Authors: J. B. Reed
When Michael arrived home, he found that Vivie had prepared a romantic dinner for two. She was dressed in a short, sexy, black dress she had purchased in Vegas. Michael knew Vivie was planning on a romantic evening for the two of them. This was quickly going to turn to shit.
“Hello sweetheart. I’m glad you’re home. How did things go with Joseph?”
“You look lovely, Vivie. Dinner smells fantastic. I want to talk to you about my meeting with Joseph. Let’s go into the living room and sit down.”
Vivie could see that Michael was troubled, more so than she had ever seen him.
“Darlin, I had to tell Joseph about us, about the baby. Vivie, he was livid. He wants you out of here. He said I cannot be a married man with a family and continue to work for him.
“Then we’ll leave, Michael, we can go anywhere.
We can start over.”
“There’s more Vivie.
I did something stupid, very, stupid. After you were attacked, I went to the Kitchen looking for Tommy. I did not find him but I did find Shane. Shane would not give me any information on Tommy at first. I had to hurt him Vivie. I shot him…..”
“You killed Shane?”
“No, but I did hurt him pretty bad. I also gave him a message to give to Tommy and Ryan; that I was coming after them for what they did to you.”
“Michael, you promised me you would
stay away from Tommy.”
“I know I did, and I’m sorry. I knew the day I went to the Kitchen I should let someone else handle it, but Vivie, I was so full of rage for what they did to you. I wanted to be the one to exact revenge on them. Shane did deliver the message. Tommy retaliated. Vivie, Tommy ordered a hit on your father. I’m sorry, Vivie, your father is dead.”
“Sweet Jesus, Michael, that’s not true. My father cannot be dead. I have to call him. I have to call my father.”
Vivie got up and walked over to the telephone. Michael took the phone away from her and placed it back on the receiver.
“Vivie, listen to me. Tommy knew that if he killed your father, it would bring you out of hiding, that you would come to the funeral, and he knew if you showed up at the funeral, that I would not be far behind. Tommy ordered the hit in order to flush me out Vivie. He was trying to find me to even the score for Shane and because of the threat I made against him. Your father is dead because of me.”
Vivie sat back down, she could not believe the words that were coming out of Michael’s mouth.
“I have to get to my mother. She will need me, now more than ever.”
“Your mother and the kids are no longer living in the Kitchen. Joseph heard about the hit and called me. He is the one who suggested we get out of town. While we were in Vegas, Joseph had your family relocated to West Virginia, for their own safety. They are all fine, Joseph made sure that they had everything they would ever need.”
“So the trip to Vegas, for us to get married, it was all a lie. You had to get me out of town so I wouldn’t find out about my father and what you had done?”
“No, getting married was not a lie. I wanted to marry you Vivie, and I had already planned for us to go to Vegas when Joseph called and told me to get out of town for a while. He suggested Vegas because he had the suite there. It all fell into place, Vivie, but us getting married was not part of Joseph’s plan. I love you Vivie. I want to be your husband and a father for your child.”
Vivie slapped Michael across the face.
“How dare you say you love me; you are responsible for my father being dead, because you couldn’t control your temper. You had to take care of things yourself, even after I asked you to stay out of it. You’ve betrayed me Michael; I don’t think I can ever forgive you for this.”
This was the second time in an hour that Michael had been told he had betrayed someone. The two people he cared the most about, and they both feel he had betrayed them.
“Vivie, when I told Joseph about us getting married, about the baby and that you know all about me and that I work for him, he went insane. He said you had become a liability that you had to die.”
A look of fear came over Vivie’s face as she backed away from Michael.
He told me I had to do it or he would have one of his guys do it. You can hate me the rest of your life but I have to get you out of town, Vivie. I would rather die myself than to harm you. And I will not allow anyone else to either. I want you to go to West Virginia, where your mother is. Will you do that, Vivie, please?”
Vivie’s whole body was trembling, partly because she was engulfed in anger, and partly because, at this moment, she was not sure that Michael would not kill her.
“I’ll leave, Michael. Do you know where my mother is living in West Virginia?"
“Yes, this is the address. I can drive you there tonight.”
Michael handed the piece of paper Joseph had given to him, to Vivie.
