I sat and watched as Pedro thrust on top of Trisha. What else could I do? He was a head taller than me and knew karate. I couldn’t even catch a football at 17. She was crying. That’s what I’ll never forget about that afternoon. The way she cried and begged him to stop. Not the way her eyes bulged when he wrapped his hands around her neck. Not even the noises that came out of her mouth as little bits of air escaped through her constricted windpipe.

It was the tears and the pleading that came before that. It was how she’d cried, “No! Pedro! Please don’t!” as she pressed up against his white T-shirt, like she was lifting weights instead of being raped.

Pedro turned his head, gazed into my eyes, her blue underwear ripped in one hand. “You gonna get’cha some a this or what, Scotty?”

“I, uh—” My mouth hung open a few seconds as I tried to answer. “Naw, Pedro. Why don’t you stop it, okay?

“Uh!” He smiled, and before I could stop myself, I scurried back a couple feet. We were in the middle of a field, and my palm pressed into a sticker bush that was flattened against the ground. I shouted out in pain, and for some reason, this seemed to rev his engine.

“Yeah! You like that shit, don’t you, Scotty-Scot?”

“Pedro!” Trisha cried in agony. “Please! It hurts!”

Her pink shorts lay in the yellow and green grass next to her face.

That’s when he started choking her.

I had no idea any of this was going to happen. If I had, I never would have agreed to come along. But in the middle of my 17th summer, drinking beers in a field with Pedro Squires and Trisha Hansen wasn’t the worst situation a guy could find himself in. Especially under the pretence that Pedro had used to sell me on the plan.

“Man, that slut,” he had said that morning after announcing that he had copped a 12-pack of light beer from his older brother. “Get her liquored up and she’ll take two dicks. Trust me, I know.”

I couldn’t imagine, as I’d never even gotten a girl to take one dick before.

“Really?” I had tried to play it cool. I had seen Pedro around my neighborhood, but we had only just met this summer.

“Really,” he had said. “You down or what?”

I had told him I was, and we went to Trisha’s singlewide, which was in Mobile Village, the same trailer park we lived in, and knocked on her door. She’d appeared on the other side, in her little pink shorts and a white tank top, her brown frizzy hair resting in a loose ponytail, and played it even cooler than me.

“You got beer? Cool. We can’t drink here, though. My grandma’s home.”

So off we went to the field next to Mobile Village. During the wet seasons, it turned to a nasty swamp. Not today, though. It was dry and overgrown with tall grass in most places.

I had never heard somebody really choking, and I couldn’t help but notice that it sounded the same as in the movies. Only in real life, it does something to you to watch it, especially when it’s some greasy boy from your neighborhood strangling a beautiful, helpless girl, who’s a year younger than both of you.

Her hands wrapped around his wrists as her eyes widened and began to bulge. Pedro didn’t slow down. In fact, his own eyes opened wider and he leaned in, gazing into hers and thrusting harder. Trisha looked like she was trying to form words, but only managed duck-like choking noises. Tears and mucus mixed together, ran down her face like waterfalls on each side, dumping into her hair and ears.

“Pedro!” I screamed, silently begging myself to get to my feet. “Stop it, man! Come on! You’re gonna kill her!”

Get up, get up, get up, I thought. Get up and do something.

But I couldn’t. I was frozen. I had never been in a fight in my life, let alone with a much bigger guy who knew karate. I had seen Pedro around the Village and knew it wasn’t just a show, either. The kid could fight.

Trisha began convulsing under him. Her mouth opened wide and her hands released from his wrists as her arms splayed out to her sides. She was shaking like a cell phone set to vibrate, and that’s when Pedro lost it.

“OH!” he cried into her mouth like it was a microphone. “Oh yeah, baby! Fuck yeah!”

His thrusts grew slower, yet harder and jerkier. Then he let out one last moan and released his grip from Trisha’s neck. She stopped vibrating and collapsed, spread-eagle and motionless. Pedro hunched over her on all fours, catching his breath. I just sat like a damn infant, in utter shock, and watched.

“You sure you don’t wanna get’cha some, Scotty?” he finally broke the silence, slapping Trisha across the face.

I found my voice. “What? Fuck! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

He didn’t seem to hear me. He gazed intently into the bulging eyes of the girl he’d just strangled and raped, then slapped her again. I wasn’t done.

“Dude! We’re gonna go to fucking prison! What the fuck?”

“Would you quit being such a pussy, Scotty-Scott?” He still didn’t look at me. “Yo, Trish? Scotty’s turn.”

Another slap. This time harder.

Get up, get up, get up.

But I still couldn’t.

Pedro leaned down and kissed her open mouth. It was a long and deep kiss, but when he came back up, I realized that he wasn’t kissing her at all. He had his thumb and index finger pinched over her nose. He began to push on her chest violently. He was giving her CPR.

“Yeah,” I said because it’s all that would come out of my mouth. “Yeah. Okay. See if you can bring her back. That’s good.”

