Part 2: 151
Teenagers can be cruel little beasts, can’t they? I suppose high school is easy to trivialize; after all, what problems could school kids possibly have? The most they probably worry about is who to bring to prom, or how to fit in with their classmates. Of course, we’re forgetting something very, very important here: teenagers have fragile egos. Push a kid too far one way and he may become a doctor. Push a kid too far in the other way–and you may just end up with a library full of corpses, and said kid’s brains all over a bookshelf.
Neo was set to graduate with the class of 2013. Given the nature of this story, we already know his fate–set to rot away in a cell for the next two decades. On the other hand, one Dakota Chapman was also a part of Neo’s graduating class. According to Google, Dakota is doing well, and is actually considered famous now thanks to his grandfather, who you may know as “Dog.” What I’m trying to say here is that young people are very impressionable, and while we love to make light of teenage struggles, we all know that whatever happens to these kids in their more malleable years may make or break them. Neo was very much about to break.
Word of Neo’s mother spread like wildfire. The table, as always, poked fun at his misfortune. We were never cruel about it, but you could tell he was getting tired of hearing the same thing said over and over. He’d often shoot back, telling us that his mother had a proper business license to do what she did. We never needed any justification. Neo’s mom was a stripper, so what? It’s not like anyone else at the table had anything to be proud about. She was providing for her son, so what did it matter? At least, that’s how we saw it. The rest of the kids at school had this very special way of being heartless about it. The mere mention of Neo’s name conjured up whispers and giggles throughout the hallways. As I said, teenagers can be cruel, and very efficient at it too.
The table was a pretty closed off group, always consisting of generally the same people. Every now and then, some random kids would hover near us and eventually settle in for a pending amount of time. This was mostly because of my friend’s backpack that was full of various drugs instead of notebooks and school supplies. Today’s random kid of choice was John.
I really wish I could tell you more about John for the sake of writing all fancy-like. Truth be told, I never knew much about him. Then again, I don’t think anyone really did. From what I can remember, he was also set to graduate in 2013–alongside Neo had he not committed murder. What I can tell you is how John came off to those around him. He was of average height, and rather huge–the big stupid brute every group seems to have. Now, this may sound needlessly mean of me, but John wasn’t exactly likable. The guy didn’t give a shit about anyone around him, so we treated him accordingly. Neo, on the other hand, seemed fond of John. A horribly mismatched and shallow friendship had been born.
It was during those days that I got my first “tattoo” done. Syd and I had been nearly falling asleep in math class. Our teacher was one of those really relaxed ones who didn’t care if we goofed off, as long as we understood why we’d be given F’s. Syd was probably the closest thing to a punk rock chick you could find at Roosevelt. Chinatown was the place to go to if you wanted to see freaks with rainbow hair and studs, and Syd was like the essence of Chinatown all bottled up into one girl. Her head was shaved, she wore beaten up clothes, and her left arm was covered in DIY tattoos done with a sewing needle and watercolor paint instead of ink. The day was going by slow, so Syd decided to practice on me. I’ve still got a very poorly done “love” on my wrist. The word was put there ironically–we both knew I’d never pay for a tattoo like that. That same day, Syd and I made our way to Ala Moana beach park where she took a pair of scissors to my hair and completely butchered it. I now had boy-short, faded green hair–a color Neo chose to describe as “puke green.” I liked it.
Puke was a very common theme that year. I kept count, and I threw up more times in that year alone than I did in all my years prior combined. Neo would unfortunately follow right in my footsteps. I had been drinking since I was 11, as alcohol was easy to come by in the Philippines, but I never did get drunk enough to feel absolutely miserable the next day. Enter Bacardi 151. 151 is special to me. No, not because I enjoy it, or consume it often. I hate 151, but it never ceases to provide me with a good story.
It was around 11:30pm in Aiea on probably a Saturday or Sunday night–there’s no way I could remember no matter how hard I tried. This time, I wasn’t with the table, but instead hanging around with my boyfriend at the time and two other friends. We had met up late, and no idea how to salvage the night. Suddenly, it hit me. I had heard about 151 years ago from a friend of a friend. The way he described it made it sound both incredibly magical and vile all at once. I just knew I had to try it before liquor sales stopped at midnight, so off we went.
