“Come on, let’s get out of here”, she said.
It was then that I received my first taste of Lola's amaretto kisses.
Her apartment was just up the street. We went there to explore one another, to see if what we'd find would hold up to the exquisiteness of what was promised. It did. So much so that I remained for three days. Three days of raucous love making that left me spent and supremely satisfied.
Playtime is always too brief. Reality invariably intervenes to stake its claim on one's priorities. Enough was enough. I returned home to settle the argument with my wife in a more civilized manner than walking out.
Vanessa and I are quite the pair. When we disagree, which is often, no one fights like us. When times are good, no one loves like we do. We each serve as a magnet to the other's fiercest passions. She courses through my veins, infecting my bloodstream with a sweet poison to which there is no antidote.
In the past I had exchanged relationships at a faster rate than I switched television channels. Only the slightest provocation was required to call it quits. On one occasion after another I would suddenly and irrevocably decide that time was up on my liaison of the moment.
Vanessa changed all that. I could not get enough of her. The craving was a phenomenon beyond logical explanation, unless one gives credence to that fairy tale notion known as love.
I opened the door to our home with the scent of Lola seemingly still clinging to me in spite of a shower and cologne. My wife lay naked in the middle of the living room, a sight to behold, beauty beyond comprehension, clearly lifeless. In a daze I dropped to my knees and crawled forward, the shag carpet feeling like ten thousand razor blades.
Who could have dared to destroy such perfection? Our home appeared undisturbed, nothing of value removed. Not even Vanessa’s engagement ring had been taken from the finger I had so recently placed it upon. But if robbery was not the explanation, what else could account for how this horror came to be? My wife had no enemies. Who would choose to be the foe of an angel? Only the devil himself.
I cradled Vanessa's limp form, kissed her fervently, sobbed prayers of desperation. But neither my lips nor my tears possessed the power to resuscitate.
The kiss sobered me sufficiently to begin thinking straight. I would be blamed. The whole building knew of our altercations, could not help but overhear our heated disputes. I am six foot four inches tall; two hundred and forty muscled pounds; with searing eyes that gaze straight forwardly from a cleanly shaved, ebony skull. My mostly Caucasian neighbors instinctively perceive me as menacing. Their stares never mask the disapproval they feel of one of their own; a five foot three inch, one hundred and five pound, blonde haired and blue eyed white girl; living and loving with the likes of me. I would have to grieve later. First things first. I needed to get in touch with my alibi.
It seemed the cab I took missed not a single red light. Every driver in front of us was determined to keep their miles per hour in single digits. Finally I arrived at Lola's apartment and began knocking on the door. Ten seconds later a man stood before me, wondering who I was and what I wanted. Over his shoulder I spied Lola on the couch, staring at me with shock and worry. Immediately the situation grew apparent. This man was her husband, come back from wherever he had been. I had no alibi. What I had in my hands, on my shoulders, in my lap, was a heap of trouble.
What I needed was time to think. Once Vanessa's murder was discovered, the cops would be all over me. They would naturally assume I had done it, and use their brutish tactics to force a confession which matched their conclusion. The cops I could handle, having dealt with their legally authorized brand of racist terrorism on more than one unpleasant occasion. Badges, clubs and guns didn't intimidate me. But I knew sufficient evidence could be gathered to put me on trial, where my chances of proving innocence would be slim.
I returned home, entering as conspicuously as a shadow and proceeded to do the unimaginable. I placed Vanessa's body into the bathtub. Disregarding the memory of her submerged in bubbles upon which rose petals floated; her glorious face illuminated by candle light; sipping a glass of Moet as the music of Vivaldi massaged her senses; I commenced to hacking her into pieces with a miter saw and butcher knife and placing each chunk of flesh into a garbage bag. It was tougher work physically than anticipated. As for the emotional challenge, mourning and revulsion had to be put aside. I operated in strict self preservation mode. Before removing my wife's head from her torso I caressed the bruises on her neck. They were no doubt caused by the choking hands that had ended her life. When all was done, I tied the dark green bag shut on what had been my world.
Much cleaning up was required. I began washing away the gallons of blood, working quickly and efficiently, performing as if my life had been spent in preparation for such mortifying acts. I was beyond shock, beyond fear, in a morally comatose state which allowed me to move as purposeful as a well trained soldier.
Three hours later I sit in an airport lounge awaiting my flight to exile. Vanessa has been carefully and permanently disposed of. We are both pulling disappearing acts, neither of our paths traceable. A part of me insists that I feel some measure of guilt, but I am certain I can drink this part into submission. The death of my wife was a tragedy. For me to take the fall, to be condemned by strangers for destroying what was most sacred to me, would just make two tragedies. No point to that. Vanessa's spirit would not be able to rest easy if on top of the heavy duty of coping with her loss, I was also blamed and punished for her unfortunate passing.
