"... I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall--I will do such things, --
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep
No, I'll not weep: I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep."
Shakespeare King Lear II, iv,278
"Revenge should have no bounds."
Shakespeare Hamlet iv,7,128
This story is a response to the challenge by The Wanderer in his story "No Welcome Home: Sandra's Story". Please read his story first, otherwise this won't make any sense!
Note that I have changed the locale from England to USA. I gave it a stab to try to keep the flavor UK but it got too complex. Some things had to change as a result of this, like Sandra using an airport instead of a train station.
The story is complete in this submission.
Thanks to Techsan for a quick, responsive edit! He's the best!
Thanks for reading, Dynamite Jack
I WAS DEAD
I was dead!
I know that sounds strange — I guess it's an oxymoron: you have to be sentient to know anything and if you are dead you are not sentient. In other words, if I was dead how could I be aware of that?
I was having uma bica (an espresso) at Café a Brasileira, the oldest, most famous café in Lisbon, with wooden booths, mirrored walls and a long oak-paneled bar straight out of the 18th century. It is located in Rossio - in the Chiado district.
What was really strange is how much I was enjoying looking at the local girls, particularly Maria João, who was walking towards me with a question in her eyes. As she approached I started to ask her if the excitement I felt as I admired her quite charming young body was appropriate for a dead man. I wisely chose not to say anything as she asked "do you want outra bica and are you coming over for dinner tonight."
I said, "yes" and "of course."
I guess I should back up a little. Before I "died" I was known as Dave Lawrence, loving husband of Sandra, living in Colorado when I died. Now I am William "Billy" Sanderson, expatriate Yank from Arizona living in a comfortable apartment in Lisbon, in the Barrio Alto, on Rua do Norte.
I had met Maria about six months ago here at the café. She was 28 at the time. Her Aunt owned the place and Maria helped out sometimes. She was an anomaly for a girl from Portugal. She was tall, a little over 5'10". She wasn't slim maybe willowy is better. She weighed about 120 pounds, with gentle flowing curves rather than ostentatious ones. Long legs that won't quit — if you've seen the tennis player, Daniela Hantuchova (5'11", 123 pounds) you know what I mean. She had (I guessed at the time, I really wasn't an expert at this) 34B breasts that seemed to have an attitude. Her long legs flowed up into the most hauntingly beautiful derrière I had ever seen.
She had kind of a dirty blond hair and fair, regular features, with an upturned button nose. She was light skinned with brilliant powder blue eyes with a few freckles around them (later I was to find she had freckles elsewhere). In other words, if you spent some time in Lisbon looking at the local girls and saw her walking toward you, she would stand out!
Maria was born on the island of Terceira in the Azores. Her father was an American Tech Sergeant in the Weather Office of the 65th Air Base Wing at Lajes field. Her mother was a local girl and worked in the base library. They met, and, well things happened; marriage and Maria following in short order. Her family moved around the world with her dad's duty assignments, until he was killed in a car crash in Fayetteville, North Carolina. At the time he was stationed at Pope Air Force Base and Maria was a junior majoring in Marketing with a minor in Literature at Duke University.
After her dad died her mom moved to Lisbon to work with her sister at the café while Maria João finished her studies. After graduating she joined her mom in Lisbon working part time at the café and part time with a friend putting together a small agency for writers of romance novels (pulp fiction!), working particularly on translations to and from various languages.
After a year she met and married a football player (right half) who played for Sporting Lisbon. After they had a daughter, Catrina, his contract was purchased by Manchester City. Maria and the baby were to follow when he got settled but he met a dancer and, (short story) he called her and told her, "don't come!"
Maria was pretty broken up about this but after a year she realized that her ex was just a happy jock that would still be a kid when he died! The writing agency did better than they expected and had signed up a number of writers from the US, Spain and Portugal, with a couple from France and Ireland.
