betterHALF
Author: Sketch

Chapter 2
‘The Half That’s Just Not Me’

chapterTWO

‘The Half That’s Just Not Me’

 

 

 

 

 

erica’sPOV

 

August 3, 2005

 

ericaWAS sitting in her signature place with her Mocha Latte near the edge of the table. She had her law books on the opposite side of her laptop ready to study, but all she could do was stare at the photo of Tim.

Why didn’t he have many life photos of himself? There were only a few, and no one in his friends list were tagged in any of them. Usually in this instance, Erica would instantly react. This man gave her no reason to trust him. His words were always very thoughtful, and something about his tone indicated he cared about her well-being.

Odd.

She thought about the times when her mother would tell her ‘Daddy doesn’t love you. That’s why he’s no longer here.’ Or, the times ‘Daddy is hurting mommy. This man is here to protect us from being hurt.’  

Claims that Erica would later learn were completely false.

Erica didn’t trust inconsistencies and her mother was the epitome of consistent inconsistency.  Her mom said a lot of things over the years, but nothing ever matched up. Erica always wondered to herself how and why a person would live that way.

A noise from her computer dully chirped,

<Hey, Erica./>

Tim.

<Hey!><I was just thinking about you.> Erica typed, < How is that writing thing going?/>

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

 <It’s going alright.><I’m coming up with new ideas and new angles to dress the ideas./>

<That sounds very deep.><I’ve always wondered what it was like to have the mind of a writer./>

      <I’ve always wondered that too, Erica./>

<LOL I like your humor guy./> All guys from Philly are the same, Erica thought. Same humor, same personality.

             <Why does your profile say you’re sad?/> Tim asked.

            Erica had been interested in a guy named Brian. The thing about Brian was: every time he said he would do something, it never came to fruition. When he said he would be somewhere, he wasn’t there; when he was unaccounted for, the story never matched up. He was a nice guy, but she felt uneasy about him.

            <He just doesn’t seem true./> Erica told Tim.

<Well why would you say that?/>

     <He’ll tell me one thing and then it just doesn’t turn out to be quite what he said./>

      <Everybody’s imperfect, and maybe there’s more to this story.><Don’t let the past dictate your future, girl.><It’s unfair to you and the folks you will eventually meet./>

<You’re right./>

<Look into his positives.><What are the positive things about this guy?/>

      <I know,>< it’s just…I can’t take the lying,>< it’s too much for me./>

<But you don’t know if he is lying, so maybe you should wait to come to a conclusion on him./>

     <I guess you’re correct./>

      <What are his best qualities?/>

      < He’s sweet, and cute.><He’s into justice and uncovering truth and that seems to lead to a lot of talking points we agree on./>

<Well, that’s a great place to start from, right?/>

<Yeah, but something’s missing from the relationship. I just can’t put my finger on it./>

      <Can I ask you a question?/> Tim asked,

<Sure…/>

      <How many men have you dated?/>

What a personal question Tim was asking. He switched gears so suddenly, it seemed. Maybe he didn’t want to talk about Brian anymore. No. That’s not it. He’s usually cool with David talk. Maybe he has a point, she thought. I might as well just answer.  

 She had already crossed the line she usually draws in situations like this. It didn’t haunt her yet. You never know what’s to come of it.

<3./> She typed. Despite her apprehensive thoughts, she was in a serial-cycle of ignoring her, usually, hyper-sensitive, traumatic, responses.

She liked it.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

She actually felt it was a good thing. While she was usually cautious with the way she divvied up her trust points, she always hated how much her trauma controlled her.

This is good. I’ll ride the wave she reasoned to herself.

<Were they all from Los Angeles?/> Tim followed.

            <No…/>

      <Where were they from?/>

Why does this matter? Erica thought while simultaneously typing,

<One was from here in Los Angeles,><one was from San Diego,><and one was from Las Vegas./>

            Erica thought about David, who was from Philly.

