This is my psychiatrist's couch. Take from it what you will.
But do leave a note.
I still am a late middle aged former government worker marking time until the cliff.
Short Fiction, Doggerel and Insensitive Opinion are spoken here.
Every time you comment, an angel gets its wings. If you like what you see, please follow and share.
Names have fates and mine doomed me to be a fugitive for all my days. Trouble always finds me. I have no delusions of grandeur. I am a slave to this demon, Trouble. Like every other good slave, I bow to its dominance.
The demon has commanded me here, to a restaurant overlooking the harbor. A wall of dark clouds sit on the horizon. A weathered dock sits lies next to it. A sailboat drifts toward port and home, rainbow sail contrasting with the gray.
She sat across the table, smiling. Blonde and bland, the face would be at home on a cereal box or insurance commercial. The figure and dress were unremarkable. It smells like fresh gardenia in the rain. Soft and soothing, To anyone looking from the outside, it was a Doris Day movie. The dashing young man meeting the attractive young woman on the sly.
It was a charade, of course, all of it. She was a client with a problem,her husband. A name and face I knew a long time ago. I was hesitant.
The whip in my head snapped as the voice screamed.
"Cain! Do your job! Remember the past." The sound of screaming. Mother in her pain and humiliation, then a bang. Cold steel blade against my neck. His sick grin. It goes to black as it does in my sleep. So many years unpunished. It was time.
The voices in my head are a two part choir, better and worse. Psalms and prayers ask and answer the unknowable. Who is the abuser? Why am I abused? Communion beckoned with comfort and solace through action.
The soprano of a guardian angel is in my left ear urging mercy.
"So, can I break his nose just a little?" I think to myself.
The baritone of the fallen angel thunders in response.
"No. Revenge must be complete."
The command is absolute and unwavering. I drop my guard. Without another word, I nod in agreement. It isn't like I had another job, or anything else to do in this moment. And can be the omnipotent one for once.
Her voice is irrelevant, drowned out by the internal choir as a solution forms and is agreed to, even though I want to be anywhere but there. The voices scream: "Make it stop. Kill her and stop the madness." I can't. Too much money was involved.
The conversation devolves into small talk and silence. Simultaneously, we rise from the table and leave with no handshake. Business cards are exchanged. But if asked, this meeting never happened.
I take my time walking back to the car. The rain began as I pulled out of the parking lot.
The address led a mashup of nondescript buildings in a corporate office park. The developer thought it would be cute to end all the street names in "Parkway". It wasn't. The one I wanted was in the back of the complex. Two cars I didn’t recognize were parked by the front door. The lights inside were out. I drive past them and pull into a space at the corner. As I step out, I scan quickly for security cameras. The front of the building looks clean.
A weird feeling came over me. Even before I get to the front door, it’s obvious something had already happened. The scent of death was in the air. Scarlet drops peppered the inside of the door glass. Bare, tanned ankles were sticking out a doorway, one gold slingback shoe still on. Nah, not her. Too tan. Looking in the hall beyond the legs doesn't yield any clues.
Stay or go?
"You must stay!"
"You must go!"
Over and over, faster and louder. The invisible whip snapped beside my ear.
The door gives easily. Blood smell drives hard into my sinuses. Stepping carefully so not to track anything, I slide along the wall even to the doorway. It wasn't pretty. The skirt had been torn up the middle and spread, ripped remains of lingerie just off the right hip. Back of the head was gone. The memory comes back. Him riding high on her back. I shake it off and scan the rest of the room.
Just beyond the abused body was a man, face down next to the desk. He was naked. I couldn't tell if it was him or not.
Outside of the bodies, the office was neat. Nothing indicating a robbery or even someone looking for something. Death had been the only goal. As I leaned down over the dead girl, I felt the cold steel barrel at the base of my neck. The smell of gardenia filled my nose. The Blonde. Her voice was almost a whisper.
"Sorry to leave you high and dry, but we needed a Patsy."
With a small push, I fall to my knees. I look down and see the dress shoes. The same ones from so long ago. I look up. The beard was gray, but the eyes were still cold blue.
