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Part Two of Three
by Jeff McCoskey


Brian sat at the auctioned-off Dynamax console he'd purchased with his severance. He chased his aspirin with Jack Daniels, and poked an exploratory finger at his facial bruises. His blouse and T-shirt lay on the floor in a heap. Several pieces of surgical tape still half-clung to his arms where'd he'd removed his harness.

The console's screen showed Roger getting rough with Sharon. Scrolling across the bottom was Brian's imperfect text-translated narration.

==Wie in the hell cant she just let him go. Wat can she posibly see. Ware did that cum frum. Hese hurting her. Was that a fuking bakhand. Let her go you bastard.==

Brian stared at the screen in shock. How on earth could he just leave her with him? He'd walked out!

"I got sloppy and mad, and just waded in. And he kicked my ass." Brian resisted the urge to pound another slug. The console was a blur of activity. Miraculously, the cameras were undamaged during the melee—dislodged, but undamaged. The parabolic mike's cowl had shattered and the Watchman needed adjustment, but his equipment was still serviceable. On screen, the room flashed wildly by with Brian's ineffectual strikes. There was a good shot of the ceiling as Brian fell backwards, then mostly shots of his own clothing.

"Punching bag cam."

"...she's safe with me. You get the hell out..." came Roger's muffled voice. Had he been that ashamed at his beating? At Sharon's dismissal? He'd actually felt she was better off with Roger. He hadn't even questioned his decision to leave until he'd replayed the video. Sharon's dismissal had cut, but she was still under the influence of painkillers. And she might have covered for him any way.

Which was no reason to leave her with the man that beat her up. What the hell had he been thinking?

He hadn't even started to deal with his unmasking.

"Be a hero." Brian quoted the Hot Scoop! trailer without much emotion.


The orchestra zipped through the rolling melody of the Tarantella. Roger and his new bride were dancing furiously at the apex of the oblong circle. The finishing flourish sounded and Roger swung Melissa about and kissed her fiercely, then abruptly broke off the kiss. Melissa was pliant enough, and Roger's eyes glittered with triumph.

The applause still rolled around inside the great gazebo, when the orchestra started up a polka. A sea of tuxedo-and-gowned guests took to the dance floor separating Roger from his new bride. Roger three- stepped through several in-laws and political wives before finding the edge of the dance floor and bailing. His eyes instinctively sought Sharon.

He spotted her over by the bar—her and Symsek alone, together, and sullenly silent. She glanced up, and he trapped her gaze. With his eyes he motioned to the buffet tent and the private expanse of lawn behind it. He turned before she could refuse.

"What is it Roger?" asked Sharon coldly. The orchestra was still clearly audible, as was the hubbub of a happy wedding crowd. The buffet tent on one side, the massive house on the other, and the woods to their back protected them from prying eyes. The grass never seemed greener after the rainy spring.

"Sharon, I just wanted you to know how much I missed you these past few years." His heart was doing flip flops, but he was rewarded with a crack in Sharon's facade.


"I tried to tell myself I had no feelings for you, that the High School crush was over."

"Roger don't you dare do this..." Sharon's eyes were misting up.

"No it's too large. It was easy at Emory to drift away from Calhoun, but I'm back now. Back to stay. Seeing you here, like the old days..."

"Shut up Roger, just shut up. You're married now." Sharon bit her lip, stopping whatever she was going to say next. Roger stepped closer. Sharon backed away, but not nearly as far.

"It seems like such a lame excuse, now that we're close together. But she has assured my political future. Assured it, you understand? I couldn't resist the brass ring that close. I didn't count on my reaction, seeing you again."

"This wedding...was a career move? You cut out my heart for a career move?" Sharon's voice was raising.

"Hush, Princess. Let's keep this between us."

"Don't call me that." Her voice was almost a whisper.

