Howling Moon: Hunting with the Pack (MMMMM/m Gay Paranormal Erotica)

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Luckily, she loves soft talking and fossil fuels. None of that happened. She had me drive her home in pouring rain to watch her pack in the dark. I was about to throw up over the matter when the craziest thing happened. I know your problem, Gabriel. The dancer? I bet anything you daydream about being hilarious in front of her family. A great sign of immaturity, Gabriel.

Terribly original. There is no right place. You have this story in your head, your immortal beloved. Your inamorata. Someone should let you in on a secret. The cancer metastasizes, or the cat walks in front of the T. All this is only happening. My head is splitting. Her name is, Hannah. Jane throws a pile of her dresses all over the room. Scattering dresses everywhere. This is happening. No good or bad with any of it. Mistaking a longing in our chest for something good.

She removes her dress from her body, contemplating where to place this one, before throwing it out the window. The curve of her breast. Mounting me on the bed. Rubbing my chest. Kissing my neck. Biting my ear, her laugh bleeding held down by a sustain pedal, bent along the cut and dried entirely. She smells like lucid dreaming. A rose opens laughing its head off.

Am I the only one clapping? Olympus begging for an answer after a thousand years of famine, hereditary fate, and holy wars. Going up hills to read into stars. Sacrificing all sorts of helpless things like animals, and children for answers. He gazes at them with that misty-eyed smile the prophets would fail to capture with integrity. A scribe raises his stone tablet with chisel at hand.

Mark Walters lowering his gaze extending his palm. He pauses for an applause break that never comes. Then has the guts to wink and give them words to describe light. A God that knows nothing. As much as humanly possible. For the love of Pete, love is manageable. From now on. Adam Scharf was born and raised in upstate NY. My stomach tingled. Run of the mill , as my mother would say. But blond-haired, brown-eyed girls? Life for them, I imagined, was an uphill battle. Her teeth were perfect, pure white, immaculate. I could tell she never missed a day brushing them.

She shifted herself in the booth. Her collarbones poked through her V-neck like they were trying to escape. I was a sophomore in college. Columbia and I had met up by pretty much chance. She was two people ahead of me in line at Subway.

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I cut the line and stood behind her for a few seconds until she turned around. After we paid for our sandwiches, we small-talked a bit, both of us all smiles. Then, when we hit a stopping point, I asked for her digits. After our phone call, I entered her address on MapQuest. It said it would take me forty-five minutes to get to her place from my dorm. Damn, I thought, she lives in Djibouti. When I got to her neighborhood, I was still surprised to find myself in a trailer park, in Devine, about thirty miles outside the city. I had no clue she lived in a trailer park, or Devine.

She was standing outside her home, looking absolutely fine in dark blue jeans and a low-cut T-shirt with a faded American flag on it. Suddenly, an image of her draped in an American flag, with nothing else on underneath, popped in my head. I pushed it away quickly. Columbia and I had both loved punk rock. At The Disco, all them. I counted legit ten thousand wrinkles on her face. Once Columbia and I had decided on a booth, Doris walked us over it, slowly, very slowly.

By a miracle of God, Doris seemed not bothered one iota by my little stunt. After all, the woman had lived through several world-shaping wars, and Eisenhower and Tricky Dick. And lots of grandchildren. I was just another punk ass kid she had to serve on a Friday night to get a halfway decent tip. The food arrived quick. My eggs were warm and fluffy. The waffle batter practically melted in my mouth. I scarfed down everything fast, like a wolf.

Columbia had only taken a few bites of her pancakes when I finished. I could only watch as Columbia ate. She chewed each bite about fifteen times, real methodical. Her lips stayed close shut, real mannered. I imagined her looking up at me and saying, Not bad for a trailer park girl, huh? She loved the job but hated going to school at the same time and was considering taking a year off.

College was too much like high school, she said. I wanted to tell her right then and there to not unenroll, to stick with it. For some reason, her comment rubbed me the wrong way. I was no different from her. Because Columbia and I had both loved The Office. And I was good at impressions.

And that was a fucking amazing episode. Doris was back. As we waited for our check, I glanced around the restaurant. Except for an old couple sitting behind us, there was nobody else. The graveyard shift had begun. People had better things to do on a Friday night. She flashed those perfectly straight, immaculately white chompers at me. Damn, I thought, she could be a toothpaste model. The old couple behind us—I glanced back at them again—both glared at me.

They found nothing funny about our company. For a quick second, I pictured Columbia and me as them, lived past our expiration date. Suddenly, her expression changed. It was as though she was contemplating something heavy, something sad. A black cloud drifted across her eyes. I really do. But they also make me really sad for some reason. Cool with it. At peace with it. Know what I mean? For example, I love going to the movies. Like, I love watching people do weird shit in the snack line. I love the smell of movie popcorn. I love picking out the perfect seats in the dark. And then, later, all the lights will shut off for good.

I wanted to bust out another Michael Scott impression, but it was like the water in my funny well dried up. I had to dig us out of there. I totally get it. And I hate knowing all that stuff too. Like now, for instance. Comfortable silence, satisfied stomachs, infinite possibilities ahead. The Ramones. The Sex Pistols. Black Flag. The Clash. All them. All the lights were off everywhere. Pitch black.

For all I knew, I was in another country. And I practically was: in Devine, the hill country. Then I remembered a time in high school when, during one lunch, Columbia had told me that her mom had grounded her once for two months because she forgot to bathe her baby sister. I did the math in my head quick: two months was one-sixth of a year. I soon realized how Columbia had only mentioned bad things about her family. Got a problem with that? All for a blouse. Inside was her mother—her mother, in bed fast asleep, or perhaps waiting for her daughter to come inside so she could trap her in a cage.

