Grand Finale

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Something new.

It was probably October by the time I realized what was actually happening. And in retrospect, there really wasn't much I could do about it. Tom was watching his peculiar dream materialize while Carly and I shared joints in the backseat of his fire-red Camero, blissful and ignorant. We were so completely devoted to each other by then, it makes you wonder why we didn't just bolt when we had the chance. And then you realize that we tried that. Oh Christ, we tried so fucking hard. We ran and ran and ran and ran, always coming full circle and meeting right back up with Tom. And Tom never let you forget just how far you've strayed. Whenever you would hide in a gas station bathroom or throw salt in his eyes in a McDonald's parking lot to buy time, he would find you. He would find you and then he would tattoo your biggest flaws right on your fucking forehead in big block letters. It only took a year or so for my forehead to fill up with an assortment of negative characteristics, spelled backwards so I could never again look in a mirror without facing everything that everyone hated about me. Or at least everything Tom hated about me, which was really what everyone hated. Tom was everyone for as long as I can remember.
We were passing under a series of bridges in Lancaster, speeding and swerving through traffic in Tom's rusted gas guzzler. He kept staring straight ahead, focusing on the road as if it were shifting shapes right before his eyes. There were blotches all over his dirty face, heavy bags drooping down past the bridge of his nose. I don't think he had slept a single night in over a week. He would toss and turn under his sleeping bag at the various truck stops we would camp at, rustling the leaves and muttering something under his breath that sounded like a prayer. It had a rhythm to it, was an incantation of sorts. But his bag always covered his face and stifled his speech, leaving the song incoherent and incomprehensible. Sometimes I would try to stay up and figure out what he was saying, but our days' work always left me longing for sleep. So I kept it a mystery, a motivation to move forward with. I felt that if I ever figured out his ramblings, I would lose a part of myself that I couldn't get back. I wasn't meant for this, I would tell myself aloud while listening. Not me. And I knew Carly felt the same. She used to talk at night, too. But she was unmistakably asleep when she would speak, gently whispering to herself that she just wanted to go home. I asked her one morning if I ever spoke during my slumbers. She just sat there, looking adorable with those glossy pools of blue that never seemed to move away from me.
Something caught Tom's attention when the last overpass was behind us. His eyes moved carefully toward a long and narrow ditch that stretched at least a hundred yards and ran perpendicular to the road. Tom never took his eyes off the road, and he would never try to convince you otherwise. He was proud of his concentration level. He claimed it opened all sorts of doors for him. But this time I saw it happen right in front of me. And that's how I knew something wasn't sitting right with him. Ever since I met Tom, I could tell that he was a creature of habit. Without routine, he may have just shriveled up and withered away. But he had his schedule fixed: get up, light a cigarette, lay out the clothes for the day, blah blah blah, dinner at 5:30 sharp, in bed by 12, no exceptions. These were things that we all came to live with because Tom wanted to live that way. And so we did, too.
He snorted and spit something gray out the window while simultaneously veering the car off the road. Then he spun around and sternly glared solely at me, exhaling a breath of air that was overwhelmingly tainted by the recent consumption of alcohol. Without speaking, he herded Carly and I out of the backseat and then led us over to the ditch. Then he took off his glasses, rubbed the bridge of his nose firmly with one hand, and started to lecture. There was a faint trace of disappointment in his voice, as if everything we had done to this point was for naught. But he kept his majestic air as he always did, and his verbose oratory style only embellished his image.
"Now, let's not be foolish here, and try to convince anyone of anything that isn't true. Don't coat me in bullshit, either, because I feel like that happens more than it should when we're together. I want to get right to the point, because I think that there's a point to be made before we reach Chicago tomorrow, do you not agree? This, speech, this lecture, it was inevitable. We all know that. We've simply come too far and accomplished too much for there to not be a rousing affirmation of beliefs prior to the culmination of our work unfolding. Our Grand Finalé, if you will. And tomorrow will come soon enough, we can all rest easy in knowing that. The act will give meaning to the day forever. But the day means nothing without the act. So let's focus, let's center ourselves, and I'll try to get to the point as soon as it makes itself known."
