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View Full Version : Worthy (Language, Sexual Violence)



Saeria
July 18th, 2015, 09:21 AM
Jin trudged up the rusted iron stairs leading to his apartment, shivering against the chill that hung from the faded blue brick walls. It was only two flights, but it was enough sometimes to double him over in a fit of gasping. He was never an especially healthy guy. These days he always seemed to catch every cold, flu, anything that floated around at the office he worked.

Atop the second flight of stairs, scrawled in black sharpie on the crudely painted aluminum door, was a rather offensive drawing. Two rather well endowed stick men in cowboy hats were giving a lumpy horse “a hard time”. “Sorry Mrs. Horse” Jin muttered as he pushed the door open.
The hall, lit only by a pair of bare bulbs hanging from loose fixtures, seemed to stretch on forever, but in reality only gave passage to 4 apartments. The two opposite to his were still vacant and likely to stay that way for a while longer.No one willing chose to live here, except for him, maybe. As he passed the front of his neighbor's door, he heard a hard thud against the wall. This was going to be another of those nights. He could tell.

He fought with the lock, carefully turning the knob. The knob came off in his hands again, nonetheless, and he dropped it in his coat pocket. At least this way it would be harder to someone to rob him again. The inside of his apartment was just as worn and bare as the outside. A threadbare rug ran the length of the entryway leading to a large room that served as both a livingroom and a bedroom. His bed lay snugly folded inside a sagging sofa that was more than likely the pride of some family's den in the 70's.

He tugged the chain on the lamp and smiled as his cat, Gilgamesh, stretched, digging her claws in the armrest of the sofa. Jin leaned down and patted her before hanging his coat and his satchel on the coat rack. He paused; a nagging pain in his side sent a bolt through him. Just as fast as it came it was gone. He pushed the button on his answering machine at the same moment a muffled shout sounded through the wall.
Gilgamesh wove around his ankles, begging for dinner and Jin was happy to oblige as he listened.

“Hey, Jin, this is Dr. Harell again. I really need you to come in. I'll be at the clinic all day on Wednesday.”... “Jin, dude, you know who this is. It's Wednesday, did you forget? The results came in and I have to talk to you about it. Come in as soon as you can. If I'm not there I will be soon.”..
“Mr. Tanner, this is Harell Family Clinic calling to confirm your appointment for tomorrow July 16th. If you need to reschedule please do so before 5 p.m. Otherwise you will be charged a $50 no-show fee.”... “Jin, it's Dr. Harell again. You gotta come in okay. I could really get into hot water but I'm going to say it anyway. It's cancer, it's bad. You need to come in so we can talk options.”

Jin wasn't shocked by the messages. He knew something was wrong and the shape his body was in was firm proof. He undressed and climbed into the grimy shower, letting hot water wash over his emaciated form. He considered his options for eating dinner but in the end decided to go to bed early. He wrapped himself in his ever-growing pile of blankets, nuzzling Gilgamesh as she kneaded her paws in his chest.
“You're the best friend I've ever had.” he whispered. As if she understood she placed a gentle paw on his face before curling up, falling asleep instantly. The apartment was eerily quiet in the dark. The flashing lights of the busy streets outside cast strange shadows on the ceiling, moving and swaying in a silent dance. The quiet broke suddenly as something struck the wall in the neighboring apartment with such force the painting on the wall crashed to the floor.

“I told you not to fucking do that again!” a muffled shout sounded, each word punctuated with another thump. A woman whimpered as if she didn't dare cry out. Glass broke and she squealed. “Don't do that whore crying like you always do. You want to act like a whore? Spread your legs and I'll show you what a whore gets.” Jin heard more scrabbling against the wall and the woman whimpered again. She tried to say “No” but her efforts were cut short. A fierce rhythmic knocking finally forced the other painting to the floor then stopped, leaving the woman crying softly in the silent darkness.

Jin had grown used to the noisy neighbors. For almost 6 months this had become routine and no matter how many times he had wanted to report the apparent abuse, he had long since learned from previous neighbors' experiences. One former neighbor, an elderly woman, blind from cataracts, had called the police and was almost immediately evicted after the charges were mysteriously dropped. Jin knew enough to know that there wasn't another apartment in this city that was as cheap as this one. He didn't make it in life by butting into others' business either. He kept to his own and the neighbors did the same. Now that the excitement had died down, Jin gently lifted Gilgamesh from his chest, rehung the paintings and returned to bed.