When our eyes met again, different information was passed between them. Damaging, in the wrong hands. My heart pounded through my throat. My brain drilled a single command into me, repeated over and over. My other hand raised her porcelain chin. Her breathing was heavy, labored. She clasped my face and bit my bottom lip soft, then hard. My hands slid up her shirt. Then down. She slapped me. Holding both my hands, she forced them slowly south, her control, her pace. She leaned into my ear and breathed hot air into it. Silent, I watched her, studied her slender fingers slide across her curls like she was playing the harp.

She stepped out of my car and sauntered toward her front door as if she was never gone. There was nothing left for me to do but leave, so I left. I waited for a call, a text, that never came. Three days in a row I texted a single question mark. Three question marks were stacked, one on top of the other. All unanswered. Sorry, goodbye. After I graduated from college, I saw this girl named Priscilla.

Dark skin, short, big mouth, super Catholic. We dated a few months, did the things all young people do fresh out of college. I made reservations two weeks in advance. I called two more times and still no answer. I waited a few minutes before I tried again. Straight to voicemail. I got fed up and left. I had a wild dream that night. It was the middle of day, Africa hot.

I was on horse, passing through the middle of somewhere like a desert. Then, at some point, I arrived at a small town, Old West style. All the buildings were wood, blackened by the sun. The townspeople were lined up in two rows on both sides of the main dirt path. Halfway through my crossing, I hocked a loogie. Next thing I knew, I was no longer on horseback, but standing with the townspeople, watching along with them as the mysterious horseman passed by. The horseman wore a large black hat, a duster, and golden spurs that sparkled.

A huge tumbleweed. Priscilla and I never really recovered after that night. We squeezed two more dates out of each other, and the last one, we were both on our phones the whole time. Christmas season, Friday night at the mall. My old stomping grounds. The best time of the year. Yeah, right. I walk around. The gray floor tiles are lifeless as ever. Dirty, too. Waldenbooks is gone. Hardly a soul around. They must have better places to be on a Friday night. The American Dream, I think.

Then I look up. I see a woman in the distance, walking with her toddler. They move closer to me. I take note. Suddenly, a new organ seems to grow in the space between my heart and stomach. You bolt across the mall like Forrest Gump after his braces come off. You hit your stride fast. Why are you smiling? Not once do you look back. How sweet and painful the oxygen is. You realize how ridiculously out of shape you are. So loud you wonder if you farted.

That you can eat a cow. Then, a hot stab pierces your right knee, the one you hurt playing league basketball years ago. You grab it, wincing. The pain spreads down your leg. Blood rushes to your head. A pause. A sentence forms in my head then bum rushes out of my mouth like a Hurricane Katrina looter. She stares, baffled, then her expression softens into something unreachably sad.

Before she can say a word, her daughter taps my chin again. She rocks back and forth. She guides the thin piece of leather through the hole in the bead. Deformed by years of crippling rheumatoid arthritis, her misshapen fingers and hands can string the beads and it surprises me. Making the strings of beads and selling them at a shop in the El Centro and another shop in Cancun is how she makes what little she can to survive.

She refuses money or any financial assistance from me even though I have been married to her daughter Rita for thirty years. She slides one bead after another. She hates me for marrying her only daughter and taking her to America so many years ago, and now for bringing her back to this island to spend her final days. I have difficulty understanding when it is spoken quickly. Cecilia knows this and exploits it as a way of showing her disdain for me.

For now she is silent, threading the leather through the beads. There is a warm, fragrant sea breeze coming in through the open window. It pushes the white lace curtains into the room. Through the open window I can see but not hear the gentle waves washing slowly over the huge rocks along the nearby shore, a shoreline of thin strips of private beaches and rocky crags below a line of homes owned by mostly American expats and seasonal residents. Looking at Rita asleep on the snow-white linens dressed in her favorite baby blue night gown, she seems much younger than her age.

Her body is small, thin and frail. The few strands of gray hair among the black stand out almost as a cosmetic fashion statement, not as a sign of her age. Her face is free of wrinkles and Amelia has light pink lipstick on her lips. Now, standing at the window, looking at my dying wife, at the head of her anger-filled mother staring down at the beads she is stringing on the leather strip, I feel the need to escape.

Above me and to the east, thick white clouds fill the horizon of dark blue sky. It is September, the time of year for battering storms and ferocious hurricanes. I adjust the white ball cap on my balding head and walk the road headed toward the southern tip of the island.

The breeze is much stronger and warmer then felt through the window in the bedroom where Rita lay. The ever-present aromas of fish, salt water and the scents from the palm trees and ferns that surround the nearby swampy lagoon assault my sense of smell. They are rich and exotic smells, like walking into a tropical hothouse. What few insects there are buzz briefly around my head, then are carried away by the breeze. Within a few yards of one another large green iguanas sit in the middle of the road bathing in the sunlight, then scurry into the lush grass along the road as I near them.

At the roadside entrance to El Garrafon Park I walk along a line of parked taxis and mopeds. From the road I spot the tourist-filled water along a small stretch of the park at the bottom of a hill. Brought there by ferries to scuba dive and see the bright colored coral on the seabed, a hundred or so tourists are standing in the water, each wearing goggles, bobbing their heads in and out of the water like strange sea birds to view the coral and whatever aquatic life they can see around their feet. I once did this same thing with Rita, but that was years ago, long before hordes of tourists were brought to the island by ferry from Cancun.

