“Michael?” Peggy asked quietly as she observed a tear roll down his face.
“What.” Michael answered wiping it off.
“How long are you going to keep quiet?”
“Peg, let’s just go find your brother. Okay?” He pleaded with a broken tone.
He kept on driving a while following the directions from the GPS. He made a left turn and realized where he was. He stopped in front of 24 Diner. It had been their favorite hang-out for breakfast and drinks. Now it was just a foreign structure to him. How quickly things change.
“Michael… don’t do this to yourself. Please. This is torture.”
“I just want to know why. Why? I was never unfaithful. Never. I fucking loved her. I adored her. It fucking hurts. Right here.” He said pounding his chest with his right fist.
“She ripped my heart out and stomped on it. How could you do that to the man you love! First Paul… now me.”
“Michael… I’m sure she still loves –”
“Save it Peg! What the…”
Michael’s eyes burned. Ellen was walking out of the diner in the arms of another man laughing and looking very intimate. He was a tiny man with glasses, completely opposite of him. Michael’s blood boiled over. He looked familiar to him but he couldn’t really place him. Peggy’s eyes widened as she realized what was happening. She looked at a very red Michael. Michael stormed out of the car.
“Michael! No! Wait!” She ran out after him as he was approaching the couple in the nearby parking lot.
Ellen went pale at the sight of him. He punched the guy right in the face knocking him down and went straight at Ellen. Neither of them had a chance to exclaim, he had reacted so fast.
“Michael!” Ellen exclaimed as he put his hand around her neck and began to squeeze.
Peggy grabbed his arm pleading with him. Ellen began to cough as Michael squeezed tighter. He was a fury unleashed on her.
“Michael! Please darlin’! Don’t do this! Please!” Peggy begged desperately.
Ellen couldn’t reach enough to push him off. She was a petite beauty. He was a giant. He let go pushing her to the ground. Meanwhile the guy came at him. Peggy ran towards Ellen who was trying to catch her breath. Michael hadn’t even felt the punch the guy gave him on his side. He went at him with a vengeance now, punching him repeatedly. He drew blood and he swore he heard his nose crack. Peggy and Ellen were screaming for him to stop. He couldn’t and he nearly bludgeoned the guy to death with his bare fist. He finally stopped. He was in such a rage, tears rolling down his face. Ellen ran to her now bloodied face companion. The guy was shaking, convulsing.
“You’re an animal! I hate you Michael! I hate you!” Ellen exclaimed crying, trying to help her companion up.
“Michael…” Peggy whispered in shock.
She knew Michael had a temper but he was never violent, maybe aggressive, but this was beyond her comprehension. This act beat anything she had ever witnessed from Michael. He was like a zombie, numb, hypnotized.
“You fucking fooled around with this guy? He’s the reason you…” Michael said in disbelief with his eyes red and teary.
He shook his head. He cried choking on his tears a little. A small crowd was forming in the parking lot. Michael turned and walked off to nowhere. He felt like dying. Seeing Ellen in his arms was the worst thing he had ever experienced.
“I’m calling the police Michael! You could have killed him!” Ellen exclaimed sobbing, desperate as her companion seemed to leave consciousness.
“Ellen, he’s so hurt. How could you do this?”
“Fucking hate him Peggy! I hate him! Look at what he did! He’s a beast! Greg? Hold on love, hold on.”
Peggy didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t believe either of them right now. But she was the voice of reason in this chaos and true to her protective instincts she called 911 for an ambulance. The guy seemed not able to recover after Michael’s blows. But she would defend Michael was acting in self-defense. She ran after Michael. The small crowd lingered trying to offer assistance.
Michael had walked a whole block to nowhere. He was in shock. He expected anything else but this? If at least the guy was a hunk, a beef-cake, maybe he’d comprehend but he was an insignificant scrawny looking guy. A guy with balls the size of marbles. He wanted to die for certain. The pain was too strong. He had never felt the ache stabbing at his heart right now. He fell to his knees crying. He coiled into a fetus position in the middle of the street.
“Michael!” Peggy cried as she ran towards him. “Michael… love…”
“I loved her… I was going to ask her to marry me next week during the opening. I swear I was going to make it official. She was the one. I knew I was taking too long but that’s just me. It’s the way I’m built and I thought she understood that. I loved her with everything in me! She fucking destroyed me Peg! She…”
He stopped the sobbing and it hit him. How long had this been going on? How long? He picked himself up and started back towards the parking lot of the diner.
Peggy couldn’t keep up with him. Michael was like a machine. He cleaned off the tears from his face. He could hear the ambulance in the distance. Ellen was still crying holding her companion. She saw Michael heading towards them and started at him. She jumped on him and started hitting him violently. Michael pulled her off easily and held her wrists behind her back.
“You’re a fucking bastard!” She said spitting on his face.
Michael looked at her with so much sadness. They had sex almost every day for the last year. He had had a dry spell before that because of stress. He remembers her leaving some days early in the evening to go out with so called friends while he recovered from the spell. He remembered now. The guy was a part of the gang she hung out with. He was there one night when they arrived as a group to pick her up for a concert. He had to work and couldn’t go.
“Let me go! You asshole!”
“Sir, let her go!” A tall man from the small crowd of on lookers tried to come to the rescue.
Michael punched him straight in the face with his left fist almost as quickly as the gentleman spoke. He knocked him to the ground, unconscious.
“Michael Raphael Angelus!” Peggy exclaimed in a furious fit of motherhood. Michael was not listening.
“How long? How long!” He demanded of a struggling Ellen. He was squeezing her wrists so tight he was cutting off circulation.
