“We fuckin’ killed him.”
Harry is beginning to sweat. His palms, his feet, his pits, his chest and back and neck and crotchular, everywhere. Harry is beginning to sweat, and sweat Harry does profusely.
“We? ” bleats Sidney, wrestling to get the seatbelt unbuckled. “You fucking killed him, dude! I was just sitting here!”
Harry is continuing to sweat profusely. “We fuckin’ killed him.” Harry cannot seem to move.
Sidney gets the seatbelt unbuckled and throws himself from the car without looking back.
Harry watches Sidney run to the heap of death on the pavement. “We fuckin’ killed him.” Harry continues to sweat torrentially. He can smell a slight hit of fancy sauce in the funk of his body odor, the reek of ketchupy mayonnaise. It’s sour, grimy, and he imagines his sweat is not the slick salty drip of normal perspiration, not the salt-watery coating which covers one’s skin during and after a good workout but rather a slimier more viscous sweat, a nasty sweat which would give a family doctor cause for alarm, cause to request all sorts of tests. Like a polygraph test, although a family doctor wouldn’t request that; no, the lawyers certainly will though, and Harry will answer truthfully. Harry will say he wasn’t paying attention, that the man in the black cloak – the escaped group home patient, surely, for the psycho must be mentally unwell to tromp around wearing a black cloak and leap in front of moving a car – leaped in front of his moving car and there was no time for him to swerve and avoid hitting him, and the lawyers and the jury and maybe even the judge would believe him, but that’s not the part that’s making Harry sweat. What’s making Harry sweat is the bump – the second bump more than the first – of rolling over the mentally unwell man in the black cloak with the wheels of his car and crushing him bodily.
He should have hit the brakes, why didn’t he hit the brakes? Why did he press down on the gas and accelerate, was he meant to kill the mentally unhinged man in the black cloak? Was he meant to shatter his ribcage and crush his spine and pop his skull and rupture his internal organs and leave him to bleed out on the road right in front of Sidney’s house, in front of the house of this adopted kid who he just told he didn’t want to be his friend, the adopted kid who told him that maybe everything that happens happens because it’s supposed to happen? Was this supposed to happen then, Sidney Blake? Was Harry supposed to kill this man, will Harrington Bogspekti be sentenced to jail or worse, the electric chair, because he’s supposed to die that way? He’s not a bad guy, Harrington Bogspekti, he does his very best for the small town he lives in; he goes to the library every day, even on the weekends, and he works on his newspaper, the only newspaper in the whole town, so the townfolks can know what’s going on outside their door without having to open it and see for themselves. Was all this supposed to happen, Sidney? Was all this supposed to happen?
“Harry!” Sidney shouts muffeledly through the closed window of Harry’s coupe. Without turning to face him Harry opens the window, then says, “.”
“Dude, look at me,” says Sidney in a despicably calm voice, the voice of a man who isn’t going to be sentenced to death in the electric chair for mercilessly manslaughtering a mentally unwell man who tromps around in a black cloak and slashes tires because he bumps shoulders with aspiring authors who go to the library to hook up with their perfect girlfriends. Harrington looks at Sidney without blood in his face and just stares and stares and stares.
“Harry,” Sidney says calmly, then holds up a wad of black. “Look in the rearview.”
Harry looks in the rearview. Harry is drenched in thick viscous sweat, but sweat he does no more, for he looks in the rearview.
“Wh–… where’s the body?” Harry asks, voice a’tremble. “Where’s… where’s the bloodstain, where’s…” He looks back at Sidney then, at the wad of black in his hand. “Cloak…”
“Yes, cloak!” Sidney says, then begins to laugh maniacally like he was having a manic episode, and in a way he is. Not in the traditional way, not in the mentally unwell way, but in the relieved kind of way, in the way one might when they wake up after hitting their head so hard they thought they went and caved their skull in. “It’s just a cloak, Harry! It’s just a black cloak! You didn’t kill a ‘man, you just ran over a black cloak!”
“But…” Harry breathes rather heavily, “but… the bumps.”
“To hell with the bumps!” Albey shouts, waving the cloak like a matador might a cape. “Get out and look for yourself, there’s no body! No blood, no nothing! There’s just this cloak, and it’s not even purple on the inside! Look Harry, it’s just a black cloak!”
It’s just a fucking black cloak.
Harry doesn’t get out of the car, but he does start to tear up. “Just get the fuck in, dude,” he tells Sidney, wiping his nose with his arm. “I don’t want to be down here anymore, get the fuck in or I’m leaving without you. I need to get back to the library.”
So Sidney does get into the car. He leaves the cloak on the side of the road because Harrington started crying in a way best described as blubberish, but he gets in the car and they go back to the library without a word. It is a happy silence for Sidney and a relieved silence for Harry, and the two guys who know each other are both more than ready to never speak of this shit again.
Until Victoria asks Sidney to speak of it again, in detail if possible, and of course he obliges. She is his woman, so he spares not a word, and when he’s done she embraces him in a hug that says Don’t go out trying to do woods kid shit again you stupid prick and he hugs her back and kisses her on the head in a way that says Fine and he smells her hair and it smells nice, clean with a slight hint of peaches, and then they kiss like a couple does when they’re in love: innocently, for the sake of the sparks alone.
“Listen,” she tells him when their lips part. “I um… I need to talk to you.”
“We’re talkin’ right now,” he tells her, as if she did not know.
“I know, dipshit,” she levels. “But I mean… privately.”
