I appreciated Doc’s Tavern location conveniently outside of town because making another trip to the city would’ve driven my irritation to an uncontrollable high.
I walked in to exactly what I had imagined, a drunk and irate Luis. This wouldn’t be his first trip down this route, but it would be his first shameful appearance. As I approached the man, I called my husband, his demeanor was unfamiliar — a stranger with lifeless eyes. When he realized the touch to his arm was from me, it drove his face to disgust. Luis turned his back towards me, and I was suddenly stunned by his action to hit my arm away from him. When our eyes met again, a feeling of anticipation took me over.
“Look what you have done to me. You’re the tormentor of my soul, with your undeniable beauty and your wicked calm. You have my heart in your grip, yet it feels like you are squeezing the life out of it. The mother of my child, but the stranger in my bed,” Luis said as he barely kept his balance. “You have driven me into madness with your barrier. My mind running in circles trying to figure out what goes on in that fucking head of yours. Wondering if I am an idiot for falling for a lost woman and her daughter.”
Even a man has a breaking point and I waited for the climax. I stupidly turned my back, trusted in the notion of Luis never devoting action to violence. As I approached the bar to discuss payment of damages, the sound of a gun cocking hit my ear. I saw the reaction in the faces which stood in front of me. I nodded “NO” to the man on the other side of the bar, praying no one would panic and run to their cellphones. I slowly turned to find a .45 pointed right at me by a very unstable Luis.
“What are you doing? This does not fit the man I know. Anger, alcohol, and guns will only lead to self-destruction. You do this and the life you built will disappear. Killing me will not get you any answers. Ending my life will only fill yours with guilt and misery.” I said as I calculated every movement I made. As I calculated every probable movement Luis would make.
Luis looked at me like a wild animal figuring out the best way to get its prey. “Fuck you! I would not be like this if I had never met you. You poisoned me. You run through my mind over and over like a pesky nat.”
The gap had closed, and I scanned the room, suspicious that someone dialed 911. Luis and I locked eyes. “Pull the trigger. Destroy your tormentor. Fucking stop being a pussy and do it!”
His hesitation was obvious to me. He was not a man without a conscience.
When Luis least expected it, I manipulated the gun in my favor and now Luis stared point blank at the barrel of .45. “Now, would you mind moving with quickness to the car, after you apologize to this kind gentleman for the display of irrational behavior?”
A moment of sobriety had hit Luis’s face. I think the realization of an arrest had finally sunk into his fragile mind. He apologized to the owner and I made a reasonable payment for damages occurred and some extra for a fib in the story for when the dutiful men in blue come knocking. Thankfully, there were no cameras to catch our show and no young pricks to score a hit on YouTube. We made it out of the parking lot and past the officers as we drove down the road. In the passenger seat, Luis’s expression displayed disbelief of what he just attempted. My husband was confused considering he came from a household filled with love and not one drop of viciousness. We filled the ride home with silence and it relieved me knowing my children would not be home.
Helping Luis in the house was more of an aggressive drop off to the couch. He might have been filled with alcohol, but he was very coherent. After I removed the clip from the .45 and displayed it on the table as if it was a snake to be cautious of, I threw my jacket on the chair and kicked my shoes off.
“Now is the time you listen. This stunt of yours was without a doubt senseless. You could’ve ruined your family’s reputation and lost your life. My anger does not generate from you having this fantasy of ending my life to suit your pain. No, cause baby I have been through much worse. You could have been locked up tonight and your children would have ended up with no parents.”
I slammed the letters on the table, watched them spread similar to a bird opening its wings.
“The obvious issues are these letters. Now is the time to ask what has been sitting at the tip of your tongue. I warn you, you will not like what you here.”
Luis steadied his head into his hands. “The letters claim you were involved in bloodshed. Tell me it isn’t true.”
“You wanted to know, and the claim of this fact is right. My hands aren’t clean. The details are not important and only for me to carry. There is no pride in what I have done, and my memory reminds me of it every day.”
“You’re a murderer?! All these years and you fucking failed to tell me.”
I heard the hate in his tone and saw the pain in his eyes.
“That is in the past, yet you wanted to open the door to it. Nothing has changed until you insisted on believing these damn letters. But now you are getting to know the old parts of me and you shame me for it.”
Luis took a deep breath. “Is that why your body is scarred?”
“What has been done to my body is the consequence of my choices. It is what happens when you disobey. It is what happens when you choose to fight. It is what we knew, what we expected, and what we lived for. Do not analyze what you are hearing, for you come from walls of gold and not coldness of stone.”
“Dammit Naomi! You put me in the category of being incapable of understanding harsh realities. Just because I was fortunate in my life does not make me less of a man. Give it to me straight and cut the bullshit.”
I was starting to respect and appreciate the effort and change that Luis was posing, but I couldn’t expose everything.
“I want to know what you did. I want to know who you worked for and who your family is.”
“The day I walked away and went on my own, was the day my family became no more to me. Don’t seek what doesn’t exist. You’re confused, infuriated, and in shock. There are questions I won’t answer, so don’t waste your time.”
I walked into a mind field of persistence. Every move was a risk of explosion. The look in Luis’s eyes was one of foreignness.
“Enough of the run around superiority bullshit! You look me straight in the eyes and tell me the truth or find your ass out of this house.”
Luis rose as if he had gained courage from all corners of a bottle.
“Bravo!” I said with a clap. “We believe we can hide behind a perception, but it only takes a press of a button to reveal a true side. I’ll sum it up for you. Culpability, anguish, being blind to what should have been seen. Getting wrapped in deep and unable to stop happened. Life happened. These letters tell the truth of someone formally me. It’s not who I am now.”
“Naomi, if that’s even your actual name, don’t walk away from me.”
Luis got up, but soon fell back down when the room started to become a dizzy ride.
“The only thing I haven’t twisted is my name. My love, you might want to close your eyes and make the couch your best friend.”
I hit the light switch and darkness filled the room. I departed to my bedroom in hopes enough information was given to satisfy the curious cat even though this was the first round of interrogations to the black holes in my life. My mirror became a therapy session as my reflection looked back at me. Was I making a mistake?
I was so exhausted an attempt to remove my clothing was a heavy task and the free fall into the mattress was a welcoming cloud floating over a pool of hell.