12/24/12 1:40 AM: Christmas Eve

by dschapman

December 24 1:40 AM 2012 (Christmas Eve)

I delivered a package of stationery on the evening of the 23rd to Marian Barksdale in Oxford with my friend Duncan and she gave us meringues for a gift. Afterwards we ate dinner together at the sandwich shop. While we ate I received a call from my good friend Lucas. He said he wanted to come see me. I was glad because I didn’t think I would see him until after Christmas. “Yes,” I said, “come.”

When we got home Duncan played a video game and I laid down with my dog and watched. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening. Duncan had given me a small nugget of weed and I had smoked most of it, except for some crumbs. My back hurt because I had been working so hard. The weed helped relieve the pain. I had received a speeding ticket on the morning of the 22nd which I took very personally and it soured my mood. I did not want the law in my holiday season. Suddenly I was very worried about the law – I felt like something would go wrong soon, terribly wrong, and that I’d get in trouble. I hoped that I would stay out of trouble. All that I wanted was to stay out of trouble.

Lucas came over around eight or nine in the evening. I gave him two close hugs when he came in and I thanked him for coming. I invited him to come relax with us. He ignored Duncan and stood angrily in the kitchen. I tried to talk cheerfully with him but he was uncooperative. He said that I didn’t need to check on him, that he was fine, he was just reading my newspaper. I left him alone because I did not want to deal with him being angry, and when I came back to check on him he asked me if I could have some weed – he had scraped up my scraps. “No,” I said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. You have done it before and it is bad for you. It is up to me to keep you out of trouble. Don’t.” But he pressed, and I added, “Listen. I don’t think you should. But I can’t stop you. You know I can’t stop you.” Because that was what it came down to. I could not physically stop him, nor would he listen to me. So I pleaded to him to stop himself, but he did nothing.

I asked him to sit down and relax with us repeatedly, but he paced angrily about in the kitchen. I heard him banging cabinets and checked up on him; he yelled at me not to check on him, and he called me and Duncan faggots, he became very furious. I was not unfamiliar with this behavior but I thought it had been retired long ago. I was beginning to get nervous. I thought maybe we had grown out of it, together. In fact it was very scary for me to deal with him like this. I was very sober – I had not smoked in hours then. I tried to figure out how to calm the situation down and make Lucas happier. I vowed not to check on him, because I wanted him relaxed, I did not want him to think I was plotting against him. I relaxed in the living room and listened anxiously while he banged around the kitchen, blaring my music. I went in repeatedly and turned the music down, and everytime I left he’d turn it back up. “Please, Lucas, please,” I’d beg, “My head hurts, please, keep it quiet, are you really going to do this, to act up like this, to disrespect me? Please, Lucas, listen, not like this, not on Christmas eve…”

Meanwhile Duncan ignored him, trying to play his game in peace. I tried to watch and relax with him, because my head was hurting, but Lucas came in without a shirt on and began roaring, doing push-ups and threatening us with confrontation. He threatened to slap me and challenged Duncan to a fight. He left and came back in with a tall can of 6% alcohol raspberry brew, an unpleasant drink that I keep around the house for company. It is disgusting stuff that I hide away and he has one in his hands and has probably already had one, and there many more still there. I realize that unless he is physically stopped, he will have the power to drink everything in my house. I realize how much alcohol I have, which is strange considering I do not even drink it. But it is for company! Every good household must have some alcohol in it.

Seeing him with the beer, challenging me to stop him, I was furious. I immediately leapt to my feet and told him to give me the drink. I ask him to please give me the drink, to think about what he is doing and give me the drink. He grins and laughs and roars, etc., and tells me not to dare take it from him. He dares me, “Take it from me, faggot, you fucking faggot, you can’t fucking do anything,” and looks me in the eyes while he drinks from the can, his eyes red and his face lit-up. I have heard that you should never try to take an alcoholics’ drink from him, but I do not know what else to do, so I try; he resists, of course, and I stop. I stare at him. “Dear God, Lucas, do not do this to me, or you, to your family – don’t.” But he puts the can to his lips and drinks the entire thing in front of me. I am furious. I want him to leave. I finally give up entirely and start yelling. “Leave, then, you bastard! Why are you doing this?” I want to kick him out but I could not if I tried, and anyway he is too dangerous, he would get in a car accident or kill himself, he would end up in jail. Why is he behaving so horribly?

