue fighting the nearly impossible fight? In this world full of quitters, I want to be the one who stands taller than all of them. Call me prideful all you want, but I ain't gonna sit in a corner and cry myself to my grave.
Heidi was peacefully dozing off in the passenger seat during the drive home. I could see her in my peripheral vision and—lemme tell you—the sight of her made my jealousy bubble up like a hot bath. Imagine being so at peace with your life that you slept like a baby most nights. Imagine never having that one annoying, lingering thought in your head keeping you from getting anything accomplished. Shit, imagine not having a whole choir of annoying thoughts constantly belting out the wrong lyrics to your favorite songs! Can you imagine this shit? Because I sure fucking can't! I didn't even attempt to tell myself that I was gonna sleep tonight; I knew better than that. No amount of comfort my mattress could possibly bring me would tame the lions roaring in my head.
A whole pride of them.
And guess what, baby; it was mating season up there.
Despite being in a hurry to get home, I forced myself to drive the speed limit as to avoid any run-ins with one of New York's finest donut junkies. Yeah, you read that right. Despite killing all that time in the Walmart parking lot, the blue bastards were still out combing for lice. I was definitely gonna keep an eye on the news tomorrow morning; I really wanted to know what was so goddamn important about this dead guy. Unless you're the motherfucking president, nobody should care this much that you got your neck stamped out in a gas station bathroom.
After all, it's called “Survival of the Fittest” for a reason.
Luckily, I was able to get us home without any problems. After parking outside the apartment complex, I gently shook Heidi awake. She opened her eyes, saw the apartment, unbuckled her seat belt, and exited the car without saying a single word to me. I didn't mind, though; as on edge as I was, I wouldn't of been able to properly carry a conversation with her anyway.
The next sequence of events went smoothly enough. We entered the building, pressed the “call” button for the elevator, rode up to the sixth floor, and unlocked the door to the apartment. All of that was easy; it was what came after that was the hard part. Our fathers were luckily already asleep, so we took advantage of the clearing and headed to our bedroom.
Our apartment was a crappy two bed/one bath. For the longest time, it was just me and my dad living there. When Roy and Heidi came into the picture, they originally tried to get a hold of this nice three bed/two bath place over in Queens. But the landlord over the property didn't feel comfortable renting the place out to “a bunch of faggots”, so Roy and Heidi just moved in with us. The “adults” got one room and the “kids” got the other.
Our folks had attempted to make things less awkward by placing a second bed into the room, but that only worked until we got older. Having an extra bed didn't stop teenage hormones from kicking in at full force; it only gave us an extra place to fuck. Of course, the two dunderheads were completely unaware of this. As far as they knew, Heidi was saving herself for her wedding night. As for me, they didn't care so long as some broad wasn't banging on the door demanding child support. “Boys will be boys,” Roy always said.
Boys will be boys.
Girls will be girls.
And two idiot fathers will be two idiot fathers.
But alas, I'm way off track from what I was originally talking about. So we made it home with no trouble and even managed to make it to our bedroom without having to explain ourselves to our folks. Heidi was too tuckered out to even get changed into her pajamas, so she just took off her shoes and hopped into her bed. I, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky.
I tossed my car keys onto my dresser and stripped down to my socks and plaid boxers. The central heating had been set on a decent temperature, so all walking around in my underwear got me was a shiver or two. I crawled into my bed and pulled the black comforter over me. My eyes closed, but don't you think for a second that I fell asleep.
First it was just two images, all taken from the gas station bathroom. It started with the kid's dead body lying on the ground. Blood ran down his mouth, coating all around his neck and the collar of his jersey. Despite being dead, he maintained his childlike glow in his irises. He looked—dare I say—peaceful in his nonliving state. I mean, think about it. Just moments before he died, he was being held at gunpoint by some lunatic on a power trip. I'm sure death was much more preferable than living in the constant state of paranoia our encounter would've surely left him with for the rest of his short life.
