Open Windows-Chapter Two

  Chapter Two

 

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them.

-Rita Rudner

 

 

 

Once again, I stepped out into the cold of night, not wanting to this time any more than the last time and hoping this wasn’t going to become a habit.

The moon was full, high and bright; it was still dark though, and the clouds seemed to be trying their best to obscure it. They seemed to be moving against the wind as they moved in front of it.

It was a “Witches Moon” with the clouds around it getting red and evil looking as they swept by me, with they’re shadows dancing on the ground and the walls nearby, they seemed to mock my isolation, my feelings of frustration and confusion about this latest turn of events.

It became the kind of scenery you might try to duplicate on Halloween, but no matter how hard you tried, how long you worked at it, you never quite could get it this good, make it look this real.

I didn't want to be thinking about Erika again, but I couldn’t help it. She was both a very bad and yet, such a very good memory at the same time. In fact, when they talk about the thin line between love and hate this woman comes to my mind immediately.

The problem was, sometimes it was hard to tell where the fun ended and the pain began, to me that was the fine line I wanted to investigate, when did it get that bad and how did we let it happen? How could something that had started off so well, had become so much of a love story that all of their friends envied them end that badly? I wanted to know that answer and could not, or maybe I just would not let go of it. I guess I just didn’t know how.

I know that some people get hurt in other relationships and cannot let their guards down after that, but I had never given her a reason to think I was going to hurt her. I felt that she could have let me love her, let it take it’s course and see it was not like the other times she had been hurt, that I could never hurt her as they had, that was what I wanted and was ready to do if that was the problem, but I never found out what it was because she wouldn’t tell me, wouldn’t let me know that side of her.

Because it was not something she could do, her fear was too strong to let go; she had been hurt too badly by someone else, or maybe a lot of someone else’s had hurt her, it was too hard for her to let go and trust another man no matter how wrong she knew she was, she felt she couldn‘t, that it was too much to risk.

She could not bear to be the one left hurting this time, or ever again I suppose, I couldn’t think of it as being anything else. She felt she had to hurt me before she got hurt, and wouldn’t wait to find out she might be wrong, and of course, she had done all of this in the name of love, but then I am guessing on all of this because she didn’t trust me enough to talk to me about it. Sometimes I wondered how long it took her to go from happy to that cold hearted woman she became the last time I saw her.

Sometimes I think that love is like that loose tooth that you knew you were about to lose, you worried at it with your tongue until it finally broke off. You feel that little sting and then it's gone. There's the blood and that coppery taste, but that passes quickly and you think "that really wasn't that bad," hoping that the new tooth grows in nice and straight and quickly to save you some embarrassment.

After a while you don't even notice that you have been alone for a long time, and it starts to feel almost normal again. But for that ache, that yearn for the touch of someone that wants to be with you, a gentle word here or there, someone to comfort and hold, someone you could feel good about having in your life, someone’s gentle hand to soothe the worst of times.

It becomes easier with the passage of time and not something you think about until a well meaning friend or relative asks, “Whatever happened to what’s her name?” and you’re still getting over her or they start asking you to meet someone they think is “perfect for you” and she ends up being a niece they want to marry off or something like that. Other times it’s just someone they THINK would be “best for you” and such a nice girl!”

A nice girl right, maybe, but deep inside you know that you’re the wrong guy for the nice ones, because they hurt too easily, because when they hurt you hurt for causing that, yet it’s not always something you can help. There are times I tried hard not to hurt someone and ended up hurting them far worse for it.

Other times they would set me up with a girl that was so close to what I needed that it was as if we knew what each other were thinking. What we knew each other wanted, without asking for it, as if the same things gave both of us happiness in these dark times. It just never lasted because I was looking for Erika in another woman and that’s a bad mix and it just ain’t fair.

I thought I gave ‘till it hurt, though I am sure she doesn’t see it that way, but it sure hurt me and I guess I have a hard time getting past that one.

Sometimes I still look at other couples, laughing and holding hands together and I would think that they have it made, not thinking this might be the "outdoor face" they wore and not the "don't you talk to me in that tone!" voice they used when they were indoors and let their hair down.

That was a bit different than what most people saw, what they kept hidden from others as much as they could, though people can see what you do if they look close enough, if they listen to your tone and your words. Some things you try so hard to hide that you don’t realize that the emperor just sold you his new clothes.

So after a while you just envied them their happiness and moved on and tried not to look back. Then being alone just becomes part of you, like that old coat you refuse to throw away just because it won’t keep you warm anymore. You wear it as a habit. One day it just falls apart on you and you’re out in the cold again.

But SHE was back, and that just didn’t feel right, and I wondered how she knew to call me, how she knew I would even be the one to answer the phone in the first place.

"What the hell does that mean?” I thought out loud. “I thought it was over when she sent that message? Isn‘t that what GET OUT OF MY LIFE!” meant?

“It was over when she left me as she did, but I guess it wasn’t over for her yet, maybe she thought she needed to hurt me more before she was done with me entirely.

I guess I should have remembered her “other” background that she lived thru, the one I thought she made up until she left me that day.

She kept telling me she was a part of an investigation, that some pimp had beaten another girl to death, and she was a witness to it, actually, the ONLY eyewitness that had the stones to come forward and take a stand.

So she told me there were detectives that were following her and watching to see if anyone came around to hurt her or eliminate her from testifying but I never saw anything of anyone and she never looked behind when we were out.

I thought she was just trying to liven things up, a role she might have been playing to spice up her imagination, little did I know, but I remember thinking then that it was her being mysterious and inventive, because she started to playing role games where we were supposed pretend we didn’t know each other or even that we were married to someone else, or anything to keep it from getting stale, I got to like that part of her too, it kept things fun, made me want to be as creative as she was or better.

