Sometimes the way he looked at me made me suspect he knew something. Of course he couldn't; he was the trusting sort who was convinced life was one big adventure. Maybe in a way that's true. It sure as hell is for me. But regardless, the way he squinted his eyes at me—or maybe it was against the sun--made me think he was hearing the thump-thump-thump of my heart beating against my ribcage. Or was that the rhythmic drumming of the music on the radio? I never could tell; they were both so loud.
“You want anything?” he asked me as I waited in the car for him to finish pissing and buying a drink.
“No, I'm good. Thanks,” I replied smoothly and turned up the radio.
Photo 2: A rocky desert scenery. Adam in hiking gear, sans a shirt, a backpack slung over one shoulder. He stands atop a boulder, looking pumped.
“Hell yeah, man! We did it!” came the celebratory cheer from Adam, who was making ridiculous manly faces at the camera to show his badassery at finishing the hike.
“Yeah. Good job, dude.” My voice remained as calm and sultry as ever, as I was not one to get overly excited one way or another. My taste in exciting occasions were selective and... eccentric. I glided my tongue over my chapped lips under the brutal afternoon sun and gazed intently at Adam's dances meant to mock the surrounding scenery that he bested. “I'm parched. You want to go grab a beer?”
Adam turned to me, his eyes filled with youthful, energetic life. They were dazzling. Hypnotizing. Enticing. “Fuck yeah, let's do it!” he exclaimed like it was the best idea he'd ever heard.
Photo 3: Adam partially submerged in a lake, walking further in. No other people around. Greenery surrounds lake tranquilly.
The curves of his muscles ripple through his back and I watch the water lap at his skin like a thirsty hound. Setting the camera down gently, I descend into the water behind him, watching him play and splash around. He looks at me with perfect ease on his face, a look of blissful innocence matching the quiet scenery. Or is that ignorance I see smiling at me through his teeth?
With slow, assured steps, I traverse the watery plane towards Adam. His body is broad, strong, and wet. I think he's taunting me with his slick, glistening body, moving it this way and that. He takes a few bold strokes through the water, tells me how great the water is.
“Where did you find this place? It's amazing! And total privacy. This is the perfect camping spot.”
“I've been coming here for a while. It's my regular spot. Never seen another person here my whole life unless I brought them here. It's been so long since I first needed its privacy...” I can feel the tangent threatening to spill off my tongue and reveal to him all. I see the confusion in his eyes piercing into me. I can't take the accusatory look of that beautifully innocent face.
I grab him and push down. I think he's laughing. He thinks it's a game. Then he doesn't. He signals that he's done with his turn being pushed under, but I hold steady. Then come the panicy spasms. And thrashing. Rays of sun bounce of off his convulsing back side, gleaming on the flawless skin. I admire the power under my hands and my ability to crush it. He tries to scream, and for a moment I think the popping bubbles say “Why?” Or is it “Please?”
I hold tighter until every spasm stops and no bubbles pop.
Photo 4: Lips to a puddle of water on a dirt path, drinking.
I feel the intensity of the physical exertion from dragging the body. Due to the concern of it floating on the lake's surface, I relocated it, like the others, to a destination where not only will it never be found, but where it ultimately will be consumed. Who am I to deprive hungry wildlife from free game? Regardless, I trudge along a dirt trail back towards wherever it is I left my car. The afternoon sun chaps my lips. I run my tongue along them. They taste like accusations and blood.
A pool of water in the dirt trail catches my attention, and without a second thought I kneel down to drink like I may never see water again. It rushes through my system and I feel rejuvenated. In fact, I feel elated. Accelerated. Excited. I take large indulgent gulps, and in a fit of pleasure dunk my face in. I alternate between wiping off my face and hands—wiping off the innocence, the ignorance, the pleads for mercy I still feel vibrating in my palms.
Photo 5: Gas station and prices, midday, people filling up their tanks.
I will drive. The wind will feel freeing in my hair and the air will smell like adventure and gasoline. People will smile and nod in a sense of camaraderie as we share the open road, and pull over together to share the same bathrooms, same gas stations, and same restaurants. I'll go hiking and meet someone new and make a friend and we'll take an adventure together, and it will be very exciting and very eccentric.
Photo 6: From the freeway, the 170 Hollywood Freeway sign, North.
I will take a hike in Los Angeles to meet my new friend.
This 2014 assignment for my Advanced Narrative Fiction class required me to choose 6 out of 10 photos provided to me by the teacher, and to write a story around them. I couldn't change the presented order of the 6 photos I chose, but I was allowed to change the timeline of the story, telling past, present, or future for any given photo. She encouraged us to play with time and POV. So while I did experiment with time and tenses, I didn't with POV because it didn't work for me for this story. Because this story was getting workshopped by the whole class, I put a little extra effort into it. I was inspired by the combination of serial killers, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. I purposefully left the gender ambiguous because I liked the idea of the reader not knowing, and letting their own judgement decide for them. I used a bit of gender bending, hinting towards both genders in different ways, and I like the sexual ambiguity you see in Anne Rice's vampire stories and in some cases of serial killers. Does the line between sexuality and killing blur for the killer? If I changed anything, I'd love to go back and add the "thump-thump-thump" towards the end, or some kind of other onomatopoeia throughout for repetition's sake and for the sake and showing more how the narrator thinks. Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this despite the restrictions, and my class seemed to absolutely love it as well, which made me happy.