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The Fourth Fire: A Tale of Deception

TheGarbageManJan 26, 2018, 10:30:29 PM

This is an old one so it's a bit rough.  I've always hated the term "Creative Non-fiction". I feel that you either tell the truth and call it non-fiction or you lie a bit and call it fiction. This is a fictional story about my early life and the deceptions I kept for love. 


He came. He came so hard that he nearly blacked out. Maybe it was the endorphin dump, maybe it was the extended length in which they made love. Probably both.

She had come as well, but it was her third or fourth time. He couldn’t tell anymore as the wetness had begun to dissipate, the only thing left of it was the soaked spot on the mattress. 

They laid there together, breathing so hard that a cigarette was out of the question. At least for a few minutes.

“Was it good?” his stupidily juvenile question pierced the panting silence.

“Always with you, love,” she replied and brought his hand up to her chest, right above her still humming heart. He smiled until he felt the cold gold of her wedding band on his chest.

He did not have one.

The flame of her lighter brought her sparkling eyes to life. She was so beautiful to him, he wondered how could she ever find interest in one so young, so naive, so seemingly unready to face the real world. It always made him weary of her motives. But he always felt in his heart that love was her only motive to come to his place in all hours of the night.

How long had they been doing this? A year, maybe two. He always forgot the exact time frame, only because it felt as though they had always known each other. Maybe not in this life or even in this term of existence, but the connection they felt was too powerful to be shared in a single lifetime.

Except in this life there was a marriage. These days husbands and wives will do a great deal to stay together, especially when they have grown towards disliking each other. For her and her husband it was having lovers on the side.

So here he was, laying in bed next to a woman who wasn’t his. It was like having a high school girlfriend that could only stay for a few hours before fleeing off into the morning sun. And that killed him softly inside, but he couldn’t admit it. He had to be strong and just happy with what he had. Yet what he mostly felt was stagnate. Like so many others, just waiting to die.

“So, Charlie, I won’t see you for a couple weeks,” her softly-spoken words piercing his icy self-reflection. “The kids and Stan, we’re all going back east to visit the family.”

“I’ll miss you Judie,” he said disinterested, because he had no interest in her husband. He seemed like a rat, in both mannerisms and look. And the husband had never liked Charlie, perhaps jealous of his prowess to some degree.

But nowhere near as jealous as Charlie was of the husband. He had her. She wore his ring. Most of her time was spent with him, they slept in the same bed, bathed in the same shower, raised children together, putting on the show of a family like a finely rehearsed play.

All Charlie had was the closeness of love and the burning desire to have it all with her. But he could not just simply take it. No, she had to want it as well. And no action taken so far had made any effort towards that only fantasy lifestyle.

“Let’s not talk about it. I only have you for tonight, then none for a while,” he sighed as the last four words left his lips. “Perhaps another glass of veeno?”

As he got up from the bed in the dingy four-walled apartment that was his, for the rest of the month anyways, she turned on her side to face him, her head resting on the palm of her hand. “You know me too well, my young sir.”

He liked that she called him hers. Only because it was the truest thing about them. The one thing that he felt oddly proud and honest about, because he was, in heart and body and soul, hers.

As he filled both wine glasses the phone rang.

“Yello... Yeah stop by, I got the fee to ride. Cool then, see you real soon.” He hung the phone up smiling to himself. He didn’t think of himself as an addict, more like someone who really enjoyed their highs. Whenever he could afford a trip, he was more than willing to spend his hard earned cash on a drug-induced weekend. Anytime.

He delivered the wine to the misses, explained the situation as he informally dressed himself, and then kissed her softly.

Buttoning the top of his silk-print shirt, the door knocked and he leaped excitedly to answer it.

“What's up Bob, how’s it hanging?” Charlie asked the average height, long brown curly guy. Around the age of Charlie, he wasn’t so much of a threatening sort, just more like the kind who could bring that out if he had to.

