How it all Ends.......

Submitted into Contest #203 in response to: Write about two friends getting into a fist fight.... view prompt

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American Contemporary Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I woke up three days later bruised and groggy from the painkillers they gave me at the hospital. The loudspeakers buzzed with the usual calling for Dr. Kildare stuff. With a tired hand that touched a throbbing face, my mind still cloudy. A face now bandaged and non too appealing. I lay back against crisp white pillows. I slept, only to dream about things left in the past that were so far gone then dredged up again. Faded memories I thought had all been buried. Until three nights ago........


"Well look who's here if it isnt Jake Ryans. Long time no see." A voice spoke above and from the back of my head. The bar was beginning to fill up as drinks were brought to our table. Three of us were there that night. Corey Jones, white haired and skinny once our football captain ordered the first round. Ricky Withers sat next to him, head of the class, a straight A student. The gathering was small. We arranged the little reunion through Facebook. After several weeks of deliberation, we chose Peppy's Bar as our meetup spot on a Saturday night to catch up on old times. Myself, Jake Ryans, a sales rep for motorhomes. I wasn't rich, worked long hours and kept my nose clean. I had a few relationships along the way staying friends with my ex's and took care of my dog Rex. Rex was a 10 year old boxer mix who liked to eat and sleep, typical of senior dogs.


"Good to see you too Ricky. Still with Mariah?" I asked. I saw posts that he had gotten married awhile back to some hottie in real estate.

"Naw, we divorced two years ago no kids thank god. Got the cottage and she got the rest lucky bitch." Bittered voice lowered as he took his beer. He plumped down heavily next to me. I nursed my glass. Not knowing what to expect. Maybe a hindsight or a passing moment of what? The sky outside began to darken. That wasn't the only thing.


"Sorry for that shit happens." I never knew what to say to those things as the waiter brought out some shots of tequila. Corey sat there with lines of age edged into his face. He didn't look good. Years of substance abuse and undiagnosed mental struggles caught up with him. I felt sorry for him. Had I known how much he was struggling, maybe I could have helped him somehow. That was me, the nice guy next door.


*****


Talk of old times and memories went on for a bit as the bar began to fill up. The band started playing classic country music. Corey who had been sullen for the most part suddenly spoke, bringing up a sordid piece of the past. I squirmed and began to feel warm while Ricky's coal darkened eyes bore into me. Intensely. The deep part of my gut tightened as flashbacks floated in and around my brain...'Please don't let this get nasty, it was 42 years ago', I wanted no animosity. This was supposed to be a quiet little reunion among old buddies from HS.


"Whatever happened to Jane? Man that chick sure was something else. I heard a few tales about her sleeping with just about everyone. I often wondered if that were lies or truth. Anyone know what she is up to these days? Corey asked. He guzzed his beer down thirstily, then drank the tequila shot. His lips cornered up tightly with nicotine stained teeth. 'Why would he bring that up now?' I wondered. Then the flashbacks of my actions slowly rolled into the far corners of my brain. Vaguely recalling images of that night of the game. Maybe it was the liquor confusing my thoughts I don't know. I wasn't liking the change of converse right now. My fingers then began to fidget with my cell phone. Another round came to the table.


"Jane Bristol? The red head? I have no clue." Ricky studied my face then. He continued.

"No recollection at all ? I heard you did her in the football shed after the last game. She was pregnant apparently too. um, yep she had an abortion." He said. he knew he was in full control. No one spoke and all eyes were on him, including the bartender Danny and his two bouncers. We were a hop away from the bar area. The shift in mood became evidently uncomfortable more so for me. Corey started this whole confrontation of the past. I glared at him. He couldn't care less. Looking at him was for nothing more than pity and contempt. . My jaws tightened as I sat staring down into my half glass of brew.


"I dont know what your talking about. And that isnt very nice to say those things about someone from what 40 years ago?" I then excused myself, suddenly saying I had to pee. Once inside the washroom I splashed cold water on my face and looked in the mirror. 'How did we get so old?' I asked the face that looked back. The mirror with a few cracks - dirtied with age. Like us. The mirror didn't look much better and had no answer. I solemnly went back to the table.


