In his own way, a lonely person like Brett knows more about making friends than most people do. He’s done it so much over the years that he’s an experienced craftsman of friends.
Like his friend Lyle. Lyle is one of the better friend’s Brett’s made, and on that cold rainy night when Brett sat next to me on his stained couch holding a knife to my throat, he turned on a table lamp and I saw that Lyle loved fabric very much, loved it like he loved himself, because he was made of it. He was a life-size mannequin stitched together from pieces of table cloth, from bits of curtain , old shirts, and whatever else Brett could get his hands on. But the weirdest thing about Lyle was his head. The shape was too accurate. The material looked like it’d been plastered on a real skull, the little pits where the eyes were were the right size. Lyle even had a smile, teeth that the fabric didn’t cover, teeth that looked too real.
Betsy, though, was a more creative work of craftsmanship, and when Brett told me she liked meat, he wasn’t kidding. Like Lyle, she loved it like she loved herself. A blue floral dress was draped around her body, which was made from various pieces of rotting meat and red raw flesh stitched together with string. The dismembered flesh she was crafted from was too rough cut to have been bought from some grocery store. The varying of bits and slabs connoted that she was a product from Brett’s own butcher’s technique. Blue mold rose specked some of these pieces, and a small cluster of flies darted here and there on the dark red shape staining the green armchair.
And after the introductions were made, Brett tightened his grip on my neck and began the rant he preaches every night to the friends he’s made. It begins with small details about his job at a small fast food place on a stretch of nowhere highway far outside of town, details about people he’s served, small snipes at his boss and coworkers. Then the hysteria in his voice rises a few notches as he starts talking about his grandpa, snarling about how he’ll make friends on his own damn time and he shouldn’t be telling him how to run his life, that he’ll do it his own way. The rant always crescendos into unintelligible shrieking and growls, his limbs rattling like an unstable machine. My first night trapped in his house, I was afraid he was going to freak out and rip out my throat with the kitchen knife.
My first night there, after his rant finished, he forces me up by one arm and while we walk to the back of the house, he keeps saying to me that if I try to escape, I will be hurt. Holding the knife to my neck with one hand, he opens the very back door, made of a thick layer of heavy welded metal sheets, before shoving me inside. The door slams, and the lock clicks. After a few minutes I’m calm enough to find the light switch, but the bulb is dead.
The room has only a small strip of glass near the ceiling that forms the only window, big enough to see outside, but too small to climb through. The room is filled with mounds of junk, cast in darkness and undiscernible in the meager moonlight that comes through the tiny window. The strange smells that come from all those stacks of junk, and the thought of what’s producing all those smells, make me grateful for the single bare spot in front of the door that gives me enough room to lie down on. As the night goes on, I try to open the door a few times, but the doorknob doesn’t budge and it’s too sturdy to break down. Not that I can try; the one time I try to, Brett yells for me to shut up, and I have no idea what he’ll do if I make him too mad. So I figure it’s just time to sit here and wait for morning to come, and just hope that whatever comes next isn’t too bad.