Chapter Eight: Garbage
When I was younger I fancied myself a superhero.
I wanted nothing more than to be the next Superman. In my youth, I poured over comic books. I read everything from Superman to Plastic Man. I voraciously consumed Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk. I even read Aquaman for fuck's sake. Ordinary men granted magnificent powers by chance, abilities beyond the comprehension of mere mortal. Wondrous gifts given to a blessed few, setting them apart from the meandering masses of sheeple wandering the streets like the worthless wastes of skin they are. Superheroes are superior for a reason.
I wanted that.
So I created an alter-ego. I wanted power and prestige and I would have it. I looked into the mirror and finally felt as if I was special. I was worth something. People love heroes. I had never felt the adoration of others and I wanted nothing more than to experience the thrilling sensation of being basked in the warm affections of the doting public. I wanted it to bad I could taste it.
But, my illusion was quickly shattered.
I failed miserably. I had no powers. I couldn't magically regenerate. I didn't have cereal based abilities. Relying on the only things I knew, I used deception and blackmail. I created an empire on manipulation and malice. I trapped a boy in a cage for two weeks to live on his own excrement.
I was no hero. I was worse than a villain. I was a devil. I was a pariah. I am Eric Cartman.
I am garbage.
I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind
I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time
But I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
If there's nothing I can do
I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
After all I knew it had to be something to do with you
I really don't mind what happens now and then
As long as you'll be my friend 'til the end
If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman?
If I'm alive and well will you be there, holding my hand?
I'll keep you by my side with my superhuman might
School began rather regularly.
I met with the Goths behind the building for a pre-school smoke. I was seated on the steps next to Henrietta, who was absentmindedly blowing smoke rings into the swirling snow. Her black and purple hair blew around her face. She rarely seemed to bother with the heavy coats typical of Colorado natives, even in such chilly weather, preferring instead to wear a long black burlap trench open over her short Gothic-Lolita dresses and skirts.
My mouth tasted particularly dry this morning, like I had tried to swallow an entire ashtray. My stomach hadn't been sitting right ever since the incident at The Hole.
Henrietta had been especially affectionate since that night. Tentative touching had become bolder, more possessive. She sat within two inches of me at all times. I think I had lost a lung to her second hand smoke. She ran her free hand across my leg, up towards the zipper on my pants. She paused over my junk far too long for my comfort. I clenched my eyes shut, trying to pretend I was somewhere else.
When I opened my eyes I was surprised to see Bebe Stevens wandering by the dumpsters. She looked especially frail in her red plaid pea coat, skintight jeggings clinging to skeleton legs, tucked in clunky black snow boots. She resembled a scarecrow with her flyaway blonde locks and bony features. One little gust of wind and she would crumble into pieces. She had a McDonald's bag in her hands, clutching it to her chest as if it were a vital organ. Her brittle fingers were snow white. They looked like little bones blending into the bag.
She paused for a moment, opening the bag and holding it to her nose. She breathed in the greasy scent with such ecstasy that I could have sworn that breath would be her last. Then she did the strangest thing
She threw the bag into the dumpster. Just tossed the uneaten food into the trash and ran towards the front doors, jacket billowing around her willowy frame in the whirling slush. She folded her arms tight over her chest as if protecting herself from an onslaught of unseen bullets.
Then I had the sickest desire
I wanted to rifle through the trash and dig out Bebe's discarded food. I wanted to feel that greasy, fast food on my tongue so bad it hurt. I wanted to feel the salt on the fries grind between my fingers like tiny little beads of delicious sin. Suddenly, I realized where my thoughts had gone too. I felt bile poking at the back of my throat. As the shame overwhelmed me, I felt myself sinking backward into myself. I could hear the conversation around me but none of it was registering.
What am I becoming?