I ran into the kitchen and opened my cabinet, and much to my horror I realized that my unopened bottle of gin and of rum were both emptied. “Jesus,” I said, and I wondered if he had possibly dumped them down the drain in a jest – or had he really drank them? Had he drank them just then, or somehow drank them in the past? I picked up the bottles and threw them away.

Perhaps I feel ashamed for having liquor in my liquor cabinets. I am not even a drinking man – I have not had a drop in many years now. I do not have a taste for it, I despise it altogether. I buy it on occasion in order to satisfy my guests, because no good household would have nothing to offer its guests. There was even a bottle of wine in the refrigerator. Not that I drink wine these days. The closest I have come to drinking was just the other day, and it was all a show. I poured myself half of a glass on the evening of the 21st at the Williams family Christmas party but did not even sip it, once, I only pretended to have it, because it is the only way to be sociable. It was a very nice party and I was glad to be sociable. I was proud of my friend Lucas and his family. His father had very good interests. I understood where Lucas got his interests from, very genius inspirations. So I had a drink but did not drink it, I could not even stand to sniff it. I felt awful with it in my hands but wanted to fit in with the rest of the partygoers. The point is what is a man to do about it? I begged him, I said, “No.” And I was as serious as a man can be.

I am a weak man. With my broken back, my shredded ankles, my pulverized spine, I am anxious, and desperate to avoid conflict. But as a man I try to retain a strong bluff, and use language to get by when force would fail me. But with my closest friends, such as Lucas, I have no such bluff. They know I am fragile and useless, and that there is nothing I can do to stop them. I have confided in them my closest intimacies, my most sincere vulnerabilities. I have only two friends in this world and both of them were there that night, and only one of them made me feel unsafe. He kept telling me he would beat my ass if I touched him, he told me I was helpless against him, he was in charge. So where does a man then rest in the chain of things? If he chose to ignore my words, I had nothing. And of course he chose to ignore my words! He recognized the challenge and began challenging me. I kept trying to surrender. I would leave and sit down with Duncan. But Lucas was insistent. He kept trying to fight. He ran outside and left the door open. I locked the door behind him. When he came back I immediately let him in, apologizing but saying “Don’t leave the door open, it’s too cold,” but he accused me of something about power. I ignored him and begged him to lay down or at least sit with us. He came in and sat for a second and then got up and disappeared. I walked up and searched for him.

He was in my office, in my chair, drinking a tall glass of wine – at least half of a bottle of wine in it. He said “Come here, I want to show you something.” He set the glass down and pointed at the computer screen. He had some of my work pulled up. He started making fun of it. I yelled at him for drinking so much and told him he needed to stop it at once. He dared me to do something about it. He said, “Don’t touch that glass, you fucker,” and I said I would call his parents, and he said do it. I could not remember the number. I said I would call the police instead, if he didn’t stop. He said do it. He may have even been the one to suggest it. “I don’t want to do something like that, dear God, Lucas, please, just stop? I just want to go to sleep! I am tired! I am losing you!” He repeatedly told me he was going to kick my ass, to beat my ass if I touched him, that he would kill me – and then he threatened Duncan, too. I tried to take it lightly and calm him down but the truth is I was very nervous. Frustrated and scared. He is much stronger than both me and Duncan. More than that I just love him. I love him and feel afraid like a woman when her man becomes abusive – as though there were only two people in the world, this strong man and this weak man, a force of boring reason against an angry, belligerent chaos… But I have been in these situations before with him, many times in fact, and he has come very close to murdering me, although in the end it is always okay. I realize that this is the way terrible things happen – mid-twenties, someone steals all the liquor and raises hell, someone gets killed or shot – but I wanted none of that. I prayed only that Lucas wouldn’t get the gun that he knew was in my bedside table. I just wanted him to stop. I decided I could not let him drinking, that that was the worst thing.

