Book Creator

Farm Upstate

by JP B

Pages 2 and 3 of 25

Farm Upstate
Bryson 1
Ethics Test
My therapist gave me an assignment this week. She said I might feel better if I wrote about
what happened. I’m still processing the tragedy. The media has stopped chasing me as much lately, but I still don’t know how to answer the big question: How did you let your best friend die in a shootout?
I guess the first thing to tell you is about when he told me his plan. We had just gotten our quizzes back from our last ethics test; he earned an A, as usual, and I got a C, as usual. Then out of nowhere, while staring at his ethics test, he whispered to me, “I’m gonna rob a convenience store.” I smile and tell him to shut up. He looks up at me, and he has a cold, severe look on his face. “I’m serious. I’m gonna rob a convenience store and I need your help.” It takes me a few more seconds to realize that he’s serious. He says he has the perfect plan where no one will get hurt. He almost seems excited to tell me his plan until I cut him short. I ask him all the questions. I couldn’t understand why he’d even consider it. After all, he comes from a wealthy family. He always did well in school, and everyone loved him. When I ask him why he’d even think of doing this, his answer doesn’t seem to justify robbing a store.
Bryson 2
“I’ve always been the good guy, always worn the white hat. I’ve always got good grades and obeyed my strict parents. I’m sick of feeling trapped in my boring life.” He said like he was confessing something. He explained that his life was “too safe.” That we’d be going to college next year, and all we’d ever been were white, privileged, private school kids that never experienced anything “real.” 
That pissed me off. I reminded him that I wasn’t privileged—except for educationally. My mom was a teacher and my dad was an electrician. We didn’t have money, and I even worked after school,
which partially explained my poor grades. I had envied Eddie for so long for all that he had; how could he throw everything away like that? I still didn’t understand, but I could tell that this was serious. 
As I drive to Eddie’s house after school, I decide I owe it to him to attempt to see things from his point of view. I asked myself why I would want to do this If I were Eddie. While I understand wanting to break the rules a little, that doesn’t have to mean robbing a store.
Bryson 3
I knock on the front door of his palace, and almost before my fist hits the wood, the door swings open and there his mom stands, smiling. The smell of cookies consumes me as she rushes me inside. We exchange pleasantries as she hands me a plate of cookies without me asking and shouts for Eddie. She tells me that she’s glad to see me and that Eddie is in his room.
I sit on the couch in his room and watch him play GTA (Grand Theft Auto) on his PC while we talk more about the robbery.
I keep trying to get answers out of him like why how he justifies this and how he plans to pull it off, but he isn’t engaged because he’s too busy robbing people online, where there are no consequences for breaking the rules. By the time he says “It’ll be fine” for the fourth time, I’ve had enough.
“You’re gonna get yourself killed,” I say, surprisingly calm for how fed up I am.
“It’s fine; I can just restart this game if something goes wrong,” he says, frivolously.
“I’m not talking about the game! You’re not robbing that store, and I’m sure as hell not taking part in whatever delusional plan you have!” I yell this time, and he finally looks up from his game to watch me storm out of his room. 
Bryson 4
The Plan
Over the next week, Eddie began putting together his plan. He told me to meet at the park we had been going to together since we were little kids, too young to know that there is no farm upstate where grandparents and pets go when they become too weak.
As I arrive at the park, I see Eddie sitting by himself on a park bench, swinging his legs back and forth, pretending to be too young to reach the cold, hard, cruel cement with his grown-up legs. I walk up to him, but before I sit down, I threaten to call the police if he goes through with the robbery. He tells me to listen to his plan before I “do anything irrational”... I roll my eyes as he starts to tell me what he has in mind.
Eddie talks for what must’ve been thirty minutes straight. He lays out his entire plan and what needs to happen in order for the disaster to take place: He’d decided that the Gulf Station on Fifth Street was the ideal store because of the number of people he’d seen shop there (more people, more money at any given time), and the store was in a low-traffic area (fewer people, fewer witnesses to the shooting unarmed robbery).
Bryson 5
Eddie had cased the joint and discovered that it tends to be the least crowded around 11 am on weekdays, and so we would go during our one-hour lunch break on the upcoming Tuesday after everyone had gone to work. He would walk in with his hands in his pockets and wait for everyone to leave before he shouts, “Give me everything you got before your head finds a new home!” 
After hearing all of this, I tell him that I won’t take part in something that could get someone hurt or killed. My mind starts to change when he tells me he won’t have a gun. He says nobody will get hurt, even if he has to leave empty-handed, and he'll even give the money back to the owner of the store afterward.
“Give it back?!” I am appalled that anyone would rob a store just to give the money back.
He sighs, exasperated. “It’s not about the money. I told you; I just need to do this for myself. We aren’t doing anything wrong.” 
He must see my expression change because he explains to me exactly what my job is: I’ll drive us to the Gulf Station, wait in the car until Eddie runs out, hopefully with lots of money and no blood on his hands. We stash the money, then we’re back to school before our lunch break is over. Harmless, quick, and easy, like all robberies should be. I reluctantly agree to drive as long as there’s no violence and we don’t keep any of the money.
Bryson 6
My feet touch the cement as we leave our bench in the park and go into the real world, a place where nothing ever goes as planned. 
As Tuesday comes closer, I start dreading what is to come. After thinking about what we plan to do, it just seems like a terrible idea in every way. We will be risking everything just so Eddie can feel like he has “lived,” whatever that means. What Eddie doesn’t realize is that we are lucky enough to not have to live the kinds of lives we are planning on risking everything to experience. Eddie still lives in a bubble of security: financial, relational, and educational. It makes no sense to me why he would burst that bubble on purpose, just to know what it’s like being on the other side. I decide I have to do something. So I come up with my own plan.
When I meet Eddie in the parking garage during our lunch break, he doesn’t seem nervous at all. Totally relaxed. I comment on his calm, and he says, “Everything’s fine.” He says it like he knows something I don’t. Like he’s hiding something from me, an ace up his sleeve, waiting to strike for the moment when desperation and fear take over. 
Bryson 6
We get in the car and Eddie puts on Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” an interesting choice for a heist song. Neither of us speaks while Whitney sings in the background as we pull into the empty Gulf Station parking lot; I can’t help but notice the lyrics, “Bittersweet memories / That is all I'm taking with me / So goodbye, please don't cry.”
Eddie opens the door without saying a word, and as he stands up, the tail of his t-shirt rides up along his back. I then see something I can hardly believe. No, surely not. But yes, the flash of the handle of a pistol is sticking out of his belt. I recognize it as the one he’s shown me in his dad’s gun safe. Seeing this confirms my fears of how far Eddie is willing to go. Something in me seems to know that if he goes into that store, it won’t be a harmless robbery. 
My face becomes white as I scream at him, processing the fact that he betrayed me. I know what will happen if he goes into that store. He looks confused until he sees what I’m staring at. “It’s just in case I need to protect myself. I probably won’t even need it. Just relax,” he says, unphased.
“This isn’t worth it,” I plead with him, desperately trying to get him to think clearly. And since he’s not worried about his own safety, I ask him to think about me.