Open Windows-Part Two


“No one ever pays for betrayal in silver. The price of silver always comes due in flesh…”
-Stephen King in “The Dark Tower”



I thought again about how life steers you in the direction it wants you to take, regardless of what you had in mind to begin with and you had to take what it dealt, because the alternative wasn’t any better, I liked breathing too much to argue with what I knew I was meant to do. But I always thought that had my brother waited for one more wave, we could still be talking and parlaying our way thru life.

Or if I had not taken that test so lightly and gone with him that day, maybe I would have stalled him enough that he might have missed that drunk, or maybe we would have died together, and would that have been so bad?

How if the rain hadn’t come, I might still have my parents and they would still be happily married had she not given in to a moment of weakness that killed them both? It all came down to moments and choices, good or bad. What if my father and I had gone to a motel instead of heading all the way home?

I remembered a man I knew once that told me “There but for the love of God go I” when he would see an unfortunate soul, begging on the streets from anyone near, sleeping in alleys and foraging thru the trash for their next meal. I guess we are all habits or consequences of the choices we make in life, and I wondered which of those choices had helped me to arrive here and now.

What if that drunk took a different street? What was the choice my brother made that put him in the path of that drunk? Was it really an accident? As I thought about all of that, I found myself standing in front of Erika’s door again, standing on the sidewalk and looking at her house.

There were lots of windows, but they were too high to see in from the street. Upstairs she had one of those “bombardier” windows that I sometimes liked to look thru because it gave a perspective of the entire city and made me feel as if I was standing on the edge of the world and could step off had I wanted to. Looking at it now, I was reminded of the first time I entered her mind. That seemed to be so long ago now, yet it was not.

I thought about how we had gotten to this point, though she tried to poison what love I felt for her, it was too much for either of us to ignore or fight off, we had to give in to it, we were supposed to do something together and we had as yet not done it, our work was ahead of us. I was kind of hoping she would want to be with me after we had done it, that this wasn’t another ending that we were facing.

But my enemy was before us too, and he had the small advantage over me because he knew more about what was going on that I did, I was after all guessing my way thru most of this, the gap was wider than he hoped yet not quite as wide as I would have hoped for.

Most of her windows looked out towards the ocean, a few blocks away. I could hear the waves breaking and then rushing towards the shore from where I stood. The outside of the house was a soft yellow with white trim, and looked really pleasant and comfortable even from there.

She had her “other” garden out in the front of her house, surrounded by the white picket fence. I almost laughed because I didn’t picture her as the picket fence type. She had roses and perennials that bloomed in bright colors, I could see that it was designed to flow naturally and sweep your gaze right to the front door and did that quite well.

There was a swinging chair that was built for two and in the summer she liked to sit there and drink tea, sometimes watching people as they walked by and seeing them as they were enjoying her flowers while she read her favorite poetry.

There was her favorite pillow sitting there, where she liked to sometimes ignore the world around her. The entire design of her porch said “mi casa, su casa” and she meant that, within certain limits of course. Even the doormat said “welcome friend” and you honestly felt that way in her home. It felt like it could be my home, I thought about how short a time I had known her and I couldn’t. It was suddenly important that I did; yet I could not remember how long I actually had known her. I felt as if I had known her forever and yet it had only been a few months. Hadn’t it? Unless you count the first time and then subtract what we lost.

I wondered if she knew. She was all frilly and lace at the right times, and being a woman, I thought that would be important to her, but I could not remember for the life of me.

I knew she fought for her independence. She didn’t want to be tied down; she didn’t like things to be “assumed” and she was not quick to reveal her feelings. Though I could tell she cared a great deal for me, anything else was hard to see, to understand and know what she wanted me to do.

She had this fighter side and I liked that, it made her more fun because we fought for the same things, and since neither of us wanted to be caged or worked on or changed in the slightest, it would work I thought.

We had our “tender times” too, where we did things they did in the movies without thinking about them, they were just how we felt and expressed those feelings. Watching the waves while we sat together in that window upstairs, wearing nothing more than a blanket and a smile and sitting closely together, we sometimes talked all night and until the early hours of the next day. She liked to go to dinner as much as we both enjoyed making dinner together. Eating by candlelight. Taking long walks on the beach. We got to where we could finish each other’s sentences but we never did. I knew she was as spontaneous as I was, willing to try new things on a whim at times rather than plan things out all the time.

