The Invisible

Dark Shadow
( 2009 by the author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...


Crunching leaves played under my feet as I meandered down the cracked sidewalk towards Daniel's house. I kept my eyes on the ground, watching my frayed pant legs swish against the frost glazed concrete. A brisk morning breeze pushed against me causing a shiver to roll through my body and I pulled my black hooded sweatshirt tighter around myself.

A grayed page of our local newspaper swooped past me. It fluttered against the brown dead limbs of a nearby bush, long enough for me to read the words 'Hate Crime', before it tore loose and danced away.

"Great!" I thought to myself. "Just what this hellhole needs... more publicity. God I hate this fucking town."

My parents moved to the town of New Winsor during the summer of 1999. Unfortunately, they had to haul me with them. Problems between my father's side of the family and my mother made it nearly impossible for us to continue living in Kolina. My father's family were the kind of people who kept their wives at home. They were to do as they were told. My mother disagreed, and that was the end of it. She was right, they were wrong.

I was fourteen and going into my freshman year of high school when we moved to New Winsor. I had friends at my old school. I was somewhat popular. I had a life! That came to a crashing end when we arrived in this corn fed purgatory. My life had become a little piece of hell. I had made a couple of attempts to talk with the local wild life of this new town, but the reception had been cold, cruel and filled with disdain. I was an outsider.

When school started, I was well aware no one wanted to know me. Moreover, I became a fun new target for their harassment and abuse. The name calling, slams against lockers between class, and punches when teachers' eyes were turned, had beaten me down into a shell of myself. Unfortunately for Daniel, and luckily for me, he had been my predecessor, and was still a target of their bullying when I wasn't conveniently available.

After school began my first year here, Daniel Johnson and I gravitated toward each other like kindred spirits. We suffered the same grueling fate of torment, and later found we had much in common. We shared similar tastes in music, computer games, clothes, and after a few months of beating around the bush, sex. We were both gay. It was one of so very few joys we had. Neither of us ever seemed to think much beyond getting off. We weren't in love. We were more in lust. We had fun together, and were the best of friends.

The struggle and pain of each day kept us focused on now. The future seemed impossibly far away. I would like to say I survived the last two and a half years, but the truth was, I had only existed. A body can't take that much physical and mental abuse and not begin to fray at the edges.

I am sixteen now and in my Junior year. Another year and a half until graduation stretched before me like an eternity in my mind. I dreaded every single minute. It did give me the slightest glimmer of hope, but that hope was regularly beaten out of me.

I wandered my way down the cold sidewalk, only lifting my eyes when crossing the street, for the five blocks it took to get to Daniel's house. The rumble of someone's truck grew behind me and someone yelled "FAGGOT". The gust of wind made me flinch as it sped past.

I stopped at the end of the sidewalk next to Daniel. It was difficult to tell which of us was the least noticeable. There was an unspoken competition between us as to which could better blend into our surroundings.

It wasn't really a competition though. For us it had become a survival technique. If they didn't notice you, they would leave you alone. I liked to think Daniel's short exotic red-orange hair, pale complexion, and nearly skeletal frame, made him more noticeable than me. He was short, and though not necessarily handsome, I thought cute. His lips were nearly pink, and the brownish orange freckles that dotted his ghostly white body excited me.

Daniel lifted his green eyes and peered at me from inside the hood of an almost exact copy of the black sweatshirt I wore.

"Hey Daniel." I stood bouncing in place trying to stay warm.

"Heya Steve. Another day in paradise." He sighed.

"Yep... just doesn't get any better than this," I answered, feeling an empty sorrow fill my stomach.

We were a cookie cutter image of the ordinary. I wasn't as emaciated as Daniel, but I was still thin. My light brown shoulder length hair and murky brown eyes were nothing spectacular. I was lucky to have fairly clear skin, but was at that awkward adolescent stage of growth.

