Moon Knight, A Twist of Fate pt. 1

My mind is a wreck.  I haven’t slept in two days, and not even the boredom of a cross country flight was enough to lull me.  I hear Seattle is a nice place, I think I’ve been there a few times in my life, but at the moment I’m not too sure on much beyond the present.

Frenchie arranged for everything, as usual he’s the one friend I can count on that will never lose his level head, always watching out for me.  Sometimes I’m not sure how he does it, other times I don’t bother to ask, but the two of us are like that.  Either one will do anything for the other at the drop of a hat, we’ve saved each other countless times and continue to do so everyday.

The flight isn’t as long as I hoped it would be and in no time I’m checking into the Hilton my company generally always does business when we send our people to this city.  Every last detail is in order, and by the time I make my way to my room I think I have only said three words.

The room is smaller than I like, I think the second bed is what takes up the most room.  I wish I had time for a quick nap at least, but as it is I know I’ll never get to sleep even if I had the time.  The funeral is in less than two hours, and I still have much to prepare for afterward.

I push my way through the hall, the morning is crowded with the traffic coming and going every which way.  My suit is simple, black on white and as Frenchie says I’m just a sucker for the traditional.  The hustle is just enough to keep my mind away from everything I don’t want to think about, the annoyance of pushing through all the people in the halls, making room for myself in the elevator, it all makes me feel like I’m at home, but nothing is quite like New York.

Hell even the cabs are waiting for me, I hate this city already.

* * *

She was my voice of reason for years.  Too bad I couldn’t realize it until she left.  No warning, not even a single complaint this time and she was gone.  She emptied her closet, colleted her cash accounted, and disappeared from my life, taking our daughter with her.

I can still remember her vibrant red hair, the smile I seldom saw, her sweet green eyes.  Some call those the little things, memories I took for granted.  Each thing I remember, every memory I take the time for seems like it stings hotter each day.

Returning home to find her gone was painful enough; but knowing my sweet Amanda was also gone was nearly enough to kill me.  It too k my friends several months to tear me away from the drink and rebuild my life, but only one man knew that four year old was my life.  Amada was the reason I hadn’t needed my medications, she killed the demons I created within myself, the damage my obsessions did to me over the years.  Without her, it almost seemed life wasn’t worth living, anyone saying anything just couldn’t understand what I had lost.

Both gone, and five long years later here I am.  Standing in the cold Seattle air, wondering when it will rain.  For one moment I take my eyes away from the casket a mere hundred yards in front of me.  I stare into the gray clouds, wishing for something the break the bleak overcast.  Something to shine down a little warmth, maybe I might be able to feel something.

Not a singe word for five years and I still never gave up hope she would come to her senses and forgive me.  But, who am I kidding?  She warned me after Amanda was born; warned me that the three of us were family and any more additions on my part wouldn’t fit.  My days as Moon knight should have been over, and for a time the medications saw to that.

Some people say I was crazy once.  But, to tell the truth, I don’t think I fully overcame my problems, I simply hid them well for a few years.  I’ve always been a little too far from sanity, and until Amanda, violence was my outlet.  I’ve killed as a sinner, and made a substantial fortune.  Later I killed my fellow sinners hoping for the redemption of a deity I claimed not to believe.

A hot tear wells in my left eye after I try my damnedest to suppress it.  It rolls slowly down my cheek as I watch the crowd below begin to disperse.  I promised not to make an appearance, and only make my way to pay my respects after all but the two grounds keepers were left to see me.

The men hardly give me a look over and take my presence as an excuse to light a cigarette and talk some nonsense of the night before; and I walk unchallenged to the edge of Marlene’s eternal home.  Emotion tries to show itself, but I repress the visual show of pain and place my careful arrangement of roses atop the casket.  The roses are white, red, and yellow; all her favorites as I never forgot them.

“I’m sure this is unexpected,” I say as if she stands in front of me.  “I know you didn’t want me to find you, so I fought the impulse to try.  Hoping that one day you could come to forgive me and come back.”

There is precious little I can do to suppress my pain, and I allow the pain to show itself in my eyes for just a moment.  Still I pinch my nose, determined to say what I came all this way to say.  “I did my best to make sure you and Amanda could never want or need for anything, I did everything the way you wanted me to, I sent the money through the lawyers and the letters.”

I pause a moment as my pain starts to turn to anger, “Why did you keep my letters from her?  Why did you order the lawyers not to deliver them?  You kept the money, but I couldn’t speak to my daughter once in five years!”

My fist slams down on the casket; the flowers break away and fall into the hole that will soon house Marlene forever.  My racket causes some small concern from one of the grounds keepers, but not enough to disturb his cigarette.  “Damn you Marlene, I followed every one of your rules, the least you could do was show her that I still cared for her.”

The tears are too much now, my eyes bloodshot with sadness and anger both vying for a prominent position in my mind.  I turn from the casket, “I don’t want to be angry with you for the rest of my life Marlene, that’s the only reason I came.  The past is the past, you did whatever you did for whatever reason you thought best and I’m tired of looking into the past to define my life.  Farewell Marlene, I hope you were happy in your last years.”

