tagRomanceFinding My Way Home Ch. 05

Finding My Way Home Ch. 05


Part V

From Parts I - IV: I returned from Afghanistan, having been shot in the shoulder and having two surgeries to repair it. I got out of the Army to help my mother who had bladder cancer and ran into the high school girl on whom I had had a crush. I found out she was a single mother of a young daughter and tried to ask her out, only to have her accuse me of treating her like someone who I thought couldn't take care of herself and needed to be saved. She realized her mistake and we dated once then I was invited to her house, where I ran into her ex, who had drugged her and then knocked me out. After the incident, Lily says she won't see me anymore, but then, one night she arrived, drunk, and fucks me. When she wakes, she says it was a mistake and goes back to not seeing me anymore. After a few weeks of being ignored and turned down by Lily, I asked the waitress Cindy out and she proved to be a sexual dynamo. After getting very close to Cindy and having wonderful sex, Buck gets sentenced and his family comes after me, leading to Cindy getting killed.

Chapter 14. Now what?

1 February 2010

I managed to get through that day, but barely. The next day the police brought my car home and asked to talk to me. They asked me about the incident and I took them through it as I remembered it. I didn't tell them about the Afghanistan flashback or the dream. No fucking way. They said it would be awhile before I got my weapon back. They were very apologetic while staring at me as if there was something wrong with me. It wasn't that they seemed suspicious, but it was as if they were looking at someone who worked for the circus, the bearded lady or some other such freak. It made me realize that in this area and that town none of them had probably ever shot and killed someone. I wondered if any of them had even drawn their weapon while on duty.

I had intermittent bursts of emotion for the next few days and my sleep was interrupted by any sound at all. The slightest thing could make me angry and a sappy commercial could make me break down and cry. In short, I was an emotional mess. I couldn't stop thinking about how I had found someone that I really did feel that I could spend time with and she was taken from me. I wondered if there was anything in life that was going to be fair to me when it came to relationships. I also thought about how great Cindy was about everything -- sex, hanging out, shooting at the range, working as a waitress; she seemed to be able to enjoy everything in life. Her outlook had been rubbing off on me and now she was gone; and with it my cheerful outlook. When they killed her, they killed that in me, too.

I also felt that it was my fault. I knew that I wasn't responsible for the actions of two lunatics, but if I had never gotten involved with her, she would be alive. She was so fun-loving, alive, and full of promise and good will. I think that's what made me feel the worst. She always meant well and never once did I hear her utter any bad things against anyone. She didn't blame anyone for her upbringing, her station in life. She just lived. And she knew how to live and have fun. That was the most difficult thing to take.

There was also the problem with Buck's family. They didn't go after Lily, they came after me. They went after me and Cindy got in the way and killed for it. At least I killed those assholes.

I didn't leave the house for the next week at all, except for the funeral. It was sunny until about 10am when the clouds rolled in. It appeared that even God did not want to watch the funeral of a person so full of life and joy. All the sunshine was taken with her. It even started raining a little just when we laid her to rest, like tears had to be shed for her. I just prayed that there was a God, because Cindy deserved the best and she could even brighten his day.

Everyone there was local except for her mother. I finally met her mother, who looked exactly like what I expected. She was a little too tan, a little too flashy, and a little too much in every way. She was the cliché I had always seen on TV and dismissed: divorced, but still playing the game, living in a small home in Florida, and probably chasing some man or other every moment. We only spoke briefly. She looked me over good. "My daughter said good things about you. I also know that you are the one that killed her killers. Thanks."

What do you say to that? I thanked her and worked on getting through the funeral and wake without getting too emotional. Earlier in the week, Rhonda had mentioned that they might want me to stand up and give the eulogy. I passed on that and vehemently told her no.

The worst part was when someone came up and wanted to talk about what if felt like to kill somebody. He asked it loud enough that several people were shocked and stared at him almost as much as I did. If stares could kill, I would have left him a smoking hole in the ground. I didn't answer; I just turned and walked away. I left the wake after that. I didn't want anything else to do with that crowd and I was still feeling responsible.