We didn’t have anywhere safe to drink, so we ended up settling in a dugout at a baseball field next to my boyfriend’s place. What unfolded next is nothing short of absolute stupidity. My boyfriend decided to opt-out, as he wasn’t very much into drinking, and neither was our other friend. Two down, two remaining. Two, soon to be piss drunk and almost dead. We got out some red solo cups, and started a drinking contest. One shot after another was consumed, and I went from sober to breathtakingly fucked in a matter of minutes. Again, this was nothing short of stupidity. Don’t try this at home.
Disorientation started to set in, and the next thing I know my friend fell from the roof of the dugout and hit the floor with a loud thud. The thing is, I don’t even remember how he got up there. Seconds later, (maybe it was several minutes or hours, I have no idea) a bright light blinded me, and a booming voice asked us what the hell we were up to. A cop had found us, and he’d also found the bottle, which made it clear we were lying when we said we weren’t drinking–as if our breath didn’t already give us away. Things went dark, and suddenly we were back at my boyfriend’s place. Everything after that happened in brief flashes, eventually ending with me waking up in bed covered in my own vomit. This is usually the part of the story where people gasp and go “You could have died!” I suppose that yes, I could have, but I didn’t. That was not a proud time for me, and to this day I still can’t stand the smell of Doritos. Word of 151 night made its way to the table, and eventually to whoever else was listening. Neo was particularly intrigued, and dangerously curious.
Up until this point, Neo and I were never really that close. Sure, we were both a part of the table, but we never did hang out on our own. In fact, we barely even had a full conversation. It was around this time that Borders book stores began to close down, and the one closest to Roosevelt was having a liquidation sale. I spotted a book called The Killer Book of Serial Killers. It was one of those basic serial killer compilation books that everyone who’s into true crime should have sitting around somewhere collecting dust. I had a Nook (Remember those?) at the time, but the book was dirt cheap and I enjoyed actually owning physical copies, so I went ahead and bought it. I went home and read most of it, but saved the last few chapters for the next day.
Once at the table, I sat down, pulled out the book, and began to tune everyone out. I was the only person there who was interested in such things, so they left me in my bubble to read in peace. Neo was running a bit late, and joined us shortly after. To my surprise, he took great interest in what I was reading and asked me if I was familiar with the case of Ed Gein. Of course I was. We talked about Gein for several minutes, eventually shifting over to Richard Ramirez, famously known as the Night Stalker.
I’ll admit, I was both impressed with Neo’s familiarity with the topic, and also a bit excited that someone at the table had the capacity for such things. It did strike me as odd, though. Neo always had this virginal nature to him. He made a point to say that he never had sex, and that he wanted people to see him as the “innocent” one. I never did ask him why, but his fascination with murderers didn’t seem very in line with his facade. I brushed it off, as all that really mattered was that we shared a common interest. Neo asked if he could borrow the book from me once I was done. I enthusiastically said yes, and even offered for him to borrow my other true crime books if he wanted.
Neo and I slowly began to bond, and we soon discovered that we also shared the same taste in music. I eventually began inviting Neo over to parties at my place. By this point, I had broken up with my previously mentioned boyfriend, and moved into another place in Waipahu with a couple of roommates. This was hours away from the usual Waikiki or Makiki stomping grounds that Neo was used to. He soon graduated from weed, and started drinking. It was like watching a baby bird learn to fly. Of course, everything seemed great at the time. The constant verbal abuses spouted at Neo about his mother didn’t matter, as they had no place in this drug filled paradise. Neo seemed happy–but I had no idea how hard things were about to crash and burn.
Now we can resume talking about John. No, I haven’t forgotten about him, which is actually rather unfortunate. It was another run of the mill day at the table–or at least it was, up until Neo showed up. He was visibly upset, which was actually quite jarring considering the fact that he pretty much never lost his cool. Neo was always the type to be pushed around and walked all over, only to laugh it off and forget about it a minute later. This time, however, he seemed genuinely furious.
