The rage Within

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Chapter 43

The store was closed for business, for obvious reasons. Theo even had a large sign made that said Closed for Renovations. Though it was true, it was also a convenient excuse to keep the store closed while we dealt with the situation.

Bili and I spent a few days cleaning the shop and doing repairs. We hung new drywall, fixed some support beams, and did some painting. Bili was so well versed in construction I was sure she could build a house from top to bottom on her own. Like I said, she was full of surprises.

We actually had a good time while we worked. She was far more relaxed around me now and even jovial to a certain degree. She was far from an open book, but considering where we started, we’ve come a long way.

I had sent Ted a message after that first night, letting him know I would be gone for awhile. I offered no explanation, which in hindsight was a bad idea, because I had received numerous calls and texts from worried friends. I didn’t know what to say to anyone, so I avoided it altogether.

The following Monday I called Ted and told him I was moving out and I would be by the following afternoon to get my things. He was worried that he had done something to offend me as my sudden disappearance was a mystery. Add the fact that I was not forthcoming with any explanation as to why, and now I was moving out. I did my best to reassure him that it was not him, but personal reasons on my part. He seemed skeptical, but let the matter drop.

I think he assumed it had something to do with Viki and I made no attempt to correct his suspicion. It was the perfect cover story and I may have even encouraged it somewhat.

It hurt inside at the mention of her name. She had been on my mind and I knew I would have to talk to her sooner or later. I guess I didn’t want to know the truth of it, as it only seemed logical that I had to be a mark of some kind, and nothing more. It was painful to think about, so I made a choice not to speculate until I knew the truth. She had tried calling me several times since my encounter with Kristov, leaving me several touching voice-mails telling me how worried she was about me. I was filled with mixed emotions when I heard them. Since I couldn’t see her face I couldn’t detect deception, but knowing what I did I felt it was just part of the act. That made me angry in different ways. First for being gullible enough to believe someone like her would be interested in me in the first place, and mostly I was angry that she worked me so masterfully that my heart never had a chance.

I had planned to get to the house early, knowing Ted wouldn’t be back until well after noon. I was banking on the fact that he would forgive me when the time came, but I was not in a position see him or to talk about any of this.

The next morning I took the work van so I could get everything in one trip. I didn’t have much, just a few small pieces of furniture, clothes, and some personal items.

I parked in the back, which was not only less conspicuous, but the larger door-wall was on that side of the house and easier to get in and out. So much had happened in such a short time that I was already feeling nostalgic about my time at this house. I had some good times here and something told me that this chapter of my life was closing. Something inside me said that I may not being seeing my old friends for quite some time, if ever. It may seem trivial, but lack of closure with people you care about can weigh on you.

It didn’t take long to gather my things, especially with the added benefit of my newfound strength and speed. I had everything packed in the van in less than fifteen minutes then went back inside to do one last walk through to make sure I didn’t forget anything. This was out of habit more than anything I think, as I was absolutely sure that I hadn’t. My mind worked pretty well before, but now I felt as though I may have an eidetic memory. If I saw it, I remembered it.

I closed my bedroom door and was just about to leave when I heard him.

Shit.

I knew it was Ted before I heard the door handle turn. His smell was as distinct as burgers on a grill. This must be what the senses of bloodhounds are like. Almost everything was unique, unmistakable, and overly pungent.

I could have easily fled without being seen, but didn’t. I felt I owed him, and it felt wrong. He was a great friend and I couldn’t bring myself to flee like a burglar in the night. I was still me wasn’t I?

My old room was further down the hall and he couldn’t see me when he entered the house. I heard his hesitant footsteps in the living room, so rather than draw it out I stepped out into the hallway. He was looking the other way when I spoke up.

“Hey.” I said.

“Shit!” Ted said as he turned to face me. “Sorry, you scared the hell out of me.”

“Sorry buddy. How are you?” I said, remaining a good distance from him.

“Good.” He said as he walked closer.

When he got close enough to see that there was something different about me he came to a stop.”

The look, or rather looks, on his face were screaming numerous different things all at once. I was reading him as if he was performing sign language only I knew.

Confusion.

Apprehension.

Nervousness.

Scared.

Surprise.

“How are you?” He asked.

“I’m good. Just grabbing my things. Sorry, but I thought it might be better this way.”

“I thought you might do something like this, so I cut my first class.”

Ted Said.

He was still trying to work out in his head everything that was wrong with me and the situation.

“You always were the smart one.”

Ted inched forward, unable to look away. The most obvious alteration was literally staring him in the eyes.

“Everyone has been asking about you. I’ve never had so many people come to my house before. Is everything really alright? You had us worried.”

“Tell everyone that I appreciate their concern, but I’m fine.”

“I can see. You look…good. Real good.” Ted said with a confused stare.

He didn’t know what to make of me. The change in eye color, physique, and skin tone was more than obvious to someone who I had spent an enormous amount of time with over the past few years. Not to mention he had just seen me less than a week ago.

“Where have you been? Really.”

“There’s a story to tell, and a long one, but now is not the time.” I said.

I didn’t mean to, but spoke in a more authoritative manner than usual. He picked up on it and nodded.

“I will call you in a few weeks or so, and I will tell you all about it. You good with that?”

“Yeah.” He said, still nodding absently.

I could sense him bursting with curiosity and questions, but to his credit, he held on to them.

“You are a good friend.” I said.

I walked up to him slowly, and it was then that I really could tell what an imposing figure I now must appear to be in his eyes. He was shocked into silence. I patted him on the shoulder, gave him a reassuring smile and then walked toward the back door.

I don’t know why, but it hurt me to leave him like that. He was one of those rare friends who truly cared and never had an agenda. He deserved better.

Maybe one day I would be able to tell him something remotely close to the truth, but right now it was best to let him come up with whatever feasible explanation his mind thought was most reasonable for my appearance. Steroids, Surgery, or even heavy make-up would all be more probable than the truth. I was still coming to terms with the truth myself.

I was about to walk out when I stopped and looked back at Ted.

“Can I ask you a favor?” I said,

“Anything.”

“If anyone asks you about me, and I mean anyone, just tell them you haven’t seen me and I left without telling you anything. This is very important. Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah, I can do that. In fact, that’s exactly was I told that cute girl we meet awhile back. Cierra?” Ted said nonchalantly.

The image of here became crystal clear in my mind. I can’t believe I didn’t think about this before, but in fairness I had been a little distracted with new events.

“When was she here?” I asked.

“The second night you were gone I think. I thought it was strange, but you have been doing well-”

“What did she want?” I said seriously, cutting him off.

“She asked if you were home and when I said you weren’t she wanted to know where she could find you. Of course I had no idea where you were and told her as much.”

“Keep it that way. And if she comes back do not answer the door and call me right away. Understand?”

“Sure. Did I do something wrong?” He asked.

My tone and stern look must have scared him, but this was important information that the group would want as soon as possible. This was not another odd coincidence.

“No. Just remember what I told you.” I said seriously.

I hurried to the van and made my way back to the POH as quick as I could.

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