|matthew-evans||# Posted on May 21, 2009 at 4:22 am|
I watched her die.
I should have done something.
But all I could do was watch.
It still sickens me, to this very day, to know I was capable of preventing her death. I was simply too frightened to do anything about it. I like to tell myself that I couldn’t escape that other boy’s arms. I merely couldn’t get out of his clutches in time. That’s right. He didn’t let me go once the other boy got that brick. I didn’t fall to my knees and stare dumbly as they beat her to death.
Of course not.
Though, I suppose I should put it in reverse. It’s a little unfair of me to throw you right into this mess without any back-story to prepare you, huh? Not that I care. It was more than a little unfair for me to have to remember that day like it just happened. But I’m not nearly that mean. I’ll give you something to go on. It’s the least I can do, right?
So around this time, Alex had barely turned twelve and I was nearing my double-digits. My mother was doing pretty well with her drinking, Alex and I had become something like friends, I had Charlie by my side, and Dr. Tim hadn’t really started in on me yet. Life was great. Then I met Alex’s gang.
The sun lit the city; clouds breaking its rays and giving a checkerboard look to the beautiful blue hue of the sky. I often gazed up during the day, watching the clouds morph and dance about as they floated gently by. I would think of stories about them, naming each one I could distinguish from the giant masses and pointing them out to Charlie who merely looked at me with a bemused expression.
It had been one of those days.
I was on my way to Simara’s house with Charlie. She had told me Alex was to be there in the evening and that I should come over so we could watch some TV before he got home.
I kicked at the gravel under my old, worn down shoes. They used to be white; now they were a dull brownish grey. Charlie watched the bugs float about her with mirth, her eyes sparkling as she followed me along the sidewalk. Several cars passed us by, the occupants all pressing their little faces against the windows to get a look at the strange blonde boy with his cat following him. We probably looked strange.
It had been a perfect day.
When I first saw the tall green bushes that marked the place where the sidewalk turned into the driveway of Simara’s house, I began to quicken my pace, almost running in my haste to see one of my best friends. Charlie happily kept up with me, jumping at any opportunity to get a little exercise and swatting playfully at my heels when she felt I was going too slowly.
But then, in an instant, everything changed.
I stopped running. Charlie soon came to a halt at my feet, looking up and giving me a little confused ‘mew’ in question. I reached down to pat her head, never taking my eyes off what I saw. A group of boys around Alex’s age were hanging around the garden outside of Simara’s house. They were simply kicking a soccer ball around lazily, not paying much attention to anything. But that’s not why I stopped. I recognized them as Alex’s friends.
I remember the one time I had met them. Alex wanted to introduce me as his new friend, and they didn’t take to having a white boy that was nearly three years younger joining their little clique. They all sneered at me, glaring down their noses, making me feel as if I was microscopic when in reality I was taller than most of them. I tried to be friendly when Alex looked at me expectantly, but they only laughed and waved me away. I wasn’t worth their time. I later learned that Alex got a lot of shit from them as well. They all decided I was his bitch, so why bother giving me any respect? They hardly respected Alex after that. He was the outcast of his group, but for some reason they let him stay. I’ll never understand gangs.
I swallowed thickly and bent down to Charlie’s height, holding her, feeling suddenly protective when one of them, I think his name was Miguel, stopped playing with the ball and suddenly looked over at me with a scowl. He waved at the others and pointed in my direction. I felt myself shrinking again. Charlie hissed.
Miguel walked over; the other boys close behind him. He stopped right in front of me. I dared not look up, so I stared intensely at his feet. Dirty, scarred, bloody in places. He never wore shoes. After a moment of me not greeting him like how I suspected he wanted me to, he leaned down and roughly grabbed my cheeks between his calloused fingers, tilting my head up just enough so we were eye-to-eye. I could tell he was resisting the urge to spit in my face.
Charlie fluffed up and began to growl; my hold on her tightened. His friends laughed and he glanced at Charlie, talking one look at her before whispering close to my ear, “Oi, ya lil’ gabacho, lemme see yer pussy since you ain’t got no balls.” He grinned sadistically, showing his canines like a rabid dog, his dark eyes glowing with fervor. I froze. Without turning around, he snapped his fingers once. A larger boy from the group hurried over to him and stood motionless at his side, waiting for a command. “Sosténgalo,” I felt my stomach drop.
