To Save The Plurality: (An Unfinished Novel, Part One)
Book One: Liam The Devil
Liam was walking hand-in-hand with his wife and three children along the beach, midday, along the shore line with the incoming waves lapping at their bare feet. It had been a wonderful day. At this time his three girls were wandering around the beach with their plastic buckets and shovels, playing archeologists on the cusp of a revolutionary discovery. At that time they were building sand castles. And at another time they took the most delight in simply throwing around a pink beach ball that was bigger than them.
Liam had watched them as he'd stayed behind rubbing sun tan lotion all over his wife's voluptuous body. As his greasy palms had caressed her inner thighs and buttocks, he'd wanted to mount her then and there.
Later the youngsters had buried him in the sand, and he'd made a marvelous, mocking pretense of being trapped and fearful for his life, while his three girls had giggled triumphantly, declaring him to be their prisoner, a terrorist... Well, the world we live in today, he'd thought. The world we live in today.
They were all walking again -- home presumably. Yes, it had been a wonderful day. Odd though, because none of this should have been happening. His wife, Leslie. His three daughters, Laura, Laverne, and Lisa. They were all dead.
There wasn't any question about it. They were dead, and he should know since he's the one who had put a bullet in each of their brains as they had been sleeping, one night, fourteen days ago.
He had done this to spare them the pain of finding out that their husband and father was a serial killer. With his... career having spanned two decades and three continents at the time he met his wife, Liam had had no plans to "settle down."
He had planned to do what he had always done: leave whatever woman he was with abruptly, with no note or explanation of any kind, sometimes faking his own death; construct a new identity and move on. But for the last few years he had begun to feel like one of those ageless vampires of noble heart we frequently come across on the tele and in movies.
He has adventures, battles evil, you know (instead of actually embodying evil, of course), inevitably falls in love and leaves before people start noticing that he's not getting any older. But Liam, being but a man, was growing older, and at thirty-eight, had been quite a specimen; already wearing partial dentures, balding rapidly, and developing a respectable middle-aged paunch on a middle area that had proven staunchly resistant to a series of interminable stomach crunches and sit ups.
But he had never been graced with such a striking, sexy beast like Leslie before. She was not pretty or beautiful in the conventional sense. Her face was broad, squarish, and heavy, with a second chin coming in. She was a very tall, well-fed lass, broad-shouldered, thick-necked, larger-than-life boobs, and an apparatus of ass, hips, and thighs that could give a man many strong sons, Liam had thought when he'd first met her -- or daughters.
She was ten years his junior, and in bed she knew how to and did pleasure him in every way imaginable, and not a few ways he hadn't imagined. Similarly, she immensely enjoyed having everything done to her, everywhere. He had been more than flattered that a woman such as this, a sexual lioness such as this had been interested in him.
Liam, later to be known as The Devil, had felt things closing in on him for months. He never came under official suspicion of anything. But it was just a matter of time, he knew. A stationary killer is always more vulnerable than a mobile one. And he had no illusions about hs ability to outwit the police under these circumstances. He was no Moriarty, no maestro of crime.
He thought about running again. He would have if not for the kids. As painful as it would have been for him, he would have abandoned Leslie, alone. But he could not bear the thought of abandoning his children, leaving them fatherless. So, he did what he did before turning the gun on himself. He had stuck the gun in his mouth with a sense of hard earned freedom at last, of liberation, of release and relief, as though a curse had been broken.
The five of them, in fact, were dead. So what is all of this? Why is it that none of them seem to know that it was he who had killed them. Then again they hadn't known what had hit them when he shot them. And he had shot himself as well. He had not selfishly gone on living. He had not asked them to do anything he had not been prepared to do himself. One way to look at it was that this is yet another trip they had taken together as a family. Just like going to Disney World!
Liam and Leslie had gone through a lot together, thick and thin. He had had to battle to preserve their love. One evening, while they were dating, Liam had been following Leslie after she begged off a previously scheduled engagement on the grounds of a "splitting headache," and that she wanted nothing more than to take a couple of aspirin, lie down in her darkened bedroom, and sleep.