“Really,” he spat. “Would you shut the hell up and hand me a beer or something? I’m just bringing her back so you can get some too.”

“What? I—I don’t wanna—I don’t want anything to do with this, Pedro!”

Stopping the compressions, he glared at me. “What? I thought that’s why we’re here. Remember? Two dicks?”

“Dude!” I cried, finally able to get to my feet. “I didn’t know you were gonna kill her!”

“Use your head, Scotty. Did you think a normal girl would take two dicks out in some field after a couple warm beers? I swear, sometimes it’s like I’m the only one with a brain. You want some a her, or not?”

No, I didn’t want some of her. After what I’d just witnessed, I would have been content to die a 90-year-old virgin in a nursing home. But if I told him that, he would stop trying to help her, and I didn’t know the first thing about CPR. So I just nodded.

“Good,” he said. “Then grab me a beer while I finish bringing her back.” He didn’t wait for me to move, just slapped her across the face again and went to work pounding on her chest.

When I made it back with his beer, Trisha was coughing and clutching at her neck. Dropping the silver can onto the grass, I fell to my knees next to her. Her pink shorts lay in front of me as if I were praying to them.

“Good job, cum-stain.” Pedro eyed the unopened beer. “Shake it up, why don’t’cha?”

Trisha rolled over in the direction opposite me and vomited, as Pedro zipped his fly, then walked to the 12-pack and selected a different can. I hated myself briefly for noticing that her bare bottom curved nicely below her tank top. I placed a hand on her shoulder, felt her body tremble beneath it.

“Trisha, are you all right?”

Once she finally finished vomiting and coughing, she said in a weak voice, “Yeah. Thanks, Scotty. You’re a really nice guy, you know that?”

I didn’t answer, couldn’t tell her that I wasn’t such a nice guy after all. That it was partially my fault that this had happened to her.

She saved me the trouble anyway, saying, “Unlike someone.” Her eyes met Pedro’s. I considered telling her to be quiet. To just let me get her out of here so she’d be safe, but before I could, she went on. “Didn’t you hear me say, ‘it hurts?’”

Behind me, the can hissed as he pulled the tab. “‘Course I heard. I’m ain’t deaf, ya dumb bitch.”

“Then why didn’t you stop?”

Pedro laughed. “Are you for real right now?”

“Yeah, I’m for real, you asshole. What’s the point of having a safe word if you’re not gonna use it?”

There was silence for a moment as I processed what I had just heard.

“What was the word?” Pedro finally asked.

“‘It hurts,’ stupid. It hurts’ is our freakin’ safe word and you know it.”

“‘It hurts’ is more than one word, baby.”

“It doesn’t matter! It’s what we decided on!”

“Wait,” I said, pulling my hand off of her. “What the hell are you two saying?”

Trisha rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t tell me you don’t know what a safe word is either?”

“I know what a safe word is!” I snapped, jumping to my feet like a piece of bread in a toaster. “You mean to tell me you two planned this?”

“Uh, no?” Trisha’s face suggested she was speaking to somebody with a learning disability. “You showed up at my place and surprised me with beer this morning, genius. Remember?”

“Yeah! I remember! Of course I remember! What the hell is going on here? What’s all this talk about safe words, and why aren’t you way more pissed off right now?”

Pedro put a hand on my shoulder. “I tried to tell you, bro, she’s freaky.”

Looking back, I saw a smug smile on his face. That’s when it finally set in.

“No way—”

“Yes way, dude.”

“You mean—you two have done this before?”

“Scotty-Scott, how else would I know she was down for it?”

Something dirty and dark seemed to pour through my body as I tried my best to accept what was being said.

“And you kill her every time?”

“Rape. Kill. She likes the whole package, man. She’s one fucked-up individual, if you can’t tell.”

I almost pinched myself to make sure this was real. Did he just tell me that Trisha Hansen like to be killed during sex? I glanced down, saw her rubbing her neck.

“Only that asshole could have been more careful,” she said. “If my grandma sees these marks, I’ll be grounded for the rest of the summer.”

Pedro handed me a beer. “So what do ya say, man? You gonna go ahead and get’cha some, or what? Don’t worry, neither. I can bring her back easy. I got this CPR shit down to a fine art.” His eyes were slits and he grinned as he said, “She gets extra wet right before she croaks.”

I stood looking back and forth between the two of them for any sign that this was some kind of joke. Trisha gazed up at me like she was starving and I was a ham sandwich. Pedro patted me on the back, and I became aware that I was slowly and progressively growing sick to my stomach.

“Come on, champ. Step into the ring already. That title ain’t gonna win itself.”

The sound of her cries and images of tears pouring down her face filled my mind. I couldn’t bear to see that again, even if she did like it. Even if it was just a game.

“I—I can’t,” I choked.

“Scotty—” Trisha’s voice became a tease. “Why not?” She reached down with one hand and began to rub herself between her legs, the whole time never breaking eye contact with me.

