The Last Life to Live

Name's Wayne. I'm just a simple guy, looking for something so complex you can't possibly comprehend the nature of it's existence. If there is a purpose to it, it's a cosmic joke. Someone, somewhere is laughing at my pain. My suffering. Glowing bright red it can attach itself to any surface and move about with a speed that doesn't seem natural. I feel like it's haunted me in past lives... And will continue to haunt me until the day I die.

It's been on my mind a lot more than normal lately. Something just doesn't feel right. Bruce has been distant as of late... Can't say I blame her. Someone who is so obsessed with something they may never be able to obtain can't possibly be healthy to be around. Maybe that's why I feel more stressed than normal. Haven't had my gal at my side when I need her most.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Bruce is a girl? Well you can't blame her for the name her crazy mother gave her. Needless to say once she could get out of that house she did. No need to keep ties with people who seem hellbent on making your life infinitely more difficult. What are parents for though, right? I need something to calm my nerves. 

Standing up from my desk I know what I need the most. A glass of warm milk. It isn't just a bedtime tradition for me. It was the only way for me to relax without having Bruce around. There's just something about it that calms the soul. Relaxes you. Or maybe that's just me. My office is a mess. I may want to think about cleaning it up.

But when you're so obsessed with finding out as much as you can about the red,  cleanliness isn't exactly on your mind. Papers are strewn out across the floor, marked with sightings of the red. The boxes I had kept them in are all empty and lining the room. It's been appearing more and more lately, and not just to me. It seems like it's been haunting the entire town. Even Jerry, the town rat has been getting grief from it.

Walking through the papers was difficult without disturbing them. So much for being a professional detective. I'm not sure if having so much research material out like this is seen as a sign of a thorough job, or insanity. Either way, people still seem to keep coming through to find what they're looking for. No matter what that may be. A lost toy, a lost love, and even their lost sanity.

I may not be a psychologist, but sometimes people just need someone to talk to. It's all the same to me. I still help them find what they're looking for, even if that's just peace of mind. The kitchen was filthy. Coffee stains on the counter, crumbs all over the floor, and dishes piled up in the sink. Do I at least have a clean glass for milk? Looking around this dinky kitchen didn't take me long to find something to use. It wasn't a real glass, so much as it was a coffee mug.

It all works out in the end. Opening the fridge made me realize even more of how obsessed I've been about all this. There's nothing in it but some butter, old vegetables, and various condiments. Not even an old milk bottle to be found. With a sigh, I realized that I needed to go visit Bruce. I want to see her anyway, but I don't want her to feel like I'm just using her. Either way, I need something to calm my nerves.

Closing the fridge, I heard a knock on the door. I'm not expecting any appointments today, and I don't get many walk-ins. I suppose it's best to not keep them waiting. Walking out of the kitchen and into the main room, there she was standing and waiting for me like she always used to. Bruce was a beautiful dame, the kind you could sit on the couch with and cuddle all day.

"Hey Sugar, need some company?" She's definitely a class act. "How'd you know? I was just about to come over to see you." My smile must have revealed how relieved I was to see her, because her smile turned to a grin. She pulled her arm out from behind her back to reveal a fresh bottle of milk. Bruce always knew what it is I wanted. "Care for a drink?" Batting her eyelashes was always my weakness. Even if I wasn't in the mood to be with her I would still be putty in her hands.

"If you're offering, I certainly won't say no to a drink with such a class act." That one made her giggle and blush, just like it always did. Oh how I had missed this girl. I had to clear off some papers from the love seat in order to find space for us to sit. Taking the bottle of milk from her, I offered her a seat. She sat so gingerly on the couch it reminded me of all the fun times we've had.

"I'll be right back sweetheart, don't you go anywhere!" She smiled at me, but her eyes were glancing across the room at all the papers. "Don't worry about those doll, it's work for a client. He's lookin for the same thing I am." I could hear her shift on the couch. "What's he looking for?" The indignance in her voice told me she's still wary about the red.

"Answers." Best to leave it vague. Don't need her thinking I'm in too deep. Going into the kitchen made me realize I can't hand a pretty lady a drink in an old coffee mug. I gotta get some glasses clean. Washing two glass cups didn't take long, especially since I had to set the milk in a pan to warm it up. "So how have you been Bruce? I haven't seen you in a while."

There was some hesitation, which is never a good sign. "Trying to stay sane. How about you?" Ouch. This kitty's got claws. "I'd like to say I'm doing the same but I don't think you'd believe me even if I said it." Let's just get it out in the air I guess. She's obviously here for a reason. "You're right, I wouldn't believe you considering all of this you've got lying around." She sounds angry, but I think we can get past this.

