Bonnie Delight sat on the edge of the bed and stared questioningly at the floor, as she had done for the past thirty seven minutes. The whorls and eddies of pattern on the beige and pink carpet did not reply.
The twin chrome bells on the clockwork alarm had long since ceased their clamor and now the room sat in darkened silence. Finally she forced herself, still staring floor ward, into painful movement and switched on the bedside lamp, casting her surroundings into yellowed contrasts; Artificial and sad.
The echoes of a slamming door, somewhere in the hallway beyond the confines of her apartment, caused her shoulders to tense, and she halted her movement of rising from the bed. She looked up for the first time and stared at the doorway to the bedroom through which Dean had passed, for the last time, those seven months ago. The same door she had continued to leave open ever since, in the ridiculous, childlike hope that perhaps he would return through it one day. One day on the other side of her dreams.
Bonnie sighed and stood up, pulling her nightgown from the closet door. It swung open, as if to taunt her with the contents that remained within.
A jacket, a sweatshirt, two pairs of jeans and a tortoiseshell suit, hung in cold company, the dust already beginning to form on the ridges where the hangers stretched them to thinness. She reached in and lifted out a folded, dress shirt. Lime green silk with bronzed metal collar tips. Dean’s favorite.
Bonnie pressed it to her face and breathed in deeply. Her closed eyes clenched shut more tightly and the heavy, thick onset of sorrow took hold of her chest as the tears began to rise, and the pain within her heart began again. His scent was fading.
The tears did not come, only the overwhelming sadness of loss, as she stroked the shirt smooth again and replaced it on the shelf. She closed the closet door gently and moved slowly through the bedroom doorway and into the kitchenette.
The girls from the club had been hugely supportive. In the early weeks they had never been away from the apartment. They cried with Bonnie, laughed with her about old times, and drank themselves into despondent stupors, railing against the unfairness of the world and every man in it.
They tried on many occasions to drag her from the apartment, to take the air, see a movie, anything to break the isolation she had imposed upon herself through fear and sadness. But to no avail. The three rooms remained a prison.
It became clear to Bonnie, as the visits began to drop off, and the attempts to coerce her into venturing into the city again grew fewer and farther between, that the girls had organized a support Rota.
Mondays belonged to Sophia and often consisted of nothing but a radio listening session, and little conversation due to Sophia’s lack of English.
Tuesdays were the turn of Mara and her wondrous, non-stop tales of Ireland. Storm racked sea cliffs and cottage romances that were probably lifted from the pages of a hundred dubious paperback novels.
On Wednesdays, Veronica would come dressed in high fashion and earnestly tell her in closet psychologists jargon why she should begin to focus on rebuilding her life alone. Bonnie hated Wednesdays in particular.
Thursdays were a time of mixed emotions as Francey, the joker in the pack, blitzed her psyche with a never ending stream of madcap humor that both lifted her mood and equally made her loathe herself, the laughter seeming to be an affront to Deans passing. At times she could almost feel him in the empty spaces of the apartment shaking his head with disapproval at the intensity of her laughter.
Fridays was Tawnee. She was the newest dancer at the 58 club, and as such the most unfamiliar of the girls to Bonnie. She was young, only twenty one, but seemed possessed of such an intensity of passion for everything and everyone that it almost felt like she was angrier at the world than Bonnie herself. But she asked more questions of Bonnie than any of her other friends and inwardly she felt that Tawnee was the only one who had actually listened to her, rather than try to cheer her, regardless of her mood.
Tawnees visits were the first to drop off, extending the solitary weekends to three days, then four, as Francey also began to fail in her attempts at raising laughter.
Veronica persevered. As self appointed mother figure within the group she refused to let go. Organizing a final decorating party, to freshen up the living room and repair the damage. As a group they had cleared the debris, laid fresh carpet and painted and papered walls covered with shocking memories.
That had been the last time Bonnie had seen all of her surrogate sisters together, she was slowly beginning to miss their company now, and in her mind she knew that the 58 Club was starting to call to her. Her life was beginning to progress.
She stood at the small table and turned on the radio. As she opened the wall cupboard and took out a coffee cup the strains of Nat king Coles ‘Nature Boy’ swelled and filled the room.
The cup clicked against the melamine as she placed it down, and she suddenly realized that, for the first time since his loss, she had not put out a cup for Dean. She looked numbly at the empty chair where scant months ago he had sat and laughed, and she began to sob.
The phone rang.
Bonnie physically jumped. Her whole body tensed at the abrupt loudness that invaded the silence of the apartment. She did not move from the kitchenette, but instead craned her neck to see the phone where it sat on a small table in the living room, near the couch.
