What Have You Done?
"You keep your mouth shut about this, all right? This is our secret."
I can't rip my eyes away from the dead man, even as Billy grabs me by the wrists and shakes me so brutally that I feel my brain rattle inside my skull. I see the blood, I hear the screams echo in my head, but I still don't believe it. A man is dead. I'm looking at a dead man.
"Do you hear me, Von? Look at me! We don't tell anyone, all right?"
"All right," I barely hear him, but I know what he's saying. I don't need him to tell me to keep my gob shut.
But I can't shut my eyes. I can't stop staring at the body. The weapon stands up in the wound as though it's been planted there like a sapling. His mouth is open with a scream to agonising for human ears. All that blood... oh God.
His eyes are still leering, still smirking at me. I place my fingertips on his face gently and close his eyelids, shuddering as I touch the still-warm flesh.
"What'd you do that for?" Billy asks, a funny, puzzled look on his face.
"He was looking at me funny," I try to explain. The second the words slither through my lips, I know I sound mental. Billy scoffs at my stupidity.
"Don't see why it matters now. Just get him to the car." he barks, shoving a hand through his hair. His eyes, always so bright, always so happy, are black and cold. I've never seen him so angry, or so lost. Are mine like that? I wonder as we shove the dead man into the boot and speed down the road to somewhere, anywhere but here.
The night is darker than dark as we carry him down the steps to the canal. He's so heavy that I can barely cling to his ankles as I back down the staircase, half expecting to topple backwards myself. Then I'd probably hit my head on a step and bleed out. It'd be the best thing that had happened to me tonight if I did. I at least wouldn't have to worry about the police knocking at my door. But I don't fall back, and maybe that's just as well- it'd be wrong to leave Billy to sort out this mess on his own. The body thumps to the stone floor, just an inch or two away from the edge. Kneeling down, I watch as Billy spits on the dead man's face. Why bother? I wonder. He's dead, it's not like there's any point. Even with his eyes shut, the dead face still haunts me, so I snap my head to the side and stare at the dark, deep water, black as tar and maybe as thick. Suddenly, a thought grips me by the throat, strangling me with panic.
"What if he floats?" I whimper, eyes flickering between my friend and the dead man. Quick as a whip, Billy grabs a piece of broken bottle, yanks the bloodied shirt up and skims the sharp edge across the corpse's stomach, slashing it open like a pig in a butcher's.
"It won't," Unable to look, I turn my head away, hoping my mate's actions help. Then a thought hits me, and I can taste bile at the back of my throat.
"Computer games." He pauses for a second, thoughtful and calm in the madness. "Help me roll him over, will you?" he orders, grabbing the corpse's shoulder and pulling the thing towards the edge. Without a word I obey, shoving at his back, his blood soaking through the T-shirt and onto my hands. Seconds later, he's out of the way and sinking into the black depths. There's a noise like bacon fat spattering in a pan as we run off. He was right, then. He sank.
I don't realise I'm crying until we're back in the street.
"Quiet," Billy barks, panting from the run and pulling the car door open. "Get in. Get in!" I'm not stupid enough to ignore him, so I slip into the passenger seat, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. He'll go mad if I keep snivelling like a softy. My skin is ghostly in the darkness, and when I look at my hand there's a crow-black streak along it from my mascara. I'll have to wash my face when I get home- Lauren will start asking questions if I don't. The car starts and the radio screams at us. Billy turns it up as far as it'll go, humming as though he's trying to drown out his conscience.
"We should go to the pol-"
"No! Don't you dare!"
"But if they hear it from us they might go easy on-"
"Do you really think it'll work that way. Do you?" My silence is a clear "no". Hissing and taking a deep breath, my friend lets a sight out and stares straight ahead, his eyes hard. Mad. Miserable. Scared. "We keep quiet about this. We forget it and we go on as before." He makes it sound so simple, like the body was just a bad dream. I want it to be so badly. That, or I wish it was me dead. Or that I'd never been born. Or that- "I'll run you a bath when we get in," he tells me, apparently forgetting the blood on his own shirt, the liquid life staining the steering wheel.
When we finally pull up, I've stopped crying. Like burglars we run into the house, glad that Lauren and Joe are asleep.
"Try to keep quiet" Billy tells me, grabbing a plastic bag. "We'll burn our clothes tomorrow." He sees my face and softens his tone for a second, calm now that it's almost over. "We'll have this sorted in the morning. In a few months you'll have forgotten all about this." He's just saying it to calm me down. We can't sort this in the morning. It's never going to be sorted. And I'm never going to forget that man's face.