A/N: Hello to whoever decides to read this cuckoo story! Just a little warning - it's gonna get dirty. In all ways ;). It's a story weirdly inspired by a children's anime film I watched as a kid called Chirin no Suzu / Ringing Bell.


RIVERKILL

01


Dear Teacher (feel my sentiment),

There are a shit load of ironic things in my shitty little shit life.

Most ironic thing would be as follows:

The town I sleep, breathe, walk, talk, play, and fa-la-la in, is called Riverkill.

My best friend was named River.

My best friend was killed two months ago

If you don't get the fucking irony then I don't know what to tell ya'.

Or maybe I'll just tell ya'.

River was killed in Riverkill.

God.


The "letter" is poignant and stoic because I am coming to terms, teacher, I am healing. There are a few aggressive words in there, but it would be uncharacteristic of me not to add them in at this point.

"Ry, what are you writing?" my mom whispers in my ear like some kind of spectre.

"Irony," I say. "It's for class. Supposed to cite an ironic situation and . . . use it ironically."

"What? That sounds complicated, sonny."

My mom actually calls me sonny like she's an old farmer. I flick my gaze up to her, the motion dismissive enough for her to grin at me as if she realizes why I'm dismissing her. She doesn't, because she's my mom and she calls me sonny.

"I'm proud of you," my mom says, hugging me around the shoulders from behind. Her blonde hair falls against my cheek. "You didn't use any italics."

Mom's an editor / pain-in-the-ass-when-I-write-assignments. I say, "If things weren't meant to be italicized then italics wouldn't have been invented," simply to piss her off.

"No one invented 'stupidity' yet it's here anyway," my mom retorts.

I can't decide if that's a really idiotic thing to say or not. I stare at her as I try to decide.

"Also, you can't hand this in, crumb," my mom tells me, her voice lowered in a slithery hiss—my mom is dramatic, see. "Look at all these f-bombs."

F-bombs. She likes saying "f-bombs" but I don't have the heart to tell her that's last decade. Before I can respond, she kisses my head like I'm a child and floats away. My ghostly mother, pale and quiet. She heads into the next room and I hear her shriek of laughter that would've surprised an older (younger?) me. Now I'm used to it—her spontaneous raaa-ha-ha-haaa's!

I get up, all draggy and guh, and set my devoured bowl of instant noodles in the sink. I've cussed my soul away in English ever since Mrs. Dunleni said it was okay to "poke in a few of the uh-oh's" since literature is about expression, and real life people really, truly use bad language. At first I was stunned—poke in a few of the uh-oh's was a sexual innuendo and there was no way she didn't know that—and then she smiled right at me, this weird, wicked, I'm-relating-to-you smile.

Mrs. Dunleni managed to make me pay attention in class for the first time since River's murder. None of the teachers were able to get me to so much as look at them, and here Mrs. Dunleni laid out a trap specifically for me, and I was baited.

I goddamned listened.

So, to impose revenge, I used her advice—her permission—to my advantage. Every paper I turned in since looked as though it were written by a kid who'd just discovered "big kid words". I took my reports a step further, too. When required to cite sources, I cited website links (because the internet is really the number one information tool for students and all human beings in general, let's get real). I made sure the links were obscure or vague, ridded with numbers, and I knew if Mrs. Dunleni was gung ho enough to paste them into her browser bar, she'd get overwhelmed by porn sites and the dirty pop ups that came with them.

The old twat.

I wash my bowl and give a great stretch into the air, my head falling back to view the stuccoed ceiling. My gaze catches the source of the dusty lighting—a small ceiling fan embedded with four bright bulbs—and I feel a smile grace my lips.

Time for school, then.


"Hi!" I shout, startling the entire library.

"Mr. Denwin!" the librarian hisses at me.

"Apologies," I say, grinning ever so wide at her. I then amble in, swinging my bag over my shoulder, and beeline straight (oxymoron! Points!) to the table my friends are at. There's Jared, a cute, freckled thing who always, always wears sweaters, and there's Axel, a piercing-infested boy with dyed, spiked green hair. Then there's Wendy, a tall brunette who's surprisingly shy. When I say tall, I mean fucking tall. I'm 5'9" and she still towers over me.

I drop down, throwing my bag onto an empty seat next to Axel. "Alrighty-fucking-roo," I say, rubbing my chin, "what's new?"

Wendy looks up at me, fidgeting with her sleeves. "Um, homework. Just doing homework, Ry."

She always sounds like I beat her or something, but I really don't, and that's just how she is. I smile at her, and she smiles back.

See?

Wendy and I, we've been friends since we were toddlers. It used to be her, River, and I, running around like hooligans—anything from street hockey to capture the flag to pranks on the neighbours. Then we got older and got drunk together and embarrassed ourselves together, but laughed until we couldn't breathe.

Axel leans back in his chair and my gaze attaches to his taut stomach. My gaze wanders southwards but the rest of his body is cut from my view by the library table. I likely wouldn't fuck Axel, but he does have a charm to him. If I got drunk enough, maybe . . . but fucking friends gets complicated. Especially when they're not "out" yet.

Not that Axel isn't out. He's been out since he was—I don't know—a baby, for fuck's sake. He probably popped out of his mama's womb wearing a fuzzy pink boa and stilettos.

