The sun beat down viciously the day of the funeral, and most assuredly would have caused much discomfort for those in attendance, had it not been for the large green awning the funeral home had provided for Billy’s funeral.
Marty stood next to mostly family members he had never met, or perhaps had met only once or twice, he being the next door neighbor that was always invited over for barbecues by Billy’s father, Sam Schafer.
Now he stood staring at the coffin, saddened that Sam and Beth could not be there – they both had already died quite some time ago. They had called Billy’s death a brain hemorrhage, but Marty knew better. It had been suicide.
He thought back to sixteen years before, to the day Billy had been born. At the time, Marty didn’t think anything had been amiss, even though a nurse had died in the birthing room minutes after Billy had emerged into the world. She had suffered a massive stroke, and simply died on the floor next to the crying newborn. It had been a strange day, indeed…
Marty had been in the waiting room when Billy was born; several hours earlier, Beth had called him and announced that her water had broken, and Sam was not at home; Marty immediately rushed over and helped Beth into his car, and handed his cell phone to her. “You better call Sam,” he had said, smiling widely.
Things in the birthing room started out normally enough: the doctor was crouched over between Beth’s legs, monitoring the progress, a nurse standing ready on each side of him, and an anesthesiologist sitting by her head. Although he had performed an epidural block, Beth tilted her had back with pain. Sweat ran down her face, matted down her hair. The anesthesiologist gently spoke to her, attempting to calm her, comfort her.
The overly excited father, dressed in blue hospital garb, had his video camera trained on that sacred spot where his son would first make his appearance.
“You’re doing great, Beth! I can see his head! Oh my God, he’s beautiful!” Sam blurted out.
“Just shut up and tape it, ok?” Beth growled. Sam shrugged, and the others in the room chuckled.
The doctor spoke quietly to the two nurses. “Be ready, we’re nearly there.”
“Yes, Doctor,” one replied.
“Ok, Beth, I need you to push again. You’re almost there, and everything’s looking fine. Can you push for me?” the doctor asked.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes while pushing with what energy she had left. “Oh God!” she exclaimed.
“One more time, Beth! Come on, only one more time! You can do it!”
Beth gripped the edges of the table and gave one last push, and she suddenly released a huge breath as the baby made its exit.
“You have a beautiful baby boy, Beth, Sam.”
Sam put the camera at his side for a moment, and stared at his son. He was awestruck by the miracle of it; life suddenly had new meaning, and he felt a warm glow in his heart. “He’s beautiful, Beth. You did it, honey. I love you!”
A sweat-soaked Beth smiled dreamily back at her husband. “I love you, too, Sam. I want to see my baby.”
“Just a couple of minutes, Beth, and we’ll have him nice and cleaned up for you,” the doctor said.
Sam raised the camera and watched as the doctor cut the umbilical cord and attached a small clamp on the end. He handed the baby to one of the nurses, who rushed it over to a small glass enclosure, where both nurses hurriedly cleaned out the baby’s mouth and airways, and wiped its frail body clean.
Sam turned the camera off – there was no need to record the placenta and other after birth being guided into a stainless steel bowl. “Thank you so much, Doctor,” Sam said. He is a beautiful child.”
“It was my pleasure, Sam. I never grow tired of seeing the miracle of birth. How are you feeling, Beth?”
“Tired as hell,” she started to say, but stopped as she heard the child’s feeble cries. “My baby!” she said.
One nurse turned around. “He’s coming, Beth. Poor little guy – he’s a bit irritated at the whole thing, but they usually are. After all, they’ve been…” She stopped speaking mid-sentence. Her smile turned to a grimace, and she grasped the sides of her head.
“Maggie!” the doctor exclaimed, jumping up to rush over to her. She fell to the floor, still grasping her head.
“Oh my God!” she said, her eyes darting around the room.
“Code blue, Nurse! Get a crash cart in here!” The doctor called out, and the nurse rushed out of the room.
