The Irrelevant Death of Allen McCunn

August 8, 2013
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“Max, what is it?” My sister Lynn asked, irritated. “C’mon you’ve been acting weird all week. What’s been up?”
“Okay, but please. Don’t freak out,” I said. “Promise me.”
Lynn lifted one of her thin, perfectly sculpted eyebrows at me, and said slowly, “Okay... but that worries me.”
“It should,” I muttered, and unlocked the shed door. It creaked as it opened and immediately, the fowlest smell imaginable hit the two of us like a brick wall. It was like rotting meat, the trashiest perfume imaginable, sour milk, and so many more awful things. The stench alone burned my eyes, but the sight we beheld when I flicked on the light was much worse. Lynn lurched back, gagging.
She cursed several times between wretches so violent that they would have made her last three meals come up, had she not skipped them. “What... the HELL... Max?!” She screamed.
“I can explain, I swear. You said you wouldn’t freak out,” I said. But I didn’t know if I COULD explain myself.
Lynn and I stared down at the decomposing body of Allen McCunn, his clear blue eyes staring up at the decaying ceiling. Across his ripped button down shirt and mangled in his always-frizzy red hair, his blood had crusted to make it look even more gruesome than it had Monday morning when I’d moved him in here, five days ago. His mouth was still open, baring crooked teeth, threaded in braces, and a line of dark liquid dribbling over his chin.
“What... I don’t...” Lynn stammered. “Did you...?”
“Kill him? Not on purpose.”
“But you did... kill... him?”
I shrugged. “It’s a long story.”
Lynn shook her head, staring down at poor Allen. I thought I saw a tear slip from her brown eyes and slide down her cheek, but when she talked I couldn’t hear any sorrow or weakness. She’d seemed to regain herself, and my little sister, always so strong and solid, said, “So what are we gonna do with him? I mean, if you showed me, and only me, this you must have been planning to dispose of him somehow.”
“You don’t wanna know what happened?” I said, bewildered.
“There will be plenty of time on the trip to the place where we’re going to take care of him. Now, you get him into the truck, and I’m going to go get Dad’s tarp out of the garage.”

By the time I managed to haul the skinny, now dead, seventeen year old kid in the bed of my old Chevy truck and Lynn covered him in tarp with two shovels and a bottle of gasoline and some matches, it was dark outside. Lynn and I got into the cab and started down the pitch black road, heading away from the city. I had no idea where Lynn was taking us to get rid of Allen McCunn but I trusted her.
For a while it was silent in the truck as she drove. Finally I cleared my throat and whispered, “He didn’t suffer, you know.”
Lynn didn’t look up at me. She kept her eyes on the road, and pursed her lips. The only sign she gave that let me know she even heard me where that her knuckles were clenched on the steering wheel. “So... how did it happen?”
“Well,” I said, picking at a loose thread on my jeans. “It was Sunday night, and... I was heading home after... making a deal with Fernando... it was late, you know? I couldn’t risk being caught so I was driving through that road where it’s one way and there’s just forest on either side. And he came running out into the middle of the street... I didn’t see him and I ran him right over.”
“What was he doing in that forest? That’s like... the middle of nowhere isn’t it?”
“Yeah, pretty much, “ I said. “I think he had something in his hand, but I don’t remember what it was. I just threw him into the truck bed and drove home as fast as I could. I knew I couldn’t take him to the police, because they’d ask too many questions, you know?”
“Man... that’s crazy, dude,” Lynn whispered. “I mean, one day he’s sitting next to me in biology, the next his name pops up in the newspaper and the police are asking me if I had any idea where he might have gone... and then suddenly he’s dead and... and you killed him. That was probably the last thing I expected, Max.”
“I’ll bet,” I said. On either side of the road was nothing but empty plains where in the daylight, one might see the occasional cow or goat. In the blackness of night though it all just looked like an ocean, dark and mysterious. I could hardly see ten feet ahead of us in the road since the road was completely empty.
I hadn’t realized Lynn was crying quietly until she sniffled. I looked at her, and she wiped away the tears with her hand, embarrassed. “He was my lab partner, okay?” She said, defensively. “He wasn’t a great guy or anything, but I mean the last thing I wanted to do was dump his dead body into a ditch in the middle of nowhere!”
“I know...” I murmured. “I’m sorry, Lynn.”
She sighed and said nothing. We rode in silence for almost an hour. Suddenly, Lynn turned the car and lurched off the paved road onto a dirt road that led into a thick grove of trees. I wanted to ask, but stayed silent as she drove deeper into the lush with a determined look on her face.
I lost track of the minutes since we pulled off the paved road until she stomped on the breaks and my poor Chevy came to a screeching halt. I couldn’t see anything except trees, but I knew Lynn could.
“Where are we?” I asked.
She opened the door, and I did the same. As she walked around the truck to the back, ground crunching beneath her feet, she said, “I was just going to take him to a ditch and bury him at first. But then that seemed so disrespectful. So I was thinking, and then thought of throwing him into the river... But that seemed even worse, know what I’m saying? And then I was thinking we could burn him, but that might draw someone’s attention.”
“So where are we now?” I wondered, looking around.
Lynn went back to the truck’s cab and dove into the glove compartment where she retrieved a flashlight I’d put in there ages ago. She came back around and shined it up a small hill to a bunch of rocks with an opening as big as a door.
“I thought we should put him in there because it’s... like a tomb.”
“How did you find this place?” I asked, squinting up at the cave.
“I went here once with that boy Lawrence. We were driving to his family’s cabin and got lost and so we were driving around, and I remember seeing this place. This... cave...”
“Why did this of all places strike your memory?”
She shrugged. “Dunno. But come on we need to get him up there.”
So, the two of us pulled the tarp around the boy’s skinny body, the wretched stink making my dinner creep up my throat. Then, we half-carried, half-dragged him up the hill and across ledges to the caves. We slid Allen onto the cold stone floor of his tomb.
“Should we... keep him covered?” Lynn asked quietly. “I don’t know what’s the right thing to do...”
“We shouldn’t cover him,” I said. I bent down and tugged away the tarp. Some of Allen McCunn’s blood smeared across the plastic. My stomach churned. “Do you... uh... want to say a few words?”
Lynn raised her eyebrow at me for the second time today. But then she looked down at Allen’s frozen face and nodded once. “Allen, you were a really good lab partner, and you always offered to share your goldfish with me. Even though I really can’t eat those because they’re high in calories. But I’m sorry to see you go this way. And I promise I won’t forget you.”
She didn’t meet eyes with me after that. We just walked back down the crumbly ledges to the car, and I got in the driver’s seat this time. And Lynn threw the disgusting tarp onto the ground where she dumped gasoline on it and then lit a match and it burned away. Then she accompanied me in the car and we drove through the forest path and on the road home.

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