I hope you’ve found the time to keep up with all my letters thus far. I must admit that I would be a bit disappointed if you hadn’t, considering all the time and effort I’ve put into them. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you hadn’t.
These letters aren’t easy for me to write, Dionysus. Compositional exertions aside, most of these things I’d just rather forget. If I could, if it was at all possible, I would just leave them behind as rusty relics of a former life and be done with the entire ordeal.
But you and I both know that’s impossible.
I’ve relived, in as explicit detail as patchy memory has allowed, these things over and over again. It’s a senseless practice concerning a past that makes so little sense that it makes all the sense in the world.
Do you follow? Me neither, but let’s carry on with our exercise in nonsensical nostalgia anyways, shall we?
Remember that group of friends I was telling you about earlier? And how we did everything together? Well slowly but surely a split started to form and we began to splinter off into two camps.
The one group wanted to continue carrying on in very much the same manner we always had: playing video games, skateboarding, watching bad movies, surfing, and engaging in all sorts of mostly harmless and hilarious pranks.
The other group wanted to do all of the same things, only they wanted to get wasted beforehand whenever possible.
I’m sure you can guess which group I belonged to, Dionysus.
I wouldn’t say that it was all my doing, this schism, but I am at least partially to blame. I was at best a willing participant and at worst the ringleader of this new fringe group of the original fringe group.
We would gather daily at Lionel’s house. He lived close to our high school, which we routinely played hooky from, and his parents were exceptionally permissive (and even welcoming) towards us. It wasn’t unusual for twelve or thirteen of us at a time to spend the night, and we were allowed basically free run of the house (kitchen included).
Once we discovered drinking and smoking, it was commonplace for a few of us to show up loaded. I don’t see how his parents could have not known, but whether they did or not, they certainly never said anything about it. Whether out of decency or fear of being exiled from our safe house, however, we always drank at the park down the street. A bunch of teenaged hooligans with brown-bagged malt liquor and we never once got in trouble there (which is a miracle, considering this would be a regular outdoor bar for us for years).
So we’d get nice and liquored up and then go over to our friend’s house to eat peanut butter sandwiches and play computer games. I’m not sure why those things seemed so much cooler drunk, but they were, Dionysus. They really were.
Basically we were still doing all of the same things we did before, just some of us liked to add alcohol to the equation.
But slowly, almost imperceptibly, some of us began to change a little bit. Nothing too nefarious or extreme at that point, but changes still. One incident in particular strikes me as an early example of this.
It was the afternoon, and all of us were sitting in the living room, seriously preoccupied with having no preoccupation. There were about six of us, and four of us had been drinking. I forget why, but somebody we knew, who wasn’t a part of the core group, showed up at the house. He was an old friend of mine, Corky was. He was a good kid and always treated me fairly. He was tall and skinny and a ran cross country (which I couldn’t relate to at all), but he liked punk rock (which I could relate to immensely). The kid had had me over to his home a million times and his mother had made me dinner. He was a great guy. But Corky and I had stopped hanging out so much since I fell in love with you, Dionysus.
Blaine was also a friend of mine. I’d known Blaine since first grade, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I got in trouble because I would go along with his trouble-making schemes. I was always too timid to say no, but, in attempts to obscure my timidity, I would make myself accomplice to all kinds of adolescent escapades. I remember once, shortly after the Columbine shootings, Blaine thought it would be funny to throw a firecracker in a trash can during recess. This was in the sixth grade. If I’m being honest, it was pretty fucking funny seeing the teacher scream and hit the deck, so to speak.
That day, Blaine had been drinking too. So, as Corky approached the front door, somebody told Blaine that it would be hilarious if he just opened the door and punched Corky straight in the face. I’ve attempted, for many years, to remember for certain whether it was me who made the suggestion, but time and damage (and perhaps self-preservation) have prevented me from ascertaining for sure either way. Regardless, the other boys who had been drinking agreed that it was a famous idea; the two that hadn’t did not, but they were outvoted and overmatched.
So Blaine went to the door, opened it, punched Corky in the mouth hard, and shut the door as he and the rest of us who were drunk laughed hysterically. Of course, the ones who weren’t were absolutely mortified and disgusted with the preceedings.
It didn’t even cross my mind that Corky was a friend of mine or that he hadn’t done anything to deserve that or that it was such a wanton and cruel act that I myself may have suggested.
Because when I looked through the front window and saw Corky walking away, dazed, bleeding from his lip and holding his bruised cheek gingerly in one hand, all I saw was an object of my amusement. And when he turned around and looked at me with tearful, inquisitive eyes, I didn’t see Corky at all.
It was you I saw, Dionysus.
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. Today, Corky is a very good friend of mine, despite the fact that he lives in a different part of the state. Blaine and I are not close at all, despite the fact that we live in the same county.
P.P.S. I am unsure whether Corky knows my role in this incident. I believe that I tried to convince myself, for years, that it was something Blaine would have done with or without my encouragement. Perhaps he would have, as he was a first rate delinquent, but that doesn’t mitigate my role in the slightest. I’m sorry, Corky.