Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene


Somebody should be writing this down.

When I sit down and try to remember this today, there is a lot of things about that first night back to school that I can’t really be sure… actually happened, ya know? I recognize that now. I get it. Maybe it was the drugs she gave me, maybe I drank more than I thought, maybe… who knows. Having said that, there are the things I will never be able to erase. This story is my attempt at telling you what I do remember. For those parts, her movements are imprinted in my memory like a tick. I’ve tried just about everything to erase her – yoga, meditation, marijuana… nothing works. Every night, just before I go to sleep, I see those calm blue eyes replay for me, forever in a slow motion arc of chaos and broken glass. She was calm, determined even. And that was the strangest thing about it. There was thick layers of blood, everywhere. It caked her arms up to her shoulders, with bits of her bone peaking through her cracked skin. And that’s the thing I didn’t understand about it at all… where was the shock? Where was the remorse? She just shoved the glass in her mouth and started chewing, staring at me like it was popcorn and I was the movie.

I’m ranting. Let me start from the top.

To say that it was raining that day would might have actually been the greatest understatement, weather wise, of the last ten years. Hurricane Irene was the biggest storm we knew at the time in New Jersey. The water came down in sheets; sheets that had long since become white waves of water that churned and turned into separate rivers forming in the gentle slopes between both sides of the city street. For most of us, this was the biggest storm we had ever seen. Therefore, the vast destruction it left behind was sort of entertainment, as much as it was chaos.

Eric and I had moved into our new apartment two weeks ahead of the upcoming semester. Three months of summer’s suburban restrictions, when compared to college, was nothing short of a complete travesty that had left it’s toll on the both of us. I don’t think either of us were much different from any other kid at the time. I had spent the past summer delivering pizza for work, Eric spent most of his in front of the computer. I showed up to summer classes a couple times, enough to make my Mom proud. But after the first month, that pattern had quickly outdone itself. And by the second, I was already counting the days until I was back at school. Three months of humping back and forth in my rusted white Jeep had also built up a strong cache of drinking money that I was ready to spend. We had two other guys living in our apartment, but they had chosen to stay home for the storm. And that day, with Kid Cudi hollering in rhythm to the background of the latest Sunny episode on a TV that was probably the top of its line in 1989, I couldn’t see why.

Soon after we both got to the house and settled back in, Eric and I realized we needed to head head to the store for some groceries. This plan was mostly a wash; it was now only two hours before the weatherman said the storm would hit. Parking was a nightmare, as expected. I remember steadily following and waiting for this elderly couple in an wood-paneled POS Oldsmobile. It took these folks about an hour to pack their car full of bread, milk, and water. Naturally, the husband had his eyes to the black sky like a preacher as he was backing out, and in his panic, slammed into his shopping cart. He must have left a good dent in his bumper, but out of either embarrassment or actual fear of the storm, he kept on going, skidding out of the parking lot and onto the highway in a scorch of rubber.

When we got inside, we split up. I wandered off to the refrigerated aisle to load my cart with Celeste Pizzas (you know, 10 for $10!), quietly chiding myself for my diet as I moved onto the bacon and beer. Nearly everything was gone – no fresh fruit, no bread, no cases of water. I shrugged it off, settling for Coors and Celeste as I pushed my cart over to Seasonal in hopes of finding a flashlight. When I turned the corner, I saw one last long metal one sitting in a pile of empty $15 bins. I sprinted, looking up and down the row for anyone who might be interested in stealing my only source of light for the night. When I got to the bin, I reached down to grab it up, only to see a dainty arm from the other side of the aisle reach out and grab it.

“Fuck. You can’t be serious.” I blurted out, looking towards the pair of blue eyes on the other side. Were they laughing at me?

“I’m sorry!” a shy voice poked out from the other side with an awkward giggle. She was wearing a white sundress, that much was clear, but I couldn’t see much of her face. “I didn’t think to bring any light tonight either.”

“Just my luck,” I grumbled in reply, pushing my cart back towards the Frozen section.

Later on, I caught Erik by the register on my way out grabbing a baseball bat and tossing it on top of his own pile of Celestes. I nodded to him in support as we got in line, neglecting to mention my infuriating encounter in Seasonal.

“Playing some softball this weekend?”

Eric chuckled an “Oh yeah!” as he jumped into a separate line and checked out.

On the ride home, the sky opened up. It must have only been 12:30 in the afternoon or so, but the storm made it look like midnight on the empty city streets. I remember just parking my car and turning off the gas when the first crack of thunder took down a not so distant tree. Eric and I sprinted our groceries into the house and into the fridge, dried off, and sat in the living room drying off in front of the the TV for a total of twenty minutes before the power went out in a rush.

So much for the Celeste Pizza.

So, we did what any college kids would do in this situation – we grabbed a case of beers and sat on the porch. After a couple hours, we had made a game of throwing big yellow phone books into the curb rivers. There must have been five or six of them delivered between us and our neighbors, and we couldn’t think of a better use for them other than tossing them in the street. We sat there for a long time, laughing like idiots under the safety of the deck, watching them flow all the way down College Ave like bloated, sinking sailboats.

