Cruel Sacrifices

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10

Michael turned around and narrowed his eyes at his brother. He sat down for the tenth time. He could not be still. They were in Lee’s living room.

Lee’s crib was in the historic heart of Hollingsgrove downtown. Lee was seated on a barstool drinking a Budweiser. Michael had already finished his second one.

The two brothers looked a lot alike when they were growing up. But as they have gotten older, Michael intentionally changed his appearance. It was like he was drastically trying to alter his appearance, so he wouldn’t look like Lee and their father.

The closer Lee tried to reach Michael, the further Michael pulled away. Michael’s legs were spread wide. The bottle was between them, resting on the sofa. His worn blue jeans were torn at the knees, it clashed with a profanity-laced t-shirt, and heavy dark boots.

Lee thought his brother look tacky. It was like he didn’t care how he looked anymore. He had a few days’ stubble, he had colored his hair a dark brown. His hair looked tangled and uncombed but oddly, cleanly wash.

Lee looked the exact opposite. His clothes were always neat and ironed. His dark, fur-covered jacket blended nicely with his brown pants and silk shirt and shoes. Lee pushed back his golden hair.

“Look, Michael, I love you man. You’re my brother. We are all we got left. Mom and dad are gone...”

Michael interrupted him. “Don’t fuckin’ mention that bitch to me again! I hate her. She deserved to die!”

“Don’t say that. We should only hate her ways but love the individual.”

“Lee, you sound like a minister. I never cared for her. She did dad wrong. Me and you wrong.”

“Anyway, why don’t you turn yourself over to the police, Michael? They are going to catch up with you sooner or later.”

“They will absolutely never catch me. I ain’t going to prison. Why should I care about what happened to those people! I couldn’t stand them!”

“Did you kill them?”

Michael scoffed loudly.

“Did you? You cheated with that girl, right.”

“She was my girlfriend first. Are you screwing Andrea? Let’s get back to that topic. See you wanna change the freaking subject and stuff. I don’t blame you boy. I’ll do her too if I were you,” Michael slyly grinned. He lit a cigarette and after a few puffs, blew a smoke-ring in Lee’s direction.

“I can’t talk to you, man. You are crazy. Whether or not I’m doing that female got nothing to do with you. I’m trying to help your ass and you don’t even want it!”

Michael jumped up.

Lee went on. “I got to get back to my shit online. I’m working on my website. You can show yourself out.”

“So this is how you treat your own brother! Throwing him out of your house! We’re blood, Lee! Those bitches are nothing but water! I bet you’ll pick a whore over me huh?”

Lee only looked at him with a mixture of hurt and anger in his eyes. Michael looked at him like he couldn’t stand him. He hates me doesn’t he, Lee thought. He’s jealous of me. He always has been.

“The police are going to be looking for you man,” Lee informed him.

Michael only looked at him angrily. His bottom lip quivered. He smoothed his jean pocket. Lee noticed a gun budge in his jacket.

“Yeah, they will. You can’t stand me, can you, Lee? I know when you look at me you see trash, shit.”

Michael moved closer to Lee until he was right up on him.

“Are you that serial killer from the news?”

“Why you ask me that, are you?”

Michael gathered his belongings and left Lee’s place, got into his Chevy and roared off. Lee took his place back at his office. He finished his blog online.

He saw he had over ten million followers. His blogs were among the most popular in cybernet. “The Murders of Summerville” he typed into the search engine. A hideous hit list came onto the screen. Thirteen down and lots more to go, he read to himself.

“I got you now bastard,” he muttered to himself. His eyes hardened.

***

“Tony, you are unbelievable! Don’t you listen to anything I say?!” Andrea snapped, exasperated.

“Why are you pissed at me, you are the one cheating! My boys told me that you are doin’ that dude!” he shot back.

“They told you what?!”

“You heard me. I can’t believe you, Andrea! I thought you loved me!”

“Do you even love me? It’s been a while since I heard that from you.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You know what. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“So now you’re calling me ridiculous?”

“Whatever. Stop trying to twist my words! Like I said, you are the one screwing around in our relationship!”

“No, I am not! Lee is just a friend.”

Tony scoffed. “Oh yeah, and I’m just a friend with Megan Fox!”

“You are, ugh! Tony, look, you were the one acting a clown the other night! Acting all crazy and jealous, like you were trying to start something!”

“No, I wasn’t, I had a right to speak my mind.”

“Speak your mind, yes. Act ignorant, no!”

Andrea and Tony had been arguing for almost half an hour. They had talked briefly late last night but started again the next morning after Andrea hung up on him.

“I don’t have to deal with this mess with you. I’ll tell you what, it’s over, Tony!” she yelled into the receiver.

“What, you’re breaking up with me so you can get with your new boyfriend! You are really something, Andrea, something bad!”

“Forget you, Tony! You are the one that’s bad!” she hung up again.

Andrea pushed back her hair and sighed loudly. She laid on her back in the middle of her bed. She fiddled with the clothes she was wearing. Her dark cashmere sweater felt warm under the heat from the thermostat.

Her new blue jeans were wrinkled from laying down for a long time. Andrea’s makeup smeared her pillowcase. She paid it no attention. She sat up abruptly and slipped into her Nike sneakers. She had half combed her hair this morning.