Liam had detected the lie beneath the surface of the performance of convincing authenticity. He feigned belief and acceptance. It surprised him how effortlessly he'd sprang into action. He felt no anger toward Leslie. He loved her, and from his perspective, their had been not one instants thought of severing the relationship.
The details of how Liam had come to this point are banal and of little interest. He was now following Leslie, who was with some guy, of course, at a discrete distance. They all drove for a long time, way out to a rural part of the state. Jesus Christ, they were actually on a dirt road now. Liam was a city boy, through and through, and in all of his thirty-six years, he had never seen so many trees. He heard the hooting of birds he thought were owls.
It was kind of spooky out here... but he had to keep his mind on his business. Suddenly, there came the appearance of antlers across his field of vision, illuminated by the headlights. A sharp, frantic turn of the wheel. Tires digging into the road. The spluttering of dirt. Good Lord, he'd almost hit a deer!
He was back on track now. His instrument was to be a small shovel on the front passenger seat. All of this seemed natural to Liam, as though he'd done it before, like deja vous.
They came to a place that gave third-rate motels a bad name. The old timer, who may or may not have been the proprietor, was fast asleep at the front desk, and gave no sign of stirring until the Second Coming. There was no registration log, naturally. They wouldn't have used their real names in any event.
But Liam observed three sets of keys missing from the rack against the wall, in back of the desk. With shovel in hand, Liam quickly and silently traversed the distance between the room numbers, listening for any sounds indicating that the inhabitants were just settling in. He came to a door, and from what he could hear, the occupants hadn't even taken off their shoes yet.
Liam chose this door, and hoped he'd guessed right, as he executed a World Wrestling Federation (he just couldn't bring himself to say World Wrestling Entertainment, somehow) dropkick against the lock. He had guessed right. Here was his woman and his quarry.
Liam scampered to his feet. The nameless guy in question, turned from his embrace with Leslie, to confront him. But with a smartly delivered blow across the temple with the curved part of the back of the shovel, Liam laid out the dude like road kill,heavily stunned, unconscious but alive.
"What do you think you are doing?"
That's my girl, he thought. He waited and listened. The brief disturbance barely seemed to have registered with the other patrons of this estimable establishment.
"Showing you how much I care."
He took a step toward her. "My love is true."
"I'm calling the police."
Another step. "No, you won't. I can see it in your eyes. Your not frightened. Why should you be? You aren't even overly burdened with a sense of guilt. What you are is excited. This unexpected turn of events has got you turned on. You are very interested to see where I'm going with this." He pointed at the man on the floor with his shovel. "I'm not quite finished with him. This isn't going to end the way you think."
Liam tugged at the man on the floor. "He's a heavy one. Help me with him, Leslie, like we're a couple of friends helping a guy home, who's had too much to drink." As they left the room Liam grabbed the half bottle of whisky on the nightstand.
They entered the interior of the spooky forest darkness. Liam worked by the light of a powerful, battery-powered lamp. They laid the unconscious man against a tree, propping him up in a sitting position. Both Liam and Leslie, were squatting before the man, watching him. Next Liam poured the contents of the bottle of whisky down the unconscious man's throat.
"What are you doing?" asked Leslie.
"Just easing his pain a little."
When he was finished she asked, "What now?"
Liam produced a knife. Leslie's horror amused him, but he merely used it to cut away the man's jacket, shirt, tie, and trousers. He removed the man's wallet and left the identification cards pressed into the insensate man's palm. He removed the cash, almost thirteen hundred dollars.
"Robbing him too?'
"Of course," Liam said, extending half the take, as it were, to her. "It's for the best. I think you understand that."
She put the money into her considerable cleavage. "Well never get away with this."
"I don't see why not. He's not dead, only slightly bruised, and more than a little embarassed when he wakes up."
"But what?" Liam said. "Do you really expect this guy to go to the police or something? And anyway," Liam raised the man's hand to show where the man's wedding ring usually resided. "I don't think he'll want his wife to find out. You sure know how to pick 'em, Leslie."
