The Apocrypha – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Present Day, South San Francisco

The white minivan stopped at the crosswalk. The driver and his passenger fixed their gaze at the six foot three inch, two hundred and eighteen pounds of muscle and bone, Matt Caruthers, as he ran in front of their car and headed up the hill.

Looking out her window the thirty-something female passenger uttered, “Wow.”

Her husband kept his hands on the wheel and said, “There’s no way I’m the same species.”

“Nobody said life is fair, honey,” she replied with a sigh as they drove away.

It was a typical gray overcast morning in South San Francisco. The crisp air kept Matt’s body temperature cool and runner’s rhythm did the rest. Runner’s rhythm is what long distance runners call the internal beat, an inner bio-metronome of sorts, that gives them the tempo they need to run long distances at remarkable speeds. At least remarkable speeds when compared to the average jogger.

As Matt reached the top of the hill he craned his head around, as if he could see the last fourteen plus miles, and then returned to his classic form. His eyes were steely and his focus straight ahead. In a hundred yards he’d round the corner and sprint back to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, April.

The thump, thump, thump of his footsteps echoed off the sidewalk. His feet and knees hurt but his endorphins resisted their power. He knew his mile-time would be good, very good. He turned the corner just as the wind picked up. He extended each stride a few inches until he was in a full sprint while, at the same time, keeping his rhythm intact. Two blocks to go.

Matt’s thick dark hair flopped from side to side, throwing off sweat like raindrops, as he streaked toward the apartment. “Empty the tank,” he said to no one. The muscles in his legs and arms flexed with each powerful stride. His white running shirt was soaked and clung to him like an extra layer of skin. He was losing oxygen fast but he kept going, pushing. His fifteen-mile runs gave him the conditioning he needed to complete a marathon. His final sprint gave him the lung capacity to beat the other San Francisco police officers in the race.

Matt felt light headed and his stomach started to turn. He knew he’d be nauseated when his run was over but he didn’t care. He’d thrown up in front of his apartment before and perhaps he’d do it again today. Empty the tank. One block to go.

Matt reached out and touched the door, his imaginary finish line. He bound to a stop. His hands and legs were shaking. He pressed the button on his watch as he bent over, gasping for air. His legs were rubbery but he had to keep moving so he began his cool-down walk. His rhythm gone, his steps were tepid.

With his breathing still labored Matt looked at his watch. He’d run fifteen miles in exactly one hour and thirty-seven minutes. Anything under one hour forty-two minutes meant he could complete the marathon in less than three hours, which was his goal. He smiled into the moist morning air and put his hands on his hips hoping to catch more air. After what seemed like a hundred gasps and gulps the nausea subsided and his head cleared.

It was ten after eight and the neighborhood coffee shops, all three of them, were open for business. Matt hoped April had managed to drag herself out of bed and pour at least one cup of coffee down her throat. He called her first cup hopeless optimism and her second cup simply, hope. She’d laughed when he told her about the names, at least the first few times.

His cool-down walk behind him Matt was back at the apartment. He twisted the key to the outer door that led to the couple’s upstairs apartment. From behind Matt heard a perky,  “Good morning Officer Caruthers. I like your uniform?”

He turned around in time to see tiny Annie Harris walking past, her short pink hair bobbing up and down in sync with her tippy-toe steps. She was one of the many Baristas who worked at the corner Starbucks.

“Hey Annie,” replied Matt. “late again?”

Annie spun around, looked Matt up and down, smiled wide and said, “A little.”

“Have a nice day, Annie.”

“So far so good, officer Caruthers,” Annie said with a giggle.

Matt’s lips widened. He started up the stairs and under his breath said, “Danger.”

Matt was right about danger but was mistaken about the source. Upstairs, on his nightstand, his phone buzzed.

—————

April Abbot inherited her Mediterranean skin, green eyes and full lips from her ancestors who, according to her Great-Nana, Donata Abbotti, were olive farmers and fishermen in the old country, in Italy. Donata, which means “given by god,” was brought to America as an infant in the mid 1920’s. Family lore has it that U.S. Federal immigration agents changed the family’s last name from Abbotti to Abbot. That’s doubtful. Thousands of passenger lists in the National Archives were compared to the immigration inspectors’ records and relatively few errors were found. The high volume of mangled names experienced by European immigrants in the early 1900’s was the work of the vessel masters and shipping company representatives, most of which only spoke English. Abbotti became Abbot in the old country and by the time the Anglicized error was discovered Abbot had taken root in the New World.

Twenty-two year old April Abbot had also inherited her Great-Nana’s electric smile, heavy breasts and firm legs. She oozed sex. As she stared into her mirror, all April saw was the rumpled look of someone that had just gotten out of bed and her imperfections, which were few but nonetheless vexing. Matt would return from his run soon so April decided to make herself presentable.

