Our family is fated before we’re born. We have no choice in parents nor how we’re reared as we grow. New parents try to do better than those who came before. However, personality develops through ancestry, of which we have no control. Often, no matter how hard children try as they grow, this fact they cannot deny nor ignore. Yes, it’s true: crazy can be passed down the family line.

In this story, there were curious eyes watching his family unfold. A mother’s only boy Roy has a story that must be told. He left his parents to fight in a war zone, and six months later he was sent back to the state’s shore, his life now a chore. Not only had shrapnel maimed his leg, but he found no loved ones at home to embrace.

Forgive me if I jump around a bit as I tell their tale. As a journalist, I’m relaying to you how I experienced this family’s tragedy, pieced together from Roy, police reports, and Olivia’s diary. I tell you, I’ve learned much from their story.

Within the act of love, the heart and mind lose sight. Often lovers end up wondering what’s right. They look to the past to learn from mistakes, but in their minds’, the past has changed. In love we remember flying on clouds, not tripping on the cement edges beneath out feet. And so, those who focus too much upon what’s past exist in a dream world that can end in insanity.

The lovers you are about to meet fell victims to this kind of tragedy. They seem so normal on the outside, while inside they hold characteristics of people you’d fear in your dreams. That, my friends, is the irony that ends their story.

I beg of you to excuse the explicit scenes, for in this romance, they’re necessary to illuminate how, in this day and age, sexuality can skew our living reality.

As you watch the characters slip in and out of dreams, you must remember one thing: Sanity can be lost in the blink of an eye! That, my friends, is no lie.

 

Part One

 

Detectives Joe and Megan walk into the sterile morgue. A woman lays on the cold metal table Rose, the Evergreen coroner, looks over from her corner and gets up.

“We need to find the bastard that left her dead in the middle of nowhere!” Joe exclaims, his New York accent setting off his chiseled good looks.

“What do ya got for us Rose?” Tiny features and frame, Megan chews her gum and commands with determined respect.

“Well, there isn’t a whole lot to tell, but I finished my report.”

“Cause of death?”

“Asphyxiation. Her eyes show petechial hemorrhage, and her throat was crushed. Whoever did this was raging with adrenaline at the time because he would’ve had to bounce with the pressure of a bear to do that kind of damage. I imagine that he’s well over six foot and built big.”

“What about the knife wound?” Megan’s furrow highlights the fact that she knows something doesn’t fit.

“That one took a bit more work to figure out.” Rose states.

“What? The perp rapes her, stabs her, when she doesn’t die, he chokes the life outa her. That’s what I saw at the crime scene.” He shakes his head “The creep even bathed her to wash away the evidence.”

“Well, at first that seemed the case, but then I cut her open and examined the stab wound. I sent the knife and fingerprints upstairs to the crime lab to make sure of my findings. They found only her prints on the knife, upside down on the handle, like this…” She turns her pen to expose the ink tip to her breast and pulls it in a stabbing motion. “She stabbed herself. This must have been the breaking point for her lover.”

“What do you mean ‘her lover’? How do you know they knew each other?” Megan stares at the dead woman’s face, wondering what kind of sad story would end so ugly.

“The tox-screen shows she had about the equivalent of half a bottle of wine and semen for dinner, which was in her stomach contents.”

“So, she wined and dined her killer? Why did it go so wrong?” Joe wonders aloud.

“I think she planned to die that night. She’s a cutter, which is a sign of clinical depression. I found several scars on her left arm. She’s probably been doing it since adolescence. Her toxicity, however, held no signs of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. Also, she may or may not have known she was dying. I found a tumor the size of a walnut in her frontal cortex, which controls you brains emotional reaction to stimuli…”

Cutting Rose off, “So was this suicide? Or murder?”

“Both, I guess. But, the fact is the stab wound missed her target. Instead of hitting her heart, the blade passed through soft tissue and muscle. Even though she pulled the knife back out, she would’ve lived.” She taps her pen on the metal morgue table adjacent to the dead woman’s ear, as if she could hear. “It was someone else who killed her. Whether or not he knew he was going to do it…that’s your job.” Rose points her pen at the pair of detectives. “For some reason, I really wish I knew her name. Maybe it’s because we’re about the same age. She looks flawless for, what I’d guess, close to fifty.” Half-laughing, Rose shakes her head and purses her lips into a line.

“No ID. No phone. No missing person yet. We got nothin’ except that damn pubic hair embedded in the mattress.”

Incredulous, Megan chuckles. “Do you think she’d want her killer found? I think you’re right, Rose. She somehow got him to kill her. I don’t get it.”

 

Joe chimes in, “Without a name, her case will turn as cold as she is dead.”

 

As a young journalist, I didn’t expect the romance that came out of Iraq. I traveled there to experience the war and the women involved in it. My editor bit the apple of my idea and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.

However, my experience was over quite quick. In my first convoy to a neighboring city to work with the locals, our Hummer launched onto its side, bullets flying, IEDs bursting, men yelling commands, while I sat stone still, my ears covered by my hands.

Built like a weapon, a large soldier rushed through the fire-fight to steal me from where I thought I was already dead, ripping me limp through the blown-out window of the rolled vehicle. The last thing I remember is being thrown from this soldiers’ arms towards a group of others that looked like him, but who were crouching in the shelter of another wreckage.

Here’s how this soldier’s story begins:

“Thanks so much for agreeing to meet with me Mr. Fox.” I stammer as I sit down on his leather couch.

“Call me Roy, please Star. I don’t want to be an asshole, but your name is Star, right?” He limps to his recliner.

“Yes. My name is Star.” Feeling awkward, I try to sum up why I’m here. “You probably don’t consider yourself a hero, but you are to me and I had to tell you…”

Cutting me off, “I was doing my job. Honestly…” his eyes seem to lose focus, and he falls back on his chair, “I’d just been told my dad killed himself and my mom’s nowhere to be found. In that convoy, I wasn’t thinking too clearly, and I didn’t care if I died…” He puts his hand on his head. Not knowing what to say, I stare. “I wish they’d shot me in the head instead of fucking up my leg. Damn pain makes me insane.”

My heart went out to connect his pain to me like a thread, yet I had nothing to offer after all he’d said.

“I’m sorry,” I pause to collect the stitch he began for me and had to ask, “So both your parents are gone?”

“My dad’s dead because I think my mom left him when I was shipped overseas. He left a note saying, ‘She did this to me.’  Can you imagine? It’s like she’d been waiting for me to leave.” His sardonic laugh makes Roy seem a little off, his face angry stone. “Hey, you wanna beer?”

Oh! He’s drunk! I think to myself and an unexpected chuckle escapes my lips, staring at the man who saved my life.

“Sure!” I spout out and raise from my seat in a near leap, “Please allow me to do that for you.”

Looking over my shoulder, I ask, “You want anything else from the kitchen?” Of course, I turn around too late and walk straight into the door frame.

A light laugh softens his enigmatic glare.

“I guess I need a beer to walk right. I warn you, I’m kinda clumsy these days.”

“Tell me about it. Trying to figure shit out right after rehab, I went to a bar and fell into some prick who called me a gimp. But, I tell ya I was quick after I decked the prick.” He drank the head of his beer, “Funny thing is…I’m the one who hasn’t been out since. Too angry, I guess.”

“That guy obviously had it comin’! I would of ‘kicked him in the ding-ding’ for you too if I’d been there!”  I grin at him while walking back with two beers.

“I can’t believe you’d even know a Delirious line!” Roy laughs out-loud for the first time.

“My dad was cool. My parents have always been divorced, so he treated me like one of his pals, but I guess with a lot of sugar.”

“My mom used to call kisses sugar too. Shit! I can still hear her threaten to cover me in sugar. But, loving as she is, she doesn’t talk much, but she taught me sign language as a baby, and we kept using it. No matter what was going on, she’d speak to me. My dad hated it! It always pissed him off that we had our own language.”

“How old were they?”

“My dad turned 50 last year and mom’s a few years younger…” He stops, lost again.

My stomach drops as I say, “I’m sorry. If you don’t want to talk…”

“No,” he snaps, “I usually don’t,” his tone softens, “but I can’t stop thinking about how it all went to shit in this house!” He sits up and leans to bring us closer, “You wanna hear a fucked up story?”

To keep his momentum going, I smile and nod, “I’d be honored.”

“The night before I left, I got home early, and my mom didn’t know. She was on the phone, and I swear…” Like a wide-eyed boy, he finishes, “She was having an affair!”

“Get outa here! Do you think that’s why she left your dad?”

“I guess. I know it sounds crazy, but that night I saw my mom in a different light.”

“What’s your mom like?”

“She’s awesome.” His daze far away, as if talking to himself, “She was always there. I don’t know who my real dad is. Mom said he was a Marine she hooked up with before he went afloat. Didn’t know his last name and never saw him again…” He pauses and huffs, “Mark. I’ll never forget the day she finally told me about him.”

“Wow. Have you ever searched for him?”

“No, mom and dad met when I was five. From that day on we were a family. Believe it or not, I actually remember the day they met…”

And here’s the story he then relays:

“I need a hug!” She says with a sad clown face. As Roy takes off, his little boy legs cross beneath his run, and he stumbles onto the gravel, chin to the ground.

“Mama?” Roy screeches, balloon-tears falling from his innocent eyes.

