We waited in silence at the bus stop. There was this strange tension in the air, which I didn't have the slightest intention of trying to break. I had my own worries, for sure they did too.
"I have your cat" Kenny muttered against the neck of his anorak, pulled up over his nose. I only understood his words after repeating the sound several times in my head.
"I suspected it" answered Cartman distantly. "For a moment I was afraid you were going to trade him in fucking City Town for some egg rolls or something. It would have been enough for a week's lunch" my eyes were focused on the cell phone. They said no more, Kenny didn't even respond to the insult, he just let out smoke from his nostrils after pulling down the anorak cloth to start smoking a cigarette. It was odd for him to smoke so early.
Stan's car stopped in front of us.
"Finally, damn it" I heard Cartman muttering. I pondered if I could ask Kenny to switch places for today, but the way he looked at the fat ass the second before he dumped the cigarette in the snow told me that the burned nicotine was trying to burn off the need to hit him. Had he heard about Red?
It had been a long weekend.
As I climbed up, the fat bitch didn't wait for me to take my place, coming right behind me. It was normal, part of a routine even. The asshole pushing me around, saying that my nose needed a whole damn car of its own; but this time, the fact that he touched me had a connotation I hadn't seen before.
On Friday a switch had been flipped, the almost electric sensations that the interactions between us inspired in me had taken a completely different turn.
"Move your fucking ass" the asshole pushed me. I almost fell on my face against the opposite glass, I wondered for a second why I didn't go around the car to get in.
"Fuck you!" but before I answered that question to myself I was already kicking back to him.
"Ey!" he grabbed my ankles and pushed them away taking his seat. He closed behind him frowning in tedium, staring at his cell phone almost obsessively, completely avoiding giving me any more attention than he was used to giving me.
And again silence. Uncomfortable, uncomfortable silence.
I took my cell phone. I opened Adolph Müller's chat.
"Asshole" I wrote. I felt his gaze flashing at me from the corner of my eye. I ignored him.
" Me? " the perfect opening for an argument, whether it was a violent one or not, that depended entirely on him.
I should have left it there, it would be the most mature way to continue the day, and the rest of my fucking life. Too bad that for some reason it was simply impossible to do that when it came to Cartman.
"Didn't I get it right? Maybe pussy was more appropriate? Or psychotic, sociopathic, narcissistic... Wait, you already knew that description" I smiled distantly, somewhat proud of causing that furious typing of his fingers on the screen, but the answer he wrote never came. He sighed in annoyance, I saw how he struggled between sending whatever he had written and putting his cell phone away. He put it aside, keeping it with almost palpable hatred between his pockets.
"Answer!" I shouted, not caring about the company.
"No!" he replied almost immediately. We went back to that damn silence.
Silence. Horrible silence. I hated it.
"I was thinking, I need help with this big plan" Cartman finally said, ignoring both my look and Kenny's look like the fucking plague. He was talking directly to Stan, the last pillar of stability in this group apparently.
"Plan for what?" Stan replied without further contemplation, focused mostly on the road. Today his gaze was not being distracted by the glove compartment, always keeping an eye on his little stash of alcohol. I didn't know if that was good or bad.
"For the graduation Stan, the graduation"
"God..." I couldn't help but sigh.
"Something big, chaotic, that makes them remember our generation with shame and very, very well disguised envy under the facade of high moral standards"
"That sounds annoyingly specific" for some reason I felt personally attacked. He smiled to himself without looking in any other direction than to Stan.
"Come on, ask me what the idea is”
"Nobody ask, please" obviously.
"What's the idea?"
"Stan, don't encourage his stupidity!"
"Well, since you ask, I'll tell you I don't have a solid idea yet. But there's a particular one that's starting to take shape”
"Let's just ignore it, it's a complete waste of time" since he was taking the job of ignoring me so seriously.
"What is it?" but Stan didn't seem to be very in sync with me today apparently.
"I was thinking of something kind of normie, but easy to do, sure to explode in our faces, an opportunity to create a state of generalized derangement in exchange for a piece of public property”
"Just say the damn thing!"
"Calm your tits, Kahl, Jesus."
"You insufferable fat fuck."
"A huge party!"
"How original" I mumbled, lowering the window a little.
"I didn't say it was original, in fact I think I said it was fucking norm…"
"Anyway, I don't think anyone around here with a decent house wants to let it be vandalized by the town's sociopath" I said. Kenny hadn't participated in the whole conversation, in fact, I think he had just said one stupid line about Cartman's cat and that was it. It was strange.
