The Lone Rumble

by Stephen Mabe

He listened to that lone rumble in the distance. He felt it beneath him as he sat upon the sturdy timbers lain with their steal braces. Sirens pierced the afternoon air as he sat there with his elbows crossed over his knees. He could hear the dinging from the open pick-up door behind him, parked with the bed end in the road and the other half in the ditch. His best suit and hands were stained with blood, and there were even a few drops on his face and neck. His face stung from being slapped over and over again by the woman he loved. He was mad driven by the clutches of love. Everything within the past year had boiled down to thishis end.

A year and one day ago,

Becca was the hottest chick he'd ever seen. She was a well-built eighteen-year-old. She had flowing red hair, green eyes, and a smile that would knock a guy down. Especially one who was already drunk off of her beauty. She always smelled of either vanilla or just her natural scent, and that in itself was better than the vanilla. Her voice was just right, it wasn't a bit masculine and wasn't too chirpy. It was just soft and sweet. And she had the cutest little giggle. It wasn't at all obnoxious, loud, or embarrassing. You know how some girls have a laugh that could be heard all the way across town, and they want it that way. She wasn't that way. She pretty much hated for anyone to notice her despite her beauty. And it seemed that she didn't realize how beautiful she really was.

Jacob finally found the courage to ask her on a date. After about three years of a major crush, he'd made up his mind. He figured it would be better to know that she didn't like him and take the chance that she did than to just wonder for the rest of his life. I mean what's the sense in that? At least if you know someone doesn't like you, you can begin to move on.

Well, two weeks before their graduation he did it, and wouldn't you know it, she said no. Plain and simple. She never actually gave him a reason, but the next day he saw her with Bryan, the all-American linebacker who was getting ready to attend the University of Michigan. He didn't hate Bryan, but he couldn't stand the fact that she told him no. After all these years of wondering. Bryan was the lucky one.

Well, graduation came and went smoothly. Jacob barely got by, but made it nonetheless; and Becca graduated with honors. The only problem with that was that her family was too poor to send her to college. Her father was somewhere other than there with someone other than her mother. And her mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. So she had to find a job and help support her and her mother. She was an only child so that helped amazingly. But still, taking care of a sick mother wasn't what she'd wanted, even though she was more than eager to do it. She got a job at a local diner serving meals to perverted old men, tired truckers, and low-budget families splurging. Despite missing out on college and her hectic life, she was actually happy; but that was just her outlook on life I guess.

Jacob was a different story. His parents didn't give a darn about him (or each other) and he didn't give a darn about going to no college. He'd hated school and he loved hard labor. He got a job at the lumberyard, doing anything and everything they wanted him to do. His boss loved him, said he was hard as steel and had the makings of one of the olden day lumberjacks. "An' ya don't see dat nowaday!" was his favorite quote for Jacob. Jacob loved it. He was right where he wanted to be, except for his status with Becca.

Every day that summer he had to watch as she would drive by the lumberyard on her way to work. Just knowing that she was still with that Jock ate him up inside, and he had to see him every day also. The lumberyard was his dad's company. Of course Bryan was higher in position than Jacob, and that got to him as bad as him being with Becca did. The only thing that bothered Bryan about the whole situation was his father's annoying praise of Jacob. His father never hailed his work or even gave him a pat on the back. Bryan tried to be the bigger man though and just pushed that point away and did his job. He knew he had Becca, so he never worried. They were in love. Whether truly or not, they were still in love nonetheless.

Never once did Bryan try to rub in the fact that he had gotten her, but his smile said it all. He had somewhat of a humble cockiness about him, if that's possible. Jacob could tell he was laughing deep down while on the outside trying to be the mature one. He couldn't wait until Bryan left for college. Then he would be able to make his move on Becca and maybe take her away. He didn't want to hurt Bryan he just wanted Becca.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first part of the summer dragged along. Every day his parents hate for each other grew more and more and the fights worsened. Most of the time they kept him awake at night and every now and then he would come home and find a new hole in their walls from where his dad had gotten so mad he'd punched the wall instead of his mom. On those days Jacob knew it was really bad because when they were just tossing words back and forth his dad would actually hit his mom. The only time he would hit the walls was when he was so mad the he knew if he hit her he'd kill her. And he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security slam. Well, apparently his mom didn't care about that.

One evening his dad was taking an oatmeal bath. One of those baths that are supposed to help with the chickenpox. He had never gotten them when he was a child and had recently came down with the pesky little spots. And its said that adults get it a lot worse than children the majority of the time. He was doing everything in his power to not go insane and figured an oatmeal bath would soothe, for the moment, at least. His mistake, he dozed off.

