Disclaimers: see part one.
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My thanks to those who have followed this story and for all the encouragement I have received. It helped more than anything. Heres the conclusion, finally.
A dull pounding, like the marching of elephants, brought me back to life. I sat up too quickly for my own good, and grimaced at the taste in my mouth. It tasted like those elephants had stopped there on their journey to take a giant shit. I swallowed hard and tossed my blanket aside, curious that I still had my clothes on. I wondered vaguely why I hadnt put pajamas on the night before.
Wandering into the bathroom, I brushed my teeth and took a shower. I was happy that it was Sunday. I didnt think I could have made it through a day at work, the way my head felt. I was sure some calamity would have befallen me.
As the hot water ran down my body, my mind drifted back to the night before and the dinner Id shared with Elmer and Ellison. I still couldnt believe that it wasnt Elmers idea for the ambience that had immediately set me on edge. Then I realized that the more I thought about the evening, the less I remembered. I knew that Ellison had come to drag me over there, compliments of Elmers manipulation, but after that things got more than a little fuzzy.
I turned the water off and grabbed a towel. As I dried off, it occurred to me that whenever I thought about the end of the night, a slightly panicky feeling picked at my stomach. I didnt think it had anything to do with the fact that I was officially hung over, if not still drunk.
Then it slammed me like a whore in heat- I had kissed Ellison. And if I remembered correctly, she wasnt happy about it either.
Half wet, I dropped my towel and ran into the living room to the dresser. As I threw on whatever I could reach the quickest, I wondered what I would do when I made it to Elmers. Would Ellison be there? If so, what would I say?
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," I muttered to myself. "Why did I have to go and do such a stupid shit drip thing?"
Unable to find my shoes or even my slippers, I threw my hands up n disgust and raced out the front door.
Elmer finally answered after I pounded on his door for what seemed like an hour. "Connor, what the hell are ya doin? Are ya still drunk?" he asked as he squinted up at me.
I took in his grizzled appearance before choosing not to answer. "Wheres Ellison? Did she come by here this morning?"
Elmer coughed and stood aside so I could go in. His hide-a-bed was still out and the blankets were piled in a wad on the floor. I dindt see Ellison anywhere.
"Well?" I demanded as he padded past me to the bed and flopped down.
"Connor, do ya know what time it is? Its five oclock in the morning. Of course she isnt here!"
I blinked in surprise. "Five?" I must still be drunk, I thought to myself.
"Mmhmm." He folded his arms. "Five."
No wonder he appeared to be restraining himself from yelling at me. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought again.
"Im sorry. Wheres she staying at? I gotta find her. I did something stupid last night."
"Which part?" he muttered, then yawned.
I took a seat in his recliner. "What do you mean?"
He snorted. "You were rip-roaring drunk! Actin all crazy, laughing like a lunatic. And you tried to kill Jackrabbit."
"And thats a bad thing?" I asked innocently.
Elmer frowned. "I know which part yer talkin about, as far as the stupid goes. Mary told me."
My eyes widened. "Why didnt you say so before? Elmer, what happened? I thought thats what she wanted."
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "She wouldnt talk to me about what happened. Just said you kissed her and she had to go. I tried to get her to open up but all that did was start a fight. So she went back to the hotel and said shed call before she left."
"Left!" I squeaked. "Shes leaving?"
Elmer nodded. "Im pretty sure thats what she meant."
"I gotta find her Elmer! Where is she staying?"
"Connor, I dont know if thats such a good idea."
I jumped to my feet. "I dont know if NOT finding he is such a good idea! Werent you the one who said that life was too short to keep hiding things?"
He sighed and leaned back on one elbow. "Yes, I did. All right, Connor. Shes staying at the Palomino Inn, I think shes in the suite."
"I know where that is!" I told him excitedly. "I ran into her there once." I gave him a hug and headed for the door. "Thanks old man!"
I took off like a rocket down the stairs and across the parking lot, suddenly wishing I had grabbed shoes before I left. I thought about going back to get them but I had no idea what time Ellison planned on leaving. I had to get to her before she left, or who knew what would happen.
As I ran through the streets, I considered what I would say to her when I got there. Hi Im in love with you can I come in didnt seem to cut the cheese. Maybe I should explain why I kissed her.
"Nah," I huffed. I didnt think that needed explaining. I just didnt know why she had reacted the way she did. After all the convincing that Elmer had done to get me to believe she really had feelings for me, and I couldnt understand what had gone so sisters fucking on a rock wrong. I just knew I had to talk to her.