So I picked up the wine glass to take it away from him and he leapt up angrily out of the chair to take it from me. I walked away and he moved quickly after me. I sped up and he sped up towards me. I was very scared but did not run, I wanted to seem like I was in control, and not terrified. I stopped and stared at him. He grabbed me and tried to take the glass. I resisted as much as I could and we fell into the wall. He was struggling to overcome me but I was holding my ground. I wondered if he was trying his hardest. I certainly was. He was hurting me and twisting my arms trying to get the wine glass, and in the chaos the glass hit his chin and cut his lip, splashing the wine in his face. I was horrified and threw the glass on the ground. He let go of me and I tried to help him, saying, “Christ, Lucas, what just happened, let me wash your face, here, let’s go to the bathroom, I’m sorry,” and tried to direct him into the bathroom. But he stood there, dazed and furious, and tasted the blood on his lips. He started screaming, “You hit me, you hit me, you traitorous bastard,” and he hit me in the side of the head, over the ear. It hurt like hell and threw out my jaw. There was a little bit of blood in my ear and a lump formed. I was briefly stunned but not really surprised. He must have thought I tried to hit him with the wine glass. By God, I didn’t, but it was in my hands when it happened… I was suddenly determined to end this. Everything had escalated too greatly already. In his eyes I had attacked him with a glass. In my eyes he had stolen my liquor and assaulted me physically. I decided to act like we were even. “Why would you hit me,” I said, “Calm down, it has all been an accident, stop it now. This has gone on too far, just stop and we will all be allright, let us clean up your face, it isn’t that bad, just some small cuts…”

Suddenly he insisted he was okay and he wanted to wipe his face off. I got him a towel from the bathroom and told him I would apply rubbing alcohol to his lip, if he needed. He said no and went into the bathroom alone. I went into the office and picked up the broken pieces of glass from the floor. There were many and I felt terrible. I realized how ambiguous the situation was and worried people would think I really hit him. My thoughts immediately went to M. Clift in A Place in the Sun, although it was not really the same. I thought about the implications of these things, of one word against another, of truly ambiguous situations, and, like everything else that night, it frightened me. I was shaking, trying to calm down. “God,” I said, “It was just a terrible accident, he shoved me against the wall and was trying to overcome me, he was swinging my arms while I struggled to keep the glass straight and away from him… This must end now!” He came out of the bathroom looking okay – his face was clean and the cuts were free of blood. Except for a bump on his lip he looked fine. He was very fortunate. I assumed the shock had calmed him down, as it had me, and we could relax now. Especially since he had hit me as hard as he had, and so openly, and I had accepted it. What else could I do? And I was glad. I was glad it was over. “I’m sorry,” I said, “You look fine though.” He asked if he could put his shirt in the dryer and I said certainly. He went and put it in himself. I was too nervous to go in the back alone with him because he still seemed unstable.

I suppose I was right to be afraid, because it was all a joke on his part anyway. He spent the next few minutes in the kitchen screaming at us, flailing angrily and shouting obscenities. “Faggot, you’re faggots, come get me you fucking faggot, Daniel is a faggot, Duncan is a faggot, I’ll fucking beat both your asses, come on, you fucking faggots, fuck you, you piece of shit, you pieces of shit,” for a few minutes. He went and put his shirt back on after it had dried out a bit. Then he went back into my office and slammed into my computer desk, the desk which I built by my own hands. “Hey!” I shouted, “God, stop!” Duncan asked me what we could do. He understood the situation was getting worse, that it was a real situation now. I said I was worried. I said that the only thing to do was call the police, that is what everyone else does, or somehow get him to leave, or get him to go to bed. But how do you get him to bed? I had been trying all night. I said we could not let him leave, either, he would die out there. I would not let him drive himself away, or go roaming the streets either – he would certainly get in some very bad trouble. I was determined not to involve the police, although I considered calling his family. He told me not to call them. I could not remember their number, and did not want to disturb his father. Perhaps I should have called them, then, I should have asked Lucas for their number. Would he have given it to me? I don’t know. Perhaps I should have called them, then.

