When I start this, get in
the car, turn the key,
put it in drive, I already know I’m fucked. I don’t really know this woman. There’s
probably nothing new here, I made lots of mistakes and lucky finds that same way
before. But this one seems different. She’s a goddess in a toilet bar.
Yeah, I know, but fuck you.
She is both lost
and found and you’re so cynical you can’t believe in that. That’s your problem,
not mine. I knew I’d try with her no matter what.
She texted late. Her message
said I know you
don’t know me, but I felt we connected. Can you help me? A guy wants to
hurt me. Call me.
So what do you do? I mean
YOU? You say fuck it,
we haven’t even screwed? Me, I remember
her voice. I remember her big eyes in her little face, eyes ready to flood with
tears, copper brown and seeking. This kind of stuff passes you tough guys right
by, but it goes right into me.
I called her, she answered,
she’s crying. She
gave me an address and hung up.
Fuck you, yeah you’re
stupid too. I’m out.
Pulling up outside her cul
de sac I think I’ll
just sit and look around.
Lupine Court is like a million
houses looking at each other. Two are nicely kept and anonymous, one has lots
of cars in various stages, number four has weeds, broken mini-blinds, dead
shrubs, water-logged newspapers in a pile near the porch. That’s hers.
I leave the car, walk around
behind it, move sideways
into a shadow. Lights are on in the motor-head place. Muffled AM radio music,
otherwise crickets and traffic sounds.
Her porch light is on. There’s
mail stuffed in
the box and tossed on the stoop. I stay in the shadow, go to the side away from
the living room, toward the gate that must lead to the back yard.
Still in the shadow, not
ready to move, I watch
a dark SUV ease in, headlights off. It shuts down, goes silent. There is enough
street light that I can see two heads. A glow inside comes on and goes off, a
woman steps out, crosses to the house I’m watching, drops an object, goes back
to the SUV. The starter purrs, the Lincoln finishes the curve of the cul de sac
and leaves without lights.
Flames blossom without much
sound, just a soft
whoosh. They’re moving up the door,
spreading sideways and up the walls. They’re traveling quickly and looking hot.
I’m in the gate and
around the back and trying
to get oriented. I see a slider that’s partially open and I duck in. I close it
so that it doesn’t provide a draft.
“Aubrey, are you in
here? It’s Billy!”
“Billy? Billy! I’m
Somewhere to the right and
down the hall. I
move, starting to choke but keep going.
It’s a big dude blocking
the hall now. He’s got
a bat and he’s spread wide, legs and arms planted and looking to take my head
over the fence and out of the park.
I move to him square on.
He’s taking little tip
toe steps and raising the bat. The little .32 comes into my hand and cracks a
few times in a tight pattern around his heart.
She’s in my arms,
shaking like a wet, freezing
dog, but she’s soft and curvy and just the right size and we’re kissing the way
new lovers do, and she asks me to take her away.
So I do.
Why don’t you just
relax and tell me about it
Aubrey? I’m the guy who got you out of there, right? What’s your deal? You
think I’m going to take you back there? Come ON girl!
Billy, I love you and what
you did for me but
you’d never forgive. No one could.
OK Aubrey look, I’m
not them, you’re not me,
I’m not you, they’re not us. You are you, I’m someone separate from everyone
and at the same time the same as everyone. Have you done something
unforgiveable? What does that look like? Does it look like burning a house or
trying to kill somebody with a bat? Is it unforgiveable that I shot that guy?
Who would forgive him for beating me to death with that bat? You? Would you
understand both why I killed him and why he would need to kill me? Who are you
Aubrey? Who am I? Who are those people who made you afraid?
Just love me Billy.
So I did.
But I couldn’t stop
asking. Couldn’t stop
picking at the scab, and that’s what drove her away.
OK, fuck you man, so she
disappeared. How is
that different from any of the women you’ve ever been with? How many women do
you remember besides the ones who fucked you over? Oh, yeah, Jenny, your first.
And what’s up with her? You have no idea, right? Want me to tell you? I figured
not. No, no, she’s cool, she’s doing well. I just know, OK? None of your
fucking business. At least I know Aubrey will never forget me.
I’m thinking Aubrey
was someone not of my
realm. Like you and me are not of any place besides this right here. I had
ideas and even plans. You had your dreams too, I remember your dreams. But
Aubrey, and maybe that guy I shot, and maybe those fuckers who started that
fire, they were from another world where there aren’t any rules and everybody
is scared and everybody goes to hell. Like the ultimate game where only the worst
people win. Well, fuck you too, bro. I
know what I saw….