This is stupid. But what's one more stupid thing? Marie, you gave me this journal last week. Told me I had to start writing in it and show that I am writing in it. If not, you would cut me off. No more cigarettes. No more other good stuff. Just making this clear Marie, this is still pointless.
What is there to say? My name is Hunter Jones. You already know that, Marie. My birthday is December 9, 1991. No big deal. Thousands of other kids must share that birthday. It sucks that my birthday is so close to Christmas. I hate that my mom had to get knocked up with me for such a crap birthday month. There's nothing I hate more than presents in christmasy paper that are supposed to be combined birthday/Christmas gifts. At least you don't do that Marie. Though, you rarely wrap your presents anyway. Waste of paper.
Earlier today, Jackson found me smoking a cigarette out behind the dumpsters. Jerk punched me in the gut and took the cigarette for himself. I really hate that guy. Marie, I am out of cigarettes now. I need some more. That is why I am writing in this pointless thing. I need more cigarettes and you won't give me any more until I fill a few pages. Write about myself. Write about my day. About my opinions and feelings. Express my perspective on things. Make use of my vocabulary, expand it.
Seriously, Marie. What good is a vocabulary in a shit town like this? At least your folks have money enough. My parents are trash. I am trash. Nobody cares about trash. Trash that can construct sentences and use a vocabulary is just as much trash as an illiterate idiot. You think Jackson and the other jerks will torment me less if they find out I have a vocabulary? Think again. They would probably make my life that much more hell for it if they found out. You know how they are, Marie.
Fine. Between classes today I will write more in this thing. My craving for a cigarette can be my motivator to write. You are such a sadist, Marie. No. I will not cross that out. Fine. You are a magnificent princess full of kindness and loved by all. Happy? Now can I have a pack of cigarettes? Dammit.
More writing, less complaining? Sadist. My background? Fine. My parents are distant cousins. My mom is my dad's third cousin, if I understand what my dad's brother said when I was a little kid. They won't talk about it, my parents, though they don't tell me shit anyway. Neither of them finished high school. Mom was knocked up at 16. I was a preemie baby, but their parents didn't want to pay the doctor bills. After that, they went on wellfare and moved into a trailer together. The same shit trailer we still live in that stinks of rat piss and moldy wood
Keep going? Well, my parents were essentially raised by my dad's grandma. She died when I was just a kid. Around her funeral is the only time I have met the rest of the family. Most of it all in one place, anyway. One of the only times in my life I have gotten out of this shit town, this zit on a map town. From what I can tell, my whole family is trash. Even if my parents are probably the most trashy, they aren't the only ones on wellfare. Dad's brother works, but at one of those portable toilet for events and construction type of companies. Not sure if any one of them finished high school, but they sure don't talk like it. Just another reason a vocabulary is pointless for me, Marie. Not like anyone else in my trash family has one.
The other kids at my house when we were little. Right, about that. For awhile, Mom took on kids from the state for a bit of income. Eventually they were taken back, though. She couldn't take care of one, let alone four. State found out. Brats were taken back to some orphanage or foster family. I think they almost took me away too, but my parents won't talk about it. That was a long time ago, anyway. I was still little, so I don't remember that clearly.
That enough for the cigarettes? Oh yeah, it is 2006. Good enough? Yes!
I still say writing in here is pointless. But unless I appease the great sadist Marie, no more cigarettes unless I want to go out and try to steal them or something. Hey, fine, Marie is not a sadist. She just enjoys watching me squirm while demanding I write in a stupid little blank book. Like today, demanding that I write about my feelings. I don't even really care about my feelings, no one else does either. So why try to write that shit down? Only the all-demanding Marie knows.
Fine. I hate my life. I tolerate my parents, but hate being home almost as much as I hate being at school. I hate pretty much everyone. Even hate myself. I'm tired of hating till my chest feels like it is filled with boiling water, but every time I think about my life I just get so angry. When people look at me, I hate the way it makes me feel. Those looks as if to say "poor you." "It is that trashy kid." "Yuck, I hope he stays far downwind of me." But even worse, I hate when my parents won't even look at me. Sometimes I wish that I was invisible, or had never been born. But that is a wicked thing to think, right? Dad beat the shit out of me once for saying that in front of Mom. In a fucked up kind of way, I really liked that he beat me up. He cared enough to hit me, instead of just ignoring me like he usually does.
Mom is ugly and fat, though I would never say that around her. I remember her being thinner, even somewhat pretty in a way. That was a long time ago, though. Dad would hit me if I said this, but I think that she just gave up on life. Now she sleeps most of the day and night. She gets up to use the bathroom, to eat meals at odd times, and sometimes she sits on the couch and complains to anyone within earshot. I am pretty sure she complains out loud to herself even if no one is there to listen. Now that I think about it, I don't think she really ever goes out. Maybe she doesn't like the looks any more than I do. Not that she cares enough to let me stay home like she does, if I wanted to stay.
Sticking around is not what I want, though. It is my dream, if you would even call it that, to get out of this zit on a map town. That isn't likely to happen. Where would I get the money to go somewhere else? There is no work here to earn money. There is the McDonalds, but the owner would never hire me or anyone else living in this trash trailer park. Even if I could find work, my parents wouldn't let me. Dad would beat the shit out of me for sure if I started working and he found out. Putting their wellfare at risk would likely be bad enough for him to try and kill me. I don't mind pissing my folks off once in awhile, but I don't exactly have a death wish.
