Friday, April 24, 2009

Mexican mafia queen! Part IV - Run Baby Run!

Thunder blasts around me and I duck down and cover my ears with both my hands. Gravel ricochets everywhere from the impact of bullet to rock... I scream and try to hide myself behind the back rubber tire of the car. I am deaf. I turn to Milo, terror in my eyes “We’re not gonna make it!” I shout like he’s not crouching right next to me. “They’re gonna kill us, and there’s nothing we can do about it!” I’m hysterical with fear and anger. I can’t believe this is how my life is going to end... by the side of a meaningless road, on a meaningless night, for a meaningless purpose...

Shots ring out into the night and the air explodes around me. I place my body up against the rim of the car and start making my peace with God. Please God forgive me for getting in this car... please forgive me for not wanting something normal, something safe... Please forgive me for always wanting more than I should have... please, please forgive me….

“Blue! Blue, can you hear me?” His voice sounds so far away... I curl up in a ball and wait for the echoes to stop ringing in my ears. “I know your cold, I know you’re tired, but we’re not dying today. Do you hear me, Blue! Not today!” He’s shaking me by my shoulders but I can’t see him. Panic has frozen me in place and I can feel my eyes glazing over with desperation.

In the chaos that has now taken over my brain I feel him slip the keys in my hand, “Take the keys Blue!” He shouts at me. “Take the keys; get in the car, and drive.” His voice quiets into a whisper, “Blue, are you listening?” his lips brush against my ear and a chill runs down my spine, “Jump in the car and drive” his voice strengthens as he gets closer to me, “ I left it in the glove compartment... I hope you won’t need it” he turns and the look in his eyes is goodbye. “Go! Now! Get in the car and drive!” He grabs my arm as he’s saying this and I see him opening the car door... I’m in shock, I’m speechless. I crawl like a child and follow his instructions about slipping from the passenger seat to the driver’s side.

I turn to him and I stutter, “I...can’t... I... can’t...” my mouth feels like it’s full of mulch... I’m out of words. He smiles at me... a little... “Promise me that you’ll drive when I move away from the car. Promise me Blue!” he demands of me. I nod in agreement... there are no words... no thoughts... nothing.

Suddenly explosions hit the car and I realize we’re being hit again, this time with a ferociousness that cannot be escaped. “Go Blue!” he shouts at me and moves out and away from the car. I watch his shadow creep into the forest... he signals me to start the car and I stare right through him. The keys are in my hand and I know I should put them in the ignition... I should start the car... I reach over and the sound of the engine roars and startles me. I look back at him and through my tears I watch his deep brown eyes turn away from me and search the forest. He stands, and now in plain view of the enemy, he begins his run through the forest. I lose sight of him in the darkness... the night is without moonlight and the trees are in full summer bloom.

One hand on the steering wheel, the other on the gear stick... I’m ready to run. Go Blue go, I hear his voice shouting in my thoughts. Yeah, I say to myself out loud, Go Blue go. But I can’t go. Something in me will not let me escape this nightmare... I stare at the wheel and I begin playing the whole night over and over in mind... Luke’s street, the car, the sweet smell of summer on my skin... how did this happen? How did I get here?

My thoughts begin to organize themselves around me and I am surprised by the hum of silence... dread begins to crawl into my chest... silence... no bullets, no shouting, nothing echoing other then my soundless ears. My hands begin to shake and my breath grows cold with terror. I stretch my arm out to the glove compartment and hope for the only thing that can save our lives now – a weapon. The compartment falls open and there in the darkness of the night, reflecting the stars, is my silver Ruger SR9 automatic. Like an old friend it slips into my hand and I feel its almost weightless body snug into the contours of my fingers.

Energy vibrates off this pistol and I am transported back to the Interrogation Room at 23 Division, two months before this nightmare.

“Ms. _______,” a middle-aged policeman clears his throat as he sits down across a cold grey table, “You understand how much trouble you’re in young lady?” he smiles at me sympathetically and looks me over. What does he see, I wonder... a young girl in a Catholic school uniform, skirt to her knees, shirt tucked in, cardigan buttoned up. My hair is in perfect pig tails, and I’ve put on my brand new glasses so I could look as much the innocent brainy victim as possible. Just a good girl who got mixed up with a bad boy... nothing to see here, nothing to worry about. I look around the room and begin calculating my odds of pulling this off. The room is small, no windows. The walls were once painted grey but there are so many dents and scratches in them that you can hardly see their colour. I stare at the testimonies so many have engraved in the wall – “G-Dog Wuz Here”, “If I don’t get out of here neither will you”, “Fuck you pigs! And your phonebooks!”... I begin to feel a little queasy.

