Karine sat at her vanity, admiring her beauty while Terry sat behind her on her bed.
“You wanted to talk to me,” he said.
“I have something important to tell you,” she replied.
“I think I know what it is.”
“I don’t think you do.”
“You want me,” smiled Terry.
Karine turned around to see Terry standing behind her. He took her hand and she stood to face him.
“Are you in love with me?” he asked.
She hesitated for a moment. “I love the way you make me feel.”
“How do I make you feel?”
Karine switched the scene to a meadow and she was wearing a medieval style dress, like in Game of Thrones or something. Terry was dressed as a knight and they were riding on a white unicorn. Ok, no, just a horse, a unicorn was going too far even for a fantasy.
“I’ll always protect you!” Terry announced while brandishing his sword.
“I know,” Karine replied, burying her face into his back. “Don’t hate me for keeping her from you.”
“I could never hate you.”
“I hope that’s true.”
Terry dismounted and started to walk away. Karine followed, still on the horse.
“Terry, why can’t it be me? Why don’t you love me?”
“You’re beautiful and cool and totally hot but that’s not enough. You’re not like her.”
“What’s so special about her?”
“And I’m bad?”
“Well duh,” snarked Cerise, suddenly appearing in a white dress while Karine’s dress turned black. “You have dark hair, Karine. And I’m blonde. That’s how these things work.”
“I’m not evil!” Karine protested.
“I beg to differ,” said Cerise, turning around to show the knife sticking out of her back.
“I never betrayed you. We’re not even friends!”
“I thought we were,” she sulked.
Terry pulled the knife out of Cerise’s back and pushed Karine off the horse. He mounted it and pulled Cerise up with him.
“Terry, save me!” Karine called out.
“Save yourself, bitch.”
Karine shook away the daydream and turned the volume up on her ipod, hoping the music would drown out her thoughts. She walked around the house, surveying the damage from last week’s party. She hadn’t done a thing to clean anything up. It was at these moments she wished she still had a boyfriend but she knew how mean that was, to use guys when it suited her and to reject them when she got tired of them. She was such a giant bitch; it was a mystery why she even had any friends. Which she supposed she didn’t, not really. Was Janice her friend, was Sarah, was Cerise? Terry was but she was treating him like shit by not getting him back together with his Cherry angel.
Oh fuck it! She texted him and he said he’d be right over.
Terry’s mom was leaving him texts and voice-mails every day but his dad hadn’t done shit. Fuck those two assholes. Then again, he’d been at Cerise’s place for over a week and he was starting to feel like he was imposing. None of the Laframboise chicks had made him feel unwelcome, not even Cerise’s mom. In fact, they were all being super cool all the time but that was part of the problem. They were being too nice, too polite almost. He still felt like a guest, rather than a member of the family. He was such an idiot for thinking he could just move in and suddenly he’d be like, what? Cerise’s husband? Angela’s son? God, he was such a moron. No wonder his bio-mom had abandoned him when he’d been a baby. She could probably tell he was mentally deficient.
So he jumped at the chance to go hang out with Karine whenever she texted, although he was also starting to feel like he was way too available to her. He always did whatever she wanted and was starting to feel like he was her boyfriend except without any of the benefits so how bullshit was that? When he showed up at her place that Sunday afternoon and saw that her house was still a mess a week after the party he figured she’d try to make him clean up like she always did to Steven.
“You expect me to deal with this shit?” he asked as soon as he’d walked in the door.
Her lip quavered and he instantly felt like shit. Hell, why shouldn’t he help clean up? He’d been at the party, drunk her beer, eaten her food, he should do whatever he could to help out.
“Just sit down, you fucking loser,” she instructed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, sitting on the living room couch, careful to avoid the dark stain on one of the cushions.
She stayed standing and even paced back and forth. “I know how you can get back together with Cerise.”
Ok, this was definitely better than having to clean shit up. “How?” he asked.
“Just do what she wants. Stop hanging out with Andrew.”
“Well I basically already have but that’s not the point, is it? I can’t just give in to her ultimatum, ‘cause that’s like totally nutso.”
“But I don’t want you to see him either.”
“’Cause he’s an asshole.”
“But he’s still our friend.”
“You have to understand, Terry. I didn’t tell you this shit sooner because, well ‘cause I didn’t want anyone to know. I only told Cerise ‘cause she could like, tell there was something wrong. Like wrong with me and wrong with him.”
“What do you mean?”
“He hurt me.”
Terry’s stomach tightened and he could feel the anger rising. His hands balled into fists and he had to force them to relax so he could get up and put a hand on Karine’s shoulder. “What did he do?”
Karine shook Terry away and shook her head.
“What did he do?” Terry repeated, feeling like he maybe already knew and probably didn’t want to hear the answer.
“He you know, it was last year. Grad, prom, whatever. He just, you know, like…” she sighed heavily and then spoke with exasperation. “Fuck, you know, like forced himself on me or whatever.”