When he awoke he sort of dazed in and out, trying to come to. He could hear the sound of a hairdryer somewhere that seemed really far away. He wiped his eyes forgetting about the oatmeal. It burned terribly. He reached frantically for a towel to wipe away the burning oatmeal, but found nothing. The sound of the hairdryer was closer now, but he still couldn't see anything but a blur. He could tell someone was standing in front of him. And then it hit him, like a ton of bricks.

"Honey?" He asked with a crackling, frightened voice.

Then she dropped the hairdryer. Zap! He went out like a light. She turned to walk out of the bathroom, but in his attempt to wipe his eyes he'd splashed water all over the tile floor. She slipped and fell backward into the bathtub, splitting her head wide open on the other side of the tub and electrocuting herself. The bath water ran thick with blood as she lay cockeyed across his limp body; arms and legs sprawled out, both dead!

Later on that night Jacob came home from being out with his best friend, Derrick. They had been to the pool house, saw a flick, and just cruised around in Derrick's Toyota pickup. As soon as he walked in the door a horrible stench nearly knocked him down. It smelled like rotting meat. He called to his parents, but no reply came. The lights in the bathroom, hallway, and two back bedrooms were flickering on and off. The hairdryer had drained most of the electricity of that breaker. He then noticed there was a thin stream of red-stained water seeping into the hallway from the bathroom.

Afraid of what he might find, he picked up a kitchen knife and made his way slowly toward the bathroom. At the start of the hallway he flicked the light switch off and then on again. A spark flew from the switch and the bulb overhead busted. He jumped back in startled fear. The switch burned the tips of his fingers.

As he started on again he placed his fingertips in his mouth. He held the knife chest level as he stepped as quietly as possible. The fear that was rushing through him made this task almost impossible. He managed to step on every crick and squeak in the floor.

He slowly pushed the door open; raising the knife higher as if to bring down like a mousetrap. His heart pounded beneath his chest. The fear rose the more the door opened. Then he saw the lifeless bodies of his parents.

He wasn't sad, he wasn't about to cry, he wasn't even scared any more. He merely lowered the knife and said, "Huh!? Wonder if Derrick's parents will take me in?"

Instead of him moving in with Derrick's parents, him and Derrick got an apartment. Derrick had a job at the movie theater running the film and with both of their incomes they could afford it easily. Once again, except for Becca, things were going pretty good.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The summer finally ended, and Bryan left for college. He was now five states away. Time for Jacob to try again, and he did. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tried to charm, persuade, or entice, nothing worked. She just wouldn't leave Bryan.

Before he left he had proposed to her and she happily said yes. He had his claim on her. And to her that was as final as being married. To Jacob that meant nothing but a stupid ring around her beautiful little finger.

Then one cold winter evening, he asked her to go to the movies with him the following weekend. She actually said yes. They were at the diner she worked at when he asked and they talked her entire break. When she got off he walked her home. She told him of how she had had a crush on him for a while, but Bryan was in the way. Then she told him that Bryan was being a complete and total jerk. Things were looking up for Jacob.

That weekend came quickly for Jacob. He borrowed Derrick's truck and made sure he looked his best. He arrived at her house about ten minutes early and rang the doorbell. Becca greeted him with a confused smile. He just stood there and smiled back at her.

"Umwhatcha doin' Jake?" She asked, still confused.

"We gotta date, remember?"

"No, we don't!"

"But Tuesday night you said that you'd go to the movies with me! Remember? I walked you home from work that night!"

"No I didn't, Jacob! Look, I dunno why you're acting like this, but you're freakin' me out! So goodnight Jacob!"

"Butyou said"

The door slammed hard in his face.

"We had a date!" He finished under his breath. He dropped the bouquet of daises he had hidden behind his back and walked back to the truck. She did say she would, didn't she? Was I daydreaming? Fantasizing, maybe? No way! She told me they were about to break up, right? He questioned himself the whole way home.

When he got there Derrick was waiting for him on the steps to their upper-level apartment.

"Where have you been and why'd you take my truck without asking, man?" He shouted.

"Now what are you talkin' about? You said I could borrow the truck to pick up Becca!"

"When did I say that? And Becca's with Bryan! When did you start talkin' to her?"

"Tuesday night! Why am I the only one who remembers what happened Tuesday?"

