She had managed to pack up and go in a single day once before but this time it was different. This time there would be no coming back. Come noon tomorrow Fay was going to have to lock up for the last time and hand her keys over to the real estate agent that had would come by to make sure all the legal papers were in order. Once that was done it would be Asta la Vista Santa Carla for good.
Fay sighed as she picked up a half-empty bottle of homemade wine that was sitting on the nightstand behind her and took a swing as her eyes glanced her bedroom that now sported bare walls and a ton of open cardboard boxes.
Fay set the bottle down beside her as she placed a hand on Figaro’s dainty head and fondled his ears. The grey tabby arched his skinny back and curled his striped tail into a question mark as he rubbed his cheek against Fay’s leg and began to purr.
“Merrrrrow?” Figaro turned his bright green eyes onto Fay’s face as he curled himself around her arm and sat down next to her, curiously sniffing the contents of the large box in front of her.
“I’m doing the right thing right?” Fay asked out-loud as she caught a yawn with the back of her hand.
Instead of answering Figaro just half-closed his eyes and purred as he stuck a paw into the box and yanked out a white piece of styrofoam. For over the past week the white squishy packing cubes had provided endless hours of entertainment for him as he and Elvis made full use of Fay’s packing escapade to their fullest advantage. It wasn’t every day that their home turned into a labyrinth of narrow alleys and tight corners. The living room alone was the perfect hunting ground as the tabby used his time wisely in stalking his dumbfounded feline brethren.
“Well, too late now.” Fay yawned once more and rubbed her tried eyes before she checked her watch. God, what time was it? Nine already?
“The house is sold and the new owners move in in two days. We don’t have much of a choice do we?” Fay asked the cat as she neatly plucked him off the ground with one hand before he could start to gnaw on his new plaything. Figaro let out a mewl of protest but Fay just plopped him on the bare mattress alongside the large sleeping form of Elvis. The black fur ball didn’t even bother to open an eye.
“Well at least you two don’t seemed worried.” Fay smiled as she watched Figaro pull one of his antics and pounced on Elvis’ fat head in order to get him to move. But the tabby’s efforts were in vain. Elvis wasn’t going to budge from his spot, not when it was already nice and warm. Fig was just going to have to snooze somewhere else.
“You guys wanna help me pack?” Fay asked as she carefully bent over and snagged a picture frame off the floor and quickly wrapped it in newspaper before she placed it in the box. When she turned back to look at the cats Figaro was curled up next to Elvis and used his thick fluffy tail as a pillow.
“Fine.” Fay huffed as she blew a stay strand of hair out of her face. “But I got your whiskers!”
Figaro grumbled in protest as Fay reached over and gently tugged on a few of his whiskers. He hated it when she did that.
Fay chuckled as she shook her head. What would she ever do without these two she didn’t know.
Well, it was back to packing. All of her drawers were emptied and the contents packed away. Her paintings, mirrors, lamps and other smaller items were wrapped and ready to roll. The only thing left to do in her bedroom was her closet. That alone was going to take some time and a lot of wine. As much as she wanted to, Fay wasn’t going to be able to take her entire wardrobe with her so now it came down to deciding what was coming with her and what was going to the Goodwill. This should be good.
“Alright Fay. Here goes nothing. I need another drink.” Fay murmured to herself before she picked up the wine bottle and tipped it back.
In all her years of being a Santa Carla resident not once had she thrown away a pair of old shoes or an out-of-style dinner jacket. She still had stuff in the back of her closet that went as far back as 1981. She figured that if she dug deep enough she’d discover dinosaur bones or a dead body or something like that.
Grabbing one of the scrunchies that were wrapped around her wrist, Fay quickly tied back her hair and rolled up her sleeves. It was time to get down to business and get this over with. Carefully picking her way across the bedroom floor, Fay opened the walk-in-closet and swung the door wide. The full length mirror on the inside of the door caught her reflection for a moment as she reached into the confined darkness of the closet and flipped the switch.
God, she was really going to miss this closet. It was like a vault that held all of her memories and not to mention eccentric fashion pieces. She still had that one-piece leather cat suit that Paul and Marko had first seen her in somewhere in there.
Wonder if it still fit?
Without a backward glance Fay stepped into her closet and was instantly swallowed up by various fabrics and accessories. She ran her hands over the hefty shoulder pads of her jackets and down the flowing sides of her dresses. Each and every piece of clothing had a story to tell and Fay could have just stood there all night and reminisced over the past couple of years.
