a bad influence
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I Wish I Was Alone. By Leigh Pierce.


She closes her gentle arms around my neck, pulling me closer. As I look into her eyes I see the friend that I have always looked for. Whether it was just for tonight, or for the rest of our lives, I just wanted someone who I could talk to. She was only supposed to be a friend, that's all it was ever supposed to be. In fact, that's all that I ever wanted.

Julia and I had been nothing more than acquaintances for a few years now. We had always gotten along but never had any chemistry to make us think that there was anything more than a friendship at hand. There never seemed to be any underlying feelings any of the times that we had hung out at the coffee shop together. We were just "there". At least until now. Now we were here.

We glide around in circles, feeling the rhythm of the music through the dance floor of the bar. As the song creeps to an end, we let go of each other, smile and take a seat up at the bar.

Through the haze of the smoke, I can see her eyes staring right through me, as if she is seeing something for the first time. I realize that this is wrong, but I just can't help it.

"Hey, Julia!"

I turn as I hear her name hollered across the hardwood floor. As she turns away from me to see who is calling for her, I glance next to me and see John laughing hysterically.

"And you didn't want to dance with her", he sneered as he tried to hold back his laughter.

"You're right, I didn't. I still don't think it was a good idea. I feel really bad about this."

"Jesus H. Christ! Don't worry about it. She told me to tell you to dance with her, and you said yes. So what in the fuck are you worrying about? Quit acting like such a pansy and drink up," he barely got the words out as he slugged down another shot.

Now, John was a character and a half. Even without a belly full of whiskey and a head full of coke, he was always running at full speed. Of course this is exactly what drew me to him so many years ago. And this is exactly what was pushing us apart now. After just too many years of trying to keep up with him, I realized that not everybody can accelerate on high. He knew me inside and out, and usually finished my sentences before I even started them. Which, trust me, gets very annoying. Especially when he has a way of turning my nice and wholesome thoughts into an adventure that usually leads to calling for bail money in the morning. That is why John knew exactly what I was worried about.

If Tatum finds out that I had danced with Julia, I'll lose her. I know it was just one dance, but she would never understand.

As the drinks and the night slowly draws to a not-so abrupt end, I knew by the look on Julia's face was what was coming next. Out at her car, I held the door open for her and felt her lips on mine as she slid by me and into the driver's seat. How in the hell did she sneak that in? I'm not sure why I'm surprised, the night was just heading in that direction. So as I headed in the other direction towards home, I knew without a doubt what I had just done. I had just killed what I had been searching for all of my life, the love and trust of someone special.

As I walk into the house, the phone rings and sends a shudder up my spine. Hesitantly, I pick up the receiver and almost drop it because my hands are shaking so badly.


"So, how was she?"

I paused suddenly, realizing that I now had to admit to what I already knew was a stupid mistake.

"Please Tatum, you don't understand..."

"What," she asks, "in the hell is there to understand? I can't believe that you would do that!"

"Shit. Just calm down and listen to me for once." Obviously my alcohol induced bravery outweighed my common sense. I cringed as heard myself speak.

"No. I'm through listening to you. Everything was going so good too. How can you just throw it all away for that little slut?"

I try to reply but my throat begins to tighten, just like when you were called on in class and didn't know the answer. I sit and wait for her to say something. At this point, it would just be easier to respond than to think of anything myself. With my thoughts, feelings, and half a bottle of rail whiskey swirling around inside of me, I couldn't decide if I should talk, cry, or just vomit. I wait even longer hoping she will at least start to yell again, but she doesn't.

I finally choke back the tears and the bile so I can talk, "You just don't understand." Instead of a reply, all I hear is the distinct click of her phone, telling me that she isn't going to ever reply. I drop my head in to my hands and listen intensely to the dial tone, wondering if maybe I should have vomited instead.

"So, the old hag of misery is a little pissed off again, huh? Or should I say, still?"

I lift my head up to see John standing over me with that sadistic smile on his face again, or should I say still.

