This story is the work of a guest contributor who preferred to remain anonymous. – PJS
“Help me man. Make sure you don’t leave any fingerprints.”
“It’s our bathroom dude. It’s going to have our fingerprints!”
“Fuck you. I’m stressing out right now. The least you can do is give me some God damn sympathy.”
“Sympathy? I’m in the shit with you now. Plus, I’m not the one who invited their friends over.”
“Whatever man. Go get some plastic garbage bags from under the sink and the cleaver from the kitchen. Get the rubber gloves too.”
“Matt, just go get them.”
The body was on the couch now, carefully placed onto a commemorative 1999 New York Yankees World Series blanket that had been spread out by the two men.
“Where did it all go wrong?” The man muttered to himself.
He was startled by Matt’s re-entrance to the room, “Here are the bags. I couldn’t find the cleaver, but I think there’s an ax in the back shed.” The man nodded, but he wasn’t really listening. Instead, he was pondering the precision needed to correctly maneuver the situation he had put himself in. A single slip in the oncoming events could screw him and his brother for the rest of their lives.
“Ok, fine. Go get the ax. Just be quiet. We can’t wake Mom!”
The man opens one of the bags and tosses the Yankees blanket into it. The figure had fallen into a sitting position, staring at the man. His face was contorted into a grin.
The man recognizes the face. He recognizes the smile. He hears the laughter that accompanied both.
The voice of the figure taunted the man. “Why did you do this to me? Answer me! Hehehe.” The man questioned whether he was going crazy, but knew there was no time to do anything about it. In a few hours people would start asking questions about where the figure was.
The man needed to hurry. He couldn’t bear to look at the figure much longer. He was a friend. He was part of the family. He was also a lover.
Matt returned from the shed with the ax. “Hey Kel, are you alright man? Should I call someone for help?”
“I’m fine. Let’s just get Ben into the bags.”
Kel and Ben first met back on the bus to Our Lady of Forgiveness in the 6th grade. Kel, too scrawny to protect himself from the endless onslaught of the bullies of the local public school, was sent for a Catholic education by his parents.
The first day at the bus stop was intimidating to young Kelvin. Throughout his life he had been surrounded by loving family and friends, never knowing the cold feeling of being an outsider. There was an arctic breeze that autumn morning, stinging Kel with previously unknown loneliness and pain. Children at the bus stop would recall that Kel did not say a word during that first day, ironically. They say that now they can’t get him to stop giving unwarranted hot takes. Privately, they yearn for the Kel they met on the first day.
The bus arrived 20 minutes late that morning, an ongoing theme Kel would endure for the rest of his life. Slowly walking up the steps, the boy can smell booze coming from the overweight, middle aged bus driver. He was familiar with the smell from an uncle on his mom’s side that couldn’t handle Thanksgiving dinners. “I wonder if we’re ever going to make it there,” Kel nervously thought to himself. All of a sudden, the boy hears a faint, high pitched sound from the back of the bus. At first he couldn’t recognize the words, but the sound continued to draw him closer to the back, until he was facing a smaller Indian boy singing Will Smith’s hit single, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Kel’s favorite song.
Ben was an innocent child. Well-mannered and always sitting up straight, he was the perfect young gentleman. The only issue with his behavior was the consistent backing out of obligations. From birthday parties to calling his grandmother in India, he would promise to do things, but would ultimately stand up the engagement. His parents hoped the strictness of a Catholic education would stop this behavior.
Kel the white Irish Catholic, had never before seen a darker skinned boy of his age. He was intrigued. His parents had warned him of those of a different skin tone, but he was hypnotized by the way Ben’s skin glistened in the light.
The site of Kel’s intimidated face brought Ben’s singing to a sudden halt. Mustering the courage to say something, especially to someone he was fascinated by, Kel said the only words he could think of. “Hi, I’m Kel.” Ben smiled.
Little did either of the boys know, but this was the beginning of the most important relationship of either of their lives. What started as a friendship would grow into a forbidden love. Once their parents caught wind of the romance, they chose to split the boys up. Kel’s parents were old school Catholics, and would probably make Ted Cruz blush on the topic of homosexuality. Yes, they loved their son very much, but they knew young Kel would never get through Heaven’s Golden Gates of Endless Happiness if he didn’t change his ways. To remedy the situation, they sent their son to the once prestigious High Holiness High School, a different school than Ben was going to. The school held the principles of the Catholic Church, no doubt, but also was lenient on discipline. They hoped that the right girl with just the right amount of insecurity could change the course of Kel’s future.
It wasn’t always easy, but Kel and Ben kept in contact throughout the years, even during college. They would meet up during breaks, and were able to keep their love a secret. They graduated, and both were fortunate to start working in New York City. They planned to move in together into a quaint apartment in Brooklyn in the fall of 2015, and they decided that would be the right time to reveal their love to the world.
That was at least the plan.
There’s a saying, “Tell God your plans and he laughs.” On the day Kel and Ben were planning to sign their lease after weeks of negotiations, God laughed thunderously.
