Chapter 27

Rustic Arms is a lower income living facility that somehow all my memories of are at night. It’s on the outskirts of St. Clairsville, like it’s hidden from the richer people in city limits. We spent a lot of time there.

One night me Sal and Craig picked up some alcohol from Sal’s Aunt who lived there. It was getting late. I was the only one who ever had a curfew. It was 11:30 then, and went up a half hour every year until my senior year, when I finally didn’t have one.

I stood in the background while Sal paid his of-age aunt for the 40s we so frequently drank. King Cobra, Old English, and occasionally St. Ides. There seemed to be tension throughout the exchange. There was a random white dude sitting on the couch. I didn’t know why he was there, but something about his energy made us uncomfortable. I was relieved when we left.

We stood in the parking lot and drank our 40s smoking blunts, talking about whatever teenagers talk about in 1998.

I zone out and glance into the dark woods surrounding the projects for just a moment. When I come back to our conversation, all I see is Sal’s Timberlands hanging out the window. He dove in head first after he saw what was going on inside.

Apparently the white dude was paying to eat his Aunt out, if you can believe it. As soon as we left, he went down. Her nephew was not having it. Me and Craig rush in through the front door, but when we get inside it’s too late.

Sal is busting ashtrays and 40 bottles against the guy’s head. Blood is everywhere. The bloody white dude makes eye contact with me, as if sensing I’m the compassionate one, but there’s nothing I can do. I was in shock.

Craig just stood there, continuing to smoke the blunt, watching the violence. I should’ve known then he was a sociopath.

We hop in Craig’s car and hightail it out of there. As we’re leaving, ambulances and police cars speed to the crime scene, passing us on the other side of the road. I thought for sure we were going to jail.

Craig drops me off just before my curfew, gives me his pager number, and tells me to hit him up. This traumatic experience would be the catalyst for our ‘friendship’.

As for what happened to the dude with the busted skull, I never found out. Maybe he’s reading this right now. Too late for him though. The statue of limitations on an assault in Ohio is seven years, plus we were minors. That’s if he didn’t die. In which case, I take this whole story back and it’s entirely fiction. I promise.