Let the Joy Rain Down

Submitted into Contest #160 in response to: End your story with someone dancing in the rain.... view prompt

29 comments

American Asian American Fiction

TW: Swearing, slow dancing, gratuitous descriptions of love.

Everything is up in the air. All I know for certain is I love her and I’m not letting this life go without a fight. She gives me the foundation to build my life upon.

            Now that it might all be taken away, I’m looking at her more. I’m wondering why I ever left this apartment. Billie’s smile is my sunlight. Her hand in mine is my racing heart. Her arms around me are the joy I never knew was possible. Her scent is home; gyoza and good times. When I hear her laugh, I feel alive.

            She struggles to get up now. The baby is almost due. I half resent that I can’t easily make love to her anymore. It was my pride to bring her to ecstasy in our bed. On our couch. In our shower. On the floor.

            My vocation is to end suffering. I twist the minds of cruel people to make them good or bring them to justice. It doesn’t lend itself to bringing joy.

            If I could list all of the people I have ever made smile, her name is Billie. It’s sad but I don’t mind. If she and the baby are safe and happy that’s fine.

            Billie isn’t going to be happy if I end up in prison. My child won’t be happy if I’m AWOL from its life. I need to see Detective Nunez. I have to suss him out.

            “You came. I wasn’t sure you would,” I say to the police officer as he walks towards me in the park. My heart is pounding. I feel like I’m going to piss myself.

            “We had to talk, Xander. Of course I came.” He doesn’t make eye contact. I want to take his hand. I want to know if this is a trick. I arranged the meeting but what if he’s just going to talk until people arrest me?

            “You’re shaking. Afraid of me?” I ask.

            Birds chirp. Children scream with joy as they play on the climbing frame behind me. A lazy breeze strolls through the branches of a bald ash tree. Its hair carpets the ground beneath our feet.

            “Afraid of you? No. What you can do? Maybe.” He sits, leaving a gap between us large enough for Billie. I’m glad she didn’t come.

            “Do you want to arrest me? You know I’ve never hurt good people. You’ve seen their thoughts. Their memories. The memories of their victims. I don’t like the life I lead, Detective, but someone has to bring people like that to justice. The law can’t do it.” I’ve let anger slip into my voice. I’m pleading for my life with a growl. I slow my breathing, calm my machine gun heartbeat.

            “Your power,” he looks into my eyes, “I’m not sure if any man should have it.”

            “Agreed,” my clear sky eyes meet his cinnamon orbs. “But having it, I can’t just leave the cruel to go about their business. That would make me the monster. All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. I’m not necessarily a good man, but I’m not sitting on my ass while Nazis run amok. I don’t hope that perverts who revert to form after every arrest, every sentence, will turn over a new leaf this time.”

            I came dressed as an advert for white T-shirts and blue jeans. A mother with a pram turns to look at me and blushes as I look back. I get more of that now. Because Billie loves me. I’m happy. Being loved draws others to love you, I think.

            “I want this world to be safe for my daughter,” he throws up the words in a heartbeat. “Now I’ve seen what’s out there, I can’t sleep. I looked up the number of sex offenders in my neighbourhood. There are seven. Seven.” He rubs a ringed finger through hair that’s out of place. Grey peppers the black. “Can you?” He looks at me again, mad desperation in red veined eyes.

            “I’m not a hitman, detective. But I can see what they’re up to. Are you willing to stop investigating me?” I slide along the bench. Sun curled paint on the wood crackles beneath my jeans. Flakes fall as snow to the leaves beneath.

            “Personally? Yes. If you can do that for me. There are other officers looking into you now. They’re not far into it but I can’t close the investigation. That would look suspicious.” He licks dry lips. He has stubble that’s outgrown designer. Unkempt is the word now. He needs a shower. I can smell his fear. The guy in the tie die hoodie walking past us can probably smell the detective’s fear as well.

            “Do what you can. I’ll do what I can.” I reach out a hand. Once I was tanned from exercising outside with fascist psychos obsessed with the coming of the ‘race war’. Now I spend all my time looking after Billie. My pale fingers wrap around his for a moment.

            He shakes my hand. Fear turns to steel in his eyes.

            “Let’s go then. I’ll get us a cab.”

            “Now?” I ask.

            “Now.”

I scrape my key into the lock, drunk on the horror of memories stolen from a man who was just released from prison. Jack was already planning his next offence. Planning to be clever. Scheming to make sure no one ever found out what happened to the next little girl he stole.

            The key finally finds its groove and turns. Fresh trauma is rattling around my head. Billie sees it in me from the sofa. It wasn’t meant to be like this.