The phone continued to ring.
Veronica had been the last of her friends to give up; calling two or three times a week to emphasize Bonnies need to ‘get on’ with her life. But the listening had become a chore for Bonnie. A painful chore forced upon her by friends who did not, could not, ever understand the pain she would suffer until the end of her days. So she stood, and watched and waited for the incessant ringing to cease.
But the phone continued to ring.
After ten minutes Bonnie moved into the living area. She avoided, as much as possible, looking at the closed curtains, through which the thin light of a November morning cast a bare visibility on the room, and lifted the receiver.
A strange whirring and clicking came down the line as the call was switched through a series of contacts, finally ending in a crackling connection that seemed to be coming from somewhere beyond reality.
“Hello?” Bonnie repeated.
The noise of what might have been wind remained the only sound on the line, and Bonnie realized that she was standing in exactly the place that Dean had stood, that last morning in May. Her toes curled on themselves and she felt a sudden rush of nausea as her whole body tensed and her stomach began to lift.
She remembered watching him from the bed, warm from lovemaking, as he tugged on shorts and moved through the doorway and into the kitchenette. He had not looked around, blown a kiss, or even smiled as she hugged his warm pillow against herself, glowing, and for that she would never forgive him.
She had heard the cups clack onto the table, and the noises of coffee-making begin as he walked into the living room, and the rush of the runners along the pole as he opened the curtains on the clear skies and the city outside.
The high velocity bullet had smashed through the plate glass window and impacted above Dean’s right temple, tearing away most of the rear of his head. The force had lifted him off his feet; propelling him sideways against the fireplace, then face down onto the floor. The spray caused by the bullet made the tiny room look like a slaughter house, and it was here that the police found Bonnie, two hours later, cradling Deans bloodied body and rocking, gently.
The police reports stated that Dean had been the victim of an untraceable drive-by killing. The car had been stolen, and used in multiple armed robberies during the previous night. The unidentified occupants of the car had been responsible for the deaths of at least six other innocent bystanders during their rampage, and the car had been recovered, a burned out shell, on the outskirts of the city the following day.
All avenues of investigation had proved fruitless and she remembered the apologies, and the empty promises, and the support visits, and the screaming and the hollowness.
“To some things, Bonnie…” they had said. “There are no answers. There is no fairness, and ultimately we must go on without the comfort of knowing that there was reason, or justice involved in what has happened. In the end we must mark it down to fate!”
The sudden, female voice on the other end of the phone startled her and she grabbed the couch to steady herself.
“They will tell you that the world outside your window is beyond your control.”
The voice seemed familiar, but she could not place the cold tone.
“They will tell you that there are things beyond the law which you nor they can affect.”
Bonnie Stared at the deep blue velour of the curtains in front of her and tried desperately not to vomit. Her throat was suddenly so dry that she found that she could not even swallow and a light sweat had begun to rise on her forehead and cheeks.
“Open the curtains, Bonnie.”
The voice was dead toned, matter of fact, and the lack of drama within the words made it all the more compelling.
“Open the curtains, Bonnie.”
The voice insisted, and Bonnie found herself moving, despite her terror, toward the window.
She realized that she had stopped breathing as she grasped the fabric in her free hand, and unconsciously, a low, continuous moan was emitting from her lips. A moan that turned into a harsh scream as she pulled the curtain aside and screwed her eyes half closed against the sunlight.
The body spun gently, about two feet from the window pane, at the end of a thick rope attached to the roof somewhere out of view. The face was battered and bloody, the clothes stained and ravaged. Here and there holes were torn, where wounds to the flesh beneath showed, livid and raw, and pinned to the chest a stained envelope bore, in large letters:
‘THE LAST TESTAMENT
AND CONFESSION OF THE
KILLER OF DEAN HOLMES
ON THE EIGHTH DAY
OF MAY, NINETEEN FIFTY
Bonnie’s head span with confusion, horror, anger and a million other feelings that flooded her mind. Then the voice came again, insistent and monotone, as before.
“You will never be alone.”
Tears welled in her eyes then, and rolled in floods across her cheeks as something that was almost relief filled the places in her, where before only fear had resided.
The phone went dead.
Her eyes focused through her tears, to beyond the spinning end of her nightmare on the other side of the glass.
Across the street a huge billboard displayed the latest advertising from the Cleopatra Lingerie Company, and there, upon its multi colored face, stood a figure. Dressed in turquoise, purple and crimson, it replaced something small into its clothing and with a flash of red hair, was gone.
Bonnie Delight looked questioningly out at the city, from the opened curtains of what once had been a prison, and raised her hand in thanks for the answer that had come.