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Anyhow, a couple things to know about me before we begin. I hate everything and my goal is to spread wanton chaos and destruction. I also like to observe people of interest, mostly people that God also crapped on. That's why I know this story. I was watching when the cataclysmic event happened and then I decided to watch the consequences for Jessica afterward. If you want to know what happened, just keep reading and I'll tell you when I'm damn well ready to. What else is there, oh yes I'm quirky, thematic, diabolical, sarcastic, insolent, and any other distasteful adjective you want to throw in be my guest. I think that about covers it.
Nathan Jarvis, Jessica's father, was the wealthiest and most corrupt businessman in Khazan. He had stepped on thousands of people and caused gigantic amounts of pain in his efforts to simply have more. It makes me happy to see so many people miserable but this is Jessica's story and not his. And as far as she knew, he was a good man. He had always been there to tuck her in at night, gave her many gifts and even spent his free time with her. In truth, he was a good father, but he was also an unscrupulous scoundrel with an endless lust for material wealth and power.
One of Jessica's favorite things to do in her teenage years was to visit her dad at the office for lunch. She also loved to watch his meetings through the window of the giant conference rooms in his office building. She couldn't hear the meetings, but she could tell he commanded everyone's attention. Her dad was almost an idol to her which made it all the more potent when he abruptly pulled out a pistol and shot a man in his meeting from point blank range. Jessica had been sitting in a chair outside the conference room, waiting to surprise her dad for lunch. He didn't even notice her until after the fact. She watched in awe-struck horror as he calmly shot that man, and then just as quickly put the gun back in his suit. As he turned back to the rest of the room, he caught Jessica's wide and tear-stained eyes. He scrambled for the door, to get to Jessica and explain that it was just business, but she was gone, down the elevator, bolted from the lobby and running away as fast as her legs would carry her.
She had run for miles, maybe even a whole marathon for all she knew. By now her legs were tired and she was thirsty. She was in a park she had never seen which isn't saying much because she had never been to an actual park. Everything she could have done in a park she did on her family's estate. Thankfully, she knew what a water fountain looked like because the Country Club and her school both had them. She saw one and proceeded to drink her fill. Then she sat down on a park bench. Pondering, she wracked her brain trying to make sense of what had happened that day, but she couldn't. She could still do calculus and quote various authors, but her mind simply froze when thinking about what her father had done. For hours she sat there, lost in thought, frantically looking for answers. In the end, she had none. She only knew two things from the whole event. First, she was alive. Second, she couldn't go home ever again.
Her stomach growling, Jessica stood up and surveyed the surrounding area, looking for any place that might have food. She did not find a restaurant right away, nor a grocery store. However, she did notice a general trend of her surroundings. The park was overgrown with weeds and various other things that looked out of place. Many of the surrounding buildings were dilapidated and in disrepair. Several of them were boarded up, had graffiti or both. She had heard of such places in conversation at her school and the country club. This place matched the description of what her acquaintances referred to with disdain as Lowtown. This was the underbelly of society or so she was taught. The place where people lived in gutters and anything could be bought for the right price and no one would care. She was scared of it, almost terrified, but compared to her father's atrocity this was heaven come to earth. With that she started walking, looking for a place to eat.
It didn't take me long to figure it out, just longer than usual which for me isn't very long. He was in to her. He liked her. She had walked in to the most disgusting eating and drinking establishment possibly in the history of Khazan wearing a pressed, silk, only slightly dirty red pant suit with heels to match. She was gorgeous, even goddess-like by his standards. He never took his eyes off her for more than a second. Even while he was pouring drinks for another customer or chatting it up with the regulars, he was always watching her. For that matter, so was everyone else, even some of the women. Jessica was too distraught and tired to notice, but Daniel did. He noticed she stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb and everyone was keeping one eye if not more on Jessica. He knew this would only lead to a fight and mostly broken tables stained with blood. With that in mind he started staring down the patrons one by one. Everyone got it, this girl was not to be touched, approached or even oogled. Daniel ran a tight ship, as tight as he could manage at least. That meant an iron hand and no quarter for those who disobeyed the house rules. The first rule above anything was do not mess with the bartender or anyone under his protection. All the regulars picked it up right away and had the sense to tell anyone who looked like they were having second thoughts regarding Daniel's warning.