The boy came around my side, standing behind me, reaching for my arms. I had already fallen limp in disbelief. Miguel grabbed Charlie by the scruff of her neck, causing her to go into a round of wails and scratching futilely at the air, begging to be released. Her eyes were huge. Round with fear, her pupils dilated to an impossible size. She struggled frantically, looking at me for help, mewling wildly, her tiny voice booming in my ears. I opened my mouth to warn her. To tell her to run away. But nothing came out. Nothing at all.
Miguel motioned for another boy to hold her feet and stretch her across a stump in the communal garden outside Simara’s house. He laid her on her side, furry stripped belly exposed, feet wriggling in his grasp, head back with her mouth open wide, yowling out for salvation. Anything to save her from her impending doom. Her voice started to get hoarse. She never was a talker; she wasn’t used to this kind of screaming.
My limbs were jelly, uncontrollable, not my own, and the large boy struggled to keep me up. Miguel laughed at our situation. I had never heard a laugh like that before. I hope I never have to again. He leaned down to pick up a decorative grey brick that lined the garden. His steps were slow, calculated, it was as if he had planned this moment out in his dreams for years, just waiting for his opportunity, and now that it had presented himself, he savored the moment for what it was worth. “Sí, sí, sí…” He muttered, finally stepping up to the stump. He gave Charlie only a brief glance before he looked straight at me, piercing a hole into my mind, forcing me to watch him lift that brick.
Time seemed to slow down to a crawl. Miguel brought his hand down slowly, his face contorting into a mask of hatred and sickening pleasure. He began to laugh again, his arm halfway down, Charlie still mewling helplessly. His lips curled away from his teeth in a feral grin, his dark eyes wide and psychotic. Then,
The mewling increased in pitch, going almost too high to hear. He brought his arm back down.
She sounded desperate, wheezing as her ribs are crushed, her lungs punctured. The arm descended again.
Blood splattered onto Miguel’s face. He never looked away from me. The fat boy had long since dropped me on the ground. I couldn’t get up from my knees to save her. I was too weak to do even that. His arm swung towards her.
Charlie was silent. No more mewls. No more soft cries for help. Nothing at all.
I opened my mouth to yell, to protest, to do something, but all that came out was bile. Yellow, foamy bile. It ran down my chin, soaked into my shirt, and still he looked at me, his arm poised high. I stank of a putrid, nauseatingly sweet odor. The one you smell on people just before their death. The one you smell after someone has given up for good. It’s the stench of a small child being raped of his innocence. Of a helpless soul dying without a purpose. You can always smell it, the stink. It’s all around us. Every day of our lives, it’s there, waiting for a chance to come forth and make itself known.
“¡Parada!” I blinked. I knew that voice. “¡Miguel!” I didn’t have the strength to turn my head, so I stared blankly at Miguel as he suddenly dropped the now blood-stained brick on the ground and looked to the right. I heard footsteps coming closer at a rapid pace. The voice followed suit, “¡No! ¡No lo hagas! ¡Parada!” I saw a flurry of dark clothing rush pass me and go towards Miguel. Alejandro. He tackled Miguel to the ground, sat on his chest, and beat the other boy until he was unconscious. The others didn’t dare interfere.
Alex’s chest heaved as he stepped away from Miguel. The blood on his knuckles was a mixture of his own, Miguel’s, and Charlie’s. I stared at him as he neared me and took my face into his hands, not even caring if I had just vomited all over myself. His eyes were wide with worry. “¿Estás herido?” He asked. Are you hurt? I took one look at him. Hot tears then streamed freely down my face. They were neither of sorrow nor pain, but rather of anger. How dare he be worried about me? I scowled at him and suddenly found enough strength in my limbs to push his hands away.
“Cha-charlie…” I rasped out, my throat searing from the acid in my stomach. I managed to point to the stump for a few moments before I felt my eyes rolling up in the back of my head. I had a strange sensation of falling backwards, then nothing. Nothing at all.
August 3rd, 1999
They killed her.
And I didn’t stop it.