The Dream Catcher and His Wife

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: End your story with a kiss at midnight.... view prompt

6 comments

Adventure Fiction Bedtime

Late at night, loud laughter emanates from the club where people cheer and talk loudly while the barman pours drink after drink. The door swings open and a man steps in. He is dressed all in black with a ski mask hiding his face and a revolver at his belt. He stands just inside the doorway, head held high while the disco lights blare and deafening music plays. Without warning, he pulls out his revolver and the whole room falls silent. He aims the gun at the barman’s heart and fires. The barman is dead before his head hits the floor, one hand still clenching the bottle of wine he’d been pouring. Then the masked man exits the club, gets in his car, and drives away. He doesn’t know that his girlfriend had been following him, that she saw him pull out the gun and shoot the unsuspecting bartender.

After the murderer leaves, nobody calls the police. Nobody screams in terror, and nobody seems to notice the men who take away the barman’s body. It’s as if the shooting has never happened; as if the barman never existed. The only person who notices anything is the murderer’s girlfriend. 

********

As the murderer drives away, he hears his phone ringing. He wonders who could be calling him at 11 p.m. When he picks up his phone, he’s surprised to see that it’s his girlfriend, Anoushka, calling him. He accepts the call. “Immanuel,” she says with an edge to her voice, with a tone she only uses when she’s afraid, “where are you?”

“I’m driving home from the club. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” And although it’s a half-truth, he’s used to lying - used to having to cover up the messes he leaves behind.

“Immanuel.” She says it again - his name; not babe or sweetie like she usually does. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Do what? Honey I- I don’t understand. What is this?- why are you talking to me like this?”

For a moment there’s silence on the other end, but then she says, “I saw you at the club. And even though your head was covered, all I could see was your face as you shot that man. Immanuel, I saw you… you- you put a bullet right through his heart. I know you, Immanuel. You’re not a bad person, you had a reason for killing that man - you had to. Why did you do it?”

Immanuel was afraid of this. Afraid that she would see past the excuses he made at times to slip away. That she’d wonder why he kept leaving the house late at night to go places, wonder why he was always so wound up, like a lion ready to pounce. Until now, she’d never questioned him, always believed his word, but this night was different. She’d followed him. Followed him to the club,t, to the terrorist who thought he was so clever for hiding in plain sight. “I’m sorry,” he says, and before she can say anything else, he hangs up and puts his phone on silent. He doesn’t go back home that night. He doesn’t want to see the hurt look on Anoushka’s face when he returns home. He knows she will call him four more times before she gives up, and that she won’t call the cops because she loves him too much. And there’s something else he knows. He can’t tell her the truth.

He books a one-night stay at the motel nearby, but what he doesn’t expect is to see his girlfriend who is already there. The motel is poorly lit and the dirty-red walls are battered and worn. Here and there, cracks have sprouted from the ceiling and the paint has crumbled away. And in some places dirt has filled the cheap marble tiles where they are chipped and broken. When he sees Anoushka he feels the weight of the tiny box laying inside his pants pocket. He is no longer wearing the ski mask, giving way to a soft face with brown eyes and a head of blond hair. Anoushka is sitting there on the gray couch in the lobby waiting for him, one leg crossed over the other with her brown hair tied up in a neat bun. Her eyes do not light up like they normally do when she sees him. He approaches her, unsure what to say. For a moment he closes his eyes, and tries to will her to see what he wants her to see, but it does not work. He knew it wouldn’t, it never works on Anoushka and even if it did, it would not be right. “I knew you would be here,” she says, frowning as if contemplating why she is here herself, a question lingering on her lips, why did you kill that man?

Immanuel stays silent. He knows it is too late now to lie, to make it all go away with a few well-worded sentences. She has seen the truth, seen what he really is, but she is not scared of him - and yet she sounded so afraid on the phone. And because he has no idea what to say, because he’s been wanting to for the last seven years he’s known her, and because he doesn’t want to see the hurt on her face any longer, he gets down on one knee and pulls out the black velvet box holding the engagement ring. There, in the middle of the dingy motel lobby, the receptionist trying not to stare, he proposes. “Anoushka Sharma,” he says, “will you marry me?”

For a moment, her face is a mask of surprise, but then a smile spreads across her lips and Immanuel knows she has waited for this moment just as long as he has. And yet, there is something else in her gaze - uncertainty. And then she speaks one word that means so much. 

“No.”

She pauses for a second and then she says, “I love you, Immanuel, I do. But I will not marry a dishonest man, a murderer, and a liar. I can’t marry someone who won’t tell me the truth. Someone who is always sneaking out at night and slipping away at random times.

Silence passes over them, and nobody says anything for a while. The receptionist is staring right at them. Cars pass outside and the wind blows causing a rustling of leaves. Immanuel puts the ring back in his pocket and tells himself he will ask again another day because this - this wasn’t the right time. He knows he has been a fool. He knows it is his fault for the mess he is in, so he takes a seat beside Anoushka on the couch. “I’m sorry,” Immanuel says for the second time because it is the only thing he knows to say. “I’m not- I’m not who you think I am.”