Oh look! Tiny leather Patty Duke shorts! Man, it had been what…a couple of years since she last wore these things? Boy, the times have sure changed and so had she. Everything was changing now and it was either go with the flow or remain stuck in the past.
Fay unhooked the shorts from their hanger and eyed them closely for a moment. They were a size three. She wasn’t squeezing her butt into these things for a while. So without a guilty second-thought Fay just chucked them over her shoulder. Someone else could get some use out of them.
Once she started she couldn’t stop. That floral print sundress that she hadn’t worn since she turned 21 was definitely going. And so were those lime green straight leg jeans. What was she thinking when she bought those things? Lime green? Did she ever wear those things out into public? Probably. Ohhhh, the little black dress with the Marilyn Monroe cut was staying. That dress always made her chest look two sizes bigger. Heh. Gotta love the little black dress. Now what about the purple velvet blazer?
Should it stay or go?
Fay took it off its hanger and held it against her as she turned and stepped out of the closet for a moment in order to check herself in the mirror.
Goodwill it was.
Back into the closet she went and soon the clothes were flying out of the door and landing on top of boxes at an alarming rate. Figaro opened his eyes and peered over the side of the bed for a moment when a pink flowery flip flop landed on the floor rug. He flicked an ear back when a faint noise, more like a whisper caught his attention. He waited a moment and listened.
There it was again. And it wasn’t coming from the closet.
Without so much as a prow Figaro raised his tail in the air and sauntered out of the bedroom while he went to go investigate the mysterious noise. It seemed to be coming from somewhere on the first floor.
The only thing that stirred on the first floor was the front door as it silently closed behind a dark figure that slipped over the threshold without a sound. When the figure entered the cluttered and overly crowded living room Figaro was tiptoeing down the stairs with his bright green eyes ablaze. With a bound and a careful leap the tabby landed on top of the plastic covered loveseat and fixed his eyes on the figure who stood in the furthest corner of the room, next to Fay’s old record player.
Not a sound came from the cat as he watched a leather clad arm reached over and picked up a record from an open box that sat next to the player. A painted on spotted leopard glared at Figaro with a single green glittering eye. With gentle hands the intruder slipped the vinyl disc out of its old battered cover and fit it on the turn table. One hand guided the needle onto the record while the other raised the volume on the player. A steady hum that was quickly covered over by a static crackle filled the living room.
Only when a deep voice began to croon through the loud speakers did Figaro utter a single questioning meow. But by then the figure was gone.
And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips.
You're trying hard not to show it, (baby).
But baby, baby I know it...
Up the stairs, one at a time, with a hand trailing over the well-worn wooden handrail that was familiar and quietly. Down the long hallway that ended in an open doorway that was filled with light. The figure stopped at the line where the shadows met the lamplight and watched with guarded eyes as Fay darted out of her closet with an armload of clothes. She had her back to the door and didn’t seem to feel the new presence just outside the room.
Whoa, that lovin' feeling,
You've lost that lovin' feeling,
Now it's gone...gone...gone...woooooah.
Fay picked up a leather jacket and gently fingered the studs in the shoulders and along the wrist cuffs before she held the jacket up to her and wrapped one arm around herself. She frowned at her reflection in the full length mirror as she tried to recall the last time that she had worn that jacket. It had been a gift from Dwayne, back when he frequently haunted her doorstep. It had been years since he had ever set foot inside her house.
when I reach for you.
And now you're starting to criticize little things I do.
It makes me just feel like crying, (baby).
'Cause baby, something in you is dying.
Hmph. There was music coming from somewhere. Fay sighed as she hugged the jacket to her and breathed in its rich leather aroma. That smell always brought back memories of wild nights and wild rides on the back of a motorcycle, of overcast skies and crashing waves. It was a scent that belonged to the night and had no place in where she was going.
With a regretful twist of her lips, Fay looked down at the jacket and let it slip out of her hands and land on the floor with a soft thump. Maybe someone else would live it up with it. Her time with leather and bikes was passed.
Whoa, that lovin' feeling,
You've lost that lovin' feeling,
Now it's gone...gone...gone...woooooah
Fay scratched the back of her neck and went back into the closet while the presence finally stirred. It only took a moment for the discarded leather jacket to vanish from where it lay and in that moment two things happened. Elvis woke up and someone turned off the lights.
