Sunlight forced its way into the room through the crack between the curtains, Evan was lying on his bed staring blankly at the opposite wall. He didn’t think he had slept all night; the memories of the horrid betrayal and violation didn’t leave him alone and the pain he felt stinging and throbbing inside wouldn’t even allow him to forget. It was hard to comprehend it, a lump in his throat that refused to set, tightness in his chest. He didn’t know where to find the strength to rise. Maybe he didn’t need to, because of the fever that had risen. It had caused his mother to worry, assuming that he was coming down with a cold and so his parents allowed him to rest and stay home from school the following days.
Evan’s whole world had shattered overnight, everything he believed in and what he had dreamed. Everything lay broken to pieces in front of him and he didn’t know how he could ever put those pieces back together. Just last Friday, the world had seemed so bright and filled with opportunities, now it was grim and gray and all the people… Evan felt tears slowly falling on his cheeks and he let out a trembling breath, still not wanting to comprehend it. Thoughts of Ricky forced into his consciousness and made him shiver harder. They had been friends… They had been friends for so long… But who was Ricky? He remembered how they had played together as children, remembered how they had had fun in their youth. Ricky had encouraged and supported him, he had been so different from many others who had grown up amid wealth… The side Ricky had shown him the other night was foreign and dark, cruel and heartless, like the devil. Why? How had this horrid change occurred?
His mother was worried, regularly visited his room to check his fever, worrying that the food didn’t taste good and remained untouched on the table. Evan would not have wanted his mother to worry, assured in a weak voice that he would heal soon, although at the same time he doubted he could ever fully recover from what had happened. Lily came to visit, sat next to his bed, and stroked his forehead softly, asking what she could do for him. Evan held the girl’s hand in his own, closed his eyes, and hoped to be able to go back in time, to forget everything. If Lily knew the truth, she wouldn’t want to touch him anymore, no one would. Evan also had a bad feeling that there was no way he could avoid Ricky indefinitely, a fear that soon revealed true.
A couple of days and he was on his feet again, trying to get back to normal life and find a cure from it. There were still a few weeks left in school before the summer holidays and for a couple of evenings a week and on weekends, he went to work at a local cafe that specialized in milkshakes. He had also been swimming for several years and had worked hard with his coach for a competition held at the end of July. After what happened, however, Evan no longer wanted to take part in training, he couldn’t explain the bruising on his body, he could never again feel comfortable in swimming trunks in front of others. His coach was both confused and frustrated over his sudden announcement, of course Even understood the frustration, but he couldn’t explain the true reason.
Evan tried to direct his thoughts to his studies and work. He did his best to make himself so busy that he wouldn’t have time to think about what had happened. Lily was confused about the change in him, but it was easy to blame it all on exhaustion though it was getting awkward when her confusion grew in front of his disinterest in sex. He kept himself busy, an excuse to avoid Ricky’s company, the fact that he was much in the company of others and hardly ever alone outside his home.
Evan had always been hard-working, he had started working at the age of fourteen, first distributing newspapers to their neighborhood, then helping with cleaning in the café he still worked in. By the age of fifteen, he had already gotten to work in front of the register. He wanted to help his parents, raise funds for his studies. He had always been conscientious both in his studies and hobbies, he sought after a scholarship to get into a respected college. He wanted to become a veterinarian one day or a successful swimmer. He had already buried the latter dream, but the former still seemed possible to reach. Evan tried his best to put his energy and thoughts into achieving the goal and forget how his friend had violated him. He would become a veterinarian, he would marry Lily and move somewhere far, perhaps to another country, far away from Ricky anyway.
But Ricky didn’t stay away for long, didn’t let him forget or escape from his grip. The first time he saw his former friend since the horrible night was when he came to his workplace after having noticed Evan was otherwise trying to avoid him.
Ricky eyed him with sickening confidence as he slowly made his way across the cafe toward the bar counter, Evan found himself trembling heavier with every step that Ricky neared. Cold, dark eyes drilled into him, savoring his fear like the monster that he now was or always had been. He wanted nothing more than to escape, but he couldn’t, not here, and it pleased the monster.
