Irrefutable Evidence

        Every time I get drunk, I wonder how they did it, and who they were.  I mean the guys who figured out alcohol for the first time.  Some day I'll look it up on the Internet or something.  I guess it was an accident, like most other great discoveries.  Some grain or fruit went to shit; Og the Cro-Magnon put it in his mouth anyway (I imagine guys like Og didn't really give a damn what they put in their mouth, as long as it gave them enough strength to go out in the evening, club some nubile Cro-Magnon hottie, and drag her back to the cave), and the rest is History.  History that can't stand up without wobbling a lot, but History nonetheless.

        At the moment, I'm not really all that drunk.  A bit tipsy, yeah.  But not shitty by any stretch of the imagination.  I've had a bit of wine, and I'm in that giggly, happy stage. There isn't a lot that bothers me right now.  I'm in a fabulous mood, thanks partly to the booze.

        My fabulous mood is also a direct result of the glorious revenge I'm about to unleash against That Fucking Whore.

        Guys, you know the one I'm talking about.  There's always a "That Fucking Whore" in a guy's past.  The vile little skank who screwed you over, stabbed you in the back, and fled cackling like a hag into the cold, wet night leaving you squirming in the mud, flailing at the knife of infidelity she so discourteously left sticking out from between your ribs, just to the left of your spine.  It's something all males have in common.  Sad but true.  Ask any guy, and you'll get one variation after the other on the same old story.  Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl, Girl destroys Boy.  Men of Earth, we are united in our unjust mistreatment at the hands of evil females.

        The difference between most guys and myself is the fact that I'm taking some action to avenge myself.  The difference is that I'm standing in the middle of a muddy field in western Kansas with my best friend, trying to set fire to a rag stuffed into a half-full bottle of Everclear, and that I'm about to hurl this bottle, flaming, through the back window of That Fucking Whore's deathtrap of a car.  The car's gas tank is full, and I just spent twenty minutes soaking the upholstery in kerosene.  I've always wanted to blow up a car, and now I'm about to.  The way I see it, I'm killing two birds with one stone (well, okay, not so much a stone as a Molotov cocktail, but that isn't really important): I'll be getting revenge on that run-around ho, and fulfilling a lifelong fantasy at the same time.

        If I can get the damn fuse lit.

        This whole thing's been a real adventure, lemme tell ya.  I imagine that, by this point, you've gathered that some chick's burned me pretty badly.  If you didn't pick up on that, well, I guess you're the kind of person whose mother still has to attach your mittens to your coat sleeves with little bits of string.  And I pity you, I really do.  For the rest of you, some explanation is probably warranted.  While I try to light this thing, I'll fill you in.

        The Whore (sorry, I guess you'd like a real name- at this point she was still Melissa, not Whore, Slut, Bitch, Filthy Ho, or any derivation thereof), was visiting family out of state for spring break.  While I wasn't holding any grudges or anything, I was pretty miffed that I'd have to spend the week without her.  Spring break (more so than college itself) is all about gratuitous nookie, booze, and illicit substances.  Two of these I had covered, but I was being forced into a week of celibacy.  No matter how much fun you can have altering your body chemistry, nothing tops a solid night of marathon sex. Considering what I was going to find out, I should have given infidelity the thumbs-up, but I'm a decent guy.  Cheating (for me, at least) was out of the picture.  Because I'm a guy, I have to downplay the whole emotional aspect of the relationship in public, and freely give myself to the stereotype of Typical Sex-Crazed Male.  But just between you and I, I was head over heels for Melissa.  Before we hooked up, I followed her around like a little lost puppy, all the while trying to seem casual about it.

        I thank my smoking habit for the relationship.  On the first day of classes, I was sitting under a tree engrossed in a book when I was distracted by a shadow falling across the pages.  I looked up toward the source.

        "Hello," I said.

        "Hi," said the owner of the shadow, "any chance you can spare one of those?" She indicated the smoldering ciggy between my fingers.  "I'll beg if I have to."