It had been a week since Ben and Kel had agreed to the price with their new landlord, Gloria Goldstein. Gloria was a hardened soul, growing up and living in the Brooklyn home since she was born. Her grandfather, the original owner, had won the home in a poker game during the early 1900’s. Having being passed down from generation to generation, the house had a certain life to it. Ghosts of past family members would often creep their way through the halls. Gloria, as the home, was once a strong, peaceful woman. But as the years passed, she changed dramatically. Bills began to pile up and renovations were desperately needed. Reluctantly, Gloria with the help of a young Asian neighbor, Anthony, were able to put the “Renters Wanted” posting on the Internet.
As any landlord would, Gloria had a simple background check run on the young men. In the report, Ben was found to have no alarming incidents. Kel, on the other hand, was a different story. Five incidents were listed involving Kel while he was in college. All five involved apartment cooking fires. Two of them were due to tin foil in the microwave. Gloria had no choice but to deny Kel from leasing the apartment.
Ben saw the apartment as too good of a deal to let go. After 2-years of commuting to New York City on the LIRR, he could not take it anymore. So he went on Craigslist and created a “Roommate Wanted” post. “Young Indian millennial looking for roommate that enjoys hiding the pickle.” Unknown to Ben, hiding the pickle has a sexual innuendo. When he was growing up, Ben and his family would make their own pickles. After they were done, his parents would hide the pickles all over the house for him and his siblings to find. Needless to say, Ben loved the game.
Alex Dabber was an interesting fellow. The man had always had a self-entitled and totalitarian attitude. This was evidenced by him being upset when excluded from weekend plans and complaining about not being invited to sporting events, which he didn’t actually enjoy (he just wanted to go to give his opinion). Ben originally met Dabber at a high school party with Kel. Although no one knew of their partnership, Alex was able to see past the ruse. He sensed their love and was jealous of it. So pure and unadulterated, if he was unable to have it, no one could. Seeing a chance to finally disrupt their love, Alex quickly sent Ben a text. “I want in on the apartment!”
For the first 2 months, everything was working out great between Alex and Ben. They rode the subway together to and from work, and ate together during the nights. On Wednesday nights they would head to the bar down the street and play Roc n Roll Bingo. On weekends, Kel came to visit, and all three men would go out together. They even went to a Knicks game, where Alex was on his phone the whole time. Even so, Ben couldn’t have enjoyed living the city more.
Although Ben had always been faithful to Kel, Kel was suspicious. Alex was always around when he was over and was a little too comfortable with Ben for his liking. His Instagram was filled pictures of Ben, and one night, he thought for sure he saw Alex make a pass at him. Though he feared the worst, Kel thought he was being jealous and should keep these thoughts to himself. He came up with a plan, which was to invite Ben and their larger group friends over the next weekend. They would play some poker, drink some beers, and everything would be great.
That Friday, Kel and Ben met at Penn Station after work to catch the train back to Long Island. Like the bus that fateful first day of 6th grade, the train was late by 20 minutes. This wasn’t actually too bad for the Long Island Railroad, and Kel thought this was the first sign of a good weekend to come.
They returned to Kel’s parents’ home, and Ben got his things for the evening ready. As he was getting his things out of his bag, his phone beeped. Taking a look to see what it was, he laughed.
“Hehehe, that Alex,” he said to himself. Ben picked up his things and continued to the bathroom for a shower.
Kel had overheard Ben. “Fuck Alex!” Kel exclaimed. Ben’s phone continued to get notifications, again and again and again.
“This guy, I should tell him to get the fuck out of my face.” Kel walked over to Ben’s phone. He then saw something he could not unsee. Several naked photos of Alex appeared on his phone. Kel shivered in pain, but that quickly grew into uncontrollable anger. He proceeded to grab a towel, wrap it around his hands, and he headed to the bathroom. He quietly opened the door and scowled at the figure in the shower. He positioned himself so he would be behind the figure. He firmly grasped both ends of the towel, took a deep breath, and with catlike reflex pulled back the curtain and wrapped the towel around Ben’s neck, taking him out of the shower and down to the cold bathroom tile.
Ben struggled, but Kel was able to get on top and establish leverage. Kel’s weight was too much for Ben to get himself free. He stared at Kel and smiled before he took his final breath.
Realizing that the deed was done, Kel got off Ben. Hearing the struggle, Kel’s brother, Matt, walked into the bathroom.
“BRO! WHAT THE FUCK!”
“Matt, grab his legs, we got work to do,” Kel promptly told his brother.
Glaring through the window, having seen the whole evening’s events, a dark figure stood in the shadows. The only areas on him that were visible were his hands, one holding a freshly lit cigarette, and the other a new iPhone 6S.
“Yes officer, they’re leaving now. You need to hurry,” said the voice in a composed tone as he hung up the phone.
A devilish grin appeared on the man’s face. He took another drag of his cigarette as Kel and his brother started to pick up the trash bags. Snow, which had started over an hour ago, began to get heavier, covering his beanie. Sounds of sirens blared in the distance, drawing closer to his location. He watched Kel grab the final bag and turn off the light.
Now, Alex could only see himself and his reflection in the glass of the window. He was cold and alone in the dark. He continued staring at a face that he did not recognize anymore. A face that had deceived and manipulated. The satisfaction he was feeling seconds ago was replaced with depression and despair. He cried out to the sky, but only the devil answered because God wasn’t there.
Alex grabbed the revolver from his pocket and raised it to his head. The devil stared and smiled at him through the reflection of the window.
– The end-