I'd not been myself for several weeks. The money situation had me unhinged. There was no option that satisfied my apathy, my depressing lack of motivation to exert effort or plan ahead. I hated thinking of the future. So I remained rattled, uncomfortable in my own skin, agitated. Because of this submerged worry I didn't even have my usual patience for Corey and had been snipping at him all the time.
He said he wanted to end our relationship, which was a mistake. I made sure that didn't hold. After all Corey would have no reason to want to leave me. That was what I thought until we were at his house, upstairs in his bedroom.
It'd taken time to convince Corey to do things with me, to touch each other naked and let me run my tongue along his body while he shivered. He acted silent and pressured, and sometimes that annoyed me, having to tell him what he should be doing all the time. How hard was it to rub, feel, suck, enjoy? It took even more time to convince him to try anal sex. We used baby oil for lubricant and I fucked my boyfriend on his bed or on the furniture at my place.
Corey wasn't quiet when it came to anal – frequently telling me to slow down, not to be so rough, orouch it hurts!He even complained when I pulled out too fast. But it was fun for me to just finger him, lustful eyes watching his slim body lifting with harried breaths. One finger, two fingers, more, until he'd finally stop acting like a bitch and let me fuck him. He complained whenever I came inside him, but I still did it.
Afterwards he made no comment, as always. And I lay back on his bed, satisfied. He'd insisted we get our assignment done since it had a forty-percent weighting.
After cleaning himself up Corey was rummaging through papers and drawers, looking for the English assignment paper. We were doing a book analysis for a dreary Aboriginal novel called 'Swallow the Air'. At least we were done with Virginia Woolf and feminism. Corey pushed his dresser table and the drawer jammed, too tired to close it properly he moved back to his wardrobe, stretching up to go through the messy stack of papers at the top above his coat rack. Coloured paper caught my eye, I saw love hearts on it.
I reached into the drawer, pulled out the paper and saw that the hearts were actually someone's name, a boy's name written over and over again to make them. Billy Murphy. When my boyfriend turned and saw me standing still, blank-faced, I looked at him and turned the baby-pink paper around.
"That's... old. That was before I even met you, babe."
"Is this that Billy guy who called out at us last week?" I watched his face with scrutinizing eyes. He wasn't used to me watching so closely.
"It was just an old crush, I made that paper two years ago."
I pressed my lips together and slowly nodded, immediately suspicious. I scrunched up the paper and said nothing more about it.
Jealousy is a peculiar thing. I'd taken very careful measures to ensure that Corey would become separated from his friends and become mine. We were our own inner circle. I didn't know there was anyone else gay at our school, but suddenly it occurred to me in a rush that if there was they could be a threat to what I had. My head ignited like it was under a red spotlight.
While the uncertainty of my life and money, living alone in my derelict cave had me coming apart at the seams, the one stable thing I'd thought with certainty that I did have was suddenly brought into question. Corey was weak, he could always be pressured into doing what he was told, especially after I gave him what he wanted. But now he was talking about breaking up with me, out of nowhere. He had suspicious paraphernalia hidden in his desk – love-hearts with Billy's name on them. And that same guy, calling out at us, mocking us when we were leaving school together because he was jealous of the fact that Corey was with me and not him.
Billy wanted to take the only stability I had left. Corey had been all mine, and that had never been uncertain until now. How could he possibly leave when I was so much better than him? Decisive while he was weak. I was constant, I couldn't stand another uncertainty. This was all Billy's fault, he'd become a threat to me.
After leaving Corey's place I was more out of sorts than I'd ever been. My life was falling apart, I had even less money. I couldn't break into Grandma Margaret's house even though it was unoccupied, because if the security system is triggered and they can't talk to her, they might contact her only living relative, Uncle Errol. And when they can't find either of them, who's to say they won't find me? Who's to say they won't ask questions? Am I going to starve or go to prison or lose my mind?
I would defend my life, and my property and I was sure as hell going to defend my boyfriend. Corey is mine. I own him. And for the rest of the night I fantasized non-stop about confronting Billy in his house by the school and killing him violently. My panic at the loss of control over my life, the uncertainty of safety, made the fantasies blur faster and faster like a maddening carousel. Suddenly I was bursting into Billy's place and catching him in bed with Corey. Then I murdered them both before killing myself.
It was a school night, but I spent the dark hours pacing. In the end I had to go into Errol's room and fish out a half-empty bottle of tequila beneath his bed. Swig a gulp of it down, make my brain sticky and hazy enough for a brief, fitful sleep atop my bare mattress that I'd moved to the living room. The centre of the residence that was mine.