“Oh great.” Fay growled as she stood still and waited for her eyes to adjust to the sudden darkness. The last thing she needed now was a blown fuse. The realtor was just going to love this tomorrow. She groped around behind her for the light switch to see if maybe it was just the light bulb that had burnt out but instead of touching cold plastic her fingers brushed against something even colder.
She didn’t turn around, she didn’t call out, and she didn’t remove her hand. She just stood there and waited. She wasn’t going to make the first move.
Moments passed that felt like hours as a heavy silence engulfed the closet, cutting it off from the rest of the world. Time seemed to stop in that little space while the rest of the world kept on spinning elsewhere.
The creak of leather gave away his position and Fay closed her eyes as she felt two strong arms slowly wind themselves around her. She remained ramrod straight as bare skin brushed up against the back of her extra large New York Dolls t-shirt.
A curtain of long dark hair that smelt of sea spray and earth tickled her neck as a rough cheek brushed her ear. The weight of his head came to rest on her right shoulder as his chin found the crook of her neck. Fay still didn’t say anything. She waited.
Her skin prickled as she felt a change in the air around her. The closet lost its cozy familiar feel and took on a menacing edge. The darkness felt a little heavier and the arms around her were nothing more than cold coils that tightened as she let out a long breath through her nose and jutted out her jaw.
Fay could feel the shift even if she couldn’t see it. Goosebumps tickled her neck as a reaction to the sudden danger that was too close for comfort. Right about now would have been a great time to unleash pent up anger but Fay didn’t give into that little seductive voice. Instead she opened her eyes, scowled, and tilted her head to the side in order to give her ex-lover and potential murderer a nice clean shot at her neck.
I beg of you please...please!
I need your love (I need your love),
I need your love (I need your love),
So bring it on back (So bring it on back),
Bring it on back (so bring it on back)
The moment came. He lifted his head off her shoulder. Fay stared hard at the dark rack of clothes in front of her and narrowed her eyes. It was going to hurt. Screw it.
Whoa, that lovin' feeling
Bring back that lovin' feeling,
'Cause it's gone...gone...gone,
and I can't go on,
A feral snarl came from behind as his bared fangs touched her skin with their deadly points. Just a little more pressure and then it would be over. There was nothing to stop him. Fay wasn’t putting up a fight. Then why didn’t he just rip her throat out and be done with it?
“Want me to spoon-feed you too?” Fay snorted as she ran her tongue over her teeth and arched an eyebrow. She knew he couldn’t see her face but the message wasn’t that hard to understand.
“Figures.” Fay growled as she straightened her neck and looked down at her chest. She waited until his arms were gone before she turned around and tilted her head back so that she could look him straight in the eye. “You’re pathetic Dwayne.”
Fiery eyes glared back at her as they stared at each other, neither willing to move out of the other’s way.
“I never knew you were so eager to die.” Dwayne growled and even in the darkness of the closet Fay could make out the gleam of those wicked fangs of his.
“Die? No. Beat the ever-loving shit out of you, yeah.” Fay narrowed her eyes as she drove her finger into his chest. “Move it.”
It’s was Dwayne’s turn to scowl and he refused to budge. He remained where he was, blocking her way out completely with his broad shoulders. If she wanted out she was going to have to get down and crawl between his legs.
Fay arched an eyebrow. “If you’re not going to do it then why are you here? Did David put you up to this?”
“You’d think that wouldn’t you?” Dwayne sneered as an animalistic growl escaped his chest. Instead of cowing Fay it had the opposite effect.
“Course I would Dwayne because it usually is.” She snickered as she stepped forward and used her shoulder and elbow to wedge her way between his arm and the doorframe. She managed to squeeze herself out of there as proficiently as a cat would a four inch gap. Sometimes it really did pay off to be a Cat Lady.
“So what dirty laundry duty does he have you on now? Eating babies? Terrorizing seniors? Or how about delivering his messages?” Fay asked as she sat down on the mattress and picked up Elvis who just closed his eyes and began to purr. The fact that a snarling vampire was in the room didn’t seem to bother him at all.
Elvis wasn’t known for his keen intelligence.
“David didn’t send me.” Dwayne growled from inside the closet. His eyes flashed dangerously when Fay tilted her head back and laughed. “You really know how to push my buttons don’t you.”