Carly and I exchanged glances quickly, and I could see her squirming restlessly out of the corner of my eye for the remainder of Tom's speech. And I remember thinking, why should she not be afraid? Nothing of this sort had ever occurred in the past two years, and Tom wasn't exactly the type that defined himself by acts of caprice.
"Ahh, Carly! My beautiful, darling Carly! Since we first met three years ago, I have never laid eyes upon a woman more sexually ripe and irresistible! Your features, they are so defined that they consequently must define you! Who has ever crossed paths with a creature as charming? Have you, Travis? I thought not. And your courage, your eternal lust for danger! How is it that a woman of your magnitude also had time to practice and perfect the art of grand theft auto? Is there a sweeter combination than beauty and brains? Oh, but wait! There is! A trifecta of sorts! Your dedication to our cause has far surpassed my expectations. No questions asked, that's your policy. And so, you see, you've been nothing but a Godsend to me, Carly. Do you understand that?"
Carly gave him this half-hearted smile that really just made me sick. The way he was glorifying her, the way he was pandering to her, it was all just making my stomach turn over. Was she actually starting to believe in this? Were all those skeptical talks we've had from day one just an illusion? Was I being tested? I always felt as if I was being tested. And so when it came time for Tom to speak about me, I was bewildered at the scenarios running through my head. Here it is, I thought, he's going to kill me. He's going to fuck and rape and abuse Carly again and then shoot me in the face and leave me in this ditch. Oh fuck, I failed miserably, didn't I? The only problem was that I couldn't figure out where I had failed. And so I waited patiently for the answer to come.
"And then we have Travis! Travis, the boisterous and youthful orphan that I call my own! Such a fighting spirit in this one, though I don't know what its origins are. Tell me Travis, why is it that your forehead looks like my morning paper? Jesus Christ, just take a look for yourself once more."
He handed me a purse-sized mirror that I think he usually kept in the glove box. I opened it and stared at the figure before me for a good while. I looked freakish, the words carefully printed bold and black in a column right down the middle of my head. Every word brought with it the pain of remembrance, and I could recall the moments in which I received each individual marking. Irresponsible- there was that time that I forgot to wipe Tom's .44 pistol for prints after Carly used it to rob a liquor store. Reckless- one time I stole a handle of vodka from Tom's trunk and got so wasted that I peed all over the side of his red Camero. Useless- Tom once asked me if i was competent enough to screw in a light bulb. "I'll even give you a ladder," he joked. I promptly told him to "fuck himself with whatever piece of furniture he could find that was large enough to quench his unfettered thirst for anal sex." These were all moments which, in hindsight, were entertaining at the very least. If nothing else, these printed words were symbols of the minor rebellions I had led along the way. And though insignificant in the larger sense, these moments were something to be proud of. They had to be. What else did I have to be proud of?
"There's no question that you've had your fill when it comes to disobeying orders, Travis. In fact, if misbehavior was tangible, I do believe you would spend your every penny on it. Your body is now testament to that." He pointed to my forehead to reiterate once more. It was at this point that I remember catching another glimpse of Carly. There she was, those deep blue spheres you could so easily get lost in, that silky smooth golden hair, the smile that surely melted the hearts of too many boys before melting my own. She carefully flipped her bangs to one side of her head and I was stunned. Her forehead was completely blank. There wasn't a trace of ink to be found on any layer of her soft white skin. Had I been oblivious to this the entire time? I was certain that I could recall moments where Carly had strayed from the path. Instinctively I conveyed my disbelief.
"What the fuck? What the fuck is this? Carly, your forehead! Where the fuck are your markings? Your tattoos? Are you..."
I felt the stalwart hand of Tom painfully connect with the side of my cheek. His rings dug into my flesh and exposed my face to the frigid October air. The wound stung incessantly as I tried to collect my thoughts. I immediately looked at Carly- shame could be seen resting behind those pools of blue. For the first time, I felt that she had betrayed me. But I knew she was aware of this fact, and I knew that it upset her. I could always read those eyes.