That brought me back to being dead and admiring Maria. She stopped by a couple of times that evening to chat and when she finished I walked her home. Like I said, I had known her for about six months. I probably would have not gotten anywhere with her, until once over coffee she talked about needing writers for English. She needed translators and was looking for new writers also. I was fluent in Spanish and started translating romance stories from the US, Australia and England into Spanish.
I told her that I had always wanted to write and thought it might be fun. I showed her the short stories and the one novel I had been working on. So it started. I began with the translations and then threw in a few romance novels (sheesh!) of my own. Through all of this I started spending more time with Maria João and Catrina.
As we walked the few blocks to her apartment she put her arm in mine and we chatted and looked in the Bakery windows for dessert. I was starting to feel pretty good until we stopped by her mom's to pick up Catrina, who was four at this time. As we started climbing the stairs the door opened and this whirling dervish came flying through the air screaming "Billy! Billy!"
I hadn't been intimate with Maria but it seemed we were getting close. She was lonely but she was also very protective of her daughter. I fell in love with Catrina the moment I saw her. In my other life (Quiet! Someone will hear you!) we had never had kids... maybe if we had... anyway I really liked Catrina and she kinda took possession of me. One of the reasons I hadn't gotten further with Maria was because her daughter always seemed to be between us.
I grabbed Catrina as I tried to keep from falling down the stairs and started tickling her. She squiggled out of my arms giggling and ran up the stairs to her grandma, Fia. We chatted for a little and then went to Maria's apartment.
Maria asked, "could you give Catrina her English lesson while I fix the dinner. We are having Bacalhau à Brás with a nice Vinho Verde with it."
I had been working with Catrina for about two months with children's books in English. She loved the stories and most nights when I was there I would make up a story for her after her mom put her in bed. She would fight to stay awake but always fall asleep after about five minutes. I think this was Maria's secret plan in having me help with Catrina with her English!
While we were eating the Cod and enjoying the green wine, Maria looked at me seriously for a minute and said, "we need to talk after Catrina goes to sleep."
I thought "Oh God! What did I do now?" I finished the meal with some trepidation but no idea what she wanted to talk about. We sat around drinking coffee and enjoying a very nice vintage Tawny Port for a while as Catrina played with her toys. Maria got her daughter ready for bed and started cleaning up the kitchen while I told Catrina her story.
I was sitting on the sofa sipping another small port when Maria came in. "Can I sit down with you?" she quietly asked.
I opened my arms and she slipped into them as she sat on my lap. Not knowing what was going on I sat there without moving, with my arms around her. After a minute I could see her shoulders gently shaking. I lifted up her chin and stared into her eyes. She was crying!
"Maria, what's wrong!"
With that she started sobbing. I just helplessly held her and waited for her to calm down.
After a bit she looked up and wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her blouse. She looked at me for a minute, quietly and then buried her face in my shoulder. With a muffled voice, she whispered, "Billy, I know you care for me! And the way you are with Catrina has been priceless for me. No, don't say anything yet!"
"I'm lonely," she whispered. "I want you, I want to be with you! Neither of us has said anything but I think God wants us to be together. You are the answer to my prayers for myself and Catrina."
"No, wait! I have to get through this. I'm so happy with you but I haven't been honest." With that she started sobbing again. After a bit she continued "I've told you about Paulo, my ex husband. Billy, I'm Catholic! You know that. I can't get a divorce and I can't marry you!" She slid to the floor and her body just shook with her crying.
Stunned, I sat there for a minute. Marriage! Shit I hadn't said anything about that. I mean, Christ! I'm dead! I can't marry anyone! After a while Maria quieted down and fell in a restless sleep. Looking at her I didn't know what to do. Finally I picked her up and carried her into her bedroom and lay her down. I dampened a washcloth and gently bathed her face. She twisted restlessly but didn't wake up.
