Vol. 2, Issue #6 April 13th - April 26th, 2007

No More Happy Endings
By: G. Smith
Illustrations By: Josh Reynolds

Episode 6 - The First Murder

There was something in that first murder that really had me. A year ago, before the wedding I was going through my past relationships looking for patterns of behavior. I visited most of the girls that I had loved in my mind looking for my faults, things that might affect the relationship that might cause problems with my then soon to be wife. I visited those girls: especially Jen and Clarissa intimately, not only writing out my faults, but also writing that love down in wondrous and arrogant prose. It’s rather ironic, or horrific that the list of those that had broken my sad little heart would be doomed to something accidental yet purposeful.

Although Jennifer Dianne Hollingsworth wasn’t my first in terms of sexual exploitation, she was my first love out of that puppy stage. I was seventeen when she gave me that gift of love. But how the heart grows hard and cold after so many years.

I was sitting at the bar in The Conservatory nursing my wounds in between the sets of The Principalities and Kunek. The place was a dump in the greatest way. Cheap Pabst and strong drinks, things were getting blurred, yet I was growing accustomed to the smell of piss in the air. I was on my fifth Harp when an ashen blonde sat down next to me.

“Geffin…Geffin Smith?”

I turned my head towards that voice, a voice that reminded me of sweet adolescence. She smoked, leaning on the bar, her shoulders exposing the freckles that once made me hard in an instant. It was Jen. Smiling like we shared a secret. Smiling that smile that I once carried in my wallet and my infantryman dreams. Smiling like she didn’t recall that I decade ago when I ran into one of our old mutual friends that she didn’t deem me neurotic, a stalker, a weirdo. It was love then that I couldn’t shake off, couldn’t let go. I was under the spell of her and first love and how could one possibly just man up and walk away? She smiled at me screaming over the madness like she hadn’t become a right wing bitch.

I raised my beer to her as Janie, the bartender, slid her a SoCo and lime.

“How ya been?” she asked with slight slur.

“Jovial,” I sipped.

“Thought you didn’t drink?” she asked.

“Thought you were married?” I rebuked. “You’re out a place a little here ain’t ya?”

“Friend of mine is dating someone in one of the bands.”

“Which band?”

“I don’t know, they’re all the same, I get confused.”

Janie gave her the evil eye, cracked the top off another Harp and replenished my binge.

“Remember that show we met at? Seems like another lifetime ago.”

“Seems like a few lifetimes ago.”

We talked about work and school. She was in P.R. for some large corporation I had never heard of. I told her that I had stories about her. That one was soon to be published. She loved her ego being fed. She was very intelligent even if she was dumb. She told me about both her husbands, that she lucked out that she didn’t have any kids. She asked me if I wanted any kids or a family. I left her question blank and to break the growing silence in the noise of the club I ordered another beer and pretended I was someone else.

Kunek took the stage. We both grabbed our drinks and moved with the masses. We danced and laughed and life was normal once again. Here I was, with all of my battle scars and insecurities with the one girl who had done it for me so long ago.

The Jen of her youth was a good girl. She wore a promise ring given to her by her mother, promising that she’d wait until she got married. I didn’t want the flower then. Her innocence was enough. Her brown eyes were the same. Her face, though older, when she smiled took me back.

The show just began the party. We stumbled out into the night with our ears ringing. I walked with her to her car which was a monstrosity of an SUV. I lit another cigarette and crumpled the pack in my hands and tossed it with all of the other trash blowing around the parking lot.

“Let’s go get you some more cigarettes,” she said unalarming and unlocking her truck. I crawled into the passenger seat and we drove past punks and Goths, skinheads and young girls.

We pulled into a run down quick mart stocked up on smokes and watery domestic beer. We somehow got on some highway headed somewhere far away from the current state of affairs. We ended up downtown, underneath a large concrete anthill. Her apartment was lost in the middle of young professionals, aging widows pretending to be retirees, and strange young men that held pajama parties everynight.

“I’m lucky to be in between Mrs. Rickenbaur and Georgie Young. Mrs. Rickenbaur really takes care of our floor and Georgie, well in a few years he may be hosting pajama parties himself.”

It was a different language of small talk. Neighborhood gossip for another class of individual. We came to her apartment, just a plain white door separating us from the privacy of things that might occur in there. I knew I was in the wrong place, but who the hell really cared. I was being cheered on by people who just wanted me to be happy. Her apartment was larger that the door had made it look. It resembled what some might take to be a museum of the children of the GOP. With beer in hand she was on me if the foyer, slobbered and stumbled our way to the sectional, groped and dragged ourselves across the lush new carpet down the hallway where I excused myself to a moment in the can, where I guzzled the rest of the beer while trying to not piss on the floor or the seat.

I found her in her bedroom. She wasn’t wearing the mauve colored bra that she had graced its bearers with those years ago. This wasn’t the Jen of her youth. The Jen of her late twenties didn’t have a prick step dad hovering about. The Jen of her late twenties took charge of the moment, or let the moment take charge of her. The Jen of we late twenties had long lost her flower. Long lost a certain luster, but here she was, with that same smile in a mature moon. The Jen of her late twenties had lost her innocence. She was far more complicated, not so naïve, had a tattoo of the Chinese symbol of death on her lower back, liked it in the backdoor.

I was in and out of consciousness. I thought of my wife, our wedding, our imaginary future. There would be no 50 year anniversary. Not even one. I could always mail her the cake top. There would be no together in New York City, struggling P.A. and struggling Columbia graduate student trying to achieve dreams that never seemed to large. There would be no Chelsea brownstone. No little artsy Harper Lee. No little terror Jacob Michael. I thought of prayer and alcoholism and wondered how long it would be until I hit the bottom. There would only be time.

In the morning the Jen of her late twenties laid next to me still, her freckles a lighter shade of pale. I found my clothes and left quickly from her apartment. I smoked my way to a cab. Images of her demands. Images of me complying. I had never choked a woman in or out of passion. Picked the truck up in the parking lot of somewhere I wasn’t still sure I had been. I made it home in the grey morning. But as I walked back in to my empty house, there something was calm inside of me. It wasn’t exactly murder. It was that needed moment of serenity that returned me to my list.

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