CHAPTER 82 - GOODBYE MY ANGEL
I’ve never been much of a writer. Talking is more my thing. I think I could talk Satan himself into letting me out of Hell. Well, ok, maybe that’s not a very fitting example, because I’m pretty sure he’d make of me his right-hand man, but you get the point. Or rather, you don’t. Because you don’t know me.
See? I’m better at talking. Let’s start over.
Hi, I’m Jake Watson, the man you once loved, and never should again. Why? Oh, I’ll tell you. This whole letter is going to be full of reasons why you should not, ever again, let me back into your life.
Let’s see ... where do I start? This is like those essays they make you write in school, where there should be an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. I’ve never learnt to write those. You were pretty good at them, instead. I remember you once told me your teacher thought you should become a writer, but in English, because your essays in Italian were confusing, whilst your essays in English were perfect. Funny, huh?
Wait, I’m spacing out again ... ugh. The truth is, I really don’t know how to write this letter.
Alright, let’s make at least an effort, because we both know that if you don’t read this, you won’t hear it from my voice. I blurted it all out once, when I was sure you and I would last until the rest of our days, I’m not sure I could again. I’m not sure I could look into the eyes of a woman whose feelings are gone, and bare my whole life to her.
I guess that’s the whole point here. I told you once. I told you everything. Every single detail of my corrupted, damned life. I told you. But I’m beginning to think I only did because I was somewhat sure you would still love me. Or rather, I was scared shitless that you would realize you’d picked the wrong horse, but your feelings for me, they worked like a cushion, to soften the blow.
How do I explain this ... my confessions are a bullet, your feelings are the bulletproof vest that stopped said bullet from backfiring. I told you once, because I was sure it would change your mind about me, but I was also sure that your feelings would come to my aid.
Fucked up, I know.
Now you don’t have any of those, though. Don’t waste time being sorry, because it’s not your fault. You just don’t remember anything of what we had or what you felt for me, and it’s perfectly fine. But that is why I cannot make myself speak to you in person about this.
You see, even I have my weak spots. And one happens to be you, Silvia Banchi. The other is my sister, but that’s a whole different story.
Mmh. On second thought, it’s part of this story, but it’ll come later. Jeez, I’m seriously shit at writing. And it’s funny because I ran a goddamn publishing house, I read manuscripts and sometimes edited them. I should be a writing god, or at least anything somewhere close to it.
Never mind, let’s move on. I can only imagine how tiring it’ll be for you to read this crap, but it’s the only way.
Okay. Rewind again.
Hi. Jake here. Yeah, you know, that jerk you’re so desperately trying to talk to. If only you knew how much the jerk here craves to comply. I’m sorry about today at the café, by the way. I just ... didn’t know how to stop you, or rather me. I knew that, if you pushed me, I would have spilled every single bean, so I reacted the way I normally do, by being aggressive. I’m sorry if I upset you.
I heard you went to the hospital right after. I hope you’re okay. Well, I know you’re okay. I saw you. Yeah, I’ve always been a good stalker-I mean ... observer. No, okay, I was a stalker. If only you knew how many times I’ve actually stalked you, how many times I’ve stared at you from afar like some creep, you’d probably file a restraining order.
Well, your father did on your behalf, but that’s a whole different story.
Where was I? Uh. All this, and I’ve only written my name. I would be a terrible, terrible writer, so much stream of consciousness.
But anyways. I’m Jake, like I said. But you already know that. Well, it’s probably the one thing you actually know about me. I’m 32 years old, and I’ve lived the past 24 in pure Hell. The sole break came over 4 years ago, when I met my Angel with Horns.
Now that I think of it, I’ve never told you why the nickname. Oh, right. You’re Angel with Horns, in case you were still wondering. So if, by chance, when you find this letter, which I’ll never deliver, so if you’re reading this I’m probably dead already – good riddance –, if, upon finding this letter, you find a box with that name on, know that that is your stuff. Everything you left at my place and all that ... you know, couple routine when you break up.
Plus ... well, a few things I want you to have. Like I said, I’ll never deliver this letter, so if you’re reading it, if it’s in your hands, I’m as dead as yesterday.
