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Jack & Jill (Part Thirteen)

Jack & Jill (A Love Story)

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Read last week’s entry here.

 

 

Part Thirteen: Jill’s Ride Home

 

            There are times in a person’s life, when they can just totally and completely click with another person. It’s not even like they need to actually speak to one another, they feel it on a deeper level than that. When I woke up in the middle of the night, a dream of Cole’s foul face near mine still in my head, I knew Jack wouldn’t mind if I curled up next to him. I knew him you see, I knew everything I needed to know about him when he came bursting through the door of the room. I knew that he would always take care of me, that he would be able to love me.

 

            So when I woke up, trembling with the deepest fears, I was fully aware with the understanding that it would be alright for me to go to him. I walked to the bed where he was sleeping and lay down next to him. I watched him breath for a while, just observing the movements of that perfect cupid bow’s mouth. I inched my way near him, finally turning myself around and pressing my back against his wide and powerful chest. I took his arm and pulled it around me. In his sleep, he pulled me near him and nuzzled his face into the back of my head. I’d never, in the entirety of my life, felt so safe as I did at that moment.

 

            I didn’t have another nightmare after that. I only had good dreams, that’s what he did for me. Sleeping next to him made all the bad dreams go away, he made me sleep still and quiet. If you don’t understand how important that is to a person, you must never have been woken up by bad dreams in your life. Since I’ve never been able to sleep next to him again after that, I’ve had nightmares constantly.

 

            He woke up first, and managed not to wake me as he got up and went to take a shower. He was so considerate that way. I mean, he is considerate. I shouldn’t speak about him in the past tense, because he’s not dead and he isn’t going to die. He’ll be fine. He’s not going to die because he’s too tough for that. He’s like one of those heroes he told me about at our breakfast, when we were talking about movies and how he liked them I remember clearly talking to him about it.

 

            “Who are the heroes you liked as a kid then?” I asked as the food came to our table.

 

            “Oh, you know, the normal guys for someone my age.”

 

            “Well, who’s that?” I asked as the plate appeared before me. “I’m not your age so maybe I don’t know.”

 

            “That’s true.” He said, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d made a mistake. Was it a problem to remind him of the gulf of years between us? “I liked guys like Indiana Jones, Han Solo, The Shadow, Dick Tracy and Tom Powers.”

 

            “Who’s Tom Powers?” I asked, trying to remember if I’d heard that name somewhere on a comic book.

 

            “That’s the part Jimmy Cagney played in The Public Enemy. The one who gets hit on the head and announces that he’s no so tough when he falls down face first in the gutter.”

 

            “And that’s tough?” I asked, wondering how falling down in the gutter makes you a hero.

 

            “Yeah.” He nodded. “Look at how many times Indiana Jones gets punched, knocked down, thrown around, and keeps managing to come back. You’ve got to get the feeling that a guy can get hurt for him to be a real tough guy. If he can’t get hurt, then he’s just a cartoon. That’s why the new Bond movie worked and why the Jason Bourne movies worked. It’s all about a guy who can get hurt, stay hurt for more than two scenes, but keeps going. That’s why you’ve gotta love Cagney. He’s got a big head wound, blood pouring down his face, and yet he managed to walk half a block before collapsing.”

 

            It took me a moment to try and work that out in my head, and I have to admit that I didn’t quite get it the first time. I’m not a dumb person, but this was the first time I’d heard this. My dad always liked movies where the hero just shoots his way through a hundred bad guys and never once winces if he gets shot in the side.

 

            “So let me see if I’ve got this.” I said putting my fork down and giving him my fullest attention. “You’re saying that in order for a hero to be a tough guy he has to bleed?”

 

            “That’s right.” He nodded and took a sip of water through his perfect lips. “Other wise he’s just a robot or something. I’ve got kind of a tricky time with my right leg sometimes because I was shot there once. The chip in my bone never really healed and it hurts in some weather. I still keep going though, because if I start not doing things because I hurt I won’t get anything done. You ever read the old stories of heroes, myths and stuff?”

 

            “Yeah.” I nodded. “I’ve read some.”

 

            “Well, in the good ones, the old ones, it’s always a struggle to reach the goal or save the princess. You couldn’t just hit a health pack and get a power up, you had to strive to reach the end of the quest, which was often only half the story because they had to get home too. If you could just fly in, slaughter everyone and fly out, what would that be worth? The story would only be about five minutes long and there wasn’t much effort put forth.”

 

            “So you think a guy needs to have effort to be tough?”

 

            “Yeah.” We talked a while longer, and then finished our breakfast.

 

            “It’s all about the attitude.” He said. “Not the grunting and snarling thing, but the never gonna knock me down part.”