"I don't know what sociopath you're referring to; but anyway, don't worry jew, everything is under control" but there it was. He turned on his seat and looked at Cartman with this mischievous smile on his face.
"Okay, this is going to be interesting" he said. The tension was finally starting to clear.
"We'll do it in..." Cartman continued.
"In..." Kenny rushed with increasing excitement.
"In school. We'll sneak out at night just before the graduation day, leave a trail of alcohol and meth that will attract people from all the damn towns around, and make the place the canvas for our biggest 'Fuck You' to this backward and oppressive educational system just before we stop being part of it" I glanced at the sparkle in his eyes. Someone like him did not deserve such a thing.
"Impossible" I said, though I knew that if anyone was capable of making it happen, it was him.
"Come on! We did it when we were kids. Remember that time playing wizards and..."
"We were kids! And everyone was too busy with the opening of that stupid Taco Bell to worry about it”
"Exactly! You're a fucking genius, Kahl"
"There is no Taco Bell opening..."
"No, no. A distraction, something that makes people look away, and I think I have the perfect person for that" his smile grew as the loose ends of his plan began to come together. It was strange to see his expression show such a bias of malice and childish joy in front of us. Like watching the artisan working on his creation. We always saw only the finished product.
"I don't want to hear any more, because I know that only shit will come out of your mouth; but at the same time I feel that it is our responsibility to stay until the end so that we know that we can stop you if everything gets too... crazy" and the pillar of stability spoke. Stan.
"Just throw him out of the fucking car."
"It's not a bad idea, we'd get there faster" Kenny supported me.
"You two can suck my dick" the image came to my mind almost immediately, something that had never happened in my fucking life.The idea left me speechless, and with this strange feeling of distaste in my stomach.
The conception of the person I knew as Eric Cartman, in a now sexualized form, changed the perspective of many of the thousands of interactions we had daily. For the first time in years I was considering the idea of simply not delving into that almost infectious curiosity he produced in me. The consequences were beginning to screw with my head.
"You" I came back to reality seeing him heading towards Kenny, none of them noticing the drifting of my ideas down clearly winding paths. What would they think if they knew what was going on in my head lately?
"Our distraction. Kenny, will be you" the car stopped, in front of us the institute rose, forcing us into everyday life once again.
"Journey's end, ladies. Let's keep talking at lunch"
At least within the confines of the car I knew he couldn't run away from me. But between the crowded hallways, the thirty seats per classroom, and the variety of classes, he barely looked at me.
I had a conflict developing in my head. His fascinating ability to evade me made the classes run peacefully; but, his image of the day before instigated an uncertainty hungry for resolution.
Part of me was haunted by the idea that I was witnessing a long-term plan. From the moment I first saw that mark on his neck weeks ago, in order to get my attention. But for what?
I knew him. I knew him well enough to believe I knew why he was shaking, to believe I knew the answer to all the questions I was asking. I just wanted confirmation. But I also knew him well enough to know that if anyone could fake something like that for a long time, it was him.
In front of me could be a version of him that had never been revealed to anyone. An ever-present facet that he sought to hide, but which I cracked unintentionally, and now exposed itself to me as a result of having pressed the right buttons, perhaps a stroke of luck. Or it was just an elaborate plan, another fucking Mitch Conner, all very carefully prepared to fuck me over.
Depending on the answer I had to act, but my default position was to be on the defensive. The clock was ticking, the graduation was coming up, and the idea of that essay with that concept was simply too appealing to let go. Sometimes the idea that the essay was just an excuse to help him crossed my mind; but something else in me always said that no one was altruistic enough to want to help Eric T. Cartman, not even his mother.
I saw his profile falsely focused on the philosophy professor's speech, he had deliberately taken the front seats. He knew I wouldn't try to talk to him or bother him in front of a teacher, a rather self-centered thought I had to admit, to expect that I would play along even in the middle of class. And it was attitudes like that that made me think that everything was planned.
It was confusing.
How could he fake the bruises, the scratches, the man in the room? It wouldn't be the first time.
Between boring classes and whispering everything continued in silence. At some point I picked up my phone and found myself with Red's picture on her Instagram, gaining popularity with every damn second. My stomach turned in this strange uneasiness, in fascination.
