|Facing The Past
Author: Ben Barrett PM
Nineteen years after the murder of Stan and his family, Kyle is forced to return to Colorado, where the ghosts of the past still linger. Mature themes. KxW. FINALLY UPDATED!Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Drama - Kyle B. & Wendy Testaburger - Chapters: 3 - Words: 14,575 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 07-17-09 - Published: 02-02-08 - id: 4049237
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
An article from US Weekly, dated April, 1998:
Once, the town of South Park was a friendly community filled
with average working Joes, people who would give you the
shirt off their backs if you were down-and-out. They were
warm and hospitable, welcoming newcomers into the town
not with organized committees, but with invitations to join
this family or that family for dinner. It was the kind of place
where one would feel comfortable raising children, going to
church picnics, and growing old.
The keyword in all of that is 'was'.
Two months ago, the quiet solitude of this happy place was
completely eradicated by the murder of an entire family in
one of the most brutal and grisly slayings the state of
Colorado has ever seen. Now, those once friendly people
cast cold, distrustful stares at strangers and watch every
car that rolls down their streets through their windowpanes.
Children are picked up from school the minute the bell
rings and transported to the safety of their homes, where
newcomers are no longer invited for dinner.
The question on everyone's mind is WHY? Why would a
person do such a thing, especially in such a tranquil setting?
It's a question the police have been asking themselves for
the last two months as they go over the evidence again and
again with a fine-toothed comb, hoping for some clue as to
the identity of the slayer and their motive. They've brought
in private detectives, dogs, specialists, psychics, and any
other individual they can think of who might be able to shed
some light on the mystery.
The strangest piece of this puzzle is the overall lack of DNA
at the crime scene. As brutal as the killings were, the police
were positive that the perpetrator would have left something
behind that could be used for identification. A hair follicle, a
fingernail, a drop of sweat; any of those things would have
been damning evidence. Sadly, the only DNA found anywhere
belonged to the victims themselves and to the young boy who
found them, who was left covered in blood and gore after
tripping over one body and landing in the remains of another.
And speaking of the boy, where is he? He's vanished under
the shield of police protection, leaving behind not a single
clue that might reveal his identity or his relation to the victims.
Did he ever exist or was this just a story fabricated by the
police to come up with a way to explain a botched job with
the DNA evidence? It wouldn't be the first time Colorado cops
covered their own unmentionables by telling lies about
their own incompetence. Jon Benet Ramsey ring any bells?
Kyle was sprawled out on Doctor Rathgib's couch, his hands folded on his belly. This had become a weekly routine since...Stan went away...for him to talk about his feeling while she listened with pad and pen in hand. She often scribbled little notes as he spoke, and he couldn't help but think of those cartoons where the patient got a look at the supposed "notes" and saw that the doctor had actually been doodling offensive caricatures of them. He tried to remember as he vented that her opinion of him didn't matter, that his parents were paying her to listen to him, not like him.
"I sometimes think that Stan would still be alive if I'd done things differently that day," he told her, twiddling his thumbs and casting a look in her direction.
"What makes you think that, Kyle?" she asked, looking at him over her spectacles. He tried not to think of them as 'half-moon spectacles' because that made her seem more like Dumbledore, which made it hard not to laugh at her when she did that.
"What if I could have stopped what happened?" he replied. "What if I'd gotten there earlier, or if I'd asked him to come to my house instead? He would have been out when it all happened, wouldn't he?"
"You don't know that."
He did, though. In some part of his mind, he knew that if he hadn't gone to Stan's house that day, Stan wouldn't be dead. It didn't make any sense, but he knew it as surely as he knew his nose was too big and his balls were hairless.
"Kyle, you've got to stop blaming yourself for what happened that day," Rathgib said. "There's nothing you could have done that would have stopped it. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll be able to go to bed and not wake up screaming."
Kyle thought about this, then shrugged it off. That conversation was going to get them nowhere. It was his fault, plain and simple. She'd never accept that and he'd never believe anything else as the truth. He should have at least been there to protect his best friend.