"They are doing homework," Axel drawls, as if "they" are not associated with him, nope, the total losers. "I'm texting George about tonight."

Right, another reason I choose to keep our dicks far apart. Axel is the school slut, which is kind of hilarious in its own way. Bitches, you just try to outslut this man.

Jared peeks at me with an accompanying delicate nod. "Do you know what pages have to be read by Monday?"

"What subject?" I ask, fumbling to get out my books even though I really, really don't wanna. Really can't be assed . . .

"Geography," Jared answers.

"You two are in Geography?" Axel splutters.

"Sure," Jared confirms.

"Aw, man," Axel whines, sinking in his chair, "I should've taken that class. Such a fuckin' pie class."

I fold the corners of the pages in my Geography textbook. Axel and Jared bicker over something, and Wendy occasionally blows strands of dark hair that fall before her face as she hunches over whatever it is she's writing. Looks like an essay, sad for her.

I pretend to read a section in my Geography book but I'm not really. I can't focus. I draw obscene things in the margins and smirk at my own immaturity.

Someone taps my shoulder, and I look up to see Simon Greggs standing behind me. He's wearing his basketball jersey over his shirt, and for a moment I'm confused as to why. Then I realize it's Friday, and there's an game against the neighbouring school tonight.

"Hey, Denwin," he says, and I take a moment to cringe as I always do. Not at him, but at my last name. It sounds nerdy as hell. "Wanna come with me for a second?" he asks. He tilts his head in a funnily suave way, and as his brown eyes lock with my grey, I feel compelled.

"Yeah, sure," I say, pushing my chair back. He hisses as the leg catches his foot, but I don't particularly care. If he wants to act like he can boss me around, I'll run over his feet no problem. "Lead the way, chump."

"Chump, huh?" Simon mutters, and he pulls out a cigarette right in the middle of the library. I narrow my eyes as him. Ooh, so bad. I want to flick it out of his mouth when he positions it between his lips. Cigarette held between those teeth, he raises his eyebrows at me expectantly, even though I told him to lead.

He then swipes the cigarette out of his own mouth and turns on his heels.

"Be right back, guys," I say to my friends, who are looking at each other. It isn't like Simon has never come and mysteriously whisked me off before, but they never seem to be comfortable with it. I jokingly tell them Simon likes to bang me up against the change room lockers, but they don't seem to think it's a joke.

Simon has never touched me and I've never touched him. Nothin' there.

I meander my way through tables, following Simon. To my surprise, he doesn't take me out of the library, but instead to some cooped corner. Usually some video game fanatics sit here, but today it's deserted, luckily for us. Simon drops down on one of the couches, draping both arms over the back of the couch. Sitting like that, he looks like an invitation, and it annoys me because I do kind of want to curl onto his lap like a kitten.

"What's up?" I ask, leaning a shoulder against the nearest shelf which contains some encyclopaedia's. Yeah, no one's gonna come back here looking for an encyclopaedia.

"Come here," Simon says. "What if someone walks back here and just sees us talking?"

I shift. "What's wrong with that?"

"We aren't friends, it's unrealistic," he reasons.

"So, what the fuck do you want me to do, pretend I'm giving you head back here or something?"

To my surprise, Simon smiles. Simon never smiles. "While your logic is interesting, I gotta decline. Pretend you're tutoring me."

"Dude," I say, holding up a hand, "I'm probably worse at you in every subject."

"Only because you don't hand in your assignments or pay attention in class," he reasons.

"Exactly."

"Doesn't mean you don't get it," he adds.

I sigh and started to pick at the old wood on the shelf beside me. It's breaking off a little. A piece gets under my fingernail and I hiss between my teeth.

"Come here," he says, "and bring something with you."

I slip an encyclopaedia out and drop it with a dramatic fump on the table before him. His ash coloured hair blows away from his face at the momentum, and his gaze darts up to meet mine. I raise my eyebrows.

"Get to the point, Greggs. Do you have anything?" I crouch in front of the table, my elbows resting on my knees.

"Yeah," he says.

Our gazes lock.

This whole school, and everyone in it . . .

It has only been two months since River was murdered, and yet everything has settled back to its regular routine. People avoid his name, avoid his memory. When they're about to say something that involved him, they cut themself off with a stupid laugh or a clear of the throat and change the subject.

River has become taboo.

I grip my knees. "What is it?" I demand.

I didn't know of Simon Gregg's existence until two weeks ago when he ambushed me in the locker room. At first I thought he wanted a spontaneous shag, and while I wasn't super against it—he has himself a handsome mug there—he ended up talking about River. He wouldn't tell me who he was to River or how they knew each other, but he wanted to find out who killed him. No matter what.

I told him to leave it to the cops, and he told me the cops are sour. Which means bad. Which means whoever killed River has the cops fondling his goddamned balls at his every beckon.

Which has me suspecting the killer, himself, is a dirty cop.

"I found him," Simon says, leaning forwards. His brown eyes are solemn and it alarms me, because at times I suspect this kid cared about River as much as I did. And that's a fuck load of a lot.

I resist the urge to lean back when Simon sets his hands on the table surface and leans in close. His lips are set at my ear and I stare at the couch behind him as he whispers the name:

"Fade Chesco."

Now, that would have more of an effect if I actually knew who the hell Fade Chesco was, but hey.

But I had a name, and I had a vengeance, and now it was time to destroy this man.