“What would happen if I crossed the threshold?” he teased sliding his left foot closer to the mausoleum.
“Don’t,” I pleaded, “it’s not funny.” ignoring me, he pantomimed reaching for the door.
“The last time I saw him he disappeared through that door,” she said it quietly but my head snapped back in violent surprise at the voice.
Carolyn was the weirdo who stalked us on our nightly forays through the graveyard. She had never spoken to us before, I actually didn’t know she could speak. She was creepy, sure, but because we all knew her story, we shrugged off her strangeness.
Now, though, she put her face an inch from Eric’s and asked in a hair raising voice, “Do you want to go with him?”
“Fuck this freak,” Eric stepped back from the door, visibly unnerved. “C’mon. Let’s go.”
We left as quickly as three teenagers trying to maintain bravado could. I looked back only when we reached the gate. Carolyn hadn’t followed but I thought I saw her shadow near the mausoleum. Waiting…
“Kai, you coming or what?” Jordan stood by the gates waiting for my response.
“You said we were going to hang out in the park tonight. I told you, I don’t want to go back to the graveyard.”
“C’mon,” Eric put his arm around my shoulders where I angrily shrugged it off. “Stop it, Kai. You’re being ridiculous.”
“Am I? Because you were plenty ready to beat feet out of here last night.”
He reddened slightly but maintained his attitude, “Fuck the freak. We’re going in. Feel free to wait here by yourself.”
His look of smug satisfaction told me he knew his argument had landed. I wasn’t about to stand out there alone. He walked away without even waiting for my answer.
“Fuck you, Eric.” I swore as I followed him through the gate.
Eric, like a man with something to prove, made a determined beeline for the mausoleum. I kept a slower pace behind him but stayed ahead of Jordan. I didn’t want to hold up the rear.
As we approached, Eric’s steps faltered and stopped completely, still well away from the mausoleum.
“What’s the matter, Eric? Scared?” Jordan goaded him. Eric didn’t answer. He didn’t even look back. He only stared… straight ahead. I followed his gaze, straining into the shadows and saw immediately why he stopped.
The voice came, as if carried on the night breeze, almost inaudibly but with perfect intonation, “Fuck you, Eric.” An exact replica to my insult at the graveyard entrance, it chilled my blood.
“Fuck you, Eric.” it said again, louder, more clearly and the figure in the shadows began to emerge.
I didn’t know where I was at first. I was under a bowl of brightly twinkling stars. My comprehension came in stages… The sky, I slowly realized… The graveyard! I sat up abruptly.
Carolyn stood a few feet away looking at the mausoleum. Horrifyingly, I heard the muffled screams of my friends from inside. What the fuck was happening?
“Carolyn…” I tried to sound cool but the blood whooshing in my ears made it difficult.
“Don’t worry about them. I sent them to get my brother.” She turned toward the mausoleum, staring wistfully at the door behind which I heard my friends panicking.
What was she talking about? Her brother died in a car accident. “Carolyn, let them out.”
“I will when they get my brother. Tell them. Tell them to get him.”
Ummm. Ok? What choice did I have? I stood shakily and walked to the door. “Guys?” they continued pounding, “Hey! Stop! Stop!!”
“Kai?” Eric’s voice, I could tell he’d been, crying. “Kai, that crazy bitch locked us in!”
“Yeah. It’s me. She padlocked the door. She’ll let you out when you get her brother for her.”
“Kai, what are talking about? Are you crazy?”
“Um, I’m not.” I let the implication hang in the air. “Just go get him and she’ll unlock the door.”
Silence, punctuated by intermittent sobs… Don’t be dense, my brain pleads.
“Ok…” Jordan finally called through the door.
“Ok. We have him.”
Carolyn looks ecstatic, “Leo? Leo? Leo! I’m bringing you home!”
“Give me the key, Carolyn.” she didn’t move but remained placid when I grabbed the key from her hand.
“Ok, you guys. Be ready.” I unlocked the door and we ran and ran, leaving a screaming Carolyn behind, not stopping until we reached safety.
We made a pact that night to never tell a soul.
“Hey, Kai, did you hear?” Jordan approached me after third period. “They locked that crazy bitch up last night. She must have tried some of that shit with someone else.”
“Don’t call her that.”
“Call her what a crazy bitch? She locked us in a mausoleum. I think it qualifies.”
“Yeah and Eric sobbed for his mommy and you wet yourself, so what?”
He flashed red, “Fuck you, Kai. What’s up your ass?”
“We did that to her. How do you not get that? Obviously, she wasn’t right. She followed us around like a zombie while we hung out in the cemetery. Like, what a sick fucking joke, right? Eric pretended like we were going to go in mausoleum and shit… Her dead brother is buried there. We fucked her up with our callousness. For real, how is this still ok for you?”
“Fuck you, Kai. She was crazy before we did any that. We didn’t fuck her up. Eric said you were on the rag today and to leave you alone. I should have fucking listened.”
He turned on his heel and stomped off. I watched him go without regret. I knew the friendship was over. They would become twosome I would move on to better things.
For the past three years I’ve brought flowers to Leo’s grave as an act of attrition. Today, as I approach, I see a new name on the mausoleum and my heart sinks because I already know what it will say.