“One, I find that hard to believe and two, yes I do. It’s the least I can do after how many years of silence. What is it? Two? Two and a half? Three? Am I getting warmer?” Fay rubbed her chin between Elvis’ ears and the big black cat smiled a toothy smile and made himself nice and comfortable in her lap.
Dwayne didn’t respond to her taunts as he stepped out of the closet and shut the door behind him. His face still had the mark of the demon but Fay just looked at him with contempt in her eyes, not fear. She should have been afraid though. Been afraid of what he was willing to do at any moment’s notice.
But Fay wasn’t afraid. She was annoyed. It would take more than fangs and scary eyes to get her shaking. Dwayne wasn’t the only one who could do the face shift magic trick. Yet he was the one who had a hell of a lot of explaining to do.
The vampire and the witch glared at each other from across the room while Elvis continued to purr and began to kneed his paws on Fay’s legs. It was Fay who looked away first. But still, neither party spoke up.
Fay jiggled her foot and picked at a tiny piece of lint that was caught in Elvis’ fur while Dwayne leaned his back against the wall and crossed his arms over his bare chest. A dropped pin could have been heard in the room it was that quiet.
“Why are you leaving Fay?”
There goes the silence, right out the window.
“The guilty card? It’s a little late for that Dwayne.” Fay’s eyebrows knitted together as she turned her head to the side and speared the vampire with a look that made the room go cold.
“What? Can’t I ask a question?” Dwayne asked as he gave her a look of disbelief. Vampires had thick skin and he was pretty resilient to most of Fay’s mood swings. They had had this conversation before, years ago, and it hadn’t turned out that great. It seemed to Dwayne that nothing had changed.
“You don’t have the right to!” The venom in Fay’s voice was so sharp that even Elvis felt that one. Cutting of his purr track the cat quickly slipped out of Fay’s lap and wedged his fluffy bulk under the bed, out of the line of fire.
“What!” Dwayne snapped back. “What is your problem Fay? I just asked a simple question and you’re already jumping down my throat!”
“Like hell I am!” Fay hissed as she pressed her mouth into a pencil thin line.
“Oh yes you are!” Dwayne hissed right back, only his was a little scarier, what with the teeth and eyes and all.
“Hmph!” That was Fay’s response. She turned her face away and stared at a random spot on the ceiling while she crossed her arms and balled her hands into fists.
Dwayne just rolled his fierce eyes and shook his head.
“Why did I even come? I knew you were going to be like this.”
He snorted and turned to leave but there was an almighty “bang” and Fay’s bedroom door slammed shut in his face and locked itself all on its own. He wasn’t going anywhere until Fay let him out or kicked him out.
“You waltz into my house, almost kill me, and now you think you’re just going to up and leave just like that?” Fay’s voice took on a low growl tone as she rose off the bed and stalked over to him, kicking a few boxes out of her way as she did so.
“Fay,” Dwayne began but he was cut off before he could utter another word as Fay grabbed his elbow and tugged him around so that they could face each other. Without warning or waiting Fay brought her arm back and gave him a faceful of Cat Lady claws. She didn’t punch him, and she didn’t do the girly slap thing either. She gave him five long bloody furrows that would take him hours to heal.
“Don’t you Fay me.” Fay said in a dead quiet voice as she wiped the blood of her claws with the hem of her t-shirt. “Don’t you dare. You don’t have the right.”
A sharp snarl came from Dwayne but Fay remained silent for once. They glared at each other even though Fay was a good head and a half shorter than the vampire. Caught between a rock and a hard place Dwayne had to decide on how things would go from there. Would he give as good as he got? Or would he back down? What would David do?
But he wasn’t David.
The gashes took on a sharper appearance as Dwayne’s face morphed back into his human visage but despite the blood that seeped down his chin and throat his face still looked as chiseled and refined as always. Not even Fay’s claws could change that.
Fay’s eyes searched his for a moment before she let out a breath that she had been holding and turned around to grab something out of one of the boxes nearest her.
“Clean yourself off. I don’t want to have to explain to the guy tomorrow why there’s blood all over the bedroom.” Fay tossed an old t-shirt at him as she went back to the bed and sat down once more. This time she kept her back turned to him and busied herself with folding a few random shirts while he used the shirt she had given him to wipe the blood out of his eyes and nose. In no time the beige shirt was covered in red but he wasn’t going to drip all over the place. Already the blood had stopped flowing from the five deep wounds.