When Daniel brought Jessica the food along with a frosty mug of soda, he asked why she looked so depressed. At first she hesitated, unsure if she wanted to tell a stranger and even more unsure she could actually form the words. Before she knew though, she was pouring out every gory detail of her day to him and he was infatuated. At first he was just stunned by her looks, but as he listened he grew sympathetic. He too had dealt with betrayal and hard knocks as a child. When she had finished, he asked where she planned to go and what course of action she would take. She was speechless. She didn't have the mental capacity at this point to think of that right now. Daniel could tell she had no clue and politely offered a cot he kept in the storeroom of the bar. I don't think he offered it to be nice or noble, he offered it at the prospected of getting laid because he was still stunned by her. Normally she would have refused but she was too tired and nodded acceptance to him. He escorted and half-carried her to the back room, and set her on the cot. As he threw a blanket on top of her, she murmured thanks for his kindness. Then sleep took her, her mind fading into the darkness and chasms of the world of dreams.
Jessica awoke many hours later. She did not know how long she slept but she knew it had to have been awhile. The sun was well into the sky and she could see the light streaming in from a window on the far side of the store room. She yawned and stretched her legs, remembering nothing that had happened the previous day for a moment. Then it hit her. Her father, a gun, the running, the hunger, everything at once cascading through her head like an avalanche, burying her wits and senses and rendering her hapless. She sat there, whimpering and crying quietly until Daniel walked into the storeroom.
She sniffled and tried to pretend she wasn't crying but it was no use. For as scared and abashed as she was, he acted the perfect gentleman. He didn't say a word. He stood there, just studying her for a few moments. Then he walked over to her and set a gun and a few clips near her on a stack of boxes. When she saw it, she cringed in fear and terror. It looked about the same as the one her father had used. Sleek, black, compact, silenced, just a standard gun. She did not know if it was exactly the same, but it was too familiar and that was enough.
"No, get that thing away from me." She croaked in as much of a voice as she could manage.
"I know this looks like what you father used. I realize that. But face the facts. You're in the wrong part of town to be walking around defenseless. The only people around here who don't carry a weapon have earned the right like Arick Huebris, the Mortician, and you're better off not knowing why he doesn't carry a gun. You're just a pretty little girl, easy prey for anyone around here. Doubly easy if you don't have a piece."
Jessica sat there for several minutes not really thinking but coming to terms with reality again. Finally she reached over and picked it up. It fit her hand, almost as if it made her hand complete. She still could not block the cold-blooded murder her father committed out of her mind. In the wrong hands this gun was scary, even dangerous. She prayed she would never have to use it, but somehow she knew that was not going to happen. Sooner or later she would use it. She did not know on who, but she had that feeling in the pit of her stomach, that feeling that almost makes you vomit every time you get it.
"Thank you", she said, "But I don't know how to shoot a gun."
"I'll teach you."
"I want a new name," she said, "Something to help erase the memory of my old life. Could you make one for me."
Daniel thought for a second and then said, "Jessica Pendleton."
She liked it. It flowed, it was a name, and it had no connection to her former name. It was only a name, but it was a start. Daniel spoke again.
"Now comes the question of what to do with you. You said you had no idea what to do last night. I want you to be a waitress or dancing girl in the tavern. We're a bit short-handed right now because one of the waitresses didn't pay her bookie and he took payment as he saw fit. You shouldn't have that problem. What do you say?"
Jessica wondered what a bookie was and some other things. She was on her own now, but Daniel's offer was better than trying to ferret out life by herself. She just knew he was a kind stranger with no ulterior motives. At least, she thought he had no ulterior motives. He wanted her to stay around. He wanted her. She didn't know that, she was a naïve 17-year-old girl with no clue how the world worked. At any rate, she accepted his offer and started working.
Over the next several months she received a crash course in the real world. She learned how to take drink orders, clean tables, dance on the bar (much to the delight of Daniel and everyone else), drink alcohol, flirt with customers, hide behind a table aiming her handgun when a fight broke out, and any other skill you could learn at the Salty Dog.(which was pretty much better than any training from a military boot camp). As promised, Daniel taught her how to shoot that pistol he had given her as well as a shotgun to help break up fights although he was always the one to use the latter. She even started liking Daniel. They didn't get married, but they were exclusive and it was generally known they were together. Seems like a pretty happy ending right? Well, I don't do happy endings and you should have picked up on that by now. Honestly, the story was good, but with all that happened a happy ending is both cliché and boring. That said, let's see how this actually plays out.