They ‘dated’ in the sense that they had a ‘relationship’ which became a bit romantic. She knew he had feelings, and she knew that she had developed a few feelings herself. She never, really, went out on an official ‘date’ with him, however. They did things together, sure.

‘Date?’ Not really. 

            <Well, 3.5./> Erica typed.

            <3.5?><You dated someone who was only half-human?><Or half-man?/>

Erica bursted out loud into laughter in the coffee shop. She figured maybe that was a silly response on her part. <No, I half-dated a human male. Lol/> 

      <Oh, lol><Where was he from?/>

<He was the liar><from Philadelphia./>

The curser in the chat box blinked. She waited.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

Nothing.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

Still, nothing.

Tim hadn’t immediately responded. Maybe she was too negative, she thought. No one’s attracted to a negative girl who sees nothing but the bad in anyone. Plus, a girl who doesn’t trust, notoriously, brings a plethora of problems into a relationship.

Erica typed,

            <I know, ‘don’t be negative, focus on the positive.’/>

            ::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

             <Yes.>< See, you got it.><What are some of the positives about THIS particular guy?/>

<Well he was definitely sweet,><funny,><determined,><and unbroken in spirit.><I know he’d go the ends of the earth for me.><That I’m sure of./>

<Unbroken in spirit?/> Tim asked.

<Yeah.><Evidently, He had a lot to be depressed about, but he never let it get him down.><He barely talked about it.><He’d make up lies to avoid those talking about it as a matter of fact.><I used to think it’d be beneficial for him to actually talk through his problems and past, but he refused.><Despite that, he absolutely could not help but to do nice things for the people around him.><I adored him for that./>

            Erica had sunk into a walk down memory lane. She suddenly realized just how much she missed David. The way he was so imperfect indicated a genuine quality. His lying was such an ironic bad trait for him to have.

<When we first met, he tried to pay for my food,><but I had a policy to not let strangers do that. But, he still left the money for the next customer./>

<You saw that?/>

<What do you mean? You say that like you were there! Lol/>

<You know what I mean, how did you see him do that?/>

<He was right there in front of me./>

<He sounds like a good man./>

<He was.><He’s an awesome writer with phenomenal creator ability.><He could make up a story on the spot.><Unfortunately, that made him a great liar, as well./>

      <Sounds like you’ve had some bad experience with a liar besides him. Am I right?><Must be>

Looks as if I’ve gone too far, Erica realized. I think I’m telling him too much. He’ll think I’m some crazy girl.

<You’re very intuitive, now, aren’t ya?/>

      <I took a little psychology, it’s important to understand human thought and activity in order to write fiction. You’re creating humans out of the thin air, and you have to know a little about human emotion and reaction./>

      <Well, I must say, you seem to have a bright career ahead of you, my friend./>

Erica debated talking to Tim about her past. She didn’t want to hold it in like David did. Just like it wasn’t good for David to lie while running from his past, maybe being so protected wasn’t good for her, either.

            <Yeah, my mother was a habitual liar, and it might have traumatized me as an adult. idk><I’m trying to get over it. But I guess we’ll see./>

      <Yeah. I can see how that would bother a person.><Your own mother.><That has gotta be tough.><It also seems like you really care for this guy from Philly. What was his name again?/>

<David.><And you actually remind me of him, a lot!><But, you seem to be more controlled. More honest or something./>

Erica’s ‘David’ terror finally caught up with her, again.

<Ok, let’s move on from this subject.><How about you, Tim? What’s your story? I don’t believe we’ve ever gotten too deep into your life.>

<Well, I am a writer and a poet.><I’ve been writing ever since I was nine years old.><I don’t know, I guess I’ve always liked to express myself; it seems to relieve my ‘mental tension’ as I like to call it.><As for my writing, they say I’m pretty good.><I can’t seem to get any publishing companies to publish my stories or poetry.><Maybe I’m too amateur./>

<My friend David used to think so, too.>

            Everything in Erica’s mind would inadvertently come back to David.