"Let's talk about Wendy," she said. "Why do you hate her so much?"
"Don't wanna talk about that," he replied, folding his arms stubbornly. "She's a bitch."
Rathgib glared at him. He'd been told several times not to use such language in her office, and he knew that this time she'd probably go to his mother about it. His mother would be furious, and she'd probably get the soap...
"Sorry," he said quickly. "I slipped."
Kyle stood in South Park cemetery near a small mausoleum that had been erected in the back corner, in a copse of apple trees. It had taken its fair share of beatings from the weather over the years and sported the usual stains and mossy growth that graveyard limestone always seemed to bear like some badge of honor. Still, it was in good shape for something that had been standing for as long as it had. Certainly there were newer graves in the place that had fared a lot worse.
The first thing he noticed, other than the condition of the structure itself, was the four name plates upon the surface. Each one bore only the first and middle names of each person, since their surname was etched into the top of the tomb. Randy was on top, followed by Sharon and Shelley. At the bottom, Kyle saw Stan's plate and felt his breath catch in his throat.
1988 – 1997
"Rest with the angels
now, beloved son."
Kyle felt the tears sting his eyes and he had to blink them away. Even after all these years it hurt like hell. It was unfair that such a thing had happened to these people, and it was especially unfair that it had happened to Stan. Kyle remembered him as a generous, sensitive person who was willing to be just about anybody's friend, even if it meant looking like a fool for doing so. He was one of the most loving people in the world, and his candle shouldn't have been snuffed out when it was.
Kyle blinked and really saw for the first time the flowers sitting in the holders. There was a bouquet for each of them, and they were fresh. He hadn't been the only person who'd been by here lately. Someone else had had the Marsh family on their mind.
Or maybe they just had Stan on their mind but brought flowers for everyone to be respectful.
That wasn't really a fair assumption and he knew it. It wasn't such a hard thing to believe that someone would come visit Randy and Sharon. Hell, people probably came and visited Shelley, not because they remembered her as a sweet and attractive girl but because she'd died before her time, as a young child of only twelve.
"I loved you all so much," he said, his voice cracking. "You were my second family, and you meant the world to me."
He felt eyes on the back of his head and knew immediately there was someone standing behind him. He turned to look and saw Wendy there, her gaze as frosty as the snow on the ground. He turned away from her as if he hadn't seen her, as if she were just another ghost in the cemetery.
"You're the one who put the flowers on the graves," he said.
Kyle pulled his pack of cigarettes out and stuck one in his teeth. He pulled out his Bic and was in the process of lighting up when Wendy stormed around him and snatched it out of his mouth. She snapped it in two, then in fourths, then she spit on the cherry to extinguish it. That accomplished, she tossed it over the fence into the woods beyond.
"Hey!" Kyle cried. "Those are expensive!"
"Have some fucking respect, Kyle," Wendy snarled at him. "If you're gonna smoke, at least do it outside the gates, and definitely not around this grave."
"Hey, here's a newsflash for you, Wendy," he shot back, letting his voice escalate just enough to let her know how pissed he was. "They're dead! They're not gonna get lung cancer!"
Her hand flew up before he could process what was happening and slapped him across the face, causing him to turn his head in shock. When he looked back at her, there was a nasty red handprint on his cheek.
"Don't ever talk about them like that again," she said. "Show some damn respect and at least act like you give a fuck."
Kyle opened his mouth to reply, but he was too damn angry and his head was running at about a mile a minute. She had actually dared to insinuate that he didn't care about Stan or his family? What a damn bitch. He'd loved Stan like a brother. He'd loved him more than words could even express, and she had no right to suggest that he didn't. He told her so, and she spit at his feet in contempt.
"Loved him?" she barked. "You didn't love him. Hell, I don't know if it's even possible for your cold, black heart to feel love, Kyle. Maybe you don't realize that. Maybe you feel something that you think is love, but I can promise you it isn't. Not if that's what you call what you felt for Stan."