She had pinned part of it in a twist, held together by a clip. She picked up her denim jacket, handbag, and knapsack. Reached in her bag to check the time on her smartphone. Grabbing her keys, she jogged down the stairs. She spotted Eric eating breakfast in the kitchen.

“What’s wrong with you, you look terrible as usual?” Eric comment.

“Don’t start all right. I’m already having a mess up morning,” she warned him.

Eric continued to slurp his cereal. He was late leaving for school as usual. He wore a Bob Marley shirt, khakis, and New Balance shoes. Eric saw how upset she was and sympathized with her, which was very unusual.

“You okay, Andrea?”

“Not really.”

“You gonna eat some breakfast?”

“Nah, I probably get something at school,” she answered.

He nodded. She left out the door and took her time driving to school because she had plenty of extra time. It was weird, even though she and Eric went to the same school, they always drove separate rides to school. Obviously, because they left at different times.

Andrea jumped out and walk with other students heading to the building. She noticed other kids seemed happy and their laughter carried through the air. She kept her head down until she heard Shannon called her name.

Shannon was warmly dressed for the cold, windy morning. She wore dark grey slacks, a glittery, jewel blouse barely covering her cleavage, leather jacket, and black boots. Shannon’s hair was comb back. Her earrings sparkled in the sunlight.

“Oh hi, Shannon.”

“Hey, Andrea.”

“Look I’m sorry about Rebbie and Cody-”

“No, that’s OK. He seemed to really like her. I saw them smooching on the track a little while ago.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it’s like he’s forgetting his shyness,” Shannon laughed.

Andrea smiled. “That’s great.”

“I hope she really likes him. I hope it’s not a game with her, is it? I mean you know her better than I do.”

“Uh no.” Andrea put on a fake smile to hide her guilt.

Shannon breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s good. So what’s up, when you looked up when I call your name, you didn’t look happy.”

“That’s right, I wasn’t. I broke up with Tony this morning.”

“What, goodness!”

“Yeah, he was talking stuff,” Andrea told her as they both move about in the hallways.

They stopped at Andrea’s locker.

“Wow, I thought you two were close.”

“We were before.”

“How long have you guys been dating?”

“Well, we been friends like forever, but we been dating since freshman year.”

“Wow, that’s long-term. You guys have been together for a long time. You sure you’re ready to throw in the towel suddenly?”

Andrea took a deep breath. “I guess. He’s been a jerk lately. I don’t know, maybe.”

Shannon nodded at her and touched her shoulder.

“Have you eaten yet?” Andrea asked Shannon.

“Yeah at my house.”

“I haven’t. I’m going to the cafeteria to get myself a sandwich or something. You wanna walk with me?”

“Sure, come on.”

The two girls walked to the lunchroom. Andrea bought a turkey sandwich and some orange juice. They sat down by Rebbie and Cody. Rebbie smiled at them. Cody looked very excited, almost like a different person.

“Hey, there,” he spoke to Andrea.

“Hello, Cody,” Andrea returned the smile.

“We were just talking til first period,” Rebbie informed them, nuzzling up to Cody.

He blushed slightly.

Shannon looked surprised. “I still can’t believe you two are dating!” She remarked astonishingly.

“Yep, me neither,” Cody replied.

“Where’s the rest of the gang?” Shannon asked.

“I don’t know, I think they’re at the courts practicing for that pep rally that’s coming up in the week. I heard you broke up with Tony?” Rebbie looked at Andrea.

“What, how you find out about that?” Andrea looked stunned.

“Duh, Pete told me. You know those guys are the best of buds,” she said as the warning bell rang loudly above their heads.

They all looked up.

“Baby, I’ll see you later,” Rebbie cooed to Cody and kissed him on the lips.

Andrea and Shannon were still getting over the shock.

“See you girls in homeroom, I gotta head for the office to go over that bulletin with Mrs. Sparks,” Rebbie called to them, running out of there.

“See you later on,” Andrea called back. She walked with Shannon and Cody down the hall.

“So you got your first girlfriend, huh?” Shannon teased Cody.

“Whatever, Shannon, you tell all of my business,” Cody stuck his tongue out at her. “Anyway I gotta head to Mr. Sharp for Wood Shop,” he told them, turning in the other direction.

“OK, then. I haven’t gotten over them as a couple yet,” Shannon confided to Andrea.

“To tell you the truth, me neither.”

“Yeah, I mean. I’m surprised that a girl like Rebbie will be interested in my brother. She’s pretty, popular, smart, the best dressed, she can have any boy she wants but she chose my brother. I mean no offense, not to talk about my brother. But Cody isn’t exactly what you’ll call boyfriend material!” Shannon remarked.

Andrea only listened as she spoke.

“I just thought about something. What does her boyfriend Pete think about all of this?” Shannon asked her, instantly alarm.

Andrea shook her head. “They go with different people. They have an open relationship. I don’t agree with that sort of lifestyle but-”

“I hope she doesn’t break his heart or worse dump him.”

“I don’t think she’ll do that to him. She seems to like him. And he the same to her,” Andrea thought guiltily. Lord, why am I lying to her about the dare, Andrea thought miserably to herself. But she knew she couldn’t bring herself to tell Shannon the truth.

That Tuesday night, Andrea met up again with Lee for the first time as a single girl in years.

“I’m sorry about the way Tony acted at the drag-race the other night,” she apologized.

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