Liam had been a failed socialist revolutionary. Throughout his life, with all the changes of identity, with all the false identification papers, in all the places he'd been, the commitment to socialism had been constant and real. He had been deeply involved in on the street, in the trenches activism. He'd written pamphlets, conducted teach-ins, marched and took part in strikes for various causes from the living wage to matters of war and peace.
But how low he had fallen now. Because what kind of self-respecting socialist works for an investment bank? Twenty years ago he would have mercilessly harangued such a sellout.
Sure one needs to earn money. One has to survive, to eat, and all that. But he hated being so blatant about it, working at the very altar of capitalism. He had been interviewed for the position by the rotund and jovial Mr. Baxter, who'd rather resembled Dick Van Patten from the sitcom of the late seventies Eight is Enough. He was a nice man -- for a capitalist pig!
When you find someone special, one feels perfectly justified. Not that the Universe or "God" put the two of you together. Not that destiny had a hand in it. Liam had long ago, by then, come to terms with an indifferent, godless universe, and he was at peace with this. But when you find someone special despite the fact of, or even because you have led such a useless life, had suffered such heartbreaking reversals of fortune, suffered the consequences of too many imprudent, rash, and impulsive choices to even count, struggled with despair in so profound a way due to having made so little impact on the world that you seriously wonder, sometimes, if you even exist, then you know that you are, indeed alive.
Not only is it good to be alive for the first time, in a very, very long time; but the past is alright, everything is alright. Everything about you is alright. You can actually be grateful for every thwarted ambition, unrealized hope, extinguished dream, and character flaw that brought you to this path that caused your life to intersect with hers.
This is how Liam felt anyway. This is how Liam felt about Leslie, who had become an employee at the investment bank two years after Liam had begun working there. Liam had been tasked with training her.
One night while they were in bed Liam asked, "Leslie, what are we going to do for a future?"
She shrugged, murmured something indecipherable and buried her head in her pillow.
"Where do you see yourself ten years from now? Still working at that infernal bank?"
"I'm good at my job," she said, obviously not as sleepy as she'd pretended to be a moment ago. "I'll get promoted and all that. I think I can do very well there."
"Is that what you want to do?" he said.
One year later Leslie was promoted several grades above Liam. She was much better at banking and anything to do with finance than Liam. Liam had wanted to major in French literature and art history in college, not economics as his mother had insisted. But there was no future in such frivolity, his mother had insisted -- French literature and art history, don't you know.
Still, not six months into her elevation she was complaining to Liam. "I don't like a job where I gotta sit on my big ass all day." She was grabbing it and frowning at her rump over her shoulder, in the full-length mirror in the living room. "Its getting all mushed up and flat."
Liam came behind her, got on his knees, got under her skirt and demonstrated orally, that he respectfully disagreed with her assessment of her ass, all while she continued to apply her make up, haltingly.
"Why don't we start our own business?"
"Like what?" Leslie asked.
"I don't know but there must be something we could go into together. Work from home, be around with the kids without having to rely on babysitters," he said. They had been talking seriously about having children.
But Leslie was a somewhat unreconstructed determined-to-have-it-all feminist of the classic mode. And she was unmistakably a capitalist -- of the liberal persuasion, if that helps.
Still, Leslie had helped with Liam's political activities, for a while, until she had gotten bored with them. A handful of his protest marches. Some of his pamphleteering and teach-in activities. She even contributed to his political blog every once and a while.
They had lively discussions between themselves about the pressing issues of the day. Leslie, who was quite similar in temperament and ideology to his own mother, seemed to think it was her duty to act as a kind of foil to what she called Liam's more extreme views, his "runaway leftisms."
For a solid block of ten years, Liam had been desperate to try to save the world -- even as he had struggled with his problem of killing people. But even so, it had not been his intention to wile away the rest of his days as a penniless bohemian, a mere professional malcontent, even if he was a socialist.
And now part two.
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