            Memories of screaming girls fill me. Memories of the trial he lied his way through. He could not be saved. Jack wasn’t scared of prison. He wasn’t remorseful.

            Now he’s mush. Skin on muscle wrapped around some bones. Heart beating out the rhythm of a life that will never be tainted by his thoughts again. His filthy mind is crawling in my skin. Jack’s sick fantasies live on inside me, whispering. I need to kill them.

            I stagger to the shower and tell Billie I’m fine. I want to burn it out. I want to vomit him up with everything else in my stomach. He’s poison in my synapses. Cancer eating through my happiness.

            I rub myself with a soapy sponge until the water turns red with the blood from my scrubbing. Did Shakespeare kill to know the madness of a murderer who sees the blood where there is none?

            It’s impossible.

            I call him.

            Detective Nunez needs to pick up his fucking phone so I can get rid of this.

I meet another one of the men who lives near the detective. Unlike Jack, he’s trying to be a good man. He’s been cutting himself when the thoughts come. He has a conscience. Compulsion drives him.

            I take his happiness. Every happy thought he’s ever had is mine. I see despair claim him as I walk away. His dreary little bedsit will be the end of him. Maybe a knife. Maybe a rope. I know he’s done. I did that. Does that make me a killer?

Number three is a familiar beast. A victim recycling his own abuse upon others for the feeling of power. He’s already back to work. I decide madness will be his gift. I put every memory I don’t want in his head. I cram them all in while he lies unconscious on his floor. I find the little boy locked in the back room of his home. Detective Nunez arrests the loon and takes the child back to his parents.

Peace, at last.

            Billie lies in bed. My head is empty of everything but her. I kiss her forehead. She frowns. Perfect. Is it love that made her beautiful to me or her beauty that made me love her? Neither.

            Black hair trails along the white pillow, poker straight, thicker than mine. Her full lips beg me to kiss them. The baby kicks. She frowns and shifts in her sleep.

            “I love you,” I tell them.

            “Huh?” Billie wakes, eyes rolling forwards. “Oh, hello. Were you watching me sleep?”

            “Just a bit.”

            “Hold me. No. Rub my back.” She rolls over. My hands trace circles across her pyjamas. “Ah. That’s good. Lower please.” Little noises of satisfaction escape her and force my lips into a smile. “I love you too. You said I love you, didn’t you?”

            “I did.” I kiss her cheek. Her brown eyes close as she takes it with a grin.

            “I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming. Can you massage my ankles?”

            “Of course.” My hands rub the swollen flesh. She groans. “Too much?”

            “No. It’s good. Keep going.”

            “You’re going to be a great mom,” I say. Before I know it, I’m crying.

            “You’ll be a great dad.” She says it casually, as if that’s a given.

I’m not so sure. I want to be. I’ll do my best, but I’ve never had a good role model. “What if I’m not?”

            “You will be.” She rolls over and looks at me. “Help me up.” I give her my hand and she grunts until she’s upright. “You’re not your father, Xander. You’re better than him.”

            Tears are flowing down my face. Shame turns me away, but she grabs me and pulls me back.

            “I love you, Xander.” She leans to kiss me, but the baby bump is in the way.

            The kiss is a long sigh escaping me. It’s hope. Someone loves me. Someone believes in me. Billie is my world. Our baby is my future.

            I kiss the bump.

            It kicks.

            We laugh.

I don’t know the song Billie Watanabe is dancing to. It’s her due date but the contractions are late.

            “Dancing helps?” I ask.

            “Yes. Come and dance with me.”

            I try to hold her in a slow dance way, but the baby makes that awkward. I stand behind her and hold her hips. Her hands slip into mine. Our hands are puzzle pieces made for each other.

            I see her thoughts.

            Joy.

            Excitement.

            Our happy memories. Her imagination. Blurry visions of our future as a family rain down around us as we dance. I reflect every memory back at her. I bring them all up out of the dark library of her mind. We bask in the glow of the love that flows between us.

            The baby kicks, impatient to join the dance on its own terms.

August 21, 2022 10:43

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29 comments

Melissa Taylor
16:13 Aug 21, 2022

I love it! Thanks for the TW about the slow dancing. That might have done me in were I not prepared. ; )

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Graham Kinross
22:17 Aug 21, 2022

I know how sensitive some people are about these things.

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Kendall Defoe
15:21 Aug 21, 2022

Well, that hurt... A very disturbing and strangely beautiful tale, sir...and I want the sequel...

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Graham Kinross
22:18 Aug 21, 2022

I’ll get to work on it.

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Graham Kinross
09:58 Oct 01, 2022

https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/q52j97/ Here it is.

