Deafening silence cut through the crowded bar as shards of glass exploded into the thick smoky air showering the patrons with amber shrapnel and foamy beer. The silence transpired into loud clamor as everyone gasped in disbelief at what they had just witnessed.
Minutes before the chaos ensued, a chatty young gal with a thick southern accent sat sipping on an espresso martini bellied up to the bar bantering with the locals. She stuck out like a sore thumb flipping her blond curls around her pointer finger while tugging at her skimpy black bodycon dress every time she took a sip. The inebriated regulars, there since noon, were drawn to her like flies on shit marking their territories.
Billy Joe, a native cowpoke from Farmington, was picking the cow dung off his steel-toed boots with the toothpick that had just been dangling out of his mouth. Hence the foul smell lingering at that end of the bar.
Billy Joe flicked the toothpick into the ashtray and grabbed the gal's thigh as he slurred, "Miranda Mae Belle, will ya save me a dance if I drop a coin in the juke?"
Miranda batted her false lashes, giggled her contagious laugh, and said, "Now, BJ, I have something better in mind."
The rednecks high-fived each other, slapped their hands on their wranglers, and cackled boisterously until the explosion abruptly froze them in their tracks. Their jaws simultaneously dropped to the floor, where Miranda was now lying on the ground in a puddle of blood, knocked out cold.
Jessica, one of the bar's owners, can't help but smirk and grunt as Banjo, the bar's bouncer, aggressively pulls her body to the ground to retrieve the remnants of the broken bottle still gripped tightly in her hand.
"This is just a glimpse of what's coming, ya stupid blond bimbo bitch." she yells to anyone listening as she is yanked off the ground and carried away by Banjo, leaving behind a trail of blood, dignity, and shattered dreams.
Banjo kicked open the backdoor dragging Jessica out to the patio. Through the cracks of the wooden panels of the fence, Jess could already see the flashing lights and sirens squealing around the corner by the town's only Mexican restaurant, El Suerte.
"What the fuck Jess!" Banjo shouted, throwing her abruptly into the plastic chair on the patio.
Jessica stared vacantly at the ashtray in front of her. Her mind felt like it was running the last leg of the 100-yard dash without a finish line. The numbness crept up her body as she wiped the blood from her hand on her 501 Levi's. She could feel her heart pounding through her ears, muffling the loud voice of the aggressive cop that barged through the back gate with his gun pulled.
"Really?" Jess thought as her eyes rolled back in her head.
She looked up at Banjo as he turned around, punched the industrial garbage can, and sent it flying across the court.
"God damn, Jess. Why?"
He shouted as her body was thrown to the cold concrete floor, and her hands were shackled in cuffs.
After reading Jess her Miranda Rights, the staunch Sheriff walked her through the hall of shame and shoved her into the backseat of his squad CO169. The only car in town with authoritative lights. The other two vehicles were called in for backup from Plano, a half hour out of town, and apparently, their job was to hold the wall up and smirk.
Jessica leaned her forehead against the side window and banged it twice. She giggled at the irony of the rights they blurted. The thought replayed in her head like a scratched vinyl record.
"I'm reading your Miranda Rights over Miranda 'cause Miranda's always right, right?" thought Jess.
She stared and blinked at the fluorescent green bar sign that kept zapping the letter J on and off. It irritated her and reminded her of the day she helped James, her partner in the bar, and EX-fiance, pick it out and accidentally hang it crooked. They never did fix it, and James said it added character, so it became a joke they could laugh about together.
She was proud of James and his hard work in opening the bar. She stood by his side for over a decade, patiently supporting his late nights and sleepless weekends. She sacrificed everything she had to help make his dreams come true. In retrospect, she had the opportunity to start a new life in a small Midwestern town where nobody knew her, and her past didn't have a lengthy transcript.
Jess watched the J fizzle and die, leaving the other J crooked and realizing that the crooked one was straight all along.
"Perception is a mind fuck," she thought.
Reality started to sink in when Drake, the only town sheriff within a 30-mile radius, slammed the front door, threw down his stack of eyewitnesses, and turned around.
"Jess, you've got some splaining to do." shaking his head.
Jessica winced from the tight cuffs rubbing against the thick scars on her wrists as the eager crowd came swarming out of the bar like a flock of geese stumbling over each-other excited to cluck about tomorrow's town gossip. The gaggle spread like the Red Sea, or in this case like Miranda's legs, Jess thought, as the paramedics urgently shuffled the stretcher to the ambulance slamming the doors in the face of her fate.
