Just before Christmas, Adam came into the kitchen where I was and he rubbed his hands on the countertops in little circles. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Find out what sets your soul free,” and when I started to cry, he just ignored me and lined the knives up on the counter by size, but I didn’t laugh. I never laugh when he tries like that. Sometimes he lines things up, and I feel sick because he’ll stop at 14 and not 15 and I never know why he does. He walked away after that, and I wrote what he said to Evie in lipstick on her mirror.
FIND OUT WHAT SETS YOUR SOUL FREE. -B
The next day I guess Evie was feeling like fuckit, because my mirror had her reply in pink.
DON’T SET IT FREE, SET IT ON FIRE. -E
Sure thing, Evie, no problem.
I get free when I can put shame in my teeth and snap it’s fucking neck. If the world made me this, then the world gets to have me. Whatever misshapen form I’m taking, molded by shame, I get free and I want to be worshipped. I want to paint the faces of the children of this world with the blood of their parents and tell them shame is an illusion they’re feeding you to make you fat little glue-sniffing rats.
Be selfish. Be vile. Be a dragon. Be a murderer. Lick this world. What doesn’t shiver is already fucking dead anyway
I’m a monster and I want you to tell me I’m pretty and I want your firstborn children.
I grind out shame under my boot heel by walking with the worst parts of me, parts that people can’t look at. Not even me. And JANE, you know? Fucking dragons always wanna look. Well, lets look, brothers. Look at me, baby sister. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Inside all of us is a murderer who waits in an alley. No, he doesn’t wait in some fucking hospital room angel of mercy bullshit, or like in the kitchen where your old man is beating your ass. No. Don’t...give me that shit. Just nut up and close your eyes and look inside yourself and find the place that’s ugly enough to extinguish a life. He’s waiting. He’s waiting in an alley.
Beyond what’s real and things you can touch, killing someone happens in an alley, in it’s basest sense. There are rules that humans have put in place that have shit to do with base and primitive natures. Killing a man is not basic or animal. It happens in an alley, and the weapon is your will.
Beyond what you can see in the moment of killing, if you let it wash over you, while they’re slipping, you can become that part of yourself. You can see the alley. You can feel the air. You’re the rain or the summer heat and the break in the fucking winter. You’re the silence of the air shaft, and the stunned onlookers, and the weeping widow. You become the moment, and in the moment, you know the truth. Every death is the same. Every destination is Further. Every killer is you. Every victim is shame.
I took JANE to their alley ways, as a Christmas present. Found the place in them that kills, and set it free. When it was over, we set it on fire, on the rooftops of Brooklyn. It didn’t bring our mother back, but who the fuck knew what would? It didn’t bring her back, but it took us places, that’s for sure.
Any nightclub, a seedy bar. Sometimes a diner. We were somewhere, inside, but that didn’t matter. Jacked-up like we were, Nick half in the bag, Adam chewing his nails, and Evie holding my hand til my palm sweat, the pulse like she calls it was coming. Evie says everything nicer than I would. Does everything nicer than I would, too. And Adam lines his shit up like a ruler, and Nick forgives, and Nick remembers, and I’m just me, just smelling the air for prey and pussy.
The pulse came through in bands of orange light, sweeping over us, coming out our fingers. I felt hot. I knew I was going to show them something maybe they didn’t know or understand, and fuck if I was going to explain it. We were just out. Going dancing, like Evie calls it.
Isn’t that nicer?
I remember she squeezed my hand so tight I thought it would break and I felt faint it was making my heart pound so bad. Squeezing me like that and thinking about Adam because fuck, I’m just Bradley and who gives a shit? She. Fucking Evie. She. Her. Girl. Inside. Where I’m Him, Boy, He, Braaaaaaadley. She wore my riding boots that night, and one of my shirts untucked over her skirt like I don’t fucking notice that shit. But I like that about her. That’s how I knew she was my sister, you know? Fuck, Jesus, Evie’s such a tease.
I went first. The people I like...I like them to be Between. Or Not Quite. Between a boy and a girl, or between being in love and hating someone. Between fates. Not quite middle-aged, not quite straight. I like it because you can always see them choose, right before their light goes out.
The alley is as important as the people. Mine has brick walls and the ground is asphalt and it’s dry and warm. There’s a nice breeze, smells like the trash behind a bakery. There’s a street at one end and a chain-link fence at the other, with a big yellow dumpster against it. It’s not quite night, and the sky looks burnt. When I’m in it, the killer in me, he’s patient. I can be patient, and I can get still. I can watch. I get cool, and dim inside.
This is what I do.
I like to get them on the ground to take them apart some, but I’m not a god damned butcher. I just like blood, but it turns into other things after awhile and I don’t like it anymore. I like how it feels under my hands until it doesn’t feel anymore. I make sounds while I’m thinking, I get real lost in thought. And the light comes through, making little...batteries glow inside their mouths and I can touch it with my fingers and feel it sometimes. I think I took the longest, but I don’t remember. Adam and Nick watched from against the wall, smoking. I know Nick’s cock got hard, because I could see it. Evie held onto the fabric of my jacket and wouldn’t let go even once. She gets shy, sometimes, and real afraid, and when she does, it’s fucking me she comes to, even if it’s me that’s doing it.
I thought Nick would go next, but he likes a good tease, so it was Adam, and we watched him in his alley. I’ve seen Adam fight before, but not like this, and I was kind of excited to see what the killer in him would do.
