Warning: The following account contains graphic imagery, language and extremely violent content. Those who are faint of heart or easily disturbed need not proceed. You have been warned.

 

 

 

                               We live in a perilous world. I really don’t think there is any way around that fact. A world full of despair and triumph. A world that can suddenly and for no apparent reason decide to flip your life upside down at the drop of a hat. A world where the most innocent of souls are the ones that suffer the most intolerable acts of cruelty. Where the most compassionate of people are regarded as mere tools at the disposal of others of a more heartless nature. Maybe this is just the way it’s meant to be. Maybe it is just human nature to take advantage and circumvent those who are weaker than us. Hey, whatever you can do to get ahead right? That’s what life is all about. Most give little thought as to how their actions will affect anything beyond their own immediate sphere of influence. They care only for themselves, and every step they take reflects that. For people like that, naturally, there are people like me. Born out of necessity, rather than desire.

            I want to make something very clear, I care about you. YOU, whoever you are that is reading these words right now. Chances are we have not and will not ever meet, especially now. But regardless I do care for you, all of you. This may seem like something a friend says to you at 2am after a half-dozen shots of Captain Morgan, but I assure you it is sincere, and I’m not drunk, although that would be nice. The reason I preface my account in this way, is that with each passing word, my prior statement will seem less and less likely to be authentic. You will see. My name is Marcus, and as you may have guessed, recently my life has changed quite a lot. I would seem to be a monster if I just told you what I’ve done right off the bat, so allow me to explain my descent into the madness that became my reality.

              It was a Sunday night, and I sat twiddling my thumbs in church with my parents and girlfriend: Kylie. Now this particular church was nice, because it offered the luxury of an evening service which I especially preferred. I was never a fan of waking up early and Sundays were usually my only day to sleep in. Truth be told, the main reason I attended was to appease my parents, especially my mother who is the old school religious type. That and perhaps atone for the usual alcohol induced weekend sinning I found myself regularly participating in. So, the evening service was my best option.

          I sat in the congregation, counting the seconds like cards as the pastor continue to spew forth an endless stream of biblical rhetoric. The minutes seemed to creep by as they often did. I let my mind drift far from the present and into the fantastic realm of imagination. All while simultaneously hoping I would not have to endure this barrage for much longer. At some point during my fantasy, my phone vibrated from within my pocket, a sensation which startled me into an instant upright gesture. After a quick glance around, I carefully slid the phone out to reveal a text from my cousin: Andrew.

          “Hey man, what are you doing?” It read. I took a quick glance around at my fellow churchgoers, paranoid that lightning bolts were mere seconds away from impact due to my heresy.                      

         “In church, what’s up?” I slid the phone back into my pocket. Slowly my eyes crawled to my mother, who sat glaring back at me with a disapproving scowl. I mouthed the word “sorry” to her as I felt the rumble of another text in my pocket. I didn’t dare peek though, as I would’ve surely invoked the wrath of my devout Christian mother. She was a woman of incredible love, but when it came to respecting her religion, nothing could be more important. I sat up straight and attempted to look as though I was paying attention. The pastor spoke in his typical monotone voice.

             “So remember friends, forgiveness is not always easy, but it is an important part of the healing process. For you do not forgive for their sake, but instead for your own, so that you may heal. And in the end, a grudge will only destroy the one who harbors it. For as Ephesians Chapter 4 verse 31 says, ‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.'” And with that he closed in a prayer and bid us all farewell for the evening.

            We stayed around for a few minutes after the service to chat with some of my parent’s acquaintances as per the norm. The entire time Kylie and I stood by awkwardly, greeting several others and giving meaningless small talk upon request of my mother. After 20 minutes or so of meager conversation, Kylie and I made our way out to the parking lot. While on the way out I checked my phone and remembered the text from Andrew.

      “Call me when you can, in private.” His text read. The text was nothing out of the ordinary for him, albeit except for that last part. A bit of an odd detail to emphasize, but I thought little of it at the time. I asked Kylie to go start the car and dialed Andrew. After a few rings he picked up.

