It’s a cruel world we live in. Imagine waking up on the most beautiful day. Sunny sky, singing birds, and plenty of smiles. Then just minutes later, a violent storm begins; it’s the end of the world. But minutes after that temporary apocalypse, the sunny sky returns and it’s even more gorgeous than the last time. That’s an analogy for the life I’ve lived.
It all started a mere ten years ago, when I was a young lad in elementary school. I was just like every other kid, excitable and ready to have “fun”. It took me no time at all to make some friends. I met these two fellows, John and Archie. They were a bunch of troublemakers but I befriended them nonetheless. Together we went on all sorts of mischievous adventures, hiding the chalk, putting a tack on the teacher’s chair, that sort of thing.
However one day, it all went wrong. After four years of being buddy-buddy with little Johnny and Archie, they betrayed me. They performed a despicable prank in the lunchroom without informing me. Somehow, they managed to swap a young lady’s perfect sandwich with a moldy one. The gal ate it and grew dreadfully sick. Of course John, Archie, and I were automatically blamed for the act and that was about sixty-sixty percent accurate. But guess who single handedly got blamed and scolded: me. Remember now I was just as bewildered as the girl who was violently vomiting in the trashcan; I had no idea this trick was planned.
I would have had a miscarriage of trust were it for my defender, Basil. Basil was a gentle girl who never involved herself in my little-gang’s shenanigans, but she did have a sense of justice. She heard my whiney appeals and came to my rescue; she believed in me when no one else did. Naturally the teachers didn’t care and still gave me a harsh, undeserved punishment.
After that, Basil became my only friend. John and Archie stopped talking to me and found themselves a new scapegoat. Their personalities didn’t change one bit. I yearned to see those hooligans get their deserved punishment, but they never did. However I stopped caring about them as I quickly learned that Basil and I had several shared interests that I never expected. She was always apprehensive during classes so I just assumed she was a bookworm, but in truth she was just afraid others would find her interests “weird”. My mother taught me to never have such an irrational worry like that.
“You should never worry what others think of you, Alex. Just be yourself,” she’d always say.
So thanks to our starcrossed meeting, Basil was finally able to be herself around someone else. Our primary shared interest was our love of the natural world, although I do not mean that in the traditional sense. We wouldn’t go out to birdwatch or grow trees, that’d be boring as hell! Usually we’d go about and explore all kinds of restricted, mucky areas to find ourselves some interesting wildlife. Snakes, millipedes, those sorts of things. Basil and I both thought such creatures were absolutely adorable; we’d find our favorite ones and bring them home as pets. Of course, ninety-nine percent of the time our parents would find out and flip their lids. Though No matter how many times we were scolded, we never stopped scavenging.
Nowadays just about every time I fall asleep, I dream about our adventures. The sight of Basil’s bright smile, the smell of corroded water, the feeling of dozens of legs crawling down my sleeves, and the sound of homeless singers begging for some cutter. Such wonderful times, but good things do not always last. Even the freshest apple must eventually rot.
It happened on a day that was just like any other. Basil and I ventured out to a rather dark side of town to find some new, insectuous friends. We had a lot of fun and found some bugs we had never seen before, but perhaps we had too much fun. Before we knew it, it was nightfall. The world was black, only the dim moonlight allowed us to see.
“Don’t worry,” I said to reassure Basil, “I know how to get home, follow me.”
Of course I did not actually know how to get home since we couldn’t even see the street signs, I had just bluffed to calm her down. Despite her obsession with “the weird”, Basil was a timid and anxious girl.
“Alright, please hurry,” she said, grasping my sleeve with one hand and carrying a small snake with the other.
We walked for quite awhile; once we got out the marshy area we began to follow a seemingly endless sidewalk. We passed under a few streetlights but they didn’t help improve our sense of direction.
Basil got worried again, “A-Are you sure you know where you’re going?”
“Yes of course,” I thought of a lie. “I’m taking a shortcut back.”
“Why didn’t we take the shortcut on the way here? We may not have stayed late if we did.”
I thought of another lie, “B-Because I like walking with you.” Actually, that may not have been a lie.
Basil was about to reply, but she was interrupted by a sound, a car horn. Someone started pursuing us. This was the moment, the moment the metaphorical grey clouds in my life started to form.
Basil gasped, “I think they want to help us.”
I was skeptical but, what else would that person possibly want with us. We stopped walking and waited for the mysterious driver to pull up. They rolled down their window and spoke to us. I couldn’t see their face but I was positive from the voice that we were speaking with an older man.
“What are you kids doing out this late?” he asked. His voice had a strange tone; he seemed casual and unsurprised.
I struggled to find words to explain our situation, so Basil answered.
“We’re trying to get home, but we’re lost,” she murmured.
“Lost?” the driver inquired, “Where do ya live?”
Basil shared our neighborhood address without hesitation.
“Ah, really now,” the driver answered, “I know where that is. My cousin lives down there! Why don’t you kiddos hop in I’ll take ya home.”
We were both unsure, but the driver was persistent. “Come on now, you two can’t stay out here all night. It’s dangerous! Someone might hurt you!”
Yes he really said that, this strange man with clear intentions to harm us said that. Of course we were just kids so we feel right for his trap. That retort scared Basil, and she entered the man’s car. She motioned for me to follow. I did follow, but I shouldn't have. This was where everything went wrong. We were so naïve.
I still can’t bring myself to remember what happened. I suppressed the dreadful experience in the darkest parts of my mind. All I can recall is the clear screams of terror that erupted from Basil, and the sickening laughter and violent force that devilish man brought to us. After that I can only remember waking up the next morning. I woke up laying down and bleeding on the same sidewalk we were picked up on. Basil wasn’t there, although the snake she had was. I picked up her snake-friend and trudged back home. I knocked violently against my home door screaming that there had been an accident and Basil was missing. The instant my father opened the door I collapsed.
I woke up in a hospital bed, with no idea how much time had passed. Honestly, I had no interest in knowing. I had no interest in anything. I just wanted an answer to one question: Why?
Why did that man do something so horrible? Was it for fun? Is doing horrible things fun? Well, I know the answer now. Sitting in that hospital bed, approaching death, helped me learn. I finally understood that horrible things are the most splendid things. Being hurt, being violated in any way, doesn’t it make you smile? Makes you think of all the times in the past were you weren’t being harmed or tortured. Doesn’t thinking of the past make you happy, nostalgic? This must have been our dreadful attacker’s thought process. Taking things from others, hurting others, it’s all so much fun because you know you’re doing them all a service.
So nowadays I’m the good guy here, I’m helping everyone remember the times they’ve forgotten. As I beat down beggars in the streets they may scream, but they may also subconsciously remember the times where they were not screaming. Times where they had money and had joy. Do you get it now Mr.Deltoid? Do you finally understand why I am justified for being a hooligan? I am making myself happy and the world happy. My droogs understand, even my dear snake Basil understands. So why can’t you, my probation officer, understand? Why can’t the rest of this miserable world understand?
I am the hero of this story.