"I should kill you for interrupting me like that. Have you lost all fucking sense? Now please, understand that Carly has not been perfect. There is no question that she has also been part of more than a few mishaps. But her dedication supersedes her actions. I know that Carly's betrayals can more accurately be attributed to you rather than to a lack of focus. Therefore, I never felt it necessary to alter Carly's image."
I took a step back and tried to absorb what was occurring. Why were they turning on me? Wasn't Carly in this with me? I was so desperate for an answer, and my head was still throbbing from the blow. Again, the thoughts reeled in my mind. Any minute now, he's gonna do it. Carly has a gun. I can see it. They're just waiting for the right time. They've had this plotted for months. Fuck fuck fuck. Just run. You're safer if you run. Start running. ButI knew better than to actually take off. It wouldn't have been long before Tom dragged me back to this very spot and beat me senseless.
"But ever since we first crossed paths two or more years ago I have noted your complete inability to stay in line, Travis. Even that first day, I remember your snippy manner. It was as if you had felt jaded from birth, as if your parents' deaths had spurned you eternally. Do you remember? You, Travis, walking out of that orphanage to buy cigarettes somewhere in eastern Maine? Me, Your Father, approaching you in that Camero over there, asking you if you needed a lift? Us, talking on the way to a gas station about your life until that point, your life at that point, and your life to come. You couldn't give me one straight answer about your own life. You never could. When we stayed up all those nights and talked about how great tomorrow will be, and you tried to act indifferent, like you really couldn't care less about the whole thing. Sometimes I feel as though you really couldn't care less."
He put his hand on my shoulder and got down on one knee. I tried to resist him, tried to force his hand off my shoulder. But he wouldn't budge.
"Can't you see that I just want to enjoy tomorrow with you, my son?" His eyes were literally beginning to tear up. "There's been so much training. The three of us have conquered suburban America! We've stolen so much, we've damaged so much, we've killed so many. It was all for tomorrow! Glorious, glorious tomorrow! Tomorrow, when the Willis Tower collapses at noon, everyone will see what so many have already seen! A symbol for our message! That we are the future, and that past ways of living are obsolete! It will all happen, all of it, if you're willing to commit to the cause and stop running from Fate."
And with that, he took his hand off my shoulder. I could hear Carly crying nearby, and I began to call out for her. But Tom told me to shut up. He said to shut up, and to take off my clothes. Carly started screaming. "Fuck this, Travis! Let's go! Let's just go!" She was really sobbing by this point and Tom was yelling at her to shut the fuck up and that this is how he made sure she was committed and that fair is fair.
And maybe Tom was right, anyway. What the fuck did Carly know? She lied to me. Right to my face. She swore that her markings were there. She just wouldn't show me because she thought they made her ugly. Tom never lied to me. Tom had a plan. Tom had a future. And Tom was right. I could never commit to anything my whole life. Maybe it was time I had stuck to something for once, regardless of what it was. But what was it, anyway? To this day I don't understand the random violence, the acts of mischief, how or why Tom found both Carly and I, why we both agreed to help him, any of it. And so I guess this next part makes as much sense as anything else.
Tom started to rub my shoulders with his sweaty hands. He was making the entire ordeal very spiritual and emotional. I guess in a way it was, although at the time it seemed revolting. Meanwhile, Carly couldn't stop trying to pull me away from him. I warned her, told her that she had better cut it out. Tom was getting angry and nobody wanted that. But she wouldn't listen, or couldn't listen, or something, because she was wailing and started to punch Tom in the back. I started shouting (I had to or else you couldn't hear me over Carly), calling her a ruthless cunt and a traitor. The whole thing was beginning to overwhelm Tom, and he told her that several times. But she wouldn't stop. So Tom went over to his Camero and grabbed his .44 pistol out of the glovebox and then handed it to me. And then he said, "Son, it's time to make a choice." So I grabbed the pistol from his hand, swiped Carly with the butt of it, and then put three solid bullets in her temple. So now when tomorrow comes, it will be My Father and I who change the world, just like it always should have been.

Submitted: November 03, 2010

© Copyright 2021 ericnygiants. All rights reserved.

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