“Can we try this again or are you going to have another go at my face?” Dwayne asked, standing where he was by the door. He knew better than to approach her from behind.
“Go ahead.” Fay didn’t turn around. She just unfolded the shirts and began to refold them.
“Okay,” Dwayne sighed as he chewed on his lower lip for a moment, “you want to tell me why you’re leaving Santa Carla?”
“Do you really need an explanation?”
“Yeah, one would be nice. Seeing how I’m in the dark about all this.”
Fay gave up on the shirts and tossed them to the side as her hands felt around and grabbed something else to fiddle with.
“It’s simple Dwayne. I’m leaving because my time here is over. I’m done. I came, I saw, I experience, and now I have to go. Things change Dwayne, they always change. They never stop changing. And I have to go with that change because that is what people do. Well, expect for you. Man, that’s really gotta suck, being stuck in time. I bet they don’t put that in the fine print when you join the club.”
Those last words stung and a scowl appeared on Dwayne’s face as he balled the bloody shirt up in his hand.
“Why do you always have to be so sarcastic for? Is this a joke to you?” He tossed the shirt onto an empty nightstand and took a step forward but then thought better of it and stepped back. He didn’t want to get in range in case Fay decided to try to take something else off.
“Yes it is. Why don’t you lighten up?” Fay glanced over her shoulder.
Dwayne blinked as he repeated her words to himself. “Lighten up? For crying out loud Fay I’m a vampire. You want me to lighten up?”
“Ohhhh, I’m sorry. Here, let me get my violin and I’ll play you a sympathetic note.” She mimed playing an invisible violin that was the size of a shoe. “Get over yourself Dwayne.”
That was the wrong this to say.
Dwayne’s snarl rattled the windows and Elvis let out a loud cry as he wedged himself as far back under the bed as he possibly could. Things were starting to get out of hand again.
“Don’t you ever stop that?” Dwayne came forward and actually yelled at Fay. Yes, he raised his voice and everything.
“Stop what Dwayne? What do I have to stop?” Fay asked, keeping her voice leveled in order to hide her surprise at his reaction. Dwayne never yelled. That was almost too human for him. He glared, he growled, he brooded and he swore, but he never yelled. This was new.
“That! What you’re doing! You antagonize me when you should be afraid of me. You’re just asking to get yourself killed.” Dwayne wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her but her eyes warned him against doing just that. Fay had a look on her that could have turned a politician’s blood to ice. It was a look of death and he had enough sense to keep his distance.
“Oh well I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t get the memo that I had to be a submissive little sub-servant drone in order to exist in your little reality.” Fay neatly folded her hands in her lap and gave him a big ol’ smile. That look infuriated him and wanted to make him laugh at the same time. Only Fay could pull off something like that in front of an angry vampire. That took cheek and a lot of nerve.
“You’re doing it again.” Dwayne warned her as he shoved his hands into the deep pockets of his leather jacket in order to keep them out of the way.
“Doing what? Being a bitch? Welcome to the world of women Dwayne. Want a free t-shirt?” Fay crossed her legs and leaned back on her hands as she raised an eyebrow. What was he expecting from her? Sniveling and groveling? Oh screw that!
Dwayne looked up at the ceiling and counted to ten before he glanced at her again. She just waited for him to answer, sitting there as if she had all the time in the world. He wasn’t going to get through to her like this. He was going to have to try a different tactic. Fay could be just as stubborn if not more so than himself.
“Ya know Fay, sometimes I just want to strangle you.” He sighed and sat down on the bed beside her. The mattress shifted under his weight but Fay didn’t make any move to get up or edge away from him. They were close now, but not touching.
They hadn’t been this close in a long time but it felt like they were miles apart. Funny how that happens.
“Is this why you left? You couldn’t stand having me around? Did you think that I’d just rolled over and let you have your little fun while I picked up after you, never talked back to you and licked your boots because I was complete in your arms? I’m no toy Dwayne.” Fay began to idly chew on a nail as she shifted slightly so that she kept her weight on one arm. She was looking at him now but only this time here eyes were trying to spear him to the wall.
“Is that what you think?” He turned his head and his hair fell over one shoulder. Fay actually had to restrain herself from automatically reaching over and tucking a few loose strands behind his ear. Old habits sure do die hard. Or not at all.
