Chapter 14: Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?

Riiiiiiiiinnnnngggggg.

The fucking phone. This time, I actually did pick it up and punt it across the room. Just kicked it. Bam. I watched with deep satisfaction as it cracked on the floor, the ring choked and garbled as it stopped midway. "Hello?"

My eyes almost bugged out of my head. I was totally losing it. I had to be.

"Julia, pick up the phone before I'm traced already!!"

I actually made a diving leap for the receiver, my worst enemy of a few minutes ago suddenly becoming my guardian angel. "Hello?!?" I shouted for some reason.

"Meet me tomorrow night by the cemetery on 34th. We're getting out of here."

"Where are we going to go?"

"I dunno. Haven't thought that far ahead."

Click.

And then I wept. I wept over what I almost lost, wept for what I just got back and wept because hearing his voice made me feel like I was capable of weeping again. I just sat on the floor sobbing like a complete idiot for what had to be 10 minutes straight. Then I started thinking about tomorrow night and then the last thing I felt like doing was weeping.

***

Ok...what does one pack when they are planning on disappearing? I decided...nothing. If I vanished without my clothes than surely people would think some terrible fate had befallen me. I would bring nothing but my gun. I picked it up to load it, the barrel pointing vaguely in the direction of the doorway. I gasped slightly as I realized that Vicious had suddenly appeared in it. I stood staring at him, my gun still awkwardly raised.

"If you leave tonight, we will hunt you down like a dog," he said simply. "Nothing personal, mind you. Company policy."

"And what makes you think I'm leaving?"

"You're meeting him, aren't you?" I

tried to look shocked but found I just wasn't. Nothing out of his mouth shocked me anymore. "You got what you wanted," I said in a low voice, shoving my gun in my jacket. I knew Vicious would not kill me here in cold blood. A good business man was more discreet. "He's leaving. He's no longer a threat to you."

"Of course he's a threat. No one leaves knowing what the two of you know. You knew that from the beginning. These are not rules I made up. So I'm going to make you an offer," he sat on the edge of my table. "You kill him tonight and you're granted immunity. I'm not doing this to torture you," he added, observing my seething glare. "I'm doing this because it makes sense. If you don't, I'll have no choice but to kill you both."

"Fuck you."

"We've already had that pleasure. I'm quite over it now."

I stared a million daggers into him before he dared to continue.

"I will say this, Julia. If you were the one to pull the trigger, it would be a good, clean death. I can assure you he won't get such an offer from the Syndicate. So your choices are essentially to end your misery in one fell, painless swoop, or spend a lifetime looking over your shoulder, dreading the day I catch up with you. And I will. And you know it."

At some point in the conversation I had turned my back on him, and now I refused to face him. I wouldn't let him see the doubt plaguing my face, the fear that suddenly settled there. I didn't fear anything from him anymore. But I feared for Spike. And I feared whatever my next move was here could be his undoing. I feared I would loose him as quickly as I had gained him back. "Get out," I said through gritted teeth. And he did.

And I was left alone with a thousand horrible thoughts, two hours time, and one gun.

Well, you stole it because I needed the cash

I walked numbly down the street, allowing the rain to soak me through and not caring. So it had all come down to this. The feeble glimpse at happily ever after so quickly torn to shreds with the promise of a single bullet. If I left with him tonight, it wouldn't be an escape. It would be a mad dash into the downward spiral, constantly fearing what was around the next bend. What peace would there be for the two of us?

But then, what kind of lame justification was that to kill your lover?

You killed it because I wanted revenge

The rain was fat. Those thick, splattery drops that sort of hurt you when they fell, ricocheting off your eyelashes and bouncing off your nose. Miss Minnesota, trudging through the mud with a trench coat and a loaded gun. There was a headline. Former Homecoming Queen on Lam with Mobster Boyfriend. Front page in the tabloids, truly the pinnacle of every trailer princess' career. After all my running away, I was right back where I started, narrowly avoiding life as a punch line on the late night talk shows. Why did I ever think I could have otherwise? Because of him? Did I really believe him all this time? Did he believe himself?

You lied to me because I asked you to

I spotted him waiting in the rain, faint glow of a cigarette lighting the way like some perverse beacon. I ducked briefly back into the alley, not quite sure what I should do. Should I run to him? Throw my arms around him and run gaily off into the sunset?

We didn't even have a sunset. It was a murky, gray, miserable night. Maybe that was God telling us we had a snowballs chance. Funny, I never considered God's role in any of this until that moment. I never really considered God at all before. And I certainly wasn't considering Him as I raised my weapon, barrel waving shakily in the rain. Maybe this was more humane. Not every dog wound up on the farm chasing rabbits all day.

Rabbits. Think of the rabbits, Spike, I thought cynically, my gun still pointed on him from a distance. Think of the happiest place in the world and I'll put you there. My gun clicked sinisterly and my hand stopped shaking. Maybe he knew I was there. Maybe he knew what I was about to do.

Baby, can we still be friends?

And then I thought of a third option. Maybe the most difficult one of all. I could run to him and drag him down with me. I could destroy him and accept my own destiny. Or...

Or I could let him go.

He was smart. He was bright. He was resourceful. He was the indomitable Spike and he could make it on his own. The two of us didn't have much of a chance but separately...separately we could make it. We could start new lives. We could disappear. But if I were to do this, I couldn't tell him. I would have to make him believe I gave him up. Make him move on. I would have to do what I should have done in the first place. I would have to say goodbye. Slowly, I put down the gun.

The deeper I spin
The hunter will sin for your ivory skin

And best of all, Vicious would not be expecting it. It would throw him for a long time, because the places we'd go together were not the ones we would go apart. He would go off somewhere to forget. Crawl off somewhere to lick the wounds that I had given to him. But he was still Spike. And he'd keep going. He'd have to. Because if I left him standing there in the rain he wouldn't be positive that I wasn't still out there somewhere waiting.

Took a drive in the dirty rain
To a place where the wind calls your name

Now all I had to do was turn around. I just had to leave. Run in the opposite direction, never knowing if I'd hear his voice again. I would go off somewhere alone, knowing he was still out there somewhere and that I couldn't be with him. Did I have the strength for that? For him, I would try.

Hallelujah, heavens white rose
The doors you open I just can't close

I started running. Gun still out in the open, tears mixing freely with the rain as I pounded the pavement. I ran blindly, freely, leaping over any obstacle in my way just as long as I got away from him. Freed myself from his temptation, escaped the promises we kept making ourselves. The promises we knew we'd break anyway. I ran from his eyes, those goofy mismatched eyes that were both so young and so old, especially when he smiled. I just ran.

Come on now love, don't you look back

And when I felt like I had gotten far enough away, I stopped. I was panting in an alley somewhere, back against the wall. Fuck, I needed a smoke. I dug through my coat and emerged with a lighter. His lighter. I examined it, trying to see if there was anything remarkable about it, other then it was his. It was a standard Bic. Pink. He always said he liked the color pink. He said pink and guys together confused people. People didn't know what to make of a guy who fancied pink. He always liked to keep people guessing. He was a strange man.

Who's going to ride your wild horses?

He was a beautiful man.

Who's going to drown in your blue sea?

He was a bit of a crazy man.

Who's going to taste your salt water kisses?

But he wasn't my man anymore.

 

Who's going to take the place of me?

 

 

EPILOGUE



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