The emptiness in Jack’s chest is drilling ache. The skin feels numb and knotted under his sweaty shirt. His fingertips trace the long pink scar on his breastbone.
There is no reason to rush things.
The surgeons have saved his life. He wonders if it has been worth it. They take away that weak heart. Jack imagines how they pry him open, strip him bare of that sick metronome of his past. They steal all of who he was and hoped to be. Jack’s a new man, with new life force in his groins, a new heart to match and no memories to regret. There are no memories at all. The doctors call it amnesia. Jack calls it a blank slate.
Eileen, his supposed wife, sparks the hostile fire in his mind. He doesn’t remember why, but he knows he has a reason to be angry. Somewhere deep down there is the blazing root of all evil, and she has her fingers in it. Rage, confusion and mistrust whisper to him. They fill his veins with power.
He tries to become Eileen’s husband, by God, how he tries. He gives everything. It isn’t nearly enough; she flinches away. His words, his fingertips brush only empty spots. The warm hollow where she sleeps smells like a sweet promise to someone else.
He hears a voice scream at him, somewhere far away. His usual self is only a speck now, blurring his vision, stray sand corn making his eyes water.
So annoying. So obnoxious. This is all wrong.
They were happy before. Eileen tells him and shows him pictures of their wedding. Strangers surround them with broad smiles. Everybody in fancy suits and dresses, everybody happy. He sees the pictures, the sunlight, the cake with the butterflies. She brings him a framed one she cherishes most. They are somewhere in a field of summer wildflowers. Eileen and him, they catch monarchs, marvel at their beauty and stamina. She is tearing up. He looks tired in that photo. His skin is ashen, and his lips pale purple, hair matted to his sweaty forehead. She says they have been happy in that one.
Things change. They always do. Those butterflies are long dead. Their marriage is gone too. How is he supposed to fix this? He tries anyway. She cheats on him, he feels it. She doesn’t have to say anything. Jack knows.
He talks to her, with words like dead roses, mushy and sweet-scented, all rotten on the inside. His fists speak another language to her lover. He corners Tim in Marty’s. It’s the only bar in the village. Everybody goes there. It’s the perfect place to hunt and kill.
Bogeyed people keep a secure distance at the back of the bar. He takes a swig of his stale beer and chuckles. “Do you know, how big monarch butterflies are?” He looks down at the unconscious man on the tile floor. “It surprised me the first time I caught one.” Memories bleed through the adrenalin haze. The bar holds its breath. “Their beauty is wrong and dark, an evil trick.” The exit sign blinks out. “Just like Eileen.” The ball of anger in Jack’s chest races, in full gallop with malice and glee. He sighs and smiles at the dark pool growing around the man’s head and groin.
The sensation of an invisible monarch butterfly clinging to Jack’s bruised knuckles stops him. “It’s about time,” Jack smirks.
He sucks in the sweet scent of Eileen’s perfume mixed with the warm sour odor of her lover’s blood.
Sirens wail outside.
“Police!” Uniforms bark. “Police!” Officers flood the place, from every possible entrance, arms out and ready to popp a round into everybody breathing too loud.
Jack takes another swig. “What took you so long?”
pic: lost heart (ink, crayon, paper) original art by author