Love? Give it six months
Warning: this story will contain mentions of unhealthy relationships and adult themes. The main character also has some character traits that may differs from your own, please do keep that in mind.
Review and comments will be appreciated (Customisation)
There once was a dashing bachelor
(That looked like )(uses the OH male feces)
James Bond (black slick backed)
Don Diego Vega (dark brown wavy hair slicked back long neck)
Steve Rogers (Short blonde side swept hair)
Agent J (Short kinky curls)
Is this him?
No (go back to customisation)
What is his name?
There he meets
A beautiful woman
A handsome man
A beautiful woman
Face 1 (Asian; has pale skin, dark almond eyes, straight black mid-back hair with a mid-part)
Face 2 (Hispanic: has tan skin, deep brown eye and over shoulder-length volumes wavy hair with side bangs.)
Face 3 (Afro-American: dark skin, expressive brown eyes with long blackish brown chest-length kinky curly hair.)
Face 4 (Caucassian: pinkish skin with freckles, clear blue round eyes, collarbone length layered dirty blonde hair)
A handsome man
Face 1 (Asian: pale skin, dark almond eyes, straight black hair put up in a pompadour style)
Face 2 (Hispanic: tan skin, with slicked back wavy hair that always looks like it is coming undone.)
Face 3 (Afro-American: dark skin, expressive brown eyes, with a crewcut with tight natural curls.)
Face 4 (Caucasian: pinkish skin with freckles, clear blue eyes, dirty blonde hair in a Taper haircut.)
As the two peoples eyes lock across the room. The sensation of a pull drives them to get closer to one another.
As the dashing bachelor offered his hand his partner gladly accepted it. Leading into a dance that lasted the rest of the night.
The whole world faded away to the sound of the Jazz band, their breathing and their dancing.
As their lips moved to meet...
???: “Oh come now Joanna, you know that is no way that would ever happen.”
Joanna: “Oh for craps sake, George I was getting to the best part.”
George: “Forgive me for finding it uncomfortable that you have decide how my love life is going to go.”
Lance: “He does have a point there sis.”
Joanna: “Way to stand up for your sister Lance.”
Lance “Look I’m all for love conquers and all that jazz but it is kind of difficult to make a love life for someone else.”
George: “Thank you.”
Lance: “I mean he isn’t a completely lost cause. I’m sure some desperate soul will take him.”
Lance: “I mean he’s got dads looks, and he managed to get with mom when they were young.”
Lance: “That might make up for his zero tact.”
George: “Your faith in me is awe inspiring.”
Lance: “Oh cheer up. With your upcoming trip to Vegas, maybe you’ll have luck in love and not just on the poker table.”
Joanna: “Maybe you’ll meet someone special!”
You snort, finding the idea silly.
George: “I wouldn’t bet on it.”
Chapter 1: One night in Vegas
In an underground speakeasy decked out in old decor from the 20th centuries first half. You sit there nursing your drink. After a long day at the office you love nothing more than when you can enjoy your secret fancy. Dressed up in an old-fashioned pinstripe suit and a fedora. You feel like a king, this little piece of haven in Chicago that seemed to be frozen in time.
You feel your friend beside you stir, he himself having to relax from work as well as dreading an upcoming event.
After his fifth sight you opt to actually talk about it.
You take a swing of your drink and decide to talk about the elephant in the room.
Or more accurately you decide to talk about the issue in pre 1940’s slang
George: “Your bear cat of a sister still giving you a hard time?”
George: “Look Pally, I known you since we were scrubs and had squat. What's eating you?”
Jeremy: “That dame will chisel me out of every dime I own.”
George: “Stephie acting like a Big cheese cause she is getting hitched?”
Jeremy: “She wants everything spiffy and I’m quite sure her ankle biters will be paying the bills. My folks are on my case regarding my dame.”
You think for a moment. Jeremy and Katie had been together for four years. They got one another, they lived together.
George: “Stephie’s lucky her guy thinks she’s the Cat's meow.”
You said reflecting on everything you ever heard regarding Darren, he was a good guy. Definitely not the smartest but he loved Stephanie like she was the only woman alive. You just wondered why anyone would want to spend time with that woman.
Jeremy: “Alright, real talk.”
Jeremy said as he dropped ‘the act’, we were no longer hot shots in the prohibition era. We were now just George Bishop and Jeremy Jackson a financial advisor and a computer wizard.
George: “In all do honesty I do not see why you need to go there? Aren’t bachelorette parties strictly female?”
Jeremy: “They used to be, but I am quite sure I am not going with them to be pampered like the bridesmaids.”
George: “Then your function is?”
Jeremy: “If I were to guess, fall guy and pack mule.”
Jeremy: “I think she is also doing it to brag, that ‘she did it first.’ To rub it in Katie’s face.”
George: “You never really care what your sister does. Why now?”
Jeremy: “Because they are pressuring me and Katie. Not just my family but next to everyone we know. ‘When is the wedding? What is the venue? How many guests? Are you going to have it this year?’ Look I love my girl, but none of us is in rush to walk down the aisle.”
Yeah, you know, you were the first one Jeremy told about his plan to propose. You were happy for him but at the end of the day it was up to Katie and Jeremy. Not you or their families. However the rest of the world seemed to think differently.
Mom: “Oh sweetheart, happy valentine’s day! Are you spending it with someone special?”
George: “Mom, you know I am not looking for someone.”
Mom: “Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find that certain someone sooner or later.”
Yeah, it isn’t enough your sister is married and your brother is utterly twitterpated with his boyfriend. You need to ensure your oldest is also with someone.
Boss: “Mr. Bishop, I must say. I am impressed with your work ethics, but we have decided to go with Mr. Robinson as the face of the company.”
Never minding the fact that you worked twice as hard as said college.
George: “I understand. May I ask what made you choose him?”
Boss: “We did research and found that your college would be favourable, due to circumstance.”
Translation: we wanted a man that was married and not the workaholic bachelor.
Stranger 1: “You see that guy over there?”
Stranger 2: “You mean the one with the RBF?”
Stranger 1: “Yeah, probably one of those loners, will never find anyone.”
Stranger 2: “I mean who goes to a restaurant like this alone?”
Honestly? You can’t have a meal alone?
George: “Yeah, I know that feeling.”
Both of you take a sigh.
Jeremy: “But in all honesty. Thank you for coming along, I really appreciate it. Would probably loose my mind if I went alone.”
George: “Of course.”
- It would be a shame to lose my partner in crime.
- My boss would be pissed if I didn’t.
- Who would turn down free drinks?