I asked him what was wrong, and he said something along the lines of “John. That fat fucking fuck.” The excessive swearing was new, so it must have been bad. Neo went on to explain that John had robbed him, and even gotten into his Facebook account and locked him out of it. When I asked why, Neo said he had no idea. To this day, no one really knows why John did that to the only kid who really hung out with him. Again, he wasn’t exactly a likable person, not one bit.
Of course, if you speak of the Devil he shall appear. Before we could finish talking, John showed up at the table and plopped his ass down. Neo promptly began his verbal assault, complete with every swear word and insult you can probably think of. John was remorseless, and this only drove Neo more insane–prompting him to vow that he was going to slit John’s throat, or something along those lines. Neo was a small guy, probably less than half the size of John, so no one took his threats seriously. Neo had once again been walked all over, and no one was going to do a damn thing about it.
I wish I could recall how that situation played out after the confrontation. From what I can remember, Neo was able to recover his Facebook account, but not until after John posted something humiliating while posing as him. I never did see that post, as Neo removed it as soon as he could. The stolen items, however, were never returned. Needless to say, John was no longer welcomed at the table, and Neo officially had person number one on his shit list.
No longer having John around meant a drastic change of pace where Neo was concerned. Kid #2 was long gone, and now so was John. Of course, this happened around the time of our budding new friendship centered on our mutual interests. Neo and I continued to slowly grow closer.
Days went by as they usually would–most mundane and uneventful. It was the same old over and over. We met up and all wasted time together for months straight. Now, what I’m about to say isn’t hindsight at all. These were things that I did notice as they happened, and they did make me raise an eyebrow even if I decided to shrug things off. Neo was…changing. That shy, almost timid boy I had met had become enraged and somewhat violent. The John situation lingered, and Neo still mentioned fantasizing about slitting his throat ages after it happened. The constant shit he got from people about his mother didn’t help. No longer did he simply play along when insulted. By this point the mere mention of his mother’s work would set him off–and I really didn’t blame him.
I very vividly remember the first time he did something that disturbed me, even if it was just a little. Neo and I still continued to talk about murder and crime cases whenever we found something interesting. What Neo brought to the table today, however, was a work of fiction. I sat there picking away at whatever I was eating when Neo came over and offered a single ear bud to me. I set it in my right ear and quickly realized it was rap music–which wasn’t what we normally subscribed to. He offered me no real context initially, but I later found out that the song was one by Immortal Technique called Dance With The Devil–the lyrics of which include this:
“The shirt covered her face, but she screamed and clawed
So Billy stomped on the bitch, until he had broken her jaw
The dirty bastards knew exactly what they were doing
They kicked her until they cracked her ribs and she stopped moving
Blood leaking through the cloth, she cried silently
And then they all proceeded to rape her violently
Billy was made to go first, but each of them took a turn
Ripping her up, and choking her until her throat burned
Right before he pulled the trigger, and ended her life
He thought about the cocaine with the platinum and ice
And he felt strong standing along with his new brothers
Cocked the gat to her head, and pulled back the shirt cover
But what he saw made him start to cringe and stutter
Cause he was starring into the eyes of his own mother”
As each word was fed to me I grew a little more confused. Neo remained mostly expressionless. After the word “mother” I pulled out the ear bud and looked up at Neo with an expression that hopefully summarized how I was feeling. “It’s fucked up, isn’t it?” he said. I nodded. “It’s a song about a guy who gets into a gang and has to rape and kill someone to prove himself. He just had no idea who he was raping because her face was covered.” Well, now I knew what the fuck I listened to.
This didn’t disturb me because I thought Neo was capable of sexual assault–that never crossed my mind at all. What bugged me was the fact that Neo obviously loved to bottle things up despite his newfound tendency to lash out at people who picked on him. Sure, he’d let that out, but what else was going on in his head? There had to be more there, and the table was no place for him to express his thoughts. Was he beginning to resent his mother? Up until that point I never would have thought so. We were all friends at the table, but for the most part we were still teenagers who got on eachother’s cases for showing any kind of weakness–unless it was one of those code red situations. You know the kind I mean. I decided to brush things off, assuming he found the song while looking up fucked up shit online for us to talk about. Given our interests this technically wasn’t all that out of the ordinary.
