May 2nd, 2016
“What did you do?” My sister called Friday night. Sam and I were doing one of our angry fool-around sessions where we… Actually, I don’t really know what’s going on there, either. My sister called shortly after sunset. That voice, which was soft and seeking, was now grisly, on point. From the phone it grabbed my esophagus. “This is your chance, Andy. This is your chance to be honest with me before I lose all faith in my only brother.”
I crawled out of the weird knot Sam and I had worked ourselves into, over the cat waiting patiently near the back window and into the street. “Tell me where you want me to start,” I said to her. My hand hadn’t been able to close all the way since that scarecrow-looking jackass. After pummeling Luis repeatedly, my other hand was pretty much worthless. I tried to pin my sliver of a smart phone between my shoulder and ear, but there’s not enough flesh or cartilage remaining on the right one, so I had to switch it to my left.
“Andy, I’m not calling to pretend like you don’t know what I know full-well you know. I’m calling you to give you a chance. I’m calling you so that years from now, and I mean years from now, when I consider speaking to you again, I can remind myself that at least you were honest when I came to you.”
I’d only stopped picking out burs and splinters from my flesh about an hour earlier. I had to drive to the beach to shower there, change my clothes to keep anymore thorns and bits of cactus from shedding from my shirt and pants into the car seat where I fucking sleep every night. Naked, I looked like a score card at a drunk competition, red tallies taken everywhere with no one decidedly the victor.
Sam had poured a bottle of rubbing alcohol down my neck and across my chest, letting the clear fluid bubble upon lacerations and wash pink down to my feet. She used a pair of panties to clean my face. You can’t say “panties” without people thinking it’s somehow sexual. It wasn’t. It was tender.
“Answer me, Andy!” I’m sorry, let me stay on topic.
“He’s a rapist,” I said.
“Stop. I didn’t ask you to defend yourself. I asked you to tell me what you did.”
Standing beneath the streetlight, looking back into the Bronco as Sam watched over her shoulder, I knew I was alone. And I knew I was trapped. “I don’t know what to say to you…”
“Andy, you don’t know what to say to get out of this. You know what you did.”
“I jumped your boyfriend.”
“You jumped my boyfriend?”
It was dark, with no one to be seen on the street. Yet I spoke down, into my chest as much as I could without the phone slipping out. “I tackled him into a canyon.”
“What else? I punched him in the chest a couple times.”
“What else… I… may have told him I was going to rip his brains out.”
“Are you going to blow up his father’s house?”
I had said that. I completely had. I think I’d said it twice. But hearing the words out of her mouth made them seem foreign. They had felt genuine at the time. Now… they sounded cartoonish.
That esophageal grip now cranked one direction and my stomach twisted like a wringing rag. “I… don’t have any plans to do that, no.”
“Did you wrap a plastic bag around his face?”
“He raped you. What I am supposed to-“
“He raped me? Who told you he raped me?”
“I saw your neck! Give me a break. You couldn’t even talk about it without crying!”
“Andy, if you really think he raped me why didn’t you say that from the beginning?”
“Because you know he didn’t rape me.”
“I asked you about what was going on. I asked you about your neck. I’d just told you all that stuff and it was your turn to be honest with me but what had happened to you was too gruesome-”
“Don’t paint a picture, Andy. Don’t try to make it into what you wanted it to be. I’d just seen bone sticking out of your fucking hand! I was crying because I was looking at my big brother like he was roadkill!”
“Why would I want it be that? Why would I want someone to have raped you?“
“You tell me.” Maybe I… “I asked him, okay? I told him I wanted him to give a hickey.”
“You looked like you asked The Mountain to choke you out.”
“I was drunk. It got out of hand. It wasn’t rape! Do you hear that part? It wasn’t rape.”
“You’re sixteen years old and you were drunk. That’s rape.”
“Shut up, Andy! Don’t pull that with me. Don’t try to rationalize what you did. If you thought I was raped you should have talked to mom or called the cops or done anything other than try to kill my boyfriend!”
“If I’d wanted-“
“Andy. Andy. I don’t… I’m scared you don’t see that what you did was wrong. Okay? It scares me.”
I wouldn’t tell her it was wrong. I won’t say it now. But even as I write this, I bite my lips together.
“I didn’t know you’d changed this much.”
There was something unconsidered by me until that moment, something that was suddenly as clear as the shadows cast in night by dead shrubbery and vegetation.
“I can’t… Andy, don’t call me again after this, do you understand? Don’t text me.”
It was the clarity of loss, a kind I had not experienced yet.
“I need to know that you’re hearing me.”
It wasn’t loss from tragic circumstances or careless error.
“Andy, tell me you understand that. You’re not to call me again.”
Something ugly inside of me drove away someone I love.
I used my bandaged hand to draw a tear away from my face so that Sam wouldn’t see it. Even now, typing at the computer, I do it so that no one else will see how I feel. The bandage smells of old-cast and necrosis, no matter how often I change it. I’m starting to think it’s me.
“Don’t keep me waiting, Andy.”
“I understand,” I told her.
I don’t know if my sister is reading this or if she will ever read this. Maybe she’ll find it someday before she starts speaking to me again. But I don’t think it would exonerate me.
“Good-bye, Andy.” She said before hanging up, “Be safe.”