We swam and went scuba diving as far out and as deep as we could. She swam here, marveling at the coral and the sea life from the time she was a toddler. When the tourists came en masse she no longer wanted to swim at this part of the island. During our visit five years previously, we found a private alcove with a very small sandy beach on the eastern side of the island, a place she knew also from her childhood, nearer to the southernmost part of the island, Punta Sur. There in the water a few feet out I was dashed against the rocks by a very rough wave and climbed out of the water, scratched and bruised, and found Rita sitting on her towel, her head in her hands.

You could have drowned. Going past the park and entering Punta Sur I am glad to put those things out of my mind, the early days of her illness as well as the tourists here now. Only a few of the tourists are walking among the paths that wind their way all the way to the narrow rocky tip of the island. I take one of the paths stopping only to look at the recently carved statues placed along the way, including one of Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of Childbirth and Medicine. Standing on the very tip of Punta Sur looking from high up out over the vast bright blue waters I know the days of simply being concerned about her are over.

On the way back to the house a small light brown mongrel with a stomach bloated from starving or disease or carrying a litter follows close behind me. There are small packs of these dogs, abandoned yet harmless, that roam the island being fed and kept barely alive by well-meaning tourists. This one gets no nearer then a few feet from me and stands cautiously outside the door watching me as I close the door. Inside the house it is very quiet. To live is what makes difference to her, not the dying. You can go home. I can take care of my wife. After all the tests, the scans, the MRIs, the countless neurological exams, it was the final word every doctor, surgeon and brain specialist used: inoperable.

She saw the prognosis of eventual death as the eventual ending of the medicated headaches and nausea, periods of confusion and increasing lack of coordination. She said very little the entire flight from Virginia, but stared out the window almost the entire time.

Those first days upon our return went by fast, too fast, and Rita wanted to see as much of the island as possible. At only about five miles from one end to the other and much less than that from the east side to the west, in the past we had easily walked it from end to end. The throngs of tourists in the narrow streets in the El Centro shopping district overwhelmed her. It led to our quickly retreating to a bar along the waterfront just to find an escape until I could get a taxi to take us home.

When we arrived by taxi Cecilia was standing in the open door of her small house on a side street leaving El Centro heading south as if she were guarding it from would-be robbers. Although she took her daughter in her arms and hugged her tightly, she said nothing to me.

Sitting in her small living room I realized that nothing had changed or even been moved since our previous visit five years before. She and Rita spoke to each other in rapid-fire Spanish. I looked at all the photographs on the walls of her and Rita. Within a week Rita suffered a seizure and became confined to her bed. Most of the time when she was awake she knew where she was and what was happening around her, but she slept a lot, as if preparing for eternal sleep by taking frequent naps.

On several occasions she awoke very confused and in a state of panic until either I or Amelia or Cecilia could calm her by gently rubbing her hand and talking to her in gentle, reassuring, soothing tones. On this night with only a single lamp on, nearing midnight the room is full of shadows. With the curtains tied against the frame of the window I can feel the strong warm winds of the storm as it crosses the island on its way to the entirety of the Yucatan. Rain falls in vertical sheets. It is a storm, but not a hurricane, but the lamp light flickers on and off occasionally.

In the distance I barely make out the lights from homes and hotels along the shore in Cancun. I turn and see her trying to sit up. I go to the side of her bed and try to gently urge her back against the pillow. I brought you home. She is looking straight at me, her face half illuminated in the light of the lamp, the other half hidden in shadow.

In her features there is an awareness. She knows what she is saying and as if suddenly punched in the stomach I now know it also. Ending her life for her had not crossed my mind until this moment. This room, this house, was not her home. Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, was. I had brought her back to it, but it was not enough. I slide my arm around her back and slip my other arm under her knees and lift her from the bed. I carry her out into the hall and to the back door and then out onto the small wooden deck overlooking a small flight of stairs and beyond that the beach and the sea.

At the bottom of the stairs I see in the darkness the dog from earlier that day, its eyes gleaming like shiny marbles from its small head. The force of the rain drenches us. Before the final step I hear a creaking of wood beneath my shoe, then the wood gives out and my right foot and leg up to my calf goes through it almost throwing me off balance completely. Holding tightly onto Rita I squirm to pull my foot and leg up through the hole.

We land in the soft sand as the rain batters us. I feel the place on my leg where I was bitten and feel the thickness of blood. The dog is nowhere to be seen. I pick Rita up and carry her to the water and pause only momentarily until walking into the waves with her. I lay her body on the water. She floats for several minutes, then disappears beneath the surface.

The mashed potatoes are a little clumpy. The skins are burnt and interfere with the garlic and rosemary. They could have used more butter; perhaps grandma ran out, perhaps she forgot to tell grandpa when he went out earlier. The chops, however, are fantastic. Absolutely brilliant. Every few bites, one of us takes a soft slurp from something wet. Grandma and her wine, grandpa and myself: a bottle of beer.

The cutlery clinks and clanks atop the plates. Grandpa is always the first to finish, then myself and grandma last. When she finishes, we discuss the luxury we just consumed. Studying is what I tell her. I want to be an English teacher at an elementary school. Over the next hour, Gran puts on a pot of coffee, the trio remaining at the table.

