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I don’t know how any of this happened. All I did know was that I had to get to Perry and get her out of there. If Max, the doctor, anyone touched a single hair on her head, I was going to rip shit up. If you think I went Hulk just there, you have no idea. At that moment even I had no idea, I just knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Unfortunately, even though I felt no pain and was running along with glass streaming off of me, maybe just blocks away from Perry, I was also running with my hands behind my back. It made things a bit awkward. And the closing darkness made things a bit hazy. And my fucking boots that helped me escape the car got caught on the lip of a tree root and went flying for the ground.

Dirt meet face. That was going to leave a mark.

I groaned and winced, the movement making the dirtburn on my cheek sting. I had no time to wallow in it. I got up to my feet took a step and heard:


Just like in the movies. They actually yelled “freeze.” Wish they added, “punk” at the end of it.

Also wish I had actually froze on my own accord instead of turning around to face them with a sneer. The officer facing me, who looked suspiciously like that douche from those dance movies, had a look of fear and fire in his face. Oh, and he was holding a taser aimed at me.

I sneered at the taser. In rage mode I didn’t think anything could stop me. I began to move.

The next thing I knew there was a crackle of electricity in the air. My body went completely stiff, painfully, unbearably rigid like a board as I felt my muscles being hit by a million sledgehammers. My motor skills ceased to function. I had no control over anything. Now I was frozen and yet completely aware of what was going on at the same time. Please don’t let me shit my pants, I thought.

I was aware I was getting consistently lower to the ground. Aware that my breath was hitched, my body was convulsing in stretched lines. Aware that the dirt was coming up to meet my face. Again.

As soon as I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes, it stopped and I shot off a round of expletives that would even make non-rage/non-tased Dex blush. The pain was over and I was left feeling like I had been run over by a buffalo stampede…if the buffalo were all live wires.

In my state of total exhaustion, the officers were able to handle me and quickly got me to my feet while they called in another cop car. They seemed scared of their captive and when they brought me toward the car, which had been stopped up the road, I could see why. I saw the damage I did when I hit the ground. I saw the glass shattered at the rear window. I wondered how I managed to pull that off and from the looks I saw the officers shooting each other, I could tell they were wondering the same thing.

I made it back to the police station in a paddy wagon. I suppose now I was a threat, if I wasn’t already before. They could throw the book at me for trying to resist arrest, for trying to escape. The rage I felt, the need to get back to Perry, was still there ebbing beneath the surface but the rational part of my noggin at least had some control. My balls had been too big for my britches and now they were barely there. I hoped the tasing didn’t do any serious damage.

Once at the station I was put through a round of questioning by some surly-looking individuals. I was photographed – and I smiled through it all (why not, I had a nice smile). I would have thought I’d be shown to a doctor since I had been tased, but they never made any mention of the event and I didn’t want to press my luck by bringing it up. I was stripped of all my belongings; my cell phone, my money, my notepad.

Then I was given a very thorough pat down. I had wondered if my balls were still around and I can tell you, yes they sure are, officer Zucotti found them. It was sad that ever since Jenn and I broke up, that that was the most action I had gotten. Thank god Zucotti was a gentle beast.

With my dignity and male-groping virginity gone, I was then showed to my cell. The guards took me past the holding cells that were filled with a smorgasbord of Portland’s vagrants, criminals and drunks (and there were a lot from each category) and put me in a cell that had only one other guy.

He was sitting on the aluminum shitter and emitting a stench that made my eyes water. It was like a stanky-ass car wreck, I wanted, needed, to look away and give the man some privacy but it was fucking hard when the cell only consisted of two concrete slabs with thin mattresses on top and the sink. And the shitter. And the man on the shitter.

I would later find out his name was Gus.

Gus and I had a lovely time bonding. He was huge and wide, like a muscular elephant or Vin Diesel’s bigger cousin, and covered with tats from head to toe. They literally went up his neck and onto the giant expanse of his bald head. But he was surprisingly well-spoken. He’d been there all day for violating his parole. I didn’t ask what his crime was – I didn’t know how to react if he said he’d murdered his landlord or something like that (“Oh, that’s cool. Right on.”). But he was keen to interrogate me. I guess he felt we had no secrets if I’d seen him shit.

“There’s this girl,” I started and immediately winced at how cliché that sounded. We were sitting across from each other on the cold mattresses. I had no clue what time it was.

“Isn’t there always?” Gus replied. Also cliché.

“Yeah. Well, not usually. Not for me. But she’s…she’s in a fuckload of trouble.”

“Trouble and women go hand in hand.” Gus squeezed one of his hands with the others. I heard his bones pop. He smiled, blinding white veneers.

“That they do.”

I wasn’t sure how much I could tell Gus without him thinking I was crazy but I figured if you can’t tell the truth to your fucking inmate, who can you tell the truth to?