Jin woke the next morning to his alarm and groaned. His morning ritual was disturbed by another ritual that was growing more prevalent. He had grown accustomed to waking 30 minutes earlier to have his morning conversation with the porcelain goddess, dry heaving until finally the pain and sickness let up enough for him to take a nausea pill. He dressed for work and snuck out so as not to wake Gilgamesh. For a cat, she was strangely anxious in the mornings these days, begging for him to stay and pet her if she happened to wake up with him.

Jin started his ascent down the stairs when he found the crumpled form of a woman dressed in nothing but an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of faded panties. As he approached she didn't move. For a moment he was afraid she was dead, but after placing a hand on her shoulder she bolted awake and stood with such force her head struck his nose. He took an unsteady backward, holding his now bleeding nose as she fled past him, back up the stairs. For a brief moment as she passed their eyes met and he found himself lost in pools of vibrant emerald. He started after her but she had already dashed back to the door of the apartment next to his. She tried the door but it did not give. Instead she sat with her knees drawn to her chest and stared at the stained carpet.

He looked at his watch, at the girl again, and back at his watch. He took his keys out of his pocket and set them at the girl's feet.
“If you need somewhere to sleep you can sleep next door, just fold the bed out of the couch. Don't let the cat out.” He said before starting back down the stairs. The girl hadn't even looked away from the floor as he left.

The day seemed to wear on forever, and the pain in his side seemed to grow with each passing minute. It was becoming more difficult to hide his infirmity as he grew thinner and less sure-footed. It was nearing 4 in the evening when suddenly he was overtaken with pain. He fell to the floor, shaking, and his vision narrowed into darkness.

He awoke in a hospital room, iv tubes snaking out of view from both arms. He sat up abruptly, looking at the clock on the wall. It was already almost midnight. By now Gilgamesh was likely standing at the front door mewling to be fed. A nurse walked in, smiling warmly as she pushed buttons on the screaming IV pump.

“I'm glad you're finally up. Dr. Harell will be here in another hour to speak with you. Looks like you're going to be here a while.”

“I don't want to stay. I have to get home to feed my cat.” he whispered hoarsely. The pain in his side was a dull ache, but a curious tightness in his shoulders inhibited his movements. As he shifted he felt his stomach churn. The nurse grabbed a pink tub from the side table and held it as he vomited.

“That's going to be the morphine drip. Once the doctor comes in he'll be able to say whether or not to stop the morphine. Nothing to worry about.” She said sweetly.

“I can't stay. Please take these things off me so I can go home.”

“We can't keep you here, but you will have to sign a paper stating you're leaving AMA. Frankly, Mr. Tanner, in my non-professional opinion, I wouldn't recommend leaving until the doctor has seen you.”

\Jin relented and settled back into the bed, wiping his brow as he sighed. “Can I make a phone call in private before Dr. Harrel gets here?”

“Of course. I'll make sure you're undisturbed until he comes in.” The nurse nodded and smiled one last time before gently closing the door behind her. Jin picked up the phone and dialed the only number he could remember.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it's me.” He didn't know what he was going to say. Would he say “I have cancer and I think I'm dying.” ? Or would he say “I bought the house.”?

“Jin... are you okay. You're not saying anything.”

“Oh I'm fine. I just wanted to talk for a little bit.”

“You never want to just talk. I can't talk right now, Larry is about to come in and you know how much hell I get when you call. Can't you ever call me at a normal hour?” The woman on the other end hung up.

“Didn't you know I can give you what you wanted now?” he sighed. That was what his life was all about. Ten years Jin spent living in a rat hole apartment in a city he hated, saving every last dime and hiding it away in a savings account, all for a woman that had all but forgotten how much in love they once were. When they were young, barely out of high school, they talked of getting a house in The Woodlands, a big stone palace hidden behind a well manicured lawn and a brick circular drive. In the end, however, she wasn't willing to wait for Jin to find his footing in the accounting world.

