"This is something that I've never told anyone before."
I paused, teeth now clenched in pain and ears ringing from the gunshot, waiting for the sentence to fully sink in with my companion. He looked to me nervously.
"Are you sure that you want to tell me?" he said. "It is a secret for a reason, you know,"
I nodded. "It has to be said. I have kept it a secret for too long. I have to tell someone, and it might as well be you."
He shrugged. "If you are sure I need to know about it, then go ahead."
I started to speak, but was stopped by a pounding on the rotting, moldy door.
"Open up in there!" came a cry from beyond the locked door.
"The cops?" he cried out in surprise, panic reaching his voice. "What are they doing here?"
"Because I told them to come," I said.
He looked at me, his face showing a curious look. "Why would you do a thing like that?"
The door shook again with a blow from beyond. I bowed my head in shame. "Because of what I am about to tell you."
"This secret had better be damn good to warrant us both getting arrested."
"Oh, it is. Believe me. Once you know it, you would hand me over to the police personally."
Another thud on the door.
He leaned forward, eyes locked on me. "Let's hear it then."
I took a breath and told him.
"I killed a man," I blurted, and waited, breath held, for a response.
It was less than I had hoped. He eyed me thoughtfully.
"And...?" He asked.
"And nothing!" I shouted. "I killed a man! Isn't that enough?"
He shook his head. "You called the cops on us just to say that? I must have misjudged you."
"How can you be so calm about it?" I asked, almost screaming. "Don't you care that the police are on the other side of the door waiting to arrest me?" The door shuddered to the sound of angry shouting as if to reaffirm my words.
"I care," he said softly. "But I knew that this would happen sooner or later. You were clumsy."
"What do you mean?" I asked timidly, dreading his response.
He glared at me sternly. "Don't you remember? I was there when you killed him. I gave you the gun and I told you to pull the trigger. We have both been in this since the beginning."
I couldn't remember that. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not recall him or anyone else ever being there that night.
"No," I said sternly. "I was alone."
"Nope. I was there. I was always there by your side- always have been- ever since school. Remember?"
"I know," I said glumly. "You have always been my closest friend. But you were not there that night!"
"Of course I was. Like always. You've never taken a piss without me there to help you. Face it."
I couldn't think right. His voice sounded so reasonable, like a ray of logic in the chaos around me, yet I was certain that he had not been there when the trigger had been pulled. Certain.
And yet I had the nagging feeling that I was missing something important. Something that I needed to remember. Something just beyond the hands of my memory, in the back of my mind.
A sharp pain cut across my thoughts and I grabbed my stomach in response.
"It's getting worse," he said, looking at my hand. "You really should get it looked at."
"I can manage just fine for now," I growled at him through clenched teeth. "Help me with this bandage."
Together we wrapped my belly in enough gauze to stop the bleeding, but we both knew that it was only a temporary solution to a much bigger problem.
"You can't keep this up," he said.
I sat on the ancient toilet to rest. Standing was too hard. My mind was swimming.
"I know," I replied raspily, clarity suddenly attained through the pain. "But every second I do, keeps me away from you."
He looked hurt and turned away. "Why would you want to stay away from me?" he asked quietly.
I looked at the back of his head. "Because you told me to pull the trigger. That night and before. Every time. I've had enough."
He turned suddenly and pointed accusingly. "You could have ignored me whenever you wanted but you didn't! You liked the gun. You liked the trigger. And you liked the blood. I only did what you wanted."
"What I wanted?!" I spat, standing suddenly in anger. "You did it all to keep yourself happy, not me! I was your tool!"
He smirked a wicked smirk. ""And now the tool is operating itself? Is that it?"
"Yes!" I shouted, readjusting the bandages to stop the newly spouting blood flow.
"Then open that door and have them arrest me!" he yelled, pointing to the door. "Let them in and tell them the truth! That you were manipulated by me!"
Again the door vibrated on its hinges. Cracks appeared on the door and the wall. Soon it would be down.
"Who would they believe?" he continued. "Me? Or the man whose prints are all over the gun? The same man whose blood is all over the scene!"
He was right, of course. He was always right. We had often argued over the years, but he had always won. He was like that. Maliciously rational. Violently logical.
I looked to the grubby, brown tiled floor. "What can I do?" I meekly asked.
He sighed. "You've locked yourself in a bathroom. No windows and one door. Police about to break down the door and arrest you. There aren't too many options."
I looked to him with hope. He continued.
"Either turn yourself in and face jail, or kill yourself."
Neither sounded very good. But I would be damned if I would live the rest of my life behind bars.
Under the harsh and judging glare of my friend, I picked up the still warm pistol from where it had fallen and released the safety. The pounding on the door was louder now. They would be in soon.
"Goodbye," he said, stepping back.
"Goodbye," I replied and pointed the barrel to my head. Time to finish what I had started.
I pulled the trigger and everything around me went silent for a split second. The angry door stopped rattling; the sounds of the city outside were gone; my friend was gone. The room was perfectly silent.
Suddenly the silence was shattered by a loud click that resounded all around me. I waited. And waited. Finally, I pulled the gun from my head and looked at it. The hammer had fallen, but no bullet had been shot. I threw the thing down into the mangy sink and turned to the now quiet door. The lock had been turned by some unknown hand. I slowly grabbed and turned the knob, allowing the door to swing open.
The police had gone. The hotel room beyond the bathroom was empty and quiet. Slowly, I moved around the room, looking in every corner for the cops I had heard moments before but could find no trace of them. I looked back into the bathroom and marveled at just how clean and perfect it had become. Seeing myself in the mirror, I noticed that my wound had vanished and the bloody tee-shirt I was wearing had been replaced with an expensive dress shirt. I walked back to the room and took a deep breath. Shrugging at the sudden changes to the rooms and to myself, I sat down on the edge of the cushy bed and gingerly picked up the remote.
I sighed and took one long look around the room, ending with me again looking into the glass of the television.
I aimed the remote and clicked.