The look on Jess’s face made Harold want to be back in the cell. The work clothes had the smell of the bar imbedded within them where it should be the chemicals from the tire plant. Harold figured only she would notice. Jess could read Harold no matter what look he put on his face or lie he told. She had spent her entire adult life with the man, with that experience she was used to his habits and smells. Out of survival of their relationship Harold, also, learned Jess’s habits. She was a better student. She did not have to say a word; he let her down three times in one incident. First, he skipped work. Next, he went to the bar instead of looking for work. The last strike, was the arrest. His bail cost them too much of the thin budget. The money spent for Harold’s freedom was money that should have went to their kids.
The paperwork complete, she turned with a quiet anger and headed out to the rental car. Even more of the budget was being swallowed by the temporary replacement to the minivan. The compact car was not going to be adequate for all the tasks she would have to undertake. It was the only vehicle they could afford. There was no other option but for her to drive. Harold had given up those rights with his bad decisions. Jess could have let the anger subside if Harold was the only one punished. Unfortunately, for the family, they would be the ones to pay the price.
Harold knew not to say a word. A single word would unleash the quiet storm that had been brewing in his wife. Harold still was sweating out the alcohol to add the fragrance of his wrong decision. The smell was making Jess angrier. The thought of expressing his regret in the form of an apology felt like it would be wasted now. Initially Harold felt the shame of the incident. He was a hard-working family man. What would be the title he was referred to now? What label would fit him?
Finally, halfway home Jess spoke. “You know no one will hire you now.”
The words stung like an angry hornet. The stress of their future had been welling deep within her since she found out she needed to get her husband out of jail. The respect she had for him had taken a shot. They were still a family that had been through some bad times. The growing trend was for marriages to end with the first sign of trouble. Luckily for Harold, Jess did not buy into that thought process. Not running was not the same as accepting his mistake as something other than what it was. The driving under the influence charge was a major pot hole in the road to their family’s future.
Harold sat there quietly.
When a hornet is buzzing, it is best not to agitate it more. The venting of frustration was to be expected given the gravity of the error. It was not going to be an easily forgotten mistake. A killer headache assisted him in not wanting to say a word. This type of headache he was not sure could be slept off. All he could do is dream about taking some medicine and waking up to this only being a nightmare. There was the thought she was right that no one would hire him. He could not see that as a possibility though. He knew he was a good man. Good men deserve a mistake every once in a while. Antonio taught him that in the short lifespan of their friendship. The biggest fear he held was what his children would think of him.
“What did you tell the kids?” Interrupting Jess’s thought process was not the smartest idea but the nagging thought began to fester.
“I lied.” Gritted teeth gave the hint she did not want to deceive the children. They were too young to look down at their father. She did not have the patience to explain why or what she had told them. The mother wanted to find a solution to the new problems that plagued her family.
The rest of the drive was a stewing silence. Jess and Harold both had anger directed toward the same person and his poor decision making. Bad decisions were a result of the stress Harold assumed. More like he had hoped. A new stress arose from the thought. Harold had to question whether or not the drunk driving was a onetime incident or was it something more serious. Were bad decisions the only way down the one-way road that was his life? The need to turn that around was a new goal. Harold wished he knew how. There seemed to be more stress overcoming the wrong decision than it would have been to muddle through the day at work. One thing was for sure, Jess was right. Finding a new job with the drunken driving charge was going to be a bit more difficult. Luckily Antonio had provided him with the hope that Mr. Stanley was fighting for their jobs.
No matter what the feeling of the current dilemma Gordon still had a lot of respect for Mr. Stanley. The respect turned into a guilty regret. A regret they had been opponents instead of partners at the end. Gordon wanted to stop by the old man’s office just one last time. He wanted to remember how it had been before they packaged the entire contents away.
The oak door was stained a deep cherry wood and it contrasted with the rest of the industrial complex. Mr. Stanley did not seem to care for the luxury the office presented. The building was full of hard working men. He wanted his office to stand out. Anyone who was visiting him at this location would know he was the head and heart of the industrial machine. Gordon wanted to check out the office one last time. He swung the door open not expecting anyone to be behind the old man’s desk.
The new king sat in the old king’s throne before the body had even been buried. In a scene that Gordon felt both surprising and revolting; the union chief discovered his long time nemesis. The surprise was also amplified that Nathanial was still alive. The reenactment of the deal for his soul seemed real. The fact the man who should have been the victim, was rocking back in the chair filled Gordon with doubt. A lot of alcohol seemed to be consumed that day. The shock and confusion of the vision and the bar memory was visible on Gordon’s brow.
“You look a little surprised to see me.” Nathanial wasted no time in noticing the shock on Gordon’s face. “So, what can I help you with it?” The pain of the most hated man in the company sitting in the place of one most loved, gave Nathanial a quick blast of energy. He silently enjoyed it.