Thinking about her and the bad ending it became made me angry all over again, but thinking about her took the bite out of the cold air I thought, though I was still pulling my coat tighter as I walked hoping I had left soon enough.

But I knew deep inside I was too late. She would not have called had she not had her claws out; she would not tip her hand this way until she was ready and the trap set. “What the hell does she want from me?” I wondered aloud and then looked around to see if anyone heard.

I stopped and took a good look around, not seeing anyone didn’t ease my suspicions any, knowing that not seeing anyone didn't mean I wasn't being watched or followed, it still eased my mind just a bit.

It had been a bad ending, I kept thinking that, but then, I asked myself that was all that endings were wasn’t it? Bad and sometimes worse than that? I could not ever think of a good ending in my life. I mean that’s why they called them endings I think, and everything has to end sometime.

We had so many things going for us, so many good times in such a short lifetime yet wasn’t much of any time at all. It ended before it had a chance to start, I thought.

It was over before it started getting great and ended up breaking both our hearts, leaving me empty and alone again, though she looked happy when she left, she looked empty too, as if she knew what she had done but could live with it, but only because she had to.

Less than a hiccup in time, I remember someone saying to me once, “Will it matter in five years?” I guess not.

Though things had been going well and there was even talk about marriage, but once it started south, it went down in a hurry.

Had I known what I found out later I would never have thought about marrying her, unless I could help her that is, and I wasn’t sure I could have; yet not knowing how bad it had gotten for her, would have made a difference, made it easier to understand, and yet there was no way I could have known.

But she didn’t want anyone to find out about that side of her, that would have made her just like everyone else, it would make her real, and she could not abide that either.

I had no idea then, and she was never going to tell me if she didn’t have to, so she cut me off before we got there.

She knew I was serious about her and that scared her, scrambled all her “rules and ideas” of what was going to happen and then it was all wrong, not something she wanted or needed or even seemed to care about.

The only person I had told about that was my brother and I could not imagine why he would tell her but he did. It must have been the envy that he felt for me, though I don’t know why. I mean, we never competed head to head, but he always felt as though he had to have better than I did, or that he had to “have a shot” at the girls I brought around, that was something I never understood either. But in truth, I never wanted to date the girls he brought around, not that they weren’t ladies or pretty or anything, just that they were never my type.

Maybe she thought I wasn’t even going to ask her but just go ahead with my plans instead, and was just toying with her or something, but I never thought of that, instead thinking that she was “the one” and I was not going to have another chance like that at kind of happiness. The funny thing was, no one had ever made me feel that way before, it was always just a girl I knew and nothing special until Erika. That was the damnable thing about it.

Telling her about that plan of mine made her feel I was planning her life without including her in the details. It brought back all the demons she had thought she put away and brought them to the surface. Forced her to see them again, she now had to deal with them again and it was more than she was ready for.

She got to a place where she could either deal with it or let me get closer to her, or she could deal with it and end it. She chose the latter, easier for her I guess, less of a chance of her getting hurt and to hell with anything else; she threw it away without giving it another thought or looking back. But that’s another story for another time too, and I am getting away from the point.

I made it all the way to the train station with that feeling, and no one stood out or tried to stop me.

I bought my ticket and was able to get a private berth so I could try to get some sleep, at least some privacy. I knew the futility of that though, because I knew I never really slept anymore, spending most of my "bed time" tossing and turning unless I was not alone, and in that case we were both tossing and turning and not sleeping.

I might sleep for an hour or so, but then I wake and have a hard time getting back, the times I am lucky I get to sleep more than three straight hours are few and very far between.

But this time it was different. I slept long and deep. The motion of the train maybe helping me to relax so I could. Or it could have been the bottle of Wild Turkey that I brought with me, the one that was now gone, and sat empty where I had tossed it on the floor. Since I had no ice I didn’t bother with a glass either.

The sound of the train covering the miles and being alone in the car helping also I thought. The echoing sound emptiness made as I passed thru miles in the darkness of night, or maybe it was the closed blinds, or maybe all of the above but I didn’t seem to care right then.

I woke on the second day, thinking this was so much better than flying and how much I hated that anyway. Being so high up in the air in a large piece of plastic and metal seemed unnatural.

Then there is breathing in the canned air they pumped into the plane. People crammed together and forced to interact, most of the time, the very least was the occasional “excuse me” so they could go to the bathroom or stretch their legs.

There should be some rules about having to watch movies they thought were safe and enjoyable to everyone. I mean, who makes that choice anyway?

The food, when you could call it that, but it mostly tasted as if made of cardboard and paste, and the peanuts were old and stale, the only thing they really couldn’t screw up was the water.

What made it especially worse was when I couldn't see the ground, being above the clouds, being out of touch with the earth.

I Remember, it was the Doors that had said:

“Not to touch the earth,

Not to touch the sun,

Nothing left to do but

Run, run, run”

I always think of that song when the plane starts takeoff, that sudden lurch as you first leave the ground, the quick drop and then lift as you ascend to the clouds.

The rattle of the gears shifting as the flaps and the landing gear is raised and you are truly off the ground and on your way.

I always thought that if I had to die in a plane crash that the good Lord make it while I was either landing or taking off, because then it would be over quickly and I wouldn’t have to guess how fast the ground was rushing up at me.

I had a friend who was a pilot, I knew him from school and he had gone from the Air Force and serving his country to flying jumbo jets across the country, but we always knew he was going to be a pilot or something like that, he was always talking about it and trying to learn everything he could about flying.