Jin had hoped that if he saved and worked, eventually she would leave her old life and decide to share a new one with him. She didn't have any children and she often spoke of how she had never truly loved her husband. She had only married him for his money. Now that Jin had amassed such an incredible savings he could give her everything she wanted. She would even leave this.. Larry.. maybe just for Jin's money at first, but maybe one day she would grow to love him again.

Jin glanced at the clock. He made a final decision and tore the IV's out of his arms and the heart monitor tabs from his chest. Machined screamed as he made his way to the window. The window didn't open far but just enough for him to wriggle his bone-thin body out into the cold of the night. Luckily he still had his pants on, he laughed as he dove into the shadows of the hospital.

A nearby bus stop had turned into a home for the homeless on cold nights and this was no exception. Jin prodded a sleeping man on the bench until he woke, bleary eyed, smelling of piss and stale beer.
“I'll give you $100 for your coat.” Jin offered.
Quickly the man shed his foul smelling wool coat and snatched the bill from Jin's hand greedily. Without another Jin shed the hospital gown and put on the coat, suddenly glad that his apartment was only a short walk from here.
Jin made a stop at a convenience store and stood in front of a meager array of spray paint before settling on a matte gray. The clerk gave him an amused look.

“I can give you a paper bag if you like.” the clerk offered.

“I don't need a bag.” Jin replied, snatching the can without waiting for his change.

The trip home and up the stairs was an especially tough walk. It was cold and damp, and the morphine was starting to wear off. He finally reached the door to the second floor, just staring at the obscene drawing on the door for a moment.

“Mrs. Horse, I'm finally releasing you.” Jin muttered as he sprayed over the drawing.
The grey stood in stark contrast to the faded blue of the rest of the door, but at least now the drawing was completely covered. He dropped the spray can to the floor and walked through the door. Once he reached his own door he searched his pockets for his keys, hoping they weren't still at the hospital. Underneath his mat was a strange bulge. He suddenly remembered he had given them to the woman next door that morning.
“Well, let's see what's missing.” he whispered and pushed his door open, the knob coming off in his hand. After pulling the cord on the lamp he smiled as he noticed the subtle changes in the apartment. Everything had been dusted, the dishes that had been left abandoned in his sink for so long were drying in the rack and the litter box was clean and filled with fresh litter. Gilgamesh padded to him quietly giving him a quick nuzzle before returning to her place on the arm of the couch.

“And you've been fed already too, it seems.” he marveled as his eyes passed over her bowl filled with food.
He shook his head and peered inside his now clean fridge. It had been so long since he bought food to eat there was little left, but at least he still had enough to make a cheese sandwich. He didn't feel like eating but it had been a couple days since he had tried.

Jin sat on the couch, having shed the foul-smelling coat and replaced it with a baggy sweater. It was a much better fit months ago when he was at a normal weight. He tore an end to offer it to Gilgamesh but she lazily sniffed the bread and returned back to dozing. He kicked a cat toy that had rolled from between the couch cushions and laughed.

“It seems she played with you too. I bet you've really missed having someone to play with. I promise I'll start playing with you again.” Somehow, he mused as he finished the last of his sandwich, I'm going to have to repay her for her kindness to Gilgamesh. In Jin's world, Gilgamesh was the closest thing to a wife he was likely to ever have now that his life was fading.

His stomach protested but Jin refused to release his dinner, opting to skip his shower and go straight to sleep. The day had been crazy enough to wear him to undeniable fatigue. Gilgamesh didn't even move as he moved the cushions and unfolded his bed. Sleep was going to come easy, and he had already decided he would take a rare day off from work to recover. Just as he began to dream the nightly barrage of banging and sounds began.

“If I ever catch you leaving this place I'll make sure you won't be able to walk out on your own!” the man next door shouted. “You're mine.”
The viciousness of the assault was especially brutal tonight. With each thud Jin's nerves began to fray more and more. It was easier to ignore the abuse when he didn't know the woman that cried softly on the other side of the wall. Now he couldn't seem to get the image of the woman out of his head.
She wasn't a beauty, even though her bruised face didn't give him much to tell him otherwise. She was gaunt, perhaps from using he thought. Her long legs were covered in welts and burn scars and her hair was cropped raggedly across her freckled forehead. The only life that showed in the girl that morning had been in her bright green eyes. Her eyes haunted him as the noise continued.

