One Murder For Another

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Chapter 30

“Let’s go Panthers! Let’s go!”

Clap. Clap.

Khalil was experiencing deja vu listening to the incessant chanting of preppy cheerleader after preppy cheerleader, Mina clinging to his arm the entire time as giddy as he had ever seen her, clearly excited at the prospect of being away from the red dirt track below them. Khalil, on the other hand, couldn’t stop shifting from foot to foot in the stands, his anxiety unable to let him sit still.

“Let’s go Panthers! Let’s Go!” Mina chanted along with the crowd and Khalil could feel his ears burning and ringing from the sound. Sucking in a breath through his teeth, he pulled his phone from the pocket of his holy jeans, tapping the screen awake. 9:54. It was almost half-time. It was almost time.

“Put you’re phone away!” Mina shouted in his ear, yelling at the top of her lungs to be heard over the sounds emanating from the roaring crowd around them. She was drowning in the confines of his grey jacket, the hem resting below her knees. Her hair was windswept around her face and a great giddy smile characterized her features. It was almost over.

“Put your phone away!” she repeated with a giggle, reaching across him and yanking his phone from the tips of his fingers and he watched as she stuffed it in the pocket of his jacket she was wearing. “Don’t be that guy!” she exclaimed, wrapping her small arms around his, and tugging him tighter towards her in the already crowded stands. “Enjoy the game with me!” It was hard to enjoy the game when all he could think about was slitting her parent’s throats and watching the life drain from their eyes as they begged until they became hoarse. He bet his parents had begged, he bet they had begged up until the fire exploded around them, burning them alive.

Khalil had become tense, his nails digging into the foreskin of his palms at his visceral thoughts and it took all of the restrain he could muster to keep himself from yanking his arm away from Mina. Even her contagious smile and bubbly personality weren’t enough to keep his emotions at bay tonight.

“Are you ok?” suddenly Mina was in his face, so close to him that he could smell the buttery popcorn on her breath.

“Yeah, fine.” he was short and curt with his response, though he cringed as the words left his mouth both the confusion and hurt on Mina’s face was evident.

“I’m- I’m just getting a little claustrophobic in these stands. That’s all” he quickly tried to correct himself, but the hurt written across Mina’s face hadn’t evaporated.

“Do you want to maybe go get some fresh air or something?” Her kindness was making him sick to his stomach. “We could go to the parking lot and just sit for a little-”

“No.” he hadn’t meant to shout, yanking his arm from Mina’s in the process. “No.” he quickly repeated, much softer this time, but the damage had already been done. “No. You - you don’t want to miss the half time show.” he whispered nodding his head towards the football field where the marching band was slowly making their way onto the trampled faux green grass. His queue.

Mina didn’t say a word, but the look she gave him spoke volumes. “I’m going to get us some more snacks, ok?” Khalil lied. “Only butter, no salt, right?” Mina nodded silently, still observing him with a watchful eye. She was looking at him like she had that day at school in the hallway outside of the lunchroom. The day he had turned around and snapped on her, striking an illicit fear into her eyes. He hated that look.

“Ok” he breathed under his breath, though he was sure she had heard his woes. He planted a hard wet kiss on the top of her dark curls, hesitating for only a moment as he inhaled her intoxicating scent. Mina could make him forget everything if he let her, but he couldn’t let her forget the task at hand now. Pushing her away he forced his way through the thick crowd of yelling students all clad in emerald green and silver, and pounded his way down the metal bleachers with a newfound sense of urgent purpose.

Khalil blocked out the protestations and curses he left in his wake behind him, the knife i his back pocket burning a hole in his skin, but now was the not the time to starting doubting himself. Now was the time to take action.

The lacrosse team made their way to the locker rooms during half-time, no doubt attempting to come up with a new play to revive their distinct string of losses, which meant that Asher was somewhere in there sitting alongside all of them like a sitting duck. All he had to do, was wait for the perfect moment to pouch. Asher would never let Mina go, not as long as he knew that she was always within reach of him, so Khalil just had to make sure he could never be in reach.