Everything up until this point definitely made me feel a little bad for Neo, but nothing drove me to the point of having to talk with him about it. I figured he was just a teenager going through the motions–but I would soon be proven wrong.
My 151 night triggered an interesting chain of events for me. Eventually I was that person you’d go to if you wanted to attain alcohol without needing to have a fake ID or stealing from a store. Lino and a few others at the table supplied the school with pot, LSD, ecstacy, assorted pills, and whatever else–but oddly enough no one really had a way to get booze. I guess my business was the last piece to the puzzle.
By this point I had met someone else in Neo’s graduating class. In fact, I had met him in a summer program a few months before Neo ever came along. Chris was–and honestly still is–a free spirit. He stuck out like a sore thumb when he first showed up at Roosevelt for the same reasons Neo did. He was from another state–looked different, talked different. The first time we met I couldn’t tell at all what he was saying due to his thick Southern accent. That’s not something you hear every day in Honolulu. Unlike Neo, Chris was much more street smart. He knew how to talk to people and could easily get a feel for a situation and knew what to avoid. The first time we ever hung out involved vodka, so it’s only natural that his mention in this story would involve more of it. Chris and Neo knew each other, but from what I can recall they didn’t hang out much unless I was there with them, or if Chris had decided to visit the table. This wasn’t a terribly common thing for him to do, but he’d show up every now and then.
Business was going strong for me, and I’d often issue out the “friend discount” or sometimes just throw them some for free if we were going to the same party. This is what I generally did for Chris. Not once did he have to pay me. Neo, on the other hand, got the friend discount. Once he caught on to what I was doing he quickly started pestering me about different types of alcohol he wanted to try. He mentioned always wanting to try Patron and that weird glittery blue alcohol he’d see in liquor stores–I believe he was referring to Hpnotiq, or however those hipster fucks decided to spell it. Above all, however, the one thing he absolutely needed to get his hands on was 151. Those three numbers were presented to me once again. “Are you sure?” I asked. Every (and I mean every) person I’ve ever told about 151 who tried it ended up with some kind of crazy story to go along with it. Why? Because they go in expecting it to be loads of fun but don’t take into account how strong the stuff actually is. Drink responsibly, kids. “Yeah, could you just get me a small bottle, though?” he said. I mean, sure, I could do that for him–but even a tiny thing would be enough to get him way past drunk. I warned him once again, and we did the exchange. I figured all he wanted was one shot. I was very, very wrong.
As most kids do, the table would meet up wherever before classes actually started–usually at the front of the school. Clusters of kids walking up the Makiki hills could be seen approaching in the distance, and one by one our group formed. About five minutes before class and most of us were already there; Will would usually show up last and sometimes late. Neo was oddly not around at the time he’d normally be. “He’s either sick or ditching” we assumed. Fast forward to after first period, and we’re all gathered together at our usual spot–still no Neo. About halfway though the break we noticed him heading towards us from far away, which by that point was just plain confusing. No one had seen him prior, so did he just decide to show up late? As he grew near, we noticed something odd on his shirt–and the rest of him. It soon became clear that he had either spilled something all over himself, or puked all over himself. Based on what he bought the night before and his now apparent stench–the answer was quite obvious. Again, puke was a very common theme that year.
“What the fuck happened to you?” I asked. “I chugged the 151 before school and puked all over myself in first period.” he began to explain. “Chugged? How much of it? And did you puke in the classroom?” At this point I was kind of in disbelief–so much so that I forgot about the fact that the school staff would have surely smelled the alcohol and questioned him about where he got it. Surely he had to be joking. “All of it, and yeah, they sent me to the nurse but I don’t have anything to change into.” The bell rang shortly after he said this, and I walked away unable to get the image I’d just seen out of my head–little chunks of breakfast and all. I had no idea what came over him. He said he wanted to try it, not give himself alcohol poisoning before 8am. I tried asking Chris what he thought of all this, and he had fewer words than I did. The same went for Syd, Will, Lino, and the rest of the table. For the rest of the school, this was the gossip of the week.
There was clearly something wrong with Neo.