It was at the end of that week that I thought of something that puzzled me. I had been wallowing in self pity and beating myself up over getting her killed when it came to me. I called Detective Wilson and asked how the Boyds could have possibly known where I was and where Cindy lived. He looked into his notes and hesitated for a moment. "They went by Lily Johnson's café and she told them."

I was shocked. I was dismayed. I was angry. Did Lily tell them because she was angry with me, jealous of Cindy, what? She had accused me of going after someone who worked for her on purpose. What a bitch!

The more I thought about it the angrier I became. She had done it because I had moved on and she was jealous of Cindy. That had to be it. She couldn't stand the fact that I moved on and she didn't have me fawning over her any more. I was not going to let her get away with that. I was going to make her regret it.

I got dressed and called her home phone. She answered the phone and I hung up as soon as she answered, confirming that she was home. I didn't want to talk to her on the phone; I wanted to do this in person. I rushed out to my car and headed to her house. By the time I got there I had worked myself into a dark rage. I pulled up to her house, got out and slammed my car door. I was going to make her pay for this.

I stomped up to the front door, and it opened before I could knock. Lily was standing there; she must have expected me. She was wearing her robe. I just walked right past her and waited for her to close the door. I stopped in her den and turned to her. "You told them where to find us, didn't you?!" I was yelling and she flinched at that.

"Yes." She answered meekly and I could see some fear in her eyes, but I could also see something that looked like sad acceptance of what she considered her shitty life. I could see that she had been crying, but nothing could deter me from what I wanted from her.

"You fucking jealous bitch." I advanced on her. "You couldn't stand that Cindy and I had something special, could you? You were jealous that I had moved on from you." I was now standing very close to her, advancing as I yelled, scaring her. She was backing up as I moved toward her, invading her personal space. "You just had to tell them where we were, and now she's dead! How do you feel about that?!"

She stared at me, tears starting to fall down her face, but I didn't care. I was in the blackest mood I had ever been in. I had finally backed her up enough that she hit her legs on the couch, sat down, and I stood over her. She finally answered me. "Terrible. I loved Cindy, too."

"You loved Cindy? Well you had a fucking terrible way of showing it, didn't you? You pointed two armed men in our direction and might as well have said 'Go ahead, kill them'! And then you didn't even call to warn us or call the police to have them get there before the Boyds!"

Lily struggled to her feet and I waited to see what was next. I couldn't bring myself to punch her, but I sure wanted to. I stood there with my hands clenched at my side, taking deep breaths because I was so worked up.

She walked past me and pulled a belt from her jeans that she had hung on the back of a dining room chair. I stared at her and got ready for a fight. She was going to defend herself with the belt. I backed up and got ready.

Instead, she held the belt out for me. What? I stared at it and then snatched it from her grasp. She turned around and dropped the robe, leaving her naked, facing away from me. She leaned over and put her hands on the couch and looked back at me as I stared at her alabaster skin.

"Whip me. I deserve it." She murmured.

I was not sure I heard that correctly and looked at her and then at the belt in my hand.

"Whip me!" She shouted at me, tears streaming down her face. I stood there stunned. "Beat me until you can forgive me." She turned and put her head down and started sobbing. "Maybe then I can forgive myself."

I stared at the belt in my hand and at her bare ass. My anger went up again. "Forgive you? You think I could ever forgive you for that?" And then I hit her with the belt. I let her have it across her ass and she flinched and jumped, but returned to the position. "I'll show you a beating, you worthless bitch. How could you ever tell those assholes anything and not warn us?!?! You fucking bitch!" I hit her again and again, shouting all the time. "You fucking bitch!"

I don't remember how many times I hit her, but when she collapsed against the couch and I stopped, she had plenty of red stripes across her back and ass and was sobbing uncontrollably. I was out of breath from yelling and swinging the belt. I was surprised that she could take the number of stripes I saw across her back. It had to be at least 15 hard whips with a leather belt. My rage was diminished now and I looked at the damage I had done and immediately regretted it. I hated what she had done, but I hated what I had done more. I had wanted to hurt her, but this looked to be too much. I was too strong to be swinging a belt like that at her. I threw the belt on the floor in disgust and started toward the door. I had to get out of there. I heard a noise and I looked back and she had collapsed onto the floor. She seemed to be in an awkward position, so I walked over and picked her up and lay her on the couch. I covered her with her robe and then I decided to leave before I said anything else, but she reached out and grabbed my hand. I looked down at her.

