Chapter 26: Exposed
I had been wrong about so much and it bothered me to my core.
To start, my dad seemed to be the actual issue here. As far as my parents went. My mom kicked him out a little after I told her what he’d said to me. Their fight wasn’t the prettiest and honestly the first time I’ve ever witnessed it. I used to think that they were so in love that it pretty much shaped how I viewed relationships and the standard I held myself to. In the process, I found out that the only reason I was still here and not in jail was truly because of my wonderful mother. She went to combat for me against everyone…
...including my father.
He believed the rumors. He thought I had a hand in Natalie’s death. That I was part of the problem. That I was part of the blame. That’s when mom smacked him. One that echoed throughout the house and made me flinch. He raised his hand to hit her back, but I stepped in to receive it. Imagine my shock when I landed on the floor with my lip busted and bleeding. It wasn’t nothing new being struck by him, but it had never happened in front of mom and it made me wonder what I hadn’t seen. What had truly been going on behind closed doors. The force behind it hadn’t been meant for me and that alone terrified what it could mean.
“Save it dad. I’m over it.” I spat going over to the sink to rinse my mouth out.
“Has this happened before?” asked my mom, her voice cracking. The last thing I wanted to do was make her cry, but I also couldn’t lie to her. Especially not after realizing she’s always been on my side.
“Shut up Junior.” he growled walking towards me. I braced myself trying to anticipate it. I would never raise my hand back at him, but I wasn’t going to just let it happen either.
“David seriously! And you wonder where he gets it from. Take a look in the mirror. How do you expect him to be any better when you are just like him? No wonder he’s so afraid of his temper, you’ve been kicking his ass all this time. You know what, just go. Get out. Don’t come back until you can do half of what your son has managed to do and I’m not kidding. I forgave you for everything else, but I won’t forgive you for putting hands on our child. Fix it and fix it fast.”
“That is exactly your problem Jane. That little shit,” he growled pointing at me. “Has been a thorn in our marriage for as long as I can remember. The older he gets the worse it is. I get it, he was our miracle child, but you fucking baby him all the time. I’m trying to make a man out of him, but you can’t seem to let me. He deserved to be behind bars for what he did to that girl. If he’s capable of that then who knows what else he’s done.” Even though I knew he had a point, mom was unwavering.
“If it’s not the pot calling the kettle black. Get the hell out of my house David.” she spat before turning back towards me. “What do you want for dinner sweetie?”
“You okay?” laughed Jason leaning against the locker next to mine.
“Between my parents fighting and Maria hating me? No I’m not.” I groaned, smashing my forehead against the lockers. “I’ve been so stupid man.” I admit feeling the need to just talk to someone about this already. Jason wasn’t too bad of a dude when John wasn’t around.
“Don’t tell me you were an idiot and let that girl slip between your fingers.” The amount of anger in his tone both shocked and confused me. It was evident on my face that I felt that way and I knew he could by the fact he kept talking. “Look, I don’t really think those things about her. We were friends once. Not to the level that you guys are, but it was long enough for me to know those rumors just aren’t her. She’s an honest, good girl and yeah she made a mistake dating this older guy, but she didn’t deserve everyone to turn on her the way they did.”
“Why do you think she dated an older guy?” I asked.
“You’ve heard the rumors, it’s the only thing that makes sense if you know her. She can be a bit naive and a few years doesn’t seem like much at the time, but the difference is obvious later on.”
“So why did you turn your back on her if you know her so well?” I spat through clenched teeth now annoyed with his cowardice.
“We were freshmen. Young, dumb freshmen willing to compromise our morals and who we really are for a status that doesn’t really matter. Besides, John was my best-friend for years at that point. He sided with Clarissa and I knew it was dangerous to get on his bad side. I know John can be both persuasive and manipulative when he wants and Clarissa was an easy target. For some reason he hated Maria. He turned her best-friend against her and together they made everyone hate her. No one wants to be the outcast man, not that young. I’m older now though and I kind of regret it, but I know I stand no chance of her forgiving me.” I watched him as he spoke, trying to process it all while also noticing that he truly regretted his actions. As quick as it came though, it was gone the moment he saw John. “I got to go.” he sighed before going over to join them. I understood what he meant. I’ve met John’s before. It truly was best to be on their good side. I got on one’s bad side and was blamed for my best-friend’s death.
“Great, just more things I was wrong about.” I muttered to myself truly regretting ever becoming a part of that crowd as I finally opened my locker. I went to put my bag in when something stopped me.
Sitting there leaning against my books was a brown envelope with my name written on it in big letters. Shaking my head I grabbed it and marched towards the main entrance. Today was not my day and it was best I just get away from here now, in case whatever this envelope held made it worse.
It had taken nearly fifteen minutes driving way above the speed limit before I felt like I was in a good and far away place to open the envelope. The first thing was a letter.
I’m sorry that I didn’t come sooner with the information, but I’ve spent all of this time investigating. It took forever to get as much of this information as possible and mainly because everyone is so tight lipped. I get it though, the people involved are pretty scary and not to be fucked with.
When you first arrived here, you were invited to this party by a girl named Clarissa. This was a part of a plan and it was only because you spoke up the wrong name.
They wanted you nowhere near and it was only because you cared enough to ask questions. They got scared and went into attack mode. During my investigation, I’ve been made to believe that they have only done what I’m about to tell you to only one other person. I was not able to get the details, but I did get as far as knowing that John used to work alone before Clarissa. Sometimes he still does, so it makes sense.
I don’t mean to ramble, but I need you to understand as much as possible. You were collateral the moment Maria’s name left your lips and so they devised a plan. Something that to the naked eyes seems stupid, but in reality is genuis. It made you change your course of action and for a moment you forgot all about that beautiful girl next door.
