There were many times Jeremy had ridden in the backseat of Sam's dad's car, but only a few times where Sam had joined him. There wasn't a breath of wind, only clouds that were the same color as the cement he saw at school. Even the clouds looked dried out, withered, tired and slow moving if moving at all. The vehicles that were on every side of theirs might as well have been empty, bumper cars with no driver. A twenty-five mile drive went by without a hitch, giving him all the time in the world to look at the black fabric each of them wore, admiring the details in the clothing.

When they'd arrived at the church his family had chosen, Evan's casket was already at the front row and centered. Flowers were in clusters almost anywhere he looked, and the dozens of others that began to file in dressed in similar attire left him with no questions about where he stood. He followed Sam and his father down the lines of pews that stretched between the walls of the church, taking their seats in the second row. It was as they sat in that pew that he began to notice how many people came to speak to the three who sat in front of them, the lady standing up multiple times to hug people and accept several condolences; it wasn't until he saw a little girl staring at him that he slowly began to realize these people were the other half of Sam's family.

The girl was turned in her seat, her arm rested on the wood panel that made up the back of the chair. She was dressed in black, making her blonde hair that much lighter as it was paired with pitch black clothing. The blue eyes peering at him that he tried to avoid looked much more familiar than he expected, and when he heard Sam's low voice beside him, it confirmed the question he wanted to ask.

"Holly."

She immediately looked to Jeremy's side.

"Turn around," he heard fall flat from Sam's mouth.

She rolled her eyes before doing as told.

Now that he knew Sam looked like both of his siblings, it only made this situation worse.

.

"I can tell you a couple things for sure."

Jeremy looked at Sam, his eyes undoubtedly red.

"Evan would've fucked hated the Christian hymns."

"Yeah... I didn't think you guys were too religious," he said quietly.

Sam shook his head, taking a rip from the joint he'd finished rolling before they'd left his room.

"My mom is, we're not. Go figure that bitch wants shit her way even when it comes down to this."

Jeremy nodded. "I'm sorry."

Sam got up from the lawn chair he sat in to pass the joint to Jeremy.

"You didn't do anything," he said, smoke haunting his words.

"Still," he said, his back against the side of Sam's house, holding the joint close to his mouth.

"I don't know why she even bothered coming. It's not like she gives a shit."

Smoke was warm and thick in his throat.

"She gives a shit," Jeremy said, nearly coughing on the words. "You guys are her kids. She gives a shit."

Sam kind of laughed.

"I guess what's why she said 'Take em' to my dad. She didn't fucking want us. She told my dad she knew we were both his sons, so, 'Take em.'"

"I'm not trying to be an asshole, but, are you sure your dad didn't just say that while he was pissed off?"

Sam shook his head, accepting the pass from Jeremy.

"Nope, I was there for that one. I'd say you could ask Evan about it, too, but..."

Jeremy watched as he took another drag.

"... I guess that's all said and done."

He slid his hands into his pockets, unable to raise his eyes from the floor.

"Damn."

"Yep," he heard Sam mutter before starting to cough.

"That's really fucking harsh," Jeremy said quietly.

"Yeah, tell me about it."

When there was a pause, Jeremy looked up to see Sam trying to pass the joint.

"Shit, rip it again," he said.

Sam grinned. "Alright, you don't have to ask me twice."

He looked back to the ground, unable to see any dirt below the tall grass.

"That blonde girl was your sister, huh?"

"Yes she was," Sam got out before another round of coughing. "Well, at least I think so. No paternity tests on that shit, yet."

Jeremy grinned, remembering how much he'd thought Holly and Sam looked alike.

"No, she's definitely your dad's. You're all your dad's kids. All of you look exactly alike."

"Hey, I'll take the twins comment about Evan but not about Holly. She's a little bitch."

Jeremy started laughing.

"She's like... eight years old!"

"Ten, and fuck that, you've never spent any time with her."

He laughed again, shaking his head.

"I think it would've been cool to have a younger sibling. I bet you miss her."