"I have to. Melissa will never mean to me what you do. The ceremony and the paper are meaningless, a contract nothing more." He stepped closer again. This time she only leaned backwards. "An important business contract, nothing more. I know how much you wanted me to succeed, well I've done it. I've arrived. The only problem is, I think...I think you still have my heart, Sharon."

"Roger why are you doing this to me?" Tears were flowing down her face.

"Because my heart is telling me we aren't through." Sharon turned to run away, but Roger grabbed her arm. She froze, half turned away from him. He let her arm go and she didn't leave.

In the background, the orchestra cued up the Hokey Pokey.


Sharon opened her diary. It was her first entry since her hospital stay. Despite her pounding headache, she'd refused to take her painkillers this morning. So far.

Roger didn't even know about the diary, which was probably a good thing. She was sure he'd have her give it to him—written evidence of their affair was bad politics. That he would get it if he asked was a foregone conclusion. Her increasing resistance to his demands was not nearly up to that.

Sharon tried to find a blank page, instead turning to the last written page of the book. There was a bloody smear across the page, with large lettering—"LOOK WHAT I MADE HIM DO!!!" Sharon knotted her brow as she read the shaky script.

"LOOK WHAT I MADE HIM DO!!! Why am I not satisfied with his Love? Why can't I be happy for his success? WHY AM I SO CLINGY?? He wouldn't get so mad if he didn't Love me. If I didn't doubt his Love. I hurt him so bad, why do I do it? I deserve to be punished. I deserve to die."

Sharon dropped the book. Where had those words come from? Roger hadn't hit her at all. At all. She knew that. Sharon looked at her handwriting again. It was hers. If she concentrated on parts of it—a looping 'L' or a series of punctuation—she could even remember writing it amid agony and tears. The self-loathing rushed back as well.

Sharon urgently flipped back through the diary. Pages far less dramatic contained more records of physical abuse. Of her culpability for that abuse. When she looked at the pages just right, she could even recall the feelings she'd had when writing them. After the seventh such page, Sharon threw the book across the room.

She ran to a mirror and studied her bruised face as if seeing it for the first time. "I'm losing my mind. How could I forget he did this? How could I forget I made him hit me?" Sharon buried her face in her hands and wept.


Greg and Brian walked the track around the football field. Short of the Dairy Queen parking lot, walking the track at football games was the favorite High School hangout. Greg and Brian waded through their classmates with amiable fraternity. The Calhoun Eagles were winning handily on the field, so most of the crowd was in a good mood.

"Check 'em out, Bri. Courtney and Liz are checking us out."

Brian pretended to adjust his cowboy hat and looked over his shoulder. "And who can blame 'em?"

Greg sniggered into his straw, bubbling Coke. "Game check."

Greg and Brian cocked their heads towards the football game, saw a Dalton Bulldog get crushed out of bounds by an Eagle. "Yeah!! Go Eagles!" They continued strolling the circle, passing greetings to acquaintances and glances to girls.

"Eyes front, soldier," said Greg in a serious register. They were passing the section of grandstand Sharon and Roger sat in. Brian ignored him and scanned the section for Sharon. Not in her seat. They must be walking the track too.

"For god's sake, man, let her go. She's Roger's ho."

"I know you mean that in the most complimentary, respectful way, so I won't kick your ass," retorted Brian. Greg gave a martyred shake of the head.

"Yesterday's news, pal. All the pinin' for the fjords in the world won't help..."

"Pinin' for the fjords? What kind of talk is that?" Brian's mangled British accent was enough to smooth over the moment. They continued the circuit, until they spotted Roger leaning on the chain link fence, talking with his crew. Sharon was nowhere around.

Brian almost choked on his soda. Roger was swinging a dog-tag chain with a gold ring on it. He appeared pretty pleased with himself despite the razzing he seemed to be getting. After a moment, he stuffed it carelessly into his hip pocket, some of the chain still dangling free.

Brian's Mom had volunteered at the church, and after Sharon's Dad died, she had cooked quite a few meals there. Brian had helped out on occaision, and started his long-lasting friendship with Sharon then. He doubted she knew he wanted more from her than that.