The next image was the kid sitting on the toilet, like how he was when I snapped out of my daze brought on by Zombie Bastard and Genghis Two. In this position, he looked more bored than he did peaceful. Like somebody had slit his throat and he knew he was gonna die, so he was just waiting it out and getting impatient with how long it was taking. The youthful brights in his eyes were now gone—aging him about ten years in the face. It was like any innocence the kid had left in his system was taken from him once Zombie Bastard took his body over. Though, to be fair, I don't think I'd be quite the same ever again if some asshole took over my body, either.
That was the end of the images I was familiar with.
The next series of images were new to me.
And holy Toledo, I wish I hadn't seen or heard them.
You read that right, buddy.
The third image was a body bag. A yellow “05” tag was stuck onto the zipper. A flash bordered the image like it was a Polaroid somebody had snapped. Now, the image itself wasn't what unsettled me. After all, it was just a body bag—big deal, right? What got me was the commentary accompanying it. Yeah, commentary.
“What do we got here, Skip?”
“Homicide. Major blunt force trauma to the throat and neck. More than likely premeditated.”
“Anything on the victim?”
“Young white male, around fourteen or fifteen. He doesn't have an ID on him, but he's wearing a jersey for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School football team. Somebody there should be able to identify him for us.”
“Any possible suspects?”
“Not yet, we're still investigating.”
“So young, such a waste...about long would you say he's been dead?”
“Rigor mortis has barely set in, Brock. This kid's only been dead for a few hours at most.”
“That means our perp is still out there, probably not too far. Continue your investigation, but have a couple of our guys patrol the borough just in case.”
“Very well, sir.”
Pfft, a couple of guys? Buddy, you had the entire fucking block jammed pack with your retards in blue. Shit, I wouldn't be surprised if your boys were responsible for a couple of vehicular homicides during your nonsensical witch hunt! Just fess up and admit that you guys were actually trying to hit the cafe before closing for your cup of coffee and jelly-filled donut with sprinkles.
The fourth image to appear was of Heidi and Paul standing outside the gas station. It was a still of him sticking a tissue into his nose while she looked at him with mild concern. My guess? This wasn't long after I punched him. And, if I had to guess further, this was around the moment in time that I made the decision to hurt that boy. Like the body bag, this image also came with commentary.
“Oh my God, what happened to you?”
“Your brother happened.”
“Genghis hit you? Why?”
“I don't know! I guess we pissed him off or something.”
“That lousy...ugh. You alright, Paul?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. Just bleeding a little.”
“I'm sure a few minutes in the bathroom will calm him down.”
“I hope so, Heidi. I sure hope so.”
Commentary too tame for you people?
Well allow my scumbag mind to change that for you and me.
“Why did you do it, Genghis? Why?!”
“I didn't mean to, Heidi! T-They were hurtin' that girl! What was I supposed to do?!”
“You had a gun on you, Genghis! You obviously brought it with the intention of hurtin' somebody!”
“No, I didn't! It's called self-defense!”
“You took a life from somebody—two lives! You're a murderer!”
“Heidi, please! Just listen to me!”
“I...I don't know you, Genghis. You're not the boy I grew up with.”
“..H-Heidi? Doan you dare turn your back on me. Heidi. Heidi!”
Boy-o-boy, was I glad nobody could see the embarrassingly large tears streaming from my eyes. Not in my flashback—no; I meant lying in my bed in present time. Once a rather pathetic sounding sob escaped from my mouth, I quickly buried my face into my pillow as to not risk waking up Heidi. Last thing I needed was her thinking I was some kinda weak pansy. Unfortunately the torture continued to flood my mind. And the next set decided to outright make fun of me for crying like a menstruating woman.
The next image was complete darkness.
There was nothing to look at.
Granted, I didn't care so much about the lack of sight.
I cared more about the lack of silence.
After a minute of darkness, I eventually heard the distant sound of an infant crying. It started off reasonably tolerable. Like the kind of cry a newborn does seconds after coming out of their mom. The crying is there, but it ain't eardrum shattering. But then it got louder, and louder, and louder. Suddenly, this brat was screaming bloody murder in my goddamn head. It was so loud that I actually covered my ears in real life.
