Brushing a trembling hand through his DA, Henry began to grow anxious. Derry Elementary ran a summer school for the unfortunate kids who couldn’t quite keep up with the curriculum, and amongst them were the infamous Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter. By the skin of their teeth, Victor Criss and Reginald ‘Belch’ Huggins had just managed to escape the torture and boredom of the programme, but their good friend and leader, Henry hadn’t been so lucky. Today, Henry would prepare for the final exam coming up in early August - and he had to admit to himself that he had worked hard. His father had been pressuring him from one end, Pennywise from the other (Patrick’s mother had also bribed both boys with the promise of home-made chocolate chip cookies if they’d just revise together for an hour or two every day).
Henry bit onto the lid of his fountain pen and at the same time bumped out the rhythm to Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound dog’ on his desk’s leg. Well, until Mr Cassidy had stopped by and told him to be quiet as others were trying to work. The veins in his forehead stood out as the blood pounded in his head. There was always one exam question in particular that had always puzzled the boy: ‘Explain what an element is and give five examples of them.’ How the hell am I supposed to know? I really don’t give a fuck about science but my father will kick my ass if I flunk out again…
Looking up from over his practice exam paper, Henry stole a glance at Patrick Hockstetter. Henry knew he was far behind Patrick; although looking at Patrick’s paper right now, all he could see was a large and rather well drawn-out picture of a fancy question mark. Snickering, Henry got back to his own work. ‘Expand the following equations’ brackets - 3(x+2x) + 2(3x-4)’ Oh God…
‘Patrick… Patrick! Listen to me,’ Henry hissed across the room, ‘Do you get any of this? I’m so gonna end up flunking out.’
Patrick acted as if he couldn’t hear the older boy. ‘Don’t act deaf you pansy! Tell me the answer!’
‘Mr Bowers,’ Mr Cassidy drawled, looking down his bespectacled nose at the boy, ‘Please do leave Hockstetter alone and get back to work. Can’t you see he’s trying his hardest to achieve success?’ Obviously the old bastard’s never even glanced at Patrick’s test paper.
Giving the old man a scowl Henry decided to simply answer the questions another day. After all, it’s summer, it’s too hot to think and I ain’t no good at Chemistry or Algebra. In between the folds of his Science text book, Henry had slipped a torn off piece of lined paper. He quite enjoyed doodling when he was supposed to be working. He supposed it was a hobby of his besides tormenting people just for the heck of it and throwing cherry bombs out at the dump. Out of the corner of his eye, Henry dared to give Patrick another look. He could only see him in profile, but he still admired the way the light shone on his dirty-blond hair. Swapping his pen for a rather blunt pencil, Henry got to work on sketching Patrick from where he was sat.
Henry had no idea why he was drawing Patrick Hockstetter. Just the other day the pair had something of a fallout and Patrick had been acting funny since. He had taken to murmuring things under his breath more than usual - and stuffed into the cuff of his shirt was a large wad of toilet paper and handkerchiefs. His eyes would skim the room, wide with fear and brimming with tears from time to time. Any other day Henry would have probably thought this very funny - after all, Henry thrived on others’ pain and misery. Yet he couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for Patrick’s little breakdown. If I had been there with him then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.
‘Patrick,’ Henry whispered, waving his hands fanatically in the air, ‘Look here, Patrick. I’ve drawn something for you.’
Patrick turned around and gave Henry a dirty look, his green eyes turning misty once again and his lower lip trembling.
‘Patrick! Just listen to me, would you?!’ Henry exclaimed angrily, banging his fingernails irritably on the table.
‘Bowers! Just concentrate on your work. Now! Leave Mr Hockstetter alone.’ Mr Cassidy bellowed from over at his desk. ‘You can sort out your lovers quarrel later in your own time.’ With that, the classroom howled with boyish laughter. Mr Cassidy looked rather pleased with his little gag.
‘But I can’t sir. I just don’t get-’
The classroom door swung open, distracting Mr Cassidy from telling Henry off any further. A pretty young woman scrambled through, embarrassed by the amount of attention she attracted from the boys, and whispered something into the teacher’s ear. He seemed to not quite hear her, and screwed up his face in over-exaggerated confusion. Mr Cassidy made sullen eye-contact with Henry and waved him over with one gnarled old hand.
‘C’mere, boy,’ There was almost a slight tone of sympathy in his voice, and Henry knew this could be either very good or very bad - ‘Mr Hart would like to speak to you in his office.’