<But I used to attempt to make him feel better, because everybody starts out amateur, ya know?/>

<That’s a very positive way of looking at things./> Tim said.

<Did you go to school for writing?/> Erica asked Tim.

<No, I was never any good at school. I didn’t even graduate./>

<What’s with that, Timothy?><Is it Timothy? Your full name?/>

<Lol Yes, and as for your first question, it wasn’t that I was dumb or anything, I just didn’t apply myself.><I was lazy.>

It was refreshing to Erica that Tim was openly telling her something very personal and possibly embarrassing. Tim, unlike the other guys she was involved with, had embraced his imperfections and past.

<I wasn’t much of a school guy.> Tim typed, <As a matter of fact, I think of my full nine years in public school I’ve never done a single sheet of homework!><My parents used to always fuss at me.><I think eventually they became ashamed of me and they moved away, leaving me with my grandmother./>

<So do you live with your grandmother now?/> Erica asked.

<No. My grandmother died when I was 19./>

      <What happened?/>

<Heart attack./>

      <From your short answer about her, I’m detecting that she is still very close to your heart./>

      <My grandmother is the only thing that has kept me living to this day. She’s my everything./>

<She sounds like she could be an amazing woman. Tell me about her./>

            Tim told Erica a lot about his grandmother in a very short amount of time. His passion oozed through the computer screen. It was apparent she meant a lot to him. Tim shared some of the quotes he got from her, and the things she did that made him a better person.

            <Despite how much people tried to bring me down,> Tim continued, <my grandmother always would pick me up and tell me why she knew I would prove everyone wrong./>

      <Well I bet you are proving the whole world wrong, aren’t you./>

      <I don’t know./>

<Well I’m sure you are><the fact that you dropped out of school and still became a writer shows a measure of success within itself./>

<Yeah. Thanks. I’m sorry though, Erica, I’ve gotta go, now./>

<OK, well, I hope your day is turns out well./>

<I’m sure it won’t. But, thanks./>

::Tim Sullivan is offline.::

 

 

 

 

 

david’sPOV

 

August 16, 2005

 

The conversations that David had with Erica as Tim were interesting because he had to keep meticulous track of his stories; even taking notes on paper, so that he wouldn’t confuse his aliases.

Looking at his notes, he realized that a lot of what she knew about him, David Summers, was pretty much a lie, and what she knew about “Tim Sullivan,” was actually his own David Summers story. Some of Tim’s story leaked into David’s story, and vice versa.

He had his life events scrambled between two entities and he didn’t know how to fix things.  Feeling plagued by suspicions, David feared that while, at first, he fooled her with this alias, she had now caught on to his game. It seemed that she was playing along with him to see how far he would take it—making it, in effect, completely her game.

She hadn’t yet responded to his last message of flattery, so he typed, <Hey what cha doin?/>

As his phone rang she typed her answer,

<I’m sorry. I’m making a phone call./>

The phone rang again—

Erica typed a new message, <I’ve been thinking recently about our relationship and all the things that you’ve ever said to me./>

<Yeah?/>

<Yeah><Tim, you are so encouraging,>< and so inspiring.><Kinda like Dave was when he was with me, but you seem to be the better version of David./>

David’s phone rang.

Deathly afraid to answer, he looked at the phone. It would be a bad situation if he picked up the phone to hear her mellow but playfully seductive voice. He didn’t want to be forced to perform the acrobatic task of typing and talking at the same time. That would have given his identity away for sure.

Erica typed,

<Have you told anyone about me?/>

<No, why?/>

<I was just wondering,><I haven’t told anyone about you, and I like it that way.><You are my secret escape from the depressing world./>

His phone rang again—

Staring at the silver casing of the phone as the aqua blue light glowed off of the display, David imagined Erica had a scripted plan against him. He imagined her calling him with the plan of asking him to perform tasks that keep him busy, while she tried to maintain conversation with “Tim Sullivan” on the computer.

