Shane and I have been friends since before I can remember.
When we were young, we lived on the same street, separated by only three houses. We grew up going to the same school and were lucky enough to be placed in the same classes throughout most of our academic journey. We also had a normal habit of spending evenings in each other’s company, playing different games in my front yard.
My parents did not like Shane. They said he was a bad influence.
I suppose it all began one warm summer evening in late July. Shane and I had only just completed grade two and were enjoying our time off before the dreaded return in September.
We had been in Shane’s front yard, attempting to catch crickets (of which there were many), jumping around in the long and unkempt grass. Our efforts, however, seemed to be of no avail, for the creatures were simply too fast.
“I’m bored,” I complained with a sigh “we’ll never catch one!”
Shane agreed after having failed one final attempt to capture a bug.
We sat in silence for a bit on an old and decaying picnic table placed in the center of the lawn.
“I’ve got an idea!” Exclaimed Shane with sudden enthusiasm, “Come on, follow me! I promise it’ll be fun!” he added excitedly after jumping down from the wooden structure.
I followed suit with curiosity as we ran side-by-side up the street. Shane suddenly stopped in front of a cluster of trees and from between their trunks and leaves, I saw a small and neat looking house. It was Michael Porter’s house.
Michael Porter was only a year younger than us. He was smart, but quite vulnerable. Kids liked to pick on him at school and call him names because of his small stature and unnecessarily large glasses.
“What are we doing here?” I asked with visible confusion.
Shane shrugged. “I thought it might be fun to hide Mikey’s bike.”
“Why?” I wondered.
“Because it’ll be fun!” replied Shane "Plus, the look on his face when he finds it missing will be priceless!” he added with a small chuckle before placing his fingers in circles around his eyes, attempting to recreate Michael’s large glasses, and said in an unnaturally high pitch: “Uh...where’s my bike? Where is it...oh, ouch!” As he walked around, pretending to knock into objects and fall down.
I giggled at Shane’s impersonation, deciding to take part in his scheme no matter how pointless it all sounded.
At that moment, Michael himself exited the house through the front door and made his way towards the red bicycle that was already lying on its side in the front lawn.
“Well how are we supposed to get it now?” I asked “We’ll have to wait till he goes back in.”
“I’ve got a better idea.” whispered Shane with a malicious grin “Just follow me and no matter what happens, grab the bike before we leave.” he instructed.
I nodded, uncertain about what he exactly had in mind, but deciding that it would all work out in the end.
After seeing my confirmation, Shane began to run towards Michael who was standing beside his bicycle.
I immediately remembered the instructions that I had been given, following behind him at a similar pace.
Michael noticed us as soon as Shane emerged from the trees. He looked horrified, but didn’t move a muscle, still holding onto the handlebars of his beloved bike.
I expected Shane to go immediately for the toy, but instead, he went straight for Michael, pushing him down onto the ground.
Shane was now on top of the smaller boy, one hand attempting to hold both of Michael’s flailing arms in place and the other covering his mouth to dampen the boy’s terrified calls for help.
For a minute, I stopped in my tracks, shocked at what Shane had just done. However, after hearing him yell “The bike! Get the bike!” I suddenly remembered my task and picked up the two-wheeler before turning and running as fast as I could in the direction we had emerged from.
It wasn’t long before Shane had caught up to me, helping me to support the small but slightly awkward bicycle.
We continued our fast pace up the street, not daring to say a word until we had reached the curb. We both knew that Michael wouldn’t come after us, but we still wanted to make sure that we were far enough away from the house in case anybody else had witnessed the incident.
“Why did you do that?” I asked first, still slightly out of breath.
Shane shrugged. “Just came over me in the moment, I guess.”
I didn’t push for any further explanations, looking down at the now-dirty and taken red bicycle.
“Ugh, he bit my hand!” exclaimed Shane suddenly as he opened his right palm to reveal a set of relatively deep teeth marks.
“Does it hurt?” I asked curiously.
“A bit, but it’s okay.” replied Shane before taking a hold of the bicycle’s handlebars and beginning to roll it up the street.
“Where are we going?” I asked cluelessly.
Shane looked mad. “To get rid of this piece of junk.”
“I thought we were just going to hide it.” I said, confused.
“Well it won’t do much good now. He saw us take it.” answered Shane “Plus, I don’t really want to return it after what he did to my hand.”
I thought it was also unfair that Shane had pushed Michael down, but decided it would be best to keep quiet.