“No; I’ll take a bus. I do not need or want any help from you, Michael. You are just as evil as Tommy. Why couldn’t I see that before?”
“Vivie, you don’t mean that?”
“I do. I would have been better off if you would have let me die that night. I hate you, Michael; I hope I never see your face again. I hope you burn in hell.”
Michael watched as Vivie disappeared into the bedroom. He had broken her heart. He would never b
e able to make this up to her; no matter how hard he tried. It was better that she hate him. At least she would be alive to love someone else.
Vivie came out of the bedroom with one suitcase. The clothing Michael had bought her was left hanging in the closet, all but the few things in the suitcase.
“I’ll take you to the bus station.”
“No, I don’t need your help. Goodbye Michael.”
“Vivie, please, don’t leave like this; please try to understand.”
Vivie closed the door and left Michael standing there, alone. He walked over to the window and watched Vivie walk up the street. His heart was breaking, but he knew she was better off. He would give her time to get to West Virginia before calling Joseph. He would tell Joseph the job was done. Joseph would not ask any questions but Michael knew Joseph would be watching him carefully for a long time…if Joseph did not decide that he also was a liability. Michael knew that he would never love anyone else. He would once again be alone. Maybe that was only way it could be for him.
Vivie purchased her ticket to West Virginia and sat down to wait for the bus to be called. Tears started streaming down her face while thoughts raced through her mind. Her father is dead, her mother is in West Virginia, and she is now a married woman who is going to have a baby. How could her life get so totally screwed up so quickly? How could Michael betray her the way he did? Vivie’s mind went back to the first time she saw Michael at Flannery’s Pub. How handsome he was. How considerate he always had been to her. How could she have been so fooled by him? All the lies he told her. Could she believe anything that he ever said to her? What did she expect from him? He is a killer, a cold blooded killer. She saw only what she wanted to see in him. If anyone had fooled her, it was she herself. She had lied to herself, telling herself that Michael was her Prince Charming, that he had rescued her, and saved her life. Why did he have to find her that night after the attack, why could she not have just died? At least she would not be bringing another life into the world. This child did not have a chance, not with the devil himself as its father and a fool for its mother. This was not what Vivie had planned for her life. Now here she sat, waiting for a bus to West Virginia. Where the hell is West Virginia, anyway?
VIVIE REUNITES WITH MAMA
The bus pulled into Matewan, West Virginia at 4:00 p.m.
As Vivie looked around the tiny little town, she thought to herself that it was not that much different from Hell’s Kitchen. There was one big difference that she noticed right away…..the people in the community were friendly. As she walked around to the side of the bus to gather her suitcase, people would look her in the eye and smile, and say hello, how is you today? These people had never laid eyes on her before, yet they made her feel as though she had grown up there. Another difference Vivie noticed was the mountains, she was surrounded by mountains. After claiming her suitcase, she walked down the street, wondering how she would find her mother’s house. Vivie noticed an ESSO gasoline station just ahead. Maybe someone there would be able to give her directions. It was worth a try. As she walked toward the station, she saw an older man pumping gasoline into a truck. He was happily carrying on a conversation with another man.
“Excuse me, but I was wondering if one of you gentlemen could give me directions to this address?”
Vivie stretched forth her hand, holding the piece of paper with her mother’s address on it.
“Why sure we can, we both know where this is, don’t we Earl?”
Earl, the owner of the truck being filled with gasoline, looked at the piece of paper and shook his head in agreement.
“Matter of fact, Earl here lives out that way. You got a car? You could follow Earl if you like.”
“No, sir. I came in on the bus. Is there a taxi?”
The men looked at each other and chuckled. Earl spoke up, not wanting Vivie to think they were making fun of her.
“No, we don’t have taxi cabs here in Matewan. We’re lucky the bus comes through here, to tell you the truth. Tell you what though; I wouldn’t care a bit to give you a lift, since I’m going that way anyhow.”
“I hate to trouble you.”
“Heck, it ain’t no trouble Miss, I was headed home anyway. Here, let me take that suitcase.”
Earl threw Vivie’s suitcase up into the bed of the truck and then opened the passenger side door for her to get in.
