A note of warning: This story focuses on John and the events leading up to his Saturday in detention, which means that it's not exactly fluffy, and parts of it do get a little dark. Basically, it's rated M for a good reason, and if you're at all bothered by sex, foul language, drugs, or talk of suicide, you might want to read something else.
They were just souvenirs—proof that John Bender existed, had walked on this earth, and had interacted with other people. Nothing in the box actually meant anything to him…
Winter by its very nature was unpleasant. Doubly so in Chicago. It was cold and it was windy. It was absolutely nothing that a seventeen year old should want to be exposed to for hours at a time. Unless, of course, he didn't have a choice. And John liked to tell himself that he didn't have a choice, but the truth was that he did.
If he wanted to, he could hang out at the mall, or sneak into the movie theater, or he could just go home. But he didn't go to any of those places. Instead, he stayed huddled up against the east wall of the field house, coat pulled tightly around him, cursing bitterly every time the wind shifted direction. The frigid air blew right through him, and he could feel it deep within his bones. He was pretty sure that frostbite was a major possibility. His fingers were already numb and stiff, it probably wouldn't be much longer until they turned black and fell off.
He forced himself to tough it out, waiting until the sun dropped below the horizon and finally took his last shred of tolerance for the cold along with it before he considered leaving. The evening was still early, but it was time to move on. He couldn't go home, at least not directly, but he could spend the last of the twenty bucks he'd borrowed from his older brother on fast food and warm up in the McDonald's on the way.
John stood up slowly, stiffened legs protesting. The wind whipped his hair around and stung his face as he walked away from the protection of the building. The walk warmed him some, but he was glad when he finally reached the restaurant and got out of the cold.
When it was his turn at the counter, he ordered his standard fare: a burger, fries, and a Coke. The cashier that waited on him wasn't bad looking. Her brown hair was pulled back and held neatly in place with a pink banana clip. Not a strand was out of place.
He wanted to mess it up.
John nursed his meal for as long as humanly possible—he had loitering down to a fine art. He made two additional trips to the counter, first ordering another cheeseburger, and then a hot apple pie. As long as he continued to buy something, no one cared how long he sat there.
The cashier blatantly flirted with him as he made his final purchase, and John was pretty sure that she was under the impression that the only reason he'd stuck around so long was because of her. She kept giving him sideways glances in between customers, and normally he didn't like it when people watched him, but he made an exception for her. The next time he caught her looking, he smiled back. She grinned, and John knew how the game would eventually end.
As he was finishing his last bite of pie, he heard the cashier loudly announce to a co-worker that she was going out for her smoke break before disappearing into the back. That was his cue. John crumpled up the apple pie wrapper and exited the restaurant, venturing back out into the cold. Only this time it wasn't quite as reluctantly.
He rounded the building and found the cashier leaned up against the brick wall, cigarette between her lips. Her eyes lit up when she saw him.
"Can I bum a smoke?" he asked.
The cashier nodded and dug into her coat pocket. When she found her cigarettes, she pulled out the pack and offered it to him.
But instead of taking it, John reached over and carefully pulled the already lit cigarette out of the girl's mouth. It was a move that he vaguely remembered seeing on TV or something, and it was guaranteed to make her want him.
"Thanks, Sweets," he said, never breaking eye contact with her as he placed the cigarette between his own lips and took a drag.
The cashier regarded him quietly as he smoked her cigarette, and then finally came to a decision. "I've got ten minutes."
Girls were so predictable.
He dropped the finished cigarette to the pavement and blew his last lungful of smoke up into the night sky. "I only need five."
When John finally made it home that night, he was disappointed to find his brother's car still in the driveway. Mark worked evenings and nights at the gas station so he should've already left, but his concept of time varied greatly depending on the amount of chemicals in his bloodstream. If it wasn't for the fact that he supplied his boss with a steady supply of drugs, John was sure that Mark would've been fired ages ago. As it was, seven months was the longest Mark had ever managed to maintain the appearance of a job.
John went around back and quietly opened the kitchen door. He was hoping to be able to make it to his bedroom unnoticed. The sound of the TV covered his footsteps, so he figured his odds were good. He risked a look into the living room as he crept past the doorway. His old man was asleep in his chair, empty beer cans piled on the table next to him, and his step-mom was watching the shopping channel, telephone in hand.
His brother, however, was not asleep, or passed out, or too high to get off the floor—the three most common ways to find him. No, Mark had unfortunately just stepped out of his bedroom, and when he saw John in the hallway, he grabbed his coat by the lapels and shoved him hard against the wall.
"Give me back my money, fag, or I swear to god I will bury your fucking head in this fucking wall!"
"Bite me," John calmly replied.
"Man, right now I am so tempted, but who knows what kind of diseases you have. Keep fucking those skanks and your dick is going to rot off."
"At least mine still works. You're just jealous 'cuz you haven't gotten any in, what, months?" John shot back with a smug smile.
"Dream on, fucktard. Now, where's my goddamn money?"
John donned his best puzzled face and asked, "Would that be the money that you got from selling my stereo, or the money that you took from Linda's purse?"
Mark shoved him again. "Always gotta be a fuckin' smart-ass, don't you, Johnny?" He pulled John's wallet out of his pocket by the chain and opened it up, frowning when he didn't find any money. "Did you buy some pills at school or something? If you give them to me, I might forgive you."
Annoyed, and probably a little desperate, Mark patted John down, but only managed to find the pack of cigarettes that John had bought on the way to school that morning.
"You don't want those. They're bad for your health," John helpfully informed him.
Mark gave John one last slam against the wall. "I'm taking these as a down payment. You owe me, shithead." He let John go and continued on his way.
"Yeah, I owe you," John muttered sarcastically as he walked into his bedroom.
He closed the door behind him and stood with his ear against it for a few minutes, just to make sure that Mark wasn't going to come back and make good on his threat to put him through the wall. When he heard the front door open and a car start, John figured that he was in the clear.
He shrugged off his coat and threw it in the general direction of his closet. He didn't look to see if it made it or not. Then he kicked off his boots, not particularly caring where they landed either. He was tired, but there was one last thing that he had to do before he could go to sleep.
John knelt down on the floor and felt around for the old, beat-up shoebox that he kept hidden under his bed. When he found it, he pulled it out and removed the lid. He took a pink hair clip out of the front pocket of his jeans, and dropped it into the box, replacing the lid when he was done.
He turned off the lights, climbed into bed, and as he tried to fall asleep, he let his mind wander. Some people counted sheep to help them drift off, but John found it relaxing to contemplate all the ways that he could end his life.
Overdose on drugs.
He knew where Mark bought the hard stuff. Hell, if he wanted to spend three minutes searching, he could probably figure out where Mark kept the hard stuff. It was a classic way to go—out like a rock star—but on second thought, it lacked the kind of visual impact he was going for.
A razor blade to both wrists.
He considered that one for a few minutes. It would be messy, which made it appealing, but it would almost certainly be painful. He wasn't sure he'd actually be able to pull it off successfully.
What else? He rolled over onto his side and pulled the blanket tighter around him. It was always cold in his room, even with long sleeves on. Still, it beat being outside.
Yeah, that would be a good way to go. He'd walk out to the middle of the football field, lie down on the grass and just let the falling snow cover him, slowly freezing him to death in the process. When spring came, the snow would thaw and his freezer-burned corpse would be left there, on the 50-yard line, for the whole school to see. It would be grotesque and potentially traumatizing to anyone who saw it. He would become a legend. John liked the thought of that.