“Uh, yeah. It is. What else am I supposed to think? You up and left without so much as a “nice knowin’ ya” and ignored me for all this time. What was I supposed to think?” Fay bit through a nail and spat it out without thinking. It was something she only did when she was nervous or anxious or just plain unsure.
“Oh I don’t know Fay, how about a little caution? A little reasoning? Did any of that cross your mind or are you too hung up on being a feminist bitch to think of things like that?” It was his turn to hit below the belt and he got the reaction that he wanted. Finally, he was starting to get through to her. Kinda.
“You’re an eternal blood-sucking jackass Dwayne and you got bored with me. It happens. You don’t see me all torn up and throwing myself off a cliff now do ya?” Fay pursed her lips put her free hand over her mouth in her “think” position. She wasn’t sure where Dwayne was going with this so she was most likely going to fight him every step of the way.
“Fay,” Dwayne ran a hand through his hair in order to get it out of his face and to prevent it from sticking to the gashes, “you can really be an idiot sometimes.”
“Look who’s talking.”
Now she was just testing his patience.
“Listen Fay,” Dwayne snapped, “I left because had I stayed you would have pushed me over the edge and I probably would have killed you. You don’t seem to realize or you conveniently forget that I’m a killer. Vampire remember? I kill people and I like doing it. Nothing makes me happier than destroying lives. Anyone’s life. I don’t care. Nothing would have stopped me from killing you. And yet you just kept on pushing me to see how far you can do before I snap. And you’re still doing it.”
“And I’ll keep on doing it because that’s what I do. It’s who I am Dwayne. I do things my way. ” Fay shrugged her shoulders and began to pick at a loose thread in the mattress stitching.
“Well maybe you should stop.” He suggested.
“Maybe I won’t.” Fay stated.
“Maybe you should rethink that.”
Then came the staring match. This time they weren’t throwing verbal feces at each other but their resolve hadn’t weakened any.
“You’re a big scary vampire. I get that. You can kill me at any time. I get that too. But you know what Dwayne? There are a lot bigger and scarier things out there than you. And you don’t scare me.” Fay tugged at the thread until it finally snapped and she flicked it off her finger
“Maybe I should. Maybe I haven’t done enough to make you be…”
Fay’s look of disgust stopped him from finishing that sentence.
“Finish that sentence and I swear I’ll kick your ass for being cliché.”
Dwayne arched an eyebrow. Now that he’d like to see.
“I got to get you to understand this.” Dwayne began again and he stopped again when Fay shook her head.
“Just stop. I don’t want to hear it Dwayne.” Fay got up and went over to the bare dresser where her bust of Elvis Presley once sat but was now wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed in a box in the living room.
“First you get mad at me for not telling you and now that I’m trying to you don’t want to hear it?”
Fay whirled around and kept her back to the dresser as she met him head on. “I know why you left. I’m pissed that you did it the way you did but I’ve always known. We don’t live in some stupid little fantasy story where it all works out in the end. It was coming and it happened. It’s over with now and I really don’t want to keep talking so can you go now?”
“What if I don’t want to? What if I want to stay right here.” Dwayne stood up and ground his heel into the shag carpet. “You going to throw me out?”
Fay looked in every direction but his as she folded her arms and then unfolded them. She didn’t like this. This made her nervous. She didn’t like feeling corner in her own damn house.
“Well? C’mon Cat Lady. You’ve been waiting years to kick my ass, well now’s your chance. You’re not afraid of me. What do you got to lose?” Dwayne goaded as spread his arms wide and made himself a perfect target.
Fay bit her lower lip with enough force to draw blood as she glared at him. “I hate you.”
“What? What’s that?” Dwayne tilted his head to the side but his eyes never left her.
“I said I HATE YOU!” Fay bellowed as she grabbed the first thing that she could reach and threw it at him. “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL! I’ve spent years of my life, YEARS, looking out for you, doing stuff for you, fighting your god damn battles, putting myself in the line of fire just so that you can mind fuck me whenever you want to? Well screw you! SCREW YOU DWAYNE!”
Dwayne ducked as the alarm clock whizzed over his head and crashed into the wall behind him.
“Why can’t you just fuckin’ leave me alone! Just get the hell out of my house!”
A hairbrush nicked his shoulder.