As per usual, the grandparents rekindle the passion between them by telling old stories that one or both of them have forgotten. Gramps is seventy-five and Gran is seventy-two. Honesty and integrity, faith and loyalty for every year of their five decades together. There have been bad times, bad years for sure. Grandma pats her mouth with a napkin.

Must be sweaty. They flash a smile. Grandma shakes her head, smiling. Not to mention the tile flooring that grandpa must remind us of every week. At least once. Grandpa fills up our cups of coffee, grinning as he returns to the table. He must have a story to tell, he always does. She excuses herself to dig away at one of those cozy mystery novels she loves to read. Never been much of a book person myself. Oh well, as long as she takes pleasure in it.

Eventually Grandpa and I move to the living room with the old tall clock and treasure chest and pictures which tell many lifetimes of memories. Oh, and the plastic-wrapped furniture. Our team, the Buffalo Beamers, are losing at halftime but manage to pull it together for a blowout once the fourth quarter rolls around.

We manage not to wake the dead with our celebration. Bondage hoods and nipple clamps. Maybe Grandpa even lets her put a strap to him. Maybe if I could make enough money to move just outside the town and travel every day for work back into it. I need to be there at one in the morning. Takes ninety minutes to get there. These Midwest winters can be real bitches. I have to walk.

Keep up on the importance of positive reinforcement. Reward the child when right, comfort the child when wrong. This all takes time, repetition and comfort. Spoil the child. Who knows, they might see my age as a good thing; matured, less likely to fold under the stress of all the screaming and fussing and crying and nose picking that comes with children of that age.

I just need to be able to hand my grandparents a check so I can pay my way doing what I love. Not waiting tables, not working in the one retail store in town, and not scrubbing toilets. Wrapping magazines and printing paper, duct tape over for forearms and wrists, thighs and stomach. Multiple layers of clothing. Hoodies and shirts and sweats beneath my jeans.

Everything I can think of while remaining within the rules: no throats and no face. Only clothing and household items, nothing solid or immovable. All black: hoodies and beanie, boots and pants and the layers beneath. I hold my ear to the wall… nothing. I know exactly which tiles in the dining room and kitchen to avoid. Every third tile from the entrance, without fail, squeaks. As does the fourth of center on the left side following the island.

Last obstacle would be the door of the screened porch past the living room, but no worries, I greased it down earlier while Grandma was gardening and Grandpa was at the store. The air is cold but the grass is only slightly crisp from the cold weather. Not enough to wake up anybody in the bedroom behind me from the backyard. The shed is getting larger, even in this black, empty night. Its edges and pointed top are impossible to miss. Within said pot is a key for said locked door.

The key sounds like a pipe, wiggling its way into the lock, clicking when it finds home. Another click and the old wooden door opens, just enough. Right to the left of the door is another pot; the search goes without luck until I recognize the crinkling plastic. Remove from pot and slip the baggy into my pocket. Step out from the shed, close, and lock door. Back through the yard. The road beneath me is smooth, almost entirely quiet and straight.

A pair of headlights, probably from a truck, turn down onto the street. I would hate for the vehicle to stop in efforts of being a Good Samaritan. A one-sided relationship, a willing patient with a bored therapist. A loving dog with an abusive owner. The motor is rumbling. And then nothing. We just pass each other.

Fucking gone. Almost right after my ass lands on the concrete I can hear a galloping pack of hooves clacking. First over the concrete and then the grass. The sound disappearing into the woods. Just keep on moving towards the light at the end of the street. After that, walk, and after that? Who knows. He was probably smiling as it went off, sending dozens of little bits of death through my organs. Like a driver checking the blind spot, I glance back over my shoulder. And stride; stride, stride, stride, stride. Breathe, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

I wonder what grandma and grandpa are dreaming of. She writes about Heaven a lot, dreams about it a lot. Another guerrilla soldier dropping another grenade into my lungs. Another explosion and another collection of shrapnel ripping my insides to bits. Another glance backwards: blackness. The long strides come to a sudden halt.

Quick walk slows to a slow trot. The collective sigh of disappointment from the wildlife around me drains out the howling wind. They wanted to watch me run the entire trip, what a bunch of assholes they are. The steps over the pavement grow however, the clouds leaping from my mouth are short and rapid.

Grandpa was telling me about a book or something. Nihilism or something. The essence of the futility of hope and effort. The Venue, an old abandoned factory, used to be a forge I think. It is packed with pickup trucks and sports cars, motorcycles and four-wheelers. Easily a hundred vehicles. Who knows how many people to each. As I get closer to the entrance I begin fiddling with the bag in my pocket.

What ground of the lot not filled by wheels is trashed with bottles and empty cigarette cartons and wrappers and who knows what the hell else. Might as well be hell. The shapes around me vary. Some are short, some tall, some fat. Some are small. Some of them are so broad, others narrower than me. From the corner of my eye I can see the breath of those around me shifting direction. As if heaven opened, somebody makes it to the front door, allowing a mob of light to shine out into the night, lets me see the pair up front: two men, tall with beards, dawning leather.

Three, four, five more people walk past me towards the door and step into the concrete playground. No gender neutrality or transgender victim cards in this place. Poles and ladders, a floorspace the size of a football field illuminates by portable spotlights. The sight blinks away as I move in front of a wall. The locker room is getting close. My hands are shaking by the time I step into the stinky room. The entrance door has been ripped from the hinges, the floor covered in dirt and grease and definitely shit.