Cassidy’s forehead wrinkled even more, ‘Don’t ask why, boy. Just go.’
The whole class stared as Henry trailed miserably through the door the young woman was holding open for him. Slumping because of the humidity, and giving the door frame a little kick out of aggression, Henry knew to expect the worst and prepare for it.
There was a tap on Henry’s left shoulder. Whipping around to see who it was, there was nobody there. Turning to his right, Patrick was sat next to him grinning a sickly sweet smile that in all honesty, gave Henry the creeps. Mr Hart hadn’t arrived just yet so the boys had a chance to talk; much to Henry’s displeasure.
‘Thanks for ignoring me, jackass,’ Henry hissed, leaning closer to Patrick so Mr Hart’s secretary wouldn’t overhear, ‘Especially seeing as I fuckin’-’
Patrick waved a dismissive hand in the air and that ended the conversation. Still, that disturbing smile was plastered on his face.
‘You’re fucking dead, Hockstetter.’
‘Oh, please,’ Patrick whispered with a roll of his eyes. Henry could see him clenching his handkerchiefs tightly through his shirt. His nails dug into the starchy cotton. Obviously he’s never been threatened by me before. I should do that more often.
‘Good afternoon, gentlemen,’ Came a voice from the corridor, making Henry jump to attention - he had slipped back into his daydreams from the day before. Mr Hart walked in with the air of a man who found himself to be very important. He was tall and barrel-chested, yet whenever he talked he sounded like he had the lung cancer that everybody was talking about nowadays…
Mumbling a garbled ‘Afternoon,’ both boys averted their eyes from both each other and the teacher. Obviously they weren’t in here for a good reason; but at least they were out of the heat. Keeping his eyes on the wall, Henry racked his brains wondering what he could have done this time. For the past week he had been on his best behaviour, and Mr Hart had praised him for his efforts. Yet, just yesterday the Terrible Awful thing had happened, but Henry had no idea how Hart could have found out about that.
‘Do you know why you’re in here?’ Mr Hart began, reclining against his desk and crossing his long legs.
‘No, sir,’ Henry murmured.
Patrick gave an odd shake of the head.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Henry,’ Mr Hart put a lot of pressure on that first word, ‘Do you really think I was born yesterday?’
Biting back a cheeky response, Henry lowered his eyes to the carpet.
‘Nothing? Alright then. I’ll ask Patrick instead,’ Hart turned towards Patrick, his eyes sharp and keen, ‘Patrick, could you please tell me what happened yesterday, as Bowers is not feeling too chatty today.’
Patrick bit on a thumbnail. Hesitated. Blinked a few times, then… ‘Nothing happened, Mr Hart. Henry and I were out playing at my house.’ He had to admit it sounded dumb, but it was far better than telling the truth.
‘Yessir,’ Henry rasped again, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans. He resisted the urge to do something bad to Patrick.
‘I’ve had a phone call, boys. No, not just one, but three,’ Hart smirked grimly, picking up a pencil and wiping imaginary dust from it. Despite the heat not a bead of sweat covered his face. ‘Do you have any idea what this is about?’
Oh, shut up you old fool and just get this over with!
‘No. No sir, I don’t.’ Patrick was reminded of how liars go to hell.
The sun blazed down on two boys curled up on the lawn of Derry’s Memorial Park. At a first glance one might have thought the pair were cuddling by the fountain, and would have walked away rather puzzled. However, as Patrick burst free of his almost catatonic state, he found he and Stan were not quite alone.
‘Y-y-you ju-just leave hi-m-m alone, p-puh-pansy!’ Bill hollered from across the length of the grass. His eyes were blazing with fury and he looked just about ready to kill somebody.
‘We’re coming over and we’re going to fucking kill you, Patrick,’ Beverly screeched, ‘I’m sick of yours and Henry’s bullshit. Pick on somebody your own size!’
Coming about his senses, Patrick gave a dull laugh. With a dead-panned voice, he added: ‘See if I care. If I die, you die, and I can’t even be killed!’
‘Ohh, you are so stupid. I just can’t believe you could even think that, mush-for-brains.’ Richie chuckled, marvelling at how retarded some people could actually be, ‘Go any further, and we will kill you.’
Patrick gained a tighter grasp on Stan’s limp, soggy body as if he were a lifesaver or a stuffed teddy bear, ‘I don’t believe you.’
