Sunny Mode   Night Mode, p.4

       Mark Finnemore / Horror
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Gabe pushed the door open and looked into the apartment. Luckily he'd kept a key. Luckier still Angie hadn't changed the lock. He felt like a thief breaking into his past life, though admittedly a cleaner, more stylishly-decorated version.
He wandered through the small kitchen into the bedroom. A picture on the nightstand showed him and Angie standing hand-in-hand on the shore of Morgan Lake, the wind whipping their hair into a frenzy. Gabe smiled as he remembered the warmth of Angie's hand, the light scent of her perfume mixed with blossoming jasmine. On the dresser he found two strips of cheesy pictures of him and Angie from a twenty-five cent photo booth. He grinned looking at Angie's smile--how it lit up her face--the dimples in her cheeks--the sparkle in her eyes.
Then he saw a glint of metal in the partially-opened top drawer. He opened it and pulled out a pistol and a box of ammo. Christ, when did Angie get a gun? Maybe she was afraid living without him?
He took the gun and ammo into the living room and sat on the same worn brown couch that had been there when he and Angie lived together. Hell, maybe they still did. Maybe the past two years were all in his imagination. After all, what were the chances he'd be filthy rich and engaged to one of Hollywood's hottest new starlets? And what were the chances that none of that would make him happy anyway? God was cruel.
The phone rang, demanding his attention. His first impulse was to answer, but then he realized he didn't live there anymore. Or at least he didn't think he did. After four rings the answering machine picked up. Angie's voice on the recorder said, "Nobody's home; leave a message."
After a beep another familiar voice came from the machine. "Gabby, it's Mom." Again, Gabe reached for the phone; again he reconsidered. "Be a good boy and pay your debts, Gabby. Mommy didn't teach you to be a cheater, now did she?"
Gabe stared at the phone. Memories seeped in, memories of his mother clutching a bible worn by constant handling, her eyes squeezed closed, her lips mumbling some fire-and-brimstone bullshit that had been indoctrinated into her as a child. But then maybe she wasn't crazy. Maybe all those things were real. Either way, how could she call--she'd been buried in the cemetery behind Saint Peter's for almost three years!
Gabe's heart pounded, complaining of an entire day of pounding and fluttering and sometimes seemingly stopping entirely. He loaded a cartridge into the pistol, pulled back the slide and let it snap back, loading the round into the chamber. The bullet could erase all his memories, all his delusions. He turned the gun and looked down the muzzle. It stared back at him like an empty eye socket. Unseeing. Uncaring.
Gabe pulled his gaze from the pistol's hypnotic maw and let go of the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Images of the stained glass windows at Saint Peter's came back to him: Saint George slaying a dragon--the angel trodding on Lucifer--Jesus casting out demons.
Maybe it was time to stop running.
He pulled a bullet from the box of ammunition; the deep hollow in the tip could hold a drop or two of Holy Water. Maybe that would work.
Gabe shoved the gun into his pocket and checked the clock: 3:52. Angie said she got off at five--time enough to go back to the church, get some holy water, and get back before she did.
In the kitchen he found a bottle of vitamin C and one of aspirin. He dumped the pills into the sink, shoved the bottles into his pocket, and left the apartment.
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