Victoria looks back and forth as to check her surroundings, then takes Sidney’s hand and pulls him through the ‘brary towards one of the walls with all the offices. They hone in on a door with a sign that says Bathroom, whatever that means, and Sidney thinks he knows where this is going and, as such, is determined to mess it up.
“Tori, wait,” he says, yanking her hand to stop her from grabbing the doorhandle. “We don’t have to… I mean, I want to, but… like… we don’t…”
“I’m not trying to fuck you in the bathroom, idiot,” Tori lays out flatly, giving him cause to think this girl has powers of telepathy. “I seriously just need to talk to you.”
“In the bathroom?”
“In the bathroom,” she says impatiently, then spins and grabs the handle and opens the door and charges inside, Sidney in tow, then stops and has a panic attack internally and backs out–
‘back out back out back the fuck out’
–and blurts, “I’m so sorry Miss Cooswood I didn’t know you were in there oh my god I’m so–” then stops when Rhea Cooswood, red in the face and weeping, flies past her without paying them a cursory glance and disappears into the bookshelves.
“What the hell was that?” Sidney asks gawkingly.
“I… don’t know,” Victoria says, looking into the bathroom. There’s something on the floor, a little white square of thick paper. “I think she dropped this.”
Victoria and Sidney walk into the bathroom together – it’s a very spacious bathroom, he notices, as this is the first time he’s been in here and he’s trying to be more aware of his surroundings; there’s a baby changing table on the wall, a sink and toilet, a handicap bar, a paper towel dispenser that’s empty with a sign on it that declares that the library is going paperless and that they should please use the hot air hand dryer, a hot air hand dryer, a soap dispenser by the sink – and shut the door behind them. Sidney locks it while Victoria flips over the square of thick paper, and then she shows him what she’s found. It’s a photograph, a polaroid depicting a young woman who looks to be about Tori’s age – she looks quite a bit like Tori, actually, down to the way she wears her hair: in no style at all – standing with a younger Rhea Cooswood. The girl is in a dress, mayhap one meant for a prom, and her and Rhea are smiling brilliantly with a limousine parked behind them. In the white space below the picture the words Veronica Prom ’82 are written in black ink.
“Woah,” Sidney says, putting a hand on the ancient relic. “I think Cooswood has a daughter.”
“I think Cooswood had a daughter,” Tori says solemnly, feeling a well of sadness spring into her heart. “I’ll… I’m go’n’a have to talk to her about that later.”
“Christ, let me know what transpires,” Sidney says, attempting to come off as sophisticated in this bathroom within which he thought he was about to fuck. “I’m invested in the story now.”
“I will,” Victoria says as she slips the photo into her back pocket. “But… we need to talk.”
“Then let’s talk,” Sidney says, fearing the worst. “It’s because I said I love you, isn’t it?”
“It… is…” Tori starts.
“Well… I’m not apologizing,” Sidney shrugs, hands deep in his pockets.
“I’m serious, I really do love you.”
Victoria gets very, oh so very quiet.
“I think about you all the time, I write poems about you and then burn them because they’re stupid and you would hate them, I see you in my dreams and every time I close my eyes.” He takes her hands, and she looks up at him. “You’re the first one I talk to when I wake up in the morning and the last one I talk to before I go to sleep. I know we haven’t been together for a long time, but… I love you, Victoria. And you’re not going to make me take it back.”
“I won’t,” Victoria says, then kisses him so hard they back into the door. “I love you too, Sidney. I really, really love you… which is why we need to talk.”
“Okay,” Sidney says, more than a little bit confused but rolling right along with it.
“I…” She sighs. Breathes. Tries again, “You haven’t met my family yet, but I’ve met yours and you have a really, really nice family, a really awesome and loving and caring family and…” A tear forms in her eye. Sidney wipes it away with his shirtsleeve. “I don’t… have… that. My parents… they love me, but… it’s not the right kind of love. It’s not like the way your parents love you, and it’s not the way… it’s not the way I love you…”
“What do you mean, Tori?”
“They’re just… they’re… they aren’t… good… parents. They’re mean and manipulative and twisted and they go out of their way to make my life hell, to make anybody who they don’t like’s life hell, and even folks they like! If you do something totally innocent and they take it as treason – and I do mean treason, that’s how they are – then they will go to the ends of the goddamn Earth to fuck with you and push your buttons and gaslight you and make things harder and harder and harder until you finally scream and explode and yell at them and then they yell back and they slap me and they tell me to get the fuck out and never come back and–”
Sidney pulls her close and catches her words with his lips. He can feel her crying, can taste the salt of her tears, taste her pain. It doesn’t taste good, that would be kind of weird, but he doesn’t mind tasting it. He would taste it all if he could, he would do anything in the world for this beautiful woman of his, and so he kisses her through her tears and he hugs her tight in a way that says I’ll never let you go, and she hugs him back.
And they’re in love, these two, really and truly in love, and does anything else matter in the world?
Must anything more be said?
No, Victoria Moriarty doesn’t think so, and neither does Sidney Blake, and so they kiss in the bathroom of the Logger’s Pond Public Library until nobody knocks on the door and they kiss and kiss and kiss some more, and surprisingly enough that’s all they do. When the waterworks subside and both the lovers are smiling again Sidney and Victoria leave the bathroom, both elated with the day’s findings and ready to get back to work.
In Life there is Chaos, Order, and Balance, there is Peace and War and Death, but above all these cosmic truths of reality – these astral truths of Existence, if you will – there is love, and that makes all the difference.
This has been the last subchapter of the fifth chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~