He asked Byron, “How did you ever meet her in the first place?” Byron squinched up his eyes and thought for a moment before answering, “We used to date a long time ago. Seems like a lifetime ago. Well, I guess it was.”
The curious questions came rapid-fire. “And why did they call you again?”
“My name and phone number were apparently in her purse,” he answered. “I’m genuinely surprised she still had that with her. Maybe I kept the old landline for a reason after all. God, it’s been ages since we last saw each other.”
Byron sat in the passenger seat staring out the side window. He hadn’t overcome the shock yet and had to call a friend to drive him. The drizzle outside matched his mood, and he watched rivulets of water wash across the window pane.
An often wretched woman, one might dismiss Delilah as if she were some street performer whose gaze they avoided to not risk being indebted to acknowledge her. The K-Mart clothes left a deceiving impression. Fashion budget much less important than survival, her priorities differed from other women. Time and circumstances had not been kind.
“She lived a tough life, but she was brilliant and strong. I just can’t believe this is happening.” Byron rested his forehead against the coolness of the side glass hoping to bring some relief to an oncoming ache. “Delilah figured out her own worth and eventually got rid of me,” he admitted aloud.
It took her exactly a year to figure out Byron’s techniques. The lies, the other women. He knew how she’d felt about him. He realized that, if asked, she wouldn’t give a shit less, a fiddler’s fart, a good Goddamn, a flying fuck, a tinker’s damn about him.
Although he tried to reach her later and make things right, Delilah would never take his calls. Byron knew about her past but thought the things she did to take care of her daughter did not define her. They moved in together before she discovered her misgivings about him to be true.
“I trampled her heart, you know,” the man admitted out loud. “And after all she went through with losing her daughter. No wonder she never forgave me. I was such a schmuck.”
He remembered Delilah’s soulful green eyes, the way she bit her lip when she was unsure, her haunted beauty. He thought of how much she aged beyond her actual years. Her sweet little girl being taken away was more than Delilah could stand. Their breakup broke her already shattered heart.
Byron breathed a heavy sigh, his conscience reeling. “She had nobody else. I just should’ve been there for her.” He realized he deserved every ill feeling his ex-girlfriend had about him.
His friend released a hand from the steering wheel to grasp his shoulder in a reassuring grip. “Don’t worry about all that now. We’re almost there,” he said.
Never would Byron have imagined that five years later Delilah would involve herself with a fugitive who got in a shootout with the police and that he’d be on his way to identify her body at the city morgue.
(The link above goes to the first installment of Delilah’s Dilemma.)
Studio 30+ prompt – street performer
photo: Wikimedia Commons