“What do you mean?” she says, and Immanuel can hear the hurt in her voice. “I know you. I’ve known you for 7 and a half years and you- you always showed me kindness, always showed me respect. You loved me and cared for me and you were always there for me. And-” her voice cracks and tears begin to fall down her cheeks. “And even when you weren’t, off doing strange things in strange places, I could hear your voice all the time, telling me I was special, that I was one of a kind. And I- I can’t bear to lose you. I just- I want to understand. 

It all comes spilling out. 

Secrets. Secrets he has kept to himself for so so long. He knows he shouldn’t be telling her them, that by doing so he makes her a target, and puts her in danger. But he loves her too much and he is not willing to let go; not willing to forget her. And so, he tells her everything. 

17 years ago….

Immanuel is 12 and he is surrounded. He stands alone at a dead end and there is nowhere for him to run. The three bullies converge around him and he wishes, wishes that the bullies didn’t see him. And yet, Immanuel is different than most victims of bullying. He doesn’t wish to see them attacked or hurt or broken. He wishes that they would see what they wanted to see, perhaps, their wildest dreams. And when he wishes it and wills it to happen, it happens. The bullies each see their greatest dream. One of the bullies - the biggest, meanest one, looks at Immanuel with sudden joy. He runs at Immanuel, arms spread wide, and hugs him as if he were a long-lost friend. Down his cheeks, stream tears of happiness, and his mouth is spread into a smile. Then he says softly, hugging Immanuel tight, “I’ve missed you, mom, I’ve missed you for so so long.”

Similar things happen to the other bullies and they begin to smile. It is then, that Immanuel realizes that each of the bullies is broken, each beaten down by life in their own different way. And when he sees his chance to escape, he leaves them there in the alleyway and when he is far enough away, the spell breaks, leaving the boys to think about their lives and reflect on what they saw. 


Now….

Disbelief flashes across Anoushka’s face. She does not believe him. 

“Can you do it on me?” she asks, but Immanuel shakes his head, 

“It doesn’t work on people I love or people that care about me. There are rules to my ‘gift’.

“Can you do it on the receptionist?”

“Yes, but my power is not to be abused.” For a moment Immanuel closes his eyes, and wills the receptionist to see his dream. The receptionist’s eyes suddenly light up and he laughs loudly. For a second, Anoushka can see a smile forming on the man’s but then it fades and it is gone, just as quickly as it came. It is at that moment that Anoushka believes him, that she knows he is telling the truth. Immanuel tells her then about the CIA. How he was selected for a mission in order to take down a criminal mastermind who had funded many terrorist attacks and helped plan the bombings of the twin towers. How his powers allow him to complete jobs without people noticing. He says it all in a whisper so nobody else can hear. She believes him, every single word he says. Her face softens and she finally sees him for himself, not for the lies he’s told or the murderer he is, but for the strong, capable man that loves her. She embraces him then and says, “Yes”.

And when he asks her, “Yes what?” 

She replies, “Yes, I will marry you.” 

And there, on the couch of the motel lobby, she takes his head in her hands and kisses him for a long time. And then the clock strikes twelve and they remember it is New Year’s Day and Immanuel lifts her up and cradles her as if she were a baby, and they kiss again and again and again. Soon, the drowsiness of sleep comes upon them and Immanuel sets her on his lap. He lays himself down face up on the couch and rests Anoushka’s head on his chest so that her stomach is pressed against his. It is there, lying on the couch of the dinky motel that they fall asleep, peacefully in each other’s arms.













January 06, 2023 03:50

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6 comments

Tommy Goround
22:45 Jan 09, 2023

I like it. -your explained why no one saw him on first killing. -she used gps - he broke rule about spouse only...but this was the tension. -i was engrossed and the receptionist seemed clunky. A witness. The bully calling him mom? Odd The "dream catcher concept" . Good. Mix of this and that (native American dream catchers) and then you made it about the revenge/justice/security .... The foundation of most guy movies. Nice mixing. Characters win for me. They had depth. Part 2? I dunno. The jist is in the setup. Good stuff. Clappping.

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Timmy W
02:08 Jan 12, 2023

Thanks, I am glad you liked it! Do you have any critiques that would help me improve my writing? I feel like the story was slow in many places and that the plot didn't go much of anywhere. Any tips/suggestions?

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Tommy Goround
02:33 Jan 12, 2023

Nah. It's genre fiction. The use of "Immanuel" (God with us) does not lend to a literary universal. Is it maxed for the genre? Pretty much. If a story is maxed out it simply gets judged against other concepts. Super original? No You went after : spies can tell their wives. That's the theme I found. Any additions would make it clunky. You don't actually have a tom Clancy character her. It's not Harrison. It's not Remarque. If you are dying to expand the genre... Take out a blank sheet and make the most unique spy you can muster. T...

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Mary Ann Ford
00:20 Jan 26, 2023

This is good! However, again I say that they should not lay with one another until after marriage. Great job!

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Timmy W
03:16 Jan 26, 2023

Thank you! This was one of the first things I'd written in a long time. Aside from the immoral parts, which of my stories did you prefer better?

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Mary Ann Ford
16:28 Jan 26, 2023

I liked the Dream Catcher and his Wife the best.

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