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Till Depths Do Us Part

by Michael Bloom 7 months ago in fiction
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Beware what lurks beneath the surface...

Till Depths Do Us Part
Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

It was the middle of the night when Johanna Rhodes sat waiting outside the front entrance to La Sirenita Motel for her Ryder driver to pick her up. She sat uneasily on a bench with her bags in tow, looking over her shoulder, hoping that her new husband Danny hadn’t woken up, found the letter that she had left him, and began looking for her.

Had that been the case, it may have caused a much bigger scene than she would have liked, but it would have got the job done regardless. The one thing that would have killed her the most would be to see that broken and hurt look in his eyes. Either way, she knew it was over and that she had to leave.

This trip was supposed to be their honeymoon, the beginning of their happily ever after. In her gut, she knew she had made the wrong decision. Once upon a time, she loved him, but that tale had reached its end. It by no means had anything to do with him as a person. She just felt that she had outgrown him and that the both of them deserved better than they were bound to get.

A black sedan with dark tinted windows pulled into La Sirenita and parked at the main entrance. Johanna waited for the orange Ryder logo to illuminate in the windshield before she gathered her things and made her way to the passenger side window to confirm her ride.

As she approached the vehicle, the passenger window rolled down a bit, and the bellowing voice of the driver escaped from the darkness inside.

“McCready, party of one to Tampa International?” he asked.

“Yes, that's me. Are you Roy? ” Johanna stammered in response. She was taken aback for a moment; it was the first time anyone had acknowledged her by her maiden name since the wedding.

“Yes’m. I'm Roy.” he responded as she gave him an affirmative nod.

The passenger window rolled up, the doors unlocked, and the interior lights came on. She opened the rear passenger side door, placed her bags in the space behind the driver seat, and made her way into the car.

As the car made its way out of the motel lot, her phone began to ring. She grabbed the phone from her purse and saw Danny’s caller ID photo plastered on her screen. She answered with an unenthusiastic “Hello?”

“What the hell are you doing?” Danny asked abruptly.

“Danny, please -”

“Danny, please what, Jo? Are you serious right now?”

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, Danny.”

“I bet you are.”

“I mean it. I never intended for it to go this far. I never wanted to-”

“Spare me, please, for the love of God! I don't want to hear another word. I'll be by to get my things when I land, and I’ll be sure to leave my key on the island.”

“I’ve already had Parker pack up your things. They'll be waiting by the front door,” she said as the tears began to well in the corners of her eyes.

“Of course you did, Jo. I'm sure he's already moved his stuff in while he was at it, that backstabbing snake!”

“That's not fair, Danny. Trust me; this is all for the best.”

“You know what? You could have spared a lot of time, aggravation, and money if you'd have just opened your mouth instead of your legs!”

“How dare you?!”

“I really don't think you're in a position to be asking me that question!”

She pulled the phone away from her face and disconnected the call. Her face tightened as she tried to keep it together. She was distraught. She had never heard Danny be so angry or mean. She had destroyed him.

“Everything alright, ma'am?” asked Roy from the driver's seat.

“I’ll be fine, thank you.”

Roy passed her a water bottle from a cooler he had lying on the front passenger floorboard.

“It isn't much for consolin’, but it's all that I got.” Roy gently explained.

“You’re very kind. Thank you.” she said before opening and guzzling half the bottle, with Roy nodding into the rearview mirror as he continued to drive.

She finally burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably for the better part of five minutes. The worst was over. She would go home and file for the marriage to be annulled, break it off with Parker, and start life on her terms for once.

She began feeling lightheaded and started to rub that feeling out through her eyes. She hadn’t realized at that moment that the sedan was passing La Sirenita Motel from the opposite direction in which they had left. Roy had driven them in one big circle, but Johanna was none the wiser. She began swirling the remainder of the water in her bottle around as she fought the urge to close her eyes and sleep, not noticing the hint of cloudiness that the water had to it.

As she slipped out of consciousness, a Ryder notification appeared on her phone indicating that the ride had ended, asking to rate her driver.

**********

The following day Danny Rhodes stood at the end of the bed, staring at his belongings neatly organized beside his rollaway luggage. Tomorrow he too would return home to Chicago and begin rebuilding his life from this disaster of a marriage.

He began to sob. After a moment, he gained enough composure to make his way into the bathroom so that he could pack up the rest of his belongings. On the counter sat his cracked phone plugged into the outlet on the wall and his wedding ring. The ring stared back at him, almost as if it were taunting him. Every memory leading up to the moment where Johanna had placed it on his finger flashed before his eyes.