Adam’s alley is crammed with graffiti and there are dry weeds growing up through the cement cracks. It’s cold and kind of damp, with melted snow. It’s longer than mine, but...hey, it’s how you use it, right? The wind was freezing and the three left of JANE huddled in a doorway under a lamp. Adam’s killer is impatient and blunt. He didn’t think anything through, and he was impulsive and let it end pretty early. He brought out one, then two, then three, then four girls, all looking a lot like Evie. I thought she might be upset, but she didn’t say anything. I thought Nick was going to have a heart attack, I could feel him sweating and his breath was heavy.
Adam would bring out the girl, cigarette in his hand, and they’d fumble with their clothes, their mouths together, until he’d get her against a wall. He moaned a lot. Then he would stop, but his cigarette in his lips, hold her by the hair, and hit her head against the wall until she was in a daze. Then he’d end it, with a knife, and let her fall. Four girls, four cigarettes. Never lost a one. I take it back, Adam is the god damn tease.
When he had enough of the game, he said low, “Evelyn, come here,” and she went out into the alley, and he got down on his knees and up under her skirt. She came so hard, she pulled out some of his hair that she had twisted in her hand. It was pretty to see her leg in my boot slung over his shoulder like that.
Nick kills all the time, for food less than sport. His alley is old enough to have a gas lantern by it, and the ground is hard-packed dirt. He told people to scream if it hurt, but some didn’t. He picked loud, sort of colorful people. People you’d pat on the back when you saw them again after meeting them the first time. People that became your instant best friends. He puts on this face of a friend or a father, and he laughs and drinks with them and gives them a nice last night on earth beforehand. He says adrenaline can spoil a meal, and so he prefers to keep it at a minimum. Nick has no interest in the act of death, just the blood that follows.
I think we were all kind of curious about what Evie would do, and what her killer was like, because she’s the type of girl who’d deny even having one, and deny it to the end. Jeepers, you guys, can’t we just SCARE them?
But it turns out, that IS Evie’s killer. One doe-eyed, manipulative little bitch.
See, that’s why she asked me to write this part. That’s some shit she’d never say.
Evie’s alley is long enough for her to run, for her to let them think they’re winning. She let herself get preyed on, and led outside, and she took off down the alley running under the blue moon toward a red light in the rain. She stopped, she sometimes even screamed. Then she went in through the neck, fast and sharp, just like I showed her.
Good girl, Evie.
Afterward, we were feeling the pulse, and we went walking around Brooklyn looking to get up to more shit. We ended up on the roof of some building I can’t even remember and Evie was giggling like she was high and trying to dance on the ledge with us, so I waltzed with her on the edge of the building and Adam and Nick lay against some power box or something and Adam smoked and Nick cried.
I spun Evie around and she was laughing when I dipped her over the street and Adam told me to knock it off.
I remember Evie said, “Don’t, Brad, you know we can fly.” I twirled her around and Nick said to get down and he sounded upset, so we did.
“Wanna call a dragon now, Evie?” I asked her, and she laughed and pushed me away.
She told Adam, “Adam, everywhere is Eden,” and he smiled a little bit and stared at me. I felt kind of strange like...like he was slipping up my spine somehow.
It’s easy for me to feel Evie, inside. She’s...just right there, inside me. The sun was coming up by then, just a little bit, and I could feel Evie and then I could feel Adam. The sky was pink and it was cold, but I couldn’t feel it.
The pulse by then was crazy, it was coming off his face, and he was just staring. Nick was all curled into himself and telling Evie to stop moving because she was messing up the colors, and I said, “Nick, every vase is always breaking, and every stoplight is bigger.” Fuck if I know what that means, but it just came out.
Evelyn was dancing and upsetting Nick, because of his memories with her, and there I was, both sitting in myself and standing in Brad. Standing there, watching Nick cry for god-knows-what, and being Adam, and feeling his cigarette smoke in my lungs. All of a sudden, I was Adam and Brad, and I was watching Evie cry and Nick dance around or Nick was watching me do it. I couldn’t keep us straight, and it was like…not being able to see because Evie was fucking spinning around and Nick had his eyes closed and the pulse was one pulse but we had to...to draw….to draw out...our hearts to it…
I didn’t think, I just grabbed her to make her stop or I was gonna be sick. She leaned up and kissed me and I felt his cock get hard and her hands went into his hair and I touched the buttons on his shirt that she was wearing. He pulled me down under him, and I told Adam not to stop and Brad tossed his hair back and told me to tell him his name. He didn’t answer, and I couldn’t stop crying because me and Ev we used to dance that way, on the roof of the warehouse, and it hurt to look at, but I was there for him and she told him to be careful and not to fall. She reached up to find something for leverage once I was inside her and he said it was a tree branch and I told him what I’d been thinking; that Eden is anywhere we want it.
None of us know what happened, really. I was getting us all free, and we got...mixed up by the light. I don’t know, but I know it felt like we were the same thing. One thing. We woke up in a pile, a couple hours later, and I couldn’t tell if I tried to move the hand I was looking at, if it would be my hand. I didn’t know if I was Adam or Brad or Nick or Evie. I just picked up some clothes that would fit me as we sorted ourselves out. I smoked and felt Nick back off my spine as he woke up. Adam sat up fast from a bad dream and his fears all leaked out of me like last night’s cum. Evie woke up last, buried under Adam’s jacket, and shook her head a bunch.
When we got back to the house, Clyde was up and making us breakfast. He asked us if we had a nice night, and no one said anything. I’m pretty sure I was wearing Evie’s panties. Finally, Adam said, “I think we…”
I remember Clyde shrugged, and put a pancake on a plate for me. He said, “Pretty close. But nooooooooo cigarrrrrr.”