If your god has cheated you of light,
Come to me, the devil say.
If your god does not allow your animal passions,
Come to me, the devil say.
If your god does not shield you,
Come to me, the devil say.
If your god gives you more than you can bare,
For any injustice he throws upon you,
Come to me, the devil say,
And I will promise you everything,
If you will be mine.
The Nephilim Chapter 1
1978 – It was a clear night. The robust moon cast long heavy shadows across the lawn, and onto the of the large brick and white siding, split level house. Like an old horror movie shot day for night. Jim Kastor sat in his wheelchair, in the living room, staring out the large bay window, taking in everything and nothing. He was an attractive man, just past 30, with black hair and powerful arms and had not let himself succumb to atrophy despite being in the chair.
The crackling pop of the record stylus chasing the repeat groove at the end of the LP, was the only sound in the living room. The AR Speakers did an ethereal job of reproducing the skip and the exposed wood of the mid century modern furnishings did little to dampen the vibrations of the turntable’s pointless journey.
The sound bounced around the large room, but didn’t penetrate Jim’s thoughts. He sat out of reach of the stereo, next to the roll-about bar, staring out the window. He was doing his best to ignore the pain pumping through his nervous system like the blood through his veins. This was the room spent most of his waking time in as it was a clear shot, down the long hall, for his wheelchair from his custom built, specially equipped, room at the back of the house. It had a large bathroom with trapeze bars to help in and out of the tub and a door with a ramp that led to the cement patio in back.
The white room had ten foot ceilings, wide crown moldings, a large fireplace and original, but not expensive paintings. They came via fundraisers for the library. Jim’s charity of choice, to promote his hardware store. Despite the warm colors of the mid sixties furniture, and the shinny brass chandelier, the room felt cold, sterile. Even when the fireplace was lit.
Jim’s eyes moved to the prescription bottle, sitting on the end table beside him. Only two pills left, to last him until the pharmacist opened in the morning. That wasn’t going to be enough, he was going to suffer. He was early again, but some things couldn’t be helped. He’d been warned, more than once, that if he didn’t space them out better, they wouldn’t work anymore.
‘Like they work now.’ A wave hit him. He squeezed his eyes shut and bit the inside of his cheek until it bled and then held it there, to cork on his gut. The wave of nausea and anguish crashed and receded, leaving Jim pulverized. When his mind cleared he was left with a salty, metallic, taste in his mouth. Not unlike… ocean water. A taste he only knew because of his single trip to the Atlantic on… their honeymoon.
He snorted, shook his head grimly, and closed his eyes. “No Oceans in Ohio.” He whispered.
He couldn’t even imagine being in a car long enough to get to the Atlantic, or the Gulf. That big lake at the top of the state just wasn’t the same. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and looked out the window, his eyes fell on the red and white 68 Mustang convertible. He’d bought new ten years ago, but had never ridden in. Back then he was sure he was going to walk again, because he had never failed at any physical challenge.
The doctors talked about burst fractures and ruptured disks. All he knew was that he could still feel his legs. He never stopped feeling his legs. Not for a single second, of a single day, but he couldn’t make the damned things work. He’d been so sure, if he could feel them, he could damn sure make them work again. He’d been hurt playing ball before and he always beat it and came back again. Now every time he moved his legs, they lit up like a California wild fire.
Even though he could feel his legs, hold his piss, and even walk five steps with cuff crutches before he collapsed, he never got any better. He never got further than those five steps before he had to Land. All he had was the pain that launched from where his spine had been crushed, then rocketed down the electric highway to his toe nails. The pain would make him feel as if his toes were going to pop off like champagne corks.
He glared at the Mustang. ‘Her car.’ Just like the one they had taken to Florida. The one that had been crushed in some junk yard down there. The insurance had covered the replacement.
He had stopped going to specialists. There was nothing left to try. The doctors always told him there was promising research. He told himself that he believed them, but he didn’t really. It was pointless hoping that some new treatment would give him back his life. He often wished he had the courage to cut his spinal cord completely, just to stop the pain. But if he accepted that fate… he would piss and shit himself and he would lose what dignity he held onto. And if that happened, then he could, would, kill himself.
