We told you not to light the match, but you did it anyway. You were so drunk you couldn’t understand yourself. We tried to stop you. You said you wanted to do it. So you did it.
We hid from the fire department when they arrived at the Celery Fields, ten minutes after the fire started. We can still smell the putrid stench of burnt hair and seared skin. We can hear the homeless mans’ screams echo in our minds. We can still close our eyes and remember him waking up from his sleep, already engulfed in gasoline fueled fire. The flames licked vertically along the edges of the roof as the entire gazebo was engulfed. The 30 year old picnic bench turned to ashes. You were laughing, holding the matches. We couldn’t believe our eyes when you dowsed everything in gasoline, including him. As quickly as the fire started, it ended.
You were too drunk to remember, but we remember. We remember you threating us, if we told anyone what we saw; you would do the same to us. Finally, you passed out. Sarah’s brothers loaded you in the bed of her Ford Pickup. No one wanted to take you home after what you did. So they dumped you behind the closest McDonalds. When we saw you next, you were drinking again. Jimmy thought about knifing you for what you did, but we told him to wait. We realized if we kept giving you Whiskey, you would pass out fast and then we could leave. It wasn’t unusual to see someone passed out drunk at a place like Ackerman Park.
Three months go by and a few of us are riding our four wheelers on top of the Celery Field Hill. You hear about it, and ride yours up to ours. Jimmy dares you to take the Trail all the way to the dead end. You were already drunk, at least 12 bottles in. You wanted to put money on it. Jimmy bet a hundred. When you disappeared down the hill, we all bet on your life not your money.
You didn’t know that there was barbed wire fence at the dead end. You found out quick, after you couldn’t stop in time. The barb wire made a perfect line across your neck, almost all the way through. Your intoxicated blood was squirting out of your severed trachea, covering your white tee shirt. We have that memory etched into our brains too.
We all won the bet we placed on you. We bet you saw the homeless man appear before you, as you hit the wire. The Gates of Hell opening for you as you drive through; severed head and all. But you said you wanted to do it, so you did it.
We knew if we told, you would still find a way to kill us, so we didn’t. We would rather not think about it, but weeks after we couldn’t help but notice the vultures circling, where we knew you were. We would all sit on top of the Celery Fields hill and talk about you, watching the vultures.
We knew you had a rough life. Your parents were going to put missing posters out for you, but they didn’t. Your dad is abusive and your mom loves pain pills. We knew you were taking pain pills. We knew your mom practically fed them to you. Your dad would take you out back and beat you until you couldn’t fight back. Sometimes he would give you a shovel and make you dig a hole big enough to be your grave. Your hands would bleed, and you would wonder if today was the day your dad would come out and put you in your grave. That was when you were fourteen.
You were really fucked up by twenty one, selling beer to minors. You went away for years. When we saw you, you had changed from PTSD. Then you came to us, wanting attention. Said you needed friends, someone to care. We thought there was hope for you. Then you turned to the bottle again, twist top and child proof. Then you burned that man alive. We will be the only ones who know you for what you are, a murderer. Who is now in the stomachs of vultures.