Episode 18 – Justin: A Year Later

“A year has passed, and a lot has changed since the fire. Looking back, I can’t believe it actually happened…that so many genetic freaks lived together. Charles Darwin would have been fascinated, but not me! I used to love gore flicks, but the Crane experience hit too close to home…I don’t watch ’em any more. The whole thing makes you wonder how many silent, decrepit houses out there are filled with semi-humans. I actually know another place across town, a tiny shack, where my dad told me psychos live, but you never see them. The only sign of life is smoke from the chimney when they cook squirrels, or whatever. The Crane fire was definitely a life-changing experience, and things are really different now.

“First off, Thorson and Julian Crane were tried and convicted of the murders of Jack Lombardi, Trooper Barnett, and as it turned out, a fifteen other people over the years. There was evidence hidden everywhere, teeth, bones, wallets, cars, loads of stuff. The authorities figured there were twice as many victims, but there was no way of tracking all the evidence down, especially from the old days when homeless people wandered the countryside. There were eight skeletons in the well alone.

“Lori, Jawan, Will and I were all involved in the trial, and it was terrible rehashing the whole shitty mess, going over every possible detail, and staring at pictures of bones and bodies, and people who’d disappeared. There were so many charges against the Crane’s, the trial took like six months.

“Jawan’s totally recovered, and wants to become a state trooper. I think it’s a control thing. He wants to make damn sure there are no more ‘Cranes’ lurking out there.

“Will’s okay considering what happened, but part of his face and nose got fucked up pretty bad.They did a bunch of plastic surgery and fixed a lot, but he still doesn’t look the same…not terrible, just not the same clean cut look…but he’s philosophical. Figures you don’t look that good when you get older anyway. For him, it just happened sooner.

“He’s not dating Suzie anymore. She couldn’t handle the long recovery process, but Will’s still popular…in a different way. He’s into weed and hanging out. Not a pot head, but definitely into it. Still works as hard as always, but people don’t talk about him the same, and he’s not sure he’ll even apply to college.

“As for Lori and me, things have never been better. We hook up everywhere…constantly…in stairwells, stalls, broom closets, back seats, putting greens…you name it. I never thought that would happen to me, but the Crane experience has changed us. You’ve got to get it when you can…who the fuck knows what’s around the corner.

“Lori and I also decided we’d had enough of pizza delivery. Sending people to strange houses where psychos might be waiting isn’t that thrilling. When I quit, it didn’t surprise anybody, but with Lori, it was a totally different story. Her uncles were stunned. Except for the baking, she pretty much ran the whole show…took a huge load off their shoulders, but now she’s trained another girl who’s a little nuts, but passable. Lori’s switched to waitressing at the Falls Pub, and serves me beer…thankfully nobody gives a shit.

“I keep asking myself what I learned from the Crane situation. One thing is that people are not all basically good. That’s what I used to think…that given the choice, people would do the right thing….but the Crane experience destroyed that theory. They were so fucked up genetically, I’m not sure they knew what they were doing. Also, I learned you’ve got to avoid being self-centered. You really miss a lot that way, and it shuts people out…take Jack Lombardi. He was a super wrestler, but totally conceited, and look how he ended up.

“Bottom line, the whole drama brought me and Lori together which originally seemed like a total impossibility. I really thought she was in a totally different league, but that was because I didn’t realize I’d grown and evolved, and wasn’t ten anymore.”

The End