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Los Engaños pt. 2

“You here by yourself?” she asked.

I said nothing. I didn’t know how to jumpstart my brain. Luckily, some drunk slammed into me as he fell over trying to place a drink order.

“I’m sorry, what did you ask?” I said. “I can’t remember.”

“Are you here alone?” she asked again.

“No, I came with my friend Marcus. He’s around here somewhere.” I moved a finger in a circle above my head and spilled my drink as I put my elbow back on the bar. I was Gilligan again.

“Well, I guess we’re going to have to order a few more drinks then,” she said. Or at least that’s what I think she said. It’s what I heard, alright, but I was shocked that she hadn’t gotten up and ran away after witnessing what a klutz I was.

She ordered 3 rounds of something called Sex on the beach, which we drank very quickly. I had trouble swallowing the third one, and as soon as I got it down, I knew I better look for Marcus. This night was going to end badly. Without saying a word, I got up to hunt for my friend when my knees buckled and I fell back into the stool.

“Where are you going?” she asked coyly. “Do you want to dance?”

I didn’t respond. I was too busy trying to make her face stop spinning. I had never been this drunk before and it worried me not to have complete control over my mind and body. Nevertheless, she grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dance floor. I felt dizzier with each step I took and if I wasn’t throwing my head around looking from Marcus, my attempts at dancing may have appeared less feeble. She grabbed my shirt and pulled me up against her body, for a moment I was sober as ecstasy pumped through my veins, clearing out the alcohol.

“Do you want to get out of here and go to a hotel or something?” she asked, biting her lip.

Even I knew what this meant. Of course, the obvious answer for any man in this situation is “Yes!” followed by a quieter, “Dear God, thank you,” but I couldn’t help be apprehensive. I guess it’s just my nature.

“But I don’t know anything about you,” I said. My words were anything but coherent. “I don’t even know your name or where you’re from.”

“My name’s Eve. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee.”

“Hi, Eve. My name is Brian Hay—”

She put her finger against my lips. “We don’t need last names,” she said. “I’m going to tell my friend I’m leaving. Meet me back at the bar in a few minutes.”

The bar! I remembered. That’s probably where Marcus is! Sure enough, Marcus was sitting at the end of the bar talking to the man who gave me an Orgasm.

“Marcus!” I said. “I’m going home with Eve tonight so you can go ahead and stay here or leave if you want. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” I was pretty sure I had just yelled as loud as I could into his ear, but Marcus was a good sport about it.

“Eve? Are you sure she’s not just a figment of your drunken imagination?” he said smiling.

“Yeah man, I’m meeting her here soon, so don’t wait up, okay?” Marcus laughed at the sight of me intoxicated, thrashing about like a catfish in a wheelbarrow.

“Brian, wait. Take this for protection,” he said as he slid something into my pocket.

“Uh, okay. Bye Marcus!”

I stumbled over to the other side of the bar and Eve was already waiting for me.

“One more drink before we go?” she asked. I figured it couldn’t make things worse so I took it. I put my arm around her and we headed for the exit. It was the last thing I remember.

I awoke the next morning looking at a ceiling fan and since I didn’t own a ceiling fan, I freaked out a little bit. I had forgotten where I was. Eve was lying next to me asleep and as I lifted the bed sheets to get up I realized I was nude. I threw the covers back on top of me, I was embarrassed for some reason. I checked to make sure she was still sleeping; she was. I sat up on the edge of the bed and looked around. Shoes and clothes were strewn about the room. My pants were draped over the TV screen and her dress hung on the lampshade. Was I really capable of this kind of passion? I shut my eyes and tried as hard as I could to remember last night, but I couldn’t. I was furious at myself. I would’ve screamed, but I didn’t want to wake up Eve. Oh my gosh, Eve! What was I going to do? Do I stay or leave? Did she give me her phone number? Did I do something I don’t remember that would make her never want to see me again? I was completely out of my element in this situation, which is probably why I left. It knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I was better at running away from problems than confronting them. I couldn’t believe I now thought of Eve as a problem. Last night she had been an angel, and today she’s a burden.

I reached for the phone, dialed the operator, and called a cab.

“Where are you at?” the man asked on the other line.

I looked around. I had no idea where I was. I opened the first drawer underneath the phone and pulled out a notepad. “I’m at the Embassy,” I said. “The name’s Brian.” Eve was still asleep.

As I began to look for my clothes I suddenly felt like I’d been punched in the head. I moaned out loud. “So this is what a hangover feels like,” I said softly.

I put my clothes on, all except my socks which for some reason were lying in the sink saturated with water, and I took one last look at Eve asleep on the bed before I left. I wondered if I’d ever see her again and once more I wondered what had happened between us last night. I made my way outside and stood in the sunshine until my taxi arrived.

