Gene's gone for good, or is he?
"I think I see him too."
"You think he's the one?"
"Who else could it be?"
Both officers moved from the patrol car to the side of Lorraine's house. They approached the man who crouched between two bushes while peering through a side window.
"Excuse me sir," Officer Castillo called out. "We'd like to talk to you for a moment."
At first, Gene ignored the officers. He continued to look into Lorraine's window. He hoped for a chance to catch a glance of her. If luck favored him, his future studies of the house would be long and frequent.
He vowed to himself to make this separation a short one. Studying the house's activities would provide him answers. He needed all the information he could get his hands on. He continued his observation until a man's voice became an annoyance to him. Gene looked towards the street in the officer's direction. The darkness camouflaged their uniforms until they moved within a few feet of him.
Gene denied any possibility these police were aware of his own mission. A coincidence was the only way to explain their presence. A few simple answers to their tedious questions would send them on their way. "Could you please come with us?" Castillo asked.
Both Castillo and Hines stood as Gene approached them. They escorted Gene to the sidewalk. "Your name please?" Officer Castillo asked.
Gene glared at the officer. His appearance gave no sign they suspected him of any wrongdoing. All he had to do was convince them that he lived here. "Do I have to answer that?" Gene asked.
"We're only asking for your name for now, "Castillo replied. "We just want to talk to you."
"It's Gene Logan. What do you want?"
"We want to know why you were standing outside this home and looking in the window."
"I have a right to look. This is where I live."
"No sir, you don't."
"What do you mean? This is my house. I live here!"
"This is not your house. And- you don't live here."
"I can prove that I live here."
Gene tore into his bag and searched for the keys that Lorraine gave him. His search grew from an aggressive one to that of near hysterics. Both officers glared at him until they saw that Gene's search would not end in a profitable one.
"You can't do this here," Castillo said. "You can't stay on this property."
Gene's search had not swayed. He continued his crazed quest to relocate his keys. Somehow, they managed to hide themselves in the confinement of his case. He would not allow himself to be removed by those who, in his eyes, had no authority over him.
"We had a lover's spat," Gene said. "It was nothing. She's a little upset. I'm out here until she calms down and comes to her senses. Look, I have keys to this house. That'll prove that I'm not lying."
Both officers gazed at each other as they held the same thought. "I'll say it just once more," Castillo said, "you have to leave now."
"I just told you, I live here."
"If you don't leave, we'll have to arrest you."
"As if I care."
"You should be."
Any chance to receive cooperation from Gene was slim at best. The officers had only one course of action to take. Both officers flanked him as Hines took his arm and placed it behind his back.
"What are you doing?" Gene asked.
"Placing you under arrest," Hines replied.
"You've got to be kidding. For what, trespassing?"
"To start. For good measure, we'll add assault and battery."
Gene lounged forward to pull himself from Hines' grip. The abrupt tow brought Hines near the point of collapse. He regained his balance and re-established his grip on Gene's arm. Gene repeated the retaliation, but with less favorable results. Hines' footing was more stable, allowing less resistance on Gene's part. This tug of war continued for a few feet until Castillo caught up to his partner.
"You don't understand!" Gene yelled. "Nothing happened. We had a little argument- a simple misunderstanding. This can all be straightened out. If I could talk to her for a minute-"
"You can't," Hines replied. "She doesn't want to speak to you."
Castillo joined his partner in subduing Gene. Their attempt for a "routine" arrest manifested to an act similar to one of three wrestlers in a ring. All the while, Gene pursued to howl his innocence and demand for Lorraine. No one in the neighborhood could ignore his calls for release. Even Lorraine couldn't drag herself from her front window.
"Don't torture yourself," Basia said. "Like you said, he's no longer a part of your life."
"I want to believe that," Lorraine replied. "I really do."
Long after the patrol car departed, Gene's ranting echoed in Lorraine's mind. His words left a shadow on her heart. Nothing in the world deterred her belief that she would encounter Gene again. The expression he had when he said she would never leave him was chiseled in her memory forever.
"Try not to worry," Basia said. "I'm sure they arrested Gene. That should stop him from coming here again."
"I don't think anything will deter him," Lorraine replied.
