Heathens

Apollo and Dion, a dysfunctional rag-tag pair of demon hunters have been sent to investigate the city of Havenbrook and its inhabitants.

The mission is simple: to find the cultists responsible for a recent string of murders and to bring them to justice. Even if it takes killing dozens of demons on the way there.

But things are never that simple when you deal with the dark arts. Cultists, demon pacts, sacrificial murders all stand in the demon hunters' way as they search for the truth. A truth that will force them to question their own identities, a truth about the absolute evil lurking beyond heaven and earth. The question is, if they find the truth, will they be strong enough to handle it?

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39. Chapter 38

Dion
July 24th, 2017
7:03 PM

 

He grabbed her by the mouth and looked like he would not let go with that iron grip pinching the corners of her moaning gasp. By the fifth thrust, she began to wiggle away. By the seventh, she had enough and with one hand against his chest, pulled him out of her and let him stand in the naked, cold air. Erect and sweating.

“Why are you rough today?” Ophelia threw a wet pillow at him.

“What do you mean?” Dion went towards her for a hug. He thought, at least, that it was just play and crawled back on the bed with his belly and elbows. She pushed his face back, kept the predator look at bay.

“I mean what I say. You’re rough. You were much more gentle the first time. Now it’s just…like a god damn dog, what the fuck?”
 
“I’m just, distracted.” He looked down. “Some things in my mind have come back up.”

“The things that made you come here?” She nodded her head. “I knew it. I knew this was a bad idea. I knew the moment I saw your crying, moping face.”
 
Ophelia stood up and reached for her clothes that hung by the edge of a bleached-oak countertop. A tank top, some pajama pants. She started working her hair into a bun and Dion just stared, with the rose water smell in the air and the velvet underneath like smooth, warm sand, his fingers dug into it and the mattress and he watched. He was naked, flaccid, and outstretched. 

It was cold. 

Amongst the hot room, amongst her radiated warmth, that made him think that her pink cheeks were some kind of candle flame (for they looked the part in the way they bloomed), he was feeling cold. 
 
She turned around and sucked in her lips. She could only massage her scalp as she looked at his sullen expression. He looked like a child, some lost animal wandering and shaggy with the dirty look of the streets caked like mud on his face. A heavy mud, a mud that made him downcast.

His forehead, his nose, his eyes, all down. His breath, sighing. 

“Before, I didn’t ask you why you came here.” Ophelia said. “It just sounded like you needed a place, and I owed you one. But now you’ve been here for four days and I’m starting to get the idea that you don’t want to leave. So I have to ask, why are you here? Where did you come from?”

He looked at the pretty cabinets and the reflection of the pleasant pink lights radiating from the corner room, a giant fixture in the shape of a salt rock or a totem. He couldn't tell. His clothes were in a corner and in a square plastic box, the faux-lion carpet beneath his feet felt comfortable, a massage of fur for his toes and a panacea for the growing tensions in his muscles that made his calves spasm. 

There really isn't a cure for nervous ticks though. Just suppressants, but no cures.

“I don’t want to tell you why I’m here.” He said. 

“Yeah, you said that.” She turned away, opened a drawer and took out a cloth. She left for the restroom and seemed to take the glow of the room with her. Dion put a pillow against his face to suffocate, it seemed, the last of his hope.

“I’m sorry I put this on you.” He muffled.

“Why?” Ophelia asked. “I made the choice just as much as you did.”

“You’re married though.”

“Was planning to marry, actually. And you were depressed and I was stupid enough to give into that maternal instinct of mine, and well, here we are.” She said. “You can beat most things, not biology though. It follows us from the womb to the grave. A slave master, a whip, and a reaper all at once.”

“You’re starting to sound like someone I don’t like. Please stop.” Dion said. 

"That Apollo guy?" She said. He groaned.

“I’m sorry I ruined your marriage, is what I want to get.” He said.

“Don’t feel guilty. My ex, he's probably fucking some other girl too. He usually does. Cat calls he calls business trips. There isn't a whore moan in this city I can't trace back to him, like a radiation trail. You find the hints over time, hairs, smells, neck marks. Then you confirm it, for me it, it was just a look. Or the lack of one. Like he couldn't even tolerate to look me in the eyes like the space between us grew, centimeter to centimeter."

She threw water at her face. Dion saw her imperfections. Freckles, a lazy eye, the years of strife on her forehead that made her wrinkle early.  Imperfections like anyone else. And it made him sad to ever think her anything else but human.

“You know? When you helped us at the club? I kind of wish you didn’t. I wish my shitty man, if I could even call him my man, was beaten up just a bit more. Just enough to let him know how I feel, even if only vicariously.” 

“You don’t mean that.” Dion said. “You’re better than that.”

“I wonder.” She said. She rubbed water on her face. She walked back in and sat next to him and rubbed his cheeks with tender hands. Then frowned. Dion went forward with puckered lips, she pushed his shoulders back.

“I’m glad you came, really.” She smiled. But he knew what the tone meant. “You made me realize I wasn’t ready for marriage.”

“With him, right?” Dion asked. 

“With anyone.” She said. He frowned.

