2020-2021, Short Story, Writing

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By Hannah Fuchsberg, ’23

January 26, 1972, the day my whole life fell apart. I had so much, so many experiences, so much joy, so much love, so much of all those things you think no one could ever take away. Well, he found a way. That lying freak. To go from the luckiest man in the world to the most unfortunate in the blink of an eye. All the kids used to wave my way, and now they run away in fear. What I would do to go back, to the good old days, before life got complicated, before I associated myself with him. Now, you may be confused who him is, well that is one of the things that make you and I alike. For he seemed as ordinary as them all, but in his core he is a lightning bolt disguised as a rainbow. For if you thought that someone whose life was all bubble gums and rainbows was too good to be true, then you my friend are correct.

His name was Desmond Gotu, and I am Hunter Shrines. What do the two of us have to do with each other, for 40 years nothing, and suddenly it became a hell ton. I grew up as an only child in a small conservative home in Minnesota. I was a happy child, I lived with my mom and pop and my nanna. I loved my home, and my street, I never dreamed of leaving and I never did. You see, money started running short in my home, and being a laborer with no degree wasn’t paying enough anymore. So, I went to my town of Duluth, Minnesota’s community college. That school was tiny and run down, more dead flies attended than students. Most of my classes had no more than 12 people and every surface had this gunk on it, like a lollipop was smeared along every surface in the room. To say the least, this was no one’s dream school, but it was cheap and it would give me the education I needed to pay the bills, so I went.

In my classes, I never really made any friends. My classmates never really talked amongst themselves either. Whenever the professor was done talking there was always an odd quality of silence in the room. It was so quiet that the drop of the pen would wake up someone who was sleeping in class. This was true until my 4th year at Duluth Community College. The year 1971 was the year some change was finally made to this old and familiar town. In September of that year my dear old neighbor Cherryl Hops had passed. She was the sweetest lady but a widow she was, and she never had any children either. So, following her death, her house was put up for sale. By November, a new family had moved in, this was the first time I had seen anyone ever buy a house on my street, for simply no one ever left. Our new neighbors fit right in, everyone loved them and they were welcomed into the street with open arms. I was quite fond of them as well. The Gotu family. They weren’t poor but as many of us wished, more money would help them out, to maybe take a trip, or repaint the house, simple things but they make a difference in someone’s life. One member of the Gotu family, Desmond, was much like myself. He was a very charismatic family man who like myself wanted to go back to school so he could provide more for his family. I told him about the community college I attended. It fit his budget so Desmond decided to attend with me. Desmond and I had a great time together, and another odd quirk with us was that Desmond and I looked a lot alike, not identical, but we looked eerily similar to each other.

One night after our class ended, Demond and I decided to go out for pizza, just the two of us, at our local pizzeria. We had fun at first, complained about our assignments, had a few drinks, ate some pizza, and just had a really nice time. As the night went on, more and more drinks were consumed, and heavier topics brought up. That’s when things began to take a turn for the worse. Hostility and anger began to fill the air. For our town was having their primary election soon. Desmond decided to bring it up, and well to say the least, we do not agree on many things. Desmond grew more aggressive. I tried to leave, if only I signed up for track in high school, for I nearly got away. But, I was too late, one second off my running time could’ve saved someone’s life.

Desmond was so furious at me, to the point where he was ready to kill me. Except as rabid as Desmond was, he wasn’t stupid. He knew that if he killed me, he would spend the rest of his life in jail. So, instead he shot the pizzeria owner. He wore a mask the whole time he did it, and was wearing gloves too, so no fingerprints were left. Now, this was a tiny run down town, we had no money to install security cameras in our pizzerias, so all evidence was delivered by word of mouth.

As I mentioned earlier, Desmond and I looked a lot alike. Once Desmond became sober again the next morning, he realized that he just ruined his whole life, that he didn’t want to rot away in jail. So what did that crooked man do, he blamed the crime on me. There were no security cameras, so his “guess” was as good as anyone’s. I tried and tried to clear my name, I retold the events of that night countless times. But somehow, the more I tried to clear my name, the more guilty I appeared to the public.

Since there was no proof that I actually did commit the crime, I wasn’t arrested, though I was tried for murder several horrific times. Sometimes I wonder though would I have been better off in jail. For the town I loved, the only town I knew my whole life, my neighbors that were like family to me, they all now thought I was a murderer. Children ran away from me in fear. I couldn’t show my face in the grocery store without people running away, screaming at me. Somehow though, that wasn’t even the worst part. The screaming and running wasn’t my breaking point. It was seeing his house. To wake up and look out the window each morning and stare at the house. The house next door. The house that accused me of murder. The house that was a murderer. The house that ruined your life. Every morning looking at him smile on the streets. It broke me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I became a mad man, something I never thought could happen, it shouldn’t have happened. I killed him. Even worse, I had no regrets.

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