“Mommy’s got you. Look! It’s just a scratch!” She kisses his chin. “Oh, my baby! I’m here for you!” She rocks him where he fell and kisses his forehead as he cries. “I’ll always be here for my baby boy!”

Snot streams from Roy’s nose as a tall, thin man walks over and hands Olivia some napkins.

“Sorry, but you might need these.” His kind voice brings Olivia’s eyes to meet the man’s.

“Thanks.” As she finishes wiping Roy’s face, she kisses his forehead, “See,” she points to his chin, “All better and ready to ride the train, right?” Roy nods shyly, for the man continues watching.

Extending his hand, “Can I help you up?” Olivia takes his hand and gets to her feet with Roy’s little hand clutched warm.

“My name is Ryan. Nice to meet you.” He smiles like a child.

“Olivia, but Liv is fine. And this is my boy Roy.”

“How old are you Roy?” Ryan bends down on one knee to see eye-to-eye with Olivia’s little man. Roy, hiding behind Olivia’s leg, sticks out his hand with five fingers up.

“Wow, five already? Are you ready to start shaving yet?” Roy giggles with his face in the back of Olivia’s thigh.

“So, you like trains, huh. Could I ride the train with you and your mom?” Ryan’s look up to Olivia begs her approval.

“Wouldn’t that be nice? Come on, little one, let’s go for a ride!” Olivia sings.

 

As he pauses in remembrance, I’m compelled to comment, “Your parents sound sweet.”

“I had a good childhood. The house has been kinda cold over the last few years between them. Dad went from bringing her flowers every week and taking her out to eat to a dead beat. But, my mom wasn’t a yeller, and she never complained.” Roy grabs his thigh with both hands and squeezes tight. “You’re welcome to stay, Star. I’m enjoying your company, and I must say you’ve got a beautiful face, but I’ve got to take my meds and lie down,” Roy offers, his voice strains with pain.

“I can go find a hotel. I don’t want to put you out.” I say, waving my hands in front of my body.

“No bother, if you want to sleep on the couch. Come on, I’ll show you around.”

Without thinking, I take Roy’s hand, and he leads me up the stairs to his old teen-age bedroom. My eyes wide with surprise, his walls were lined with books, unlike other boys who had posters there. I run my finger across their spines, reading the titles of works sublime.

“Did you read all these?” I yell out towards the sound of running water in his bathroom.

“Yeah. Mom said I was reading chapter books by first grade, and she always rewarded me for stuff with new books. She hated popular authors. She always said, ‘If you want true knowledge go to the writers of the past instead. In our society, it seems the beauty of our language is dead.’ My motto growing up.”

“Wise woman! I feel that! Your mom sounds deep, really cool. Didn’t she have any friends?”

“None that I’ve ever known of outside our little family. I know my dad loved her, but drinking changed him from doting to dick like a switch. She and my dad didn’t really speak over the last few years. I remember one night, gosh almost two years ago now, months before I left, she went out late. It was so unusual for her not to be in her bedroom that when she pulled in the driveway, I looked outside. She looked so crushed, like she couldn’t get outa the car. I got up and started down the stairs, but I stopped when I heard my dad speak…” He pauses and finishes his beer, while I sit on the edge of his bed and stare, mesmerized by his sky-blue eyes.

He tells me his side of the story, but I thought I’d let you see his mother’s point of view, for she held everything inside.

Sitting behind the wheel of her Taurus, Olivia stares at her house. The movement of the TV through the front window tells her that everything is the same.

Olivia says to herself, “Nothing has changed.” She fingers her thick bottom lip, closes her eyes, reliving the wetness of his kiss. “Why is Tim the only person who has ever kissed me with so much…hunger? His tongue was like an eel, probing to electrify my soul.” She closes her eyes to inhale the memory and shakes her head. “But no. It’s done. I’m done. I don’t trust myself around Tim. He’s too much…the same, just striking! He may have kissed me, but I feel like I’ve been hit in the gut.” She rings her hands on the wheel, then grasps white-knuckled, popping up the blue veins across her hands. “No, I’m done…Everything’s the same.” She nods.

With stealth Olivia enters the small dark foyer and slides her layers onto an antique chair. As she walks past the living room, the clink of a can makes her freeze, blinking rapidly, wanting to slink right back out the door. Leaning her body against the wall, she lets it support her.

“Hey.” Ryan, her husband reclines, not looking away from his live baseball game. “Where ya been? What time is it, anyway? Isn’t it past your bedtime? Hey, grab me a beer.” He punctuates the command with a powerful belch and slams the overtly empty can onto her polished tea table.

“Is Roy asleep?” Snatching up Ryan’s waste around the room.

“Huh?” He answers absent.

“Roy, is he…never mind.”

Over a decade of empty space in what should be a conversation closes Liv’s mouth into a muscular clench. She storms to the kitchen. The can crushed in her fist smacks into the recycle bin as she opens the fridge to grab Ryan’s next can.

“I’m going to bed.” She punches his view of the TV with his beer.

“I’ll be in when the game’s over, if I don’t pass out first.” He laughs and pops the top of the can to indulge with greed.

Olivia takes the stairs two at a time, ready to be alone in her king bed, but a crack of light beneath the first door gleams in her dark eyes. She raps with hesitation just above the knob.

“Yes, come in.” His lengthy thin body lay flat on his bed with his feet crossed, sticking over the end.

“Hey baby, what’cha reading now?” She nods at the book open on his belly.

“Macbeth.”

“Do you need anything before I turn in”

“No, I’m good, mom. Thanks.” He picks his book back up.

“It’s late. You have school in the morning. Aren’t you training this week?” She asks with concern.

“I’ll be fine. I just want to finish this chapter. Then, lights out, I promise mom.” Roy looks up and grins sweetly. Olivia holds up the ASL “I love you” sign and walks through his door. “I love you more!”

He winks. She walks over and kisses his head, then closes his door behind her. She stands outside Roy’s door, flashing back to her teenager as a boy deep in her past life. Olivia gazes at her son at a carnival gate, when he was five.

“I need a hug!” She says with a sad clown face. As Roy takes off, his little boy legs cross beneath his run, and he stumbles onto the gravel.

“Mama?” He yells.

“Mommy’s got you. Look! It’s just a scratch!” She kisses his chin. “Oh, my baby! I’m here for you! I’ll always be here for my baby boy!”

Back in her hallway, a tear escapes each eye, and her heart beat reminds her of her melancholy. “My baby doesn’t need me anymore.” She whispers, running her fingers along the hall wall, deflated.

While brushing her teeth, she undresses, studying herself in the mirror, two hands on the sink. “Why would Tim want this?” Disappointed in herself, knowing only the disinterest of her husband, Olivia flips out the lights and crawls into a silent bed. Closing her eyes brings Tim back to life, so she replays the whole night. Like a snake sliding into her panties, she finishes their kiss of bliss.

 

Roy finishes his memory by stating, “I don’t know what my mom was thinking, but I wish I did. I need to know what happened. And I’ll tell you this, if I find out who the bastard is that took them from me, I’ll choke the life outa him!”

“I understand your feeling that way. An eye for an eye, right?”

“Damn straight.”

“Maybe she loved him.”

“He took my dad’s life, and he stole my mom from me, and now I’m left alone and empty. What do I have now? Nothing.” Looking so broken on his little kid bed, I take his hand again.

“I’m here for you.” I put my right hand over Roy’s heart.

“Will you sleep next to me? I mean…I’m not trying to get laid here…I mean…it would just be nice to be close to someone…I’m sorry…never…”

“Roy, it’s ok. Of course I will.” I laugh and lie down next to him on his single bed. I begin to scratch his back, “Let me help put you to sleep.” Within ten minutes Roy begins snoring, and I drift off soon after him.

Before the sunlight clears night, Roy rolls over and grabs me tight. “No, don’t go!” He yells affright.

“Roy,” I kiss his hand and face, “it’s ok. It’s Sharri, I’m here.”

He sits up dazed, sweating, “I’m sorry, bad dream.”

“It’s ok. Lie back and relax. In fact, come here and let me give you a hug. That’s what my mom did when I had a bad dream. She’d just come in and lay and hug me until I went back to sleep.”

Roy turns on his side and wraps his long arms around me as I intertwine mine.

“Sorry if my breath smells,” I whisper with a giggle in his ear.

“Let’s see whose is worse.”

He leans his head back and looks into my eyes, and I know I have never wanted a man more. Soft lips reach mine. Now tongue-tied, testing depth, his hand rides up my back to beneath the hair at the base of my neck. I hug him tighter, his hardness moving against my leg with the rhythm of our kiss. I reach down and unsheathe it, surprised by its girth, I move atop, and with a moan, I insert him and tease him all into me, then fall chest to breast, returning to our kiss. Lips sliding wet, I sit back up again, and I arch my back and place my hands at his feet, tightening my vaginal muscles for a squeeze, then quick I sit up like a cat, trying to hit his cock on my clitoris as I cum, and he yells, “Oh, God, I’m coming!” As he releases all his seed into me.

Silently, I lie back next to him and pull the blanket back onto us, and that’s how we sleep until daylight comes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two

Detectives Joe and Megan drive from Evergreen to Denver to follow up on their first lead in the case. A name may finally be put to their dead woman’s face. Megan had found her in a new missing person report after six months of sitting on this cold case. The doorbell of the grey two- story chimes loud on the porch as the two detectives watch the red door.

