Field of Flowers

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The alleyway shone brightly in a pale yellow hue from the distant streetlight. All the stars hid behind dark clouds the color of oil, casting rain to the ground as if each one were crying for this moment. Even the city was holding it's breath, leaving this alley devoid of it's normal toxic scent. Of all the cliché ways for this to go, he certainly could never have picked a more fitting one.

Sharp strikes of her heels on the brick sidewalk echoed back to him, barely heard over the constant laughter of the rain. He walked calmly after her down the alleyway, there was no more need for hurry. This time she had chosen an alley that led to a dead end, and there was no more room for her to run away. Not like every other time... he thought to himself.

His senses blurred into his memories, and he found himself standing at the altar five years ago. There she was, a gorgeous brunette with ringlets for hair. Everything about her was flawless in his eyes, no part of her was as dark and rotten as the city that he met her in. None of his own darkness was in her, and that was something he fell in love with instantly.

Of course none of that lasted very long. Another blur, as his memories shifted past days, past months, into years. There were fights, arguments over money and his job. She rose her hand against him, struck him hard across the chin and broke his jaw. Her last words hadn't even been “goodbye”, she just wasn't home when he got back from work one day.

I waited.. he thought to himself, raising his head into the new lighting as he exited the alley.

An inner city courtyard stretched out beyond the alley, surrounded by all sides with tall brick and cinder block apartment buildings. The rain came down here in small streams, caught by rusted gutters and crooked plant boxes. Standing at the other end of the courtyard with her hand still on one of apartment building's steel doors, was the woman he'd been chasing for the past three years. Except he had been chasing her tonight for all the wrong reasons.

"Lourenne," he began. Her name had always felt exotic on his tongue, like a secret he couldn't wait to share.
"Don't you DARE call me that name!" she spat, spinning to face him and leveling a large caliber pistol at him.

He sighed from between barely parted lips, and couldn't will any air to return to his lungs. Clutched in her hand tightly was the purse of the mayor's wife. A string of diamonds still hung from the half-closed bag, glittering like small stars in the yellow light of the courtyard. The reality didn't sink in, it was something his mind simply couldn't process. This couldn't be the woman with the veil still over her face, looking up at him with brilliant blue eyes and a dimpled smile. Couldn't be...

"I swear to God, if you come one step closer I'll blow your head off!" she screamed at him, starting to shake.

The air seemed to be completely empty of life. His eyes fell halfway closed to steel him against the emptiness. Even as he stood there, watching her gun shake at him from across the courtyard, his mind kept overlaying images of their happy days together. She wasn't holding a bag of stolen jewelry, she was holding her bouquet. He hadn't been chasing her through the city, trying to apprehend a criminal, they were running through the fields of flowers near her uncle's cabin.

Fire spat from the steel lips of the gun. He almost didn't feel it as the bullet pierced his coat, sent his collar into the air in tatters. The scent of burning wool, the feeling of searing heat on his neck... No, there was no field of flowers. There was no bouquet. She was standing there, breathing in ragged, terrified breaths. Only one thing was left between them, the smoldering barrel of a forty-five caliber pistol in the hands of a fugitive from the police. And, he was the police.

Lourenne... he said breathlessly, and slid his hand into his coat. Removing his own firearm from it's holster over his chest, his fingers brushed the photograph that he kept pinned against the holster every day. It stood guard above his heart, always protecting him from danger. A picture of her face, all lit up in smiles and surrounded by curls. A picture of an angel...

Except this time, she wasn't smiling. Tears streamed down her face, her breathing came in shaking sobs. He wanted nothing more than to go to her, but the barrel of her weapon still hissed softly as raindrops touched it's skin. No more bouquet, he thought as he drew his own weapon up and took aim as well. No more flower fields. No more smiles, no dimples... He drew the hammer back.

"Drop your weapon," he intoned in a dead-pan voice. A trained voice of authority. The voice of any detective in his precinct.
"You're just another cop," she said softly. "You always were."

Her words stung, blurring his reality back into memories. She was standing at the window, watching the rain sink from the sky. A night much like tonight, but he wasn't with her on that night. Instead of spending their anniversary together, he was working yet another murder case. "Always another case" she had said, her arms crossed when he shuffled through the door at two in the morning. Two candles had burned down to their holders on the table, staining a white tablecloth with deep red wax. Both plates of dinner had long since gone cold, and the wine remained unopened in a bucket of still-cool water.

"Lourenne, I can't let you walk away this time..." every word was a struggle, he had no idea where he had found the breath. Maybe he was breathing again, but he couldn't feel it.
"Why should I be surprised? It's your job, right? You always loved your job more than you ever loved me, why should this be any different?"

She lowered her weapon a bit with each sob, her head dropping to her chest. He stood there, eyes half closed, watching her as she wept and sunk to her knees. In a way she was right, it always had come first. Even before the miscarriage, even before her addictions. Maybe even more, after those...

Holding the hammer of the pistol with his thumb, he pulled his trigger and let the weapon click softly back to a rest. With slow, surreal steps he crossed the courtyard. Each footfall sent a small spray of water out to each side, disturbing the puddles that had begun to lap at his feet. A few steps away from her he replaced his weapon in it's holster, and shrugged out of his wool coat.

Lourenne looked up as he draped the coat over her shoulders. Her make-up had long since run into black streaks down her puffy face. Even her lower lip refused to present itself, still quivering with silent tears. Placing both hands on her shoulders, he slowly helped her to her feet and let her lean into him. She felt cold, and without thinking about it he wrapped his arms around her shoulders to share his warmth.

"It's going to be alright," he offered.
She sighed a shaking breath, then said "I'm sorry. You once told me what it's like. I won't go to jail."

It took him a moment to figure out just what she was driving at, a moment longer than it took her to put the pistol into his gut. His face twisted in agony before she pulled the trigger, leaving him plenty of time to watch her close her eyes and look away.

The sound came first, a loud rumble that seemed to start in his toes and extend all the way into his ears before exiting in a scream. His body felt weak, as if everything had given up working all at once. Struggling to stand, he leaned into her only to find that she was already pulling away from his chest. His arms slid from her shoulders, and his body fell to the ground like a rag doll.

As he watched her heels dart quickly away from him, the arms of the wool coat trailing to either side, he whispered three simple words. Tears came to his eyes, but never seemed to fall. Consciousness began to fade, with the distant sounds of ambulance sirens echoing the flashing red lights through the alley. They cast beautiful crimson light against the orange and yellows of the street lamps, and all he could think of was a field of flowers near her uncle's cabin.





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