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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

It could be a bad dream, a touch of the Lord, or a sign of the universe.

It could be a bad dream, a touch from the Lord, or a sign of the universe.


We must always remember that the devil has his miracles.

Jean Calvin.


Each of the people regrets something, and those who do not regret are already dead for a long time. Everything would be fine, but I have one story that happened not so long ago and not with me. Probably not with me, so I want to think about it.

Let no one believe me, but I will tell you what happened to me last fall. Then there was already snow everywhere, and the wind urged everyone who dared to go outside in such inclement weather. I remember it well, because it was that autumn that I bought myself new shoes, in which I went for a walk.

The weather was not for everyone - wet snow stuck to the soles and because of this I could be heard throughout the area. Turning up the collar of my coat, I quickly took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from my pocket. The wind did not spare my frozen fingers, I had to light it, as if on an automatic machine, quickly. Taking a deep puff of tobacco, I exhaled slowly, forming a large cloud of steam and smoke around me. Looking back, I looked around. Not a soul on the street. And no wonder. I lived then in a small town, I won’t say the name, and I’m afraid to name it incorrectly. I had to move to this city, away from all my troubles and problems. From troubles, which in my life was quite a lot.

Walking around the neighborhood, I suddenly noticed a new building and it surprised me. The solid conformism that prevailed here suddenly surprises me with such a peculiar structure, it's strange. I wanted to know what was there, but it was cold as a dog. Coming closer, I could make out the name - "Mishak". Maybe a coffee shop, I thought, and walked up the steps to the front door. As soon as I entered, I was immediately struck by the atmosphere of this establishment. Medieval-style lamps hung from the ceiling, carpets on the walls and, strangest and most surprising, hookahs. Oxymoron. In such cities, alcohol is not sold everywhere. It immediately struck me as odd.


After a couple of minutes of my surprise, a guy in a white shirt approached me and offered to go inside. I wanted to tell him that I had no money and I just went to look around, but he interrupted me and explained something. It turns out that this institution has just opened and some of the services were a gift to new guests. Encouraged, I could not refuse such a kind offer and went inside, having previously removed my jacket and boots, as the local rules said. The waiter took me to an empty seat and left; a separate place on the floor with pillows laid out next to each other. Sitting on the pillows, I involuntarily glanced at the girl sitting next to me. The stranger with a languid look smoked a hookah, slowly exhaling puffs of smoke. I could barely see her face through the smoke and was about to approach her, but something stopped me. Something unknown and invisible, as if grabbed my elbow and sat me back down. Cursing myself for this, I called the waiter and ordered myself a drink, since I had a chance. Whiskey in this establishment was so-so, but I drank. I drank until I lost track of time and space. The girl sitting opposite was no longer as inaccessible as I thought before. After drinking another glass, I clenched the will into a fist and approached her.


- John. I said and sat down next to him.


- Victoria. she replied and smiled.


- Are you all alone? Am I disturbing you? I asked, staggering, holding on to the table.


- No. Have a seat. Victoria pushed her chair away from the table.


- To be honest, I completely forgot how to communicate with girls. Long time no practice. - I was able to sit down at the table and started a dialogue.


- Why? You don't look like an outcast. Victoria was still smiling.


- I was married, - what the hell is an outcast? - I thought.

- Divorced? Victoria looked at me questioningly.


- You can say that. Can I buy you something? I answered dryly and called the waiter.


- I'd like a daiquiri. she said playfully.


- Hm. Predictable. I smiled awkwardly.


- It? she did not calm down.

- My ex loved this cocktail. - What am I carrying? What the hell is an ex? I thought and put my hand on my forehead.

- Good. Then can we just have a drink? She put her hand on my shoulder.


I didn't order anything from the bar but the waiter brought us what we wanted. We drank, and Victoria began to tell me about herself, about her family, about the dog, and in general about her whole life. I missed almost everything between the ears, looking into her neckline, but one event made me listen.

Victoria was then ten years old, she said. She lived with her family in another city, in a small but comfortable apartment. Her father worked as a florist in a flower shop with her mother. The income was small, but in general it was enough. Every day, her father brought buttercups to little Victoria, saying that princesses deserve the most beautiful and best flowers. So, day after day, a carefree life continued in a small family, until her mother's health began to deteriorate.

Doctors said that it was just the most common cold and asked not to worry so much. But a cold doesn't kill people. The father mourned his wife for a long time, not noticing that his daughter was suffering no less than himself. He drank a lot and often, breaking down on little Victoria. She endured and understood him, but any patience comes to an end, no matter how much her father apologizes. Once, when her father got drunk, she secretly took the key to the stall and left the house. The path was not close, but in any case it was better than staying in the apartment. Running in the dark from one lantern to another, Victoria kept thinking about her father. She thought about what would happen to her if he found out about her escape. Will he punish her?

