September 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
I blinked. The scene before me was frozen on my eyelids, etched in sharp relief, providing the backdrop to the capitulation of my world. She walked away from me, into the foggy area at the edge of my vision where tears were beginning to escape from my eyes. My heart seemed to thud slowly, drained of blood, but my pulse raced. I could see some bitch watching me as I stood there dumbstruck, staring stupidly after my girlfriend as she made her way to the exit, not stopping once to turn back and observe the shattered man she had left in her wake.
As my life came crashing down around me, it was obvious to me that hers would have to too. I reached into the back of my jeans and drew the gun. I had raised it before I’d even thought about the consequences. A deafening crack was the indisputable evidence that I had fired it. I watched her fly forward; as if her delicate body had been struck by a thundering steam-roller. Her head smashed against the bar at the far end. Her blood, red as a thousand poppies, splashed against the wall like a macabre Pollock masterpiece, as a dozen ear-piercing screams erupted from every table of the packed burger bar.
It seemed so natural to me. I had no intention of living any more. I turned to my left and fired again. It thudded into the chest of the bitch who had stared so brazenly at me. Her eyes now stared incredulously at me as her life ebbed away. She crashed down back in her seat, which toppled over with a metallic crash. Her foot caught the table, upending it, and plates and glasses sailed through the air before smashing down onto the floor. Her date could only half turn towards the door before I sent a third shot. This one ripped through his bicep, eliciting a high-pitched animal shriek – pain mixed with terror. To the right, I saw two guys rush towards me. One was carrying his knife. It was raised above his head, flashing in the gaudy lamplight. I dropped him too, this time with an unerring shot that bore clean through his forehead. The other guy, suddenly drenched in his friends life-blood, stopped and fell to his knees, his arms coming up automatically to his face to prevent the same fate befalling him. I watched as the rest of the customers fled out into the New York night, the air charged with the pregnant threat of a savage storm.
I stood and surveyed the carnage around me, the chaos from my hand. The floor was slick with blood, punctuated by fragments of coloured glass and slumped corpses. Finally my eyes came to rest on the twisted body of my love; a body I had known for so long, had held tightly in the small hours of the morning when a man doubts his courage and needs the strength of a good woman by his side. Her final words echoed one last time through my head. Then I raised the barrel to my temple and pulled the trigger. The world went black.
She looked fantastic. Her hair was curled the way I liked it, playing around her shoulders with every minute turn of her head. But her face betrayed her. She looked full of remorse, as if wrenching with some internal demon that she no longer had the strength to restrain. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as I watched her ruby red lips part. Somehow, I knew what she was about to say, even though the signs had never been there.
“I’ve been seeing someone else. It’s been going on for four months now. I love him. I’m so sorry.”
The words hung in the air between us over the table. For a moment, my breath wouldn’t come. It had halted somewhere in my throat as the words finally began to seep into my unconsciousness, unbidden and unwanted. For a moment, it looked as though her heart was breaking, like mine; that the enormity of what she’d just said actually registered with her too. But then it was gone. A look of defiance stole across her face as her eyes flashed with the conviction of her decision, cold and unfriendly as steel. She rose from the table, her burger untouched before her.
“I’m so sorry,” she repeated again. This time her voice was even. With a last look, she turned away from me and headed for the door.
It seemed so right. The timing was perfect. With the Wagstaffs finally locked up, my life was about to become easier. No more living in fear, no more running from responsibilty. No more fucking around with guns. I’m out, I said to myself. I looked around at the burger bar. It had been the place of our first date – I had never been very good with romance. She hadn’t cared. She had dug me. She accepted me for what I was, a young punk with a shit-tonne of trouble on his shoulders who needed a girl by his side. She had laid in my arms in my bed at the end of that first date, and had whispered that everything would be alright.
I owed it all to her. She had kept me sane, stopped me from consuming myself with the fear and paranoia of being hunted by the people across town who wanted me dead. She had implored me to ditch my life of crime and trust in us, in what we had. She was right. I took the jeweller’s box out of the pocket of my jacket. I laid it carefully on the table. She would be here any minute. I wanted to get this right. I opened the box. The diamond set in the engagement ring sparkled brightly.
She had made an honest man of me, surely it was time I made an honest woman out of her?