The PVC pipe was about four feet long, swung down so hard between his legs that it cracked into a cloud of white dust as it met the red cotton of his boxer shorts. His legs went limp and crashed down beside him, slapping together. Slowly, his knees clamshelled open, and rolled him over the wall onto a row of muddy blue recycling bins that collapsed under his weight, and sprung him gently onto the grass.
“I’m not gonna show you the blood in my buttcrack. But hell yeah brother.”
Nineteen thousand and thirty four views.
Jack’s kind of violence had a sense of humor.
He was gross, and stupid. But the opposite of boring and my boyfriend when I was fifteen. A senior boyfriend meant senior parties, many of which I’d been to the year before on account of my then-senior brother. For Jack, they meant drinking until he fell down the stairs or throwing himself down them even if sober. But they never meant drugs, since in July it was Parris Island, or bust- and the Marines love to drug test. For me, they meant drinking until the falling was funny, until I could laugh instead of worry if the wall would knock him out.
Karsen liked to drink, and it was never easy to stop her. We worked together down the street at a Water Ice joint and brought home pints of mango to blend into cheap vodka slushies in her basement. Her brother, Brian, was friends with Jack, so my presence at his party that night was twofold. A sophmor-ial accessory and Karsen’s way in. I wonder sometimes if that made me, in some way, responsible for what happened to her.
Riley was the heaviest kid on the lacrosse team. He wore glasses without rims and lensed goggles when he played. He was quiet, and his mom died when we were all still in elementary school.
We drank in the basement and slept upstairs. Being the only couple, Jack and I had claimed the guest room by way of scattering the various articles of my pajamas over a blow-up mattress in the middle of the floor. When our feet slipped up the carpeted stairs and stumbled our way to the door, it was locked. Inside, Connor Hastings had been fingering Emily Davis on our mattress, soiling it and its holy reservation. We banged and hollered at the door until they were up and threw them out, locking ourselves inside and collapsing onto the leaky sac of air.
Riley didn’t lock the door to Karsen’s bedroom because he didn’t need to. The only people near were Jack and me in the room adjacent, but the liquor had been strong enough to keep me from losing my virginity to a boy too sad, too soft, to take it from me. It was, by those measures, strong enough to induce a soundproof sleep.
He left her in the bed. A mattress on a frame, under cover and pad, wrapped in sheets, topped off with a Mrs. Karsen-quilted puffy comforter. Afterwards he left her in her bed.
Before we slept I danced on our mattress, jumped on our floating inflatable cloud. I danced, and danced, and popped my turquoise cotton ass in his face, the city of Venice screen-printed in neon across it. We laughed and our eyes rolled back in our heads, tugging and blurring to stay open, awake. Jack held me on our cloud and let me hold him back. It was the last night that would happen before Prom.
She laid on the unwrapped towel we had swaddled her in, after the shower someone had given her. He went out to his car for his phone charger, so he could plug it into her bedroom wall and sleep there, thinking that was what she’d want after he’d forced himself inside of her. After he’d made her bed a place that she would never feel safe to sleep. She took the chance to run for the door and into the sleeping arms of Brian’s friends in the basement. Jack and I slept through it all.
Brian didn’t want to talk about what Riley did. No one did, except for Karsen, and maybe me. And when no one wanted to talk about what happened, she eventually stopped trying to bring it up. That was the culture in Downingtown. The “lacrosse team dynamic” was more important. Not admitting you were drunk and underaged was more important. Making everyone think they could trust you to protect them, even when you knew just how wrong they were, would always be more important. You were less. And so you disappeared. Under the rug you went.
The Drexelbrook Special Event Catering team had put butter into rose bud molds and served them with our bread. I smeared mine onto a roll and ate. Food felt good- we’d been waiting for hours. Jack had gone to get drinks from the bar. Grenadine drinks with names like “Whippet Tears” to poke fun at the mangy canine mascot of our west-side football nemesis. Amy Dolcezzi leaned in across the linen-draped circle table to make chat.
“Can you believe what Jack did with his Senior Speech?”
Senior speeches were double spaced essays read aloud in each graduate’s English class as their final proclamations on the profundity of their lives that you never knew existed. It was story time, if not secret time- the moment to bear what you can to share.
Jack wore a three piece white suit to prom with a top hat to match and, of course, his Pimp Stick. This was a white painted cane he had snatched from Goodwill. Or maybe on a “dive”, as he so liked to call his adventures in the depths of the Marsh Creek dumpsters. He looked like an idiot, and everyone loved it because they loved nothing more than to laugh at his expense. Myself somewhat included. Our pictures were ridiculous and the night was even worse. He’d ditch me for his friends, we wouldn’t dance once, and he’d dump me in his car the next morning before the sun had the chance to come up.
Jack told his English class that his dad had always beat him. Amy Dolcezzi told me, that Jack told his class, that he’d always had the shit kicked out of him at home. She gawked at it, they all did, and I didn’t know what to say. I just knew it made sense.
We all had to work hard to keep up an image. That’s what being part of a community like Downingtown was about. Hide the pain, or find it funny. When the laughter stopped, so did you. Beds weren’t safe. Mattresses felt safer. Keep things temporary and they can’t stick around to haunt you. If you hurt someone else, someone must have hurt you. To avoid further entanglement, you resort to hurting yourself. Pipe to the balls. Blood in the buttcrack. Cougar pride. Blue and gold. Siss, Boom, Self Harm, Bah.
It takes its toll.
Yo this shit is so funny
Anything for views hey boys
Keep up the good work
hell yeah brother
Why don’t you have a tv show yet
Shooooooo dawgy that’s a good one
oh shit is he ok?