Suddenly everyone wanted to know more about her, the new high school prima donna in a matter of two or three classes, in a matter of one weekend. It didn't make any sense at all.
Did he know that she would do that? Put her vanity above a clear act of vexation and abuse? I didn't know what to think about it. I didn't know whether to consider it ironic, disgusting, bizarre, or an act of genius.
The bells rang. The cafeteria was waiting for us and the road was short and congested.
If the bruises and stuff were real, did that mean he was a masochist? A masochistic sociopath? They weren't necessarily compatible, at least as far as I knew. His tendency was always towards domination, sadism in its various forms. That night he spoke of narcissism, a narcissistic masochist on the other hand was quite... possible.
It was fascinating.
"I think there's something going on between Kenn and Cartman" I turned to Stan not knowing the moment he had approached me. We walked in the direction of the lunch line.
"I don't know, it was a long weekend" I nodded. It sure was.
"As I was saying, the distraction" said Cartman approaching us.
"Stan, everything okay at home? ...I'm sure your dad has a membership in Alcoholics Anonymous, why don't you ask him for a recommendation or…”
"Your mom probably has a membership at Peppermint Hippo, but that doesn't mean you're going to start working there" I replied for Stan, appreciating the sudden hatred in his eyes at the implication of my words. He opened his lips ready to respond; but Kenn arrived. Dry lips, smell of nicotine. He had gone to smoke before he had to deal with lunch, adolescence at its best.
"What was the distraction?" With lunches in hand we walked to the usual table.
"Drugs" he finally said. I didn't allude to the existence of his response with even a reaction, so I kept eating.
"Kenn, after you broke the glass in my backyard door the other day, you pulled out a damn wad of bills bigger than your mom's last abortion. Either you're selling drugs, or you're selling your ass. The stab in the chest tells me it's the first one." Stan had started coughing about halfway through that long, long accusation; Kenn on the other hand was just watching him without the slightest sign of interest "Am I right?”
"I think we need some context" I muttered to myself asking why the fuck Kenny would break a fucking door.
"I deliberately left out the context."
"God" murmured Stan after winning his battle with suffocation. He shed a couple of tears of victory "Shit, I saw my pathetic life flash before my eyes"
"That's what I call being introspective, the first step is always to accept it"
"Shut up, Cartman!"
"Why the fuck do you want me to confirm that you're right when you know you're right?" I looked at Kenn a little bit abstracted by such a stupid question. The answer was obvious.
Because he loved to brag that he was right.
"Because I love being right" confirmed the fatass, letting out a sigh of complete satisfaction. Kenneth's smile grew in amusement.
"You didn't seem to love the confirmation I gave you on Saturday morning," and Cartman's smile faded completely. Well, Stan was right for a change, something had happened.
"Whatever. Distraction," Cartman continued, looking away from Kenn, "There are only two adults who could make everything work properly." We watched him silently, expectantly, somewhat confused by the word 'adult' in the middle of such a conversation, "Randy or Sheila”
"What?" Kenny chuckled softly as Stan and I synchronized our confusion.
"There are two options. First, Sheila."
"Cartman, you better shut the fuck…"
"Kyle will hide drugs sponsored by our donor Kenneth somewhere where Sheila can find them”
"Of course not!"
"Obviously Sheila will ask Kyle what the fuck is going on, Kyle will tell her it was Kenny who gave him the drugs. As the rational person that the bi… "
"Don't you dare...!"
"As I was saying, Kyle's bitch of a mother will go talk to Kenny's mother" I grunted, trying to kick him under the table. The bitch dodged it.
"Good joke, pretty funny."
"You're right Kenn, she won't be able to talk to your mom; because, as usual, she'll be high on acids, a state always inversely proportional to her social status. So she will be forced to go directly to you. You will play the role of the victim of this self-proclaimed meritocratic society, you will say that you were forced, that you are not the only one, more people at school are involved and whatever. The witch-hunt will begin almost immediately”
"And how would my dad get in there?" Stan asked out of the blue, I stared at him in disbelief because of his curiosity. Cartman smiled contentedly at it.
"It would be another possibility, in case Kyle is too much of a pussy to do shit, which he probably will”
"Sorry for not wanting to be deliberately framed for drug use!"