“Not bad dude. Just got off work and figured I’d drop off that ounce i got for ya,” he pulled a zip-lock bag stuffed with green buds struck with a purple hue.

“Cool man, not bad for two hundred,” Said Charlie.

“No, not at all, I was impressed myself when the guy pulled that out for ya,” said Bob. “By the way, I got some Norcos if ya want ‘em.” Bob pulled out another baggie, filled with yellow pills.

Charlie’s eyes lit up at the site. “How much?” he asked non-hesitantly.

“Three bucks each.”

“So forty bucks buys... thirteen and a third!” he pulled out two crisp twenties from a can in the kitchen.

Now he was going to have to find a new stash. Someone saw where his money was kept outside the bank.

Bob just chuckled and pulled out fourteen pills from the bag, and then proceeded to make the barter or gift-exchange, whatever you want to call it, so long as you don’t call it a drug deal.

Charlie then thanked Bob for his generosity, explained that the was a lady waiting for him in his room, showed him the door, and bid him a good night.

He then joyfully put the contents on the counter to carefully inspect. He had done uppers and downers, and what he enjoyed was getting low. It made the pain of being alive go away, so that he was content no matter the circumstances or surroundings. The truth was Charlie was an addict. Addicted to not feeling bad about where he was and what he was doing.

He took out for of the yellow pills, swallowed one and hid the rest in a cabinet in the kitchen. Tonight was going to be fun. As he looked up he saw the door to the room close. Didn’t even see her go out, he thought as he followed in with his prizes in hand.

He opened the door and saw her sitting there, nonchalantly, watching a show on the computer of judges selecting which contestant made the gayest outfit. It made him smile, how she was like a housewife in many small ways, yet such a free, unbridled spirit in other, greater ways.

He held out his hand in between her and the blue glow of the screen. She looked at him oddly. No sign of interest or expectation, only a sort of ‘I know’ expression.

“Look what I got!” he exclaimed softly and dropped two pills into her open hand.

“I don’t want you to buy anymore from him,” she said as she looked at the yellow ovals in her palm.

He laughed as though she was making a joke. He stopped suddenly when he looked at her and saw the serious face. Ah yes, the expression that he’d seen very few times before. The one she reserved for when she absolutely meant it. And for some reason she used it in regards to his pill vendor, a guy that, Charlie thought, she could have never met.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, eyebrows arched.

“Just what I said,” she replied. “I don’t want you buying anything from him, at least for a couple weeks.”

He looked at her even more questionably. “Why can’t I buy anymore from Bob?”

She put her hands on his lap. “I’m just saying that it would be in your best interest not to buy anything from him for a while.”

“I’m just saying,” he said, “how the fuck would you know anything about my dealer, Judie?”

She squeezed his lap with her hands. She was strong when she wanted to be. And right now she was using that strength to get her point across. “Things are going down,” she said, “and that is all I’m going to say.”

This only enraged Charlie, so he stood up and put his fingers in her face, knowing that this would make her angry. Hopefully as angry as he was.

“How the fuck would you know anything about Bob?!” He was starting to raise his voice, almost yelling, but still trying to respect his sleeping neighbors.

Judie closed her eyes. “I’m just saying that you shouldn’t buy anything buy from him for a while,” she said through seething lips. “And that’s seriously all I am going to say.”

Charlie quickly calmed down, seeing that he would not get anything else out of her.

The pills were beginning to mix with the wine in his head, giving him the effect that he craved.

“Fine,” he said. “I guess I’ll just leave it at that.” He popped in the last yellow pill and chased it with the remainder of his glass of wine. “For now anyway.”

“I guess you will,” she said and then swallowed her two pills along with a sip of her glass.

They proceeded to make love until the sun rose. Fight or fuck, Charlie thought as Judie left into the rising sun.

