Speed Bumps

by D K Daniels

Never alone, I often wonder. More like forever alone. Sitting at the kitchen table in direct sunlight, the orange alpenglow flooded through the blinds. The PVC tablecloth is still messy from our rush earlier in the morning to get out the door to school. Carson never learns how to keep sugar on his cereal. If anything, that boy manages to get more of the topping on the tabletop. There's nothing like a sunny Wednesday afternoon to kill yourself, I reflected. Contemplating my life and how utterly dull and tedious the past months have become, I can now see why. An outcast; a reject to everyone. I'd rather not hear more excuses of why, or how I shouldn't have a place in the world. What I should do in order to keep them quiet. I've already witnessed the cruel offerings long enough. The worst part is I have nobody to tell.

Tell Dad, some might say… he'd say, "buck up and take it."

Only I'm not sure if what I got myself into is normal bullying. Though, how is it I can describe it like that. Common bullying.

Mom is too preoccupied with her role in the hospital. She's a doctor now. Whenever she arrives home, my brother and I get a zombied mother. One who is just too tired to socialize, talk… do much of anything. You see her coming in, then typically Mom will disappear to her office, rarely coming out of the room. Not even for dinner. On the odd occasion, if she does cook us dinner, rather than ordering takeout, those are the times I cherish. Dad runs his own garage a couple of blocks from here. Cars have always been that man's life; something is for sure, it's not going to be mine. Possibly Carson will pick up the trade long after I am gone. I love that goofball more than anything. It's just I can't pretend anymore that everything is normal when it ain't.

Something changed for me, I don't know what, and I have no clue as to how long ago. Only, after all the bullying and shit in my life, it feels like I am numb. At one point in my life, I was able to cry listening to sad music because it would have helped me oddly. Who can believe listening to depressing music would drag you down further. Well, some will say: just it can help. I'll never understand how the process worked; all I know is when I went in one side, miserable and depressed, I came back out the other feeling better, relieved I cried.

Only these days, I am lucky if I am able to feel a sense of anything. I don't know what it is; all I can say is that I can feel nothing literally. Well, that is a lie, I can still experience the let-down I am causing. I know deep down they'll all be better off without a burden holding them back. Comprehending that what I am about to do is going to change everything, and this appears to be gratifying. I'll never have to live another moment thinking who I will piss off today. Who will be waiting for me around the next corner to harass, belittle, push me around. I'll never have to see them again. Never have to notice that blond-headed kid either. Again, I won't see Carson believing I am the awesome big brother he thinks I am. Nothing will never be okay. I've tried to fix myself, to cure me of the oppressiveness. Still, it holds on, and I am slowly running out of patience and sanity. Actually, I have run out of patience.

Peering down at the tabletop, and giving a sniffle. Four items rest in front of me, each with symbolic meaning to what I am about to do. A pen, the very same I just used to write my final goodbye. The truth of the matter is I am not sorry; as I said, everything seems like a swoosh.

All conventions of my life are gone. If I do notice, it doesn't have the same value it once have had when I knew what I had. Next, to the pen, a sheet of paper layered with a couple of paragraphs written by myself. I figure you can call this your suicide letter as they always say in the movies. The note outlines the reason why I am offing myself. More or less the passage reads,

"Dear Mom, Dad, and Carson.

I want to say I am really sorry for what I've done. I didn't mean for it to happen. I tried to fix it, but the whole situation, it got worse. It spiralled out of control. They said if I went to anybody they'd leak what I did to everyone in school if I didn't comply with what they wanted me to do. Mom, they took a video of me jerking off in the school toilet. I am sorry, I don't know what to do other than this. I want to make it end. I didn't do what they wanted me to do today. So, I have been anxious all day waiting for them to put the video of me in the bathroom doing what I did, out for the world to see. I didn't even know they recorded me until they reached out to me and told me. At first, they didn't ask for anything. All I knew was that they were a group of boys. A couple of days went by, and I heard nothing from them; then all of sudden one guy came to me and told me he wanted me to steal stuff.

The boy said it was the decision of the group. If I didn't do what they demanded, they'd put out the video. I wasn't sure if to believe him at first; I mean I blew him off, and that made him angry. I turned walking away, but darted over showing me the screen of his phone. That's when I believed he had a video of me. I asked, "what do you want?" He just said: steal. When I asked what it is he wanted me to take, that's when he gave me a small list worth of items to shoplift.