The car ride was short but long enough to collect her thoughts, but she had difficulty organizing them in her scattered mind. Her blood started pulsing in her neck when they pulled into the station and saw him pacing at the front door, flicking a cigarette at his side. He didn't even smoke. For the first time that night, she felt shame and insurmountable guilt. Jess hung her head in unease and bit her lip.
Drake pulled up next to James and exited the car slamming the door out of spite which clouted her thoughts out of sync.
She heard the mumbling through the thick glass but couldn't understand what was being said. In her mind, the events leading up to this were warranted, and she couldn't comprehend how anyone could not be on her side. Miranda has destroyed so many lives in this town she had to make a proclamation.
Jess guffawed at the irony. She wasn't the villain in all this; she stood up to all the lone local soldier's wives left on the battlefield to reap the damage Miranda caused. She wanted retribution in physical pain inflicted on the one person destroying all of the lives in this restless town, including hers.
A martyr would be an exaggeration, she thought.
Drake's arms flew up in disbelief, his muffled words exaggerated by the wrinkles across his forehead.
"This is all your fault." Jess imagined Drake's furrowed eyebrows saying.
James squeezed the tip of the burning cigarette between his index finger and thumb and flicked it at Drake's feet.
Jessica struggling to wiggle out of the cuffs, bit her lip, knowing this shitshow was about to detonate.
Jessica squirmed as the boys puffed their chests and started approaching the car. Drake gave James a nod to open the door, and he sighed deeply as he reluctantly slid into the back seat.
"Take her fucking cuffs off, dipshit," James said, smacking the Plexiglas barrier.
Jess couldn't even look at him. He sat in silence until she mumbled under her breath,
"That bitch had it coming. How dare she show her ho-bag face in my bar. I'm done. James, there isn't any justice around these parts, only vengeance. You, out of all people, should know."
James grabbed her hand, and she snapped it away as tears rose in her weary eyes.
James gently wiped the tear from her cheek with his thumb before cupping his hands around hers again - this time not letting go no matter how hard she tried to push him away.
"How could you do this to me?" she whispered, unable to look at him knowing his crystal blue eyes held her prisoner to her entire world.
After all, he rescued her when she skimmed the rock bottom's surface. Her free will to live was depleted. She had no purpose in existing in this lonely world, just swimming through life only to come up for air and be pulled back under. She was drowning in misery and felt a deep void in her life as if she was just a part of a whole.
That day in November of 1989, James transformed her life forever when he walked by her lifeless body covered by last week's newspaper, barely surviving on the cold streets of Chicago. As he passed, their eyes locked into a time warp, and James felt a compelling force to stop in his tracks. He knelt to Jess and brushed her greasy brown hair out of her leaden Grey eyes as electric currents, practically tangible, charged through the air between them. Their energy instantly pulled each other into their souls, making one. That electric spark that set the mood between them spoke volumes of all that had happened until that fateful moment and the dreamy life ahead.
Jessica stared into the black void behind her eyelids, recalling that crisp day. James gently touched her chin as energy pulsed through the hair on her arms. He turned her face and raised her chin till she stared into the abyss of his eyes. She saw pain and a sullen emptiness inside his eyes this time. He squeezed her hand tighter as he opened his mouth to speak, but only air exhaled out of his mouth, and he choked as he held back tears.
Now Jessica was concerned as she felt the energy shift repelling her away. A dark aura encompassed them as he finally let the words seep out of his mouth.
"Jess, Miranda is my younger sister, and I wasn't aware that she even existed." He explained.
Jessica's site started fading to black as his voice got softer, almost impossible to hear. She watched his tender lips, reading them like a form of braille.
"That's where I have been going at night. I met her at the shanty hotel she's staying in so she could explain the whole story, which is thick of lies and deceit my parents have told me my whole life. My life is a lie back in Georgia. My father had another family that I was unaware of, and when Miranda discovered the lies, she set out to find me to tell me the truth."
Jessica's heart was beating so fast she could feel the blood racing to her face. Her mind started spinning as she released James' clammy hand. She felt instantly light-headed as her eyes stared wide open deep into his soul's abyss.
She could barely distinguish the last sentence that escaped his mouth as he stifled on the last word.
"Jess, she didn't make it. The blow to her temple was too much. You killed my sister Miranda." He cried.
Jess slumped over as her site faded to black. She watched in the darkness behind her closed eyes, her dreams shattering into glass-like crystals, combusting into a million specks floating in slow motion till they dissolved into the infinite chasm of darkness.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.