Instead, Duncan and I sat down and continued to ignore him. I said, “Just let him go, eventually he’ll stop, he’s done this before.” But I was not certain. Within minutes he came around again and began threatening us, this time directly to our faces. He stood in front of the TV and yelled at both of us, especially Duncan. He said, “I’m going to hit you, then what? I’ll fuck both of you up, you can’t take me, you faggot.” He pretended to hit me and I flinched and he laughed. He lumbered over me and said he was going to kick my ass any minute now. He turned to Duncan and said, “I’m going to hit Daniel. When I hit him, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to try and stop me, you faggot?” Then he asked me if I had shown Duncan his poetry. I tried to laugh and said yes, all of it. He flared angrily and I said, “No, Lucas, of course I haven’t. Of course not. I promise. Why would you think that?” I was being honest. He slapped me very hard in the right side of my face. I felt it in my nose and it shocked me but I tried not to react. A small amount of blood came from my nose but it was nothing. I was dazed and my eyes welled up. My head suddenly began hurting very badly. I tried to not react, to remain calm. I muttered, “Okay, okay. You’ve hit me twice now, Lucas, for God’s sake stop this, stop this now. Do you not respect anything? Why have you done this to me? It’s not too late to just stop this, do you want us to call the police? Please, just go sit down somewhere! Just lay down! It’s late!”

He goes to get another drink. I can hear him slamming cabinets and pulling beers out of the back. I sigh at Duncan and then get up, roaring furiously at him to put it down. I tell him I will call the police and take him to jail if he touches another beer, because I am worried about him, desperately worried. I accuse him of stealing all of my alcohol. I show him the empty liquor bottles. I pour out the rest of all his cans he’s opened that he hasn’t finished. I pour the rest of the wine bottle down the drain. I try to figure out how much he has drank. I realize he didn’t actually drink much wine, but he’s had at least four tall cans of beer. And as far as I know he has drank two flasks of liquor. His breath is horrible. I don’t know what to do. “I’m going to kill you,” he says, “You know that I’m going to kill you, you little faggot. You can’t fucking stop me. You can’t do anything. I’m not going to stop. I’m going to fuck you.” I told him I was ashamed of his behavior and felt betrayed. I said, “Lucas, this is disgusting. This is disgusting. Stop this at once!” I begged him as best I knew how, I made every appeal to him. I realized the situation was becoming more and more serious and I was suddenly very glad Duncan was there. But he kept drinking from the can. He finished the drink. “Are you gonna shoot me, you little bitch? Go get your gun, you insane piece of shit,” He said. I shook my head, hurt that he would even suggest such a thing, and then nervous that he was going to go get my gun. Finally I leapt to grab the can from him but he wrestled it from me. Duncan stopped playing video games and came in to stand beside me. Lucas acted all tough and said he’d beat both our asses if we touched him. He said “Duncan, you’re a piece of shit. I hate you. You two took sides huh. Took sides against me. Ooooh-aaah. Fuck you.”

Duncan said, “Fuck it, Daniel, I’m calling the cops, I don’t have to put up with this shit and neither do you.” He left the room and made a call. “Hello, I need to report a domestic dispute…” He said, explaining the situation. Lucas suddenly became very sad and serious. “You turn me in? You call the cops on me?” He asked. I said yes, apparently we had. I told him “You are scaring me, I just want everyone to be safe. You gave us no choice.” My head was hurting and I still felt bad about his lip. I wished he would let me put a band-aid on, at least, as a gesture if nothing else. But he would not let me get close without threatening me.

He seemed to be very concerned about the cops. He talked about running. He asked if I would hide him. I said I would not, that I did not trust him anymore. I truly believed Duncan had done it, but Duncan whispered to me in the hallway that it was just a bluff. He said he was recording everything in case there was trouble, too. But he hadn’t called the cops. Should he? I frowned, said I wasn’t sure, but decided that it was good he was making a recording. I asked Lucas what he wanted to do. Would he stop? Would he go to bed? He began acting boarishly and slammed into my refrigerator. “Lucas, please,” I pleaded one last time. Duncan and I stood perfectly still while he stared at us, and what felt like a few minutes passed in silence, him staring at both of us in turn, and then he said he was going to hit me. He said he was going to slap me and no one could stop him. “Don’t hit me again, you have already hit me twice, Lucas, stop,” I answered.

Lucas repeated the same bit to Duncan as he had earlier. “If I hit Daniel, what will you do, Duncan? You gonna stop me, you little pussy? You’re a faggot.” Then he slapped me again in the side of the face, harder this time!