Gilgamesh rose from her perch on the arm of the couch and moved to the wall, mewling softly as she pressed her face to the faded wallpaper. She dodged a falling painting with the grace only a cat could exhibit before returning to the wall. It almost seemed as if she was pleading with Jin.
He picked up the only real decorative thing in his apartment aside from the paintings, a heavy brass armadillo his mother had given him a year before she died. He turned it around in his hand, smiling to himself before stuffing it in his pocket. Quickly he dug through the metal box he kept in the kitchen pantry, producing a large envelope and a paper-clipped stack of documents. He dug in his closet for a few changes of clothes and a backpack. Once packed he picked up Gilgamesh and gently placed her into her carrier.

“Let's go on a journey.” he said soothingly as he left the apartment, not even bothering to lock his door behind him. In his mind he had already decided it would be the last time he passed through this door. No matter where the road took him from this point forward he would not return. It was a chapter of his life he was all too ready to put an end to. It amazed him how something like dying made the comforts of home seem less... comfortable.

He took 5 big steps before setting the backpack and carrier down again. He knocked on his neighbor's door, waiting a few seconds for the melee inside to stop before he knocked again. This time the door swung open and Jin didn't even have time to truly get a look at the man before he drew the armadillo from his pocket and struck the man in the face.The man swung blindly with one fist, holding the other hand to his face as Jin pushed him into the apartment. Jin was filled with blind rage as he struck the man again and again. Finally the man dropped, out cold, and Jin moved through the apartment.

The apartment was a vast contrast to what his own had been. Everything was spotless save a collection of broken plates that littered the kitchen floor. A recliner was upturned and a lamp lay on the floor, the bulb flickering as he passed by. In the darkest corner was the woman from this morning, still dressed as she was this morning, except now the sweatshirt was stained with dark spots of blood. She wiped her face and looked at Jin, shrinking away from him as he approached.

“I'm not here to hurt you.” He stretched his hand to her, helping her to her feet. “Gather your clothes, we're leaving.”

She shook her head, her eyes never leaving the still form of the man on the floor behind Jin.

“You don't have to worry about him. If he wakes up I'll take care of him. Get your clothes.”

She shook her head again. “I-I don't have any.”

“Not even a pair of pants?”
“No.” she whispered. The silence in the room felt heavy and stagnate. The woman's tension was offset by Jin's uncommonly cool demeanor, seeming to ease her a little and giving rise to a sort of curiosity. She rose from the floor, slowly wiping the blood from beneath her nose before staring at the man that had spend so many evenings handing out violent reprimand.

Jin dug around the neatly folded stack of jeans on the bed and handed the nicest of them to her.

“Wear my belt with these and we'll work on getting you something to wear.. That is if you want to come with me.”

She shook her head at first, but slowly, tears forming in her eyes, she nodded. She dressed quickly, cinching Jin's belt tightly around her waist and rolling the legs up before following him, barefooted, out of the apartment.

Jin, as one last gesture, threw the armadillo back through the door and closed it behind him to find the woman knelt to the carrier, poking a finger in to soothe the now panicking Gilgamesh.The armadillo was a final bit of nostalgia put to rest; what was rest of his life was not to be found behind him.

“It's okay, Gilgie. It's quiet now.” she whispered as she looked up at Jin. The cat purred as she rubbed her furry face to the woman's touch.
Jin picked up the carrier and his bag and lead the woman down the stairs.

“She likes you. I haven't seen her take a liking to anyone since I got her.” Jin smiled gently as they ran down the stairs. It was a true statement. Gilgamesh was not a social cat at all; even her routine vet visits were a nightmare of hissing and clawing.

As they reached the entryway to the building the woman balked, poking her head out of the door nervously before taking a shaky step outside.
“It's winter already? I had no idea.” She muttered. Jin walked to the curb, flagging down a cab. Not since he first arrived had he taken a cab to go anywhere. He had saved every last penny he could, walking wherever he went, even if it meant walking miles.
“Where you going?” the cabbie asked.
“Just take the loop and drive for a while, okay?” Jin responded as he helped the woman into the cab. He watched her eyes, despite being swollen, light up as the world outside passed by the windows of the cab.
“It's already starting to snow. I haven't seen snow in a long time.” she said wistfully as she wrenched the bottom of her sweatshirt with her bony hands.