”I’d like one coffee, black,” Ricky said. Evan didn’t answer, poured Ricky a cup, and dropped it in front of him. He didn’t look the other in the eye when he said the price and Ricky dug the money out of his wallet.
“Keep the change,” he grinned, and Evan looked at the twenty-dollar bill in his hand, first confused and then nervous; he didn’t want Ricky’s money. He hit the price of the coffee at the register and shoved the change into the war veterans’ relief jar at the counter.
”Veterans thank you,” He muttered and moved on to serve the next client that had walked in, feeling the cold, hungry eyes of the predator watching him intensely.
“Next Saturday, after work, come to my place. My parents are away.” Ricky said after the customer was gone. Evan felt his heart rate rise, his nervousness grew, and he looked somewhat helpless at the customers that sat at their tables.
”No.” He finally replied, as defiant as he could. ”Our friendship is over.” He added quietly and turned to sweep the counter further from Ricky to give his nervous hands something to do. Ricky laughed sarcastically.
”Oh Evan, friendship has nothing to do with this,” Ricky answered and Evan felt the cold shivers along his spine. ”You are mine.”
”Don’t think so!” Evan flickered quietly and turned to look at Ricky. “There are things your money can’t buy, and I am one of them. You make me sick!” Ricky looked at him and grinned.
“Don’t be so sure, Evan.” Ricky said and brought the cup to his lips. Eventually, he dropped the empty cup on the counter. ”See you soon.” He said and left the café with as confident steps as he had walked in.
Evan didn’t know how to get the situation resolved; he didn’t think he could tell the truth to anyone, who would even believe him? Evan hadn’t heard of something like this before, men didn’t get raped, surely? The whole thing was extremely humiliating and disgusting. Evan wondered if he could convince his parents to move, but on what excuse?
When his shift ended that night after the cafe closed, he came to the parking lot where he had left his car: an old, early 60’s Ford that had already seen its best days, but it was the best that he could afford. However, the car didn’t start, and he had just missed the last bus home. The cafe was also already closed, and a senior employee had just left the parking lot. Evan walked to a nearby phone booth to call home only to find that the phone didn’t work because someone had cut off the cord. Evan cursed; there was a six-mile journey home and either he would have to walk or look for a working phone booth. He didn’t get far when he heard the car drive up behind him. Evan turned to look and was startled to see the driver being Ricky. At that moment, he knew Ricky was the cause of both the breakdown of his car and the cut cord of the phone booth. Evan hurried his steps, already knowing he wouldn’t be able to stop Ricky from hurting him, yet not fully ready to accept it.
The road was quiet and dark. Ricky drove before him and stopped his car, stepped out, and opened the door on the passenger side. ”Get in.” It wasn’t a request, rather an order. Evan stopped, looked around, one car drove past them.
”I’d rather walk,” Evan stated and Ricky laughed.
“Listen, you better obey me, because believe me, I can make your life very difficult. The same goes for your family.” Ricky came closer. ”Money brings power, Evan… Whose words do you think weigh more?” He whispered, causing Evan to shiver. ”I can be pretty convincing – you know that best, don’t you?”
Evan gritted his teeth and looked away from him. ”It wouldn’t even take much, and my father would make sure your father didn’t get any work anymore from anywhere… There’s stuff missing from the office, I’ve seen them in your home.” Evan looked at the other with disgust and hate.
”You’re lying!” He flinched.
”Am I lying?” Ricky asked and tilted his head. “Maybe your dad had time to hide the stuff before the matter was investigated. That’s what I would say. If you tell anyone the truth, I swear I’ll come up with a better story to ruin your reputation, no fine colleges for Evan.” He purred with a sickeningly sweet tone, as his hand rose to his cheek. “No one would believe you.” Ricky said it all so lightly, with such conviction, that Evan knew he meant his words. ”Rita never stole anything from our house, I just didn’t like her.” Rita had been the housekeeper of their family and Evan remembered the woman well. However, even he had believed when Ricky had told how a woman had long stolen their money as well as her mother’s jewelry. Why wouldn’t he have believed his friend who told everything so convincingly? Evan felt the weight increase on his shoulders, his chest tightening further, they had been friends for over a decade and all the while Ricky had managed to trick him, playing the role of someone entirely different.