He died having encountered one of the two worst and most unpredictable things; one was icing on the wings and the other, a tail wind of more than eight knots when he was landing in Utah in the middle of a snowstorm, but he had no choice, he was low on fuel and had run out of options.

The good thing for him was, he was the only fatality. There were several injured of course, and those few were grateful for that, because it could have been much worse had he not been so good at what he loved so much.

“How could you predict the weather and always be right?” I remember he asked me about a month before he died.

Then he had told me about a friend of his, flying a passenger jet with twenty seven passengers and twelve crew, including the pilot and co-pilot.

As he was lifting off he encountered a phenomenon of nature that no one could ever plan for; it was so rare an occurrence. As the plane was leaving the ground, smoothly and confidently the captain followed a routine that he done for almost twenty years at the time.

More out of habit than anything he might have been thinking, he turned to pull up the landing gear and that’s when the alarms went off in his head.

Just ahead of him, directly in his path, two clouds were coming together with the kind of force only Mother Nature can provide, and they exploded on impact. It would have been a beautiful sight to see had he been standing on the ground and far enough away to be safe, but as it was, he knew he was in danger and tried to remember what he was supposed to do.

As a result of the clouds colliding that way, all the oxygen and momentum was sucked out of the air and the plane dropped like a rock.

Though it was only 520 feet off the ground at the time, the weight alone made it seem like ten times the weight and the straight drop jarred more than a few teeth loose on impact, and the fuselage crumpled inward like an accordion.

When the dust was cleared that time, only the pilot and his first officer died from the impact, they were cut to pieces when the fuselage exploded around them, the shards of windshield and metal cutting thru their bodies and wedged into the seats behind them, all of the passengers escaped, some with minor injuries, the most serious being a concussion when a male passenger panicked and tried to run, the luggage above him knocking all the fight out of him in an instant.

Turbulence was another matter for me, the sudden drop of the plane as it bounced thru an air pocket and that feeling that it was going to fall all the way to the ground before it caught again. But that kind of thing was something hardly noticed by the flight crew, they had become used to it, and only people that rarely flew paid any mind to it.

The food was the same on the train, but I never ate that either. I decided then to go and have a drink, thinking that maybe I needed to see if there were any new faces I should know about, find out if anyone had followed me and I hadn’t seen them yet.

Getting out and stretching my legs a bit wasn’t a bad idea either. I checked my stitches to be sure they weren’t leaking and they seemed to be holding up well. They sure itched like hell though and that was making me cranky.

I shut all of that out of my mind and as I left and worked on making sure that no one was paying any extra attention to me.

As I entered the bar, I tried to be discreet and pretend not to notice anyone, but I couldn’t help seeing a woman that seemed to be looking my way as soon as I walked in, though I thought she looked away just as quickly.

Some women can be the same as a man and look and not feel as if they need to hide their interest, they are self confident enough on their own, others, feeling insecure or for some other reason feel they have to hide that side of them and quickly turn away. I thought this woman was more the former than the latter, and I liked that, I think self confidence can be very sexy.

Yet I think that if that was the case, she turned away too fast for that to be the case this time I thought.

She was sitting at a table in the middle, with her back to the window and she had a clear view of both entrances, and she was facing west, making the sun break across her shoulder, highlighting her striking beauty which of course also made her stand out, I thought later that I heard the warning bells go off right then but ignored it.

She seemed to be either waiting for someone she knew, or maybe waiting for someone to notice her, but she looked harmless and too preoccupied to pay me any notice. I noticed that at least three other men tried to buy her a drink but she refused politely.

She was a longhaired brunette with large green eyes and beautiful white teeth that flashed when she smiled.

But for her dark hair, she looked like the local newscaster on the television, the bubble-headed bleached blonde all the guys thought was too hot to be real, and she probably was.

She did have some bodywork done though, that was not the most natural looking cleavage I had ever seen. Other than that, she looked as if she could afford the best and didn‘t seem to mind paying for it. But seeing the “newscaster” as a brunette was kind of nice too, because it was like she was wearing a disguise or something.

I walked past her table and sat at the bar, ignoring her and ordering a Jack, neat. Sometimes when I did this, I was just playing hard to get, because it seemed like when I ignored them they came over faster and we avoided me getting embarrassed.

But this time I really did want to be alone, to try and collect my thoughts and try to make some sense of things.

A lot of the people in the crowd were talking about that burning man now. It seemed like it was all they could talk about, as there had been three separate incidents now, and each seemed worse than the last.

Everyone of course had their opinion of what it was and they were more than happy to tell you they thought you were full of shit because they knew what it was, they had the only plausible explanation and didn’t care for yours one bit.

It would have been funny but then fights started breaking out about them, the moral and religious right on one side and everyone else on the other, except right in the middle was someone complaining that everyone was violating HER rights by talking about God and we shouldn’t be allowed to do that. After several moments the crowd got tired of trying to shout each other down and settled back to their drinks, as if they were going to wind up for another round or something.

All three victims were men, but other than that, they were unrelated. The only link was that more people had seen the mysterious hooded man at every scene, yet he always left without anyone noticing where he went or if he walked or drove away, no one seemed to even know what direction he had gone in.

The other thing was that no one could describe him and they still couldn’t find him; they had no idea where to look since no one had actually seen his face or where he went to after he left, no one even thought of following him.

No one had seen him start the fires, so they weren’t accusing him of that and he was just considered an eyewitness at this point. A “person of interest” as they called him on the news, and they just wanted to talk to him.

That part of the story was always followed by an 800 number you could call anonymously to report what you thought might be relevant or important to the case.