Where would I go if I got away from here? It is a stupid wish, Marie. Even if I really wanted to leave bad enough to try and run away, it wouldn't mean anything. The cops would catch me and bring me back. You know how shit the cops are here. They only care about a crime if there is a big theft or drug lab that they can pocket profits from. Instead, they spend their time making the lives of kids like us even more miserable. Just the other day, that cop car pulled in front of us when we were walking along the road from the gas station. Don't you remember? One of them pushed me against the car and padded me down for drugs or weapons. The other one flirted with you while his partner took the cigarettes you had just bought. Insisted that I stole them, and that he would haul me in if I made a fuss. Bastard even started smoking one in front of us before they drove off.
Besides. If I went somewhere else, who would buy me cigarettes? Mr. Tharp only sells cigarettes to minors that can pay extra for them. Extra grease on his palms, he says. Enough grease to make the pack just slide right off for some kid to pick them up and run off with them. Good thing you are cute enough that he doesn't ask much grease from you. Less grease if I wait outside. Where would I get money for cigarettes and to grease some creep's clammy palm? Yeah, nowhere. I thought so.
Even if I could get away, without money I would be worse off than I am now. At least my parents have shelter. Food. If I ran away and actually got away, I would have to hide in abandoned places for shelter and probably need to steal to eat. Yeah, sure I would be free. But is it really worth being miserable and dying to find freedom? I didn't think so. While I hate my life and it sucks to be stuck here, it would suck a lot worse to be starving or dead.
That enough for now? Can I have the cigarettes now? Great!
Fine. I will write more, but I want a full pack this time. This time you want me to write about what I would like to do, if I could do whatever I wanted? That is stupid, Marie. The world doesn't work like that. I can't do what I want. People expect me to drop out of school, knock some girl up, or both. I can hear the whispers sometimes, other kids talking about what their parents say about my parents and me. Occasionally notes in my locker telling me to just kill myself. I won't be able to work, not even when I get older. No one will ever care, except to offer charity to make themselves feel superior or take out their frustrations on me to make themselves feel bigger.
Everyone is a bully. Some people are just better at letting the bully out to play than others. For instance, you are sweet and cute, Marie. But under all that, you are a sadist that makes me write for cigarettes. Hey, hey now. No hitting. Bully. Okay, fine. Marie is a cutie that can surely become whatever she sets her mind to be. There. Satisfied? Write more? Dammit.
If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have a lifetime supply of cigarettes. And as many lighters as I needed to smoke them with. I would live somewhere far away, but without a bunch of people. Somewhere that was close enough to a city that I could find work and have a choice about who I worked for, but far enough away that I could live away from anyone that looks at me uncomfortably. I would have my own house, not a piece of shit trailer, with enough space that I would need to have a lawn mower and mow every Saturday in the summer. The house would have at least two bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. That way I could invite someone over to stay without making them sleep on the couch and they could have their own bathroom to use. I might have a car, or even a motorcycle. No, definitely a small truck. That way, I could haul things if I needed to. Like furniture, could haul that in a small truck. And my house would definitely have clean furniture. Not old as dirt crap from yard sales or moving auctions. Stuff new enough to still have the store smell.
Who would I be with? Probably nobody, Marie. I prefer to be left alone. What about you? Well, you are okay. At least you are when you aren't being a write in the book I got you Sadist.
Alright. If I did have someone, she would be fine with not talking much. She would only sleep at night, and be active during the day. Not one of those peppy action girls like the cheerleaders or most women in movies. Just able to go out and do stuff without being obnoxious about it. Maybe she would have her own job to go to, but nothing crazy. A part-time waitress, maybe. She would clean the house so it wouldn't smell bad and prepare meals once in awhile. You know what, if I am going to dream outside of reality, I might as well dream up a girl that is a great cook and prepares me a feast every night. Right? That would be awesome.
Who am I kidding? Dreaming about impossible things just make you feel worse. I am a sixteen year old nobody that will never amount to anything and will never do anything with my life. No matter how hard I might hate this place or want to escape, my only way out is to get high out of my mind or die. Unless we can get enough money to buy some pot from John Hill, that temporary escape is out. And I am not ready to give up and die yet. So you going to buy me some cigarettes now, or what?
My birthday is next month. Marie, you always do something surprising. I am not sure if I should be excited or worried. I guess that I will be both, just in case. Last year you gave me a shoebox mummified in what was probably an entire roll of clear packing tape. When I tried shaking it, it felt empty, but you made me open it anyway. You wouldn't even let me use scissors or a knife, sadist Marie. When I finally got the damn thing open, there were cigarettes taped to the inside. You got me an assortment of brands so I could once and for all figure out which was my favorite. Too bad that backfired when my dad found the stash and took them all to smoke himself. It was a cool idea, anyway. So far, you have never done the same thing twice. I have no idea what you might do this year.
What sort of gifts to I like? Okay, I can run with this. I like getting things that I can use. Foods or snacks that I like. Cigarettes. Being able to pick up some clothes and someone picking up the tab as their gift to me. That is probably what dad will do again this year. He usually takes me to the Goodwill in the larger town North of us and lets me pick out twenty dollars worth of whatever I want. As long as I can carry what I choose and it fits in my room, those are my only limits.
I want some new clothes that fit me better. Most of my clothes are either too tight to fit into comfortably anymore or too big. So sick of shirts with colors like something a little kid would throw up. Black doesn't stain like white and most colors do, so I want more black clothes. Maybe then I could be invisible when walking around after dark, yeah? Actually, that might be cool. I could be a stealth walker, or something.
It is decided, then. If I get any say in what gift you may or may not choose to get me this year, then I know what I would like. I know that I usually hate when people combine my birthday and Christmas, but if you could have your dad take us up to Goodwill for some dress up and buying me some clothes if we find good stuff. That would be awesome. There is also that second hand clothing shop across town, if you are game to walk there some time. You won't say anything one way or the other? Aw man, now I am really really curious as to what you might be cooking up.