As long as he could lie to himself. Tell himself there was a chance he would get better, he could live with live with the pain.
She had flown from the car and rolled down and embankment, getting so bruised, so covered in big black splotches, she looked like a Jersey cow. Though not a bone snapped, not a joint dislocated, and she walked away from it. He got the steering wheel, right in the pelvis. It had crushed his bones and his life.
He focused on the Mustang again. Keeping that damn car around was perverse. Some ridiculous thread of hope that he’d be able to sit in a bucket seat again and use his legs to manipulate the clutch and the gas at the same time. Gritting his teeth his eyes squinted until his eyebrows covered the top of his vision like he was looking through branches. He should have that damn thing towed off and crushed. Have the cube set down in the driveway for her to find. Wouldn’t that be a site.
He jerked his gaze away from the car to his glass and took a careful drink of bourbon from his tumbler. Careful, because he’d spilled down his chin on his previous attempt and she noticed every little blunder. There would be a comment that would cut like a razor’s edge pulled across the tongue. The cut so clean blood would come before the pain, but both would flow through eternity.
His eyes rolled back in their sockets, as the fiery liquid hit his salivary glands. These were the seconds his mind: Didn’t have to think. Didn’t feel pain. Didn’t care. Didn’t regret. A fraction of a moments release from reality.
His vision cleared and his battleship came into focus. The big, gold, 4 door, 77 Lincoln Town Car with the white, leather, interior. It sat next to and dwarfed the Mustang.
‘His car.’ He’d bought it the year before, to replace a 2 year old Lincoln that had less than 15,000 miles, ran perfect, and didn’t need to be replaced. He didn’t drive that one either, he only road in the passenger seat. The dealer said they could install hand controls for him, but he was unmotivated. The first reason being that if he had one of his bad pain spasms while driving, he’d most likely wreck and probably kill some kid with that tank and have to take that guilt to his grave.
‘Probably wouldn’t even get the relief of being killed myself.’ He said to himself. ‘The thing was so heavy, it would crush anything in its path’ He grimaced at the thought. When the pain really hit, he became blind. He would no more be able to make out a stop sign, than a woman’s face. He wouldn’t even see the accident, or know anything of it, other than that lightening bolt of pain, from the sudden jolt the impact would cause. Death would be a release of pain. But death would not come that easy for him. He considered her response to his theoretical demise.
‘Wouldn’t that make her happy.’ He looked down at his drink. Sometimes that was the only thing he had to live for, to prevent the happiness his death would bring her.
The second reason he wouldn’t get the hand controls was that she had to drive him everywhere. Because of that she had to come into the store every day. Rose, his nurse, had offered, but he told her no and kept the offer to himself. It was the only thing that his beloved wife did for him. He wasn’t about to cut her completely loose of responsibility.
High heels ticked on the hardwood floor that lead to the kitchen. There was an obvious bit of stamp to each step. She liked to him to know she was coming. Give him time, in case he was involved in the stoic tears that plagued him, often without him even being conscious of it. He set his drink down on the end table. Put his hands of the wheels of his chair and turned it towards the trophy case on the far wall. Another perversion that should be crushed out of existence.
He fixed his gaze on the all-state track medal hanging around the neck of his, senior high school, football trophy. His lips were like little Siamese fighting fish. Mounds of battling flesh, relenting in their combat only long enough to allow a drink from the glass that he carefully retrieved from the table.
His back was to the door, but he sensed her arrival at the threshold. As much as from the halt of pistol shots, of her high heeled, ankle boots, as the hatred she projected at him. He didn’t have to look at her to know she was wearing low cut jeans and a loose cotton top that still managed to show off her breasts as if the top were skin tight. It was her uniform she loved finding excuses to bend over and flash her cleavage to torment men and infuriate women.
