Tuesday, October 4, 2016
TT: The Night We Killed One
"Seven billion people in the world and you're overreacting because we killed one?"
"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."