Resolution. This is the last part. Up front, I’m not sure I liked the ending but it is unexpected. No spoilers, though. Thanks to everyone who followed this. What began as a single short grew into 6. Here are the others. Perhaps in a few days I’ll tell you the backstory to this. In some ways I think it’s much more interesting than the one I wrote.
“So that’s how you trash your own life! Why don’t they teach this stuff in school?” Hayden thought. Not only was he out of a job – one he really liked and was good at – he was being bombarded by the psycho-bitch-troll-from-hell and being studiously ignored by the police. “It doesn’t get much better than this,” he thought, sourly. “Living the dream, dude. Living the dream.”
Sitting there in his home at 11:00am on a weekday wasn’t something Hayden had much experience in. When he worked, he worked, and when he wasn’t working he travelled, but this was the kind of ‘not working’ that didn’t call for a celebratory trip overseas.
He’d get another job easily enough, but with Mariana still going full retard, would he be able to keep it? There had to be a final solution, but would he be able to find it quickly or would he have to wait until Mari became distracted by someone or something else? Checking his emails and seeing four from her, each with a number of updates, he didn’t like his chances of waiting out the winter. When Mari had gone ballistic it became apparent pretty quickly that her winters were nuclear. In many ways he missed her, and he missed the version of her she could have been, if only …. Circular thinking wasn’t going to fix this, he knew that. He could go bouncing off the walls all he liked and he’d still end up right back where he began.
His mobile phone had been company supplied and he’d handed it back when he left. He tossed up whether to take the SIM card out of it, because he had many contacts in there who he’d otherwise lose sight of but then again, just as many were directly related to his former job, too. He left it. Sooner or later people find each other if they try, and along the way new connections are made anyway. His ringing landline startled him out of his reverie. Caller ID had become useless five minutes after it was introduced. Nowadays, just about everyone had silent numbers or so many alternative numbers that identifying them was tedious and close to impossible. He let it ring out. It began again almost immediately and he was glad he hadn’t picked up. It was bound to be Mari; the shrill sound had taken on a particularly malicious tone.
Hayden was at a loose end. He had a few things he could do, but little he wanted to do, and nothing he was obliged to do. “What do you do when you have nothing to do?” he thought. “You know, those times when boredom has set in and leaps out to strangle you, just for a change of pace?” He had the answer in a heartbeat. He logged into WordPress and began reading from the Chairman of the Bored, Periodically Demented. Never had 27 alphas, numerics, and characters (https://p33d33.wordpress.com) so thoroughly defined ‘I have no life, so this will have to do until I get one’. 😀
The internal buzzer to the building’s entrance door sounded, bringing him back from his escape from the details of life. At the same time, his phone began ringing again, and he suspected both events were connected. This wasn’t going to go away; he just knew it. Answer it now or answer it at 3:00a.m, and then every other minute until he passed out from fatigue. They were his choices.
“This is Hayden,” he said. He was right; it was her. “Can I please come up? We need to talk,” Mari said, sounding calm and reasonable. Hayden thanked her but declined. “Actually, I don’t think we do, ever again, but perhaps when I’ve overcome the shock at losing my job because of you I’ll think about it,” he said. “Yes, perhaps then, but until then best you stay the fuck away from me.” He hung up, knowing that this was still far from over.
A few hours later, hoping the coast was clear, he ventured out for some fresh air and coffee. As he walked he had the feeling that he was being watched, but on looking around he didn’t see Mari so he shrugged it off as his own overactive imagination and current sensitivity. In the cafe they used to like going to he once again saw the woman who had inadvertently woken him up to the ugly side of Mari. If she remembered him she didn’t let on, which was just as well because he really wanted to be as remote from female company as possible. With a coffee on the table he read of the devastation of the recent supercell torrential downpour that had so engulfed and damaged Sydney. It put his own current problems into perspective and that was what he needed. It’s a funny thing, perspective. Everyone has their own; everyone perceives reality slightly differently. It gave him the germ of an idea.
Mari had watched him as he left his building and walked to the cafe. Her plan, as far as she had one, was to follow him in and hopefully force him to speak to her. She became nervous at the idea, though. What if he decided to just leave or, worse, make a scene? And worse again, what if she lost it and made a scene, right there in the cafe with witnesses and where there’d be no denying it? It took her nearly half an hour to calm herself and then build up her courage.
The vague shadow over his newspaper alerted Hayden before she said a word. “Please, Hayden,” she said in a low voice. “Sit down,” he said, without looking at her. “I have something to tell you.” She sat, looking nervously at him and glancing about to see if anyone was watching them. “You were right, Mari. About all of it, you were right. I was sleeping with everyone who would let me, the whole time we were going out together. I’m pretty sure I’m clean but you might want to see a doctor and have a STD checkup, just in case.
“The reason I was with you was simple: I thought it would help me make new connections and advance my career. As events have shown, I miscalculated slightly, but I’ll be back on the treadmill in no time.” She looked at him, tears welling in her eyes. Was he telling the truth? She had thought it was the madness inside her, the dark side of her soul. Could she have been right all along? “I’m sorry, Mari, but there it is. It’s only now that I’m beginning to see what I put you through.”
Mari looked at him, unsure what to think. Was he lying before or is he lying now? Confusion overtook her. “Hayden, if you really did sleep with other women, why? Wasn’t I enough?” she said. He had to be careful here. He needed her to fall out of infatuation with him, but not to despise him so much she went gunning for him later. “Mari, you were too much. That was the problem for me; I never felt good enough, or rich enough, or attractive enough. It was jarring. I’m sorry I put you through all that, but you were so insistent. I think we both need a breather.”
Outside the cafe, they went their separate ways. Mari’s head was spinning; she didn’t know what to make of his confession. Hayden walked away with a small smile on his face. It was over now; they both knew that, and he thought he had dulled her sword in the bargain. There were always the emails and messages, and the police report to fall back on if he had misjudged her again.