“Didn’t you hear me? Huh? You deaf now? I said leave me alone!”
Fay picked up a picture frame wrapped in newspaper and threw it at him as hard as she could. Dwayne caught it in mid-air and tossed it onto the bed. His steady gaze stayed on Fay as he waited to see what else she’d throw his way.
“Argh!” Fay screamed as she tried to find something, anything that was heavy enough to hurt him but everything around was either clothing or cosmetics.
“You missed.” Dwayne snorted and stood back with a smug expression on his face. It was about time Fay got a taste of her own medicine.
A wordless cry came from the enraged cat lady as she threw herself Dwayne with her fists swinging. Dwayne brought his left leg back and braced himself for impact as Fay gave him a solid right hook. And then another. And another. And when she got tired of swinging at his face she went for his chest.
"You just up and leave and I don’t know if you’re dead or if you’re gone for good. I get no word, not ONE WORD from you and it drives me crazy and you have the nerve to come back now and mess it all up again! I’ve waited years and now when I’m finally getting out you try to bring me back in!” Fay’s harsh yells went from loud to louder as she tried to break a rib, crack a finger, do something to break his solid presence but the harder she tried to hit the slower her swings became. It was like hitting a solid wall. Nothing was going to give. No matter how hard she tried she was never going to be able to get through.
When Fay finally stopped trying to hit pummel him Dwayne looked down. She stood there were her forehead against his chest and he knew she was crying. He couldn’t hear it because she was trying her damn hardest not to make a sound but the faint quivering of her hair gave her away.
He had finally gotten through to her.
“Now do you see?”
He moved slowly. He didn’t know what she would do but he had to try. As carefully as he could he raised his arms and gently placed his hands on her shoulders. Fay didn’t move. She just stood there with her head down so that he couldn’t see her face.
“Go home Dwayne.”
Fay brought her hands up and pushed against his chest, but there was no force in the move. She didn’t have it in her to try to hurt him again.
Dwayne’s hands travelled up her neck and to her face. He lightly brushed her hair aside and lifted her chin so that he could read her face. She didn’t resist. She just blinked her tired eyes and stared up at him.
“You could stay.” He murmured and brushed away a stray tear out of the corner of her eye with his thumb. It wasn’t often that Fay cried and when she did she usually did it in private. She didn’t like to reveal her vulnerable side to anyone, even to him, and after a while Dwayne had forgotten that her feelings and emotions ran deeper than his. His emotional range covered the basics, whereas next to his Fay’s seemed to go off the chart. He had lost that depth that made humans human when he had lost his humanity.
Maybe Fay could too.
“And do what? Make ourselves miserable?” Fay sniffed as she brushed her nose with the back of her hand. Screw manners.
“That’s not what I meant.”
Fay closed her eyes and nodded ever so slightly. Ah.
“So that’s why you came back.” A small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. When she opened her eyes all the hostility that guarded her expressions had evaporated. A tiny glimmer of expectation faded in Dwayne’s eyes when Fay shook her head.
“I had to try.” And he did.
When he dropped his arms to his side Fay took his right hand in hers and nuzzled his fingers the same way a cat would. It was Dwayne’s turn to crack a smile at her kitty cat antics. He really was going to miss her.
“Nothing lasts forever Dwayne. Not even you. My answer is no.”
Dwayne waited a moment. Just a moment to make sure that she wasn’t going to change her mind at the last minute but the chance at eternity didn’t seem to seduce Fay as it did others. Fay gave him one last smile and nodded her head.
This was goodbye then.
Dwayne’s gaze lingered on her for a second as he put her to memory. He wouldn’t forget this time. He wouldn’t let himself
Fay remained where she was as she watched him stepped out of the bedroom and left the house without a sound. The lights blinked on when she no longer felt his presence on her property and she sent him a mental thanks for not cutting the power. It would make tomorrows move go a lot easier if she didn’t have to explain why the lights no longer worked.
Figaro poked his head around the doorframe and gave Fay a questioning look as Elvis heaved himself out from under the bed, dragging a few dust bunnies with him as he did so.
“Don’t worry we’re still moving tomorrow.” Fay huffed as the cats looked at each other and blinked. Well, it was back to snooze time then. Fay chuckled when Figaro darted toward the bed and landed in Elvis’ empty spot before the big black cat could even get his fluffy bulk onto the mattress. Elvis’ gruff complaints went unheard as Figaro curled into a tight ball next to Fay’s one remaining pillow and pretended to be fast asleep.