With a pat on Roy’s hand, I ask, “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” He nods once with force, eyes on the floor. I get up and go answer the door.

“Good Morning. I’m detective Joe Tracey, and this is detective Megan Cleary. Is Roy Fox at home?”

“Yes, please come in. I’m Star Spelling, just a friend here for moral support,” I say wringing my hands.

Roy stands up from his kitchen chair, “Please come sit down.” He motions to the empty chair at the head of the table and the vacant chair to its right. I stay, watching the scene against the wall.

“You recently reported your mother as a missing person. When did you last see or hear from her?” Megan inquires.

“I had dinner with Mom and Dad the night before I was deployed.”

“How did your parents seem?” Joe chimes in.

“Distant. But that was usual. After my dad was fired about five years ago, and after he had to get a job in maintenance for the school district, he took to drinking too much, and he could kinda be a dick to her, especially the last few years.”

“Do you know about the circumstances of his death?” Megan asks with a softness that floats the question.

“I know he wrote ‘she did this to me’ before he shot himself in the head.”

After spending the last three days talking in bed with Roy, my reaction to his bomb-dropping of information is stoic. Yet, I wait on the edge of my seat for what would be following…

“I don’t think she killed him,” Roy spits out, “if that’s what you’re thinking. She’s the type that cries when other people get hurt.”

“We have a photo we’d like you to look at. We think this might be your mother.” Megan reaches into her portfolio case and pulls out a colorless photo. She’s careful not to show it to Roy before she whispers, “Unfortunately, this was taken in the morgue.”

Roy snatches the picture from the detective’s hand, “That’s her.” He shakes his head from side to side, secretly denying the present is true. “That’s my mom.” Roy’s hoarse voice built up a rock in my throat. “How did she die?” He asks, staring Detective Megan Cleary dead in the eyes.

“She was choked to death. We have few clues to work with in determining what exactly happened on the night of her death. Do you have any information that might help us?” Joe inquires. Steering Roy’s brutal eyes from Megan.

“I don’t think my dad killed her. He could be a dick, but he wasn’t abusive. I think my mom was having an affair. Up until the last year, she always just stayed home, kept the house spotless and cooked amazing food. We don’t have any extended family, so when I caught her on the phone the night before I left, I was surprised. Her voice, I don’t know…” Roy scratches his head, “It was intimate.”

“Do you have any idea who she might’ve been talking to?” Megan places her elbow on the table, shifting in her chair.

“No. Honestly, my mom was quiet, private. I guess I didn’t really know her. She only ever wanted to talk about me.”

“Would it be ok if we look around your parents’ room? Maybe we can find something to point us in the direction of her killer.”

“Sure. The office is just before the kitchen and their bedroom is upstairs.”

Megan begins climbing up the stairs, and Joe walks back to the dark office.

When they re-enter the room, Joe is empty-handed, but Megan carries a book the size of a motel Bible.

“I found this with some other books in your mom’s nightstand. Did you know she was a poet?”

“Huh? No.” Roy tries to shake the daze from his brain. “This is too much!” He exhales then puffs, “I need a drink. Star, please grab me a beer.” His hand drops on the table with an unexpected pound, shaking the glass top. “Sorry. My leg’s killin’ me, and my parents are dead, and I just can’t seem to shut-up my damn head! Fuck! I’m sorry. Is there anything else you need detectives?”

“No, we’ll go. But can I take this book to see if maybe a name is somewhere in its pages?” Megan beseeches.

“Sure,” Roy concedes.

“Thanks so much for your time. We’ll be in touch. If you think of anything else or need an update in your mother’s case, please don’t hesitate to call my cell.” Joe hands his card to Roy, and the detectives exit Roy’s red door.

 

 

 

Joe and Megan sit against the fluffy Essex Motel pillows. Joe’s eyes start to flutter closed, tired after the long road-trip and ten minutes of the History Channel. Megan reads next to him on the king bed.

“Wow!” Megan releases loud. Joe throws open his eyes and pops his head up at her with surprise.

“Huh?” Groggy, Joe’s head falls back onto the headboard with a thud.

“She’s been writing this since childhood! She doesn’t use dates, but even the writing changes. Her first love was this boy named Tim Burns. His name is only mentioned once, but it’s like the whole book is written to or about him. I guess you never forget your first love, huh? Wake up!” She nudges Joe’s shoulder and plants a kiss on his lips. “Here’s one at the end about her husband. Listen to this!” She begins reading…

This is what I watched while I was floating above the woman I once was:

“Where the hell have you been? You disappear for three days, turn off your phone, and expect it to be ok?” Ryan slurs irate.

“I had to get away.” She starts up the stairs.

“What the fuck?” He grabs her bicep, squeezes, and yanks her back down to face him. “Don’t you ever leave me alone like that again! Do you hear me?” He pulls her head pack by yanking her hair and forces his tongue in her mouth. “I need you here. Do you hear me?” He shoves her backward, and she falls on the bottom stair. “Answer me!” He growls.

“Yes, I hear you.” She says to the floor.

“Go take a shower. I’ll be up after a few more beers, when I calm down.”

She turns and races up the stairs. Stone-faced numb, she showers with the scalding water scouring her sins. Towel on her head and wrapped in a robe, she lays down on her bed and closes her eyes. Within minutes, her husband stumbles in the door, catching himself on the wall. The clinking of his belt and pants on the floor tell her that he’s ready to pass out. Dead still she pretends she’s not there. She pictures her lover’s face in some distant, clandestine place.

Ryan falls into bed and pushes his naked body hard up against her backside. Her lover’s face disappears, for she would never bring love into this attack.

“MMMM, you smell like fruit. Can I eat you?” He puts his head on her face and sticks out his long tongue to lick her cheek.

“Please, Ryan, let’s just go to sleep.” But as she moves closer to her edge of the bed, Ryan pulls up the back of her robe.

“Come on, baby, it’s been months, and I missed you so much!” He wriggles closer to her than before.

Beginning to get up and away, “I didn’t want it then either!” She yells at his face.

He grabs her in a bear hug around her tiny hips and tosses her onto her stomach, exposing her bare holes. “Don’t deny you like it…” He inserts himself, thrusting hard. “See how you take me in!” And he pounds himself into her backside.

She knows better than to fight him back, so instead she succumbs to let him finish. Her face presses muffled in a pillow; she becomes a piece of wood floating downstream from a weeping willow.

“Oh…God…Yeah!” Ryan yells, smacking her ass hard and falling onto his pillow instantly snoring. The sting of her husband’s hand motivates her.

“It’s time.” Naked she gets up walks down the stairs and into the den. She sits down in front of the desk, opens a drawer, and pulls out three sheets of paper and a red pen. “It’s time for the nightmare to end and the dream to begin.”

With this, she begins penning her plans.

 

 

Staring through a glass door, the two detectives wait. A tall thin woman walks to answer, drying her hands on a dish towel.

Cracking the door, “Yes?”

“I’m detective Cleary and this is detective Tracey from the Evergreen Police Department. Is Tim Burns home?”

“Yes, he is. May I ask what this is about?”

“We just have a few questions about someone we think he knows. Could you get him for us?”

“One Moment.” Tarah narrows her eyes.

After a few minutes, Tim steps out through the front door into the sunlight that was warming the detectives’ shoulders.

“My wife said you’re detectives?”

“Yes, I’m detective Cleary and this is detective Tracey. Do you know a woman named Olivia Fox?”

“I grew up with an Olivia Bird, but that’s the only Olivia I know,” he says with a nod.

“Fox is Olivia’s married name. Have you heard from her at all?” Tim raises his eyebrows and shrugs.

“Me? No. Why? What’s this about detectives? Is she all right?”

“Unfortunately, no. She was murdered, and we’re trying to contact anyone she may have spoken to in the last few years. So, she never reached out to you, since you still live so close?”

To himself, Technically, I reached out to her. Tim’s brow softens, and staring down at the detectives, he states with honesty, “No.”

“We won’t take up any more of your time,” Joe begins to wrap-up.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Burns, I’m wondering…” Megan interjects.

“Tim, please.”

“I’m sorry, Tim, were you two a couple when you were young?”

“In middle school for a bit. She was my neighbor, and we were more like brother and sister.” He says with a light chuckle. “May I ask…” Megan watches Tim’s eyes become distant as he looks to the sky. In that three second moment, Tim again sees Olivia sitting atop his pride, riding him while she sticks the blade in her chest and pulls it out again, then his hands round her neck until he feels her body kick as life leaves her dead. “What happened to her?” Tim stands grim.

“She was stabbed, strangled, and left dead in a cabin in Evergreen.” Joe states plain.

“Poor Liv! What a tragic end.” Tim bends his neck, shaking his head, meaning what he’d just said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you more.”

“Just outa curiosity…” Megan says on a hunch, while at the same time Tarah steps back out onto the porch, “have you ever been to Evergreen?”

“Our family vacations out there every summer at Copper Lake. What’s this about?” Tarah answers.

“When was your last trip there?” Joe inquires, catching onto the connection.

“Last September.”

“One last question, and we’ll be on our way. What were you doing the night of last October twelfth?”

“That was the week after we returned from NY with the girls. My sister’s birthday is October ninth, so I remember that week. We were at home that night, I’m sure.”