Confusion ensued, and Marty heard something happening from his place in the waiting room. He put down the Sports Illustrated, turning his head to listen. Something was definitely going on, and it of course worried him, as Beth was just beyond those doors giving birth to her first child.
Shortly thereafter, Sam appeared in the waiting room, still wearing the blue hospital clothes. He approached Marty, deep in thought, and for a moment Marty thought the worst.
“Sam, tell me Beth is ok, please!”
Sam looked at his friend dully, and said, “The baby and Beth are just fine, Sam. Thank you.” He put a hand on Marty’s shoulder and took a deep breath. “But the strangest thing just happened.”
“In the birthing room? What happened, Sam?” He studied Sam’s face, trying to discern exactly what the man was feeling.
“One of the nurses died in there, Marty.”
“What? Is this a joke?”
“It’s no joke – a nurse just keeled over right next to my son, and died right there. She had a massive stroke or something. I just can’t believe it. My son is barely out of the womb and someone up and dies. Right there. Can you believe it, Marty?”
“No, I can’t. I am shocked, man!”
The two stared at each other incredulously, frozen in the moment, and finally Sam snapped out of his reverie and said, “They want to keep Beth and the baby overnight for observation. You think you can pick me up later?”
“Sure, Sam. Just give me a call later on, I’ll be around. You take it easy, Sam. It’s all over, and your family is safe. Congratulations!”
William Charles Schafer was born on the third day of the third month, at 3:33 in the afternoon. It would not too long before those closest to the child realize that he was…unique. Billy Schafer was gifted with something as fragile as crystal – if handled incorrectly, it could spell disaster.
When Billy was seven, Sam invited Marty over for a barbeque. He readily accepted, showing up with a twelve pack of beer (the middle class equivalent of a bottle of wine). Beth reached out for it, and said, “I’ll just put this in the fridge.”
“Hold on there, little lady,” Sam said. He tore open the top of the case and pulled out two cans of beer, one of which he handed to Marty. “Thanks honey.”
“Oh, that’s ok. You two enjoy your male bonding.”
“Well, we do own most of the planet,” Sam said. Marty smiled widely.
“You’re full if shit!” she said, and made for the house.
Sam and Marty strolled around the yard, which was alive with children running and jumping around with endless energy. Sam introduced Marty to the folks he didn’t know, and they engaged in small talk during their travels.
Eventually, they sat down in a couple of lawn chairs, and gazed around at Sam’s back yard. Sam had done a perfect job of it, nicely trimmed grass, flower beds, and a wide patio on which they now sat.
“How’s Billy doing?” Marty asked.
“Well, he’s doing pretty good in school, been in trouble a few times for talking during class, but that’s normal. He’s a good kid,” Sam said.
“Yeah, he is.” Marty swigged his beer and watched the children at play. He often wished, as most adults do, that he had that energy all the time.
A Frisbee was flying back and forth across the yard. Near the house were two kids, one of them Billy. One kid stood on the other side of the lawn, in front of the chain link fence near the sidewalk and street.
“Who’s that kid over by the fence?” Marty asked Sam.
Sam sighed. “That’s Dennis and Gayle’s kid – Chad.” He looked at Marty. “I know, he’s got an attitude. But kids grow out of it eventually, don’t they?”
“Well, I suppose they do, depending on their upbringing. But he’s just yelling at those kids because they’re not as good. I want to go over and stuff a cork in his mouth.”
“I get the idea that you are not too fond of kids,” Sam said, smiling dubiously.
“I don’t want you to be offended; Sam, but I have had some really bad experiences with my three marriages. Kids are just not my thing. I just can’t take the yelling and screaming and crying.”
“Well, I understand, Marty. I’ll even understand if you want to leave. I mean, I know what you’re talking about – kids are a handful.”
Marty laughed. “No, I’ll stay. It’s not that bad as long as the kids aren’t mine.”
“Maybe that’s a nice safe place to be,” Sam said, laughing out loud. “Believe me, I know.”
Suddenly, Marty observed Sam; he noticed the he looked somewhat haggard, his face stubbly. “Everything alright, Sam? You look a little tired.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just didn’t sleep too well last night.”
