by John Yohe, October 10th 2022
He'd walk out there at night down the street and across the golf course from his father's house to the barbwire edge, trying to figure out what to do, watching the car lights going somewhere north and south, especially the red ones going north. All he wanted was to play music and write lyrics tho wasn't sure he liked the metal scene with the homophobes and racists who seemed more concerned with drinking beer until catatonic, though that seemed a reflection of the world on tv.
He had a car, he could've gone anytime. But he had a job to pay for the car. And a band. And classes. And a girlfriend. And then an apartment.
Eventually, later, after everything, he did take that road. Come to find out that it only led to a town smaller than the one he'd been in. And after that a series of even smaller towns. Though at the end, much farther, which took decades to get to, was a forest—pines and oaks and maples, birch and aspen. And a river, with beavers and otters, and the river flowed out to Lake Michigan. The beach, the wind. Gulls and crows, sun and sand, and he still didn't know.
What did the girls see in us? We weren't that smart—cut off our hair and we would've just been nerds. We were scrawny, skinnier than the girls themselves, and always wore the same jeans and black t-shirts featuring a rotating cast of demons and devils and pentagrams.
We didn't play love songs, our guitars were percussion instruments and we weren't romantic—a good date was driving to Harpo's to see Overkill and Motörhead. And we didn't talk much, hiding our emotions except for anger, on stage, mostly. And we drank, smoked pot and didn't want to go to college (though some of us did anyways). And we didn't use condoms, we all had porn stashes and spent our paychecks on tattoos wanting to be rock stars.
The girls seemed to believe in us more than we did, and carried our guitars and cymbals and bought us cigarettes and listened to our practices and drove us to gigs and sometimes even gave us blowjobs. And when our bands broke up, when we stopped playing our instruments so much, the girls waited a little while, enough to confirm what we already knew, and now their hairspray and lipstick and high heels are gone: we weren't the gods they wanted us to be.
Just hours before he kills her a security camera at a convenience store captures them both, the uncle and his thirteen year old niece. He comes in first, doesn’t hold the door for her. and she follows him, arms crossed. They go off camera for a minute, and we see other people in the store, including the clerk standing next to a phone. Then they come to the counter, he’s buying a coffee and she stands next to him, not looking at anything—she’s been missing for a few days already. We don’t know if he’s raped her yet, but we know later that another thirteen year old girl, one he’s been raping since she was nine, will finally turn him in, after he does what he does. But right now we watch him pay for the coffee and leave, his niece not saying anything to anybody, arms still crossed, as if she’s cold, following him out the door.