I knew when she got serious or nervous she would chew on the right inside of her cheek, same as I did though I never knew if she started that after we met or had been doing it before, I had done that all my life as a nervous habit.

It seemed a lifetime we had spent together, yet it was not. I knew things about her that her even some of her close friends didn’t know, but it was surely not a lifetime. Not even more than a year or two, though as hard as I tried to remember exactly how long, I could not.

I unlocked the door and went inside. She was not yet home but “soon she will be” I thought and smiled thinking of her.

I went to the kitchen and took out her favorite Chablis and uncorked it, “letting it breath” as she liked to say. I started to put my plan into action, knowing what I had to do and hoping it was not too late and I could do what I needed before she got home.

I went outside to her garden and stopped there for a moment, I could not shake the contrast between this garden of hers and the other one that no one else saw. There was nothing to fear in this one, so I took some roses and went back in her house. I placed some in a vase at the stand near the door; she would see them as she entered, and the smell would set her mind at ease and help her to relax. Then I went and drew her bath, using only the hot water because I wanted it to be the right temperature by the time she got home.

I turned the stereo on in there and set it to some soft music and let that waft thru the room, I was trying to set the right kind of tone, to help her relax and set her mind at ease, to calm and soothe her, and no one made better music for that purpose.

I felt like such a rat, as if I was betraying her because I was going to make her think I was taking her out to a nice dinner and all the time she was going to be staying here and hopefully out of harm‘s way.

In a flash I thought about the saloon and how that turned out and how Samantha had become bait to draw them in, and I hoped this was going to turn out different, I hoped this would be a happier ending for her both of us this time.

I thought that maybe because he had been here before, when he burned the newspaper and he hadn’t hurt her then, so she might be safe, I thought, because he wanted to kill me, and not her. I didn’t plan to use Sam as bait either though, she just wouldn’t come out of the shock that set in, her mind couldn’t grasp all that gunfire and it rattled her nerves.

It was a different strategy this time though; I was trying to save Erika by keeping her away from me while I did this, I was not trying to leave her there to draw my enemy out, I kept telling myself that and hoped I could believe it when the time came.

So I tried to make everything perfect when she got home; it had to be just right for her, because she deserved that much. I found her favorite lotions and oils and poured some into the water, knowing how much she liked to do that. I loved how soft they made her skin feel, so it worked for both of us, it was something we shared on her body.

The fragrance was soft and still strong enough that it stood out and led me to her. I took some of the petals from the roses and put them into the water too, not enough to hide the scented oil, but the effect was what I wanted. I was ready now, it was perfect now and all I needed was to see her walk in that door.

I looked for my guns, and there they were, hanging on the coat rack, very real and fully loaded. I felt them calling to me and I had the strongest urge to put them on, I felt the danger nearby, and they were now somehow calling to me, as if they also knew the danger I was bringing down on myself by not putting them on, but I ignored them, resisting the urge and went to pour the wine when I heard her key in the door. I didn’t want to have to use them in there, and I thought he had enough honor to take me outside before he gunned me down, I was counting on it now.

She walked into the door holding her purse in her mouth, bags of groceries in her hands and kicking the door closed with her left foot.

I knew I still had time yet to put the guns on, I took a few steps towards them but I didn’t want to alarm her, though it never occurred to me that she might ask about them, hanging on the end of the bed post like that. Yet she never even seemed to notice, passing by as though they had always been there, as normal as could be.

“You really don’t think you can save her do you?” a voice intoned out of no where. It made me jump and try to get to my guns, yet I knew if I needed them at that moment I was too late and already dead at the whim of this new person.

I stood still, not sure of what I should be doing. I knew it was a female voice but not much beyond that, so I decided to try and see who I was dealing with then.

When I was fully turned towards her, I almost had to sit down because it shocked me to see her this way.

It was Erika, but it wasn’t, it could never be her, not this cold and cruel looking copy of her that stood before me.

I looked at her from head to toe, trying to deicide if she had a twin when I remembered what Samuel said about both sides of her. I was finally meeting the evil side.

I watched as she closed the space between us, and saw that where Erika was soft, this version was coarse and ready to fight, probably had been in many fights and won more than her share of them. As that thought came to me, she smiled and I knew I was right.

“You didn’t answer my question” she said, “Do you really think you have a chance? That you have any say at all in how this ends up? You are already dead, I just haven’t told you when to fall, but it’s coming, and very soon, I can promise you that!” she told me.