At school the next week I made sure to keep Corey close. He commented on how tired my face looked, on the bags even if my eyes were alert and darting. I'd not been managing my situation well. I'd barely been eating. It wasn't until I wrapped an arm around my boyfriend without thinking and saw his nose cringe that I realized I'd not bathed in days.
"Are you sure you're doing okay?" he turned fully to face me this time, already convinced that something was quite wrong, he actually managed to capture my gaze.
Of course I'd never tell Corey about what was going on. What could he do? Nothing. Corey was sheltered and had to do everything I said anyway, why would I ever be the one to ask him for advice? Typically I disregarded and paid little attention to whatever it was he had to say.
"It's not for you to worry about." I instructed and he closed his mouth and let it go. He'd never challenge me. He'd never leave me – unless it was for someone else.
I was strung twenty-four/seven and it all came to a head at the end of the week when we were at Corey's again. I'd tried to not let him out of my sight as much as possible and he'd been bristling. I'd also been strung because in my efforts to uncover his lies, I'd stolen the brown leather journal beneath his bed, seeing as Corey hadn't updated his Hopeless Romantic blog in so long. And there were entries, plenty of entries about Billy Murphy and Corey seeing him every morning because he lived opposite the school in that cabin house, and chopped wood at dawn every morning to sell by the side of the road, andteeheewhat if he was the magical town werewolf? Corey walked out of the bathroom to find me waiting, leaning against the hall. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to do this to me.
"Sebastian I want you to go home." Corey's voice was high and urgent, he stiffened like he'd been electrocuted. Like he always did in the rare moments he was being disobedient.
"Why, so you can talk to Billy?" His eyes popped open in alarm, it was disbelief that I'd caught him out. But of course I had.
"You're crazy. You're like actually crazy." He made to go quickly around me. I registered that he was crying and stressed but I was only focused on myself and my concerns as I followed him.
"Let me see your phone."
"No," he turned around, alarmed.
"Because you've been messaging him, haven't you?"
"I've only been messaging you! You get mad when I don't reply fast enough, I don't have time to talk to anyone else!"
"I bet you do it when you say you've gone to sleep. Like on Tuesday when you went to bed at 8:30."
"Sebastian, stop it!" his reprimand was weak.
"Give me your phone."
"If you have nothing to hide, give it." I made a reach for his pocket and he moved away. "Or are you talking to that girl Zoe? Or Hannah?"
"Sebastian I don't want to date you anymore! Leave me alone!"
I went still and narrowed my eyes at his face, seeing without really seeing the tear tracks and bloated fear.
"Is everything okay up here?" Corey's Grandpa peeked his head over the stairway rail, confused and wary. How much had he heard, pieced together? Corey was still facing me. He'd told me his parents didn't know he was gay or with me, that he didn't want them to know because he didn't know how they'd react and he wasn't comfortable enough to talk about it yet. I clenched my fists and suppressed the inner fury, I had to storm out then. I had to go.
As I creaked down their wooden stairs my brain was thoughtless, fixing on random items. Blue tapestries, a cheap portrait of flowers: pink camellia roses and purple magnolias. A clay elephant with its trunk up, beside a straw-leafed pot-plant. The wooden coatrack and umbrella basket, the scratchy matt by their front door. When outside I descended the driveway to the street.
The fury burned my brain like a hot glowing iron. Misty breaths like inner smoke. I could literally feel the heat beneath my skin as I stalked the streets in the dark. Corey had written about Billy Murphy in his diary - and what kind of boy keeps a diary? It seems indulgent and silly.
Into the forest, where I feel at home in that other world. A sense of liberation amongst the wilderness I grew up in. Spent hours a day alone in. Away from people, and I thought to myself honestly, an age-old thought, there is not a single person on this planet that I actually like. I crept to the backyard of my house in full moonlight, casting blue faces on the trees. A corner of the old shed, Errol's tomb, peeked by in my vision. At this point my fury was a hard solid in my chest, driving me forward, making my head numb and face slack. Pale instead of flushed, like a walking corpse.
I went inside my dark, cold house. I tried the light switch but nothing. Darkness like the inside of the shed, or Margaret's car. The fuse had blown or the power company had the nerve to cut me off. Like most day-to-day things, I didn't know how to check a fuse box. I paced inside for that bottle of tequila, sat and drank while my thoughts continued to swirl. I would not sleep. I'd only sit resentfully, spittle on my lips, arms around my knees in sweatpants, taking swigs. Mumbling bitterly as my thoughts raced round with more jealous fantasies.