Kyle was getting pretty sick of this shit. Why the hell did everyone want to ride his ass and make him feel worse about the whole damn thing? It was like pouring salt into a deep wound, making the pain more severe than it needed to be.
"What the hell is everybody's problem?" he asked. "First Kenny, then Clyde, now you. I didn't have any control over what happened that day, Wendy. I spent years in therapy while the doctors tried to convince me of that, because I was convinced that I could have saved him. I actually believed that if I hadn't gone to Stan's house, he'd still be alive. Now that I've finally made it past that hurdle, everybody's acting like it's my God damn fault!"
Wendy looked as though she were going to reply, but a voice rang out over the gravestones and they both turned to look. Kenny was walking toward them, calling Wendy's name and looking pissed as hell. Kyle rolled his eyes and bit down on his fist to keep from screaming. Now he was gonna hear it from this asshole again. All he'd come here to do was pay his respects to his childhood best friend, who was probably nothing but a pile of dust by this point, but everyone seemed to want to bitch him out lately.
"I told you not to come here," Kenny hissed at him as he threw a protective arm around Wendy's shoulders. "I told you."
"And I take orders from you now, do I?" Kyle asked. He stormed past them and toward the parking lot. He thought briefly about sneaking back and paying his respects a day or two down the road, when they wouldn't be expecting him, but decided against it. It would all just be too much to handle. He'd come here to say his piece to Stan, and he'd said most of it. If he really wanted to say the rest, he could just wait until he was in the privacy of his hotel room and say it. He didn't have to be near a mouldering pile of dust to do that.
"People here don't like you, Kyle," Kenny said, now walking beside him and matching him stride-for-stride. "But I'm still your friend. I shouldn't have shunned you all those years ago, and I've always felt bad about that. Now I'm trying to look out for you like I should have done all along."
"Save your pity friendship for someone who gives a shit," Kyle snarled, stomping through the gates and immediately grabbing his pack of cigarettes. He lit one up and made sure to make a big production out of blowing a big cloud of smoke up in the air. It was childish, but dammit he thought it was funny as hell.
"It isn't pity," Kenny argued, coughing and trying to wave the smoke away. "I'm the only one who seems to genuinely give a fuck whether you live or die. I'm giving you advice that's going to keep you alive."
This made Kyle stop. This was either bullshit, or there was something sinister going on. Did Kenny know something about Stan's murder that he wasn't revealing? Had they caught the bastard who did it while he was off in Connecticut? No, that was ridiculous; he would have seen it on CNN if they'd finally busted the guy who did that.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "How is staying out of South Park going to keep me alive?"
Kenny sighed and sat down on the hood of Kyle's rental car. Kyle considered telling him to move his fucking ass.
"Look," Kenny said, "a lot of people here are still really sensitive about what happened. They don't even talk about it. When young kids get old enough to ask about the Marsh house, which hasn't been lived in since...it happened...their parents just tell them 'We don't talk about that' and then pass the carrots across the table. It's taboo, and you represent that taboo."
"So, they'd kill me so they wouldn't have to tell their kids about a group of people who got killed?" Kyle repeated slowly, adding as much sarcasm as he could. "Yeah, that makes sense."
"I'm just telling you the way it is."
Kyle finished his smoke and lit another with the cherry before flicking it away.
"Is it any wonder why we moved away, then?" he asked, pulling out his keys and unlocking the door. He'd had enough of this to last him a lifetime. He cast one last look around, knowing that he'd never come back. This final impression of Stan's resting place would be the one he would take to his own grave.
"Kyle," Kenny said gently, "you can't judge them for being sensitive about it. The Marshes were beloved members of the community, and living examples of the kind of open door policy the entire town lived by. They were caring, generous people, and when they...died...it shook everyone up."
"Did they ever figure out who did it?" Kyle asked.
Kenny didn't respond for a minute. He bit his bottom lip and Kyle could tell he was debating whether he should tell him or not.
"The police never figured it out," Kenny said carefully, "but the townsfolk did."
"Vigilante justice, was it?" Kyle asked, hoping that they'd fed the son of a bitch to a pack of starving wolves, one piece at a time.