So, you won't give me any hints about what you might be getting me, but you want to know what I am thinking up for you for Christmas? Well, Marie, if you can keep yours a secret then I can keep mine under wraps as well. No, I haven't started making it yet, but it is all planned out. It won't be showing up in this book and there won't be hints. No, I won't accidentally let a hint slip. Urg, you are so wrong. Fine. I am not writing any more until after the holiday, then.
Well, I am seventeen now. I got pretty much a whole new closet of clothes. Marie, the shirts you found for me are so perfect. Wearing one now, actually. Like long underwear material, but black. Keeps me warm while it is still cold, and I bet that I can wear them by themselves when it gets warmer. They are stretchy enough that I should be able to wear them comfortably for a long time. After you gave me the shirts, I took a most of my yuck shirts out of my closet. By the time Dad was ready to take me for combined birthday Christmas, I had a whole box of clothes for him to sell to the clothing thrift store. So I got twenty five dollars thirty six cents to spend on new clothes, which I mostly spent at Goodwill.
Mr. J. K. Cook has a car even though he is old and retired. He makes a trip up to the bigger town North of us every few months. Every December he takes Dad and me and anyone else that wants to come and will fit up there to shop at Goodwill. This birthday I got new pants, new underwear, new socks, and even a new coat. Oh, and the shoes I got. Right, I almost forgot. They are real leather and feel pretty good. They are a little big, but I will grow into them. The bottom of the shoes don't flap like my last ones were. With the stuff I got with my dad, I pretty much got to clean out all the stupid clothes out of my closet. No telling when Dad will go with me to the thrift clothes store again, but we might be able to go and take my latest box of crap clothes there after school starts back up.
To be honest, I am not dreading school this coming semester as bad as usual. For once, I actually have clothes to wear that aren't humiliating. My closet is almost all black clothes now, so it will be hard for anyone to spill stuff on me during lunch and laugh about the stains through the school year. Can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they can't tease me about crap clothes with shit stains anymore.
When I see you next, I can give you the pottery flower vase I made you in Mrs. Wilson's class. Shoot! I gave it away, just like you said. Crap. Okay. This is in pen and you will figure it out even if I make a mess trying to scratch it out. It is near the middle of the page, so I can't tear it out without making a mess and losing what was written on the other side of the sheet as well. Crap. Okay, I just need to hold off on my cigarette craving until after I give you your gift. As long as you don't see this, it won't matter if I wrote about it. So hah.
First of all, going that long without cigarettes sucks. It was seriously torture to be stuck mostly indoors with my Dad smoking regularly and my mom in full throttle whine and complain about everything and everybody mode. I wanted to scream, but I didn't. Mostly I just stayed in my room and folded the paper flowers to fill your vase. Yeah, yeah, you always like what I make you. Well, it wasn't a big deal and it kept me from going insane.
Now that we are back in school, things will probably get either really boring or really crappy. Maybe both. First day, and no one spilled food or drink on me. Seems the black clothing was a good idea after all. Not like the black shows stains, so no point in trying to stain my clothes I guess. Tonight, after school, we should hang out at the library, or something. Will see you after class.
That bastard! I am still shaking after what Jackson did. I hate him. I hate him so much. He shoved a pair of scissors down the neck of my shirt, one of the ones you got me, and cut it down the front almost down to by belly button. The teacher saw him do it, but only sent me to the principal's office. It is so unfair. The secretary chewed me out for close to an hour before the principal would even see me, and then he lectured me on how wretched I was for who knows how long. I missed most of my art class and completely missed my last class without waved absence. Tomorrow I get to look forward to being shouted out by another teacher.
I won't see you till tomorrow. You were already gone by the time I got out and started home. But you are good with sewing. Maybe you can sew my shirt back up. If not, it is going to suck. You know what, forget it. I have an idea. There is that extra shoelace from when I bought fresh shoelaces from the thrift shop for my old shoes when one of the old laces snapped. I only needed the one but had to buy the pair. So I will just cut holes up the cut and lace it closed. It will work out. Jackson is a jerk, and I will not give him the satisfaction of ruining one of these shirts you gave me.
It has been awhile since I wrote in this. Not even going to make excuses. Most of the snow has melted and it is warm enough to avoid a coat some days. School is hell. No surprise there. This semester food stains on my clothes aren't a problem, but milk is still really cold and sticky. Because I am wearing mostly black now, several kids have taken to saying that I am trying to be goth. When I cared enough to look up what that meant, I found pictures of freaks online. To be honest, I would rather just be called a freak than for people to call me goth. I don't wear face paint and I don't cut myself. Now I get more you should just die notes in my locker than ever before. The school counselor has called me into her office several times to tell me that no matter how pathetic my life is, I shouldn't kill myself. It is stupid, and I hate how people look at me even worse and more openly than before.
Out of the whole school, you are the only one worth seeing, Marie. You listen to me. When I get quiet, you ask questions. I know that I give you shit about being a sadist, but you cared enough to make me write in this pointless blank book. Now it isn't a stupid blank book anymore. There are several filled pages and the stickers you add to the outside cover once in awhile as a reminder and making this look more, I don't even know. This book is odd and ugly, but it is mine and doesn't look like any other book I have seen. Like us, it is a sort of outcast. You know I don't like much, but I am starting to feel like this book is the same as us and I am taking better care of it now.
You will see. Eventually, you won't even have to remind me to write in it or bring it to school so you can read what I have written so far.
