Hired Hearts

Chapter 4

Hired Hearts


 I stare at the home in front of me, and I’m underwhelmed by the sheer amount of ordinary that stares back. Lincoln doesn’t live in some medieval torture castle, or a cement prison with no windows. It’s just an average house. He walks to the front door, unlocks it, and turns expectantly towards me. Having no other choice, I head into Lincoln’s home.

We spend the evening as no more than ordinary men. Lincoln makes some soup for us, and we watch sitcoms on the television. If I hadn’t been thinking constantly about the events of the day, I could almost relax. Every small noise outside reminds me that I’m a wanted man. Any shadowy movement reminds me that the cops could be just down the street, on their way to lock me up. There is no way I will be able to sleep tonight.

As expected, I spend the night staring at the ceiling of the guest bedroom. While cozy and comforting, there is no escaping the demons I created today. And my mind’s eye keeps returning to Portia and her sorrowful face in the parking lot.

I sit straight up as I hear a shout. This is it, I think. They have found my hiding place.

After a moment of silence, I hear some muffled talking. I realize it’s coming from down the hall, from Lincoln’s room. I creep out of bed, make my way to my bedroom door, and peek my head out into the hall. No sign of life. I quietly walk towards Lincoln’s door. More mumbling. I press my ear to the door. Is he on the phone?

“DON’T YOU DARE!” he shouts. “I WON’T LET YOU!” He settles back down into mumbling. Something worse than my own demons? Suddenly, he lets out a piercing shriek. I burst through the door, ready to fend off an intruder, only to find Lincoln thrashing around in his sheets. Tears are streaming down his face. I run to his side.

“Lincoln,” I say as I try to shake him awake. “Lincoln, it’s a nightmare! It’s ok Lincoln!” His eyes fly open, and he lets out another howl. All of a sudden, his body goes limp and he is quiet. Did I hurt him? I lean in, and see his breathing is relaxed and gentle. The worst must be past. I pull the covers back over him and let him sleep.

The next morning I’m roused from my somewhat meditative state by the clanking of plates in the kitchen. I get myself together and wander downstairs. Lincoln stands in front of the stove preparing some glistening bacon. A pot of coffee bubbles next to him. The radio is playing in the corner.

“Good morning Kane!” Lincoln grins at me, then turns back to his cooking. Bewildered at his cheerful state following a night of what was clearly sheer terror, I sit at the kitchen table silently.

“Did you sleep alright Kane?” Lincoln asks. I know he is trying to take my mind off things. But now that he mentions it…

“You actually had a nightmare of sorts, a night terror maybe? You were screaming and crying…are you ok?” I look his direction. To my surprise, something similar to anger crosses his face.

“Oh…I just…lost a girlfriend recently. She was my absolute everything, and I’m having trouble knowing she won’t be mine anymore.” I nod silently. I know the feeling.

The song on the radio ends and the DJ begins sharing the news of the day. My ears perk up when I hear Craig’s name mentioned. I reach over and turn up the radio.

“…presumably found in the nearby lake. Police are on the lookout for two men seen escaping the scene of the crime. One is assumed to be Kane Birch, wanted as a suspect for arson. He was accompanied by an unidentified man, around 6’3” and of Middle Eastern descent. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call-

The radio goes silent. I look up to see Lincoln holding the power cord. We lock eyes and I understand exactly what he knows to be true- our plan didn’t work, and there is not much good to come of listening to the reports about Craig’s murder. I hang my head in despair.

psychological
Chloe Holzman
Chloe Holzman
Read next: I See You
Chloe Holzman
See all posts by Chloe Holzman