        A stiff little breeze kicked up just then.  Several strands of red hair wandered out of place and came to rest across the work of art which was this girl's face.  They were repositioned habitually by a delicate pale hand, unadorned but for a single band of silver hugging one finger in a shiny, simple Celtic knot pattern.  While putting away the errant locks, the girls head tilted slightly and allowed a puddle of sunlight to spill across her eyes.  No ocean on earth, nor the sky blanketing this tiny planet has anything on the shade of unspeakably breathtaking blue that glittered there.  The splinter of a second during which her (amazing, piercing, brilliant) eyes and mine were locked seemed, in my mind, to last for something approaching eternity before the path of her hand across her forehead led my gaze further along.  She placed the hair neatly behind a perfectly shaped ear, pierced with three silver hoops of decending size, and one tiny one in the cartilage.  The hand dropped past her neck which possessed the same pale fragility of her hand and face. Around that was a simple beaded necklace, the type a younger brother or sister would bring home from a grade school art class or summer camp arts & crafts group.  The body contained in her black strappy tank was slender, but in an appealingly athletic way as
opposed to the unfortunate and disturbing Callista Flockhart variety.  Her navel, tantalizingly visible between the bottom hem of the tanktop and the waist of her pants was enhanced by the two bright balls of a barbell piercing.  From where I was sitting, her khakis appeared to fit snugly in all the right places.  The grass growing beneath the tree poked up around her sandals, poking from which ten rather adorable toes could be seen, adorned with a blue polish that almost matched her eyes.  The little breeze carried an arrangement of scents from her body, and they washed over me like a wave.

        Obviously, I wasn't about to turn down her request.  Somehow, I convinced my mouth to work properly.  "Oh, sure."  And then, without any interference from my higher brain functions, "Have a seat, please?"  Later, I would come to thank my forward-thinking mouth for the abrupt invitation, which she accepted with a simple (but overwhelmingly gorgeous) little smile.

        And so it went from there.  Melissa and I dropped into a close friendship with about the same velocity as a penny dropped from the Empire State building into a crowded New York sidewalk.  With relief that can be measured only in astronomical terms, I quickly discovered she was single, straight, and just crazy enough to really dig my company.  We got on really well with each other's friends, had similar basic lists of the best films and music, and disagreed on enough stuff to keep things fresh.  In the months following our meeting, my initial lust gave in to a giddy schoolboy crush, and in turn, the crush stepped politely aside for the big "L".

        It was just after fall break, at a Saturday night party that we stopped being just friends, and took the big step into friends who've discovered what one another's tongues tasted like.   By the same time the following evening, we'd exchanged a lot more than just saliva.  Another day after that, we both professed our love literally at the same time.

        You could hardly ask for a more perfect relationship.  Great everything.  Sex, conversation, quiet times, great fun out and about, mingling with society.  We had our occasional quarrels, but not many and not big.  And making up again, well, you know how that goes.

        So spring break rolls around, and I've been on Cloud 9 for several months at a stretch.  Feeling that good for that long has got to have some dire Karmic consequences, I thought.

        And, oh, how right I was about to find I had been.  Cut back to the final few days of break.  I'm at a bar with my best friend of ten years, Ted Goldman.  Tedd-o and I are basically the exact same person divided in two.  We're the inseparable comic duo buddies in every sitcom you've ever seen.  So of course he's privvy to the less macho sexist personality lurking behind the manly façade I'm obliged to try to project around the other guys.

        "Fuckin' hell, Ted, I'm losin' my mind." I was saying above the din of an overplayed Metallica track from the Jukebox.  "D'you know what it's like actually
sleeping alone?  If she's there, I could fall asleep naked in a pool of broken glass and fire ants.  Now I can't get five minutes straight in my own bed."  I pulled a long, creamy sip from the glass of Guinness in my hand.

        "Oh, poor little you.  Do you know how long it's been since I got laid?  Huh?  My virginity grew back ages ago."

        "Hey, you'd be getting laid right now if you hadn't sent Shelene packing."

        Ted jabbed emphatically at me with the glowing tip of his cigarette.  "That little girl is a psychotic break waiting to happen.  No sex in the world's worth her."

        "Even that night that broke my desk chair and altered the carpet forever?  That story's the stuff of legends," I said around an unlit cigarette as I patted my pockets for my Zippo.  I found it, flipped, flicked, and lit, and dropped it back into the pocket it came from.  The puff of smoke billowed and dissipated into the murky air of the bar.  I took a drag and ashed almost into the ashtray between Ted and I.  "I've personally had nights like that one, and I'd say they're worth a lot of shit."