During one of their meal visits, Sharon had confided about her Dad's wedding band—that she would give it to her husband. She'd even showed it to him, on her father's dog-tag chain.

Now that son-of-a-bitch Roger was swinging it around like a keychain.

"Bri—where you headed?"

"Just stay with me Greg."

Brian paced his strides, approaching Roger from behind. Roger started his arm-swingin, in connection to something he was saying. Brian walked forward, timed it, then hit his soda on Roger's gesturing hand.

"What the hell?" Brian staggered, trying to dodge the soda, jostling Roger on the way. The soda splashed to the ground, and Brian pulled away.

"Watch where the hell you're going will you Symsek?" growled Roger.

"Watch where you flap your arms, Blalock," snarled back Brian. "You owe me a soda."

"Get lost, punk."

"C'mon Brian, let's go." Greg led Brian away. Brain stared at Roger, who said something to his crew. They all laughed.

"What the hell was that about, Bri? Like they need an excuse to ridicule us."

Brian smiled and opened his hand. Sharon's ring glinted with the stadium's lights. Greg just closed his mouth and didn't voice his obvious disapproval.

Sharon waved happily to them as she passed, returning to Roger.

"Oooh, this is even better. C'mon."

"Brian this is sick. This is not fun for me you know."

"Sharon you're making a scene," said Roger uncomfortably. His crew had diplomatically taken off. Brian and Greg took seats above them, Greg determinedly watching the game, Brian cocking an ear to the confrontation.

"I don't care if I am or not. Where is my Father's ring? You know how much that means to me—you better not have lost it." Sharon's face was as serious as a teenage girl's can be. Roger again wildly patted his pockets, then looked to the ground in panic.

"I, ah, um..."

"You did lose it didn't you?!"

Roger looked for any sign of forgiveness or charity in Sharon's face. There wasn't any. Brian wished he could stare at it. As far as he was concerned it was beautiful.

"I swear to God Roger, if this is how you treat..."

Roger bit his lip. "Wait a minute Sharon. You never gave it to me remember? You showed it to me, then put it back in your purse."

Sharon was silent for a beat."I can't believe you'd try to lie to me like that. I gave that to you because I love you and this is what happens? You don't care about anything that's important to me. I can't forgive this, Roger."

Roger's eyes went wide. Brian beleived he heard a choke to his voice, which pleased him to no end. "Wait, Sharon. Don't end it..." Roger seemed to swoon momentarily, then his voice got stronger. Desperate. "You did keep it, remember? We were in the car, you showed it to me, we made out a little, then you took it back. I swear to God. You said you'd give it to me later, when we got engaged."

"I don't remember it that way..." said Sharon uncertainly.

Roger's voice got more earnest. "Don't be your mom, Sharon. It wasn't my fault." Sharon gave him a startled look. "Yeah, remember? We talked about just waiting, and you decided to wait to give it to me. I don't mind, I mean we will be married one day, I can wait. You kept it Sharon, I swear."

Sharon opened her purse, looking for the ring. It wasn't there. "Oh my God Roger, I'm sorry for accusing you. I lost it then." Sharon's eyes teared up. "Oh no, I can't have lost it. Help me find it Roger, we have to retrace my steps."

Brain's jaw dropped as the two went off searching the ground. He looked at the ring in his hand in disbelief.


"It's lahk this Chaihman. I don't think Sysmek was her boyfriend at all. We haven't been able to fahnd anyone that's evah seen them togethah as a couple."

"What? Well I thought you told me he was her boyfriend?" asked Roger. He was extremely uncomfortable. The Sheriff had called this meeting, and Roger couldn't afford to not make it. But there were some huge holes he had to fill, and that knowledge didn't put him at ease.

"Well, that's what he told the paramedics. Best we can tell from talkin' around town is, that's just wishful thinkin' on his part. He still ain't adequately explained his whereabouts on the naght in question, but we ain't so sure he's the one no more."