“Oh, I really hate that,” Marty said.
A disruption from the children interrupted their chat. The one named Chad, who was obviously a little older than the others, was calling out angrily. “Don’t you wimps know how to throw a Frisbee? You can just go and get it, now!” he exclaimed. It had flown over the fence and into the street.
The other kid near Billy remained silent, but Billy called out, “You get it! We quit!” He declared, glancing over at the other, who nodded in agreement.
“Fine!” Chad said. “If you’re gonna’ be like that, I guess I’ll have to go and get it myself, losers!” He grabbed onto the bar that ran across the top of the fence, and hauled himself over onto the boundary of grass before the sidewalk.
Sam seemed to be studying Billy, and Marty looked over just in time to see Billy saying something under his breath. Sam’s face suddenly sank. He dropped his beer onto the grass.
“Whoops,” Marty said. “I’ll get you another one.”
Sam hesitated. “No, don’t worry about it, Marty.”
Chad strode gracefully out into the street, and bent down to pick up the Frisbee. He stood and went to say something, perhaps another sarcastic remark, and that is when the car appeared from nowhere.
It ran straight over Chad, who was suddenly lost under the metal machine, and then the driver slammed on the breaks; it squealed past, drawing the attention of all in attendance.
“Oh, fuck me!” Sam declared, and was up running toward the fence before Marty had time to think. He hiked the fence with several of the adults behind him, including Marty, who had managed to follow close behind and hike the fence himself.
The driver of the car climbed out and approached slowly, his hands on his face. “Oh my God! What have I done?”
Sam gawked at the human pretzel lying on the street, a pool of blood blooming under it. Marty joined him, and they were both speechless.
Behind them, Chad’s father Dennis had just come over the fence, and was slowly making his way to the street. He wore a countenance of terror, and said nothing at first. He then dug into his jeans and yanked out his cell phone.
“Hello? My child just got run over by a car, please hurry!”
He gave the address and then stepped toward his son. Terror embraced him, and as people gathered on the other side of the fence, Sam hurried over and called out, “Ok, everybody, get away! Go over by the house! Show respect, God damnit!”
And then Gayle was trying to climb the fence in her summer dress, and Marty rushed over and latched onto her. Once she was on the other side, she ran into the street. The twisted form of her son lying in the pool of blood was too much; just as the driver of the car was trying to apologize, she turned and vomited onto the grass.
“Oh, God!” she gurgled. Sam ran over and put his arms around her.
Marty was somewhat dismayed. Sam almost seemed to know that something bad was going to happen, and yet it occurred like a natural twist of life. A kid runs into the street and gets run over by a car.
What was Billy whispering?
Sam approached Billy as the first of the sirens became apparent. He looked down at Billy. “What were you saying just before the accident?”
“I don’t remember,” Billy said. “Probably just something because we didn’t like him.”
“Would you dislike him so much, to make that wish?”
“No dad, I just called him an asshole.”
“Well, you wanted to know…”
“And you said nothing else…”
“No, just mumbling. I didn’t want him to beat me up. He bullies the kids at school. But I didn’t – “
Gayle came running up to the two, her face red, wet with tears. “You didn’t what? You didn’t want to hurt my child? You did! You threw that Frisbee out there on purpose! And I heard you telling Chad to go and get it himself! You’re an evil little child!”
Sam broke in. “Look, I am sorry about Chad, but you are not going to come here and accuse my son of something he didn’t do. I think you should leave. Now!”
Dennis walked over and took Gayle by the shoulders. “I’m sorry, Sam. We’re just a little freaked out right now. Let’s go, Gayle – we have to go to the hospital.”
“The hospital? Why do we have to go to the hospital?”
“Because they want an exact cause of death for the certificate.”
“You mean an autopsy? Good God, Dennis!”
Dennis took her hands. “Gayle, you need to settle down! Times have changed. They have everything to an exact science. I agreed to let them.”
“You told them to cut up our son?”