"You let Randy find whatever Kenn gives us, he'll tell you something like why the fuck aren't you smoking pot and drinking moonshine like all kids your age?” Stan smiled distantly, as if he knew that was definitely something his father would say. "You're going to tell him that everyone is on that drug now, whatever it is, and done. He can either start a witch hunt like he did with the vapers, or start a process of legalization and production like he did with cocaine, and all eyes will be on him”
We all remain silent for a few seconds, visualizing all his words. It was possible, quite possible.
"So, are we doing it?"
"It's amazing the ability you have to predict the stupidity of some people" Kenneth spoke smiling in his direction with this strange emotion that I couldn't make out, Cartman smiled back.
"It's not too hard in South Park.
"And who will Kenn give the drugs to? Kyle or me?"
"I won't do it" the three of them turned their eyes in unison at my answer "Are you seriously considering it?!"
"I'm quite pleased with the lightness with which you accepted the fact that I sell drugs," Kenn commented curiously cheerful, ignoring my protests.
"You're all fucked in the head, I accepted it from the beginning”
"Cartman, you are the most fucked up" now everyone was just ignoring me.
"Stan, Stan, Stan. I could be a shitty friend and bring up your Friday morning deployment as a counterargument to that accusation; but I'm better than that" Friday morning?
"Anyway, I can hide the drugs somewhere where Randy will find them, the liquor cabinet probably. When do we start?" They were seriously considering it. "I'd say at least a week before graduation. The drama in South Park has a depressingly short lifespan," Kenny and Cartman nodded in unison at Stan's words.
I felt like a fucking alien at this table, from a completely different moral planet.
"Are we really going to do this?"
"Are we ?" Cartman asked, his smile an apology to the Cheshire cat.
"It's going to be fun, Kyle" supported Stan. My disbelief was still at its peak.
"Fucking fun, I can already visualize it," Kenn spoke amidst obscene hand gestures. The tension between us from this morning was completely gone.
Yes, we were best friends after all.
"Fine, but I won't hide drugs anywhere near my mother!" the fat bitch clicked his tongue.
"Obviously. It was a lot to ask of Mr. Perfection" it was the second time he referred to me in those terms.
"If I were you I would watch what comes out of that fucking mouth.
"Ugh, here we go again," muttered Stan. Kenny shrugged his shoulders and stood up. He began to walk away without a further exchange of words, passed by Craig, headed to wherever they always smoked.
"Why should I care what comes out of my mouth Kahl? It's not my responsibility whatever my freedom of speech makes you feel”
"I swear to God you guys get weirder and weirder every fucking year," muttered Stan as he stood up to follow Kenny.
I was just realizing how little I wanted to be alone with him. Would we ignore what had happened the day before? Would we continue with our daily lives, letting routine swallow our secrets? There was something familiar about that behavior.
He stood up, mumbled a couple of insults and walked away towards the door of the cafeteria.
It was seconds like these when I had to decide. Would I descend into a madness I feared would become dangerous, or would I ignore that unplanned foray into the path my mother always urged me to follow? I clicked my tongue at the thought of a mother figure writing my steps, and by the time I found myself outside my inner monologue I saw me following him to the route I hoped would be the closest to the desired answers.
I remembered his skin trembling under my fingers, his misty, lascivious breath, those huge blue eyes. I closed the door behind me, I didn't know at what moment the doorbell had rung to start classes, but the corridors always emptied in minutes and the world became silent inside the restroom.
He leaned against the sink watching my hand lock the door, his eyes turned to mine.
"The classes began"
"I am aware of that" he smiled distantly "Take off your coat" I ordered. The idea that these wounds were nothing more than an elaborate lie was like a dam that I had no fucking idea what contained. I saw him hesitate for a second "It's makeup, isn't it?" but he loved the role of victim, he would never miss an opportunity to show it off.
"Of course a sneaky Jew would believe that" He started to unbutton the jacket, I waited silently "Or maybe you don't know how the real world works, huh?" the red fabric slipped down his arms, he had nothing but a black tank underneath "Mommy's bubble must be so comfortable" and there was this rainbow of purples, reds, greens and blues. I approached under his expectant gaze. A small grunt of pain came when my fingers felt what looked like a fresh wound.
I pressed the bruised flesh with almost childlike curiosity forcing an invisible laceration to be opened, blood that seemed to be stagnant under the skin emerged in no more than two or three thick drops before disappearing into that landscape of pain.
"Careful, damn it, I'm not fucking Jesus” It hurt... It was real. Obviously it hurt. If that was his arms, how would the rest of his body be?