That was enough for Beverly Marsh; ‘Try us, fag!’ she roared, charging forwards, oddly beautiful in her anger. Ben gasped in awe as she loaded her slingshot in one swift motion and fired directly between Patrick’s dusty eyes. The melted down silver missed the boy by literally a few millimetres and skimmed past his ear, grazing it and drawing blood.
‘L-let h-him go. Now,’ Bill hissed, dark shadows crossed his eleven year old face, making him look a whole lot older.
Patrick had no intention whatsoever of letting Stan Uris go. In fact, he hugged him even closer until Stan was practically sat on his lap, head resting weakly against the lip of the fountain. Repressing a tremble of rage, Beverly loaded her slingshot once again. She had willed herself not to miss her target again. With pride, she launched her second bullet through the air and it cut into Patrick’s cheek. Blood splattered against his face, looking morbid against the fairness of his skin and hair.
Richie let out a cry of triumph and Beverly high-fived him, cheeks blazing with pride. Instead of being angry Patrick was deathly calm. So calm, in fact, that the world seemed entirely in black and white to him. The black was the Losers club, bad for Pennywise and bad for Henry. The white was himself and Henry, making sure the Losers wouldn’t live another day.
‘Let me tell you, kid,’ Began Mike solemnly, ‘In case you don’t know, you’re on the right track for dying. And if you’re not feeling particularly suicidal today, you should haul some ass before we hand it to you on a plate.’
‘Wow, you’ve got some balls, Hockstetter. Now hand him over,’ Richie snarled, suddenly becoming furious about the fact Patrick very nearly drowned his bestest friend. For a while, the two groups of children stood wearily looking each other up and down. What were the odds for Patrick beating them in a fight? He was only five-foot-five. He was also pudgy.
Henry was annoyed. Annoyed that Patrick had told him to shut up. Annoyed that Patrick could even look him in the eye. Annoyed remembering that time at the dump where Patrick had kissed him full on the lips. As his father pulled into the drive way, Henry decided the day was too hot for picking corn. It was also too hot for stabbing Losers for that matter.
‘Dad, I’m going to the shops to get some Cool Aid. Want some?’
His dad ignored him, lost in his own world. Henry shrugged in a suit-yourself gesture and ran off down the dusty tracks before his father could even realise what just happened. Wow, he’d be getting a beating later.
Soon realising his mistake, Patrick let out a small howl of fury. Blood trickled down his pasty face and he could feel something must be broken. My mom’s gonna be so upset with me…
He’d been tricked into handing Uris over. Laying alone on the grass, he could hear the crickets humming, and somewhere in the distance, the sound of police cars wailing. Taking his time to sit back up, he rested his bleeding head where Stan had not so long ago. He was dizzy. Beverly Marsh sure had got him! Resisting the urge to puke, Patrick pulled himself up to his knees and took in the scene before him; blood was everywhere. Not just down his starchy shirt and sweater vest, but all over the grass and all over the fountain. Not a Loser was in sight.
Somehow he just couldn’t remember what happened. All Patrick knew was that his head hurt like hell and all he wanted was his mom.
The sun was now setting and Patrick had a chance to admire the birds that Stan loved so much. I see why he thinks they’re so beautiful. God, I wish I had my fridge right now. The sirens were getting louder and Patrick’s head burst with pain at every slight noise. Now pulling himself to his feet, Patrick considered his options; fight or flight. Which was it to be?
Henry Bowers could have puked. Laying there in the long grass against the fountain was the slumped body of Patrick Hockstetter.
When he had called over to him, he hadn’t quite heard the mumbled reply to ‘go away…’
‘Patrick! What the fuck happened?!’
Tears pooled in Patrick’s eyes. Henry had never seen Patrick display much emotion before and it came as quite a shock. Throwing himself to his knees besides the boy, Henry could see that Patrick had fainted. His skin was paler than usual (if that was even possible) and he was all weak and floppy instead of the enigmatic, amiable Patrick that Henry would typically see.
As if it were some kind of afternoon TV programme featuring a murder mystery, Henry winced as he heard sirens screaming in the silence. Sure enough, they were for Patrick.
‘C’mere, buddy. We need to leave.’
‘…No,’ Patrick whispered, hiding his face from his friend, ‘I’ve been bad. The Losers got away.’
‘Are you just gonna let the police get you like this?’ Henry growled, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him up. Being weak from lack of blood, Patrick slumped against him. This time Henry didn’t mind so much.
