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Stop Or I'll Shoot
“Stop or I’ll shoot,” The only four words in the English dictionary that continuously pop in my head everyday.
Bruce Schultz was very misunderstood. I had first met him in eighth grade earth science class. That class was filled with excitement, studying rocks and the earth’s core, doesn’t that sound fun. The only part about earth science that was okay was Bruce, he was cute, athletic and quite a funny guy. He really was a happy outgoing guy one of the most I’d ever met, until he met her.
Midway through ninth grade Bruce began dating my best friend Vanessa Nickelson. They were quite a cute couple; they both had glimmering auburn hair and sparkling enticing deep blue eyes. Everything was so perfect and I couldn’t be happier for them. My best friend found the perfect boyfriend, a cute, athletic, nice, and funny guy.
“I love you more than football.” Bruce admitted to Vanessa.
Vanessa replied, “ Oh you don’t have to say that Bruce.”
“Why not? It’s true.” Bruce consoled.
Vanessa’s checks turned the slightest shade of ruby red at this moment. Her cheeks always turned red in the very same spot; as if two cherries emerged as she blushed. Bruce gave her butterflies and she was in love. He treated her so right.
This honeymoon stage of their relationship lasted a good five months. But with the new month came a wave of disagreement, disrespect, and the ever-dreaded distrust.
“Ooo Angela texted you, we all know what she wants…” Vanessa sneered.
“Help with homework?” Bruce answered in a somewhat confused state.
Vanessa responded sarcastically, “Oh yeah I’m sure that’s it.”
Bruce still confused questioned, “Huh, what are you talking about? Angela is a nice girl and plus you’re friends with her too.”
“Well, not anymore. She’s obviously trying to steal you away from me. Oh my gosh it’s so pathetic because she’s so ugly anyways.” Vanessa hissed.
Bruce shook his head in disbelief and said, “Why do you say stuff like that? You should trust me. I’m your boyfriend and I love you, nobody else.”
Vanessa asserted, “End of discussion. Take her and all those other little skanks out of your phone then I’ll trust you.”
Reluctantly Bruce followed through with Vanessa’s absurd request in order to end an unnecessary argument. She got so jealous sometimes, and it just wasn’t worth telling her that because she would just get angry and defensive.
Bruce and Vanessa had many spats to come. A good measurement would be to say they had an every other day ‘I love you’ ‘I hate you’ cycle.
Vanessa began questioning Bruce’s past and even going to the extreme of sending me on missions to find out stuff about him. I wanted everything to work out between them so I tried to play neutral in this love affair and help them resolve their issues.
Issues grew when Vanessa would indirectly manipulate Bruce by changing his mind. Things started out small, but grew. “Oh so your homework is more important than me huh?’ “Well you’re probably just talking to other girls.” “You don’t realize how lucky you are to have me.” These statements continued to leave Bruce in a confusing and depressing state.
One of the most appalling parts I saw in their relationship was how jealous Vanessa would intentionally make Bruce, just to hurt him.
“Hey Vanessa… I mean… Dreamgirl I love you.” Rich said with a wink.
“Vanessa replied, “Aww I love when you call me that. Hug?”
It was really no big deal for Rich because he simply was a friendly guy with a hint of flirtatious nature, but to Bruce it was. You could almost see his stomach turn upside down whenever an exchange of this kind took place. The part I didn’t understand was if Vanessa loved Bruce so much why would she want to hurt him like this so bad. It wasn’t just trivial exchanges like this it was telling other people their personal problems and, running to another guy every time they fought and mostly getting inside Bruce’s head.
I felt bad for Bruce, but at the same time maybe he was doing something just as harmful and hurtful to Vanessa and this was simply her way of dealing with it. As the year went by this original conclusion made less and less sense.
Finally they broke up. It was hard because they had been together almost a year, but they both decided space was key for a messy breakup such as this.
“How are you dealing? Are you okay, V?” I questioned. Even though I didn’t agree with everything she may have done or would do I would always be a support system for her, after all that’s what best friends are for.
“Good. I’m so much happier. It’s hard but I need to stay away from him.” Vanessa replied.
“ Ok, I think that’s a good idea. You guys need time before you can be friends.” I advised. Honestly I was glad they broke up because it was getting sticky and hurting them both.
“Totally. We aren’t talking at all now. I really don’t wanna ever talk to him again.” Vanessa explained.
A week passed. The muggy season of summer while stuck in school was approaching. I had a few sane teachers who gave up at this point, letting us watch movies with the lights off. However there were always a couple insane ones who still had to fit a third of their teaching material into the last month and a half.
Vanessa seemed pretty set on not talking to Bruce. Up until that Tuesday in June, third period when she started talking to Bruce again giving him false hope, mixed signals the works. Then soon enough a fight would erupt. This madness continued the rest of the school year.
Summer seemed to be a good time for all this mess to fade away. Vanessa didn’t quite let that happen though.
One day while we were lying out in the sun to warm up before jumping in the insanely freezing pool Vanessa smirked, “ I have a great idea.”
“What?” I questioned.