I know that most of the adults are pretty angry about the two outsiders staying at the hotel, but I think that they are interesting. They don't have any hair on top of their heads. It is like they shaved their scalps like most guys shave their faces. But those strangers, they have a bunch of facial hair. It is so strange. And they wear mostly black, just like I do. Since they don't paint their faces white, I don't think they are goth. What about that jewelry? Those hollow rings in their ears are not like anything I have seen before. Guys don't wear earrings around here, but even girls don't have those big holes in their lobes. The chains too, like tarnished necklaces that seem to be weighted down under their shirts.
While I wouldn't call them cool, they are a lot more interesting than anyone that calls themselves cool at our school. How old do you think they are? I don't think they look much older than we are, but they are on their own. Not from anywhere around here. We have both wanted to leave this town all our lives, and they just wandered in like it was nothing. They will surely leave any day now. The adults treat them like shit, and the school announcement was that none of the students were to go near them.
Does it make me an idiot that I am still curious about them? After we split up on the way home from school today, I actually walked over to the hotel to see if I could catch a glimpse of them. At first I didn't see them, but before I got far I heard yelling. Around the side, where the ice machine and washer room is, Jackson's dad an some other adults were yelling at one of the strangers. I couldn't hear all that was being said, but it was pretty bad. The adults were telling him off while he was trying to clean some of his clothes. They called him stuff like faggot, freakshow, satanist, and bastard. I think I know what a bastard is. Satanists are people that used to be burned, like witches, right? Freakshow is a really weird freak, I think. But what is a faggot? Is that like calling someone a maggot or cigarette-licker? The stranger didn't even yell back at them. I couldn't really see him very well, but he seemed to be pretty calm considering. Yeah, I didn't stick around long.
After that, surely they will get out of town. Tomorrow after school, we should walk by to see if they are gone. You read so fast, you will probably have all this read between classes before we ever get out of school. I kinda wish that I could read as fast as you can. You know I write slower than cold snot. Do you think I will ever get better?
I can't believe we did that! My hands are still shaking, I can barely write. But I want to write about it in here before I have a chance to forget. I didn't think they were there anymore, so we went to the window of the room they had been in and peeked in through the open crack in the shades. It was too dark to really see anything. Then there was a loud slam against the window and that guy pressing his face against the other side of the glass making faces at us. It scared me so bad I nearly shat my pants. You actually fell back on your ass and screamed, Marie. Before we could run away, the other guy came out and asked if we needed anything. We were so surprised, both of us were. I couldn't even move or speak. If they had yelled at us to get lost, I might not have been. But I hadn't expected them to be so, I don't know. Nice?
The thinner one introduced himself as Jack. The bigger guy, the one that scared us, is Jerry. They said they are from Illinois, and exploring Missouri for a semester break before going back to college. Jack is going to be a journalist for a big magazine someday. Jerry is a photographer and wants to work for National Geographic and travel the world. Sure they look different, but they were more friendly than any of the adults around here. When they looked at me, I didn't feel gross. It was as if they were as curious about us as we were about them. I don't really know how to explain it. I've never met anyone like them before. Not just how they look, but how they act. It was like they looked out for each other, like we do, Marie. And they didn't judge us. I think they accepted us as different but still okay.
Why didn't anyone want us to meet Jack and Jerry? Why are the adults so mean to them? Think about it, why are they even still here after being treated like shit? I don't know what to think of them. Part of me wants to like them. A little part of me even wants to think they are cool. I just can't help but wonder why they are supposed to be so bad, though. What are the adults so upset about? Are Jack and Jerry really bad people? But if they are, then why were they so nice? Arg, I gotta stop thinking about it.
Let me see if I can write all this down before it falls out of my head. You were afraid to go back, but we did anyway. Told you they would still be there, Marie. This time they invited us into their room to talk longer. It smelled like smoke inside, but not like cigarettes. They called it pot, and it was really good. Made me feel great to take a few hits off Jerry's. You seemed to like it too, even though you don't usually smoke cigarettes. Jerry's camera is so awesome. He had three difference lenses that got bigger when they were twisted. He called them telescoping, and they were kinda like telescopes. Jack had a box of notebooks bigger than a baby's crib. He said all of them were filled with writing he had been doing since he was a kid younger than us.
I was surprised when you told them that I had been writing. About blew my mind when you passed them this book and let them read a bit of it. Jack called it a journal. My journal. I like how that sounds, and have decided to call it my journal from now on. Sure beats calling it the pointless blank book, right? I don't know if he was for serious or not, but Jack seemed to think that I wasn't a half bad writer. Might even be able to make a living at it. Crazy, right? It is crazy, and could never happen. But, I don't know how to say this. He didn't seem to be lying. Part of me wants to believe him, even now. I would rather write in crappy little notebooks for the rest of my life and go where I want than to be stuck here in a trash trailer till I die. But that could never happen here, could it? No one really cares about books here, let alone writing. None of the teachers really read the essays they assign. Just as long as we fill the page count, we get our points.
That necklace Jack gave you, it was pretty neat too. You found it on top of the TV, right? He just let you have it, just like that. It was a crap chain, probably something he got out of a cereal box or something. But that star was really different. That's why you liked it, right? The star on the pendant the necklace was threaded through? I am going to try and draw it here in the journal, but I aint making any promises on how well I can draw it. I can't draw to save my life, ya know.
It has been a month now. For the past weeks I have been ignoring this journal, sometimes just staring at it. Today I read through what I had written so far. I finally decided that I will write in it again, even if it is just to get what happened out of my head. Maybe then I can get some sleep.