“You motherfucker,” I said through clenched teeth, and knocked his slap away. I flew against him, my hands pushing on his chest. I did not really know what to do but was scared when Lucas started resisting. Within an instant, though, Duncan stepped forward and Lucas hit him, too, and so Duncan grabbed Lucas from behind while I tried to push him away from me. Duncan held him in some sort of choke hold and Lucas fought both of us, or tried to; Duncan and I both hit him in the side of his face in an effort to subdue him. “You fucking son of a bitch,” I yelled, hitting him twice. I backed off immediately after hitting him, and he seemed to stop resisting. Duncan kept him in a hold and his face was turning purple. I was so angry with him for treating me like this, for ruining everything like this again, for betraying me behind my back, or violating our friendship, for attacking me, for stealing from me, for disobeying his promise to me and his family, for putting me in this horrible situation, for hitting him, everything. I didn’t know what to do then, but my blood was rushing. Lucas totally stopped resisting and I looked at him in dread as he lost breath. “Let him go,” I said, and Duncan did, but not completely. Lucas breathed and the color returned to his face. He was calm now, at least somewhat. The left side of his face was battered and I almost began to cry. “Jesus Daniel, call the cops,” said Duncan, and I did.

By then I was terrified in so many ways I felt helpless. I wanted to give Lucas a bag of ice for his face and a painkiller but he scared me, he was still struggling with Duncan in small fits. I was impressed and grateful that Duncan was able to keep him under such control. I considered just tying him up and taking him into the guest room, and letting him sleep. But I feared it wouldn’t stop him. There was still plenty of those terrible cans of beer in my deep cabinets, and he would drink all night until he killed someone, most likely himself.

It sunk in what had happened, that I had hit a man, a beautiful man, in the face, that it was the first time I ever taken a punch to the face or dealt one in my life. That it was Christmas eve and I had punched my best friend in the face until he stopped fighting me, something I never thought I would do in my entire life. I started to cry while I talked to the police. I told them my friend had stolen my alcohol and had attacked us, but we had stopped him. I gave my address and they said they were on their way.

Duncan tried to escort Lucas through the house to the front porch, but along the way Lucas resisted again. He broke out of Duncan’s hold and suddenly it was I who was behind him. I tried to hold him like Duncan had but had no idea what was doing, I was more or less just clinging on. While I tried to hold him back he and Duncan struggled together. Lucas backed me into the wall and I cried out in pain that my back hurt. I tried to push him off the wall and then somehow Duncan had him again, and I let go to catch my breath, and we took him to the front door. We tried to stop in the front room and wait with him, but as he started to resist again Duncan said to take him outside. We sat him on the front porch. Duncan held him from behind while we waited. “Lucas, I’m sorry,” I said, but that was all, and I sat down beside him and waited. He made moaning noises. I wanted to cry when I looked at his face. He had a black eye and his cuts on his lips were agitated, red. I felt the my nose and face and both were burning, too, but there were no marks on my face, not like he had.

It looked terrible and I wondered if he would try and press charges or something. It seemed so absurd but I realized it was a distinct possibility. I wanted to clean him up but I was afraid he would resist me. So I just sat there, nervous as hell and ashamed, and waited. When the cops finally arrived Lucas began crying and they asked if I would press charges. I said I absolutely did not want to press charges. I said I did not want to do anything but get him somewhere safe, because I did not feel safe for him or myself with him in my house. I said, “He is my best friend, I don’t want him in any trouble, I just want him out of my house somewhere safe.” We called Lucas’ family and they said they would drive out to pick him up. I spoke to his father and his father was rude to me.

We sat on the porch and made small talk with the police while we waited. Eventually they arrived. It was Lucas’ father and both of his younger brothers, like a gang. I stood up when they approached. Lucas went to them and they took him away. “What happened here?” Asked Mr. Williams. “Were you guys doing some drinking?”

“No sir,” I said, “No – Lucas came out while we were playing some video games. Suddenly I turned my back and he had drank all of my liquor. He was drinking some wine and I tried to stop him. He tackled me and got cut in the face with the wine glass. He punched me and hit me and threatened us so Duncan and I tried to subdue and stop him.”

Mr. Williams was stern and accusatory. “You turned your back for a second? How long did you have your back turned for exactly?” His tone was mean. Suddenly I was furious. He seemed to be insinuating that I was responsible for this, that I had somehow given him drinks, gotten him drunk. “I don’t know, a few seconds, a few minutes. What?” And he nodded, totally disbelieving. Duncan told me afterwards that he was so offended by Mr. William’s accusatory tone that he wanted to press charges on Lucas after all.