“Yes, I want to know exactly what killed him, and one day down the road, you’ll be curious, and you’ll start asking questions. Let’s go. They’re waiting.”
He put his arm around Gayle’s shoulders as they walked through the gate and down the driveway, where they climbed into an ambulance. It’s blue lights flashed silently as it drove off. Sam saw policemen walking up the driveway toward them, and he rolled his eyes. More fucking questions, he thought. Then he looked down at Billy, who only shrugged.
Beth had been out near the street, watching the activity incredulously. It was unreal, and yet, just before they took Chad, she saw his twisted body, head turned at an odd angles, as were his legs. She finally returned from the front of the house, just in time to help answer questions from the police.
When the police asked Billy, he merely shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”
“Chad, you’re an asshole – you pick on everyone! I wish you were dead!”
Billy had whispered these words. He didn’t count on his father seeing him, but it turned out ok.
Sam never knew the truth about that day, and subsequent days when similar accidents happened to strangers. Sometimes, it was an automobile accident, and sometimes it was a stroke or heart attack. Nonetheless, Billy had become addicted to it; and if Sam had known just how addicted he was, he would have panicked. Regardless, you couldn’t take the boy to a conventional psychiatrist.
For now, all he knew was the boy was keeping his cool (thank God he didn’t have serious anger issues, or worse things would have happened), and he was happy. He loved Billy, wanted him to only lead a normal life – and every night when Billy went to bed he always said, “Love ya, dad.” Sam loved to hear those words, and he knew Billy loved him, but he also knew that children grow up. Things change.
Billy’s love for Sam never changed as he grew older, and he would listen quietly as his father spoke to him of the curse that had been born with him. Billy listened, for many were the times I would see the two sitting at the redwood picnic table in the back yard, talking calmly while they brushed away flies.
Marty never interrupted, though he would wave – he didn’t want to seem rude. Sam always politely waved, as did Billy. Oftentimes Billy would even call out, “Hello Mr. Hackenson!” And Marty would reply, “Hello, Billy…Sam.” Then he would get back to what he was doing unless Sam instigated a conversation.
Marty was self-conscious, and would put enough distance between he and the two on the other side of the hedge. He didn’t want them to think he was trying to listen in; yet, Sam never paid him much mind. There were times, however, when Sam would hear Marty roll his lawnmower out, but go inside the house. After Sam and Billy finished and went inside, not more than five minutes would pass before Sam would hear the lawnmower start.
Sam liked Marty…
As Billy grew older, his hair grew longer, and he began to get into trouble a school. As parents will do, the concerned ones, that is, Billy’s parents immediately began to question him. It was not only school they were concerned with, but the other thing.
Sam and Beth stood in Billy’s room, which was festooned with posters of all the undesirable subjects that parents just wanted to tear off the walls and burn. Billy sat on his unmade bed and listened.
“Billy, your math teacher called today, and he seemed a little concerned that your scores are dropping. He said you seem a little…preoccupied,” Sam said calmly. “Is there anything you would like to talk about, son?”
“No, dad. There isn’t anything to talk about. The work is hard, and I’ve had things on my mind.”
Sam said, “You know you can talk to us any time, Billy. We only want to help.”
A school mate, a boy who Billy hated, walked into the middle of Main Street, where a bus promptly ran him over…
“I know dad, thanks.”
“Wait one minute!” Beth said. “This isn’t over, not by a long shot”
“Beth, we talked to him. Let it go. We’ll work on it,” Sam said.
“Whatever, Sam. But, I’m telling you, Billy, if this continues, you are going to start losing privileges. Do you understand me, young man?”
“Do you understand me?” she yelled.
Billy yelled back. “Yes, I fucking understand you!”
Beth was startled at this language. “You do not use that kind of language on me, Billy! I will slap your face!”
Billy smiled. “I don’t think so, mom.”
Beth ran from the room, and Sam stood silent until finally: “Billy, you didn’t have to say that.”
“I know, dad, but she’s pissing me off. She doesn’t have to talk to me like that.”
