Chapter 1: Demons
The blue sky was the painting of cheer. The blue was vibrant, like so many other things: The ocean, sadness, broken hearts. Will was drinking whiskey, trying to wash the blues away. Suddenly, the clouds came in and the rain came down like tears from heaven. He didn’t know why he treated her the way he did. He guessed all of his demons got the best of him and he danced around with damnation every night since then. He guessed he’d never know how much he’d hurt her heart, but, really, he guessed he was scared. He guessed he kept telling himself he couldn’t control himself when he abused her, but he knew that wasn’t true. The truth was, he loved the way she loved him so much. He wished desperately that he could be who she wished he was, but he simply couldn’t. He couldn’t let her in. He couldn’t love her back because she fell in love with him so easily and he didn’t have to earn a thing. He did actually feel like he’d won the lottery.
He got off on it if he was being totally honest. His penis erected just a little bit every time he witnessed her crying, every time he knew she was breaking inside like a precious vase. He hated himself for it, but he couldn’t let go of the stimulation he felt: the adrenaline rushing through his veins. Damn, she really was a beauty: dark brown hair that got curly every time it rained and a smile that looked like she must have been from Heaven. She was too damn good for him and he knew it. Maybe that’s why he screwed up so many times: he subconsciously thought she deserved someone better than him.
Will had lost my dad when he was two. He still remembers. His heart aches every day. His dad was shot. He had been working in the gardens, Will came home, and his ma and him found his old man. Dead. She never knew who did it. Will kept hinting to her, but she never asked.
Will guessed he could love Allison, someday, if she didn’t want him so badly. He felt like he was constantly being pressured, like he was a pressure cooker with its lid about to pop off. She contacted him a lot. She didn’t like it when he didn’t contact her back. Maybe she felt invisible, hurt, rejected. He kind of liked making her feel that way. He didn’t feel that way, for once. She loved him. She was gorgeous but she didn’t know it. She never believed him when he told her. He didn’t know why she kept thinking he would her, someday, with the way she was acting. Insane was the word. He knew she was someone else around him and he didn’t like the side of her he brought out.
She said he had caused her mania. He felt terrible for causing her anxiety but there was nothing so stimulating. He looked outside of the window. He poured himself a shot of whiskey and it burned on the way down his throat. It burned like all of the times he had rejected her and contacted her once more to get her back into bed with him, like the day she’d left, and like the day she’d come back. She was coming this afternoon. She’d probably been in tears once again. He kind of loved a woman being out of control: overly emotional, possessive, obsessive. He didn’t know why. He thought he had more control that way.
She gets more and more desperate. She gives me what I want more easily. I’d said I would leave her when she asked why I was so determined not to have a relationship with her and then she’d said I could dominate her and was heading over to my house now, her heart in pieces.
Allison would come to my house no matter what. Rain or shine. I was her priority. I always would be. It was hard to not take her for granted. She acted as if we were dating, but her distant friend reality knew we were only lovers. She kept hoping I’d change, seeing me for who she wanted me to be and not for who I actually was. She had no idea how much that hurt me: her being in my life, being in love with the idea of me, with the ideal of who I was. Not with me. I feel as though I’ll never measure up. She’s called the phone twenty times today, saying she hates me once, then saying she loves me. I haven’t picked it up. I sigh, listening to the melodic tonalities of her voice. I know that the longer I ignore her for the more likely it is she’ll come over. I like to see her. I don’t have to pick up. She’ll come to me anyway. She always does. She always will. That’s what I thought at the time, before I realized how much I’d lost when I lost her. She drove me crazy at least twice every day. She just couldn’t say no to me and she couldn’t let go for years. I would give her a proverbial carrot, just enough to keep her hanging on. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I wish I’d been whoever she saw me as, whoever she wanted me to be. Some ideal of a man in all of her romance novels and romance movies. It was difficult living up to those expectations. I was clear about what I wanted: Sex. Only sex, nothing else. I wasn’t some knight in shining armor, or some hero in the romance movies she watched. I felt like I should be. She wanted so much. Her hopes, her expectations were so high and I felt so much pressure, I felt like I just couldn’t control my emotions around her. I hated her for being so controlling, and, sometimes, so mean, but I loved her, well, I would have, probably, if she had given me the chance to. I couldn’t love someone who was constantly giving me an earful about how I should love her, and I should be around more, and I should do this that and the other. I rode my horse a lot those days, to clear the constant chatter of her voice in my head. I’ve never missed her because she never gave me the chance to. I never missed her until every second of every minute of every hour of every day when she got married. I still feel that she made the wrong decision. She doesn’t know the good side of me, the gentleman I am when I have to work for what I have in my life. I wanted to earn