The rage Within

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Chapter 13

The next week was a blur of police interviews and a massive manhunt for the person, or people, responsible. David’s body was never found, but from the evidence at the scene the police were confident he was a victim and not a suspect. There was a large cash withdrawal on David’s credit card at a local ATM, but the camera was blocked and the person who took the money was never identified. After that there was no other activity on David’s or my mother’s accounts, and no other leads.

I volunteered to take a polygraph so the police would not waste any time looking into me or thinking I may have had something to do with it. I knew from the one Criminal Justice class I took that most murders were committed by perpetrators known to the victims. I was cleared right away of course and the search went on. It caused quite a stir in the quiet college city of Ann Arbor. The streets were not so busy at night for a long time after that, but as time went by everything went back to normal as they always do.

The police never caught the murderer. It’s not like in the movies where every bad guy gets caught and the survivors get closure. I was angry, depressed, and living in a fog for several months after that. I isolated myself from the outside world for the most part, only going to class, the library from time to time, and back to my room. I had never felt so empty. My mom was my rock and now she was suddenly gone. It was a dark time.

I went on to graduate and it was one of the most-bitter sweet moments of my life. I skipped the commencements all together. What would have been the point? Aside from a few good friends, I was facing the fact that I was alone in this world. It’s an odd feeling not having that home base you can always count on. It’s like you’re on a high wire without a net below you. I think we all take our parents for granted and only when they are suddenly taken away do we really appreciate them. I guess that’s like most things in life. Even though there was no love lost between David and me, I didn’t wish him dead. He made my mom happy and that was something I guess.

Now that I had completed my goal of getting a college degree I felt without purpose. My mother would have wanted me to go back for my Master’s, but I had my fill of school for the time being. It seemed pointless now.

Even after graduation I was rather infamous on campus. I was the kid whose mother was murdered in the most gruesome fashion imaginable. I couldn’t walk into a store or restaurant in the city without hearing whispers, or seeing the gestures toward me. I ignored it as best I could, but it was a nonstop nagging reminder that my mother was gone, and it fueled my depression.

Several months after the murder, I was contacted by a lawyer who was handling my mom and David’s estate. He was apparently making a courtesy call, as the house was under water, like everyone else’s at the time, and anything of any value, including all the savings accounts, went to a brother David never spoke to. I guess it was one last Screw You from David, as I am sure my mother would never have agreed to that. It wasn’t the money, just the fact that David’s conniving ways were still alive and well, even after his death.

I did get to collect a few personal items of my mother’s, most of which were pictures and a few antique pieces, which was all I wanted anyway. There was nothing of David’s I needed.

I was thankful that I still had my room at Ted’s house, as he was continuing with his education. I knew I had at least another two years minimal before I might be forced out into the real world. With very little money and a part time job, I was in no position to make any life changing moves. If you have ever been that close to the bone you know what a shitty feeling it is. When you have no one but yourself to rely on it puts things in a very different perspective.

Ted was a great guy in general, but he was aces during the worst of the aftermath. He went out of his way to make life as normal as possible for me and gave me plenty of space when he felt I needed it. He also kept me from wallowing obsessively. I will never forget his kindness.

After the craziness had settled down I went back to work at the book store. Eventually I had adjusted to what had become the new normal.

It was about this time that one short strange encounter would mark the beginning of something that would change my life forever.

One rainy afternoon I decided to go to my favorite coffee shop downtown called The Art of Coffee. It had good coffee, great cappuccinos and phenomenal art. It was my favorite of the dozens of coffee shops in the city.

When I walked in I was glad to see it wasn’t very busy. During the height of finals there would be standing room only and getting a seat was like finding money.

Other than an older couple near the door and the employees, the place was nearly empty.

“Hey Jack, haven’t seen you in a while.” The girl behind the counter said.

Her name was Julie. She was cute and I would usually try to make a little small talk, but I wasn’t in the mood. I just wanted my coffee and comfortable chair.

“Good. Just been working a lot. You know how it is. Can I get a large coffee please?” I said trying my best to be polite. I wasn’t in the mood for idle chatter, and I think she picked up on it.

“Sure.” She said as she got my order.

I could see the pity in her eyes. I knew she knew. I could always tell who knew about me and who didn’t. It was written all over their faces. I know they couldn’t help it, and I understood why of course. There is nothing you can say to someone who has gone through such things.

“Thanks.” I said as I grabbed my coffee and sat down.

I found one of the precious few comfortable chairs they had in the corner. I pulled out a book I had brought with me and set it on my lap. Usually there wasn’t much I loved more on a rainy day than to sip on a super strong coffee and read a great book, but I wasn’t in the mood. I read a few pages before setting the book down. I stared out the window at the hypnotic rain as it bounced off the cement sidewalk. It was then that a weird feeling came over me and I looked over my left shoulder to find someone standing over me.

She had light red hair pulled up in tight pony tail, tight athletic clothing, and appeared to be in her late twenties. She was attractive. I mean Hollywood attractive, with a physique of a television ready personal trainer.

She was staring at me with a look on her face that would have been considered unfriendly by some, and down-right rude by most.