"Kyle," Kenny said with an unhappy sigh. "Go home. You're picking at a wound that's been trying to scab over and heal for a long time. Let it go."
With that, he turned, put his arm around Wendy, and walked away without another word.
When Kyle got back to his hotel room, he went to the mini bar and grabbed himself a vodka. It had been a long day, one that he wanted to file away in the dustiest corner of his mind and forget about. He threw himself down on the bed and turned on the TV, hoping to find something hot and sexy to distract him until he could get good and drunk. It wasn't any fun to get drunk thinking about dead people. He flipped through the stations, seeing advertisements for Oxy Clean and American Furniture Warehouse, a documentary about Hitler's horse, and finally Larry King Live.
He stopped there, always amused by the way Larry King could look like a buzzard lurking on a tree branch even when talking about happy subjects. Kyle always thought it would be funny to see an animated version of the guy actually drawn as a buzzard, screeching into his microphone while his producer threw him dead rabbits.
"Man, this guy has got to be the oldest Jew on the planet," Kyle said with a laugh.
They were talking about something that Kyle didn't give a damn about: the effects of frivolous American spending on the global market. He tuned it all out and took a sip of his vodka. It wasn't hot and sexy (and Kyle hoped that those words had never been used to describe Larry King) but it was a distraction. Maybe it would provide the right amount of background noise he needed to do some writing.
He pulled his laptop from his bag and was in the process of firing it up when the phone on the bedside table rang.
"Son of a bitch!" he growled. "Always when I'm working."
He picked up the receiver and uttered a perfunctory greeting. J.V.'s voice greeted him from the other end, something which never signaled good news for Kyle.
"What is it, J.V.?"
"Wanna tell me why you walked out on your signing today?"
Shit. J.V. wasn't happy, and if he wasn't happy then his publishers were furious.
"Because nobody gave a shit that I was even sitting there," he explained. "Nobody even glanced in my direction, and after three hours of that, I felt my obligation to at least show up and be ignored was fulfilled."
"Well, you may have fucked yourself," J.V. said. "They're talking about pulling your contract again, Kyle. I don't think I need to tell you that they're getting pretty sick of having it come up."
"So why don't they do it?" Kyle asked. He had enough money to retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life, barring some big cocaine binge of course, so if they dropped him he wouldn't really suffer all that much. He just liked being a writer, liked setting his own hours and getting to do what he loved for a living. If that were taken away, he wouldn't know what to do with himself.
"Because, believe it or not, they actually think you're a good writer, Kyle," J.V. explained. "You may not think it sometimes, though for the life of me I can't figure out why, but they do. They don't want to lose you. They know as well as I do that you've got real potential and that you could write bestsellers if you'd just put down the damn booze."
Kyle sighed and rubbed his temples, feeling a migraine coming on.
"Tell them I'll sit through the rest of the signings even if nobody shows up," Kyle said. "Do that for me, J.V. Get me out of doghouse with my publishers and I promise you that the next book will be the best one I've ever written."
There was a pause and Kyle could hear J.V. clucking his tongue. He always did that when he was contemplating something.
"Okay," he said. "I'll get you out this one last time, if it's at all possible, but this is it, Broflovski. If you mess up again, if you walk out of a signing early or if you show up drunk like you did in Phoenix, and let me remind you that that was after you disgraced yourself by having sex with the stewardess on the airplane, then I'll have no power to help you anymore. You'll be done."
After they hung up, Kyle went into the bathroom and stripped down to the skin. He hadn't bothered to grab a change of clothes, but he didn't give a fuck. This was his hotel room, and if he wanted to walk naked from the bathroom to his suitcase, that was his choice. He turned on the shower and adjusted the knobs until the temperature was just right, then climbed in. The water cascading over his body was heavenly. It felt like the stress of the day was being washed away, off of his shoulders and down the drain. He went through his normal routine of shampooing his head and crotch and letting the soap work itself in while he scrubbed the rest of his body.