I had grown to about six foot this past summer, but hadn't filled out with the muscles that seemed to complete the maturity of an older body. My nose was slightly larger than I liked, and my ears seemed to stick out at odd angles. My glasses only seemed to accent these imperfections. Maybe no one else noticed. I tended to zero in on my flaws daily as I brushed my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror. Unlike the more muscled jocks that I stole glances at in the gym locker room, I was average in almost every sense of the word.

Another gust of frigid air buffeted against us bringing the smell of dirt and dried leaves. I did love this time of year. October was cool enough in Illinois, that you could wear thin layers of clothes and never sweat. The once green leaves that littered the frozen ground had changed to bright reds and golds. It was only fifty-two degrees, but the weatherman promised a near perfect day of seventy.

It was Wednesday, October 31st, 2001, meaning another arduous day of high school. Alwin High was a two-story relic built in the early 60's, made of red brick, asbestos tile, and radiator heat. The building seemed to breathe in and out a century of dust. The rooms were made with tall fifteen foot ceilings showing exposed wiring and sometimes plumbing, depending which floor you were exiled to.

The dark hardwood flooring made even a small group of people sound like a herd of cattle as they walked down its ancient echoing hallways. Everything about this section of school screamed antique.

In the mid 70's Alfa and New Winsor combined school districts, prompting an expansion of the high school. The school was extended outward, tripling in size. The newer part of the school was built with a different style and color of brick, stretching a city blocks in length.

The newer part of the school, which attached to its ancient counterpart, began with a large gymnasium, principal's office, cafeteria, and nursing office. A long hallway lined with tall green lockers extended beyond this. The lockers were interrupted with doors to classrooms on either side before ending at the school's inadequate library. Each classroom had eight windows that would let in too much chill when winter arrived.

My class had a grand total of thirty-nine cliquish teenagers. It was a rural town of no size with tiny minds and today was my weekly appointment with the traveling psychologist.

Once a week she would visit our school in the circuit she traveled in corn country. Her name was Linda, and even though she was very kind, I hated her. Well, I didn't really hate her. I hated the fact that my parents agreed to the school's request for me to see her. I hated the fact that I would be pulled from the middle of class, earning the stares of everyone as I exited the room.

They all knew where I was going and it brought too much unwanted attention. They didn't need any more ammo for their brutal artillery of cruelty. So no... I didn't hate Linda, she was just the unfortunate target of my anger and humiliation.

Do I need therapy? You're damn right I need therapy and I've earned it! Hell! Maybe if my father would quit beating the shit out of me and leaving so many goddamned embarrassing bruises, then I wouldn't need to go!

Luckily I had become an expert at writing doctors' excuses and other bits of forgery. It was yet another skill gained by necessity. This helped me escape gym class when the bruises on my back and legs might be seen. Black eyes and minor cuts and abrasions were never difficult to explain. I had so many from home and school that no one even asked. It's amazing the amount of damage a body can take if you spread it out just right. My soul though, felt like it had been wounded beyond repair.

I remembered a poem I had written the night before.


My tears fall on the inside.
My eyes forever dry.
My bruises on the outside.
I'm too big to cry.


I put it in an envelope in my computer desk drawer. I want it to be my epitaph. I pray it will be sooner rather than later.

This had been another thing Daniel and I had in common. It seemed our fathers were kindred spirits as much as we were. Their ideals and common ground on discipline were nearly identical in practice.

Where my parents stopped here, his continued on. His father was an adept alcoholic. He wasn't just good at drinking, he was an expert. His mother was a cracked out banshee. Their screams could be heard nearly three houses away as they fought through the night.

On particularly bad nights, Daniel would sneak to my house and I'd let him in through my window. The following morning was always a toss up. We watched to see which of his parents, if not both, would emerge from the house battered and bruised.

It amazes me how they can walk out their front door acting as though nothing was wrong and the previous night had never happened. The fat, poor excuse of our town's only policeman had even changed his nightly route. He now avoided our street entirely. The cop, who we called Enis the Penis, knew the way to Daniel's house all too well. He had been summoned countless times by the neighbors to restore the peace.

They only wanted the quiet so they could continue watching their nightly sitcoms without distraction. In reality, better entertainment could be found outside some nights as Daniels' parents would take their drunken, doped up brawls to their front lawn.

