Chapter 1: Exodus
He’s been praying for hours now. I am praying too. I am praying that he won’t come again, that he will keep his ravings and he will forget about me. At least for tonight. I pray for one night to be left alone. I am balled up under my bunker and I sway back and forth. Not tonight, not tonight, not tonight.
The blood freezes in my veins. He is going to come. God doesn’t exist. Or if He exists, he can’t hear me from inside that hole in the ground he has locked me in. Or I am evil, impure like he tells me all the time and this is my Hell, my punishment.
He is closer, no way to escape him in this place that is my prison. I hear the footsteps outside my room and I close my eyes. Tears burn my cheeks and I whimper. The door is thrown open and he steps in, light coming from behind him, bathing him in darkness. I don’t know about God, but the Devil does exist and he comes for me again.
I wake up drenched in sweat, barely holding back a scream. Outside it’s dark, deep into the night. I shake my head and I feel the saltiness of tears on my mouth. It’s been years since Salome tracked us, broke down that damn door like a warrior angel and beat “Father” to death. Years since my brave sister picked me up in her arms and brought me to light. Years since I am freed from Hell. And still, I go back there every night.
I grab the bottle of water I have always handy and I throw my legs on the floor. It’s been months since I walked away from Berkeley and I’ve been on the road ever since going from town to town and leaving when things get too hot. I am like the wandering Jew, that guy that mocked Jesus on the way to crucifixion and was condemned to wander the Earth till the Second Coming. Only in this story, I am also the one carrying a cross on my back.
I down the water and I get up to the bathroom of this cheap motel somewhere in Wisconsin. The lamp is flickering over my head as I throw water on my face. Nothing is enough to clear that bitter taste on my lips, that agitation, that itching. I can stay in and wallow in the past or I can go out looking for trouble, forget, feel alive, powerful, in charge.
I grab my leather jacket and I walk out. In this shithole of a town, there is one place to look for trouble. The bar. I shove my hands in my leather jacket and I let a smile on my lips. And in the stillness of the night, I hear it. The ping of the phone Stig has provided me with.
A text. I fist the phone nervously. There is nothing threatening in the text. On the contrary. It’s Lysandra. She has been calling me or texting me every single day and though I speak less and respond rarely, I’ve come to enjoy these interactions. She is trying, she is not giving up on me. And though I try to keep her out of my mind, I can’t help but feel grateful that is determined to stay close. I shake my head and open her text.
The wedding is next week. There is a bridesmaid dress (badass, I promise) waiting for you. I will be waiting for you, too.
That word. “Wait”. The last word that man told me. That dark man, with the smiling eyes and the calm voice. I heard the others calling him Runner. He told me his name and his real name was Jesus. He even joked about it. Jesus and Magdalene. Real Da Vinci Code stuff.
I wish I had smiled. I wish I had done a lot more those few days we shared. The days when he came to me and sat patiently, just looking at me, talking to me, waiting for some response. Those days I was battling with my own self, I was in a bad place, relinquishing my revenge, blaming me for all that happened. And mourning for Salome. And he was there through all of this.
He said he’d wait. That’s what he said as I walked away and for a few seconds, I didn’t want to make him wait. But I was a mess. Still am a goddamn mess and he seems like a fixer, a man to take it upon himself to make shit right. There’s shit that can never be right.
Another chime from my phone.
You do remember about the bachelorette, right? It will be fun.
I shake my head and think that Lysandra and Vik could have done this wedding thing when I’d be ready to face the world again. And perhaps face him again.
“Are you playing, darling?”
I turn to the fucking idiot calling me ”darling“. He is a big man with a belly that will grow even more soon if he keeps downing beers at that alarming rhythm.
“Sure. 200 bucks say 9 and 11 together there,” I point at a pocket hole.
The man and his friends laugh hard and shake their heads. Two things I do well in this life. I fight cause that asshole of a father taught me how before... No. And I play pool. It was my psychotherapist that found out about that. Something about it soothed me. I used to play for hours. Fight and pool. Those are my skills. And if those assholes keep on laughing in my face like that, they will be informed of the former rather than the latter.