Leaning forward she examined every aspect of her reflection. The smooth features of her face and high cheekbones were beautiful even without makeup but she didn’t see it that way. She had work to do. April clutched a mass of auburn hair and wrestled it into a red scrunchie. She was wearing a laced teal bra and matching panties, similar to the red one she used to wear at the club and still wore at work occasionally. She had a new profession now and lingerie shoots were her favorite assignments. The pay was great but it was more than that, April loved wearing lingerie. There was nothing like a frilly bra and panties to make her feel pretty and sexy.

Disorder ruled the couple’s bedroom and she drove most of the violence. The closet door hung wide open. April’s clothes were skewed out and jammed onto the rod. Shoes, tops and undergarments lay scattered on the floor in a pile. Her vanity was worse.

The instinct to replace caps, lids and the screw-tops of her bottles and tubes was foreign to April. Replacing them took time and contributed nothing to the final goal, to her beauty. Full makeup was too much work given Matt’s pending return so she applied just enough to feel appealing, sprayed on a whiff of perfume and turned to leave the room. She caught her full reflection in the dresser mirror and decided she was exposing too much skin. She went to her closet and ripped a tee shirt off a hanger. The hanger flipped up like a middle finger to order and joined the growing pile on the floor.

April slipped the shirt over her head and let it fall past her hips. It was a deliberate cover up designed to discourage any post-run advances from Matt. Sex was the last thing she wanted. April lost her virginity prior to her fifteenth birthday and never looked back. Despite her beauty, or perhaps because of it, the joke in high school was, she’d fuck you in the parking lot as long as you didn’t mess up her hair. She hated the talk but her need for attention was too strong to resist.

When her dad, Bob Abbot, died last year from Alzheimer’s, April’s libido went on sabbatical. She tried to satisfy Matt’s needs but her lack of enthusiasm was obvious and led to intense fights. She agreed with Matt that their sex life had become boring and routine but she just didn’t have the energy or desire to change, at least not now. She asked Matt for time and, despite long bouts of pouting, he’d respected her wishes and a less frequent normal had set into their sex life. April heard keys pawing at the front door. Matt was home. She grabbed a stack of papers off the kitchen table.

The door swung open. “Hey, babe. How was the run?”

“Great! I’m making my time regularly now.”

“Good for you. I admire your dedication,” she said with a soft smile.

Matt smiled back. “You’re welcome to join me anytime you know.”

“Yeah, right, not gonna happen,” April teased. “Aren’t you off today?”

“10-4 that. Bad guys don’t take days off and we’re short staffed so we’ll see. Right now I need a shower, ice and some food.”

Matt started toward the refrigerator, saw the papers in April’s hand and continued, “You still going through your dad’s letters?” He knew the answer and before she could answer and added, “Find anything interesting?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. I’m not sure I understand everything I’m reading but if I’m right this is some amazing shit!” April cocked her head slightly and squinting one eye ever so slightly asked, “Matt, have you ever heard of The Apocrypha?”

“Yeah, I think so,” he replied, “Isn’t that the end of the world or something? It’s in the Bible, right?”

“Ah, close, but no. You’re thinking about the Apocalypse,” April said and then slowing her speech dramatically asked, “I asked you if you’ve ever heard of the Apocrypha?”

April had a habit of slowing her speech when she asked Matt a question she didn’t think he understood. It pissed him off so in an equally slow cadence he replied, “Then. No. Whyyyeee?”

Ignoring his mockery April explained. “Daddy had this whole thing going on with my cousin Bacia about the Apocrypha but he never mentioned it to me. I mean look at all these emails and letters from her. His journal is full of entries about her work at the Vatican and at Oxford. I can’t believe he never mentioned it to me. Bacia always was the smart one.”

Matt didn’t acknowledge April’s comment. He paused his march to the frig, leaned over and, before she could pull away, gave her a quick peck on the head.

“Matt, you’re sweaty honey, and you smell. Please don’t touch me. Ewww.”

“You used to like me sweaty. Remember?”

April eyed Matt, gave him a loving smile and relented, “Maybe tonight lover-boy but, and I mean it, stay away from me and go shower. You’re gross.”

“I remember you telling me about your cousin Bacia but not the other stuff. So how does a stripper have a cousin who goes to Oxford and ends up working at the Vatican? Don’t those places do background checks anymore?”

April laughed. “They used to check but not anymore. It used to be right on the application,” she said as she ran her index finger from left to right across the table. “Question #5, ‘Do any of your relatives pole dance for a living?’ but then hey decided that was unfair to gorgeous women so they killed the question.” April batted her eyes at Matt.

Matt smiled and said, “Lucky for your cousin they deleted that question. I guess the PC crowd is good for something.”

Slapping her hand down lightly on the table April laughed, “I know, right?”

From the other room Matt’s phone buzzed. He had another text message. It would be several days before he understood their meaning. The couple’s playtime was about to end…horribly.

Comments

  1. Jenny West says:

    I like it!

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