“Now, Ms._______, if you just tell me where they are, no harm will come to you, and... we’ll pretend this never happened.” His voice is gently reassuring, but I’m already quite certain no harm will come to me. I stare innocently at him like I’m afraid to speak up. He bites, “I’m sure a girl like you,” he moves his hand up and down in front of me as though he’s displaying my purity, “Well, a girl as smart and well raised as you obviously are, did not realize the kind of trouble someone like Milo can really be.”

I look down at my shiny black shoes, “You’re right” I speak softly, “I did not know how much trouble he could be” I smile to myself... I’m not lying. “I wish I could help you sir, but I can’t believe you think I know anything about this” my voice has an edge of incredulity about it.

He stammers a little, “Well, no, but we’ve been watching him for months and we know the two of you are nearly inseparable. I’m sure you’ve at least seen some of the activities that go on around your... your... boyfriend” he spits the word out quickly like he’s too embarrassed to let me know that being inseparable from a man for months makes him my ‘boyfriend’.

I smile a little shyly now, I almost have him convinced I’m as naïve as he freely thinks I am. “I’m sorry sir, but even though it seems like we do everything together, we do not. Milo is very careful about not bringing me around any of his activities,” I pause for full affect, “I’m not that kind of girl.”

He stares at me over the dirty table and I stare at my hands. He exhales in frustration, “So, no guns then? You have no idea where he keeps his collection of guns?” His eyes are locked in view watching every movement, every blink, every breath that might betray my façade and give me away. This cop’s not as stupid as I give him credit for...

“Guns sir!” I say in honest shock, “I’d never know what to do with myself if I saw a gun anywhere” I shake my knees nervously and he continues watching me. “Guns are totally illegal sir, and I can’t believe that Milo has any guns anywhere… I’ve certainly never seen any.” My voice cracks a bit and my false nervousness is blending itself into a possible cry fest... will I have to cry to get out of this?

He looks at the papers in front of him again, and for what seems like an eternity, he writes in the margins of his notes. “Alright Ms.______, we’ll let you go this time. But be sure to tell your boyfriend that we’re keeping a close eye on him, and sooner or later, we’ll find those guns... sooner or later” he says tiredly.

I smile in relief, “Thank you sir, thank you, thank you so much.”

I walk out into the hot summer sun and arrogantly giggle to myself - hook, line and sinker – like taking candy from a baby.

That was the day I got my own automatic... “You’re a natural with that weapon” Milo would smile at me with pride in his eyes. “I’ve never seen anyone use a Ruger with such precision.” His obvious jealousy implies he’s never seen himself use it with such precision. How proud I was of myself then… how innocent and non-consequential shooting at beer cans in his back yard seemed to me… fun, even. “You know I’d never actually shoot something living, don’t you?” I’d smile back at him, proud of my own skill. “I know,” he’d say and come behind me, reach over my hand and help me adjust my aim, “This is just practise... good for hand-eye coordination” he’d tease me, implying my well known destructive relationship with all breakable and perishable items.

How far away that summer day seems now... years away... I am so much older tonight. The silence around me is unbearable and I tighten my hold around the gun. “God, let there be really big beer cans in the forest” I say to myself, and jump out of the car.

I crouch around the vehicle and look over the hood to make sure nothing is waiting for me ahead... I see nothing – not a sound, not a movement. I rise and head for the nearest tree for shelter. I look around again... weapon raised, arms in front of me... I try not to think about what I might find in this God forsaken forest or what I might have to do to survive. I concentrate on getting to Milo... visions of him lying bleeding on the forest floor nudge me forward, despite my better instincts which tell me to get back to the car and drive away.

I am startled by the distant sound of pounding... something hard is hitting something soft... it reminds me of Milo’s training bag in the basement... he would hit this bag for hours while I channel surfed and popped bubble gum on the couch. Fear engulfs me and I pray that Milo’s not the punching bag.

I am running... not the kind of running that one does on a sunny morning... headphones on, music playing, destination calculated by time or kilometres. I am running without sound, without music, and definitely without calculation. My body aches and my lungs beg for air. A sharp stabbing in the pit of my stomach alerts me that I am running too fast and breathing too heavy... I don’t care. I run through the pain... I run to avoid the pain... I run because something in me knows that if I stop, Milo will die.