"Eh," he heard Sam say.

There was a short pause.

"I do miss her, but, it comes with the territory. Bad divorce where two kids know that one parent is completely full of shit, and the other one is just slightly less, but the third kid doesn't have a clue. Can't really do anything about keeping up a relationship with somebody I never see."

"You should try writing her some letters."

"Trust me, I did."

Another tiny gap of silence followed before he heard Sam.

"Here," Sam said, passing him the still burning joint.

As he pulled his arm back he looked over Sam's face, trying to see something that could come close to describing the utter devastation he knew too well. Like he always did, Sam wasn't trying to let shit get to him. But he knew this sort of situation blew all other bullshit out of the water, and Jeremy knew all about the emptiness, depression and purer forms of anger that came with it. Just like he had done when put in Sam's situation, Jeremy was terrified Sam would try to kill himself again.

He knew exactly what it was like to see a person leave one afternoon and never come home, and as he got a good look at his friend, he couldn't help but wonder if this may be the last time he'd ever see Sam. The worst part in thinking that was knowing there was a possibility that he may be right, purely because he'd seen it happen so abruptly before. He honestly couldn't blame Sam if he wanted out of this; he couldn't truthfully say he hadn't thought about the same thing himself.

Taking a long drag from the joint, he watched the red embers jump back towards his fingers, a long trail of ash hanging at the other end.

Figures you end up feeling guilty over saving your friend's life.

.

"Hey, motherfucker."

There was too much other shit he had to do today than get involved in this.

"Hey, I'm fucking talking to you."

He kept his back turned, walking as fast as he could. The campus was full of people, the bell having just rang and classes were changing. He could hear the sounds of voices laughing, chatter, trying to ignore the calls he knew were directed towards him.

Maybe he doesn't know your name yet.

"Jeremy, you fucking faggot."

Hands seized his shoulders, yanking him backwards so fast he didn't have any time to think. He was swung to his left, palms then pushing him forward as he felt his forehead collide with the building he'd tried to pass.

Colors blurred, the sound of so many different voices yelling at him the words had lost all meaning as the ground came up to catch him. Searing pain spread through his face, the weight of his body pinning him against the wet concrete. Feet were driving themselves into his side now, above his ribs, somebody striking his back as breath finally passed through his mouth. His eyes hurt… goddamn it, they fucking hurt… his jaw was aching, something warm was across his face and slowly turning cold as he lie still, an unsettling taste starting to coat over his tongue.

"You still awake, bitch?"

Laughing, another nudge to his ribs.

"Nah, I don't think he is, man. KO!"

"Shit, he's bleeding a lot."

Is that what that is.

Blood.

He was pulled up again, his back on the same wall he'd been thrown into. He didn't even have his eyes open, but of course it was the same wall. That was Brian's style. The beat was familiar at this point.

"Wake up," he said, shaking Jeremy until the back of his head struck the wall.

Something cold hit his face. Spit, he had to assume.

Again, the fucking laughing.

Don't say shit to them. It'll just get worse.

He screamed in his ear.

"HEY, ASSHOLE."

The sound was so small it'd almost passed by his ears completely. A little click. A sound he'd heard more times than he felt comfortable admitting, and felt kind of fucked up for being able to recognize it.

The sound of the pocketknife his friend owned flipping open hadn't been easy to forget. If he hadn't heard it, he probably would've thought it was some miracle that suddenly the air in front of him cleared, voices aimed towards him now falling far beyond his range. The tone had changed, too. Laughing had become yelling, the sound of shoes scuffling against the ground and words he could barely catch echoing in his ears long enough for it to sink in.

"What the fuck are you doing?!"

No words, nothing but the continued background noise of the soles of shoes as they scraped against the cement, dead leaves and pebbles tracked by every other pair that'd come through the area.

"You gonna use it?"

Despite the pain that dug into the back of his sockets he opened his eyes, the mess of pictures in front of him tinted by the color green, his head heatedly pounding as he brought the back of his hand across his mouth.

