Last Chance

last-chanceDevon had two secrets. One he wanted to reveal. The other one he wanted to keep hidden, for his eyes only, just in case. His battle had been a long road with unexpected twists and turns. The clinking of two bottles triggered an uncontrollable response. One that involved a trip to the convenience store that was all too convenient. Sometimes it was a six-pack, other times a forty ounce aluminum can.

Rita had given him one last chance. Clean up your act, or I’m gone. Devon had been with too many women to count. It felt as though his addiction to women matched that of the bottle. Rita was different. She was the one. Not the one that he would marry. Not yet, at least. But, she was the one who’d persuaded him to come clean.

He’d been on the straight and narrow for two months, nary a waver from his resolve. For himself. But more so, for Rita. To prove that he was good enough. Devon had been planning a weekend on the coast, just he and Rita. Complete seclusion. No fanfare, no exotic clubs. Definitely no clubs. Just a quiet weekend at the small B&B, a chance to reconnect.

Previously littered with stray bottles and signs of weakness, his house was now clean. Devon’s place had been scrubbed of any memories that might lead him back down the path towards temptation. It felt good. Real good. It’d been two weeks since he’d seen Rita, and for the first time, his intoxicating desire to see another human being surpassed that of the liquid variety.

“Hi,” Devon smiled longingly. He greeted Rita, looking at her cautious expression through the screen door.

“Can I come in?” Devon had been caught daydreaming.

“Sure, come in.” He opened the door and led her into the living room, his hand on the small of her back. Sitting down, Devon said, “I have something to share with you.” He smiled as he thought about the pleasant surprise about to be revealed.

Just then, the parakeet, perched in his cage, began to whistle. It was the jingle to Devon’s libation of choice. Almost. Whether it was subliminal influence or plain bad luck, it was almost identical to the tune on the B&B website, the one he had been whistling for the past week in anticipation of this very moment.

“Seriously?” Rita scoffed. She marched into the kitchen, pulled open the drawer, and moved aside the wilting romaine lettuce. She returned to the doorway, beer bottle in hand, the wrong secret now revealed.

“Wait, it’s not what you think,” uttered Devon.

“We’re through. Don’t bother.” She tossed the bottle, with the intent of having it shatter on the floor. Devon snagged it from midair. He held it, staring at it, as he listened to the screen door slam. The counter clockwise twist, followed by the upward tilt was refreshing and necessary. He knew that he had it hidden away for a good reason, just in case.

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Temptation

magic-potionI can’t do without it. Those were the words echoing through Gavin’s mind. Whether those mental words referred to the potion itself or the opportunities it presented was uncertain. Nonetheless, the sealed vial accompanied Gavin to his apartment that afternoon after the startling results of his latest experiment revealed an unanticipated discovery. The manner in which he was able to understand and read the thoughts of his test subject captivated his consciousness. From a scientific perspective, it was fascinating. From a psychological perspective it was enticing, tempting, and potentially very dangerous.

Like a strong painkiller, the effects were not addictive until you began to consume it steadily, the increasing doses building your dependency on its effects. To that end, Gavin rationalized the decision to save this mixture. He would simply place it on the spice shelf in his kitchen, right next to the oregano, thyme, and basil. It was harmless so long as it remained there untouched and unused, available to him in his back pocket if needed.

Although it did remain behind a closed cabinet door, physically invisible, Gavin continued to see it in his mind. Consumed by its power, it was as if the addiction had already taken hold despite its absence from his physical system. It had already permeated Gavin’s mental intellect which was perhaps more perilous than its physical effects. It had begun to affect the quality of his daily life, both personally and professionally. His research practices had become sloppy. His personal life had become distracted. Nothing he did could be taken at face value. It had to be analyzed as it really was as well as how it could be given the use of his mind-reading concoction.

It was on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening that the fulcrum shifted, tipping Gavin’s psychological scales toward physical action. It began with a knock on Gavin’s apartment door. Looking through the peephole, the fisheye lens depiction of the person on the other side was familiar. It was Alessandra, the attractive brunette from next door. Unlocking the deadbolt, Gavin turned the knob and greeted his smiling neighbor. “Hi Alessa, what’s up?”

The smile on her face was an imploring one. With the incessant ruminations running through his consciousness lately, Gavin couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking, and he knew exactly how to find out. Alessa had both hands behind her back. While being greeted, she pulled them from behind her to reveal a plastic cup in her grasp. “I didn’t make it to the grocery store today, and I really need some milk. Do you happen to have a cup I can borrow,” pleaded Alessa.

Captivated by her beauty and charm, Alessa could have asked for the keys to his car and Gavin would have obliged. “Sure, he said, come on in, I’ll get you some from the kitchen.” Alessa stepped through the doorway and waited politely just inside the apartment entrance. As Gavin strolled into the kitchen with the plastic cup, he continued a conversation with her across the span of the two rooms, “So, what have you been up to lately?” From across the space, Alessa replied, “Not much, just a lot of extra hours at work getting ready for our new release.” She was a fashion designer working on one of the most anticipated and highly sought after clothing lines of the fall season. It had demanded a tremendous amount of her time over the past several weeks.

As Gavin pulled open the refrigerator door and retrieved the half gallon of milk, he echoed back across to Alessa, “Is 2% okay?”

“Sure,” she replied, “that would be perfect.” As he began to fill the plastic cup to the halfway point, his eyes instinctively rose to the cabinet at eye level. Behind those doors lay the forbidden fruit, one bite and he may not be able to turn back. The temptation was too much for Gavin to resist. The mental addiction had commandeered his physical being as he opened the cabinet door, grabbed the vial, unplugged it, and deposited half the contents into the cup of milk. Looking over his shoulder to insure he was not being watched, he swirled the cup so as to dissolve the mixture into its carrier. There was no physical evidence that the cup of milk was anything but a cup of milk.

Carrying the elixir, innocently concealed, he handed it back to Alessa with a smile. “Here you go. If you need any more, just let me know.”

“Thanks Gavin, I appreciate it. It’s been such a crazy day. I really didn’t want to have to head back out this evening,” replied Alessa with a gracious smile. “No problem,” offered Gavin as he opened the front door of his apartment once again, “Have a good evening,” he said. “You too,” smiled Alessa.

epinephrineAs he shut the door, Gavin felt as though he had just ingested a high dose of amphetamines. His heartbeat was racing. He was dizzy with some unfamiliar feeling. Was it adrenaline? Was it guilt? Was it anticipation? Whatever it was, it left him wanting more. Gavin had transmuted his mental addiction into the physical world. There was no turning back now.

Author’s Note: This post is the sequel to a story previously posted. To read the original installment, please take a look at Discovery. The conclusion of this story will be posted next week. Thanks for reading!