But the other thing was, now that there had been three new victims, they could no longer call it spontaneous combustion, because it was happening too often, and in different parts of town, and there were rumors that someone or some thing was “directing“ the fires somehow.

As I waited for my drink, I was thinking how preposterous that sounded when that same woman sat next to me and called the bartender over.

“A vodka martini with an onion, thank you!” she told the bartender as she sat down.

I noticed two things right away. The first being that she had a really sweet fragrance about her; and it was not that I knew a lot about the different fragrances that women wore, but I knew what I liked.

It was sweet and soft, not too strong and obviously intended to let everyone know it was a woman’s fragrance, that she enjoyed very much being a woman. All sugary and spice and with it came with the promise of everything nice to follow. I seemed to remember something about "Este Lauder" and I liked it.

The other thing was that when she sat down, her breast brushed against my arm and I felt a spark between us, but she didn't seem to notice. I don’t know if it was her breast that caused the spark or static electricity in the air, but it was one of those sparks and it made me jump.

I laughed a bit, remembering that my brother used to do that to me, rubbing his feet on the carpet and chasing me with his finger out, I had teased him and told him that all that electricity was going thru his brains and he’d better stop soon or there’d be nothing left.

We would break into laughter and then he’d start again, telling me “I’m going to fry your brains too!” and chase me around trying to “spark me” again.

She looked over at me and said "Can you pass those peanuts?" and her voice had this mesmerizing and calming effect on me, dripping with honey as they say. A sly smile crossed her lips then, as if she knew what I was thinking and had the same memory.

I passed them to her without saying a word, still trying to ignore her when she spoke again, "Are you traveling on business?" she asked with a smile.

I wondered, was that an opening line, making polite conversation or really interested? I remember the time when everyone was asking, “What’s your sign?”

“No, I'm just traveling, no special reason" I told her. “I just love riding these rails!”

"That must be fun" she said and tilted her glass at me with a wink and the hint of a smile.

“What? Riding the rails?” I asked, “Isn’t that what your doing or is this your first time on a train?” I asked. Then I told her "I don't know about it being fun, but I like the train better than flying, it's more relaxing and I get to see more of this big beautiful country we live in."

Yes this is my first time on a train and I have to admit I like it more than I thought I would, and now things are starting to look better, just when I was thinking this was too boring, you walked in and changed everything!” My name is Mia,” she said, extending her hand and smiling at me, and I looked at it for a minute before I took it, as if I had to make sure it was just her hand and not a weapon, and said "Jason, nice to meet you" and I shook it.

I noticed her hand was soft and smooth, a little cool to the touch. The nails were clearly manicured and her dress seemed new and I wondered how she ended up on this train.

"So what made you take the train this time? Is this a business trip?" I asked her, trying to be polite.

She smiled sweetly at me and said, "No, it's more of a personal nature. I'm trying to escape a husband that didn't know how to be faithful for more than a day and spending as much of his money as I can before he gets smart and moves it out of my reach."

I smiled back at her and ordered another round. "I want to run a tab,” I said to the bartender, putting a card on the bar. I was thinking that having a paper trail was not a good idea but if Erika had known I was back in town, she could find me again if she wanted.

Maybe that was the point of the phone call. I should have asked instead of hanging up.

We decided to sit at a table, talking and getting to know each other while the time passed.

I noticed that she was not drinking as much as I was, but didn't think much of that; most people could not keep up with me when I drank and really got into it anyway.

She kept drinking Southern Comfort, and later she switched to Stolis, but I stayed with Jack, not wanting to have a hangover in the morning.

We went to another club car, where they had a big screen television on, someone had put the football game on, it was the only thing that was being aired besides the combustion story, so it was a small diversion I suppose, yet there it was.

“You like football?” she asked me with a smile. It was as if she was asking me if I liked being a man or something.

I smiled back and said, “Of course! Doesn’t everyman? Even the ones that don‘t pretend they do so no one will think less of them!”

She laughed then and said she was thinking that this was the year Dan Marino would get his ring, but even she had her doubts about that.

“You know who Dan Marino is?” I asked somewhat incredulous. I didn’t realize it in time, but that was as dumb as her question, but it was out there anyway.

“Of course I know who he is!” I had three brothers ahead of me and I was the only girl, my father petitioned Pop Warner to let me play but they wouldn’t do it, their excuse was there would be no area for girls to change or whatever, but I was glad, I was never a little sweetheart anyway but I did have my pride and vanity and that helmet would have messed up my hair!” she said with a laugh.

I had to laugh at that, the perfect paradox, her father wanting her to be one of his boys, and she wanted to retain her feminism and make him happy.

Still, I had other things on my mind and never thought I would get into a conversation with a woman about football but that is exactly what happened next, and I had to admit that it really intrigued me, made me want to know more about her since she obviously knew what she was talking about and not just saying what everyone else was spouting these days.

“So, since your from Los Angeles,” she said, and then suddenly looked around her as if she wasn’t sure she wanted anyone to hear her now.

I had to laugh at her moving closer, as if we were part of a conspiracy or something.

But when her voice dropped to a husky whisper I felt a stirring in my pants that I hoped I had hidden better than I felt I had.

“Your probably another of those die-hard Raiders fans, huh?” She told me with a smile that told me she had heard it all before. “It’s kind of sad, as if all the men from Los Angeles think there is no other team to root for!” She said ruefully. “The rest of the NFL has fallen by the wayside!” She said laughing.

It came to me then that I had never told her I was from Los Angeles, and so once again the red flags went off and I ignored them and went charging in anyway.

“Doctors, lawyers, grown men that would never think of going crazy put on silver make up and pretend to be real gladiators!” She laughed, and it’s worse when you get to the college level!” She said, then she stopped suddenly, as if she thought she had said too much.