”Get in,” Ricky said again and held the car door open. Evan felt numb, his mind went through different options, but at that moment nothing seemed to bring a helpful solution to free himself of the situation. He could try to attack Ricky, but it would eventually bring more harm. Evan was rational enough to understand it.
Without words, numbly giving in, he sat down in the car. The door slammed shut, Evan closed his eyes for a moment as the other boy turned to the driver’s side with a triumphant grin on his face. Evan knew, even before he saw, that the direction was not his home, he knew what the next stop would mean, and the thought strangled his throat. A dark secluded stop in the middle of nowhere, in the back seat of Ricky’s car, it happened again while Aerosmith’s “Dream On” played on the radio. The song would plague the rest of his days in his too-short existence.
When it was over, Ricky drove him home like nothing, smiled, and gave him the looming threat. ”See you soon!” And the words were repeated in Evan’s consciousness as a nightmarish rhythm. No matter how hard he rubbed his skin in the shower, till it was red and irritating, it didn’t take away that disgusting feeling of impurity. Eventually, his father ended up nervously banging the door, reminding him not to consume all the hot water because even the water was valuable.
The next day, after coming home from work, he found Ricky in his father’s company in the living room. ”Look what we got, Evan!” His father was excited about the new color TV, which felt three times bigger than their old one and now lay abandoned on the floor. “I got the Worker of the Month award! Ricky just brought it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten it until tomorrow at work.” Dad continued as he turned the TV on and tried to adjust the antenna. Evan looked at his former friend, who had turned into a devil. This sickening demon was grinning, and Evan knew the message behind the grin; Ricky’s threats were no joke. His mother and sister were at the store and only he and his father were witnessing the arrival of the television. Evan suspected there was no reward, and later if he didn’t do as Ricky wanted, this would be one of those stolen items. Somehow Ricky would make everyone else believe it.
“Well, I have to go now. See you later!” Ricky smiled, looking at Evan.
”See you, Ricky, send my thanks to your father!” Evan’s father said cheerfully, completely enchanted by the new television. Ricky’s father was a busy man, rarely seen at the office by ordinary workers. Evan knew it was unlikely that the new television would rise to the conversation there and Ricky knew it too.
”I will!” Ricky promised and walked closer to Evan. “See you soon,” He whispered gleefully as he passed, and Evan closed his eyes; he did not know how to get out of this nightmare.
Evan couldn’t sleep properly. Nightmares haunted him and he had started to hate the nights as much as the days. There was no one he dared to talk to about it. Despite everything, he tried to go on with his life, trying to come up with a solution to get away, but Ricky continued to torment him all summer long. Ricky knew when his parents weren’t home and took advantage of the situation. Even his room was no longer a sanctuary, and one incident outdid the others in their cruelty when Evan’s little sister Linda had been home while Ricky raped him behind the locked door of his room. A sweaty palm in front of his mouth, words of warning against his ear about what would happen if he called for help. And all the while Evan heard Linda singing happily in the living room. Thoughts of death had arisen earlier but intensified after that day.
Sure, the people around him noticed his changed nature, he was pale and tired, quiet, unlike the cheerful, open person that he had been before. But when they inquired about the change, Evan found no solid answer to give. As the condition persisted, his mother passed him to a doctor, the cheapest possible one whose examination was perhaps of equal value. The man asked if he was suffering from depression and Evan responded with an indifferent shrug and later got home with an antidepressant prescription. Lily was also worried, perhaps partially hurt, about his sudden change which Evan still couldn’t bring himself to explain.
