"... 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.
.... There is more of this story ...