"What is WRONG with you, man?"
"Nothing, heh heh. Why do you ask?"
"Bro, you're sprawled out on the floor, covered in blood, moaning about some long lost love, and you don't expect me to ask you?"
Gareth lay sprawled out on the floor of the dormitory, scratched up and muttering about 'Julia'. Don't ask me who Julia is. I don't know. All I do know is that Julia was the reason we were here, which does not give me a very good impression.
Let me give you some background context. I'm a college student and live in a small apartment with my brother Gareth. I'm doing great here; I'm a good student at school, I have lots of friends, and I have a job on weekends. Gareth, on the other hand, isn't the best. He could be smart and helpful, but instead chooses to get in fights and cheat on tests and a whole lot of other bad stuff. I've tried to be sympathetic and sweet and encouraging. It doesn't work.
I helped him off the floor and onto our couch. It took him a minute, but he eventually snapped out of it, like he always does. He told me what had happened as he sent me soppy looks that made me want to be sick.
"I was coming home from the college when this dude pops up from nowhere. I recognize him, but I'm not sure where from. He grasps my hand with a grip so hard I can't wiggle free. He started to pull me along a dark alley, and when we reached the end he whispered something to me."
"Let me guess. He offered you money."
"It's different this time".
"That's what you always say".
"It was for a trinket he had gotten from his girlfriend. A ring, to be precise."
"Seriously? You went crazy for a girl's ring?"
"Not just any ring. Juliet's ring. He showed me."
"WHO is this Juliet you're always talking about?"
"The prettiest, sweetest, most wonderful girl-"
"Nevermind. I don't wanna know".
"I got it though. Wanna see it?"
"No, not really. Describe what you had to do to get it."
"I had to fistfight him."
"FIST FIGHT HIM? Why on earth would you do that? I know you aren't the most peaceful, calm person, but `I thought you'd know better than that!"
"I had... encouragement."
"What was SO encouraging to you?"
"The guy who I was fighting, he was Juliet's new boyfriend. However, I don't think Juliet was happy with this relationship, and he knew that. I guess he wanted to prove how tough he was by fighting me. The fight took about an hour, it was real sweaty. Mostly it was me punching him in the face and them him shoving me up against a wall. He thought I would break down. I didn't." He flexed his right arm. "I was so relieved when I got the ring. Back in good hands, y'know?"
"Ok, so when you won you got the ring. What would have happened if you lost? What happened to that guy you were fighting?" Gareth didn't look at me. Not a good sign.
"He- he is no longer with us".
"WHAT?!? You KILLED him?!?". Gareth still wouldn't look at me.
"He w-would have killed me otherwise. I was just d-defending myself."
"So you entered this fistfighting battle with this ominous guy, you knew this was a battle of life or death, but you participated anyway, just to get a small piece of metal?"
"He started it, he dragged me into it."
"That doesn't mean you should have- oh for god's sake, don't do that." He was kneeling at my feet, head in hands. As I said, sympathy does not work.
"Please don't tell the police. Please."
"Gareth, this is the first time you killed someone, right? This is different, more serious from the rest of the times, right?"
"W-well yes, b-b-but-"
"Gareth, there is no way I can let you get away with this. You're my brother, of course I don't want you to get arrested. But the police will find out sooner or later, and when they do they'll ask why you didn't confess, and why I didn't turn you into them. I love you like a sister should, but there is no way you are dragging me into this. Understand?"
Gareth shook viciously, and weakly squeaked "b-but I don't want to go to jail. So far, I've avoided it. If I go to jail, my hope of having a better future is ruined."
"Gareth, your future is a mess anyway. Yeah, ok, it is. Accept that. If I help you now, both of our futures will be threatened. I would be helping a criminal."
For the first time in the last five miutes, Gareth looked up at me. Silent teaars were running down his cheeks. Quietly, he said "ok. Report me. I don't want to hurt you like I've hurt so many other people."
I got up to leave.
"Wait, you're going right now?"
"Yes. The sooner we get it over with, the better."
Gareth didn't say anything.
I headed to the door, then stopped. "Oh, one more thing. I need the ring".
Gareth, who had been fingering the ring for the whole of our conversation, froze in place. "What? No WAY are you getting this!"
"I need it for my statement. I need to show the police what this was all about".
"No. Give it to me". Gareth surrendered the ring with a sigh of defeat, and for the first time I examined the small trinket that was the reason for all this trouble. It was, to say the least, underwhelming. You know when you twist up a piece of tinfoil into a circle and slip it around your finger? that's what it looked like, the only difference was it had a small gold gem on one side. Gareth was watching me from the other side of the room, his face red with shame. "Alright. I'm going now. Clean yourself up, you're still bleeding and crusted with mud. I'll be back in a few.
And with that, I walked out the door.