“Well, at least when they are college level, they are still kids after all and you gotta give them points for that!” I answered as if I had lived “the college life” even though I never really had, once I was done with regular school I had no intention of volunteering for more of the same, or even worse, paying all that money just to have some teacher treat me as if I was stupid because I didn‘t know what he knew. “Thank you no!” I said, suddenly realizing that she had stopped talking.

“You do that at college games?” she asked, suddenly serious. “Get carried away like that?”

I had to laugh then, “No, I admit I go to college games and love them more than pro but I never paint my face and go shirtless if that’s what you mean!”

“But as for who I root for, your not even close!” I said with a snort, “Wrong team and wrong area, though I have lived all of my life in Los Angeles, I have never rooted for the Raiders, they left LA and went back home where they belong, where they can stay as far as I am concerned!” I continued.

“I rooted for the Rams until they left town and the owner insulted all of LA when they won the Super Bowl, but maybe that explains my fascination with the college level, they CAN’T leave town!”

Then I told her, “They don’t even care enough about LA to stay there and be loyal to those fans, as long as the owner makes a buck I suppose.” I told her, just as ruefully.

Her reply surprised me, because it was the other reason I didn’t root for the Raiders.

“I will never forgive that man for what he did to Marcus Allen!” She said, with real conviction in her voice. I could have kissed her right there and then.

“Marcus Allen was left to languish on the bench during some of the best years of his life, he had to go to the hated Kansas City Chiefs to be able to show he still had it“! I told her then.

The silence then was too much and I was thinking of what to say next when she asked me, “So DO you like football and if so, which is your team? Inquiring minds want to know!” She said with a laugh of her own.

“I have been a Steelers fan since they came here and won the Super Bowl, you know, the days of the Steel Curtain, Mean Joe Greene, Rocky Blier, and Franco Harris, not to mention Lynn Swann and so many others!” I told her while I looked off into the distance, I must have looked as though I was seeing them right then because she turned her head to look behind her, where my eyes were.

In truth, I was thinking about how Rocky Blier had been a promising football player and turned his back on that and went to Viet Nam instead, to serve his country and had been machine gunned in both legs so badly that they thought he might never walk again, THEN he played for the Steelers.

The way she had turned her eyes and another news flash about the burnings broke my revelry and brought me back to where we were.

Although they stopped the game for the announcement, they had nothing new to report so I tuned it out and went back to her.

After that, we talked and drank like that for about an hour, as she got more relaxed with the alcohol, then she started touching my arm as she talked, and I had to admit I started to like that too.

As it got later into the night, I found out that she didn't have a private berth, so we decided to go to mine for the night. “Your place or mine?” became “Your seat or my berth and it was really no contest.

It didn't occur to me until much later that if she were "free spending her ex-husbands" money she would have had her own berth.

I was too busy thinking about what she looked like without that dress on. What kind of lover she might be. How sexy she seemed and I wondered if her passion could match my own.

She took my hand and followed me, saying "I haven't been with anyone else since I got married and hope you don't think I'm too easy?"

I didn't know how to answer that, so I smiled and said "I'll still respect you in the morning!" and we both laughed at that one.

As we got into the room, she turned and kissed me, pulling me close as she did. I reached behind her and pulled down her zipper, her dress falling to the floor. She stepped back gave me a look at her, she knew she was stunning and took my breath away.

I stood there for a minute as she walked towards the bed, admiring her athletic body and the way it moved.

She was wearing a white garter belt and nothing underneath that. It framed her form perfectly and matched the white lace bra she was wearing, like something out of a catalog that they thought was a secret.

She sat down on the bed with a smile and leaned back, holding her leg up so I could remove her high heels.

"Will this do?" she asked with that same smile, already knowing I was pleased and it would more than just “do” for me.

I smiled and told her she could leave her spurs on this time, but next time I get to wear them.

Again, I was stuck and not sure what to say after that; I said it before I thought about it but it broke the ice and we both relaxed a little bit.

I stepped forward and started to remove my pants. She said "let me do that for you!" as she turned off the light.

We made love three times before going to sleep so it seemed it was indeed more than good enough, but I don’t remember us stopping, and I felt myself groping for her in my sleep more than once so we could start again.

I remember as I entered her that she moaned softly and then was pretty quiet the rest of the night, though she was very passionate, she was not very vocal.

That night I had a strange dream, and though most times I was hard pressed to remember any details when I dreamed, this time I could remember every detail, every nuance of what happened between when I closed my eyes and woke up the next day.

I was walking thru the train in this dream, but it changed suddenly and I was outside, in a town that resembled a western movie set that might feature John Wayne or Randolph Scott, and everything was now black and white and grainy.

I was standing in front of a bar, the swinging doors right in front of me and swaying softly in the wind. I leaned thru and looked around in the cool darkness before I walked in and went up to the bar.

I was looking around the room as I got closer, and when my eyes swept past the mirror in front of me I almost screamed, I didn’t recognize the man I could see standing in my shoes.

Although it had my face, it was not the same, it was leaner somehow and rugged-looking, and it looked very cold, as if I could kill without a thought or hesitation, I didn’t like this “new me” at all.

It was almost as if I was looking at a drawing someone had made of me, the details close but not quite right, and they took liberties with how they perceived me, because I wasn’t that mean looking in my opinion.

My clothes had changed too, and I looked down to see that I was not wearing my suit and tie in here, but instead wore a red scarf to keep the dust out of my throat while riding on the trail, leather chaps on my legs and sure enough, two shiny Colt’s strapped to each side of my legs, the white pearl handles gleaming in the light.

