"Why is he being like this?" Eliot asked exasperatedly.

"I don't really know, maybe it's his time of the month," Charlie responded.

Hitting Charlie's arm Eliot said, "I'm serious he's become a total recluse. When's the last time you saw him?"

Charlie thought momentarily responding, "I was at his house like two nights ago."

"And let me guess, he was sitting on his computer staring at nothing?"

"Pretty much, but like that's really anything out of the ordinary for us."

"He doesn't even hold a conversation. He nods, smiles, laughs, but you know he doesn't mean it."

"How do we know? You're being crazy."

"Shut up, we're here," said Eliot as he and Charlie pulled up to Glen's house.

Blazing like a beacon all the lights outside the house, perhaps in the house as well, were lit. Glen was home alone for the night; he invited Eliot and Charlie over for poker and cigars. This was a new move for the typically antisocial Glen. Usually his two friends had to drag him out by the ankles to get him to go…anywhere. The move was suspicious, he was up to something.

Inside the two boys found their compatriot all smiles. Another weird occurrence. The night was somewhat of a disaster. Not out rightly of course. It was a subversive mess, a sort of cold war. Stale jokes, tight lipped conversation, and fake smiles passed all around like hors d'oeuvres. The genial manner in which they treated one another was sickening.

"Thanks for coming guys," said Glen as he opened up the front door.

"It was fun," Eliot replied with a syrupy sweetness no one was fooled by.

"We should do it again sometime," Charlie added.

"Meh," shrugged Glen, evading the request.

"We'll call you tomorrow," announced Eliot.

"No you won't," Glen replied.

Getting in the car the last image the two boys saw was their friend Glen waving from his brightly lit house. With the lateness of the hour and the haze of smoke clouding his vision Eliot swore the house was on fire. Blurred yellows and oranges mingled with the night's sky in crackling spires.

But Glen just waved and said, "Bye guys, it's been fun."

Late in the night or early in the morning, it wasn't clear which, Glen took his life. His parents found him in his bed with Dad's vikaden at his side. It was over.

His best friends, his only friends, were questioned. Did he seem depressed? Withdrawn? School trouble? Home trouble? Anything out of the ordinary?

They lied, in unison like they were reading from the same script. No, nothing out of the ordinary, it read. The next line failed to be any more convincing. A perfectly normal teenager they said. A little antisocial, but friendly and smart and just normal. But they knew it wasn't true. They knew how fake they had been acting. Going through the motions to seem polite. Smiling instead of taking control. The problem got too far ahead of them and then it took control. Took the reigns they failed to grasp. It was like a monster. Something they could have fought. But they didn't and the story had no choice but to end.