At school the next day, some kids teased Marie and me for being seen with the strangers coming out of their hotel room. Some girls were calling Marie a slut. Jackson kept saying they were my wrist cutting buddies, that we shed blood together. I got mad. Mad enough to hit him. He slammed my head into a door hard enough that it left blood on the door and I was sent to the nurse's office. For once, he actually got sent to the principal's office and got detention. We both got detention.
Marie went back to the hotel to see Jack and Jerry without me. I was in detention after school, so I don't really know what happened. Supposedly someone called Marie's parents and they went to the hotel to pick her up. Her dad was really mad, but he didn't really do anything besides ground Marie. Her mom was supposed to drive her to school and pick her up immediately after, so that she couldn't leave home except to be at school. Not that they would have likely enforced it, her mom is almost as lazy as mine is. But her mom did see the necklace and made a big deal about the star on it. Marie says that she begged her mom not to, but that the bitch called the school to complain about her daughter talking to the outsiders and them trying to make her a satanist.
It was after dark when I finally got out and was walking home. There was a lot of noise in the direction of the hotel, so I went that way to see what was up. I can't get what I saw out of my mind. Jack was laying on the ground of the parking lot face up. He was covered in blood, and wasn't moving. Jerry was screaming and crying on ground near their room door while a bunch of guys were kicking him. They were killing him. Jackson's dad had a wooden bat. He hit Jerry's head so hard I could hear the wet crunch from where I was hiding. He didn't make a sound after that, he just fell limp.
I don't know how to describe what I felt then. Even if I could, I don't think that I would want to. I got sick, through up right there. Even though I didn't even know them very well, I cried all the way home. When I got back to the trailer, I tried to just sneak back to my room. But I was shaking and couldn't hide it, and Dad chased me down. He thought I might be high or something and wanted my stash. When he pinned me down and started beating me, demanding I tell him where my stash was, I just snapped. I told him what I saw. I told him that they killed the outsiders, and that I had seen them. Never in my life have I seen my old man that scared. He went as white as Mom and crawled away from me like I had a disease.
There were words he called me. Ugly words that I never would have thought he would call me. I was so upset that I don't even remember everything he called me. But I do remember how Mom looked when she walked to the door of my room and saw me and Dad like that. He told her what I had seen and she pissed herself right there on the floor of my bedroom. Her face was not just fat and ugly, but something disgusting as she turned and ran. She locked herself in her bedroom and wouldn't come out. Dad ran after her and banged on the door. He screamed for her to let him in, but she wouldn't. I was still shaking, afraid of what Dad might do to me. What those angry men that killed Jack and Jerry might do to me. While I don't think I was afraid of them coming home, Dad did say something about how they would kill me too for sure. So I dropped my school shit out on the floor and shoved some clothes into my school bag.
There isn't a word in my vocabulary to describe how scared I was as I ran back out of the house, trying to make it out before Dad might see me and try to catch me. All I could think to do was to run, to find Marie. So I went in the direction of her house. I got as far as farm road 12 before a truck pulled off the road to cut me off. I couldn't see who it was in the dark. Not until after they grabbed me did I realize it was the same guys. They smelled real strong of Jack Daniels, and I could hear Jackson's dad. He was louder than usual, hoopin and hollern. They threw me in the bed of the truck and drove me out into one of the fields. I tried to get away a few times, to struggle free and jump out. But each time they hit me, pulled me back. On the way, I was so scared that I pissed myself. They laughed at me, but I was just too scared to be humiliated. Then the truck stopped. They threw me out and started hitting me. Shoving me around as they stood around me, so I couldn't get away.
They took a break to get more booze. Someone grabbed my arm and cut the inside of my wrist with a beer cap. I must have screamed, because he told me to stop screeching like a woman. I don't know how much I bled, but I got really sick at seeing my own blood like that. I couldn't help but remember the sound of Jerry getting hit by that bat, and how he just went quiet and limp. Nothing came up, but I started making noises like I was trying to throw up. The guy kicked me in the groin and yelled at me to shut the hell up. The other guy dropped me on the ground and I stayed there awhile. In too much pain to move, really. I think they just got drunker.
Then one of them pulled down my pants and held be down my putting his boot on the back of my neck. I could barely breathe, and I felt like I was going to pass out. They took turns beating me across my bare bottom with their belts. I can still remember the pop pop popping as the leather belt would slide out of their loops, still makes me hurt to remember how it sounded. The rest of the group would be yelling at me, about how I was just trash and other stuff, while one was hitting me. I thought the skin on my backside, my upper legs, and my low back would just come off it hurt so bad. Felt like my skin was melting and boiling at the same time. And then they were done. Someone said it was time to head home, and they all piled back into the truck.
They left me out there. I was too hurt to move, and I must have fallen asleep. Next thing I knew it was morning. Then the pain hit me, like I had fallen down the school stairs and had a whole cow of boiling hot milk poured over me. I was out in a field with no one around, and I screamed till my voice gave out as I pulled my pants up and tried to fasten them as best I could. There aren't words for how bad I hurt trying to walk home. It was more like a shuffling limp. While I didn't think it at the time, it was probably a good thing that I had screamed till I didn't have a voice left. On the way back home it hurt so bad to move that I actually wanted to die. I couldn't stop, because it hurt even worse to try and sit down. So I went all the way back home without really stopping. As I passed houses, I saw some people looking out at me. It was a Saturday, so I know more people had to be out. But it was like they avoided me. Maybe they did steer clear of me. In any case, no one cared enough to try and help me.
