Sunday June 3, 2012 - 10:51 PM

Robbie stopped telling the story, put his head against the steering wheel and started sobbing uncontrollably. “I didn’t do anything to stop them,” he said. “They drove off with Monica and they beat her and raped her and it was entirely my fault.”

I looked at Robbie, not saying anything. Of course it was his fault. His drug habit is what put Monica in that predicament. I know that I was supposed to tell him that it wasn’t his fault. But I couldn’t. He’s the reason why Monica was so badly injured both physically and emotionally. The reason I saw that hurt animal look in her eyes. Him. Not me.

“You talked about her rape in class that week,” I said, accusingly. “You used it as class material, as something to help us deal with something that had happened to a fellow student.”

“It was also helping me deal with it, too,” Robbie said, still not looking at me.

“And that story you told me about your girlfriend in high school. You made that up, didn’t you? Wait a minute, you fucker. You’d been reading my blog, so you knew about the dreams I’d had about Monica, about the guilt I’d felt over it. And you let me feel that. You could have fucking told me about this back then.”

“How could I?” Robbie said. “How . . . could . . . I?

“I’ve needed to talk about this with someone, but who could I talk to, and how could I bring it up in the hallway between classes? My girlfriend, that high school party I’d told you about, that happened Peter. It really did. That’s what makes it that much more painful, that much more difficult, that another girl I loved was raped, and again I could have prevented it, but I didn’t.

“I fully expected Monica to tell the police the story, but she refused to talk about it with anyone. I want those guys to pay for what they did to her, want to kill them with my bare hands. But I can’t come forward and tell the police what I know. Besides, I don’t even know the fucking dealer’s name. He goes by Dillon, but I know that’s not his name. I have a cell phone for him and that’s all. Who knows if it would even help them find him, who knows if they could even hold him in jail. What evidence is there now?

“Oh God, Monica,” he whispered. “I’m so, so sorry.”

We sat there in silence. I sipped at my rye, but it wasn’t going down well at all. After several minutes, he spoke up again.

“I tried talking to her, tried calling her on her cell phone, slipping her a note, talking with her in the hallways at school. But she won’t even respond to me, won’t even talk with me. Won’t let me apologize.”

“What the fuck do you expect?” I said. “Serves you fucking right.” But inside, I was feeling sorry for him because he was in the same situation I had been in with Sarah. I guess the difference with Sarah is that I didn’t put her in a situation where she’d been raped and beaten. No, in our case, my death curse caused her father’s cancer, but she couldn’t possibly know that. In our case, I couldn’t have prevented what happened. But I could still feel for what Robbie was going through, despite the fact that I was angry with him for the situation he’d led Monica into.

Fuck. I liked Robbie, respected him, looked up to him so much. And, despite how angry I was with him, I still wanted to comfort him, tell him there wasn’t anything he could do.

But I never got that chance. I never got to tell him that, while I was pissed off with him, I still looked up to him, still wanted to make our friendship work.

I never got the chance because there was suddenly a bright flash of headlights from behind us.

“Holy fuck.” Robbie said. “Dillon has found us.”