Or maybe not. Who knows. Things happen randomly, so maybe I’ll just leave it on my desk, and Ana will post if for me. Either way, here we are, with me rambling, and you being bored out of your mind, I bet.
So. Angel with Horns. Why the nickname? Because, as cliché as that sounds, you’re my angel. The angel that saved me or that was to save me from my own self-destructive existence. But at the same time you’re no angel, I know that. That’s why the horns.
Think of it now, it’s kinda stupid, but it stuck, so ... whatever.
The point was, within 24 years, only 1 gave me a real break. Not even a full year, but 9 months. The months we spent actually together, as a couple.
I suppose I could count the year before, when I met you, but that one is filled with the core-wrenching heartbreak you put me through, so let’s set it aside.
Ah. Sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel bad. It was a good time for you, you were as happy as I’d never seen you, and I was truly happy for you. Even in my messy way.
Okay, maybe I did hope Sir Douche would fuck up – like he did –, but then I would swoop in to make you feel better, so ... no harm done, I guess.
Don’t ask me details about your breakup, that’s something only he can answer. All I know is that he thought wise to step aside when he realized you had feelings for me. It’s actually funny how everyone of our friends saw it way before us. Well, before you.
I mean, I knew you were the woman of my life since day ... 23? Yeah, it was Day 23 of our ... let’s call it friendship.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was hungover, uh, definitely, definitely hungover. I actually came from a pretty tiring foursome-I mean ... I’d spent the night out, and that’s all you need to know.
So, I was hungover. I arrived late to work, wearing clothes worn the day before. I was a mess. Truly a mess. But precisely that day my uncle came to visit, so see how I’d settled in. Needless to say the meeting didn’t go well.
We fought, like we always do. And I got out of that meeting that I was ready to blow up. However, before I could go to the roof, and smoke a cigarette – I quit long ago, but sometimes I just can’t avoid it –, my translator entered.
I was a mess, like I said. My shirt was buttoned in the wrong way, my hair was disheveled ... anybody that saw me would know I was hungover. Anybody that saw me, in that office, didn’t say a word. You ... you laughed.
I’m not kidding. The moment you entered my office, and saw me with a cigarette in my mouth, looking terrible, you laughed. I’d never seen you laugh like that. And ... my heart smiled with you.
Oh, I already knew I had a crush on you. Of course I did. I mean, I’d known you for over a month, and we’d spent the past 2 weeks having those late night conversations, of course I was already crushing on you, how couldn’t I? But that day, that day I realized it was more than that. That day I realized I would go to Hell and back for you. That day I realized we met for a reason.
I don’t know how it works with amnesia, whether you believe or not. I can tell you I’ve never been much of a believer, and if I am, it’s in the same way as a rebellious son. I think I believe in God mostly because I wouldn’t know how else to explain the shitstorm that hit my life when I was a child. I suppose that, in a way, I blamed Him not to blame myself.
And here we come to the wretched part. My family history. I think you can split the drama that hit the Watsons into 3 main events:
1. My older brother, Michael, jumped out of a window of our beach house in Martha’s Vineyard. I saw it from the kitchen.
2. My father, unable to cope with the death of his son, shot himself in the mouth. I saw that, too.
3. My mother, unable to cope with the death of her son and her husband, decided to commit suicide. I didn’t just see that. I did it on her behalf.
I’m a murderer. Plain and simple. My mother was hospitalized right after her husband’s suicide. At the bottom of her endless spiral, she asked me to help her, to set her free from a life that no longer gave her a reason to exist. She asked me to assist her. And I did.
I sneaked into the room where they kept drugs-sorry, medicines. I know how picky you are about words. So, I sneaked into the room where they kept medicines, I got a mix of those I knew would kill her, then I went back to her room. I locked the door from the inside, and gave her the lethal cocktail. I remained there watching while she took it. So I saw it, I saw light leaving her eyes, I saw my mother leaving this world.
That, in an extremely succinct version, is the wretched story of my family. Those are the main guilts I carry. They should be enough to grant me eternity in Hell, but, believe me when I say, I’ve done worse, so much worse.