Yep, blood.

He could see the darkly clothed blonde he knew before anyone else would be standing in front of him, hand out to his side. The ache in his throat he'd gotten accompanied with over the past month settled itself, tears burning as they welled in the corner of his eyes.

How long has it been. Three weeks?

Well, I guess you were lucky you made it this long on your own.

Brian's face a few feet in front of Sam became clear, his still unnamed friends at his side, eyes all drawn to the blade clutched in a white knuckled fist.

"Well?"

Sam laughed. He hadn't heard him laugh in weeks.

"Would I use it," he said quietly, his fingers still. His head titled up.

"Would I fucking use it..."

Even with his head in the stars he could see how Brian's eyes went wide, could hear the pleas from his friends to stop that he refused to hear.

"Fuck this, man. Let's go."

"Yeah. These bitches aren't worth it. Let's go, Brian."

Brian stared back at Sam before shaking his head, trying his best to throw a laugh in his face as he stepped backwards.

"You're right. Fuck 'em."

He didn't have to see Sam's face; he could hear the smile that'd crept over his mouth in his voice, his fingers flipping the blade shut before he held it concealed in his clenched fist.

"Smartest shit I've heard all day," he heard Sam say.

He waited until Brian had disappeared before he turned his back, dropping his knife into his pocket as he ran towards Jeremy. He got down on his knees, silently staring at a marred face before he pulled out the blade and opened it again, one hand grabbing the sleeve on the opposite arm and cutting away at fabric. He ran the torn piece of sleeve over Jeremy's face, wiping away blood from his nose to be met with another rush of blood that poured down his shirt.

Shoving the heel of his palm against the bottom of his nose, Sam looked him in the eye.

"Shit, Jeremy… you're bleeding a lot… I think we need to go to an ER…"

Words were falling flat again; his eyes were too distracted by the deep, jagged lines he could see running across the skin of Sam's arm. The sound finally registering to him, pulsating pain was screaming in his ears, but the despair over wounds that weren't his struck him first.

He shook his head, tears pouring out of his eyes.

"Hey… hey... we're good, man. I got them out of here. But they hit you really hard… I'm scared you have a concussion. My dad's still here, let me get him to take us to the ER."

"You said you'd stop."

He unwillingly straightened his body. "Stop what?"

"The fucking cutting."

Sam laughed.

"Stop? Did you stop?"

No… "I didn't say I was going to."

"Isn't that sort of implied when you tell your friend to quit doing something, that you also quit yourself?"

"I didn't try to take a million fucking pills."

He let go of the bloody fabric in his hand.

"You're obviously fucking tripping because you got hit in the head, so I'm going to let that slide. But you're pushing it."

He lay still on the ground, his thoughts spinning, breaths becoming harder to take.

"Shit, you're tapping out. Let's go, come on," he said, bending down and sliding his arms under his, propping him up onto his feet and taking baby steps forward.

He ran his hand across his forehead, warmth becoming cold in his palm as piercing pain pushed its way in from his eyes. He was exhausted, trying to move forward with the last conscious strength he had to get into the backseat of the white four door car he'd seen millions of times, on his hands and knees before he rest his head on the jacket Sam had taken off so no blood would get on the seats. A nice thing, he thought, because nothing ever takes blood out… no matter how fucking much of anything you use… never a good way…

Sam was mouthing words to him. Wait, was he? Or could he not hear him? Now he was waving his hand at him, holding up two fingers, his free hand reaching forward to push against his forehead and tilt his head upwards.

"Jeremy? … Jeremy?"

There's the audio.

"Yeah?" he asked, closing his eyes, the light hurting more with the passing seconds.

"Jesus Christ, you don't look too good, man. How many fingers am I holding up?"

"I don't care, man. My fucking head hurts."

"My dad's coming right now, we're going straight to the ER. Fuck, dude. Do you want some water?"

"No…" he muttered, curling up into a ball, trying to get warm.

