Fearless { working title: In The Harsh Morning Light }

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Fearless { working title: In The Harsh Morning Light }

Post by Maggie on Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:28 am













A quiet din settled over the apartment on Clinton Avenue, meanwhile the storm raged on outside. Trees swaying and flashes of autumnal hued leaves fluttered passed providing pops of color in the otherwise grey late October sky. Jackie had been called away so the place felt, colder, smaller. Colleen had never felt so alone until he wasn’t by her side. She’d only overheard snippets of the conversation and from the way Jackie’s voice sounded it was something serious.

“What is it that you do…y’know for a livin’?”
She’d asked late one night as Colleen wiped down the worn oak top of the bar and Jackie sipped on a beer. It was a slow night at the Old Towne and only they remained. Perched atop an ancient barstool as smoke and music drifted around her made her feel more at home, she’d only left Boston a year previously and New York was certainly beginning to grow on her. Come to think of it, so was her rather animated customer.  He’d given her a smile, one of those that could surely charm the pants off of damn near anyone and sat back taking a long pull from his Heineken bottle.

“I…am a jack of all trades and a master of none. What about you?”
Reaching for his pack of cigarettes he offered her one and she politely shook her head.

“Well, at the moment I’m what you see before you. A humble bartender in this fine establishment.  Big step up from long lining back home.”

Jackie’s blue eyes widened as he lit his cigarette and inhaled. That last part had caught his interest.

“Where was home..before I mean?”

“Gloucester. Helped my Dad with the family business. Not much to tell really.”

Jackie smiled as he finished the last dregs of his beer and ordered two more without so much as saying a word. Popping the caps off she passed them over the bar before taking her seat again and was surprised when he held one out to her. Checking the clock it was well after closing time and the owner trusted Jackie.

“I’m Irish, I’ve got a knack for listening to stories and we’ve got all night. I’m Jackie by the way.”

Clinking their bottles together Colleen smiled and finally felt at ease.

“Well, if one Irish doesn’t know another Irish. Colleen. Colleen Murphy. It just so happens I’ve got a knack for telling stories so you’re in for a treat then.”

It had started tentatively at first. Just drinks then her spending the night over at his place every one and a while. Everything was kept pretty much PG until late that summer, he’d come to the bar in a dark mood and smoking like a chimney. Eyes blown by something that surely wasn’t chemical but naturally occurring.

“Hey..you okay over there? I tried calling you last week but all I got was your answering machine…”

The bar was empty save for them, much like the night they’d officially met and exchanged names.

“I don’t wanna talk about it, Col. Just gimme a beer and I’ll be out of your hair.”

Dark brows knit together she got him a beer and went back into the kitchen and opened the fridge to find the dinner she’d brought with her. It was just a bowl of soup, a recipe her mother swore by and some saltines. She popped the container into the microwave and grabbed a spoon for him. Setting it gently down in front of her haggard looking customer he reached for his wallet, he seemed much more stiff than normal.

“You reach for that wallet I’ll break your fingers. I brought it from home and you need it more than I do. You’re shaking.”

She studied him for a moment and saw that his face was drawn and dark circles were under his eyes. There was a smudge of something on his shirt collar and he was wearing the same clothes she’d seen him in on Monday. He had dirt under his fingernails and the calluses on his hands were rubbed raw, he smelt of gunpowder.

“I’m not going to ask what you did because I know you don’t wanna talk about it but I am going to ask you to come home with me. You look like you’ve been through hell twice over and your building is being fumigated.”

He had looked at her with questioning eyes, almost marveling at her kindness. He had all but devoured his dinner and drained the beer she’d given him rising to his feet stiffly he allowed her to lead the way toward her home. It was just a one bedroom place but it was nicer than what she’d had back in Gloucester. This place actually had a door that locked and it’s own washer dryer unit off of the kitchen. Their decor choices had differed drastically, she had favored dusky roses and muted greens in favor of his stark white walls and Guinness themed swag.
She had shown him to the bathroom and started the shower for him and took his clothes to clean them. It was only them that she felt the weight in the pocket of his work pants. Spent bullet casings jingled in her hand as she felt the weight of a revolver. It was still loaded. It was then that she spotted the rusty red stains on his shirt front and then looked down on the boots in front of the washer. They were caked with mud and murky red streaks.

‘What the hell did he do…kill someone?’

She pushed the thoughts out of her mind and kept her face trained in a blank stare as she went about spot treating Jackie’s things before putting them into the wash.  Rummaging through her closet she found an old t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants for him with the intent on leaving them on the bathroom counter.  She knocked softly before opening the door to find him huddled in the tub with the shower beating down on him. The pain on his face was clear as the light of day to her, so were the welts on his body and the bullet graze on his shoulder and another on his thigh. It was only then when he looked at her that he noticed he had a black eye.

“Jesus, Murphy. Give a guy a minute would ya?”
His tone was meant to be joking but it sounded hollow.  She quietly grabbed a washcloth and a fresh bar of soap and motioned for him to sit down in the tub rather than stand. Filling the tub she went about checking his injuries and cleaning them along with the rest of him as gently as she possibly could. She handled him with kid gloves as she washed his face and then moved toward his hair. She had done her best to wash away as much of the pain as she could and bandage him up before helping him to her bed. There he slept for the better part of two days waking only to eat. She never once asked a single question other than ‘how are you feeling?’ to which he answered ‘Better now that I’ve got you.’ They had shared a quiet smile between them and she helped him back to bed only to have him ask her to stay with him. She obliged and curled into his side as naturally as could be.

“I’ll tell you…someday…but not today.”

He’d whispered to her before they both fell asleep and she was content with that.


The feeling of contentedness was long gone for her now as the worry crept in on her. It now threatened to swallow her whole and would only vanish when Jackie came home. The familiar jingle of keys was heard from the front door and she went out to meet him only to find that was busted up worse than the first time she had helped him. Yet still she didn’t ask what had happened. She couldn’t bring herself to, the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach screamed at her to keep her mouth shut for the time being and just help him. Two hours, one shower and one very painful bullet extraction later they laid curled around one another listening to the autumn storm as it raged around them.

Without Jackie knowing Colleen had done a little digging around and found out exactly what his older brother Frank was up to. Jackie had mentioned him in passing a few times and Colleen had met him only last week when he’d stopped in to get Jackie. It hadn’t taken her long to put the pieces together as what Jackie was to his older brother and it enraged her.  A few phone calls back home and a favor cashed in and Colleen knew that Jackie would finally be able to be free of the dead weight that took the form of Frank. The next morning, just as the sun rose above the city the phone beside the bed rang. Cousin Mike was calling to make sure she got home in once piece and to tell her that his end of the deal was dealt with. She had just put the clothes in the wash and scrubbed herself raw. Taking the time to carefully trim down her nails Colleen felt a weight lift from her shoulders as she spoke.

“Thanks Mike. I’ll send you that card later today okay?”

“I already got it, Murphy.”

“Think of it as an early Christmas gift, okay?”

“Alright.”

As soon as she hung up the phone Jackie rolled over and groggily opened his eyes.

“Who’s that on the phone?”

“Oh, wrong number. They were looking for someone else. Old tenant I think.”

Jackie seemed appeased with the answer and she moved carefully into his side once more, softly stroking his hair and kissing his cheek.

‘Someday…I’ll tell you what I did…but not today.’
She thought to herself as they both drifted back to sleep.

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Maggie
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