"Jacob what are you talkin' about? You were here Tuesday night! You were here, stuck off in your room. I tried to get you to come out and play poker with me, Dante, and Alex but you wouldn't. You just stayed cooped up in your room. You wouldn't even answer me when I knocked on your door."

"What? If I wouldn't even answer you how did you know I was here?"

"Cause ya came out to get some food and go to the bathroom a couple of times. Never would say nothin' though, no matter how much we talked to ya. It was like you were somewhere else."

"That's cause I was somewhere else Tuesday night! I was with Becca!" He shouted as he shoved Derrick out of the way and headed up the old wooden stairs.

"It's no reason to get sore, but you really were here Tuesday night. And I don't mind that ya took my truck, just tell me next time."

Jacob half heard him as he slammed the door.

"I was with Becca Tuesday night!" He shouted confused and furious.

Somewhere along the way, Becca had given Jacob her heart. If it was only in his dreams then it was enough for him, and he would pursue it to the end. It was set, locked in, and unwavering. He was going to have her, or die trying.

The weeks went on in the same manner. He showed up at her doorstep six more times before she finally called the police. Every time he got a little more crazy about it and she felt it was the only thing to do. Her and Derrick had talked about it after it happened the second time and they both decided that if it got too bad then they would have to put a stop to it. That's just what she tried to do.

When the officers arrived all they did was question both Becca and Jacob. They said there was no real reason to arrest him. They did tell her that it would probably be wise if she took out a warrant. And that she did. Jacob was not to come within one hundred feet of her, the diner she worked at, or her home. Otherwise they'd have to take him downtown.

Jacob got the hint. For another two and a half months he completely avoided Becca. He finally accepted the fact that she didn't want him. His life for that short period of time marched on unforgiving.

Not only did Becca mess everything up but within those two and a half months Dante and Alex were killed in a car accident. Alex was driving and neither of them saw the pickup truck headed for them as it ran a red light. The paramedics said they both died on impact; as for the light-runner, he walked away without so much as a bruise. The boys had just left their apartment and were on their way to play a little poker with Jacob and Derrick. Four friends who had been together ever since kindergarten were abruptly separated. And for a short while, Becca was the farthest thing from Jacob's mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The winter marched on from that day as it had so many winters before. Things actually started looking up, and by the middle of winter Jacob had found someone who also showed an interest in him. Her name was Dawn.

They went out a couple of times and he spent quite a bit of his time over at her parent's house. Her parents seemed to really like Jacob and so did she. The feelings were getting stronger and it's probably safe to say that they were falling in love. And as impossible as it seemed, Becca was still the farthest thing from his mind. Until her mom had an article in the obituaries.

Everything began to flood back without remorse. The feelings, the desire, the obsession! The seed was planted yet again, and an escape was nowhere in sight. Only this time he was better at concealing it. He and Dawn went to the funeral and that's what put a crack in the last straw, not broken yet, though.

"Can we talk, Jacob? In private?" she took his elbow in the soft, palm of her hand and led him to a room in the back of the church. Dawn stayed behind and talked to Bryan, awkwardly, of course.

Tears streamed down Becca's cheeks. She seemed to catch each one with her index fingers before they could reach past her nose. She tried to speak, but could not through the tears. Jacob rubbed her back softly while trying to calm her down. After a couple moments of this she was able to push away the pain enough to say what she had to.

She told him of how sorry she was that she had to call the police, gave her sympathy for Dante and Alex, and then talked about her mother. Many emotions ran through her speech as she was sad and hurt that she'd lost her mother, but relieved and happy that she was in a better place. There would be no forgotten memories, no more heartaches, despite the lose, and no more endless nights of trying to recollect. She would now be able to go to college and chase her dream. Then she gave the news that would break that straw that was worn so thin to begin with.

She held out her trembling hand. The diamond sparkled in Jacob's eyes.

"Bryan's asked me to marry himand I've accepted. We'll be married in a month." She paused to see what sort of response waited, but nothing came, "The only reason I'm telling you, Jacob, is cause I want you to be there. Please come, for me!"

He just sat there in utter silence for at least five minutes. I know five minutes doesn't seem like a long time, but when absolutely nothing is said, no movement of the eyes, not even a twitch of the fingers, it's an eternity.

Finally he fixed his gaze with her eyes. Though not looking at the rock proved the real challenge. Most of the time it's the eyes that you try to avoid in those situations, but not in this case. Every few seconds he would glance back at the ring. She had taken her arm down by now and her hand was resting in her lap.

"I'll be there, I promise!" He touched her hand, slowly stood up, and then walked out of the room. She trailed shortly after.