Jeremy: “Yeah sounds about right.” *Choice 1*
George: “Remember how we got back at Marcus Thatcher?” *Choice 1*
Jeremy: “Oh, I remember. Too bad he didn’t check the file we sent, it might have saved him some embarrassment.” *Choice 1*
George: “Big tough football star being fooled by ‘two scrawny’ freshmen.” *Choice 1*
Jeremy: “And we were hailed as heroes for a month.” *Choice 1*
Jeremy: “Wait, don’t tell me HR department has been on your case.” *Choice 2*
Geroge: “Yep, too much overtime.” *Choice 2*
Geroge: “Never mind I make sure that everything is quality controlled.” *Choice 2*
Jeremy: “Geesh. Well glad to know I could be of service.” *Choice 2*
Jeremy: “Ah there it is, I knew you had a hidden agenda. *Choice 3*
George: “Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy, when have I ever hid something from you?” *Choice 3*
Jeremy: “Alright fair, you are honest to the point of insult.” *Choice 3*
Geroge: “You asked for my opinion, besides those shoes where ugly as sin.” *Choice 3*
Both of you laugh, you had been in each other’s life since kindergarten. You where the odd ducks, most kids and adults always considered you to be cold or judging. Even if neither of you had that intention.
Jeremy raises his glass.
Jeremy: “To intellectual companions.”
George: “To intellectual friends.”
You said as you raised your own drink in a toast.
The weekend finally arrived for the trip. You arrived at O’Hare airport with a good three hours to spare. You crack open the book you brought with you.
It was a supernatural detective story you received as a gift on last birthday a few months back. While you applaud your sister for trying, it was still jarring to follow all the supernatural deus-ex-machinas that discarded real detective work.
So that is how a 31 year old was reading a supernatural book in broad daylight.
George: ‘ with gun drawn, Duskraven made her way down the basement, the surroundings smelled of blood and muck.’
Geroge: ‘Romano’s empire was now in full display in front of her. Fae, lined the walls, eyes hollow and only the movement of their chest indicating they were still alive.’
George: ‘Duskraven took out her polaroid camera, it was a risky but if this would ever have a chance to justice. Her leads and information would need to be solid if she wanted to take down the vampire cartel. She just hoped the light for the camera would be noticed.’
George: ‘With a blinding light the entire basement lit up temporarily blinding her, when she regained her sight again a new horror met her eyes. Multiple pairs of hungry red eyes.’
You tear your eyes away from the book in your hand.
There is Jeremy and Katie, hand in hand. Seeing them together was always a happy occasion.
Katie and Jeremy met at your favourite speakeasy a few years back. You didn’t blame your friend for becoming interested in the ICU nurse. Curly red hair and big blue eyes. Even if the courtship had started out rocky due to both of them being so shy. They overcame that hurdle and found something they wanted.
Sometimes however you wished you didn’t feel like you were interrupting them.
George: “Good morning, is Stephanie and her friends also here?”
Katie: “No they had a sleep over at Daria’s house. So they will be carpooling.”
You look at your clock and it was about two hours before the plane would take off, your bags where checked in and you were ready to leave and get to the section where the gates would be. But there was still no sign of Stephanie.
As you though you heard a rumbling sound.
Both you and Katie looked at Jeremy as a sheepish grim grew on his face.
Katie: “Told you, a ham sandwich wouldn’t hold.”
Jeremy: “It will hold till lunch, which is a few hours away.”
George: “You sure that is a good idea?”
Jeremy: “Tell you what, I’ll go if you come with me and Katie.”
Katie: “So what do you say?”
· Sure, I could have a bite. (💎12)
· Perhaps we shouldn’t Diamond Choice: George: “Alright, let us have something to eat.” Jeremy: “Good! Airplane food leaves much to be desired.” Katie: “You always think with your stomach.” Jeremy: “Yet you love me.” Katie: “Yes, odd isn’t it?” You make your way inside and stay in line. You look at the menu and order
· Breakfast burrito
· Bacon and scrambled eggs
· Fruit and oatmeal You order your food along with a big coffee. You all slide into the booth, Katie had her yogurt in hand both of you looked worryingly at Jeremy’s breakfast. (Tilting tower of pancakes) (Holy crap!) You swore for a moment both you and Katie was reading each other’s mind. ‘He is going to puke.’ George: “Hey Jeremy, think you can get some napkins?” Jeremy: “Sure.” As he left you plied a few pancakes away, making sure that you saved the top one so he wouldn’t notice. Katie making sure the tower didn’t fall. She gave a thumbs up, thanking you. George: “So Katie, how have you been?” Katie: “There is always a lot of things to do at the ICU, sometime I wonder where humanity is headed.” George: “Really, that bad?” Katie: “How would you explain having a locomotive lodge up your rectum?” George: “How did that happened?” Katie: “They claim they fell on it, if I had a dollar every time this happened I wouldn’t have any student debts.” You shake your head, you have been thinking a bit about what Jeremy said at the Speakeasy. You had also noticed that something was up with Katie, she was on edge. George: “Katie…” 1. “Did you want to go on this trip?” 2. “Has Mr and Mrs Jackson been pressuring you?” 3. “Do you want to get married?” Katie: “In all honesty no, but Stephanie has made me a bridesmaid. I need to partake in these things. Even if I wish I didn’t.” *Choice 1\
* George: “Why?” *Choice 1\
* Katie: “I wish I could care as little about protocol as you do, but she is Jeremy’s sister, if I say no it might affect my relationship with Jeremy and his family.” *Choice 1\
* Katie: “Yes, I mean no, I mean… it’s complicated.” *Choice 2\
* George: “How come?” *Choice 2\
* Katie: “I’m 30 years old George, time is ticking. They want grandchildren to spoil.” *Choice 2\
* George: “And you have to be married to do that?” *Choice 2\
* Katie: “Of course I love Jeremy.” *Choice 3\
* George: “That wasn’t the question, do you want to get married?” *Choice 3\
* Katie: “It is just so big, all those expectations. I… it scares the crap out of me.” *Choice 3\
* George: “Listen, I will tell you something.” You said using your stern voice. George: “Jeremy loves you, he chose you. You chose him. That is the truth at the end of the day.” Katie looked at you, a shy smile graced her lips. She mouthed a thank you. Jeremy made his way back to you with a great pile of napkins. You all begin to take part of the meal. During the entire meal Katie and Jeremy’s shoulders touched and they looked as content as they could be. (‘Loving it’ you had breakfast at McDermott)
None diamond choice:
George: “Let us just sit down and relax, we should be in Las Vegas at 1 am. Knowing Stephanie we will probably eat something there before heading to the hotel.”
Katie: “Maybe, I’ll get some water at least.”
Jeremy: “Good idea.”
(‘Not hungry’ you didn’t have a McDermott breakfast)
As all of you wait for the supposed ‘bride’ you hear commotion.
Sure enough you see a brunette with a close to permanent scowl on her face. Followed but two very flustered women.
“There you are! WHERE have you been?!”
Her tone is as pleasant as you remember, nails on a chalkboard.
Jeremy: “We have been here waiting for you.”
Stephanie: “You aren’t even going to help me with my bags. What type of brother are you?”
Jeremy: “Well we are here, we have about half an hour before the plane leaves. So let’s get to the gate.”
Stephanie just huffed. Storming away.
George: “Wow she is in a good mood.”
You state sarcastically.
Jeremy: “Yeah she gets like that some time.”
Jeremy: “Just try not to set her of, she can be a handful.”
Katie: “I mean how bad could it possibly be?”
You were never the very superstitious type, but you were quite sure that Katie just opened Pandora’s Box.
From the time the plane touched ground in Nevada everything that could set of Stephanie did.
