What the hell was I thinking? I'd already forgotten about everything. Marked it off as a loss. Painful, sure. But the scars had healed. And now this girl, with her fucked up correspondence...
She ruined my perfect life. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't work. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't fuck. I couldn't think and most of all, I couldn't feel.
I'm a fucking wreck, I thought as I drove towards what seemed like the ends of the Earth. Through that flattened expanse of dust, of desert and cacti, camped out hippies on peyote screaming at the sky, rotted corpses of satanic sacrifices, bones of the non believers... through the empty lots of trailer parks, washed away as mudslides collided with lightning storms, as the Mississippi swallowed Tennessee to Oklahoma and crept closer to which way to Albuquerque...
I just want to fucking feel again, I told myself as my ears went deaf. Even with my most revered bands blaring on the stereo, the silence of the night was still louder. I had to stop somewhere in Nevada before my Civic's engine exploded.
Inside a mom and pop gas station, a tinny radio played Buddy Holly. A weathered old grunt behind the counter didn't look up from his copy of On the Genealogy of Morals. I took my time to survey the candy aisle. Oil and vinegar chips went in the bag. "And a pack of camel filters." I added while he rung up the pint of Jack Daniels.
"I'll need to see some ID, mister."
I lowered my head, recoiling from the savage instinct to bite a hole through his throat. "Are you serious? I don't look 22? Cause I'm not, you know... I'm fucking 27...." I went on. I'm never that rude, really. But the ride was killing me. I was a fucking wreck, like I said. My hair's falling out. I got crows feet. I haven't really slept in 5 months. My tattoos look like they're bleeding off my skin. I sweat, piss, and bleed whiskey.
He snorted and threw the cigarettes in the bag.
There I was, somewhere in southern California. I never thought I'd see the Pacific. I never had the desire to. I knew it was there. I could smell the salt water amidst the thickening stink of sweat. I heard seagulls barking, I heard waves breaking. I heard children laughing at how fat an old lady on the sand was. I knew it was there, just like I knew that older woman was there, about four blocks east of the bench I sat on. Apartment 5A. I smoked another cigarette.
I had thrown away every one of her letters. She always used a stamp of some cartoon breed of dog. They all had huge noses and mocking grins. I could it was her, because the labels were always typed out. J. LESTER ADAMS. 1454 N. JORDAN ST. ALEXANDRIA, VA.
And they always started out the same. "I know you told me never to write you again..." and then they branched off in a couple different variations.
"I wish you would write back like you used to..." or "I can't stand it anymore.." or "I just need some reassurance from you. Or advice. Or instruction. Anything." or "Things aren't too bad now, I've kept my promise but my patience is wearing thin" or "I'm sick of replacing all my favorite things. Today..." and then finally, in the last, and shortest one... "I'm desperate. You need to come here now...
"I'm going to kill him."
And I knew he was with her too, four blocks east in Apartment 5A. I knew the stairs would creak before I walked up. Just like I knew the Pacific Ocean was there, and I thought I'd never smell it.
Everything went so well after I flew back home. I got over it. My life reached perfection. I loved my job. I loved my girlfriend. I marked Oscar off as a loss. I just had to get out. I was fine now. Until the letters started. And tore me apart slowly. It ends now.
My skin bristled as I heard footsteps.
And the pitter patter of claws on linoleum as she opened the door, the look of incredulous surprise and horror fixed in her eyes.
The words I carefully chose grated my throat as I spat forth sonic venom,
"Give me my fucking dog."
Oh, victory. Compromise. Vengeance. Relief. What the fuck ever. I couldn't help but melt when I felt that sloppy tongue on my cheek again. I almost cried. I barely smiled. But she was still standing there, mouth hanging open.
"Jack... I didn't think you'd.."
But I was already halfway down the stairs and long gone with my life back.