Things began to take a sinister turn as Ricky talked incessantly on about Jane.

"Well I know for a fact she was knocked up and had the abortion. I am the one who paid for it. I took her to that awful clinic over on Baysview." He crossed his arms glaring at me now. Hatred bearing into me like fire on a stick ready to strike. The music got louder. People began to dance as my head began to feel dizzy. I wanted to go home and get the hell out of here. "Have you any idea how upset she was that day?" She made me promise never to say a word to anyone, not even you."

"Stop that Ricky. What do u want me to say?" I got up then, aggressively pushing the chair back. The bartender looked over at us as if he were expecting a fight right there at the table. Wouldn't be a first time. Danny had his two bouncers on stand-by, they would be ready if necessary. His large tattooed biceps would work as well if a fight occurred.


"She told me you fucked her - then left her there high and dry. She tried to talk to you after that but you brushed her off in denial. Your a jerk and an asshole." Ricky got up as his shoulders tensed. The vibes were as dark as a lion on its prey in the jungle. "Ok, take this outside now." Bouncer Joe then appeared, pointing to the door while patrons watched in anticipation. The three of us then got up and walked away towards the exit to the parking lot. I felt warm as drops of sweat began to emerge on my forehead. I wiped them away with the table napkin.


"Look Ricky... can't we just drop this? It was a long time ago and I don't remember much back then. Jeez chill." I said. Neon bar sign flashed behind us in the retro yellow red and orange lighting. The parking lot was empty aside from the two people smoking weed in the far end of the bar near the garbage bins. The scent lingered in the air as we stood facing each other in a standoff mode. Corey lit a cigarette standing back like he wasn't giving a shit what happened to either one of us. He started the whole ordeal. Well.....then again, maybe not.


"Why would you treat her that way? She was a decent kid. Okay a bit loose you might say but a lot of girls are in HS. She was kind. Did you know she had a scholarship for law school in Boston lined up?" Ricky's voice lowered as he spoke. He etched towards me in fight mode as round angered fists faced me. I wanted to go home to my dog, watch the ball game and go to sleep. I doubted that was going to be the case.


Thunder lit the darkened sky as rain began to pelt down on us that hot July night. Ricky slugged me first, not hard enough that time. I gave him a right hook on the jawline - he teetered back. He had more to drink than I had; lucky me. Poof. He threw another blow violently to my head. It hurt. My head pounded and I could feel blood dripping. We tangled up after that. More punching. Couple of karate kicks until two bouncers came to break us up. Ricky wore construction boots with steel toes. I was on the ground at that point - someone had called 911. Ricky had kicked me in the head a few times until I gave up. Uncle. We used to say that when we were kids in surrender.


After that the events that followed were a blur as rain soaked down on us. I was taken to the hospital. Took a few stitches with other wounds cleaned up. "What the hell happened here? Anyone pressing charges?" I recalled a cop asking while I was being hauled into the back of the ambulance. My ears hurt. I had incurred a concussion the doctor told me. Nobody got charged and the fight was written up as a bar brawl.


*****


Now I lay here, probably lucky to be alive. Nurses came and went making sure I could eat and that my concussion was settling down so I could go home. I had already pulled out my phone and googled Jane to see if she was anywhere on social media but no luck. I even called some of our old friends to ask about her. Again no luck. It was like she had been a dust in the wind; the passing of a cotton ball and gone into the dusk never to be seen or heard of again.


"Yea mom, I am ok. Naw, just a brawl with some of the old boys it's fine. No, don't bother coming down - I have to get back to work Monday. Okay, no problem, say hi to dad for me. Sure, see you then." I hung up the receiver. I wasn't up for visitors. Corey never bothered to find out how I was. Beyond the pity I only felt contempt for him now. I wouldn't see either of them ever again anyway.


My heart felt heavy and sad. Never in my entire life did I ever feel that this would ever have come up again - so suddenly and angrily. I dont know what happened to Ricky after that night. Let the lion rest. I just hoped Jane somehow managed to move on with her life and find the happiness she deserved.




June 17, 2023 15:42

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