"Do you have a suspect?" asked Roger with all the nonchalance he could muster. Sheriff Paul Kincaid looked awkwardly at the youthful politician.

"We had a patrol cah drahve by Miss McNalley's last naght—its somethin' we do for abuse victims. Rogeh, your Mercedes was in her drahvway. Lucky for you, ah was in the station house at the tahm an' called him off before it went out on the aih. Ah don't believe you had anythin' ta do with the beatin', Chaihman, but it sho' don't look good."

Roger reddened at the accusation. This minute he and Sysmek were the best suspects. Sharon had steadfastly refused to talk about the incident, and Sheriff Kincaid was too much the gentleman to push her while she was ailing. But if Roger pushed the Sheriff too hard to Symsek, a videotape might come to light. Roger knew how bad video could make things look, out of context. Even innocent things. But if he didn't push things that way, the finger would point at him.

Roger didn't have the energy for this. The sheriff was moving too damn fast. He had to get that tape.

"Chaihman? You in there? I asked what you were doing at the woman's house last night."

"Paul, I swear, all your questions will be answered. Just give me twenty-four hours."

"You wouldn't think of skippin' town or nothin' would you, Chaihman?"

Roger poured energy he didn't have into his smiling response. "Paul, you have my word I had nothing to do with this. I might be able to get Sha...the McNalley woman to talk to you. Just give me the time."

"Sure, Rogeh. I know you didn't have anything to do with this. Just bein' complete is all."


Sharon heard an inside door close at her knock on the trailer-home door. "Who is it?"


"Jesus, Sharon? Hold on." Thumps and rattling bangs sounded from behind the door. When they stopped, the door opened on an embarrassed Brian Symsek. Sharon entered without a word. Despite the humid spring night, she wore a long overcoat and scarf.

Brian looked outside behind her, but she was alone. "Thank God you came by Sharon, we have got to talk about last night."

"I know." She shed her coat and plopped down on his couch. A large purple bruise swelled her eye nearly shut. Matching ones on her torso and arms made even the slightest movement painful. An awkward silence filled the air.

"Sharon, I've asked you before, and it's been a joke. I'm asking now in all seriousness. Why do you stay with Roger?"

"I love him."

"Sharon he hurts you. He almost killed you."

"Roger has never done anything to me I haven't asked for." Sharon's response was low, and delivered with closed eyes.

"You can't mean that. I watched him slap you before I came in last night."

Sharon eyed him sharply. "Brian, you're insane. Roger came by to comfort me last night. Your intrusion was the only violence." Brian rocked back in his chair, his eyes wide.

"You can't mean that. Sharon I have it..." He cut himself off, but it was too late.

"You have it on tape?" Sharon's voice was almost a whisper. "You do, don't you. You are the Eye of Justice."

Brain ignored the statement. "How can you say he didn't hit you last night? I saw it! Are you going to tell me he's never hit you?"

Silent tears slid down Sharon's face. "I don't know Brian. I really don't know."

"How could you not know?" Brian's shrill tone rattled Sharon, though she could tell he instantly regretted it. Deep sobs seemed to choke off her breath. It was like the diary all over again. "Sharon, how could you not know?" It was more gentle this time.

"I think I'm going insane. Dear God, help me Brian , I'm losing my mind." Brian sat on the couch next to her and offered her his arms. She clutched them as if to avoid drowning. "In my diary, I write about making him hit me, but I don't remember. Do you understand? I can barely remember writing it, let alone having it happen. He's so good to me, and all I give him are recriminations and accusations, and now I can't remember!"

"You don't remember him hitting you?"

"No! Yes! I'm not sure. I don't remember why, I just know it was something I said or did. Some way I wasn't good enough."