I walk with my eyes facing the ground most of the way back to my cab.  No matter how angry with the woman, she was still one of the few I actually felt anything for.  The driver checks his meter the moment I come into his view, surprised that I had been gone for as long as I had, and I’m more thankful that I paid in advance to ensure that I had a ride back to the hotel.

From the rear of the car I make one more glance at the cemetery as we pull away “I sincerely hope you found happiness Marlene.”

* * *

The washroom is a short walk from the massive doors leading in and out of the hotel.  The walk only takes a minute or two, weaving through the foot traffic near the register desk it seems much longer.  Could be the thoughts weighing on my mind that make the trip that much longer.  I splash water on my face in hopes to wash the discomfort away but the only thing I accomplish is soaking my collar.

Five long years of wondering, all over with something I honestly never wished for.  For all my faults I could never blame Marlene for taking her away, even as much as I wanted to.  It always made sense, even though I didn’t want it to.  The sterile smell of the bathroom is enough to give me a headache but for all that discomfort I still can’t shake the nerves away from my stomach.

It is only a matter of minutes.

Five long years over in the matter of minutes.  I can’t say I’m not excited, but the same questions have plagued my mind since I boarded my flight from New York.  Will she remember me?

Taking a generous wad of paper towels with me I attempt to dry my jacket before taking my leave of the washroom.  Water still apparent on my face, not a soul gives me a second glance.  A quick glance and I have an accurate count of every last person inside the lobby, old training never leaves you.  Not completely.

Though I wonder, am I that much different?  I tell myself that I am, but as I walk down the lobby I knock myself into the shoulder of a man who wishes he were a well to do business man.  He dresses the part, even the wallet I pick from his rear pocket is packed to the rim.  Everything about him is all wrong, the way he carries himself, he’s playing a part, and his wallet is stacked with single bills.  He’s out to impress someone, or pretend.

I stop at the elevator, turn to face the crowd that scurries around like ants.  Wondering how many of them are just playing parts.  How many are sincere, and which will live full and productive lives.  Which ones have families they care about?

Conversations mix and match their words into a garbled mess that I cannot discern, not that I truly care.  I hear someone speaking of Wall Street tips and insider trading, there’s a group of twenty-something’s speaking of a fall convention in Atlanta, a spark of the latest Star Wars movie.  All of it doesn’t matter a single bit, all of it background noise as my thoughts never truly drift away from Amanda; my daughter whom I haven’t seen in the last five years.  Taken from me because my priorities were placed someone other than where they should have been.

The elevator closes with a single chime.  It’s not quite full, but I try to stand near the doors in hopes to make it out before I’m stuck inside some inane conversation.  A pair of college students stands in the rear left corner, trying to keep their hands off each other as they make their way to the rented room.  Thee men in business suite at my right, directly behind me, and in the opposite corner of the love birds do their best to avoid conversation with me.  The fifth floor comes without incident and I step off thankful for not having to speak a single word.

And now its decision time.  The hallway which leads away from the multiple elevators opens to an intersection leaving two distinct choices.  I take a left and I return to my room where I can pack my things and Amanda will never be the wiser.  I can abandon all the nervous feeling in my stomach warning me of the new complications I’ll be giving into or I can face up to mistakes I made turn right and try and make everything right.

All the evil I’ve faced.  All the evil I’ve done and vanquished.  Fighting supernatural, zombies and werewolves, moon gods and other things that many never cease to amaze me by going unnoticed in this world and I’m scared right now.  Scared of an eleven year old girl that was, the last I saw her, the spitting image of myself.

Sure she has her mother’s eyes, but genetics always favors the color brown, and my blue could never stand up to the dominance of that trait in Marlene’s linage.  But I still remember the day she was born; right away I knew Amanda was my little girl.  The shape of her face, the nose, though thankfully not the stereotype my born into religion usually faces.  I can’t remember where I lost sight of the promises I made to her the day her mother was recuperating from the drugs the doctors gave, the promise to always be there for her the promise to be the only guardian she’d ever need.

I used to blame Khonshu, like many of the things that had gone wrong with my life I always tend to blame others for my mistakes.  I admit it took me years to look past and at least the medication did its job and now all the voices are gone.  Six years and the only nightmare I can remember is reliving the night coming home to find the two women in my life gone.

* * *

The night plays out like a dream, even in the day time.  Frenchie warned me to keep my efforts to fund Murdock’s group more secretive, but Marlene always knew.  And it was only a matter of time before I dug out my old costume.

It’s strange how I can remember all these events and they still play out as though I’m watching.

The balcony is unlocked just as I left it and I scaled quietly from the rooftop after giving Frenchie a few minutes to get the aircraft to the hangar.  Sometimes I had hoped that Marlene would come to her senses, waiting for me in our bed to welcome me home as a hero.  I’m not sure where the fantasy came from to begin with; but, surely that’s how things played out in my mind.  The lovely wife thankful for me to return, happy that I am out to make the world a safer place.

Maybe dressed in something she just purchased at Victoria’s Secret for added effect.

