Chapter Seven: Old Love Dies Hard
I didn't dwell much on my nightmare when morning finally came, and I was eager to forget it. So I left Paul's place early in the day and went back to my garage to tie up a few loose ends around the shop.
Around noon I was working on that big block engine to pass the time since I had yet to have a single customer. I expected some soon, since my uncle had always made enough money to survive from this garage, and I expected it would be no different for myself. Sure, maybe the name Redstone carried a certain stigma in this town, but it still was the only garage for many miles. So I expected business soon.
Then a white station wagon parked in front of my shop. I grabbed a rag and wiped the grease from my hands as I went out to greet who ever it was. When Lizbeth stepped out of the car my heart jumped, and I couldn't help smiling.
She faced me and asked, "I need a mechanic, and you wouldn't know one would you Luther?"
She was wearing a tight sweater and a red skirt, and she seemed more beautiful then I remembered.
I replied, "I might know one. Though I'll be honest, he isn't the best."
She said, "the engine has been making this knocking noise when ever I start it. Maybe you could take a look at it for me?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I would be glad to."
She asked me, "how much will it cost?"
I shrugged. "You get the ex-girlfriend discount, which means I'll take a look at it for free."
"No, Luther, I want to pay you."
"Lizbeth," I said, "allow me to look at it for free. Give me that much."
"Yeah, can you drive it into the shop."
She started the engine and slowly drove the car into my garage. She popped the hood and I started to examine the engine, she walked up beside me.
Lizbeth said, "Luther, I know you got into a fight with Carl last night."
"You know about that?"
She nodded. "Yeah, news travels fast in this town. Everyone is also talking about what happened to your house last night. Carl forbid me from speaking to you, though he doesn't have to know."
"Paul is letting me stay at his place until the cops are finished going over my house. I will say though, I got a real mess to clean up there."
Lizbeth seemed worried. "Luther, you always seem to be a magnate for trouble."
"Yeah," I said, "anyways, Carl seems to want me out of town real bad. I guess some things never change, no matter how much you want them to."
Lizbeth looked at me. "Carl is a very possessive guy sometimes, aside from you, he is the only man I've ever been with so I think he sees you as a threat."
I said, "someone should explain to Carl that you aren't the type to fool around, you got the undeniable stink of class all about you Lizbeth. I'm sorry to say this, but you deserve someone better then Carl."
"No," I said, "you deserve a hell of a lot better then me as well. Lizbeth, don't sell yourself short, I met a lot of girls in the city but not one of them could even hold a candle to you."
She blushed. "Luther, do you still love me?"
The ratchet I was using slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground. I picked it up, and was unable to look her in the eyes, I couldn't face her or the truth.
I said, "do you want me to be honest, or do you want me to lie to you?"
"I want only the truth from you."
I leaned over the engine as I explained my feelings to her as she listened.
"Yeah, I still love you and I hate the fact that I have to see you with another guy who, sorry I'm saying this, but who is a complete asshole. You should be treated like you deserve, wined and dined, given flowers, the whole world given to you on a silver platter. You're to good for Carl, to good for me, and to good for this town. I fell for you because of your beauty, but that is nothing compared to how beautiful you are on the inside. Shit, in my youth you where the only good thing in my wretched life, you actually made life worth living. If I ever am anything in life, it was because you showed me that no matter how fucked up your life is, the love of one good woman can make existence bearable."
She smiled. "Luther, you are the only man who could be very eloquent and very crude at the same time."
"I'm not sure about eloquent, but I've always loved you, I didn't realize that until I saw you two days ago. I know it might be wrong to feel these things for the wife of another man, but such feelings can't be helped."
Lizbeth said, "promise me that you'll be careful, someone out there might want to hurt you."
I grinned. "You know me , I'm cautious most of the time."
She held my hand, it felt so warm against my skin. She said, "I still love you. I might have married Carl, but you are the one I wish I had married. But we have to accept we can't be anything other then friends."
I asked, "really?"
"Yes," she said, "all the years you where away, I still thought about you every day."
"Let me ask you something, why the hell did you start going out with me in the first place, me being a Redstone and all?"
She said, "are you sure you want to hear this?"
"Yeah," I said, "I would like to know."