“No, honey, remember, I went out with Scott Dent that night? We went to The Cue downtown, then I stayed at his house until I slept off my buzz, and I drove home.”

“What’s this about detectives?” Tarah’s irritation reddens her neck.

“We’ll let your husband fill you in,” Megan says with a tell-tale grin. “We’ll reach out if anything new comes up, if you’d like…Tim.” And she stares at him.

“Um, sure. I’ll be here.”

“I leave with my daughters for Paris tomorrow evening, but I’m sure you won’t need me, right?”

“A special trip?” Joe blurts out quick, curious.

“This sweet man agreed to marry me again.” She kisses his cheek. “I get to shop for my dress in La’ Paris shops and pastries.” Tarah practices her French accent.

“Thanks very much for speaking with us, and we wish you the best of luck. Tim,” Megan turns to look him in the eyes, “we’ll be in touch.” At that the detectives descend the Burns’ porch.

Tarah hits Tim on the shoulder, “What the hell, Tim? Detectives? It’s Sunday afternoon, for goodness’ sake! What’d they want with you?”

“Do you remember Olivia Bird?” Insipid near irate at his wife’s obliviousness of the moment.

“What do you have to do with her now? She was just enough of a slut in high school to be remembered. Have you seen her or something?” Mistrust makes her words bite.

“Hell no. She’s been murdered, if you must know!” He spat his words slow.

“Well, that’s sad, but who knows how she turned out.”

“It wasn’t her fault her mom was an alcoholic and her dad was never around. Whatever,” Tim hits his fist on the frame of his door. “Why are we arguing about this now?” With this he storms in the house, shaking the glass to near breaking as he slams the door.

 

 

 

When the detectives leave Scott Dent’s house, he sits down with a Scotch to recall what he had left out about the night of October twelfth, realizing Tim’s used him as his alibi…

Tim sits alone at the bar. He envisions Olivia in her car, following his wife. He itches his nose and puts his hands on his head.

To his drink, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

“Doing what?” The male bartender stops in front of Tim. The early hours of a Friday night boring enough for him to feel chatty.

Taking a sip of his whiskey and coke, “Nothing. I’m meeting up with an old friend.”

“Ah, a woman, I assume by the look on your face.” The bartender laughs.

“You’d think, I guess. No, just escaping home for a night out.” Tim looks at his drink, picks it up, and finishes it. “Can I have another?”

“Sure, man, you look like you need it.”

Tim half laughs, not thinking that funny at all. A minute later, two hands squeeze Tim’s shoulders from behind.

“Hey, bro, how ya doin’?” He sits down next to Tim, just as the bartender returns with the drink. “I’ll have what he’s having.” Turning sideways, putting his foot on a rung, he slaps Tim on the back. “So glad you called. The wife and kids are in Florida visiting her dad, so it’s good to be out of the house! You sounded like you needed a night out too.”

Looking at the mirror across from him, “Yeah, things are crazy right now. Tarah’s planning our second wedding.”

“Are you serious? Man, wasn’t the first time torture enough?”

“Exactly!” He chuckles, shaking his head and shrugging. “But, what am I supposed to do? Say no?”

Taking a sip, “Would you? Say no? If you went back in time?”

Cocking his head, “Hell no! We’ve had too many good family years. And divorce is literally against her religion.” His somber tone makes Scott shift in his seat.

“I think about it. From time to time. Lately, I feel like women at the store are shopping for a different kind of meat, or maybe it’s just me. These days it’s like marriage is a vow of abstinence.” As he laughs out loud, Tim’s teeth gleam as he looks Scott in the eyes.

“No, it’s all good. I guess I just need a break from my empty nest. At night there’s an eerie echo in our over-sized home. Even with Tarah next to me, I’ve been feeling like something’s missing.”

“I spend many nights wishing my kids were missing.” He huffs. “But, with them away, I kinda feel what you’re saying.”

“Past couple nights I’ve had to get up and walk around. I feel like I can’t breathe without knowing what’s next for me.”

“Shit dude, let’s get a real drink. Hey man, two glasses of your best scotch straight.”

“No, I can’t, really. I need you to do me a favor…”

“Then, drink with me!” Scott’s grin is devious, like when they were kids taking liquor from his parents’ stash. The bartender sets the drinks down, removing their empty glasses. “To new beginnings! May we listen to our women and take heed!” Tim bites his lip, nods, and takes a sip.

“I’m staying in a hotel tonight. Can you cover for me…if it ever comes up?”

“Whatever you need man. I’ll even leave out a pillow and blanket. Come by if you need company or a place to crash. I’ll keep the door unlocked. Nothing to fear in my neighborhood anyway.”

“Thanks, Scott.” He looks at his watch. “I’ve gotta go though.” He gets out his wallet and begins to remove cash, swallowing the smooth liquor in a gulp.

“No way! I gotcha. Get outa here and figure out your shit. I’ll hold down the fort here for a while.” He nods toward a group of young ladies that had just entered and were setting up to play pool.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” They give each other a bro hug.

“Be careful out there! It’s a wild world!”

As Tim turns off his phone, Scott empties his glass and walks away. Tim exits the bar, trying to decide how to handle Olivia. Anger deepens his stress lines and freezes with the cold front coming in.

Scott sips his Scotch and ponders, “Oh Tim, what have you done? Olivia Bird? I love you like a brother, so I’ll say whatever will help, but damn man, I never expected this. And what a pair of detectives on your case! I hope you have a plan, man. The hot little one has a hard-on for ya. God, I wonder. What’s the truth? More than that, do they have any proof?”

 

 

Megan’s eyes open to the smell of McDonald’s egg and cheese croissant and coffee and the slam of the metal motel door.

“Ok. Thanks. We’ll be back in a day or so…Yeah, I’ll get it.” Joe ends the call. “Guess what, Meg!” She turns over in bed, with the sheet laying over her body clothed in panties and a V-neck tee. “So, three weeks before Olivia was found dead in the cabin, guess who rented that same cabin?”

“Tim Burns.”

“Bingo! How much you wanna bet the hair we found is his?”

“Let’s get his DNA, but it’s still circumstantial evidence since he’s been there before. The key is if we can get the semen to pop.” They ate in silence pondering and connecting thoughts. “Let’s shower,” Megan says undressing in front of the mirror in their motel room, “then, we’ll go back round and re-interview.”

 

The two detectives walk out Roy’s front door for the second time, closing it behind them.

“Come on!” Roy says in a hurry. I need to see something, come with me.” Rather agile with motivation giving him strength, he climbs the stairs with me in tow. “I know I saw them up here.” Roy opens his parent’s closet door. “Yep, right here.”

A stack of yearbooks sits on the top shelf, hiding faces sans dust though many within are now dead, burned in an urn or in the ground seeds turning to weeds.

“I never cared about buying yearbooks,” Roy confesses, “we’re a picture-less family, really. Mom kept my school pictures as a book, but honestly, I’ve never had the urge to go look.”

I take the opportunity to chime in, “I think that’s the difference between men and women. Men look to ignore what’s already been, whereas women use the past to judge the present state their in.” I laugh awkward, “Um, where’s her oldest yearbook?” I focus him back to the task at hand.

“Here. Sixth grade…” He flips the book open, “So, here’s my mom.” Roy runs his finger down the page to her face.

“Ohhh! She’s cute. But, I don’t see his name.” Closing one year to skip to the next, “Ok. Here he is. Tim Burns.” Their pictures sit atop each other.

“That boy has great dimples! I see why your mom fell for him…Sorry.” I say to the air, for Roy’s eyes look as if he isn’t there.

“God, I miss her smile.” He pets her senior picture dazed.

“I wish I could stay with you,” I say dreamily. Roy leans on my knee at the end of the king bed. I cover his head in a hug. “Promise me you’ll keep in touch, tell me what’s up?”

 

Part Three

 

Tim sits on a bar stool, tapping his foot to the rhythm of the music. Low lighting reflects a glow upon his face. Poised in a grin with his beer bottle in his hand, he drinks a toast to himself for his courage to make tonight actually happen. His eyes leap up the wall of liquor to stare in the mirror across from him. He feels her walking through the door before she enters. Deep dimples observe her as she comes into focus.

Olivia throws open the bar door, sticking her butt out to catch it from the wind. Her long locks fly across her face, as she yanks her purse back onto her shoulder with a huff. While running her fingers through her hair, she stumbles on the stairs. Indignant, she stands straight, pulls down on the bottom of her coat, and shakes her hair. She walks a line of intent to Tim, sitting at the end of her path. She touches his arm with hesitation, as if checking to see if he’s real.

“Oh my sweet Olivia! Liv, where have you been all my life?” He twists, winks, and gets up from a bar stool.

“Hiding from that smile!” Fidgety she briefly hugs him with hands patting his back. Placing her purse on the bar, she wipes her forehead removing her coat. “Wow! I have on too many layers!”

“I’ll say! Keep undressing. This is entertaining.” He laughs and takes a drink of his Heineken.

“Still ready to tease me out of my clothes? I figured your lines would be better by now.” She slams onto a stool and lightly punches his shoulder. A blonde, busty bartender dressed as an Irish maiden pauses in front of Tim.

Batting wide blue eyes and overtly long lashes at Tim, “Can I get you another one?”

