Flash Fiction: David and Marie

David stared down at the ocean water from the cliff above. The gray waves hit the rocks with such power that white foam sprayed up for at least thirty feet. It was early morning and he’d asked Marie to meet him here so they could talk. The air was chilly and he thrust his hands deep in his pockets to keep them warm. He tried to push away his dread, but that wasn’t working so well. 

The sun was just rising on the horizon when he saw Marie jogging down the path towards him. She had on black sweat pants and a red zippered jacket and her cheeks were bright pink as she arrived a bit out of breath. “You beat me here,” she said, giving him a quick kiss.

David’s heart filled with love just at the sight of her. How had he ever landed such an outstanding girl? “Hey, beautiful! Glad you decided to show up,” 

Marie laughed at his teasing. “Well, not very many people ask a girl to be somewhere at 6 am.”

David pulled her close, luxuriating in the jasmine scent of her freshly washed hair. “I know it’s early. Thank you for indulging me.” He took her arm and they began to stroll along the ocean front trail. 

“So, what’s so important that we needed to meet at this hour?”

“I have to get something off my chest and I just couldn’t wait any longer. It’s important.”

“Okay.”

“I’m not the nice guy you think I am. I’ve made lots of mistakes and I’m still paying for them. I just can’t pull you into this life of mine.”

Marie stopped. “What kind of life is that?”

“I got myself hooked up with the wrong people a while back. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’m still doing things that aren’t that great and I —.”

“What kinds of things?”

“Roughing people up when they don’t pay my boss, being a general goon for a guy who thinks he owns me now.”

“Are you telling me you’re a gangster?”

“I don’t think of it like that but it’s definitely in that category.  The point is, I can’t have you anywhere near that life or those people. It’s just wrong to put you in that position.”

“How long?” Marie asked.

“A couple of years. My boss was a guy I went to school with and I ran into him when I was going through a hard time after my dad died. He offered me a minor job helping him out with something legal and then gradually let me see what he was really up to. Now I’m pretty much trapped.”

“Why are you trapped?”

“Because I know his secrets now and he’s made it clear that I have to keep proving my loyalty or else—-“

“And why did you think we could date if you had all this crap in your life?”

“Cause I was lonely and thought a few dates with a girl I didn’t know couldn’t hurt. I didn’t expect to find someone like you.”

“Like me?”

“Someone I was going to fall head over heels in love with.”

“You haven’t said that before.”

“I know. I didn’t want to even let myself go there. But I am there and I can’t let this happen—-“

“So, you’re breaking up with me?”

“Yes. I don’t want to but I have to. You’re too good for this and for me. I will not bring you down to my level. That would be the worst crime I could commit. Much worse than any of this other stuff I do.”

The sun was beginning to warm the air. David and Marie sat down on a bench and watched the seagulls as they glided down close to the water’s surface looking for their breakfast. 

“Well, would it make a difference if I told you that I’m moving to Seattle soon?” Marie said. “That I just landed a job up there?” 

“Seattle? That’s clear across the country.”

“Yeah. I just heard last night.”

“But you didn’t say you were looking for a job.”

“No, and you didn’t say you were a gangster.”

“I’m not really that, I’m just —-“

“A goon? A heavy? The guy who beats people up when his boss tells him to.”

“Yep. That’s pretty much it.”

“Have you ever done more than beat someone up?”

“You mean like killed someone?”

Marie nodded.

“No, no, no. I’m just small potatoes. That’s all. Nothing beyond scaring people.”

“So, if your boss asks for more, what are you gonna say?”

“I’ll just say no. Period.“

“So, he’s already threatening you with just what you’ve done. Just imagine how much more power he’d have if you really had to prove your loyalty.”

David squirmed. “I try not to think about that.”

“You can come with me to Seattle, you know. I’m getting a good job. I’ll have an apartment. You could come and make a new life up there.”

“No, no, no. I’m telling you, you don’t want to have anything to do with me.”

“I already have something to do with you. I love you too, you know.”

“You do?”

“Yes. And I could use a friend in Seattle.”

“You could?”

“Yes.”

“But why would you trust me after what I just told you? Why would you want me around?”

“Because you’re honest enough to tell me the truth. That’s all I need to know.”

“But I’m a loser, don’t you get it? I’m trying to tell you the truth about me.”

“Then stop being a loser and come with me. It’s as simple as that.”

“It is?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

“Well, given your situation, maybe as soon as possible.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Do you truly mean that?”

“I truly do.”

“Okay then.”

“But can we go eat some breakfast first? Those birds are making me hungry.”

David smiled. “Absolutely.”

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