Rumors in my opinion are the most powerful non-physical element in the universe. They spread like wildfire and can quickly wreck someone's whole world and alter public opinion in the blink of an eye. True or false, these rumors shape the world. One particular rumor was actually true, but it spelled disaster for Nathaniel Jarvis. A man walked in to the Salty Dog tavern one tonight. His name was Aaron Torean. He wasn't a regular, but he looked gruff and unkempt enough to blend in with everyone one else even if he was wearing a suit. Jessica took his order and asked why he looked so glum.
He replied. "My brothers and I owned a shipping company. Business was good and the 5 of us were making decent money. Then we were targeted by a hostile takeover. A company owned by Nathan Jarvis was trying to buy up our stock on the market. Naturally, we called a meeting to discuss this and find a way to avoid the takeover. Nathan Jarvis walked in to the meeting and promptly started shooting. No warning, no anything. My brothers are dead. I dove out the window and ran. I'm still in shock at it all. So keep the beer coming Sweetheart."
Jessica burned with anger, seething until she thought it would burst. It was all she could do to walk back and place the order. All those memories she had, they had lain dormant for years and she had actually become happy. Then her father, the one person who had single-handedly ruined her life found a way to ruin it all over again. As she collected herself, she told Daniel not to charge the man for anything. When he asked why, she said it was personal and that she had some errands to run. Before he could say anything she was out the door.
Nathan Jarvis was a public, popular and influential man. Killing him would be no small task. She would have to get near enough to him to pull the trigger. A bomb wasn't enough, she needed to watch him die and be sure of it. She came up with a decent plan. Decent as far as you mortals go anyway. It's better than most I've seen, but that's not saying much. She decided to masquerade as a lawyer from rival company. She bought the suit, got her hair and nails done, made an appointment with Nathan's secretary and did everything else she could think of to prepare. After all, this had to go off without a hitch, it had to be perfect. You humans and your need to have plans go smoothly. Do your research, you'll find that nothing ever goes exactly as it was intended. Just look at the A-Bomb or the Civil War. That said, Jessica was damn close.
Jessica arrived at the highrise office at 5:20 P.M. for her appointment. The secretary ushered her in to Jarvis' office and then left for the day. Nathan strode in to his office upon returning from the restroom. He was virtually the same. The only thing that had changed in his appearance was the gray at his temples.
"What can I do for you Miss Pendleton?" he asked
"I'd like to talk about the Torean brothers."
Quick as a cat he had drawn his pistol and was aiming it, but she was quicker. She had already drawn and fired as he was aiming. Her shot struck him in his shooting hand, knocked his gun to the side of the room and dropping him to his knees. As he fell, she stood up and walked over to pick up his gun.
"Knew I should have hunted down that last one," he croaked as his wound gushed.
"You should have," she said, "But that isn't the only reason I'm here...Daddy."
"It's Jessica now you heartless coward."
His face turned hopeful, even a bit maniacal. "You're alive, I'm so glad you're alive. I thought you'd run away forever. All I wanted was a chance to explain myself."
"You don't have to, it was 'business' right?"
"Yes it was." He said coolly "That's the way business works in this town."
"No matter, you still have to die for all the pain and suffering you've caused to me and others."
"What?" he grinned wolfishly, "You're not going to shoot your own father. I raised you and I know you're not capable of this."
At that she pointed at his head and emptied her entire clip into him. No remorse, no second thought, just revenge of the purest form. She stood there for a second, then she walked out of the office, shut the door, and went back home to Daniel, just in time to help with the dinner rush.
So not quite your fairy tale ending right? Certain aspects are there. The main character has an epiphany, the villain dies, and they live happily ever after. Good story, powerful ending, and a lot of great elements with a solid plot. Even so, I doubt many parents would read this to their kid as a bedtime story. And the bottom line is that we saw a young and innocent girl turn into a merciless revenge machine and commit murder, the very kind of murder she thought was so atrocious. Talk about savage irony. That's just plain rich. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did. If you didn't, go talk to someone who cares.