(The story continues)
But I knew that wouldn’t be the case, knew that this time he wouldn’t get up. Part of me wanted that to happen so badly, even knowing that there would be one hell of a beating involved.
To this day I don’t know how long I lay there on top of Georgie, panting, shivering and in shock. My shirt and hands were sticky with blood, Georgie’s blood. I stood up and walked over to the Tree Man. He was still tied to the tree, but he wasn’t moving, dried blood marked his body and when I grabbed his head in my hands it felt cold and limp. I shook him, told him to wake up, demanded that he answer me.
His silence mocked me and I couldn’t deal with it. I was out of my mind, overwhelmed with emotion and I hit him in the mouth. I felt his head snap against my fist and then the tree and I could swear that he groaned. “Hey, hey asshole, answer me, say something,” I screamed, but no words came out of my mouth and so I grabbed him and shook him again. But again his silence mocked me.
“Georgie, you better stop playing,” I shouted and then I kicked him over and over, slapped his face and grabbed his throat and began squeezing it until I realized it wasn’t Georgie. Georgie was dead, his body lay a few feet away.
I started to laugh and shake, giant gales of laughter wracked my body. There in the dark I stood the world’s newest murderer. Life hadn’t been great, but now it was distinctly worse. Georgie’s death was an accident, it was self-defense. He had been trying to kill me, but the Tree Man, how could I explain that.
How could I tell anyone about this. Who would believe me? When they saw him they would look at me and that would be the end of it. I couldn’t imagine any scenario that didn’t end with me in a cage and that wouldn’t do, couldn’t do, it just wouldn’t.
That sick cackle that had been emanating from my mouth returned, bubbled forth like the hiss of air escaping a punctured tire and then it turned into sobbing. Beneath the moonlight I lay in the dirt and cried. A soft wind blew through the trees and the rustling of the leaves painted a picture of desolation. What else was there besides me and the two corpses, my world was destroyed.
And then I heard Georgie’s voice. Even in death he taunted me, ridiculed me for being weak. I could see him standing in front of me, grinning at my pain, the contempt he held me in apparent for all to see. Except that he was dead and I was alive and in hell.
But like so many times in the past the self-pity turned to anger and I stood back up, sucked up the anger and stuffed it back into the pit in my soul it came from. I had to go, had to get out of there and off of the mountain. Now all I needed to do was figure out what to do with Georgie and the Tree Man and go home.