The hollering only grows as I step into the first bay of green lockers. The tile walls match the flickering light: yellow. Onto the second bay, less folk but still too crowded for any level of comfort. Third bay, only one other person, at the end of the bench; dark hair with eyes to match and a granite jaw. We say nothing. Not even a nod. If anything, we might be giving each other a sniff.

Which one of them has woken up first to go to the bedroom, which of them cracked my door silently to peek in on the bundle of pillows they believe to be me. Been checking in on me every night of my life. The locker at the end of the bay slams shut, a deep breath following uneasy. Finally, something that resembles peace and quiet; all I hear now are the whispered prayers of those still in here. The first step to my right, out of the bay, leaves me in an uneasy freeze to maintain my balance. Another deep breath and then a second step. The feeling to my lower half returns slowly.

My strides grow shorter as the exit door comes into view. Looks as if the pearly gate just opened, but they lead to demons. The light grows and then the voices return, coming from the main square. Just louder and louder, like a goddamn moshpit. If there is a god, I am not asking for your forgiveness.

If the devil is real, I do not align with you. Between me and myself, heaven and hell are one in the same. Now that I am here, amongst the demons, I cannot see where the flesh ends; just rows and layers of men and women. Young and almost old. I am not one of those faces. Like a goddamn cow farm, so tightly packed in, so many leather jackets and leggings. Morbid hide. All the little whispers around me, like rabid bees. Bumping elbows, catching nasty looks for it.

Look for them first. Our little world of two-hundred goes quiet, deathly silent, as a crackling male voice bounces about the bodies like a rubber ball. Spin around, staring back at me is a bearded man covered in blood. The first thing I do is cram the knife into his eye, then slash through his lips. From nowhere another knife enters his cheek. I thank the aiding man with a stabbing blow. Tear right with the blade. Rip out. A fist, or the palm of a hand, slams into the back of my head, throwing me atop the floor of flesh.

I roll onto my back atop the bodies, just in time to move from a long blade being driven downward by a well-built black woman. I reach up and pull her close. Hands clutching her face towards me, legs wrapped around her waist. As if the gods of death are watching, the woman is swarmed like maggots to a corpse.


They begin to stab and slice and tear at the woman with their knives, her screams canceling my ability to hear. Whoever killed the black woman, some of them anyway, turn their affection to me. Stabbing at my exposed forearms, only to hit the rolled paper. I squeeze out just enough. Grabbing at one of the men, I yank him towards me by the wrist and slit his throat, immediately wearing his red.

The other flees after I slash his wrist. Kicking and squirming, I manage to get out from under the body. My leg is steaming wit heat almost immediately. I hear the boot behind me, so I duck down, allowing the charging body to roll over my back. They land with a wet thud , their stunned state allows me more than enough time to stomp on their face until it shatters. Their skull slides off the heel of my boot and I step towards the ever-dwindling crowd.

I want to be the one killing them. That is until I see her, the girl from the locker bay. Her entire face, neck, and chest are saturated with blood. In her left hand is a long, serrated machete, in her right a hunting knife that is considerably longer than mine. Hanging from the blade is a chunk of piping-hot flesh. Reaching down blindly, ignorant to the death around us, I take hold of another knife in my free hand.

I step into the third-grade classroom at Borton Elementary School. So many little faces from all races, walks of life, and futures. Nothing to divide us. The faces around the table are blurred. In front of me is a cake gaily decorated in pinks and greens with enough candles to set off the sprinklers in the ceiling. I am one hundred and four years old today; April the 11 th , the time of year when spring lambs are born.

I came into this world in a small town in North Carolina. Father named me Charlotte, after the city where he grew up. He said he wanted to move to the shadier side of the Carolinas, up into the Great Smoky Mountains, where you hear owls as you fall asleep and count the hills and ridges as they rise from the smoke of dawn. When I married, I moved from my childhood farm to a house near Main Street, and from there to a tiny apartment above the drug store.

Finally, I came to this retirement home. Not five miles away from my earliest memories it sits near these beloved hills. To prepare for the party, I was bathed and brushed like a poodle in one of those fancy pet salons. The nurses and attendants in the facility fussed over me with lotions and hair dryers until I was exhausted. Then they stood back, smiled, and flourished a mirror.

I stared long at the reflection. Peering back was a very old woman. My face looked like one of those storage bags they sell on television, where they put a vacuum hose in it and suck all the air out. There are skin tags and age spots scattered across my face and neck like a map of a heavily populated state. The gals give a hug then leave me in my room in a wheelchair.

The skin on my hands is paper-thin and fragile. I am afraid of banging them on a doorknob, or bruising them knocking against the nightstand reaching for water, so I wear soft white gloves for protection. On my feet are pink slippers with non slip bottoms. I never wear shoes. I only walk to the bathroom and back. The rest of the time, I am in this wheelchair, my feet in retirement. Buffy : That about sums it up. Cordelia : Bummer for her. It's awful to feel that lonely. Buffy : Hmm.

So you've read something about the feeling? Cordelia : Hey! You think I'm never lonely because I'm so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say.

Buffy : Well, if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular? Cordelia : Well, it beats being alone all by yourself. Prophecy Girl [ edit ] Angel : [about the prophecy] Well, there's gotta be some way around it. Giles : Listen, some prophecies are-are a bit dodgy. They're-they're mutable. Buffy herself has-has thwarted them time and time again, but this is the Codex.

There is nothing in it that does not come to pass. Angel : Then you're reading it wrong. Giles : I wish to God I were. But it's very plain.