Stephanie: “URRGH!!! where is that shuttle! He is LATE!!”
Jeremy: “They told us like five minutes ago there is traffic jam.”
Stephanie: “Then he should have planned it earlier!”
Stephanie: “I will not wait an hour! WE have a schedule to follow!”
George:’ This coming from the woman that almost missed the plane to her own bachelorette party.’
Daria: “They say it is only another 15 minutes.”
Stephanie: “I DON’T CAREEEEE!”
Stephanie: “What do you mean that our suits where not booked?”
Receptionist: “You never sent in the deposit for your stay.”
Stephanie: “THAT WAS GEMMA’S JOB!”
Gemma: “I told you, the suits needed to be paid for by the same person that booked them.”
Stephanie: “You are a bridesmaid, you are supposed to make things work!”
Stephanie: “THIS ISN’T WHAT I ORDERED!”
Waitress: “Yes it is, you wanted a calamari.”
The poor waitress looked exhausted and probably wanted to be anywhere but here, not that one could blame her.
Stephanie: “NO IT ISN’T! I wanted the pasta with bacon and cheese.”
Katie: “A cabonara?”
Jeremy: “Stephie we are at a seafood restaurant.”
George: ‘IS she ever
All of us where back at the hotel, Stephanie insisting that they ‘needed’ a new set of clothes for the casino and club they were planning on hitting. Jeremy looked ready to just give up.
George: “You know, you could simply say no to her.”
Jeremy threw an exhausted glair at me.
Jeremy: “If it was so simple neither me, you nor Katie would be here right now.”
George: “And you wouldn’t be here doing this Sisyphean task, which obviously brings you missery.”
Jeremy: “Yeah well, I still want my parents in my life, if I didn’t do this, they would never let me live it down.”
What to wear to the casino?
· Tuxedo 007 (💎 15)
· Basic black Diamond option: Jeremy: “You look like James Bond.” George: “I’ll have a martini, shaken not stirred.” You said and an amused smile spread across Jeremy’s face.
None diamond choice
“I Think I’ll stick with this.”
“Fair enough, I am too exhausted to care anyway.”
Jeremy said with a tired smile. You both left the room, making our way to one of the pulsing centres of the strip.
There in the golden casinos you thought finally your luck would finally turn for the better. That the glamorous atmosphere would rub off on the soon-to-be bride. Causing her to stop doing her impression of a screeching barn owl and let ALL of them enjoy Sin City.
Well it seemed to have worked, for now.
Both you and Jeremy where at the black jack tables, enjoying yourself. While the ladies were back at the slots machines.
Jeremy folded a while ago, it is just you and one more. You looked down at your cards a jack and an ace. You opponent opposite you had this confident smirk on his face. But you saw how the sweat was running down his face. He was bluffing.
- Act as if you have a bad hand
- Act arrogant and self-assured
- Do not react at all and watch the man squirm
You decide to let your brows furrow in what would look like frustration. The man opposite you lets the edge of his mouth turn in a smirk. His confidence boosting with every minute. *Choice 1*
You decide to put on the theatrics, giving a smile like the cat that ate the canary you look at your opponent. That is growing more and more agitated by the minute. *Choice 2*
You keep your face natural, a lot of people often comment that you look angry whenever they see you. You could only assume it was true because your opponent was practically squirming in his seat. *Choice 3*
When he reviles his hand, you pause for a moment before reviling yours.
George: “I’ll be taking these.”
You said as you dragged them back chips and split them evenly between you and Jeremy. You had started with the same amount of tokens. Even if you did work with money daily, this was one of those occasions you allowed yourself to be a bit more relaxed regarding that subject.
Jeremy: “Nice one.”
George: “All in a day’s work.”
Jeremy: “So what next?”
Before you could answer you hear commotion from the opposite side of the casino. The screeching voice meant that Stephanie was somewhere in the middle of it. Both of you sigh, knowing that your happy hour was over.
Sure enough there at the era leading into one of the shows where Stephanie and her entourage, all of them except Stephanie wearing baby pink dresses and Stephanie herself wearing a sash reading ‘all hail the bride’ along with a tacky tiara probably worth a five dollar bill at most.
She was screaming at a bouncer, while all the others tried in vain to calm the soon-to-be bride.
Stephanie: “You are an idiot! What service is this!?”
When we had arrived there was already an audience forming. Yeah this was common whenever Stephanie was involved. ‘Drama Queen’ had been your nickname for her during high school for a reason.
Jeremy: “What happened?”
Bouncer: “Your friend here slapped one of your dancers, something about them stealing from them.”
Stephanie: “I am the BRIDE! I am not supposed to have to pay for anything during my bachelorette party.”
Jeremy: “Stephanie, what about we get some fresh air, okay?”
Jeremy said as he tried to deescalate the situation. He gently grabbed her arm, but Stephanie was having none of it.
It felt like it all happened in slow motion, Stephanie turned around and a closed fist and rage connected it with Jeremy’s face. Your friend flew back and hit his head on the floor pretty hard. Stephanie didn’t even care to check what state her brother was in. Katie flew to her fiancés side and the sight of your friend’s bleeding face was enough to make you see red.
George: “Alright enough.”
- Scold her
- Embarrass her
- Give her the evil eye
George: “Stephanie, you are way out of line.” *Choice 1*
Stephanie: “No I am not!” *Choice 1*
George: “You have taken no responsibility during this trip, you have been rude to every member of the party, you have caused a scene at every place we have been to. Do I need to keep going?” *Choice 1*
Your voice is like ice, you swear the temperature just dropped a few degrees. As you pointed out everything she has done during the less than 24 hours you been together. *Choice 1*
Stephanie looks angrily at her bridesmaids as is she is waiting for them to defend her. *Choice 1*
They do not, they know you are just stating the truth. *Choice 1*
George: “Your own brother did not want to be on this trip, he begged me to come along. Doesn’t that tell you just how vile you have been acting?” *Choice 1*
Stephanie: “You listen here…”*Choice 1*
George: “No you listen for once in your life!” *Choice 1*
You rarely let your emotions out but Stephanie was a special case. *Choice 1*
George: “If this is how you treat people, do not be surprised when Darren leaves you at the altar. He deserve better than this.” *Choice 1*
With that as a closing line you left, Jeremy might need to get to the hospital. He was worth more than Stephanie would ever be in your eyes. *Choice 1*
As you leave you are quite sure you hear someone applauding. *Choice 1*
With determined steps you made your way to one of the waitresses. *Choice 2*
George: “Excuse me.” *Choice 2*
You hand her a 50 dollar bill as you grab a big jug glass filled with beer and briskly walk back to Stephanie that is still screaming profanities. Because of her back being turned to you she didn’t see you. You saw how people began to take out their cameras and phones. No one made a move to stop you. *Choice 2*
With one quick movement you had poured it over her and a shriek of surprise entered your ears. *Choice 2*
Stephanie: “What the fuck is wrong with you!?” *Choice 2*
George: “Are you done with your little temper tantrum?” *Choice 2*
Stephanie: “What!? How dare you!” *Choice 2*
George: “You have been acting like a spoiled five year old since the moment we landed. I am surprised no one has done anything until now.” *Choice 2*
Stephanie: “You are so not coming to my wedding!” *Choice 2*
George: “It isn’t a loss, I was never here for you. Now excuse me I have more important things to deal with.” *Choice 2*
You left Stephanie to deal with the people that had gathered for the ‘show’ and she began to scream at them and calling them all sorts of names. But no one was intimidated, they found it hilarious. *Choice 2*
You grab hold of Stephanie, until she has no choice but to look at you. She is screeching, calling you every slur and bad name in the book. Your hands are firm on her upper arm, you just hold no squeezing, no pushing. You keep your eyes locked on her, you must have stood there quite a while until finally her defiant stare became weaker and weaker. *Choice 3*
You kept hold of her until she burst out into tears. At that point you let her go. Knowing you had knocked her down a peg. *Choice 3*
But Stephanie wasn’t your main concern, Jeremy was. You moved to stay with Katie and Jeremy, the crowd parted as the red sea as you walked by. All in stunned silence. *Choice 3*
George: “Are you sure you’ll be alright?”
