Kenneth Lawson: Sins of the Youth

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Sins of the Youth

By Kenneth Lawson

It had been decades since he’d been back to the old town. Catching up with old friends and seeing the folks he knew as a kid had been fun. But he was really here for another reason. 

He had to go back to the cabin. Part of him hoped it was still standing. And a bigger part of him hoped it had long ago collapsed on itself, burying their secrets with it. A bunch of kids, they were what they were, at the time had found the old cabin and used it as a clubhouse of sorts for years. Keeping their secrets from the world. And their parents. 

It was the third night in town when he had a chance to sneak away unnoticed. Leaving his car by the road he took his flashlight and found the old stone path that had led to the cabin. At one time he was sure it had been a really nice place, but even back then it had been a wreck. The years had been as kind as they could be to a dilapidated house. It was still standing. In the moonlight, he made out the shape of the old building. Closing his eyes he could hear his friends calling him, and in his mind, he replayed the last summer. The games they played and towards the late summer, before they went to high school, they had discovered girls. They had all taken turns bringing girls up here. But things got out of hand. And stuff happened. And Becky, Becky Lane her name was, disappeared the next day.

Of course, he knew what had happened, and had sworn to secrecy under penalty of death. The look on her face as she fell and hit her head, and rolled to the floor still haunted him every night when he went to sleep.

They had panicked and hid her in the floor of the cabin and never returned.

That fall into winter all everyone talked about was the disappearance of Becky. 

But they never said a word. No one searched the cabin, in fact, they never even searched the woods where the cabin was. Which surprised him. It was a well-known spot for the local kids to play. But for some reason it was assumed that she’d never go there, it just wasn’t “like her” to go into the woods, she was too much of a homebody and “Goody Two Shoes” to actually go outside and play in the woods. While no one said it specifically, that was what they all thought. He, of course, knew better.

Pushing his way through the brush that had overgrown the path, he found the door. The moon was shining just like it had that night. Breathing hard, he closed his eyes as he touched the old door. He felt his heart racing and the lump in his stomach was almost enough to make him throw up. Swallowing hard, he took a few deep breaths. 

He pushed the door open. It almost fell off the hinges as it opened inward. The stale musty air hit him but he blocked out the smell and stood in the doorway. Shining his flashlight around the room, he thought how much smaller it was than he remembered it being. The posters once on the wall were either lying on the floor or hanging by a thread. In the far corner was “The Stash” as they called it. The stack of dirty magazines that was almost two feet tall. Now a pile of wet and soggy glossy pictures whose colors and pictures had long ago run into each other and become unreadable. He spotted the table leaning against the wall, its legs broken. Broken that night when Becky fell against it. She hit the wall so hard it knocked the old rifle that had hung on the wall since long before they had started using it as a clubhouse. The barrel had landed squarely on her head, and that coupled with the fall had been enough to render her unconscious. They felt for her pulse as best they knew how, and there was none. She was dead. 

They panicked. No one wanted to admit to bringing her up there. Then the whole thing would come out, all the girls they’d brought up, and the books and pictures and other stuff they had up there.

So they buried her under the floorboards of the shed. And they left. 

And never came back.

Until now. He had to know if she was still there. For his own peace of mind, to know she was still buried in the shed. 

It took a few minutes in the dark to remember exactly where they had buried her.

But he found it. Pawing through the dirt with an old loose board, he found nothing. No bones, no clothes. Nothing. 

“Looking for me?”

He literally peed his pants at the sound of the voice behind him. Standing up, he turned back to the door.

The voice had been quiet and steady. But he recognized it.

Becky stood in the doorway holding a shotgun. The shotgun. 

“I thought…”

She interrupted. “Thought I was dead?” 

“Yeah, we all did.”

“I know. You didn’t notice that you didn’t see Frank around town when you got here?”

“Yeah, I wondered about that but just thought since he was older and on his own, he left town so no one would ask. I wasn’t sure he was still around.”

“He is, he is under the floor over there. He came back that night looking for me after you ran. I think he realized that I wasn’t dead or wanted to make certain I was. By then I had decided what I wanted to do and he could ruin it for me.” She moved the barrel of the shotgun ever so slightly to indicate the far corner of the room. He glanced at it, and then back to her.

“You killed him?”

“Yes. He egged you into trying it on with me that night. You could have said no, it wasn’t right, but you let him push you. And when I fell, I hit hard and the old gun fell down. It damned near did kill me, but I woke up after you left. Dug my way out of the floor just before he showed up. I killed him, buried him, and disappeared. Yeah, let the whole damned city think I was dead. While I hid out and watched everyone chasing in circles trying to find me. I saw my parents. I spied on them. Even snuck into the house, and heard them when no one was around. They were glad I was gone. Oh, they put on the front and made out how they missed me and wanted me back. But I knew better. So I stayed gone.

I changed my name and went to a new town, invented some kind of bullshit story, and they believed it. And the next thing I knew I was adopted and living on the good side of town. It has been great all these years. So I guess I should thank you for almost killing me while trying to get into my pants.” 

“How did you know I was here?”

“I’ve been watching you since you got into town. I hoped you would come out here to make sure my body’s still here. Saves me having to move you afterward.”

“Look, I’m really sorry, we didn’t mean nothing by anything we did, we were just kids.”

“That might have worked then, but not now. It’s too late, far too late for me. I’ve already gone down this road, and I’m going to finish it.”

With that, the shotgun flashed. He never heard it go off.

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