I continue to drink my spare time away but soon find an accompanying diversion. A lovely young lady sits next to me, starts up a conversation which grows increasingly intimate. Her feline orbs are topped by mile long lashes. Her skin is the same tone and seemingly identical texture to maple syrup. Immediately I make plans to immerse myself in her sweet, sticky stuff.
“So where are you off to?” I ask.
“I’m headed back home to Austin.”
“What a coincidence. I’m going there as well. I was offered a great job. I suppose I’ll be pretty lonely at first, since I won’t know a soul.”
“You know me”, says Sharon, her voice a little slurred from the cocktails she’s been imbibing to settle her nerves for the flight ahead.
“I’m beginning to. And we do have a long flight to get much better acquainted.”
“I just hate to fly. I know the fear is somewhat irrational. The odds are greater of being killed in a car accident, or slipping in your bathtub. So they say, anyway. But that doesn’t make me any less nervous.”
“Fortunately you have a new friend to help make the flight go a little easier”, I say. “I’m great at distracting.”
Next thing I know our tongues are exploring the inside of one another's mouths. The taste I come upon is familiar, remindful of the recent past. Succulent, tantalizing, irresistible amaretto kisses. My memory floods so quickly that it gives me an immediate, sharp headache.
I should have walked away from Lola's door. It would not have been difficult to stammer a quickly conceived fib about having the wrong address. But I panicked. I needed an alibi to prove my innocence of Vanessa’s murder. Lola's secret from her husband would have to be revealed, my liberty was at stake. I had no choice but to truthfully state my purpose.
Ideally there would have been a more civilized manner in which to handle the whole tawdry affair. Once tempers flared and the situation grew hectic, it became obvious that control was necessary. So I took it. I quelled matters before they went from bad to worse, not bothering to clean up afterwards because I had no intention of sticking around long enough to be connected to Lola by the bartender and a couple observant alcoholics upon questioning.
It's funny how certain events can slip one's mind until another scarcely related happening sends it spiraling backwards. Not until I was through hacking Lola and hubby to death with the butcher knife I’d held on to in my gloved hands for safe keeping did I realize that she was not a valid alibi after all. We actually met each other more than an hour after my wife's death. I knew this now because the precise time and reason and cause of Vanessa's execution had crept to the top of my consciousness. What I was certain my neighbors would falsely believe and the cops would erroneously suspect, turned out to be in fact, the truth. It was I who choked Vanessa to death, directly after making frantic love to her on our living room floor.
I had grown mighty curious about the many hours spent by Vanessa in front of our computer terminal. The evidence I unearthed proved my suspicions to be well founded. At least her adultery was not yet one of the flesh, but still confined to sweet nothings typed on screen. Each romantic declaration found in the emails they sent one another was now branded on my skull. I had to determine if it was possible to reclaim Vanessa's roaming heart.
But in the argument which ensued after I made love to her one last time, my hands somehow wound up around her throat. My actions seemed too strange to be anything but the product of an overworked imagination. This could not be reality. It had to be a macabre nightmare from which I was finally awakened by the scent of perfume drifting in the air of an unfamiliar tavern as a beautiful woman sat in the stool next to mine. I have yet to figure out how I get from place to place during my occasional black outs, but more often than not my feet guide me to a place where alcohol is being served and women are generously partaking.
Now that the full story has been told you probably look upon me as a monster. It is easy for you to sit back in judgment. If I dwelled upon these heinous deeds, perhaps I too would be horrified. The very act of continuing to live would grow unbearable. Which is why I don't look back. I simply clean up all traces of the past as best I can, and then move forward. I head to the only place where relief can be found, the beautiful state of intoxication, though it is only temporary salvation. Eventually I will find myself with someone else's blood to wash from my hands. Though I may once again say "never again", I can't seem to make the oath stick. I am no stranger to airport lounges, another city and identity awaiting me. Again I will fall in love and I will have to grow used to a woman moaning the latest name I’ve assumed to stay incognito. Again something will happen to ruin it, and to deal with the pain my darker impulses will take over. Only my death will terminate the cycle, but I am nowhere near ready to die just yet.
I refuse to ponder further such morbid thoughts. Euphoria inducing spirits are swishing around delightfully in my head. The headache has faded as quickly as it arrived and I’m now feeling better than ever before in my life. After all, I am delighting in a beautiful stranger's sweet amaretto kisses. What more could a man ask for? What more could I possibly need?