Lisa rested her hand on the door jam, her long blond hair rakishly hanging over her shoulders. She knew just how to give her head a quick shake and make it fall that way. It was a move she’d practiced since she was eleven and realized men looked at her. A few strands fell over her perfect face, a face that made men bump into things and lose their train of thought. She glared at the back of Jim’s head and wondered if she had the strength to strangle him where he sat. His upper body was weirdly strong for a cripple. He would sit in the backyard and use dumbbells for hours at a time. Just staring at patch of woods behind their house, steadily drinking bourbon and beer, but never really seeming drunk.
It served him well, because he had to use trapeze bars and hangers to lift himself onto his bed and to the toilet. Thank god they had a nurse to bathe him, she couldn’t stand to touch his mutilated body. She looked the direction his head was facing and her lip curled exposing the top teeth on the right side of her face.
She stared at the back of his head and wished should could inflict pain with her eyes. Little did she know that she did. He had robbed her of the life she had planned. ‘Why didn’t he just die.’ She almost said aloud.
The case was filled with cups, plaques, and medals hung on red, white, and blue ribbons. There was a framed picture of him, with her, sitting on thrones at the senior prom. There were also framed letters of all the scholarships he’d been offered. And a black and white picture of him ata track meet, his thick black hair brushed back with sweat and his shoulders glistening, next to the newspaper article featuring the picture. It was published when he had received a full ride to play ball at Ohio State.There were two more years of articles and athletic paraphernalia, then nothing more. Abrupt stop. No more track medals, no action shots of receiving a touch down pass,no diploma, no career.
All of it a prelude to a life that was never lived. The Jim Kastor photographed, so majestically against the back drop of accomplishment, no longer existed. The eyes that had shown so brightly were now dim with pain, opoids, and bourbon. There was none of that zealous young man left to this world. That boy from the pictures was dead and didn’t have the sense to lie down.
She had loved him once. At least as she understood love. Desire for one who could give her what she wanted. She wanted nice things and leave this grimy warren of humanity behind. He was supposed to care of her and be her ticket out of this shit stack of a town. When she finally got him into marrying her, they got in that fucking accident on their honeymoon and all her plans had been shattered. He didn’t have a big professional career and they were stuck.
Now he was a dead weight that would never move away and he would continue in the hardware shop his father had left him until the day he died. They were well off, she had nice things, but she had to order them out of catalogs. The local shopping experience left everything to be desired.
Lisa remained standing, staring, wanting him to speak first. It was a competition of wills that she played with him, though she could seldom outlast him.
He was not a talker at home. He did his talking at the hardware store, his father had left him. He spoke to customers when he maned the counter. The counter with a ramp that raised the height of his chair and was hollow underneath to allow room for his chair and legs. From the purchase side of the counter it was easy to forget he was in that chair, or not even notice at all, if you were unaware.
That was the only time he seemed alive to Lisa. She hated him for it, because she never felt alive. It was also the only time a day he was completely sober. He was cheerful and knew all his regular customers and their families. No one who knew Jim from that side of the counter would even recognize the brooding, sullen, man he was at home.
She wondered for a moment if she were like one of those, she didn’t even know what to call them. Women who were self-sacrificing, compassionate… Sweet. Would Jim be the way he was at the store at home?
‘Ugh’ Lisa recoiled at the dullness of it. She knew how to give, but only when she received what she wanted in exchange and she wanted a lot. She’d leave, if she could figure out where Jim kept stashing away the money. Not that he kept in cash. It was in an account, but it was locked down tight somewhere out of town.
The money he kept in their mutual account wouldn’t keep her for a month, if she left for Chicago, or LA. The business account floated pretty high at times, especially around payday, but the accountant handled that account.
She sometimes thought about trying to fuck the accountant and con him into embezzling the money for her. But he was a deacon and not one of those tissue paper Christians that couldn’t withstand a good sneeze of sin. Once, when she dropped off the monthly sales report at his office, she had played at teasing him. Leaning over his desk with an extra button undone. He didn’t even break eye contact with her for a second and she’d never caught him checking her out when she pretended not to be looking. ‘Maybe he liked boys.’ She thought, not believing any man could be that immune to her.
She couldn’t wait for Jim to speak any longer. She stamped over to the turntable. “How can you just let it skip like that? How does that not drive you crazy!” She flipped the record over and set the needle. Slow, white washed, jazz made its homogenized way through the speakers. She tapped the toe of her pointed boot, at twice the tempo of the music.