Sam sat next to Billy on the bed, and put his arm around his shoulders. “You know, you probably scared the shit out of her. Come on, Billy, she’s your mother.”
“Ok, dad, I’ll go apologize. I really didn’t mean to.”
“Thanks, Billy. You’re the best.”
Billy smiled. “No, you’re the best, dad.”
Billy left the room, and Sam heard him tapping on the master bedroom door. And then he heard Beth’s crying, and Billy apologizing and he knew his son must have been hugging his wife.
Sam went downstairs and made a drink. After this episode, he decided it was time to share with the only person he thought he could trust. He swigged down the rest of his whiskey and went through the sliding kitchen doors before anyone came down and saw him.
He went through the yard to the gate in the fence, crept through (for he felt like he was creeping), and went straight for Marty’s front door. Marty answered almost immediately, and the next thing Sam knew was he was standing in Marty’s house, about to spill his guts.
“Marty, I really need a whiskey.”
“Well, coming right up buddy.” Marty went into the kitchen, and called out, “Have a seat, Sam!”
“Thanks, I will.”
Marty returned with two tumblers filled with ice and brandy. Sam was sitting on a couch under the picture window. Marty set the glass down on a coaster, and sat on the couch near Sam.
“Can I ask you a personal question, Marty?”
“Sure, what would you like to know?”
Sam asked, “Marty, you have a nice house, and it doesn’t seem like you work a job – well, how do you live?”
“It was an inheritance. About five years ago, and aunt that I was very close to died.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam said.
“Don’t be. She was suffering. I hope it doesn’t sound bad, but I was glad when she passed. And not because of the money. The poor woman needed to go,” Marty said. “And I ended up with half a million dollars, God bless her.”
Sam gawked at Marty, and then took a swig from his drink. “Well, thanks for telling me. But I am sure you have people bothering you all the time, wanting money, of course.”
“At first, yes. But I decided to…go underground, more or less. And so, this is how I live.”
“Well, good for you,” Sam said. “I’m glad to see you’ve got it made. But now, I need to talk to you about something else, and you’re going to have a hard time with it, but I feel like you’re the only one I can trust.” He shook the cubes around in his tumbler. “You think I could get another?”
“You can have all you want, Sam. But you seem to have something you need to get off your chest.”
“You could say that, Marty.”
Marty returned with another drink for the both of them, set one on the table for Sam, and then settled down in a recliner that Sam had an idea was Marty’s favorite chair. He suddenly felt like he was in a psychiatrist’s office about ready to spill his guts over some crazy ideas that Marty and his shrink friends would be laughing over later.
Marty seemed to sense this, so he said, “Sam, something is seriously wrong. What’s going on?”
Sam hesitated, and said, “It’s Billy, Marty. There’s a…problem with Billy.”
“Well, Sam, you know you can talk to me any time. Is it teenager problems? I mean, kids can always be talked to.”
“Marty, Billy’s fourteen now. He’s going through troubles at school, not too bad, just grades and stuff. But he’s getting rebellious, Marty, and that can be dangerous.”
“Well, Sam, how dangerous can it get. He’s in eighth grade now, growing up – maybe he’s been experimenting with pot. Kids can get defensive.”
“I really wouldn’t care if it were just that,” Sam said. “It’s something much more serious, and I’m afraid that if he finds out I told you, your life could be in danger.”
“Oh, come on, Sam! My life? You talk like Billy’s a killer or something. Just what in the hell are you taking about?”
“I’m talking about Billy. He is a killer – when he wants to be.”
“Oh, now you’re sounding ridiculous, Sam. Billy? A killer? Just what is going on, Sam.”
“Marty, I’m not saying he goes out and just kills people. Billy was born with a…kind of gift, if you want to call it that.”
“A gift? Sam, just lay it straight out, would you?”
“Ok, my son can kill people with just a wish.”
Marty sat silent for a moment. Sipped his drink. “Sam, I hope this isn’t some kind of joke, because it’s not funny.”