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  4. Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die. Buffy : [about the prophecy in which she will die] So that's it, huh? I remember the drill. One slayer dies, the next one's called. I wonder who she is. Will you train her? Or will they send someone else? Giles : Buffy Buffy : [whimpering] Does it say how he's gonna kill me?

    Do you think it'll hurt? Were you even gonna tell me? Giles : I was hoping I wouldn't have to, that there was some way around it. Buffy : I've got a way around it. I quit. Angel : It's not that simple. Buffy : I'm making it that simple. I resign, I-I'm fired, you can find someone else to stop The Master from taking over. Giles : I'm not sure that anyone else can. All the Buffy : [enraged, throwing books at Giles] The signs?! Read me the signs! Tell me my fortune! You're so useful sitting here with all of your books! You're really a lot of help! Giles : I don't suppose I am Angel : I know this is hard.

    Buffy : What do you know about this? You're never gonna die Angel : You think I want anything to happen to you? You think I could stand it? We just gotta figure out a way Buffy : I already did. I quit, remember. Pay attention! Giles : Buffy, if the Master rises Buffy : I don't care! I don't care. Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die. The Master : You're dead. Buffy : I may be dead, but I'm still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you. The Master : You were destined to die! It was written! Buffy : What can I say? I flunked the written. The Master : Where are your jibes now?

    Will you laugh when my Hell is on Earth? Buffy : You're that amped about Hell? Go there! Buffy : It's just Xander : Yeah. Buffy died and everything. Willow : Wow. Giles : I should've known that wouldn't stop you. Season 2 [ edit ] When She Was Bad [2. Xander : Kinda lacked punch. Willow : The Three Musketeers were cool. Cordelia : I see your point. Xander : I woulda gone with Stooges. Cordelia : Well, I just meant that you guys always hang out together. So, did you guys fight any demons this summer?

    Willow : Uh, yes! Our own personal demons. Xander : Uh, such as, as, as lust and, uh, thrift! Buffy : I would have to go with Stooges also. Cordelia : Buffy. You're really campaigning for bitch-of-the-year, aren't you? Buffy : As defending champion, you nervous? Cordelia : [scoffs] I can hold my own.

    You know, we've never really been close, which is good, 'cause I don't really like you that much. But you have been known to save the world on occasion, so I'm going to give you a piece of advice. Buffy : Which is? Cordelia : Get over it. Buffy : Excuse me? Cordelia : Whatever is causing the Joan Collins 'tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. Willow : She's possessed! Giles : Possessed? Willow : That's the only explanation that makes any sense. I mean, you should've seen her last night.

    That wasn't Buffy. Xander : Are we overlooking the idea that she may be very attracted to me? Giles : Possessed by what? Willow : Aaaaa possessing thing! Giles : [sarcastically] Well, that narrows it down. Xander : Well, you're the expert. Hey, maybe when the Master killed her some Willow : That's what it was! I mean, why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h? Giles : Willow, I think we're all a little too old to be spelling things out. Xander : A bitcuh?

    Angel : We need to distract the vampires. Buffy : Right. Angel : What are you gonna do? Buffy : I'm gonna kill them all. That oughta distract 'em. Cordelia : What an ordeal. And you know what the worst part is? Jenny : What? Cordelia : It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell you, none of that rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you can dry-clean till Judgment Day , you are living with those stains.

    Jenny : Yeah that's the worst part of being hung upside down by a vampire who wants to slit your throat. The stains. Some Assembly Required [2. Angel : [laughs a bit] Of Xander? He's just a kid. Buffy : Is it 'cause I danced with him? Angel : Danced with is a pretty loose term. Mated with might be a little closer.

    Buffy : Don't you think you're being a little unfair? It was one little dance, which I only did to make you crazy, by the way. Behold my success. Angel : I am not jealous. Buffy : You're not jealous? What, vampires don't get jealous? Angel : See? Whenever we fight you always bring up the vampire thing. Xander : [digging in the grave yard as the girls watch] Y'know, this might go a lot faster if you femmes actually picked up a shovel, too.

    Giles : [stopping, almost breathless] Hear, hear. Buffy : Sorry, but I'm an old fashioned gal. I was raised to believe that men dig up the corpses and the women have the babies. Xander : So, both coffins are empty. That makes three girls signed up for the army of zombies. Willow : Is it an army if you just have three? Buffy : Zombie drill team then. Buffy : I don't get it. Why would anybody wanna make a girl? Xander : [bitterly] You mean when there's so many pre-made ones just laying around? The things we do for love.

    Buffy : Love has nothing to do with this. Xander : Maybe not, but I'll tell you this: people don't fall in love with what's right in front of them. People want the dream. What they can't have. The more unattainable, the more attractive. Xander : Well, I guess that makes it official. Everybody's paired off.

    Vampires get dates. Hell, even the school librarian sees more action than me. You ever think that the world is a giant game of musical chairs, and the music's stopped and we're the only ones who don't have a chair? Willow : All the time. Cordelia : Xander?

    I just wanted to thank you for saving my life. What you did in there was really brave and heroic, and I just wanted to tell you if there was anything that I could ever do to Xander : Do you mind? We're talking here. Willow : Wondering why we never get dates. Xander : Yeah, so why do you think that is? School Hard [2. Vigeous, our power shall be at its peak. When I kill her, it'll be the greatest event since the crucifixion. And I should know. I was there. Spike : You were there? If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion actually was there, it would've been like Woodstock.

    Spike : I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person, and then I spent the next six hours watching my hand move The Anointed One : Who are you? Spike : Spike. You're that Anointed guy. I read about you. You've got Slayer problems. That's a bad piece of luck.