Evan’s big brother worked at a car repair shop and had taken Evan’s car to be repaired after working hours. “Someone has cut the wires,” Trevor announced after Evan picked up the car a week later. He looked at his little brother thoughtfully, who didn’t seem surprised.
”Do you know who could have done that?” Trevor asked and Evan shrugged.
“Vandalism probably,” Evan replied softly. ”Some young people have been bored…”
”I guess so.” Trevor nodded. “Well, I got it repaired for now,” he said, handing the keys to his little brother. ”Are you sure you’re not in any trouble?” He asked and Evan smiled.
”What trouble would I be in?” He asked with faked carelessness.
”Mom said you quit swimming?”
”I just couldn’t take it anymore… Work and study, something had to be given up.” Evan replied. Trevor nodded, even though he found his brother’s decision strange and sudden, especially during the summer holidays when Evan should have had more time for his hobby as well. ”I have to go to work now, thank you, Trevor.”
”No problem, see you on Sunday!”
** ^^ ** ^^ **
Evan’s swimming coach asked him to visit him a few days before the competition, he guessed to try to talk him over once more. Evan went to a man who over the years had become more than just a coach. Derek was in his thirties, of German descent, and had been coaching young people for almost ten years. He was sturdy but fair, able to encourage in the right way, yet relaxed enough to get along well with younger people. Evan considered the man more of a friend than a coach.
”Why did you want to stop training?” Derek asked. They sat in the man’s living room drinking coffee.
“There’s just so much going on,” Evan shrugged. “It feels like being torn in every direction and…” Evan sighed wearily. There was that certain darkness under his eyes, the exhaustion was transparent.
”And?” Derek asked, tilting his head. ”Evan, I know you well enough and I know how passionate you are about swimming, I need a better reason than what you’re giving.” The man looked at him seriously, leaning forward, the wall clock ticking loudly growing the nervousness that Evan felt. He rubbed his hands together, staring at them to avoid Derek’s gaze, and finally, Evan shrugged helplessly.
“Why isn’t that enough? Maybe I’m not good enough…”
”Just a month ago you thought differently.” Derek pointed out. ”What has happened to you?” He asked. “You can talk to me. I swear that whatever it is, whatever you say, it won’t leave this room if you don’t want it to.” Evan twisted his hands nervously and Derek knew it was something serious. The boy’s eyes watered, which seemed to embarrass him even more. Finally, Evan drew a shaky breath.
”Have you ever been betrayed by someone close to you?” Evan asked quietly.
”What do you mean?” Derek asked. ”Is this related to your girlfriend?”
”No. Not at all.” Evan looked out the window. ”You think you know someone and then… Everything changes and can’t be fixed anymore.”
”Has someone hurt you?” Derek asked, Evan glanced at him quickly.
“I have to go now. All is well, I just no longer have the time for swimming… or interest. I’m sorry.” Evan got up, grabbed his backpack, and hurried to the door. Derek followed the boy.
”Evan, wait….” He asked, but he didn’t listen. He opened the door and hurried to his car, giving one last apology before closing the door. Derek stood confused at the door of his apartment. While Evan left, his partner drove into the yard and from the corner of his eye, Derek noticed another car leaving to follow Evan. He barely had time to identify the driver as Ricky, who he knew was a friend of Evan and who had often been watching his training. Derek guessed that whatever was matter with Evan was related to Ricky. He believed he could find out later.
”Was that Evan?” His partner Chad asked as he walked towards him. Derek nodded.
”He’s really going to drop swim team.” He said and let the other man inside before closing the door and greeting him with a kiss. They tried to keep a low profile in their relationship because they both knew it wouldn’t be accepted and in the worst case, Derek could lose his job if the parents of his superiors found out.
** ^^ ** ^^ **
”If anything happens to me, Matt, will you promise to take care of Lily?” Evan asked one day when visiting his friend.
”What on earth would happen to you?” The other boy asked confusedly, and Evan tried to smile, shrugging his shoulders.
”I don’t know, something can always happen… if it happens… Will you promise?”