While this was happening, I began trying to put pieces together. It was pretty clear at this point that Zombie Bastard was the one responsible for these particular thoughts. Why do I immediately point the finger at him, you ask? Because he's the sonuvabitch that started all of this in the first place! From the moment he attacked me in that bathroom, these horrible thoughts have been stuck in my head with no clear sign of going away. It was obvious what he was trying to do. All these intrusive thoughts? All the damn taunting? He was trying to guilt trip me into going to Casa do Diaño.
Well, newsflash for him.
I told him I ain't going.
And guess what?
I still ain't going!
So he can shove these images straight up his ass and suck my dick dry.
I said I wasn't gonna let this madness get the best of me and I fucking meant it.
I fucking meant it!
Before I knew it, morning had come. Was it the sun that brought this to my attention? No, son; it unfortunately wasn't the sun. It was, in fact, something much more obnoxious.
You see, my Dad was never a very religious man. My Nonna and Nonno never really enforced religion on him or my uncle Paolo growing up. Roy, on the other hand, is a devout Roman-Catholic. He goes to church every Sunday, refuses to eat meat during Lent, does that fruity hand thing all Catholics do—et cetera et cetera. He tried early in the relationship to convert my old man, but it never worked so he eventually just gave up. So now, my dad has this hilarious joke that he pulls every single Sunday morning. That joke, ladies and gentlemen, is the unceremonious blasting of The Rolling Stones' “Sympathy for the Devil” first thing in the goddamn morning.
After hearing Mick Jagger's first couple of yowls he does at the beginning of the song, I squinted at my wall clock. It was right at five o'clock. Christians are fucking crazy for wanting to wake up this early just to sit down and listen to some guy scream for two hours. My old man was even crazier for ignoring the numerous complaints from neighbors regarding his unhealthy obsession with this stupid song.
“Please allow me to introduce myself...I'm a man of wealth and taste...”
I slowly sat up and rubbed my eyes. I felt exhausted—completely deprived from a proper's night's sleep. Heidi was already up and dressed in her Sunday dress. In this household, her and Roy were the only two that attended church every weekend. Like father like daughter, she tried converting me a long time ago. However, unlike her old man, she didn't know when to give up.
“...I've been around for a long, long year; stole many a man's soul to waste...”
She turned to look at me, giggling at my disgruntled expression. “Mornin', sleepyhead.” I grunted in response, which made her giggle again. “Packie don't know when to quit this joke, huh?” I rolled my eyes and waited for my cue to imitate Mick Jagger's annoying voice. “Please to meet you—hope you guess maaaaaaah name!” She laughed and clapped her hands. I laid down on my back and used both of my hands to flip off the ceiling fan above my bed.
Heidi sat next to me and leaned down to plant a quick kiss on my lips. “Get dressed and come to church with us.” I smiled up at her and poked her nose with my index finger. “No.” She gave me one of those fake, cutesy angry faces that all girls seem to be good at pulling. “C'mon, Genghis. It ain't gonna set you on fire or anythin'.”
I chuckled. “You just want to see me in a suit,” I said with a wink. She rolled her eyes, but in a playful matter. “Maybe I do. So what?” I returned her kiss. “So I can surprise you one day. You come home from hangin' out with your lame boyfriend just to find me loungin' on your bed, wearin' a snazzy getup. Maybe have a single red rose in my teeth?”
Heidi lightly smacked my chest. “Put your clothes on and get somethin' to eat at least, you dork.” She got up to leave the room, but she only made it to the door before I decided to imitate Paul's wimpy voice. “But I'm your dork, baby!” She looked at me, grabbed my pillow, and tossed it at my face. I laughed at her reaction as she left the room.
“Pleased to meet you—hope you guess my name! Oh yeah! Ah, what's puzzling you is the nature of my game!”
Yerp, the damn song was still playing.
So I finally got up out of bed and put on a pair of checkered sweatpants and a white wife-beater. I'll put on some proper clothes after breakfast and my morning shower. Upon exiting my bedroom, the first thing I noticed was that somebody had left the TV on in the living room. The next thing I noticed was the smell of bacon and eggs. Roy was cooking this morning—good. My dad burnt just about every damn thing he attempted to put in a frying pan.
“Just as every cop is a criminal...and all the sinners saints...as heads is tails, just call me Lucifer 'cause I'm in need of some restraint!”