After running until I thought I would throw my guts up, I was finally only a couple of blocks away from the hotel. My feet felt like I had been walking over hot coals , and I still had no idea what I would say to Ellison once I found her. Pushing my pain and fear of what would happen in the next several moments aside, I slowed to a walk and tried to compose myself. I wiped at the sweat pouring down my face despite the chilly morning air. I didnt want Ellison to think I was a complete swine.
An old couple walking through the parking lot stopped and stared at me like I was a booby hatch escapee. I didnt blame them- I knew I must have looked just spectacular. I went about my business and tried to ignore them, scanning the parking lots to see if I could find Ellison;s car among the sea of others. I stood on my toes to see over a Patyhfinder that was blocking the vie. Defeat began to settle into my bones when I didnt see her Lexus anywhere under the fluorescent lights.
I couldnt believe it. How could she be gone so early? I figured I would go by the suite and see if by some staggering stroke of luck I could catch her there. As I climbed the stairs, I was pretty certain I was too late. The curtain in the window was open and in it I could see an unmade bed.
Too depressed to even cuss, I trudged back down the stairs and started for the parking lot. I had no idea what would happen the next time we saw each other, but I was sure that this little mishap had caused irreparable damage. Things would never be the same.
I made my way across the parking lot, limpimg heavily now. My feet were hurting so bad that I was sure that if I stepped on another rock, my foot would fall off. Letting out a deep breath, I let my emotions wash over me. I didnt understand why I had fallen in love with Ellison, or even how. I just knew I had and suddenly the thought of living without her was hell.
I snorted. Life without her? What the hell was I thinking? I had never had her in my life to begin with. All I had of her were snippets of embarrassing moments that she had witnessed, more than enough arguments to last a life time, and one miserably failed attempt to show her what I felt after the less than gentle prodding of her grandfather. What did that amount to?
I shook my head in dejection. I didnt know what it amounted to. But I did know that no matter how little there was to hjer involvement in my life, it hurt my heart to know that I had unwittingly given my heart to someone that didnt want it.
Astabbing pain in my foot brought me back to reality. I hopped up and down on one leg, biting my lip to keep from screaming out in pain. I lifted my foot up with both hands, peering at it in the dim morning light to see what the fuck had just tried to cut it off. A giant piece of glass had surgically implanted itself in the ball of my foot.
"FUUUCK!" I screamed in pain and frustration, then lowered myself to the ground. The tears came then, and there was nothing I could do to stop the deluge. I buried my head in my hands, feeling so sad and sick of everything. I hurt physically and emotionally and I had a sneaking suspicion that it wasnt going anywhere any time soon.
"Connor?" I heard asked gently above me.
I was crying so hard that at first I thought it might be an angel. Then I thought that I had lost my mind. When I heard it again I knew better.
Sniffing loudly, I pulled my long hair out of my face before snot got everywhere. To say I was surprised when I looked up and saw Ellison standing there would have been a lie. It was comforting in an uncomfortable kind of way that somehow she was always there when I needed her most. I sniffed again and tried to smile.
"Are you okay?" she asked as she squatted down beside me.
"No," I answered and broke down again.
She put her arms around me and I gladly fell into them. Her embrace was warm and soft, and the steady beating of her heart soothed me in a way that I couldnt even begin to understand. She rubbed her hand gently up and down my back, her lips pressed to my head. I could feel her warm breath caress my hair.
When I finally got myself under control I cringed as I pulled away from her. Her shirt was soaked with my tears and probably some other things that I didnt want to think about.
"Sorry about that, " I told her and pointed to her shirt.
Ellison shrugged. "What happened? Are you hurt?" she asked, looking me over.
I chuckled. That didnt even begin to explain it. "Sort of."
"Where are your shoes? Ohmygod, Connor, your foot! Let me see it!"
I held the object in question up for her to see and checked it out myself. There was blood everywhere. The piece of glass had torn through my filthy sock and firmly embedded itself in the soft flesh beneath. I could only imagine how deep it had gone in.
"We have to get you to the hospital. Ill go get the car."
Before she could get up I grabbed her arm. "Dont you have to get out of town? I can get a cab." I could have slapped myself for saying it, but at the moment I felt so pathetic and stupid it was all I could say. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
She looked at me for a long time before answering. It was quite uncomfortable, not knowing what was going through he mind. I almost had to look away.
"That can wait. And you are not getting a cab. Now stay put while I get the car."