Jeremy grimaced at the questing, blood still trickling down his face from where he had been punched. Luckily the nose would heal, the only question was what colour it would be in time for Stephanie’s wedding.
Jeremy: “I’ll be fine, Katie is here too. She knows what she is doing.”
Katie: “Having your fiancé being a nurse does have its perks huh?”
Jeremy: “Yeah one of many.”
The two of them smile at one another, before Jeremy turn back to you.
Jeremy: “Think you can manage your own?”
George: “I think I can stay out of trouble for one night.”
Jeremy: “Maybe, see you tomorrow George.”
Katie: “Have a nice night.”
With that the two of them made their way up to the hotel rooms.
You decided to check out the hotel bar. Despite being 10 o’clock it was surprisingly empty. Some people where there, some having already had a few to many.
But what caught your eye was a stranger sitting at the end of the bar.
There sitting in a knee-length ocean blue dress was a woman, leaning over resting her elbows at the counter. She had a faraway look in her face as she absentmindedly stirred her drink. *♀*
There sitting a young man, nursing his drink. His blue vest and slacks combo suited him well with the crisp white shirt. His attention seeming being elsewhere. *♂*
You sit down by the bar and is about to call on the bartender when I noticed a man, clearly intoxicated made a move on the man/woman at the end of the bar.
Drunk Idiot: “Hello there, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”
The person in question just rolled hehis eyes. Clearly not in the mood to be the object of drunk admiration.
Drunk Idiot: “How about you and me go up to my hotel room and get to know each other a bit more.”
Haven seen the man/woman in question do every none-verbal que but slapping the idiot you decide enough was enough. He had disturbed you and the rest of the bar enough.
With the smoothest and coolest tone of voice you could muster you cleared your throat to get the drunk man’s attention. It wasn’t appreciated to say the least.
Drunk idiot: “What the hell do you want prick.”
The smell of alcohol radiating off him, one would think he had bathed in vodka. It was surprising no one had tossed him out from being a nuisance earlier.
George: “I do believe that you are bothering him/her. Please stop.”
George: “Look we are old friends, its noneofya business so bug off.”
George: “Oh really, then what is your friends name?”
Drunk Idiot: ”What?”
George: “What. Is. your. friend’s. name? If you are old friends you should surely know it.”
Drunk Idiot: “It’s ummm… Terry.”
???: “That is not even close.”
With both of you staring straight into him, mentally cornering him.
Drunk idiot: ”Screw this.”
The man declared in frustration and with that the idiot stormed off leaving both of you alone.
After making sure the guy was out of sight you turned back to the stranger.
He/She gave you a grateful smile.
???: “Thanks’ I really appreciate that?”
George: “It was nothing.”
You said making yourself ready to go back to your seat.
The stranger called after you, out of sheer politeness you turned back around.
He/she Seemed a bit nervous, what now?
???: “Can I at least buy you a drink?”
You thought for a moment. You were on your own, Jeremy was probably nursing the bruise with some painkillers and you did not want to risk running into Stephanie or any of the bridesmaids. It also felt wrong to not take the opportunity to experience Vegas however.
So you accepted.
???: “Well What’s your poison?”
He/she asked in a joyous tone.
- Old Fashioned
- Red Wine
With a quick wave they called the bartender over.
???: “So what brings you to Vegas?”
George: “Bachelorette party.”
???: “Did it have anything to do with that brunette that slapped one of the dancers and had security physically lift her out?”
???: “No one got seriously hurt?”
George: “Thankfully no.”
With that the bartender served the drink and the stranger slipped a 50 dollar bill.
You lift the glass in a gesture for a thank you. And let the beverage slip down your throat. It was nice, it was a good year and the taste was strong but not overpowering.
You noticed that his/her eyes were on you, almost as if they were trying to decipher your character.
George: “What are you doing?”
???: “Trying to get a read on you, some say what you order is often an indication of who you are.”
George: “Really? Then what can you say about me?”
You asked, deciding to humour them.
???: “I can say that that you are a man that know what he wants and how you want them.” *Martini*
???: “You are an old soul, you probably know your liquor well. My guess you have a great library at home.” *Old fashioned*
???: “You are quite classy, and you can find a way to get drunk before noon.” *Red wine*
With that you give an amused chuckle.
George: “Well there is some truth to that statement.”
You take a look at the drink they self are nursing.
(Dark n Stormy)
George: “If I were to do the same to you, I guess you have a sweet tooth and might have wanted to be a pirate at some point.”
At that comment the stranger began to laugh. It was the infectious kind of laugh that made someone warm form the bottom of their stomach.
???: “Alright you got me there.”
He/she then stuck out their hand.
(My name is..)
(Default name: Skyler)
George: “‘Skyler’ it is a pleasure to meet you.”
You said as you shook it.
You take in Skyler’s look. You had to admit that they were an attractive specimen of a man/woman.
George: “The name is George Bishop.”
Skyler: “George Bishop, how professional sounding.”
He/ she said as if they were tasting your name in their mouth.
George: “Well I do hope so, would be difficult to be an advisor if people believed I was a joker.”
Skyler: “Ah, so you are one of those people that look at you and stamp ‘rejected’ on every paper?”
George: “I believe that I am fair in my judgement.”
George: “How about yourself?”
At that their eyes fell.
Skyler: “Right now, I’m a 30 year old trying to figure out my next move.”
George: “How come?”
Skyler: “Lost my job due to relationship issues between my manager and her boyfriend. Apparently, me being friendly was mistaken for flirting.”
Skyler: “What, they want a grumpy Greeter at the door?”
George: “That is unprofessional.”
Skyler: “Yeah, well relationships are messy.”
Skyler: “I must say the way you handled that woman, it was surprising.”
Skyler said in a genuinely impressed voice.
George: “You were watching?”
Skyler: “Kind of hard not to, I’m surprised half the hotel didn’t hear her.”
George: “Someone had to show her she isn’t the Queen of Sheba.”
Skyler: “What are your thought on marriage?”
You shoot up a bit, a bit startled by the blunt question.
George: “My thoughts?”
Skyler: “You seem like a guy that know what he thinks. I want to pick that brain a bit.”
