KML (April 3,1910 / Sacramento, CA)

Asylum (A Short Story)

The door opened with a loud bang and Andrew glared at Marie.
“I know all about you and Robert, ” he stated coldly.
Marie’s eyes filled with tears and she turned away.
“It’s none of your business, I never asked you to care.”
Andrew strode over and grabbed her arm. She turned, inches from him.
“You asked me to care from the moment I saw you. You, with your high
society and French designers, ” he shouted. His tone suddenly softened. “Didn’t you ever care about me, Marie? ”
She leaned her head against his chest.
“Oh, Andrew... you know I’ve always cared.”
Her eyes moved up to meet his, and the two kissed passionately.

The woman sighed happily and closed the book, pulling her wallet from her purse. She walked over to the register. The girl behind smiled. Her nametag read, “Elizabeth.”
“Hello, Elizabeth, dear. This is such a wonderful bookstore you have here, so nice and quiet, ” the old lady rambled.
Elizabeth smiled and took the book from the woman, turning it over to check the price. The elder’s jaw dropped. On the back of the book, a picture of the cashier girl beamed back at her.
“You- you’re... Elizabeth-Ann Marguiles? ! ”
Elizabeth laughed.
“I guess you caught me... but my friends just call me Lizzie.”
She took the stunned woman’s hand and shook it gently.
“Marge... Marge Johnson, ” she said, snapping back to reality. She began emphatically, “I can’t believe you really work here! ”
“Well, writing isn’t exactly the goldmine that I wish it was.”
“Why do you do it then? ”
Lizzie thought for a moment. Her light blue eyes took a new light, and her voice was full of passion.
“I love to. Writing is so... poetic. Charlotte Bronte, Robert Browning... it’s all so amazing. I’d die if I didn’t write... I’m sorry, I’m talking too much.”
Lizzie handed the woman her book and receipt as she stopped.
Marge Johnson seemed to be hesitating whether to say something else. Finally, she decided.
“Do you think you sign my book... uh... for my daughter? ”
Lizzie penned her name quickly in an ostentatious font full of calligraphic curls and angles. She made a long vine below her name, a flower blooming at the lower corner of the ‘E.’ As Marge Johnson took the book reverently and walked out the door, Lizzie waved with a grin.
A flash of lightning gave a blue tint to her dark blonde hair momentarily, and the lights flickered. Turning them off, she snatched her jacket up from the desk behind her. As she stepped out the shop door, a loud thunderclap shook the ground and the heavens opened to release gallons of cold Seattle rain. Lizzie fumbled with her keys to lock the door, then threw them back into her purse.
Pulling her jacket tighter around her neck to fight off Winter’s efforts to drown her, she glimpsed the sky and smiled, walking slowly down the sidewalk amidst the occasional businessman under an umbrella, or woman and child running to avoid the torrent.
At last Lizzie entered a building to her right; a small, underground, coffeehouse. Inside, she hung up her long raincoat to reveal a black t-shirt and khakis. She proceeded to walk downstairs and search the room for company.
“Lizzie! Hey, Lizzie! ”
She turned to smile at the keeper of the voice.
“Hey Lee, what’s shakin’? ” Lizzie gave her friend a quick hug, as he grinned and led her back to his table. The different people at the table smiled, one voicing a ‘hello’ over the rim of his coffee mug.
“Liz, you remember Jane and Nate, right? And this is John, Sarah, Max, and Erin.” Lee pointed to each person as Lizzie shook various hands warmly.
“And that guy I told you about, the one from the mall is here... this is Adam.”
Lizzie smiled and offered him her hand to shake, then he stood and kissed it. She withdrew her hand uncomfortably, and they all sat down to talk about the latest books, music, and the effect of trends on society. As it got later, conversation lightened into caffeine-pressed jokes and stories.
“Okay... so then the guy asks if I’ll move with him to Alaska, ” Liz laughs. She pauses as her friends wait. “So Angie comes up and puts her arm around me, because she can tell what’s going on. Then she growls at him- and he totally believes this- so she orders him ‘Stop hitting on MY girlfriend! ! ! ’ and drags me away.”
Lizzie finished her story through giggles, and everyone laughed heartily.
As the group finally dispersed, Adam caught Liz’s arm at the door.
“May I walk you home? ” He smiled and offered her his hand. She shrugged and accepted it.
Lizzie went a block or two, being led at a brisk pace, then she noticed that the rain had stopped and slowed her gait a little, forcing Adam to do so too. A puddle splashed behind them. She glanced back to see a tall businessman walking about half a block behind them, while dialing on a cell phone. They made eye contact as he began to talk to someone. She quickly looked forward again.
“Do you live around her? ” She peeked at Adam.
“No.” His jaw was set hard, and he kept his eyes forward.
After few more blocks of walking without conversation, Lizzie zoned out, and began to listen to the sound of their feet hitting the wet pavement.
The quick rap of her heels, followed by soft taps; she realized the taps were more abrupt than Adam’s steps. She turned and surveyed the area behind her. The tall businessman walked a block behind her and Adam, but at a pace a bit faster than before. Suddenly Lizzie remembered him from the coffeehouse. As she watched, it was noticeable that he was very slowly closing in upon them. She shuddered.
“Adam, I think we’re being followed...” she whispered. He looked at her quickly, his eyes full of intensity.
“I know.” He let go of her hand, grabbed her arm firmly, and tried to speed up, but Lizzie stopped a pulled back.
“Ow... you’re hurting me! ” she yelped, but Adam only stared back wordlessly.
Immediately the businessman was upon them, tackling her companion to the ground, which caused him to release her.
The stranger punched Adam hard, then went to glance up at Lizzie, but she had taken off running. He started to chase her.
Three blocks, and Lizzie could no longer keep her speed, gasping for air. She spied an abandoned, decrepit building off to the left that looked like it could offer concealment. The front door lay open, an eerie yawn.
Adam, having recovered, got to his feet and followed after the businessman at full speed.
Lizzie darted through the open door right as the stranger caught up. He shoved her the rest of the way in and tried to slam the door behind them, but she kicked him. She escaped and ran outside towards her companion, then took a look back. The man pulled out a gun and fired three shots into Adam’s chest, and he fell to the ground. Lizzie screamed and turned to look at him, terrified.
Just then, a police car pulled up, and an officer stepped out. The businessman ran after Lizzie and she backed up.
“Help! ” she shrieked.
The officer drew his gun and looked at the stranger, who had stopped moving toward Lizzie. The policeman kept his gun pointed at Adam, moving towards the fallen body. He turned him over with his foot, then suddenly lowered his gun. The policeman crouched down for a closer view, pulling out his flashlight and shining it on Adam’s face, then checking the pulse. The other man ran over to the body.
“What are you doing? ! ” Lizzie exclaimed.
The officer stood up and coughed, holstering his gun. He motioned toward the chaser, who offered an explanation.
“I’m an undercover police officer.”
Lizzie looked at him in disbelief, so in an irritated manner, he elaborated further.
“Your date has stabbed 18 different women. He’s an escapee from an institution for the criminally insane... if it weren’t for me, you would have been number 19.”

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