I couldn’t shake the feeling of Hatred. She was close, very close. Jealousy had no idea. He kept rambling about the altercation we’d left miles behind us.
For hours, he went on and on about how funny it was to see me fall to the floor, pretending to be dead. It was even more amusing to him that the liar I saved unraveled in front of everyone. He kept referring to the rush of it all and how he felt alive.
Honestly, I was just glad it was behind me. I hadn’t wanted to get involved when I felt the pull, but I couldn’t deny its intoxicating feeling. Only gods would understand that feeling. When the emotions of people you rule over become filled with the very thing that gives you purpose, it’s something we can’t turn our backs on. I’m no different.
This is why I couldn’t ignore Hatred. I could feel it pulse inside me. She was angry with me. It felt like a trapped animal was clawing at the walls of my being, trying to rip itself free from captivity. I didn’t know what I would say when she decided to confront me. Her resolve was not as controlled as Jealousy’s.
“I don’t like how quiet you’ve been this whole ride, Din,” Jealousy snapped, breaking from his ramblings about the altercation.
“I don’t like how you haven’t shut up since we’ve left,” I replied.
“I thought you would be more excited than this,” he continued. “The surge of energy we received while it unfolded…you can’t deny you felt that rush.”
“Of course I did,” I said, keeping my eyes on the road. “But that’s not why I came. It’s not why I intervened.”
“Then why did you?”
“I seem to recall you had something to do with that,” I advised, glaring at him from the corner of my eye. “You reminding me I couldn’t ignore the feeling, that I couldn’t ignore someone in distress.”
“Oh, cry about it, Din,” Jealousy scoffed. “I remind you of the rules you made yourself, and suddenly it’s my fault? I’m the problem?”
“You’re not the problem. As a matter of fact, you’ve been helpful,” I said, turning to look at him. “The fact is, my mind has been a jumbled mess since I left home. It’s been difficult for me to figure things out or know what I should be doing.”
“I’m glad you see that, and I’m elated you can admit it,” he said, smacking me on the shoulder. “Now, what do you say we stop somewhere for a nice drink? It’s been how long since your last whiskey?”
Three days, six hours, forty-one minutes, and thirteen seconds had passed since I’d tasted my favorite drink. His words couldn’t have come at a better time because there was a truck stop ahead. I needed to take the edge off and clear my thoughts surrounding the unwavering feeling of Hatred.
I didn’t know why she’d chosen to play games with me. She knew I could feel her presence. So why did she hide? Why did she lurk in the shadows, watching from a close distance? I was not looking forward to the moment she popped out from the darkness, revealing her intense emotions.
I pulled into the lot littered with semi-trucks and trailers. In an attempt to conceal myself from watchful eyes and gather myself before heading into the establishment, I parked between two large semis. I remembered all too well what had happened the last time. I didn’t want a repeat of that encounter.
I climbed out of my car, and flicked the end of my match, placing it to the tip of the cigarette dangling from my lips. A couple of puffs, and the cigarette was lit. I threw the ignited match to the gravel at my feet.
Leaning against my car, I took long drags, holding them in my mouth before blowing the thick smoke from my nostrils.
“What, are you nervous or something?” Jealousy asked, walking around the front of the car.
“No, I just want to enjoy the peace and quiet before I go into the bar,” I explained, looking up at the clear starlit sky.
“Since when do you value peace?”
“Since I felt…” I stopped myself from revealing the powerful feelings of Hatred I’d had since we fled the family altercation.
“Since you felt…” Jealousy urged.
“That situation was a lot to deal with and something I didn’t want to be involved in,” I explained, attempting to distract him. “I healed him and saved him from dying. That should have been enough, but that pull…that made me want more. I thought I would be doing something good.”
“What are you not telling me, Din?”
“Nothing. You know what I know.”
“Don’t toy with me, Din,” he warned. “Is it my sister?”
“No, it’s not her. I was worried about her showing up after the chaos, which is why I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.”
“You’re lying to me,” Jealousy said, stalking forward with an untrusting expression.
His eyes squinted into mine. His tongue moved around the inside of his mouth as the gears in his brain turned quickly. He pointed his index finger at me and wagged it passionately.
He knew I was hiding something. I was never good at lying. I needed to switch gears. Jealousy was great to have around, even better to have on my side, but I thought our most recent endeavor had given him a false sense of entitlement.
I grabbed his finger, bending it backward until I felt it pop. The crackle it made dropped Jealousy to his knees. I kept ahold of his finger as I towered over him.
“Who do you think you’re talking to? And who do you think you are?” I said. My cigarette clung loosely to my lips, dangling with every word.
Jealousy laughed. “Not much of a poker player,” he said, wincing from the pain. “Inflicting pain to distract me from my questioning…means I struck a nerve. I’m getting close to something.”
“You struck a nerve being a disobedient prick,” I replied. He saw right through me, but I needed to keep up my facade. The more I thought about Hatred, the more I drew her to me. She was already so close I felt her all around me. I didn’t need to compound that by giving into Jealousy’s insecurities.
“If that’s true—”
I pushed harder on his finger to interrupt him and assert my authority. I took another drag, kneeling to exhale the smoke at my minion and let him know I was still in charge.
He inhaled deeply. “If that’s true, then why have you restrained your violence?” he asked, grunting from the pain. “Before, you would have flogged me until you felt I got the point. Why show restraint now?”
“Because we’re not home, we’re here,” I said. “I’m done with that way of behaving, but I’m not done with obedience. Understand?”
“Yes, yes, just please let go, Din.”
It was for his own good. I hated the way he was when Hatred was around. The two of them always going at it scrambled my brain to the point I wanted to put my head through a wall. When she arrived, I would deal with it then, and he would just have to adjust appropriately.
“What the hell you doin’, partner?” A trucker asked, peeking around the trailer. “You alright? Who ya talkin’ to?”
“Go ahead, tell him, Din,” Jealousy laughed.
I released Jealousy and stood. He crumpled forward, laughing hysterically with his face in the gravel.
“I’m fine, thanks,” I replied, taking another drag from my cigarette.
“Is that tobacco or somethin’ else? Drugs will rot your brain, son.”
“I appreciate the concern, but it’s just tobacco.”
“Who were ya talkin’ to?”
“Nobody, just talking to myself,” I explained.
“Why? That sounds crazy, boy.”
“I’m an actor. I’m heading through town on my way to an audition. I try to recite my lines whenever I get the chance.”
“Smooth, Din. Real smooth,” Jealousy added, standing.
“Oh, well, be careful doin’ that stuff around these parts,” the trucker advised. “People here would think you crazy and call the police.”
“Thanks for the tip,” I replied.
“You’re welcome, boy. You should get inside where it’s warm. Get somethin’ to eat.”
“I’ll be in after I finish my smoke,” I advised. The trucker nodded his head and walked away. I watched him until he entered the bar.
I started to turn toward Jealousy when I spotted something familiar. I stopped, peering through the darkness. I couldn’t tell from that distance, and the dim parking lot lighting didn’t help, but I thought I saw someone I knew…someone from home.