He kept his head down as he fast-walked around the stadium, snaking through stray students here and there: some in line for food, some some in line for drinks, some making out with their girlfriends on the sides of the concession stands, but all of them were in the way. Making sure he was out of eye line of passerby, Khalil slipped the slim blade from his pocket, twirling it briefly between his fingers before he slipped it down the sleeve of his thin mustard yellow tee.

“Don’t mess this up.” he whispered to himself under his breath as the small building that housed the home teams locker rooms came into view and he could hear the faint voices of the teams laughter and chatter inside. He let out a breath, his nerves returning once more as he shivered at the feeling of the small silver blade tapping the skin of his arm, as if edging him on in comfort.

The sound of the marching band’s symphony reverberated over and over in his ears as he waited for the sound of the locker door creaking open, counting each passing minute in his head as he anticipated what was to come. One. Two. Three.

He gripped the cold metal of the pendant around his neck, sliding his finger over the slick surface. Four. Five. Six.

He adjusted the knife in the sleeve of his shirt. Seven. Eight. Nine, and as he began to count the tenth minute, the door to the locker rooms swung open with a loud squeaking creak and the coach came sauntering out. He head was down as he walked, entranced in the information his cardboard clipboard and the papers it held contained and he walked right past Khalil obliviously. The team began to strew out next, all of them pounding the concrete in synchronization with their black cleats and he slunk against the shadows on the side of the building praying none of them would look his way.

He studied each of the team member’s faces as they jogged out, his breath hitching in his throat every time he realized a face didn’t belong to Asher, and he was starting to make himself more anxious by the second as he impatiently writhed his hands together in wait of Mina’s boyfriend.

Asher was the last one out of the locker rooms, his eyes trained on his teammates in front of him instead of the tall lanky boy hiding in the shadows, and he had no time to react as Khalil’s hand clamped down hard over his mouth, and his shoes scraped slowly against the concrete path as he was drug back through the swinging wooden door and into the locker rooms once more.

“What the hell man!” Asher exclaimed as Khalil threw him to the ground once they were behind the safety of the locker room doors. “What are you doing back here? If you wanted to talk you could have just said that instead of kidnapping me!” he humphed as he picked himself up from the dirty tiles locker room floors and Khalil smirked at his confusion. He didn’t get what Mina had seen in him, because the naive boy in front of him seemed to have no redeeming qualities.

“I’m not here to talk Asher.” It was as if all Khalil’s worries had magically evaporated into the hazy fall air, he couldn’t even remember why he had been so nervous before in the first place and now, images of Khalil’s body limp on the floor as his blood pooled around him filled his thoughts. This boy deserved everything that was coming to him.

“Woah! Woah! Woah!” Asher exclaimed, his hands in the air and his eyes the size of hubcaps as he watched Khalil pull the knife he had hidden in his sleeves free. “Khalil.” his breathing was erratic now and he wasn’t looking Khalil in the eyes any more, his eyes trained to the long silver blade bulging in his hand. “K-Khalil what- what are you doing?” He had never known what it was like to be afraid for his life, he had never know fear like Khalil had, he had never know hardship like Khalil had. Everything in Asher’s life had been handed to him with ease, all he ever had to do was ask, and anything he wished for was his heart’s desire. Khalil despised him for his upbringing, his rich family and, most importantly, Mina. Deep down he knew that no matter how many times Mina denied her feelings for the boy shaking in front of him, they would always be buried inside her and Asher was never going to stop searching for them again.

“K-Khalil” Asher was still stuttering, steadily back himself further and further into the wall behind him. He was trapping himself and he didn’t even realize it. “K-K-Khalil wh-what are you d-doing? What are you doing!”

“Doing what I should have done a long time ago.” he twirled the knife between his fingers as he spoke, his eyes never leaving Asher’s as the words fell from his lips and he couldn’t hide his humor at the fear he found embedded in the eyes of the body in front of him.

“Wait! Yo-you don’t have to do this!”