“Shove over you.” Fay poked Figaro in the stomach as she crawled onto the mattress and took her pillow away from the cat. Elvis shot the tabby a smug look as he padded his way over to Fay and plopped himself in the crook of her arm. Not to be outdone Figaro tiptoed over Fay and stretched out by her side so that she was sandwiched between the two felines.
“Wake me in fifteen.” Fay yawned as she tucked the pillow under her head and closed her eyes. She could afford a quick cat nap before she finished packing.
Pity she smashed her alarm clock because when she opened her eyes daylight was streaming through her bedroom window and the cats were still fast asleep.
“What time s’it?” Fay groaned as she groped for the alarm clock that wasn’t on her bare nightstand.
Someone has knocking on the front door.
“Oh shit!” Fay swore as she shoved Elvis and Figaro away from her and rolled onto the floor with hard thump. She ignored their grumbled protests of having been so rudely awoken as she crab-walked across the bedroom and dashed down the hallway.
“Coming!” Fay hollered as she jumped the last four stairs and slid across the kitchen floor as a blurred figure peered through the frosted glass that accented the front door. Maybe she should have fixed the doorbell instead of leaving it for the new homeowners but she never had a chance to do it. Ah well.
Before the figure could knock again Fay unlocked the door and threw it back in time to see the realtor’s bemused expression as he eyed her quickly. She was still wearing the threadbare t-shirt and grubby sweatpants from the night before.
“Been up all night packing Ms. Prima?” The short chubby man in the cheap three-piece suit chuckled as he rummaged through his brown leather briefcase and pulled out a file folder and handed it to her.
“Something like that.” Fay huffed as she tried to blow a stray strand of hair out of her eyes and failed.
“Ah well, you have until 12:30 to move out so I hope you’re all packed and rarin’ to go!” He slipped a pen out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Just sign your John Hancock on the dotted lines that are marked and we’re all set!”
“Are you always this cheerful at eight in the morning?” Fay asked as she opened the folder and clicked the pen.
“Yes indeed. The early bird gets the worm as they say.” He chuckled as he clasped his hands behind his back and watched her sign one page after the other.
“And gets eaten by the lazy cat at noon.” She finished off as she scrawled her signature as quickly as she could. There, it was done. “Here you go.”
“Thanks very much! Pleasure doing business with you.” He said as he held out his hand. Fay stared at him for a moment before it hit her. The keys. He wanted the keys to the house.
“Oh right. Hang on.” Fay stepped back inside and quickly grabbed the set of house keys off a wooden entrance table that she had used as a plant stand for so many years. “Here.”
“Well isn’t this Jim Dandy. I’ll give these to the new homeowners as soon as they get here.” The man smiled as he tossed the keys into the air and plunked them into his briefcase as neat as you please.
“Yeah you do that.” Fay frowned. She never did like this guy but he had gotten the job done and done right and that was all that mattered. She rolled her eyes and turned to go back into the house when the realtor tapped her on the shoulder.
“You dropped your earring.” He said with that chipper smile still plastered on his freshly shaven face. Fay arched an eyebrow and was about to inform him that she wasn’t wearing any earrings when she caught sight of what he held in his hand. It was a single long and well polished boar’s tusk that dangled from a brass fitting. It was Dwayne’s earring.
“Oh, thanks.” Fay reached out and snagged the earring as the man gave her a little salute.
“Not a problem.” He said as he turned and sauntered down her porch steps before heading to his four door brown sedan that was parked in her driveway. “So, do ya think you’ll ever come back to Santa Carla?”
“I dunno. Maybe.” Fay shrugged as she ran a hand through her tousled hair and gazed up at the bright morning sky. A few thin clouds marred the perfect blue that engulfed the seaside town like a few accidental brushstrokes on a solid blue canvas. “I have a feeling that Santa Carla isn’t through with me. But for now it’s time for a change.”
“Well if you ever come by this way again, just remember to look me up if you’re looking for a place to live. Remember, Jack Rip’s the man about town!” The realtor waved as he got into his car and revved the engine to life. Fay didn’t bother waving back. Instead she just closed the door behind her looked at the earring.
“Be seein’ you.” She said quietly as she picked it up by the bracket and let it dangle between her thumb and forefinger.