It had been a while since someone had so blatantly flirted with you. To be fair you were a bit surprised. Dating had often been a minefield for you.
- It’s an institution
- It’s a partnership
- It’s indescribable
George: “Historically it was a way to ensure land, money and heirlooms where added into a new household.” *Choice 1*
George: “It was also a safety for children back in the day, since basterds often faced quite a few challenges from being born out of wedlock.” *Choice 1*
George: “It is a symbol of trust, that you do have someone that you can count on.” *Choice 2*
George: “But at the end of the day, if you are unfair to that partner hey might not stay.” *Choice 2*
George: “To describe marriage is like trying to describe oceans and water. Even with similarities we can see, gathering it all in an explanation would probably not give a fair judgement.” *Choice 3*
Skyler: “To me it’s a promise. ‘To have and to hold’ it is silly in this day and age were people divorce left and right for trivial things.”
Skylers eyes became dark, falling into deep thoughts. You had never been the poetic kind, but there was a sweet sentiment in Skyler’s view on things. Your parents where still married over 30 years now. Your sister was due some time in December, your brother was off celebrating a two year dating anniversary and your paternal grandmother still loved her deceased husband dearly.
To you it just never happened, perhaps it wasn’t for you.
George: “That we can agree on, people are so afraid they will settle. At the first sign of trouble they leave.”
Skyler: “So that woman form before… how long do you think her marriage will last?”
George: “If she acts like she did tonight, I wonder if her husband will even stay for the ceremony.”
You looked at your new companion and in an unusual turn of events you called the bartender over.
George: “Can I buy you a drink?”
With that Skyler smiled, deciding to keep you company.
Sometime later you awake to the sound of your alarm clock.
You feel a splitting headache, you drag you hand over your face as you do you feel a cold metal band around your finger. Pulling back as your eyes focus you see that it is a plain sliver coloured band.
· Oh no…
Feeling more sober than ever before you realised just what a mess you got yourself into.
George: ‘I just got married in Vegas.’
Well, you’re screwed.
Hello mama, it’s June Bug. submitted by
I got no real idea how this might come to you, but by post or freight or law man’s hand, you should know it’s me this time. I read in the paper that folks been writin’ you on occasion saying they’re me and apologizing for all the mischief I got up to. I ain’t written to you but once since I left home and that’s right now. That reminds me of the sign up at Busser’s, one that hanged over the stationary? “If you’re going to write, write right!” Were they selling Bics, or what? I can’t remember.
Busser’s is where this all started but of course you know that. In fact, I presume you might know a whole lot more of this than when I left back in spring. Delilah is like to have told you how I met Todd — Mr. Lightnin’ T Daniels of national infamy — when he drove that fine Cadillac up to Busser’s for some ice cream. Maybe you’ve talked to the others, and they’ll have lied if they said I didn’t want to go with him.
I guess that’s all true, but what they didn’t tell you, couldn’t tell you, is that I saw Todd for the first time a week earlier. He was working up at the Targrady pits when we went up there on a field trip so the boys could see how they were going to make their money one day and the girls would know how hard their men were going to be worked. He smiled at Carla Weathers, not me, when we walked past him in a group, even tossed her a lump of furnace coal and told here there was more where that came from. She blushed, but so did I. I wanted a man like that to look at me.
Since I left Arson County, I’ve found that there are a lot of men like Todd, especially in the big cities. But just six long months ago I thought there couldn’t be a second man like him on earth. He was tall, bristling with muscle and sweaty charm, and polished smooth and clean looking despite the grime on his coveralls. He didn’t look like the fat, broken coal miners or their simple, soon-to-be-broken sons. He didn’t look either like the bloated, soft-handed bankers or turned-out souses that came up from the railyard for church some Sundays.
No, he was a man of his own making. He was smoking that first time, cloistered in a little taped-off area and leaning against a broken rail cart. He’d tied his coverall shoulders around his waist and his grimy undershirt clung to his torso like cellophane. Maybe every girl saw him. Maybe it was only me. I committed him to memory the way I had started doing with certain men, certain I’d never see him again. I was wrong, of course.
He came up to Busser’s a week later in a casual sort of hurry. Nonchalant but rushed, sauntering into the place and ordering an ice cream milkshake with a cherry on top. Mr. Pushkin gave him a mean look, but started smiling all the same when he dropped cash on the counter. Real hard currency, big bills like I’d never seen a man his age carrying before. He rested his back on the bar to drink and look around, his legs splayed out before him.
He had thick heels on the black leather boots that left dark scuffs on the floor. His jeans were tight, very tight for a man, and ended in a broad black belt at his hips. He had a white t-shirt on above that, also tight, and black leather jacket. He looked like an absolute criminal, and when he ran his hands through his hair, my God mother. I just didn’t know what to do with myself.
He doesn’t look like that now, as you might guess. By the time you get this letter, I suppose what beauty Todd had known on this earth will have all but fled him. But at that moment he looked like an angel. One of the kind that wasn’t afraid to tell God what he thought then and again, and I wanted him to fall into my arms.
He finished his drink and I followed him outside. The other girls, Delilah, Ethel, Mary, they squealed and urged me to come sit back down. None of them would have ever had the courage to follow him out that door, none of them did. They’ll live long lives, I suppose, telling their children about me as a cautionary tale. But I didn’t care what they had to say then and I certainly don’t now.
We talked by his car. I fixed my blue eyes on him they way I’d been practicing in the mirror, trying my best to look like one of them girls in the cigarette ads. It must have worked, cause he stopped telling me to get lost and got lost himself, running his hand through that hair and leaning against the car. I told him he had bad posture, and asked him real slow that if that car wasn’t there, what else would he like to lean against? You should have seen the look on his face.
Todd likes to try looking like a wolf. He licks his teeth, is the most noticeable thing, and I’d never seen a wolf before he took me to the zoo. That’s where I first made that connection. He could almost bristle that big jacket of his like a pelt, and he made himself stand on his toes, like he might spring at any minute. But he was a puppy on the worst of days. You and me, mama, we know about real wolves, don’t we?
He told me he liked the way I talked to him and I asked what he meant. He told me I shouldn’t play with fire and I told him I didn’t play with fire, but that my daddy let me use matches sometimes. He laughed and asked me what it was I was after and I told him he had a nice car. He asked if I wanted a ride. I said yes.
We drove out by the high school and he tried to put the moves on me. I said no and we drove some more. Up north into Carbones County, up past Gun Cotton and to the highway, then back down through roads I’d never seen before. Past little hamlets and nowhere towns full of staring black or white faces and the occasional house set into hillside where nobody could possibly get to it. He got quiet as we drove.
I asked him if he was mad I turned him down and he laughed and said that wasn’t it. He told me he wasn’t from West Virginia and had to be leaving soon. Real soon. I asked him how soon and he said tomorrow. Then he told me I might not want to be around Busser’s around noon and I asked why, though it’s obvious to anybody now what he meant by that. Then he dropped me off.
You were awful mad at me when I got home. Slapped me on the face as I recall, and hard too. I cried for you the way you like and ran in to daddy. He shushed me and patted me on the head. How is he now? Are you done with him? Is it time to move on again or are your wings too old to catch the wind? I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but I have my suspicions and they help me sleep nights.