"How about we ditch first period study hall and hang out in the small gym bathroom for a little fun," I suggested, looking at his hunched figure.

"I think that's an excellent idea," Daniel lett out a mischievous chuckle. "Just don't fuck up the excuse. Last time you spelled my mom's name wrong."

"Yeah... sorry about that, man. I didn't mean to get you detention." I hiked the heavy book bag up higher on my back.

"No worries dude. My mom was so fucking high when they called her, she didn't even remember it when I got home. All she did was bitch cuz I was late." He chuckled as he pulled the remaining unbroken strap of his backpack over his right shoulder.

"She wanted her fucking dinner. Like it's that fucking hard to throw a TV dinner in the microwave." He heaved a disgusted breath.

"Well... actually." I hung on the last word for effect grinning as I looked into his green eyes.

"Shut up dude... that's not funny. She almost burned down the fucking house." Daniel punched my shoulder.

I laughed while rubbing away the pain. This past Labor Day Daniel's mom had decided to make a nice family dinner. The food stamps had come through and she had gone on a shopping spree. She started cooking early that morning. By noon, she was so high she forgot the now charcoal bird in the oven, and the kitchen was filled with smoke and flames.

When Daniel's father came home he seemed more pissed that the fire trucks had left him no place to park than the fact his house had nearly burned to the ground. Then again, he had been at the bar since noon and it was past seven when he pulled up to the house. He staggered out of his truck with a twelve pack latched to his hand. He made it as far as the green frayed lawn chair in their front yard, sat down, cracked open a beer and watched the show. It's no wonder we both have weekly appointments with the rent-a-shrink.

We trudged along another couple of blocks before hearing the school-bell ring in the distance. We were going to be late, but what the hell. We were cutting first period anyway. We turned the corner and continued up the street toward the old section of the school. It loomed in the distance like the red brick prison it was. There were only a couple of old yellowed windows on this side of the building so we didn't worry too much about being caught. No one could see through the decades of crud even if they did try to peer out.

Reaching the school, our last hurdle was the dirt road that led to the back of the school where gym class would be held. Jocks and geeks were gathering, wearing t-shirts and shorts, freezing their nuts off.

We paused behind the lilac bush at the corner of Sweeny's fenced in yard and looked through its thinning branches to see if it was safe. After a nod to Daniel we jogged over the dirt road and across the school lawn to the side entrance of the school. We pulled on the heavy wooden door and entered. We crept down the steps as quietly as we could in case a stray teacher might be making some last minute copies in the office above.

The small gym, as we called it, was in the basement of the old school and a long hallway went along its edge to a nearly forgotten shower and bathroom now used more for storage of paper and school supplies.

The door creaked as I pushed it open and we listened to make sure we heard no movement inside. Someone could be taking an early piss break. After peaking into the showers and then into the restroom, I knew the coast was clear.

We walked into the old shower alcove that was the center of the two rooms. I always wondered why they only had two showers. How the hell did everyone get washed if there were only two showers?? Sure they were five foot by five foot, but there was only one showerhead in each.

This had become our hideaway at school when we wanted to trade blowjobs or have a smoke. We didn't usually kiss much unless we were stoned. It just seemed too gay I suppose, and we weren't comfortable with it yet. At least I wasn't. There were still parts of my fragile psyche that wished I were normal.

We didn't waste any time.

The bell rang, signaling the end of the period. We both nearly jumped out of our shoes. Daniel quickly stuffed himself back into his pants and fastened them. We were nearly out of the shower alcove when the door burst open slamming against the brick wall. We ran back and hid.

"Move it faggot. Get in there," an angry voice commanded. It sounded like someone had fallen into the boxes against the far wall.

"That's right, get on your knees. That's where all you fags wanna be."

It sounded like one of the Peterson boys, but I wasn't sure which one. Their parents had squeezed out five of them. They were all boys and looked as though someone had cloned the same person at different ages.

We heard a zipper, the rustle of fabric and then a slight grunt.

