Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Her (Muse 9: "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien")

Continued from Muse 8 Part 2

She wouldn't have believed a word he'd said if she hadn't heard it from his own lips. He knew everything, her life stripped bare. She feels the caffeine giving her a buzz and her brain's addled with the information overload but she's convinced. He is psychic, he does know every detail about her. 

"Carter's not dead..." he tells her, and the relief she feels mingled with the wish that he'd bled out beneath the mirror frame. She doesn't regret shooting him. But, she's glad she hasn't added murder to her misdemeanours.  She's thrilled that Ammeh is looking for her and agitated to see her aunt, never met but so often written to, and talked about by her mother.

"I can't go to the police," she pleads, "I have no papers, they'll send me back and Lopez will kill me or worse. He has contacts everywhere, the minute I land he'll find me."

Rick reassures her, with no authority, that they'll do all they can to keep her in the country. The warmth and tenderness in his voice disguising the affection in his heart. This girl is more beautiful than he'd envisioned. More fragile than he'd thought. He wants to wrap her up, protect her and is making promises he knows he can barely keep.

*Want to call your aunt?" The question forming a temporary distraction to his wanting Marique. He grabs his cell and dials Tala's number while Marique begins to cry.

"She has to go back to Colombia," her lawyer's face dispassionate despite his respect for Tala's reputation.

"That can't happen." Her tone is emphatic, although she knows gaining refugee or resident status in the US is impossible while Marique is on American soil. At least for now, she's safe with Rick Thompson, off the street and out of harm's way. 

"Joe, if she goes back, Lopez will find her. He has eyes and ears everywhere. I suspect he already knows she's here. He'll have traced my request for her birth certificate. He'll be waiting for her to hit Bogota. This is not an angry man. This is the Devil's spawn. He'll kill her or worse, do the same to her as Xavier did to her mother, she'll die a coke riddled sex slave."

Joe fondles his unshaven chin. He's worked hard to find a loophole, an avenue of escape, a reason to keep Marique in the US while her petition's read but it's hopeless.

"She could marry? It's a long shot and strictly speaking she should have done it within the first 90 days of hitting our fair land but.....harder to deport a woman married to an American."

The ceremony is short and held at city hall. Rick is over the moon. Marique less so. She likes him, he's been good to her. He'd never 'tried anything' or abused her. On the contrary he'd been a gentleman, given her space yet showered her with affection. He was gentleness personified and she appreciated him keeping his hands to himself. This marriage strategy is just a last-ditched attempt to legitimise her existence in a country that to date, has not treated her well. Perhaps she could even come to love him over time. He's easy on the eye and his touch gentle.  He looks particularly handsome in a suit. She looks totally stunning in a sweet lace trimmed dress that he bought her for the occasion. It's well fitting style accentuating her curves and complementing her skin. They look every piece the authentic couple in love.

Her father's legacy has given her a financial break. Her aunt's wiles and knowledge, the best legal representation. Even Silverman has written letters of recommendation and done all he can within the law to petition for her residency.  Saying "I do" for her, is a promise of a future, a life with no regrets. For him, the hope that she might come to love him. More as a token to seal the arrangement, the couple kiss when pronounced man and wife. For a fleeting moment, he feels the softness of her mouth and laments that his 'gift' doesn't allow him to predict the future. Yet his instinct tells him it will be bright and she will be the one who lights it's way.
Nobody knew that Morales was a crooked cop. He'd been on the take since his old narc days. Turning a blind eye here, forgetting to report an incident there. He'd made a lucrative living, and some interesting friends. Among them, a Colombian connection that had fattened his retirement fund. He'd only been seconded by Silverman on the Jimenz case because of his Colombian background. Lopez wasted no time once he got wind of Morales' involvement. It was worth calling in a favour of an old compadre. Morales had been less than communicative about what he knew to Silverman and played his cards close to his chest. He was more of an observer, leaving it to the crackpot psychic to find the girl.  The new  La Capitanana would be pleased enough if Morales found Marique. The lazy cop could retire on the benefits. Plus, he hadn't had to work too hard. The girl had been found without his help and her address known. Time to make that call.

As the couple return, replete from lunch with Silverman and Tala, a man sinks silently into the drapes pulled across the lounge room window.  Another slides surreptitiously, gun in hand behind the front door. Neither noticing the rucksack's contents still splayed on the table. The latch being turned a signal, the door opening a sign, as silent shadows listen to the hopeful conversation of an ex-patriot and her new husband. She is the first to enter the room and the  man behind the door lunges, his arm around her waist, his hand across her mouth. The sense of deja vu filling her with terror elicits involuntary kicks and spasms in an effort to release herself from is grip. As the other shadow emerges from the curtains, Rick is torn between rescuing her and dispatching the fast approaching assailant. Marique is kicking viciously at her captor and manages to connect in that fleshiest of parts. He momentarily releases her and bends grasping his crotch. Rick makes a dive for the gun languishing and loaded on the coffee table as four hands clasp its pearlescent handle. Marique is quick to turn and disarm her doubled-up aggressor, grabbing his weapon and discharging it without hesitation. Once again she sees blood splatter across the wall as he slides to the floor, leaving a trail of red and a nasty stain seeping onto the carpet.

