Page 17 of Finding His Home

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Ed ran out of the room, fearing the politician would shoot him in the back. He sprinted out the back door near the garage, through the darkening park to the Potomac River. He dove in and swam underwater until he could no longer hold his breath. When he came up, he thought he saw a flashlight on the shore. He ducked again and swam downstream until he feared drowning. When he touched land again, no police were in view, but he heard sirens in the distance.

He knew it might be easier for the police to find someone who was soaking wet, so he stole another set of pants and a button-down shirt off a clothesline in the courtyard of a housing project. Ed didn’t see any police when he reached the subway station, but he feared a patrol car might arrive at any second. Out of breath, he climbed into the first cab on the curb. “I need a ride to Richmond. I’ll pay you extra if you get there fast.”

Chapter 11: Hardly Self Defense

Hours later, when the cab pulled up to the door of the glass façade of the Omni Richmond Hotel, Ed looked at the bald Nigerian driver and didn’t care what he might charge for the hours of silence he provided. He paid in cash after hearing the high figure and enjoyed having the means not to care – even if Helen’s money only lasted until the cops came.

When Ed checked into the suite reserved by Helen, he discovered the blinking red light on the phone, signaling her voice message. Seated on the bed, he predicted betrayal.

“Hi, love,” said Helen’s recorded voice. “I noticed the task isn’t complete. I don’t blame you for falling for his clever lies. I hope we'll be together soon. Wait for me, and check the closet.”

Opening the closet door, he found a giant duffle bag filled with of bundles of cash – hardly inconspicuous. He feared the bills were stolen and traceable. He considered cutting his losses and heading back to Louisiana, but he also wanted to know the truth. After taking a long shower, he called Helen, but she wouldn’t answer. Again, he feared she’d set him up to take the fall for her father’s murder.

The next morning, he woke up before sunrise and considered his options. While sipping coffee in bed, he considered his parents, regretting he’d failed them again. Questions nagged at him: Where did the delusions from Helen’s mental illness stop and her malicious tricks begin? Why wasn’t she answering her phone? Was she trying to pay him to leave her life? He decided to find answers from her father, despite the apparent risks.

Minutes after sunset, Ed climbed the congressman’s fence again. He knew Helen was inside once he heard her voice. Were they laughing at him?

He noticed the open window to the living room, pulled off the screen and crept inside, hearing Helen’s giggles up the stairs. Enraged by memories the congressman’s deception, Ed rushed into the kitchen and grabbed the largest butcher knife on the rack.

The steps creaked as he ascended to the closed bedroom door. He touched the door knob and felt demoralized as heard Helen, moaning with delight. Bursting into the candle-lit room, he confirmed his worst fears as he found her on top of her father beneath the sheets. The shock on their faces only made the blade tear faster into their naked flesh. He stabbed her stomach and chest before turning on the old man’s neck and face. Blood soaked the white sheets as the father and child looked up at the ceiling with vacant eyes and gaping mouths.

What have I done? This is hardly self-defense. Ed sat in the corner of the room, looking up at the angle where the yellow wall met the white ceiling.

“Goodbye. You were too good to be true.” He rose to his feet and covered Helen’s face with a pillow then worried about evidence that might link him to the crime scene. Regretting he had not worn gloves, he wiped the door knob, fled the town home and tossed the knife into the river.

Chapter 12: Senator Walker

As he jogged to the metro station, he imagined Helen’s voice: I did it all for you. One day you’ll understand. Goodbye, I’ll see you in eternity, love.

He imagined teams of police detectives, waking Helen’s friends and neighbors for questioning; would Kenny volunteer information before sunrise? He cut across a large empty field and jerked his head around when he imagined a pack of piranha-mouthed demons with high-pitched voices at his heals. Nothing was there. The field remained silent and empty.

Ed fell on his back, realizing the gravity of his actions. He decided he’d squandered everything: Reconciliation with his parents, graduation and a rewarding career of his choice. Instead, he expected a spot on death row or life in a solitary-confinement cell for murdering a public official.

He looked up at sky and yelled at the top of his voice: “Now, I’m certain you hate me, God. I begged for your grace and love, but you ignored me. Unlike Job, I’m brave enough to curse You with each of my remaining heartbeats.”

Through the fog, Ed noticed the approach of a man in a black-hooded robe. When the man stood within reach, Ed saw his own face beneath the hood. The figure’s glowing red eyes seemed to peer into his soul and read his thoughts.

Ed stumbled backwards.“What are you?”

The figure transformed into Helen’s undead corpse. “My death was preordained. You’re the one, our messiah. Nothing happens by coincidence.”

“Go away!”

Ed guessed he had some chemical imbalance in his head, causing this vivid hallucination. “What are you?”

The figure took on Ed’s appearance again. The pupils of the glowing eyes seemed to pulsate. “You know who I am. You invited me.”

The hooded figure pointed to a tiny ball of fire as it fell from the sky. The meteor struck the distant side of the field, hurling flames, dirt, rock and grass in all directions.

Ed feared the arrival of police and fire trucks. He prepared to run away from the field, but the figure pointed at him and shook its head. “No. Deliver it to Senator Walker.”

“Who?” Ed looked at the smoking crater and considered the quest impossible. How was he supposed to transport this smoldering rock anywhere?

“You’ll find what you need over there. Then, I’ll lead you to the senator.”

Ed sprinted across the field. Floating above, the hooded figure guided him through the back yard of a large house to a shovel and a pickup truck with the keys in the ignition. Ed put his hand against the door of the truck. “Are you a demon?”

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