I went to sleep and you woke me up in the middle of the night. I remember what you told me, though I won’t commit that hatefulness to paper. And you squeezed me where it hurts, twisted and pinched the way you do and told me not to ruin things the way I always did. You reminded me of what daddy had to lose for us to live there, what my life meant to the people around me.
And the second you left that room I packed what I thought I’d need in my backpack. I hid my school things under the bed, where I’m sure you eventually found them. I ate breakfast full knowing I was about to leave Blunt, West Virginia for the last time. To leave you for good. We had eggs. I told you they were delicious.
You rode me to school that day. I thought you’d figured me out, having done that same shuffle and ride a dozen or more times just in my lifetime. But you didn’t suspect a thing, not from your dear little June Bug. You sat there in the Packard, gripping the steering wheel with your prim white driving gloves, hair up underneath one of those silk headwraps you started wearing in Cincinnati.
You could have told me you loved me, any number of nice motherly things I see women say to their children in the movies Todd eventually took me to. But you just gave me your typical sermon, the one I always got after one of your late night visits. And you told me I was old now, old enough to be a threat if I didn’t watch myself. You reminded me I could be replaced. You warned me I better behave myself.
I watched you drive off down the dirt road that led to that dismal one-room learning shack they called a school and that was the last I ever saw of you. In person at least. I saw you in the news a few weeks later, crying on the front page of the Charleston Independent-Star and asking me to come home. Then a couple months after that on the New York Times, crying and telling me you better never see me again. That headline read, “Mother mourns recalcitrant daughter.” It made me smile.
I didn’t even go inside the school. Some of the other girls would eventually tell the police they saw me walking “with determination” toward some other destination. I actually stopped and talked with Debby Marks, and asked her to cover for me until the afternoon, just in case. I’ve never seen that detail in any newspapers so I guess she kept that little tidbit to herself. Smart girl.
I sat alone in Busser’s until noon, and he showed like clockwork. The shiny red Cadillac pulled up at the far end of the corner lot and he sat there alone, his eyes blocked by square black sunglasses. The armored truck pulled up a second later and I figured out the score right then and there.
The truck had the big Walther Hi-Sec Transportation Inc. logo down the side. Any kid in the valley could tell you that was the payroll wagon, here to bring cash down to the pit bank for payday. You take into account all the money they needed to pay the workers and make purchases, and there was maybe $20,000 in there. At least that’s what Todd thought.
A paunchy old man came in wearing a Walther Security uniform and Todd came in behind him. Now, things have been changed up a bit in the papers. Those newspapermen like to make a lot of interesting additions to the stories about us, particularly this one, painting Todd as some smooth Lothario who just talked people out of their money. Once we were famous, sure, that actually happened a couple times. But this time he was nervous. Scared even.
He smiled under those beetle-shell glasses and put the gun against the security man’s head. Told him to open up the back of the truck. And you know what that security man did? He said no! Honestly and truthfully, that old man, with his moustache and bent back, told big Lightnin’ T Daniels no and went back to his coffee. Todd might have just turned and walked out if not for me.
I screamed and ran to him, getting the attention of the few old men sitting around taking their coffee. Even Mr. Pushkin dropped his skillet in the kitchen and ran out. I wasn’t letting anybody ruin this for me. I jumped between Todd and the old man, pressing against the big automatic pistol with my chest so my breasts showed full and large to either side of it. He swallowed. I felt his insecurity.
I begged him not to hurt the old man, I’d do anything, just drop the gun and walk away. He recognized me and asked under his breath what I thought I was doing, and I yelled for him to take me instead at the top of his lungs. He grinned and pulled me close to him. I twirled into his arms like a dancer, relishing the warmth of his forearm against my cheek even as he pressed the automatic to my temple.
That display made short work of the Busser’s patrons. They begged Todd not to hurt me and I worked up some tears and hollered about how he was just confused. The old security guard looked at the other patrons like they’d lost their minds. I suppose they had. They almost tore the man’s clothes off trying to get at his keys so the big, bad man in the leather jacket wouldn’t hurt the pretty blonde.
It was like a dream how fast we went from the inside of that diner to driving down I-64 at nearly twice the speed limit, laughing like crazy. He didn’t even want to let me in the car with him at first, but I convinced him the locals were all heavily armed and would shoot him to pieces the second I left him. By the time we reached Charleston he didn’t even care. We counted the money from the heist in a filthy motel on the edge of town. Then we had sex.
It wasn’t wonderful, but I loved it all the same. The ecstasy of my escape from Blunt clouded over the meager pain of his entrance. I loved the smell of him, his sweat covering my chest and stomach. The way his arms crushed my body against his. It ended almost as quickly as it had began, and I let him finish where I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t care. I was free.
I slept in his arms on a pile of ill-gotten money. More cash than I’d seen in my whole life, $10,500. That was the first night of honest sleep I’d had in maybe my whole life, and the first time I hadn’t dreamed of little Trixie since that night by the old woodshed last fall. Little Trixie not-my-sister, as you might say.
Of course I don’t have to remind you of that, you were there. Or do I? I certainly haven’t seen you mention it all those wonderful little stories you’re in. I cut each one I find out of whatever paper and keep them in a small card box Todd bought me in Arizona. It has a turquoise June bug on the lid, which he thought was adorable. He’d bought himself one just like it that holds a bent, blackened spoon, some rubber tubing, and an oversized eye-dropper with a needle tied to the end.
My big, beautiful man had a bad habit. I was surprised how fast we could go through all that money, money you could live off for a year gone in just a few weeks. But he spent it on me too, buying me books and clothes and nice dinners at places where people spent big cash on little plates. He made new friends and lost them every week, even tried to lose me a couple times, but after a while he knew that I was his and, more importantly, that he was mine.
We traveled across the states, pulling that exact same heist we’d thrown together on the spot a Busser’s at every stop. I change my hair color after the papers started reporting on me, going from blonde to red and finally to black. I tried brown for a second but it reminded Todd of his mother and he wouldn’t touch me until I changed it. He talked about her, his mother, quite often.
I lied about you. I said you were great, real decent. I convinced him on that first sweaty night in Charleston that he’d left those nasty bruises on my nipples. I was just a fragile thing. He was too big and too rough. I also convinced him I wasn’t a virgin, because I couldn’t tell him that you’d broken me when I was twelve, kicking me between the legs because I wouldn’t stop crying. Because Brian not-my-brother and Pauline not-my-sister had kept calling my name as the car slipped beneath the waves at Glass Shard.
I never told him about any of that. About Kevin, or Julienne, or Matthew, or Ronald, or Victor, or Samuel, or Michelle, or Rebekah. The not-my-sisters and not-my-brothers I wasn’t allowed to mourn, and the parade of daddies who were only ever to be called daddy and not Mr. Kelso, or Mr. Valentine, or father, or papa, or dad. When we traveled through Cincinnati, Gary, Decatur, Chicago, and Pierre, I told him I’d never been to any of those places. All the while I glanced out the windows of our stolen cars, looking for that riverbank, that ash pile, that abandoned lot. I never told him how those road trips made me feel like my mother, a sparrow on the wing, looking for a new nest. And I never told him about Trixie.