I walked off the porch and closer to Mr. Williams. “Listen,” I tried to explain, desperate to make the situation clearer to him and his family, “We were just playing video games, suddenly he comes out with a beer that I had in my cabinet. I try to take it from him and he stops me. He starts threatening us. Then I realized he had taken all my liquor. He keeps threatening me and my friend, and after the wine glass broke he hit me twice, once in the side of the head and once in the nose, a slap. He hits Duncan, too, and so we got him onto the ground forcefully, and called the police – we had to, we were terrified – you know how he is…”

But it wasn’t effective. The cops left in an instant and Mr. Williams went to get in his car. “Call me if you need to talk about this,” I said, and he said, “Oh, I will.”

It broke my heart to see them take Lucas away from me like that. “He won’t ever be coming back here,” his father had said. It was not two days ago that the very man had shaken my hand and showed me his favorite art in the house, introduced to me to his friends, and offered me his food and wine. Two days ago we had a delightful time, and Lucas and I very nearly in absolute love with each other, as he showed me his whole family, and his mother and father were kind to me, too. But now I realized that was done for. I could tell there was hatred in his father’s eye. Utter disbelief. Lucas had muttered “I’ve been betrayed,” and I had chastised him for it, because it was who was betrayed. But I realized that his father would feel the way Lucas felt. And his brothers – both of them would blame me. He was a lawyer. Would he somehow press charges against me? What could he do? What did he think I had done? God, I’d tried to get him to stop, I’d poured it down the drain, I’d hidden what I could, I begged him to stop and to listen; but he was so provocative, so insistent, and so violent, and he threatened me with my life within an inch of my face and then hit me – what could I do? What was I supposed to do? We hit him until he stopped, and then stopped; we did not do anything we didn’t have to…

I imagine that on the road home Lucas cried to his family, and perhaps they cried for him. Perhaps Lucas sobbed and moaned, and the wounds on his face looked terribly tragic in the moonlight, the blood on his lips shone with a violence. And in that moment, his father or brother would hate me forever. They would feel deep pity for their beautiful, battered, tortured son or brother, and revile me for hurting him. Or perhaps they were upset with him, and he was just sitting there quietly taking it, or quietly explaining what had happened, apologizing, or not apologizing… It could be anything. And it doesn’t really matter, anyway. But I wanted to cry when I saw his face. I felt so bad. Feeling bad made me feel even worse, because it made me feel like I was guilty of something. Well of course I feel bad! I would feel bad if I had to shoot a feral dog, too! It is terrible! But there was simply no other way about it…

People would think he had been jumped or something. It this what fights are? It was terrible… I could not think about it without crying.

My hand doesn’t hurt, but it’s shaking. I keep glaring into space. I am terrified. Mad. Drenched in this residual fury. I feel like the single worst man in the world. I have done nothing wrong, and I am awful. I worry I have fundamentally broken things, both in my life and in Lucas’. I hope he recovers quickly and his family forgives him, helps him stay clean after this. I feel like I have failed him, despite all of my most well-intentioned efforts. Have I betrayed my only friend? Goddamn, but he would have killed me, don’t you see how I weak I am? My God – but you didn’t see him! He said the most horrible things – he played with me, he challenged me, he insulted me, he threatened to break my possessions, he threw things around and turned the music as loud as he could, he pushed me and told me he’d kill me, he’d beat my ass, that I needed my ass beat; he hit me, he slapped me… he slapped me again, and my head shook in pain… What a goddamn criminal he is! What a goddamn terrible friend! With friends like that, who needs enemies? What a dog! What a villain! I shouldn’t have put up with it for as long as I did, I should have beat him from the very start! Why did he have to drag me into this? Why did he have to betray me? I am doing my best, I said, my God I am trying to help him, don’t you know that I love him, too, I love him, he is all that I have, he is the only man in the world that understands poetry like I do, understands movies, music, art…

Duncan is confident. He tries to assure me that I did nothing wrong and that nothing short of knocking Lucas out and throwing him in the yard would stop him. He said he was very angry with Lucas’ family for not being gracious, for insinuating in such a way that we were the villains, and that if the old man tried to sue he’d have nothing, that we were doing nothing, that this shit had gone on long enough… and I even admitted, I was scared…