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16:14 Sep 07, 2022

I like how tormented he was about what he had to do balanced with the joy and life he has at home. Well done :)

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Graham Kinross
21:34 Sep 07, 2022

Thank you Jeannette.

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Michał Przywara
01:37 Aug 31, 2022

This has come up in the other comments, but I think there's a great balance of light and dark here. Dark, because of the nature of his work, because of the people he hunts in this story. Dark, because of what they do, and because of the extra-judicial means he uses to dispose of them with. Light, because of Billie, because of the baby they're expecting. Because of the boy they rescued while dealing with one of the offenders. The balance here is the main character. He comes from a dark world, and in many ways he's tainted. He physically (...

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Graham Kinross
05:19 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you for all of those words and your insights. I think of Billie as his anchor as well, stopping him from ending up like the people he hates.

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Tommy Goround
10:07 Aug 28, 2022

Hey. I get so uncomfortable about offering anything after the deadline. You might have hours, days, or no time to edit. let's try: 1.) Great, strong intro. I loved that I was _not_ concerned about a "prequel" for my own leanings. The story was working on its own. 2.) I like the complexity coming out of Nunez. Had some quotables but the story is good so ...why quote your best lines. To tighten/amplify: Make the baby come out in that dance. SPLASH. There's your rain. That's how it happens. You can walk your wife, give her raspberry tea f...

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Graham Kinross
11:26 Aug 28, 2022

No need to delete it. Good ideas.

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L J
18:41 Aug 27, 2022

excellent: how about a prequel?

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Graham Kinross
23:41 Aug 27, 2022

As if by magic I already have one, https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/qt7692/ This is where it all began.

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Tommy Goround
09:59 Aug 28, 2022

Lol

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Sonia Walcott
18:29 Oct 22, 2022

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Graham Kinross
09:08 Oct 06, 2022

Thank you for reading my story. If you want to know what happens next for Xander and his family, use the link below. https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/q52j97/

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15:10 Aug 27, 2022

A real roller coaster of revenge and angst in there, mixed feeling about vigilante violence, and then, the ending is absolutely brilliant, the part starting from "I don’t know the song" brought tears to my eyes. Hope the MC can just carry on from there and leave the vigilantism behind.

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Graham Kinross
09:59 Oct 01, 2022

Thank you. Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment.

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Rabab Zaidi
14:14 Aug 27, 2022

Beautiful

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Graham Kinross
14:27 Aug 27, 2022

Thank you.

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Moon Lion
22:42 Aug 24, 2022

The imagery juxtaposition when the detective and Xander speak is so cool, gives the whole scene an extra amount of tension. I like the mention that the detective initially doesn't make eye contact (don't really know why, but it stuck with me the whole time). Billie sounds like a total ray of sunshine, and this story would be make such an awesome detective TV series. Loved this one and all the other recent tales.

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Graham Kinross
23:22 Aug 24, 2022

I wanted it to seem as though the detective was about to arrest Xander since he knows that Xander has been on the wrong side of the law but as a father myself now I think it would be too tempting to use any tool to ensure the safety of your child, especially when he knows in cold hard numbers how many predators are living in his area. I’ve enjoyed writing this series but this one has written me into a corner, it will be harder to keep writing Xander’s story now with the detective on board and probably them both getting in trouble somewhere d...

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Moon Lion
23:47 Aug 24, 2022

That's very true, and wow it gives the story a whole other layer of terror, knowing what evils lurk everywhere. I completely understand the "written into a corner" feeling and I hope it works out!

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Zelda C. Thorne
08:57 Aug 24, 2022

Wo, quite the mixture of emotions! There's so much going on I feel like it could be made into a longer piece. The detective /vigilante psychic aspect. The personal impending fatherhood. The details of how much his powers affects him emotionally. Good story (loved the whole 'family rain' at the end), with series potential 🙂

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Graham Kinross
11:23 Aug 24, 2022

It's already part of one of my series, one of my more recent ones. Most of them are more grim in nature but I've been trying to steer it towards hope since the MC is doing mostly good things.

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Mike Panasitti
13:14 Aug 22, 2022

It is disturbing how many neighborhood sex offenders show up in online searches. You do a great job of portraying the tension between law enforcement and what I'll call, for lack of a better term, "psychic vigilantism." Although it deals with a pretty somber topic, by concluding with the expectant couple's dance, you manage to weave the thread of hope in this story as well. Great work.

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Graham Kinross
21:04 Aug 22, 2022

I was intending for it to be a happier story but the character and what he deals with don’t fit that entirely.

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Tommy Goround
07:55 Aug 28, 2022

Nice strong intro. Good voice.

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Graham Kinross
03:57 Nov 23, 2022

Thanks, Tommy.

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