I sit here wishing that instead of looking at him, I was alone. Like every other time in my life, I just wish I was alone. When I was twelve years old, I wished that I was alone in my bedroom painting a picture, putting together a model car, watching television, or just about anything instead of being down the road with John, throwing rocks at old lady Nelson's cat. Sure, it was one ugly cat and she had twenty-three more, but that doesn't make it right

"Just shut the fuck up John. This is all your fault again. Man, you always do this shit to me. Why in the hell can't you ever just leave well enough alone? Or even just leave me alone?"

He calmly looks over at me and says in a booming whisper, "Because I'm too damn important to you, that's why. If it wasn't for me, you'd be nothing. Or maybe a little more nothing than you already are. You're nothing but a worthless pile of..." I quickly cut him off by kicking his chair out from under him. He hits the ground with an aching thud.

"What the hell was that for, Mr. Personality?"

I rise up from my own, still upright chair, and try to ignore him. Which has never worked before but I'm praying that for some reason it will this time. I cross the room and make a point of stepping on his hand as I walk by to get to my room.

Sitting at my desk, I realize that just about everything in my life that has ever happened in a negative fashion, John had a major role in it.

I hear a small cracking noise coming from the corner shadow next to my night stand. I can't quite make out what it is, but recognize the sound of someone popping their finger back into place. Trying to ignore it, but being fully aware, I calmly remark, "I said that I don't want to talk to you right now, John."

"And why not?" I can actually hear the smile on his face.

"Could you please just leave me be for a little while? I've got some thinking to do."

I walk over to the edge of my bed and let my body crash down onto the mattress. Stuffing my head into the pillow, I try to imagine that I'm all alone.

I'm ten years old and I'm not taking the bus to school like I did every other day. I'm not sitting next to the new kid because there was nowhere else to sit. I'm not introducing myself to a wild-eyed boy named John even though I was normally too shy to talk to anyone. I'm just here, all alone.

Pretending to be alone doesn't help me block out the words falling from the mouth of the sociopath in the corner though. I just wish that he'd fucking leave.

Instead of leaving, he decides to turn on the CD player and crank it up to 300 decibels. Oh, for Christ's sake, just leave. Please, just fucking leave. Of course, I only think these words, because there is no point in saying them. He hasn't listened yet, so why should he start now. I reach over for the ashtray and hurl it at the stereo. The music stops with a deafening crash.

"What in the hell did you do that for?" he screams dodging the sparks thrown out from the now shattered, former piece of electronic equipment.

I try to calm myself down by taking a deep breath, just like the counselor showed me to do when I was a kid. I just want to be able talk to him instead of screaming back, because that's obviously not cutting it.

"I just don't want to get into this with you right now, man."

"Oh, yeah," he accuses, "and why the hell not?" He stalks around me, attempting to throw more fuel on the fire.

"First of all, I don't like you. Actually, I'm really beginning to despise you. Second of all, you're always getting me into this kind of shit! Every fucking day! You say that you won't, then don't even pretend to try to keep from screwing things up for me. But most of all, you made me lose Tatum."

"Ha ha ha ha..." his laughter trails off. "Would you just shut up about that already? What's the big deal anyway? I mean, at least you had a good time tonight. You sure as hell haven't had many of those as of late."

I can't believe he's actually saying this.

I'm fifteen years old and running away from home with him all over again. I never had anything to run away from, except the horrific shit storms created when we spent time together.

He knows how I feel about Tatum, hell, he was the one that told me to ask her out in the first place.

"And besides, that bitch stood you up anyway. You should have fucking killed her, not just upset her. I mean, you know she was out with old What's His Name. So why are you getting all pissy? I did you a favor, man! You should be grateful. You should be down on your knees thanking God that you met me."

"How can you say that? You know damn well that she said it was over between them. You know she would never cheat on me."

"Oh, that's right. Just like you said you would never cheat on her, right?"

I just want one clear shot at his head. God, what I wouldn't do if I could just kill this son of a bitch and never have to worry about him screwing up life again.

Ever since we were eighteen, and he talked me into going with him to "pick up a friend", I wanted him to be out of my life. Who was to know that his friend was a bag of crank that would send me up to E-Block for two years.