I first took advantage of the bathroom being empty. Closing the door behind me, I flipped the toilet seat up and took a leak. The only noises I could hear outside was the sizzling grease from Roy's cooking, a commercial on TV advertising the new 1990 model Buick Regal Limited, and Sympathy for the Devil's godawful “WOO WOO”s that were repeated throughout the song. I had hoped to kill enough time in the bathroom for the wretched song to end. If I didn't, I'd be forced to listen to my old man belt out the lyrics in a Brooklyn accent much thicker than mine. Unfortunately, the song wasn't over by the time I was done pissing.
So I flushed the toilet and walked over to the mirror. I spent the next two minutes admiring my reflection. The growing scruff on my face hadn't grown too much since yesterday, which I didn't mind. I wasn't trying to grow a beard or anything; I was totally fine with stubble and my soul patch just under my bottom lip. Granted, if I had my way, the stubble would get shaved clean off. But alas, Heidi thought it was sexy, so I kept it.
There was, however, something I spotted that I didn't want to keep. I didn't notice it until I turned my head a certain way, but there was a pretty large hickey on my neck from last night. Yeah yeah, I know it's my fault that it's there. You ain't telling me anything I don't already know, alright? Normally, I'd proudly show off Heidi's love marks to the world. But in this case? All this mark reminded me of was that goddamn condom ripping at the last second. I shuttered at the possibilities that could potentially come from that.
You know, I still have one more rubber left in my box...but I may just toss it and buy a brand new box.
Once the song finally ended, I exited the bathroom and made my way into the kitchen. Roy was standing over the stove with his red shoulder length hair up in a ponytail. He wore black sweatpants and an army green tank top, showing off his broad shoulders and thick arms. Roy was a pretty muscular guy, then again working as a carpenter typically does that to you. Of course, biweekly trips to the gym also helped. If Heidi had a dollar for every time one of her girlfriends commented on how attractive her old man was, she'd probably have more than enough money to go to college.
And then, sitting at the table wearing only red heart boxer shorts and gray slippers, was a man that I couldn't say the same for in my case. In facial structure, I looked exactly like him. But where I had a full head of jet black hair, naturally tan skin, and dark brown eyes, he had thinning light brown hair, pale white skin, and baby blues watching the world. He always told me that I looked more like my mom than him; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only thing I ever learned about my mother.
My father was overweight, having given up the trips to the gym when the arthritis in his legs got too unbearable. Though, his strict diet of barbeque and Budweiser surely didn't help his cause either. Luckily, he didn't really need to be all that healthy for his job as a mechanic. He's been doing it for nearly twenty-one years now, after all.
Makes me wonder how he spent his time before I was born.
Anyway, Dad was sitting on his fat ass, reading the Sunday paper. Heidi sat in front of him, happily chowing down on her fried eggs. I walked over to the table and pulled the chair next to her. The legs scraping the floor made Roy look over at me. He smiled wide. “Mornin', champ! How do you want your eggs?” I mumbled out the words, “The usual…”, which made him chuckle. “'Ight, so scrambled with cheese melted on top. Gotcha!”
Roy got to work and I looked at my Dad, grilling him slightly. “Say Pop,” I started in a casual tone despite the look I was giving him, “did you know that Sympathy for the Devil is nearly six and a half minutes long?” He looked at me from over his paper. “Doan yuh be tawkin' shit 'bout de Stones, boy.” Yeah, I wasn't joking when I said his accent is thicker than mine. “I'm just wonderin' why Mick Jagger needs that long to drive home the fact that he's the devil. Why can't he just be like “Yo peeps, I'm the motherfuckin' devil. Word up!”? Would easily shave off at least four whole minutes.” He snorted loudly. “Becawze dat would be a fuckin' awful song. It's called art, boy. Art doan need no shawhtcuts, okay?”
It's already an awful song, Dad.
Ain't nothing “artistic” about a guy shouting “WOO WOO” for six and a half minutes while bringing up events you could easily learn about by picking up a history book.
“Whatever you say, Pop,” I said, not really in the proper mindset to argue with him this morning. He continued looking at his paper and my attention shifted toward the TV over in the living room. An episode of Full House was currently playing. It was clearly an old episode, though; Michelle was still just a baby with no lines of dialogue.
