Tired of being on the heights I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensations. - "De Profundis", Oscar Wilde
They call him Billy, and lately that's what he's been calling himself. At first it was a novelty; like going on holiday. Bleaching his hair and getting himself inked had been the first step in creating distance from his old self, running into Seth and Mallory that night had been the second. So when Seth jokingly first christened him, he didn't bother to correct him. Now, Billy seems just as good a name as the one he had before.
The TV is broken, making the flat feel even emptier without the two guests who have fast become a fixture. He doesn't know where they are, wonders if he's allowed to ask. Decides he's not sure he wants to know. Everything is so new, he's careful of pushing. So instead, he lies on the sofa, not calling them, but thinking of how their voices would sound if he did.
This curious relationship he has with the two of them, it's one of the more interesting turns his new life has taken. Sharing his time (and his body) between men and women isn't exactly a change for Billy, but the ease and speed with which their ménage à trois has become the norm surprises him. When he first met Seth and Mallory, he had not expected to see them beyond that night. The decision to let them bite him had just been another experiment of his, like the tattoos. The search for an answer to a question he doesn't think he has ever voiced out loud:
What can't I do? If nobody stops me, how far will I go?
The tattoos are six months old. His white blonde hair is darkening at the roots. Up until last year, Billy had never smoked more than a couple of adolescent, clandestine cigarettes out of his bedroom window. Now the bottom drawer of his night stand holds a small baggie of undisclosed pills, a pouch of amphetamine crystals and a considerable amount of Mary Jane. As much fun as all of that is, though, Billy still prefers a drink on days like this. Shit days when Mallory isn't around for him to fuck and Seth isn't around to fuck him.
He wonders if he has the ingredients for a Brandy Alexander. For somebody who doesn't eat much, he thinks it's basically the same as comfort food. The smooth cream and the warmth of the Courvoisier almost always make him feel better. It's like New Year in a glass, and Billy wants to feel new.
He is in luck: there's some brandy under his bed and a small amount of pouring cream in the fridge. Billy doesn't remember buying it, but a quick sniff convinces him it's consumable. He is delicately mixing the two together over ice when the phone rings, so he leaves it for the machine.
It's Randall, a friend of his parents. Billy once nursed strong suspicions that his mother was cheating on his father with Randall. Hardly seems to matter now.
"Alex," the machine says, "I'm worried about you. You said you'd check in, let me know you're alright. Haven't heard from you in a while. Call me. Please."
"Fuck you, Randy," Billy raises his glass to toast the thin air and then downs its contents. The rich cocktail doesn't have the desired effect: the sweetness soon sours in his mouth, and instead of a warm glow, Billy begins to feel slightly sick. Too much Courvoisier and not enough cream. Or maybe the cream was bad to begin with.
He goes into the bathroom and sits on the floor against the wall in case he needs to throw up any time soon. Probably for the best that Seth and Mallory aren't around, he thinks. Nobody wants to see the calf vomiting before it gets served up as veal.
The bathroom tiles are cold on his bare feet, and Billy can feel a chill through the seat of his jeans. After a while, half an hour maybe, it becomes apparent that the dodgy drink isn't going to make him ill, so Billy stands up and leaves the bathroom. He only briefly considers making another one, before heading to bed with a copy of Howl by Allen Ginsberg. He gave up halfway through Tropic of Cancer but holds out hope for this one. The page keeps shifting in and out of focus, and the words seem to continually change order – in the end, Billy gives up and closes his eyes.
And that's when he sees them.
His mother looks beautiful, as always. He can't bear to imagine her with a broken neck. The damage done to her, thankfully, hadn't been instantly visible. His father, however, has seen better days. His nose is black and flattened between pale, flat cheeks. Three tiny cuts, from glass one would presume, decorate his right temple. Miranda and Gregory Brown have not changed one bit since the day he identified their bodies in the mortuary.
Billy opens his eyes before they can speak. It's always worse when they try to talk to him.
Something beneath him vibrates: he rolled over onto his mobile phone when he nodded off. It's a message from Seth and Mallory: On our way over. Can't wait to see you.
Billy swings his legs off the bed and goes back into the kitchen, checking the vodka is in the freezer. All three of them enjoy a little drink before going to bed. He busies himself cleaning a few glasses, then takes himself off into the living room to wait. While mere moments before he'd been filled with a queasy sense of exhaustion, now he can feel his cock stirring in his jeans.
In his mind, the scenario plays out ahead of time. He will take what he needs this time. He will push Mallory down onto the bed and clamp his hand over her mouth as he enters her. He'll feel the weight of Seth at his back before he forces himself in, and he won't know which hurts more, that, or the teeth on the side of his neck, but either way he'll cry out. Everything will go into that wordless noise: everything that made him who he was before he was Billy. Afterwards, Seth will lick the blood from his lips while Mallory lies panting on the bed, and he'll say: “You're quite the howler, aren't you Billy?”
Here they come now.