“One year! You happy! And I loved it! You, fucking me every day all the while I was thinking of him. It gave me pleasure at first, to deceive you… then I couldn’t wait to see him and being with you became unbearable for months. I was so stupid. I should have left you a long time ago.” Ellen said quietly in a serious tone.
Michael looked into her eyes and saw her for who she truly was. He saw the hatred. The pain it caused him, intolerable. Without saying a word, he spoke out with teary eyes revealing his hurt. His heart sank further into darkness. She had literally taken him for a fool. It was the worst feeling. He let her go. He wanted to end her existence. He wanted to erase the past two years.
Part of the crowd died down as the ambulance sounded closer. Ellen didn’t say anything else. She went back to her lover still unconscious. Michael was beside himself. Peggy pulled on his arm but he didn’t budge. He looked at the miserable couple and wanted to vomit. He walked towards them in the middle of the parking lot, unzipped his pants and began to urinate on them.
“Michael!” Peggy exclaimed in shock.
“You son of bitch!” Ellen screamed out as the small crowd gasped.
No one dared challenge him after witnessing what he was capable of doing. When Michael was done, he simply zipped back up and walked slowly towards the car. He said nothing, he felt nothing. He wanted to die.
Peggy shook her head at the pee soaked couple and followed Michael to the car. She looked at him, not in anger, but with empathy. She understood Michael and how he had been so in love that the loathing came naturally. As far as she was concerned Ellen got what she deserved. She was on Michael’s side. She swallowed as Michael started the ignition. They were only a few miles away from Olivia’s lair.
Michael drove to the fading sound of sirens, his heart as black as the darkest war. War. He would have to deal with the painful war inside him now, alone. He remembered how Paul withdrew from life after his break up. He didn’t get it then. He didn’t fully understand how you could hurt so much that you just wanted to end, seize to breathe. He hated the feeling. Fucking pain, he thought.
Peggy tried Paul’s number again. Nothing. She didn’t know what to think anymore. Her brother was missing and his best friend was a mess. She had to be home before the kids got back from school. The kids. She missed them now. This was not what she imagined would happen when she woke up early this morning. Life was unpredictable with these two, she thought as she stared at a very quiet Michael. She put her hand on his shoulder. Michael didn’t react at all and just kept on driving.
“You don’t have to say anything but just listen.” She said with the sweet tone that set her apart from his own Mother, who used to beat him with a stick and kept him in hunger pangs when he was little for no good reason. As a result, he would spend a lot of time at Paul’s house. Peggy was always around to take care of them.
“I know love. I know this must hurt so deep, it cuts you. You’ve had so many struggles in your life you didn’t deserve this. Any of it! But acting out in violence like you just did, it isn’t going to make things better for you or anyone. What she’s done has no forgiveness. And if it makes you feel any better, I never really liked her. That’s all.”
Michael swallowed a few times listening to her gentle lecture. He couldn’t feel anything though and while she may be right, he couldn’t help acting out that way. It was Ellen’s fault. He blamed her for everything he was feeling and for everything he no longer felt.
“You have arrived at your destination.” The voice on the GPS rang in Michaels ears.
“Wow.” Peggy whispered. “Serene Hills? Why would he ever agree to come to this Estate?” She said clearing her throat in awe of the place.
Michael swallowed the pain back. He took the keys out of the ignition feeling a little lost, weak. He felt like a child just learning to walk. Ellen no longer being in his life made the normal things he did abnormal, awkward. He shook it off. The pit of his stomach sick, wrenching. He swallowed again. Suck it up! He thought.
“Look Peg, let me go alone. I don’t know what he may have gotten himself into and I’d rather you stay here clear out of who knows what. I don’t want you anywhere near this.”
“You think he’s gotten into something illegal?”
“I don’t know. Look at this place. This is not Paul. Not at all.”
Peggy smiled. Michael was right. Paul was a simple guy. No nonsense. Nothing fancy and an old fashion kind of guy. He was good that way.
“Okay. But don’t embarrass him or anything. I just want to make sure he’s okay.”
“Yeah, well I’m doing this for you and because the bastard would have called me if he was having this good of a time. Don’t worry. It had been a long time for him. He must have needed a few days’ worth to catch up.”
“Michael! You are something else! Go. I’ll wait.”
Michael gave her a faint smile. He walked out into the cool fall sunlight, still sad, still broken hearted but determined to make Peggy feel better. He owed her that much. He felt as if the day was laughing at him though. He struggled to give a shit whether or not Paul was okay. When he got his hands on him, he was going to beat him senseless just to get it out of his system.
As he approached the front door he noticed Paul’s car parked deep in the drive way passed the gated entry. The gate was open. He walked over and looked in through one of the windows. No signs of anything out of the ordinary. Bastard, he thought. A loud shriek startled him. It sounded like an animal. Perhaps a guard dog about to be unleashed, he thought. He rushed back out towards the front door. It was an amazing house. Modern, like the art he was known for.
“Fucking lucky bastard.” He whispered smiling as he rang the doorbell.
Nothing. He rang the doorbell another time. He began to feel anxious and started off to look through one of the windows. They revealed nothing. The curtains were drawn at every large pane. He heard the door click and rushed back. He gasped faintly at the sight of a frail Clover. Her face was deformed, scarred. She had only her left eye as the other was covered up with scar tissue that had healed over an empty socket. She had George to thank for that and Olivia for the deep scars on her neck and face. She was a skinny frail thing. Her grey hair was pulled back tightly into a bun and she had a rather large forehead and big ears that stood out on either side of her head. Her black long-sleeve dress covered her tiny frame completely from head to toe.
“Yes?” She asked with a strong voice cautiously assessing the visitor.
She observed him guardedly. In all her years, and they were many, she had never gazed upon such a being. He was not vampire and his odor was of something else, something other than human.
©2017 Mel Gutiér