When she reached the flower stand, she saw the door already open in front of her. Thinking that there might be a father there, a doubt flashed through her mind, and she pulled her hand away from the doorknob. Interest was stronger than fear.

The flowers were already withered, and somewhere there were completely empty vases. And this strange smell that came from the pantry. Tiptoeing to the pantry door, Victoria looked through the keyhole. Her father was there, and he was obviously talking to someone. As she listened, she realized that her father was clearly pronouncing her mother's name. Understanding nothing, she opened the door ajar and saw her father standing near a large work table. As she listened, she heard a soft cry. He held a bouquet of buttercups in his hands, leaning over something.

Little Victoria became interested, and she, holding her breath, decided to sneak up. The smell of formalin, overturned flower pots, broken chairs. Coming closer, she began to notice the earth scattered on the floor in clusters. Carefully stepping over, approaching the table, she began to look at what her father was bending over. Her breathing stopped, her heart stopped beating for a moment, and the lump in her throat increased to a ball of wool - Victoria saw her mother lying motionless with flowers growing from her.

Screaming, she ran out of the kiosk. Without looking around, running down the street, she ran into a policeman. Soon the father explained in court that he only wanted his wife to bloom again. Little Victoria was sent to an orphanage, and her father was sent to a clinic for compulsory treatment.

- Poor. And how do you live with these? – perked up I asked, distracted from the beautiful between the breasts.


- As you can see, I'm doing well. She smiled lightly.


- Shall we have another drink? - I suggested, not having come up with anything more original.


- Let's. - answered Victoria and raised her cocktail


- I think I heard your story somewhere. I said and put my glass on the table.


- May be. Various newspapers wrote about it. They even showed it on the news. Victoria shrugged.


- How long have you been sitting here? – why something asked I.


- Long enough. And all this time I've been waiting for you. She looked at me intently. All emotion disappeared from her face.


- Me? What for? I asked uncertainly, and was about to get up, but someone's hand on my shoulder pressed me back to the chair.


- Sorry, I heard you talking about the "flower killer". Are you also interested in such stories?


- No, we're just ... - turning around, I did not have time to finish.


- Can I buy you a drink? A black guy with gray hair stood in front of me. He smoked a cigar with his gold teeth.


- I guess it's yes. I said uncertainly.


- How long have you been here? he turned to me.


- No, he just came. Victoria answered for me.


- It's good that there is a place like this for all of us, right? He smiled broadly and flicked the ashes of his cigar onto the floor.


- Denzel, John hasn't settled in here yet. Be courteous. Victoria got up.


- What are you talking about? – I asked without understanding anything.


- John, relax, everything is fine. Don't escalate the situation, finish your whiskey. In the meantime, Victoria updates us with an order, we will talk. He chuckled.

I didn't answer him. I couldn't and didn't want to. Just made peace with it. I was so drunk that I didn’t even notice how everything around me went dark and only his golden teeth glowed in the dark.

- You know, - John, he began, -this happens too. I was adopted by a white couple when I was just over five years old. Then I was immediately taken to the dacha, where they put me in a golden cage. No, don't think about it. I didn't take offense. Not at all, I was educated and brought up. Everything was very good, John. So good that I got really bored.

Day after day I raced from corner to corner. All the walls in the house already bore names. So boring, John! It's good that my foster mother noticed this. She noticed and bought me a TV. It was then that an amazing world opened up to me, which I saw through the screen.

Wildlife, seas and oceans, cartoons and… And superheroes. Superheros John. I really liked them. Their strength, courage, justice. I immediately wanted to be one of them. I asked my mother to buy me the same suit, but she claimed that there really were no such people. Can you imagine? Maybe there is no Santa Claus, huh? Nonsense.

I disobeyed my mother and secretly made myself a suit from what I found in my room. If I decide, I'll go all the way, John. At night, when my parents were asleep, I began to change into a suit and go outside. At first, I just walked the streets and watched people. Behind these people who did nothing but wander aimlessly through the streets in search of the meaning of life.

On my sixteenth birthday, my father gave me a knife, as I asked. A large hunting knife, he thought, to start my collection. My joy knew no bounds when I first applied it. The last thing the criminal heard was the words of justice from the superhero standing in front of him.

It's been years, John. Long years. My father died, leaving me and my mother alone. He did not have time to leave me a place in his company, so his brother became the owner. The bastard who wanted to have my mother. He even moved into our house on the pretext of reuniting with his family. You know, John, until I was twenty-two, I didn't know what racism was, but this freak enlightened me. Every day he insulted me, calling me vile words, the meaning of which I learned later.