Matt frowned. ”You’ve been awfully gloomy lately… Is everything all right?”
“Everything is fine,” Evan assured, though it didn’t manage to sound very convincing. “I guess I’ve been reading too much news lately and…” He shrugged again. ”I’m fine,” He lied.
Matt looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. He worried for his friend but wanted to believe it was nothing he couldn’t address later if needed. ”If it makes you feel better? I’ll promise.” Evan smiled with relief, Lily had always had a good time with Matt and he believed that if Lily and he hadn’t dated, the girl might have been interested in his friend.
”Lily is the most important thing in the world to me,” Evan confessed. Matt laughed and playfully poked his arm.
“You romantic fool…” He joked unaware of how dark the thoughts were that cruised in Evan’s mind.
* ^ * ^ ** ^ **
”I was wondering if I would apply to Dublin to study,” Evan told Lily one night after school had started, still trying to find another solution to the growing thoughts of death.
”Why?” Lily asked, surprised. ”What about me?”
”I was wondering if you would move in with me?” Evan suggested quietly. He had come to Lily’s home, and they were lounging on the girl’s bed. ”I have an aunt and cousins living there. At the start, we could maybe live with them until we find our apartment.”
“I’m a California girl, I can’t stand the rain. In Ireland, doesn’t it rain for most of the year?” Lily wondered. ”It’s better here.” She added, kissing Evan on the cheek and staring at the closed door before bringing her hand on the boy’s side suggestively. “I could lock the door…” She whispered. They had not had sex in weeks, or months more likely and the situation began to really bother Lily. Evan trembled, grabbed her hand, and moved it from him before he sat up.
”Not now Lily,” Evan said and the girl looked at him hurtfully.
”What’s bothering you?” Lily snapped. “Were you offended that I didn’t want to move to Dublin with you? Or don’t you just want me anymore?”
“Lily…” Evan moaned and looked at the girl with sad eyes. ”It’s not about that”.
”Then what is it about?!” Lily got up from bed. ”What’s wrong with you? You have changed! Do you have someone else?”
”No… There is no one else… I love you; you know that.” Evan felt tears in his eyes.
“You have a weird way of showing it,” Lily stated. ”Tell me what’s wrong?” She asked in a calmer voice.
“I don’t know,” Evan growled. “I feel sick…” He brought his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes for a moment. Lily’s gaze turned worried. “Sorry, Lil…” The girl sat back next to him and brought her hand to his hair.
”You should go to the doctor,” she noted.
“I’ve been there already,” Evan replied, lowering his hand and looking at Lily; it pained him to see the girl so worried. ”And I’m fine – just tired”.
”You work too hard.”
“Maybe,” Evan admitted.
”Would you slow down a little, okay, for me?” Lily begged and Evan smiled tiredly.
”Don’t worry about me.”
“If you want to move,” Lily began. ”Wouldn’t a warmer place do?”
”Australia?” Evan suggested, though neither of them could afford to travel that far, especially when neither of them knew anyone in Australia. But the suggestion made Lily smile.
”Now you’re talking!” Lily grinned and planted a kiss on his forehead.
”I have to go now… Let’s talk later.” Evan said softly, smiled, and got up from the bed before leaning forward to kiss Lily’s cheek. ”I love you.” He whispered.
”Me too,” Lily replied without the slightest clue that it was the last time she would see her boyfriend again.
** ^^ ** ^^ **
The next day, as Evan was preparing for school, Ricky came to see him again. Evan’s unsuspecting mother let Ricky in when she left for work, telling him that Evan was in his room.
It wasn’t until the door opened and closed after Ricky stepped into the room that Evan woke up to his presence. Very soon he also realized that he was alone with the monster that had once fooled him into thinking they were friends. Ricky became more and more ruthless, more confident, using new means of humiliation. At the same time, he broke Evan’s last hopes that he could only get rid of this by moving elsewhere. ”Wherever you go, Evan, I’ll always find you,” Ricky whispered as he left.
