prose · short stories

take it to the death

When I was thirteen years old, I knew a guy whose only idea of fun was the old cliché of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. And whereas I decided to follow the path of rock’n’roll, he went with drugs. They always fascinated me, but the fear prevented me from trying them. It was through our other friends that I found out how bad he was doing. Two years later, when we were supposed to answer the question “What are you going to do for a living?”, his brain finally started working once again and he realized that all that stuff he’d been doing so far wasn’t something that was going to get him through life. He had to take responsibility. And I couldn’t be more happy for him, myself having been accepted to renowned school.

Since our paths seperated, I saw him several times. He was still a “bad boy”. A total fuck-up. He made me sure he didn’t do drugs, though from his clothes came a miasma of pot. I lost any hope that he would finish the school, or that ten years from now, he would have any proper life. But maybe he prefered this lifestyle, maybe it made sense to him. He was paper-thin, always, especially when he’d started taking drugs, and I was always worried about him. It took me years, in fact, to find out how stupid I had been to think he would change, ever.

He became a sort of an archetypical drug-addict. Those who never care about anyone but themselves. I never said no when he asked for a cigarette, I always defended him. And his payback was to ask more. Not that he’d be straight-forward, but I kind of had to be the one who serves him. It was foolish of me. I secretely knew that there was nothing I could do and that he would never be able to do something for me instead.

One particular memory now stands out as it’s one of the most cruel and vivid. It was a winter a couple of years ago. Everything was covered with snow, pavements were covered with ice. We went, it could be five of us, possibly, we went somewhere and nowhere, probably to a department store. We were really cold and we could sit there in a chinese fast food restaurant and talk – when they didn’t kick us out, which happened often as we didn’t order any food most of the time. I think he had just bought me cigarettes – he always did, because I was too afraid, being so small and obviously underage. He is exactly the same age as me, only a few hours older than me, but he’s tall. They always sold them to him.

He walked behind the rest of the group when suddenly some strange guys joined him. They threated him, somewhat, I didn’t know what was going on. The only thing I can then remember is how they threw him in the snow and started kicking him. Everywhere. The blood started staining the snow and his clothes was falling off. He didn’t fight back, he just lay there, hiding his face from the kicks.

One of the girls I used to be a friend with talked to a guy who wasn’t busy fighting him. The misunderstanding came from a lie. And we all stood there, watched it and did nothing. I didn’t know about others, but I had a scream in my mouth, unable to get it out. I wanted to help him, yet I was scared to be beaten, too, and absolutely paralyzed. I can still feel that in my chest when I remember that day.

He managed to stand up and go to the department store with us. He used all our pocket tissues to clean his face from blood. He looked like a monster, all swollen. There we met a few other people who didn’t seem that shocked as I was. They were silent, a little bit, but it seemed almost as if this was happening daily, no big deal.

The next days, probably weeks, he went to school with his messed up face, everyone asked questions. They asked even me, as I admitted that I had been around when that’d happened.

“Why didn’t you do anything?” a teacher asked. As if it was something easy to do. It was a heavy stone in my chest a long after that event, that I had not been able to help him. I knew there was nothing wrong with me because it was normal to protect my own life at first place. Yet still.

It’s now, at his funeral, that I rewind all the memories I had with him. We were friends since we were seven years old. I remember him as the bright child, the one who used to do my maths homework. It still strikes me how fast he moved towards such a dark future.

The cause of death was obviously a drug overdose, though they prefer not to talk about it out loud. But when it comes to drugs, people talk. People love talking dirt. They ask me: “You were his friend, you knew this? How did it happen? Did he tell you something? Do you know what he was taking?” No, I say, I wasn’t his friend for years, but now I kind of envy him for having his bit done, listening to you. I assumed that our society’s grown up, but I was wrong. Dying because of drugs surely isn’t a fancy death, but it should rather bring up the question of how doomed we are if someone like him can touch the very bottom anyone can touch, and die of that. Maybe if there was somebody for him, he wouldn’t have had to end up like this. They didn’t offer a help, they only punished him. Now they prefer to talk of him as if it was only a TV series and not a real life. How nice of them. Maybe they should care of themselves even now.

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