It was around that time that we first noticed the girl walking through the storm.

She must have been two blocks away, and yet I still found myself staring. The weirdest part about her, and what drew my attention in the first place, was that she never seemed to be affected by the rain. Sure, there were small trees that leaned across the street, but this was an urban college campus; not the Amazon. And, man, here comes brunette Bridgette Jones. Decked out in a clearly bleach stained red sundress and black heels, parading through campus like it was the cleanest, most crisp summer night. She had to be soaked by now (the rain had never slowed down an inch), but there wasn’t an inch of displeasure on her perfectly made up face. To say she was beautiful would be like, well, saying it was just raining in this apocalyptic monsoon. Behind her, two short muscular guys followed in board shorts and cutoff hooded sweatshirts, their heads lowered in their hoods. They, at least, looked miserable. Or, like drenched street rats.

To get a phone book into the curb river, the strategy was to jet down the steps into the rain, toss it down, and get back out without getting soaked and/or spilling our beer. Naturally, this led to a lot of yelling, whining, and general attention drawing activity. By the time we were on our last phone book, I locked eyes with her for a moment. Before I could awkwardly turn away, I noticed she turned towards my direction, and was slowly heading towards us like a shark that spotted her prey.

I tossed the phone book into the stream gingerly and headed for the shelter of the roof to watch it flow down. But before it got to the end of the street, mystery girl stomped it with a drenched heel, picked it up, and sashayed her way to the bottom of the stairs to our porch. She smiled up at us, saying nothing for a moment. Her red dress was soaked at this point, and her two sweatshirt clad friends were posted behind her like bodyguards. Then, she dropped the phone book at the foot of our deck stairs, where it fell with a sickly plop.

“HEY THERE!” Eric drunkenly gestured with a Pabst in hand, if nothing but a bit surprised.

“Hi.” She answered immediately, in a steel toned voice with little room for waste and a kind, yet oddly un-moving gaze. Her eyes never left mine and she said nothing more. I recognized those eyes.

“Well… who the fuck are you?” he asked indignantly.

Finally, her smile cracked as she turned to Eric like he had just spit on her foot.

“I’m Molly.”

“How are you doing tonight Molly?” I asked.

“My names not Molly,” smiling again as she turned back to me, “I’m selling it. You guys look like you have to have fun.”

Eric and I both groaned.

“Welp, no thanks Molly. I appreciate the delivery request, but we’re not interested.” Eric replied, taking a swig of his Pabst and turning back to me.

The long gone smile crept its way back up the corners of her mouth.

“Don’t you want to party with me?”

“Sorry Molly… we’re just not really looking for that kind of party,” I explained.

“What’s your name?”

I paused, looking directly at the unflinching hooded figured behind her and back at the confident and unwavering girl in front of me.

“My name’s Matt.” I started.

“Oh cute, Matty. My brother’s name is Matty.” She gestured to one of her hooded figures.

“That’s nice.” Eric responded rudely.

She smiled again, and we must have stood there staring at the mottle group for a full two minutes before Eric decided enough was enough.

“We’re gonna go inside now. Have a good night folks.”

I got up abruptly and followed him back inside, leaving the girl and her friends standing at the same spot at the bottom of the stairs as we did. You might think it was strange that this happened, but drugs were everywhere in college. It was weird, sure, but I never really considered the fact that they were still standing there when we went inside.

Afterwards, Eric and I camped out in the living room and watched Old School. I had loaded a downloaded movie to my laptop beforehand, anticipating the power would be out. After an hour or so, my remaining battery had died and Eric was already long asleep. I guess I must have been too, because when I woke up, I was sleeping in the same wet clothes in my bed.

I rubbed my eyes and sat up. Things were hazy… there was a howling sound in my ear and I was out of it – we are talking the worst type of hangover you can imagine. I still couldn’t see straight, and there was a throbbing pain in my leg. After rolling over, I found it’s source – a long, black metal flashlight wedged under my leg.

I turned it on, wincing at the sudden flash of light in the room. In a minute it was clear where the howling came from – the window above my desk had been shattered and I was literally sleeping in the storm. There was broken glass lying in a neat little pile at the floor, and I traced the blood stained pieces with my flashlight to it’s source.

A red dress. Sitting in my desk chair.

Molly.

She sat there, in my chair, in front of my desk as if… she was putting on makeup for her Sunday best. But she wasn’t putting on blush, she was… playing, with the glass. It’s the only way I can describe it. First, she picked up a piece and gripped it tight, letting it rip through her palms for a moment before calmly setting it down and moving onto another piece. That one she tossed in her mouth like chewing gum, biting down with sickening crunches as she looked over the remaining glass apathetically. There were cuts already on her face, her legs, her arms. Blood was everywhere. More blood than I’ve ever seen, and more blood than I ever hope to see. I’m not really sure how she was still conscious.

