My first was—shall we say—a tad uninspired. Were I capable of it, I might be just a touch ashamed at such an amateur effort. But true genius requires a maturity and sophistication that one cannot reasonably expect from a sixteen-year-old. Everyone must start somewhere, after all. Even the most masterful of virtuosos have their humble beginnings. Even I.
I've never had friends. Not even a friend. At best, I’ve had a handful of casual acquaintances that were oblivious enough to their own survival instincts that they allowed me proximity. Occasionally, these were handy for providing me with things that I desired.
Greg was among those acquaintances. He was a reliable and valuable resource for a time. He provided a variety of things to smoke, all manner of pills, and anything you might desire to wash them down with. But of all he ever gave to me, his death was the most intoxicating.
We snuck into the development late on the Friday before a long holiday weekend. The construction trailer was empty and there wasn’t a soul around for miles. No one had any reason to be on the new subdivision's roads yet and we were far enough from the main drag that no one would see us smoking a little weed.
The interior of the house looked like an intricate wooden spider web. It had been framed, but only the exterior walls and roof were in place. 2x4s spanned floor to ceiling and beam to beam.
We climbed the steps to the second floor and pulled ourselves up onto the attic rafters. We sat—mostly silent—and smoked. After a time, Greg told me that most of our classmates thought I was weird, or that I gave them the creeps. He said he thought I was all right and they were all just pussies. I told him I didn't give a fuck what they thought of me. Then we laughed like idiots amid the ghostly swirls of smoke and sawdust caught in the glow of our flashlights.
When we’d finished smoking, we stepped across and weaved our way through a maze of 2x4s to overlook what would soon be a living area with vaulted ceilings. The flashlights cast white glimmering pools on the grey cement twenty or so feet below us.
“Damn!” Greg said and leaned forward a bit into the emptiness.
I pushed him.
Strangely, he was silent as he fell. I saw everything in slow-motion by the beam of my light. He pitched forward and twisted his body in midair to turn and face me. His arms pinwheeled once, and it appeared that he might be trying to get his feet under him. In the 1.2 seconds he had before the impact, he didn’t have a prayer. His flashlight bounced on the floor with a clank and skittered into a corner. It didn’t break.
He landed ass-first with his legs and head trailing behind, the beginnings of a scream finally forming on his lips. His tailbone surely shattered beneath his weight and the more than 4000 joules of energy created by the drop. Momentum carried him backward and his head swung toward the floor. He’d just begun to shriek when it was cut off in an instant, replaced by a magnificent thud.
Greg didn’t die right away. He lay there for several minutes gasping like a fish as a dark halo spread slowly beneath his head. From twenty feet up in the dim light, it looked black. His hands flapped up and down slowly. Eventually they stopped.
The rise and fall of his chest stopped.
And I began.