I went to Marcus’s house before I entered mine to tell him about last night, but he wasn’t home. The wet grass felt good in between my toes as I walked across our lawns. I unlocked my door and went right for the medicine cabinet, then to take a hot shower. No sooner had I gotten dressed when I heard pounding at my door. Marcus is back! With a smile plastered on my face I giddily ran to the door and opened it.

“Brian Hayden,” the mad said. “You’re under arrest.

I didn’t speak my next words until I found myself in an interrogation room; I had blacked out again.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Why don’t you tell me,” the man said. “Care to tell me what you did last night?”

“Last night? I went out last night. To a club. With my friend.” I said.

“Oh, of course! The girl we found lying in your hotel room was just a friend. It all makes sense now!” he said.

“What? Found? What are you talking about?” I asked. “Her name is Eve. I met her last night at the club.”

“Well, what happened after the club?” he asked. He sounded like he already knew the answer.

“I don’t remember,” I said. “I was pretty drunk last night and the last thing I remember is leaving the club.”

“You must have drunk up the whole bar, kid, cause where I come from it’s pretty hard to forget murdering someone.”

“Murdered?!” I yelled. I became lightheaded at the sound of the word and I felt like throwing up. “I didn’t murder anyone! She told me to meet her by the bar, she wanted to go to a hotel, she was asleep when I left! I didn’t do anything! You have to believe me!”

He chuckled. “It’s hard to believe you when the maid walked in and found her dead this morning in a hotel room checked out with your credit cards. Not to mention I got paramedics telling me she’s been poisoned and has been dead since last night. You gonna argue with paramedics, son?”

Last night? The words repeated themselves in my head. I started to cry. “Look officer, I’ve told you everything I know. I talked to Marcus and then she and I left together. That’s all I remember!”

“Who’s Marcus?” he asked.

I lifted my head up, somewhat relieved. Of course! Marcus! I had told him about Eve. He could tell them how drunk I was and how I’m not the kind of person who could kill somebody. “He’s my friend I went to the club with. He’s my best friend. He’ll tell you I couldn’t possibly have done this. He knows me too well.”

The cop thought about it. “Alright then, let’s talk to Marcus.” He turned to the viewing window and gestured for a telephone. Another officer swiftly brought one in, plugged it into the jack, and set the phone on the table.

“I need a phonebook,” I said. “I think he’s at work right now.”

The man gestured to the window again and the same officer as before entered with a phone book.

“Go ahead,” the cop said. “Call your friend.”

He pressed a button, switching the call to speakerphone, and the ringing echoed in the silence of the room.

“Hello. Welcome to Banks Department Store. How can I help you?” the woman said.

“Is Marcus Terrell working today?” I asked. There was a pause.

“I’m sorry, who did you ask for again?”

“Marcus Terrell,” I repeated. “I think he’s working today.”

“Hold please,” she said. I looked up at the cop who was already looking down at me with a look of disappointment in his eye. If only these cops knew me, knew how timid a person I am.

The woman came back on the phone. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But there’s no one named Marcus Terrell that works here. Perhaps you have the wrong number. Goodbye.” And she hung up. I stared blankly at the phone, not knowing what to make of what had just transpired.

Had he quit and not told me? It didn’t make sense. I starting to dial his cell phone number and the cop just shook his head. It was ringing. Ringing. Then three beeps.

“I’m sorry, the number you have dialed does not exist. Please hang up and try again.”

The officer helped me up and led me to a holding cell. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t feel anything. The number you have dialed does not exist? There’s no one named Marcus Terrell that works here? He wasn’t real? I didn’t have a best friend?

When the police searched my house, they found an empty vile of arsenic in the right pocket of the pants I had worn to the club that night. Traces of the same toxin were found in Eve’s system. I was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in California State Prison where I sat alone for 3 years until one day I received a letter.

Dear Brian,

I cannot apologize enough for what I have done to you, but it was necessary for what I had to do for me. The girl you met that night’s name wasn’t Eve and she wasn’t from Tennessee. She was one of the girl’s I had told you about, one of my exes. You see, I have done some things in my past that I’m not proud of, and she threatened to bring some of these things to the light of day if she could not be reunited with me. I agreed on the condition that she gave you a night of passion that I know you’ve never had, nor would you ever forget. But I didn’t want to be with her, Brian. So when you two fell asleep, I snuck in and killed her with the poison I planted in your pocket. You didn’t know my real name or where I worked, in fact, you didn’t know a lot about me, but I considered us best friends just the same. I know you can never forgive me. I’m sorry.

The letter wasn’t signed and there wasn’t a returning address. I haven’t told anyone about the letter that I now keep under my pillow and I don’t plan to. Perhaps I could use it to exonerate myself, but then there’d be a bunch of cops going after my best friend Marcus. He didn’t deserve that. Not after all he’d given me.