By Any Means

Impasse – Chapter Seven

There was a pair of arms around Farva’s shoulders. He felt at the hand strung over his chest, warm and soft. When he opened his eyes, he saw the tacky wallpaper and stained upholstery of the motel room chairs. He pulled away from the woman’s grasp, someone dark-haired and noticeably younger than him, and sat on the edge of the bed, face in his hands. She sat up, already awake.

“What’s the matter?”

The detective shook his head and muttered lowly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here. You, neither. Just… you should probably yourself tested.”

The woman shuffled the bed covers loudly. “Excuse me? Tested for what?”

Farva sighed. “Please. I’m sorry.”

The woman stood and began to stomp about, dressing herself. “You son of a bitch. I’m calling the police. You do this, knowing you have something?”

“Don’t bother. I mean… I’m sorry. I’m with… the police force. But… I don’t blame you. I’ve really messed up.”

“Damn right,” the woman muttered, yanking on her discarded clothes. “Fucking small town hicks, dirty fuckers, son of a bitch, what I get for getting with whoever… people like you ruining people’s lives. You know what, I’m going to the papers. Not here, unless I dare getting lynched…”

The young woman bustled about the room like a tornado, still cursing under her breath until her heeled shoes finally took her out the door, disturbing the night with a loud slam that shook the walls of the structure. Farva glanced at the square packet, ripped open, on the nightstand. At least… we used protection.

His slacks were discarded on the floor. Leaning down, he fished around in either pocket until he found the one with his phone, quiet and still. He flipped it open and checked the time— just before three in the morning. I need to call her. I need to confess. Or better, I need to—

The phone rang, shaking his hand. The police chief’s name lit up the tiny screen. The detective waited for the call to end, but a second one came soon after. I should answer it. Tell him no. I know… something is going to happen… if I go where he is… the tracks. The train…

“Hello?”

“Got you awake finally, did I, Farve?”

“Chief—“

“If you’re up and sober I need you. Come down to the tracks, second avenue.”

“I can’t,” Farva responded quickly.

Schultz huffed, breath heavy through the speaker. “You’re going to make my life hard now, are you, Farve? I know it’s late, but-“

“I need to take care of something,” The detective interrupted. “I… can’t go without doing this. If… I go to the tracks, I won’t be able to make it back and do it properly.”

“What are you talking about?”

The chief’s voice was cut off as Farva clacked the phone closed, terminating the call. The phone vibrated and chirped another time as he dressed himself, and once more as he dropped the keys to the motel room in the box by the office. Halfway through the phone’s noisy call for attention, the detective choked it out finally with a long press of the power button.

The open windows of the Lincoln let in the frigid air, keeping Farva awake, lucid enough to think of the words he would say when he got home. About ten minutes later, he was pulling up to the double-wide, flipping off the headlights, and turning off the car. He climbed the stairs and opened the doors without a thought to be quiet, knowing he was going to wake her up anyways.

The woman stirred in bed as he stepped into the bedroom, floorboards creaking beneath the old carpet. She forced her face into her pillow when he flipped the light switch. “Turn that off, please? Can’t you manage with the hall light?”

“Jess, we need to talk,” Farva said, the breath leaving his chest.

The woman sat up, eyes mostly shut. “Can it wait until morning? Or even after I get back from work tomorrow night?”

Farva sat on the edge of the bed near her feet. “I don’t know… if I’ll last that long. With how things are going.”

“Wait… what now? Are you okay?”

“I… I’m sick. That’s why… I haven’t let myself be around you.”

Jess sat up and reached for her husband’s hand. He felt her skin but pulled away before he could enjoy the touch, sully it. “I don’t understand.”

“Please, don’t,” the detective began to explain. “A month ago. When I was gone for the two whole days…”

“I remember.”

“It wasn’t for work. I was… getting tested. Because…”

The cold trailer sounded with a sudden, shrill ringing from the next room. Jess shook her head. “I think it may be your boss. The chief. He called earlier, left a message asking for you. I just let it go to the machine…”

“Damn it,” Farva muttered, trying to ignore the ringing. “Jess, I’ve been unfaithful.”

The woman shuffled her head back and forth. “I… I had thoughts… that that might be… what’s going on.”

The answering machine clicked on in the next room, the tape beginning to reel up to record the incoming message. “Farve… if you get this… we need you out here. Travis is… he’s dead.”

The detective bit his lip and jerked up from the bed, rushing to the phone before the call would hang up. “Chief,” he answered, pushing the phone to his ear.

“Now you answer,” the gruff, hoarse voice answered. “This is your fault, you know. I had the kid doing your job. If only you’d come out. I’d ask you to come out now, but whatever or whoever you’re fucking around with now is obviously more important.”

“I’ll be there. I’ll be there, as soon as possible.”

“Good on you,” Schultz said sarcastically. “Well, at least you can help me clean up this fucking mess. Let’s hope I can think up something for you to do, keep you out of my sight…”

Farva set down the phone in the cradle. Jess’ arms reached around him, holding him tight from behind. “We can fix what we have here any time. You know I’m patient. Go take care of what you need to out there. Go.”

Farva pulled away from her grasp without another word, stomping outside in his boots and avoiding the urge to look back. Before he started up his car, he leaned over and tugged on the handle to the glove compartment. Beneath the old napkins and blank service reports was a bundle, and an old handkerchief, holding something heavy and uneven. He unwrapped it in his lap, revealing the revolver. The cylinder was loaded with a single bullet, with others tucked away deeper in the compartment.

It will only take one. One to restart this cycle all over again. To save Travis. To do the right thing. What is the right thing? How do I stop it from repeating? I don’t… I don’t remember enough. But with enough tries, I can find the right way out. But… I am out. Right now. I’ve escaped. It will all repeat again, won’t it. And when I’ve gotten to this point…

Farva forced the barrel around, pointing it towards his mouth, the cold steel finally coming to rest on his bottom lip. He had seen the results of people doing the same thing to themselves. It was only a small margin of error between quick and painless to slow and agonizing, or even not at all. His thumb made contact with the hammer, ready to push it back into firing position. The light in the trailer flicked on and glowed through the curtains of the window, the shadow of a silhouette moving beyond. I… can’t. I have to… do this the right way. Accept that this is the way it has to go.

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