She got up and trotted over to a black Volkswagon several cars down from where I sat. I watched as she backed it up and put the passenger door right next to me, noticing for the first time thather bags were sitting on the asphalt behind me. No wonder I hadnt been able to find her Lexus- she wasnt driving it.
"How many cars do you have?" I asked as she helped get my tall body awkwardly into the car.
"One, but its at home. This is a rental."
Super duh. I felt like a real idiot.
After she tossed her bags in the trunk, we drove out of the parking lot from hell in silence. I had no idea what she was thinking about, but I was well aware of what was going on in my head. I was balking with my silence, ready to forget about talking to her about the kiss and my feelings for her. My bravery had packed and gone south for the winter.
But when I thought about all that I had gone through in the past several months, hell, what I had gone through just that morning, I couldnt let it go. I just had to find the right words to make her see
"So what were you doing over there, Connor? And without your shoes, of all things." She looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "At five thirty n the morning."
I grinned sheepishly, looking at my hands where they lay in my lap. "I went to find you. I was in such a hurry that I forgot them." I glanced at her and didnt fail to notice the strain on her face.
It was too late to say anything further though, because we were pulling into the emergency parking lot and up to the glass doors. Ellison put the car in park and shut the engine off. "Ill go in with you."
She got out and came around to my side, helping me hobble through the glass doors where she made me sit in a puke green chair.
"Im going to get help."
I watched as she walked away, angry with myself for not trying to talk to her before I ever got into the car. Closing my eyes, I let my shoulders slump. How on earth could I ever expect to get anywhere when I didnt even have the ovaries to tell her how I felt? I was running out of chances quickly.
I looked up at the new voice to see a nurse standing in front of me with a wheelchair. Grimacing, I got up and sat in it, thankful that I didnt have to walk anymore. My foot was in a full on throb, and if I didnt know better, it was bound to fall off.
The nurse deposited me on a gurney and took my blood pressure and temperature. Then she looked at my foot with wide eyes.
"Oh dear. That looks pretty bad. Ill have to cut the sock away and clean the wound before the doctor gets here."
I hastily waved her on, clenching my teeth as she went to work. It hurt like a dirty rotten motherfucking son of a bitching bastard and it took all of my restraint not to kick her teeth in every time she touched it. I squeezed my eyes closed and hoped it would help the pain, but it didnt.
Then I felt Ellisons hand on my arm. I hadnt realized she that she was still in the room. I opened my eyes and looked up at her as she watched the nurse work on my foot. If I wasnt mistaken, that wasnt the most pleasant look she was giving the poor woman.
I studied her features, her short, straight nose, and those green eyes I could gladly fall into. I was trying to gain some insight into what must have been going through her mind as her fingers absently massaged my arm. It was hard to concentrate.
She looked down and caught me staring at her. I glanced away, sure that my face was turning red. I wasnt sure why she had chosen to remain with me when it was obvious that her plan had been to return home Not that I minded at all!
"How ya doing?"
I gave her a lopsided grin, intending to make light of the situation. "Dyke soap on a warty tit!"
The nurse looked at me sharply, nearly dropping the sponge she had been using to clean my foot.
Ellison chuckled. "That good, huh?"
I nodded. I felt bad that she was even here to begin with, and that once again she was seeing me in a less than pleasant situation. So I told her, "You can go if you want. You probably have business to take care of and all. Ill be all right." Yeah, way to go, chickenshit, I admonished myself.
The nurse interrupted. "Im going to go get the doctor and tell him youre ready for him. Well be back in a few minutes, okay?"
I nodded and she left the room. Then Ellison spoke up.
"First off, I chose to be here and Im also choosing to stay here. So stop worrying about it."
I grinned, properly chastised, hopeful for the reason that she wanted to stay. But when her face got that strained look on it that I had seen earlier in the car, that worried me. So did her silence.
"And?" I asked gently, trying to coax her along in what she had been saying.
The author took a deep breath. "And," she repeated, as though she didnt even know herself. She moved away from the gurney, seeming to inspect the supplies that lined the wall opposite me.
"I dont know, Connor." She turned and faced me once more, only to be interrupted by the pesky nurse and doctor. At this point I didnt care if my foot fell off, we had to talk.
"Hi there. Rita tells me youve had a little accident."
The tall, skinny doctor circled the gurney and inspected my the wound. "How did this happen?" he asked, disdain evident in his eyes.
"I stepped on a fucking piece of camel sperm glass," I replied dryly, thinking it obvious since the big brown chunk was still present there.