That’d be genius.

 He typed back, <Wow, well what’s the advantage to a relationship like that?/>

<I don’t know.><It just feels like true friendship not tainted with the superficialities of life.><What do you think about meeting in person?/>—the phone rang once more, so he picked up.

“Hello,”

It was a computer recorded female voice,

“You have one week to pay your phone bill, before your service is interrupted. Thank you. Please hold on to the line while we  connect—”

David hung up.

David knew his phone bill was behind, but so was his rent and everything else. His life was a mess and it kept getting worse. His landlord told him that if he didn’t have his money by the end of the month, he would file for eviction. Looking at his computer screen, the light illuminated the rest of his dark, small studio apartment. Too much was going on. They had him on the bubble, so to speak for murder, as well.

David was now at home, in his apartment in Brooklyn, NY. He was bailed out by his friend. The trial was coming up, and he owed just about everyone money.

What is it a man has to do to find peace, David thought to himself.

His computer chirped.

<Hello,><Tim, you still there?>

<Yes, I’m sorry, I got a phone call.>

<It is just sooo weird./>

<What’s that?/>

<I know I say this a lot, but it’s so eerie. You so remind me of my friend David,><the way you say things are exactly like him,><and guess what?><His situation is very close to yours. And you’re both writers!/>

To David, these computer rendezvous had become sort of a game of chess—or maybe he was just paranoid. After some more conversation with Erica, he began to feel more so that this was an attempt to make him feel more uncomfortable.

If Erica hadn’t ended the conversation soon, he would have definitely done so himself.  

After he closed the MyFace window, another window sat on the desktop of his computer.  A newly created Wikipedia page David had just discovered earlier that day.

It was quite interesting anyone cared enough to create a Wikipedia about him. It read:

 

“David Michael Summers Jr.  (Born February 17, 1986) is the son of the deceased American movie producer, Tamera Jacobs, and former California city official, David Summers Sr.

Best known for his role as lead witness in the State of California vs David M. Summers Sr. trial, David was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

It was something David couldn’t get used to. He just couldn’t believe it—a Wikipedia page. There it was right there in front of his eyes.

He turned off the computer. For the moment, he found peace relaxing in the darkness of his room, attempting to disregard the potential gross loss of his privacy forever in the near future.

He still hadn’t published one book.

How he longed to be “David Summers Jr., ‘the American novelist.’”

His stomach growled, but he had nothing to eat. Hoping to find food that he may have overlooked the last time he tried, David got up again, as he often did, to see what was in his refrigerator but the light in the refrigerator did not come on. After trying to turn on the main light for the studio apartment, he picked up his home phone which rang not too long ago—there was no dial tone. The good thing about that is that he wouldn’t have to hear from those bill collectors anymore.

With nothing in the house to do, to eat, to entertain or to distract him, he came to grips with the fact, that the rest of the day and possibly his life, he wouldn’t have anything to be happy about.

Depression was David’s new default disposition.

Erica left a voicemail on his cell phone offering to represent him during the upcoming trial. But he knew that couldn’t happen. There were just too many risks involved.

He did want to see her, again, though.

He went to sleep that night, to hide from his problems. He thought, maybe he’d wake up to a new life or maybe he’d wake up and it’d all be just a bad dream.

The robbery in 2002 took place in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Therefore, the trial was in Norristown. The twenty-three dollars David had in his pocket was all he had to get down there for the hearing verses, possibly, the biggest, most influential editor ever, Winston Newman.

Newman’s prosecution team has promised David that they would go to earth’s end to, not only put him in prison for an ungodly amount of years, but they’d make sure that he was never published, either. Trying to solve David’s life problems resembled the frustration of an intricately mixed Rubik’s cube. He didn’t see a way out and couldn’t find any positives about his life anymore.