It came to me then how much the Erika I knew and loved was like this other version, if you think about it, her choice of careers, a field where she could openly and publicly eviscerate men and be rewarded and applauded for it?

Dealing from the bottom of the deck at cards, taking money from men that she doesn’t need, merely for the sport of it, she was making all the men in her life, every single one she encountered pay for the crimes that those other men had all her life committed on her.

Some men ran off into the night, crying like little boys with hurt and rejection, but until now, none had ever found the courage to come back, to treat her as I did when I found myself back in her life. I knew that was the advantage that Nemrul didn’t want me to know about.

True love makes you do stupid things, but it gives you a reason to try things you would never do in your right mind. Real love is something that’s rare these days, and when you find it you have to hold on tight and never let go, it might be your last chance after all.

I was thinking of stupid things right then, as if her love in my heart empowered me somehow, gave me the strength of ten men and I could do anything now.

But I was looking at the nightmare of her evil side now, and though she was not real, I knew she could hurt me from where ever she was right now if she wanted too badly enough.

I looked the new Erika in the eye and told her “I don’t have to save her, it has already happened. YOU have lost, she is mine, her heart her soul, for now and until all of time, YOU have lost!” as I spoke the last words, she began to fade from my sight.

I could see her rage, how angry she was that I had dismissed her this way, sent her packing, yet she had no choice, not at this time, but as she said, it was coming, and soon.

She screamed at me and lunged one last time, and I felt her claws hit my arm, and when I looked down there was a huge gash in my arm. I felt my legs get wobbly and shock begin to set in, I even saw the floor as it ended my free fall, face down, but when I opened my eyes, Erika had not seen a thing and my arm was uncut.

As turned back to her then, in her own element, where she was the safest and most comfortable, and yet the most vulnerable I felt another pang of guilt for deceiving her, yet I knew deep in my heart that it was the only way to save her, that it had to be done or we were both done. At least my way if Nemrul won and killed me, she would be safe and far away from me and I hoped he would leave her alone when I was gone if it came to that.

Yet I could not help but also admire her beauty, and how happy she looked now, as if we were meant to be there together, as if all this was behind us now and we had only the brightest of futures together, as if the other garden had never existed, at least that there was no need for it any longer. I thought she was humming that Celtic song again when I saw the happy surprise on her face as she saw the flowers.

I love flowers, did I ever tell you that?” she asked with a huge smile on her face, she leaned towards me and hugged my neck tight and then kissed me hard on the lips.

She stepped closer and began to smell them then, slowly and gently taking the fragrance into her lungs and then looking around, seeing the petals spread on the floor, she gently kicked off her right shoe and then leaned forward and took off the left before she moved on, following the trails of petals and took off the rest of her clothes, dropping them along the way.

She stopped several times to turn and look in my direction, teasing me by waiting for me to get closer and then running ahead and telling me “It’s not going to that easy!” and laughing.

I knew right at that moment that there was nothing I wouldn’t do for this woman, and I had never loved a woman as much as I loved her. I knew what I had to do to end this now, and again had to steel myself or I would have told her my plan.

Knowing what I felt in my heart, I knew she would never let me go without her to help me, but how weird would that be? For her to go inside of herself to help me finish this just seemed too much to imagine. In the end I thought this was best and followed thru on it, asking about her day and helping her into the tub.

Aren’t you going to join me?” she asked sweetly but I begged off and told her this was for her, that I thought she hard deserved to be pampered every now and then and I didn’t mind at all.

As she came to where I was, she smiled instantly and the purse fell into one of the bags. I was so happy to see her I almost forgot the plan, that would have been disastrous, I knew it had to be tonight, I knew Nemrul was coming for me and it wouldn’t be long, I just had to get her in position without rushing her and setting off the alarms, and I needed her to be right where I was going to put her.



Chapter Fifteen

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

John F Kennedy (1917 - 1963)



I felt she was glad to see me too, though it must have seemed as if I was her husband, waiting for her as I was, but I knew from the look on her face that she was glad to see me and that made me feel better, though I felt guilty again because I had a plan and it included her, but not as she would have wanted.

She was going to be an unwitting partner in my crime; I was not sure what she might do when the shit started to fly, if she would take my side or would she help Nemrul, did he have any power over her? Or even that she might be so split over which side to take or what to do that her brain would explode. When that started to fly I needed to know exactly who was what and where they kept the spare bullets.

