The boy was channeling the spirits of Judas and Jack Torrence
It was to be an insane evening of debauch and sin
Smith & Wesson with their friend Jim Beam
All going to conspire with the boy to raise some hell
-–and he did

He awoke on the Sabbath amid a cloudy head and a fat lip
Memories on the way back like a strobe light on a devil’s carnival
Off and on...

    BLINK enemy BLINK blood
His toes curled as his deeds come back like a muddy flash flood down a dry wash
(torrid dirty rush)
The Car. The Fight. The Gun.
He didn’t mean to do it, which the boy thinks is cause enough for redemption
But it’s not
and now he has a lifetime of punishment and regret to look forward to
(for anyone who has been there know they come hand in hand)
And it is true there is saltwater on his cheeks today, alone, left thinking:
Former friend is dead because it all made pulling a trigger so easy

We were a fast crowd. Russians. Drank a lot. In the evenings Lev would get out his guitar and sing maudlin songs from Vysotsky and Akudjava, songs of freedom that we were no longer denied but still craved. At night we slept in the trailer house or on Dima's two seater sofa, curled up together like puppies.

His name was Bender, but back then none of us knew that in English that would be a pun. Russian. Drank a lot. He had soft doe like eyes and black hair that flowed over a white, feminine neck. Small hands, a wry smile - a poet. I loved him in a messy, distracted sort of way, and he would trail after me when drunk, trying to steal kisses and quoting Anna Akhmatova.

Everyone said he should cut down on his drinking, washing down spliffs with vodka, basking in the wisdom of the soaked. He was going nowhere good fast. Neither were the rest of us, but I guess we didn't look like we enjoyed it. Still he charmed us, much as he stole the guys' girlfriends and then cheated on them. And when he was short for money Braginsky would usually bail him out, or talk Lena into letting him crash on their floor for a while. Lena mothered and fed him, as we all would if he'd let is.

I wasn't there when it happened. They told me later it was a long time coming - but then they would say that. Bender was drunk, more drunk even than usual, and belligerent. Nobody new what started the argument. What ended it was Bender slamming Braginsky's head into the stone floor until he was dead. Just like that. Bam, brains on tiles.

Lena went to live with her mother. I dumped Lev for little Boris, and he married a girl who despised him. Beata worked in a series of run down bars, and big Boris drank until his diabetes finally put him in hospital. Dima threw a few parties in his bedsit, but we only came out of bitter nostalgia and a sense of obligation. He soon stopped trying.

Bender is still in prison. Having provided us with a fountainhead from which our lives could flow, sqaundering themselves listlessly away, he is doing his time.

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