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"Constants"

The smoke had dispersed into the furthermost corners of the room by the time she finally opened the door. Not caring to remove the dwindling cigarette from his mouth, he spoke:

"The office is closed."

"Please, detective," said the voice of the timid creature wavering across the threshold. "It's an emergency."

"Well, then, by all means, come in."

Either she didn't quite hear the sarcasm dripping from his words, or she just didn't choose to show any reaction, for her feet made their way to the pleather guest chair without any more hesitation. "There's been a murder," she sputtered after a small amount of silence. He seemed unaffected by her statement, so she repeated it, desperate to make herself heard. "Marty, please, there's been a murder."

"Let the police handle it. I'm just a lowly back-end private eye, you know. I might not be able to handle such a case." He leaned back to rest his legs on the desk before he added, "And don't call me Marty."

A bit annoyed, the woman replied, "Detective, then, will you pass up the case of your life? The murder of your best friend... The murder-murder!-of your beloved. Can you pass up the chance to find her killer now? Can you?"

He had shifted his position a bit, yet retained the same expression on his face. His voice betrayed him slightly as he said the name, "Sarah."

The visitor's eyes lowered to the filthy ceramic tiling that covered the floor. She could not bear to meet his figure; they both knew what memories dared to burst their now quiet bubble. How could she even look at him without raving through a torrent of emotions, each one unique and threatening in its own right?

"So, she's finally met her end," he spoke. There was no finality, no closure, in his tone. What resonated instead was the sound of a broken man, doomed to live in the past. An eternity could make its way before him, and he would still have thoughts of only her. Even now, he could feel her fine hair between his fingers, smell the floral perfume that she always wore-exactly which flower it came from, he could never tell-and hear the sweetness in her voice, not much like his own, with its jaded and smoke-stained presence.

"What are you going to do?" the woman asked.

"Nothing," he replied. Was it hot in there, or was he just losing his mind...

"You stupid man!" She rose in a flurry, not realizing the shock that wove itself in with his expression. "Stupid, stupid, stupid..." Her voice trailed off into quietude.

The disturbing silence ambled in and out of the meeting like an annoying cat, just waiting to be fed and stroked and cherished when you just don't want to get up and move. He was to play Silence's indolent caretaker now-in effect, cutting the moment short with his words.

"Call me stupid, but don't forget your own stupidity."

What did he just say? How could he ever...

"My stupidity?"

"That's right, lady."

Well, timid or not, a girl's got to defend her own pride once in a while. "Detective, first of all..."

He rose from his own chair and eyed her cautiously. She could not help but give a shudder-was she really doing this? Was she trying to be pigheaded and stubborn as well, just to prove a point? What was she trying to prove? "I... I haven't done... anything... stupid. I only-"

"Only what?" he spat. He might as well have actually spat in her face with the reflex that made its rush through her stance. He tore himself from his desk and ended up leaning on the bookcase, with the alley-view window nearby. He crossed his arms and pretended to think.

This time, though, she did fix her gaze upon him and did not attempt to hurdle over the flood that gushed in her head, full force. "You know," she started, "that pose was always becoming of you. And you never let me paint it..."

"You know I can't stand those damned fumes from... whatever it is you always paint with."

She coughed. The vent in the ceiling was closed.

"Don't look at me like that. I'm not your subject."

"Marty, you forget..."

"Don't you listen? I asked you-"

"Marty, don't forget..."

"What are you babbling about?"

"You are my subject."

"What is wrong with you today? I can't make any sense of it. I can't!"

"Do you mean to tell me, dear Marty, that you are incapable of loving two women at once?"

The illogical debate halted for a moment; he needed to think. "What are you trying to say?" he rasped. "And be clear."

"Oh, I'll be clear, Marty. I will be very clear." She stole her way to his side, by the window. "Very clear," she repeated.

"Then spit it out."

She cleared her throat. "Honestly, did you think I would be content as your side-dish all those months? Marty can't hide things as well as he likes to believe..." She forced herself to pause after that statement; who knows what pent-up emotions could have made themselves known? She would not give in... this time.

He cut in once more, "Marty doesn't care if he can hide his feelings. You should know that."

Look! Look at what he said! Again, with the insults...

Her eyes widened as she placed a tiny foot behind her for balance-but not for long. Two steps forward and with a seething glint in her eye, she said, "Of course I know. I always knew!" She refrained from slapping his coarse face.

But what was she doing? Why was she so... mad...

"On top of that," he continued, "we stopped our thing way before... Sarah..." He couldn't help but turn away...to look out the window.

"Sarah! Ha!" Her shrill interjections promptly snapped his attention back into place. "As if you give a damn about her! Oh, because you seem to be so apathetic, even now, when you find out she's dead!"

"Would you," he loomed in on her, "shut your mouth?"

"I will-" she coughed, "not!" It was just... much too stuffy in there for her taste. Why couldn't he ever see what he'd put her through? Why couldn't he ever just listen?

