His hands still burn.
His hands still itch.
His mouth still runs dry.
Doctor says its nerves.
Shrink says its nerves.
So he gives them each a check, fills his ‘script, and takes two pills as directed.
He sits in the darkness and listens to the silence of the small apartment, clenching and unclenching his fists.
Grinding his teeth.
Darkness is no respite.
Why did this have to happen?
A familiar question that has lost its voice through the years.
Is it is.
Or is it someone else’s.
Some nights all there was was the anger.
When that happened it was two more pills and sometimes three and then…
And blissful nothingness.
Life should be good.
Life should be damn good.
But it wasn’t.
It was just this –
A nice apartment in the city.
A job where he never had to work more than forty hours in a week and never sweated unless the air went out.
A car he bought new.
An occasional lover.
And a clean, clean slate with no red marks anywhere.
He looks at his hands.
No red marks anywhere.
Thanks to his friends.
When she went to the campus police and told them about him he had thought it was over.
Everything was over.
Everything his parents had given him.
Everything he had ever done up to that night.
When the campus cop came to his dorm room the morning after he was ready for him. The cop a guy not much older than himself.
He opened the door to the cop and was showered, shaved, dressed with a tie, and wearing a smile.
No red marks.
Not on him.
The cop told him who he was, why he was there, and asked him where he’d been the night before.
His dorm mate responded for him – we were at the party together. We drank, we laughed, we left.
Is that all?
He talked to some girl, but that was it.
Nothing else happened?
No way man, we have class this morning.
His dorm mate never asked him about the party, or the girl, or any of it. He just did what any guy would do for his friend. That was all.
When the cop left he turned to tell his friend what had happened, that it hadn’t been his fault, that it was a mistake, and his friend put a hand up.
I don’t wanna know man. You were with me. We left. We came back here. That’s the story.
And that story grew. More of his friends stepped forward to swear they had seen the two dorm mates leave the party together and head right home.
And they asked – girl, what girl?
And who was she?
A freshman a long way from home with no friends and no one paying attention to where she was, who she was with, and what had really happened.
The story grew to be so big that everything was dropped. Why would a senior in good standing throw everything away for twenty minutes of fun?
He saw her one last time.
Saw her as her parents helped her pack a trailer up with everything she had, boxes and boxes and boxes and one stuffed bear that she held as two men loaded things into the trailer.
She never saw him but he saw her.
Seeing her face for the first time.
Seeing the bruise under her eye.
The cut on her lower lip.
He went out and drank that night and drank and drank and drank until darkness took him and he woke up lying in the grass behind his dorm. Pants unbuttoned. Shirt untucked.
Then noticed the smell of piss and saw the dampness down the front of his pants.
He stared into the darkness of the city and took another drink.
He thought he hated her.
He wasn’t sure anymore.
He didn’t speak to any of the guys anymore, his friends that had stood by his side during everything.
He graduated a month after that night and everyone just went their ways.
He wondered where she went.
Some nights he can convince himself that the story is true.
Other nights he just hates her.
He looks down at his hands.
No red marks.
One pill, two, pill, three pill and four and away he goes and all he can see is red.