The sound of grunting and heavy breathing warns me to slow down. I am here... I squint through the darkness and even though its density has increased due to the growing forest, I can still recognize the figure that horrifies not only me - small, helpless girl with a little gun in a big empty forest – but also terrifies the meanest, the nastiest, and the cruellest of those who participate in a world where fear is not a factor – Tony, “The Truck”. I’d recognize his enormous and butchered body even in the blackest of nights and the deadliest of dooms.

The image before me warps my mind and I almost hurl in fear. Tony is standing above a mass of flesh, which I could only guess to be Milo, blasting him with his right boot. The lump he’s kicking bends and breaks without resistance... I gotta do something and it has to be now! But how do I threaten someone that could probably eat all the bullets in my gun and then smile at me for more? Anger burns within me and I’m enraged with my helplessness. My hand tightens around the hold of the gun... I will not be afraid, I will not leave here without Milo, and I will not allow this beast of terror to take my life, and everything in it.

Gun raised, arms in front of me, I step out to face the monster in the dark.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mexican mafia queen! Part III - Lies of the Faithful...

Wind whispers softly around me and a warm chill runs down my spine and through my bare legs. I open my eyes and stars glide slowly past me – am I dreaming? I gaze around still lost in stardust… reality seeps back into the corners of my dreams…. I feel the car, the music, and the strong smell of cigarettes from someone blowing smoke around me… I am here…

“Where are we?” I ask slowly, still half asleep.
“We’re going to be at the border in about half hour” he answers me. He looks over at me and there’s a longing in his eyes that makes me suddenly self conscious. How long have I been out? Is my face clean, my shirt wrinkled? I check myself in the mirror and smile at my sleepy face. A warning bell goes off somewhere in the depths of my awakening…
“Border? What border?” I ask him, my eyes still on my own reflection.
“The US border, we’re going to Mexico, remember?” he says, like he’s surprised I forgot.

I begin to feel panic rising in my chest. My heart picks up pace and my palms feel cold and sweaty. This is why he came! This is why he’s here…

“Mexico! Are you crazy?” I say in shock. My chest is heaving now and I can’t seem to control the panic in my voice. “What are you saying to me? When did you say we were leaving the country? And Mexico… hello…. Make yourself clear to me!” I know I’m passed the point of being angry. There’s a rage building inside me and I know exactly who to aim it at. How could I have been so stupid! I should just put my name on the ‘most stupid person in the world list’ right now – there’s no competition. Shit! How could I have not seen this coming!

I try to gather my breath and stare at him in disbelief. His eyes are stiff and concentrating on the road. He knows this isn’t going to be easy… he’s stalling and he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“Stop the car!” I yell at him.
“What?” he asks without even turning to look at me.
“Stop the car – Now!” I am prepared to lunge at him if he doesn’t stop the car right now.

Nothing. He keeps driving like I haven’t just yelled at him at the top of my lungs. Is he listening? My dream has suddenly become the nightmare I somehow knew would follow.

“I want you to stop the car right now” I say more calmly this time. I begin to slow down my pulse and my anxiety is settling into full blown fear. I can’t go to Mexico, I think to myself, what about my family, my friends, Luke? No, this is crazy, how can I leave… I can’t leave… I have to get out of this car… now.

Nothing. Milo looks out the driver side window, looks ahead… I open my mouth to threaten him with some kind of bodily harm and I feel the car slowly pulling off the highway. Thank God… I sigh in relief and begin thinking… can I take a cab off the highway… I wonder how far the nearest phone booth is…. Would Luke come and get me if he knew where I was… if he knew…. No, I can’t think about this now – one crazy and unhappy boyfriend at a time. Still, he pulled over, I reason with myself… maybe he’ll reconsider; maybe I can convince him… maybe, he’ll take me home.

“I’m going to get out now” I say not looking at him afraid he’s going to see the panic in my eyes. “I don’t want you to follow me… I’m not mad at you,” I say this calmly for both of us, but we both know that I'm lying.