Though it was a fool’s fantasy.   She always hated my alter ego, all three of them.  Ever since I succumbed to the identities I created long ago in my search for redemption and justice.  They completely consumed my life and as far as she was concerned I couldn’t share my attention between four people, even though the majority of those that took my attention from her and our thoughts of a future together , were myself.

The hood is draped down my back, my mask held tightly in my hand.  I was sure Marlene knew I had been going away at random nights dressing up and playing hero and I was tired of lying to her about it.  A large part of me hoped that she would eventually come to embrace the role I started back and accept the idea that Marc Spector and Moon Knight was only one person, and to this day I still remember saying to myself:  “I should have known better.”

My fantasy was shattered before I turned on the lights.  The bed was never slept in, the sheets still tightly tucked into the mattress.  Two things lay caught my attention on the bed: the negligee’ caught my eye first.  A thin black number that I could barely see shining in the moonlight that the balcony doors accentuated.  But the paper pinned to her pillow was the object my eyes lingered upon.

I didn’t need to read it, and I didn’t for several days.  Seeing the note I knew she left and my first instinct I ran to Amanda’s room.  For all our trials and tribulations, Marlene and I were never stable and somehow I expected her to disappear again but my world came crashing down the moment I saw my daughter’s bed empty.

I fell to my knees.  My self indulgence finally caught up to me and my days at playing hero were over at that point.  As far as I was concerned, my life was over.  Over an idiotic choice, paying to finance street level heroes into a group I couldn’t keep myself away, and now everything I cherished, the little girl I valued more than all the art and money I accumulated over the years.  The little girl I loved more than I could ever love Marlene or any other woman I have ever and yet to meet was gone, gone to me forever.

* * *

The doorknob is cold.

Losing myself in thought apparently caused my mind to make the decision for me.  I’m sure the lawyers would understand my decision, though they advised me to take this last chance and make everything right for myself.  All these years I had paid through them to ensure Amanda had the best of whatever life Marlene had built for her, and the yearly reports I received in thanks to a secret deal I made with the divorce lawyer showed me the tremendous good I have provided her.

At eleven years old, she wasn’t exactly a prodigy but excelled well in the nameless private school my money provided.  She had wonderful marks from her band director; wordage he used to describe her violin skills was incredibly impressive.  She was living well without me, as far as the papers told me.  Her mother made sure that she received the classical musical education she always wanted for herself, and she wasn’t doing bad in the extra-curricular gymnastics classes either.

I take my last deep breath and turn the doorknob slower than I ever turned one before.  This was it; this is my time to take the final step of control over my entire life.

The door creeps open and my mouth goes completely dry.  The look on the lawyer’s faces is complete shock and I don’t hide the sharp look to the room number of the door I just opened.  My choice was made, I didn’t consciously choose it, but any psychologist would surely agree it is what I wanted.  Against the judgment of the Marlene’s attorney’s, I stare into the just as surprised face of my eleven year old for the first time in five long years.

Over the years I’ve seen many evils committed against the innocent, committed a few of them myself.  And though I had searched and never found redemption as Moon Knight I never fully appreciated the turmoil anyone had gone through.  I stand in the doorway not moving.  Minutes pass by and I ignore every sound of the voices emanating form the identity-less suits.

I stare at her.

She stares right back at me.

Both one of us does not say a word, and my fear of her not remembering is immediately put to rest.  For all her classical training, and the private school manners, I could never tell a difference from her or any other child as she jumps from her chair, sprinting across the table top and tackling me.

I’m in heaven.  There’s not a question in my mind about what happiness is as soon as I wrap my arms around the small frame of Amanda.  We’re both crying and not ashamed to hide it.  We still are silent through the embrace even after I tell her I’ll never let her go.

Dropping to my knees I break our hug only to look at her face.  My thumb wipes away the tears from her right eye and I notice the blue that turned her beautiful brown eyes to hazel.  She still has my nose and face, and looking at her I see her as the six year old girl that was taken from me because of poor choices but only taller, still my little girl.

“Mister Spector,” a rude voice interrupts my joy of being near Amanda.  “There are papers to sign.”

I ignore him because simply nothing else matters to me anymore except the girl I kneel to become eye level with.  Her tears slow and a smile grows on her face.  It is a quick realization, but there isn’t a word between us and these are not the tears grieving for her mother.  I can see on her face there had been plenty of tears for her mother, but these, these are all mine.  And my eyes water again.

She remembers me, and what’s more she isn’t angry.  I haven’t ever known as much bliss as I feel right now.  There are so many things I want to say but I can’t find a single word.  “Mister Spector,” the attorney speaks again no matter the attempts I make to try and ignore him again.  “Please, the paperwork is mainly a formality you are the child’s only living relative and no court would deny that.  The sooner you sign it; you can legally take the child home and begin living again.”

I can hear the frustration in his voice.  There was still the matter of informing the adoptive parents that had been arranged in case I did not show up today.  I think they called them ‘very nice people,’ and it was more than just apparent in their voices that these lawyers were anxious to inform those “nice people” of their bad news.  Lawyers, just more people just playing the parts they are paid for.

I hate lawyers.

One Comment

  1. Mick Edwards says:

    That was great, Moe. You really have a way with words. :)

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