Coming Home


I can’t tell why, I just can’t. Blame it on the green light emanating from the dashboard, or blame it on the anniversary that came up after every “hello” at every store. “I just can’t believe she’s gone, you know. Such a sweet girl.”

Yes, very sweet.

No, the truth is that nothing I can name told me to drive out here on a night like this. I can hear the rain pounding on my roof with angry fists. The leak that I have been meaning to fix for months is quickly turning the backseat into a beach towel that’s been left out for the tide. I’ll throw it out in time.

The music on the radio seems to be all songs sung by women. They make one think about what she would’ve sounded like if she could still sing. I remember her being able to sing, but then again I couldn’t remember her age when I spoke to dad earlier in the day.

“No, she was sixteen, Chris. Don’t you remember – you went to school with her.”

I went to school with a lot of dead people, I thought. There’s Cub (I can’t remember his real name) who killed himself after being unable to kick heroin. His suicide had been followed by another, but it was some freshman from the backwoods so none of us really cared about him. The closest one to me had been Steve Hartley, the guy who went and got himself decapitated because he was driving his motorcycle too fast and because a prank went terribly wrong. Who knew taut fishing line could do so much damage?

But these small town tragedies were nothing compared to her. At sixteen, she had been stabbed over fifty times, dumped on the county line, and buried in a makeshift grave that took investigators six months to find. Her killers had been her best friends. The local newspapers first, then the national media found a lot of evidence to work with. This is the digital age, and being teenage girls, they documented every hangnail for the world to see.

“They just didn’t want to be friends anymore is what I heard. Also, Ken – you remember Ken, right? The kid who once tried to kiss you in the locker room during sophomore year? Well, he’s an electrician now. Anyway, he told me that the two girls were lesbians, and the one they killed was a devout Christian who had a problem with that. That’s why they stuck her where they did after she died.”

Richie, my old college roommate, was lying. None of the reports that I’ve read say anything about postmortem wounds. By all accounts, the two killers acted like panicked young girls and stabbed willy nilly. The victim didn’t die because of precision strikes; she bleed out because of too many holes, most of which were nowhere near vital organs. That’s not evidence of cunning, and even though it was premeditated, this was closer to a killing than a murder.

Again, I have to reiterate that I didn’t know any of these people. I mean really know them. I had shared hallways with them, but they were just faces and smells among many others. If had known about their fates in advance, I might have paid more attention. Then again, in high school, I had my own demons. In particular, my demon had a habit of wearing white and went by the name of Caroline Rochelle.

She was the loneliest girl I had ever known, and even today, almost five years after, I have never met someone so desperate. Such desperation lead her to trust a virtual stranger all for the promise of some pot and maybe the loss of her virginity. She had smoked the pot, then she had given all of herself away. That part took an hour. The clean-up after her death took three.

No, I never knew those two girls, and they dumped their kill miles away from mine. They went north; I drove south. Their body has been found; mine hasn’t. Still, for some reason, I sitting here in the rain next to a single, white cross.

~ fin ~

Benjamin Welton is a freelance journalist and short story writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Out of the Gutter Online, Thuglit, and others. He currently runs two blogs (The Trebuchet and Schloss Orlok), plus he also has two books available on Amazon for purchase - Hands Dabbled in Blood and Doomsters At the Drive-In.