    “Hey man.” He said.

 “Hey dude what’s up? Everything OK?” I asked.

“Uggghhh, not really man you uhh… you mind stopping by? There’s something we need to talk about.” The pause in his voice and the slightly slurred speech made it evident that drink of the alcoholic variety condoned his proposition.

         “Yeah sure, I’ll be there in 20 or so.” I replied while we both hung up without another word. The conversation planted a small seed of dread within my gut. It wasn’t exactly like him to suddenly call me out of the blue on such a serious sounding note. However, it did sound like whatever he wanted to talk about was important to him. I journeyed out to the car where Kylie was patiently waiting.

    “What was that about?” Kylie asked unable to remove her glued eyeballs from her phone as I stepped inside the car.

                “I don’t know… it was Andrew, he said he needed to talk to me about something.” She glanced in my direction, her fierce sapphire eyes now bearing a slight look of concern.

      “Is he okay?” She asked.

  ” I think so but… I don’t know, you know how Andrew is though he likes the drama.” She giggled a bit and nodded.

    “I should probably go over there though just to make sure everything is ok.” She silently agreed and I put my Subaru in drive and pulled out of the parking lot.

           A few minutes later we reached Kylie’s house. She leaned in and we shared a deep kiss and said our temporary goodbye’s. I told her I’d text her in the morning to let her know about everything. She nodded, wished me a good day at work the next day and climbed out of the car. I waited until she disappeared inside her home before putting my rat nest Subaru in drive and cruising to Andrew’s place. It was a short drive, only about 5 minutes or so but all the while over there my mind began to spiral with possibilities. Once I reached his apartment I dialed him again. It rang only once before he picked up.

      “You here?” He asked without hesitation.

   “Yeah man.” I replied.

       “Come on inside.” He abruptly hung up after relaying the message. Now I was starting to get slightly nervous. Andrew was acting strange even for him. I tried to banish the thought, but still the notion of this being some kind of setup crept like an oversized spindly spider into my mind. Andrew was family and I didn’t believe he would ever do something like that, but it was the first thought that arose. Plus, if he was planning to jump me, then why would he have me go to his apartment? That would be just about the stupidest thing a person could do. Even worse than the possibility of being jumped was the idea of some sort of surprise party. I didn’t know of any sort of special occasion, and my birthday was months away so that didn’t make much sense either. I mulled over the possibilities as I exited my car and made my way towards his apartment. Upon stepping to his door on the third floor I gave a firm three knocks.

           “It’s open.” Came a reply from behind the door. I cautiously opened the door still not comfortable with the situation. Andrew sat motionless at his table with a half empty Jim Beam bottle resting in front of him. I walked around the median and saw my other cousin Eric leaning against the wall. His hulking 6-foot-5 figure stood there like Sasquatch, arms crossed staring at the ground in preoccupied thought. His face wore a look of primal anger, and eyes gleamed with malicious intent. Andrew bore a similar look of disdain upon his face. The hostility in that room was thick enough to cut with a machete as soon as I saw them, though I did not understand why. It was as if they were pondering a great many things in the world that deeply enraged them.

        “What’s up guys?” I said with a tinge of apprehension. They both turned their attention to me almost in unison as they broke from their trance.

    “Hey man.” Eric said solemnly.

  “What’s up man.” Andrew added. I walked over to the table and grabbed the bottle.

    “Damn, you guys getting blitzed on a Sunday night huh?” I said while opening the bottle to take a swig. Eric scoffed and responded with a stern voice.

   “Not exactly.” By that point I had grown thoroughly tired of the Debby downer display.

    “Ok what’s going on? Why are you guys being like this?” I asked growing impatient. Andrew lifted his head slowly and motioned for me to hand him the bottle. He took a large gulp and sat back in his chair. A defeated sigh escaped his lips, and his frame seemed to sink into the chair on which he perched.

     “Sit down man, we need to talk.” So I did, anxiously awaiting an explanation.

   “You know Tori, right?” He asked.

  “Umm, Tori who?” I responded as I racked my brain for a recognizable mental silhouette.