        "There's a line, man.  She crossed it, and then came back and spit on it.  Then she lit it on fire and flipped it off.  Nuts, man.  Just plain nuts."  He dropped the last contents of his glass down the gullet.  "I need another beer."

        "Yeah, same here.  Get me another one of these, will ya?  I gotta pee."  I emptied my glass and threw a few dollar bills onto the counter.

        "Sure.  Have fun.  But not too much, or you'll get arrested."

        "Thanks for the advice."  I left the bar and pushed my way through a crowd of obnoxious frat guys trying to score with some pretty flaky blondes.

        I peed copiously, perusing the graffiti on the walls, washed my hands, and headed for the door.  My hand was just brushing the handle when the door flew at my face.  I dove out of the way as Justin came barreling in.  Justin's a guy from my floor, and knows Melissa from their hometown.  They're not much more than friendly acquaintances, but he and I are fairly good friends.

        "Oh, good.  Ted said you were in here.  Look, we gotta talk," he said.

        "What can be so important that couldn't wait till I was done peeing?"

        "It's about Mel.  C'mon, let's go sit down.  I'll get you a beer."  This really got me concerned.  Something about Melissa bad enough for Justin (a virtual God among cheapskates) to offer laying out cash for someone else's booze.

        "What the fuck's going on?  Is she okay?"  I said, my panic increasing.  Was she dead? A car accident?  Had she been raped?  My head was spinning like a turntable as Justin grabbed my sleeve and drug me back to the bar where Ted and I had been sitting. Before I had said a word, Justin began to spill it.

        "Look, I really, really hate having to be the one who tells you, but we're friends, and well, I thought it was my responsibility and all, and, well, it's like this.  Okay, this friend of mine back home, he goes to school in Colorado so you don't know him, but he's a real good friend of mine, well, anyway, he was at this party last night, and Melissa was there.  Well, some guy, who I kinda knew, but not really well, but I know he and Mel dated for like a month, had this Polaroid camera and he was goin' around taking pictures. I guess at some point Mel and another guy Greg who's always had a thing for her, disappeared into one of the bedrooms.  So my friend and the Polaroid guy decide to bust in on them and surprise them with the camera.  See, Polaroid guy really hates Mel.  He's a kinda whackjob.  Too much coke or something, which is why she dumped him, coz he's just outta his mind, basically.  Well, the guy got off a bunch of shots before the dude Mel was screwing got him out.  So anyway, my friend managed to grab some of the pics and emailed them to me.  God knows why, guess he thought I'd like to see Mel naked or something.  He's weird like that, but he isn't a total asshole or anything, just a warped sense of humor and...dude?  Look, I'm..."  By this point I'd stopped listening.  My head felt light, and my vision blurred as blood drained from my head.  The volume of the bar noise faded out.  The cigarette I had lit had dropped from between my fingers and was somewhere on the floor, but I didn't really care.

        "She was... she was.. .no.  No.  Aww, fuck, no, man..."

        Justin had stopped talking, and was just staring at me intently, a look of genuine concern painting his face.  "Look, I'm really sorry.  I really am.  But I saw the pictures, it's true.  She was fucking around on you.  I didn't wanna have to tell you, but I thought I had to.  I'm sorry."

        My stomach balled up on itself, creating an ultra-dense ball in my abdomen, like a black hole that was sucking my heart and soul toward oblivion.  My head thonked onto the bar as I pressed my fingers into my temples.  Should I cry or scream?  I wanted to break something, I needed to do something, but I just sat there with my head on the counter, pressing the sides of my head to relieve a pressure that wasn't there physically.

        "Fuck."

        I felt Ted's hand grip my shoulder, a gesture that said "I feel for ya, and I'd hug you, but we're guys, not to mention we're in a bar."  To me, he said,  "Let's get out of here. We can get a case of suds and some green.  We'll go get fucked up somewhere, arright?"

        Speaking toward my feet I said, "I wanna see the pictures first."