"It's for a client. What do you want me to tell you?" Pouring the milk into the glasses, I turned to go back into the main office. Except she was standing in the doorway to the kitchen. "I want you to tell me that you're going to give up on this red thing and come back to me. Don't forget who it was that ended it in the first place." Was that me? I could have swore she ended it. Considering her words were It's either me or this red thing!.

"You're right. But sometimes you gotta find truth in your life doll. There's nothing wrong with chasing a dream." The look on her face went from angry to sad. "I know... But I want you to wake up. And live in the real world. With me Sugar." She walked tenderly over to me and touched my face. Looking into those fierce eyes I couldn't help but wonder if what I was chasing was the right thing.

"I do live in the real world darling. Sometimes the real world is crazy, and that's just the part of life I'm stuck in. The red won't go away just because I pretend it's not there." A tear streaked down her soft face. It's hard to see such a sweet girl in so much pain. Love isn't an easy thing to understand. "If that's how you really feel..." I put the glasses of milk on the counter behind me, and grabbed her shoulders.

"Do you honestly think I can't chase this and love you at the same time Bruce? I do love you doll, but it seems like you can't handle me being a man of ambition." Her eyes watered even more, and she started crying completely. Digging her head into my chest I waited for her to calm down. The milk was cold again by the time she had finished. "Wayne, I know you can! But it scares me! What if something were to happen to you! This is dangerous, and I can't... I can't stand the thought of losing you!"

Her tears swelled up again. "Life is dangerous doll. You can't shy away from what you want just because you're afraid. You gotta reach out there and take it!" That seemed to do something to calm her. She looked into my eyes, and I couldn't help myself. A kiss was exactly what we both wanted, so we did. It was long, and sweet. I missed this feeling. Looking down at her after made me realize I truly did love this woman.

I don't want to lose her either, but I still can't shy away from the truth about the red. That's when something came out of the corner of my eye. It moved so fast, and was so bright. There was no mistake. That was the red. She saw the look in my eyes and stepped back. "Please! No! Don't go Wayne!" She cried out at the top of her lungs, but it still couldn't sway me. I had to find it.

Dashing out of the kitchen towards the door, I ignored the papers on the ground. They scattered beneath my feet and flew around the room. Once I opened the door my suspicions were confirmed. The red was waiting for me outside in the street. Laying flat on the ground in the middle of the intersection, while the cars stopped to gaze at it. I made a run for it, trying to make it to the red before it disappeared again.

I can hear it laughing. Cackling at my pain, my suffering and my inability to end this. I will end it. I will find out what it is! In usual fashion, once I reached it it had moved out of the way at the last moment as I pounced on it. The corner of my eye revealed it was now trailing itself along a line of cars parked on the side of the street. I had to get it and end this!

Chasing it down the street, it managed to always stay one step ahead of me. Moving from car to car, jumping onto the street and onto the sides of buildings. Whatever this thing was it didn't live by our rules! But I had to try and stop it! There it was. It had stopped in the middle of the street again. Sitting still and ready to be taken. This time, I wanted to catch it by surprise. Hiding behind a car for a moment, I decided to make my move.

I jumped on it, and knew it didn't have time to move out of the way this time. I knew I had it. This time, it hadn't gotten away. It was right below me, and I could just barely make it out. I had never actually caught it before. It didn't stay too long, and it didn't feel like I was even holding anything. But this time, I could hear the real laughing. The universe was cackling at me. Laughing at my pain... My suffering... Why?... Why?!... WHY?!


"Come on Kenzie, time for dinner!" A little girl, short and blonde was holding a small laser pointer while a black and white cat ran around and dashed at it. She let it catch the small red dot on the floor between her brother's toy car sets he was playing with and the plastic mat to make it look like driving in the city. The cat looked down at the mat and then back around at the cars frantically.

"Oh Wayne! You're so funny! Bruce where are you? Mom why doesn't Bruce like playing with the laser pointer?" A tall woman with an apron peeked her head into the living room with a smile on her face. "I don't know honey. Maybe we can find out after dinner. So come on or your food will get cold!" The little girl dropped the pointer and stood up enthusiastically. "Ok momma!"

Another black and white cat came over to the one hurdled on top of the mat, and began to purr while it rubbed up against it. They both walked away from the mat, and jumped up onto the couch and lay next to each other.