‘Either way, we’re dead boys, Henry. Can’t you see?’
‘Shut your mouth, Patrick. You don’t know anything!’
Despite the aggression, Henry’s heart was thundering under his shirt. He knew all too well that Patrick and himself were dead meat - not only once but twice they had failed to kill the Losers. Pennywise was not at all happy.
‘Patrick! We need to go! Now!’
Patrick attempted to stand but soon slid back down to the earth, face in a grimace of pain. Henry watched helplessly as Patrick threw up at his feet.
If we get caught now… It’s all over. Everything.
Instead of wasting time waiting for Patrick to gain strength and leave, Henry hauled him up from under his armpits and lifted him over his shoulder. Working most of his life on his father’s farm had made him awfully strong for a 14 year old. Patrick groaned nauseously and hung limply over his back.
‘What the fuck happened?’ Henry repeated. This time his voice was desperate as he jogged as fast as he could out of Memorial Park.
Patrick didn’t waste his breath. He felt he was going to be sick again. Slipping into a daze, he relaxed himself against Henry’s body. It would have been perfect for him if it weren’t for the constant churning of his stomach.
Obviously somebody had seen the Losers and all that blood and called the police; Patrick didn’t care. Patrick really didn’t care. Tell if you want, I don’t care. I’ll just hurt you twice as hard next time, Stanley Uris. Everybody can point the finger at me - saying ‘he’s the one that tried to drown Stanley Uris!’ - but I don’t care. They’re dead. I’ll kill them all.
‘I hope you know this is a serious matter, boys,’ Mr Hart lamented, giving each a stern glance in turn, ‘Killing is wrong. Killing is evil. You’ll go to Hell for killing people, boys… Think about it... Just what in the world possessed you to do such a thing, Patrick? What did Stan ever do to you? I’m truly shocked. No, I’m dismayed. And I can’t believe I waited another day to talk to you on this matter; your parents will be getting a call, Mr Hockstetter. You’re lucky I didn’t call the police in right away. If you hadn’t ran away like a coward, you could be in jail right now.
‘As for you, Henry. You’re also in on this - I can tell. Now, you may not be involved in the… a-attempted drowning, but you certainly helped Patrick get away. An eyewitness account told me that-’
Henry let out a snarl of discontent. Patrick blinked in surprise - he didn’t think they’d get caught so quickly. Both boys turned two different colours; Patrick white and Henry red.
‘Can I continue? The eyewitness, who would rather remain anomaly, told me that you helped Patrick away from the scene. Is this correct?’
Sighing, Henry gave a brief nod of his head. He could hear Patrick quietly snivelling into his hankie. A cowlick fell into his eyes sparkling with angry tears.
‘You do know the police are bound to get involved sooner or later?’ Mr Hart whispered sullenly.
Both nodded with tears in their eyes.
Patrick was five years old when Avery died. His mother had been distraught, his father heartbroken. Instead of sharing their sadness, Patrick was numb. At first the doctors just assumed he was in shock and would eventually come to terms with his baby brother’s death - however, nobody knew Patrick Hockstetter was a sociopath from the day he was born. And, perhaps he will be until the day he dies.
After Avery died in December there was a month or two where Patrick would be ignored by both his parents. They were too busy grieving the death of their youngest son to compliment Patrick’s dark squiggle of a Christmas Turkey, or perhaps some day a boy, or a self-portrait. Whatever. Patrick didn’t care. They could ignore him all they liked just as long as they didn’t interrupt his secret plans and rituals.
It was that joy whilst killing Avery that gave him the urge to kill all those animals in his Amana. Also, it was also that pleasure he thrived on to give him some kind of sick thrill whilst attempting to drown Stan or slit Eddie’s throat.
At first Josephine couldn’t believe the phone call home she’d received from a Mr Hart. How could her precious son possibly hurt somebody like that? It all came back to her from the day her youngest son had died. No… She couldn’t quite believe it. She wouldn’t believe it… Instead, she pushed it to the back of her mind along with the fact she was currently not responding to her cancer treatment; and also that children in Derry were now dropping dead like flies. Nowadays she dared anything to try and shock her - She’d been through it all.