Terry was certain he would throw up. It was almost like the room was spinning. It wasn’t just that Karine had gone through something so horrible it couldn’t even be imagined, but that he’d kept being friends with that… that rapist. Hadn’t he always suspected in the back of his mind that Andrew’s shit was fake, that he didn’t score with so many chicks ‘cause he had game but ‘cause he wasn’t really on the up and up?
“I’ll kill him,” said Terry, almost shaking now.
“Terry, goddammit! I’m only telling you this so you’ll understand. I don’t want you to do anything crazy!”
Terry reached out to Karine to try to hug her but she pushed him away. “Did you go to the police?” he asked.
“God, no, what the fuck?! I don’t want people knowing about this shit! I never even would have told you if I didn’t have to!”
“Shut the fuck up!” she screamed. “This happened to me, ok? So I decide how to deal with it. Not you or anyone else.”
“Yeah, I know but,” Terry didn’t even know how he was going to finish that sentence but Karine interrupted him anyway.
“You don’t understand.”
“You’re right, I don’t. But there’s gotta be some people out there who do. You should talk to someone. Get help.”
“Oh my god, stop it! I didn’t bring this up so we could have a heart to heart! I don’t need a kid’s help line. I don’t want you to give me advice and I don’t want you to like, you know, think of me like this.”
“Karine, it doesn’t make me think less of you. It just makes me think less of him.”
He finally drew her into a hug and she started to cry. An instant later she pushed him away. “Just leave me alone.”
“But I mean, if you don’t like, tell someone, won’t he just do it to other girls?”
“He already has,” said Karine, her voice muffled as she wiped her face.
“Christina. I’m pretty sure he did it to her too.”
Once again Terry had to fight the nausea rising in his throat. Karine was full on crying now and Terry felt his own eyes moisten. He reached out to her again but she pushed him away and yelled at him to go away.
“Karine, let me…”
“Just fuck off!” she screeched. “Go!”
And with that he was pushed out of Karine’s house. He could have pushed back obviously, could have tried to stay, tried to help her but he really had no idea what to do. There was nothing he could do. He was completely helpless.
Without even realizing where he was going he wound up at
Clyde’s. Somehow he knew Andrew would be there and
sure enough, he stood by a pool table, guzzling a beer.
“Hey man, what’s up?” he asked, all smiles.
Terry’s fist flew out as though it wasn’t even attached to his body. It was like he wasn’t even controlling it. Andrew was struck square in the jaw and fell backwards, his beer mug crashing on the floor. Everyone stopped and stared. Terry slowly walked away backwards as Andrew moaned and scrambled to his feet.
He stood on the sidewalk outside and waited for Andrew to come out. It didn’t take long.
“What the fuck?!” Andrew yelled.
Terry held out his arms, inviting Andrew to attack him, which he did. He was no match for Terry, which Terry was acutely aware of. Andrew was a bully, used to pushing little skinny kids around but Terry was an enforcer, a goon as Vani had so helpfully pointed out. Within an instant Andrew was in a headlock and Terry knew that if he twisted in the right way he could snap his neck. Instead he punched him in the gut and threw him to the ground. Andrew cried out in pain and wheezed, trying to catch his breath. It took about a million years but he finally stumbled to his feet and Terry punched him in the face again.
That had maybe been a bit much. Andrew kneeled down on the ground, holding his face as a pool of blood developed beneath him. Shit, he hadn’t even hit him that hard. Andrew tried to say something but instead a tooth fell out of his mouth. He screeched and grabbed for it but missed completely, his hand flailing over the pool of blood. Oh god, maybe he had a concussion. Terry had played with a kid once who’d gotten hit really hard and hadn’t even passed out and kept playing for weeks but it was obvious something was wrong and it turned out he had a way bad concussion and totally had brain damage and shit. Terry had probably sustained a ton of minor head injuries without even knowing it. Why did he even keep playing hockey? It was so retarded, no wonder Cerise wasn’t into it.
It had probably only been a few minutes but there was a huge crowd gathered at the door of Clyde’s and tons of people on the street were watching. Pointe-Claire village always had cops around so Terry figured this would be a good time to take his leave.
He crouched down next to Andrew and hissed at him. “You ever touch Karine or Christina or anyone… you so much as look at a woman ever again, you even breathe near one, I will fucking kill you.” He grabbed Andrew’s hair and lifted his head, causing him to groan in agony. “I’m serious you piece of shit. This was me at like ten percent. If I wanted I could snap your neck like a twig. Don’t doubt it. I will fucking kill you.”
He let go of Andrew’s hair and stood up. Andrew slumped into his own blood, moaning incomprehensibly. Terry looked up and saw a ton of people staring at him in shock.
Everyone was whispering to one another. “Oh my god, did you hear what he said? That guy’s probably like a wife beater or something!” “Totally, he probably deserved it.” “I know that guy, he’s a total asshole.”
Terry started walking to his car, which he’d left in the parking lot and the crowd parted for him, still whispering about the situation.
It sucked that Terry never seemed to want to hang out here. Cerise knew it must be weird for him staying at her house but he always seemed so eager to leave. Then again, maybe that’s how he always was. He always had hockey or something to go to. But seriously, did he have go see Karine every single time she texted? And did they have to text four billion times a day? Everyone was always so glued to their phones. Cerise would never become like that even when she got one, which she supposed she should do. She was so out of touch with the modern world.