“I’ll take a Cosmo, UP.” Liv interrupts. Facing Tim, the bartender turns her chest to Liv.

“I’ll take another one, thanks.” Bemused by the teeth in Liv’s order, as if staking her claim on his attention, Tim grins.

“Be right back.” Flashing a smile toward Tim, she turns on her heel, heading to the other end of the bar.

Cocking his head, “So how long’s it been? Ten…fifteen years?”

“How long you been married?”

With a quirky smile, “Coming up on twenty years next September.”

“That’s how long it’s been. Remember, your wedding was it for me.” Hurt resonates her words.

“I tried. You cut me off.” Tim stares at his bottle, wiping condensation with his thumb. The bartender sets down their drinks. Liv takes a mighty sip.

“Thank God for Facebook, I guess, right?” Liv chuckles nervous courage, barely looking at Tim. “How’d you come up with Richard Steele? Or shall I guess?” Intentionally, she nods at his crotch and finally meets his eyes.

“I was looking for you.” Their dark eyes meet and hang on for an uncaught breath in both.

“Why use your Maiden name? I noticed you have no friends either.” His lips pressed firm.

“I was waiting for you.”

An uncomfortable silence sets and brings a cloud to Tim’s mood.

“Why are you here?” He ponders aloud.

“Life is boring. I keep thinking about growing up. It was tougher then than it’s been for my boy Roy, but my mom was a nut. I guess it gave us the time to play whatever games we wanted to play.” She muses, “Remember the time when we found my step-dad’s porn?”

“How could I forget the snake woman with tiny tits?” He laughs out loud.

Almost morbid, she stares in the mirror across from them. “She killed herself and was trapped in a pleasure-filled Heaven and Hell.”

“I’ll never forget the pool table scene.”

She blows a laugh through her nose almost spitting out the sip in her mouth, laughing at the image of a woman being eaten out by the Devil. Regaining composure and tracing her finger over the rim of her glass, “I’ve never forgotten you putting your tongue and other stuff all over me while we played doctor.”

“Yes, I loved taking your temperature,” he licks his lips unconsciously. After a visual flashback in his mind of laying and playing in her basement, “Yet, we never did it? I’ve lived wondering why we never actually sealed the deal.”

“You always had a girlfriend. Remember the dumb blonde senior, what was her name?”

“Tina. Yes, Tina broke me in, but I still always wanted you.” Chuckling, Tim rubs his forehead and takes a drink, turning towards Liv. “Honestly Liv, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“I wasn’t good enough for someone like you.” She bites her bottom lip. “I was just the whore next door.”

“Bullshit! You were my best friend.”

“Can we be friends? It’s always been friends with benefits for us.” Liv drowns her fears with one gulp, liquor unleashing her tongue.

“If we’re quiet about it. I’m not trying to get laid here.” He whispers towards the floor. “I just have to be careful.” His gaze then begs her consent.

“We’ve been ‘friends’ since we were eleven. I saw you that last time before your wedding, and then we were done. Months ago you found me, then nothing til now. We’re not the same…Honestly, this isn’t good for me. I gotta go! You’re too…” Flustered and red, she gets up gathering her thing, “Overwhelming!”

She races out the door through the rain. Olivia throws her layers onto the back seat of her car. Tim follows her close behind. He grabs her arm and turns her around onto the back door she had just slammed shut.

He kisses her lips softly, savoring her tongue, while holding her gaze against the rain. The wetness lubricates their lips with passion, igniting a bemoaning heat of lost time that closes their eyes. Tim’s hands lace into Liv’s hair, saying ‘I missed you’ with his kiss. Sliding his right hand to her chin, Tim kisses Olivia’s lips, her cheekbone, and whispers lips hot on her ear…

“I can’t do this here.” He shifts onto his left foot, pushing his hardness into her thigh. “But I’ll be in touch.”

He bites her earlobe and leaves a dry kiss on her dripping jaw. Olivia stands with one hand on her heart and the other on her navel, catching her breath as Tim jogs back into the bar.

 

 

Wondering about his twin girls at college, a twinge wishing he was there, Tim walks up the stairs. His son Luke is asleep after practice and homework, so Tim makes his way into the bedroom where his wife sits working, folders and papers strewn over the king bed.

“You have a nice night? How’s Scott doing?”

“The usual moans and groans about work, his wife, and kids.”

She chuckles, gathering her work on her lap and setting it on the floor. “You don’t do the same, do you?” She asks, crossing her arms across her chest, yet laughing.

“Noooo!” Tim exaggerates his answer, putting his toothbrush in his mouth. “We’re way past that shit!” He says through the foam. Self-satisfied, Tarah leans over, slides down, and turns out the lamp. Tim climbs into bed and stretches his towering body out. He leans and kisses the back of Tarah’s shoulder, stroking her short blonde bob.

“Tomorrow’s a long day.” She shrugs him off. Tim turns on his back to close his eyes and escape to a past innocence, flashing back to when he and Olivia were twelve.

Ron’s Roller Arcade shines on the wall in pink neon cursive. The game dings and echoing music carries on the hot breath of preteens, struggling to look cool on skates. Sliding up a ramp with three friends in tow, Tim skates toward a group of girls in tight jeans, hair teased. He grabs Olivia by her waist.

“Hey!” He squeezes an excited giggle out of her.

“What’s up Ms. Pac-Man?”

“Tim!” She screams with a smack to his arm. “You just made me die!” Beep boop boop. A ghost lands on Ms. Pac-Man, spinning her upside down to sink to the “Game Over” screen.

“Come skate with me, Liv.”

He takes her hand, and they roll down the ramp to the rink. Tim turns with long-legged grace to skate backwards. He places his hands on Olivia’s hips, and she takes hold of his shoulders. As if floating, their rhythm is effortless.

“I’m wondering…” His adolescent voice betrays his confidence with cracks. “Want to go outside before we get picked up to…you know…kiss?”

Surprised by an unusual, forbidden tickle in her center, her skates get caught together, and Olivia tumbles to the floor, pulling Tim down with her. Within a stunned second, they begin laughing. After helping her up, Tim leads her to a round carpeted seat to change into shoes. Their friends gather in wait.

Sixty seconds after the group of girls exits the doors, the group of boys follows them around the side of the building to a corner where no florescent light could touch. A milky moon casts a shadow on the couples, giddy at the prospect of this new experience.

As if they had rehearsed, Mike, Mark, Scott, and Tim all turn to face their challenge. Tim looks sheepishly into Olivia’s eyes.

“OK, one, two, three: French!” Mark counts down.

When Tim’s tongue first caresses Olivia’s, she feels a smack to the gut, and she yanks her head back, hitting her skull on the wall. Scared and wanton, she finds his eyes and pulls Tim’s face back to hit hers, using the brick wall behind her for support. Their kiss is soft, sweet, and intense. Tim leans on Liv, heavy.

“Get a room! My goodness!” The others laugh as the lovers break their caressing tongues. Tenderly, Tim kisses her lips, bringing Olivia’s pout to a smile.

“Come on Tim! My mom’s probably here already!” Scott says annoyed at Tim’s success. They all giggle awkward.

The group of kids then races back to the light laughing loudly.

Now standing in a forest just outside Denver, Tim states aloud, “She’s not coming.” Only the wind hears his whisper. “Why would she? We’re both married with kids. What am I thinking?” He huffs a chuckle. “Maybe it’s because the kids are all moving away…It has been lonelier since Tracy and Teresa left. Now, my youngest son Luke is planning his escape from his parents into the jungle on his own…I guess I’d do anything to be young with free possibilities waiting for me.” He shakes his head and sighs. “I’m the one vulnerable here…I just can’t help but want to be around Liv’s spark. She’s a fire that chills me…The ice of life melts away when she’s close. It always has.”

The snap of a twig jerks Tim’s gaze from the forest floor acute towards the shadows of foliage. He hears her voice before he sees Olivia.

“You’ve plagued my dreams, you know?”

With a coy, dimpled grin, “Oh, yeah? Tell me more…”

“There’s not much to tell. I’m looking for you, and I steal glances of you and your wife through a window. You look happy in your large white house. Then, I’m nowhere, searching for you, frantic and alone again. The scene changes, but…” Olivia emerges in a loose black dress that makes her shapely legs light up in the darkness, “the feeling is always the same.”

“I’m here now.”  He states. A few large strides put him at her side. He takes her hand, and she shivers.  “Are you cold?” His concern endearing, he stands behind her, and rubs his hands up and down Olivia’s goose-bumped arms.

“No. It’s you.” She laughs, breaking free with a shoulder-shake and sliding to sit at the base of a tree.

“Scoot forward.”  He orders, climbing behind and settling with his arms around Olivia between his legs. He pulls her long dark locks into one hand to place them down one shoulder. Sensing her tension, the fear of what was happening here, Tim whispers in her ear.

“Relax, lean back, pretend we’re kids and tell me about your life.”

“Honestly, I just feel so empty. Like a tornado that emptiness thrashes my soul with anger. I have what I guess I need, but I’m just so lonely. My husband is a good man. He raised Roy like his own. But after so long…I don’t even talk when I go anywhere anymore. I admit it!” She throws her arms out, “I’m part of the American walking dead!”

Exasperated, she slouches back on Tim for a pause. “I just want to feel something again…I can’t stand being alone with someone anymore.”