“OK, baby doll,” he takes out the money, “you’re on.”
Baby fucking doll! I might just crush this man skull anyway. I fist my cue stick and I lean over the table. I sense the man change his position so he may look at my ass in his leisure and I boil inside. I can’t help but think that at some point, the men that invented this game, must have visualized a woman, leaning over a table with a long stick in her hand. What they didn’t think is that a woman with a stick in her hands is going to kick some balls. Literally. I concentrate and smile menacingly.
I hit the cue ball and I watch as it travels and makes the impossible sequence of hits that roll 9 and 11 right in the pocket nice and easy.
“I’ll be damned!”
“Thank you,” I take the money. “Should we end this game or you’re in the mood of losing more?”
The man is drunk, I can see as much, and he is here with a couple of friends. I am in the middle of nowhere, in his town, his territory. What he dreamed would happen was play a little pool, cup a feel and then drag me back to his lame truck or something and fuck me. What actually happened, was him losing 500 dollars, being ridiculed before his friends and town while I have given him no chance to think that I would enjoy a fuck.
“You fucking bitch!”
Right on cue, I try not to smile widely upon seeing his timely anger rising.
“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end,” the quote comes involuntarily.
“Did you...? Did you just call me a fool, bitch?”
“Solomon did,” I raise an eyebrow.
He seems confused. But it lasts only for a few seconds. He remembers what he wanted to do and he lunges at me. Finally.
“Give me my money, you cheating bitch!”
He raises his fist at me but he is too fat, too drunk, too slow. It’s almost like he called it: cheating. But I am not here to play by the book. I am here to play. Too bad this fucker doesn’t know how to lose.
I go under him and I lean left to hit him in the neck with my tight fist. He staggers and takes a few steps back trying to breathe. I eye his friends warningly but they seem to share the same stupid gene and one of them comes at me. I grab the cue stick and I twirl to hit him straight in the jaw.
The other patrons of this fine establishment keep on drinking their beer. I am guessing in this shithole of a town, bar fights are premium entertainment. They are getting a spectacle for free. A spectacle that not long back, rich fucks paid good money to see.
Upon remembering Jack and his tournament, I bite my jaw down. That fucker. That sick, manipulative bastard. That lying asshole. Men. They are all bastards, taking, always taking. That’s all that the men in my life have been doing. Not him, the thought comes loud and clear but I need to push it away.
I sense a man move but I catch his arm fast enough to twist it in an angle that fills the bar with a chilling crack. I throw the man on the floor and I focus on the next in line.
“No, no,” he raises his hands. “It’s cool, you won fair and square.”
“The bike outside. The Harley,” I eye everyone in the bar.
They all turn to the fat man on his knees still trying to breathe. Of course, I nod. I walk up to him picking up a cue stick from the table. He looks up terrified and shakes his head.
“Is it me or we betted 200 bucks and the bike on that last call shot?”
He struggles a bit, I can see it in his eyes. I twirl the stick in my hands to encourage his foggy memory. And there it is! That flickering light of recognition.
“Uhm...Yeah, we did.”
“Keys,” I demand.
He fumbles in his pockets and hands me a set of keys with a key chain reading “Pussy Wrecker”. I fist the keys and I scoff in his face. Wrecked by a pussy is more like it. I put the stick on the table and a few bucks for my beer and head for the door.
“My keys,” he pleads. “I got my house’s keys on that.”
I look over my shoulder and pin him with my look.
“Good. Report the bike stolen and I’ll just have to pay you a visit.”
He cowers back at my words and I look at the rest of the bar. They all seem reluctant to defend that loser’s cause. Clever. I push the door open and head for the bike. A 90′s Fatboy for a fucking fat boy. Fitting. I climb on and put the keys in the ignition. Before I ride away, I take my phone out.
I’ll be there, I answer back to Lysandra.