    Do you know what I find works real good with Slayers? Killing them. The Anointed One : Can you? Spike : [glancing at "Big Ugly"] A lot faster than Nancy-boy there. Yeah, I did a couple Slayers in my time. I don't like to brag I love to brag! Buffy : We were at the Bronze before. Thought you said you might show. Angel : You said you weren't sure if you were going. Buffy : I was being cool. C'mon, you've been dating for, what, like, two hundred years? You don't know what a girl means when she says maybe she'll show? Two centuries of dating. If you only had two a year, that's still like dates with different Angel : I taught you to always guard your perimeter.

    Spike : I did. I'm surrounded by idiots. What's new with you? Angel : Everything. Spike : Yeah. Come up against this slayer yet? Angel : She's cute. Not too bright, though. Gave her the puppy dog "I'm all tortured" act. Keeps her off my back when I feed. Spike : People still fall for that Anne Rice routine? What a world! Xander : [to Angel] I knew you were lying. Undead liar guy. Spike : You think you can fool me?! You were my sire, man!

    You were my Angel : Things change.

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    Spike : Not us! Not demons! Man, I can't believe this. You Uncle Tom! Come on people! This isn't a spectator sport! Spike : [holding a pole] Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a nice ripe [turns to see Buffy, holding an axe] Buffy : Do we really need weapons for this? Spike : I just like them, they make me feel all manly. You don't strike me as the begging kind. Buffy : You shouldn't have come here. Spike : No. I've messed up your doilies and stuff. But I just got so bored!

    I'll tell you what. As a personal favor from me to you, I'll make it quick. It won't hurt a bit. Buffy : No, Spike. It's gonna hurt a lot. Inca Mummy Girl [2. Buffy : Oh! I know this one! Slaying entails certain sacrifices, blah blah biddy blah, I'm so stuffy, give me a scone. Giles : It's as if you know me. Devon MacLeish : What does a girl have to do to impress you?

    Oz : Well, it involves a feather boa and the theme to A Summer Place. I can't discuss it here. Devon : You're too picky, man. Do you know how many girls you could have? You're lead guitar, Oz. It's currency! Oz : I'm not picky. You're just impressed by any pretty girl that can walk and talk. Devon : She doesn't have to talk. Ampata : You are always thinking of others before yourself. You remind me of someone from very long ago. The Inca Princess. Buffy : Cool! A princess. Ampata : They told her that she was the only one.

    That only she could defend her people from the nether world. Out of all the girls in her generation Do you know the story? Buffy : It's fairly familiar. Ampata : She was sixteen, like us. She was offered as a sacrifice and went to her death. Who knows what she had to give up to fulfill her duty to others? Xander : Okay, I have something to tell you. And it's kind of a secret, and it's, um, a little bit scary.

    I like you. A lot. And I want you to go to with me the dance. Ampata : [laughs] Why was that so scary? Xander : Well, because you never know if a girl's gonna say 'yes', or if Ampata : Hmm. Then you are very courageous. Xander : I just, present company excluded, I have the worst taste in women of anyone in the world, ever. Buffy : Ampata wasn't evil. At least not to begin with, and I-I do think she cared about you. Xander : Yeah, but I think that whole sucking the life out of people thing would have been a strain on the relationship.

    Buffy : She was gypped. She was just a girl, and she had her life taken away from her. I remember how I felt when I heard the prophecy that I was gonna die. I wasn't exactly obsessed with doing the right thing. Xander : Yeah, but you did. You gave up your life. Buffy : I had you to bring me back. Reptile Boy [2. Buffy : What? What do you think is happening? Angel : You're 16 years old, I'm Buffy : I've done the math.

    Angel : You don't know what you're doing. You don't know what you want. Buffy : Oh, no, I, I think I do. I want out of this conversation. Angel : Listen, if we date, you and I both know one thing's going to lead to another. Buffy : One thing already has led to another. You think it's a little late to be reading me a warning label? Angel : I'm just trying to protect you. This could get out of control. Buffy : Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

    Angel : [grabs her roughly] This isn't some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after. Buffy : No. When you kiss me I want to die. Buffy : Well, say it. Xander : I'm not gonna say it. Willow : You lied to Giles.

    Xander : 'Cause she will. Buffy : I wasn't lying. I was just Xander : Like a corn dog. Willow : Like you don't have a sick mother, but you'd rather go to a frat party where there's gonna be drinking and older guys and probably an orgy. Xander : Whoa! Whoa-ho-ho, rewind. Since when do they have orgies, and why aren't I on the mailing list? Buffy : There's no orgies! Buffy : Angel barely says two words to me. Xander : Don't you hate that? Buffy : And when he does, he treats me like I'm a child. Xander : That bastard! Buffy : You know, at least Tom can carry on a conversation.

    Xander : Yeah! Who's Tom? Willow : The frat guy. Xander : Oh, Buffy, I don't think so. Frying pan, fire? You know what I'm sayin'? Giles : She lied to me? Angel : Did Willow : [to Angel] Well, why do you think she went to that party? Because you gave her the brush-off! And I know she's the Chosen One, but you're killing her with the pressure! I mean, she's sixteen going on forty! I mean, you're gonna live forever! You don't have time for a cup of coffee?? Buffy : I told one lie, I had one drink. Giles : Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake.