her, but she didn’t let me. I resented her, I kept hoping she’d change. Someday. Somehow. People are complicated. I don’t think she ever acted the way she did with her new man the way she used to with me. I had a certain hold on her. She has a hold on me too, even to this day. I wish I’d been different. Treated her better. Showed up. I wish she’d been different too. Nothing was ever good enough for me, and nothing was ever good enough for her. I guess that’s like, the roller coaster, the ups and downs. I’m with Martha now. I love her, as much as I can love any woman when I’m really in love with a married one. She’s cooking bacon and eggs right now, and she does the laundry. She’s an angel, really. Long blonde hair from the locks of heaven, beautiful tan legs, long, thin. Breasts that would seduce God himself. Blue eyes. She’s as sane as can be. Barely ever cries. Never calls me more than three times in a row, even during emergencies. She’s not wealthy but she’s good with money. I’ve fathered three children with her. She is a good woman. I miss Allison, sometimes, though, in the middle of the night. I miss how crazy she used to get, how free she used to be. My heart aches a little. I wonder if she feels the same way about me sometimes. If she feels that way about me. I am quite relieved she doesn’t, if that’s it. I wonder sometimes, how it would have been, if we’d both behaved differently. I loved her, deep down, but I just couldn’t say it. I couldn’t look her in the eyes and say, “I love you.” That would have been such a weak thing to do. I didn’t want her getting attached to me, when she could have had someone so much better than me. I knew I didn’t treat her well. I never had. I never would. I honestly don’t think I was capable of it. I had been taught that men cannot be sensitive, that we cannot be weak, and that we cannot be vulnerable. Love was the most vulnerable thing for a man, so, naturally, love was when I felt as though I was at my weakest.
I knew she hated me for stringing her along and playing with her heart like a cat plays with a catnip toy. She had had the courage to dive all of the way in. It really annoyed me sometimes, how much she called. It’s like she had no self respect. Then, I reminded myself, she didn’t. She didn’t have any self respect whatsoever, and I was her first priority, no matter how I treated her. I didn’t change, I suppose, because I didn’t have to, or maybe because I didn’t want to. Even I didn’t know how selfish I was, how mean I was, how much I took her for granted at times. She loved me, or at least she wanted me to love her so badly she would do just about anything for me, and I used it against her. I thought it was funny, sometimes. I felt a bit sheepish about the whole thing, but, when I didn’t get what I wanted from her, I simply took a swig of whiskey, ignored her completely until she was falling at my feet once more, begging for mercy, and kept on doing what I do best. I hated myself for this. I wished I had more self-control than that. I wish she knew how valuable she was, how much her heart was worth, but I couldn’t see it, not when she kept throwing herself at me like this all of the time.
Chapter 2: Whiskey
Whiskey is the devil. I’m halfway through the bottle. As I walk, I sway. My mind goes to telling her how much I love her over text. Maybe proposing to her over text (like I did to my ex girlfriend). Yes, in case you were wondering, she is now my ex because I had the audacity to propose to her over text and I thought it was funny, playing with her like that. Women are like birds. They are nice to look at but they bite you if you get too close, and they like to have their own territory. You can’t get too close to them without getting nipped. It’s the unfortunate truth. That’s why I always tell Allison I don’t want love, coffee, friendship, or a warm bed. All I want is her body. I’ve been really clear from the start, and, if she doesn’t get it, it’s on her. I thought that wouldn’t break her heart at first, that she deserved to know I just wanted to get laid, but it did. Every time we fucked, she’d give me long blow jobs and I’d shove my dick down her throat, and that was that. Over and done with. She loved it. I loved it too: seeing her that way. It was intoxicating to see a powerful woman on her knees. Well, a formerly powerful woman, anyways.
She’s said no a million times but she keeps coming back for more. It’s like I have too much power over her. It’s like I’m a wizard and she’s my cat that I can do what I want with whenever I please. I know it sounds cold.
I keep telling myself I’m not in love with her, because, if I was, I would never be this selfish. I wouldn’t take so much if I was truly in love with her, and give so little. She’s knocking on the door now. I take another swig of whiskey and I lay on the couch, listening to her knock. I sigh, get up, and open the door.
“Hi,” I respond.
“Do you want to go for a walk?”
I shook my head, “No. I don’t.”
I reached around her shoulder and I kissed her lips. Our tongues danced and I could feel my penis becoming erect. I swallowed. I stopped.
“I just don’t want to lead you on.”
She looked down at the floor and she nodded, “No. I need you. Sorry for all of the calls, Will. Please let me stay,” She begged like a homeless person asking for a sorely-needed meal.
I sighed, “Sorry.”
She looked as though she wanted to say something to me, but couldn’t. She could write me a million texts, but, when we were actually together, she couldn’t actually bring herself to say a damn thing. Not something that meant anything. I slammed the door and sat back down on the couch. I sighed, wiped a tear from my eye. I wanted to tell her I loved her, but it just wasn’t true. Or maybe it was. I didn’t know. She didn’t ever give me a chance to fall in love with her.
