With Love – Prequel – Part Four

*

We both sat in silence for a few minutes, passing the bottle of Jose Cuvero back and forth to one another. I felt frozen through but for the burning liquor running through me. It was like I’d been microwaved. We tried not to listen to the shouting going on above us. They were both screaming back and forth at one another. I pulled out my cigarettes and offered one to her. She shook her head and took a swig from the bottle. I watched her wince as it hit her tongue.

“I only married him for the green card you know” she said, sliding the bottle back to me.

“I know.”

“He’s a bastard. He beats me.”

I nodded.

“Please, let me go.”

I pretended I didn’t hear her. I just took another big swig from the bottle. I looked at the gun. I passed the bottle to her.

“Fuck you you bastard! You fucking raped us! Both of us!” I heard her shout through the roof.

I squeezed my eyes shut and snapped my fingers at Esmeralda. She slid the bottle back to me. I took another gulp and almost wretched. I squeezed my hands tight around the bottleneck and dug my fingers into my skull. I couldn’t stop thinking about my daddy. About when my big brother was her, but with knuckles, not bullets.

“Do you have any lemons?” I asked her, looking up. I knew I had tears in my eyes.

“Sure” she said, getting up and going to the refrigerator. As she opened the door the light bled into the room, drowning the candles out. I picked up the gun and looked at it in my hands.

“Fuck you you fucking piece of fucking shit!!!!!!” screamed Jolene from above.

We both looked up.

Bang.

Bang!

*

I picked myself up from the floor. I was shaking. I dropped the gun. I could see the little wisp of smoke rising from the barrel. I looked back up at the ceiling. I could only hear her footsteps. No arguing. No shouting. No screaming. Just soft, calm footsteps. I stood up. I looked at the refrigerator. I fell back to the floor as soon as I saw the blood. The bright white walls of the refrigerator were a bright, wet red. Esmeralda had huge dark hole in her forehead. Her eyes were open wide and staring at the door. Blood was still pouring from that hole, down her nose, over her mouth and onto her nightgown. There was an over-turned box of lemons on the floor. I puked on the white floor. I could taste the tequila and the coke mixing together like the chemicals in a battery, pouring from me. I puked again.

I heard Jolene jumping up and down on the bed, laughing. I sat with my back to Esmeralda, unable to move. Frozen again. I reached up and fished around for the bottle of tequila. I picked up one of the lemons that had rolled towards me. I took a big swig from the bottle and winced as I sank my teeth into the lemon. All that acid came through my teeth and onto my tongue and put a little back into that little battery inside me. I puked a little in my mouth. I swallowed it back down.

I looked over at the lemons on the floor next to me. I saw a trickle of blood run along the floor, making a river of the joins in the tiles. It looked a metallic black in the candle light. I took another swig. And another bite. I felt that warmth thaw me out a little more. I heard Jolene coming down the stairs. She was running. I puked in my mouth again.

She came around the doorframe quickly. I saw her wiping her eyes. They were a fresh red. She saw Esmeralda lying half in the refrigerator before she saw me sitting on the floor. She put on a smile.

“Oh great, you killed her! Jesus, she actually looks kind of beautiful like that, don’t you think?”

I said nothing. I took another swig from the bottle and bit the lemon again. I held the bottle out to her. I picked up a fresh lemon and passed it to her. She laughed and grabbed them both. She took a big gulp from the bottle and bit down hard on the lemon. She looked around and smiled as she took it all in. I looked at the bag by her side.

“Is that the money?” I asked.

“Yeah” she said, patting the bag, “About 30 grand I’d say. Not as much as I was hoping for. But it should be enough, for now.”

I nodded. I pushed my head into my hands and squeezed my eyes shut. I felt her come and sit next to me. Our backs against the work surface, facing away from Esmeralda. She slid her hand across my back and onto my shoulder.

“Are you getting over emotional again?”

I nodded.

“Look, that piece of shit got what was coming to him. And her, well, she just got caught in the crossfire. That’s just the way it works, sometimes.”

I nodded again. I knew how Esmeralda felt.

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One thought on “With Love – Prequel – Part Four

  1. Shawn says:

    Well done. You keep the reader’s attention and keep us invested in the narrator and Esmeralda. I didn’t think he’d kill Es. I was shocked, and my only thought was, “Why?” — especially since he sympathizes with her. I thought he’d fight for her and Jolene would wear him down and convince him it was the only way. I was saddened for the narrator too because this act destroyed him a little and changed his belief in who he is. He has lost all innocence and chance to go back or start over, and he knows it.

    We now know why she wanted to kill daddy (we suspected before), but you will still want to flesh out her character (yes, I know It’s coming… be patient right? Can’t help it — I’ve got to tell it from today, but I look forward to tomorrow). Right now, she is the weakest link and has the least dimension. I don’t care about her at all. I SHOULD care that this terrible thing happened to her, and I should want daddy to pay, but all I feel is that she is out of control, bloodthirsty and willing to kill an innocent person to get what she wants. And I’m mad at her too because I really like the narrator, and I see what this is doing to him. Love makes you do crazy things, but … your reader is invested in this character, so you need to make sure we understand why he loves her so much. It doesn’t have to be that she is so fabulous. She can be a monster (see Of Human Bondage for an excellent example of “What? How could he love her?”), but if you can make us believe in his love, we’ll accept anything. I love to see a relationship between two flawed and very damaged people.

    Intrigued by the slipping in of the history with his own father and brother.
    S.

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