Lasciate Ogni Speranza, Voi Ch'entrate - Abandon All Hope You Who Enter

April 28, 2008
By Craig Clayton, Knoxville, TN

It’s not like I wanted to be out there, okay? Will had it so that I always owed him something. That was how he first got me running errands for him: picking up boxes downtown, dropping off bags at random houses. It was endless. He kept inviting me to his parties, trying to make me more and more like him. Every time I would try to get away, he would remind me that he knew all that I had done and wouldn’t hesitate to tell the school, my parents, anyone who had any bearing on future whatsoever. He had complete control over me.

I remember the first night I ever did anything for him. He asked me to go downtown with him to pick something up. He said he needed someone to watch his back. He had made sure I had gotten home after I had drank myself into a stupor at one of his parties, so I agreed. That night he drove me into the city. I kept asking him what we were doing, but he wouldn’t answer. The orange street lamps cast strange shadows in the car that made Will look like he was sitting in a lake of fire, though he had the AC on full blast, making the car as cold as ice. The deep hum of the engine pierced the silence and I remember how nervous I was.

When we finally pulled off into an alley, it was dark and empty. When Will turned off the engine there was nothing but that cold quiet. He got out of the car, so I did the same. The moon peeked out from behind a cloud, casting a little more light into the unlit area. Will just stood there, looking up at the moon as if it offended him that it was allowing that silver gleam into his alley. I kept quiet, waiting for whatever it was that was supposed to happen next. For what seemed like hours I just stood and listened as the drone of passing cars bounced off the walls of the surrounding buildings, and the sound of far off sirens screamed in the distance. All the while that moon looked down, watching Will as he waited for whatever was coming.

Finally, a car pulled up. It was a black dodge that had been modified to the point that it resembled those cars you see in movies with the neon lights and the pitch-black windows. The bass was booming as the car rolled up and I saw Will look at it with disgust. The driver turned the key and the rumbling stopped, as did the shine from the lights. He stepped out of the car, wearing a flat-billed hat and clothes that were twice his size. The driver waddled over to Will, his pants hanging halfway down his ass, and tried to flash a smile. As soon as he did, Will’s fist made contact with his jaw. The driver went down and Will jumped on top of him, landing blow after blow. I watched as Will slammed the driver’s head into the pavement, sending a spatter of blood across the ground.

When Will was finished, he calmly stood up, breathing a little heavier, and turned to me.

“Tommy here decided to start using his own product. Tommy decided it would be best to try and cheat me out of what he owes me. Tommy is a moron.” I didn’t know what to say, so I just stared.

“I’m sorry. If I had known it would just be him I wouldn’t have brought you along. I just wanted to be safe. You understand.” At that, Will went over to the only semi-conscious Tommy and began wiping the blood off his hands with Tommy’s shirt. He then stood and walked back to the car. When I went to follow, he stopped me.

“I need you to make it look like he got mugged. Take his wallet and smash out his car windows. Take his stuff from in there too. You can keep anything you want.” Will got in the car and I just stood there. The moon had fully emerged from behind its cloud and was casting a silver luminance on the blood that was spilling from Tommy’s mouth and face, making it look like ink. This display of what Will was capable of made me do as he said. I took Tommy’s wallet and took off my shirt. I wrapped it around my hand and proceeded to smash out the two windows on the driver’s side of the car. Once I did that I shook the glass fragments off my shirt and put it back on. Then I started grabbing everything out of the car. I even got in the back, grabbed the tire iron, and took the hubcaps off. I pulled his stereo out and put everything in Will’s car. Once I was done I went and wiped everything I had touched down with my shirt. I knew it was probably overkill, but I’ve watched to many episodes of CSI to leave that trail.

When I got back in the car it was quiet again, only this time Will was grinning. I remember feeling more terrified than guilty. That devilish grin made me feel as though Will was capable of anything. Now I know for a fact that he was. As we drove I away, I looked out my window at the moon as it hung in the air, that sad, silver blue shedding light on Will’s, and I guess my, victim.

After that it was more favors. Will kept me busy and after what I saw I didn’t want to cross him, mainly out of fear. I was never actually aware of what it was exactly that I was picking up or dropping off, but I had my suspicions. A couple of times Will took me downtown again to make me watch another one of his “moron” associates get their teeth knocked out. No one ever ratted Will out. No one ever pressed charges. It was as if Will was exempt from any kind of consequences. It was as if he almost had divine permission to do what he was doing.
Every weekend there was a party at his house. It was always the same. I would walk through halls and find people cramming their faces with different foods; people smashing different furniture items; people beating the crap out of each other; emo kids sitting in a circle and talking about killing themselves; loud people shouting random obscenities, usually “God damn this” or “God damn that”; girls seducing guys; people flattering each other in a drunken stupor; people playing around with tarot cards and wigi boards; I saw people I knew who had made pledges to never consume alcohol drinking half their weight in vodka; I saw people stealing from Will; people making counterfeit ID’s; and at the center of the house, there’d always be Will, sitting at a table with all those friends of his who, at a moments notice, would stab him in the back. Will would always try to get me to come sit with him, but I couldn’t ever stay in that room. It was always too cold in there.

It went on like that for a long time. Will was hell-bent on turning me into one of his cronies and, to tell you the truth, it really worked. As time went on I found that I was just as much a part of whatever it was that he was doing as any of those friends of his. It was as if I had been pulled into something completely unaware. It wasn’t until I tried to get out that things got ugly.