It wasn't long before we arrived at a small lake surrounded by a wooded area in our community. Without warning, Shane picked up the bike and threw it into the water with as much strength as he could muster. It didn’t get far, but he seemed satisfied and turned away, beginning to walk back in the direction we had come from.
I did not move, simply watching as the red bicycle slowly began to sink into the water and thick mud that coated the bottom of the lake.
“Shane, what if Michael tells his parents about what we did? What if our parents ask about it?” I wondered, suddenly feeling a pain in my stomach.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Shane turn around. “Lie” He simply answered without showing much of any type of emotion.
I decided not to question him further.
When I got home later that evening, my parents were already waiting for me at the kitchen table.
“We just received a call from Mrs. Porter, Michael’s mother,” began my mom in a stern tone of voice.
“I didn’t do it!” I replied quickly, remembering what Shane had told me. Lie. “It was somebody who looked like us, I think. I’ve seen them around before. Have you?”
My parents did not seem to be buying my story at all and I began to panic.
“Mrs. Porter called and said that you and Shane pushed Michael down onto the ground and ran away with his bicycle.” repeated my mother.
I flinched. Hearing it put that way made me understand how dreadful our behaviour had really been. “But I told you, it wasn’t us,” I replied once more, my voice cracking in despair “it was...it was the people who looked like us.”
I could feel the tears coming, but fought hard to keep them from falling. I stared down at my feet, noticing that the ends of my pants were all muddy from the lake.
My father suddenly exited the room, leaving me alone with my disappointed mother.
“Where is Michael Porter’s bicycle?”
At that point, I couldn't hold myself together any longer, guilt consuming me and I broke out into tears, admitting everything.
When I told Shane about it, he said that I’d let him down by telling the truth. I asked him how his parents had reacted and he replied that he had only gotten a sharp slap on the cheek.
“I don’t know why they cared,” I heard him mumble afterwards “they lie all the time anyways.”
You could say that life went on as usual from that point on, filled with its normal ups and downs. At least, that was, until a mild night in grade 11.
It was nearing the end of the school year and somebody had decided to throw a big party to celebrate the beginning of summer.
Shane did not give me a chance to think before accepting the invitation. He assured me it would be a fun evening. I supposed there was no harm in attending the celebration, so I complied without showing much reluctance.
When we had arrived at the event, close to thirty people must have already been there.
Shane immediately made his way to the supply of alcohol, urging me to join him. I decided to refuse his offer, explaining to him that one of us had to stay clear-minded.
He didn’t press the issue, simply consuming the strong substance himself.
That’s about the time when Jonas McKane showed up at the house in his brand new car. It was his pride and joy, so to say. He simply could not stop boasting about its pristine interior, its unbeatable speed, its classy look and so on.
“Then let us take it for a spin!” laughed Shane, taking everybody by surprise.
Jonas looked confused.
“Since you can’t seem to shut up about how great it is, then let us take it for a spin so we can see for ourselves.” repeated Shane
Jonas was uncertain at first, but gave in eventually, confident enough that his car would “blow our minds”.
When Shane got ahold of the keys, he left the house immediately, making sure that I was following behind him.
We both got into the car, Shane taking the driver’s side.
“Well, I’ll give it a seven out of ten for interior.” I laughed, looking around at the fast food wrappers scattered around the floor “Maybe if he didn't leave his trash everywhere, I’d bump it up to a nine.”
I suddenly heard the car’s engine start and I turned immediately to Shane who had jammed the keys into the ignition.
“Shane, you’re half drunk. You’re not driving.” I said firmly, uncertain about why I had let him get into the driver’s seat in the first place.
Shane was stubborn. “I only had one glass, it’s fine. Plus, we’re not going far anyways. Just around the block.”
I didn’t have time to protest because Shane had already pressed down on the gas pedal, the car gently beginning to roll out of the driveway.
We began to go up the road at a moderate pace, causing me to somewhat relax. However, as we got further up the street, the vehicle’s speed began to gradually accelerate, finally reaching an alarming rate.
“Shane, slow down!” I exclaimed, foreseeing some sort of accident.
But he didn’t seem to hear me. Maybe he simply didn’t care. The car did not slow down.
“Shane, stop!” I yelled in horror.
It was too late.
“Where were you the night of June 15th?” He asked in his deep and gravelly voice.