“You here visiting folks, Miss?”
“My mother, actually. She just moved here and I have not had time to come for a visit until now. She doesn’t even know I’m coming.”
“Oh, trying to surprise her, eh?”
“Yes, it‘s a surprise, she has no idea I‘m here.”
Earl paid Bob, the owner of the gas station, for his gasoline, and then started his truck.
“Now the road is a little bumpy in this old truck, Miss, so you just hang on. I’ll get you there safely.”
“I really do appreciate this, Earl. My name is Vivian.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you, Vivian. You plan on staying long with your mother?”
“I’m not sure yet. I may be staying for a little while.”
“Well, I hope you like it here. Folks here are nice and friendly. I’ve lived here all my life.”
Vivie smiled at Earl, thinking to herself how pleasant his southern drawl was to her ears. This may be a good place to be after all.
Earl pulled into Mary’s driveway. The house was what the locals refer to as a coal camp house, coal miners and their families rent the houses from the coal company they work for. Nothing fancy on the outside, but it looked clean and neat. Vivie opened the door of the truck and got out. Earl handed her the suitcase and told her he hoped she had a good visit with her mother. After Vivie watched Earl back out of the driveway and go on his way down the dirt road, she turned again to look at the house. She could not see any movement anywhere. She hoped that her mother was home. As she walked up the pebble strewn sidewalk, the screen door opened and Mary stepped out onto the porch.
“Vivie? Is that really you?”
“Yes, Mama, it’s me. I’m here.”
Mary ran down the steps and hugged her daughter tightly. Both women started to cry. It was good to see her mother again, to feel her arms around her. It made Vivie feel like a little girl; safe and sound, now that she was with her Mama.
“How did you get here, child?”
“I road a bus here. Then a gentleman at the gasoline station offered to give me a ride to your house. Mama, the people in this town are so nice, so friendly.”
“It’s a far cry from the Kitchen, is it not?”
“Indeed it is, Mama. And it’s so beautiful here.”
“Come in the house, child. Let’s get you something to eat; I’m sure you must be near to starving.”
Mary wanted to bring up the subject of Patrick’s death, and question Vivie on how much she knew about everything, but decided it could wait for a bit. She had her daughter home with her, that is all that mattered….for now.
After reuniting with her brothers and sisters and a huge Irish, home cooked meal, everyone gathered into the small living room.
“I’m sorry I don’t have a bedroom for you all to yourself, Vivie. Being a married woman now I’m sure you would like to have your privacy.”
“Oh Mama, don’t worry about that, I can sleep right here, on the couch.”
“Why don’t you sleep with me tonight, it would be like it was when you were a little girl. We can talk all night, if you like.”
“That sounds wonderful, Mama. I’ve missed you so much. I have so many things to tell you.”
“I have things I need to tell you too, my lovely daughter. Okay, then that is that. You can sleep in my room tonight and tomorrow we will try to figure out better arrangements. One question I do have for you, my dear….where is that husband of yours?”
Vivie looked at her brothers and sisters, each waiting excitedly to hear all about Vivie’s husband.
“He couldn’t make it this time, Mama, I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize, I’m sure he’s a working man. He probably had to stay and work.”
Vivie knew she had to tell her mother everything, about the rape, about Michael, and why she had shown up on her doorstep. After getting the kids tucked in, Mary and Vivie went into her bedroom and shut the door. Mary sat on the side of the bed and patted the spot beside her.
“Come, Vivie, sit down and talk to me. I got your letter the night of your father’s funeral. Two gentlemen who work for that friend of yours came to the apartment that night to deliver your letter.”
“My letter?” Vivie was a little confused, knowing she had never sent her mother a letter.
“Yes, my dear. They explained to me that your friend had called you to let you know what happened to your father and that he told you to stay away, for your own safety. They were so very kind to me that night. They told me the men who killed your father might show up at the apartment and they were there to help me and the children pack up and leave. They found this house for us and even went out and bought all the furniture for it. They bought everything we needed. When you speak to your friend again, please tell him how grateful I am, Vivie.”
Joseph must be the friend that Mama was referring to; he must have written the letter. The chances of Vivie ever speaking to Joseph again were slim to none. For all Joseph knew, she was dead….if what Michael had told her was the truth.
