I used the porch railing to help vault myself over the fence. When I landed I rolled, and clipped my shoulder on a rock. I ignored the pain and ran to the backdoor. Tried to slide it open but it was locked. I pulled harder. It budged a little. I placed my foot on the side of the wall and grabbed the handle. Gave it a gigantic yank and heard the flimsy lock snap from its holder. The sliding door slammed right into the other side of the wall, might have cracked it, too. I didn't care. I stepped inside and pulled it shut behind me. I quickly scanned the kitchen. No one was around the black marble countertops or the top-of-the-range appliances on the walls.
"Gabe?" I called into the house. I didn't get an answer and I didn't expect one either. I headed right toward the living room. No one was in there. The widescreen TV was off and so was the stereo. I pulled left down the small entryway near the front door. When I reached the door I looked in front of me into the den. I could see all the bookcases and the desk with papers filed neatly on them. No one was ever in there and I wasn't disappointed. I turned left and stared straight ahead into the dining room, which opened back up into the kitchen. Nothing.
"Gabe?" I called again. I could hear something now that I my heart wasn't in my ears. Music. A slow, heavy rhythm that was very familiar. Knowing Gabe it was Slipknot. I started to climb the stairs. The beat of the drum matched the slowly fading pounding in my ears. My palms were sweating as I gripped the stair banister and started to climb.
I got to the landing at the top and turned right. The hallway was very narrow and covered in a long patterned rug. Gabe's mom had bought it and put it there before she left. I never actually understood why he kept it there. He got rid of everything else he could so that she wouldn't notice. As I walked down the hall the beat got louder and heavier. It was coming from his room. The door was splattered with little smartass stickers and posters, like "One by one the penguins steal my sanity."
I knocked. "Gabe?" I called again. No answer. I knocked harder, thinking he couldn't hear it over the music. Still no answer. I punched the door as hard as I could. Nothing.
What the hell? I thought. There's no way he can't be home… As I started to turn away, I heard it. A moan of pain that could be heard over the loud heavy music. Someone was in there.
"Dude, are you alright?" I shouted into the door. A shuddering moan answered me. I didn't wait. I kicked the door. It just rattled in its frame. I kicked it again. The area around the knob splintered. I gave one final kick to the splintered area and the door burst open. I followed it in and stopped dead. A scene of horror came into my eyes.
Gabe was sitting in a chair in the center of the room. His back was to the door, facing the window. The window had a single bloody handprint on it. That's what made me rush in here like a maniac. He was in his desk chair, the chair he sat at to draw his amazing artwork. His arms were at his side. They were covered in blood. Blood dripped onto the carpet around him from his fingertips. I could see razor cuts on the top and bottom of his arms. His biceps all the way down to his wrists. They were fresh.
My heart was pounding in my ears again, even louder now. My palms were sweating. I could barely breathe. I can still remember the song coming from the stereo. It was Slipknot's Wait and Bleed. I stepped into the room and crossed over to Gabe. I stepped around the blood and stood in front of him. He was looking at the floor. He let out another moan. It sounded muffled. When he looked up I saw why.
Gabe's mouth was sewn shut.
That was all I could say. That was all I could think. This was insane. It was Gabe. Gabe. Little Gabe, nice Gabe, I-can-make-the-world-better-even-though-it's-fucked-up-beyond-repair-just-like-me Gabe. He'd never do anything like this. What happened? Let me take you back.
It all started at Erik's apartment, I guess. He was a friend of ours, both of us. He was a big dude, really tall and muscular. He worked out but he didn't do sports or anything like that. He just liked having muscle. He once told me it was because everyone used to call him a weak little bitch before he moved to town. So he worked out to prove them wrong.
We were sitting in his tiny kitchen, just hanging out on the island counter separating the kitchen from the living room. He had an iHome on the top and his iPod was plugged into it. It was blasting Slipknot into the whole apartment. Wait and Bleed. We were all singing the lyrics. Gabe always got the honor of singing the chorus.
I felt the hate rise up in me,
Kneel down and clear the stone of leaves
I wander out where you can't see,
Inside my shell I wait and bleed
Every time. He had the voice for it. It was clear and melodious. That's the best way I can describe it. Me and Erik had more of a voice for the rest of the song, all gruff and what you expect death metal to sound like. We took turns with the whole song. But none of us tried to say the chorus. None of us could top Gabe.
It was at the end of the song that Gabe spoke up.
"Man, this song reminds me of her." He said quietly.
Erik groaned and clicked all knew who he was talking about. Clarisse. This girl he'd known probably his whole life. He liked her. A lot. You could say he was in love with her. It was a little creepy considering he didn't really talk to her. Every time she was around he just froze up. He couldn't be himself. He made an idiot of himself sometimes.