Mom told me not to pay attention to it, because we are one family. It was because of my mother's words that I didn't kill him. Thoughts of murder eclipsed others. Oh yes, John, other terrible thoughts. What are you asking? It's even funny. His mother decided to marry him. Having lost our father, we became beggars, so she decided to increase her fortune, can you imagine? I told her that she was betraying her father, but she didn't listen. My future stepfather told me that I would immediately go outside after their wedding. He was wrong. Now nothing could stop me. Absolutely nothing.

That night, I put on my suit for the last time. I went to my mother's room and stood in front of their bed. I stood and looked at her. On her face, which no longer pleased me. That's when I decided she didn't deserve that face anymore. Neither she nor this racist. In that great moment, I became a superhero - "faceless". For more than twenty years I have been administering justice to the streets of the city, but already without a suit.


- And you, John, deserve your face? He stopped smiling and looked at me.


- I think yes. Good story. I just saw a movie with this plot. I already smiled.


- I have no doubt that the film was good. Denzel got up from the table.


- Denzel, can I have a minute. Victoria took his hand and led him to the bar.

I couldn't understand what was going on. Who is this? Who are these people? Are they people? Where I am? My eyes began to darken, and myself temples throbbed so strongly, as if a jackhammer had been put to his head. I held on to the last and wanted to close my eyes.


- John. Stop sleeping, wake up.


- Amelia?


- Who else were you going to see in your bed?


- But you... Where am I? I jumped out of bed and started looking around.


- You don't drink, do you? Why is the amnesia? I heard her girlish laugh.


I got out of bed and looked around again. That's right, this is really my apartment. My room, where everything is tidy and furnished as I myself left it. The same picture I painted... three years ago. Yes, stop.

What's happening? I couldn't go back. What nonsense? Looking questioningly at Amelia, I sat on the edge of the bed and lowered my head.


- Amelia, are you okay? I asked and looked at her.


-Yes! It's something with you! Amelia came up to me and sat next to me.


- But it can't be. I remember you... you... This is some kind of nonsense. I got out of bed and started looking for cigarettes.


- Listen, maybe you should go out and air it, huh? You  not yourself. And I'll be here for now. She laughed a little again, but that laugh sent goosebumps all over my skin.


- May be. "I'll put on my coat," I answered.

 All the clothes that were in the corridor had long been thrown away, I remember that for sure. Anything, except for the very shoes that I bought recently.


- Mystic. - I said to myself and went out into the street. - It was cold like a dog, and damn snow sticks to your feet.


My thoughts could not be brought together. Each of them is ongoing. - What is it around, why is everything so strange and unnatural? I remember very well that I was... was at Amelia's funeral. How I cried later, how I threw flowers on the grave... Is this someone's joke... or... Or is he punishing me for my sins? - I looked at the sky.

It can't be. I have always been an atheist, why do I think about him? Just questions. We need to relax. Get warm. Drink up. What's this? Familiar place. I can't read the sign. Damn snow. Maybe it's warmer inside, you need to go in.

Shaking off my doubts, I went inside. The quiet atmosphere of this place for some reason frightened me. Painfully familiar carpets on the walls, pillows and damn hookahs.


- Oh my God, no. It can't be. - I said loudly and walked into the hall.


Not a soul. The music was just playing softly at the bar. The lamps hanging above the ceiling swayed, making a vile creak. This gave me a headache and I decided to catch something at the bar. Approaching the counter, I noticed a man sitting inconspicuously in the corner of the hall.

I did not want to approach this man, but I overcame my fear and made up my mind. Something unknown pulled me to him, like a magnet. Step by step, I walked slowly, realizing that I could not stop. Fear took over me.


- Damn coward. I thought. - Come on, for once in your life, be brave, damn you.


Coming closer, I noticed that the one to whom I was going was sitting completely motionless. The thought flashed through my mind that there might be a dead person in front of me. Dead, cold, completely immobilized...


- Your mother!


I saw myself in that chair. Closed eyes, blue lips face, pale, pale blue veins on tight skin. I stood still and could not move, all looking at my dead self. Thoughts often beat in a continuous stream and turn into one. Run. We need to get out of here quickly. As fast as possible, as far as possible. But what is it? My legs did not obey and did not move. My eyes began to close, and I gradually fell. For a moment before landing on the floor, I saw Amelia sitting next to me, just as cold and empty inside. Her eyes were closed, but for some reason it seems that before her death, she was definitely looking at me.


- Ai! Yes to you! Man, well, you got drunk, let others rest.


- What? Where I am? I'm alive? – I opened my eyes.


- If you turn your back on my girlfriend, you will stay alive.

I was on my knees with the girls sitting at the next table. The same bar I was in. Seeing Victoria, I gradually began to remember what was happening here. Victoria came over and took my arm. With an effort, she helped me sit down at the table.


John, we need to talk. Victoria was serious.


- What's happening? I began.


- John, shut up and listen to me. She tugged at my sleeve.


- Explain everything to me! - I started screaming.


- Don't yell. Don't draw attention. You need to get out of here. Here ... - she did not have time to finish.