“Well, another thrilling Friday night at the Kastor household.”
Jim’s only response was to raise his head slightly in a slow nod and take a drink.
She crossed her arms under her breasts and clutched her biceps. “Ruckus jazz and another, out of control, party with drinking and prescription drugs.”
He gave no response or movement to this comment.
“I’m going out.” She said with bored conviction unfolding her arms and looking toward the front of the house.
He turned his head in her direction, but not far enough to look at her. “Where?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll meet up with some of my friends. You remember friends don’t you Jim? They’re other human beings that you talk to and have fun with.” She took a cigarette from the wooden box on the coffee table and lit it with the Zippo that lived there next to the box.
“Do you care?” She said smoke flowing out of her mouth, when she spoke, as if she were a fire breathing dragon. She tossed the lighter back on the table without bending over. It bounced loudly and came to rest just shy of the edge.
“Well? Do you?” She aimed a heavy plume of smoke at him. He turned away without looking at her.
“Nothing to say?” She stomped around to the front of his chair and blew a cloud directly in his face.
His eyes rose up slowly and seemed to pull his head up when they could rise no further. He finished his drink, without looking away from her. Then looked at the glass and methodically set it on the end table. In the same laggard manner he looked back up at her. She was leaning over him, breathing heavy. Glaring down at him, veins bulging in her neck. He spoke with analytical detachment.
“You know, I used to think you were as pretty as a woman could be.” His voice was maddeningly calm to Lisa ears, it made her shake.
Her lips trembled and she took a harsh drag from her cigarette to cover it up.
“Beautiful.” He continued studying her face. “Perfect face. Perfect body, but cold…” He sighed and fished a cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket. He took a Zippo from the same pocket and lit it with a quick flick of his wrist and dropped it back in the pocket. It was the only cool guy move he had left.
“Not that you couldn’t turn on the heat, like an August noon, when you wanted to…” He took a long drag from his smoke and blew out a thin line, between whistle shaped lips. It flowed right over her face without drawing a reaction, other than her continued glare. She blinked first and turned away. Snubbed out her cigarette in the heavy round, smoked glass, ashtray on the coffee table and lit a second cigarette. Walking a few steps away and keeping her back to him, while she powered through the smoke.
Jim was relieved she had turned away when she did. He was having to fight like a golden glove boxer to keep the pain from showing on his face. He poured himself another drink and downed half of it.
“Too bad, I was too young and too stupid, not to know the difference between a calculating whore and a passionate woman.” He finished the fresh drink of courage and set the glass down on the rolling bar. “Too bad I was too young and too stupid to know all that beauty was just a disguise, hiding a hideous creature. An ugly, inhuman, monster.”
Lisa erupted with a manic and cynical laugh. She walked in front of his chair and put her cigarette out in the glass he’d just set on the portable bar and locked eyes with him.
“Did you spend all day thinking up that little speech?” She laughed again, now with more of a hysterical edge, never breaking eye contact. “Have you been drinking all night to build up the courage?” She continued her jarring laughter.
“On your best day.” She said smiling. “With your best body you couldn’t satisfy me. Your right. You were nothing but my ticket out of this shit hole town. That’s all you ever were. A boring, self engrossed, jock strap, who couldn’t even unsnap my bra without making me go dry.” She turned to the bar and poured bourbon in his glass without removing her cigarette. “Here you go gimp.” She held out the glass. “Have another drink on me.”
The pain was rising fast from his hips. He had sat up too long and needed to be in bed. He didn’t want her to see it. He didn’t want her to have the satisfaction of knowing how much he was suffering. He wanted her to leave and never come back. But she wouldn’t unless he paid her to do it and he would die first. Just to have the satisfaction of knowing that she would get nothing from the will she was waiting to cash in on.
His only regret being he wouldn’t be able to see the look on her face when she found out that Rose was the executor of the estate and that she and her family got the store and most of the money. She got the house and the small amount his lawyer had insisted on him giving her and there was a stipulation that if she challenged the will she wouldn’t get that. The thought gave him strength. He took a drink, ignoring the floating cigarette.