She told me, "when I was young, I had this cat. It was a sickly little thing, though it needed me to take care of him, and that cat was my favorite always. When we where young, you reminded me of that cat Luther, a troubled guy who needed someone to take care of him and look out for him. You always made me feel like the most important thing in the world, you made a girl feel needed."
"I see, so what you are saying is that you felt sorry for me, like you did for that sickly cat."
I asked, "does Carl know you have been coming around the garage?"
"No, he is a very jealous man, I wouldn't want him to know because it would upset him."
I looked at her, and I said, "maybe you shouldn't come around to see me, maybe it is a bad idea."
I explained, "a few days ago I thought you and me, what we had together, that it was all in the past and that it didn't really matter that much to me. Do you know what it is like to have you standing here, and I have to know that you belong to another man, and that fact is killing me because all the shit I used to feel about you has come back. I don't know about how you feel about the way it used to be between us, but for me, the only reason I wanted to live when I was young was because of you. No matter how much shit the people around here said about me, about me having to live with my mother being in an asylum, the only reason I had for living was you. I just want to go back to that day when I left town and change it so that I had stayed here with you. I was a fucking idiot for leaving you, but I can't change what happened between us and I can't bare to look at you now and know that the best thing that ever happened me in my entire painful life is gone forever."
Then She swiftly approached me until our faces where only inches apart and she kissed me. It lasted for several seconds then she pulled away and looked at me.
She blurted out, "sorry Luther, I have to go."
I simply stared at her, completely dumbfounded and my heart was racing. I was at a loss for words and all I could do was stand there with my mouth agape.
She walked out of the garage and started walking towards town hall. I watched her leave, and I wanted her to stay with me more then anything but I remained still.
I was alone in my garage for awhile, just standing there, when I decided to begin work on her car's engine. As I worked, I began to fully recollect the great love which, in my youth, was the one thing I could depend on to make me want to keep going.
I remembered how I met, fell in love, and lost Lizbeth.
Fall my soft-more year in high school. I attended school in the next county, and my first year due to my personal history had been rough. Regularly having the tar beaten out of me, mostly by Carl Smith and the other male students. Paul would back me up, but sometimes when they caught me alone they would beat me severely. So the first day of October my second year I found myself alone behind the sports bleachers in the football field; a pack of students gathered around me a Carl. Paul was not there since he missed school frequently, so I was defenseless. Carl, dressed in his school jacket and with his slicked back hair stood before me.
He threatened, "Redstone, I hope your ready to get your assed kicked."
I said, "Carl, aren't you getting tired of beating me up."
The everyone in crowd laughed, accept for a young woman in my grade. I had seen her around the school but never had learned her name. She just looked at me in a sympathetic way. She was dressed in a sweater and a long skirt, she had dark hair and a light complexion. She was the only one who looked like she was not enjoying watching me suffer.
Carl asked, "why don't you and your insane family get the hell out of the county. When are you going to learn that as long as you are here I'm going to hurt you?"
I replied, "Carl, you punch like a fagot."
The crowd laughed again then Carl punched me in the face and I fell to the ground as blood streamed from my nose. He looked down at me and smiled, that same damn smug smile he had every time he beat me up. The group of students around us where all laughing and pointing at me.
A male student yelled, "Carl, hit him again."
Carl sneered. "Luther, you and your family are monsters just like your mother. You know, the bitch locked in the nut house. I can see your future, sharing a room right next to her. Until then, I will hurt you again and again. I won't stop until you realize that you deserve this."
I muttered, "Carl, can you just hit me. I find it preferable to having to listen to your moronic lectures."
He said, "have it your way you little fuck."
Then he started kicking me as the students cheered and applauded. I tried to cover my face but he just kept kicking me then finished with another punch to my face as I lay upon the ground. Then he stopped and started chuckling.
"I love watching you bleed," he said then faced the crowd of students, "come on, let the little pansy crawl away."
Then the students dispersed and I was alone, accept for the young girl still looking at me sympathetically. She just stood there and said nothing. I turned to her as I got to my feet with strained effort. I wiped the blood away from my chin with my hand and asked, "what do you want?"
She didn't say anything as I began to limp away. I faltered and almost fell over when she came up behind me and took my arm, propping me up. She put my hand over her shoulder and helped my walk towards the school across the field.
I, not used to such kindness from a stranger, asked, "why are you helping me?"
She didn't answer me, but simply said, "come on, lets get you cleaned up."