After school that day, I went to Walmart with the boy. The guy waited outside, and I went in to do what I shoplifting. I stood looking at PS4 games for a long time. He wanted me to steal a video game. I got this sickly feeling in my stomach, and I ran straight for the toilet and got sick. Why did this happen to me? Mom, did I deserve to have this happen to me? I wish I could take it back, but I'll know the world will see. After I rinsed out my mouth, I went back to the shelf, looked both ways and lifted the plastic case that surrounded the game. I gave it a wiggle, and the case rattled inside. I knew I had to get it out of the container somehow. So, I purposely dropped it hoping it would crack. It was so loud I almost fainted with the notion of getting caught. When I saw I'd gotten away with dropping it, I stomped on the case as hard as I could and turned with my back to the camera. I plucked up the box, messed around with the loose case and took the disc of the game out, before putting the case back on the shelf. I couldn't do any more than that, so I panicked and left the store. I don't know how I wasn't caught. I thought I would have. I don't see how I could have explained why I was doing this to a security guard.

When I got outside, the boy seemed pleased I did something he required. Only, he said since I didn't acquire the other content my official warning was gone for good. If I fucked up once more, I was going to be exposed. So, I said okay. Then the funny thing is I went home that evening. I half expected to have a cop knock at our door. Do you remember that day back in November when I got shaky, and you kept asking me if everything is okay while you cooked dinner? Well, that was the reason; I stole the video game for that guy. All afternoon I was paranoid that a cop would come to our house.

For the entire night, I kept my eyes on the front door. Every time the house phone rang, or the doorbell ding-donged, I convinced myself a little more that the police would be here to arrest me. Oddly nobody came to retrieve me, not the police, not the guy who was harassing me. Instead, an entire week went by before I heard anything back from the blackmailers. This time around, they wanted me to send images or videos. If they didn't receive anything by midnight, they'd send the video to whatever friends I have. Including the entire student body of my school. The last thing I wanted was Carson opening his school email and seeing footage of me. I spent hours thinking it over in my head if I should do it; I know I shouldn't have. I was giving them more material, but I gave them more. I didn't know what to do, I was so freaked out. I should have come to you for help, but I am past that stage now.

What followed was a visit to school one morning when I sat down at my desk in the homeroom, a week later. In the smallest words possible, I became their errand boy. Did whatever shit they wanted me to do. Reasonably I was always tired because they gave me their homework to do every day of the week. All three of them. I'm sorry I didn't leave the house when you wanted to walk the dog, or go for a stroll as a family. I couldn't. I'm always tired, buried under a mountain of homework. Things died down for Christmas, but they occasionally sent me taunts telling me to keep in line. I think around the end of January was the time they wanted me to check in with them daily. I have no idea why they were so keen on knowing what I was doing, but I was told to and if I didn't, then you know… so I did as they said. The more time went on, the more mundane the tasks got. One day out of the blue, the same kid who accompanied me to the Walmart; the blond one asked to kiss me. I thought it was gross. I didn't want him anywhere near me. I'm not gay… I didn't want to but… I kissed him. I thought that would satisfy his amusement. Then Mom… he asked… he said that I should let him fuck me. So, I drew the line…for the first time and said no. That was today.

My tormentor has no limits, he is the type of guy who'd send the video out just to be cruel. I believe he will when he wants to. I'm ashamed and so embarrassed. I am sorry for being a screw-up. I didn't mean for all this to happen. I really am sorry. I don't want to be here when everything comes out. The guy did it. As I write this I can say he posted the video. Don't blame yourself, it's not your fault. It's mine. I did this, and I can't fix it. I tried, I really did Mom. Don't be mad at me, please don't. I've loved every moment I spent with you guys. Thanks for giving me an awesome little brother. I'm sorry, but I love you.


Turning my attention from my letter, I glanced at a single bullet set upright on the surface. I wipe my eyes since they'd grown soggy by the continuous flow of slickered tears. Following along my eyes roamed over Dad's Rossi R461 revolver. Swiping up the single bullet that will end it all, I crank open the pistol and load the cartridge into the slot. I figure this is the best time to do it. Nobody will be home for quite some time. Carson has Hockey practice. It's a Wednesday for Mom at the hospital, and Dad will be opened a little later to play catch up from a new backlog of customers.

Pushing away from the table, I return the chair to its original position, unlock the back door and head out down the yard. The moment Buster notices me, he barks within his confined chain-link enclosure. I remove a treat I got from the cupboard, and passing it through the hole in the fence he takes in gently, but drops it. He looks at me; sensing something is off. Dogs are smart, and it's the first time Buster has disregarded food. Paying no attention to our beloved pet, I walk down toward the lovely old oak tree at the end of the yard. Fresh spring leaves are beginning to bloom.