- 0 -
The bell was a gift from God. I fled into the school without saying goodbye. I ducked into my next class and sank into the desk farthest in the back, burying my head in my arms. I tried to close my eyes and zone out. Suddenly, I was startled by yet another familiar voice, "Hey Cartman." Stan Marsh slid into the seat next to me and flashed me that quarterback smile.
"Pleasant as usual, I see." He grinned and shook his head dismissively. He leaned back in his seat and twirled his pencil in his fingers. "What's new with you, my Gothic pal?" he asked, his amiable attitude grated on my ears like nails on a chalkboard.
"What do you care?" I snapped, glowering at him from underneath slashed bangs. His handsome face and baby blue eyes aggravated me. His pouty lips framed perfect white teeth and a gorgeous smile that made me want to tear his beautiful face apart. His pale green tee shirt hugged a six pack I wanted to rip from his stomach and forcibly sew onto my own. Stan looked at me with a raised brow. He seemed surprised that I had even asked.
"Well I don't know," he said sarcastically, "You've barely said two words to me in four months, you and Kyle tried to murder each other, at school no less, oh, and did I mention the GOTH thing?" he looked at me as if I had lost my damned mind. Maybe I had.
"Does it really matter?" I asked him, sighing dejectedly. I gripped my head in tired hands, clenching shut hazel eyes and wondered for the millionth time if it really mattered. If any of it really mattered. If I really mattered...
"I think so." His answer was without hesitation. I opened my eyes to look at him incredulously. "Don't look at me like that, Cartman." He snapped, "I've known you since preschool for fuck's sake. We've practically grown up together. So forgive me for wondering why suddenly you changed clothes and friends! Oh! And did I mention dating the Goth Queen?" Stan finished animatedly, his blue eyes sparkling with passion.
I nearly choked at his last statement. Is that what Kyle thought? I sat bolt upright and tried to swallow my own spittle forcefully so that I could speak without my words falling out all over themselves. I was stuttering as bad as that the time I pretended to be mentally challenged to win one thousand dollars, "Ddating?" I managed to squeak in a fashion I hoped was both nonchalant and inquisitive. Stan raised his eyebrow in a fashion that told me I had clearly failed.
"Well, yeah." He frowned, "Kyle said you two were all over each other at that club the other night." The recollection of our smoke-flavored kiss filled my memory banks and my senses shut down. Flashes of the night at The Hole danced through my brain like movie on fast forward. I found myself recalling her unwanted touches on the front of my jeans. My back stiffened.
"Oh my God!" I buried my head in my hands, despite myself. Kyle thought I was dating that damndable woman. Why did I even care what that Jew bastard thought anyway? He made it pretty damned clear at the club he didn't give two shits about me or who I was with. Stan must have seen how upset the comment made me, because he dropped the conversation. He made an awkward, almost sincere movement to pat me on the back before thinking better of it and dropping his hand back to his side.
Ugh Fuck it! Fuck it all! Fuckitfuckitfuckitfuckitfuckit.
I'm not your boyfriend, baby
I ain't your cute little sex toy
I'm not your lion or your tiger
Nah! Nah! Won't be your nasty little boy
I'm not your boyfriend, baby
Yeah, I can't grant your every wish
Yeah, I'm not your knight in shining armor
So I'll just leave you with this kiss
Kill the lights
These children learn from cigarette burns
Fast cars. Fast women. And cheap drinks
It feels right
All these asphyxiated, self-medicated
Take the white pill, you'll feel alright
I slipped into a bathroom that was still marked Out of Order. Ocassionally, the Goths came here to smoke pot instead of going to gym so I checked all of the stalls to see if they were empty before choosing the handicapped one at the end. I took off my trench and slung it over the safety bar, abandoning my messenger bag on the tile beside me I slid to the ground in front of the foul smelling porcelain beast. I needed to get my hatred out of me or I would never be able to function for the rest of the day.
Angrily forcing my middle finger towards the back of my throat, I felt a familiar tickle. I removed my finger just in time for it to be spared being covered in vomit as I wretched violently into the bowl. Tears sprang to the corners of my eyes and I clenched them shut, willing my frustrations, fear, and sadness to pass with each passing tremor.