Tim wraps her like a coat and slides his lips over her neck.

“You’re not alone anymore. I’m right here.”

She twists her torso to stare up at Tim. “I’ve missed you. I’ve always missed you, don’t ya know?”

Tim’s mouth moves down upon Olivia’s like a magnet to a refrigerator. Lip-locked, he lays her down onto the grassy bed. Tim licks her soft skin as he bares it. Slight moans escape her as his mouth and hands cover her chest and burdened shoulders. Tim leans into her, one hand pushing down on her breast, squeezing gentle her heart. His passion a hungry lion, he presses his body upon hers, while lightly gritting with his teeth on her tit’s tip.

“Oh!”

She arches and winces at the pleasure need has starved her of, and she yanks Tim’s head up. Two moons are reflected in his eyes as she slowly licks his upper and bottom lip. She places her hands over his, slides them over her breasts.

“I need to feel you…”

She takes one hand down into her panties where she presses his two fore-fingers into her already creamy, swollen center.

“Mmm…here.”

Pushing his fingers into her in repeated rhythm, Tim kisses her warm mouth. “Oh! Olivia!” He moans her name with hot breath.

“Please, I need you.” She yanks his head up and kisses him again, until Tim sits up, pulling off her panties. He pulls out his wallet and a condom, undresses it and puts it on. Then, Tim kneels between Liv’s open legs. She lifts her hips and yanks off her dress, unleashing her naked body.

“Oh, God, Liv…” His voice shakes, “I need you too.”

Placing one hand behind her head, he slides his tip into her invitation.

“Oh…” He pushes. “Oh…” He pushes. “Yes, Tim! You fill me so tight…”

“Oh Liv…” He thrusts, “Uhhh, uhhh, ahhh, ohhho…”

And it was over.

Tim collapses onto his back beside Olivia and laughs giddy. “I guess it’s been a while.”

“Going on two years for me.” Her laugh sardonic.

“Jesus, Liv! What the hell is wrong with your husband? I can’t help but want to cum all over you!” He takes off the condom, lays it on the grass, and turns on his elbow to face Olivia. “I’m sorry things aren’t good for you.” He brushes the loose bangs from her forehead and buries his lips in her hair. Then, he pulls away, gets up, and dresses, while explaining his haste. She slips her dress and shoes back on enamored drunk watching his body move.

“I got you, well us, something that might help us escape the mundane of our days. We may not be able to see each other much, but now you can communicate with me safely.” He grasps the yellow bag, extending a phone to her.

Momentarily, stunned silent, Olivia watches Tim.  “Just what I’ve always wanted you to give me…a phone!” She grabs it, snorting as if she were a teen again.

Smacking her face with his lips, “I hate to say this toots, but I gotta go.” He helps her to her feet, holding both hands. “Text me between ten and two, Monday through Friday.”

She looks at the phone to remember the rules. “You know I…Luu…”  She stops, “I will.”

And she runs back through the trees from whence she had appeared. Tim walks over and picks up her discarded panties, wanting to take them. Knowing he couldn’t, he unearths a hole, placing the underwear and used condom inside and covering them with dirt.

 

 

Sweaty hands on her steering wheel slide nervous twists around the finger grooves. While driving and collecting her thoughts, Olivia holds in the stereo power button until it chimes the word off. With a chest raising inhale and metered exhale, the rental car smells fresh, new despite its previous abuse.

“You shouldn’t be doing this!” Shaking her head, “It’s wrong.” She hits the wheel with the palm of her hand.

Trailing two cars behind Tim and Tarah’s car, she drives on, biting her nails. “I have to know! It’s been near a year of this affair.” Olivia resolves. “I have to know what it’s like to celebrate an anniversary. I have to know what he’s really like!”

After a pause she finishes, “I’m NOT a stalker. No, I’m just curious. It’s the only way I can convince myself to stop. Yeah, this is just a means to an end.”

Olivia replays her last conversation with Tim, as she shadows him and his wife. In her mind, she is standing at her kitchen counter, with her phone to her ear.

“Roy is leaving for Iraq. I can’t stand being here anymore, but what else do I have to do?”

“I know. We’re an empty nest now too. No doubt it changes you. But, honey, you just let him go. There’s no other way.”

Wiping a tear from her cheek and onto her pants, “So, what’s up? It’s unusual for you to call me at this time of day.”

“I’m meeting Scott out for drinks tonight.”

“Tell him I said hi.” She retorts, “Just kidding, I know you can’t.” Her eyes fall into her kitchen sink, so she washes her hands.

“I’m almost downtown, so I need to talk to you about something…”

She clenches her jaw, knowing his tone’s off. “OK, shoot.”

“We’re gonna have to cool it for a while. My wife’s noticed a change in me, and she keeps hinting at mistrust.”

“What does that mean?” Her voice couldn’t hide the scorpion sting she just took.

“Shit! I just passed my exit. I caught her snooping in my phone, and she ordered paper phone bills again. She did this once before when she thought I was cheating on her.”

“Were you?” Her high heart drops into her stomach.

“Hell no! A flirty text with a co-worker was blown outa proportion by her husband, and he called my wife.”

“OK, then. I’ll let you drive. Good-bye.”

“WAIT! Liv! Don’t hang up! Please!” He parallel parks with swiftness.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.” A butterfly in her voice betrays her attempt at strength.

“I’ll be otta touch for just a few weeks. My wife and I are leaving Monday for our cabin in Evergreen for our 20th, then we’re meeting the kids in New York…Olivia?”

“Yes.” She peeps, obviously weak.

“I’ll be back. Don’t shut me out again!”

“I’m losing it, Tim. I don’t trust myself anymore.” Her matter-of-fact tone gave a blade-like stab in Tim’s chest.

“I’m so sorry, Liv. When things are back to normal at home for me, I’ll be in touch.” He looks at his other phone next to him as it rings. “I’m sorry, but I have to go.”

“I love you.” And she disconnects the call.

Olivia dazes at the dead meat she had been preparing and picks up the long silver knife by the handle. Short breaths make her gut jump.

“I can’t lose it now. Roy. I’ve gotta hold it together for Roy.” She says in aloud.

Tears finally fall from her eyes while she blinks a rapid picture of her surroundings. Blowing out tiny breaths, Olivia takes the knife and with both hands she drives it through the steak into the wood cutting-board.

“Mom?” Roy’s happy voice echoes in the empty house as she pulls out the knife and drops it in the sink.

“I’m here baby!” Skirting Roy’s eyes, she squeezes his large frame hard. “Oh, I love you so much!” Olivia gushes.

“You ok mom?” Fear in his voice shows his concern for leaving his mom alone with his dad. “I’m not going away forever.” He chuckles, holding her shoulders.

“I know, baby! Let’s get these steaks on the grill so they’re ready when your father gets home. You know how he gets when his dinner isn’t ready.” She musters latent strength, and with her mask regained, places a hand on her son’s cheek and kisses his forehead. “Time is precious, my love! Whenever, wherever, forever I love you, and I’m proud of you!”

Before either of them could shed a tear, Olivia whisks up the tray of steaks.

“Think about it! You’re going to places I’ve never been! My baby’s gonna be a Marine! I’m so excited for all the new things you’re gonna see and do! Put on some music and come chat outside. I feel like dancing with my son!” Olivia backs herself into the door.

Laughing with love for his dear mother, “OK, Mom.” The backdoor shuts behind her.

A car horn snaps Olivia back to reality, as she follows Tim and Tarah off the highway.

 

 

 

Crouching outside of Tim and Tarah’s cabin, knees to her chest, Olivia listens. Only the occasional clink of silverware to plate could be heard. Like a snake, she slides her body up the cabin wall and peeks through a window to be a part of his world.

Tim gets up from his chair. He fills his wife’s glass halfway with wine, topping his own off, then, he takes their plates to the kitchen. The sound of running water shrinks Olivia, who creeps to the screened-in front porch.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this…” She whispers to herself. Instead of running, like her heart, she stares into the forest of trees, until the front door opens. Eyes white and wide, she listens.

Tim and Tarah walk out, sit down, and begin gently gliding together on the porch swing.

“So, I ran into the maintenance guy Phil as I was walking back from the store. He said this cabin is being closed after we leave.”

“Awe! Will it open again for us next year? This has been like our home away from home.”

“Phil said so. He says, ‘It’ll be better than before’ with some technological upgrades.”

“That’ll be nice.” She takes a polite sip of her wine.

“I kinda like it all rustic. It’s less like home that way.” He empties his glass.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Her high voice makes Olivia wince with a pain.

“Nothing dear.” And he kisses her cheek three times. Tim takes his wife’s hand. “Come on! Let’s go skinny dipping!”

“I’m not twelve, Tim.” She rolls her eyes. “Oh, I know you said no gifts, but I got you something, well, I got us something.”

Grinning her face strained, she stands up and pulls the something out of her pocket. She holds out both hands to Tim’s chin. His teeth shine in the night’s light. He taps her left hand. She opens it to reveal a platinum band with four diamonds boxed in a square.

“Keep tapping!” She keeps her hand extended. Tim taps his pointer on the knuckle of her middle finger, one eyebrow raised. Tarah turns her hand over to show a thinner platinum band with four diamonds in a line. “So, what do you say? Let’s get married again!”