When I got home, the house was quiet. My parents' room was closed, and I didn't even try to knock. My voice was shot anyway. I went straight to the bathroom and started to clean myself up. Even cold water was like fire on my backside. My wrist was crusty with dry blood that made the water look like it was rusty. I used the last two band aids to try and cover the cut as best I could. I couldn't stand to put pants back on. Not like my parents would have come out of their room if they were even home anyway. So I put a clean shirt on back at my room and laid face down on the bed. For a long time I hurt too much to sleep, but I finally fell asleep. I woke up a few times to get myself water, some food, and to go to the bathroom. It was torture to move, but even if I didn't it hurt so bad. A few of my ribs weren't right, and it even hurt to breathe some times. Mostly the fire in my backside was so bad that it was all I thought about. I think that I was like that for at least a few days. Eventually I started to catch mom around the house when she was getting food or something, but she would just hurry back to her room when I saw her. Not like I was going to try and catch her. Not that I could have, hurt like that.
When I finally healed enough to put on clothes and sit down without wanting to scream, I went back to school. The teachers ignored me like I didn't exist. Even the other kids mostly acted like I wasn't there. It was strange, but not all that bad. What really hurt was that Marie wouldn't talk to me. Every time I tried to talk to her or slip her a note, she would run away or crumple it up and drop it. The other kids seemed to be acting like she didn't exist either, but the teachers treated her like he was a prisoner. Several times I tried to catch her in the hallway between classes, but a teacher would just hurry her to her next class and slam the door in my face as if I was an outside dog not to be let in or not even there. It made me so mad after the first few days that I almost destroyed this journal. But I couldn't. It reminds me too much of you, Marie. Even if you won't talk to me, even if you hate me or something, I can't tear up something you gave me like that.
Marie finally pulled me into the girl's bathroom with her when a teacher was distracted. She told me what happened that day after school. How she went to see Jack and Jerry. How her parents got mad and her mom called the school. How she wanted to see me, especially when I didn't come back to school for awhile, but that she could only go to school and home. Crazy how parents can be so lazy forever and then work so hard to make our lives crap. Marie didn't know what had happened to Jack and Jerry, and no one would talk about them anymore. As if they had never come through town, never even existed. I didn't tell her what I saw that night. I just couldn't. I was too happy that she was talking to me again, and I couldn't make her sad by telling her what I saw happen to those guys.
Jack and Jerry are dead. At least, I think that they are dead. Jackson was still in school and wasn't upset as far as I could tell. If his dad was put in jail for what he did, surely Jackson would be mad or upset about it. No cops ever came to my house to make sure I was okay. Though, the cops wouldn't give a shit if I died anyway. But it makes sense that it would be a big deal if a couple of outsiders were killed. I should spend some time at the library after school on Monday. Maybe there is something in the old newspapers they keep there.
Marie is back to not talking to me at school again. Her parents are making sure she is a prisoner for awhile. She didn't know when we can hang out again, like before. Yesterday she told me that, but I guess that I had my hopes up anyway. It isn't like we can just meet in the girl's bathroom to chat. No one caught me coming out after Marie had a chance to leave and distract the teacher before. It isn't like I can expect things to work out that perfectly again. But her parents can't keep her grounded forever.
The library had the papers of the past few months. I looked, but didn't find anything about anything about the outsiders. It doesn't make sense. Even if they aren't dead, how could they get beaten up so bad and it be like it never happened? I keep telling myself that they must have just gotten out of town. But I can't get what I saw out of my head. No matter how many times I tell myself that I must have just imagined it, I can't get that sound out of my mind when Jerry's head was hit by that bat. No, I know they were killed. If no one else knows they are dead, did those guys hide the bodies? But they beat the living piss out of me and were drunk when they did. Was it the same guys? I really thought that I heard Jackson's dad in the group, but I didn't really get a good look at any of their faces. For all I know, those jerk cops could have been part of the group that beat me up. Oh man, that would suck. What if the town cops are in on it? What if it is some kind of cover up? I can't think like that. Getting myself worked up will just make me miserable. I don't know anything.
Mom still won't talk to me and Dad avoids me like I am diseased. I know how they would handle my situation. They would keep their heads low and wait for things to blow over. Don't ask questions. Don't make a scene. But what would Marie do? I really need her right now. I don't know what to do. All I know to do is write in my journal and keep going to school. Eventually Marie's parents will back off and she can talk to me again. She will have ideas, she always has great ideas. Maybe she will know how to find out how to find out about what happened to Jack and Jerry. I am stupid, and probably not doing it right. She will probably spend one hour at the library and figure out how to find out what happened. Yeah. She will know what to do. I just need to wait.
Today I noticed that the food at school didn't have any flavor. Not that school food is that great, but at least it tastes like chewing cardboard or something. I just assumed it was a prank. But tonight I was eating some microwave mac and cheese and I can't taste anything. It is so weird. My tongue can feel the food, but I don't taste the flavor. When I tried licking the back of my hand, I could kinda taste salt. Why is it only the food? Now that I think about it, I can't really remember what my food has tasted like lately. Maybe I was too distracted by being hurt and the Jack and Jerry thing to notice. It probably isn't a big deal, just a flu or something. But I don't feel sick, really. I just feel hungry all the time. It is like when I got sick a few years ago and the school nurse said I had malnourishment and had to take vitamins. Well, not exactly like that. I don't know. When I eat it makes my stomach stop growling and I get full, but it is like I am always hungry for something but I don't know what. Something like having the itch for a cigarette. Hey, I haven't smoked since before Jack and Jerry were beat up. Now that is really weird. I should be going crazy not having smokes. What is going on?
The more I think about it, the more I think it is like a cigarette itch. Or craving some meat when there is only microwave mac and cheese in the house. But I don't know what I am craving, or why I can't really taste very well.