Just as I was finished I heard someone else enter the bathroom. Why were they in the Out of Order bathroom? I wondered. Well, I guess I couldn't talk since I was hiding out in the abandoned commodes as well. I prayed to God that they hadn't heard the last few pieces of my purging. I pushed myself off my knees and flushed the toilet a couple time. Hopefully, the other person would just think I had taken a shit or something. I was about to open the stall door when I heard a scream, except, it wasn't male.
"Clyde, I'm sorry! Please stop!"
I pressed my eye up to the tiny slit in between the door and wall. I could see only bits and pieces of the scene, but it was enough to put together what was happening. Bebe was cowering on the floor, clutching her cheek and crying. Her perfectly lined eyes were now smudged and running down her porcelain face. Clyde loomed over her, a leviathan towering above her frail form.
"Shut the fuck up, cunt!" he spat at her. I cringed, inadvertently. I had heard that kind of hatred in a voice before. He sounded just like my mother. "I saw you talking to that fucking Brighton kid. You're fucking him, aren't you?" he accused. Bebe's brown eyes were wide, like a deer in headlights. It was quite clear she had no idea what he was talking about.
"Nno!" she protested, "Clyde, please! I would never cheat on you. Why" she didn't finish her sentence before he kicked her forcibly in the stomach. A strangled moan escaped her. She clutched at her ribs, a new wave of tears making their way down her face. Suddenly it all made sense, the bruises, the weight loss, the favoring of one limb or another
Clyde Donovan was abusing his girlfriend.
I couldn't see his face too well, but Clyde seemed nonplussed. If anything proved his lack of empathy, it was the way he pulled her up by her hair to look him in the eye. Bebe struggled to find balance as her popsicle-stick legs slipped around on the bathroom tile, "Whore. Cunt. Bitch. You're nothing without me and you know it." He told her, spitting on her face.
Suddenly, a chain on my pants clinked. Clyde tuned into the sound like bat-sonar. He dropped Bebe to the ground like a piece of trash and focused on the bathroom stall, "Who the fuck is in there? Show yourself!" he demanded. I tried, desperately, to stay still. I willed myself to cease breathing. I willed him not to notice me. None of this mattered when he kicked the door open, nearly removing it from its hinges. I fell backward, skittering away just in time to avoid being smacked in the face by the swinging door.
I found myself looking up into Clyde Donovan's sharp, blue eyes. They were a pale shade of blue that seemed almost lifeless underneath the dingy, fluorescent lights that lined the ceiling of the school bathroom. Since the fourth grade he had added a few feet to his height. Now towering over me at six foot three, he was broad shouldered even without his letterman jacket. He leered.
"Cartman!" Bebe managed a strangled yell.
Clyde didn't even acknowledge her, just sneered down at me. "Well, well, well what have we here? A fat Goth fuckwad." He seethed. I looked up at him, opening and closing my mouth like a fish out of water, unable to think of what to say. Eric Cartman, finally speechless. Your mouth can't get you out of this one, fucktard. Clyde grabbed my collar and pulled me to my feet, only to throw me down to the tile again next to Bebe.
I skidded across the tile and smacked my head against the wall. A white flash blinded me momentarily only to be replaced by excruciating pain and fuzzy vision. Gripping my pounding head with one hand, I tried to push myself up. I knew I was crying, it was only natural when you were in that kind of pain. I also knew that it would not escape Clyde's attention. He scoffed, "Pussy."
Bebe attempted to tug me into an upright position. I could feel some blood on the back of my neck. Her eyes looked panicked, tears streaming down her face. She didn't say anything but each movement of her eyes was filled with apology. Clyde was having none of this; he kicked her off of me. Bebe squeaked like a wounded puppy, clutching her hand to her chest. "Don't interfere, you fucking slut." He commanded. She looked up at him, saying nothing, pure terror made her tear-stained eyes shine like rain-slicked marbles.