Our heists worked the way we’d been doing them until we reached a little bank on the outskirts of Fresno. I’d always gone inside first, scouting the place out on the pretense of opening a checking account. Then I’d be the hostage when Todd stormed in and demanded the money. But this time someone was waiting for us.
The counter girl acted strangely when she saw me, and I didn’t notice anything off about the way she looked down at her lap. Now I know she was looking at my picture. She must have pressed a button or something, because a man swept up behind me and whispered in my ear that I better behave. He told me I needed to tell Mr. Daniels to surrender as soon as he walked in the door. I started crying real loud.
Customers walked over and started asking the man what he was doing, then he cuffed me on the back of the head and told me to shut up. Some Dudley Do Right took that chance to run up and deck him one, knocked the big man out cold. I thanked him and ran off in hysterics.
I found Todd in the same alley where we’d parked. There was a man at the head of the alley where Todd couldn’t see, facing away from me with a gun sticking out of his sport coat. Clean and simple, I walked up, slipped his gun out of its holster, and shot that man to death. Then I put his gun in my purse and walked into the alley, where Todd was standing with his own gun out. We hopped in the car and I explained things as we drove like mad out of California and across the Rockies.
That was at the height of summer, though I’m sure you know all about that. “Dragnet: Federal agent shot dead by Lightning T Daniels and the June Bug.” That’s what the papers started calling us around that time. The first time I ever saw those names was in the Des Moines Register. I clipped the article out and put it in the box with the little turquoise June bug on the lid. The fame and the pressure got to Todd and he started getting rough in bed, doing all those awful things to me that you used to do, the poking and prodding and twisting. But it felt so good when he did it.
He would get sullen afterward sometimes and tell me I was too beautiful for things like that. He said he was debasing me, that I was a flower and if he plucked me I’d wilt. I told him I was his June Bug and the only thing he had to do was keep me from flying away. He liked that.
And he was a good man, despite how we made our living. He didn’t yell or cheat or hit me, with a single exception on each account. The cheating I wouldn’t even call cheating. You see, pickings got slim after the botched job in Fresno. Cops were looking for us like never before, and we couldn’t stay in the same place long, much less cause a stink with a big heist. So we did little things, robbing underground casinos and junk dealers.
I carried a gun then. The agent’s mean little .38 special, in fact. I don’t know what such a big man had needed with such a tiny gun, but it fit my tiny hands perfectly. I killed three men with that gun, the agent, another, and one I’ll tell you about right here. His name was Buggy and he was something of a hot shot, for South Dakota.
Buggy knew Todd from a stint in a Minnesota prison Todd didn’t talk about much, and apparently they owed each other a host of favors. Buggy had everything Todd needed that wasn’t me, most of which came folded up in little paper squares and dollar bills. Todd started doing small jobs for Buggy, enforcing, running packages, and he’d leave me cooped up in a dingy motel for days at a time. I got sick of that real fast. It reminded me of Blunt, and all the little cages you kept me in before Blunt.
I went out on the streets and found Buggy’s place by dropping his name here and there. By the time I found the dive he operated out of, a converted speakeasy with big steel shutters over the door, Buggy knew I was coming. Buggy was a nasty guy, as his name suggests, and he had a bad habit of spectacle. He was the biggest show, the only show, in town and he made sure people knew he was important. He dressed like a mobster and let on that he knew a few made guys, though he never quite had the courage to call any by name. His suits were new and as nicely tailored as you could get out there in the sticks, but they did nothing to shape up the nasty little man. He had a sloppy gut and breasts that disturbed the spread of his lapels, along with a stringy black comb-over and a thick, warty nose.
He intercepted me just inside the door and told me where to find Todd. I had figured he wanted to keep Todd around in town, to fold him into the crew for the respect Lightning T Daniels’ name would bring. But I hated South Dakota, and that nasty little town and I wanted to leave. When I left, Todd would go with me, but only if we were still together. Buggy didn’t want that to happen.
He led me to the main room, where Todd lay back on a couch almost completely off his mind from the stuff. A pretty girl, red-haired and about my age, was on her knees in front of him, her mouth where you’d expect. I sighed as Buggy started on some rant about men these days and how he never expected he’d walk in on something this shocking. Todd’s eyes took a few seconds to focus on me, and he started trying to push the girl off him.
I think Buggy expected me to start crying and run out of that grungy hole in the ground, or maybe to just fall apart right then and there. The only thing I’m sure of is that the greasy little pusher man had a low opinion of woman. I saw his point and made him a counter-argument.
The girl, undoubtedly in on the whole thing, looked up at me with smirk on her face, almost daring me to do something. I went over to Todd, still so beautiful in his sweating delirium, and pulled his switchblade out of the interior pocket of his leather jacket. Dull recognition dawned on the redheaded girl’s face just a second too late, as I grabbed a fistful of that hair and sprang the blade open. I cut her just twice, long strokes that made an X on her pretty young face.
They didn’t bleed until I pushed her away, then they wouldn’t stop bleeding. She blindly ran from the room, screaming for somebody to help her. Buggy jumped to his feet and started toward me, cursing. I pulled the federal agent’s snug little .38 out of my purse and shot him through his ugly nose. The bullet pulled off the back part of his skull and everything inside spilled out when he hit the ground.
I remembered Trixie right then, her skull coming apart in the dark of the woodshed. Her beautiful face, so like a tiny angel’s, ghastly and malformed in the smoky light of your kerosene lantern. Dirt on my hands. Blood underneath my nails. Dogs in the woods and your harsh whisper telling me they couldn’t smell her, they wouldn’t smell her. Keep digging June. Keep digging.
I’m still digging that hole now, gonna’ keep digging until I hit bottom. Until I get down low enough to pull the sides in over me like a blanket. There may be blood and heat at the end, I know, the smell of pistol smoke and burning flesh. But before I go to hell I’ll smell that rich West Virginia earth, and I’ll feel splintered wood in my hands as I work, work, work that shovel.
She called me Sissy, God damn you. She called me Sissy.
The security man from the front came down with a pump action shotgun in his hand. I didn’t kill him, just asked him if he’d ever been shot before, and pointed at what was left of Buggy. I told him neither of us were going to miss at this distance and he agreed, dropping the shotgun. I promised not to shoot him or anybody else if they filled a tablecloth with money and drugs and didn’t try anything funny. Nobody did, so I kept my promise.
Todd never apologized for the way I found him down there. He refused to even talk to me even until we were in St. Louis. He had another friend down there, Luther, who was a much better friend than Buggy. Luther took half of what we had off our hands in exchange for the keys to a room in a northside tenement. Todd got drunk the first night and slapped me when I wasn’t expecting it.
I fell on the ground and started crying in earnest. I’d never been hit by anybody I cared about before. And it hurt so much worse than when you hit me.