"No need for obscenity, Miss. Im just trying to do my job," he replied condescendingly.
"She cant help it," Ellison told him icily. "She has Tourettes Syndrome."
"I see," the young man answered in a tone that stated he clearly didnt believe her. "Well, I guess we better get busy."
I cussed more than once as he numbed my foot so he could remove the glass and suture the wound. I was sure that if Ellison had not been there he would have thrown me out in the street without ever having looked at it. But I didnt complain when her hand resumed its absent stroking on my arm. Soon she had almost soothed me to sleep.
When the bandaging was done and we were dismissed from the hospital, I felt my nerves flaring up again. It was time to talk to Ellison and I was sure I would have to be clearer with my words and feelings than ever before. I just hoped that I could get the words out without offending her and royally screwing things up.
After I was loaded into the car, Ellison began the drive back to my apartment. My stomach was so upset that it felt like there were baboons trying to chew their way through the lining. I took a deep breath and decided that it was now or never.
"Ellison, I have to talk to you about last night." She raised a hand and tried to protest but I didnt let her get a word in. "Please just hear me out. Please?" When she was silent again I continued but not before noticing that look had returned on her face. The silence was so thick I could have cut it with a knife.
"I need to tell you some things and I dont even know where to start but Ill do my best. Kissing you last night was a huge mistake. I really shouldnt have done that."
She glanced sharply at me but didnt say anything. In a weird way, I was hoping that was hurt I was seeing in her eyes- at least then Id know for sure I was moving in the right direction. "See, I was drunk, and that was completely cat piss on a nuns leg inappropriate. I kissed you last night because I didnt know how else to tell you what I felt."
I closed my eyes, hoping profanity wouldnt get the best of me. Letting out a deep breath, I continued. "Ellison, Ive been attracted to you since the moment I first looked up from the ground and saw you standing over me. Somewhere in the months that have gone by well, Ive managed to fall in love with you. I dont know how or when, but I did. It seems like you have always there for me when I need you most, even if I didnt think I needed you at all. Even though we argue like dung beetles at a shit festival. Im telling you this because I cant let you run away like I always have, not without letting you know how I feel for you."
I noticed with great trepidation that she had slowed the car down and was pulling over to the side of the road. I was sure she was going to kick me out but I had to get everything out before she had that chance. I took a deep breath and started talking faster.
"Now I know Im no fucking prize and Im probably more trouble than Im worth," I began as she put the car in park and crossed her arms over her chest. It wasnt looking very good for me now. "And being as beautiful as you are and famous and all, Ill bet you could have any woman you want. But Ellison, I wanted you to know how I feel before you left. Im sorry I couldnt be more brave before now. It would have saved us all a lot of trouble."
I couldnt bear to look at her at that point. I had no idea what she was thinking and with her silence, I wondered if I really wanted to know. As I looked out the window I was thankful that it was light out now so that if she did kick me out, I wouldnt step on anymore glass.
"Grandpa put you up to this, didnt he?" she finally asked in a low voice.
When I didnt answer, she continued in an oddly detached voice. At this I looked at her, and it hurt my heart to see the sad look on her face. I didnt know for sure what she meant.
"I kind of figured he did. I know he means well, but Since Janelle, I havent wanted a relationship." She shut the engine off and sighed, gripping the bottom of the steering wheel until her knuckles were white.
"Whos Janelle?" I asked quietly, uncertain if I really wanted to know. If she had caused Ellison this much pain, I was sure I would want to throttle the stinking, rotten life right out of her.
"Janelle was my first love. We met when I was in college, just before my first book was ppublished." She stopped, her eyes somewhere far away. Shaking her head she continued. "We got a place together after the royalties started coming in. By the time my second book hit the bestseller lists, I was so in love with her that she could do no wrong. Or at least, not that I could see."
She snorted and leaned her head back on the headrest. "It took me two more years and most of my earnings to realize that I had been a poor judge of character. All I had been to her was a trophy she could show off to all her friends, someone that she could feel important with once I got famous. It turned out that she had been having an affair with a guy we had gone to college with. The whole time we had been together. Talk about fucking stupid!" she concluded, banging a fist on the dash.
I felt so bad for her. I truly did want to murder this cunt of misery bitch that had broken her heart.
"So Connor, while the effort you and Grandpa are putting into this is nice, I dont need it. It just makes me remember the past." She turned the key in the ignition. "Now I need to get you home so I can be on my way."
