Who Could Say to What Degree I Hold Myself Responsible
We’d stayed up all night doing that small town blow cut with god knows what that somehow doesn’t do much but when you keep doing it over and over again all night you feel like your heart is beating so quick it finally just becomes a kind of hum, but a rattly hum you might need to go to the ER about.
Matt Dickson got it from his brother who started selling it after his parents cut him off. Whenever Matt took the crew out to the Beaver Lake lakehouse he always brought at least an eight ball, and this time it was three or four — I don’t remember too well.
The house was a lodge built to look like a log cabin — I suppose it was technically made of logs, but it looked like a structure you might find on a Disney campus — there was something artificial about it.
There were Matt’s friends from the baseball team and from the football team and some cheerleaders and some girls from the band. I brought Sara — we dated towards the end of that summer for a month or so, ending with that night I suppose.
We went out there often, but there was something different about it this time. The group had become less cohesive. Matt was rich, but he was stupid and he wasn’t going to college. The planets that revolved around his wealth were split between the other hometown moneyed good old boys and those with less money looking to get out of town.
There was more of an edge all night, and it wasn’t just the coke. It was near the end of the summer and many of us would be leaving in the fall and I think the ones that weren’t were feeling the beginnings of a static energy that would keep building for the rest of their lives or when they released it in small bursts of violence over the years.
There were a couple of scuffles. Tony Elroy called Bobby Beauregard a faggot for trying to play some Kenny Chesney on his black Epiphone acoustic guitar and a few glass end tables got flipped over and shattered into the unfortunate shag carpet. John Tyson broke a Bud Light bottle on the granite counter top and tried to cut on Billy Hunt’s chest for talking too long to the girl John brought. Fights always erupted during a long night of kids having drinks and doing drugs, but this night was a little more violent and a little more serious and a perhaps a little less rose-tinged.
I was grinding my teeth arguing about the Cardinals bullpen with Joe Mangialardi when I saw Sara disappear into the master bedroom with Matt.
I didn’t do anything. Perhaps if I had things wouldn’t have gone down the way they did.
I knew Sara thought Matt was sexy. I knew Sara was too drunk for him to be alone with her in there. I know I should have gone in there after her, but I didn’t.
I did some more lines and let it fester all night.
Matt came out after a while, but Sara didn’t come out of the room until sometime late the next morning when Matt was making mimosas and screwdrivers and frying bacon. The noise he made in the open kitchen in the center of the lodge began to wake those still lounging on the couches and daybeds and bunk beds around the lodge’s walls.
By this time the football guys not graduated had left for summer workouts — god knows how that went for them — and a lot of the girls had gone home as well.
Sara hung around Matt and a girlfriend, but she looked embarrassed. I mean, she wouldn’t look at me.
I didn’t want anything to eat. I went out on the deck and looked at the lake and smoked cigarettes until I passed out in a lounge chair out there.
I woke up to Matt shaking me.
“C’mon old boy,” he said. “I wanna ski and these kids don’t know how to drive the boat.”
I could tell my face had burned in the sun, and I felt like I’d been sleeping in a cave with a mouth full of mud.
“I’m a zombie,” I said. “I gotta sleep it off a little more.”
“There’s still plenty inside,” he said. “Go have some and wake up.”
My throat was ragged and my nose was crusted almost shut. I opened a beer and did a couple more lines. Joe did some with me but a lot of the folks had passed out again.
I hadn’t felt much when Matt shook me awake, but it all started coming back to me on the boat. Matt drove out of the more populated cove and out into the flats of the lake. He put on his skis and put me in charge.
There were too many people on the boat — me and Matt and Joe and Sara and a couple other girls I didn’t know very well — so it was difficult to drive the boat as fast as Matt liked while not flinging someone off into the lake.
I didn’t want to be driving the goddam boat with all those goddam people with Matt out there showing off, jumping the wake over and over again, Sara sitting backwards in the copilot seat watching his acrobatics. I was in no state to be in charge of such an expensive piece of machinery — and to top it off I kept seeing him drag Sara into his room that morning.
I took the boat towards a fishing cove I knew about, where there were a lot of stumps fish liked to congregate around.
I don’t know if I knew how dangerous that cove would be for skiing — I think I just wanted to fuck with Matt. I didn’t really want anything like what happened to happen.
It’s hard to say.
Scott Ray is from Mississippi. He teaches and works in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
(Next “Kill People” story: Roscoe by Christopher Murphy)
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