She seemed barely conscious, so I was surprised at what she said. "I'm so sorry, Jon. I wish it would have been me, but they didn't threaten me, they threatened Lauren. They said they would eventually find her no matter what happened. I'm so sorry." She turned into the couch and seemed to just pass out.

I stared at her. Fuck! Talk about sapping me of my anger and what remained of my strength! I almost collapsed in disbelief. How could I forget that? I was so depressed and angry and self-centered on my own grief that I was not thinking clearly enough to see that they would have used her daughter against her. Shit! I just beat her unmercifully and she took it because she felt as guilty as I did. She could have told me before, but she felt so awful over Cindy's death that she just took the punishment as her atonement. It wasn't until I finished that she told me about their threat.

I stared down at her poor abused body and wished I could crawl into a hole. There was no way I could ever forgive myself for being such an egotistical asshole. I never did ask her why; I just assumed that she did it to get back at me based on my own ego and self pity.

I continued to stare down at her. I couldn't leave her like this. It was too much. I had done too much damage and now felt as bad as I ever had. I had lost my temper in the worst way and taken it out on a young woman who was only protecting her child. I sat in the chair next to the couch, trying to come to grips with what I had just done, but also shocked at how blind I had been to the truth.

After a few minutes of staring, catching my breath, trying to comprehend my actions, and watching her as her body tried to accept what I just did, I got up and went to her bedroom. I pulled back the covers and got it ready. I then went into the den and carefully picked her up. She was exhausted and passed out, but still seemed to flinch at any contact with where I had beaten her. Fuck! I was such an asshole.

I carried her into her bed and lay her down there. I made sure she was on her stomach and then I looked for some lotion in her bathroom medicine cabinet. I poked around and found some lotion that was for sunburns and figured that would be good for the injuries that came from being beaten with a belt; a beating that I had done. When I got back to the bedroom I looked at the damage and was shocked at what I had done. I sat on the bed and rubbed lotion into the angry red marks that lined her back and ass. Her skin was pale and sensitive and the marks showed vividly, with some swelling around them. She moaned a couple of times, but didn't wake up. I couldn't believe I had hurt someone like this. I had never, ever thought I would take a belt to someone like this, in anger or for any other reason.

After I had tried to provide some relief to the wounds, I covered her with just a sheet and I went into the den and tried to call my mother, but she wasn't home and I didn't want to call her cell.

I lay on the couch, turned on the TV, and tried to watch something to take my mind off what I had just done. I don't know why I was staying, but I figured I should at least make sure she was okay when she woke up. With my anger depleted and the last few days behind me, I fell asleep.

When I woke, it was to being lightly shaken. I came to with a sudden jerk and the person who was shaking me uttered a surprised 'Oh'. I sat up, shaking the sleep from my eyes and saw Lily's mother closing the front door and Lauren standing in front of me.

Lauren didn't say anything, so I smiled weakly. "Hello, Lauren."

Mrs. Johnson came over and looked at me suspiciously. "Are you okay? What are you doing here?"

I looked up at her. "I'm fine. I was just talking to Lily and she and I were both pretty worked up about, you know, everything, so she went to bed and I guess I fell asleep here on the couch. What time is it?"

She looked at me, trying to determine if that was true. "It's 5pm. Is Lily okay?"

I stared at her, willing myself to look innocent, but feeling that she could see right through me and knew that I had beaten her daughter. "I don't know. It's been a rough time for all of us."

Mrs. Johnson seemed to accept that. "How are you doing, Jon? I understand you and Cindy had become close."

I thought about that. Close? Is that what we had become? Close? Lovers? More than that? Did it matter now? "I'm getting better. Yes, we had become... quite close."

