“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
He lay with his back against the couch, all feeling lost at the sight of the Valkyrie before him. Angela, the woman of his rich desire and greatest inspiration, knelt beside him at the couch allowing him to gaze into her profoundly green eyes. As all other feeling seemed to ebb away, Jake felt deep love and incredible happiness as she brushed his hair back and planted a gentle kiss on his lips; a kiss that would last forever….
EARLIER THAT DAY
Jake found himself in a sleepless night. When sleep did take him, so did the nightmares. The ghostly visage of Stan hunted him through the night. It got to the point where Stan’s presence plagued his waking mind. It was not guilt he felt, it was fear. Fear of getting caught. His brief encounter with the police, which had settled well with him in the moment of their departure haunted him. Would anyone understand why he did it? Was there a scenario where this didn’t end with him in jail?
Jake awoke with a jolt at the sound of the phone, and he was happy to. Stan had just been gutting him in his latest night terror. It was Will again. He wanted to come over again and informed Jake the school had been cancelled for the rest of the week. Jake tried to convince Will that he needed space, but Will was persistent and said he was on his way over when he hung up.
Maybe Will would understand. If anyone could, it would be him. But, no. If he even got so much as a hint, he’d be off to the police to sell Jake out. Jake started hyperventilating and cascaded down the stairs into the bathroom. He splashed water on his face.
“They’re gonna find out,” Jake whispered in a panic.
“Come on,” Stan said appearing in the mirror in front of Jake. “You didn’t think they would?”
Jake hardly reacted to the abrupt and bloody appearance of Stan in the mirror.
“I guess I just thought there’d be more time,” Jake lamented conversationally. That odd twitch took Jake’s face as he spoke.
“Face it, man,” Stan said. “You gave yourself a death sentence.”
“What are you talking about,” Jake asked heatedly.
“I’m talking about how after the police catch you, they will ice you man!” Stan said bluntly. “You will go to prison for the rest of your life.”
“I won’t let that happen,” Jake said as he pounded the mirror.
“How exactly will you not let that happen?” Stan asked. “What? You gonna ask the nice officers to not book you for my goddamn murder?”
“No, I won’t let them take me!” Jake shouted. “Not when I’m so close to being with her….”
“Yeah, about that,” Stan said. “When word gets out that you killed me, don’t you think my friends will take vengeance?”
“I…I didn’t—” Jake stammered.
“—think this through?” Stan finished. “Doesn’t sound like it. You’re gonna pay for killing me. The moment you killed me, you killed yourself.”
“It’s not my fault!” Jake hollered. “You deserved it! It’s not my fault!”
Jake started pounding the wall with his fists. Stan just stared on at him in the mirror.
It was the doorbell. Jake froze.
“You finished?” Stan asked. “You better get that. And, hey, clean yourself up man. You look terrible.”
Stan disappeared from the mirror, and Jake got a good look at himself. His lack of sleep shown in his eyes, which were bloodshot and glassy. His hair was matted. He tried running a comb through it before the bell rang again.
“I’m coming!” Jake yelled. “Just give me a minute!”
* * *
Jake and Will were seated on the couch in Jake’s living room.
“I still can’t believe Stan was killed,” Will said.
“I really don’t want to talk about that,” Jake said.
“Yeah,” Will said sympathetically. “I can image what you must be feeling. He was horrible to you. Everyday—”
“What happened to this whole not talking about idea that I had?” Jake asked harshly.
Silence fell. Will motioned for the remote control for the television, but Jake interrupted.
“Why should I care that he’s dead?” Jake asked. “He made my life hell for years. He gave me mental and emotional breakdowns. I’ve come home with bruises almost daily because of him. And, it was gonna happen again, and again, and again, and again! Explain to me why it should bother me that he’s dead?”
“Whoa,” Will said uneasy from the outburst. “I know you didn’t like the guy, but he’s just been stabbed to death. Don’t you care at all?”
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Jake said flustered. “I’ll be right back.”
* * *
Jake paced back and forth in the bathroom. He felt his face twitching something fierce.
“What are you doing?” Jake muttered under his breath. “You can’t do that. He’s gonna suspect something.”
Stan appeared before him, wounds still gaping.
“You bet your ass he is,” Stan said.
“Would you shut the fuck up?” Jake said. “I don’t need you right now.”
Stan vanished as quickly as he appeared.
“You need to act like it bothers you he’s gone,” Jake said. “Otherwise, they’re gonna know and we can’t let that happen. They can’t know. No one can.”
Jake looked up, and for the briefest of moments say Angela smiling at him. The fraction of a second that he saw her was all he needed to get the fire to burn within his heart once more.
“I just want to hold you,” Jake said caressing the air where she stood briefly.
Will knocked at the door. Fury welled up in Jake as he swung the door open.
“Do you, uh, always talk to yourself in the bathroom?” Will asked jokingly.
Jake stared back at Will puzzled.
“Huh?” Jake asked confused. “Well, I was wondering how Angela is taking all this?”
“Yeah,” Will said. “I was wondering about that too. Did you want to see her or something?”
“Yeah,” Jake nodded. “She’d probably like to see me.”
“Probably not, but what ev,” Will said.
* * *
Jake was riding shotgun in Will’s beaten up car. The ride was made awkward by Jake’s silence and Will was visibly agitated about going to see the grieving girlfriend.
“They still don’t know who did it, do they?” Jake asked breaking the silence.
“As far as I know, no,” Will said.
“It would probably be big news if they had a suspect, right?” Jake asked needing confirmation.
“I imagine so,” Will said. The remainder of the ride was in silence.