You thought you were playing them, but they’ve been playing you.
You and her.
Back to the party. You were drugged that night and you never questioned it. You never questioned your actions. It was my questions about you that took me so long to reveal. Yes I know and I had to be sure you could be trusted. I knew what I saw, but my research on you made me believe you were a monster. I don’t think that anymore.
There’s pictures enclosed with this letter. From the moment you were drugged up until what happened after. Sometimes being invisible and quiet pays off. You can decide what to do.
Someone who wished they’d come forward sooner.
P.s. there’s also a flash drive included. Only play it when you are sure of what to do next. Please don’t watch it alone and don’t destroy it. It’s evidence for more than just you.
I was shaking as I reached into the bag and pulled out a stack of numbered pictures. Each one was worse than the less as I flipped through. I was sick to my stomach as tears came to my eyes. For the first time in my life I was seeing that guys could be taken advantage of two and unfortunately the guy in the pictures was me. I knew what I had to do. There was no question about it.
It had taken me the entire weekend to do what was right and at four am on a Sunday, hours before school started, I talked to my mom. It took her two hours to get me to believe that this wasn’t somehow my karma for what I’d done. That being drugged and taken advantage of was not somehow my fault although it felt like it was. So, she went and filed a report for me with my own statement added to it. I went to school hoping to tell Maria all of this myself before anyone else could, but I was too late.
So much was already happening. People claimed that John was the one in the room with his brother and Maria. He told me he was an only child. Regardless of all the new rumors surfacing I spent the majority of the morning looking for Maria. I just wanted, for the first time in years, to be the one to tell someone something about myself first. At some point I just gave up, thinking she’d skipped school for the day.
By lunch time the last thing I expected happened. The police came and arrested both John and Clarissa. The rumor mill exploded and everyone automatically connected the situation back to Maria. No one had a clue it was because of me that this was happening. For the first time in what felt like forever, I laid my eyes upon her and saw that same hurt in her eyes that I saw that first time she invaded my mind. I wanted to be there to comfort her, but she was already running away. I wanted to go after her, but something kept me rooted.
Admitting that I was taken advantage of was still something I was processing myself, and I didn’t want her to think that I was lying for some illogical reason. So I just went to class. For once, I thought about myself first. In reality, that only lasted about fifteen second before I found myself chasing after her. I found her by her locker with a piece of paper in her hand. For a moment I got scared thinking that she had been more a part of John’s little game than I expected, but there was no envelope. Slowly I approached her unsure if this was something I really wanted to do or not.
“Hey Minnie. Can we talk after school?” I asked her, her back still facing me. Somehow it made it easier to talk to her when I couldn’t see her lost. That way I have no excuse to get lost in her eyes or back out entirely.
“Sure Mickey. I’ll meet you at your house.” I smiled as I watched her walk away. Not only had she called me Mickey, but I’d gotten a flash of her bracelet as she walked away. I could feel the metal of my chain pressed against my chest. Maybe all hope wasn’t lost just yet.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
I sighed as I lifted the drink to my lips, almost falling over as I staggered back a bit. No matter how much I drank I couldn’t forget her, and I couldn’t forget all that came with her.
I remembered it all and it was killing me. From the first time I saw her just spinning in her yard and playing with her dogs, to the last time when she ran down the aisle at graduation and out of my life. It broke my heart, but that was months ago. I really should have been over by now, but every time I think I am I remember more.
I remember how she felt pressed up against me. I remember how her skin felt against mine. The sounds she made as we made love. How we’d come to this very spot and read our books for the week. The food we’d shared. The unofficial dates that seemed just to happen. The ups and downs that made us...well us. I missed her more than I knew was possible. Without her, I no longer felt grounded. For so long I’d used her as my anchor, but now I was just floating free. I’d even managed to pick up some old habits.
“Junior?” came a voice from behind me. I laughed humorlessly as I lifted the bottle to my lips once more.
“Senior.” I mocked spitting the word out like acid. He said nothing. “What the hell do you want David? Here to brag about how you were right. No need to. Cheers, you were right about me.” I slurred, taking another long gulp and falling.
“Mom called me. She told me you decided not to press charges.” I rolled my eyes. Was this the best he could do? He really did suck.
“No one believes a boy can be rape, so why bother? I mean look at me… how is it that I was the one taken advantage of and not the other way around. Despite the proof that is. After all, it could be staged.” A lump was forming in my throat, but I was out of alcohol to burn it out. “Just do like everyone else and leave me alone. You’re good at that.”
“Really dad. I don’t feel like doing this right now. I just want to go home.” pulling my keys out of my pocket I staggered towards him intending on heading to my car.
“I don’t care David. You need help and I’m here to help you. I’m sorry for what I said, I was wrong and it was only out of anger. That is no excuse though. What you have gone through is more than enough for one person to bear? You don’t deserve any of the things that happened too, and I realize now that part of that is my fault. I’ve been teaching you wrong son. You’re not the monster you think you are.”
“Oh yeah?” I laughed as tears began to slide down my face. I didn’t have the strength to fight them back anymore.
“Then why did everyone leave me, huh? Natalie, Persephone, You, and now Maria. Why am I always there, but when I’m raped no one is there for me? Can you answer me, dad?! Can you?!” I hadn’t realized I was yelling until he wrapped me tight in his arms giving me the first legitimate hug since I was little. So I screamed into his shoulders. I let out everything that he’d always told me men couldn’t do as he stood there hugging me. At some point my knees grew weak and I fell in the sand. Still, he never let go.
“I’m right here junior. I’ll never leave you. As for Maria, just give her some time. She’ll come around. From what I hear, she’s going through something too.” I only nodded my head as I continued to cry into his chest. Right now I don’t want to be a young adult male. Right now I just wanted to be his son.