A flash-study in how good and evil can sometimes walk the same path before they dramatically diverge….
by: T.E. Cowell
“This is crazy,” she said and then looked over at me. “Isn’t this crazy?”
I shrugged. I thought that maybe it was a little crazy. But I also thought that it was exciting, too. I thought it might be crazier if we parted ways and never saw each other again. I was about to say something to this effect when she said, “I mean, we don’t even know each other. I know nothing about you.”
“You know a few things,” I said.
She didn’t say anything to this. I could tell she was thinking, remembering.
We’d met at a bar. We’d enjoyed each other’s company that evening, enough to have a few drinks together. Afterwards, I’d followed her back to her apartment and I ended up staying the night. We had a good time. In the morning I made her breakfast. Now we were in her car in her apartment’s parking lot. She was debating driving me to the bus station. I was thinking about where I wanted to go next, which city, but I couldn’t make up my mind. In that moment I felt that I could use a break from traveling, from seeing new places. It was starting to wear me out a little. I’d been doing it for almost a year now, and I was getting a little tired of it. I was beginning to think that settling down somewhere, finding an apartment, a girlfriend, an agreeable routine, wasn’t such a bad idea.
I wanted to stay with her and see how things went. I wanted her to give me a chance. But I couldn’t just tell her this. It just didn’t seem right somehow. It was her life I’d be barging in on, not the other way around. Still, I knew I’d miss her if she left me. I knew it’d hurt if she drove me to the bus station and we said sayonara and never saw each other again.
She was about to start the engine, to turn the key. Her hand was on the key. I didn’t think I could take much more of this.
“Don’t,” I said. “Please.” I looked at her and she looked at me. Neither of us looked away from each other for quite a long time.
He met her in a town he was traveling through, spending the night in a barebones motel before getting up in the morning to drive further south. After checking into the motel he’d walked to a nearby bar and had a few drinks. Then he walked outside the bar simply to stretch his legs and see what there was to see, if anything, up and down the street. He couldn’t have imagined a better sight––an attractive young woman walking up the sidewalk towards him. Thanks to the alcohol he’d had in the bar, he found the courage to meet her eyes as she walked past him. Then he surprised himself by asking if he could buy her a drink. She stopped walking, standing a mere foot away from him now, and studied him for a second or two. He thought she was one of the prettiest women he’d ever seen, and that if she declined his invitation, he would feel a sense of heavy loss.
She appraised him further – he was still young and not bad looking. “Sure,” she said.
A few hours later they were in his motel room together, having drunken, clumsy sex. Afterwards, lying in bed next to her, he felt like he was in love.
She ended up staying the night with him. In the morning, after showering, about the time he had to get back on the road, they exchanged phone numbers before saying goodbye.
Weeks later, he was back in her town, staying the night again. After getting a room at the same motel, he walked to the same bar. After his first drink he texted her.
“I’ve got a bf,” she texted him back a few minutes later.
“No u don’t,” he texted.
“How do u know?”
“I just do,” he texted.
She didn’t text him back. He walked into the bathroom to take a leak, wondering why women had to be so complicated. He washed his hands and splashed water on his face before going back to his seat at the bar. Then he took his phone back out of his pocket again.
“At least have a drink with me for old time’s sake,” he texted. “Bring ur bf if u want. I have to leave 1st thing in the morning.”
He waited for her to text him back. After a while, when she didn’t, he texted, “U don’t know how happy it’d make me to c u again.”
Finally she relented. She didn’t want to meet at the bar though – she said she’d stop by his motel room for a quick minute or two, which meant, he guessed, a half hour or so, no more than an hour. He was disappointed. He hoped he could change her mind and make her stay longer, the night if possible. He hoped he didn’t have to resort to desperate measures.
He ordered another drink and drank it down before heading for the motel.
He heard her knock on his door and got up off the bed. He opened the door and invited her in. She took off her jacket, draped it across the back of the lone chair in the room. Then he moved toward her, put his hands on either side of her shoulders, looked her in the eyes and tried to go in for a kiss. But she turned her head, avoiding his lips.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
She shrugged. She wouldn’t look at him. “I don’t know,” she said.
She sat down on the edge of the bed. He sat down next to her. He tried to kiss her again, on the neck this time, but again she wasn’t receptive.
“What gives?” he said.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just not in the mood right now. I had a fight with my dad earlier.”
He didn’t know whether he could believe her or not, but he tried to, as it brought him some peace of mind knowing that her reticence had nothing to do with him.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. He put his hand on her leg. Then he started rubbing her leg. She wouldn’t look at him, but she let him continue caressing her.
He didn’t know what to say, how to bring her out of her funk, how to get her mind off her dad. He thought about asking her if she wanted to go to the bar and have a few drinks, but before he opened his mouth she said, “I should go. I shouldn’t have come over. I’m really not in the mood right now for anything.” She turned her head and looked at him. “Sorry,” she said.
He couldn’t stand to think of her leaving him, not on these strange terms. What if he never saw her again? He couldn’t stand to think such a thing. He still felt that he loved her.
“Don’t,” he said. “Don’t go. Please.” He started to tremble at the thought. “How about we go to the bar and have a good time?”
She shook her head. “I’m gonna go,” she said.
“Stay,” he said. “Please.”
He hated himself for pleading like this, for sounding so helpless and dependent. But he couldn’t think of anything else to do. He felt desperate. He needed her. He didn’t know if he could get on without her. She’d been on his mind every day since they’d met, and to think this was the end was too much for him to bear.
She stood up off the bed. He stood up too. She walked past him and took her jacket off the back of the chair. He walked into the bathroom. He turned on the shower, running the water full blast. Leaving the bathroom door wide open, he came out of the bathroom and walked past her as she was just putting on her jacket. She watched him start rummaging through his backpack, which was on top the lone table in the room. He rummaged as if he was looking for something specific, and she wondered what he was looking for. It was then that she realized that she didn’t know this guy, that apart from having slept with him she knew next to nothing about him.
She started for the door. But as she did he turned and started toward her. She reached for the doorknob right as he grabbed her and turned her around and threw her back on the bed. As she screamed she saw a roll of duct tape in his hands, and soon her screams were muted.
After that night he made a point of not stopping in her town again. He continued to think about her though, continued to feel that he loved her, but he knew things would never be the same again, would never be right. He hadn’t known he was capable of what he’d done until after the fact. He felt horrible about it now, of course, but at the time he’d only felt desperate, so desperate that it seemed he’d had no control over the awful thing he’d done.