Let me tell you about dead bodies.
Real dead bodies, not ones you imagine–or ones you were led to believe you imagined. Dead bodies are just that; bodies. Not like a dead human. Humanity vacates and what’s left is a sack of flesh and bones made to resemble the human who once rode around in that sack. I don’t mean to get all philosophical and pedantic, but these little facts–which are hard to articulate unless you’ve seen a dead body–are important, because they differentiate reality and delusion.
His was the first dead body, I had ever seen.
And I knew it in that moment. I floated to him. I say floated because I don’t remember moving my body, I don’t know why or how I would have moved closer–rather than run the fuck away–without floating. I stood inches from the useless rubber shoes on it’s feet. The head was a mess, a bloody pulp, and the strange white chunks, that reminded me of maggots or wet styrofoam drifting away in the pool of his blood, were the part I hated the most. The insides were outside now.
Everything was wrong.
But at the same time, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was real. Wrong and sad and horrible but real. That’s how I knew everything leading up to that moment had been false. Not false in a safe way. Not in a way like nightmares are safe, because nightmares aren’t real. There is a difference between false and not real. False, isn’t the opposite of real, it’s an illusion of reality, which makes it so much worse.
The police showed up.
I can’t remember if I called them or if they just showed up because someone reported the shot. Hudson Frank, a guy who went to school with my older brother questioned me. I don’t think anyone thought I shot Deakin’s old man, but they still asked me the same questions fourteen different ways. Hudson kept this weird look on his face like I had a booger hanging out of my nose he was trying not to look at the whole time.
I wobbled back to the beach after that.
I don’t know why I went back to the beach or why everyone at the beach was still laughing and drinking like a man hadn’t just shot himself. News travels slow when alcohol is involved, I suppose. But that’s what I did, then I stood on the sand and did nothing until I remembered the thing I forgot to tell the police. I pulled his note out of my pocket and stared at it, reading each word over twice.
“It’s not comin. It’s here. Won’t be like last time. Can’t help ya this time. Don’t let It win, Albany.”
To be continued…