He didn't wait to hear the door open, the ignition start, anything. He was out cold before Sam's dad had even left the building.

There was knocking at the door. He stayed in his bed, rather to be lost under warm and dark blankets than to try standing up. His clock read 2:21 but all he could see

through the blackness in his room were lines of light let in by the blinds at his window. Even those weren't bright enough to really catch his attention.

He could hear his mom talking, her voice muffled by the wall separating them.

"Hey Jeremy, Sam's here. Are you feeling up to seeing him?"

Guess I can't keep putting this off.

"Yeah."

The door slowly opened, creeping forward as a hand reached in from the hallway, hitting the switch near the frame. Light had come to the room again, illuminating how oddly clean Jeremy's room was. He stared forward at the window, nerves brewing as he ground his teeth, a forming lump competing with the torn tissue in his throat as the scene kept replaying to him. How he'd start to explain it. How Sam would take it. What…

"There, now you guys can see," he heard.

The space between the frame widened, Sam coming through before his mom had said something else, no sound really registering in his ears until he heard the door click shut as she walked away. He watched Sam sit down in the chair at his desk, facing him with a little grin.

"Sick, huh?" he asked.

His eyes began to well up. "Yeah."

"Fever?"

He nodded, the pain in his throat for once too much to swallow past.

"I can barely talk."

"Yeah, so I hear, man," he said, staring forward at Jeremy until he could force some eye contact out of him, meeting it with a pained grin.

He laughed a little bit, the way he'd started to shake sending the first set of tears down his face.

"Are you alright? Do you need any water or anything?"

He responded like he hadn't heard it.

"I can barely talk. It's my fault."

"How is it your fault you have a sore throat?"

The question was about as painful as the answer was.

He closed his eyes. "I'm fucking stupid."

"What the hell? You're not stupid. Jeremy, what's wrong?"

He pulled a blanket over his head, ashamed to even show his face. He could immediately feel the blanket going damp from his tears.

"You're going to hate me."

For whatever reason, he then realized something then he had appreciated. He didn't have to be looking at Sam to know exactly what was playing out across his face, what look may have come into his eyes, if he was biting back spite or tears. He'd gotten to know him well enough to recognize even the most random pitch. There was something about the way the sound of his voice changed, like his vocal chords were so easily manipulated by the way he was feeling. He'd done a great job of developing a poker face, but you could always hear the brunt of it in his voice. Anger, disappointment, hopeful, relief, pure contempt… he'd heard them all before.

But it was fucking quiet right now.

He sighed, head under the blanket.

"I'm an asshole."

He still didn't have to look. He didn't have to look at Sam, who he knew was staring down at his feet, probably trying to find anything that could distract him from crying himself. Probably had folded his arms and leaned forward in the chair. If anything, he was hearing the sound in his friend's voice, audibly resenting the taste of salt, how pissed off he was that tears were pricking the corners of his eyes, and how nervous he was to ask.

"Did you… uh, well… did you?"

He nodded his head, pulling away the blanket covering his face. He looked at his friend's blue eyes, the whites of which had began turning red before he closed his lids, bringing up a hand to his forehead.

"Wow."

They sat in silence for another good minute or so.

He opened his eyes, shifting his vision over Jeremy's neck.

"How'd you hurt your throat? I don't see any nooses."

He grimaced.

"I was desperate as shit. I opened up the cabinet under the sink, got out the first liquid I could find."

Two hands clapped over his face, entire body pulling backwards as the idea further sunk into his head.

"Jesus fucking Christ…"

He nodded again.

"Yeah. Draino. Kind of a spicy aftertaste."

He sat at the table alone, staring forward at the clock on the wall in front of him, at the hanging obscure painting over a wall he'd made about a year ago, half of the room so blurry he could barely make out some the details of furniture he saw every day. He forced himself to take his eyes off of the picture and look down to the glasses in front of him, some dim reflection of himself turning his stomach.