I gather all my strength and for the first time in what seems like days I open the door and step out of the car. The warm air wraps itself around my naked shoulders and I breathe in the fresh smell of wet grass. The moon is full and so close I feel like I could almost touch it. I close the door behind me and stand in the moonlight to catch my heart. What a beautiful night this would be if I was a normal girl, with a normal boyfriend, watching normal movies and laughing on some couch in normal suburbia. But I’m not that girl, not yet, and I don’t have a normal boyfriend, not yet… Mexico, I breathe in wet air, what new madness is this?

He turns the key and the night becomes suddenly quiet around us. No cars drive by… really? No cars on a main highway? Come on! A midnight orchestra of crickets encircles us and I am suddenly aware of how alone we are out here. I pretend not to hear him get out of the car and concentrate on catching my breath. His feet step slowly on the gravel where we’ve parked. He makes his way quietly over to my side of the car. I lean gently backwards and place both of my hands behind me on the hood of his car.

“I’m sorry” he whispers softly. I don’t look up at him. I don’t know what scares me more, that I was almost taken halfway cross the continent, or that I am beginning to sense the temptation to go. He stands in front of me… his hands both tucked into the pockets of his white washed black jeans. I stare at his chest. His black shirt is buttoned almost to the top and you can see the muscles which wrap around his broad clavicles. The long sleeves have been rolled up to his elbows and I smile at the tattoo now visible on his right forearm… the phoenix and the dragon… two uncanny creatures, trapped in the eternal dance of necessity and obsession….how can one be without the other, he had once asked me…

“Stay with me” his voice crackles with emotion. My knees are starting to give in a little and I know the longer I stay here the more my determination is weaning. “Stay with me” he says again, this time stepping closer to me. His breath is on my skin and I can feel the heat coming off his body. “Close your eyes” he says and steps so near me I can feel the outline of his chest with mine. He takes one of his hands out of his pocket, “Give me your hand. Do you feel my heart beating… it is yours.” He taps his other hand hard on his chest, “I am yours.” He clears his throat and I can feel that he’s beginning to doubt his power of persuasion. “You belong with me” he says more firmly this time, “Don’t you feel it?”

I sigh and shrug my shoulders. I don’t know what I feel. I look down at my shoes afraid to look into his eyes. Is this it? Do I feel the same? What does that have to do with Mexico… even if I feel this strongly for this man that doesn’t mean I’m going to runway with him… does it?

He places his hand under my chin and gently lifts my head up. I look into his deep dark eyes and I am suddenly aware that his hand is shacking. “Are you cold?” I say, concern rising in my voice. Am I the only one burning with heat out here?

“No” he whispers with his mouth over mine. Suddenly I am uplifted by steel strong arms and I find myself on the hood of the car. His mouth is pressed up against me and I am engulfed in his embrace. I wrap my arms around his neck and press myself against him as hard as I can. Need surges through me like a blast. His hands grope for the buttons on my shirt and I gasp for air… everywhere, hands, lips, breath. I reach for his shirt and begin unsnapping it fast and desperate, like we’re running out of time; like this is the last time I will feel this alive, this beautiful, this wanted.

The world is melting around us and I reach for the moon. He groans softly and I lose myself under the spell of passion and desire. A warning bell goes off somewhere in my burning thoughts, only this time I can hear the ringing clearly... the ring comes closer, louder….. closer, louder….

“Ahhhh,” he cries out and his left arm drops its mammoth hold on my body. Confusion dazes me and I can’t collect my thoughts fast enough. Suddenly, I’m forced to the floor, his right arm holding me while I fall, his left hand blocking the unavoidable hit between my head and the gravel.

“Stay down” he whispers at me and I am terrified by the panic in his eyes.
“What’s going on?” I shout at him. “Milo, tell me what’s wrong” I cry, but he’s not listening to me. His eyes dart back in forth between me and the threat out there - far enough to not be seen, but close enough to see us.

“What’s going on?” I ask again, this time reaching for his arm. He winces in pain and I pull my hand off of him. I stare at my crimson fingers frozen in shock. “Is this blood?” I say almost without breath. “Is this blood Milo, why are you bleeding, what the hell…” I can’t decide if I am angry of terrified, or both.

At this point I only know two things for sure – one, Milo has been hit or grazed, I can’t tell, by something that can only be a bullet – two, we are alone out here, weaponless and without a phone or a way to run. Why did I get out of the car, I shout inside my head. What was I thinking, how are we going to get out of this? Panic rises again in my thoughts, but this time the urgency has no romantic notions of running away with my rebel lover… this time, the urgency is staying alive.