I took them both out and admired the way they felt in my hands, the weight assuring and making me feel stronger somehow, and I looked down the sight as if I knew what I was doing, examining the true of it, then I gave the barrels a spin as if I was testing them.

“I see you decided to take my advice!” Hissed a voice behind me, again making me jump and turn, this time I almost fell.

There was a man standing there, dressed in dark gray and black, but it was his skin that captured my attention because it seemed to be either all black and moldy, or in some spots his skin was festering and moving as if it had a life of it’s own or was trying to escape from the hell inside of him, even as I looked I could see parts of him “pushing“ outward and then I thought I heard a scream as “they“ fell back or seemed to be pulled back into his body.

He put his hands down on his sides, his eyes narrowed and he leaned just a bit to the right, to be less of a target. I knew he was waiting for me to draw my guns so he could cut me down, but I didn’t know why and it was driving me wild trying to figure this out. Since I had the guns at my side, I must have known how to use them, I thought, but am I faster than he is?

I swallowed once, because I was not sure if I was fast enough to get my guns out before he could, but I also knew there was no other way I was getting out of there alive.

Suddenly there was a loud murmur in the room and the sounds of chairs sliding away as people rushed to get out of the way of our bullets.

I looked around me at them, mostly because I knew they hadn’t been there a moment ago, the room had been empty when I walked in, and as my eyes hit the mirror again, there was no reflection of anyone but me, though I could still hear them as they jumped out of the way and when I turned my head I could see some of them scampering out of the door.

“They aren’t going to help you!” He said with a slight laugh, “All they care about is that they don’t get hit, and you can’t kill what’s already dead, but they don’t know that their dead and it still hurts when they get shot!” He told me, “So now, are you ready?”

I turned towards him again, and then remembered to shift my body to be less of a target, and then tried to steel myself for what was going to happen next.

As I did, I felt all my muscles suddenly tighten, as if to ward off any bullet that might find it’s mark. My eyes narrowed and I flexed my hand as if that would help.

I drew straight and true, but only my left hand reached for my gun, the right hand came up to fan the trigger at him, four of my bullets were out and going thru him before I had a chance to think of what I was doing.

I stopped then, thinking I had won and what a wonderful feeling that was when I noticed that as the bullets tore thru his clothing, they emitted a small puff of smoke as if they were hitting some bag filled with some very old dust, it smelled as if I had shaken out an old rug and the dust was still floating around me.

Then I noticed that he was still reaching for his guns but I was frozen to the spot, too incredulous to react or move away, though I felt I was shouting at my legs to move, I stood stupidly and watched as his hand closed over his weapon in slow motion, I saw his body twist and shift to draw the gun out and shoot me, but his hand stayed there, breaking off at his wrist and leaving his gun where it had been before, still holding onto the grip of his gun.

He looked up at me then, I began to see that he couldn’t do anything about that, I came to my senses then and fired the rest of both my guns into him, this time they also went thru, but he faded away as they hit and I was waking up, it was morning the next day and she was already up and dressed, his screams of agony and frustration echoing and fading away as the image left me.

I lifted my head a little and then rose up to the edge of the bed, I raising my hands to cover my head and stretch out, suddenly feeling what my father called “crudo” which meant he had a hangover and stay the hell away.

One little five letter word that could have been my epitaph, I jumped at the thought of that word, suddenly aware that I wasn’t the only one awake at this hour.

I looked back at the bed and then around the room for my new bed warmer, and found her sitting at the far end of the room on a chair, calmly smoking a cigarette and waiting for me to fully waken, which I was now of course.

I was now looking at the business end of a berretta, and I hated those little guns, preferring instead the good old American made Smith and Wesson, or even a Sig Sauer, but I hated them no matter what brand even more so when they were pointed at me. Guns made people stupid, either having them or using them was a mistake I thought.

"What's that for?" I asked her, knowing the answer. "You didn't need that last night!" I continued, “Was it because I asked for the spurs next?”

“Erika sent me!“ She told me, "I'm supposed to bring you to her, and don't think last night will make me hesitate, this is a loaded gun and I am well trained in its use. That's just my way of mixing business with pleasure" she smiled sweetly at me as she said that.

I had to admit I was furious now, though I wasn’t sure if was because she got the drop on me or because she had that smug “I won!” expression on her face that made me wish I wasn’t they guy I am and I could hit her. I had to think fast and leave my emotions out of this though, it was my only chance.

“You didn’t really think she was going to let you get away did you?” she asked me. “She just wants to talk to you, close up some loose ends she feels are still hanging between you!” She continued.

“It will be painless, but she wants to make sure you come to her, to end this her way.”

"So you really didn't care if I respected you in the morning, is that it?" I asked her, trying to think of a way to close the space between us without catching a bullet in the process.

“Why didn’t she just ask me to meet her, in neutral territory with plenty of witness’s, I would have done that!” I said.

“Somewhere far off like Sweden, they are neutral I hear!” I said, still trying to laugh my way out of this.

“She said she called you and you hung up on her!” Reminding me and making me curse under my breath; it would have at least bought me some time and maybe some distance.

“In my line of work I have met many intelligent men and women and they ALL have their quirks, trust me on that!” she said with a laugh.

I stopped then to imagine if that was a good or bad thing, was she talking about things they made her do? Or things they did together? I guess it didn’t matter, I had to focus on how to get out of this and keep my skin.

“I thought we had some pretty intimate moments last night, did I dream that?” I asked her, weren’t we sharing some tender moments? Did I not hold you afterwards and let you fall asleep first?” I was grasping at straws and she could feel my desperation.

"I don't give a damn what you think!" she said, her smile now gone. "Put on your pants and let's be done with the small talk!"