Patrick had cried in his room for a little while; refusing to eat his tea and ignoring the cupcakes his mother had sneakily left him in compensation. Usually when in trouble he’d feel empty and utterly refused that he had done anything wrong. Today he could do nothing but sob into his pillow and block out the cooing noises his mom was making through the door. He briefly wondered if Henry was doing the same (well, if Oscar Bowers hadn’t murdered him yet.) and then decided that he didn’t care either way. From the back of his mind Patrick knew that Henry had ratted him out.
When Mr Hart had called the parents of both boys, he had specifically requested the police to allow for a psychiatric evaluation - what boy in his right mind would attempt to kill his classmate right out of the blue?! Mrs Hockstetter had been reluctant, but then slept on it, tossing and turning all night. In the end, she decided it was simply for the best. If her Patrick was mentally disabled, then so be it. She’d still love him no matter what. He was the world to her.
Mr Bowers senior had been a different case altogether. He has screamed and ranted down the phone that no son of his was bat shit-crazy, and that if they even booked him an appointment he would sue.
It was after curfew. Both boys had disregard for the rules and didn’t care who knew it. Just the other day Henry and Patrick had been banned altogether from seeing each other. It was hard - they had to admit. Being in such an uneasy state, both boys had hardly touched their food and were now suffering the consequences. Tomorrow, they’d be interviewed one by one by a ‘special’ doctor. One of those doctors that sat you down in a room full of different chairs and asked you about your troubles. Neither Henry nor Patrick had any desire to disclose anything to that kind of doctor, but in the end they knew they’d have to come clean with why they attempted to kill Stanley Uris…
‘I miss you, Henry,’ Patrick simpered, his head resting on Henry’s lap. Both boys let out a nervous giggle and decided to spend the rest of the evening not talking at all.
Henry broke apart from Patrick’s kiss and stared him fully in the eyes. He had the look of a person searching for the answer to a difficult equation: ‘Maybe… Maybe this is for the best for us,’ he began, ‘Maybe this ‘Pennywise’ character was… all in my head.’
‘As if I’d be stupid enough to blindly believe you if I hadn’t seen Pennywise too,’ Patrick scoffed, attempting to go back to kissing Henry’s jawline, ‘I would have just thought you were bat-shit and got on with life!’
‘You… saw him too?’
‘Yeah, man! On the moon, at Sundae’s… He was everywhere! Sometimes he would even be in my bedroom late at night.’
‘Oh,’ was all Henry said. He left it at that.
The next evening the boys had met again and spent it exactly as they had the night before; making small talk in between making out. If the adults had thought segregating Henry and Patrick would loosen their bond, they were certainly wrong. If anything, it had brought them closer together.
Yesterday the doctors had talked to them. There was a young woman with a notebook and pen, an old, kind-looking man with little to no hair and a middle-aged woman by the name of Annie. Henry found it was odd that she’d allowed him to address her by her first name. But then he remembered - I’m here to be called crazy! I’m here to tell the doctors I tried to kill some people because I felt depressed about life, or whatever bullshit they want me to feed them, and then they’ll take me and Patrick away to Juniper Hills where we’ll live and die together.
In Henry’s case, the three doctors had listened attentively to his story about this ‘clown called Pennywise on the moon.’ Sure enough, they declared him as having symptoms of a psychosis. After talking for another hour and a half (Henry was getting tired of talking and felt himself becoming ashamed) they had finally gotten a feel for the boy - Henry Bowers was a Schizophrenic. He was paranoid, delusional and often suffered from both auditory and visual disturbances. Not only that, but he seemed to have periods where he felt particularly low in mood; anxious and depressed.
This of course was a dirty lie and Henry refused point blank to listen to them. His father was equally as reluctant.
With Patrick, the doctors had listened to his tale with an equal amount of interest and sympathy. From the moment he started speaking, at least one of the doctors knew they were conversing with a Sociopath. He had seemed deeply in love with himself (and maybe even the boy they’d just interviewed before? Who knows? They’ll investigate that at a later date) with a high sense of grandiose. Once they had came close to discovering about Avery, and Patrick had quickly dodged the question Patrick’s dad had discreetly asked them to place in the interview: ‘What did you feel on the day your baby brother died?’ The boy had answered every question emotionlessly. Almost coldly in manner. He had told them everything; about the beetles and his mother’s sewing needles, about the cats and dogs and the Amana, about how much he wanted to please Henry… At the end of the interview, the doctors felt they knew the boys quite well.
How unfortunate it was for these two boys to meet. Perhaps if they hadn’t ever met, then maybe they wouldn’t be in this mess?