I disassociated from reality by the time the bottle was done. I psyched myself to the fringe of psychosis and eruption. Pictured Billy's face in my mind. I couldn't organise and mobilise myself well when it came to most things, but the solution here was obvious. I got up in a furious possession and went out the back door, but still sane enough to close it quietly behind me. Lest the neighbours notice.
Once I was outside and the decision was made I had no emotion about it. The heat became ice cold and a purpose, driving me. I travelled back into the trees and heard distant howls of wolves, off rock-faces by the salty Lake Laguna. It didn't perturb me, I moved cautiously in the direction of school. It wouldn't be dawn for another hour or so, I had plenty of time, and I stepped front-footed, almost tip-toeing. The moonbeams were a heightened magnetism, electrifying my bare skin with a ghostly glow as I passed through gaps in the overhead canopy. It was seductive and enticing, I recalled two things from my youth: a spooky television program on Errol's staticy TV (maybe it wasScooby-Doo?) and thatGoosebumpsbook I'd been forced to read in the premiers reading challenge.
When the log cabin home appeared through the leaves I walked in an arc, out of sight with baleful eyes. In the gold bolt-locked shed, big square door on hinges, there were rifles on the wall. It looked like a man cave, panelled and lacquered wood complete with a beer fridge and dartboard. At the other side of the room I saw a billiard table and 70s era knickknacks: a record player and a poster of Elvis Presley. The far window had a pyramid stack of green glass bottles.
The guns were probably noisy, I took the axe from atop a work-bench. The tool was heavy-ended and I moved it between dry and certain hands. I studied its weight.
Outside again, the house lights were still all off, no security light reacted to my presence. I crouched in the wet night, damp earth sticking between my fingers. I ran their pads down the sharp edge of the metal. Just as the clouds at the tip of the horizon were turning purple and pink above the black forest tops, earliest sunshine flaring amber upon my eyes and the top-half of my face, Billy finally left for his morning ritual. Shirtless and strolling about with a greasy rag hanging out the back pocket of his jeans. Looking at his bare skin just made me fantasise about the warm blood and muscle underneath, my face remaining impassive. He was a competitor trespassing on my territory. My eyes remained focused and watchful, even under my inebriation.
I followed after him, no more than ten metres into nature, and stayed hidden. This was my domain we were in now, and the itching skin and body soreness from crouching was familiar and easy to ignore. Like staying still before pouncing to catch a rareCallobius bennettiin a jar, or a jumping cricket or another Wolf Spider. The blonde man went to a wide tree stump, roots twisting deep into the black earth. Beside it was a triangle stack of logs to split. Billy took a hearty drink of water and poured some of it down his body, not minding the cold sting from the partially misty morning.
He started chopping. I observed for a while as he placed individual logs on the bigger stump and split them. I took notice of how often he stopped to wipe sweat from his brow or turn his head - not too often. I judged the distance between us. I was no athlete, I was not as strong as he was. My advantage lay in the element of surprise. I slowly stood after analysing him and his movements. Then I lifted the axe up and over my head readily with both arms. My face stayed slack but my heart beat with adrenaline, my eyes were wide open. My only change in expression, still fixated on his back. Readying with a step forward, the lolling of alcohol inhibited my senses. I took the time to calculate and adjust for that as well.
And then it was time to go. Six seconds to cross the distance directly to him. Quick step, step, step, step, step. His body facing away and closer to my range before I swung decisively down, gutsy and determined for the critical moment, hitting my mark and scoring blood, the back of his chest. A shocked gurgle where he contorted necrotically, like an insect corpse. Blood sprayed and the primal red made me move faster, tugging to withdraw the weapon, breathing loud through my nose, the sound of barking dogs but my mind was both fogged and focused. Just this moment of murder. Further swings with an empty face, just to ensure it was done properly.
I cut through human bone and meat and the slimy wet sacs and tubes of innards, maroon and slipping over each other and broken snaps of bone. Like animals I'd killed and poked around in for fun as a bored child. This was the biggest animal I'd ever killed. When I dropped the axe I was still breathing out my nose and ignorant of the barking dogs. Staring at what I'd done with little satisfaction but a learning look; task completed. He would no longer be a threat to me. That idea was mildly satisfying. Like crossing off a to-do list.
Crouching down I tilted my head and started to poke around. Dirty, warm, red-streaked fingers and slippery mince, vital tubes open. There was more blood than what I'd seen on TV, and the ripe smell was something I hadn't expected. The dogs were still barking and then I could hear the furious rattling of a gate on its hinges, keeping the canines locked up. I'd better go right now – I'd better take the murder weapon with me too.