“Let’s skip that AND the foreplay this time, shall we?” I said sarcastically and I managed a smile too.

“But I don’t understand, why would she send you after me?” I asked her. It was over and she made that clear, why did she decide to come back here? I don’t understand this,” I told her. “SHE finished it and made sure I knew it!” I was almost shouting at her now.

“Because you touched her dammit”, Mia told me with maybe a touch too much anger in her voice, I felt she had some vested interest in this yet I could not imagine how or why.

“Because she wants to see you and she knew you would try and get away. I told you, she wants CLOSURE” she said with emphasis, slowly, as if I couldn’t grasp the concept.

“Why the Hell are you asking me anyway?” She said, all I know is she wants to see you, and she sent me and this is the best way I know of to get you there and be on my was as soon I can collect my money!”

So I rose slowly and reached for my pants. I didn’t understand what it all meant but I felt as though she could shoot my eye out if she wanted.

I thought about the last time I saw Erika, how she was laughing at me, using my little brother to cut me as deeply as she could, she arranged it so I would find them in bed together.

She did that because she wanted me to leave her and because her feelings for me had confused her, I knew that now but it still made it no easier to live with.

I hated myself for the fact that I still wanted another round with Erika right now.

"One more time for the road" I was thinking then, but I didn’t mean to sleep with her, I was walking about trying to work things out, another round to make things somehow better between us. The look on her face when I told her that showed me she didn’t believe me.

I remember how it hurt when she told me my words were empty and meaningless. That was when I knew it was over, that I had no chance.

I pulled on my pants slowly, trying to think. As I put on my left shoe and reached for the right one, there was a noise in the hallway and she thought someone might be coming, she turned her head and she shifted her gun from her right hand to the left and I didn’t have my shoe on yet, it was on the edge of my toe, so I kicked it at her, hoping to make her turn her head just enough that I could close the gap between us, but I watched that shoe rotate over and over again slowly as it flew between us until it hit her square on the forehead with the heel and since I was marveling at my accuracy, it almost cost me.

She squeezed off a shot that went wide left and hit the window, I had already moved to my right.

I jumped at her then, hoping she was dazed enough, and with my right arm I went for her gun hand, with my left hand I went for her throat, pushing in and up as I tried to force her against the wall.

She brought her feet up, taking advantage of me raising her off the ground and began to kick at my shins hard and fast and I let her down a bit, taking away the angel now she could not raise her feet up high enough after that.

Then she tried to bring the gun back towards me, and I hit her wrist with a back thrust of my right arm across her forearm; again making another shot go wide, but this time she flexed her wrists as I hit her, and that one nicked my ear.

I was used to fighting men this way, knew what they would do next instinctively but I was surprised at the viciousness of her attack, was this the same woman I met last night? I wondered, she had changed so much in the last five minutes.

But that shot was too close for comfort, and brought my attention back to her, then I brought my right arm down again on her fore arm, hitting it hard against my knee as I brought it up and it broke her wrist, the gun finally dropped away at her feet.

As I heard the bone snap, I spun her away from me and towards the closet so I could get the gun, but her own momentum as she fought me carried her towards the open window, she fell thru face first but spun herself around and was hanging on with one arm as she fell out, grabbing the end of the window.

She turned and watched one of her expensive heels fall away, she watched it tumble and bounce and cursed at me again.

“This is going to cost extra!” She said to herself, then she looked at me standing there watching her stupidly.

"Please help me!" she pleaded as she hung there, and now she was trying so hard to hold on that she could barely speak. She was trying sound sweet and demure now, and it wasn’t working for her anymore.

I was torn between wanting to pull her up and remembering the way her face had changed from sexy and beautiful to cold hearted and deadly.

Absently I reached up and touched my ear, the pain throbbing again as I did, but the flow of blood had slowed.

She looked behind her, as if she was trying to find a soft place to land, but as fast as the train was rolling there would be no soft landing if she fell and we both could see that, there were a lot of trees there too, interspersed here and there so she could not get a rhythm between them and avoid breaking her neck.

"It wasn't personal, I was paid a lot of money for this!" she said. "You can have the money, she gave me half, its right there in my purse, I was supposed to get the other half when I showed up with you, take it, just please don't let me die like this!"

“PLEASE!” she said again, this time with emphasis and finally starting to mean it.

I said "don't worry, I will make sure it doesn't go to waste" as I pulled at her hand. I was going to try and pull her up, but as I reached for her, she couldn’t hold on anymore and slipped off the window, and I watched her fall, cursing me as she fell away to her death.

I hadn’t meant for it to end that way, well, maybe a little bit because she fired that gun at me twice and the second was a headshot, but I like to think I wanted to save her, if only I wasn’t so damn slow.

As she tumbled into the darkness, I saw her hit a tree and felt rather than heard her neck snap. I thought she looked a lot sweeter last night, so didn't want to look anymore after that.

I hit my foot on something and looked down, one of her high heels was there, so I picked it up and tossed it out the window, thinking THAT was real closure.

I went to the breakfast car then, I wasn’t hungry but I was trying to find a place where I could think, we were close to my destination but I wasn’t going to bother to go back to my berth, even though I wasn’t hungry, the food smelled good, so it might even be crowded but it seemed the safest place to be right now.

I ended up going instead to the main car, thinking I’d be safer there, and slept again.

There weren’t as many people there, but a few families and I knew they would keep on eye on things so I sat near enough to them where both families could see me, my unwitting sentries.

I probably would have slept all the way to the ocean but for the conductor asking others for tickets. I did sleep though and I dreamt of Erika, of the better times we had between us.

I saw her again, smiling and laughing the way only she could. Her smile lit up the entire room.