He told me I was crazy and who did I think I was? He told me he didn’t know who I was anymore and asked what right I had to be involving myself in his personal matters. He told me that just because we slept together — he used a different phrase — that didn’t mean I had any right to pry into his affairs. I told him I was pregnant and he took a seat on the edge of the bed. His fine dark hair was in disarray. He apologized to me and told me he’d do whatever he could, but his heart wasn’t in it. He sounded tired, wrung out. I knew then he was probably going to leave me, and started concocting ways to keep him. Then I thought of you, and all my daddies across this great, God-fearing nation and I stopped. I really was, still am, pregnant. Rest assured, you’ll never see the child.
Todd got himself shot a couple weeks later. He burned through all the rest of our money and the drugs we’d stolen from Buggy in the days after I told him I was carrying his child. Luther set him up with a crew knocking over drug dealers in town. None of them knew he was the famous Lightnin’ T Daniels from the paper, and none of them would have cared if they did.
I don’t know the specifics of how he got hurt. I do know he showed up to the job almost too high to stand on his own. I know they relied on him to do something and he failed to do it. And I know it took some special intervention from Luther to keep the crew from putting a bullet in Todd’s head right then and there.
He was shot by a small caliber handgun. The bullet went in his thigh and bounced around inside his pelvis, leaving a half a dozen tiny tunnels. The insides of his hips now looked just like the insides of the bituminous coal mine where I first saw him, lean and pretty and leaning up against that ruined old mine cart. I had him take his pants off to show me. Blood trickled from the tiny entry wound, but everything from the bottom of his thighs to the top of his stomach was swollen and purple.
He told me he needed to go to a doctor and begged for me to get him some stuff, anything to take the edge off. I told him that wasn’t possible, we were near out of money and he’d be arrested if I took him to a hospital. He told me to do anything I could, he didn’t care what, he just needed another hit. It hurt too bad. It was killing him. Then he looked at me and told me I was killing him.
I pawned the turquoise boxes he’d bought us, most of our clothes, and the two pistols he’d acquired since we left West Virginia. Blunt felt so far away then, sitting in the dark with him dying beside me in the stale autumn heat. I spent all the money on drugs, a bit of food, and a straight razor so I could shave him, which I did. Luther stopped by about a week after Todd had been shot.
He stood in the door, repulsed by some smell I hadn’t noticed. He asked me what I was going to do, what I expected to happen. I told him I didn’t know. Todd wasn’t going to get better, and if he did he’d just leave me anyway. In the depths of his eyes, behind the drugs and the pain, I saw fear when he looked at me. No hint of love or longing, no apology for how he’d treated me, just fear, and a dull sort of hate.
Luther reached out and took my hand then, and I knew what options I had. I knew Luther wanted me, my body, terribly. I was still young and beautiful, and my pregnancy was little more than a slight bump that any dress could hide. Would he accept a child as part of my being there? I knew he would. I knew I could make him want that child as much as me, that I could sell him the Golden Gate Bridge with that hot piece of hellfire between my legs.
And I thought of you. I thought of you and a long line of daddies, stretching out across the Midwest and back into my history to the first one, the real daddy who put me on you like a curse. I thought of raising a pretty little version of myself with Todd’s hair and big blue eyes, and all the daddies I could give her. All the not-her-sisters and not-her-brothers who’d have to make way once we entered the nest. Luther kept talking while I thought of that line of violence and tainted love that had brought me to Blunt, that had shot me out of West Virginia like a cannon. That had torn my heart and soul to blackened pieces before I ever became a woman. And I thought of Trixie, who’d told me how much she’d wanted a sister. Who read so well despite how young she was, and who trusted you when you took her to play hide and seek in the woods around midnight. Who cried and called me Sissy when you told me to take that ax and “earn your keep you ungrateful little bitch.”
Luther told me he’d treat me right and ran his hand over my cheek. I looked up at him like I’d looked at Todd all those many months ago, and I asked him, yeah? Would he. And I kissed him. And he told me the cops already knew where we were, that he’d tipped them off to get a friend of his out of a bind over the trouble Todd had caused. That I really didn’t have a choice anyway.
I told him that was fine by me, because Todd was weak and a junkie to boot, and he didn’t know how to treat a lady. And I asked Luther did he? Did he know how to treat a lady? Could he show me? He asked if Todd was still there and I said yeah, he was, but he was junked out and wouldn’t wake up for hours. I told him we had a little space atop the table just inside the door, that I didn’t care about being comfortable ‘cause it’d been so long since I had a real man.
Luther smiled at me and shut the door behind him. I pulled him over to the table and sat and wrapped my legs around him, pulling him close. Our tongues met in my mouth and then his. He didn’t notice me slide the federal agent’s tiny little pistol out of my purse and put it behind his ear. He squeezed my breast and then bit my lip so hard it bled when I shot him, tearing away a thin piece of skin when he fell away.
My ears rang. Todd lay in a daze on the mattress. I went over to him anyway and lay down beside him. I told him I loved him and I meant it. And I told him he was the best thing that’d ever happened to me, and that was true too. I curled up beside him and slept one last time, never smelling the rot setting into the wounds on his stomach or the filth he was leaving behind in the bed.
I woke and started writing this. I started this morning and now it’s almost midnight. The moon is up outside and the windows are open. The breeze feels nice. Warm, despite the brown and gold leaves on the trees outside. There aren’t many of them in this neighborhood, but the ones I can see are so very beautiful.
There are men down on the street, and I know they aren’t from the neighborhood because they’re mostly white and have good posture and comfortable shoes. If they arrested me, I bet I could talk my way out of a life sentence. The papers have blamed everything on Todd, because he’s a man and nobody believes women can do evil things, not really. That if they do evil things, they’re trite and pointless. Crimes of passion, neglect, or stupidity.
Understand that everybody that has died on our sojourn across America is dead because I was sick of getting ice cream at Busser’s. Because I wanted more than the quiet security the men you preyed on provided. Because I couldn’t handle the guilt of what I did to Trixie, or face the consequences like an honest human being.
I could have ended this thing whenever I wanted to, and I didn’t.
I hate you, mama. I hate you like you wouldn’t believe. Or maybe you do. You never mention your mama and I can only imagine she was just like us, or at least bad enough you turned out the way you did. I’m not writing you to say goodbye, I’m writing you so that you know I did this all on my own. I did it for me, because I’m my own bad person, not because you corrupted me or because Todd drove me crazy. I did this. All of this. And I did it for me.
And if anybody else happens to read this, you should understand that Todd was the innocent bystander. Tell his mama or papa or whoever is still around that he got wrapped up with a bad woman who twisted him around her finger like a piece of taffy. That he could have walked away from that armored car or me or this life at any time if I’d have let him. And he wanted to. But I didn’t.
And, if anybody else happens to read this, Trixie Macintosh is buried in a busted old woodshed off Rural Route 5 outside of Blunt, West Virginia. She was the most wonderful little girl and I killed her with an ax because I’m a coward.
I’m going to finish this letter now, and leave it up here on this table. Then I’m going to take Todd down off the bed and bring him by the window. The breeze is nice and I want him to feel that before I take that straight razor I bought and send us both to hell. And God I hope there is a hell, ‘cause if there is then there is a heaven. And if there is, that Trixie will be up there with her mama, living some sort of happiness.
And that when you die, you’ll be down here with me.
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