Love and Bullets
Memories are tricky bastards. You don’t get to choose the ones that stick or the ones that fade. Everyone hopes that they are remembered with smiling faces from their happiest of times. But truth is, that’s rarely the case.
I’m sure Waylon James would like a much better image of himself on repeat in my mind. Hell, I had plenty of those to choose from. Instead, the only memory that plays on repeat is from the day we both sold our soul to the devil.
Waylon pulled up on his 1968 Shovelhead and revved up the engine to tell me it was time to go. I came running out my front door, yelling back to my mom and stepdad that I’d be back before midnight. I loved seeing him on that Harley. He was a confident and fearless man. He was a leader. But when he was on his bike, he was fucking invincible.
“Hey Darlin, ” he greeted me in his gravelly voice.
I tried to control the goose bumps as I climbed on the back of his bike. I had been with him for almost three years and he could still throw a wrench in my heartbeat.
I didn’t know where we were headed that night but I was hoping he didn’t want to go swimming at the lake; I desperately didn’t want my makeup to wash off. I worked extra hard applying it that night.
When we pulled up to the pool hall, I was glad it was a dimly lit place. Maybe he wouldn’t notice.
He let the engine die and we both got off the bike. I straightened out my hair and my light blue summer dress and he didn’t waste a second before he wrapped his arms around me.
“Fuck, I’ve missed you this week baby.”
“I missed you too, I’ve just been, I’ve been so busy this week.”
“Bullshit, I know your asshole stepdad just wouldn’t let you out. But fuck him, I got tonight and that’s all that matters.”
He smiled and placed his hands on my cheeks to lean in for a kiss and I tried my hardest not to wince, but he noticed. Just like he always noticed everything.
My excuses were running thin and it was no use anymore, I was just insulting him by lying. It was happening more often and I could only hide it for so long.
Out of instinct I tried to shy away from the light in the parking lot but he pulled me close and grabbed my chin, staring at the bruise on my right cheek.
He ran his fingers though his hair and turned his back to me, it was his tactic when he was trying not to lose his cool.
I lightly touched his back to try and get him to just forget about and just enjoy our time together, even though I knew it was a hopeless action. He was throbbing with anger. I could feel the heat in my fingertips.
“Waylon, it nothing I just -”
“Don’t you dare try and defend that piece of shit. I told you if he pulled that shit again he’s a dead man.”
I wasn’t even sure what I was going to try and say to defend Frank; I had used up all my excuses long ago. Excuses I exhausted to cover up the surface damage and thankfully I never had to explain more. I’m not sure I would have been able to cover up the real pain, the disgusting truth.
Waylon stormed inside the pool hall and I tried to calm the threat of tears before I followed him in. The reality was that he was serious about wanting my stepdad Frank dead.
Sometimes when Frank would get drunk he would take his frustration about work or whatever else was bothering him, out on me. I tried hiding it and was successful until I met Waylon. He knew me to well for that to happen.
When I walked in the pool hall he was talking to another member of his club in the corner as I approached.
“I’ll ditch it when I’m done Goose, just give me the gun.”
I tried to focus on the Led Zepplin song that was lightly echoing throughout the pool hall. Reality was too heavy at that moment; the thought of taking a life was starting to choke me.
Sure, I should of threatened to call the cops, I should of begged him more. I should have done many things differently that night.
Hell, maybe I should have just killed Frank myself years ago.
But I didn’t do any of those things, I was too much of a coward and part of me wanted this to happen. I had prayed for a way out of Frank’s abuse.
I had learned to take the punches and the kicks to the ribs, eventually it just became part of my routine. It’s amazing how your body can build a tolerance to pain and your mind can escape your body for that moment in time.
But some things you can’t block out, some things are so volatile that you can never erase them from your memory and you can never escape them.
Those are the reasons I wanted Frank dead, reasons that Waylon knew nothing about, because if he did he would never look at me the same. He would look at me like I look at myself in the mirror everyday. That alone was enough for me not to discourage a bullet being sent to Frank’s skull.
After a few more words between Waylon and Goose, we were headed out back to the parking lot.
“Lucy, if you don’t want to be there when I do this, I understand, okay?” He told me softly as he cupped my face gently in his hands.
“I should be the one doing this Waylon, not you.”
Secretly I hoped he would agree and just let me bury my own demons, but I knew he wouldn’t. He was a protector by nature.
