It was an unexpected and undesired reunion. I had to admit the last place I ever expected to see anyone from that place, that night I tried so hard to forget was a small dinner party held at my boss’s home; however, here I am forced to come face to face with the worst of that night. At first I had hoped to go unrecognized, but fate was not on my side. I knew the moment it was no longer just me remembering and there was no comfort in the fact that each of us were as unhappy about the situation as the other.
Conversation was unavoidable; I couldn't exactly be rude to a guest of my employer, no matter how much I may to do just that. Nor could I ask to be moved, not without explaining why I didn't want to be seated next to someone who from all appearances was a very good friend of my boss’s wife. Perhaps I should mention how friends get treated by this person; the bitterness rose in my throat as the memory of that night came crashing back in full force.
It was a warm summer’s evening. A great time to be hanging out at the beach at the cove, cliffs on either side cutting off access so that most of the general populace of the area rarely ventured there. It wasn't much of a beach anyway, more gravel and dirt than sand. Its main appeal lay in that it was fairly hidden. It was a great place for people to have a party that involved items of an illegal manner.
Set off to one side, munching on some of the snacks that had been supplied, were a guy and a girl. They were outsiders in their little berg, ones who weren't exactly sure how they had come to be invited to the mad little soiree. And while they had come, they were hesitant to take part in the festivities. Not that there was much happening. A couple of the guys had snorkels on and were playing in the water but had yet to actually swim let alone snorkel. Given their current inebriated state, it was probably just as well; they’d gust end up drowning themselves.
Closer to the fire, the effects of the ongoing indulgences were a little more subdued. Most were simply reclining and watching the antics of the boys in the water. One of the couples at the party had started making out, it was getting quite intense and they showed no concern over the fact they had an audience. A few single guys were leering at their female counterparts, waggling eyebrows and suggesting they partake in the same, possibly explaining why they were single. One of the girls got tire of the whole thing and grabbed a small bucket, filled it with water, and doused the couple. She effectively put an end to the show before it got raunchy earning her quite a few boos and hisses and a few cheers. She had to dodge a few beer cans, but the group settled down again quickly.
Later that evening, one the outsiders looked around frantically for her companion. He had gotten up at some point and wandered off and she was uncomfortably being left alone in the crowd. As she wandered away from the fire, a few of the guys started nudging each other, waving in her direction, started getting up to follow. No girls were permitted to follow and some guys in attendance waved off the others, choosing to stay where they were, but still a small group did go with the attention to pull a joke on her. After all, it’s fun to play tricks on those that don’t fit in.
Sadly, in the little gang’s current state, or so they were swear to themselves later, their judgement was not what it should have been. It started as planned, just some taunting with a little pushing around. It was when she tried to break out of the circle that they had formed around her that things took a turn down a darker path. One of the ring leaders, which no one would really remember after the fact, had grabbed her to keep her from getting away from them. He had caught her by the waistband of the skirt that she was wearing and had ended up pulling it part way down her legs, causing her to trip and fall on to the sand. She was a very pretty girl, and now laying there on the ground, half naked, with only a flimsy halter top and even flimsier panties, brought on ideas to a few.
One guy, possibly the one who stopped her escape dropped down beside her and tore off the scrap of cloth that was her underwear. When she tried to push him away and flee, two more grabbed her and held her in place removing her halter top as well. This time the article of clothing was stuffed in her mouth so those back at the fire wouldn't her. They didn't need anyone ruining this change in the plan; it was going to be much more fun. For the first few she did put up a fight, struggling and pleading through her gag for them to stop. It was to no avail as the attack not only continued, anyone in the group that seemed hesitant to participate were egged on. After a while she just lay there sobbing, letting those whose remained do as they wanted without any fight at all. Even when her gag had worked loose; there was no scream for help.
Once each guy had had his turn, the gang returned to the party, laughing and carrying on as though they hadn't done anything wrong. Only one hung back, in the shadows of the night watching as the girl got up and tried to pull herself back together. She moved slowly at first, the pain slowing her down. Bruises and cuts on her back where the most obvious signs of what she had been through. When he moved closer, she stiffened than ran off at an unexpected speed given her injuries.
Upon her heading up the cliff, a dangerous enough move when a person had their full facilities around them, the guy couldn't help but follow. He had been the most reluctant to participate; only giving in when the others moved from words to a more physical form of persuasion. Perhaps he had sought redemption by chasing after the woman. He only caught up with her at the top, impressed that she had managed the trek. She was standing in the clearing near the edge; engaged in a heated argument with her friend, the one that had come to the party with her.
It didn't appear that the guy was much of a friend after all. Anyone with eyes would have been able to tell something had happened to her given the bruising and disarray of her clothes, yet her friend appeared to either not care or not notice. The other man turned to leave the two alone when he caught his own name being mentioned. He hadn't even realized that they knew who he was, yet here it was being spit out of the mouth of her friend as though it was poison. If she had said it that way he would be able to understand, but why would her friend hold such vehemence. He was now too curious about what exactly they were discussing to leave while not daring to move closer as he feared that both would react badly to his presence.
So he stayed hidden and simply watched as her friend grabbed her shoulders, shaking her and screaming at her before finally shoving her hard. Her scream, one that would haunt the man in the shadows for years, pierced the night sky as she fell backwards over the edge. He could hear the dreadful sounds as her body smashed into the cliff before it reached the water below. All the while her friend just stood there, face devoid of emotion, looking down at the waters below. He had pushed her on purpose, he had meant for her to fall.
I stepped out for a breath of fresh air after a very stressful meal of avoiding conversation as much as possible and sticking to benign topics forced to participate only to have him follow me. I honestly couldn't believe that he would want my company, but there he was leaning against the railing to my left.
“I know what you did that night,” he said after a few moments of silence.
“You know what I did?” I sputtered in shock. That was not what I had expected him to say.
“Only after the fact,” he admitted with a little grin on his face. “But still, you were all naughty boys. What happened to Elyse was probably not an accident after all.”
“You can wipe off that grin,” I snapped, shocked at the man’s audacity. “I was there and I saw what you did. I know full well that you know her death wasn't an accident. What with you having pushed her off a cliff and all.”
The man’s look became sterner. “Nothing you can do about.”
“Statutory limitations have expired on my crime,” I snapped back, my body tense with anger. “Same can’t be said of yours.”
“But you do have a reputation, a life to maintain,” he pointed out. “I doubt you’ll risk all that for some girl you barely knew.”
I stood nose to nose with the man. “I can only hope that living with the guilt is as painful for you as it is for me. I would suggest you steer clear of me from now on or that theory of yours may get tested."
On that threatening note, I turned and headed back into the house confident that this time he wouldn't follow.