The rain lashed down, making the leaves on the tree he was hiding behind sing. The ice cold water ran under his collar, but he didn't care, all he cared about was behind a door across the street. It's benign surface glistened in the orange glow of a street light, just an ordinary door to most, but to him it was the gateway to his nightmares. Nothing moved; not the door, or a car, or a person, not even a scavenging fox broke the stillness. His eyes remained locked; knowing, hating, what had to be going on. She was in there; laughing, drinking, touching! It made his stomach churn.
"Bitch," he snarled into the night, his lips pulled back until his teeth showed like a rabid dog, and rabid he felt. How could she betray him like this? What kind of animal was she? A weak, heartless, cruel, cow that would jump in bed with the first wanker to flash a smile in her direction. "Bitch," he snarled again, and as if answering his call, a light appeared in an upstairs window.
His heart raced, his body hummed, his body a coiled spring as he waited for her to appear. There was no way he was letting her away with this. Ten minutes passed before the hall light came on and the door swung open. There she was; her hair a tangled mess, giggling like a school girl, as she leaned against the door stroking the shirtless guys chest.
"Tramp," he snarled and his nails dug into the tree. When they kissed, his fingers bunched, drawing jagged lines across the glistening green bark. Then he watched her draw away, open an umbrella and wave her goodbye before leaving. For a second he thought about going across the street and having it out with the shirtless dick-head, but that would be pointless, his problem was with her, she was the one who let him down, and that was not something he was going to stand for. As he slipped out from behind the tree she had already reached the corner of the road, wobbling slightly on her heighheels. With fists bunch, he crossed the deserted street, checking for watchers, before following.
She was just about to go down a flight of steps leading to the low road when he caught up with her.
"You bitch!" he barked which made her spin. Her eyes were wide as the hand without the umbrella scrabbled for the handrail. It was a near thing but she regained her balance. Her shock gave way to venom.
"Of course me! Do you think you could pull the wool over my eyes?"
"Were you following me?" she demanded and she had the gall to look superior.
"Would you blame me! How long has this been going on? Weeks? Months!"
Her eyes grew hard and her lips drew tight. "Jerry, this has to stop! I told you we're over." She huffed and turned to walk away but his arm shot out and grabbed her by the elbow, spinning her to face him.
"Get off me you fucking weirdo!" she said struggling to free her arm but he wouldn't...couldn't, let her go.
"I love you," he said, tears now mingling with the rain running down his face.
"But I DON'T love you now get your hands off ME," she said finally yanking her arm free. He felt like he'd been slapped.
"Can't what?" she said, her eyes dancing with malice. "You're a joke! I went out with you one time, one fucking time, it meant nothing. Now FUCK OFF," she roared, spit flying from her lips. Inside, rage erupted. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. His fist swung through the night air and crashed into her face. Blood spouted from her nose, her arms windmilled through the air, her eyes wide with terror, as she fell backward into the void. The fall seemed to last forever. Half way down her head collided with the concrete steps with a crunch so loud, he flinched. Her momentum threw her into the air again but her second landing was no less brutal than the first. Then there was nothing. Just a sprawled jumble of limbs arranged unnaturally across the bottom steps.
He couldn't move. He couldn't think. He couldn't talk. All he could do was stare.
After an age, he gulped in some night air and began to cry. He threw his head back and burred the heels of his hands in his face and wailed, "Shit, shit, shit, shit! What am I going to do."
From behind him, an amused sounding voice replied, "Twenty five to life by the look of it." The sound made him twirl around. A few feet away a shadowy figure stood casually against the wall, smoking, his features hidden from the streetlight by the shadow of a fedora.
"It was an accident," he cried, gesturing with both hands toward the bottom of the stairs.
"I know that, Jerry, but I don't think others will," the guy said and shrugged.
"You saw! You could tell them!"
"Tell them what?"
"That I didn't kill her! That it was an accident."
"She mightn't even be dead? You haven't checked her yet." The realization jolted through his body like electricity. He was about to run down the stairs but the old guy howled with laughter. "Son, you're wasting your time. She's deader than a turkey on Christmas." In his heart, Jerry knew the guy was right.
"I'm fucked," he moaned and felt his legs go. He crumpled to the floor and sobbed. The old guy came a few steps closer, pausing at the top of the stairs, where he continued to smoke and look down on the cooling body. He took a long last drag on the fag then flicked the glowing butt into the night, it tumbled just as she had done.
Eventually the old guy spoke. "I can fix this."
"Nobody can fix this," Jerry sobbed into his hands.
"Seriously, I can," the man said earnestly, and for some reason, Jerry believed him.
"How?" he asked, hoping but not willing to believe it might be true.
"I have my ways," the guy said cryptically. Jerry wasn't going to be fobbed off with that.
"Like," he sniffled, drawing his forearm across the snot running from his nose.
"The same way I knew your name is Jerry."
"You heard her call me that."
"Well, how about the same way I know her name was Amy, or that you have thirty-seven Euro and seventy-five cent exactly in your pocket, or that you ate toast and cheese for breakfast this morning?" the guy said turning away from the stairs, the shadow thrown by his cap seemed beyond dark, so dark it was like a hole in the night sky. "Look in your heart and you'll know it's true."
Jerry tilted his tear-streaked face toward the top of the stairs and asked, "You can fix her?"
"Ah, no," said the man managing to sound at least slightly sorry about the fact, "but I can make your part in this a whole thing a hell of a lot better. In fact, I can give you everything you ever wanted; money, power, success and all the women you could ever wish for. All of that with a snap of my fingers." And as if to demonstrate, he did snap them, but nothing changed.
"You're bullshiting me."
"Cross my heart and hope to die," said the guy solemnly.
"Go on so," Jerry said, daring the man to come good on his outlandish claim.
"There is a but."
"But of course there is?" Jerry said wearily, knowing the guy was a nut-job, but after killing his girlfriend who would the world think was crazy.
"She wasn't your girlfriend, you only went out the once...remember," the guy said, his voice dropping so low it was nearly animalistic. Jerry started to get really frightened now, like really. It's like the guy was reaching into his brain and pulling his thoughts straight out of him. The shiver that run through his body had nothing to do with the downpour, it was one-hundred percent internal. After a second the guy continued with what he was saying.
"The but is simple. You can have all of that but you can never love or be loved. If you can think you can live with that, just say the word."
"Look what love has done to me already! Fuck love."
"That sounds like a yes to me," said the guy, who raised his fingers and this time when he clicked them, the noise seemed to bounce around the inside his head, like a echo. The guy stood up and said, "All done." Jerry looked up at him disbelievingly. "Look for yourself," the guy said standing away from the top of the stairs. Jerry looked down, but now, nothing lay at the bottom. By the time he looked back the guy had lit up another cigarette, its red tip was dancing in the darkness as walked away. The guy had gone a few steps when he called over his shoulder, "I'll be seeing you soon, Jerry, our fun has only just begun." It was at that moment Jerry felt the sucking. It was agony, like someone was scooping out his guts with a rusty spoon. On and on it went until he passed out from the pain.
The rain had stopped when he woke, but so had the pain. What was left in it's place was...well...nothing. A huge gaping emptiness. He got to his feet he turned to the steps and looked down. Amy was still gone. With a shrug he started to walk down them, as he went he tried to guess which one had broken her neck, and when he got to the bottom he just kept going without a backward glance.