He picked up his phone and checked the time. 6:47 p.m. He chuckled to himself. The web-like cracks on the screen had proved that he had done quite a number on it and would likely have to replace it when he got home.

He took off his tank top and dropped his swim trunks to the floor as he started the shower. He got in and let the pounding water attempt to wash away his pain, but with little success. Steam began to billow inside the stall, and he reached an unnatural state of calm. He was so entranced that he was suddenly jolted by the blast of cold water that began to spray from the showerhead, nearly causing him to slip.

He quickly turned the water off and grabbed a towel from the rack just above the toilet. He dried off a bit and wrapped the towel around his waist before stepping out. He picked his phone up and realized he had been standing in the shower for over an hour as it was now 8:03 p.m.

Well, I guess the honeymoon phase is over he thought to himself.

He made his way back into the suite room and pulled a white Oxford and a pair of cargo shorts from his neatly packed luggage, and began to dress. He slid his feet into his leather flip-flops, grabbed his phone, room key, and wallet before heading out of the front door.

The sun was setting along the horizon of the Gulf of Mexico, yet it still burned with a nuclear glow. The smell of salt and the decaying rot of low tide filled the air, making him nauseous. He trucked on and made his way downstairs and across a path to The Tipsy Mermaid, a tiki bar adjacent to La Sirenita.

He opened the door, where he was greeted by the crisp smell of ice-cold air conditioning and stale beer. It gave him an odd sense of comfort that he hadn't felt in the past fourteen hours. He made his way past the empty high tops and took a seat at the bar.

“Why hello there, suge! Where’ve you been?” asked Becky, the bartender.

“Oh, you know - around. I'm heading back home to Chicago in the morning. Figured I'd stop in for a nightcap.”

“Well, shucks! Darlin’, we're going to miss you around here. Where's the little lady? Did she already tuck in for the night?”

His eyes widened, and he lowered his face toward the bar top.

“Well, that's a story in and of itself.”

Becky could read the change in his demeanor like a book and realized that this poor sap had his heart broken. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.”

“You're fine. You had no way of knowing.”

“Well, I've got the cure for all ails, including heartbreak. Just give me a moment, and I’ll be right back.”

Danny smiled back at her as she made her way to the back of the bar. A man stumbled up to the bar reeking of what one could safely assume was fish guts. He sat three stools away from Danny, humming and whispering to himself.

“Rough day?” asked Danny.

“I've had better.” the man replied as he reached out his hand for a handshake “Roy Holcomb.”

“Danny Rhodes. It's a pleasure.”

“You've got a hurt in your eyes, boy.”

“It's that obvious, huh?”

“Like a neon light on a hot summer night. I've had my share in the many years I've spent on this earth. I can sense a fellow soldier of the heart.”

Becky made her way back to the front of the bar. “Roy, are you scaring the tourists again?”

“No, ma'am.” he replied coyly.

“Well, you smell like the tits on the Titanic. I thought I told you to wash up before you came back up in here!”

“Pardon me, ma'am.”

“Don't get sassy, mister. I'd hate to have to embarrass you in front of this here gentleman.”

Roy raised his hands as if he were surrendering, which gave Danny a chuckle. Becky gave Danny a wink. She neglected to mention the layered turquoise and lavender concoction that rested in her hands.

“Is that your cure-all, Miss Becky?”

“Why yes, sugar. It is! This carries a guarantee that those pesky feelings you have will disappear forever.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“In theory, yes. It's basically a Blue Hawaiian layered over some hooch consisting of vodka, spiced rum, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, some grain liquor, and a secret ingredient from my stash.”

“What do you call it then?”

“The Mermaid’s Tear. Patent pending. Where I come from, legend has it that a mermaid's tear will bring good luck and fortune to those in need of saving who come to possess it. They also say that mermaids are everywhere, watching over us like angels. In times when they witness great human suffering, they weep. In that one single tear, a mermaid can heal wounds both physical and emotional, forever protecting those who consume it.”

“Horse shit!” Roy exclaimed as he burst into laughter, immediately followed by Danny and Becky.

“It's a free drink to drown your sorrows in, if only for a minute. The real cure is to tell complete strangers your woes as a means to start your own healing. Now, bottoms up! Doctor’s orders!”

Danny took the glass to his mouth and took a swig. It burned as it went down his throat. He slammed the glass onto the bar top and sat silently for a moment. Becky eagerly anticipated his reaction. He let out his breath, and proclaimed “Damn, that’s good!”