You’re starting to think Tess and everyone was right, aren’t you? You’re starting to agree with them about staying away from me. Good. But just to be sure, here’s the rest of the story.
I was 18 when I killed my mom. I’m not even sure how could I get through senior year in high school without flipping out too many times. I think Olivia was a great palliative. I probably clung to her, managing to suck the life out of her, like I’ve done to you. In the end, it’s a pattern. I destroy everything I touch.
After high school, I left for a trip around the world. I visited Europe, Asia, and Oceania in a year. My trips weren’t exactly innocent, I can tell you. You see, I’d discovered years before that sex was a perfect pain killer, be it only because it numbed my senses for a few hours.
When I realized it wasn’t enough, I started taking countermeasures. There was this guy in Serbia, he introduced me to his criminal friends, and I got hooked into their street fighting club.
At first, it was just a small match per night, then I’d take one of the waitresses, to try my favorite pain killer. But then it got bigger. Because I kept winning, and winning, and winning. So people started coming purposely to see me. They called me The American. I know, so lousy for a nickname.
I spent only a few months street-fighting in Serbia, but it was enough to pick up on a few dangerous habits. I won every match, yes, but that came with consequences. Like ... pain. So long story short, I got addicted to morphine. Keep this one in mind, because it’ll come back a few times.
I left Serbia soon enough, mostly because my sister convinced me to come back to Boston, so I did. I even went to college. It didn’t take me long to find another street fighting circle, though. Hence, soon enough I started neglecting college altogether, and instead focused on fighting. This circle was more vicious than the one in Serbia, and that’s probably why I liked it better.
The Bonecrusher, they called me. Wanna know why? Because I didn’t just win. I destroyed my opponents. After facing me, even the toughest scumbag quit. Sometimes because tired, sometimes because the injuries forced him to.
200 are the matches I fought for a man named Sokolov, to entertain his clients. I won them all. But to what cost.
In 25 occasions I got to one mere inch, or rather, punch, from killing my opponent. Just one punch. One more punch, one more blow, and I’d have killed the guy. In 5 of these occasions my opponent slipped into a coma. I broke arms, legs, ribs, caused concussions and brain injuries. I hurt a lot of people, all their blood is on my hands. If some of these people live maimed lives now, if some have been reduced to an irreversible coma, basically a vegetable life, it’s due to me.
I did take my fair share of hurt, of course. I mean, I’ve had my concussions and broken bones. But it was nothing compared to what I did to the others. The one bigger brain injury I suffered was actually due to the accident.
A small parenthesis here, since you probably don’t know about that either. God, there are so many things I should tell you. Anyways, I got in an accident a while ago. You and I weren’t dating, I’d actually been gone for a couple of months – long story –, and I was on my way to you, to talk, when some SUV that was running at full speed hit me. It was a blur, one moment I was driving my Motorcycle, the other I was being thrown on the other side of the road.
In all fairness, I got badly hit, but my poor Dickie got the worst out of it. I had no other choice but to demolish it, poor thing.
Anyways, the point was, that accident gave me the most brutal brain injury, but it wasn’t the first one.
Because I remained in Sokolov’s circle too long, I wound up getting a worse habit, though. Cocaine. I soon got tired of that one, because it didn’t give me much, and I replaced it with heroin.
This was my life from when I was 22 to when I turned 25. Violence, alcohol, sex, and drugs.
By the age of 25 I started abandoning heroin. The signs on my arms were starting to be too evident, and I didn’t want Serene to realize what a junkie her brother was. Besides, I found morphine far more effective, especially when paired up with some broken bones.
However, because my baby sis pulled some strong emotional blackmail, I pulled myself together enough to be there for her. We moved to New York together when I was 26, so that she could attend Juilliard, and I could be with her.
It actually kind of worked at first, you know? Serene was happy, I was ... well, I wasn’t unhappy. It was hard to keep focus. Okay, it was hard to remain clean. But I did. For Serene.
I was actually turning on a new lead, believe or not. Well, I was turning on a lead that didn’t involve drugs, violence, and alcohol overuse. It wasn’t for me. It was only for Serene. I couldn’t protect her, be there for her, if I was intoxicated, could I?