“Really? Can’t we just wear new rings?” He chuckles nervously, trying to say just the right thing, but knowing he failed. Tarah sits back down. She places the ring in the palm of his hand and closes it in his fist.

“We’ve seen so many divorces! I want to celebrate our success. We’re staying married and following God’s plan for us. This day and age, it’s nearly a miracle to have a marriage living out their vows forever!”

“Yeah, um, you’re right.” He scratches the back of his head stands up, puts the ring in his pocket, and stretches to the porch ceiling.

“Sooo? Can we do it? Let’s show the kids what’s important in life!”

“Whatever you want, dear.” He plants a kiss on her cheek and pleads, “So, you want to go skinny-dipping?” His dimples make his creased face look innocent and adorably boyish.

“Will that make you happy?” His nods exaggerated. He pulls his wife to her feet. “Fine!” She throws her head back and laughs.

Tim goes in grabs a blanket and takes Tarah by the hand, leading her off the porch and down to the water’s edge. The light from the cabin monograms the ground in front of them in a shadowed M for MARRIED. Tim tears off his clothes and runs into their private beach cove.

Tarah disrobes: piece by piece of clothing drops to the sand at her feet. Her creamy skin glows, illuminating her six-foot legs and perfect butt, with her breasts ballooning over the sides as she pulls her hair up into a ballerina bun. She wades into the water and wraps herself around Tim.

An embraced dance in the water spins their lips to meet in a light, long kiss. Tim gathers Tarah like a baby and carries her to the blanket. On the beach, she positions herself atop Tim. She lifts and sits on him, her hands on his thick chest. Tim goes to grasp her tiny erect nipples on her overtly full breasts, but she grabs his hands and places them on her hips instead to guide her ride. Her excitement and momentum increases, but no sound releases.

“Oh, God! Why am I here?” Olivia, who is kneeling at the cabin watching Tim and Tarah make love, grasps her stomach and gasps for breath. She stands half-way up and scurries into the forest, like an animal trying to escape its predator.  She trips on a thick tree root grown hard out of the ground, smacking her temple on a rock. She turns herself over and hurls her stomach’s clear bile onto the dead leaves beneath her hands. “No! No! No!” She holds her head. “This is not my life. This isn’t real…”

She closes her eyes and imagines a better time. Tim is next to her, stroking her hair and holding her in the Essex motel. He rocks her and kisses her forehead.

“It’s ok. I’m here. I’m here for you. Shhh, you’re ok, honey, I’m here.”

With his kiss on her lips, the world falls away, and within this dream, Olivia passes into sleep on a bed of decaying leaves.

 

 

 

Olivia sits in her car on the right side of the road across from The Blackbird Café. Leaves blow, though few trees are seen on the city street. The fenced-in patio holds pairs of people.

“I don’t understand how people do it. How do they get to be so normal? They look so happy, talking to one another, like they have no care in the world. Why wasn’t that my path? Why do I hate them all? Why do they seem to me to be pigs penned in oinking over slop?”

She laughs, eyes glaring at a particular table. She takes out her secret phone and presses the last call screen. The ring is loud over her phone’s speaker.

“Hi.” She breaths heavy as he answers.

“Hey, I’m almost home, but nice to hear your voice. Sorry I haven’t called. Things are still a bit up-tight at home.”

“I’m sure.” Her voice is stark, void of emotion.

Tim’s brow bends deep, “What’s up, Liv? You sound weird?”

“You don’t have to hurry home…she’s not there. She’s at The Blackbird Café with what I assume is her sister, same nose.”

“How the hell do you know that Olivia?” He turns with squealing wheels into his circular driveway.

“I’m looking at her.” Her voice sounds frozen, crackly.

Parked and staring at his empty white house, Tim raises his voice, “What the fuck are you talking about Olivia?”

“I need you to do something for me. At midnight on Friday meet me at your cabin in Evergreen.”

“There’s no way! Why are you looking at my wife?” Fear and anger brace his words.

“I wasn’t asking. Find a way! And leave no trace of where you’re going. Then, no one will know where you’ve been.”

“Honestly, you’re freaking me out. Talk to me!” He clenches his jaw.

“In the last year, we’ve had sex in cars, bathrooms, rooftops, and a cheap motel. Once, just once, I need a chance to feel…normal with you. And unfortunately, I’m willing to do anything I have to to make it happen.”

“So what? You’re stalking my wife?” He shakes his head, trying to wrap his mind around what Olivia is getting at.

“It’s over, we never were. I get it. And she’s not in danger…IF you meet me. Remember, Friday, midnight, at the cabin. And break this phone in half and throw it in a dumpster.”

“How do you know…” The phone signal cut, Tim is left in silence. “What the fuck!”  He yells and cracks his cell on the steering wheel. Then, he gets out of the car and pulls out his personal phone. He presses Tarah’s number.

 

 

Olivia waits still behind her steering wheel, watching Tarah and her sister Sarah, who are oblivious while eating. Tarah laughs, reaching into her purse. She pulls out her phone and puts it behind her classic blonde hair. A frustrated look clouds her humor. Her and her sister gather their things and pay the check. They leave as a dark cloud moves in and begins breaking the sun with rain.

Upon their decent down the hill to their cars, Tarah trips, opening her suit-pant leg to the pavement and staining the cream color with blood red. Sarah helps her up, and drenched they both get in their cars and drive away.

Olivia follows her home from a safe distance. She smiles and watches Tim open the door to their home to welcome Tarah’s safe return.

“You better show up, Tim.” She seethes. “Poor little bird. I hate you! No better than me. Just born into the right family. I deserve better. If only for a moment in this world ruled by chaos. I have to! I have to do this. I seems, succumbing to my darkest desires has transformed my fear into unexpected cheer.”

Grinning as if deranged, Olivia drives past the Burns’ house as the door closes.

 

 

Six foot apart, Olivia and Tim stand facing each other, as if ready to duel. Low candle light shadows their expressions, but reveals their bodies: her naked, him in jeans and long button-up coat.

“Why did you have to bring my wife into this?”

“She always was in this. She is the space between.” She takes a step toward him. “Does it matter that it’s over? Do I matter?”

Soft anger choosing his words, he retorts, “Of course you mattered. But, the truth is you put this thing to bed, not me. I was going to call. We could’ve continued. Why didn’t you trust me?”

She takes another step forward, hands numb at her sides. “Because I don’t trust me anymore. My id has arrested my ego, and I no longer have control. My mind follows my heart’s lead. I can’t understand why some are cursed to a hell on earth like me, while others, like your wife, are rewarded with unwarranted magnanimity just for existing in this reality.” She falls to her knees, folding fingers in the grooves between her knuckles, as if in prayer.

“I hate that I hate her. I see myself stab her the nights I fall asleep aching for the light I get from you and your kiss.” Olivia shakes her head hard. “I couldn’t stop it. Forgive me, please, for worshipping you!” She puts her head on the floor. “Forgive me for doing this to you!” She pleads.

Tim steps in the door. Her tears fall from her nose onto the wood at his feet.

“Look at me, Liv. This has to stop! I love you, but you crossed the line.”

He gets down on one knee and picks her up like a child, placing her tiny frame onto the bed. In the dull glow of the one remaining candle, Olivia’s eyes glisten with a child-like honesty, and Tim stares at the shadow holding her full lips. He brushes her dark hair from her face, and he thinks, She’s so hard to resist.

“Please, just this one last night…stay with me…” She sits up, breasts bronze in the light. “Treat me like your wife, like someone who deserves you.”

With his right hand, Tim clutches her chin and squeezes with a love like madness, his loathing like love. He kisses Olivia with his hands locked around the base of her skull, fingers tangled in her hair. While wrapping his tongue around hers with pressured passion, he softens, slows, and pulls back to suckle her one last time, to reconnect with the man only Olivia could bring out of him.

The fire burns out its wick. In the dark room, the window lets in enough moonlight to see the shadowed figure of Tim as he stands up and disrobes, then lays down next to her. They lose themselves to the moment, erasing time with each body part caressed and kissed, the goal of together the idol of this couple of old kids.

“You’re dangerous for me.”

“Now you understand me.”

“I can’t give you more than now.”  Kissing, licking, and man-handling every inch of her torso, Tim savors her sweet skin.

“Tell me this isn’t a dream.” She dusts his bald head with kisses.

Tim moves his weight to cover her like a blanket, and he bites her ear, clenching his teeth on her tiny earlobe. Olivia winces with delight.

Still clenching, “Do you feel me?” Lying next to her, he kisses her temple. “Right now, I’m here for you.”

As Tim trails kisses down her body, Olivia tears up at the never before felt connection of love. He licks her belly button, and she opens her legs to expose the hairless lusciousness that is Tim’s goal. He places his face between her knees and spreads her petal-lips apart, trailing his tongue down the soft, red crevice to titillate Olivia’s bump clitoris, making her moan and curl her toes. Grasping at her own breasts and pinching her nipples hard, she lets him tease her with his tongue and fingers until he hears and tastes her ecstasy.

Pulling her own hair, she urgently forces out the words, “Sit on my chest and let me swallow your perfect cock.”

Tim sits up and crawls to her pounding, pumping chest. Placing his toy between her controllers, Tim pinches the tips and pushes down, making a cushiony hole. As he slides his length like a hot dog through, Olivia opens her mouth with a need to let him thrust through to her esophagus. Kneeling over her neck, his back straight, his hips pull slowly back, and Tim falls to his hands on the finished wood headboard.