For the next hour or so, Danny told the tale of him and Johanna. He went back to the first time they met in college, all the way through their wedding just a week prior.

As Danny detailed his tragic love story, he caught himself struggling to remember the events of the last day. He couldn't tell if he subconsciously believed the lore behind the several glasses of Mermaid’s Tears or if the alcohol content was clouding his memory. It didn't matter to him either way, as he had made friends on the ears of strangers.

Before they knew it, closing time was upon them. Becky laid out the collective tabs for both Danny and Roy, and before Danny knew it, Roy had picked up the tab for the both of them.

“One last piece of advice before I go, son. It's going to hurt like a son of a bitch for a minute, and that's perfectly fine. Just don't let yourself wallow in it for too long. You've got a lot of living left to do.” Roy professed as he shook Danny’s hand.

“Thank you, Roy.” Danny said graciously.

Roy nodded and called it a night.

Becky came out from behind the bar to escort Danny out before she locked up for the night.

“Are you going to make it up to your room alright?” asked Becky.

“I should be okay. I'm going to walk some of this off on the beach before I head to bed. It's been fun.”

“It most certainly has.” Becky said as she leaned in for a kiss.

Danny reciprocated for a moment and then pulled himself away.

“I've got to go.” he stated regrettably.

Becky nodded in acceptance and smiled. He hugged her, and out the door he went. She locked the door behind him, and a tear rolled down her cheek as she watched him disappear into the night.

**********

Johanna awoke gagged and strapped to a butcher’s table. The only light in the room came from a desk lamp atop a desk full of papers. On the wall, she could see anatomy charts of several types of sea creatures as well as humans.

She could feel the room moving as if she were on a boat, but she couldn't be sure. She heard footsteps above her, and her eyes widened in terror.

A door opened and light seeped in from the top of a set of stairs. All she could see was the silhouette of a man holding something in his hand.

The man made his way down the stairs, and as he got closer Johanna realized who it was. It was Roy.

She tried desperately to scream through her gag but was unsuccessful. Tears rolled down her face.

Roy grabbed a vial and placed it against her cheek, filling it up as much as he could before topping it off with a cork. He put the vial on the desk before grabbing a scaling knife.

He turned back towards the table and wiped the remaining tears off of Johanna’s face. She looked into his eyes, begging him to stop whatever he was about to do.

He started back into her eyes for a moment before sticking the knife into her side. It was only then that the gag loosened up enough for her screams to echo through an empty harbor.

**********

Danny strolled along with the surf flip-flops in hand as he stared longing into the night sky. The sweet sugar would shift between his toes with every step as he tightroped the line between where the beach ended and the ocean began. Behind him in the distance was The Tipsy Mermaid, and ahead of him was the moon-drenched shores of Clearwater Beach.

Out of nowhere, the most beautiful voice filled his ears as though it were meant only for him to hear. He slowly walked towards the sound, each step bringing him closer to a darkness that the moon could barely penetrate. Before he knew it he was running at full speed toward the intoxicating melody.

He came to a stop as a wall of rocks came into view. Sitting on those rocks was the figure of a woman, with her wet hair draped modestly over her breasts. Her mouth was not moving, yet Danny knew that the loud music was coming from her.

The woman rose from the rocks and approached him with a dangerous curiosity. The music stopped as she stood chest to chest with him. She stared into his eyes with timid fascination before planting her lips upon his.

The kisses got more profound and more painful, yet they were intoxicatingly exquisite. He grabbed her head, forcing his face deeper into hers. She ripped open his oxford, as he gasped for breath. She ran off towards the water, as he took his shirt off, not noticing that it was tattered to pieces.

He ran into the water after her. As he approached her she stared into his eyes again.

“What’s your name?” he asked, receiving no answer.

She caught him by the mouth once more and bit his lip. He recoiled as her eyes turned black. Her teeth began to lengthen to a point. Her fingers started to web together.

Danny tried to run away but was caught with the whip of a tail at least ten feet long. He landed in the water hard enough to knock the wind out of him.

The creature grabbed his throat just before he was able to let out a scream. It squeezed tightly before diving into the water, carrying Danny’s full weight with ease.

As the creature made its way out to the bay, a fishing boat glided on the surface. Danny noticed that something had fallen from it. The beast stopped long enough for Danny to realize that what fell from the ship was the body of his wife, Johanna.

He tried to scream one last time before the creature took him deep into the darkness of the ocean.

fiction

About the author

Michael Bloom

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