She turned from the window to face the housekeeper. "Basia, I shot him," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "He came to the office today and attacked me. I- I-"
Lorraine eased herself into the Louis XV chair next to the window. She covered her face with her hand, fearing she wouldn't be able to hide her tears. Basia crossed to Lorraine and stood next to her. She placed her hand on Lorraine's shoulder in an effort to offer comfort.
"I was sure he would leave me alone," Lorraine said. "What kind of a person pursues someone who shot him? But he did. He followed me home and attacked me again. After all that happened, he still won't leave me alone."
"Did you mention this morning to the police?" Basia asked.
"I did, but what difference does it make? It's obvious that the law is not on Gene's priority list."
"You've got to protect yourself."
"I know, but what can I do? A bullet doesn't deter him. What's left?"
"A bodyguard will be your second pair of eyes. He, or she, can watch out for you when you're distracted. If you're not happy with that suggestion, talk to the police. I'm sure they can think of some other way to stop Gene."
"They made one, but it won't work."
"Why don't you let them decide. In a case like this, I'm sure their viewpoint will be more objective than yours."
"I'll think about it. Oh Basia?"
"Did you call the police tonight?"
Basia picked up the first aid kit and headed for the door. "What difference does it make?" she asked while she walked. "He's in jail now. That's all that matters, right? I'm going to order some Chinese food. I can order for you, too."
"I can't," Lorraine replied as she shook her head. "I can't eat now."
"Have you eaten anything today?"
Lorraine was too exhausted to engage in a battle with Basia. In the end, Basia would arise victorious anyway. She always did when it came to matters of eating. A concession would save Lorraine a substantial amount of underserved anguish.
"Perhaps I could manage a small portion of rice," Lorraine said.
Satisfied with the response, Basia left the room.
Lorraine regretted the lie she told Basia. Her stomach was tied in one big knot. She didn't dare say that she was still shaken from Gene's enraged behavior. She had nothing to hold on to now but her pride. She must give the impression that she had control over this dilemma. She wouldn't let anyone, not even Basia, know how afraid she was in her own house.
* * *
Lorraine clasped her hands together and held them under her chin. She gazed at the objects that laid on her desk. Up to now, she loathed paperwork. However, for the first time, she welcomed the month-end reports. She saw this as a prime opportunity to divert her attention from yesterday's ordeals. She didn't care about her lack of sleep. Her confidence had returned to her. She couldn't think of a better place to regain her composure that her study- one of the very few places where she separated herself from the world's dilemmas.
She sat at the expensive Mahogany hand carved desk given to her by her father. Lorraine thought of him every time she sat there. To ask how much it cost would be a waste of time. He wanted her to enjoy its fine craftsmanship and not the desk's dollar value. She felt herself emerging into her work and putting distance between herself and yesterday.
If I ignore it, it will go away, Lorraine thought. Yet, the doorbells' chimes continued in an annoying syncopation. As she remembered it was Basia's night off, Lorraine arose and walked to the door. She would be cordial, but planned to keep the conversation succinct. She didn't feel very sociable and had no desire to entertain anyone this evening.
"Yes?" she yelled to the door.
"Lorraine?" a man's voice replied.
"Who is it?"
"The only man you have ever loved."
"You're not my ex-husband."
"Of course not. You didn't love him. Now, open the door. I'm tired of screaming."
Lorraine was lucky. The door stifled her yell as she peered through the peephole. Her mind scrambled as she searched for an excuse to avoid her potential visitor. "It's been a long day for me," she said. "Couldn't you come back tomorrow?"
"I don't like playing games," the man responded. "I'm not going to leave until you open the door."
Two years had passed since they laid eyes upon each other. Yet, this was not enough time for Lorraine. She recognized the guest on the other side of the door, yet, she couldn't prepare herself for the return of her former lover into her life.
"Philippe," she said as she opened the door.
"Ah you remember me," Philippe replied. He took Lorraine's hand in to his while looking into her eyes. So taken by the sight of Philippe, Lorraine wasn't sure if she would ever utter another word again. "I must say it is a delight that you answered the door," he added. "However, I was expecting Basia."
"It's- it's her night off," she answered.
"With a gentleman friend I would assume. Even better. I will be able to take care of what I want with more, shall we say, intimacy?"
* * *