In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
May 13, 1993
There was a dry cleaners and a Chinese restaurant across the street from the Troy Diner. John crouched in the alley between the two buildings and watched for signs of Angie. Occasionally he was rewarded with a glimpse of her passing by one window or another. The mere sight of her made his heart rush. He wondered if she missed his presence, or if he was just one less face and name to memorize.
He knew he should just go back inside and tell her he'd been sick or some other such nonsense but somehow he lost the will between the thought and the deed. For now he was content to huddle in the shadow of an overflowing dumpster and pine away for her. Maybe it was better this way, maybe talking to her again would just make things worse. Phil had forbidden him to even go near the diner, afraid that the mere sight of Angie would propel him into another episode. John found the mother hen act at once irritating and sweet. Poor old Phil, he cared but he just didn't understand. It wasn't the fact that he had killed again that had driven him to the brink of madness; it was the fact that it hadn't quenched the pain.
It had felt good to kill those men.
But it hadn't felt half as good as Angie's hand touching his.
The darkness seemed to blanch. Straightening up John realized that it was almost five in the morning, Angie's shift was ending. Should he head in now? Meet her as she was leaving and offer to buy her a cup of coffee? It was too bad he didn't own a car, he could offer her a ride home. He wondered if she'd accept.
A rusty Mercury Cougar pulled into the Diner's parking lot and squealed to a halt in the handicapped space. The driver beeped the horn, and Angie rushed out of the diner, still struggling into her jacket. She approached the driver's side window and leaned in to deliver a quick kiss to the driver only to have a hand tangle in her hair and pull her in closer.
John felt a growl rising in his throat, so this was her lover was it? He stepped out of the alleyway, trying to get a good view of him
Angie ran back around the car and got in the passenger side. The Cougar peeled out of the handicapped spot and screeched out into the empty street. John got a brief glimpse of the driver's smiling, goateed face. His imagination followed them home and John imagined him doing all the things with her he’d longed to do. Those mental images hurt worse than any bullet.
“John? Is that you?”
An eerily familiar odor came to him, the scent of dust and rose petals. Recognition struck him speechless.
“Well bless my buttons! It is you. You’ve lost weight.”
John wanted to say something but he could only gape at the man walking into the alley. He wore jeans, a leather jacket and a T-shirt with wolves on it. He was short with curly close-cropped hair and dark, inscrutable eyes.
It was August Zabladowski.
But he’d killed August Zabladowski thirty-five years ago.