Note: This chapter reads really well if you read it while listening to Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again." Don't watch the video, it's boring.
Carly had, inbetween bouts of drunkenness and cold hard hangovers, passed out on the couch. He’d spent the last few days since the confession in bed, without speaking or eating. Gentry wondered if he was passed out, dead, or just didn’t want to get up. Maybe he wanted to sleep and never wake up again. But upon seeing him sprawled out on the couch, Gentry concluded that he was still alive enough to move and let him sit down.
“What day is it?” Carly rasped out, propping himself up onto his elbows.
The TV screen was flickering and illuminating the dark as Gentry took his seat.
The announcer’s voice blared over the television, sharp and haughty. Patronizing taste and hearing in a single bound.
“Ironically, I am able to empathize with some of the individuals I have interviewed today. We have all have faced tragedy and loss in our lives. We all have scars from our personal battles - we have all felt alone and scared. Right now, the people of the Congo are fighting for their very existence.”
“You smell like sex.” Carly muttered.
The TV blared on, uninterrupted.
“We are born into our many beliefs, shapes and colors. We are all different and yet so very similar, and therefore we cannot be silent and accept the torture and murder of our fellow humans. We must tell all those who seek to harm others and specifically now those committing genocide in Africa--- we see your sins. We will stop you and you will pay!”
Gentry sneered back a laugh and chucked a piece of popcorn at the screen.
Carly laughed half-heartedly, “Go live in Africa if you care so much.”
He reached for another beer, then then bitterly grumbled under his breath, “Us fucking Americans can’t even help each other, who are we to stop this? Noooo one helps anyone for free. If I were Africa, Iiiii’d shoot the Americans. Bang, bang…”
His voice slurred off, and he downed another beer.
“Ughhhh… my head hurts. Wanna forget this, but don’t remember what I did last week. Did I say anything interesting?”
“No.” Gentry lied.
“Hm.” Carly sat up, and stumbled to the fridge for another beer. He stopped in his tracks, then heavily spun around and asked, more out of curiosity than concern, “What happened to your face?”
“Yeah, don’t you always.”
He slogged off to the kitchen returned flush-faced from the effort, tripped over himself, then groggily pulled himself off the floor and onto the couch.
“Do you want to see me drink myself to death?” he asked up at Gentry.
“I don’t want to see you. But I wouldn’t mind if you did.”
Carly chugged it down then slammed it onto the table, falling back spread-eagled onto the couch.
Gentry ignored him and continued to watch the TV screen.
Carly leered over at him, taking in with his eyes what his fingers would never touch. What a strange combination. Soft lips and a hard body, boyish freckles and old eyes. That was what disturbed him as well as thrilled him, the eyes of an old man on a young one. And not just any old man. They had the same shape, the same hellish intensity, they were the eyes of a rapist.
And whenever he met their gaze, it sent a little jolt of fear through him; hurt him where nothing else could. But it hurt so good, kindled a flame that took away the numbing cold in his heart.
It flickered contently, slowly spreading until the warmth burned into a manly fury, igniting the will to destroy the monster and transfer his own fear and hatred into those dark amber pits.
He took another swig of beer and wiped his mouth, and spoke up to fill in the ghostly silence where a war should have been.
“I wish you’d drink… don’t know why you don’t. For a while, I thought you were addicted to sex.”
“With what?” Gentry scoffed, shoving him away.
“With… mmpf… Zach. I didn’t think you were into… that kind of thing... black guys.”
“There’s a category for that?”
“No shit there’s a category for everything. He’s black.”
“That isn’t a race.”
Gentry paused with a perplexed look on his face, then shrugged and leaned back into the seat, “Who cares?”
“You should know what you’re poking your dick into.”
“I’m poking my dick into a fine piece of ass with a mouth that’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
“Yeah, why don’t you tell him that.”
“He knows.” Gentry took a sip of beer, “That’s the problem. He always knows what I’m thinking.”
That said, he turned his attention to the TV, slouching slightly and reflexively folding his arms over his slouched stomach.
It was a cute, childish way to sit, something that Carly was quietly charmed by. Those little things held him back. They reminded him that if he destroyed the monster, he would also destroy a part of himself.
Gentry wasn’t thinking of anything except for what he said. He thought in sensations rather than words, understanding the subtleties of speech and eye contact over anything else. What him a good liar also made him distant and preoccupied, distracted by his own awareness. He felt words, he didn’t hear them. And when he wasn’t talking, he let the warm, hazy glow of emotions wash over him, nothing else in his mind except for an occasional image or a large word that stretched and pulled, morphing, shifting, growing larger and larger until it fucked something hard, fast...
He didn’t know or care to know what Carly was thinking. Probably that was for the better.
“Have you ever seen anyone from Estonia,” Carly murmured, downing the can, “besides Zach?”
“One Estonian’s enough.”
“Do you know where Estonia is?”
“I don’t care.”
“You should. It’s between Russia and Sweden.”
“Who cares,” Gentry sighed irritably, “it’s all a big blob of land, and I’ve never been to South America or wherever Estonia is. I don’t care about people here, why should I care about people there?”
Carly thought for a moment, then laughed dimly, “South America? What the fuck? Estonia, Russia, and Sweden aren’t in South America. They’re in Eastern Europe. Even I know that, and I’m drunk.”
“Fine. I don’t care, I’m not going there.”
“Man, how can you be from Alabama and not know what a black guy looks like? Do you even know which side the Pacific Ocean’s on?”
Gentry ignored him.
“Come on Gentry, tell me. What continent’s China on?”
Gentry didn’t reply to this either, preferring the awkward peace that lingered. Carly moved close to him, and Gentry scooted away.
“Where’s Alabama? The North or the South?”
He maintained his sheepish silence, until Carly pulled away and declared,
“You don’t know, do you?”
“Why should I know. It’s all just dirt.”
“How did you even pass geography?”