Fourth of July.
I don’t know about where you grew up but in Brody Creek the fourth of July is bigger than Christmas. Red, white and puke everywhere. Not literal puke–well, some of that, but that’s a given–what I mean is, every house is dripping in patriotic pride, the smell of barbecue hovers over the surface of the water, firecrackers start going off at noon and the streets run with Budweiser. In short, every single person and their dog is out and about.
In the past theft was ramped.
So and so stole so and so’s lawn mower, a throng of hoodlum teenagers ransacked nine vacation properties and last year, someone’s drunk uncle walked into a random house, pissed in the kitchen then passed out in the master bedroom. We called him Masterpisser Pete. It was stupid, I know, and I’m wasting time on all of this for a reason.
I need you to understand.
I need you to be able to visualize the whole scenario in order to understand how something like what I am about to tell you could happen. How someThing could glide right past our eyes, destroying everyone in its wake and none of us notice. Not that it was blatantly obvious but on any other day I’m certain I wouldn’t have been the only one to notice something was wrong.
I took a six pack to the beach.
Watching people get black out drunk and face plant into the sand has always been one of my favorite fourth of July past times, but that year something felt wrong. I felt it in my gut. There was something wrong with the sky, I remember looking at it and thinking it was the wrong shade of blue like someone had colored over it with a grey crayon. I drank my first three beers before quarter after one, so when I saw It weaving in and out the crowd I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me.
There isn’t a real great way to describe It.
Like a shadow with no bottom–if that makes sense–like, instead of a shadow it was made out of a bottomless pit you could still see through and everything on the other side was being swallowed whole.
It slunk through the crowd.
I noticed a couple little kids saw it too; one laughed, two ran crying to their ma’s. At the time, I convinced myself I was making it up. I mean, I would blink and It would be gone, take another sip of beer and It’d be back, suddenly on the other side of the beach.
I convinced myself I was drunk.
Until it looked at me. It’s hollow eyes–if you could call them eyes–boring into mine. My blood turned to ice, the image of those dead boys in the woods flooded my mind, and for a millisecond I saw every person on the beach dead, shredded to pieces. I dropped my beer, splashing it on some girls leg. She glared at me as I ran the fuck away. Once I hit main street I had convinced myself I made it all up. I calmed my breath, my heart started to beat normal again. I walked to the end of the street and decided I’d just get another six pack and drink myself out of the remaining trepidation. Then I heard the gunshot.
To be continued…