Men fall in love with women when they’re not there, and, since she’s always available, I’ll never fall in love with her. Maybe I already am. I can’t say it though. That would ruin it for both of us. She wouldn’t want me as much as she does. She wouldn’t dream about me every night, like I dream of her, and she certainly wouldn’t stay faithful. Everyone I had loved always left: My father, my grandma, my mom.
He'd been shot. My heart sank like a bottle in the bottom of the ocean. I wept. I felt like there was a hole in my heart. Like someone had put his fist inside my chest, and pulled, ripping me apart no matter how badly it hurt me. I laid there. Hollow. That’s when my mom offered me beer. There was nothing else left to soothe the pain. Nothing strong enough, except the alcohol.
I sat there, chugging it, and I sat down. My feet felt like stones on the floor. She, well, Allison, is confusing. She hates me, she loves me, she’ll do anything for me, except stop. She needs me, mostly. I take advantage of it. I know I do. It’s not like she cares about me enough to stop harassing me. She never has. She never will. I hate it. I hate her for needing me to the point of no return. I need her to need me, though. I love her needing me. I love her begging for me on her knees. I love the power I have over her. It’s hard for me to lose self control I never had, not since Jim, my dad passed. I’m Nelson. Not that you need to know. Not that anyone needs to know. I laid down, I saw an image of Allison in my mind, with flowing brown hair, my head hit the pillow, and I swiveled into dreamland.
Chapter 3: Memory Lane
I’m taking a drive today. The trees rush by. There is so much to see. The mountains roll by. I’m listening to Tim McGimmons on the radio. He’s singing about loss today. My mind wanders back to a woman who had stolen my heart a long time ago, back when I was just a kid. She had brown hair, drove a pickup truck, and she always wore brown leather cowboy boots. She listened to country music. She was here and gone. She was so beautiful. So free. I remember seeing her galloping on a horse on our dirt road. I wished the two of us could ride together, but it never happened. I guess she thought I wanted more. Lord knows she was right. I wanted so much more. At the time, I swore I would marry her. She just wanted to hang out. There was one night we both got a little drunk. We were in her red pickup truck, and the stars were lining the sky. They reminded me of the starlight I always saw in her eyes. She never talked to me again after that. I’m not sure just why. Just what happened. That night is magic to me. That’s why I swore, after Miranda, I’d never fall in love again. Not with Allison. She was too good to be true. Too good for me, if I really got down to it. I sighed, kept listening to the radio, and driving down the road.
I knew where she was today. We’d known each other for years, and I knew that she was painting. I’d seen her paint once. Allison. She deserved so much more. I hated myself for hurting her the way I had. She was there, in her log cabin. Her wooden easel was right in front of her window. Outside, there was a forest, and the sun was setting right about now. She loved the sunset. I knew she did, when she was painting. She dipped her brush into the assortment of paints she had, sighed, and started to stare at the blank canvas, wondering what to create today. She starts with dark blue. It’s probably the color of her heart’s emotions. I hated myself. I took a drink of the beer I had in the cupholder. There was never anyone on these roads. No cops. It was a good place to be when I wanted to ease my mind. A good idea to be moving when I didn’t want to stay in one place.
I pictured her, adding a little bit of yellow. I also figured that was how she wanted to feel: happy, bright.
I was only picturing her the way I saw her, I supposed. The way I wanted to see her. The way she used to be, before I’d broken her. Sometimes I wondered how she’d gotten that desperate. Why she’d started throwing herself at men as if they were going to heal some kind of void she’d felt since she was a little girl. I feared it was lost. Her grandmother had died when she was only seven years old. She probably wanted to hang onto any relationship she could for as long as she could. She probably didn’t want to let anyone go willingly, the way she’d been forced to do with her grandma. I was taking advantage of her, but I knew no other woman would have me.
I knew that no one would come to me that easily. Most women would see me for who I really was: an insecure cowboy with nothing to lose. Very little to gain, and a very small amount of money in the bank. I killed my own meat. I went deer hunting every year, brought home the big ones, did all the trimming and cutting and whatnot and then I roasted em up. Made some really good deer jerky. Allison never came with me. She always wanted to, but I told her it was a man’s sport, and ladies had no business with them shotguns. She didn’t listen to me. She was quite feisty. She went on her own one time and she actually caught one, put it in her daddy’s truck, and drove him, angry the whole time because I had refused to go with her. That afternoon had been fun. She’d called me a chauvinistic piece of shit for not ever goin’ with her before. I ain’t no chauvinistic shit. Just a good ‘ole country boy. I remember tellin’ her that but she wouldn’t listen to a damn thing I said.
I rolled my eyes just thinkin’ about, put the bottle down, and hunkered down on the couch, watching the sunset over the Sangre de Cristos. Women...I thought, as I laid there, takin’ it all in.