Clyde rounded on me, grabbing my arm and wrenching me upward. I thought my arm would rip right out of the socket, "You didn't see shit. Got me, faggot?" he growled at me. I nodded wordlessly. He seemed to accept this as a confirmation of my silence, releasing my collar and staring me in the eye. Or at least that is what I thought until he punched me square in the jaw.
I barely had time to raise my hands up to my face in shock when he landed another punch on my eye. I yelled my protestations, but blows continued to rain down on my face, shoulders, and stomach. I could not shield myself from his onslaught, nor could I escape. I chose to begrudgingly accept it in hopes that doing so would make it less painful of an ordeal. I had been able to do this before, whenever my mother did this very thing after a night of hard drinking. I closed my eyes and tried desperately to turn my emotions off. One by one, I felt each of my senses turning off. My brainwaves turned to static and I waited. Waited for him to finish
I could barely hear Bebe screaming at him above the fuzz in my own brain, "Stop Clyde! Stop it! You'll kill him!"
- 0 -
I don't know how long Clyde beat me for, but he left Bebe and me in the bathroom when the next bell rang. She helped me to my feet and we stood in silence for a moment. She shuffled into a bathroom and grabbed some toilet tissue, shoving some into my hands she began wiping her face with the rest. I rolled the paper into a tube and shoved some up my bleeding nose.
Finally, she spoke. Her voice was weak, trembling. "Please don't say anything, Cartman." She begged, her eyes pleading. I didn't mean to be angry, but I was. Bebe didn't deserve to be treated like a piece of trash. She was worth more than that. I was not the type to stand up for a damsel in distress and I doubt I ever will be, but I didn't like seeing a girl I remembered as being so fiercely independent in youth transformed into a wounded puppy desperately clinging to a man out of fear, lest she be brutally assaulted. Ugh, there it was again, the caring Eric Cartman. What did I care if Bebe wanted to be with some douchebag who kicked the shit out of her whenever he got the chance?
"Why the fuck are you with a guy like that?" I asked her. It was like I couldn't stop myself from caring! The words tumbled out before I could stop them, I could even hear the concern and it scared me.
"It's complicated." She whispered, running her fingers through her hair as if in attempt to fix it. It didn't help much, only adding to the frizziness of its appearance. She began fishing through her purse. She pulled out a make-up bag and went to work on her face. Bebe began desperately smearing concealer over her bruises and tears.
Now that I was this close to her, I could see just how thin she really was. Her face was sallow and so pale white it was almost yellow. Her eyes seemed sunken into her skull and now that she was no longer wearing her bulky coat I could see her shape underneath the billowing red tunic she was wearing. The bones poked through the skin like pegs holding up a frail tent. Her arms were so tiny and thin, I think I could have wrapped my finger around the expanse of them.
"Whatever. I'm leaving." I told her, shuffling over to the handicapped stall to grab my abandoned jacket and bag. I tugged on my coat and slung my jacked over my shoulder, heading for the door. Bebe stopped repairing her face momentarily to frown at me, a look of desperation on her face. She opened her mouth, but I cut her off "Fine, fine. I won't say anything." I reassured her, shaking my head. Damn my sympathetic heart
Bebe expelled a sigh of relief and I let the bathroom door shut behind me.
- 0 -
In the school parking lot, the cold air hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, a wave of nausea so violent overcame me I grabbed onto the hood of the nearest car and bent over it to throw up all the blood I had swallowed during my beating. "Well, at least I am losing weight!" I thought to myself sarcastically.
"What the fuck are you doing to my car?"