Brian gently shook her. "Stop it Sharon. It's not you. Do you hear? Look..." Brian pressed a remote control, and a VCR tape started up. It went wavy as Brian rewound, then sharply focussed. The scales-and-eyeball figure was in the upper corner, and the bottom of the screen was dark and scrolling with text.

The scene itself was through the sheer curtains of Sharon's back window. Sharon watched aghast as Roger grabbed her, twisted her then backhanded her. Her body language was clearly conciliatory and defensive. "This is not how it...I don't remember it like this..."

"The videotape does not lie." Brain's words were firm.

"What's happening to me?!" Sharon's voice approached hysterics.

"Listen to me Sharon...Listen to me. The same thing happened, listen. The same thing happened to me. I knew he was abusing you, but I left last night just because Roger told me to. Just on his say-so. I don't care how badly he kicked my ass, I never would have left you alone with him after he put you in the hospital. I've thought a lot about this, and I think there's only one explanation." Sharon looked into Brian's eyes, searching them desperately.

Brian drew a deep breath. "Roger is an Omega."

Sharon's first response was to recoil and laugh, admittedly a shaky laugh. "He can't be. He's a Republican."

"Listen to me..."

"Listen? I don't even know you any more Brian. You're some kind of Video Vigilante by night—dressing up like some comic book hero. Now you tell me Roger is an Omega? We've known him for years...Jesus I don't know you, I don't know him. This is all too much..."

"Wait a minute Sharon, I can prove this. Wait here." Brian ran into his bedroom, then returned. Sharon never got a clear sight past him into the room, almost as if he were hiding it. When Brian opened his hand everything was forgotten. Dangling from her friend's hand was her father's long-lost wedding ring.


"I'm not proud of this Sharon, and please don't hate me." Brian shifted his weight nervously. "I stole this from Roger a long time ago in High School. Greg can back me up on this, call him now if you want. I wanted him to look bad in your eyes. You gave this to him."

"But I thought I had lost..."

"He convinced you that you had. His Omega convinced you. You gave it to him, but he put the blame on you."

"How long have you had this?"

"Years. I wanted to give it back to you...Jesus Sharon." Brian's eyes darted to the floor and his voice got low. "You've got to know I've always wanted you to give it It was like hanging on to a piece of you. Like it would eventually draw you to me." Brian's fists were clenched tightly.

Sharon got to her feet dispite the agony sudden motion caused her. "This is your proof? You steal it from me, then blame Roger?"

"Call Greg—he was there. He knows. Number two on my speed dial." Brian was clearly on an emotional limb. He didn't resist as she snatched the long-lost wedding band from his hand.

She limped painfullly to the phone, briefly noticed that she was number one on the speed dial, then dialed. "Right he's here, he's got it. I couldn't get it from'll have to..."

"What the hell?" Brian leapt for the phone, disconnecting it.

"I begged Roger to let me come here tonight, to find out what happened. To get the tape if there was one. As your friend, I wanted us to settle this as friends. I-I even thought you could help me. This," Sharon's eyes teared up and she clutched the ring in his face," this is the worst. Even if Roger is an Omega and abusing me and making me forget, it's just my body. Just my body." The tears came and she grabbed her coat and ran out the door.

"For God's sake, Sharon, however you feel about me now, think about what I said. Think about it!"


Sharon shuffled to her car, momentarily illuminated by bright headlights of an oncoming car. The twin beams speared Brian on his stairs, forcing him to raise an arm to shade his eyes. Abruptly the lights went out. The first thing Brian noticed was the ROGERB license plate. Just what he needed.

"Symsek, I understand you have something I need." Roger was putting a portable phone back into his coat pocket.

"You son of a bitch I don't need much excuse to kick your ass..."

"Like last night? Besides we have some things to talk about—you, me and the Eye of Justice." Twenty-five minutes later, Roger was driving away, the top down on his Mercedes.

Brian dully watched him go, thinking how wrong he'd been. And glad that he'd turned over the Eye of Justice's tapes to his friend Roger Blalock.


To be concluded...

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