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Still Love...

that night, after Victoria's Secret


"… è il frutto del tuo seno, Gesú.
Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
prega per noi peccatori,
adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte.

Ray pressed his mouth against the cold wooden beads of his rosary and was not comforted. His fingers were ice cold and sour with old blood. "Jesus … Jesus, please …" he didn't even know who he was praying for. He was surprised the name of God didn't burn his mouth because if there were a dammed soul walking tonight, it was him.

"She had a gun, she had a gun, she had a gun," Ray whispered and no matter how he said it, he still wondered if it was true. No one answered him. No one could. Benny had a tube shoved down his throat and more crawling out from under his sheets and his blood was on Ray's hands, bright and burning, like Judas' kiss. Benny had been hot tonight, bleeding onto the cold concrete, all over Ray's hands, hot enough to steam as he whispered poetry - to her. To her, even then, still to her.

Love poetry for a woman who'd tried to ruin him, to destroy him … the woman he'd run to when running meant he'd lose everything. When running meant Ray would lose everything. Benny loved like he jumped off buildings, like he could fly. Even when he hit the ground like a brick, he'd still loved and he'd still jumped - flying like a bird to Victoria's outstretched hand. The one without - with - the gun.

He'd looked up, Benny dying under his hands, and met Victoria's eyes as the train raced into the dark. Ray had never seen a face like that before, never watched the way someone could just burn with love and he'd known then - couldn't avoid knowing - that Victoria loved Benny. Maybe like a wild animal, like the jaguar loved the deer when she tore out its throat, but still love. Ray hated Victoria, loathed her poisonous touch and what it had done to Benny and he'd felt sick in the sight of that love, felt like he'd been the wrong one, to stand in its way.

The kind of fucking love that caught the world on fire. It had burned Ray's stiff, icy hands, as he tried to staunch Benny's wound.

Ray glanced at the clock. It was 3 a.m., the dying hour. The bleep of the monitors and the click of his rosary through his fingers were only sounds in the world, and he was afraid that Benny would just … slip away unless Ray watched him. Nothing had changed. Benny still looked like he was dying, pale as the sheets, motionless as a corpse on a slab, with a fucking machine breathing for him. If anything he looked worse, smaller, paler, quieter and the piss trailing down the catheter tube was swirled with blood. The doctors weren't hopeful.

"Benny, Benny …" Ray leaned over him, touched his chill face, wondered what he was seeing now. Victoria? Benny had been looking at her, in her arms, when … when the bullet had hit. When Ray had shot him, the thought crept up despite himself. She'd been the last thing in Benny's sight. Was it her he still saw, burned into his brain? Home? Snow? Moose?

"Jesus, god, Benny …" Ray clenched his fists, rosary biting into his hands, so he wouldn't just pick Benny up and shake him. He was wearing Benny's blood and Benny still had his bullet like a goddam valentine and he was the one sitting here waiting to see of Benny was going to die. Ray was the one here. "What about me? What the fuck about me, damn you?"

Because maybe Ray wasn't gong to burn the world up, maybe he wasn't going to fly and for sure he was going to burn in hell, but it was love. Sitting here, in the dark, with no fire to warm him. It was still love.

END (011706)