“It’s no joke, Marty. He cannot find out I told you, but I had to tell someone. Like I said, I think I can trust you. This is no joke. Like that boy at the barbeque, um, Chad. Yeah, Dennis and Gayle’s kid. He’s been picking on the kids at school. Billy got pissed, and wished him dead.”
“Oh, come on, Sam – that was an accident. Pure and simple, and accident.”
“Marty, you heard that boy calling the other kids losers. Gayle even came over and blamed Billy right in front of us. She overheard me talking to Billy about it. We didn’t mean for her to hear anything, but she did. I defended Billy, of course, which any parent would have, but I knew. And in a hysterical way, she thought it was true, although she thought Billy did it on purpose. Yeah, threw the Frisbee in the street so Chad would get hurt. But I heard Billy. Or saw him say something right before it happened.”
“I saw him say something, too, Sam. But, hell, he was just mad. You heard that kid – calling the other kids names.”
“And Billy had had enough. Just like the other kids. I imagine every time they tried to do something fun at school, that little punk had to ruin it somehow. You remember what it was like, don’t you? Having a school bully shove you around all the time, take your lunch money, and even your lunch. Like a little mobster. I’ll bet he told the other kids that if they said anything he’d be right after ‘em”
“Maybe, Sam, but come on. Are you listening to yourself? Do you know how crazy it all sounds?”
“I know it sounds crazy, Marty, but it’s true. I’ve lived with it for fourteen years, this secret. I had to tell someone.”
Marty tried to remain calm, collected. He took a drink and asked, “So why are you telling me this now? After all this time?”
“We had an argument today. Billy got into a little trouble at school. Nothing too bad, just his grades in math are falling. Beth got really upset. Billy said something that scared her – I mean really scared her, because of what he can do, Marty. He apologized to her, but the whole episode made me think. I mean, someone else needs to know.”
The two remained silent for a few minutes, sipping their drinks and thinking. Finally, Sam said, “It also made me think just how many times has Billy really done it? We ask him all the time, and he says he hasn’t, but now I’m doubtful. I’m afraid of what else he might do.”
“Go home, Sam,” Marty said.
“What? You’re kicking me out?”
“No, nothing like that,” Marty calmly said. “I just want you to go home and make sure everything’s alright. And I’ll think about what you told me, ok?”
Sam set down his drink and stood. “Ok, Marty. Thanks. Please, think about it, at least.”
“Well, I will, Sam. But you know I have no experience with children.”
“It doesn’t matter, Marty. I just need you to know. I might need your help one day, who knows. Something could happen to Beth and I, who knows…”
“Hey don’t talk like that, nothing is going to happen. Just go home and check on things.”
Sam shook his hand. “Thanks for listening, Marty.”
“That’s what friends are for, Sam. I’ll see ya’”
He walked Sam to the front door and let him out, closing the door behind him. He grabbed their drinks and took them into the kitchen, putting Sam’s in the stainless steel sink. He snatched up a few more ice cubes from the freezer, and clinked! them into his glass. The entire conversation flowed through his mind as he poured more whiskey, as if he had just been told some really bad news. But, he wasn’t sure what to make of this news. Just where did this new fit in? Marty pondered for a minute. He’s having marital problems or something. Yeah, maybe that’s it, and it’s disrupting his rationality. Marty stood there and shook his head.
Wishing people to death – now that’s crazy.
The following day Billy returned home from school to a scorned look on his mother’s face.
“Why you lookin’ at me like that?” he asked, tossing his backpack to the floor.
Sam walked into the kitchen. “Billy, we got another call from your school today. I think you know why.”
“Yeah, I know why,” Billy said. “It’s about that punk Charles who was pushing me around.”
Beth stepped up to him. “You punched him in the face, Billy. They think you broke his nose.”
“Well, so what if I did? Christ, he was trying to bully everyone around. I wasn’t trying to really hurt anyone, I swear! But he was shoving me around. What was I supposed to do?”