“Did you try and kill her?”

The glib way he said it, glib and utterly sincere, made me raise my brows to the roof.

“No,” I said carefully. Though, if the exorcism had failed, wouldn’t that have been a consequence? I felt sick at the thought. The smell in here didn’t help either.

“I didn’t try to kill her. I tried to save her. She was sick. I wasn’t around…we had a fight, I guess you could call it.”

He nodded knowingly. I didn’t like that he was relating to me. It made me wonder just the kind of person I was.

I continued, “And after the fight we didn’t speak for a while. She just cut me out of her life. Did I deserve it? Yes. Did I think she’d actually never talk to me again? No. Actually I didn’t. You know, she and I…we fight all the time. In small ways. I think it’s because we like to push each other’s buttons. You know how some people really get under your skin…and you like it? I fucking loved it. She pushed me, poked at me. She questioned me, kicked me, annoyed me. She was always there, digging, digging, digging and I loved every second of it. I fucking hate talking about myself but she cared so much to get to the bottom of me, like I was some sort of mystery. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone like that in my whole life, someone who wanted to know you, the real you, and wanted you to be a better person, a better man.”

“Did you become a better man?”

I looked down at my hands. Just the other morning I was holding Perry’s hand as she slept, not really knowing if she’d ever really wake up. If she’d be the same. Now my hands were dirty and scraped pink from the fall from the police car, my wrists were rubbed raw from the cuffs.

Had I become a better man? That was the question, what it all came down to, wasn’t it?

I had done a lot in Perry’s absence. There was more change than I was comfortable with. I ended things with Jenn, which was still surprisingly hard considering what we knew about each other. I confessed to being with Perry, she confessed to being with Bradley. Say what you want about our relationship, about Jenn, but a lot of habits were made over the course of three years. Saying goodbye to something or someone after that long of a time, even if it brought you pain and misery, is hard. It’s like living with a gangrene foot. You know you need to just whack it off and you’ll be healthier for it. But damn if you don’t feel some sort of emptiness when your decaying foot is gone. You look at the end of your leg expecting to see it there in all black and rotting but there’s just nothing but air now. And, if I’m being honest here, I do miss the sex. Anyone would. The earlier pat-down aside, who knew when I’d next get laid? It would be a lot of wishful fucking thinking to imagine it would be Perry.

So there was that. No more long-term girlfriend. No more sex life. Then I listened to the tapes, heard what Pippa told Perry, found out about the switched meds. It made me hate her just a little bit, which lessened the pain of having her gone. Then it made me appreciate what Perry did in her diabolical, scheming little way. She did me a favor. And I let that favor continue. I threw out all my meds. Fuck it all to hell, if I was going to see ghosts, I was going to see ghosts. If they could see me, I decided I’d want to see them. And so far, they’d been kind and few and far between. No sign of the one ghost I hoped I’d never see.

With the medication out of my system, my body responded by piling on some weight. It didn’t help that I’d also gone from lying-on-the-bathroom-floor-drinking-Jack-out-of-the-bottle to stuffing every single thing in my face. One month of being depressed and desperate as shit and I was going to make up for it with every food possible. So I started going to the gym and directed some of that weight in the right places. I started training for 10K runs with Dean, started feeling stronger. More capable. More of a man.

I even got a new tattoo, one that would remind me of exactly what was important in my life. And what was worth fighting for, every bitter step of the way.

So was I a better man? The minute I heard from Ada I knew that question would be put to the test. Here was my chance to really come through, to prove myself. I did end up saving Perry. I give myself credit for that. I give her credit for actually allowing me to save her too.

But, didn’t I also make things worse? If it hadn’t been for me, she wouldn’t be alive. But here I was in jail with Gus, unable to help her and she was…fuck. I had no fucking idea where she was. The demon was gone but she had new demons to consider. Ones that wouldn’t bow to a shaman. For all I knew, Perry could be walking down the same path that her mother pushed on Pippa. She could be alone at this very instance with no one to look out for her, no one to protect her.

She might not even be the Perry I know anymore, medicated to a point of lifelessness and apathy, the passion and fire sucked right out of her.

The thought rattled me. It really fucking shook my organs, stabbed at my heart, squeezed my lungs until my face grew hot and tense and the volcano inside threatened to cut loose.

I had to get out of there.

“Are you OK man?” Gus asked.

I barely heard him. Panic dulled all my senses.

I got up and all I could think was GET OUT OF HERE.

Like a raging robot, I put my hands on both sides of sink…

“No man, she’s not worth it,” I heard Gus like background music.

…and with a terrifying cry of metal and concrete, I pulled the metal fixture out of the ground. Water gushed straight up in to the cell, soaking me in minutes flat.


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