I stood up. "I need to use the bathroom. I'll be right back." I got up and slowly made my way back to the common bath. I watched carefully to see what Mrs. Johnson and Lauren would do and they went into the kitchen. That allowed me to quickly duck into Lily's room and check on her. I found her still on her stomach, covered by a sheet. All her wounds were hidden. I looked out into the hallway and the coast was clear so I rushed into the bathroom, flushed it, and came out to go into the kitchen.

Mrs. Johnson was checking out the kitchen, which looked like a mess. "I can see that Lily has been falling behind in doing the dishes." She was stacking dirty dishes in the sink.

"Yeah, I guess so." I needed to get out of here. "Mrs. Johnson, I think I'm going to head home now. Lily has been sleeping for a while and I need to get home."

Mrs. Johnson looked at Lauren. "Lauren, don't you have more homework to get done?" Uh-oh. Here it comes. She knows something.

She looked up, that typical pleading look was on her face; the one that young children get whenever they are asked if they have homework. "Can I watch some TV first grandma?"

Mrs. Johnson glanced at me. "Sure, honey. Go ahead."

"Thanks!" Lauren was up and out of there in a flash.

Mrs. Johnson stared at me. "Jon, tell me what's going on here. Lily has been upset for a week over what happened and I know she feels responsible. I also know that if you found out she was the one that told them where Cindy lived, that you might be angry about that. She told me she felt responsible because she was afraid to call anyone and warn them after you left. So what's going on here? You are the last person I expected to see here."

I stared at the floor, but there were no answers there. I decided to give a bit of the truth. "I came over angry when I found out about her telling the Boyds where Cindy lived and Lily and I fought about it. I think I understand her side of it better now and she and I were both exhausted after that, so after she went to her room I lay on the couch and just happened to fall asleep."

Mrs. Johnson stared at me, searching my face for the truth. I was petrified that the actual truth was written on my forehead. "Okay." She kept looking at me and I tried not to show her my unease. "I'm going to check on Lily. Are you going to stick around?"

"No, I should be going. I'll see you later, Mrs. Johnson."

"Okay, bye."

I walked through the den and told Lauren good-bye and headed for my car. I could do nothing but hope that Mrs. Johnson didn't see Lily's injuries and that Lily didn't mention them. If she did, well -- I deserved whatever I got after what I had done.

When I got home, my mother was in the kitchen fixing some dinner. "Oh, good. I was hoping you were going to be home for dinner, Jon. Where did you run off to?"

"Lily's." I didn't elaborate.

My mother turned and stared at me. "You went to Lily's? How did that go?"

I sat down heavily. "Not well."

"You want to talk about it?"

"Not really."

She left it at that and she finished the pot of soup she was making and brought two bowls to the table. I got up and got a beer out of the fridge and we ate and discussed anything but the one subject that was foremost in both our minds. I finished four beers with dinner and then collapsed on the couch with my fifth while my mother flipped channels. I didn't see anything. I was wondering what I was going to do about Lily. I would have to see her again tomorrow and discuss what had happened so that we could clear the air. It was also important for me to determine what kind of trouble I was going to be in.

I lost Cindy last week and now had beaten Lily so that she would never want to see me again. My life had fallen into a chasm so deep I couldn't see a way out. After enough beer I finally fell into a restless sleep.

Chapter 15: The shit hits the fan.

2 February 2010

I woke the next morning feeling terrible about the beer drinking and about Lily. I felt so bad that I was afraid to call her. Several times I picked up my cell, but each time I stopped. Finally, I got cleaned up and decided I had to see her. I had to face the music. One lesson they always taught us in the military was that bad news does not get better with age. You have to face the music about a bad decision or action immediately. I knew I was doing that now.

While I was driving to Lily's I suddenly remembered that she was running a café and might not be home. I certainly couldn't do this at her place of work and it had taken me a lot of time to work up the courage to get to this point. I sure hoped she was home. I pulled up and saw her car and breathed a sigh of relief, then had a moment of panic. I was glad she was home, but freaked out about seeing her. What the hell do I say to her? How do I apologize for being so self-centered and self-focused?

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