Remembering April

From the Story Arc: The Dish Best Served Cold

Previous Story in the Arc: Tragedy by Khrushchev (Tuesday, August 30, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: What lies beneath by Khrushchev (Monday, September 12, 2005)

(posted Thursday, September 08, 2005)

The cool evening air held the promise of rain; clouds swirled, wind howled and the moon kept hidden beneath the curve of the Earth. An occasional star twinkled through the thick veil of fog and a nightingale sang its beautiful song, not caring if any one else heard the melody or not.

I looked up into the turbulent night sky, following some unseen pattern in the blinking stars with his eyes. I itched to be away from here tonight. My mind screamed for some excitement, anything but the monotony I was dealing with inside. The birdsong spoke to my soul, piercing the melancholy feelings like a ray of bright sunshine, warm and comforting.

Despite his advanced years, Khrushchev looked like a man in his early thirties. His brown eyes were always half open, his expression reflecting the exhaustion he felt. His brown hair fell limply around his head. To look at him, an observer might think he carried the weight of several worlds on his shoulders. A closer look would show the exhaustion running deeper, and that the weight he carried was the weight of centuries.

Reaching into his pocket I pulled out cigarette, my right hand held the long flame of the lighter; I brought it near my face and lit it. Taking a long drag, I checked my watch.

“A little longer” I whispered.

I stared at the cigarette and watched its grey smoke get carried into the air by a soft breeze. I had tried to quit these things, but with the stress of his job he found smoking to be his only source of comfort. Starring at the grey smoke I could almost see her, I could almost hear her. How I longed to hear her voice once more.

"Hey, Khrushchev, can you help me with the---?" I interrupted before she had a chance to finish what she had to say.

"In a minute," Khrushchev said, blowing out a ring of smoke into the crisp night air. "I'm feeling a little stressed tonight, thought I'd stroll for a few minutes."

April rolled her eyes but accompanied with a smile and began walking back towards the house.

I was always saying in a minute, I was always pushing her off---You deserved better. Leaning back against the wooden fence I can still recall the first time I met her.

I remember like it was yesterday the first time I saw her. There was only about fifteen feet between April and I, but I could smell a rich mix of vanilla and rose water about her. It was April’s porcelain face and her emerald green eyes. She was pretty to look at, but she wasn’t the person I was expecting to find. She seemed to answer any question without my having to ask it. I couldn’t help but see her eyes, her hair, her skin, and every other bit of her that I loved in my mind’s eye. It was like she was still there, waiting for me. In my dreams she and I were together, happy and in love. And I had no powers there. There was nothing to make me special, or unique, or to separate me from the rest of humanity. Nothing except for April.

Khrushchev reached into his pocket and pulled a photo out. Its edges were bent over and the picture had several creases along the middle as if it had been folded in two. Khrushchev softly rubbed his finger over her face.

With April, I fell in love the moment she first looked at me. Her smile, her attentions, and the touch of her hands…these were just added prosperities. I never wanted to hear those three most powerful words more than when I was with her. She never said them to me before. In fact, it was only after I told her that I loved her when she revealed her true motives. Here she was, telling me what I’d longed to hear, and yet I could feel the “but” coming close behind.

Begins hearing her voice

“But…what I will not let you do is waste your time with me because you deserve better, much better indeed. You deserve someone who can go home with you and wake up in your arms. Falling in love with me would only cause you pain and I would do everything in my power to prevent that from happening. I was wrong when I told you the only thing that matters is power. I admit that freely and without remorse as well. Love matters too.”

I hated being right sometimes. Khrushchev sighed as he put the picture back in his pocket.

Back to the present

Why was I here? Why do I do it? It wasn’t just the money---well it was (laughs silently through his parted lips, the cigarette moves up and down). I tell all my victims it’s not personal, it’s just business, not like they care at that moment. This time was different---this was the first link in a long line to find the thugs responsible for her death. My job---well I am a bounty hunter an assassin of sorts, yeah I know not a very honorable profession but then I’m no longer a very nice guy.

If you’re thinking revenge? You’re damn straight.

To be continued…