His thoughts had been racing since he'd hit the wall, spending nearly a day in bed before he'd gotten himself up to sit at this table. He'd seen a note his mom left rehashing what doctors had told him the prior night. Cornea damage. Concussion. Rest in bed, wear glasses to help until the damage heals as much as it can and they'd go from there. Great. Fucking perfect. If the ache in his head from a concussion hadn't been enough insult to injury, now he could barely see his way around his room.

What the fuck is the point.

What's even the point of me letting my eye heal, so they can do it again?

What's the point of even trying to get better?

They wouldn't notice if I dropped dead.

Alex barely talks to me. Sam doesn't need me.

He continued to stare forward, something heavy eating through the pit of his stomach, shaking him at his core.

In all reality, he's probably fucking tired of you.

Mom hates me. You can't get your shit together.

Tears were forming in his eyes, jaw clenched as he looked up at the clock.

It's almost noon. She won't be home for at least four hours.

That's enough time. But we don't have pills around anymore, not after what Sam did.

Blades?

He stood up from the chair, taking a few steps toward the bathroom.

I don't think you've got the hand coordination to do that shit anymore.

He stopped, resting against the wall.

Rope?

Yeah, but nothing to tie it to.

His eyes drifted towards the kitchen.

We really don't have any pills.

He could see the faucet of the sink.

But we might have something under that.

He headed into the kitchen, opening up the small doors to the cabinet.

Ant poison. Dishwasher stuff. Draino. Polish. Windex.

Ant poison… uhm…

He looked at the Draino.

I've heard of people drinking it before.

It was about another five minutes before he'd walked down into the field next to the apartment complex, climbing into the dry riverbed with the bottle in his hand and a cup in his pocket.

It was warm that day. First warm day in awhile. Dust had actually come up under his feet as he walked through the field, weeds and untilled soil layering the ground instead of the mud that had sat there over the last few months. The sun was out, and there were no clouds. The smell of dirt was oddly comforting. He hopped down into the riverbed, pebbles and the roots of bushes that grew alongside it scattered in the dip as he crawled under the shade of branches that hung over the eroding walls of deep brown dirt. He could hear an engine running somewhere in the distance, even possibly an airplane.

Looking at the cold, plain white cup in his hand, he set it down to remove the Draino from under his arm, opening his jacket to let it fall to the ground. He looked up, the usually distant fence that bordered his neighbor's property maybe ten feet from him, wires enshrouded in years of overgrown weeds.

He'd spent a lot of time here before. Why not recently? He shrugged. Too much drama. Too much fighting. Too much misery and wanting to die and bullshit. Too much time spent trying to sleep, angry to be awake every fucking night, too much time wondering what if and instead of. Too many horrible ideas had passed through his head, too many chances wasted to finally abandon ship.

He picked up the Draino, unscrewing the lid and pouring himself a cup before resting the bottle back on the ground. Taking the cup into his hand, he held it under his nose, smelling the fumes that could only remind him of bathrooms, showers, cleaning products never meant for human consumption. The yellow warning labels of children with bottles, the poison control center phone number, death and serious bodily damage. If only it were a guarantee at this point. Would he even be able to swallow it? Would it rot out his teeth? Would he get chemical burns down his throat?

Only one way to find out.

He ran his tongue along the edge of the cup, the clear liquid gel brushing against his taste buds, an almost spicy taste registering in his mouth as he brought his tongue back into his mouth. He wrapped his lips around the edge, taking a mouthful and swallowing it, the burn that began to singe his mouth unlike any hot water he'd ever had any misfortune with.

He couldn't even scream.

His eyes immediately began to water, his jaw clenched, curling into a ball as he withered in pain, the searing gel running so slowly down his throat he almost could watch it dripping down into his stomach.

He looked back to his friend, sitting crumpled in his hair, eyes sealed shut but tears still managing to streak lines down his face, the knuckles of his curled fists trying to wipe them away.

I haven't seen him cry since Evan…

you're a bastard.

Figures his only friend would make him feel like that shit again.