She led to the boys bathroom which was unoccupied and leaned me against the sinks. She then whetted a piece of paper towel and began to softly wipe the blood from my face.
She asked, "why don't you tell the teachers?"
"Because," I replied, "they won't do anything. Carl Smith is the school golden boy, everyone hates me; even the teachers."
"Nobody deserves what they do to you," she said.
"What's your name," I asked, "I've seen you around but I still don't know who you are."
"Lizbeth. Lizbeth Bechet."
"I'm Lu-" I tried to say before she interrupted.
"Luther Redstone. Everyone knows who you are."
I asked, "why are you being so nice to me?"
She smiled and replied, "because, I think your cute and I think you could use another friend."
I was a little shocked by her comment. I warned her, "if anyone see's you being kind to me, they might make you regret it."
She explained, "I have the luxury of not caring what people think."
"Thanks Lizbeth. I can't remember the last time anyone was kind to me. Listen, I have to get to class. My father will flip out with I get another absentee slip."
I began to limp away when she asked, "would you like to go to the dance next week?"
In disbelief, I turned back to her and asked, "why?"
"Luther, just say yes."
I then tried to smile and said, "sure I would like that. I have to go."
We parted, but afterward for the first time in years I was genuinely happy.
We dated for the rest of our time in high school and where deeply in love. Carl and the other students still made my life hell, but I didn't care. Spending time with Lizbeth made my life durable, I cherished every moment I spent with her. People would mock Lizbeth sometimes for being with me, but she seemed to neither notice or be effected. Because of her my grades improved and I even made the honor roll at graduation. We talked about leaving for college together, and I couldn't wait to be far away from Sanctuary Hill. I was going to ask her to marry me after we left. But little did I know that circumstances where going to split us apart.
It was a warm summers days as I packed all my meager belongings into my truck as my father watched silently from the kitchen window. I had reached the point where either I was going to loose it or I was going to get out of the hell I had known for so long. I had been a good pupil in school and had gotten a scholarship to a college in Ottawa. I wanted to never return.
I was going to stop at Lizbeth's after and pick her up. I really believed she was going to leave with me, though I severely miscalculated the situation.
I stopped packing my car when I noticed her walking up the driveway, yet she was seeming to avoid looking at me directly and I could tell that she was upset about something.
I approached her. "Lizbeth, get your things packed. We'll be far away by nightfall."
She sobbed. "Luther, I can't go with you."
I faltered, my heart sank. "Wait, what are you saying?"
She looked at me with tearful eyes. "I know you have to leave, you don't have a choice. I have to stay Luther, I don't have a choice."
I shook my head. "Liz, don't do this, please."
She turned away from me. "My mother can't care for herself, so I must take care of her, I can't leave her. I knew this day was coming, when you would have to go. I'm sorry, I can't go with you."
I began to weep and fell to my knees in front of her and looked down at the dirt. I begged, "please, I don't want to say goodbye."
She put her hands on either side of my face and looked into my eyes. She whispered, "I'll always love you."
Then she walked away and, from my knees, I watched her walk out of my life. Hard when the only thing that keeps you going suddenly isn't there, like missing some vital piece, a piece which you can never recover.
Second worst day of my life.
I busied myself for the rest of the day by tuning up the engine of Lizbeth's car, though she was always in my mind. She was in my life again, and that fact brought with it mixed emotions, I wanted to be with her but she was another man's wife, a man whom I hated, though I knew she would be loyal to him. But I kept thinking about how she had kissed me, and my heart yearned to hold her in my arms again.
I tuned up her car and finished just before three o-clock. I closed up the garage for the day. I knew I couldn't wait, I had to see her again.
Chapter Eight: The Town Hall
I remembered how Paul had told me Lizbeth worked as a receptionist at the town hall. I figured I could see her just before she left work; I just wanted to tell her that I was glad to see her and say that I knew that we could only be platonic friends. It was a lie, I wanted to be with her. But I had to say something to Lizbeth.
I walked towards the town hall, it was next to the the church. A small stone building beside a parking lot full of expensive cars. Employee's where leaving at the moment; getting into there vehicles and driving home for the night. I walked along row of tall oak tree's beside the street nearby which waved lazily in a gentle breeze. I then saw Lizbeth standing on the sidewalk in front of town hall. I was about to wave when a convertible sports car, easily worth three hundred thousand dollars, parked beside Lizbeth. Carl was in the driver seat and they began to talk.