“Why don’t you go out dear.” He tilted his head and gave a slight smile. “Go out and get fucked. Maybe you can make a little change. Maybe there still a little value in that icebox between your thighs. But you better hurry, because being whore is the only value you have in this world. You might as well make the most of it! Before your tits sag and those wrinkles around your eyes spread so far, the idea of you spreading your legs makes all men want to vomit, the way it does me now!”
There was a moment of stillness. A moment without a breath from either of them. Just the locked glare of hatred built from years of forced cohabitation, revulsion, and resentment. Then movement, so fast it defied the eyes capability to follow it. Lisa dug her claws into Jim’s neck and she began to strangle him with all the fury that she was made of.
His neck was too strong and hard from his relentless exercise and with all her strength and furry, she could not cut off his air. While he was slower to react, his hands found her throat and he was much more successful at ridding her of life. He was squeezing slowly staring into her eyes, his eyes wide with fascination and excitement. Very slowly he incrementally increased the pressure.
Her face was red on it way to purple and she couldn’t take more than a sip of air. She knew he could end her in a second by just pressing his thumbs a little harder and that some how terrified her more than death. She had only a fraction of a breath left in her when she let go of his throat, balled her fists, and began punching his legs and groin. He let go immediately, screamed, and tried to block her assault. She coughed and gagged, her lungs trying to recover, but kept up her attack. When his hands went down to protect his legs she began to punch him in the face. When he covered his face she went after his ribs.
The pain overwhelmed Jim. His vision had gone completely black except for exploding flashes of white and crimson. When Lisa struck again, it was more than he could bare and while he was technically conscious, he was completely unaware. His soul had fled his body. His last thought was that he was falling. Lisa grabbed an arm of the chair and pulled with everything she had, toppling it onto its side and throwing Jim to the floor. He instantly began to vomit and shit himself. She kicked him in the gut repeatedly trying to drive out the terror that he had instilled in her. She crouched over him. Her chest heaving for air. Her hands clutched like talons.
She struggled to get her breathing under control and looked to see if Jim was still breathing at all. His vomit had rocketed out of him, so his throat was clear. He was still breathing. She stumbled over to the portable bar and picked up the bourbon, the cap still off from when she filled his glass, and she took a deep swallow. Then she poured it on Jim.
“Here, Jim, have another.” She dropped the bottle when it ran empty and it bounced of Jim’s shoulder. She staggered from the living room to the guest bathroom. She held herself up on the sink and looked in the mirror. She had a good set of bruises on her neck, so she was covered. She could say she leaned down to kiss him and he snapped and began to strangle her. He had very powerful arms, everyone knew that.
‘It was all she could do to get away. She was sure he was going to kill her.’ She’d say. She smiled at her reflection. Maybe this could be her escape. She washed her face, retrieved her purse and covered the bruises with foundation.
She went back in the living room. Jim was curled into the fetal position and moaning, but not conscious. She turned away and picked up her keys from the hall table. She looked back one last time.
“Why don’t you do us both a favor and just die, Jim.” She left the house, leaving the front door unlocked and ajar. She needed to get somewhere public and be seen as soon and by as many people as possible.
Hopefully Jim would last a few hours and die. She wasn’t coming home until his nurse had time to get there in the morning and find him. Alive, or dead, it didn’t matter.She had the bruises around her neck and all night to get her story straight.
‘She had just left, because she feared for her life.’ She’d tell the Sheriff. ‘She was afraid to even come close to him, less he grab her again. She stayed away, hoping he’d calm down and come to his senses.’ She continued playing to story out in her mind. She was sure she’d be able to spice it up with a good helping of tears. ‘No his chair was still upright when she left. But he was just crazy out of his mind, taking pills and drinking.’
‘His bruises?’ She would respond incensed. ‘I was fighting for my life. He was strangling me and you know how strong his arms are. I just ran as soon as I got away from him.’ She smiled and started the Mustang. She squealed the tires as she left, in case any of the neighbors were listening. Time, and desperation, of departure set.