In all my wildest and weirdest dreams, I’d never imagined myself in a situation like this. I was a 17-year-old virgin. I had spent every day and every night since I had discovered my genitals fantasizing about sex. Not just that, but I had spent years watching Trisha Hansen prance around Mobile Village, and she often invaded those fantasies.

So I did it. It wasn’t what I had expected. Sex was overrated. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about how Pedro had just shot his juices up inside of her, and now I was swimming in it. Maybe it was because I couldn’t stop thinking about how totally fucked-up Trisha was. Still, I managed to stay rock hard as Pedro stood off to the side, drank beer, and cheered me on.

“Yeah! Whooo! Scotty-Scott! That’s it. Now choke her, you animal!”

She didn’t put up a fight with me the way she had with him, and I don’t think I could have played along if she had. She seemed to enjoy everything I was doing, even though I felt awkward as hell, and I’m sure it was reflected in my demeanor. I paid no attention to Pedro. I wasn’t going to choke anybody, and she didn’t ask me to.

We were only a few minutes in when her blue panties caught my eye, laying ripped in the flattened grass next to her face. She let out a loud moan and arched her back, rolling her head to the side and over them.

“Oh,” I moaned right back, feeling the familiar warmth start in my chest, travel down to my scrotum. I was no stranger to my orgasm. Masturbation was an irreplaceable part of my life.

Pedro yelled, “What’re you doing, dipshit? Kill her!”

“Nooooo,” I cried as bursts of pleasure shot from my manhood, into Trisha. My body heaved and jerked and the sensation filled every cell that was me. When I was done, I knelt over her, panting like Pedro had, staring down into the side of her face. She still didn’t look back. Her head rested over the underwear, giving the impression of the color blue pouring out of it.

It occurred to me that Pedro had fallen silent, so I glanced up and didn’t see him anywhere. He must’ve gotten bored with the show at some point and slipped away. I don’t know if I was embarrassed or disgusted, but suddenly every bit of space between Trisha and I seemed to flood with awkwardness.

“Well,” I said, not knowing what else to do. “I think I should get home soon.”

She didn’t respond. Her head still rested over the panties, and she wouldn’t look at me. My blood ran cold instantly, and tiny geese fluttered over the surface of my skin. I tried to tell myself that maybe she was just playing the role still, but somehow I knew better.

“Trish.” I grabbed her jaw, forced her to look at me. What I beheld sent me flying to my feet. Her eyes were bulging out of her skull, the way they had when Pedro had strangled her to death. Her mouth hung open, her tongue swollen inside, and her skin was purple and veiny. The look on her face was the most horrible thing I had ever seen, like she’d drank fear in a bottle. It was frozen that way.

“Pedro!” I screamed. “Pedro! Where’d you go? Come back, man! Fast!”

When he didn’t answer, I pulled my pants up and took off sprinting into Mobile Village. I didn’t find him, so I called 911. I told the dispatcher everything.

I was arrested and charged with murder.

The holding cell was cold, with brick walls, two chairs and a table that was bolted to the cement floor. The walls were dark and the light was dim. They took my shoes and refused to give me a jacket. A fat detective in a brown suit with a thick moustache came in every hour or so and asked me the same questions over and over. Why did I do it? How long had I planned it? Was anybody with me?

“I told you!” I shouted. “Pedro! Pedro Squires. He was with me. He killed her, not me. He brought her back with CPR, but she died again somehow.” At this point, the story sounded bogus, even to me, but it was the only truth I knew.

I was in the cell for hours—maybe days—before he finally told me there was no record of a Pedro Squires ever having lived in Mobile Village, or ever having existed for that matter. By that time, I had gone over every possible scenario in my mind and half-expected to hear this.

Travis Jones, who was twentysomething and lived two trailers down from me, admitted to buying me beer that morning. Trisha’s grandma remembered me stopping by. Alone. A DNA sample was sent into some lab in the city, and the detective told me that if there had been anybody else involved, anybody real, they would know within days, and I could only help myself by giving him up.

In the end, I was cuffed again and taken to juvie. They put me in solitary confinement, where I had nothing to do but remember her tears. The way she screamed and begged him to stop…begged me to stop. I’ve played the scene over in my mind more times than I can count, and every time it’s the same. It’s always Pedro who kills her, not me.

I’ve tried to reach him. Not by phone or mail. That would be ridiculous, and even I’m not that fucked up. But sometimes at night, I lay awake and try my best to meditate. My family was never religious, and I’m not sure the right way to do it, but if I close my eyes and try to clear my thoughts, every now and then, I see him. He’s still in there. I know he is, the coward.

He’s inside of me, hiding from what he did. Leaving me, Scotty-Scott, to face the consequences. All the while, my parents have completely forgotten I even exist. Day after day, night after lonely night, I lay alone in my cell, and Pedro Squires has become as distant as before we started hanging out, when I used to see him around the trailer park.