Slowing as I reach the tree, I hold the gun by the grip. Pulling one of the iron chairs from the alfresco seating arrangement. I face it away from the house toward the fence. Plopping down, I don't have a clue as to what I need to do. I figure, I put the gun in my mouth and squeeze the trigger.

Though will that work… it always works in the movies. Will my head blow off at the back? I sit a while, thinking of nothing in general. Just things. Looking at the yard fence, I wipe my face clean, bracing myself. Get it over, I figured. Raising the firearm to my head, I place the cold nozzle of the gun to my temple. I'd kill myself quicker here, right. My heart rate immediately takes off a million miles a minute, and my tears amplify dramatically. I taste the salted tears coming down my face, now dripping from my chin.

Nothing matters anymore. A moment of courage spews into me, and I rattle with a sob as I pull back the hammer. My thumb does it subconsciously. I close my eyes, then squeeze, but I don't hear anything. Nothing happens. Instead, I open my eyes, and everything is still the same. The gun hadn't gone off. I look at it sceptically. Then I remember I didn't put the bullet in the top cylinder. Peeking in between the openings of the chamber I see the round now resting on the bull's eye. It's all or nothing now. If I mean to kill myself, this is the now. After I do this, there is no turning back. Sadly, a change of heart hasn't happened.

Again, lifting the gun to my head for the second time, I shut my eyes, draw in a deep breath.


A crash came, followed with, "No Logan," a voice screams.

Cracking my eyes open, I peer around in the chair to find Carson slowly approaching me. The crash had been the backdoor. For a single second, I believed all my problems were solved with one final bang. Instead, it's my brother. The last person on earth I ever wanted to see me do this.

"Don't, please don't," he balled.

A sudden state of shock takes hold of me. I feel my heart sink a little and, in a way, I feel guilty. Lowering the gun as not to frighten him, I let my shoulders drop. Well, there goes my plan. How can I leave him like this? Why is he home early? Does he know?

"Why are you home?" I ask bitterly.

"I saw… Em… I… I came home because… Practice... Cancelled. I saw the note," he murmured. Fresh tears were streaming down his soft features.

"You saw it?" I enquired.

Neither of us look at each, but I hear him say, "yes."

The two of us don't say anything, just clandestinely looking at each other. Then eventually, Carson glanced to his left.

"Can... Can you throw the gun over there."?

In the last couple of seconds, my twelve-year-old brother has gained some ground. Something I hadn't foreseen. Doing as I'm told, I toss the gun over at the bushes, and it makes a dull thud hitting the grass.

"I'm fucked…" I murmured.

Pressing my hands against my eyes, I force out the light by pushing my palms into my eye sockets. The jelly of my eyeballs squished into the back of my head. Wetness trickles and leaks everywhere. Down my neck, my cheeks, hands; everywhere.

Then that's when I feel it: his small arms encircling me. Holding me tight in an embrace. He doesn't say much; Carson never does with me. I suppose the two of us always see eye to eye on certain things. This is no other. I lift the veil covering my eyes and let my hands rest on his shoulders. I bow my head; my chin meets with his crown. I feel oddly better hugging my little brother. The ruffle of messy hair atop his head is comforting.

Giving a sniffle, followed with a rattle, I hear him murmur into the confines of my chest," can we go inside and wait for Mom and Dad to get home?"

Unsure how to answer that question, in particular, I reckon my look says all I need to state at the moment. Navigating back inside, I hold my little brother by the shoulder, and he, by my waist. I completely forget about the revolver. That is until I get back to the kitchen, and two of us sit down at the table.

Carson opens the refrigerator and takes out two cans of Coke Cola. My brother slides a can across the table, then plonks down opposite to me. The two of us open our drinks simultaneously and linger before taking a sip. Neither of us talk, just sip on the Cola. When the can runs out, we remain quiet. Staring directly across at each other. Somehow his presence is welcoming. I get the impression that he doesn't want to leave me, and I am grateful for that. I can't understand why he doesn't think I am not sick after the note. Then I realize as I sit here for an hour waiting for my parents to come home, that dying at fifteen, is too young to die at all. Carson and I have stopped crying. Our eyes are raw from the grief. As I wonder what Mom and Dad are going to say, I can't help but contemplate… Can there really be life after this? Could this be a speed bump? Speed bumps can be navigated. Perhaps this is a speed bump. Just maybe there will be a tomorrow after all.

Then an amplified key turns in the barrel of the front door, it opens.

Mom calls out, "boys... you home?"

I glance from the kitchen door to Carson and nod; welling up. I choose to fight... and to not give up. After all, speed bumps can be navigated.

The End

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