"Watch the teeth, Goddamnit. I thought you queers were supposed to be good at this."

I started to creep out of the shower when Daniel grabbed my wrist, shooting me a look saying 'Are you fucking crazy!?' I waved him off and snuck out to the edge of the shower divider. Low grunts and groans filled the room as the sloppy sounds of someone giving head echoed off the brick walls. I crouched low and took a quick peak around the corner.

I couldn't see who it was, but I could definitely tell what was going on. One of the Peterson boys was facing away from me with someone else kneeling in front of him.

"That's it. Suck that senior jock cock," he groaned. "You like that big meat don't you fag."

I looked back to Daniel as he crouched against the wall of the shower. He mouthed the words "WHO IS IT?!" I shrugged back and mouthed "I DON'T KNOW!"

Daniel finally built up the courage to join me at the concrete partition and peaked around the side. He snapped back wide eyed and suddenly all the sound stopped in the room. FUCK! We were busted! My heart skipped a beat before I heard the sounds of sex again and I let out a breath I hadn't realized I was holding.

"Get ready faggot... here comes my load." He moaned and growled louder than I would have thought was safe. The angry voice gave several grunts and then there was only the sound of rapid breath.

"Not bad, pussy boy. I'll have to use you again," the voice said, panting.

A zipper went up and a door slammed open and shut. We listened as whoever was left gave a few short high pitched moans before there was only the pant of quick breaths. Another zipper went up and then the door slammed open again crashing against the concrete wall. Damn that was close.

I peaked around the partition to make sure we were along again, and grinned seeing the crushed lid of the box where the boy had originally landed.

The second bell sounded to let everyone know that if you weren't already in class... your ass was late.

"Let's wait a couple of minutes and then get the fuck out of here," I whispered.

"Day off?" Daniel asked.

"Day off." I nodded.

We left the same way we came, and strolled across town to the gas station where Daniel's sister, Suzie, worked. This wasn't our first time ditching school and we knew she'd let us crash at her house.

Suzie got knocked up at sixteen and moved out of the house shortly thereafter. She was divorced now. Luckily, there was only one child as a result.

Suzie was another fine specimen and proof why people should need a license to be parents. Hers had fucked her up and she had taken the first opportunity to escape. I couldn't blame her. She was actually pretty cool and seemed to be more with it than the rest of Daniels' family. Where I was an only child, Daniel was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, all of which had long since escaped.

The gas station looked pretty packed and we didn't want to risk getting caught.

"Shit, she won't care... let's just crash at her house for a few hours," Daniel said.

"Sounds good to me man," I answered.

Her house was just a couple of blocks away. As we stepped in the back door, the radio was playing, and for once, it was something decent. It was a rock band I didn't recognize, but could learn to like given half the chance.

Daniel landed on the sofa chair as I plopped down on the dilapidated couch. We sat there sprawled out just relaxing before we started our yawning wars. He'd yawn, then I would. I'd yawn again, and then he would.

"Okay Dude, I'm gonna take a nap." Daniel yawned.

"Good idea." I lay my head against an ugly brown stained pillow and pulled the tattered afghan from the back of the couch to cover me.

I have thing about being covered when I sleep. Mostly it was because I know how I usually woke up; hard, horny, and needing to piss. I watched Daniel roll against the uneven cushions trying to get comfortable. I kicked off my shoes and let them fall to the floor with a thud. I can't sleep with shoes on.

Several hours later, I opened my eyes, and listened to the radio before remembering where I was.

"It's Halloween folks. Better grab your crucifix!" the DJ announced as another song began.

"Steve get up... it's almost 3:30. We're due home and Suzie will be off work soon," he urged.

The last thing either of us needed was to get busted for skipping school. The thought of it snatched me from my sleep. I adjusted myself and threw the afghan back on the sofa. I pulled on my black high tops and left the laced untied. Who cared anyway... I was just going to take them off again. We jogged and walked our way back toward home.

"Hey... tell your mom you're coming over to my place, and I'll tell mine I'm going to be hanging with you. Meet me in the cemetery," I suggested.