Well, it turns out I wasn’t anyways.
You see, a few months into our co-living, Serene met a guy online. She didn’t tell me about him, I didn’t even know she’d accepted to meet him. One night, I went for my usual run, convinced she would be staying at a friend’s to study or something. In truth, she went on a date with said guy. When I came back home, I found her sitting in a corner, balled up in herself, crying her heart out.
Her dress was torn, and there were bruises all over her skin. Even you, without any memory of your life, can piece together what happened, I’m sure.
Dave Murray. That was his name. Your typical bully. The kind of guy that would deceive a girl on the Internet, convincing her to meet him with the sole purpose of having sex with her. As it turns out, he’d done that before. He’d tricked other girls into meeting him, and when they refused to have sex, he forced them to.
He thought he could do the same to Serene. You need to know, my sister has always been a free spirit, one of those fully trusting people that see the world in technicolor, opposite to those like me, who only see a battle field. So after a couple of hours, she agree to go to his place, because she trusted him.
They kissed, like any normal couple. But then he started touching where he shouldn’t have. She told him to stop, but he didn’t. She fought as best as he could, that’s why he hit her a few times, tore her dress. Luckily, she was able to escape.
You need to know, my sister has always been my ray of sunshine, the only silver lining in a life paved in nothing else but pain. If I survived to my own self, to my demons, it was never because I believed in a future happiness. It was always only because I needed to be there for her. Serene was, always has been, truly, the only thing that kept me tethered to this world. Until you, that is.
She was a pure soul, and Dave Murray nearly changed that.
I’m telling you this because, if you didn’t like what I wrote before, you’re gonna like this even less.
You see, I had motive. I had motive and means, and nothing would have stopped me, hadn’t his luck gotten in the way.
While Serene recounted me everything, I tried to remain as calm as possible, for her sake, but a plan was already forming in my mind. So when Colin arrived, to take care of her, I went out. I knew where I could find Dave Murray. More specifically, I knew where I would find him alone.
He worked at a bar nearby his place. I waited for him to be done with his shift, then, as soon as he passed by, I dragged him into the dimly lit alley I’d been hiding in, and beat him up. No, wait, let me correct, I didn’t just beat him black and blue. I attempted to kill him with my bare hands. And no, I wasn’t drunk nor high.
I broke 14 of his ribs, his left arm, and his right leg; I ruptured his trachea, and wounded a few other of this organs, causing internal bleedings; last but not least, I caused him a heavy brain injury. The son of a bitch still got lucky, though. Some guys that were just leaving the bar passed by, and saw the scene. They stopped me just in time, but Dave Murray was nearly dead.
He got hospitalized, slipped into an irreversible coma. His brother pulled the plug while I was still in jail, but somehow my uncle’s lawyers managed not to have that one pinned on me.
Truth be told, I should have been charged with attempted murder, and later on premeditated murder, but the lawyers turned it into battery and assault. I got 5 years, but only served 2. They managed to get me out on good behavior, or crap like that. Perks of being rich and all that.
Jail was ... eh, I’m not sure how to describe it. If there’s one thing you don’t lack of in prison, that’s time. You’ve got time. A shit ton of time on your own. And you see, with a mind like mine, if there is one thing, just one, that you should never let me do, it’s be alone with it.
This is something people never understand about me. Coping mechanism. I keep a hundred tabs open to distract my own mind from its one sole purpose: destroying me. My mind is more than a mined field, it’s a goddamn 24/7 Apocalypse. That’s why all the distractions. But those lack in jail.
So I got back in touch with my old pals, my friendly demons that gnawed at me day and night, eating me away, bit by bit. I call bullshit when Colin says that, but he’s right. Jail didn’t just change me. It nearly annihilated me. And not because of the tougher guys in there, no. I could have faced the scum of the Earth with my head held high. I annihilated my own self, better said, my mind did.
Basically, I served my self-destruction on a silver plate. 2 years stuck in a maximum security prison, where you only get 1 hour out to breathe. It gets intense. You may not want to, but you’re bound to dig deeper and deeper into yourself, and, let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
I’ve survived through everything life threw at me, but, I will say this once and only to you, I wouldn’t have survived jail.