“Blue!” he shouts, but I am too far away. “Blue!” he shouts again. Hearing my name for the first time tonight shakes me… “You need to stay with me. You need to pull it together. We’re gonna get out of this, I promise” he smiles a little and I wonder who he’s trying to convince, me or himself?

“We need to move” he orders me with surety in his voice. “We need to move quickly”. He puts the car keys in my hand and stares at me with determination. “I need you to slip into the car and start it” he says.

“What?’ I’m still dazed in thought and I hate myself for sounding so stupid. “You want me to do what? How?” I ask - all frightening possibilities running through my plans.

“I need you to open the door” he starts explaining to me like I’m a small and frightened child… I am. “Once you’re in, put the keys in the ignition and turn” he smiles at me like there’s nothing to it. “I’ll go around and jump in the car on the other side” he says and I am suddenly clenched with fear again.

“No - you’re going to get hurt again. There’s no way that they can’t see you. That side is exposed to the street and you’re going to get hurt again” I’m almost crying now and pleading with him. “Don’t leave me; I can’t do this” I implore him but he’s already made up his mind.

“You can do it, and you will” he reassures me. “You just need to stay down and do as I say. We’re going to be fine, we will get out of here and I will explain everything, I promise” he says slowly.

I am abruptly aware that he knew this was going to happen. “Is this why we’re going to Mexico? Did you do something? Is there a HIT out on you? On us?” I am shouting now because fear, shock and anger cannot describe how I feel at this point of desperation.

“I’ll explain everything when we’re safe… when you’re safe… I promise” he pleads with me, “Ok? Now come on, we’ve got to get moving or there will be no need to explain anything”. He lifts me up gently off the gravel and holds on to me while I try to position myself well enough to both open the door of his BMW, and slide myself in it. “What about the indoor lights?” I ask him, suddenly realizing how vulnerable I’ll be once I open the passenger door.

“You know I disconnected those lights” he smiles at me secretively. A brief memory flashes before my eyes of the night when he disconnected those lights and we took full advantage of the moonless night and warm summer wind in the comfort of his pitch black car... “Let’s go” he presses me and I am jolted back into the terror of our present reality.

I am frozen in place. I try to move my body forward… just reach for the door, I tell myself, grab the handle and slide in… no big deal. But my feet are paralyzed and my body denies me the ability to reach out my hands. Don’t think about it, I reason with myself. Our lives are at stake here, you need to do this… reach or the door, get in… everything will be alright….

But I know that everything will not be alright. I know that we now have to do the impossible - first, escape an order, not possible - then, run from a decision which, once made, cannot be unmade… again, not possible.

I stretch out my arm - my hand is shaking uncontrollably and I reach for the door…. I pull on the handle and get ready to jump in…. and then, all hell breaks loose….

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mexican mafia queen! Part II - How I got hooked...

Breathe, I tell myself… the car is cool and soft music fills the air, “Highway runs, into the midnight sun – wheels go round and round… in my mind…” who sings this song? Foreigner? Journey? Hmmm...

“I drove all night,” he begins, he face looking out the window of his driver side, “Just to get to you” he smiles quietly to himself. I feel the soft black leather under my bare legs, and breathe in the sweet vanilla scent of his car. “I know,” I whisper. I can’t bring myself to say more.

I know this is a man who chooses his words carefully. I know this is a man with a deep sense of pride and ‘masculinity’. I know that him being here tonight, chasing me, following me, makes him more vulnerable than he’s ever been before. Is it wrong that all this knowing makes him so much more attractive to me?

I wonder how long it took him to get here… we’ve been apart for weeks and the last time I saw him things were a little more than intense between us. How many times did he drive around looking for me… my house, school, work? How many bar nights and bar maids have crossed his path before he found himself driving out here… tonight… to find me on this road, in front of this house, happily infatuated with someone else.

I glance at his slick black hair gently tussled down the base of his neck. His pale skin looks smooth as marble and his jaw is clenched tight so that it looks more chiselled than I remember. Damn! It’s a good thing we’re on a public road… He turns his head and stares at me with warm, deep, beautiful brown eyes. I lose myself in his pain and reach out to touch his face. “I can’t leave you” his voice barely audible. I am magnetized – the air around us becomes electrified. Lightning sparks and pulls us in – energy envelopes and escalates between us… two people who need to be together, but must stay apart.