Say that out loud.

"I haven't seen you cry since Evan died."

He opened his eyes, sniffling as he looked up.

"Yeah. I don't like to do it."

"I'm sorry I'm the one to make you do it."

He shook his head.

"You're the only person worth getting me crying over them, so don't be."

He took a deep breath, momentarily breaking eye contact as he leaned back into the chair. He blinked slowly as he reinstated the gaze.

"I'm sorry you felt like such shit to do this. I know how it is to get that fucking low and I'm sorry you got to that place."

Eyes were welling up again.

"You're not mad?"

"Why would I be?"

"I'm selfish. Friends don't put each other through suicide attempts."

He smiled.

"Really?"

It took Jeremy a second to be bombarded by images of holding his friend over a toilet, the mushy clumps of vomit that ran across his hand and down his arm as he'd jammed his fingers down Sam's throat, the blood that'd been smeared over tile and over his arms as he listened to rough gags and screaming.

"Don't be embarrassed, or nervous. I'm not angry. I'm just so sorry."

He was crying again.

"I was so fucking depressed, I wasn't even thinking…"

"You don't need to explain it to me. I get it. Completely."

Sam laughed a little bit.

"So, I guess that's why you always said to me that you got it. You honestly did. You were doing that shit yourself." He shook his head. "I'm bummed you didn't tell me… but, I get why you didn't." He tried to grin again. "Completely."

He looked at Sam.

"I knew you would. That's why I feel so goddamn stupid."

"You're not, so, don't. But, seriously… Draino?"

He cringed.

"Yeah. Feels like my lungs are burnt from the inside out."

Sam sighed.

"So you wouldn't be down to smoke then, would you?

He scoffed, his vibrating vocal chords waking up the ache in the back of his throat.

"Is that even a serious question."

"Okay, good. I knew you weren't feeling so good after that stupid fucking fight, I picked up some greens shortly after. I knew I'd be coming through."

He smiled.

"Always."

"What else are friends good for?"

About fifteen minutes later things were leveling out.

"My throat doesn't really hurt as much as I thought it would."

They were sitting in his mom's car, parked along the street the apartment complex was on. The sky was grey, dead leaves on trees and yellow grass mixed with gravel lining the road. Every once in awhile a car would glide past theirs, nobody noticing them sitting in the backseat with the dozen other cars parked on the block.

Taking the red lighter in his hand, Sam sparked the remainder of the bowl before resting the pipe down on the seat between them.

"Well, that helped."

Jeremy smiled. "Yeah, no shit."

"Nothing like a little bit of ganja to take the edge off the sting."

"Absolutely."

Sam stretched his arms out, white scars and fresh lines again visible to his left.

"I'm just sorry you felt that shitty."

The ache was still centered in the back of his eye socket, barely able to even make out the colors in front of him.

"I don't know. I've gotten a beat down before but I've never gone blind in an eye because of someone else's bullshit before. I just started thinking…"

He started laughing.

Sam looked at him.

"What the hell could be funny?"

He smiled.

"I was just thinking, 'Wow, I'm gonna have to wear glasses now. Now every time he sees me, he gets to remember.' Just got to me after awhile of thinking about it."

He nodded.

"Is your eye fucked up that bad?"

"Hopefully not forever. But, doctor says glasses will help me read and see better. Least for a few months." He half laughed, half scoffed. "Stupid. I can't even fucking read now."

"It's just your left eye, right?"

"Yeah."

"Fuck it, then. Not like your vision won't ever improve. Don't be so down about it."

He shrugged. "I don't know. I wish I had a clue."

"I wish that you weren't feeling so goddamn low that you were willing to swallow a mouthful of Draino, and that it were the asshole who hit you losing his lungs."

Goddamn it, not again.

The sore corners of his eyes were beginning to fill up with warm, burdening tears.

"And I can only bet he's proud of it."

"Oh, you know it. Not like I've heard anything, but when isn't he proud of being an asshole?"

"True."