“Of course I do. As long as you’re breathing won’t really have Mina. You’ll always be there, trying to convince her that she’s changed because of me. Maybe she has changed, but you and everyone else around her can’t see that she changed for the better. She does what she wants now. She’s her own person, and you hate it! You hate that you couldn’t be the one to make her happy. You hate that she’s moved on, without you.” He took a step for each word he spoke until he was standing toe to toe with Asher against the brick walls of the locker rooms and he could smell the sweat radiating off of Asher’s body in front of him.

“It’s true isn’t it?” Realization sprung across Asher’s face. “Everything Chris said about you at lunch, at the party, at practice. It was all true.” He wasn’t talking to Khalil anymore, his head thrown back against the wall and his eyes trained on the ceiling as he began to come to terms with his thoughts.

“He was trying to warn everyone.” he whispered. “He was trying to warn everyone that you were a psychopath and- and you- you tried to kill him”

“I did.”

“You tried to kill him!” Asher was screaming at the top of his lungs now, his voice heavy with frustration and anger that he couldn’t hide and Khalil could see his entire body shaking.

“I did” Khalil repeated again. “But this time, I won’t mess up.” he quipped before raising the silver knife in his hand and pressing the blade firmly against the warm quivering skin of Asher’s neck and, in seconds, his body had gone limp as the life was slowly drained from his body. His eyes were still wide, though the blood in his throat prevented him from screaming like he so desperately wanted to, as if daring to scream for help that was nowhere to be found. The sound of the blood gurgling in the back of Asher’s throat and Khalil’s relief were the only sounds that filled the empty space and soon even the sound of Asher struggling to exist ceased to continue until he was nothing more than a blood covered heap on the shiny linoleum floors.

The only thing Khalil regretted was slicing Asher across the throat, seeing as he was now covered in one of his blood vessels, but the good news was he was standing in a locker room full of unattended clothes and the even better news was that he could rest easy tonight.

One down, two to go.

“Here you go.” Khalil couldn’t hide a smile as he handed Mina a small red and white striped bag of popcorn and she returned the gesture confusedly.

“Thank you!” she laughed, pulling him back into the stands next to he with her free arm. “You seem in a better mood!”

He shrugged his shoulders at her observation. Of course he was happy, Asher was lying dead and rotting in a dumpster behind the field and Mina’s parents were following suit as they spoke. His life had just been rid of all his woes and he felt like a gigantic weight had been lifted from his shoulder. He could breath again. Without a word he leaned down next to Mina in the stands and placed a hard kiss on her cotton candy tasting lips and he only kissed her harder as he felt her smile underneath him.

“A much better mood!” she laughed, tossing a kernel of extra buttery popcorn into her mouth. “Hey?” her brows furrowed.

“Mhm?” Khalil hummed in response. “What’s wrong?”

“What’s that?” she asked quizzically and Khalil sucked in a breath as he followed her eyes to the small red stain of blood on the shoulder of his t-shirt.

Without hesitation he replied, “Oh, someone accidentally squirted ketchup on me in the line. That’s why it took me so long to get back her and plus, people were wrapped around the building. Twenty minutes just to get a bag of popcorn, I mean, that’s crazy!”

“Yeah” Mina agreed with a nod of her head “It’s fine though, it’ll probably come off in the wash anyway.” she shrugged her shoulders, downing another popcorn kernel without a second thought and Khalil found himself more mesmerized by her than ever.

“What?” she frowned as she looked up from her bag of popcorn to find Khalil still staring at her silently. “I have something on my face again?” she reached up to wipe her mouth with the sleeve of Khalil’s jacket her hand lost in the oversized material, but Khalil still said nothing.

“What?” she repeated again, more anxious this time, but Khalil shook his head in silence, a sly smile playing on the edges of his lips.

“Oh my god Khalil, I swear- What!” her tone was serious, but her face held hints of laughter.

“I-I just-”

She studied him as he spoke.

“I can’t believe that you’re all mine.”

That’s when the screaming started.

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