So that was it- she thought I was doing this for Elmers sake. My heart fell to the floor. Apparently she missed everything I had just said to her. My mind flashed back to all the times we had spent together that werent in argument, and something occurred to me. I remembered all the looks she had given me and now that I saw them for what they were I felt incredibly dumb. She did have feelings for me, as much as she wanted to deny them, and Elmer had been right that it was obvious. I started laughing in excitement at the absurdity of it all. Ellison looked at me like I was a nut, and that the time I probably was- crazy happy that I knew now without a doubt that she was hiding from what she felt behind the past.
"Do you think this is all funny?" she asked incredulously. She twisted in her seat and gave me a murderously scary look.
I knew I had better straighten up and tell her what was going on. But before I could she let me have it again.
"Youre no better than she was, you crazy bitch! And to think I thought all this time that you were a decent human being despite your little language problem-"
I grabbed her shoulders and silenced her with a kiss. Much to my surprise, she didnt fight it. I pulled away, panting with desire.
"Now YOU listen, you crazy fool!" I yelled at her with a huge grin on my face. :The only hand your grandfather had in this whole thing was by encouraging me to follow my heart because Im sure he knew you wouldnt! I meant everything I said, Ellison Woodrow! My only regret is that I didnt tell you what I felt earlier. Im so sorry for all those times I pushed you away because you were right. I used this goddamned son of a bitchin Tourettes bullshit to hide from people and feel sorry for myself."
I shut the engine off and cupped her face in my hands, more than enjoying the soft feel of her. "Were both crazy fools. Please, Ellison. Im begging you. Dont fuck licking run from this. Dont run from us. Give this a chance- Im not Janelle and I dont give a rotten maggot if youre famous or a slimy bottom-feeding street thug. I love you. Please dont run away from me."
I watched as unshed tears spilled down her cheeks, sure that she would run anyway. But when her eyes took in my lips and her mouth followed in the sweetest kiss I had ever felt, I knew that for once in my moldy sewer stink life that I was wrong. And was I ever happy about it.
As our tongues tangled and tasted each others mouths, I was sure I had found heaven. As the feeling that started as a buzz in the back of my head gained momentum and shot down to my core, I heard the proverbial screeching of tires as a loud knock came on the window behind her.
We jerked away from eachother wide-eyed and looked to the source of the interruption- a less than happy looking police officer with his hands folded over his chest. Ellison rolled the window down and gave him a charming smile.
"Can I help you, officer?"
"Yeah," he grunted. "By getting a room. No one wants to see two women-" he broke off mid sentnce and leaned closer, frowning. "Arent you that writer? The horror one?"
Ellison nodded sheepishly, for once not taking offence to being recognized.
"Well I cant say Im impressed with that crap you write, but my wife sure is. She doesnt sleep well at night, thanks to you."
"Im sorry, I think," Ellison replied unsurely.
"Can I get your autograph? Shed be thrilled to no end to have it."
"Uh, sure," she agreed and signed the paper hed thrust into her hand.
After tucking the piece of paper into a pocket, the stern look reappeared on his face. "Now you two find a room. Move along!"
He returned to his car and drove away, leaving Ellison and I giggling like a couple of school girls.
"That was close," she sighed.
"Stick with me kid," I told her with my best Bogart impersonation. "Ill get you thrown in jail yet!"
We wandered the aisles of the supermarket that she had saved me from certain doom in months before, trying to decide what to have for dinner. We were both in town visiting Elmer, which was a frequent occurrence those days. Since I had moved in with her we were afraid the old man would get lonely, even though he was too stubborn to ever admit it.
After picking out some fresh vegetables and fruit, we were headed for the checkout line when we passed by the book and magazine rack. I paused, pointing to Ellisons newest book.
"There it is," I told her as I picked it up. "Since you wouldnt let m read it before, will you now?"
"That crap will rot your brain out," she told me as she crinkled her nose in that adorable way of hers.
"Let it," I told her and tucked the book under my arm. I was just getting ready to turn away when something caught my eye. It was a picture of my Ellison on the cover of the National Enquirer! The headline read, Lesbian Rumors of Horror Author Confirmed True! I laughed out loud and held it out for Ellison to see.
She turned to the indicated page and chuckled. "That cop did more than bust us that day, he made a few bucks off the story as well." She put the newspaper back on the shelf and held my face in her hands. "For once, that rag has actually printed a true story."
I grinned and leaned into her touch, not caring what the other people in the store thought. "Oh yeah? What was that?"
"That Im in love with you."
She kissed me and I swear I thought I would die when I heard the crazy manager scream, "YOU TWO!"
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