Happy Days

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The First Time

Everyone has a “my first time” story, am I right? It generally starts out along the lines of : “In high school we were going steady for three months. He/ she was nervous, I was afraid, but I just loved him/ her so much that I knew I was ready.”

We have a different sort of “first time” story, now. In this glorious, shattered land, when you hear someone talking about their first time it’s about the first deader that they put down. Some people are proud of it; some say it with a halting guilt. Some won’t talk about it at all. It’s been long enough that many of us have turned into a bunch of whores, and I can count the virgins I’ve met on one hand.

My first time? I still sigh in reflection when I think about it. It was a pretty glorious, triumphant day. After all, how many people ever get to kill the first person to break their heart?

Everyone, at some point in time, has a first love. Whether you were dating, whether it was unrequited, whether you were dumped, or the one to do the dumping and realized that you made a mistake afterward. I had one the same way that you, Late Night Buyer, yourself did. Out of respect for the dead, let’s call mine…Pat.

Now, Pat broke my heart. We were in love, or at least I thought we were. Pat had made me feel normal, and had spawned feelings in me that I’d never felt. I spent the better part of my formative dating years with Pat. We never had sex, although I’d wanted us to. No, Pat split things off, saying that we should “just be friends”…and then went out and began banging one of my closest acquaintances.

I grew up, grew older, and –as most of us do- outgrew that whimsical first love. Never got rid of the resentment, but outgrew it. You can imagine how shocked I was when the outbreak first hit my cul-de-sac and I saw Pat stumbling mindlessly down the street. It was a fluke and nothing more that Pat and I, after years of separation, had ended up living in the same neighborhood. But Pat was right there, stumbling and snarling; killing one of Nancy’s black Scottish terriers as the old lady herself tried to pull the other one to safety.

There hadn’t been much time to think; there never was. This was in the early days, back before we had erected our wall to cut us off from the outside. Not that I really gave it a lot of thought. In that moment, that wonderful, glorious moment, everything made sense. Something clicked for me, and I grabbed the first thing close to hand as I headed out my front door: an aluminum softball bat that was leaning in the corner.

The sound of the bat cracking across Pat’s jaw was amazing, resounding with a ringing ping like a bell that had been tolled. The Scottish terrier that had been dangling from Pat’s mouth had still been alive, thrashing weakly, but my bat ended that. I considered it a mercy killing, while Nancy- stupid, doe eyed bitch- continued to stand there and scream instead of running away. Pat was still alive, though, at least as much as any of these things can be said to still be alive.

Pat’s left cheekbone had been crushed into bloody effluence, but the rest of the deader’s body seemed to be moving just right. So I hit it again. And again…and again. I hit Pat with my aluminum bat until my arms were too tired to swing anymore. Nancy and her last Scottie continued to yap in the background the entire time. When it was done, Pat wasn’t much more than a lumpy mess on the sidewalk. I was breathing hard, my heart was pounding in my chest, but my hands were steady as I turned to Nancy and very calmly told her that she should probably go home. The woman nodded in a numb fashion, strands of hair that had come loose from her gray bun flapping around her face.

I stood evaluating the splattered mess before me. I needed to talk to Lewis. It was official; the outbreak had reached our neighborhood. Things had “hit home,” as they say, and we needed to work out how we were going to handle it. I figured I’d better give Lacy a call, too (the phones were still working back then.) First though, there was something else I had to do.

I walked back to my house and exchanged the bloody bat for a flat edged shovel before then heading back over to the twitching mass that was leaking its way down the gutter. I held the shovel in one hand while dragging a large rolling trash can behind me. I couldn’t just leave something like this lying around; there were kids about, after all.

Welcome to Branberry Street; we’re the little cul de sac at the end of the world.
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