In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Al Bruno III
Thursday November 7th 1996
Isobel opened her eyes to see it was almost noon. The alarm on her clock radio had never been set and there were five messages waiting for her on the answering machine. Isobel couldn’t care less about any of it, work and Nick could both go to Hell.
All the covers had been kicked off the bed save for a single sheet, one bare leg lolled out in the cool air. Memories of the making love as the dawn rose made her blush. She'd never been so unreserved before. It was as if the nearness of him had made her into a different person. Isobel reached across the bed wanting to pull him close again, eager for some snoozy spooning or perhaps for something more.
But he was gone.
Stumbling to her feet she retrieved her robe from the floor and checked the bathroom only to find it empty. So was the kitchen. And the parlor.
Oh no no no no…
She found her purse lying upended in front of the TV, the contents had been spilled out onto the rug. Isobel was feeling weak in the knees anyway so she fell to them right there and started going through the pile of makeup, mismatched napkins and old receipts. Her wallet was still there, but all the cash was gone- seventy-five dollars in all. He had left her credit cards and checkbook behind.
You’re a real fucking gentleman Galen.
What had she expected? She had literally picked him up on the side of the road and then gone to bed with him before even learning his last name.
I still don’t know his last name.
There was something rising in her throat. Was it a sob or a scream? Either way it tasted of bile and she choked it back. Why did this keep happening? Was she too needy? Too wide around the hips? Why did men always do this to her? Why was she never anything more to them than a place holder until something better came along?
Crossing the room she looked out the glass door that led to the balcony. There was a ratty looking lawn chair and round table with an ancient bird dropping in the center. When she had first moved here she had thought it would be cool to have her own balcony, she had imagined herself drinking wine and reading a book on a warm Sunday afternoon but from her third floor all she could see was the local high school, a cemetery and a shopping mall.
Did any other city have a layout so strange? Or depressing?
From school to the grave with a shopping trip along the way.
Isobel searched the parking lot for some sign of him but all she saw was her car; slightly crooked in its parking space and sporting a huge hole in the rear windshield. That and some stained sheets was all she had to remember her night with Galen by.
I hope. She thought queasily. Nick had always been the one to take care of protection because no matter what kind of birth control pill she tried it ended up making her sick and miserable. The doctors had told her to stick it out for a few months but she hadn't been able to stand it. After that she left it as the man's responsibility.
What was the old saying? No glove no love?
All her cautions had crumbled when she stood close to Galen. Thoughts of safety had never even occurred to her, all she had wanted was Galen close. All she had wanted was skin on skin.
And what had it gotten her? Another heartbreak, another betrayal.
She had a quick, hot shower; just enough to scrub the scent of him off her. The clothes she chose to wear were her most comfortable and unflattering, the kind Nick hated to see her in. The rest of the day was hers now and she wasn’t going to spend it moping around the house not when there was no shortage of things to keep her busy. She could visit her best friend Cheryl, or look in on her brother Warren and make sure he hadn't accidentally burned their parents' house down. Then of course there was her car window, she needed to do something about that before it rained.
More than enough to keep me occupied, she thought. More than enough to keep me from crying over a stranger.
For a while anyway.