I hope that his face clears up soon – overnight. It would be a miracle but it is the only miracle I wish for. I hope he feels okay, other than a soreness, as I myself am sore. It is now the morning of Christmas Eve, December 24, and I am thinking about how battered he will look for Christmas. He will face his family and daughter with a black eye, and have to explain himself – chopped up lips, bruised forehead. When they take photos of them together, of the whole family together, his eye will be black and his lip will be puffy. I fall apart. “I should have driven him home from the very beginning – but I couldn’t! He made it clear –  he scared me, he wouldn’t have come with me anyway… I should not have hit him so hard, I guess that I hit him too hard – but God, he was assaulting us! He threatened us with our lives – what choice did we have? We stopped the moment he stopped resisting… the bastard hit me twice, ME! Me! His last goddamn friend in the world! And now have I turned on him? Christ! No! He’s turned upon me!

– 

I take a big painkiller to help relax my pain and lay awake, nervous. I can’t sleep. I am crying dry tears, choked up and silent. I am afraid that my new life is over already. Have I hurt a man, like this, my best man? Have I ruined a Christmas? Why did he drag me into this? I begged with him, I asked him, I warned him – I was helpless, he fought against me, he laughed in my face and he stared at me, flexing his muscles, while he drank my liquor before my eyes – but his face! His beautiful face! Goddamn him – he has drawn me into something I was always afraid of. Everyone was always afraid of this. I bet that everyone will now think they knew. That they were right along. There are trenchs now. God. There could be warfare. Is there to be blood violence? Or will this thing rest, as it should never have risen? I could have pressed charges. I could have put him in prison. I could have testified against him. But I just wanted him to be safe, I was just goddamn scared of him, scared for him… Nothing hurts more than to lose the man you love, especially when you have to do it yourself. 

I am glad that Duncan is so certain we did the right thing. I feel guilty. I wonder, chiefly, if it was necessary to even hit him at all. With Duncan’s neck hold, perhaps that was all that we needed. But it sure didn’t seem like it then! He was thrashing, he was biting, he tried to hit me so I hit him, Christ! I hit him again! And then Duncan hit him… and then it was done. He submitted. I wanted to rush to him and hug him. I was tense as hell and did not feel like we had relieved the situation. I could see no good thing to do now than to call the police, whatever that would mean for things. It was not that I wanted him punished – God, I just wanted him home! Somewhere safe!

It turns over again and again in my head. I am appalled at how much of a negative effect the whole thing had on me, as though it somehow broke me. Will I need therapy now? Am I in real trouble?

It makes me think about meta-ethics. I wonder what I could have done. When a man is forced to act, to respond, he can do one of two things. He can either react to the past or predict the future. If a man waits until something has already happened to react, than he may be too late, and he will live in regret, thinking, “I shouldn’t have let that happen, I should have stopped him when I could…” On the other hand, if a man decides not to react, but to be pro-active instead and try to affect the future, then he can do one of two things – he can succeed, or fail. But if he succeeds, he will never be able to be totally sure of himself, even then – he will always be left to wonder, was I right? Or was I wrong?

So a man is fucked. He can be reactive or proactive, either one will leave him wondering. He can wait until evil has already been committed and then return evil in turn, or he can try to prevent future evil by preempting it. Either way, there is never any way to know if what you did was right, especially if you succeed…

Why did it have to be like that, I think… Why did this have to happen, why did I have to take sides… Why was Duncan there, why did Lucas come over… Oh, glorious God… protect us all. Lord knows I love them all. Lord knows I never meant for this to happen, I wanted anything but this, I never wanted this, my loved ones, to hurt the men I love, to lose my closest friend I’ve ever had in this world… What a failure! I wonder if things will ever be the same again. I am not strong enough to deal with this misery. I want only one thing, and that is the love of my friend. But he has stolen it from me, and I have let him keep it.

“Each second that ticks, each mistake that makes a human suffer, and each night that you are suffering with tears in your eyes, you can depend on me and know that I will be there to comfort you in your time of hard luck. Hard luck makes you feel broken and beaten, but you are not as strong as others are in the world.”