Back to The Beginning: Every Beauty is a Tragedy Waiting to Happen
Back to Part 7C: If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads

Part 8C of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
One of Three Potential Part Eights

Watching Candy and Don kissing in the cab of Candy's truck had made me feel lonely and unfulfilled. The torment only lasted for a few minutes. Even as I drifted off into a land of dreams where I somehow got the girl and lived happily ever after, the sound of breaking glass brought me back to the disturbed reality I had wandered into. To think, merely six months earlier I had been in high school, terrified only of the prom. You see, there had been this girl named Susan I had a crush on. She dropped hints about me asking her to the prom for weeks. I was sure she wanted me to ask, but each time I approached her, I began to stutter and dropped my books. How much of a wiener was I, really? Now, instead of fumbling with words as I approached the lovely Miss Susan, I was fumbling with words as a basebat bat crashed through the driver's side window. Had Candy not been leaning into Don, landing big wet ones all over his lips and face, she might have suffered remarkable damage to her skull courtesy of the baseball bat.

"Hate to interrupt you ladies,
but it really pisses me off when the sheep leave the pen.
I wouldn't be a very good shepherd if I didn't track you down...
...and fuck you up!"

Scared and feeling that death was creeping closer to me, I yanked the passenger side door handle and fell out of the truck. I rolled onto the dirt shoulder of an insignificant road and down an embankment into tall, marshy grass. Self preservation demanded that I either rise up and run or try to hide amongst the weeds. Another part of me, one I had never had the opportunity to meet before, demanded that I find some sort of weapon and go back up to the road and help Don and Candy.

With all that adrenaline coursing through my veins, I almost failed to see the very small space man perched on my shoulder. It wasn't until he began speaking to me, in a high pitched squeaky voice, that I took notice of his presence.

"Fighting about beauty is dumb.
None of you even understand beauty.
It is a concept, not a negotiable item."

Time seemed to slow down. Everything moved in slow motion. Candy's truck was lurching forward, but almost in a frame by frame motion. I could still move at full speed, and I did, crawling up the grassy embankment on my hands and knees. The tiny space man continued to talk to me, encouraging me to seize the moment and become beautiful through my own actions. With his miniature ray gun, he fired round after round of courage into my brain. When I reached the top of the embankment,

>You are standing at a crossroads.

"Play the game.
Make a choice.
Beauty is rarely obscure.
It finds itself in the eyes of others."

>In front of you is a truck. Occupants are threatened.

Time had ceased to function normally, and instead waited on my next move. I scratched my chin and casually glanced over at the little space man on my shoulder. He was smiling and irradiating my ear canal with his ray gun. This seemed to provide him with feelings of great glee. With each step I took, Candy's truck lurched forward another couple of feet. Jerry was standing on the other side of the truck, his baseball bat at his side as he reached in, apparently trying to strangle Candy. He did not notice me. At least not yet.

"Beauty lives in all of us.
Yet, in some, it lies fallow until it is discovered.
Beauty is dependent on the interpretations of others, as well as the self."

>You are standing next to a truck. Occupants are threatened.

I considered my possible actions. I had all the time in the world to work out an appropriate response to what was happening. It took me a while, but I realized that the strange distortion of time that was taking place gave me the opportunity to look back and evaluate everything that had happened that day. What was painfully obvious was that Jerry had to go. What possible use was he to any of us? Or to the world in general? He was a hate filled cretin who took joy in watching, and causing, suffering in others. Was that beautiful? I supposed, that in its own way, it was beautiful. As I thought about this, I realized that I had no idea how to define beauty. Except, perhaps, that it seemed infinitely linked to tragedy... at least in my realm of experience.

>You are deep in thought.

There was a beauty of a couple's first Christmas together. There was the unfolding tragedy of an as yet undiscovered affair. There was the simple beauty of a child enjoying his favorite toy in the playground and the tragedy lurking behind the wheel of a nearby car. There was beauty coming together in the sudden and unexpected love happening between Candy and Don. There was the tragedy of my jealous heart that told me to leave them to their violent fate. All told, there was nothing I had done in my life to preserve or honor the nature of beauty. This prevented my own beauty from rising up from its hidden and suffocated tunnels within my heart and taking center stage. I would never discover real beauty until I discovered it within my own self.

"Everybody gets scared sometimes.
Even Jerry gets scared,
but you'll never witness it.
He gets scared mostly at home alone."

>Time has resumed. You are standing at a crossroads.

I pulled open the passenger side door of the truck, the same door I had exited by just minutes earlier. Candy was screaming and hitting Jerry in the face as he tried to strangle her through the broken window. Don was yelling, pulling at Jerry's hands in a full blown effort to remove them from around Candy's neck. There was nothing I could do there, so I left the door open and came around the front of the truck. There stood Jerry, his hands fully engaged with Don and Candy inside the truck and his baseball bat, a really nice looking Louisville Slugger, leaning against the side of the truck by his side. I grabbed it quickly and stood there, not knowing if I could find it in me to actually use the bat as a weapon. I had never physically hurt or killed anyone in my life. I had never before even thought about it. All I wanted was to be back in my dorm room, drinking beer, smoking grass and watching MTV. This was more than I ever bargained for.

>Jerry is laughing at you.

"Let her go, fuckwad!"

I could not believe I had shouted those words. I could not believe I actually had shouted them at Jerry. Adrenaline was taking over and I could no longer put up with any of this crap. If Jerry could get mad enough at Candy to try to kill her just because we left him alone at the pancake house, I could get mad enough to bash him in his empty coconut for trying to kill the beautiful and tragic Candy Hunter. I lifted the bat, posing as if I was about to hit a called shot home run, and prepared to strike Jerry in the head with all my strength. I did not get the chance to find out if it was something I could actually do. High beam headlights were coming towards us at a fantastic speed. The car attached to them slammed to a stop beside the truck. Miles, our fellow student and fifth year senior, jumped out holding what looked like a chrome .357 Magnum. He gripped it with both hands, dropped to his knees and pointed it at Jerry.

"Let them go, shit for brains."

Jerry laughed and continued to strangle Candy and pull her towards the broken window. Miles did not have to stop time and think, like I did, although for a split second I thought I saw a tiny space man dancing on his shoulder. Miles fired, catching Jerry in the right shoulder. He released Candy and the truck jerked and accelerated forward, taking Don and Candy around the bend and out of sight.

Miles yelled at me to get in his car. Keeping my eyes on Jerry, who was squirming on the ground and still laughing, I got into Miles' car. He kept the gun pointed at Jerry and slowly dropped back behind the wheel. We pulled away quickly, with Miles pushing the accelerator to the floor, and followed Candy's truck around the bend.

Thus ends Part 8C of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
On to Part 9C: The Beauty of Things Not Meant to Last