Crimes//The 3rd Wheel// by Kenneth Lee Averiett

We felt unstoppable. We were human caffeine pills sporting black sweats bearing tiny cuts, dried blood, and bits of shattered glass. My friend Hermes and I, we were wielding serotonin levels like flamethrowers. And this is the third time this week we’ve gone on a night raid.

What’s a night raid? I’m honestly quite flattered that you asked.

A night raid is an evening trip out somewhere, usually abandoned & unexplored. Fueled by a bottle of Jameson, & the need to sidestep practical ethics, we would tell you to your face its just urban spelunking. Between us though, it usually involves gross levels of civil misconduct. Defacing public property, private property, theft. Grand gestures of vandalism.

And then we hunt down news articles of our work to hold as souvenirs.

A night raid is what happens when you want to rescue yourself from the fatigued day in, day out tradition of maturity, when nothing else does it anymore. Falling in love doesn’t do it anymore. Roller coasters, drugs, all that stuff just gets exhausting after awhile.

When you’re committing highly illegal shit, you can’t help but catch a natural high. It’s escapism in it’s purist form. A desperate swig from the fountain of youth that gets you so jazzed, you’ve been instantly relieved from the tired routine of adulthood, back peddling into the perpetual hair-brained episode of adolescence, multiplied by 10.

We feed off of this. It breaks the monotony of pretending to care about our jobs, our acquaintances, our social media profiles, the law…I could go on forever. Most of all though, pretending to care about not caring.

It’s a chilly 3am, and we’re free in ways you’re too scared to be, sneaking through a broken factory window with a bottle of liquor in tow. We’re acting out our own half-assed, half thought out version of a heist, giggling like 12 year old’s.

One of these days, you might catch us at Aphrodite’s, a local bar everyone hates, but goes to anyway, over zealously recalling our high jinks in a fit of drunken bravado, exaggerating a few details, like how I used poor Jameson to shatter the left most bottom window, destroying the bottle, wasting its contents everywhere, and bloodying my hand in the process, or the part where I dove head first through the window, and slurped the whiskey off of the factory floor, covering my face in dust, and cutting my lips.

Hell, I might tell you anyway, with flailing arms and expressive gestures, I’ll blame that fountain of youth-whiskey cocktail. You’ll get an earful of “You should try it sometime, dude.”

And you, you’ll sit and judge us, all high and mighty, like you’re too good to be this dumb/reckless/brave. You get to count yourself fortunate that you only experience this misguided display of rebellion vicariously.

Or you might feel left out, the kind of envy you get when you realize you’re too old/fat/responsible to feel alive the way we do. Anything short of falling in love won’t cut it anymore for most people. I’ve already told you this. There’s a threshold you have to meet before you get to chug from the fountain of youth nowadays, and this is the easiest one to cross.

In all honesty, you would only catch me exposing my crimes. I’m a social butterfly. I don’t mean to brag, but I get a kick out of peoples reactions, the faces they make, the judgement’s they draw. Me, I talk too much. But my friend Hermes here, hes my social opposite.

Hermes, you could call him the unlikely male equivalent to the infamous “cat lady”, with all the alarming mannerisms of a middle aged recluse trapped in the body of a 20 something year old man.

By day, you can catch him working at The Artemis Spa. It’s sort of a pet vacation center where rich people take their toy poodles for pampering. He’ll be grooming an actual cat lady’s prized trophy, snapping selfies in his apron with the caption “pussy game strong.”

You could try and tell him how funny you think he is on the internet, but face to face, he’ll fall to pieces. He avoids real human interaction like your both SARS infected amputees. You’d assume he’s just a snob, but he’s just a dude who’s not good at people. It’s not like he’s alone, or doesn’t have any friends though. Hardly. There’s almost two entire generations of boys who were raised on Playstations and free porn. Xbox live accounts, “friends lists” and followers will give you all the social validation you need. His social life is literally a click away.

By night, he’s a domestic crime lord. A human molotov of urban terrorism, and modern genius, with just the right amount of chemical imbalance. He’s got his own section in the paper, and you have no fucking clue. He’s just living his own real life video game.

Whereas I’m socially equipped to engage in an ill conceived conversation about what it’s like to operate a forklift and go on a “factory cruise”, he wont feel inclined to share with you that on this particular night raid, we uncovered a vast amount of useless junk, or urban treasure in our dilated eyes; magazines and comic books that date back to the 50’s, blow up dolls, something that resembles a hydroponic grow kit, wooden swords, a real battleaxe, a movie projector, etc etc.

Me, with all the conviction of a man-boy who’s always wanted a battleaxe, will let you know how powerful you would feel holding onto one. I’ll place my hands on your shoulder’s, look you square in the eyes and say “You have no idea how much I wanted that fucking battleaxe.”

And you, if you’re sincere enough, you’ll remind me that I was drunk, and I don’t need one. Hermes, he tells me the same thing. A battleaxe he says, is impractical, but this movie projector is something we could really use, never mind the hydro grow kit.

So it’s decided that this movie projector is one of our prized hauls for the night, and my delusions of toting a battleaxe victoriously are shattered and replaced with semi-industrious blue prints of a movie night in the alley behind Aphrodite’s with a gang of 40OZ bottles clanking merrily.

