Tuesday, October 4, 2016

TT: The Night We Killed One




"Seven billion people in the world and you're overreacting because we killed one?"

"But --!"

"Seven. Billion. People. Quit complaining and drink your smoothie.  Geez."

Dad had always said to do whatever my brother told me. Ben knew best. Ben always knew best. I mean, didn't he?  So I closed my eyes and stepped over the corpse.

I couldn't call it a man anymore. Somehow, it made what had happened easier to accept. Stepping over a corpse was easier if you stopped thinking of it as a person.

Killing one was easier, too.

Ben stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled as he sauntered down the street. When I was younger, it would have been flooded with the yellow light of the streetlights. But, I wasn't younger and the streetlights were long gone - picked off for steel or glass or whatever anyone was buying that year. All we had was moonlight anymore.

I thought I liked it better.

Tossing my cup into a trashbin no one bothered with anymore, I ran to catch up with him. "Ben --!"

"I told you, I don't want to hear your snivelling." He'd already stopped thinking about it.

"But, Ben-- you forgot your knife."

Ben glanced at me, but his eyes were cold. "No, I didn't. You did. Go back and get it."

Do what your brother says. Do what your brother says.

There was no use in refusing. There never was.  I walked slowly back.

The man -- I shook my head -- The corpse --  still sat crumpled by the car. Of course it did. Where was it going to go? My feet felt heavier the closer I came until they felt like I could barely lift them anymore.

It wore a green jacket... the kind of green that the military used to wear.. and his hair flopped over one eye. If I let myself think of him as man, I could imagine him constantly running his hand through his hair to push it out of the way. But... he wasn't a man. He was a corpse.

He was a corpse. Because of us.

I squatted beside him and wrapped my hand around the hilt of the knife.  It was slimy with his blood, so I used two hands to pull it free. I imagined it sounded like it did when they pulled my tooth as a kid.

"Ah, sweet Jesus." I jumped. The corpse.  It -- he -- winked at me. He winked at me? "Thanks, kid." I looked back toward my brother in panic, but the corpse - man -- put his hand on my shoulder.

"It's best he doesn't know."

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