I feel my body edging dangerously close to him. No, no, no, – you have a boyfriend, I chastise myself – he’s in that house, ten feet away, he’s waiting for you… be strong, pull away, you can do this! My body stiffens and I shake my head quickly, like I’ve just awaken from a dream. “I can’t do this” I say catching my breath. “I have to go.” That’s it, I coach myself, get up, and get out… fast.

He reaches for me and my determination collapses. He pulls me close, his warm breath on my face and I’m falling. His mouth is warm and I can’t think straight. I am caught in his grasp and I allow myself to descend in the bliss of the cool car, his strong body, warm lips… He slides one of his arms around my waist and pulls me even closer. I fold like the wind - something in me, deep and raw, craves out for him.

“No, I can’t” breathing heavily, “I can’t do this Milo.” I pull myself away from him and suddenly my mind is clear, my thoughts return… reality hits me, and I stagger.
“Why?” he asks angrily. “Is it because of him?”
“Of course it’s because of him,” I answer defiantly. “You know I’m with him. I can’t do this … I can’t be with you and be with him. I’m not that girl.” I say this like I’m sure, but I’m not.

“Why?” his dark eyes flashing daggers at me, “What’s so special about this loser?” I know he’s getting angrier… a warning bell goes off somewhere far in my mind - I ignore it… I’m too caught up in his pain, my pleasure, our bliss.

“You know what this loser did last night?” he laughs sarcastically. Here we go, I smile to myself, he’s going to try and discredit my new beautiful ocean eyed boyfriend. Silent tension is building and the car begins to get smaller around me. “What?” I ask - Do I really want to know?

“Well, I saw him at the bar last night,” he begins self-righteously.
“So,” I edge him on pretending not to be interested.
“I walked right up to him,” he says knowing full well that we both know the reaction he receives when walking up to anybody. A vision of fear and intimidation passes briefly between us.
“You didn’t DO anything did you?” Poor Luke, what must he be thinking…
“No, of course not,” he says, like that would NEVER happen. “I walked in the bar and simply asked who was dating my girl,” he smiles and turns to me. “You’re still my girl right? The way I see it, you’re mine until someone has the balls to claim you,” he turns back to his window and mumbles something inaudible to himself.

“Yeah, that’s very subtle… and NOT intimidating at all,” I laugh out loud. “And I’m not something to be claimed Milo,” am I? “Anyway, how can any one mere mortal claim me with you walking around like thunder and lightning. You think you can stop frightening all the people who are trying to care for me?” Maybe I can’t have a normal boyfriend after all, what with all the psychotic exes I seem to collect.

“Not frightening,” he says defensively, “Just a question.” He pulls a cigarette out of its pack slowly, rolls it between his fingers and takes it to his lips. “And you know what this fool did?” he’s speaking through his fingers, which are now holding the cigarette to his mouth while the other hand is sparking a light. “Wanna know?” He breathes in, and exhales.

Smoke fills the car and I begin to feel claustrophobic… how long are we going to do this? I better get out soon. Still, I prompt him on, “What? What did this fool do?” I ask sarcastically. But something mean, and vicious in me wants to know. Did Luke stick up for me, did he stand in front of this incredibly frightening force of nature and proudly announce himself?

“He did nothing!” he laughs triumphantly. “He pretended like he didn’t even hear the question. And, he had four of his ‘boys’ with him too!” he falls about laughing so loud he almost chokes on the smoke of his cigarette.

I watch him and, for a moment, I almost lash out and smack him, hard. What’s the point? I knew it… it is too much to hope for… but how could I expect Luke to defend me when I’m still in this car. “I don’t care,” I answer, and we both know I’m lying. Of course I care. How can I be with a man who denies being with me, even in the face of bodily harm?

Milo knows me much to well. His fingers gently stroke the side of my face, “Really?” he asks softly. His face is serious now. I know he would have been more easily convinced I wanted to leave him if the guy was at least someone he could respect. Of course, earning respect in Milo’s world is much too complicated. My face is burning and I can barely hang on. What is it about this man that keeps me rooted in place? I gather all my strength and reach for the door handle.

“I have to go” I say and even I recognize the regret in my voice. “They’re all waiting for me.” I move to get up and out of the car but he grabs my arm, “Babe, you now what you mean to me,” he swallows hard. “You know who I am, not just who I am, but what I am,” he pauses searching for words. “You know you’re the closest to heaven that a guy like me will ever get… and I… I don’t wanna go home right now…come with me,” he pleads, “One more ride?” he smirks at me and I am powerless. I lose all sense of reason, righteousness, and everything begins to break down around me.