"You were such a cute little boy and most cooperative. I knew you still would be." He stopped a moment. "Like you, I don't like to leave things unfinished. You weren't supposed see your mother that way, of course."
The late afternoon storm clouds his vision. Or is it the tears? Rainbow letters scatter in the fun-house mirror. June is for summer and fun, not gloom and mourning. A suitcase of memories overwhelm him as he turns into the parking lot. Tagging along with Mom and Dad on shopping trips. For some reason, the memory of going next door and adopting the cats floats up. Dad later ran over the one he picked out, but the other one lived he was old. He’s never forgotten that. But in the end, it doesn’t matter.
Waiting for the store to open, it occurs to him. These are the last days of childhood. Whether he wants to or not, it’s time to grow up. Liquidation signs are a wiggle jig to a bass, drawing him closer and closer to the hook, to his doom. A couple of shrink-wrapped games for future trades, he told himself, to turn for a profit. It is a lie, of course. He only buys, never sells. The collection fills two rooms upstairs and is growing. He might have to get a storage bin before too long.
He needs to slow down. In his mind, he pictures him to far ahead. Eh, screw it. People have no vision. This stuff will make me rich someday.
The second hand unwinds in his mind. The large space is almost empty, even some of the shelves are gone, only cables and learning stuff left. With a sigh, he grabs the fiberglass giraffe and leaves.
I look down at my cellphone. A number I don’t recognize. DECLINE! Turtle, remind me to block the number.
“Yeah. I think I’m about done...Got the two trail loops done I wanted. I’m deciding now if I want to hit the beach for some more shots...what’s that? Can’t get the TV show to work? You’re going to blow our data limits doing that. Besides, it isn’t what we came to the beach for...I should be back in an hour or so...Yeah, I should be all right on water until I get back.
See you in a bit.”
Used to be one could take a walk like this with no interruptions. Now, of course, we have to be tethered to the shepherd 24/7 with our exact locations. It makes me want to breakaway. I can see it now. “Runaway retired sheep lost in the marsh! Couldn’t take the surveillance!”
Gotta remember the new phone goes into the pocket screen out. I’ve already butt-dialed two people this morning. Maybe that belt clip would be a good idea.
These blaze marks could be better. Is this the orange or blue trail? I think the blue one loops back to the main bike trail. I like impulse and Blue looks less traveled. Let’s see if Frost was right.
The scrub land around here looks different than the Atlantic beaches, palmetto, slash pine and no live oaks. I have trees much older in my yard than anything in this “old growth” area. Hmmm...looks like a hurricane went through here recently. Lots of trunks snapped off at the 25 foot level. A ranger in South Carolina told me it’s at that height the trees are weakest.
But it doesn’t look like this area had much salt intrusion. That’s good. And most of the Palmetto looks healthy. Park management has done controlled burns in the last couple of years to keep the dead stuff down. The wildflowers growing in their place are darker than amber.
The dunes...I didn’t think we’d get here.
It looks like the moon out here. I wonder if the moon is this hard to trudge through? That is the thing with beach walks. It looks so soft and pleasant, but the sand has to be dug through. In a lot of ways it’s harder than hill climbing. And no blazing your own trail, either. This sand hills are the only thing keep the ocean from taking over.
Dang, it’s hot out here. Where is the bike path back to camp? Those high rise condos look a lot closer than they should and this map isn’t helping a lot. Ohhh...This trail doesn’t loop at all. Great. It’s backtracking through the dunes time. I was kidding Kathryn last night about Gilligan’s boat and the three hour tour, and now I am Gilligan. Only thing missing is the red striped shirt. Hey, look!
He’s not even the least concerned about me. Cool. I’ll take a break and watch.
Oooh, my legs. And the step counter just announced a new daily record with at least two miles back to camp. I should have brought the bottle of water. I’m going to need some before I get finished. Hey, what’s that sitting on the walkway railing? Somebody left water! Trail magic is real. It’s a little hot, but I don’t care. It will get me back to camp...Gulp.
The bike path, finally.
“Yeah...I know I said an hour...I know It’s been more than two... I should have taken the left turn at Albuquerque, but I’m on the right path back...I’m OK, just hot and sweaty...But I did manage to get every bit of trail...see you in a bit. Love you.”