We Live Inside You

We Live Inside You by Jeremy Robert Johnson Read Free Book Online

Book: We Live Inside You by Jeremy Robert Johnson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeremy Robert Johnson
Point, to bring her underwear back. Ever since you’d stolen them you’d felt weird about it. They turned you on, but you wanted to move past connecting to people through their things. You had a chance to be with the flesh-and-blood girl. Starting out psychotic felt wrong.
    But once you were in her place you couldn’t help exploring. You rifled the bag she’d packed, wanting to see what kind of swimsuits she’d be wearing to the beach.
    You’d been living with compulsion so long you didn’t even question it when you pocketed the thing. She was going to need it with her. This way you’d be certain she wouldn’t forget it.
    But you could have left it in the bag. It was already packed. She wasn’t going to forget it. Maybe, deep down in the recesses of your memory, you were thinking of Mary Ashford and Sarah Miller, and that twinge of pain kept her passport in your pocket.
    Your second call was to Information. They automatically connected you through to a Customs agent at PDX.
    You noticed silver sparkles in your vision that couldn’t mean anything good. Zoning on the passport photo helped you focus.
    God, she was easy on the eyes. Too bad she was murder on the rest of you.
    You told the man on the phone what she looked like, what kind of uniquely marketable baby she was carrying. You told him that the woman’s birth name was Jean Christenson, but that she preferred to be called Ava, which was short for Avarice.
    He noted that the name seemed appropriate.
    “More than you’ll ever know, pal.” You closed the cell, thinking of her last words to you.
    Good luck.
    Your chest began to shake.
    You were still laughing when your Uncle Joshua arrived and spotted your running shoes sticking out of the tiny house in the stranger’s yard.
    He crouched down, looked you over.
    “Jesus! Are you okay?”
    In between gusts of mad laughter you managed to say, “Nope. I’m in a bad place. I’m going to have to run.”
    “Okay, we’ll get to that. First let’s get you out of that fucking dog house.”
    He managed to get you upright, with your arm around his shoulder and as much weight as you could bear on your dog-mauled leg.
    Once he started the car he looked over at you, seemingly relieved that you’d stopped laughing. The pain of moving had killed the chuckles.
    Your Uncle had a hundred questions on his face. He asked one.
    “The girl?”
    You nodded in the affirmative then, over and over, guessing he would understand: Yes I was a sucker I thought it was love and yes I’m still remembering her kiss and the worst part is that if you ask me if I am still in love with Ava gorgeous terrible amazing vicious Ava I might say yes despite it all Yes.
    You began to shake, nodding, mumbling, “OhGodohGodohGod….”
    “Okay, okay. Take it easy. Trust me, you’ve just hit the wall. You know that’s as bad as it gets. I’m with you. You’re gonna get fixed up. You’ve got to tell me enough to keep you safe, but that’s it. We’ll go where we need to. And soon as you can foot it, soon as you get past this wall, the morning runs are back. And this time there’s no dropping it. No goddamn way. Whatever’s got itself inside of you, kiddo, we’re going to hit the streets and clear it the fuck out.”
    He twisted his grip on the steering wheel, gunned his car down slender curving roads on the way to the hospital. Dawn was approaching. It was likely to be another beautiful grey-green morning in Portland. Could your Uncle really be willing to leave his home behind just to protect your mangled carcass?
    You wondered at your luck, knowing this man.
    He approached a red light, started to hesitate, took one look at you, and then pushed right through.
    And you, you love-sick bastard, you finally let shock take hold.

Dale believed in both Christ and karma. But no matter how many prayers fell desperate from his lips, or how often he reminded himself of the reparations he’d made, he couldn’t shake the guilt. It seethed through him,

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