The pain and humiliation made Evan feel sick, even going to the bathroom was painful, there was blood on the toilet paper, and he didn’t know how badly he was hurt. He feared there was no answer as to what to do and Ricky had threatened to come again the same week. Evan didn’t sleep, he pretended to his family that he was all right and that he was going to school like normal even though he stayed home paranoid and nervous. He was constantly feeling ill, and he did not dare to talk about it because it would require an explanation that he could not give.
It would only be a matter of days until school would alert his parents. Evan’s father kept the gun in his office, it was in a locked closet, but his father had shown him the key location just a few months earlier because he thought Evan was old enough and wanted him to be able to defend the house and family if he wasn’t there. Evan didn’t know exactly what his father was afraid of, robbers would hardly be interested in their modest possessions.
Now, however, he had found himself examining the gun a couple of times while the decision was still cooking in his head. In the end, it seemed like the only solution to him, the only way out. Death would bring peace; it would end the torment. At the same time, the decision weighed heavily and brought him to tears. In his mind, he prayed for forgiveness from God and his family.
Eventually, as the decision was complete, he felt some degree of peace descend inside him.
He wanted to believe that Ricky would feel the burden of guilt for his actions that had led to this, that he’d carry the burden for the rest of his life. He had called Ricky first and asked him to come and visit that afternoon so that Ricky would be the one to find his body. Evan wrote his farewell first to his family and then to Lily, the words written with trembling hands, but having convinced himself that this was best for all of them, that he was broken beyond repair.
“Dear mom and dad,
Forgive me. I can no longer find another solution, another way to escape. Believe me, I’ve tried. There is nothing you could have done or said otherwise, to me you were always the best parents! The one that drove me to my solution is not found within our family, but close to me.
I’ve saved money, if there’s any left after the burial, I hope you save them for Linda’s studies. Keep the funeral simple. Please take care of Lily, too? She will need your support. I love you; I hope you’ll forgive me; I can see no other way.
- Your loving son, Evan.
After writing the letter, he folded it on his desk and took a new piece of paper.
“Dear Lily,” he wrote resolutely at the beginning but sighed and closed his eyes. His hand trembled heavier, tears gathered in his eyes, and for a moment it was blurry. “These are the hardest words I’ve ever had to write. Words I didn’t think I would have to write.” Evan bit his lip, wiping tears from the corner of his eye. “I just don’t see any other way to find peace anymore. I admit it scares me and at the same time, I’ve made my decision. Never doubt my love, you have been to me all I could ever hope for. You’ve noticed something changed and the cause isn’t in you or in my family, it’s close to me and I can’t escape. Something so awful I can’t even write the words, it broke me, and it won’t end…
I know there will be another day when you find someone else. You will meet a man who is worthy of you and who loves you as much as I have loved you. I wish you happiness Lily! Dear Lily, forgive me for not being stronger. If heaven exists and if God forgives me for my actions, I will wait for you there. Live your life and be happy, laugh, and love! Remember the times when we were happy, but don’t get caught up in the past, promise?
Loving you forever, Evan
He closed the letter and wrote Lily’s name over it and lastly a short message to Ricky before looking out his window for the last time; the sun was shining, and Evan smiled wistfully. Slowly he closed the curtains, grabbed the gun, and sat down on his bed. His throat choked and he swallowed a couple of times. He allowed his gaze to go around his room one final time. A sad smile rose when his gaze landed on a picture drawn by his sister Linda of their family. He shifted his gaze away and looked down at the gun in his hand, pulling the safety off.
“Dear God, forgive me. I don’t know what else to do.” Evan whispered. Soon it would be over, he probably wouldn’t even have time to feel the pain. Evan raised his gun to his temple and drew his last breaths. Ricky would come soon, there was no time. His finger settled on the trigger, Evan closed his eyes, there was no time. His finger moved and a loud bang left echoing in the room that brought the lasting darkness that took him with, leaving the broken and violated vessel behind. Evan Brisley was now more but had he understood fully the monster that had devoured him, that would devour others, he would have taken it with.