“Oh, Liv!” He whispers, making her need him deeper.

Olivia places her long thin arms around Tim’s waist and yanks his hips down and toward her lips, pushing him past her tonsils. Swallowing him hard, tears escape her eyes at the pain of breathing him one last time. Choking, she squeezes his sack of nuts and tugs.

“Oh, God, Liv!”

He pushes his ecstasy with gushes into her stomach, but Tim remains solid as Olivia removes him from her mouth. Like with no other woman, he moves quick with the need to kiss the sweet mouth that just swallowed his seed. He lays his face next to hers and kisses her deep.

“Oh, God, Tim…I…love…you” She mumbles to his tongue. “You…need…me” She rolls him onto his back. “I need you hard. I need you here…” She puts him into her. “I need you now, all of your inches!” She moves her hips up and circles back down, then again her center raises up for a pound down.

“Liv, go slow. I don’t want to go too soon. I’m too old to ride this young!” He says looking at his cock in her still going, encouraged by its tenacity during this time of need.

“Stay with me, Tim…”

She shakes, he moans…He grabs, she pounces…Her arms under his…his hands on her ass smack her into kissing him. Laying on Tim, pushing him deep in and clenching her vaginal muscles in a tight hold. Both of Olivia’s hands grasp at this moment of passion. One finds the pillow, the other a knife.

Tim’s eyes are closed in pleasure, until he feels Olivia suddenly sit up, and upon his lips is the wet taste of blood. Startled, sex-sober, he jerks up with his head to find Olivia sitting erect with a knife in her chest.

“AHHHH!” She screeches, like a dog being run over. She pulls out the knife. “Without you, I die.”

Tim rages and throws her onto her back. His hands like a butterfly around her throat, he pushes down with all his weight, as he bounces on her airway, unable to let go.

“Why’d you do this to me?” He seethes his loathing.

Instead of clawing at his arms or kicking to get him to let go, Olivia holds light fingers on her killer’s arms and kind eyes to his rage, wiggling her allowance of life to leave. Just before her throat bones crack, she smiles faintly, as if knowing this was her place: death by the hands of her disgrace. And with the snap of her neck, she falls forever silent.

 

 

Part Four

 

Life is a mystery, as you all know. We’re in the dark from beginning to end. We know not when the tides of change will go from high to low. No, we just live life as best we can as we go. Though some, like Roy’s father Ryan, take control and choose to die by their own hand, others take someone with then when the shit hits the fan. Regardless, in the end we lie down at fate’s feet.

As you know, idle hands are the devil’s toys, and passion can murder an individual’s soul by making him lose control. Cooped up with depraved thoughts running rampant day and night, acting them out seems the only way to stay sane or make things right. When a person has nothing left, is broken-hearted, bereft, their behavior no one can predict. Unfortunately for Roy, lonely passion is all he has left. After the detectives state their case, he’s got a name with which to match the face of the man who ruined his family.

But know, my friends, our destiny is not set in stone, so heed the example of these lovers the rest of your days so that you don’t make the same mistakes and die with too much love alone. Here’s how the rest of the story goes.

 

When I left Roy alone and flew home, I knew his story would have a sad ending. Removed from social norms, passion morphed to obsession then into the fall of his family.

Roy sits two days not sleeping, stewing, smoking, drinking, and medicating while waiting and wondering, “How do I make the pain go away? How do I kill the ghosts that haunt my head night and day?”  Swallowing pills with a drink, Roy’s eyes catch a wink, and this is what he dreams:

A man sits in a dark corner of a square living room. At first Roy thinks it’s a mirror, but realizes he’s the one with uninvited stealth walking in to someone else’s house. Racing on the attack at the man sitting in the dark, the sound of a gun woke him up.

Roy grasps his Glock from under his pillow and holds it tight while affright. Eyes wildly searching his dim room, his heart races straining his young face taut. Lying back, Glock upon his chest, he closes his eyes again, trying to put a yearbook picture of a boy’s face onto the shadow of the man who ruined his life.

“I think it’s time to visit this phantom from my mother’s past to determine if he truly did what I think he did at last. If all is good that I spy this night, then no harm no foul for my plight. Now that sweet Star is gone from my life, I’m alone, and no one will know I visited his home.”

 

 

Tim opens his front door, flips on the foyer light, and drops his keys on the vanity chest. He stares at his reflection until the sound of paper crunching turns his head in the living room’s direction. Slow steps take him into the dark room. With the flick of the light switch, an intruder illuminates.

Tim braces his feet, his voice deep, “Who are you? What do you want?”

“I wanna know why. I found your letter,” he holds up a wad of paper. His laugh reverberates off the white walls, “And you kept it in you Bible case of all places! Trust me when I say even God can’t wash away the stain of your sin.” He stands up.

“Roy, your mom told me about you. She was proud of…”

Fiendish eyes glare, “Don’t talk about my mother like you were friends!” He yells, punching the wall next to his head, leaving a dent.

“You read her letter. You see…”

“You! You stole them from me!”

“She wanted to…I mean…she did this to me!”

“Don’t you dare blame her for your crushing her neck, you bastard!” Roy spits, charging like a lion and pinning Tim to the wall, slamming his fists into Tim’s gut, head on his chest.

Tim hugs Roy and runs him backwards to tackle him onto the couch, with heavy breaths beseeching, “Please, Roy stop…I don’t want to hurt you!”

Roy cracks Tim in the jaw and kicks his body to stumble back from Roy on the couch, until he stands erect in the center of the room. The huffs of the men shout.

“You don’t want to hurt me? Because of you my mother and father are dead. How would you feel if I murdered your family?”

“Don’t!” Tim roars, “Don’t go there!”

“Wow! What a great idea!” Roy hits the palm of his hand on his forehead, “Take from you what you took from me.”

Like in a Roman colosseum, the opponents charge each other. Tim twists and pulls Roy’s arm and with a scream of pain, Tim gets behind him, locking Roy’s neck in an arched choke-hold. Roy’s feet leave the floor, and Tim feels something hard dragging up his mid-section. He sets Roy back on solid ground, loosening his grip a bit.

Tim’s voice matching his muscular arm’s firmness, “Please son, stop. Let’s talk like men.”

I’m NOT your SON!” He seethes. Roy bends his waist, pulling Tim onto his back, and his gun now in his hand, he pulls the trigger. With the bang, their bodies fall to lie limp crossing each other, bathed by light’s shadow. Only dead silence hears the knocking sound of the detectives rushing through the front door.

This is the note they find crumpled on the floor.

 

Tim, my love and only friend,

            I think the fates sent you to me so that I could understand my reality. A gift you were from them to me, so they could cackle as they cut my string. I wish I could say that I fell with grace, but hopelessly inappropriate love was my fate. I’m sorry I can’t say that I regret coveting you into adultery for all that it taught me. The amount of love I have for you is not meant for this world, so I’ve decided to die with my dream of you and me. You are the angel who brought me peace, so forgive me for bringing you down with my tragedy.

            This night, this last night of us together and deeds done therein, will not haunt you nor will I, if you complete the following tasks as my last decree:

  1. Bathe my body. All traces of you on or in me will then disappear.
  2. Wipe down any surfaces you touched. Though you’ve been here before, your fingerprints will add up to way too much.
  3. Take everything with you and dispose of it. Careful! Cameras are everywhere.
  4. Tell no one we were ever in touch!

Whoever finds my body will have nothing but a cold, empty shell of me. I will be flying high as a spirit of destiny. I love you more than life! Please forgive me!

                                                            For Eternity, Olivia

 

 

The dings of her cell awakens Tarah from her jet-lagged slumber. The quaint hotel room lights yellow as she answers.

“Hello?” She puts the phone out to squint at the number, “Who’s this? Hello?” The over-seas call goes in and out.

“I’m sorry, hello? Is this Tarah Burns?”

“Yes, who’s this?” She retorts.

“This is Detective Cleary. Remember we met on Sunday?”

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, but your husband is dead.”

“What? No, you’re mistaken. I just spoke to him not even two hours ago. He’s at home.”

“Yes, ma’am, he is. But an intruder was in the home, and he shot your husband and killed himself.”

“No! No! No! Nooo!” She screeches, dropping the phone. At this her daughters run into the room.

“He’s been shot.”

“What? Who? Mom, what happened?”

The silent twin grabs her mom’s phone, “Hello? Hello?” But the call has been lost.

“It’s your dad.” She shakes, tears streaming down her face, “He was shot. Oh my God! We’ve got to get home. No, this isn’t happening! How am I going to tell your brother?” Stunned the

 

girls cry and comfort their mother.

 

Months later, the Fox-Burns case closed, Detective Megan Cleary sets a cup of late night coffee on her desk.

“Hey Cleary,” Detective Joe Tracey calls to his partner, “there’s a file on your desk I thought might peek your interest.” And he walks to the bathroom for a minute.

Megan reads the file until Joe comes back, then reflects, “What the hell? DNA says he killed his dad! Damn that boy went through hell, and he never knew the truth this tells.”

“Burns’ wife made out well too. A half a mil life insurance policy set her and her kids up nice.”

“Well, it all worked out in the end. The innocent are sittin’ pretty, while the sinners are lying dead. Now, I guess this tragedy can be put to bed.”