The person's voice didn't even register in my head until I looked up and my vision began to come back into focus. I realized I was leaning on the shiny hood of a cherry red Honda Civic convertible. A sporty model that one particular person had painstakingly saved up for since his thirteenth birthday
Kyle Broflovski was running towards me at full speed, the flaps of his green hat fluttering behind him in the wind. "Oh my Gawd!" I pushed myself up, "how could I have forgotten that he didn't have any classes until the afternoon?" When he saw that it was me he skidded to a stop and his glare became more prominent. He began stamping over to his car with purpose.
"Cartman! What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, his voice brimming with anger. "I swear to God if you're keying my car" his voice sputtered to a halt when he saw my face. "Oh my God Cartman, what happened?" Kyle's voice came out in a weird squeak. If I didn't know any better, I might have said he sounded almost concerned.
"I got my ass kicked, what does it look like?" I glowered, wiping the blood from my mouth.
Kyle didn't say anything for a moment, just looked me up and down with the strangest look on his face. Finally he said, "I think I have a First Aid kit in my car." I blinked at him as he pulled the keys off his backpack and pressed the button on his keychain. The lights on his car blinked and bleeped. I heard the locks click as they released. "Come on." He motioned, opening the passenger's door for me and gesturing me into the seat. I allowed him to push me into the leather seat without much protestation, my feet still buried in the snow.
He walked around to the back of the car and I could hear him fumbling with his keys. Kyle popped the trunk and rummaged through it. After a few minutes, I felt the trunk close and a moment later he was back at my side with a tiny plastic case in his hands, crouching down in front of me. "It won't be much, but
" he clicked it open and pulled some gauze from it, placing it on the cut above my eye. I closed my eyes, wishing that I could feel his fingers on my bare skin, fantasizing for a moment that he truly cared about me. Kyle's voice broke the silence, "What happened, Cartman?"
"What do you care?" I asked, opening my eyes to glare at him.
Kyle didn't answer. He offered me no explanations. No lies. He gave me no assurances of false friendship the way Stan had. He simply set aside the piece of gauze and grabbed a cotton ball, wiping the blood streaking down my cheeks and neck. He wiped Neosporin into the larger cuts and placed band-aids on them. Finally, he tugged the piece of toilet paper out of my nose and threw it on the pile of abandoned blood-stained tissue at his feet.
He got to his feet, collecting the trash and walking to the nearest trash can to toss it away. He returned a few minutes later. I stayed silent while he did this, watching him. I knew Kyle hated me, he hated me more than he hated Adolf Hitler. Justifiably as well, I had never been anything but terrible to him. Yet, feeling him taking care of me the way he had. Feeling his thin, beautiful fingers on my cheeks, even through layers of mesh and tissue was the most exhilarating thing I had ever experienced. I wanted him. I couldn't keep lying to myself. I wanted him, badly.
When he returned to the car, he grabbed walked over to the driver's side and got in. Kyle buckled his seatbelt and I gave him a strange look, "I'm gonna take you home, okay? Pull in your legs and close the door." He instructed, not bothering to even glimpse at me. I did as I was told and he turned on the car. A sudden, welcome wave of heat invaded the car and began to thaw my icy cheeks and nose. Kyle flicked the radio and music filled the car, a soft rock station. That would be just like him, faggot. I smiled to myself and let the lilting melodies engulf me.
After more than a few minutes of driving, me watching the snow-covered scenery as it passed by the window. At a red light, I finally spoke to him. "Thanks." I whispered. He glanced at me. I looked back, meeting his gaze. A smile made its way across his features. His smile was strange, almost strained. It didn't quite reach his eyes, but to me he still seemed like the most beautiful person in the universe.
When I finally arrived home, I got out of the car and thanked him one last time. He nodded his acknowledgement and drove away. I watched him leave, wishing for a moment that the drive could have lasted forever. I remembered how gentle he was with me, almost as if he actually cared. I touched my cheeks, momentarily.
I sighed and shook the thoughts from my head. I walked to the front door and fished through my bag for my keys. I fiddled with them until I found the right one and opened the door to find my mother on her knees, her mouth around some guy's cock.
This is just not my day.