“Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.”
The familiar voice commanded me. I could feel the anger in that voice growing with every word. I wasn't asleep, but I let him believe I was. Truth is I hadn't slept in days, maybe weeks. When I was first brought here I tried to sleep, begged my mind and body to comply. Sleep never came. That made him happy. He enjoyed watching me struggle with everything that had happened. Everything I had done. I didn't want him to enjoy anything.
I started playing a game with him. I would sit in the dark and wait until I heard his footsteps approach the door. I would relax my entire body and feign sleep. This made him angry. I liked seeing him angry. At first I would sit up acting surprised to see him hovering over me. One of those times I was too slow. He kicked me in the stomach. The game had changed. Now, I lay motionless as he kicks me and beats me with his fists. The game ends when I cry out in pain or he grows tired. He always won at first, but I was still happy. His anger was invigorating. I win most of the time now. I've learned to block out the pain or scream in my mind when it becomes overwhelming. The more he beat me the more I enjoyed it. Like I said, his anger was invigorating.
The last command startled me. Not a command, a plea. There was something different about his voice this time. I hadn't noticed it at first. Sadness? Yes sadness, he had been crying. Still, I waited for the familiar sound of the food tray being thrown against a wall. I prepared for the impact of his foot. Neither came.
He sat the tray on the floor. I listened and waited, still playing at being asleep. He began walking to the door. No. No. No. He's not playing the game. I need him to play. I need his anger. It's all I have. I could feel my own anger growing with each step he took away from me. He can't do this. He has to play.
I opened my eyes and watched as he made his way to the door. I wanted to scream. I wanted to beg him to hit me. I only watched. He paused as he reached the door. He glanced over his shoulder at me. He's going to play. I could feel the excitement building up. He's going to play. I imagined a hatred growing in him. He's going to play. He needs this as much as I do. He's going to play.
I watched as he turned around and leaned against the far wall. He slowly slid down until he was sitting with his knees pressed against his chest. He hugged his legs and rested his forehead on his knees. He began to cry. This wasn't part of the game. What was he doing? Where his demons finally catching up to him? How did we get here? Mike and I had been friends once.
I guess this all began six years ago. I had just started college and needed a job to pay the bills. Mike Jenkins was the manager of a local convenience store and had called me to schedule an interview. I pulled into the parking lot twenty minutes early. I showed up early for everything. It was one of those things my dad had programmed into my brain. Plus it gave me time to smoke a cigarette. I liked to lean on the hood of my car and smoke. I thought it was cool. Hell, I thought I was cool, leaning on the hood of my 1977 cherry-red Chevy Nova checking out the ladies as they passed. Not that I would ever talk to them. Women scared and confused me.
I waited outside for ten minutes. I remember making my way to the counter and looking up only to be stopped by perfection. Standing at the register was perfection. I was mesmerized by her blueish green eyes. Her dark brown hair that fell in waves, coming to rest just beyond her shoulders. Her smile comforting woes, that until that moment, I was unaware I had. I remember seeing her mouth move as she said something to me, but I was deaf to the world. I must have stood there dumbfounded for five minutes.
“Are you alright?”
Her voice was soft, caring, and concerned. I was in love. In love with a girl named Rachel, at least that's what her name tag declared. I knew in that moment that I would do anything to be near her. I knew I would do anything for her.
Rachel Evans and my undying need to please her. That's what got me into this mess. Now I'm laying here broken and bruised, chained to a wall. My once-best friend Mike is curled up in a ball crying like an infant. And Rachel, well Rachel is dead.