Now I knew that it was not really her, just the memory of that day and what she let me see of her, the sides of her she wanted me to see anyway. But then I remembered when and where we had met.

That was the night we met at some party, held by I can‘t remember who now.

That was when I found out she was a bottom card dealer and admired her for it because she was really smooth.

But I also remember that I was there trying to be part of a crowd that I didn’t fit into. Trying to find a common ground with someone but that never seemed to work either. I don’t think you can call it a common ground when you are giving and they are taking.

Even though it doesn’t end there, there’s that part of the memory and then there’s the pain that lingers, the sad memories that you try to erase because they hurt too much.

I was trying to think about the times you laughed and had fun before you saw your dark side, just another of the evil memories you that you had to live with; but the other alternative to that was death and I was in no hurry to get there.

“Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die!” I suddenly remembered and laughed.

I remember someone saying that you never lived until your heart was stomped on and trampled by the woman you love.

Didn’t make sense then or now, but I never forgot the look in his eyes when he said that, as if he was blissfully savoring that moment, that memory, both the painful side of it, the happy times and the heartbreak of it.

At this party there were mostly legal types and accountants anyway, brainy nerds that reveled in making you feel less than they were because they liked to play with numbers and were well paid for that “talent.”

They never got dirty and paid more for their suits than I did for rent. But they could afford it. Me? I was wearing the same pants I had put on three days ago, but at least the shirt was clean. It was black and had white lettering on it, saying,” I have a bs degree!”

There were also a few “normal guys” and the occasional married man out for a good time. Not too many single looking women though.

Then I saw her, she stood out because she was so lively, she seemed to be having such a good time you felt the strongest urge to join her in the revelry, as if it was contagious.

She was in the middle of the crowd and they all seemed to hang on her every word, but she seemed to stop every once in a while and speak to me without using her mouth, because though her mouth was moving and she was telling them something, in my head I heard her voice as clear as if she were standing next to me and whispering in my ear.

That reminded me of a book that scared the hell out of me and thinking of it now should have set off all kinds of alarms, but I heard stillness and nothing more for a moment or two there.

There were things she could never know, and yet I could sense that she did, and as I was thinking that she smiled at me and winked, as if she was daring me to test her on this, to tell me she could read my thoughts, some kind of telepathy that I didn’t know I had.

I felt she was seeing beyond my eyes as she looked at me, thru my clothes and then my skin and into the deepest parts of my soul.

I felt naked in front of her, vulnerable and left with no choice but to listen to her as she spoke to me and obey her will. Of course, being a man who sometimes thinks with his little head, I did. I fell fast and hard, and just like every man that has ever met her, I stood in her glow and watched her every move.

It was as if the crowd was now gone and there was just the two of us there, alone in the middle of a all of them and I had to laugh at that thought, but since we were "alone" now, no one else seemed to notice, I looked at their faces and around me to be sure, it was as if the others never saw me, they were mesmerized by her, she must have studied under a true Jedi, I thought with a laugh.

I had a teacher once that asked, “What is it about the human nature that we have to have something when we know it's wrong?”

I remember hearing his voice from deep inside, as if he was now asking me, as if I had lived long enough to know the answer.

“If I had any of the answers would I be alone?” I asked myself under my breath.

It’s almost as if we feel that “wrongness“ and we recognize it as something to run away from as fast as we can, ignoring that and move towards it, stumbling blindly into a mistake.

Ignoring what we know inside and thinking it will be different this time. It almost never is. Sometimes I think love is that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!

I stood and watched her as she talked to her friends there, and I could see that she was taller than most of the women I had known. Blonde with drop-dead looks that no sane man could ignore, and I maybe wasn’t what you might call sane, but I am still a man and I could tell she was used to getting her way, even from where I stood.

She had a dancers legs and enough energy for ten people. Red seemed to be her color, it was the color of her dress, her nails, high heels that made her feet seem so curvy and sexy, and I NEVER looked at a woman’s shoes, but I felt there was something special about her. Add the full red lips and the lipstick was bright red and sparkled somehow, made me want to taste them. The dress really accented her curves and was not too short, and the front showed just enough of her cleavage to get my interest, yet not too low cut. It was conservative enough that you knew she was not going to be easy, and I thought I could see that she had both street smarts and sophistication. I could also see that she liked being in control, that she knew her way around the block AND in the boardroom. I liked that attitude though, she had the kind of humor that made your cheeks hurt from laughing so much and everything seemed alive and fun when she was around.

How could something that started off like this go so wrong I thought, but it did. It surely went south too damn fast and there’s no denying that, she stomped all over my heart and brought me to life. 


Comments:
 
Bluez   Bluez wrote
on 4/4/2008 1:02:57 AM
Thank you for your thoughts here, and I agree, we ARE a product of choices we make, things we live through. I also think that we stay in the relationships we do because we get something either good or bad out of them, and no one can understand the way the people involved do. (hence the "how did she end up with HIM?" comments we hear every now and then. I think any relationship where you give more than you take is at least headed in the right direction, but people don't always think beyond their own wants and needs. I think that people that get used to being unhappy have settled for what they feel they deserve or maybe that it's all they will ever get. Some think that being sad that way is better than being alone.

Bluez
Graphic Novels
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writing Bluez
wanna be writer
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Rating: 10.0/10

Synopsis
This is part two, and first of all, I thank you for reading this far into it. I love this story but it was the first I wrote and I think the others are scarier, but I also sincerley thank you for reading and hopefully enjoying my work. Any suggestions are welcome (though too late to help this story) and anything I can to do help you is something I am glad to do.
Published Date
11/30/2007 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Publish America
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