We drove to his house and he stomped inside as I followed, undoubtedly fighting the noise in his head. A thread of good sense that was telling him not to do this, to just run away instead.
He frantically threw some clothes in a bag and grabbed the keys to his pickup truck.
I knew we were running, that we would be leaving town for a while, but I knew where we were going first. He wasn’t going to let there be a chance that Frank would ever find me or hurt me again.
My mind left my body, just like when Frank would beat me. It found its hiding spot and was just waiting for all of this to be over.
“Stay in the truck Lucy, I’ll be out in a minute.”
“No,” I protested.
He wasn’t going to clean up my mess while I just sat idle in the truck with clean hands. Besides, I had something to do inside that house that he would have never done for me.
A revenge of my own that I had to claim.
We walked up the front steps of the house together, slowly. Breathing deeply as we took one last look at each other and any innocence we had left.
This moment was about to change us forever. In ways we would have never imagined.
As the front door squeaked open, Frank was already asleep on his recliner. He had a few empty beer bottles on the coffee table and the TV was shining an eerie glow on him, as if he was already dead.
My mom must have already been asleep in her room. No surprise. She drank just as much as Frank did, if not more.
Waylon pulled the gun from his waistband and stood over Frank, pointing the barrel straight at his head.
“Let me do it,” I asked as I placed my hand over his on the gun.
Waylon looked at me with hard, disapproving eyes. I stared straight back with pleading ones of my own.
He slowly released his grip and let me take possession of the revolver. He stood behind me and placed his hands over mine. Guiding me as if he was teaching me to shoot cans off a log.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as I pulled back the trigger. The blast sent me tumbling slightly backwards, but Waylon caught me. Just like he always did.
I didn’t even notice the blood splattered on the wall until I heard her gut wrenching screams.
“Oh my god, Lucy! What have you done? You stupid bitch, what have you done?” My mother dropped to her knees by Frank’s side, sobbing and cursing my existence.
I wanted to walk away, to leave doing the one thing we came here to do. But I couldn’t stop the words before they found my lips.
“This is your fault mom, this is just as much your fault as it was Frank’s. You knew what he did to me, you knew all of it and you did nothing.”
My voice and my adrenaline were rising as I watched her staring at me like I was the one who was wrong.
“C’mon babe, we gotta go now!”
Waylon tried pulling me out of there that night. He tried to make me leave. I shrugged him off and held the revolver back up, pointing it straight at my mother.
“You were supposed to protect me! You were supposed to make sure nobody ever hurt me! I am your fucking child for God’s sake. But you let Frank beat me, you let him -”
“You’re a liar Lucille! A Goddamn liar!”
Those were the last words I ever heard my mother speak.
Waylon pulled a bandana from his back pocket and wiped the blood and tears from my face.
He didn’t judge me for my decisions. He didn’t think I was a monster. After the horrific scene he watched me unfold, he was still only worried about saving me. He was only concerned with getting me out of there before I got caught.
In that moment, he was willing to run away from the only life he had ever known, just to be with me. He may have been the one to decide to kill Frank that night, but he did it for me.
I knew letting me pull the trigger was eating him up inside, but, again, he was doing it for me. Letting me have my revenge that I was craving. He gave me the tools to put an end to my living nightmare, but I did it.
For a moment, images of my mother from when I was younger tried to make an appearance in my mind. But they were quickly replaced by her last words.
Words that proved she never had my best interest at heart, words that confirmed she knew exactly what Frank was doing to me every night. Words that proved she was a selfish coward, who couldn’t curb her own desires long enough to save her only child from a living hell.
“Baby,” he whispered with urgency, “we have to go.”
My mind found its way back to my body and I took in the bloody scene one last time before we turned and walked out that door for the time.
We got in to his pickup truck and drove down Highway 91 until the sound of sirens invaded our silence.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered to him.
“I’m not. He hurt you more than I even knew Lucy and I am not sorry for a goddamn thing. You hear me?”
He pulled over and kissed me hard for the last time as a tear ran down his cheek. For the first time ever, I saw the real softness in him. Waylon James wore his long lost innocence in the glow of the red and blue lights that danced in the cab of the truck that night.
He was not a killer. He was my savior. My everything.
“Well thank you for your testimony Lucy. I believe this should be enough to avoid the death penalty,” the lawyer politely responded as he picked up his briefcase and walked out of my cell.
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