"Okay," Daniel said with a nod.

We parted ways and trudged home. I went through the gate and removed my backpack so I could make a quick get away. The back door led into the kitchen and my room was just off to the side. I didn't see my dad, so I snuck in the door as my mom was rushed about fixing dinner. I walked passed her, avoiding eye contact, and dumped my backpack on my bed. If I didn't make a quick and hasty escape, he'd never fucking let me out on Halloween night. I hurried past my mom.

"I'm going to hang out with Daniel tonight" I yelled as I ran out the back door.

"Hey...!" I heard my dad growl as the door shut and cut his voice.

FUCK... I had to run. He'd come yelling out the door and if I didn't move my ass he would see me. He'd know, without a doubt, I was ignoring him. As it was, I was probably going to get the shit knocked out of me. Better later than sooner.

I cut through a few yards and felt my heart began to calm as I approached the cemetery behind the Catholic Church. Daniel was already there. He had his ass propped up on one of the headstones as if it were made for his own personal use.

"You got here fast."

"I didn't even go in the door. I just threw my backpack over the fence into the backyard. That fat bitch can make her own fucking dinner for a change," Daniel muttered back at me. "Took you long enough though. Damn!"

"Hey... it's not like that for me. You know I have to at least try to make it look like not hearing my dad was an accident. The last time he beat my ass I think he broke a fucking rib!" I snapped back.

"Okay... okay... damn dude... calm down," he whined.

This had been another one of our places. We spent many a night walking the paved lanes of this cemetery. It was usually quiet and no one bothered us. There was no fence protecting it like you would find in a larger city. The people of this town respected the cemetery, if nothing else.

Daylight Savings time had rolled back last Sunday and the shorter days were already gone when 6:30 came around. Night had fallen as we continued to walk in silence with intermittent bursts of conversation about life in general. We meandered our way through the cemetery and watched trick-or-treaters run from house to house collecting piles of candy.

As the evening stretched on, the kids on the streets thinned until almost everyone had gone home to sleep. An occasional whoop or yell could be heard in the distance as heathen teenagers had their fun. It was getting colder and I suggested we head home. Coming home before midnight might save us both a beating. We trudged along the side streets before turning onto ours. We were about a block from his house when we heard the distant screaming and yelling. Daniel's parents were at it again and in full force.

Daniel gave me a look that told me we needed to make another lap or two around the block. We went left at the next intersection. I was shivering from the cold. My breath made little white clouds. He needed a moment to think, and then we'd go to my house. With him in tow I might just have a chance at avoiding a punch to the face from my father.

"Dude, I fucking hate my life," Daniel broke the silence.

"I know man... Pray for death."

"I do... Trust me I do," he mumbled.

The cold pushed us to take a shortcut leading back to our street. We turned, walking down the barely lit alley behind the grocery store. The bells in the First Methodist Church tower chimed telling us it was midnight.

"Time to die faggots!" said a familiar angry voice as something slammed into the base of my skull.

I remember curling up in the fetal position trying to protect myself as pain blasted throughout my body. Dull thuds and cries of anguish filled the night before everything vanished.

My eyes opened as the sound of rustling paper drew my attention. I was frozen and aching. I had been stripped naked and so had Daniel. He lay motionless in the curve of my body. The street light blinked to life with a buzz and I saw the newspaper as the wind pressed it against the fence.




Today marks the fifth anniversary of the double homicide of two alleged homosexual students at Winsor High School. Daniel Johnson and Steve Atkinson were found bludgeoned to death five years ago, today, in the alley behind the Special K Supermarket in New Winsor. The case remains unsolved.

The story continued... but I knew what it was about.

October 31st, 2001 was a special day. The full moon would not light the sky on Halloween again until the year 2020. Our prayers had been answered. We were murdered that Halloween night five years ago.

"See ya next year Daniel." My voice echoed through the alley as I put my arm around him.

"Later Steve." He answered pulling me closer.

The distant chime of the church tower ended. A sudden breeze sent the nearby autumn leaves into spirals as we drifted into the darkness.


Posted: 08/07/09