        "Oh, man, that's not a good idea.  You really don't wanna see that shit," said Justin.

        "I wanna see the damn pictures, alright?  I gotta see it myself."

        The ride back to our dorm was a blur.  I just sat there, feeling whatever it was I was feeling.  Some sort of deadly cooperation between devastation, anger, betrayal, and numbness.  Justin kept trying to talk me out of seeing the pictures right up to the point when they appeared on my computer screen.  There were four of them.  Two people, dark room.  Their bodies and the bed starkly lit by the glaring flash, frozen in a vulgar, half naked tangle of flesh.  The guy's pants were around his ankles, his shirt still on.  Melissa's shirt was off.  Her bra, a silky dark blue number and my favorite, was pushed up so her breasts were exposed.  Her pants and panties were God knows where.  Probably tossed carelessly on the floor.  In the sharp white glare of the flash, her face looked ugly, twisted into a frown, mouth half-open in surprise at the intrusion.

        I wanted to puke, but didn't.

        The last picture showed the guy halfway across the room, pulling at a sheet to cover himself.  The guy who'd sent the pictures had pasted a bright yellow smiley face over the guy's crotch.  In the dark, underexposed background I could see Melissa still flopped across the bed, fully exposed, no sheets available for her to cover herself.  I sat, silently staring into the frame at the love of my life, while the censoring smiley's soulless black eyes bore into my skull.

        And that's when the anger came.  I was still sad and upset and all that, but more than anything, I was filled with the type of rage that makes people climb up bell towers and open fire.  I knew then that the anger was going to stick around for a while.  It wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, so I decided just to enjoy it.  Few things are as enjoyable as righteous anger.

        Justin and Ted managed to drag me out, and the three of us spent the rest of the night and well into the following morning getting baked and drunk.  We spent the long hours badmouthing ex-girlfriends and women in general.  One of the best ways to bond with people is through mutual dislike of something.

        Ted was on the floor, and I was in the spare bed in Justin's room when we came to that evening.  After a few minutes of hard thinking, I remembered we'd come back to his room when the weed and beer was gone.  Justin wasn't there, but he'd left a note requesting we lock up when we regained conscousness.

        Once we were able to walk, we headed for Perkins for some cheap, substandard food, and there, it was agreed upon.

        "I want revenge, Ted.  God knows I'd like to slap her around a bit, but I really couldn't get away with that.  It'd be all whining about violence aainst women and blah blah blah.  No one'd understand that she deserves a good bruise or seven.  I mean, had a guy betrayed me so horribly, nobody'd care if I beat the everloving shit out of him.  Many would applaud me.  But lay a hand against a woman..."

        "But you can't let her get away with this unpunished," Ted finished the thought.

        Lighting a cigarette I said, "No.  I guess I could resort to either vandalism or blackmail of some kind.  But blackmail takes planning and time, and I just want some immediate gratifi-fucking-cation."  I glared out the window at a happy couple walking hand-in-hand into the restaurant.

        "So vandalism it is?  What'd you have in mind?"

        "Why not fuck with her car?  That's mean enough, don't you think?"

        "Sure."

        "We could steal it.  Dump it in the river," I mused, rolling the cigarette around between my fingers.  "Or better yet...blow it to Kingdom Come."

        Ted's eyebrows arched.  "Oooh.  Sounds like fun."

        "So it's a plan?  We'll steal it this evening, drive out west for a few hours, find somewhere isolated, and torch the little rustbucket?  You could follow me in your car. We drive all night tonight, blow it up, get back Saturday, and watch the fun from a distance when she gets back Sunday afternoon."

        "Let's do it."
        And so, at 6pm that evening, I found myself jimmying open Melissa's car door. This proved all too easy. The ancient Ford Escort was already in a precarious state, so hotwiring it wasn't a problem either.  We'd planned everything carefully.  Supplies, strategy, you name it.  I even wore gloves, to prevent any errant fingerprints. Within fifteen minutes, we were off, headed west.  We even took a set of those little walkie talkies they pimp to families on vacations, so we could chat between the cars.  It began to rain about an hour before we stopped at a field in the middle of nowhere.  And so we sat, smoking some more schwag and tossing back booze for a while, having unloaded the multiple canisters of kerosene we'd purchased (at quite a large expense, actually, but this was worth the money).  We'd also stopped to top off the Escort's tank.  After we'd enjoyed our booze and green, we went to work dousing the inside with the Kerosene, and stuffing the cushions, glove compartment, and ashtrays with M80's and firecrackers.

