We met at the same date, venue and time, yet everything went so differently that time. That one time. I wish I had helped John on his assignment that day after school that I would never have to see horrors unfold that certain day of my existence I shall never forget. The Writer’s Circle was something I had been going every two weeks, for myself, of course, but also for Melinda. I saw something in her the first time I saw her sit around the semi-circle opposite of me. She gave me an eye, hinting, “well, let’s get this over with”. I responded with a similar look, hinting I can’t wait to get home. It was nervousness. It was obvious we were attracted to each other. It wasn’t just a fun flirty attraction. It was fatal attraction. Her ex-boyfriend, one of a junkie kind, came into the classes too, just to keep an eye on her. Total crackhead, always high and reeking of pills. One day, Melinda came to class embodying perfection in a cute pink tank top where I could see her nipples. We ended up hooking up in the bathroom during break and he followed us there. He broke the neck of the beer bottle he was gulping and threatened to kill me. I reported him and back to rehab he was.
When he entered the room that particular day, I was shocked. Our mentor Phillip said, “Hey, let him go. We have a special reunion today, all alumni are welcome, we’re playing a little game, his idea, a bright one I should add.” he said to me while filling in some paperwork without meeting my eye, as if this wasn’t breaking news, let alone letting a dangerous junkie on the loose. There was nothing I could do. He had never written a word in his life, what game did he create? As we gathered around in a circle, took our seats and attendance, Writer’s Circle began. Phillip said in an eerie tone, “Today, friends, we play a game. Invented by none other than out infamous, Homie.” A few whispers and sighs. Guess we really had to go through the night. Melinda and I exchanged worried looks. She looked white as a ghost. Her chubby face with Chinese eyes and dead skinned lips made her look even more frightening. Her hair was greasy and messy. It looked like somebody had a bad day.
“Everyone is assigned a pen, but there will be only one paper. Starting from number 1, Linda and ending with Carl”, he pointed at me. “Write, everyone will write bits, and we will have a full story in Carlos’s hands once we are finished.” he shared. I was in no mood to play this rookie game. Jesus, we are all adults here. I was getting more and more worried about Melinda.
About some time after, as I saw the script on my hands. The ground swept away from my feet. “The Eloquent Murder of Melinda Chu” was the title of the story under ugly handwritings of all of the individuals at Writer’s Circle. As I looked up, every single person was staring at me with a ghastly face on. Their eyes wide open with a frozen physique. Melinda! She was missing. Relief. But NO!!! She could be in danger. I slowly got up; I could hear my heart beat out of my chest. “Guys, drop the act now.” I screamed out for my sanity. Not a single air molecule moved, let alone the rest of the Writer’s Circle. As I ran for my life towards the hallway to the exit, I saw the lights blinker. I screamed for Melinda. I searched every corner of the building and came back to our gathering room. A room full of people frozen in a circle. Probably dead, I wondered. As I entered the male washroom and washed my face hoping to kick back in reality amongst the evening of terror, I smelled something familiar. The sweat of old shirts. Beer. Melinda. Yes, it was the scent of Melinda. My adrenaline surged as I turned every bathroom door hoping to see her face. With utter disappointment as Melinda was nowhere to be found, I felt a shadow of evil fall before me. Homer. He looked like a different person, squeaky clean and no alcohol… he never smelled this clean before. With the smirk on his face, I felt fear. Pure fear, so alive and hearty I felt like all the answers were in front of me yet I understood nothing. “You look like wreck. How the tables have turned.” he mocked in a tune. I grabbed him by the collar pushing him forward. “You asshole, where is she, what have you done?” was all I could bark out.
In his striped dad shirt and bearded face, he looked sane and started to preach. There goes the villain’s speech. “You see…Melinda and I met---” I cut him off, I remembered all too good. “In some weird cult where you used to fake hypnotize people, cut the bullshit” I blurted out. He looked at me like a teacher who is silently using facial expression to encourage the kid to reach the right answer. The answer was right in front of me. “So you don’t believe in it?” he laughed. “What, that you can hypnotize people ?” I joked. He made a bare face. Oops, I wasn’t really serious. But I was right regardless. He went on to explain how he had inherited “things’ from his late grandma and the sad story of the evil world that led to his depression. I didn’t know what to believe and what not to. This junkie scum was telling me he could actually hypnotize people. If it was a movie, I would have believed him but then I realized the occurring of the evening was more or less like a movie. “Just tell me where Melinda is, and we can both go” I gasped for air now, my search for a much like-kidnapper had left me breathless, no less. The silence that followed provided more than what a simple conversation would provide. The silence was mundane, inevitable. The junkie ex-boyfriend, no matter how messed up, but still very much in love, like a boy, who never grew up, or didn’t want to…
As I went home and was able to gather my thoughts sanely, I look at the photo frame on my coffee table, Melinda and I, love above all, and yet nothing left but fragments of memories. Homie had wanted Melinda back in exchange for letting those hypnotized souls go freely, but dead. She was dead . As a lover, I would have made the sacrifice in a heartbeat, but as a human, unlike Homie, I chose to be a better man, I chose something better, for humanity, myself omitted. The silence exchanged between me and Homie answered that. The day of 15th June, 2016, the last gathering of Writer’s Circle, something, a creative writer like myself would have never imagined, was the worst day of my life and the beautiful downfall of Carlos Jean. I had found myself become the better version of Homie, my lovers’ ex. If only, I wondered, that I had missed Writer’s Circle that hot afternoon and had stayed in school to help my student, full of innocence and life, would I be starting my day off with cocaine smacked on my face? I guess I’ll never know.