“Alloway, Chris’s little sister.”

        “Oh yeah I knew he had a sister, I don’t think I’ve never met her though.” I responded. Chris was a good friend, and his family had known Andrew and Eric’s family for basically their entire lives. Their families were like siblings to one another, a realization which made me dread where the conversation was headed.

    “What about her?” I asked, unsure if I actually wanted an answer. Andrew looked up at Eric who looked lost in his thoughts by this point. Then he looked back at me.

        “Something happened….”

                Andrew then proceeded to tell me a gut-wrenching tale that made my stomach twist into knots. Tori was a high school sophomore, much like any other girl her age. Her and Andrew had always been very close, in fact he was basically a big brother to her. She often asked him for advice on typical high schooler subjects, love, friends, work all that jazz. One day previous, she had apparently come to Andrew in tears. She told Andrew about a guy she somewhat knew named Jeremy. Jeremy was a much older friend of a friend of hers and had apparently asked Tori if she wanted to “hang out” via Facebook. Tori, was at first a little reluctant to go over to his house seeing as how she had never met him. Eventually though her other friend had convinced her that it would be cool to hang out with some older guys, so Tori agreed to go.

       Once she was there she quickly became uncomfortable with the situation. I’ll spare you the exact details of what Andrew told me, but essentially this guy Jeremy had made drinks for the girls that they took and began sipping on. Next thing Tori knew she was waking up naked and terrified on the dirty floor of that same apartment. She quickly gathered her things and left the dismal apartment as quickly as she could.

          So this Jeremy fellow had drugged her and… well I need not even say it. Robbing her of her virginity in the process. Not that it really mattered whether she was a virgin or not, but that did make it even more horrible. No one should have to go through something like that. She had relayed the information to Andrew, no doubt for fear of how her parents would react and what her friends would think if they found out.

                     Andrew sighed upon completion of his tale, looking less angry now and much more sorrowful. Eric too now had a look of sadness upon his scraggly bearded face. I now fully understood why they were so upset. I leaned back in my chair and grabbed the now almost empty bottle of Jim Beam and chugged a bit more. The fiery liquid scorched down my throat and sent a feeling of warmth through my veins, or perhaps it was just the hatred I suddenly felt that warmed me up.

         “Does Chris know?” I asked. Andrew shook his head. I sat back and let the story run through my head one last time. I know understood the solemn tone both my cousins had exhibited throughout the night. The anger I now felt built within me and culminated in a large chug of the whiskey bottle. After which I slammed it back upon the table.

      “Let’s go find him.”

          Some would no doubt argue that it would be wiser to allow local police to perform an investigation beforehand. Most would of course claim to prescribe to the preference of court of law over mob justice, but to them I say: Why not both? Would you still be willing to rest on your morals if someone you knew had been through the same? That and at the time, it really did not occur to me, not even for a second. The only kind of language people like him truly understand is that of the fist variety, let the cops worry about the cleanup.

            Tori hadn’t given a last name or description of this guy, but despite that it didn’t take long to find him. It’s truly amazing how easy it is to find people online nowadays, even if you only have just a first name basis to go off. Especially if they’re as stupid as this guy. We browsed Facebook for a while looking at all the Jeremy’s within our area. Luckily Tori had mentioned to Andrew, that Jeremy’s place was located at an apartment complex known as Holy Oak’s. The place had quite a reputation amongst locals, and despite the name there was nothing holy about it.

         After looking through a few various profiles we found a man who had the name Jeremy Williams. We glanced through his newsfeed until we found one post that stood out. It was dated about 2 weeks prior and read the following.

     “Havin a lil get together at my place, hmu.” He wrote. He had also; like a complete dingus; tagged the apartment complex known as Holy Oak’s. Jackpot. The dumbass had even put his room number on one of the comments on his status. This ladies and gentlemen, is why you set your accounts to private. We studied his facial features for a while until the image of his face was seared into our memory. A devious and downright clever plan was devised to lure Jeremy out of his house without drawing suspicion. Once that was done, Andrew grabbed his pair of brass knuckles and we headed out to his old F-150.