"No, you're right. You won't." He took his place back against the bookcase. "You're too stubborn for my liking, anyhow."

That was it! No more! He had crossed the line.

"You," it was her turn to spit daggers. "I have had it with your... your attitude!"

"Please, even my mother insulted me better than that."

"And you let her! Oh, Marty, you have such a way with women, don't you!"

Why was she shaking like that? It seemed as if there was something other than... whatever it was she was feeling... glowing in her eye.

"Now, dear-"

She caught him by his tie. "Don't 'dear' me! You ungrateful oaf! I can't believe you!"

Damn, she was pulling tight...

"For Chrissakes-tell me what the hell you're getting at already!"

Was that a twinge of... fear... in his voice?

She complied and loosened her grip on the noose, but her optical snare was left in lock position.

"She never loved you."

Silence.

"What?"

She coughed, mostly to divert his attention from the awkward sympathy that roamed across her face.

Because he would be paying attention in the first place... right?

"You're just so stupid. She never loved you. She hated you. Oh, how she hated you..." She couldn't help it, so she began to cry.

"You're lying," he tried to stagger back in his shock, but the bookcase didn't intend to budge at all.

"So now you listen?" she choked. "Marty, I know."

"You bitch! You're just a lying bitch."

Oh, God, what was happening...

"Yea! That's right!" With the fury of a thousand Antigone's, she clenched his shirt and tie and jerked him into the most awkward embrace imaginable. "I'm a bitch for not telling you sooner! And it's true. Oh, God is it true!"

This time, it was he who coughed.

"You're freaking me out-will you let go?"

"I WILL NOT!" After expressing her anguish through the feral cry, she attempted to cease his breathing and his stupidity with the grabbing of the throat. "Idiot!"

"You're-crazy-crazy!"

Where did all this rage come from? Could she have been telling him the truth?

"Crazy! This crazy woman saw your Sarah with at least two other men before she finally confronted her about it! Oh-to tell you the things that came out of that filthy mouth! You would-cry," With that, she let go. Her legs gave way, so she toppled into his heaving chest-she really did have an iron grip.

"You," he rasped. If only the air wasn't so stagnant, maybe he could have sputtered out a few more words.

Violently shaking as if she were the one submitted to a hindrance of oxygen, she whispered, "Yes?"

"It was you."

They slid down to the ceramic tiles-perhaps it was cooler and easier to breathe down there...

"So now you see? Why do I put so much faith in you?"

He was very still; not even her whimpering and shivering could have moved him.

"And she never loved me."

"She never loved you."

"And you saw right through her."

"I saw right through."

"And now she's gone."

"She's gone. She's gone."

"Well, then," he took her face in his hands, "Thank you."

...That was it?

She blinked in surprise. What mountain had just been blown off her back? What anvil had just been caught mid-air before it crushed her frame? She wanted to let out one last cry-one last mangled cry of madness before she plunged herself into happiness-unending, unyielding happiness... and yet...

"So could you get off of me now?"

"Oh," she said. He inched his way out of her grasp, since she showed no sign of budging, herself. "Wait-"

He spun around mid-gait and said, "What? I really need some fresh air." He opened the window.

The window...

Inspiration breezed through the panes and right into the woman's face. He's still so... apathetic... "Marty, you aren't going to... report me, are you?"

"Why would I do that? Whatever it is you did, I wouldn't care to report it. Not now, at least."

So apathetic... but he's not going to report me! Who would do that unless... unless... he loved me? I must find out... "That's such a nice breeze coming in through your window. Must be because it's so big... Do you know why your window is so big, Marty?"

He let out a brief sigh before he said, "No, why?"

"Well, of course," she started, as she leaned out the window, "I can fit through here... And, they must have known that someone could easily fall out. They probably trusted your strength, you know. No doubt, if I started to fall, you could catch me!"

"But of course, what other reason would there be? I must be stupid." Either she really had a lack of good judgment or she chose once again to ignore the overflowing sarcasm, for she promptly positioned herself over the threshold between his still-stuffy office and a lovely thirty-foot drop...

Oh, Marty, how could I have doubted you? You love me... and I love you... and...

"Catch me now?" She fell out the window.

Silence.

"The hell..." was all he said before he peered out the window to confirm his suspicions. I thought she was depressed, but this? I guess it is what she deserves. After all, you can't go around killing people...

After pondering this, he shut the window.

"Plus, the office is closed."

He sat back in his chair and lit another cigarette.
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:iconmomo-anzu:
momo-anzu Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2003  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wowie...sorry I only favorited this and didn't comment. Heh..I really like this. I hope you continue writing other stories and such:) Good job!
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:iconice-man-ak:
ice-man-ak Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2002
???? What the fuck was that?

"And you let her! Oh, Marty, you have such a way with women, don't you!"

------------- question mark

Story has a few confusing turns, but in the end it is great. Very nice descriptions, good writing.
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December 28, 2002
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