I’m worked up at this point in the story, because despite Hermes and I swearing not to tell anyone about our night raids, I can’t help it. So I might let slip how curiosity got the best of us, and we decided to scale one more floor up because rumor has it this place is an under cover drug operation, and after weeks of scouting it out, we knew that no one is in the place after 3am.

We didn’t make it past the second flight of stairs before we tripped an alarm that filled the entire building with a shrill, piercing wave of fear. Fear so sudden and acute you could have heard it from the streets. The kind of fear that caused us to drop our flashlights, plunging us into darkness as they shattered.

We just ran.

“Shit Shit Shit…”

I remember sobering up almost instantly. That’s what happens when your adrenaline mixes with terror. It suppresses any alcohol in your system. Your arteries start working overtime, pumping so much blood, it pretty much drowns it all out.

It was so dark in there, but we ran anyway. This wasn’t our first rodeo, so we knew to keep one hand on the wall to lead us out the whole time. Hopefully back the way we came. But this place was a fucking maze and I won’t lie, I thought we were fucked right then and there.

Luckily, we had red and blue flashing lights illuminating our means of entry and escape, because I guess the cops had this place on watch every night for the past few weeks too.

And that’s it. That’s all I would tell you. You, in your self-righteous, law abiding pretension would be stuck with a cliff-hanger. Because if I kept going, if I kept exposing the truth, you would know that it wasn’t just Hermes, myself, and the cops there. Someone broke into that factory with us that night. A third wheel.

Me, I’ve got a big mouth. But even I’m smart enough to omit the cold hard facts.

I’d verbally pencil out how we summoned the third wheel when I foolishly smashed open the window with the bottle of Jameson in an outburst of stupidity and self realized invincibility. And it wasn’t really me that dove through the opening and drank the alcohol off of the factory floor like some possessed alcoholic.

We ventured that this guy was already lit because when he ran up on us, he was already gone off of something. He spoke too loudly, stood to close to you, always touched you when he was talking, kept asking for more liquor.

To be completely honest, when he ran past us, and dove through that window, we should have booked it right then and there. But he came right back out with uncommon dexterity.

I don’t know why we let him tag along. Maybe we were scared he would expose us. Or maybe we just wanted to keep an eye on him, because something was just off about his…vibe.

Either way, it didn’t matter.

Hermes and I, we hid out behind the row of forklifts and machinery, but this guy, he didn’t run or anything. He didn’t budge, he was just so damn casual about the whole thing, whistling and exclaiming “Oh I guess we’re havin’ bacon for dinner tonight!” He was clearly toasted on God knows what because he was making so much noise, & I was sweating bullets at this point scared sober and shaking with fear. For sure Hermes was too but I couldn’t tell because it was pitch black, or maybe I was closing my eyes.

I was holding my breath.

The cops, they were so fast. They dashed into the basement in no time. I don’t know how many there were. What seemed like 50 beams of light coming from 50 flashlights being held by 50 cops descended into the basement, and for sure I might have prayed for the first time ever.

Walky talky noise and handcuffs jangling and the thunderous “clop clop clop” of police feet composing the chorus of our freedom as we know it being taken away.

But you’ll never hear this part of the story from our mouths.

You might have read in the The Maia Tribune, that on this night, two people died in that factory. One police officer, and one methed out junky wielding a battleaxe.

I’m reluctant to recall this part of the story, lest my hair starts turning gray and falling out.

The sharp, sliding sound of metal scraping against concrete, followed by a loud wet meaty thud, a half grunt/half scream, and the inevitable storm of gunshots and shouting.

When I opened my eyes I counted 13 bullet holes staring back at me.

I swear I was in that forklift compartment for about 60+ straight hours, starving, but too panicked to notice, daring not to fall asleep while the cops figured out what the hell to do with this massive meth lab they just found. Biggest meth operation they’ve busted in the history of meth busts, they kept saying. And it’s all our doing.

We never got our thank you letter from the police department, but I’m sure it would’ve come with a hefty criminal trespassing charge. The framed article hanging neatly on my wall is enough.

Hermes never told me how he escaped. I waited for what was maybe the third night cycle by my count to slip out of the window and into the darkness. I ran, tears streaming down my face, like someone was chasing me, like if I stopped, I would drop dead right there. I ran for miles. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore, because after 3 days of not eating, or pissing, it’s really fucking hard. But I kept running anyways. And then I sobbed like a baby. Openly, without care.

We are unstoppable. We’re human caffeine pills wielding serotonin levels like flamethrowers with reckless abandon, and this was the most successful night raid we have ever been on. We didn’t accrue anything. We didn’t get the projector. We sure as hell didn’t get the battleaxe. No material possessions, but the mental, physical, and emotional resolve we discovered in ourselves trumps all of that. The bond we formed, iron-clad.

I don’t mean to brag, but I get a kick out of peoples reactions, the faces they make, the judgement’s they draw. I get to relive the rush of lawlessness over and over again, and maybe inspire your own brand of rebellion.

Live a little.





5 thoughts on “Crimes//The 3rd Wheel// by Kenneth Lee Averiett”

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