I’d almost forgotten about this story until working on “A Conversation With Hell.” And I didn’t remember how it ended, either, but I did remember one scene in this story, near the end, involving a projectile. Even felt my arm psychically “move” just as it did when I’d originally written this story, 26 years ago, to “feel” the action of the protagonist.
I love “undead” stories—notice I didn’t say zombie stories. To me there’s a difference. You just can’t keep a good corpse down. I also love a good love story…granted, I prefer a little supernatural/metaphysical element to the love story…but a good love story should stir the emotions and make you feel guilty for every wrong you’ve ever committed against anything or one. I don’t know that I attained that with this one…but, here it is in all it’s unvarnished gory….
This story has never been published.
Love, What A Way To Go
© F. P. Dorchak, 1990
“God, how I love you.”
Joey smiled back at her. “Feeling’s mutual,” he said, softly, squeezing her hand.
Looking into Lorna’s eyes, Joey was overcome by their passionate presence…large, painfully emotional eyes that constantly appeared to be weeping, though never actually wet.
Joey replayed the past two months of devoted togetherness that had quickly developed between them; from their first meeting as singular lonely people vainly searching the nights…to two…unable to live without each other’s touch. As far from perfect as their relationship might be, all that mattered was that they had each other.
Fiercely holding hands they both felt the internal buildup of emotion—and the tears that were sure to follow. Two months…that was all…two months and they had blended together like a lovers’ embrace. There had been the usual talk—that they’d never last, that it was all just a case of “can’t have” infatuation, but love didn’t have to last an eternity…just a lifetime.
Outside the night was steely gray, and they both shivered as they stared outside through the dirty coffee shop windows. There was a feeling of dread hovering in the air, and though neither would admit it, both knew it was there. It hung as thick as the fog they walked through.
“Think we’d better go now, honey,” Joey said, somberly forcing the words out. Lorna shook her head in agreement. Joey left the tip.
Cold. Desolate. Still that…something…hovered in the air…taunting.
Outside, the two stood beneath a lonely streetlamp, its obscure luminescence spilling out onto the sidewalk. The couple looked ahead to the fog bank before them…their grips on each other tightening. Lorna turned just in time to meet his same movement. Joey saw the tears…the soft wisps that rose from them as they channeled down her face.
“Don’t ever leave me!” she choked.
He said nothing, instead increasing his hold around her, and, smiling down to her, kissed her forehead.
They disappeared into the darkness.
Destination attained, they faced each other.
“I love you!”
“I love you!”
Both felt the chill across their faces as they now wept openly and kissed. Away Lorna walked…on up the path to her house, a dull yellow porch light whispering into the dark. Joey watched her until she got inside and turned off the light. He caught her face filling a window shortly thereafter…a small hand pressed against the glass in a beckoning, farewell call. He smiled softly, waving back.
Joey swallowed hard as he left.
Having made it some four blocks homeward, Joey reached a particular bend in the road, lost in both thought and emotion. He thought of Lorna…wondered when he would next see her. The thought turned out to be only momentary as a car came screaming around the bend and hit him full on, sending his body flying high into the air. He came back down hitting the asphalt hard, and lay crushed and face down in the rain gutter, a warm stain slowly forming a boundary between his body and the ground.
Lorna awoke abruptly.
She’d had the most terrifying dream of her life, but was suddenly unable to recall any of it—except for the uncomfortable feeling that Joey was somehow involved. Rushing out of bed, she frantically fumbled for the phone, a sickness in the pit of her stomach as she dialed his number. She waited. No answer. She continued waiting.
Still no answer. She hung up and tried again.
It never took him this long to get home before, and he always picked up by the third ring. Always.
Finding herself dressed before she was even aware of it, she flew out of the house, screen-door clattering behind her.
He was buried in a quiet ceremony. Lorna wore black. Her mom had died, she was told, from the trauma of Joey’s death, and, somewhere in the night, cruised a car with a pushed-in, left-front bumper.
That night Lorna went back to the old coffee shop and took their usual booth. Her coffee here was free tonight. Outside a car pulled into the parking slots, bright headlights beaming directly in through the shop’s high, open window panes. And they remained on, one slightly askew. Lorna was only in passing annoyed that the driver was so abjectly rude as to leave them on.
The driver entered at the distant end of the shop and approached the cash register. The diner’s owner returned a gesture, and there was conversation, but Lorna paid little attention. Only when the gun went off did she look up, upsetting the runnels of tears marking her face. The assailant also looked up, pointing something in her direction. She never noticed the .357, only the bright flash as something blew her chest all over the windows behind her.
Still wearing black she, too, had a quiet ceremony.
Her family gone, the county took care of everything. She had a nice casket. Thing was, she was buried in a cemetery on the other side of town. Clouds hung heavily, perilously low, a bone-chilling rain downpouring large, painful drops.
That night he was restless.
Something was wrong; something missing.
There was too much emptiness. He had to move. Good thing the rain had softened the earth.
Good thing, rain.
A drunk leaned against the cemetery’s rusted gates, bag in one hand, regurgitated meal in the other. Hearing a noise, he looked up, wiping his warm hand on a pants leg. Peering through the fog, the drunk spotted a lone, lumbering figure crossing the graveyard. The figure carried two objects, the smaller one undistinguishable, but the larger looking like a box the size of a man. Turning away, the drunk slouched back down onto the damp grass, nursing his condition.
A bruised car burned on through a stoplight, one of its headlights dangling. Massaging the gears, the driver raced down deserted roads. Taking one turn a little rough, the driver spotted something entering into his path…the figure straddling the center marker of the street. It was a dark figure…a box-like object behind him on the road. The driver reached for his gun, grinding down several gears for a better look. The unyielding figure held something under one of its arms. It was smaller. Slowing more, the driver strained the lower gears.
The figure suddenly raised its burdened arm, sending the object in a non-curving arc through the air…and impacting the driver’s windshield. It struck the driver square in the face, neatly slicing back the top-half of his head.
The headstone continued on out the rear of the car.
Careening, the vehicle slammed into a street post; shuddering, the light blinked on and off several times before going dead.
The next morning found people gathered around a burial plot. The Caretaker noticed it first, and he was not tight-lipped by nature.
Where she lay, at one time alone, now she had company, freshly turned earth and an accompanying gravestone alongside. They lay together.
One fathom into the ground, lay two bodies side by side, two hands clenched, tightly.
Love doesn’t have to last an eternity…just its lifetime.
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