               The ride over to Jeremy’s apartment was ominously quiet. I can’t speak for Andrew or Eric, but I was beginning to have my doubts. I had never been a particularly violent person. Sure, I had been in a few fights and scuffles here and there, but going out and deliberately targeting someone was not something within my repertoire of accolades. I thought about Kylie, and what she would think if we got caught. The thought of backing out reared its ugly head once or twice, but the thought of Tori going through this kept me firm. What kind of sick person could do something like that to an innocent girl? Things like this disgust me in a way I can’t even begin to describe. The more I thought about it, the more my rage bolstered. The wrathful thoughts had tainted my mind like the pitch black of oil into a serene lake. I feverishly anticipated my chance to unleash some raw justice on this prick.

           We arrived down the road from his apartment and once again talked over our plan. Andrew parked on the end of the next block as to hopefully avoid being seen. We had decided preemptively that Andrew; being the smallest of us, should be the one to draw him out. Meanwhile Eric and I would wait just below to ambush him as he was led out. We arrived at the bottom of the stairs and Eric and I took our place in the shadows. Andrew continued up the stairs and knocked on Jeremy’s door. He drew Jeremy out soon thereafter, under the guise of asking for directions. Hook, line and sinker, and Jeremy didn’t suspect a damn thing.

        The two of them continued chatting casually as Andrew led the unsuspecting sheep right into the lion’s den. My heart pounded like the rhythmic beat of war drums, and adrenaline levels surged to an all-time high. My hands shook, and fingers curled tightly into tight fists. Andrew and Jeremy stepped off the stairs and onto the moonlit sidewalk. Andrew stopped and turned back to face us, and Jeremy followed suit. At that moment Eric and I slowly emerged from the darkness snarling like jackals ready for a feast. Jeremy on the other hand, suddenly seemed a little unsure of the situation.

            “So, you like fucking unconscious girls do ya?” Eric’s voice was cold and sinister like that of a seasoned killer. Just hearing it sent shivers down my spine and drew out the animal within. Jeremy turned to Eric and looked as though he was about to piss his douchey pajama pants.

                 I couldn’t wait any longer. I lunged out forward, sucker punching Jeremy with all my might directly in the middle of his face. His nose instantly burst like a balloon filled with strawberry jam. He stumbled backwards and fell over some bushes behind him slamming hard into the concrete below. I was back on him in a split second. My fists slammed repeatedly into his already bloodied face, over and over again. I must’ve hit him at least a half dozen times when he suddenly jerked his head away, causing me to slam my fist into the hard concrete below.

           I cursed and recoiled in pain. Jeremy seized his opportunity, and sprung up to attempt his getaway. He began to scream pleas for help, but was quickly silenced as Eric bulldozed him back to the ground. Eric raised his monstrous gorilla fist and slammed it into Jeremy’s jaw. A sickening crunch noise amidst the struggle as Jeremy’s jaw bone shattered like cheap porcelain.

                  Andrew charged up and drove his steel toe boot hard into Jeremy’s chest. Jeremy recoiled and spat out a mouth full of blood while trying desperately to protect himself. I’ve got to hand it to this guy though, he could take a hit, no doubt about that. Somehow Jeremy managed to wriggle free again and quickly rose to his feet and took off. He tried screaming out for help yet again, but his broken jaw only spat out gurgles and yelps of incoherent blurbs. I closed in behind him quickly and gave a hard shove to his back. He slammed head first into a parked minivan which left a pronounced dent and abruptly activated the car’s alarm.

     “Let’s get the fuck outta here!!” Andrew shouted while dashing by me. I glanced back at Jeremy and he was motionless in a bloody heap still propped against the van, so I took off in pursuit behind Andrew and Eric. Within seconds we were all back at the truck. Andrew ignited it and rapidly sped off out of the neighborhood and into the darkened backroads.