“You haven't been out in a while I take it. I noticed the windows were covered too.”

“He was afraid someone would see me in the window.” She replied sheepishly.
For a long while the two were silent before Jin spoke again.

“Will you miss him?”
She took a while to respond before finally answering. “Yes.”

“You're honest. That is a good trait to have.” Jin smiled. “If you have anywhere you'd like to go just tell the cabbie.”

“Nowhere. I don't have any family left.” she replied. “Can I go to the shelter?”

“How would you like to go on a trip first. Nothing weird, I promise.” Jin offered. More silence passed. Finally she nodded once and her hands unwound from the bottom of her shirt.

“Can you take us to the airport?” Jin called to the cab driver. The rest of the drive was spent in contented silence. He wondered what thoughts she was having right then. Her facial expressions lent to the most amazing sort of transparency. She smiled and furrowed her brow with equal severity; it was almost as if he could see the battle her thoughts had become. They had both escaped their respective imprisonments in one fell swoop, very different but very much the same. The white-knuckled grip she kept on the bottom of her shirt loosened and he was almost certain at least once she almost broke into a small smile. This woman wasn't just another junkie. Her ears and arms both were crystal clear. Behind the veneer of frightened submission was a woman with vibrant wit that possessed a beauty wholly unique to her.
Jin rested his fatigued arms on Gilgamesh's carrier. Sleep would have come if he had been anywhere else but here. No amount of fatigue could wash away The excitement and sadness of this moment. Without even knowing much about this woman he found himself cursing his own ironic fate. Finally, by the oddest of means, he met someone that could challenge his very existence and give it true meaning. A single tear tracked down her face. For a brief moment Jin was terrified he was going to be unable to contain his desire to hold her close, to hear her heartbeat, to bring any sort of comfort he could. Instead he simply smiled and nodded. This, far greater than any embrace, would serve as her greatest comfort. For too long her space had been invaded; she had been used, abused, taught to fear human contact. It was Jin's distance, not his closeness, that would still her wildly beating heart.

They arrived at the airport and the pair became quite a spectacle as they walked to the counter. No doubt the bone-thin, bruised girl, being led by an equally thin man was a strange sight. He pointed to the bar and told her she could order any drink she wanted as she waited for him to return.

“If you want to go back home, now is the time to do it.” Jin warned as he left her at the bar. She said nothing. He returned, tickets in hand, half expecting her to be gone but instead she still sat at the bar, stock still, a glass of ice-water sweating onto the coaster. The bar-tender gave him a stern look as he took his place beside her.

“Can I get a cup of ice?” Jin asked as he produced a sock from his backpack. He stuffed the sock with ice and handed it to the woman. Gratefully she smiled and placed the makeshift ice-pack to her face.

“It's clean, I promise.” Jin assured as he peeked inside the cat carrier to check on Gilgamesh. “We have about an hour before the next flight comes in, so feel free to order something to eat while we wait."
“Sorry, man, the kitchen's already closed.” The bar tender said gruffly.

“If I gave you a little something to crank the frier back up, will you fix this girl some fries at least?” Jin asked as he pushed a wad of money across the bar. The bartender nodded once before stuffing the money in his pocket and disappearing behind the kitchen door.

The next hour the woman nervously picked at the fries, a smile slowly growing on her face as she finally finished them. Jin chased away the pain in his stomach with a shot of whiskey, glad that he was actually able to keep it down. After the hour was up he left a sizable tip for the bartender and they made their way to the gate and onto the plane. They settled into their first class seats, the woman marveling at the rich comfort of the plane.

“I hope Gilgie will be okay.” She said quietly as she rubbed the now soggy sock over her face.

“Oh, I bet she will be. She's a tough girl, much like you.”

“Tough. No... I'm weak.”

“You must be tough. You're still standing. Honest and trusting too.”

How so?” she asked, her voice gaining a little surety by this time.

“Well, you told the truth when you said you would miss him. No one spends any length of time with someone, no matter how terrible they are, and doesn't miss them once they're gone. And you haven't asked where we're going.”