Jacob walked up to Bryan and Dawn. He took Dawn's hand and whispered something in her ear. Dawn just stood there awestruck as he walked away leaving the other two in wonder. She looked as if her world was crashing down, so hurt that the tears wouldn't even come.

"Is everything alright, Dawn?" Becca asked. "What did he say?"

"Hehe told me thatno, why?" She paused briefly, "He told me that it's been great, and that's why he was so sorry." Becca took her in her arms as she finally wept.

What Dawn didn't tell them was probably what crushed her the most. "I did love you, for a short time."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob spent the rest of the month in his room as he had that Tuesday when everything went haywire. He only came out to grab a bite to eat, use the bathroom, and go to work. He was waiting for the wedding, and nothing was going to ruin the best day of his life. Then after an antagonizing wait, it came.

He put on his best suit, got Derrick to tie his tie, made sure his hair was in all the right places, and even shined his shoes. He was ready. He and Derrick climbed in the pick-up and headed for the wedding. Jacob drove. Jacob made sure to take just enough time in order to get there before the preacher began his ceremonies. If it was going to be perfect, Bryan and Becca would already be up there holding each others hands.

It was perfect.

"You know we're late" Derrick started.

Jacob quickly interrupted him, "We're right on time."

"If you say so."

The church was made so that when you opened the main doors it led straight down the middle isle. The isle Becca had just taken her walk down.

Jacob through open the doors as much as they would and quickly, but gracefully, walked toward the couple. No one said a word; they just waited to see what was going to happen. When he reached Becca and Bryan and pushed Bryan to the ground and took Becca's hand. She quickly jerked away.

"What are you doing?" She screamed.

"I'm sorry I'm late, Honey, but I promise I'll make it up to you. Now let's continue." He took her hands again.

She jerked away harder this time causing him to stumble forward a little. By this time Bryan was back on his feet. He pulled Jacob down by his shoulders. Jacob once again fought to keep his balance, but was unable to do so. He fell flat on his back and crawled to the backside of Bryan. Using one of the candleholders and the platform to hoist himself up he took one of the candles. He spun around and landed the candle directly in Bryan's right eye.

There were screams from all over the building, from Becca, from other guests, and of course a yell from Bryan as he sent the candle flying across the sanctuary. Becca rushed to his aid all the while screaming and crying.

"What is wrong with you, Jacob? Are you insane?"

"But I thought we were to be married today, me and you. That's what you told me at the funeral, that you loved the ring and you would definitely marry me. Why do you keep playing games with me?" He yelled, "and why do you keep getting in my way?"

Just as those words left the tip of his tongue he unsheathed a knife that was hidden in his jacket. It made a gurgling noise as it entered Bryan's back. Bryan turned and faced him, pain written upon his face. The blade slid across his throat, squirting blood all over Jacob's suit. He dropped the knife and punched the already falling Bryan. Following him to the ground he continued to beat him, despite the fact that he was already dying.

Derrick ran over and pulled him off. Jacob couldn't hear anything. His anger drowned out every voice and every scream. A sting came across his check. Becca had slapped him. She was still slapping him. Funny thing though, he only felt the first one. She was frantic; wailing, spitting, probably cursing, though he couldn't hear.

He ran for the door and jumped in the truck, leaving tread marks as he peeled down the street. Derrick ran after him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He listened to that lone rumble in the distance. He felt it beneath him as he sat upon the sturdy timbers lain with their steal braces. Sirens pierced the afternoon air as he sat there with his elbows crossed over his knees. He could hear the dinging from the open pick-up door behind him, parked with the bed end in the road and the other half in the ditch. His best suit and hands were stained with blood, and there were even a few drops on his face and neck. His face stung from being slapped over and over again by the woman he loved. He was mad driven by the clutches of love. Everything within the past year had boiled down to thishis end.

The rumble drew nearer. The whistle blew over and over again. He just sat there, waiting for it. It rattled his teeth as it came closer. The skin on his face shook and his ears rang from the piercing whistle.

Tires screeched to a halt behind him. Many car doors slammed and more cars came; police cars.

Derrick yelled for him to get of the tracks, but it was so faint. It sounded as if they were in a canyon and he'd heard the last in a series of echoes. He turned and looked over his shoulder only to see many bystanders and only one familiar face. Only Derrick had came, not Becca. If she had he probably would have gotten off, but she didn't. She didn't love him, and he had no one, nothing, and in the next second, he was no more.

The end.

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