VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Robert Ragan

Star-Crossed

I never thought I’d be in my 30’s, throwing rocks at a woman’s second-story bedroom window. First night out the pen in two years, and they were going to lock me back up for vandalism.

It sucks when your girlfriend gets kicked out of her apartment and has to move back in with her parents. It was especially terrible with me being half drunk and throwing rocks at her brother’s window instead of hers.

The streetlight lit up her parent’s house. I heard the next window to the right rise up, and there she was, my Bethany, with her long dark locks in spiral curls looking down on me like I was crazy.

“Wrong window idiot,” she said. “My parents are going to call the law.”

I was lucky her brother was a lazy stoner and passed out cold to the world.

Taking a deep breath, Beth’s blue eyes studied the house across the street.

“Come on, Brian,” Beth said. “You’ve got to get out of here. I could give you another chance, but we both know you’re going to fuck up again and end up right back in prison.”

Headlights shown down her street, so I ran and ducked down by the shrubbery. Once the car passed by, I said, “I’m trying to do better this time and stay out.”

“Yeah Yeah,” said Beth shaking her head. “If you wake my mom and dad up, your ass is gonna be in big trouble.”

“Look at us,” I said. “I feel like we’re back in high school or something. You’re a grown woman. How are you gonna let your parents forbid you to see me?”

At the moment, we were both so Star-Crossed, Beth should have snuck out so we could commit double suicide.

Not her though, there was something she wasn’t telling me. But she didn’t have to. I had enough ears around our small North Carolina town, and the word going around was that she was seeing someone else.

This guy could knock on her parent’s door, even in the late A.M hours. He was an alright guy, a sheep who they thought could make their daughter happy.

Believe me, this isn’t the first time she’s tried to break away and move on.

I’ve fist-fought with Marines over her. I’ve had old friends jumped by my newer buddies.

Let’s just say Bethany, and I go way back. Yet, she’s always saying she’s never coming back to me again. This time I played dumb. It doesn’t matter who she’s with anyway; she’ll always end up back in my bed. Speaking of that, I asked her, “Why don’t you just pack your stuff and come live with me at my mom’s trailer until I can find a job and get us our own place again?”

Tossing her head back, she laughed. “When have you ever kept a job for more than a couple of months, Brian?”

“Never!” she said, “And you’re not about to start now.”

She told me I liked that easy money, the type of money that would get someone in big trouble. “Like some real smartass,” I said, “Obviously.” and laughed. “So what a few houses got burglarized here and there. I’ve never hurt anyone.”

And I was tired of Beth’s family running my name in the dirt. As a matter of fact, she ran it there too. It made me think I should really show them all that mean person.

Knowing she’s with someone else, I should get a couple of guns and shoot up the whole fucking house with her entire family inside.

Maybe wait until her boyfriend comes to pick her up, wait until they get inside the car, sneak out of the woods and walk up on them, then light it up with bullets. Leave it looking similar to Bonnie and Clyde’s death car.

Damn, it ain’t that serious. Sometimes I swear I’m possessed. Plotting the murders of my ex and her new flame, if not she and her whole family.

You don’t have to be possessed to kill someone, but in my case, I’d have to be. Plus, it’s kinda clear with all the voices I hear in empty rooms.

I was tired of standing outside her house, my neck was starting to hurt from looking up at her in the window. Framed perfectly, she was a picture of beauty and insecurities.

“Come on, get your stuff; let’s get out of here.”

Bethany had said it many times, but this time it sounded like she meant it when she said, “I’m not leaving with you, Brian, now go on and get out of here, please.”

“Why not?” I asked. “What’s different this time?”

The porch light came on across the street, and dogs started barking somewhere in the neighborhood.

“Jesus Christ, Brian! You’ve woken the neighbors.”

Next, the porch light came on outside her parent’s place. Beth’s father swung the front door open so hard it slammed up against the house. He stepped out with a shotgun with both barrels up. He said, “Get on you sorry son of a bitch, my whole family is tired of you. None of us want you ever to come around here again!”

Backing away, I looked up at Bethany. I said, “She’ll want me back. She’ll get tired of her safe little boyfriend and beg me to be with her again.”

I turned my back on them and ran. Before I could get too far, I heard Beth’s father yelling at her. “You better not have anything to do with him anymore!”

Hey, I thought she’d come around, but people change. They grow up and get tired of the same old lies and bullshit. Beth broke away again and after a few months of not hearing from her. I knew she was gone forever.

It sad that I feel this way about myself. But honestly, leaving me alone for good was the smartest thing she ever did.

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