Using long strides and swinging arms, Jared Black walks towards his tormentor. It’s his last chance and he knows it. With his back turned and i-pod buds in his ears, Frank Willis doesn’t notice Jared until a feeling of unease creeps down his spine. He turns his head and scoffs when he notices who’s standing behind him. It takes another second to process that Jared is dripping wet from head to toe.
For several seconds, neither one speaks. Frank tries to hide his confusion. Jared is dressed in jeans and a dark green sweater with white sneakers, all of it dripping steadily on the concrete.
“Dude, you are soaking wet.”
Jared gives his own smirk and answers, “Jumping off the Deception Pass Bridge will do that.”
“It’ll kill you too.”
“That was the idea.”
Frank’s eyes widen and he takes a step back.
“What are you saying?“
Jared strides forward, causing water to spurt from his shoes.
“I’m dead, Frank. Dead. Just like you wanted. I thought you should be the first to know. So, you can halt whatever embarrassment you were planning tomorrow, because it’s over. You win.”
Frank notices the white-green color of Jared’s sagging skin and his hollow, black eyes. Stumbling backwards, he points a finger towards Jared.
“That’s wrong, man. If you’re really dead, it has nothing to do with me. They were just jokes, Jared. Nobody kills themselves over a few stupid jokes, dude.”
“A few? Are you kidding me, Frank? You and your friends were after me daily for three months. Messages and pictures sent to my phone. Myspace. Facebook. At work, our dorm room, even my parents, Frank? Every day and night. For. Three. Months. When was it going to stop?”
Frank continues to stumble more than walk backwards, turning his head side to side, looking for someone to notice, to help. Finally, he backs into the large oak tree in the middle of the quad. Feeling the rough bark on his back seems to spark him.
“Hey, you brought it on yourself. You think anybody wants to see you do…those…things with another…guy?”
Jared can’t help but smile. “Apparently you thought so. You were the one who filmed us and put it online for everyone to see.”
“Yeah! To show people what I had to put up with.”
“What exactly did you have to put up with? I never came on to you, never flaunted anything. It was an accident when you walked in on Greg and me kissing. You were the one who came back early.”
“My class got cancelled, dude. It was a freak thing. Emphasis on ‘freak’. You think I wanted to see that, to know that you were, were…”
Jared steps forward, tilting his head. “Were what? Gay? Why should you care? I was never attracted to you.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“Then what does? We were friends, Frank, roommates. Why was I suddenly so different?”
“Because homosexuality is a sin. It says so in the Bible.”
Jared nods and rubs his chin. “True. It does say that. You follow everything in the Bible, Frank? You still a virgin? You ever use the Lord’s name in vain? You ever-“
“It’s not the same and you know it.”
“Why isn’t the same?”
“Because it’s not. It’s disgusting.”
“That’s why you did those things? Taping Greg and me and broadcasting it? Trying to make others turn against me? For what? What exactly was your reason for doing that? What did you want from me?”
“I wanted you gone, you sick-“
“Well, now I am. Gone forever. Was it worth it? I’m dead. One less gay man to deal with, right? But, why did you care? Why is being gay so ‘disgusting’?”
“Because it is. Man and woman. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
“A lot of things are ‘supposed to be’, Frank, but they’re not and most people handle it just fine. But, why is being gay so upsetting? Ask yourself, if you hadn’t walked in the room that afternoon, would we still be friends?”
“It doesn’t matter. I would’ve found out eventually.”
“And you know this how? I was a freshman, Frank. Not even twenty years old. No matter what you think now, I was a good person.”
“Hey! This was your decision, not mine.”
“Yeah, it was my choice. But, you helped. I Facebooked my goodbye. You see those flashing lights behind me? Now everyone will have an opinion about you. Good luck with that.”
Inspired by so many senseless deaths lately...
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