As he soaped up his chest, he began to think about Kenny's words. He wasn't welcome in South Park, that was for sure, and that was fine by him. He doubted he'd have time to really make any more runs out there anyway. Still, it seemed like the guy was hiding something from him. Why the hell did he get so evasive when Kyle asked if they'd caught the person responsible for the murders? It hadn't escaped his attention that he'd chosen that point to walk off, dropping the whole conversation as if it had never happened.
You're picking at a wound that's been trying to scab over and heal for a long time. Let it go.
What the hell did that mean anyway? It sounded like something somebody said in one of those conspiracy movies. There was always some cheesy, predictable line like "You need to stop digging around" or "You really need to STOP asking so many questions". Following that line of thinking though, was there something about the murder of Stan and his family that people didn't want him to know?Were they fucking hiding something from him?
He felt like hitting something. Stan was his best friend, damn it. If there was some kind of discovery, some kind of break in the case, they shouldn't be keeping it from him; they should be sharing it with him! For what felt like the hundred millionth time that day, he thought how unfair it was that everyone was treating him like it was all his fault. There wasn't anything he could have done.
He stepped from the shower and dried off. He walked back to the main room and caught a glimpse of the TV. Larry King was still squawking for his dead rabbits, and Kyle thought it just a little bit weird to watch Larry King in the nude. He switched off the set and climbed naked into the bed. He pulled the bedclothes up to his waist, then grabbed his laptop and pulled up the first porno he could find, which happened to be this weird clip of two lesbians and a German Shepherd.
Why the fuck not?
Kyle dreams he is standing on a snowy street in South Park. Stan's house is just ahead of him, which is a good thing. He's so cold his fingers are numb even through his green mittens. If he'd had to spend too much more time in this shit, he probably would have frozen solid.
He makes his way to the front door and gives a knock. It echoes through the house like a tomb, and Kyle is chilled by the sound. When no one answers, he knocks again, with the same result.
"What the hell?" he says, opening the door and walking in.
The inside is like a scene from hell. Stan hangs from the ceiling, just like Kyle remembered from all of those years ago, but his eyes are alive and accusing. Kyle feels his blood run cold and he knows that a sight like that could make a person go stark raving mad.
"You could have saved me, Kyle," Stan gurgles. "You could have done something."
"NO!!!" Kyle cried. "It wasn't my fault."
Randy rises from the floor, his eye sockets black holes filled with blood.
"You could have saved us," he snarls. His voice is close to a demonic baritone and Kyle feels his bladder give out. He pisses himself through his green pants and it drips down his leg onto his shoes and the floor.
"Look what they did to me," Shelley hisses like a snake as she crawls down the stairs. Her throat is cut wide open in an ear-to-ear grin and blood cakes her shirt all the way down past her rosebuds, which will never have the opportunity to develop into true breasts.
Kyle is paralyzed by his fear as they advance toward him. Stan even drops from the ceiling and slithers toward him, his remaining intestines dragging behind him on the floor. They leave a grotesque bloody trail.
The only one who seems to be missing is Sharon, who as if on cue emerges from the kitchen with a large knife sticking out of the top of her head, which she holds under her arm.
"Welcome home, Kyle," she says, her face a mask of pure evil. "We've been waiting a long time to be reunited with you."
Kyle suddenly finds that he can run again and he bolts out of the house as fast as his legs will take him. When he steps onto the front stoop, he finds himself back in South Park cemetery. He casts a look around in confusion, but this only lasts a minute, as he can see a large gap in the wall of the Marsh family tomb directly behind him. There is a flight of stairs there which descend into the ground, and the heat coming from the opening is unbearable. Stan and his family are dragging themselves out of the depths of hell, determined to catch him and drag him down to his damnation....
Kyle woke up screaming, telling Stan that he was
(sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry)
sorry, shrieking for mercy, begging them to please leave him alone. He did this until the concierge unlocked the door and barged in, thinking that he was being murdered. They were furious to find him there in the nude, the bedcovers on the floor and a large urine stain on the mattress.