Before she can collect herself, another two shots crack through the small apartment and two men fall.

"Rick!" she screams. The tangled bodies of men motionless, entwined in a grisly embrace now slumped against the couch. She drops the gun as if it had sprung spikes and stung her hand. Falling beside the man she now calls husband, she turns him over. The other man is lifeless and Rick begins to groan as scarlet hues spread like a blossoming rose across his dress shirt. "Didn't see that coming...." his attempt at humour, causing her tears to flow. Even in this split second horror, she realises he means more to her than any man ever has.

"I'm alright..." his words are strained. His breath short and a grey palour emerging on his face, "Call 911...hurry...." 

She makes the call. Packs up the rucksack and the gun. Returns to his side in time to see him slip into unconsciousness. This time she kisses him with intent but he doesn't feel the passion in her embrace or envision the regret she feels in what she's about to do. His world is turning black and his visions have left him.

Her loose grasp on his cold hand slides as he's trundled into the ambulance amid a flurry of tubes and paramedic activity.  She doesn't accept the invitation to go with him in the ambulance. She places her own hand across her mouth to muffle her sobs, as siren's wail and the vehicle screams into the distance. She's left alone, yet surrounded by inconsiderate traffic and bustling activity. 

Police are momentarily distracted with their investigation and she's been told to wait, so they can speak with her. Letting her out of their sight for just a moment to see Rick safe aboard the ambulance. She scans the scene around her, as tape's erected and paramedics remove the corpses of two illegal aliens. Colombian both, henchmen of LaCapitanana now lifeless. She knows there will be more. Without hesitation, she collects the rucksack and disappears amid the mele. Once found, now lost. She can never be found again. Lopez search for her will be relentless. She needs to disappear for ever.

Rick's recovery is slow, hampered by his grief. "I'm sorry Rick," Silverman genuinely feels for the man who's invested so much and for so little. "She's gone. She's not coming back and really, it's a good thing. She'll never be safe here. Even LA's finest can't protect her."

There's nothing of her left. No item to touch, no precognition to be had. Secreted away he's no idea where she is, or whether she's happy. His bittersweet memories finding him more in love with the woman he cannot have, one found, now lost.

The Muezzin is mesmerising in his call to prayer. A slight woman leans from the window of her aunt, her head covered and her body hidden. She's about to leave the house and attend her first day at university.   Careful coaching from Tala over the past 8 months has seen her blossom into an intelligent and aware young woman. She passed the entry exam with flying colours and is excited at the prospect of learning more. The culture's strange, the language hard but she's committed, and safe in the knowledge that she'll never be found with her new adoptive family.  

Occasionally, she thinks about the man she could have loved, solving crimes, explaining his gift. A pang of regret at what might have been soon overpowered by her feeling of security and safety.  She realises that all her life, she's had to watch her back. All her life she's had to take flight. Not any more. In a land considered by others to be oppressive, she's found freedom herself.



  1. I'm reluctant to say much, but my eye caught the last words of your blog header. So here goes...

    I know how busy you have been lately. The limitations on your time to write this are showing in the story. Lots of typos, misspelled words, sentence structure problems, etc. that spell check would have caught. There were leaps and surprises that either hadn't been set up or weren't believable to me.

    The basic story has a lot of potential. I think it could have been much more had you put your efforts into developing it, fleshing out the details of the story rather than spending so much time on the details of the flesh. I know you guys think I'm a prude, but really? This was way over the top for me. In most cases, the sex didn't add anything to the story. Just my opinion, and maybe a product of the "inhibitions" that a mutual friend believes I suffer, but there it is.

    I know you have a lot of talent and you've written some stories that blew my socks off. But this one just didn't do it for me. Sorry.

  2. Quite a lot of twists and turns in this one, but maybe too many for the time you were allowed to write it. I think the characters are brilliant, and the concept - while not totally original (what is?)- is awesome. Your best parts were the first couple chapters, and the sex chapter (wow wow wow, TMI?)and of course overall concept. Some of the imagery was good, and i loved Rick's insights, would have liked some more of that, but in the end i was starting to find him a little flawed (creepy). Glad you had time to rip this one off, Helen...

  3. You know, this plot is really, really good, but I think you stray from the supernatural portion of it a bit too much in the end. We need closure there.

    This last chapter was waaaaay too quick, even for how quick the rest of the story is.

    I think you know what the other shortcomings are.

    Still... this one's a good candidate to expand and rewrite. And I'm not just saying that.

  4. I see a book here. I never thought I'd say nine chapters aren't enough :). I'm a flash fiction girl myself and this challenge is a tough one for me, but your imagination goes on and on and travels all over the world. With more time, attention to detail, and time to develop the characters, no telling what you can accomplish. Time shortage is the great weakness I see in this. Plot, creativity, and character potential are all present for this reader!

  5. I read all of the chapters in a sitting. I found it interesting to read, found seven a bit hard to read, but still it drew me in. I admire that you can come up with such a complex tale, I wish I was as imaginative.