She reached down to the couch and held up his pillow. Every morning he would fold his sheets and place everything on the side of the couch, so as not to disturb anyone. She wished he wouldn’t bother, that he would just make himself comfortable, less like a guest and more like someone who really lived here. They all loved having him, even her mom had said so. He filled and emptied the dishwasher every day, always kept the downstairs bathroom spotless and even offered to do their laundry. They always declined but she guessed he felt bad about having a billion loads. God, guys were so stinky. With only girls in the house they only had to do laundry once a week but Terry did a load practically every day. He usually kept his hockey bag in his car but he’d brought it in a few times to wash his gear and Christ, it smelled like a dead rat. Cerise sort of liked the smell of Terry’s sweat but there were limits to even her olfactory tolerance. With that thought in mind she buried her nose in his pillow and took a good whiff. It smelled like his natural musk but also his mango shampoo.
She spun around, her cheeks instantly flushing, and dropped the pillow to her feet. “Terry,” she stammered but then saw that something was wrong.
He stumbled towards her and she reached out to him, leading him to the couch, where he collapsed, seemingly stunned.
“Oh my god, your hands!” she exclaimed.
He held up his hands and looked at them as though surprised. They were a gory, bloody mess.
“Don’t move,” she instructed, rushing off to the upstairs bathroom to get their first aid kit.
She came back with the kit as well as a bowl of warm water and a towel. Without saying anything she placed his hands in the bowl. He didn’t protest. The water turned pink and then red. She pulled the hands out and inspected them. They were bruised and torn up pretty badly but she didn’t know what was serious and what wasn’t when it came to such injuries.
“I’m not really sure what to do,” she admitted.
“It’s ok, I know. Can you pass me my bag, I don’t wanna get your towel all dirty.”
“It’s ok, Terry, it’s just a towel.”
He nodded and dried off his hands. Sure enough the towel became a spotted mess. Reaching into the first aid kit, which Cerise had opened, he squeezed a ton of Polysporin onto his knuckles and then wrapped them in gauze. “I should put some ice on for the swelling.”
An instant later she was back with a bag of frozen peas, which she placed on top of his hands. They both leaned back on the couch and stared straight ahead.
“Should you go to the hospital? X-rays or whatever?”
“Nothing’s broken,” he said.
“So who’d you beat up?”
She sat up straight and looked at him in shock. “Why?”
“Karine told me, you know, what he did.”
“Oh my god! Did you like… is he ok?”
“He’ll live, which is better than he deserves.”
“What if he presses charges or whatever?”
“How can you be so sure?”
“’Cause like pride and stuff. Besides, even if he does, who cares? It’s worth it.”
“But you could get like, a criminal record!”
“Well what was I supposed to do?” he asked angrily, sitting up to face her. “Just let him get away with it? Karine won’t go to the cops so what the fuck?”
Cerise nodded and shrugged. In truth she understood why Terry had done it. She didn’t necessarily agree with his actions but only because of the potential consequences. Knowing Andrew had been hurt was very satisfying and a part of her even wished that Terry had killed him. “What’d you do to him exactly?” she asked, hoping for a gruesome play by play.
“Punched him in the face a couple times and punched him in the gut. I guess I hit him pretty hard ‘cause he lost a tooth and there was a ton of blood and he seemed groggy, like dazed or whatever. He might have a concussion.”
“Doesn’t that mean he has to be like monitored so he doesn’t fall asleep or whatever?”
“Who gives a shit?”
“I’m just saying if he turns out to be badly hurt his parents will like go to the police!”
“He’s not even gonna tell them.”
“How do you know?”
“Just ‘cause, fuck!” he exclaimed.
“Ok, relax, don’t get pissed at me!”
“Sorry,” he sighed and then leaned back again. “Ow,” he said, twisting around.
She lifted up his shirt and saw a dark bruise on his side.
“Shit, I don’t even remember that happening. He didn’t even hit me! God, I’m such an idiot.”
“Yeah, you are. That was seriously dangerous.”
“No I mean for not knowing. That he was a jerk.”
“Yeah well,” she shrugged, knowing that anything she had to say would only make things worse.
“I should have known. Like in grade 9 when he got that chick pregnant.”
“He got a girl pregnant in Sec 3?”
“Yeah, and he was so assholy about it. Like it was a big joke. He just laughed about it. He actually made racist jokes about her. I should have known.”
“What happened to the girl?”
“I have no idea. I never even met her.”
They sat there for a while and then Cerise turned on the TV.
Terry was just lying in the dark, unable to sleep when he heard someone creep into the room. God, it’d better not be Jules.
“Terry, are you asleep?” asked Cerise.
“No, I can’t sleep, you?” he said, sitting up.
She giggled and sat next to him. “Obviously not.”
She paused for a moment and then asked if his hands were ok and he said they were even though they were kind of throbbing. They sat there awkwardly for a bit and Terry wondered if he should make a move. That’s why Cerise had come downstairs, wasn’t it?