I didn't know what to do! Finally I realized I would have to put her to bed. I got a gown from her dresser and gently took her clothes off. I started to put her nightgown on her and I just froze as I looked at her. To me she looked like a goddess. Her skin was perfect with just a sprinkling of freckles around her breasts and on her stomach. Her breasts were just perfect. Even lying on her back there was just a hint of sagging. The nipples were large, a lovely dark pink and erect.
Looking down I realized her nipples were not the only thing that was erect! I was dead, sure but it certainly seemed like I was coming back to life. I hadn't been thinking about marriage but suddenly it seemed like a damn fine idea. Then I did the hardest thing I had ever done in either of my lives, I put her gown on, careful not to awaken her. I covered her up and not wanting to leave her alone like that, I lay on the top of the sheet, next to her.
It took me awhile to get to sleep and I started replaying what had happened. I had not really thought about the problems of marriage. Her problem was easy, that's just religion! Mine, jeez! I have a wife in jail, probably for life. If I were to try for a divorce, then obviously I wouldn't be dead anymore. If I loved a woman enough to marry her, how could I live a lie and be a bigamist. Life sure is complicated when you are dead!
I woke in the first faint light of dawn to see Maria sitting in bed staring at me. Blushing violently, she asked "Billy, how did I get in bed with my gown on?"
I looked at her for a minute; she was softly lovely in the early morning light. "Maria, you fell asleep on the floor. I carried you in and laid you on the bed. I was going to go to my apartment but I couldn't leave you like that. I put your gown on and covered you up. I lay down because I just didn't know what else to do."
Damned if I was going to tell her there was five minutes between undressing her and putting her gown on!
She seemed to blush even more. I swear I could see the freckles multiplying through the thin gauze of her gown. Embarrassed, she lay beside me and hid her face in my shoulder again. Christ, this was getting to be a habit... not that I minded of course.
After a few minutes, maybe ten, I put my arm around her and pulled her tight. "Maria, it's my turn to talk. Just hush for a bit and let me talk now."
I turned her head and gently brushed my lips against hers. Startled, I pulled back and had an epiphany! Jesus, God! I did love her. With all my being I did love her!
Maria lay there looking up at me with a curious smile on her face. I kissed that lovely little smile, no brush now! I pulled her tighter and teased her lips open with my tongue. She lay, not moving, with her eyes closed. Suddenly she pulled back, opened her beautiful blue eyes and looked deep into mine! She saw something, for she suddenly jumped up and lay on top of me violently kissing me.
She gasped "Oh Billy! Oh Billy! God I've been so lonely. Love me. Make love to me, even if it's just for now."
I moved both of my hands on her back rubbing up and down, calming her. After a bit I pulled her nightgown up and slid my hands down to her buttocks and pulled her tight to me. I very slowly and gently, moved my finger down the crack between her soft, soft cheeks, not penetrating but pausing for a bit on her rosette on each pass while I started kissing her deeply. After about five minutes of this she suddenly spasmed, shaking violently and was quiet.
I lay still and realized she was crying again but as she looked up, I saw it was "cry for happy."
"Billy, I don't care what happens, I love you! I just want to live with you, love you. I need you. Catrina needs you. Love me now, please!"
I turned her over and slid her gown off. If the full dawn light she was so lovely! I just stared - time stopped. I licked around her right nipple, not touching it. Finally grasping her nipple with my lips I pulled it taut and teased it. Letting it go I breathed on her breast "I love you!" I repeated with her left breast, adoring it, making love to it for fully five minutes. Again, I breathed into her breast, "I love you!"
I moved lower, loving her stomach kissing her navel. Finally, I slipped down between her legs and kissed her lower lips with mine.
Maria gasped and muttered, "Billy, no one has ever done that to me!"
Ignoring her, I licked, invaded with my tongue, teased with my lips until finally she started shaking and crying out, "Billy! Billy, God Billy!"
I let her rest for a minute and then mounted and shared "the greatest gift." We loved one another until we heard Catrina moving in her room. Looking at me, she said, "Billy, we have to talk!" But this time she had a smile on her face.