“Hey, you worked all day, let’s not bother making dinner and eat out tonight” I lied to her, trying to sound more cheerful than I felt and I couldn’t tell if it worked or not, if she even heard me since she didn’t react at first.

I think subconsciously she had picked up a thread of my plan, that she had an inkling of it and wanted to see herself in a more helpful position, though she couldn’t really see it yet, I hid that thought from her and began to concentrate on her legs instead, anything to clear my head and hide my plan from her. I reached down and pulled her feet onto my lap and started to massage them until I felt her loosen up and then helped her into the tub.

I hated deceiving her like that, but I needed her to feel this was a normal night and, we were, for once going to be a normal couple.

She looked so happy it tore at my heart, again I had to fight the urge to rush her out of there and try to escape, but I knew we could not outrun him forever. We had to make a stand and this was as good a place and time as any. The water was perfect now and ready for her, now everything was in place.

She smiled at me; “Are we going to have some fun before we go?” I told her “Whatever makes you happy, your wish is my command honey and this is all for you!” as I helped her into the warm water.

As she settled down into the tub, she turned and reached for my cheek, stroking it softly as had become her habit. It was her “I love you” sign and it made me cry because I thought I would never see her again, that I might die and this time I would be the one that went away.

She saw that and I told her I was just happy that we were together like this, as it should have been all the time.

She touched my cheek again absently, thinking about that and feeling the same way by her reaction, then her alarms went off a bit and she turned to look back at me for a moment and as she did, she asked me “ok, what did you do this time?” more joking than anything and reminding me of the last time I did this for her.

That time I had put a nasty dent in the door of her car, and didn’t know how to tell her. I had drawn a bath very much like this one, but that time we both sat in that water, I held her as she leaned back against me and told her.

She was not upset and rather liked the way I got her in the right mood before telling her. But I have a flair for the dramatic and expected a different reaction. All she told me was that it was steel and rubber, not life or death and I had to admit I liked that outlook.

This time was different because this time it really WAS life and death and there was no place to hide anymore!

“I just thought you might need something like this when you got home” I lied again, “That it was something you deserved!” It was really bothering me how easily I slipped into those little white lies, as if I had done that all my life.

I turned off the lights and lit the candles spread thru out the room, the shadows dancing on the walls help to make the effect I needed all the more perfect for my plan. I began to massage her shoulders and whisper softly into her ear. Just loud enough that she could hear my voice, yet so soft it was unintelligible.

I kept that up until she fell under a trance, until I could feel her body relaxing and her breathing slowed.

I just hoped I was right and my plan had no flaws, that he couldn’t see any of the weakness that I hadn’t seen in it. I hoped that there was enough time left, that I hadn’t waited too long.

Then I thought about something my brother once said, it made me laugh that day and it made me laugh right then, almost bringing her back out of the trance, I had to be more careful.

Ray was playing chess with this guy and complaining about how long this other guy was taking between his moves, and he kept telling him, “Come on Dog! You take too much time between moves, you need to keep the pace up!”

After a few times of that, I asked Ray, “Why do you keep calling him dog? Isn’t his name Robert?”

Ray knew I was baiting him, and he almost laughed before he got to the punch line when he said, “Because he takes too damn long, I am calling him delay of game! “Get it?“ He asked.

Ray was the kind of guy that would laugh out loud at his own jokes whether you got them or not, and I could still hear him now. I got back into what I was doing, thanking him for the moment of levity first.

Not knowing where Nemrul was, I had to make sure I was right before he got there. I wasn’t sure how much time I had, so I told her to sleep with her eyes slightly open. I pulled the drain back and turned the water back on so she wouldn’t get cold.

I leaned in close to make sure she was under. I could smell him on her and didn’t understand that. How close had he come to her already and not killed her? Did he have a plan that I couldn’t yet know? I could not say of course, but I had to wonder if she had seen the man and knew what danger she was in.

Her beauty struck me again. I thought again about taking her out of there and running. The feeling of panic was strong right then, but I fought it off. I kissed her gently on her forehead then and left her there.

There was no safe place to hide. No way to run fast enough to get away. If he had followed me to this world from the other, how could I hope to ever escape him?

I looked at her for a minute, fighting the image from the last time it looked like this. I knew I was trying to fool myself and hoping but still not believing that she was not bait it just seemed to be a part of the plan, set out as my ying and yang. It was the path of the most AND least resistance.

