Even with swears, andger can be let out in more than one way. Fortunatly, there's a cure.
‘What the Hell is your issue, Jay?’
‘Oh, I’ll tell you what the Hell’s my issue, it’s that you didn’t contact us when you first realized that something was wrong, Archie!’
Atlanta was sitting on the stairs, her eyes darting between Jay and Archie, her fingers running through her hair. Herry sat on the couch with Neil, both pretending to watch a blank screen whilst Odie was typing away at his computer.
‘Fuck you, Jay! You know that you wouldn’t have left even if we did tell you, and plus, Cronos would probably trap you before you got out of that motherfucking cave!’
‘Fuck you too Archie! Just leave and get back to your kids!’
‘Hey,’ Archie grabbed Jay by the collar of his shirt, but Jay shook him off, sending his flying into the wall. ‘I’m proud to be a motherfucking father, okay? I’m proud to have kids and a wife that love me and I love them! You know Jay, I’m just sorry that you don’t have anyone too share your lonely life with! You don’t have anyone to care for you, or to have a family with! You’ve never even really had a real relationship since Theresa in high school, and you know how that went.’
‘You have no idea what it’s like Archie!’ Jay yelled at him and Archie flinched slightly. ‘You have no fucking idea what it’s like to fear for your family and loved ones—to fear for their lives because you put bastards like Cronos in jail, bastards who don’t give a fucking damn if they kill your family and friends or the people that you care about! So, yah, you’re right: I haven’t had a serious relationship with anyone since Theresa, but that’s only because I choose not to put innocent people’s lives before my own.’
‘Don’t you dare yell at me you jackass!’
‘Fuck this—I’m so out of here!’
‘Where will you go Jay?’ Atlanta cried as he strutted out the door, grabbing his coat. ‘We need you or else this team will fall apart, just like it did ten years ago!’
‘Well that turned out pretty well for you guys, didn’t it,’ Jay said, dangerously quiet, ‘getting married, becoming famous, having a family and a successful career. Frankly I have no real reason to stay here, cooped up in this hellhole with people that I really do not want to be around. So, I won’t be seeing you. I’ll send for my things.’
And at that Jay slammed the door and the pouring rain outside grew to thunderous blasts upon the roof. The sound of screeching tires sounded barely above the hammering downpour above.
‘What do we do now?’ Atlanta asked bitterly to the mute crowd. ‘Well?’
A day had passed before he knocked on their doorstep utterly rueful about the concept.
‘Oh, well look what the cat dragged in,’ Archie said angrily, looking down at Jay. ‘Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be half way back home by now?’
‘One would think,’ Jay said stiffly. ‘But I need to see the body of Crystal Palm and Alexander Smith; I don’t have that power solo. And also, I would like to apologize for my prior actions and words. It was completely unacceptable and I’m sorry.’
‘Yah, I know you are,’ Archie said, allowing Jay to pass through the door into the Brownstone. ‘Mostly because I am too,’
‘Now,’ Jay continued, rubbing his hands together eagerly. ‘Let’s get a look at that body.’
They searched and searched and searched for hours in Odie’s lab, but to no avail. Jay eventually searched under Crystal’s fingernails, to find dried blood and skin cells.
‘Odie,’ Jay laughed for the first time in what felt like a million years. ‘Do you know what this means? This is our killers’ DNA! And chances are he is the one who has Theresa. This is Cronos’ DNA! These small skin cells have endless possibilities!’
Odie punched the air in triumph, but a dark shadow cast itself upon Jay’s face momentarily.
‘No,’ Jay ran his fingers through his messy hair as he remembered Cronos’ face. ‘His face was clean.’
‘What?’ Odie asked and his smile faulted.
‘Cronos’ face was clean of scratches,’ Jay explained, looking older and older with every passing second. ‘If Crystal really had scratched him and put up a fight like the hard evidence proves, then Cronos would have had several scratches on his face.’
‘But Cronos is a god,’ Odie added, arms akimbo. ‘Can’t he just heal himself?’
‘Yah,’ Jay answered slowly. ‘But Cronos is the type of guy that wouldn’t waste his time covering up little scratches. He probably thought that there was no need for it.’
‘Maybe he’s smarter than we thought,’ Odie said, testing Jay’s patience with his ongoing accusations. But Odie did have a point. But Jay hated being wrong.
‘Go over it one more time,’ Archie said as he paced up and down the hall.
‘We’ve had 24 one-more-time’s!’ Neil whined, rubbing his temple.
‘Cronos came in, took Theresa by her neck—that was where his scythe was—and by her waist, he held her there by his hand.’
‘Where was his head placed?’
‘Why would you want to—’
‘Herry,’ Archie needed to do something to help, and he knew what hew was doing. ‘Just tell me.’
‘Uh,’ Herry said as he scratched his head. ‘On the right; His portal was still there behind him. I think it was about a foot away from them.’
‘Your right or Theresa’s right?’
‘How tall is he now?’
‘Well, Cronos’ mouth was roughly right beside her brow, but he was bent over. Theresa is now, I’d say, 5’7 or 5’8. I think Cronos is 7’2. He’s taller than me, that’s for sure and I’m 6’6.’
‘Was Theresa’s hair up in the air?’
‘Like I just don’t care,’
Archie smiled faintly and grinded his teeth.
‘So, from what we’ve gathered,’ Atlanta said lazily. ‘Cronos came out from his portal about one foot away from Theresa—who was under a spell or something the minute she touched the Book of Damnation. He was bent over and placed his right hand over her waist—your right Herry—and then held his scythe around her neck with his other hand. Jay and Herry and Odie ran up to where Theresa once was and then you guys came here.’
Archie was typing madly as he listened to his wife. The words ‘dynamic’, ‘duo’, and ‘prison’ were in bold. There were sketches of scenes lying around the computer and living room. There was an ashtray with no cigarettes on it but his hands were shaking with stress.
‘I need some fresh air,’ he mumbled and strode out the door.
Archie fumbled for his lighter and the tip of his cigarette lit up quickly. He drew it from his mouth and blew out in a cloud of smoke. He laid his head upon the brick wall, letting it fall to the hard surface many times until his head began to throb. Truth be told, Archie knew that Theresa would survive, but the fact that Jay was right before had really shaken him. It was true—all true: Jay put himself in danger every single day whenever he saved a life, or recovered a body, or information that he shouldn’t have. That that was the reason for his loneliness and for the fact that Jay hadn’t had a real relationship or had fallen in love for someone since Theresa because he was too great of a guy. It was because that he was far too virtuous and moral and righteous. And now he, Archie, was putting his son and daughter in danger. It was for a good cause, sure, but if anything ever happened to him or to Atlanta, then they would have no one.
He dragged his hand down his face and took another breath of his warm gun.
‘I thought I told you not to smoke,’ Atlanta’s voice cut through the air like ice, cold and bitter. ‘I have enough reasons to be angry, and I don’t want your addiction to be one of them.’
‘It’s not an addiction,’ Archie defended coolly. ‘And I have reason to, and don’t tell me that you don’t want one right now. I even saw Jay lighting one up earlier in between autopsies.’
‘Well you know Archie,’ Atlanta continued, herself surprised at the coldness of her own voice. ‘Pretty quickly, it does become an addiction. And then, soon enough, it doesn’t become the smoking that I am mad at, but you.’