A warning bell goes off far away in my mind, but I am too enraptured to hear it. The air’s been knocked out of my lungs and I feel emptied, bottomless. “Ok” I breathe, “One last ride”.

If I don’t get out of this, I’ll be a Mexican mafia queen! Part I - How it started....

It is complicated to discuss something that seems impossible even to me... the sun sets outside my window here at the public library in my suburban neighbourhood, and I am finding it hard to return to the night when so much was lost... and realized.

If my recollection serves me right, and I can't guarantee that it does, it was a late summer evening and I was leaving my best friend’s house and heading two doors down to her neighbour - who incidentally was also my new boyfriend. I can't remember what I was wearing, or if I had a strange sense of urgency that afternoon, or what I was thinking as I was crossing her driveway... I do remember that I was enamoured with the fresh sense of love one gets when early in a relationship...

I fell for Luke hook, line, and sinker when I first saw him on one of those cheesy boat dances that were so popular with Catholic high schools in the early 90's. I was 16 - he, was 2 years older, and totally ignorant of my infatuation. Nothing ever came of that evening - in fact, I don’t remember anything else other than loud techno music, short skirts and long hair blowing in the uncontrollable wind on the lake, and radio static conversations that enrapture teenage girls into believing that nothing else exists outside of high school.

I don’t know what Luke did with the next couple of years, but I had an intense relationship with my 24 year old neighbour that ended sadly, but predictably. After this sad display of love gone soft I decided it was time for a more 'reliable' man. Fate, it seems, placed a very reliable man in my path. He was about my height, which in retrospect is strange since I never dated boys that were not significantly taller then me. His name was Milo, he was no boy, and everyone knew it. There were rumours that his family was involved in organized crime, that he participated in a series of criminal escapades all over town, and that he had a dangerous temper and a hammer fist. Right place, right time – I was drowning in an abyss of boredom. By this time, I had forsaken most of my superficial and extremely popular friends, this of course immediately made me 'not' popular - but I couldn’t care - I was bored with my high school existence and in the mood for something dark and frightening.

I don’t remember much about our short lived adventure other than the fact that he brought me flowers ripped out of our parish garden everyday, all my friends hated him and all my ex-boyfriends were afraid of him. When he walked into a room the entire population withdrew towards the walls. He would call my name loud enough for everyone to hear and I used to chuckle at the stares of disapproval that fogged around me like rain on a cloud.

I will not mention all our escapades here because that would take too long, but mostly because so many of them were illegal. I will say that Milo goes down in the chronology of my life as the Most-Fun-Worst boyfriend of all time.

Time passed, and soon enough I began to tire of his midnight ventures and sleep depravation which translated into the near alienation of all my friends - even the ones I liked. I let him know that I could not support his life style and tried my best to honour the strong influence he had in my life. It was because of him that I became brave enough to speak my mind; it was because of him that I no longer feared situations involving conflict. It seemed like something about his domineering presence opened the door to a confidence and an attitude I never knew I had - in future adventures this confidence and attitude would prove priceless.

And so, with the end, we reach the beginning. I was just walking away from my attachment to Milo when Luke stepped into my life, almost by accident. A long weekend in Montreal, and a brief affair with one of his friends landed me next to him in a drunken hotel room - I am aware that hotel rooms cannot be drunk, but you get the metaphor. One thing lead to another and we began what was later to be known as the 'how did I never notice you before' saga.

Thus, we come to the moment where I am walking outside my best friend's door heading out for a night of movies and popcorn with my new boyfriend and all our friends... the moment when a screeching black BMW sedan should have tipped me off to danger ahead… the moment when I should have bolted for the house just 10 feet away from where I was standing… the moment when I should have called out to whoever was sitting on the front porch a few doors down. I should have stayed away from the menacing driver who called out to me… I should have ignored the pity I felt when looking into his shattered eyes… I should have been cruel and left him holding out his bleeding heart… but I wasn’t… I stepped towards the sedan; I listened to his broken voice… I slowly walked over to the passenger side, smiled at the neighbour a few doors down, and glanced at the house where my new boyfriend and all our friends were waiting for me with movies and popcorn… I opened the passenger door, placed my hand on the warm black leather and sank into the darkness of his car… and we were on our way to Mexico.