The woman smiled gently and turned to him. “It doesn't matter where, as long as I can finally be free of him. Besides, it said Houston over the gate.” she laughed softly before turning back to the window.

Her laugh was gentle and pleasant, a sound Jin could never tire of. As the plane lifted off, she tensed, her hand grasping the arms of her seat. The plane roared and she made a small noise before releasing the armrests from the death grip.

“I've never been on a plane before.” she shuddered as she went back to watching the window.

It was a long flight, and after two brief lay-overs, they finally landed in Houston. The woman was a different person by the time they made their way through the crowds to pick up Gilgamesh. Her gait was now steady, almost lively, and she swung her hips in the ill-fitting jeans as she looked up at the ceiling of the airport.

“I saw the sun rise while in the air. It was so beautiful!” she cried out happily to Gilgamesh. Poor Gilgamesh had a much less enjoyable flight it seemed and she mewed piteously from the carrier. Jin left her to rent a car, by this time sure she would not be gone before he returned. Sure enough, she was still where he left her.

“First thing's first. We have to get something for you to wear. I can take you to the place my mom liked to go.” Jin offered.

“These are fine. Please don't trouble yourself.” she responded.
They found the car on the lot and drove through the perilous traffic of downtown Houston before parking in a garage.

“We will need to walk a little bit but I promise you won't be disappointed.” Jin had to admit, this trip was actually quite a bit of fun. It had been so long since he had done anything other than work he had forgotten what it was like to deviate from routine. They walked the sidewalk, the woman watching pigeons as they flitted about underfoot. They reached their destination, an impressive boutique nestled between a club and a five star restaurant. They hadn't even made it though the door before an elderly woman bathed in perfume swept Jin up in a tight embrace.

“Oh, Jin. How long has it been?” The old woman shouted as she lifted him off the ground. “and how thin you've become.” she set him down and eyed the woman at Jin's side. Before she could speak again Jin inserted.

“Aunt Wilma! Sorry we look disheveled. We were in a car accident.” The woman smiled gently, quickly grasping the intent of his lie. It would serve either of them no good to tell the real story.

“A car accident!” she replied incredulously. “Well, I'm not about to speculate upon the details of truth and lies. Are you sure your friend doesn't need to go to the hospital?”

“Oh no, it was just a fender bender. You know how those airbags are. Unfortunately her pants ripped in the accident, which is why we're here. I know how much Mom loved shopping here; I knew you'd be able to pick out some nice things for her.”

“Your mother always had an eye for fashion. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her. But, besides that, what are you looking for?”

“Something comfortable perhaps, something for a nice evening out and a few more.” Jin smiled as he clasped his aunt's hand.

“What's your name, sweetie?” his Aunt asked cheerfully as she extended her hand.
The woman shook her hand shyly.

“Jeanette.”

“Jeanette. Well I imagine once you're healed up you're a real beauty. You have the most envious legs! I think I know just the dress for you.” the elderly woman disappeared behind the partition before returning with a collection of richly colored gowns.

The woman Jin now knew as Jeanette looked up at him wide-eyed. “This is really too much. I don--”
“Don't you worry about a thing. I'm just ecstatic Jin has finally decided to settle down.”

Jin smiled and nodded. “Something like that, I suppose.”

Jin happily spent the rest of afternoon watching Jeanette dance about in different clothes, giggling happily as the now freed Gilgamesh played with the fabrics that hung on the circular rack nearby.

“Oh Jin, she is such a delightful girl.” Aunt Wilma whispered as Jeanette left again for the changing room. “You'd better hold on to that one. You don't find many so cheery and innocent these days. She reminds me a lot of your mother.” Jin smiled.
Finally Jeanette returned dressed again in her original clothes and patted Gilgamesh.

“That was so much fun.”

“What did you like?”

“Oh, it was all so beautiful. I'd never worn such nice things.”

“We'll take all of them then.” Jin inserted. “Can you send all but the black gown, that huge hat thing and the heels to this address?” He scrawled an address on the back of a post-it on the counter and handed it to her with a blank check.
Jeanette tried to protest but it was largely ignored. By Jin's and his Aunt's request she changed in the dress and readied herself for the next leg of their journey. On their way out Jin grabbed a pair of large designer sunglasses from the rack by the door. He gingerly placed the glasses on Jeanette's face and winked at his Aunt before leaving.