This problem had been going on for a long time. I was cool with it. I understood how he felt about her. I tried to help him out as best as I could. He underestimated himself. But Erik… Erik was getting sick of it. Lately he'd just been going away for a bit whenever Gabe brought it up. It was kind of harsh because Gabe looked up to Erik. He was like an idol to him. But he couldn't stand complaining. Maybe it was his time in the military, but if any of us ever complained he got pissed.
So when Gabe brought up Clarisse he sighed.
"Not this again." He said wearily.
"Man, I just can't get over her." Gabe started. "The way she looks, the way she talks, the way she smiles… I think I'm in love."
"Just talk to her, man." I told him. "Tell her all this stuff. You don't know how she feels about you. Hell, she might like you bro."
"I doubt that." He said sadly. "I don't even think she's knows I exist."
"Well, she won't if you keep being a little pussy!" Erik shouted. He slammed his drink on the counter. We'd been drinking for a little, but Erik always drank the most. He'd had about, I don't know, six or eight shots of whiskey, something like that. He was pretty drunk, but it was nothing we'd never seen before.
"Dude." Gabe said. He was shocked. Erik never shouted at Gabe. He was like a little brother to him. But I'm going with the alcohol on this. But don't people say people show their true feelings when they're drunk?
"Hey, man, chill…" I tried to say to Erik.
"No, no, I'm sick of this." Erik started. "I'm tired of hearing about Clarisse every time you little dicks come over here. It's getting on my fucking nerves! Quit being a pussy and DO something about it, or just shut the fuck up! I swear to God, I will beat your tiny little ass so hard you won't be able to shit straight anymore if I ever hear another word about that bitch again!" He threw the bottle against the wall where it shattered like a bomb. Glass rained down onto the kitchen tile. I looked at Gabe and saw tears in his eyes. He walked quickly out the door, slamming it shut behind him.
"Dude, what the fuck?!" I shouted at Erik.
"Man, I'm sick of his bullshit." Erik said, getting a beer out of his fridge.
"You're a fucking asshole." I told him. He just waved his hand at me.
"I'm sick of it." He repeated, twisting off the cap.
"You better hope so, or I swear to God…" I said walking out.
I jumped down the stairs and caught up with Gabe. He was pissed.
"Dude, he's just a dick. Forget him." I told him.
He didn't say anything. He just kept walking. We didn't live that far from Erik's apartment building so we walked together. When we got near his house he just left me without saying goodbye. He just walked up the isolated driveway. He was really depressed, I could tell. Like I said, he looked up to Erik. Why, I really don't know. But I wasn't that concerned for him. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Now I was sitting in the hospital waiting room, wondering how Gabe was doing. The ambulance got there really fast after I called them, which wasn't really a shock because we live close to the hospital. They told me I'd just caught him after he had cut himself, so he hadn't lost that much blood. His mouth had been sewn up first.
I'd already called Erik. He was in shock. He told me he didn't even remember saying those things, that he'd been drinking before we got there. I knew he was bullshitting me as soon as the words left his mouth. He knew damn well what he said. But I knew he didn't expect anything like this to happen, though. No one could have seen this coming.
Clarisse was with me in the waiting room. She was crying. I called her after Erik and told her about Gabe. She rushed over immediately. I never told him, and now I was regretting it. She had a monster crush on him and knew that he liked her too. She was just waiting for him to make the first move. I didn't want to tell him because I wanted him to find that out on his own.
The waiting room door opened and Erik walked in. He saw us and just stopped.
"Shit." He said.
I stood up. "You get the fuck out of here." I told him.
"Man, I'm sorry. Really. It's just-"
"I don't give a shit!" I interrupted him. "It's your fucking fault he's in there in the first place. He looked up to you, you son of a bitch. And you just ripped him up."
"I didn't know he would do this!" Erik shouted.
"I don't fucking care!" I yelled.
A cop stepped into the waiting room to see what all the noise was about.
"Is something wrong, gentleman?" He asked in a way that said he knew something was up.
I breathed for a little bit. I thought about it and said"No, officer. Everything's fine now."
"Well, I'll stay here just in case." He told us. He took a seat near the door. Erik took a seat away from us. He kept trying to catch my eye but I ignored it. I don't know why I was letting him see Gabe. There must have been many reasons. Maybe I just wanted him to see Gabe after I found him, bleeding and crying in his room. I remember waiting for the ambulance, looking on his desk at his new drawings. There was one of Erik. It was him in perfect reality, almost a photograph. One of the best pictures I'd ever seen him draw. It was signed "My Hero".
Is it a dream or a memory...?