“You were supposed to get a teacher or something,” Sam said. “Now, you’re in big trouble. Now – ”
“Now, you are going to be punished, young man!” Beth called out. Anger reddened her face. “ No more music Mo more anything, but study! Give me that Mp3, now!”
“You can’t do that!” Billy exclaimed.
“Yes, she can,” Sam said. “Hand it over. Now. Billy passed it his dad, who in turn gave it to Beth.
“I wish you both were dead” he exclaimed, but Billy thought a moment – “I’m sorry mom and dad, I didn’t mean it, really. It was just a mistake. Really!”
“It’s ok, son, we know,” Sam said. But he and Beth went to bed with heavy hearts that night.
The next day it happened. Sam and Beth were killed in an automobile accident. Billy turned to Marty. “I did it!” He burst into tears, and Marty held him.
“It was just an accident, Billy.”
“No! I wished them to death, Marty! Last night! I took it back, but it was too late!”
Now Marty knew it was true. It saddened him, and he had tears as well. “I’ll take care you, but you must promise one thing,” Marty said. “No more.”
“Ok, Marty.” He held him for a while longer.
“Now we need to take care of your parents, and after that, I’ll try to get the court to let me take care of you.”
“You would do that for me?” Billy asked.
“I would for you,” Marty said.
It was difficult in court – but Billy kept claiming that Marty was like a father to him. The court relented. Billy was now in custody of Marty. They returned home, and Marty immediately had things to say to Billy.
“I am going to be as nice as I can, Billy.”
“I think I know where this is going,” Billy said.
“Billy, you know I care a lot about you, right?”
“I know, Marty. You want me to stop. I know.”
“That’s right, Billy. It stops, right now. If you want, kill me. If not, listen to what I’m saying. It stops. Lead a normal life, please – I’m asking you. Please, no more. It’s wrong. Can we agree on that?”
“Ok, Marty. I promise.”
“Come here,” Marty said. He hugged Billy, fourteen-year-old Billy. “Please, no more.”
“I have a gift for you,” Billy said.
“Oh, now I am excited,” Marty said.
“Close your eyes.”
Marty closed his eye and waited. He abruptly felt a heat inside him, and then it was gone.
“Where’s the gift?” Marty asked.
“I gave it to you already,” Billy said. “What do you mean?”
“The wish of death. You’ll need it one day, believe me. Just don’t abuse it like I did.”
“You’re nuts, Billy – you just give that power to another person!”
“Yes, I can, Marty. I’ve always known I can. I gave it you to protect your life. I know you will never use it like I did.”
“You are telling me I can wish things, people, to death?”
“Yes, but you won’t. You’re too good a person.”
“I don’t believe you,” Marty said.
“Come outside,” Billy said.
They sat at a picnic table in Marty’s back yard. A sparrow landed nearby on a limb. “Wish it to death,” Billy said.
“I can’t do that, Billy.”
“Yes, you can! If you don’t, I will!”
Marty stared at the bird. “Do it now, Marty!”
“I wish that bird was dead,” Marty said. The bird stood on the limb, chirping.
“I told you, Billy, you can’t – ”
The bird fell over dead to the ground.
Marty gawked at the bird. “How did you know, Billy?”
“I just did. You’ve always been my best friend. I just had a feeling.”
“I feel honored, Billy, but what about your friends at school?”
“Pricks. All of them. I’m the “different” kid. Half of them are dead. But you won’t do that. You’re a good man, and friend. You took me in when I needed it. I know I’m just a kid, but one day, one day you’re going to need it.”
“No more, Billy. You understand me? No more! You live with me, no more! You can kill me now, or listen! It’s wrong! I don’t mean to be a prick about it, but it’s wrong!”
Billy burst into tears. “Ok, Marty. I promise. No more. He rushed over to Marty and hugged him. Marty held the boy, and knew he meant what he said. There was obviously love between them, and Marty knew this most of all.
“Marty, you understand me more than anyone…”
“You know, Billy,” Marty said. “I love you, so please listen to what I say. We can have a good life together. What do you think?”
Billy looked up with teary eyes. “We can, Marty. I’ll listen.”