        So here I am now, we're all up to date on shit, and I'm growing pretty frustrated with this lighter and fuse.  I curse its existence.  Every second of delay increases our chances of getting caught.

        "God damn it!" I shout.  "Ted, toss me another lighter, will you?  And get that towel out of your backseat.  We'll just redo the fuse."

        This works.  The fuse goes up, and I hurl the large bottle from as far a distance as I think I can make.  Ted brings up the video camera we've brought to document the event, aims at the car, and bolts in an awkward sideways motion.  We hide behind a hill, where Ted's parked his car, and zoom in on the Escort.

        By this time, the entire inside is brightly ablaze.  I didn't have time to sit and see what the initial effect of the cocktail was, but that's what the camera is for.  The fire blazes brightly in the night, and is bound to attract attention pretty quickly, even though we're in the middle of nowhere on a rainy night at 2:30 am.  Suddenly, the fireworks go off, and the car is being shredded from the inside out.

        It happens without warning.  A massive concussion, a brilliant flaming tower of orange lifts the car a short distance before enveloping it in a supernova of vengeful fire. Exhilarated, we watch for a few more minutes, and then dive into Ted's car, still filming, and floor it back to the main road.  I only stop the camera when the ex-car is reduced to a glowing pinpoint even on maximum zoom.  Then I fade it to black and cut the camera.

        Miraculously, we aren't stopped all the way back to school.  We burst into our room, weary, but still buzzing from adrenaline, still laughing at our triumph.  We roll the recording back and patch it through Ted's 32 inch flatscreen TV.  The quality of picture is surprisingly excellent, even for a digital camera.  The video gets played back several times, and even in slow motion at many crucial, wonderously pyrotechnic points.

        Soon, we decide to hit the hay.  We both drop off into sleep immediately.  I have never felt so viciously gleeful in my life.  I feel so vindicated, so...so right.  It serves that bitch right for screwing around on me, yes it does.  And I never have to let her know it was me.  I'll play things out when she gets back.  Play it cool.  I have no knowledge of her infidelity at all, and certainly no knowledge of her absent vehicle.  I am perfect.  I am as God in my wrathful vengeance.

        I am waking up to a pounding on my door.  A blurry glance at the clock tells me it's 4pm.  I stumble groggily to the door, rubbing my eyes.  Unlock, fumble the knob, open, "Oh.  Hi, Melissa.  Back already?"

        She's in tears.  In a panic.  Deep down, I feel warm.  She is wracked with obvious guilt at her misdeeds.  She cannot bear this guilt.  She falls into my arms, weeping.

        "God, I tried to call you all weekend, you never answered, didn't you even check your machine, oh god, I needed to talk to you so bad..." She is cut off by her own sobbing.

        "I haven't been in the room for like, three days, Mel," I say.  I never call her Mel, because it sounds cheap.  She doesn't seem to pick up on the subtle prod.  "I'm sorry.  Did something happen?"

        "I tried to stop it, I swear, but, but...I think there was something in my drink at this party, and he, he Jesus christ, I'm so sorry, I couldn't stop him, and he..."

        Ohhhh, shit.  The first thought through my head is she's trying to come clean about fucking some other guy, but lying about it at the same time.  Then I realize she couldn't possibly be faking this, and that she's a terrible liar anyway.  Without any command from my brain, my arms begin to drift up to wrap her close to me.

        "Jesus christ, he raped me.  I tried to stop him, but I couldn't, I couldn't even move hardly, or think, but I tried and I couldn't make him stop.  I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..."  She lost it completely then, and for the next several hours, before lapsing into an exhausted sleep in my arms on the bed, sobbed and cried wordlessly.  Ted had, bless him, politely excused himself almost immediately, leaving me alone with my scarred, scared, sobbing girlfriend, whom I'd basically watched being raped in front of my own eyes, and whose car I had just blown to smithereens in a rainy field in western Kansas.