             Silence befell our group during the immediate aftermath. No doubt from all of us attempting to calculate the events which had just unfolded as we made our getaway. I sat back in the back seat franticly looking around as the surge of adrenaline continued to flow through my veins. It had all happened so fast it was almost as if it were a dream, though the scrapes and cuts on my fists indicated otherwise. My jacket and hands were covered in blood so I washed them off with a water bottle as best I could, and let them drain out the window. A most unwelcome and foreboding noise then began to screech wildly in the distance. A siren. I looked forward to be met with an entourage of blue and red flashing lights gunning towards us like a bat out of hell.

            “Oh shit.” Andrew said while pulling his truck off to the side of the road. My heart nearly exploded as we sat there, paralyzed as the cop car sped towards us, and then past us. Continuing onward, blaring sirens as the light display slowly disappeared into the night. Suddenly things became silent once again. The three of us glanced around at each other and almost in unison, broke out into an exacerbated howl of a laugh.

             “Holy shit, I thought my heart was gonna stop.” Eric said. I agreed and laughed along. Andrew spoke up.

           “That was fucking awesome.” He declared while starting to drive again and smacking his dash in excited fashion.

        “Yeah except for the cop. That little punk got messed up good though.” Eric added.

           “Seriously, he won’t be forgetting that for a while. Dude, Eric I’m pretty sure you broke his jaw.” I remarked.

         “Oh, I know, did you hear that snapping noise? Ugggh kind of gives me shivers.” We continued to joke and reminisce about the assault all the way back to Andrew’s. Once we pulled into Andrew’s parking spot it got eerily silent once again. Andrew shut off his truck and we just sat there for a few moments. Eric eventually broke the silence.

       “We can never tell anyone.” He said sternly. Andrew nodded.

   “So, we were out at Black Bear mountain the whole night. Having a bonfire. Just the three of us, in case anyone asks.” Andrew replied. We all nodded in agreement.

     “We got him good.” I added.

 “Yeah, hopefully that little bitch learned something.” Eric said.

        “For real though, no one outside of this truck ever hears about this night. Especially Chris and Tori.” Andrew said.

             “Well fuck I guess I shouldn’t have posted on Facebook saying we were out being vigilantes then huh?” I said trying to lighten up the mood with some humor. We all chuckled and joked a bit for a while.

     “You think they’ll be able to recognize this truck?” Eric inquired.

   “I don’t think so, we got out of there quick.” I replied.

        “Hopefully not, but I’ll probably park it for now and just drive the Civic. Best to lay low for a bit.” Andrew finished.

      “Yeah especially you.” Eric said while motioning to Andrew.

             “He did see your face after all.” Andrew remained silent for a moment, before a devious smile parted on his lips and he responded.

              “Yeah, but somehow I don’t think he’s going to remember too much from this night.”

           We all stepped out of the truck and into the cool summer night. Trees gently rustled in the cooled evening breeze, a much welcome relief from the routine blistering heat of the day. An extreme mental euphoria descended upon me in that moment. It was like a bizarre sense of satisfaction, or maybe it was just the booze and adrenaline wearing off. My mind and body seemed to radiate a warm and prideful sense of power. It was as if some primal desire I had rooted deep within my mind had been fulfilled. Like a hunter finally getting his trophy buck. It’s a feeling I am yet to replicate, but one of these days I’ll catch the dragon.

           We bid one another farewell for the night, and I got back into my Subaru to drive home. On my way back home, the feeling began to dissipate as a troubling thought crept into the back of my mind. I couldn’t help but feel slightly paranoid at being discovered for our actions. I’m sure any rational person would be. We had been in and out relatively quick, but there was always that chance that someone had seen or especially heard us. Jeremy had after all been wailing like a stuck pig the entire time, and someone could’ve easily heard him and saw us. There was little I could do now however, and so I made a brittle peace with myself about whatever was to happen.

          It was around 1 am when I finally returned home. I took off my jacket and jeans, throwing them both into the trash. Wasn’t about to take any chances of being discovered with the contraband now. I crawled into bed after, already dreading having to wake up in 4 hours for work. I closed my eyes and did my best to relax my mind. Before falling into slumber, one final thought rang out like the liberty bell.

        “Tomorrow’s going to suck.”