“ Let’s get Johnny to call Bruce and insult him.” Vanessa grinned evilly.
“Johnny’s five and I thought you guys were giving each other space.” I exclaimed.
“We are, but I’m bored so whatever. He was annoying me this morning anyway.” Vanessa added.
“When did you talk to him this morning?” I asked.
“I don’t know, he texted me.” Vanessa quickly added, “Johnny get over here.”
“You’re supposed to baby-sit him not have him make prank calls.” I indicated.
Vanessa ignored me and focused on Johnny. All I could do at this point was shake my head and cross my fingers that world war three didn’t erupt after this act. “Call him and say ‘You’re a stupid ugly meanie. Go home cry to mommy. I don’t care about you. Get friends.’ Okay?” Vanessa instructed. Johnny just sat and listened. I was so not looking forward to the drama I knew this would cause.
Of course Bruce knew it had to do with Vanessa when he got that absurd phone call. Why would Vanessa do such a childish thing was my biggest question.
Of course Bruce wanted to get over this immature spat Vanessa had cause because he truly did love her. He wanted to fix things and Vanessa seemed to have this way of convincing Bruce it was really his fault in every situation. So then he would apologize and fix it.
A week later they got back together. Well not technically but in a ‘we are going to kiss and say I love you but we aren’t together because that doesn’t work’ way. I thought to myself ‘whatever it’s the same exact thing whether you say you’re together or not.’
This relationship turned so unhealthy for both of them. Bruce’s mind was so befuddled and just torn apart by confusion. Vanessa had seemed to convince everyone everything was Bruce’s doing and left him with a loss of friends.
Bruce was observably effected by Vanessa’s actions, every single day, sitting down with his head on the lunch table, not socializing at all and just gloomily walking around school.
Vanessa always hit him while he was down by having her friends harass him. “Catherine go tell Bruce to stop staring at me, he’s pathetic.” Vanessa ordered.
Just to not cause any further issues of anything to argue about with my best friend I did on numerous occasions say these very things to Bruce. I mean I know that she manipulated me into doing so and used me to manipulate Bruce at the same time, but it doesn’t make what I did any less wrong.
Bruce wined, “Why would you say that? I love her tell her I’m sorry and I miss her.”
Sure Bruce had some obsession issues but looking back I know he always meant well.
Vanessa squealed at the news of Bruce’s response, “Ha, what a infatuated loser.”
I didn’t realize over the months and months this unhealthy cycle of hate, guilt, forgiveness, and love took place that Bruce was suffering with depression. His depression didn’t seem apparent but all that changed in a split second.
“I love you Bruce.” Vanessa exclaimed.
Bruce blushed and had a streak of happiness shinning about his face when he said, “ I love you too. You’re the only girl for me.”
They kissed and went their separate ways for the day’s classes. They did not meet again until the revenge began.
Vanessa had heard from Jessie who heard from Amanda who heard from her boyfriend Freddie’s older brother Frank who had heard from his ex’s younger sister Tara that Bruce sent naked pictures of himself to Tara and she sent them back to him.
Vanessa was furious and immediately made out with an upperclassman who she didn’t even know, right in front of Bruce and all of his friends.
This was the last straw for Bruce. Everyone thought thank goodness they will finally just break up. Good.
Not so much.
The next day just like any other day Bruce approached Vanessa’s locker where we had just caught up on the latest gossip. I remember the next two minutes vividly in my mind every single day. Bruce reached into his Abercrombie sweatshirt and pulled out a gun. I’m not talking the Waterblaster3000 squirt gun. My jaw dropped. My health binder fell to the floor. Vanessa just continued biting her nails like there wasn’t a gun less than two feet away from her.
“I’m tired of your nonsense Vanessa. I can’t live like this anymore.” Bruce said, as his grip around the gun grew tighter.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about you’re the obsessive cheater psycho bud.” Vanessa snapped.
Bruce screeched, “ Take that back.”
“What bud you don’t like being called a psycho do ya bud? Huh?” Vanessa sneered.
Bruce’s eyes filled with anger and a smidge of fear as he said, “Stop or I’ll shoot.”
It seemed as though time froze, my heart stopped, noise ceased and I couldn’t breathe. He said he was going to shoot.
Vanessa’s giddy sneering face turned white and her expression completely faded. She finally realized this was serious; a gun was pointed towards her.
Vanessa trembled, “You love me, don’t shoot.”
“But do you love me?” Bruce questioned. Say those three words, eight letters and I drop the gun.”
“I lov-“ Vanessa managed. It would be so simple to say those words, but for some reason she couldn’t. Did her conscience finally catch up with her at the most horrible time possible? Or was she just too shocked to even manage to finish her sentence? We will never know.
Bruce’s disappointment was complete; she didn’t love him. The next thing he said was “I will always love you.” The sound of the gunshot pierced my ears and amazed me how in that swift movement he turned the gun away from Vanessa and to his own forehead.
I saw his body lying in front of our lockers. “Stop or I’ll shoot” would remain as skin crawling dreadful words that would haunt me everyday from then on.