Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Ends and Means -- (Wednesday Writing)


Once upon a time I tried to post some of my own personal writing to this blog every week. It seems like forever ago since I last did that. Really it's been about 17 months. In "Internet Time", that is almost forever.

Regardless of how long it's been, it's time to start again. I don't know if I'm going to go back to a regular weekly "Wednesday Writing" segment on the blog or not. At the very least I NEED to get back into some kind of regular writing routine. So bear with me as I try. And always feel free to comment, critique, etc.

Thanks for reading.

Ends and Means

"And then what?!?"

Jeremy's nostrils flared as he stared intently at Damian, willing him to answer. Damian in turn casually slipped his right hand into his jacket pocket and slowly let a smile extend across his face.

"And then, my doubting friend, we will compel her to accept."

Jeremy felt his breath escape in a huff. He began to pace, anxiously alternating his gaze between Damian and the front door. He stopped and glared at Damian then in two steps he was at the front window and peeking out through a slit in the heavy curtains.

Outside everything looked calm and peaceful. The yellow beams of streetlights cut yellow patches through the cool blue-grey air. Dawn was close. Color was starting to fight back against the darkness.

He strained his eyes through the twilight of dawn in search of any motion up or down the street. He forced his ears to focus intently, searching for even the hint of sound from outside. The sound of a car door closing. The sounds of keys jangling or sliding into the lock. Instead all he heard was the heavy sound of his own breathing and the throbbing of his blood rushing through his veins.

He focused on the serene silence outside and forced himself to slow his breathing. After a moment, when he felt more in control, he turned to face Damian.

"Alright. I'll rephrase. How will we compel her? What makes you so certain she'll accept?"

Through the partial darkness of the room, Jeremy watched Damian's smile widen. His white teeth put forth an eerie glow. Then Damian chuckled softly and took a step towards Jeremy, pulling his hand from his jacket pocket as he did so.

"Because she will have no choice."

The chuckle grew into a rhythmic laughter as Damian held forth his hand. Jeremy stepped forward to get a closer look. A twisted cord dangled from Damian's fingers. Tied on the end of the cord like a pendant was a small black vial. Jeremy reached out to grab the vial but Damian quickly pulled his hand back and took a step away.

"What is it?"

Damian held his hand at eye level and let the vial dangle in front of his face.

"It's the key to our success."

He whipped his hand back again and again, keeping it just out of reach as Jeremy lunged. Damian leisurely hopped around the side of the sofa keeping it between himself and Jeremy. He spun the vial in a wide circle in front of him then let it hang like a pendulum in the air and slowly drift to a stop.

"But what does it do?"

"Don't worry. It's nothing dangerous. It won't harm her in any way. In fact, I won't even use it if she agrees immediately. But if she resists. Well then…"

Damian let his words dangle off as he held the vial before his eyes again. Jeremy leaned forward and put his hands on the back of the sofa, straining to get a better look at the object in Damian's hands.

"You do want this, don't you Jeremy? You did ask me to help?"

Damian let his hands fall back to his side and walked back around to Jeremy, slipping the vial back in his pocket as he wrapped his arm over Jeremy's shoulders. Jeremy felt uneasy rather than reassured by the motion.

"I'm not sure. No. Not like this. I don't want it like this."

"Like what?"

Jeremy slipped out from under Damian's arm and turned in a circle and held his arms wide.

"Like this. In her house in the middle of the night. With you. You and your whatever that is. Your 'guarantee to success'. Just. Ugh. I don't know. This isn't right Damian. I don't like it. And I know she's not going to like it."

"You don't approve of my methods?"

"No. No I don't."

"But Jeremy you told me. You told me when you first asked for my help. You said you would do anything. You said...anything."

"I know what I said. That's just something people say. It doesn't mean they will do 'anything.' It just means."

"What? What does it mean?"

"It means. I don't know what it means. It means they. It mean's they'll. Ugh."

Jeremy plopped down into the overstuffed chair and sighed up at Damian.

"It means they're desperate. Desire has driven them to the brink and put obsession ahead of reason. That's what it means Jeremy. And it is that desperate obsession that brought you to me. Your desire has not changed. You still want the same thing. You still need the same thing. You disapprove of my methods. But sometimes Jeremy. Sometimes desires can only be achieved in certain ways. Sometimes the ends dictate certain means. This is the best way. The only way."

Damian settled himself onto the sofa opposite Jeremy and leaned back into its deep cushions. His face was drawn into a smug grin as he folded his hands across his chest and tipped his head back to stare blankly at the ceiling.

After tense moments of silence, Jeremy stood abruptly and placed himself immediately in front of Damian, his leg bumping Damian's knee.

"Nope. I can't. We're done. Right now. This may be your plan, but you're doing it for me and I say it's time to abort. Let's go."

He grabbed Damian's forearm and took a half-step backwards, intending to pull Damian to his feet. Instead Damian sloughed off Jeremy's hand and laughed again.

"Our course is set Jeremy. There's no turning back."

He leaned back again and closed his eyes, almost as if preparing to sleep. Jeremy stared in exasperation.

"Whatever. This is over. Come on. We're leaving. Now."

As Jeremy reached his hand out again to grab Damian's arm, a sudden flash of horror shot through him. He held his breath and listened intently through the darkness.

Maybe he imagined it.

Maybe he was hearing things.

Then, the sound came again. From outside the front window, the sound of a car door shutting. Footsteps clicking gently on the sidewalk.

Jeremy glanced towards the door. A soft shadow silhouetted itself on the diamond shaped windows in the upper panel of the door. Jeremy felt his stomach go raw and sink through the floor. His blood turned to ice in his veins and his skin began to crawl.

Outside, the jangling sound of keys echoed through the silence then changed into the metallic slipping sound of the key slipping into the lock.

He felt his body shudder involuntarily. He wanted to run. To hide. But he was frozen. He saw the living room in its entirety as if he was floating outside himself. He saw himself standing frozen in front of the couch, Damian lounging casually next to him.

Then he saw the door glide open towards him. She stepped through the door with her head down, dumping her keys back into her purse and pawing idly through the contents as though looking for something else. She blindly reached around and pushed the door shut behind her. In a single fluid motion she set her purse on the side table next to the door and flipped on the light switch flooding the entryway and living room with a soft yellow glow.

At the same moment, she looked up.

Jeremy met her gaze and time seemed to stop. Less than a second passed but it felt like so much more. Jeremy saw the dreary look in her eyes turn to confusion.

Then recognition.

Then fear.

Then, she screamed.

And ran.

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

oh dang...this makes me want more...wondering at what she is so set the tension nicely and were ambiguous enough that we are left guessing...