Her unspoken stare finally made me so uncomfortable that I had to say something.

“I’m sorry. Can I....do I know you?” I said clumsily.

“No.” She said.

Her gaze turned from semi-hostile to a more inquisitive look in a matter of seconds.

“Who are you?” She asked as if I had just walked inside her house without permission.

“I’m Jack. Who are you?” I said bitterly.

I had a much shorter fuse post murder, and I never cared for rudeness either.

She finally broke her gaze, turned on her heels, picked up her coffee from the counter, and walked out of the coffee shop without another word.

“What the hell was that?” I said out loud to no one in particular.

The coffee girl behind the counter gave me a look like I just called her the C word. She must have assumed I insulted the redhead in some way by the manner of our quick exchange and the way she walked out the front door.

I turned to look back out the window trying to make sense of this strange interaction. It was plain weird.

I sat down for a few more minutes stewing over the whole situation before I packed up my book, grabbed my coffee and left. I just wanted to go back to my room and watch some mindless TV.

When I stepped outside of the coffee shop and began walking home I noticed the redhead on the other side of the street, about half a block up talking on her cell phone. She was facing the opposite direction from me, but before I took two steps she turned to look in my direction. I suddenly became aware of myself and tripped over my own feet. I caught myself just in time to prevent a headfirst nose dive, but the humiliation of it caused me to flush red. I turned down the nearest side street to get out of her view as quickly as possible. She held her gaze upon me until I was out of sight though.

It was bad enough that she was rude and unfriendly, but for some reason it made me angrier that I looked like an idiot in front of her. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how I was feeling at the time.

Once she was out of sight for a few minutes I slowly began to feel the mild stress and anger from the situation dissipate. Was I blowing this whole thing out of proportion or was it as weird as I thought.

I made it a block or two and I started to feel stupid. Some girl looks at me funny, a very attractive one at that, and I start letting my mind run wild with all kinds of crazy thoughts. I shook it off and went home knowing that I would surely never see that person again.

I walked into the house and saw Ted sitting at his desk doing some kind of advanced mathematics. He was a savant when it came to numbers. I was smart, but Ted made me look like an idiot in comparison when it came to anything math related.

“Thanks for the coffee. Set it on the table and I will get it in a minute.” Ted said with no trace of Joviality in his delivery.

“You’re welcome. It’s South American urine, your favorite.” I countered. “Hey, what do you make of this? At the coffee shop, a gorgeous redhead approaches me, is rude as hell for no reason, leaves with no explanation. Thoughts?”

“What?” Ted said as he dropped his pencil and gave me his full attention. “Details sir.”

“She had to be a mental case or she had me confused with someone else. It was the craziest couple of minutes.” I said.

As I was explaining the story I started thinking about her eyes. I had never seen such a beautiful color before.

Why was I thinking about this?

“Unfortunately that is how god made the hot ones my friend. Just another way of letting all of us know that we can’t have everything. You want completely sane and well adjusted? The library is crawling with them. Help yourself”.

“Right now a normal librarian would be great.”

“No argument here. I would be happy with a girl if she had all of her own teeth.” Ted said.

“Speaking of which, you want to head up to the Shillelagh tomorrow? I think some of the gang will be there.” I said.

The Broken Shillelagh was a favorite campus hangout. I hadn’t been in a long while, but I felt like getting out. Having a few drinks with some friends sounded like the perfect remedy for the blues.

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Ted said.

“Cyndi is going, and I am pretty sure she is single again.”

It was no secret that he had a huge crush on Cyndi. She was dating a friend of mine when I first introduced Ted to her, but it was more than obvious that he was smitten with her in a big way. She was the quirky cool chic that everyone loved, especially Ted.

“Okay.” He relented. “One beer maybe.”

Ted didn’t get out much, and I believe I had only pried him out of his apartment on a few occasions in a social context. Since the death of my mom though, I think he had made an effort to become more adventurous. I think he was doing it for me, but I believe it was good for him as well.

One night when we were drinking he confided that he had never had a real girlfriend before and I could tell he was embarrassed by the fact. That made me sad. He was a great guy, with a quick and funny wit, who needed someone to be patient with him. Once he warms up and feels comfortable he was a ball of laughs. It was getting past that point that was the issue. The few dates he went on he had either talked excessively or hardly at all. Both will kill a date in short order.

“Great. It’ll be fun, you’ll see.” I said

I went in my bedroom, laid on the bed, and stared at the ceiling. My mind began racing and I couldn’t stop thinking about the redhead. I don’t know what was bothering me more, the fact that I was strangely, and powerfully attracted to her, or that our short interaction was consuming my thoughts.

No doubt a girl that attractive is going to have an older prominent boyfriend, who is probably super rich. Why did I even care if she was in a relationship? She was a nut. What the hell was all that staring about? I was minding my own business wasn’t I? I don’t think I was rude, though she had no problem with rudeness. Forget about it Jack. Just go to the library tomorrow.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how ridiculous it was. I was thinking about this far too much. It was nothing but an odd encounter with a pretty girl who was completely insane. End of story.

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