“But. We’ve, well, we’ve been together?” He asked. “It’s meaningful, what we’ve done. It’s the consummation of love, you know? It’s sacred.”

He put his sad mask on again, the face he made that made her think of the night four days ago. The wrangled dirty boy. It was an innocent sadness then and it looked like it again, now.

“Dion. We had sex a couple times. That’s it.” She said. “You haven’t even told me who you really are. You said you were the son of a pastor, here to sell bibles.”

“I am. I’m selling something, I guess. Was...” His hands fell.

“You expect me to believe that?” She went to the closet and the small square package of clothes. A new dress shirt, some new shoes. She took the bundle and put it to his lap.

“I expect you to understand.” He said. He turned away from the clothes.

“And I do. I understand you were just a passing moment, I understand that I’m one too. For you at least. You’ll move on and I’ll move on. Like two passing trains.” 

“Well.” His shoulders sagged. “The difference is you know where you’re going. Me. Me...”

Dion wiped his forehead. 

“Me? I’m fucked.” The word came out difficult. It dragged, the curse word, it seemed to burn because he touched his mouth afterward and rubbed his lips and closed his eyes in silent prayer. She narrowed her eyes. He was strange.

“I can let you stay the night but you have to go home by morning. I thought you were with that one guy anyways? Uh.” She rubbed her head. “Apollo, that’s all you talked about. Apollo.”

“The prick.” He said. “I hate him and I’m afraid if I see him again, I’ll hate him even more. If that's possible.”

“He’s the only person you really talked about.”

“Well, when you get to know someone, whether they’re pleasant or not, they seemed to stick with you. Like a ghost.” He said.

“Or like toilet paper under your shoe.” She laughed. She rubbed his arm, just a child, she thought. He started fitting his clothes and finding them to have shrunk, so he tugged on the ends of his pants and his coats to fill the draft where the cold air was coming through. 

“You're just a runaway.” She said. “You look like it like I just found you crying in the middle of a store.”

“Are you calling me a kid?” He fixed his cuffs.

“I’m saying that you have somewhere to be and it isn’t here. Like me.” 

“And where’s that?” He asked. She smiled and fixed his tie which was sloppy and slanting to the side, and fixed his collar which was puffed up like a cautionary cone for a dog. She turned him and pulled up his coat tail stuck to his belt. She reached for his coat flaps, put a finger on them and he pulled away. Another secret, she thought.

“Right.” She laid on the bed and watched him from the meridian glow, he stood by the door frame and his face was cross sections, half in, half out. “ Where am I going? I’ll go back to school, I think. I hate this real estate shit. And you? I think you should go back. Consider couples counseling or something.”

 “You’re one to talk.” He shook his hip. His clothes felt tight, his whole body looked wound up. An explosive with a fuse that had run out days ago.

“We all have things to settle. Maybe it won’t be so bad when you settle yours.” She said.

“What I’ve done? What I've done.” He tried to remember, his eyes rose to the corner of his sockets and the baby blue painted walls disappeared. The picture frames of smiling youths, the vases and their flowers around him warped, the sofa across from him, a tomb. The flat screen television sounding static, a giant stone. Here marked Sophie. He shook. The images would not leave. One after another, so far down he went into the memory that he began to feel the heat of the room and his gun and the burning screams of the cremated like their long nails were up to his neck and making him sweat. 

His eyes opened. She looked sad and distant and he looked away. “I don’t think I can be saved from what I’ve done.”

“I can tell that’s what you think.” She said. “You’re giving me my ex-fiancé’s look. And I’ll tell you what I’ll tell him; you won’t know if you can be saved if you don't even make the effort to try."

“How can you say that? You’re calling off you’re marriage, you’re not forgiving him.” He moaned. 

“All apologies are selfish. You don’t do it for the person wronged, you do it for yourself. It’s like cutting a weighted rope. Yeah, you'll keep the scars but at least it won't be so heavy anymore.” She sighed.

“I'm supposed to be the pastor's son. The lord's servant.” He blew his hair and rubbed his scalp as if caught with lice. He couldn't stop scratching his hair 

“You know, this is coming from me, but don’t act so holy. It’s not like you’re guiltless." He said. "I mean, you cheated too."

“You’re right. I’ve got my problems to face too. And I’ll face them. But will you?”

"You're sounding like him again." He said. "But he's a lot meaner. Less caring."

He turned around. He put his hands in his pocket and went past the vases and pictures and other novelties, a bass fish that sang with a button press, a collection of postcards from all they’re favorite vacations, history on top of history she was willing to throw away, and it began to anger him. Like the strength of will in her was somehow stronger than in him, and he kicked the door open. And he kicked a garden gnome in half and watched its broken feet teeter from the sidewalk into the gutter. He kicked the dirt. She watched from the window, not mad as much as she was curious about what or whom he would kick next.

So he went out, into the streets from the white painted fences and into the broken roads, from the orange u-haul trucks of the rich as if wandering life buoys, to the miserable with clutch children behind barred windows, drowning, but too scared to try to swim. He looked to the sky, the sky was just setting. He kicked the floor and wondered where Apollo was, or with whom.

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