“Come back soon, little one! Bring back your lovely fiancee.” she called out as they left.
They walked back to the garage, once again receiving quite a few stares, except this time there seemed to be a look of admiration on the faces of passers-by.
“You see?” Jin chuckled as they walked. “You are beautiful after all.”

“I-I don't know how to pay you back for these.” Jeanette said softly.

“Have dinner with me and we'll call it even.”
She was quiet for a long moment.

“I don't mean anything by the offer. There's no harm in two friends having a nice meal, right?” Jin added, hoping to ease the woman's tension.

“I just don't want to trouble you any further. It's been so long since I've had a real friend.”

“Well, you've got two now if you count Gilgamesh. We have one more stop and I am afraid I will have to leave you there for a short while to attend to some business. Will that be okay?”

“Of course.” She smiled as he opened the door of the car for her. She giggled at the fanfare, tucking her legs into the floorboard neatly as he closed the door.Their next stop was another hour's drive to a salon buried behind a stand of pine trees, as was the fashion in The Woodlands. There Jin paid for a stylist to do they best they could with her short, unruly mop of blonde hair and bruised face. They assured she would be well taken care of as he left with Gilgamesh in tow. He returned two hours later in a new suit and tie to find a new woman waiting for him. She was stunning, even while wearing the sunglasses from the boutique, in powder and fine crystal jewelry.

“She's quite a handful. We tried to get her to wear diamonds as requested, but finally we were able to get her to wear fine crystal.” The stylist laughed as she spoke.

“You did a fine job.” Jin nodded as Jeanette twirled in front of him.

“Oh, where is Gilgie?” she asked.

“I've dropped her off at her new home. By now she's probably stalking around getting a feel for the place.”

“I bet she's very happy to be settled in.” Jeanette replied. "Home is the one place I have never really found, but I have always looked for. One day I will have one of my own. I will even have a cat just like Gilgie too."

“It's almost time to go, I've already made reservations.” Jin once again opened the door for her.

Dinner was delightful, the lights low and candle-lit while a pianist trilled gently behind them. Jin asked for another candle to help Jeanette read the menu through the sunglasses, explaining that she had just recently had her eyes dilated. Jeanette was much more talkative as she drank the spicy red wine served with dinner. She spoke of her life up to the present, telling him that she had spent close to 7 years with her abusive husband. He had not allowed her to leave, even going so far as denying her clothes and food to keep her from leaving. She mused about the dynamic of the relationship, openly. By the time Jin arrived that fateful night, she had resigned herself to believing that was what she deserved.

“I was a fool for staying, but a greater fool for leaving, I think. I am glad I am far away from him, but I don't know where to go next” She was beginning to slur as the wine worked through her.

“Will you go back?”

“No, I have no reason to go back to that city. Tomorrow I will find a good shelter to get me back on my feet. From here I can start over.”

“It's a good plan.” Jin took a sip of his wine, just staring at the plate of untouched food in front of him. No matter how happy he felt finally having dinner with another human being, he couldn't make himself even taste the food. The pain was finally starting to take over again and he knew it wouldn't be long before he had to rest again. He just wasn't ready to end the evening so soon. The woman in front of him embodied the true meaning of being alive. To Jeanette, something as simple as the sunrise from a 1,000 feet or the funny way the pigeons strutted in front of them made her smile.

She had finally broken her shy silence, and couldn't seem to make herself quiet as she named the different pieces the pianist played behind them. She told of her childhood, taking piano lessons, crying when her husband took a crowbar to her beloved piano in their first home. She wept quietly as she told the story of her father's passing and her inability to attend to him in his final days. By the time she had run out of stories, her words were slurred together. She apologized profusely as he led her by the arm back to the car. Before he could finish buckling her seat belt she was fast asleep.

He drove her to a grand house at the end of a street of equally grand houses, parking the rental car in the center of the circular drive. He attempted to rouse her but she just moaned and slipped back into sleep. No doubt fatigue and wine were working together in her. He was surprised just how light she was as he lifted her from the seat and into the house. He was able to make it all the way up the stairs to the master bedroom, already decorated with fine drapes and a large bed draped with rich sheer fabric. He removed her shoes, hat and sunglasses and tucked her into bed. Gilgamesh greeted him with a rough headbutt to his shin before leaping onto the bed and settling onto Jeanette's chest. He stroked her soft fur and smiled sadly.