But that didn't make sense, an important element of the masochist was the anguish, the guilt. Guilt wasn't an element that Cartman was very close to. It was a completely different image from what I had defined about him. I didn't know very well what to say, what to ask. My knowledge of sadism or masochism was reduced to readings of old germans from the twentieth century, and the Venus of the Furs never caught my attention.
"You like to play the victim" I looked for his glance.
"Doesn't it look real enough?"
"On the outside... yes. But here..." I pointed to his forehead. "It's a completely different story," he shrugged and put his coat aside.
"And you don't like the role of the vicitmarian either, so we're kind of stuck here," but that's how these kinds of power relationships worked. Power was reflected in a deceptive or intricate way, under the sheets a symbiosis of needs gave rise to a means of communication that transcended words, since psychological elements were intertwined in interactions and relationships that from the outside eye could be considered toxic. Like the narcissist to the empathic; the psychopath to the neurotic, the masochist to the sadist.
Now, the element of guilt was something that the masochist manipulated with great precision. Reich spoke of the masochist's vengeful spirit, which placed the sadist in the position of the guilty. The masochist's pleasure extended beyond the session, for the guilt that the sadist would feel after the act would remain. The guilt that transcended the sexual act was the revenge itself. Something told me that Cartman was taking it to another level.
I wanted to see it.
"Not necessarily" my hands went down to his hips. His figure tensed in front of me. I watched his fingers bury themselves on the edge of the sink in anxiety as that subtle shudder climbed its way up. His breathing became systematic, "Do you know why you need pain?” a smile mocking my words left his lips.
"I am not skipping classes in the bathroom to get lessons in psychoanalysis," there was something in his body language that made my movements flow. I couldn't explain it very well, even though I was dying to. I slid my hand under the fabric, letting my fingers run across the skin on his back. Little stretch marks, maybe scars, maybe fresh wounds, maybe traces of his childhood fat marched under my fingertips.
"There is a tension... that needs to be released, freed" I spoke against his lips. His breath caught up with me, the tremor remained steady. Under the cloth, a particular wound revealed how recent it was because of the fever that covered it. I pressed it, he clenched his teeth to hide a small grunt of pain "But you fear liberation, whether from some misconception of the sex act, some disturbance of the libido…”
"Boring" I pressed the wound again, he closed his eyes for a second avoiding any expression of pain.
"So you require an external stimulus to force the release of that tension" I raised my free hand to his neck "Can you cum without thinking of being... forced to do so?" he bit his lip, licked it after that. The challenge in his eyes was something I never thought I would get tired of.
"What do I get if I answer?" and again, like Friday night, like Sunday morning, I gave in to this sense of decay that his lips were inciting. I knew I would remember this act in the darkness of the night, that a feeling of regret and displeasure would eat me to sleep... But now, now it seemed the most logical course of action to take. Although the logic in this moment mattered little.
He answered with his mouth half open, his hands still dared not leave the edge of the sink, but one of his legs moved subtly against mine. I felt his jaw move under my thumb as his tongue slid shamelessly against mine.
One, two, three, ten seconds, thirty. But who was counting?
He bit my lip by sliding his tongue across the injured skin, and as I began to wonder what the hell was I doing, his hand burying itself in the hair at the back of my neck in a gesture of desire propelled a warm gush of lasciviousness across my chest, forcing me to press my body against his with greater eagerness, legs interlocked against the cold tile, one hand against an open wound, the other against unpolluted skin. I parted, letting go of a restrained breath against his skin.
His eyes opened looking for mine. The hand on the back of my neck hesitated, but his stubbornness forced him to keep it there. He swallowed hard.
"Okay..." he muttered under a gentle exhalation. "'Yes, that was… quite telling”
"My place or yours? After school" he looked up. The question did not feel so alien, not after so many math sessions in the silence of the afternoon "I still have to finish my essay... And you, well, you must be getting something out of all this" I walked away taking out my cell phone to check the time, if I left I would not be so late for class. For a second I wondered who the hell cared about classes, when the doors to a thousand new sensations were right in front of me, but I knew from experience that my sanity weakened easily under certain contexts, this one had the potential to be one of those.
In short... I was afraid to continue, because I didn't know what would come out of it.
He followed my movements with his huge blue eyes, detailing the crimson on one of my fingertips for his own blood.
"In mine" he finally murmured, fleeing from that gap between the sink and my chest. By the time I wanted to respond he had already left the bathroom.