It wasn't hard to find someone by the first name of Travesty in the city. It wasn't exactly common. There was a business center at the motel her husband was staying at, but the name gave it more credit than it deserved. There was one very ancient desktop computer and she'd been surprised to find out that not only did it have internet access, but that dialup still existed in some parts of the country. After waiting for the pages to load, Google had eventually given her the information she'd been looking for.
She saw him leave his apartment the next day, as the afternoon light was fading to the glow of a summer's twilight. She debated following him, but thought twice of it. Instead, she sat in her sedan and watched him until he faded from sight.
She wasn't sure why she hadn't been able to stop thinking about him. Sure, he'd pushed her out of the way of harm, but there was something else. Something stronger.
Her knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel in front of her.
Like she'd known him before.
But before what or when or who...well, that was the question, now wasn't it?
* * * * *
He’d returned an hour later. He was disheveled, she could see that. He was looking around wildly, as though someone might be following him, and then dipped into his apartment. Someone was following him, she supposed. She
She put her head on the steering wheel and tried to decide on her next move. She’d been trying to decide that since she'd seen him leave - what would she do if and when he returned? Now he was here and she had no better plans than before. Which was, to say, that she had absolutely no plan. How do you walk up to someone and tell them, "Hi, thanks for saving me from copious amounts of bodily harm. Also, do you feel something weird between us? Like we know each other, but we don't?"
While he was away, she'd heard the train whistle in the distance and she'd been a bit shaken. She'd seen her husband once since she'd been here, for about an hour. He hadn't looked her in the eye and he'd been pretty drunk, to be honest. He'd been huddled in the motel bed, his head barely peeking above the covers. Her husband was a large man, husky in his build and tall as the day was long, so this position made his feet stick out comically of the end of the bed. She'd tried to talk to him, but he had only mumbled in response...if he responded at all. His co-workers said that he only had another day at the motel on the company dime, then he'd have to foot the bill himself or head home.
They had a look in their eyes that let her know that they believed that he was no longer in shock. Now he was just annoying them.
She lifted her head and rested her chin on the steering wheel instead. What do to now? She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply before opening them again. The wind kicked up and an errant bit of advertisement blew onto her windshield. "DO SOMETHING AMAZING EVERYDAY!" it screamed at her as it fluttered erratically under the windshield wiper. Then the wind picked up again and it blew away. She watched it's path with an indifferent eye - it eventually wound up stuck in someone's gutter.
"Whatever," she muttered. She pulled the keys out of the ignition, grabbed her purse from the passenger side seat and got out of the car. It was now or never. The streetlights were starting to turn on and the sky was growing darker - if she didn't go up to his door now, she'd lose her nerve. She'd go back to the shitty motel where he husband was drinking away his sorrows, she'd pack his things and they'd drive back together. And she'd stay. She'd probably stay.
She didn't know if knocking on this stranger's door would change that or not, but she got the feeling that it might.
At his door, she paused. The apartment on the other side seemed silent. There were no lights on that she could tell. She placed the palm of her hand on the door and spread her fingers wide, one last hesitation before rapping her knuckles on the cheap wood beneath her hand. Before she could, though, she heard a rustle at her feet, as though someone were on the other side of the door, at the floor.
"Hello?" she called timidly.
There came a shuffle at the sound of her voice and an audible gasp from the same direction.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
This derailed her momentarily. "I'm Alice. And I don't know what I want. I don't even know why I'm here. I found you, though. Can I come in?"
The silence on the other side of the door descended again. After what seemed like a million minutes, she could hear him rising from his seat on the floor. He rattled around with the locks on the door and then they were standing face to face.
He wasn't much younger than her, she realized, placing him in his late twenties to early thirties. His face was not lined with age or stress, though it held a sadness buried in its depths that was common with those that have lost something. She knew that look. She saw it in the mirror most mornings.
He didn't say a word as she stepped inside. He flicked a lamp on and closed the door behind them. She wrung her hands nervously in front of her. Her sundress felt flimsy and transparent and she wished for a sweater. It wasn't that she felt naked in front of him, but she felt like he could see through her somehow - inside her, maybe. His eyes lit on her in an unnervingly familiar way and she forced herself to return his gaze.
"I know you," she said finally, breaking the eerie silence between them both.
"I know," he said. "I know you, too."
She let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. "God, I'm really fucking glad that I'm not the only one feeling that. I was starting to think I was going a little crazy."
He laughed, an honest laugh that he even seemed surprised at. "It's okay," he said as he ran a hand through his hair. She noticed that his hand shook a bit. "I don't know how I know you, but I do," he said.
"I know the feeling."
"Did you grow up around here?"
"No," she replied. "I live about six hours from here. I've never been here in my life. I was lost when I stopped at that gas station. I was going to ask for directions." She stuck a strand of hair around her finger and twisted it.
"And I've lived here my whole life. Never even traveled out of state. We'd planned to move, but...," he paused, looking down at his hands. "It just didn't happen."
"We?" she asked.
"My...my wife. She's dead."
She let go of the strand of hair and wrapped her arms around herself. "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry."
He shrugged. "I figured that's why things had been crazy lately. Everyone told me I needed to move on, that I was dwelling on it too much. Then the dreams came and then the trains and then you."
"The trains?" The word had sent a shiver up her spine.
"Yeah. I don't want to talk about it, really."
They stared at each other again, a palpable electricity flowing between them. She had a desperate need to touch him, as though her palms had a mind of their own. She wrapped her arms tighter around herself, her hands balled into fists at her sides, as though she could force the feeling out of them. Finally, she realized she could resist no longer.
"I know things are weird right now," she said, "and I know that we're, for all intents and purposes, complete strangers. I just...can I touch your face?"
He didn't seem surprised and just stepped closer to her, nodding. She could feel his breath on her forehead. She could smell him, a faint scent of old lumber clinging to his clothing. Looking up at him (she gauged him to be a good six inches taller than her five-foot-seven frame), she reached her hand out and placed it on his cheek.
The result was almost instantaneous. His mouth was quickly on hers and she responded fervently, but within moments she was overwhelmed not only with the taste of him.
The vision screamed across her landscape, like a locomotive gone terrifyingly out of control.
She screamed and dropped to the floor.
* * * * *
He didn't know what had possessed him to kiss her. From the moment her hand was on his cheek, though, he needed to feel more of her.
He also didn't know what had happened next. She had responded and softened against his lips, then her hands had gripped his arms. She went rigid, screamed and let go of him, hitting the carpet with a speed he could not match.
He dropped to his knees beside her, her breathing fast and ragged, her eyes fluttering madly.
"Alice," he called. He put his hand on her cheek. "Alice, what's wrong?" When she didn't respond, he contemplated calling for an ambulance. Her eyes began to open, though, and her hand flashed up to grip his.
"Why won't she move?"
"The lady with the baby? Why won't she get out of the way?"A long, long time ago, back in a strange place called LJ Idol Season 8, I started a writing exercise around a crazy little bit of inspiration I had once. This is not the first bit about Alice and Travesty; I don't know if it will be the last, but it has been interesting to revisit them and poke a little more life into this story. I apologize if you're feeling a bit out of the loop on this one - if you want to read more about The Guy and the Train and That Chick He Saved, check out my entries from Season 8 for a little more context. And who knows, if I stick around, maybe more of the story will start to write itself.