“I love you too, Gilgie.” he whispered. Jeantte moaned in her sleep, her brow furrowing in distress and Gilgamesh, sensing her need, placed a paw on her chin. Her moaning eased and a small smile stretched across her face. He placed a hand on her forehead, smoothing back her hair gently.
"I could have really loved this girl." Jin thought sadly." But she would have loved me back. It would be cruel to put her through watching me die."

Without another word he turned away and walked back downstairs. He looked around the house, amazed at the grandeur of it. An antique phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, hiding within the wooden cabinet a more modern phone. He had doubts the phone was actually turned on yet, but to his surprise was met with a dial tone.
He dialed the only number he could remember.

“Hello?” a woman sobbed on the other line.

“Hi, it's me.”

“Oh, God, Jin... I'm so glad you called. Larry is divorcing me! I don't know what to do.”

“I don't have time to really talk. I just wanted to hear your voice one last time.”

“Jin, please, meet with me tomorrow.”

“Goodbye, my sweetling.” Jin whispered and hung up the phone.

Jin dug through his backpack, spreading out bank statements and the title to his new house on the shining marble table by the front door. He wrote a quick note and walked into the foggy darkness, smiling amidst the pain in his stomach as the fine mist hit his face.

Jeanette woke in a start, her head pounding as light filtered through the sheer fabric around the bed. Gilgamesh rubbed against her cheek before leaping to the floor. Jeanette called for Jin, panic rising in her as she searched the rooms upstairs. She couldn't believe just how large and magnificent this house was. She made her way downstairs, Gilgamesh at her heels as she found an array of different papers underneath a short note by the front door.

Jeanette,
Thank you so much for such a lovely evening. I haven't enjoyed myself like that in many years. Everything listed on the papers here are yours once the bank and title transfers are finalized. There is an appointment on Tuesday with my lawyer to fill in the information about you I did not know. It is my hope that 14 million will be enough for you and Gilgamesh to live here comfortably from now on.
Regards,
Jin
P.S. You are worthy of being loved.

LeeC
July 18th, 2015, 04:44 PM
I found this a well written depiction of the contrasts of human psyche.

You certainly span the range from depraved to kind-hearted, and do so with a smooth flow and unobtrusive balance of character and setting.

To me (we all have different perceptions), maybe you were a little too heavy on the depraved end of the fulcrum (even so certainly realistic), distracting from the feel good ending. Not sure one could do much better though.

Being more of a literary fiction/creative non-fiction writer, I too often see an absence of character depth, but in this case I think you developed the characters just enough to register in the reader's mind's eye. Just a characterization/appearance/mood depiction word or two more here and there might help bring it more alive.

The flow also seemed to move smoothly and realistically, helping to immerse the reader. A little slow for the surface reader, but that's their loss.

A few nits that bothered me:

Starting so many paragraphs with "Jin ..." A little rewording of such might help.


Without another Jin shed the hospital gown and put on the coat ...
Without another what?

Hope this helps in some small way.

chrismackey
August 22nd, 2015, 09:45 PM
I agree with lee

wainscottbl
August 24th, 2015, 12:19 AM
harder to for someone to rob him again


He awoke in a hospital room, iv IV tubes snaking


It had been so long since he bought food to eat there was little left

I assume your hand typed faster than your brain!



The woman shook her hand shyly.

“Jeanette.”

I believe the rule is the thought and speech should be on the same line.



she changed into the dress



spicy red wine served with dinner

As a wino, I know spicy can be one of the flavors in a wine, but a little more description would make this more vivid.



close to 7 years

Write the number out.



Very nice! Two stories that have made me tear up tonight! That and going into the living room to see NCIS on the TV playing at Kate's funeral where they are putting flowers on the casket. :distress:

Try submitting this to a magazine. Fix the grammatical errors, such as the number seven being written out. But I think it would be a good magazine piece

Kate Tiller
September 26th, 2015, 06:44 AM
I think it's fantastic. Story is great, heartfelt. Just do some grammar and mechanics edits.