I then hid behind the tree beside me, I didn't want Carl to see me. I was going to leave when the two of them began to talk. I listened to their conversation.
Carl asked, "where is your car honey?"
Lizbeth replied, "it needed a mechanic."
I could hear Carl sigh loudly. He said, "I wouldn't have happened to bring it to your old boyfriend. I told you, I don't want you seeing that guy."
She sounded defensive when she responded. "Carl, he is an old friend and I thought he could use the business."
He laughed. "He won't get any business. People already want to ride him out of town on a rail."
"He is an OK guy."
"He's trouble," Carl said, "and we have a reputation to think about. How would it look if the wife of the most powerful man in town was seen with the local outcast?"
"Are you giving me an order Carl?"
He told her, "no, just some advice. I don't mind that you took pity on him when you where young; just put him in the past where he belongs. I sure he'll leave town of his own accord soon enough. Now get into the car and let's go home."
I heard the car speed away and I emerged from behind the tree and watched them drive away. I knew I couldn't see her, she had a good life and I didn't want to ruin it. I decided that she was probably better off without me.
I was about to walk away when Mayor Thatcher stormed out of the town hall. He was talking loudly to a young guy in a suit as they had a conversation in the parking lot. I again hid behind the tree and wanted to listen; I was curious about what Thatcher was doing about the current situation in Sanctuary Hill. If anyone knew about what was going on, he would.
Thatcher was yelling. "I told you to keep and lid on this! Last thing I want is the damn press snooping around again!"
The man's who name I didn't know explained, "Due to the sensationalistic expects of the crime, we are going to be of interest to the national media."
"Tom, when I gave you the job you told me you could help keep our town's little dilemma from turning us into a freak show for the media. You where some little runt when the Redstone woman's triple homicide brought news people from everywhere. People live here because they like how remote Sanctuary Hill is, and the last thing anybody wants is outsiders coming here. Now if you can't keep our town the way we like it, then you are off the town council."
"I'll do my best," Tom replied."
Thatcher sounded like he was calming down. "Good. This town was founded over two hundred years ago, and the families who where there are still here. It is our job to keep it that way. Since I've took this job, more of our people have vanished then I can remember. And even the people who live here don't talk about it. And I'll keep it that way."
Tom asked, "shouldn't you want to find why so many people of gone missing?"
"No, I don't particularly care. The police might figure it out someday, till then, I'll keep things quiet. I can't believe I would ever be thankful the Redstone punk came back."
"Why are you glad? You have been whipping up a frenzy over his return," Tom asked.
Thatcher explained. "Because, people around here might start demanding answers because of poor old Ma. But now all they care about is seeing Redstone leave. Instead of the town council looking incompetent because we have not solved the disappearances, we get to keep people distracted as they get a lynch mob ready. Until people settle down, well keep them happy with sharpening their pitch forks and readying there torches."
"Redstone is probably innocent. He was gone for most of the years when the majority of our citizens vanished."
I liked Tom. First local I heard defend me.
Thatcher got louder. "Never forget how useful the proper scapegoat is. From the beginning, as everyone of authority in this town knows, we have had bad luck. This town is a magnet for misfortune, but we are going to stay here and weather the storm no matter how bad it gets. People might leave and we would be governing a ghost town if it got out about how unlucky this place is. The town council will keep our secret even from the people who live here. Redstone is all they care about now."
"I see Mayor."
Thatcher settled down. "Now, how has our attempts to buy the surrounding farms going Tom?"
"Everyone has accepted the town council's generous offer, everyone accept the Jackson farm."
I could hear Thatcher laugh.
"The Jackson farm," Thatcher said, " is fit to be a dirt farm. Now, I want us to own all the surrounding land so we can own everything lock stock and barrel. We'll will own every inch of Sanctuary Hill, and the sheep who live here will have to pay us to stay."
I had heard enough. I slammed my fist into the trunk of the tree I was hiding behind and hurt my hand. I then stormed away in anger.
I spent the next few hours in garage. I didn't feel like staying at Paul's yet, so I just paced about and fumed. I really wanted to give a piece of my mind to Thatcher. I then went to the cab of my truck outside; it was night and the stars blazed in a cloudless night sky over the town. I searched my truck and that was when I found the bottle of vodka.
I muttered to myself, "fuck it."