"I should've taken all the chances I had to cut him from ear to ear. I'm sorry I didn't."

He nodded.

"For once I have to agree with you."

He shook his head. "Even more fucked, even if he was gone some other fuck would step up immediately to take his place. I don't know why we've got caste systems in a high school but it gets eerie after awhile."

"I really don't try to cross paths with these people. I mean legitimately, I try to avoid pissing them off…"

"I know you do."

"… but seriously, every time the opportunity presents itself these people are at my throat."

"I know. I've seen that shit."

"I don't even fight back. You're the one who steps up."

He nodded. "Otherwise they fucking throw you into a wall."

"I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I try so hard not to get people pissed off at me. I don't even look at them, but every fucking day…"

"I can see why they hate me. I talk shit back. Hah, I carry a weapon. But you, you don't do shit. In fact, you're nice to people. I don't even have the decency to be nice."

He picked up the piece, sparking the ashy remainder of the bowl.

"I don't know," he exhaled, smoke passing from the backseat to bounce against the windshield.

"I don't know why you bother. If I were you I'd want to kill every last one of these assholes."

Jeremy grinned.

"Like you don't."

"Oh, you know I do. I just didn't know if you were as crazy as I am."

"If me swallowing Draino isn't a sign, well, shit," he laughed.

Sam sat staring forward for a few seconds, as if he'd gotten lost in his thoughts.

"Some people really don't deserve to live. I'm not the one who should decide but I could stand to submit a few names."

"Yeah, same."

"I think about it so much it makes me fucking sick, actually."

Jeremy looked at him.

"Why?"

"I feel like a fucking psycho! I don't know… I feel like shit all of the time, but just offing myself is wasteful. I have a feeling I wouldn't be in such a shitty mood all the time if it weren't for everything these people do when we're forced to be around each other a few hours a day. I want to get the hell out of here but I don't want to give them the satisfaction of driving me out."

Oddly enough, he understood. The idea had never crossed his mind before, but it wasn't unsettling to him. Not like he never imagined punching Brian until his hands were red before.

"Anybody specifically?" Jeremy asked.

Something halfway between a laugh and scoff came from Sam's throat.

"All of them."

"Goddamn. That's a tall order."

"Not really. The only perk I've got living with my dad still is access to multiple firearms and an endless supply of bullets."

The image of that giant black safe in the garage came to the back of his head. How many times had he watched Sam's dad open it and helped him move guns from the safe into the car? He knew Sam had the combination. How many times had they been smoking in the garage and he'd glance over at it? He'd already gotten a good look at the bullet making machine Sam's dad owned. There were always stray shells in the lines of the cement floor.

So, there's access. Easy, easy access.

But… is he serious?

Are you?

"Really?"

Sam looked at Jeremy. "Yeah."

He shrugged, breaking eye contact. "I don't know."

"I'm not suggesting anything."

"No… honestly, I agree with you."

Yeah, you do. You fucking hate these people. Why else did you try drinking that shit?

Silence hung between them for a few seconds.

"It'd be easy," he said.

"I know."

"Maybe a little bit too easy. But if you want a way out…"

He looked back up at Sam.

He wasn't looking at Jeremy anymore. His eyes were fixed on the windshield.

"… well, I'm not that opposed to the idea myself."

His eyes slowly drifted back towards Jeremy, another even space of silence between them before they were looking at each other again.

"I think you want out as much as I do," he said.

"I really don't know," Jeremy said. "I hate these people but… I don't know… it's just really, really fucked up. I don't know if I'd have the guts to do it."

Sam shrugged, another drag from his cigarette giving him a seemingly better answer than Jeremy had.

"Me neither," he mumbled quietly, a fading cloud slowly passing through his nostrils, the way it spread out like ink dropped in water.

Jeremy turned his head again to stare at the dirty concrete outside the car, his knuckles bent inward, fingernails against his palm, his hand looking the way it always did. He heard his friend sigh again, the sound of smoke in his voice.

"But I'd like to see if I could."