- There are good discounts for visitors.

I looked up and saw a man in a suit standing behind Victoria.


- Victoria, what are you pestering to whom? Is this how you welcome new guests?


- He's already leaving! she said and got up from her chair.


- Indeed?


- Can you explain to me too? I offered to get up.


- Mr Richards. You don't even know how lucky you are. You probably wondering what is going on around you? Where are you? Who are we? All your questions have one answer. More precisely, even a question. What have you wanted lately?


- Well, I...

- Do not answer. Not worth it. So, I know this. However ... oh, it's not worth it, you still wanted to leave.


- I won't leave until I get answers! I tried to hit the table with my fist, but missed and broke the glass.


- I see, you deign to be persistent? But everything has its price. - a man in a suit watched the waiter and the manager.

What I then saw shocked me more than everything that was before taken together and multiplied by two. She. She walked out the door behind the bar. Her eyes were completely bleak and lifeless, I remembered her completely different. It was as if life had never visited her. All that richness of color in her eyes simply disappeared, and instead of green, beautiful green with an emerald sheen, only barely noticeable, almost gray eyes remained. I was broken at that moment. Suppressed. Killed. There are many suitable words for those moments. The locks of her hair no longer fell strand after strand, but simply hung down in a gray mass. My beautiful Amelia... What have I done.


- Mister Rogers, are you with us? Don't get lost. A man in a suit sat down at my table.

I couldn't even say a word. I kept looking at Amelia and could not turn that it was really her. For me, at that moment, everything that I consider my life lost its meaning. Amelia came over and sat next to me. I took a large glass on the table and took a sip.


- Amelia? Is that you? I said a little audibly.


- Yes, John. Don't you recognize me?


- But you...

- Yes, John, do not be deceived by children's hopes. This is not a spectacle or a prank. Ah, my dear John... Did we feel so bad? Tell me John. Was I so disgusted with you that you did this? I still can't understand. At that moment, when we had been dating for three years, I thought that you would marry me. We will have a wonderful wedding. I'm in a white dress, you're in a black tuxedo. My mom will cry like she always does when she's worried. Your father will look at you menacingly, waiting for you to change your mind. My girlfriends will be jealous, saying they are happy for me. Here, John! Here's what I wanted. I'm not mad at you, no, not at all. I'm really glad that everything is fine in your life. You have become what you wanted to be, it's great. I'm not angry... but resentment against me, John, just eats me up. It's horrible...

Let's start over.After those damn three years, that part of the fall, do you remember how you stayed late at work? My dear John. I've been waiting for you all night, warming up dinner every hour, waiting for you. I wanted you to come and rejoice in what I've done for you. I just wanted to see how happy you are. I looked out the window, at the road you usually take to get home. Keep the lights on so you don't think you can disturb my son. I fell asleep only in the morning, without waiting for you. And you? Came home only in the afternoon next day. You said it's a lot of work. And I believed you, John. As always.

Thoughts. I thought about all sorts of terrible things. But you assured me that everything is fine that you love me. Don't worry, darling, everything is fine with us, - that's what you told me.

We stopped sleeping together. Then you didn't go home for several days. Of course, sometimes you are completely in the apartment, but your thoughts were elsewhere. You stopped looking at me the way you used to when you loved me. I gave myself to you every time you wanted, but you only took, as it should have been for you and that's it. My world collapsed from misunderstanding. Misunderstanding you, John.

Was it hard for you to tell me what happened? You just didn't pay attention or pretended not to hear. Every time I approached you with words of love, you brushed me off. Of course, I thought that I somehow offended you, upset or insulted you. Then, everything later, beloved, - you repeated.

And only a month later, a very long month, you said that you wanted to leave for a short time, to spend some time without me. Live alone, understand what you want. I let you go, it's natural, realizing that you may not return. I let go and died. Inside yourself. Part by part of me was dying every day. I drove away the worst thoughts because I continued to believe and love you. John... I didn't last long. You know that without you I become very weak. Completely helpless.

When you stopped texting me and calling me often, there was only one way out for me, John. Even lying in the warm, scarlet from my blood water, I continued to say your name.


- I'm sorry, Amelia. – my eyes filled with tears.


- John. I know that after my death you felt very bad. You wanted to die too. I forgive you.


- Mister Rogers, I want to remove you from my bar. The man in the suit put his hand on my shoulder.

- What? Not! Stop! I want to stay!


Without listening to me, security, visitors, Victoria, Denzel, all took up arms against me. I didn't want to give up, but I was drunk. I can't do against the crowd. They set me outside, they close the door, leaving me naked in the cold. I screamed, trying to resist what I saw. Rising to my feet, I leaned on the door and opened it, but the door was empty. The only abandoned empty building, not a bit like the place where I was.

Submitted: January 12, 2023

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