Then, after a bad Bob Saget joke, the program suddenly was cut off to bring a breaking news bulletin.
I'd bet you money on what it was regarding, but c'mon—you already fucking know at this point.
“We apologize for interrupting your scheduled programming, ladies and gentlemen,” said the blonde news lady wearing a little too much make-up, “but we have an urgent update for those of you in the Brooklyn area.” The picture cutaway to an outside shot of the gas station from last night. “Tragedy struck at a Shell station on Atlantic Avenue yesterday afternoon when a young man was found brutally murdered in the men's restroom. The victim has been identified as fifteen year-old Jacob Summers.” After saying his name, a yearbook photo of the kid popped up on the screen. Huh, kid looked a whole lot different when fear wasn't sketched into his baby-face. At least I had a name for him now.
“Police have determined the cause of death as multiple blunt attacks to the throat, causing a tracheal rupture.” The picture then transitioned to some middle-aged lady who talked like she smoked three packs of Marlboros a day. “Yeah, so they have me clean the bathrooms at night when business is slow. I walk into the boy's room and see somebody is in one of the stalls. I think to myself, “Ah, poor guy must've eaten somethin' that didn't agree with him. That happens to my husband every time he eats Mexican.” So I leave the bathroom and come back a little later. When I came back, I see this guy is still takin' a -bleep- in the stall. At this point I'm a little annoyed because I just wanna go home, you know? So I ask him, “You alright, mister?” He didn't say nothin', so I knocked on the stall. “Ay sir, you alright?” Still nothin'. So I got a little wawrried and crouched down. That's when I noticed the blood on the floor.”
The picture then returned to the news lady.
“According to witness reports, there are two possible suspects.”
I swallowed hard, waiting for my face to appear on the screen.
“One is described as a young white male, dark hair, about six feet tall, wearing a black jean jacket...”
“...and the other is also described as a young white male, but about five foot seven with blonde hair and a white sweater. Police will be releasing facial composites of these suspects once they're able to...”
I put a hand over my mouth to cover my incoming laugh.
First they described me.
Then they described Paul.
Fucking Paul was a suspect!
I'd give my left nut for him to take the fall for this crime!
Luckily, nobody else in the household seemed to be paying attention to the news. “What's so funny, Genghis?” Roy asked as he brought my breakfast to the table. I quickly worked to wipe the smile off my face. “N-Nothin', Roy. Just remembered somethin' funny from—”
He put a hand on my cheek and pushed my face upwards lightly. Following this was a pretty loud wolf whistle. Shit, I knew what he was looking at. “Yo, Packie! Your boy's got himself a girlfriend!”
My dad put his paper on the table and stood up. “What do yuh mean he's got a girl?” Heidi looked at me, pretending to be surprised by this news. I tried pulling away from Roy's grip, but he had a fairly tight hold on me. “Fuck off, Roy,” I growled. He ignored me and pointed to the hickey on my neck once my old man made his way over.
Dad released his own obnoxious whistle. “Got yawhself a vicious woman, din't yuh?” I repeated myself a bit louder, making Roy laugh. “I would, kiddo...but it looks like you did enough of that last night for the both of us!” Heidi looked back at her plate, blushing a little bit. I growled again. Fuck myself for allowing the words “Mark me, baby” to come out of my mouth.
“So, is this one serious? Or was it another nameless broad at a party?” I was finally able to jerk away from Roy's grip and pick up my fork. “None of your business,” I said, digging into my eggs. “What's her name?” Roy pried. I rolled my eyes. “She has the most beautiful name ever. It's “Fuck you, this ain't none of your goddamn business”.” The redhead smacked me in the back of the head. “Hey, watch it. We don't say the Lord's name in vain in this household!”
I lifted my fork up to take another bite, but the spot he hit suddenly started to hurt.
He didn't even hit me that hard.
My fork falls onto my plate, clattering loudly.
The room is spinning.
“Genghis, you alright?”
My eyes are now rolling to the back of my head.
I'm falling onto the floor.
He didn't even hit me that hard.