“I am surprised you are already sitting behind the old man’s desk.” Gordon only answered about one of the surprises of what was in front of him. There seemed to be a bit of distrust from Nathanial as he heard the response. Gordon could sense it.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Nathanial was stringing the union chief along. He had his suspicions that Gordon was the one who called for his banishment. Religion taught the rudimentary of what a soul truly was. He assumed Gordon had not paid attention. If he had known the worth of a soul, the tradeoff would not be worth it. Nathanial knew that all hope was gone. He fed off the dire mood. The death of Mr. Stanley guaranteed the move was permanent. Surely Gordon would have known this, and not made such a deal just for vengeance. “Am I not next in line to run this company?”
“Yes, you are, but don’t you have your own office to run things?” Gordon felt the deal he made was nothing more than a figment of his imagination. He craved a different resolution then the one that was facing him behind the desk.
“Is that the only reason you are surprised to see me?” Nathanial rose, as did the anxiety within Gordon. The anxiety was another form of the despair that fed him. Panic, pain, torment, and worry all sustained and grew his power. Asking the question directly, would violate the rule of secrecy. The rule that allowed him and his kin to operate in the shadows to win the eternal war prevented the direct question. “Do you want to see where I found his body?”
His soul was the part that was hurt most by that statement. While he still had it with him it ached. Every bit of Gordon wanted the deal to be real and done. “What do you mean? Did you do something to him?” the questions continued to burn in Gordon’s thoughts. “I would not put it past you.” The questions were turning into a torrent of hate and accusations. “You don’t deserve this office, or this power!”
Sulfuric air penetrated his lungs grabbing them and holding them from the breath he needed to flee. All fatigued muscles cried in aggravation of being useless. Movement was a wasted effort. Willpower to his arms slammed the door shut on the nightmare he was facing. It did little as Nathanial watched the movement of the slow acting Gordon. His much stronger hand reached up to slap the door open. Metal of the door cracked as Nathanial struck it. Bent at the point of impact, the door was never going to shut again, no matter how much Gordon pressed it. Gordon threw his shoulder and driving with his legs trying to complete the task. Adrenaline could not even help overcome the odds he was facing.
Playtime was over and the demon burst the door off its hinges. Gordon fell on his back with the heavy door on top of him. Nathanial was not finished. He leapt through the shattered door frame and landed on top of the flat metal. The impact pressed the door against Gordon. Crunching sounds confused him for a second, the shock of the moment hid the reality of his bones being shattered. Gordon’s view was only of the light hung from the ceiling cast a horrific shadow of Nathanial’s form. It created a surrealistic shape.
It was not until he felt a rib puncture his lung that he knew he was at an end.
With a smirk, Nathanial changed his focus. A second shadow emerged.
“I guess this means you cannot cash in on your deal. Don’t worry, I am sure one failure will not define you for all eternity.” Course laughter escaped Nathanial before the blood flowed from his neck. The dark figure had answered his mocking with the death of his body.
Gordon was slipping away as his intestines and other internal organs were being pressed from his body. In his waning moments, he could hear the screams coming from every direction. In this damning moment he had clarity despite the pain.
“I am sure this will not be a failure after all. You probably thought our kinship meant you were above being traded.” Gordon could make out the dark spirit being pulled from the misshapen body of what he knew was Nathanial. “I have made sure there will be plenty of time for you to sit in your arrogance to contemplate how expandable you truly were.”
Two additional shadows walked through the open door. Sunlight did not dissipate them. With a nod, they gathered the spirit of Nathanial. Screams of pain and anticipation bounced from every direction. Male and female tones of torment. The noises faded as the former executive’s dark form was pulled into the ground. Gordon could feel the anguish of his nemesis dissipate when the form was gone. He felt no sympathy.
The burning eyes met the grisly trophy. “I thank you for making sure you and my mark were in the same place so I could finish the bargain. I am thankful for the way you tormentors fail to think.” The last insult was delivered to the smiling face as it was tossed to the side.
The dark figure completed his end of the bargain. The demon known as Nathanial would no longer haunt Gordon. The shame for Gordon was he would not be around to enjoy his payment for the deal. The bounty in exchange for eternal damnation was to be just short lived as Gordon’s eyes met the falling head of his nemesis’s body. Burning eyes of the darkness leaned and whispered the last words the newly forsaken would hear. “I have done my part of the bargain, now you will follow through on yours.”
Yancey had struggled to restrain himself, before giving in. The urges remained strong, they cried for blood, they cried for salvation. Perhaps it was Yancey that cried for salvation, he had taken too many lives to know the real difference between his free will and the desire to kill.
Before he knew the destination, he was heading toward the tire plant. Another urging, another Bible to be delivered. There was no real clue why he highlighted the verses that were chosen, he just knew they were appropriate. Words not necessarily meant for the ones he would slaughter. Warnings to those not to repeat the offenses of the bodies that would be found next to the scripture.
Yancey was puzzled how so many clung to their mortal life, but so few decided to protect their souls. It was not his place for philosophy, his duty was to go where he was nudged and to fill the blood thirst.
The rush ended.
The urges were gone. No explanations were provided. Yancey once again had free will. He still felt a need to go to church and cleanse himself of even the thought of the terrible act.
Church was a haven from the call to sin. It was here that he could find the forgiveness in himself. The world may never forgive him, it did not matter. What mattered was doing the deeds without question and praying his son did not suffer the true consequences.