I probably got lucky for once, my uncle definitely pulled a few strings, so I was released. But I can tell you, I know I would have not survived through the entire 5 years.
Either I’d have pushed some thug into stabbing me, or I’d have found a way to do it on my own. I was going insane, Silvia. Literally insane.
I know, it’s hard to read, and I hide it pretty well, but I spent 2 entire years alone with my own mind. If you recalled anything of your own past, you’d know what a death trap that is.
The truth is, I lied. I was not okay in prison, never have been. I mean, on the outside it was easy, deal with a thug or two, establish your power. Easy peasy. It was at night that even I fell on my own sword.
I’ve never been scared of anything, but if those 2 years taught me a lesson, it was, keep yourself on the shore. Never navigate your mind too deep, never go past safe boundaries. Or it will kill you. Mercilessly, ruthlessly, abominably. It will.
I know that because it nearly did kill me.
Why do you think, as soon as I got out, I started finding all the distractions I could? I never left my bed empty, and if it was, there was alcohol. Anything. Anything not to think.
I’ve fought against my own self all my life, but jail somehow brought down my walls, allowing those demons to slip through the half closed door, and resurface. There is one more thing that was let out, though.
I said I dug deep into my own mind, and that it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t tell you I scratched the very bottom of it, and came face to face with him.
I’ve never given him a name, but he’s always been there. I just made his acquaintance when jail gave me the chance to. He is ... how can I describe it, he represents rock bottom for me. He’s the very source of everything, my ... darkest side, if you really need a label.
He’s the animal, the monster behind the façade. He’s ... I wanna believe he’s not the real me, but the truth is, he is indeed part of me. And ... ever since I took off the lid, ever since I unleashed him, I haven’t been able to control him. I mean, I do all I can, but ... he slips out sometimes, through nightmares mostly. He’s the reason why my nightmares are so heavy, so violent, so dangerous.
That’s where you come in.
I don’t know how or why or when or ... whatever. All I know is that, you sort of ... kept him away. We were each other’s demon slayer, you once said. You were more than that. Angel with Horns for a reason, baby. You were ... his guardian. Your soul presence kept him under lock and key.
I suppose that’s why, ever since you left, it’s ... it’s just been getting worse. And it won’t stop. I just ... I know I can’t control him anymore. He’s there, right beneath my skin, and at this point there’s only a feeble door keeping him from coming out. I fear the day he will, but maybe I shouldn’t. Because it will be the end of me, and maybe, at this point, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
So. This is goodbye. For real. Now you know why you should never let me back into your life again. I’m a ticking bomb, and the sole place for me is a cage, where I can’t harm anyone that matters. If I go back there, I will not be coming back. If I cross the threshold, and retreat into my cage, he will win, and maybe he should.
I’m a murderer, after all. I murdered my mom, and nearly murdered you, too. So what’s the one place where a murderer belongs?
I wasn’t entirely joking. If you’re reading this, I’m probably gone. It could happen any time, in a span of years or days, but you’ll be rid of me once and for all. Don’t feel sorry, it wasn’t your fault. In the end I knew HE would be the one to destroy me.
Goodbye, my angel. Thank you for the glimmer of hope you gave me. It cost you everything, and it was misspent, the least I can do is give it back. You were a dream I never thought I’d deserve, but now it’s time to wake up.
If, I don’t know, in ... say, a few years, you decide to remember me, us, what we used to be, you’ll find a key in that box, the one labeled Angel with Horns. It’s a key to a safe. There, you will find all you need to recollect your memories.
It’s a choice I give you, one I could have not offered you while I was still there, because it’s safer this way. But please, ignore it.
I want to let you choose between moving on with your new life, or remembering the old one. But I do not want to be another scar on your soul. I was once, I don’t want to be again. I don’t want your life to be stained by the memory of me, of us.
So, as much as I would want you to, do not. Do not remember me. Do not take that key, do not open that safe. Take it as my last gift to you.
Goodbye my angel. This time for real.