* * *

Charlie was walking to work as he always did, watching the cars go by. His mind was still hazy from last night and also the previous weekend when everything went down with Judie, and not even an entire afternoon of sleep could cure his shady hangover.

As he walked up the hill to his fine employers at Del Taco, he saw a dog walking down the sidewalk towards him at a leisurely pace. Not an unusual sight in the sunny days of spring, but it was still a dog charlie had never seen.

They got closer and closer to each other. Charlie stopped. The dog stopped also. Charlie started walking again and the dog did too. When they were close enough to each other that Charlie thought he could pet him, Charlie did just that. The dog stopped him with a sharp snap to his hand with a snarled bite.

Charlie pulled his hand back and put his foot back to give it a hell of a kick, but swung into the air, as the dog had already run off into the tall grass off the sidewalk.

“You God-damn son of a bitch mongrel!” Charlie yelled after it. He looked at his hand, relieved that no skin was broken, only a red mark where the canines had tried to inflict damage.

Today was not going to be his day, he thought, and that damn dog had just made that clear.

* * *

When Charlie arrived at Del Taco, the first thing he noticed was the five police cars parked near the entrance. The second thing that snapped him out of his foggy mind was Bob being led out of the restaurant, still wearing his taco uniform, with the addition of handcuffs.

“Bob, what the hell man?” Charlie said to him.

“It’s total bullshit dude,” Bob replied as the cop following pushed Bob’s head down into the back of the cruiser.

Charlie was stunned. An officer came over to him and asked if he knew Bob.

“No, I’m a psychic and I sensed his name and that he was in trouble,” Charlie answered, obviously angered at the sight of his shift manager being taken away as the P.D. limousine took off. “Of course I know him, he’s my co-worker.”

“Well, it seems that your co-worker has been selling drugs from this establishment.” The cop then went into a slight interrogative mode. Did Charlie know anything about this, had he seen it happen, had he personally bought drugs from Bob before, all of which Charlie lied about and replied no to the police officer.

“All right then, the detectives will be around later to schedule interviews and see if there is anything that might help the case,” the cop said.

Then Charlie went right to work. Today really sucks, he thought, as he got slammed with food order after order.

* * *

Charlie couldn’t sleep. He had tried for the past week, but thought of Judie and Bob kept running through his head, and not even a drug-induced, coma could stop his mind from racing.

Judie came by, unexpectedly, and was surprised by the mess that was his home now. She was also surprised by the sunken face and bloodshot, heavy-lidded eyes. But mostly she was saddened by the expression on his face.

“How did you know?” He asked monotoned.

“I can’t tell you,” she said.

“I saw Bob get taken away,” he said. “They’re trying to give him ten years in the prison.”

“I know,” she said.

“I bet you do. Why did you do it?”

She shot back at him with an intense look. “I had nothing to do with your friend getting arrested. His own stupidity did that for him.”

“Ok then, how did you know that I should stay away from him?”

Judie stared at him for a long, quick second. Twice she seemed like she was going to say something but stopped herself each time.

“Come on Judie, tell me,” he said. “I promise I won’t be mad. I’m too drained right now to be angry at anything.”

“I think with this,” she paused again. “I think with this you would be more than mad.”

He sighed and decided to just give it up. “I’ve been thinking ever since that night with you and then especially after Bob got arrested, that I need to go back to college and get my life back in order. Stop working at the bottom and start trying to dig myself out of this rut that I’ve gotten buried in.”

She looked at him and smiled softly. He smiled too. She could always warm his heart with just a look. He proceeded to tell her that he applied to a university and that he had already enrolled back into community college to finish his last transferable credits. He told her that he loved her no matter how much he did not want to.

“I think that things happen for a reason,” she said. “I just want you to know that I had nothing to do with Bob getting arrested.”

They then made love and she left, leaving asleep for the first time in many days.

* * *

Months flew by and Charlie had passed all his classes at the community college. He was packing his car with the few items he cared to keep, as the University had accepted him was beginning fall classes in less than a week. His old apartment was empty now and the landlord had stopped by and grabbed the keys already. Everything had seemed to fall into order for his new life.