I realized what was happening to me a little too late. Finally I told Will that I was done, that I wasn’t going to do him any more favors. I told him that I didn’t care what he knew, that I couldn’t go on living the way I was.

“Alright,” he said. I was astonished. I had seen Will leave men in a bloody mess on the pavement for trying to screw him over like this. I figured the problem was that we were at school and he couldn’t take any immediate action. I watched for a minute. He loosened the tie around his neck and seemed to be thinking something over.

“If I let you go,” he finally said, “you have to do one more favor for me.” This was the catch. This was why he hadn’t driven my face through the vending machine.

“We have to drive out somewhere. I have some heavy things I need to move and I need you to come with me.” I looked at him for a long time. I knew I didn’t have a choice but I thought it over like I did. Will was in control, like always.

“Okay,” I said.

That Friday night we didn’t drive downtown. Every other time I had ridden with Will I had watched the sun sphere come into view as we careened down I-40, but tonight we were going somewhere else. We were heading out towards the mountains. It was a long drive, almost an hour, and the whole time I stared out my window at the moon that was covered with clouds, as if it too was turning a blind eye to what Will was doing. The road twisted and turned as we passed the cow farms and run down houses of southern Appalachia. When we finally came to an area where there was a field, Will pulled the car off to the side of the road and turned off the engine.

“Get out,” he told me. I did as he said and waited as he fiddled with something in the glove box, then got out.

“Follow me.” I walked with Will out into the field. The moon was still behind its cloud, so it was dark. We came to a mound of dirt and Will stopped me.

“You just had to do it,” he said, “I pay you, I have you over, I give you everything and you don’t even have to work for it!” It was then that I realized what the mound of dirt was. I slowly stepped back and saw the dark hole emerge from behind the pile of dirt.

“You build my trust, you make me think you’re different from all those other bastards who think they can say anything they want about me, but you just turn around and stab me in the back!” Will was starting off on one of his paranoid rants that he was known to have, and this time it was aimed at me. As I noticed that Will had something in the back of his pants I began to panic. It was no surprise when he pulled out the gun.

“Jesus Will!” I tried to plead with him but I knew it was useless, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“You’ve seen me do things Aaron…you’ve seen enough to send me to jail. I should’ve known that you were just in this to get me. I should’ve known you were just biding your time!” He was losing control. I knew there was no way to get myself out of this. I started to shake uncontrollably. I knew that I was going to die. I was going to die in that field.

Will moved closer, the gun still aimed at my chest. He kept yelling as he hit me as hard as he could with the side of the pistol. I could taste the blood in my mouth as I fell to the ground. Will leapt on top of and me proceeded to hit me as hard as he could. I wasn’t able to think much, but when I could I kept having flashes of Tommy as Will bashed his head in. Then there was enough time between blows for me to get in one of my own. I landed my fist on the side of Will’s jaw and sent him to the ground. He tried to pull the gun on me, but I was able to pin him to the ground so that he couldn’t. I started punching him in the face, over and over. The gun fell from his hand and I started hitting harder. I kept thinking how much he deserved it. I thought of all those faces I had watched him destroy. It was then that the moon peered out from behind its cloud.

Will pushed me off of him and started his line of blows to my face. Then he picked up the shovel that was lying next to that mound of dirt and raised it in a final attempt to finish me off.

Then he fell to the ground. I looked down and saw the gun in my hands. It was still warm from the shot. I don’t remember picking up the gun or firing it, but I won’t deny the fact that I did.
I dragged the body across the grass. The dead weight was heavy and I was sweating from the fight. The moon peered down and cast a silver shadow on the hole in Will’s chest, making the blood look black. It matched his heart. Then I picked up the shovel that had dug my grave and started to dig.

The hole wasn’t deep enough, I was too cautious to let the body be uncovered by a flood. When the grave was over my head, I kept digging. I could feel the gaze of the moon on the back of my neck, but as the hole got deeper I turned and saw that I was no longer in the sights of that giant, glowing, white eye. The hole was a couple feet over my head. I was exhausted. I sat down and thought about the fact that I could just stay there and let the grave remain my own. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to be dead, like the lifeless corpse above me. I thought about how easy it would be to simply give up, let the darkness consume me, and never get out of the hole.

It was then that I felt a drop on my face. The one drop quickly became many. The drops fell as if from the sad eye that was the moon. They fell like I knew the tears of Will’s family’s would fall later. I felt smothered. It was as if the walls of the grave I had just dug were closing in on me. I stood and tried to get out of the hole but it was too deep. I jumped up and tried to grab onto something. The walls were too smooth. I clamored and clawed at the sides of the grave. In my desperation I caught hold of something and finally pulled my self out of the ground. I lay on the grass for a few moments, then sat up.

I was covered in dirt and sweat, but the rain seemed to wash that all away. I looked over at Will’s lifeless body and realized that I couldn’t hide what I had done. I stood up, repositioned the body into a more dignified pose, slowly walked to the car, and drove away. I drove fast, as fast as I could. The rain continued to fall and the light from the street lamps licked my car as if a fire were trying to consume me, but was unable to. I stopped at the first pay phone I saw. I put money in the slot and picked up the receiver. I turned and watched the street lamps extinguish and as the sun peeked over the horizon, my finger hovered over the nine.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Dec. 28 2008 at 2:02 pm
ooooo! what a great story! such suspense, intrigue, and imagery. love the first person seating. the clash of - maybe - private school life with thug-life is unusual. and i respect your dilemnas and introspection.

keep it coming! love ya.

Linnea said...
on Dec. 13 2008 at 12:30 am
Craig, darling, it's good.

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