We had our talk and a few weeks later I moved in with her. After a time I became a Portuguese citizen and adopted Catrina. I started working with her and her partner in her agency. I stopped doing translations and focused on writing romance novels and was almost too successful! I used a nom de plume, a name you would well recognize: a woman's name!
After a couple of years, we brought a nice apartment in Cascais, four or five blocks from the sea. We never again mentioned marriage but frequently talked of our love. I was happy as never before!
My time of darkness, my time of death was over, I was alive!
Oh yeah! I bet you are wondering how I died! It seems a lifetime ago - some of the details I've forgotten. Some of the rage has left. I no longer think much about Sandra. She may or may not still be in prison. I don't really give a shit!
It wouldn't bother me if she were released. It wouldn't bother me if she rotted in jail. I've never cared enough to find out. I'm happy as long as the bitch stays out of my life.
What I remember most is the white-hot anger that overwhelmed me when I saw the email messages. I wasn't looking for them. I wasn't concerned about anything. I had a happy marriage.
Somehow I got a virus on the PC and had to reinstall some of the applications. The biggest problem seemed to be the email system. Before I uninstalled it I copied the email archive file to a Zip disk and then reinstalled the email software. In doing this, I of course wiped out any existing passwords; so it started up with a blank, default password. I made a mental note to let Sandra know what I'd done.
I installed the software and reloaded the email archive. I decided I'd better check and make sure everything was working — everything else seemed to be okay now so it seemed this would fix the problem. My email came up okay, great so far. I pondered for a minute and decided I'd better check Sandra's email also. She gets real bitchy when the computer doesn't work right!
The way the blank password works is that you have to change it before you can use the software for the first time. I figured I'd just reinstall the software again after I checked everything out. Otherwise she would bitch at me for reading her email. So I entered a password and opened her email. And I started dying! The headers were certainly catchy. The dialog between this jerk Andrew and Sandra was hot! The pictures were even hotter! Hottest of all was my anger... a burning, vicious, killing anger! I couldn't breathe for a minute. I ran into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face and heaved, trying to breathe. Suddenly I ran into the toilet area and really heaved! I felt like my guts were coming out.
I went into my office and poured a small glass of Oban and gulped it down. Then a bigger one. Then another one. Shit!
I finally calmed down. I stopped drinking. I started breathing. I started thinking. My anger had coalesced into a tight, hard ball where my heart used to be. It felt like a cancer, eating away, destroying me from the inside. It took years and a beautiful four-year-old girl before this cancer in my heart started to dissolve!
Christ, I hated her! Christ, I hated him! I focused on my hate. "Let that keep me going," I resolved. I was smart. I had a good imagination.
My dad had always told me that when bad times come, "and they will" he said, "don't give in to your weaknesses and stand on your strengths."
I never asked him what had happened to him that he felt he had to tell me this over and over but by God I listened and I heard him. And I remembered.
My strength is my writing. I write novels. Sometimes I write crime novels and/or detective and/or murder but always a mystery. I was successful. I was well known. I researched. I talked to cops. I talked to cons. I talked to judges, reporters and victims. I knew a lot of people.
I met a con at the Colorado Territorial Prison in Canon City a few years ago. I did him some favors (cigarettes, helping his son out of a jam, etc) for taking the time to talk with me, helping me to solve a plot problem. A few years later he was released. I helped him get a job. I did him a few more favors. I occasionally paid him for research. He walked the walk, he talked the talk! He added veracity to my stories. He added money to my bank account.
Now, in my time of need, real need, I remembered Glenn. I drove down to see him, picked up a couple of cases of cold brews on the way and said Glenn, "I need to die. Actually, I need to have my wife and her asshole buddy (really! I saw the photos!) murder me. And they need to be caught. And they need to go to jail."
I told him the whole story and asked him for help! We treated it like a new idea for a novel (and someday I might write it — under a different nom de plume, of course!). I lay out a storyboard. We covered all the details. Anyone watching us would think we were plotting to rob Fort Knox.