When she realized she had my full attention, she offered me a soft smile as she quickly grabbed a third piece of glass and slashed it shallowly against her wrist.

“I really wanted you to come to the party, Matty.”

Her smile grew and she showed no sign of pain. She quickly slashed at the other wrist, again a shallow cut. She was standing, now, closing the distance between us with her blood soaked arms outstretched.

“So I thought I’d bring the party to you!!”

She giggled, reaching down to pick up another piece of glass. As she did, her blood dripped, pooling and staining the long white carpet in her wake. She held one in each hands, now, and began slashing at both of her wrists. Faster, and faster. Left, right, left. She was almost in front of me.

“Don’t ya wanna party, Matty?

I jumped up, narrowly avoiding one of her swipes as I bolted from the room and slammed the door behind me. I pulled out my phone and slammed the Phone app in a panick.

“9…1…1… ERIC WAKE THE FUCK UP!”

I didn’t see the weapon, or the person carrying it, and I definitely didn’t feel it. But I can still hear the loud THWACK it made when it connected with the back of my knees. I stumbled forward, phone in hand as I caught one of the sweatshirt clad bros standing above me in the corner of my eye.

The phone cackled a response to my panicked dialing. Yes, finally, a dial tone.

My attacker ripped the phone from my hands, hurling it against the wall where it shattered in a satisfying crack of parts. He turned around and punched me across the face, then grabbed me by the neck. Fighting back was useless, but the distraction of not breathing at least temporarily voided the throbbing pain in my legs.

After a minute, my vision faded and I thought my living room table looked quite different in that lighting. In two, I thought I was already dead.

MATT! WAKE THE FUCK UP! WHAT HAPPENED!

When I woke up, Eric was standing next to me with his softball bat still in hand. Sweatshirt bro was groaning on the ground, clutching what looked like was once his knee cap. I stood and nearly lost my balance right before sending a kick to his face for good measure.

“There was one more, wasn’t there?”

Molly was screaming from the other room now. I had heard a crash in the scuffle and assumed she could no longer stand. Now, there was a steady, rythmic pounding at bottom of the bedroom door. It continued, growing louder and louder as the handle to the door slowly turned, then faltered.

And then, silence.

“Is she dead? What happened, Matt, what the fuck is happening?” Eric was pacing back and forth, bat still in hand.

In response, Molly started to sing, in a voice choked through blood filled gurgles.

“It’s not over Matty!! Nono, nono, nononono….”

The sick song quickly transitioned to a series of growls and hisses as she choked.

“MOMMY and DADDY can’t know, don’t you see Matty? Nonono, Mommy can’t know, nonono.”

“THEY CAN’T KNOW WHAT I DID MATTY.”

In that moment, the back door opened. I jumped up, hiding myself behind the door and leaving Eric for bait as the second sweatshirt bro stumbled into the Living Room. He paused for a second, surveying the chaos before him before lunging at Eric. As he did, I slammed the metal flashlight against his skull. He dropped like a sack of potatoes.

“WHY DID YOU KILL ME MATTY?” Molly shrieked in response.

She began to cough into the door. Loud, horrible, labored chokes of breathe against a tidal wave of blood that had filled in her throat. In moments, her dark red blood began to pool in the space between the bottom of the door and the floor.

“They’ll never know. Never ever ever.”

Her coughs grew louder, but she did her best to ignore it. In fact, until her last breath she repeated the same thing over and over.

“Never ever Matty…”

When I heard her head slump, I still didn’t open the door. Eric pulled out his phone again and explained what had happened to the dispatch, while I set about locking up the unconscious goons in the bathroom.

It all happened in a matter of twenty minutes. Soon after, the police arrived and interviewed Eric and I for several hours, attorneys present.

Later I learned the following. Molly (no, that’s not her real name) and her parents were very religious. Suicide to them was a mortal sin reserved for the deepest depths of Hell. To hear that their baby girl had killed themselves would destroy them more than anything else ever could. But Molly had manic depression since the day she became a teenager. She had fantasized about death, written about it; studied it. She kept a dream journal, in fact, where she listed her favorite ways to die. I often wonder where Stabbing Yourself Repeatedly in a Stranger’s bedroom ranked.

But Molly denied this fantasy to herself in public, and to everyone she met. Even her own family. In fact, that night in my room, Molly had sent a text to her brothers shortly before saying that she had been abducted. When they arrived, they found Eric and I, panicking in our living room covered in blood. Her blood.

The dream journal, combined with the broken window, are likely the reason I’m not in prison for the rest of my life. But I did drop out of school, and I did stop talking to all of my friends from school, including Eric. I moved home and got a place of my own in the suburbs, and am desperately trying to put what happened five years ago behind me.

What I’ve never figured out is whether Molly thought she was actually saving her soul, or saving her parent’s morality. The reality is, I think God has a way of working out these things on His own. And right now, I hope she’s right where she belongs.