 

 

            “No grunting?” I asked, and he smiled so warmly when I said that I wanted to kiss him.

 

            “No.” He shook his head. “A real tough guy can hold a girl’s hand and read books and know about poetry and stuff.”

 

            “You read much poetry?”

           

            “Not really, but I know some.” He said.

           

            It was interesting watching him, because if he wasn’t such a wonderfully sexy guy I would almost call his style of eating fussy. He was so prim and proper about how he ate, always making sure to wipe his fingers every time he had to touch something. He used his fork and knife more than anyone I’ve ever seen eating in a place like that, but he was so laid back and relaxed that it seemed natural and proper that he was doing it. He looked like he would be at ease eating anywhere in the world, from a royal ball room to some dusty bazaar in some tiny town in Istanbul where they drink steaming hot espresso in tiny mugs and discuss matters of deep importance.

 

            He was entirely unlike anyone I’d ever laid eyes on, like he was more alive than the rest of us and was dying to get away from these small places so he could go do great things. There was a reserve to him that I thought was covering up some kind of energy that would burst forth at a moment’s need.

 

            When we were done he went to the bathroom to wash his hands. He actually told me he was going to wash his hands, like I cared why he was going. Still though, it was cute that he explained he was going to wash his hands. It might have been an off handed comment, and probably was, but it was still cute. He came back a minute later and paid the bill with cash. It might sound strange to you, but I’d never seen anyone pay a restaurant tab with cash. My father always just handed people his card, my grandparents did the same. This was the first time I’d ever seen anyone who wasn’t a kid pay with cash. It made him so completely different from anyone else I’d ever known.

 

            We got in the car and he played me some old music. It was wonderful stuff, and he wasn’t afraid to play it loud. My mother never lets us have loud music, because it’ll hurt my ears or something. He played it loud though, and he drove fast along the road, passing people in that beautiful blue car of his.

 

            “So how come you don’t read poetry?” I asked as we drove along the highway.

 

            “I didn’t say I never read it, just that I don’t read it much.”

 

            “But how come?” I asked him.

 

            “Poetry can get dangerous really quick.” He said. “Even good poets fall into the trap of basically writing the same poem over and over again after a while. It gets boring pretty quickly.”

 

            “I write some poetry.” I admitted, and he didn’t seem too surprised about this.

 

            “Oh yeah?” He asked.

 

            “Yeah.” I nodded. “You ever write a poem?”

 

            “When I was in high school.” He admitted. “Enough to fill at least three books if I’d wanted to.”

 

            “You ever publish it, or read it in public?”

 

            “Oh lord no.” He said. “You should never do that.”

           

            One of my tutors is a poet, and she said my poems were good enough to be published. She was trying to get my dad to let her take some poems to her publisher and get them printed in a book. My mother thought it was a good idea and we were talking about doing it, but this happened and it never did get published. I only mention that because it’s was the answer to my next question that made me realize why I shouldn’t.

           

            “Why not?” I asked.

 

            “Sometimes you need to get thoughts out, so writing poetry is okay.” He told me as he passed a big red semi truck. “But when you let other people read it, or read it aloud, it just falls flat.”

 

            “What do you mean?” She asked. “My stuff doesn’t sound dumb.”

 

            “That’s not what I said.” He told me. “I said it falls flat. People who haven’t been where you are won’t really get it no matter how well you write your poem. And the people who do get it will know how you feel about it. Poems are pure emotion translated into words. When they know what your feelings are, they can use that against you. You need to defend yourself from that sort of thing. People are cruel and evil little monkeys, you need to protect yourself from them.”

 

            “Oh.” I understood then, I knew what he meant.

 

            “Besides, once you get known for writing poetry you have to hang out with other poetry types. Then they’ll encourage you to show off your art and after that there really is no hope. You’ll end up watching foreign movies and old b-pictures from Hollywood’s past and wearing strange clothes.”

 

            “You watch old movies and drive and old car.” I pointed out to him.

 

            “Yeah.” He looked at me and smiled with those perfect lips. The sight of those lips makes my toes curl even now. “But I’m a tough guy. I don’t show off poetry and art in public. I just run around being a private eye and sometimes an adventurer.”

 

            “If you don’t show it off, does that mean you make some sometimes?”

 

            “That would be telling.” He said.

 

            “I’d like to see your poems and art sometime.” I told him.

 

            “But then you’d know how to get me.” He said.

 

            I didn’t say it out loud, but I was thinking that it was just for that reason I wanted to see it. I wanted to know how to get to him, to get inside, and to sooth whatever wounds had made him this way. He was such a perfect man, and yet he was clearly in a lot of pain from a great many wounds. I wished that I could make him better.

 

            We drove into Michigan and he started to get me towards home.

 

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April 1, 2010 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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