I went to see the school nurse today. Right off, I told her that I thought I had malnourishment again and asked if she could make it go away like last time. She gave me some vitamins, but wanted to know what ailed me. I told her about feeling tired all the time but not really being able to sleep. She called that insomnia. Then I told her about how I can eat and get full, but it is like I am always craving something and I don't know what. What she said was really weird, but I kinda like it. A gnawing hunger, she said. After laughing, she suggested I get a big steak and see if that fixes it. I almost told her that I tried eating a can of tuna that was stashed behind the plastic forks and that I couldn't really taste it either, but I didn't. And she probably knows that the only way I would get a steak is if I stole it or something.
Marie would try to cheer me up. She always did that. If I was worried or angry, she would try to get my mind off it. Maybe that s why she gave me this journal. It would be just like her to distract me and make me forget about all the crap. This journal doesn't really make me forget, but I do kinda feel better writing about it, even if I write super slow. I hate talking about stuff that makes me mad. It is stupid to complain all the time, like Mom. But writing about it doesn't seem like complaining. It is more like I am making something, like in an art class. Even though I suck at art. Jack seemed to think writing was like a job, doing something worthwhile. My writing probably isn't worthwhile, but it does feel better than sitting on my ass listening to music or finding a place to hide for a smoke.
If I really going to be honest and spill my guts here, I have something to admit. Even though I saw those guys get beat up to death and I was beat to within an inch of my life, I don't feel angry or scared like I used to. When I first started writing in this journal, I had so much feeling inside it was hard to write about. Now it is like I have so little that I feel that there isn't much to write about. It is weird. Could be that I really am sick with some kind of bug and without Marie around it isn't worth the effort to feel bad or good or whatever. Yeah, I don't really know. I am just going on. If I don't really have anything to write about, I should just put this thing back with my underwear and socks.
Dad and Mom are really strange. When are they not messed up parents, right? But they are different after that night I saw Jack and Jerry get beat to death and Dad caught me and made me tell him. Dad isn't home much anymore. I think he hangs around the bars begging for booze. I've been hearing kids talking about how he is a drunk deadbeat piece of white trash. That should bother me, but I just don't seem to get mad about anything anymore. Mom used to be complaining always. Now she just sits around and stares off into space, when she leaves her room at all.
I tried checking the internet at the library. When I looked up malnutrition, I had to run back and forth with parts of the encyclopedia to even figure out what most of the stuff said. The encyclopedia itself wasn't much better, and I had to flip between books to make any sense of it. While malnutrition might explain me being tired and not feeling much of anything, there were a whole bunch of other ailments that I don't have. Another possible explanation was depression. I always thought depressed people were sad, though. But I don't really feel anything. There was also something called meningitis, but that is something with bugs and fever in the brain. My head isn't hot and I don't feel like I am getting all puffed up. Actually, I can feel my bones more. It is like I am not really eating at all.
Then I got to looking at zombies. Something about sleeping sickness in Africa and people with it have insomnia, aching, and not really feeling much and act something like zombies. Jackson was behind me and saw that I was reading about zombies. He made fun of me, calling me a zombie and then ran off. I wasn't angry, or frustrated, or anything really. It was interesting that he wasn't ignoring me anymore. But does this mean that the kids at school will start picking on me again? If several of the adults killed the outsiders because they might have been satanists or something, then what would they do to me if their kids call me a zombie?
While I was there I also looked up what satanism is. It was blocked on the computer, but it was in the encyclopedia. Satanists are evidently people who worship the devil that they talk about in churches. The encyclopedia says they hurt people and make fun of most people by reversing their beliefs. But the it said that satanists are not witches, they are more like rebels. Maybe Jack and Jerry were killed because they were rebels? But why would someone want to kill them just because of that? I wish Marie could help me make sense of this.
Maybe it was better when everyone ignored me, acting like I didn't exist. Now there are jerks calling me a zombie. At lunch, Jackson dumped katsup down my back and loudly warned everyone to watch their brains around me. Even after that, I can't make myself feel angry about what happened. I got to looking at my face in the mirror while I was trying to clean my shirt in the boy's bathroom. My face is looking really pale at tight, sorta like how I would expect a corpse might look before it gets all rotten. Pictures of people with malnutrition also look like this somewhat. It is probably just malnutrition, or maybe that and depression too. I don't know. Does it really even matter? Probably not really.
When I came home, my folks were sitting at the table in front of the fridge. They stopped talking when I came in and wouldn't look at me. Between them, they had mac and cheese, sardines, and at least a couple of other things. It is probably no big deal, but they never eat in there. Mom stays in bed or on the couch whenever she can. It isn't like her to spend any time in the kitchen beyond getting food and getting out, or maybe to put some food Dad brings home so she can stash some. And they had been talking, but stopped when I got home. I wonder what is going on with them. It is hard not having anyone to talk to. Normally I would just talk to Marie. But now that her parents have her in essentially home prison, my folks seem the only others to talk to. Not that they have any decent conversation to offer. Yeah, I don't think so.
It really seems like this journal is all I have after all. Not that I can really talk to a journal. More like talking to a wall, if I want to be honest. Even though a wall or journal won't talk back, at least I can go back in time to see what I thought or how I felt before with this. Walls can't do that. A wall doesn't fit in a backpack either. What is nice about this journal is that I can take it anywhere with me. Not school anymore. Not and risk someone taking it and reading it. But I have it in my room. Right now I am actually writing this from a tree. Crazy, I know. I haven't climbed trees since I was little. But this feels right, somehow. Well, less feels and more seems. Anyone coming up would have a hard time seeing me up here, but I can see so much. Probably even anyone coming to find me. Maybe I will come back and write here more often.