I looked up to see the man sat across from me in his neat and official uniform. His thick moustache twitched slightly after the question, his eyebrows furrowed. His grey and solemn eyes seemed to be staring directly into the depths of my soul. I averted my gaze immediately, looking down at my dirty shoes and shrugged.
“What happened to Lucy Baker?” He decided to question.
We both stepped out of the car and rushed to the front, shaking and dreading the sight.
There she lay. Lucy Baker. Motionless. Lifeless. A pool of blood began to form around her body.
I was shocked.
We stood there for a while, saying nothing--not daring to break the heavy silence.
“Help me lift her into the back seat.” murmured Shane at last.
I did not move.
“Quick! Someone will see!” he repeated with more expression.
Numbly, I helped lift the body and we placed her across the back seats of the car.
“How well did you know Miss Baker?” Asked the grave voice.
I shook my head.
“Where are we going?” I asked, panicking as the vehicle turned off onto a gravel, country road. “The hospital is the other way!”
“The hospital won’t help. It’s too late.” He responded solemnly “She’s dead.”
“Shane, where are we going?” I repeated with frustration.
Shane did not respond.
“When was the last time you saw Miss Baker?” Questioned the man.
I did not answer.
I felt Shane nudge my foot under the table.
I remained silent.
We stood in front of the river, covered in mud from the damp soil. The body lay beside us face down.
“We can’t do this.” I whispered.
“We have too. There’s no other option.” replied Shane unexpectedly.
“We can tell somebody...we can get help.” I suggested with little hope.
Shane slowly shook his head.
“But it was an accident. Surely they’ll understand.”
“We can’t tell anybody about this, and that’s final.” hissed Shane with frustration.
“But it was an accident!” I repeated, louder.
“That doesn’t change anything.”
“Shane, it was an accident!” I exclaimed with exasperation “We didn’t mean for this to happen. It’s not our fault, is it? We’re not murderers...we’re not murderers, Shane!”
There was a brief silence. “Are we?”
“When was the last time you saw Miss Baker?” Repeated the voice.
Shane nudged my foot again, harder this time.
“At school. Last week.” I replied, trying to keep a monotone voice.
“Help me pick her up.” Ordered Shane as he bent down to grab a hold of the girl’s upper-back.
I silently took a hold of her legs, unable to continue the argument.
In a single movement, we dropped the body into the water.
I watched numbly as it sank, lower and lower--just like Michael Porter’s bicycle so many years ago.
Shane began to throw rocks and mud in the general direction of the sunken body, attempting to cover up as many traces as possible.
I continued to watch motionlessly, a single tear making its way down my pale cheek.
“What happened to Jonas McKane’s car?” Asked the man, changing the topic.
We’d gotten back into the car and Shane immediately sped off towards the town junkyard.
“Someone’s going to find it.” I mumbled, staring at the newly-abandoned vehicle placed behind a massive pile of garbage.
“What else can we do?” asked Shane, standing by my side and staring at the pile.
I shrugged. “Tell somebody?”
“No!” exclaimed Shane immediately, grabbing ahold of both my shoulders and staring into my eyes “We can’t tell anybody! Nobody can find out about this, not a single soul!”
“But wouldn't it be better to get help? We’d probably feel a bit better…” I trailed off.
“No,” mumbled Shane “ if nobody finds out, nobody gets in trouble.”
“I’m not sure about that.” I replied honestly.
“Please, don’t tell anybody! I’m begging you, please!” Shane had dropped down to his knees and was crying furiously “Promise me!” he continued to repeat over and over again.
“What happened to Lucy Baker?” he asked once again.
“Alright, alright, I promise I won’t tell.” I replied reluctantly but quickly, unable to bear the scene before my eyes.
“Thank you.” he finally breathed out, beginning to calm down.
We stayed silent for a while.
“What happens if somebody asks about her? What if Jonas asks about his car? What if they get suspicious?” I questioned, knowing that these inquiries would be near impossible to avoid.
Another moment of silence.
“I’m going to ask you one more time,” the man was getting impatient “what happened to Lucy Baker?”
I looked back up, past the man and to the small window where I saw my mother standing. Watching. Crying. I looked away and to my side where Shane sat still. Staring down. Sweating. I looked back to the officer. Annoyed. I looked down to the picture of the girl placed on the table in front of me. I began to shake, my breaths becoming uneven. My head was pounding. My heart was pounding. I went limp and slid out of the chair, tears ferociously streaming down my face. The word kept repeating in my head, taking over my thoughts. It wouldn’t leave me alone. Lie.