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Messenger's Award-Winning Visionary Books!

 

1

Quicksand

 

 

Two weeks later

Saturday, July 11, 1992, 12:00 noon

       UNDER THE GLARING JULY SUN in front of my bank’s outdoor ATM machine, I trembled with dread, my debit card in hand. He hunkered close, his breath foul, his red Hard Rock Café cap pulled down over his dark eyes.

        I clenched my knuckles white to the bone and blinked.

        He leaned in. “Give it to me!”

        My head began to hurt and I swallowed nervously. His intense glare stabbed at me, and my heart sank.

        I closed my eyes and flushed with humiliation. “It’s all I have,” I said lamely.

        Two men approached the ATM machine and I wanted to pull away. But Joseph Estanopolous pressed up against me and, in a low voice, demanded, “Hurry!”

        Feeling stupid and ashamed, I slid my debit card into the ATM slot, punched in my code, obviously in plain sight where he could read it, and pressed the withdrawal button from my checking account. I swallowed hard. The money wasn’t there. I had already spent it.

        The machine spit out ten $20 bills, $200 over my account balance.

        He snatched the greens out of my palm and stretched tall in his tight jeans, glowing like a baby with candy in hand. He jammed the bills into his back pocket, preened and boasted, “All the women love me!”

        My left temple throbbed viciously and my eyes watered from a sharp stabbing pain. In our dim reflections in the black ATM glass, I saw the wear of life upon his unshaven face, the day’s scruffy whiskers hiding a bar-brawl scar on his jaw, the crow’s feet around his angry eyes, the wisps of gray at his temples. My own straight, fine hair was still natural dark-ash blond, my skin still as smooth and clear as it had always been.

        We returned to my faded-yellow Mercury Zephyr. Originally I’d named my car Little Miss Sunshine. Today, she needed another name. Yellow Belly.

        “Drive me to the greyhound track,” he ordered.

        Oh, geez.

        My heart plummeted. I was so stunned I was speechless.

        Then indignation rose in me and rage began to stir. But he was sitting in my car, beside me on the bench seat. This was not the time to confront him.

        So, I drove him to the damn dog track.

 

THE MILES NORTH to Commerce City were hypnotic. I drove without saying a word. Rigid. Both hands gripping the wheel, blinded by anger and despair, staring straight ahead.

        When we arrived and he was getting out of the car, I must have looked forlorn, because he smiled at me whimsically and confidently . . . as if he could win me back.

        “Don’t worry, babe, I assure you, the money will be wired into your bank on Monday.”

        He strutted buoyantly toward the gate. I blinked with sadness, and exhaled my enormous disappointment . . . in him, in myself. I had wanted to believe.

        A flood of tears washed down my cheeks as I drove home. Stupid! Stupid! I berated myself. What a fool I was!

        Then a hint of something gnawed at me: The dreams two weeks ago of a demon-vampire invading my home.

        Two nights in a row, all night long, I had struggled for the survival of my soul. Each night, all night long, I had fought a demon in hand-to-hand combat.

        I had known, then, the dreams were a warning. But the reality, now, I had recognized too late. I was already in the thick of it, mired in this dangerous liaison, which was pulling me down, like quicksand.

        Desperation regurgitated within me. I could already feel this was leading to disaster. I had met him just last night and it was already too late. I was already entrenched in an impossible situation. My only goal now was how could I get out of it?

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