Great news. Marie isn't in home prison anymore. Well, not like before. She is allowed to hang out between classes and walk home on her own now. No more teachers taking her between classes or her mom picking her up from her last class to take her straight home. I even walked her home today. Thing is, she is still not free to do whatever. Not like before. I offered to bring this journal to school tomorrow so she could start reading it again. Marie said not to, though. Not yet. It would really suck if a teacher or her parents took it away. She still doesn't know what I saw that day. I am still not sure if Jack and Jerry really got up and drove away after that beating. Part of me knows they are dead. But if they are dead and there was nothing about it, wouldn't that mean the people in this town made it go away? If they knew what I saw, would they make me go away too? Like I had never existed?
It isn't worth thinking about that. Not right now, anyway. Marie and I can talk again, even if it is only between classes and on the walk to her house. That is great. Now I have someone to talk to again, even if we can't talk about what is really eating me right now. Like last time, I am back in this tree. The same tree, actually. If I were a little kid, I might think of building a tree fort up here. That is stupid, though. It is enough to just climb up here and write away from everyone.
I don't know what to do. Dad is dead and Mom is making me keep it a secret. It is like the whole world has gone crazy and I am stuck without anything I can really do. For the past few days, I have been going to school like normal and just enjoying what time I can talk to Marie. Instead of writing in my journal, I have been writing notes on scraps of notebook paper. Because I write too slow, I have been writing them at night and taking them to school with me. That way, I could pass some to Marie between classes and she could read them during the boring parts of her classes. Marie reads so fast that she probably finishes them before class starts anyway. That is why I haven't been writing in here. But I need to write about what happened last night. Not that I want to remember. I just need to get it down so I can try to get it out of my head.
Like every night for a long time, I had a hard time sleeping. Insomnia is what the nurse called it. I lay in bed and close my eyes, but I can't really sleep. Sometimes I listen to music with my headphones or just lay there and count the little specks of light that float around on the underside of my eyelids. Last night I hurt like my stomach was trying to eat itself inside me. I've never hurt like that before, so I got up and went to the kitchen. Dad was there, sitting at the little table in there. He smelled really bad of booze and I don't know what. His head was down on the table, like he had been eating and cleared the food aside to sleep right there at the table. I was too hungry to care. The food, I could smell it, and I thought that I would die if I didn't eat. So I ate the food he had at the table. His food. I ate all of it. And I could taste every bite. It was wonderful. I could even taste the clumps of cheese powder where he hadn't stirred the mac and cheese well. The noodles had a plastic aftertaste, and I could taste it all. After eating the food he had unfinished on the table, I went back to bed. After that, I fell asleep for the first time in a long time. Real sleep for once.
The next morning, I overslept. It had been so long since I needed an alarm clock, I hadn't bothered to set the one next to my bed. It was like eleven in the morning when I heard Mom screaming. It wasn't even a loud scream, like women do in movies. It was like when I used to scream into my pillow. I could hear that she was sad and hurting, but it was a noise that wasn't very loud or even easy to hear. After waking up, I took my time getting out of my room and going to see what was the matter. I didn't feel like it was all that important. That's right, I felt frustrated at how she was probably just going to whine about something. When I got to the kitchen, I saw Dad was still at the table. Mom had moved him, though. His head wasn't facing the table anymore. It was to the side, looking at me. He had a metal fork or spoon handle sticking out of one of his eyes.
Mom ran over and grabbed me by my shoulders. I have never seen her move so fast and I had no idea she was so strong. She made me swear not to tell anyone that Dad was dead. Mom shook me so hard I thought my head would fall off. Eventually I promised enough times that she finally started to believe me. We moved him to her bedroom. He was so heavy, and it was hard to carry him with his arms and legs so limp. I wanted to put a blanket down and drag him, but mom slapped me for saying so. She is probably still in there. Once we got him into her bed, she pushed me out of the room and locked the door.
It is too late to go to school now. Not that I would go to school looking like this. While was able to sleep last night and I can feel again, I look terrible. My face is all bony and sunken so you can see the bones of my face under my skin. My cheeks and around my eyes are tight and sunken in. The dark around my eyes from not sleeping has gotten worse instead of better. My eyes aren't that grass green anymore. It is like they are just drained of color. Not really white or grey, just without color. How they look reminds me of an old black and white movie sort of look. Even with one of my hoodies, I can't go out like this. Maybe after dark, just to get away from my folks. Aw man, this is so messed up. These past weeks I wanted to feel again, and now that I do all I want is to throw up. Like before how I couldn't seem to taste the food or stop being hungry, now I feel full like I ate a great meal, but I can't throw up. I even tried sticking my finger down my throat till I gagged so hard that I nearly bit into my finger. But nothing came up, even after that.
With all that is going on, the food weirdness is probably the least of it. Three people are dead now, and I can't talk about any of them being dead. At least with Jack and Jerry I wasn't supposed to know them anyway. But with my dad it is different. It isn't like I really ever talked about him anyway. What if they pester me at school about him, though? Hey zombie freak, where is your deadbeat trailer trash dad? He hasn't been licking my dad's boots for drinks lately. How could I react to that? When Dad had me down after I saw what happened to Jack and Jerry, I told him everything. If that happens at school about how my dad is dead, what would happen? I can't think about that now. I just can't.
Why? How is it that I wanted to be able to get angry so bad, but now that I can I just feel scared, sad, and sick? I should just sleep as much as I can while I can. Maybe I can just keep sleeping and wake up to find it was all a bad dream.