A few weeks ago I had went to this party at Jordan Oliver's. There was this guy there whose name I couldn't remember. I was sitting alone in the hot tub, away from all of the mayhem, when this same guy got in with me. He had this white-blond hair with really blue eyes and a good tan. His eyebrows were barely even visible. He had sort of reminded me of Eli with the hair and the eyes. Even the smile was similar. The two of us talked a little while I smoked and he sipped something from a wine glass. The guy was okay enough and I was feeling pretty comfortable and so stoned that I ended up spacing out with my eyes closed. God I had felt so comfortable. And then after a few minutes, I felt something brush my thigh and I opened my eyes. When I had looked up, the guy was sitting in front of me, his face only a few inches from mine, staring at me. I didn't say anything, he didn't say anything: nothing but quiet forever. After a while, with his eyes on mine the entire time, the guy raised his hand and I didn't even flinch, not even when I felt it brush my cheek. I think I might have looked at him and asked him what he wanted, can't really remember for sure. But, it had been quiet. And the quiet had continued with me staring at this guy, wondering what the hell he was about and him staring at me like he wanted me to do something, until the guy suddenly sat back in the tub, shut his eyes and laughed. It was this soft, short laugh that ended with nothing.
"I wish I were dead," he'd murmured.
I didn't say anything. Instead, I got out of the tub and left him sitting there with his eyes closed and this creepy half smile on his face.
I had nightmares after Eli killed himself. Still do. Although, not quite the same. Now, I just get them maybe once a month instead of every night. If someone ever tells you that time heals all wounds, they're lying. Why? Because I still get nightmares. With him standing there in my mind, silent, staring at me with these creepy, empty eyes and I would stare back at him with nausea boiling in my guts. And when I'd wake up, the memory of it all was so subtle and vague, that it took a while for me to realize who I was dreaming about. And then, even after finally realizing that, it took me even longer to understand that it wasn't going to go away. I'd wake up at four something in the morning and stay that way since I couldn't exactly fall back to sleep because all that was left was this really putrid feeling and me freaked out and bug eyed and wondering why it wouldn't go away.
A month before graduation from Lincoln Academy, our parents had gone away for a business convention in Dallas, TX, for my dad's business. Meat: a company that produced and distributed high grade meats and gourmet cheeses. Family owned and founded - a very big deal. He was always getting on my ass, saying that I had to start applying myself because I was next in line to inherit his very big deal company. "If you don't straighten up, you can forget about taking over. With the way that things are going now, I doubt that you'll even make it as far as stock," he'd say. I didn't care though. I wasn't too sure about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but what I did know was that I didn't want to take over that mountain of stress, very big deal meat company.
Eli's eighteenth birthday had been due in a couple of days. Our parents had bought him an Audi TT Coupe. I guess it was sort of like a replacement for them not being there in person. My sister Jill had given him a bottle of cologne and some shirt early on since she had already made plans with her best friend's boyfriend to go to Palm Springs for the weekend. Eli was disappointed. You could tell by the way he was smiling and acting like some sort of Prozac patient. Since I was the only one left, and it gave me a good excuse to have one, the day before his birthday, I ended up throwing Eli a party at the house.
Parties are all the same. Loud obnoxious music blasting out your eardrums with usually about a two or three hundred plus people all crowded into a smoke filled house either doing lines or drinking, or both, or screwing each other blind in one of the rooms. And sometimes if they happened to be completely loaded or just plain stupid, they would do it out in the open.
I had thought that he was upset over our parents and Jill leaving, but at the time he had seemed really happy. Well, to me he did anyway. I mean, when someone is talking really loud and smiling a lot you usually assume it's because they're happy…right? He was doing what he wanted. And yeah, honestly, two hours in, he was creeping me out. He ended up like some kind of psychedelic freak show from hell. It was insane. He was drunk and strung out on coke, something that as far as I knew, which was weird. He usually stayed pretty clean, like, stuck to beer and liquor. Of course, I didn't object to any of it. I mean, it was the guy's birthday. Let him have some fun. Besides, I wasn't his fucking sitter and a few shots and some lines weren't that big of a deal.
That night, I had ended up as sober as God. Guess the guilt had started to eat me alive. I don't know, maybe I was paranoid or something, but either way, at three something in the morning I didn't care and ended up kicking everybody out of the house, which was pretty difficult to do. I mean, these people were all over the fucking place. The pool, all of the bedrooms upstairs, in the basement – it was like trying to pick up millions of pieces of dirt in the carpet. And even when I did find them they would complain about how they wanted to stay because they wanted to have more fun. Nobody wanted to leave. And then to make my day even goddamn greater, when I went to check the bathroom to see if there was anyone left, I saw Eli, crouched near the toilet with his hair hanging in his face, puking his guts up.
"Everyone's gone," I had told him. He responded by hanging his head over the toilet bowl.
"What the fuck did you drink?" I think I had asked.
He must have thrown up forever, gagging and coughing before finally huddling against the wall, his chest rising and falling in shallow wheezing breaths. He wiped his mouth sloppily, his face, pasty and shining with sweat, was like a horror movie. There were dark bruises under his eyes and when he leaned his head back tiredly, I noticed some faint markings on his neck. They weren't hickeys. They weren't because the patterns were different. He looked over at me again and stared, his eyes blank and empty until he started crying. I wondered what he was feeling.
It was strange because it wasn't the neat and tidy crying that you see in the movies or whenever you see a girl crying over a boy or some shit like that. His face was flushed while tears splashed down and soaked his shirt. He was doubled over, clutching his stomach like he was in pain or something, and the longer he went on, the more confused I became. When I asked him if he was okay, he only shook his head, and cried harder. The sound was strange, as if he was trying to cry the life right out of him.
At that time, I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. I didn't comfort him or try to figure out a solution. I was tired. I felt confused and annoyed and sickened by the fact that he was bawling like a woman. So I watched how his eyes dripped all over his face, all over the floor and said nothing, and waited for him to quit until twenty or so minutes later, I finally realized that he wasn't going to. And when I realized this, I walked away.
And later, when I crawled up to my room and crashed into my bed, praying for a coma, I found myself thinking. I didn't want to, but I did, and after about a good half hour of just thinking, my head started to hurt. I mean it just fucking pounded. Eli: a fool, a moron on wheels that turned my brain around and around. Tomorrow never looked so good to me; I longed for tomorrow. Perhaps then, he would be back to normal, everything would be back to normal, and everything would be fine.
Except now, I wish that tomorrow had never come because when the morning came, things didn't get any better. When the morning came, I found Eli sprawled out in red on the kitchen floor, staring forever at the ceiling. There were chunks of stuff smattered around him. It was only until later that I noticed the gushing hole in his head staining the linoleum red because, despite the gore, I already knew.
He was dead.