    The words "let that be a lesson" are a tad redundant at this juncture. Halloween [2. I'm sure it's full of fun facts to know and tell. Buffy : Yeah. It's too bad. That stuff is private. Willow : Also Giles keeps them in his office. In his personal files. Buffy : Most importantly, it would be wrong. Cordelia : Oh, he's a vampire! Of course! But the cuddly kind, like a Care Bear with fangs.

    Willow : It's true. Cordelia : You know what I think? I just think you're trying to scare me off 'cause you're afraid of the competition. Look, Buffy, you may be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I'm the Slayer. You're never gonna get noticed if you keep hiding! You're missing the whole point of Halloween. Willow : Free candy?

    Buffy : It's "come as you aren't " night! The perfect chance for a girl to get sexy and wild, with no repercussions. Willow : Oh, I don't get wild. Wild on me equals spaz. Drusilla : Do you love my insides? The parts you can't see? Spike : Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet. Buffy : Ta da. Just little old 20th-century me. Angel : Sure you're okay? Buffy : I'll live. Angel : I don't get it, Buffy. Why'd you think I'd like you better dressed that way? Buffy : I just wanted to be a real girl for once. The kind of fancy girl you liked when you were my age.

    Angel : Oh, ho. Angel : I hated the girls back then. Especially the noblewomen. Buffy : You did. Angel : They were just incredibly dull. Simpering morons, the lot of them.

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    I always wished I could meet someone Buffy : Really? Interesting how? Angel : You know how. Buffy : Still, I had a really hard day. You should probably tell me. Angel : You're right. I should. Buffy : Definitely. Lie to Me [2. I can so relate to her. She worked really hard to look that good, and people just don't appreciate that kind of effort. And I know the peasants were all depressed Xander : I think you mean oppressed.

    Cordelia : Whatever. They were cranky. So they're like, "Let's lose some heads. That's fair. And Marie-Antoinette cared about them. She was gonna let them have cake! Willow : Uh, Angel? If I say something you really don't want to hear, do you promise not to bite me? Angel : Are you going to tell me that I'm jealous? Willow : Well, you do sometimes get that way. Angel : You know, I never used to. Things used to be pretty simple. A hundred years, just hanging out, feeling guilty I really honed my brooding skills. Then she comes along. Yeah, I get jealous. But I know people.

    And my gut tells me this is a wrong guy. Angel : He left no paper trail. That's incriminating enough. Xander : I'm going to have to go with Deadboy on this one. Angel : Could ya not call me that? Angel : Do you love me? Angel : Do you? Buffy : I love you. I don't know if I trust you.

    Angel : Maybe you shouldn't do either. Buffy : Maybe I'm the one who should decide! Angel : I did a lot of unconscionable things when I became a vampire. Drusilla was the worst. She was She was pure, and sweet, and chaste. Buffy : And you made her a vampire. Angel : First I made her insane. Killed everybody she loved. Visited every mental torture on her I could devise. She eventually fled to a convent, and on the day she took her holy orders, I turned her into a demon.

    Buffy : Well. I asked for the truth. Buffy : Well, I've got a news flash for you, brain trust. That's not how it works. You die, and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it remembers your life, but it's not you. Ford : It's better than nothing. Buffy : And your life is nothing? Ford, these people don't deserve to die. Ford : Well, neither do I. But apparently no one took that into consideration, 'cause I'm still dying. Ford : I'm sorry, Summers. Did I screw up your righteous anger riff? Does the nest of tumors liquefying my brain kinda spoil the fun?

    Buffy : I'm sorry. I had no idea. But what you're doing is still very wrong. Ford : Okay, well, you try vomiting for twenty-four hours straight because the pain in your head is so intense, and then we'll discuss the concept of right and wrong. These people are sheep. They're wanna be vampires 'cause they're lonely, miserable or bored. I don't have a choice. Buffy : You have a choice. You don't have a good choice, but you have a choice. You're opting for mass murder here, and nothing you say is gonna make that okay. Ford : You think I need to justify myself to you?

    Buffy : I think this is all part of your little fantasy drama. Isn't this exactly how you imagined it? You tell me how you've suffered and I feel sorry for you. Well, I do feel sorry for you, and if those vampires come in here and start feeding, I'll kill you myself. Ford : You know what, Summers? I really did miss you. Giles : I believe that's called growing up. Buffy : Then I'd like to stop, okay?

    Giles : I know the feeling. Buffy : Does it ever get easy? Does it get easy? Giles : What do you want me to say? Buffy : Lie to me. Giles : Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day.

    No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after. Buffy : Liar. The Dark Age [2. He's actually still bitter that there are only twelve grades. Buffy : He probably sat in math class thinking, "There should be more math. This could be mathier. Buffy : Mm. Vampire Meals-On-Wheels. Ethan Rayne : Well we can't run. Eyghon will find us. This mark's like a homing beacon. Buffy : It's okay. I'm not much into running.

    Ethan Rayne : Aren't we manly? Buffy : One of us is. Ethan Rayne : If you think of it karmically this is, this is really big for your soul. You know, taking my place with the demon. Giving, so that others may live. Buffy : I'm gonna kill you. Will that blow the whole karma thing? Buffy : I'm not gonna lie to you.

    It was scary. I'm so used to you being a grownup, and then I find out that you're a person. Giles : Most grownups are. What's My Line, Part One [2. Buffy : So, mark "none of the above". Xander : Well, there are no boxes for "none of the above". That would introduce too many variables into their mushroom head, number-crunching little world. Xander : What, and suck all the spontaneity out of being young and stupid?

    I'd rather live in the dark. Willow : You're not gonna be young forever.