I started remembering good things, taking them out of my memories and placing them before me as weapons. As if they were my armor because I wasn’t sure what was next and I needed to be strong. I thought about my brother again, for some reason that always calmed me down, even when he would laugh at me or call me stupid for something I knew was wrong and did anyway.

I remembered the time when he thought I was asleep and talking to my cousin Danny about girls.

I learned a lot between that night and the times we surfed and just talked about things around a huge bonfire. Danny always acted tough, but we knew he had a good heart and just pretended that he was. He tried to teach me a lot of things about life, but we were both learning on the fly.

The games we saw together, my brother was a huge Dodgers fan. We went to see both Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax when they pitched against the San Francisco Giants.

I liked Sandy Koufax better though, he was a Drysdale fan. But I could see the competitive nature of Mr. Koufax and I admired that, his will to win carried him thru many a game and I am sure helped get him those shutouts. Danny agreed with me and broke the tie.

I thought about the times we went to The Rose Bowl and the games we saw there, Michigan against USC was always a good game, but the games against Woody Hayes and Ohio State were better. We always talked about the Rose Bowl being our right and that we owned those teams, no matter how good they were when they came to us.

I felt a twinge of sadness because of that; I just then remembered watching Woody Hayes lose it against Clemson and punching the kid that had just intercepted the ball from Ohio State, what a sad way to close out his brilliant career. Danny and I argued about that for a while because he thought it was a good thing, that it made a statement and I thought he had just lost it.

Other than that, they were good things to carry. I remembered being held while being sick by someone I loved very dearly, how loved I felt at that moment...the highlights of my life. Then I stepped thru her eyes and began to look for the garden again.

This time I had to walk. I was not there as a guest as before, and I could already feel unwanted, as if it was an affront to even think of what I was doing and coming there on my own. I felt as though all of anything that lived in there was aware suddenly that I was there and was at that moment moving towards me with the intent of stopping me now or killing me in the process of stopping me right now.

I heard and felt all sorts of alarms going off but it was too late to stop and I was pretty sure I could smell him.

It was very warm in there, and it was so dark that it took several moments before I could see anything at all. I looked up to where the sky was, and it was there, but the moons were gone, and there were no stars in the sky tonight.

It was thinking how funny it was when I saw the "dancers on the moon" because they gave me assurance, confidence that helped me and I felt like everything was right in the world, they gave me some sense of comfort. Knowing that they were gone now made me feel so alone and vulnerable.

I checked my guns and they were real. I had plenty of spare bullets and the rifle in my hand; I checked the barrel again and looked down the site, imagining my target in there.

I lit a match, thinking that might help me see where to go, but again, the sense of ”go away" got stronger and blow out the match, yet I felt no wind that blew towards me, not a gust or a breeze either, it was just this world conspiring against me.

So I had to follow my nose, without the wind and finding nothing else that might guide me, or maybe give me a sense of someone nearby or a direction to go in. I tried to remember when I had first been here which direction it was but there was nothing on the horizon to get a bearing on, nothing in this world was going to help me now, I knew that for sure. Maybe because she was under a trance back there she couldn’t help me now, I thought that was better than thinking she had betrayed me on purpose or was trying to hurt me now, to prevent me from carrying out my plan.

There were no birds, no night noises of any kind. I would have killed for a noisy cricket or a croaking frog, right now or a coyote. Even one of those "Who are you cat's" from "Alice in Wonderland,” anything to break the silence.

I thought about my favorite songs and the Doors and Jimi Hendrix fought for my attention. I chose "random" in my memory and heard Jim Morrison yelling that I could NOT petition the Lord...with prayer" and I started walking.

I heard "can you give me sanctuary...I can't make it...anymore...the wolf is at the door..." words sung as only Jim Morrison could.

I had to take comfort where I could, yet I felt as if Nemrul was sitting in that chair now, passing overhead.

"It would not be long" it hissed..."the wolf is at your door…”

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OK, now he has a plan and knows what he has to do, this is the begining of part two and I hope it's coming together nicely in your mind.
A Word from the Writer
In case any of you are wondering, Publish America (dot com) published this book, including a lot of fringe benefits for free. If you have a manuscript with a minimum of 8000 words, or it's incomplete but you want them to evaluate it, send them an e mail! (poems, you need a minimum of 50) Best of luck!
Published Date
11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Publish America