I just can't fucking deal with his shit anymore. He's just sitting there so calm, and he knows that I'm thinking about him. He always does. He always knows just what I'm thinking. He's either psychic or psychotic, but I don't think it much matters either way.

"Come on, let's just go grab a drink."

"Are you a damn idiot, John? If we wouldn't have went out for a drink tonight, none of this would even be happening right now. Hell, I never even would have started drinking in the first place if it wasn't for you." My head falls into my hands and feels like it is going to split in two. My hands start shaking from the migraine creeping up from the back of my head and burrowing its way into my skull.

"So, the headache returns. You know, you've got to loosen up. One of these days that headache is gonna' make you just snap. I swear you're gonna' crack one of these days."

. . .

I remember sitting with my parents when I was a kid, just cherishing the time until we actually had to be apart from one another. Back then, being away from my family was something that I could never have imagined. And since I was an only child, all I ever wanted was to spend every waking moment in the smiles and happiness of my mother and father. I could never have guessed that by the time I was a teenager, they would ask me to leave and not return. Who would have thought that something as simple as sitting next to a person on a bus, could completely ruin your life forever. I just wish that I could go back and tell my parents that what happened to me wasn't my fault, and it wasn't theirs either. I long for the respect that they once had for me. Instead, they think of me as a virus in their bloodline. They wish that I would change my name so that they wouldn't have to respond to all of the questions about if they're related to "that guy in the police report". I'm sure at times they wished that I had never been born. My aunt even told me that they had removed all of the pictures of me from their walls and photo albums. All because one day I sat down on a bus and said, "Hi, are you new here?"

. . .

"So, the headache returns. You know, you've got to loosen up. One of these days that headache is gonna' make you just snap. I swear you're gonna' crack one of these days."

"No, John. Not one of these days, right now."

I jump up from the bed and grab him by the throat. He struggles to get away but I'm holding onto him with every ounce of strength that I have. He seems to be mocking my every move. He stops resisting, and just smiles as I hold him by the throat and try to squeeze the life out of him.

If he's going to ruin my life, it's going to be from me killing him, and finally taking back what's mine. My life.

I choke him harder and harder, his eyes glimmering with something somewhere between happiness and hatred. His only reaction is that sadistic smile.

He looks me straight in the eye, mocking my every movement, and continues to smile. "Yup, you've definitely fucking lost it."

How does he stay so calm through all of this? He knows full well that I am going to kill him, and that nothing can stop me. That's probably why he isn't fighting back, other than just holding on to my neck, reaching out for some reality. He knows that his life is over. And he just stands there, smiling at me. But it's over. It's over right now.

I pull my fist back, "I'm sorry John." I thrust my fist into his face as hard as I possibly can. I know that I have never hit anyone or anything that hard in my life. I feel the bones in my hand crack as it connects with the rigid bone in the bridge of his nose. The force of the blow seems to send vibrations through my arm and straight into my head.

All of the life drains from John's face as his limp body slides down to the floor in a pile. I realize that it's finally over. It's all over. There is no turning back now.

I remember as a kid, sitting on the beach next to my father. The soft sand between my toes, and an oversized bath towel under us. The waves rolling in, the gulls squawking overhead, and the warm sun turning my pale skin a rosy pink. My father looking down at me as if he was looking into the future, seeing all that I could accomplish. His smile warmed me more than the sun ever could have. The comfort and overall joy of that day was never matched again. At least until now.

I lower myself down to the floor and frantically search for my cigarettes in my pants pocket. I finally dig them out and light one as I crack open the seal on a fresh whiskey bottle. I let my head roll back and I watch the smoke roll out of my mouth and into the light thrown down from the new moon outside. I begin to drift off, fully relaxed by the complications of this new predicament that I now find myself in. Staring out of the bedroom window, all I can say is, "It's all over. It's finally over. Now I'm alone. I'm finally alone."


He looks down at the fallen body of his
enemy, but notices that it is no longer
there. The only thing that he sees is the
shattered mirror on the floor, and the
shreds of broken glass lodged deep into
his bleeding knuckles. He smiles
sadistically as the lit cigarette falls from
his mouth.



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