He still saw Judie all throughout the semester, though they never spoke about the events that had happened months prior. Bob had gotten only a year in the county jail, a day club compared to federal prison, and, after talking to Charlie, was going to go to college when he got out. And, to top it all of, Charlie was celebrating four months of sobriety.

As he put his mattress on top of the various things in the back of his truck he saw a familiar sight. The dog that had bitten him months ago, was walking towards him again on the sidewalk. Charlie was ready this time and started walking to meet the dog.

They got as close as they had in their last meeting, but this time instead of reaching his hand out, Charlie growled at the mutt and got ready to give it the boot that it had escaped from last time. But this time the dog whimpered and put his head down.

Charlie couldn’t kick it after this, he wasn’t that bad of a person.

He decided to give it another go and reached his hand out. This time the dog made no moves and allowed Charlie to give it a good scratch behind the ears.

After he was done, the dog gave out a hearty yelp and continued past Charlie towards it’s unknown destination.

Charlie couldn’t help but give out a little laugh of his own and started to go to his truck, ready to leave this place he had called home for the last five years for good.

Before he could go anywhere, Judie pulled up in front of his truck. He thought they had said their final goodbyes last weekend.

As she got out of her car and she seemed brighter than the sun to Charlie’s eyes.

“Well hello, love,” he said. “Thought I wouldn’t be seeing you for a long time after our last meeting.”

She smiled. “You know that I couldn't let you go that easily.”

“I’m glad you’re here, I wanted one more thing from you.”

She gave that same ‘I know’ expression from the know infamous night together. “What was that?”

“You have to tell me who you truly are”

“Ok... The truth is...” She wanted to say what was on her mind but something was stopping her.

How could she tell him? Tell him that she was four years older than she told everyone? Tell him her two identities? Tell him that she had used to work for the CIA.? Tell him that she had just recently worked with the local sheriff's department to bust a drug-dealer that was lacing pills with methamphetamine, unknown to the buyer?

She could never tell anyone everything. Four years of training will drill that into your head. Always leave an exit, and telling someone everything closed many exits. She had once told someone everything when she was younger and he couldn’t handle it. He broke away from their relationship of three years because of all the lies and things she had done. It was not a glorious career. On paper it wasn’t even considered a career. Just a faint outline of a woman and a signature on a court document, and that was the last thing many a drug-dealers had seen of her. She hated the lies. But she still loved the thrill.

“The truth is... I am a narc, an undercover operator for the local sheriffs,” she said and instantly regretted it.

He looked at her for what seemed like minutes of silence. Then he smiled and gave her a hug. “I guess I already knew, I just needed to hear you tell me. To erase all the other doubts of what you might be.”

“I didn’t get Bob arrested, I just knew him because I know everyone the cops are keeping tabs on. He was getting way too big for them not to do anything about. That was the only reason I told you stay away from him.” She was starting to cry now and he told her to stop, that there was no reason for tears.

“I tried to help him. I even got them to just give him a year. I did it for you. I just want you to be happy,” She said as she dried the tears with the sleeves of her shirt.

“Then come with me,” he said. “You and the kids, we can do it. We can get a house, I can work and go to school, we already know that I can.”

“I’m glad you’re becoming the man I knew that you always were, but you’re not ready yet. You definitely were not ready a few months ago with your addictions, and even now, as close as you are, you’re still not ready for the responsibilities of a family.”

He got a little hurt and angry at that, but quickly calmed himself down. She was right, as nice as it sounded, the weight of a family was something that he could not shoulder effectively. For now anyways.

“I guess we all just gots to keep working for our ends,” he soothed. “Just know that I want you. I will always love you like no other.”

“Our story will not end here,” she said.

They kissed for their final time. Then he got into his truck and drove off to the end of the story.