“Good boy,” Marty said, and held him tightly.
Billy turned fifteen. And then sixteen. True to his words, he hurt no one. But it changed. He arrived home and sat down on the couch, holding his face in his hands.
Marty came in, and was alarmed. He knew something was amiss.
“What’s wrong, Billy?”
“I did it, Marty. After two years, I did it. I killed someone.”
Marty sat next to Billy. “Why, Billy. Why”
“He’s a bully at the high school. A senior. He was pounding the shit out of a junior. I thought he was going to kill him. So I wished him to death.”
“Billy, we talked about this,” Marty said.
“Marty, a whole crowd of people were surrounding them. Leading him on – the other kid was all bloody – I couldn’t help it!”
“What happened?” Marty asked. He went into to kitchen for a drink.
“I wished him dead!”
“And what happened?” Marty asked, sipping his drink. He already knew.
“He fell to the ground. Blood poured from his nose. It was me Marty!”
Marty put his head in his hands. “We talked about this before, Billy.”
“I couldn’t help myself, Marty. Now I wish I was…”
“Stop! Stop now, Billy!”
But Billy said the most horrid words Marty had ever heard.
“Stop, Billy! Now!”
And then the words came – Marty watched in sadness.
Billy said,” I wish I was dead.” It was over. Marty called the police and ambulance. Billy had a brain hemorrhage. That was it. Now Marty was at his funeral.
Most of the people left – they were only there out of respect. They climbed into their cars and left, until Marty was the only person left standing next to Billy’s grave.
“Is there something else you’d to say, sir?”
Marty turned to see a large black man in blue coveralls. I’m just asking out of respect. You take your time, if you need too, sir.”
“Thank you,” Marty said. “Just do your job. It’s got to hard, anyway.”
“It can be, sir, it can be,” The black man said.”
Marty shook his hand and walked off toward his car. “The black man shook his head, and thought: Poor guy. Must have meant a lot to him. He shook his again. He must have been father to that poor kid. He started the back hoe and began to bury Billy.
On his way home, Marty stopped at a small market he frequented sometimes (he was almost on first name basis with the owner), and he asked for Canadian Host, and cigarettes. He was not a usual smoker, but he thought today might be an ok time. The man behind counter was a nice enough fellow, Korean or Japanese, he was not quite sure, was not about to ask.
Two more visitors entered the store. One had a gun. “Money, now!” He looked at me, and said, “I’ll be just be you got fucking, too.”
Marty was shaking. “Why do you want to do this? Go to a different store, a big one. You make a lot more.”
Both men were Latino, covered with tattoos. “I don’t need to right now! He pointed at the cashier, and shot. His partner leaped over the cover, open the register and snapped the bills.
“You are looking quite fancy today. It would be a shame to blood your suit.”
“I just came from a funeral, Marty said.
“Old friend, eh?”
“No, young. Only sixteen.” Marty remarked.
“Oh, too bad.” You may have to join him. See the cameras?”
Marty did need to look. His anger abruptly took over. “I wish you were both dead.”
“You know, a lot of people think the same thing, especially cops. Mario, just kill this fuckhead now.” He turned around, and Mario was already on the floor.
“What the fuck?”
“I wish you were dead,” was all Marty said. And then he called the police.
They reviewed to tapes. “He asked Marty, you had no weapon. The cashier was clearly murdered. I identified the men, and they are both dead. But, you said something prior to their deaths. You kind of….wish them to die. So what’s that?
“I just lucked out, detective. I got lucky.”
“Well, you got lucky – two men with severe brain hemorrhages, now sitting in cold storage. Explain it to me. We know about Billy. The same shit was going on.”
“This has nothing to do with Billy! Got It?”
The detective looked at him, and finally said, “Go home. As far as we’re concerned, you have committed no crime, and in fact, you’ve actually helped us. But I am not done talking to you yet.”
Marty went home, and changed into his most comfortable clothes, which was sweats. He mixed a drink and went outside. There, in the warm wind and shining rays of the sun, he thought….