“Mama, I’m so very sorry about what happened to Papa.”
“It’s not your fault, my dear. The hardest part has been not knowing why those men killed your father. I wondered if maybe your father was mixed up with something that I didn’t know about. Maybe he had gambling debts that he could not pay, I do not know. I never knew your father to gamble. He spent all of his money just keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. It was such a shock to him, Vivie, when you ran off and got yourself married like you did. It broke his heart.”
Vivie began to cry, dropping her head onto her chest. How guilty she felt for leaving like she did, but at the time, she felt it was better for her parents to think she had married and moved away. Her father’s death was her fault. If she had not involved Michael, he would not have felt it necessary to do what he did to Shane. All of the tragic events that have happened were her fault.
“Vivie, darlin, what’s wrong, why are you crying like that? Your father loved you, child. He wouldn’t want you to cry like this.”
Mary pulled Vivie close to her, trying to comfort her in what she thought was the grief of a daughter who loved her father.
“Oh, Mama, this is all my fault. There is much I need to tell you.”
Vivie started telling her mother the whole story. She began with meeting Michael and the months they spent becoming friends. Shamefully she gave her details about the rape and how Michael had helped her. Piece by piece, Vivie related everything to her mother. Mary sat quietly, listening to the story. She could see the despair Vivie was experiencing, the pain in her beautiful face brought tears to Mary’s eyes. She told Mary that she was pregnant, with Tommy’s child and how Michael had married her, vowing to raise the child as his own. Then she told her about Joseph saying she was a liability and his order for Michael to kill her.
“My sweet child. How you have suffered. Vivian……if Michael is the terrible monster you say he is, why did he risk his own safety by permitting you to leave, to come home to me? If his boss, this Joseph, ordered him to kill you, then it seems to me that Michal put his own life in jeopardy to save yours, my dear.”
Vivie thought about what her mother said. Maybe she was right. Michael was taking a big risk by letting her leave town. If Joseph would find out that he let her go instead of killing her, Michael would pay dearly.
“Another thing I don’t understand, Vivian, is why this Joseph went to the trouble of getting us out of the Kitchen if he wanted Michael to kill you. Why would he bother with our safety?”
“The decision to move you was made before Michael told Joseph that I knew everything about the way he made his living and that he worked for him. After learning that, he felt that I was a liability to him personally. He was afraid that when I learned that Papa had been killed, and why, that I would cause trouble for him by causing problems for Michael.”
“Now here you are, a married woman who cannot be with her husband and carrying a child that was conceived during a violent attack. Only God himself has brought you through all of this misery. I’m just so thankful to our Father in heaven and to his son, that you survived all that you have been through. You will stay here, with me and your brothers and sisters, and have your baby. We will do the best we can by the child. This will be my first grandchild, Vivian, regardless of how he came to be. How your father would have loved to have held your child in his arms. He loved you so, Vivian.”
“I know, Mama. I feel so guilty; I feel that it’s my fault that Papa is gone.”
“No, Vivian, it’s not your fault. None of this was your fault. The men who are responsible for your father’s death will pay, if not in this life in the next. They will face a burning hell for what they have done. I don’t ever want to hear you say again that it is your fault that your father is dead.”
“There is one thing that you should be giving some consideration to, and that is trying to mend your relationship with Michael. Vivian, that man loves you; everything he has done, he has done for you. Granted, he didn’t make wise choices, but he did what he did, out of love for you, even making you leave.”
“How can I forgive him, Mama? He lied to me, he knew that Papa had been murdered and he kept it from me.”
“My dear, keeping things from you, in order to spare you from more hurt, is a lot different than telling you lies. I cannot force you to forgive him for what you believe he has done to you, but I ask that you think this through. Do you really want him to be out of your life, forever?”
“How can he not be? If I return to New York, Joseph will surely kill me. I cannot very well ask Michael to come to West Virginia and live here with me. Not that he would anyway.”
“You might be surprised to learn what he would be willing to do to be with you Vivian. I realize that I don’t know him as you do, but Vivian, from what you have told me tonight, it’s obvious that Michael loves you, just as your Papa loved me.”