I was 15 years old when I wrote my first short story. I have no idea what the impetus was for choosing the short story format, but if I had to guess, it would be because it would have seemed like less work since, you know, it was short. I wrote most of it in Study Hall and finished it at lunch, so, perhaps 2 hours was spent on this.
The experience was magical. Scenes and words were in my head and flowed from my fingers, pouring out like a gushing stream. I was so proud, and I showed it to three adults, all of whom I trusted, and all of whose remarks involved how violent it was, and I was made to see the guidance counselor as a result. I had no management.
I wish I could talk to 15-year-old Hugh. I wish I could tell him, as someone whose writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers and published books and other esteemed places that he had really good instincts. That his 800-word story that involved *checks notes* three scene changes, drug use, three homicides, teen pregnancy, and suicide was probably a little ambitious for his skill level, but that the plot was great for a first time effort, and that the plot twist at the end was ambitious as hell and something he should be proud of himself for trying.
I would tell him that he told when he could have shown, and that if all his knowledge of drug culture came from Miami Vice, maybe that shouldn’t be central to the story. I would also say how proud of him I was that he took a moral position in his writing, even if it is heavy handed, and that giving the drug dealer a Hispanic name was a bullshit move, but was no doubt also learned from Miami Vice.
Then I would have hugged him, and told him he could, at 15, do things and see things other people couldn’t, and that he could already tell a good story; that the people we trust don’t always know what to do with people like us who make things, and that sometimes they are afraid of us, and sometimes they are afraid for us, and because of that, we have to be careful who we let see the things that matter to us.
But mostly, I would have told him to keep going.
Content Warning: The following story is pretty violent to have been written by a 15 year old virgin who couldn’t bring himself to write out the word “fuck”, even if that is clearly what he was thinking, and involves depictions of murder and descriptions of suicide, but is pretty tame by modern movie standards.
* * *
David had been my best friend since kindergarten and I am a senior in high school now. David’s and my parents were out of town together and left us there so we could go to school Friday.
It was Friday night when, after drinking a ton of beer, David told me about his “enterprise”. He was taking cocaine and cutting it with roach poison so he could make more profit. I was appalled. The very idea of drug use repulsed me, let alone something as deadly as this. I knew David had been doing coke since 10th grade, but I couldn’t have believed him to be capable of so sadistic a crime as this. However, out of ignorance or fear, I ignored it.
Saturday afternoon, I went to his house and then we went over to the mall. That night, about 1AM, we pulled into a Circle K for gas.
“You pump the gas, Johnny,” he said. “I’ve got to use the john. Pull up and wait for me when you’re through.”
I pumped $10 worth and pulled up to the front of the store to wait for David. Rstless, I got out nd was pacing in front of the store when a move caught my eye.
Why was the store owner holding his hands in the air? Why was the woman screaming? WHY GOOD GOD? Why was David holding a gun? The old man handed David a wad of money, and David shot him in the forehead. His wife never stopped screaming. Wet sticky pieces ofher husband’s skull sliding down the wall and all this woman can do is scream.
“Shut up!” David yelled.
The woman continued to scream.
“Shut up, I said!”
David emptied the gun into her chest. The woman, not willing to die, lay writing on the floor.
I know all of this could not have taken more than 5 or 6 seconds, but everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.
David hopped in the truck.
“Drive, dammit! Drive!”
David gave me directions to his “place”. As I drove, my sphincter muscles were clenched tight with fear. Here I was, sitting next to a double murderer, who was calmly sitting there. Every time I would look at David, I instead would see that old woman, writing on the floor, spitting up pink blood.
David’s place was an old beat up shack at the old railyards I had heard about it for years, but this was the first time been there.
David was bad off. It had been six hours since his last hit and he looked pretty bad. He was shaking and breathing fast. Even though it was November 8th he was sweating like a cold water pipe in the middle of July.
“Did you see them? Did you see that woman scream,” David asked?
David had went pretty far before, but this was it. He had done the unthinkable. He had killed 2 innocent people in cold blood. I made up my mind. In the morning I was going to call the cops. I had a load of scholarships, and I did not want this to mess them up.
He was whimpering, crying with joy from the money and pain from his habit. It was too much. I flew into him.
“Dammit, why did you rob that store?”
“You killed 2 people for…” I counted the money “245 dollars. Why?”
“I needed the money to buy a rock. I can make over $2,000 with that.”.
I was disgusted. Then it was about the same old thing. Money.
“Look Johnny. Go to the mall. Just outside the door is a guy named Ramone. Tell him it’s for me, and give him the money. He will give you a package, OK?”
Why I agreed, I’ll never know. Maybe I was still in shock over what happened. Or, maybe I already had an idea of what would happen.
Well, I went to the mall and got his package. I also stopped by the hardware store.
I went into the shack. David was sweating bad. I gave him the package and he tore it open like a kid at Christmas. He cut a line and snorted his life-giving powder. Revolting how one’s life could be dependent on something so terrible.
He stood up, euphoric, for about 30 seconds. Then he toppled, fell, face first onto the floor, writhing and hacking at the fluid in his lungs. Amazing what effect roach poison and coke will have on a person.
If I live to be 100, I will never forget how he looked at me as if I had betrayed him. Well, maybe I had, but what I have done is wipe a little of the scum off the earth. Is that so bad? I know I must answer in hell for what I’ve done, but my girlfriend is pregnant, and I want my kid to grow up in a decent world.
The above was the author’s last words, found in a sealed letter beside his body. He shot himself through the head at approximately 4AM Sunday morning.