 

            The hearing was August 18th, 2005. He had already spent weeks answering questions from detectives prior to spending 10 days in jail while answering more questions from a doctor who he didn’t know. He was finally free on bail and not knowing what to expect, David left New York City the evening of August 17th. He felt the best case scenario would be that he would be put in jail. In a sobering but strange way, jail seemed like the solution. He thought, in his own mind, they have food, clothing, proper lighting, and everything he could possibly need to get his life back together.

 He took the train to the rough suburb of Philadelphia by the name of Norristown. His appearance would certainly shock everyone—he was completely disheveled and dirty.  His normally close cropped, jet black, wavy hair had debris and dirt in it, making it look to be a lighter grayish-brown color.

His clothes were dirty, wrinkled, and unkempt. Circles had grown around his dark brown eyes and his full lips had grown dry and cracked to the point where it hurt a bit to speak. David wondered what they would think when he would have arrived. 

He had wanted to sneak inside upon arrival, but as he attempted to climb the long steps of the Norristown Courthouse, the press and media caught sight of him and swarmed like pollen-hungry bees. 

“David, do you think this could be the end of your writing career, before it has even begun?” One reporter asked.

“Is it true your own father put you out of the house, after the death of your mother?” another asked, shouting over the other.

              His life was the reality show of the year. He heard in the distance someone ask him if he knew about a man named Tim Sullivan—Sinking his head into his inner arm to hide his face, he tried to cut through the jostling crowd. The embarrassment made him hope for some random, unforeseen, death.

             These guys are ruthless, and they won’t stop at anything.

             As he walked down the long corridor of the courthouse, his soggy shoes squeaked on the floor. Opening the door with his left hand, he struggled to pull the weighty door fully open. He had to use his scraped, cut, stiff right hand to painfully assist the left. Once inside the courtroom, many of the spectators had already arrived early to the ‘big trial of the century,’ as they called it. Curiously, they waited for the next act in the Summers’ family circus.

            This would be the last act. David was going to see to it.

            Walking through the gallery of the courtroom, he didn’t look anyone in the eye, at first, but he realized they caught a glimpse of him when the noisy chatter died down. After an eerie silence, he looked around. He could tell from the befuddled looks on everyone’s faces, that they were in utter shock to see him in this state. Some stared subconsciously; their mouths gaping wide open in horror. David saw his friends Brittany and Brandon sitting, fidgety, next to one other in their seats. That is, until they caught a glimpse of him. Little did any of them know, he was going to surrender himself. 

         Brittany put her hand over her mouth and tears welled up in her eyes, while Brandon seemed to brave David’s appearance and embrace her. David’s revengeful, spiteful, father sat in the corner with a smug grin on his face.

The sound of the courtroom doors behind him swinging open bounced off of the wooden interior of the courtroom, and through all the chatter in the room, he heard the door swing back closed. When he turned around, he saw Winston Newman’s attorney walk in with his huge entourage. With a deliberate swagger, the man made his way to the prosecution bench. As he got closer to David, the appearance of David made the pompous lawyer slow down his already slow pace. His face squeezed, as if he just ate a particularly sour lemon wedge. He seemed taken back.

Winston’s team sat their briefcases and papers on the prosecutor’s desk. The deceased Winston was represented by a team of five different attorneys—undoubtedly, the best in the nation. And there David stood again, with nobody. The only thing David had with him was a stench that came off his body. Winston’s representative was dressed exactly like Winston would have been himself. He had a grey suit on that hugged his enormous upper body, with a white shirt and a brilliant red power tie. His slicked back hair accompanied his clean shaven face.

He was a rock.

An immovable rock.

He represented something you go around, not through.

Surely, he was going to bury David.

As the courtroom quieted, you could hear whispers that were undoubtedly in reference to David and his appearance. His beard itched because he hadn’t shaved in months, or showered in weeks. All he wanted was for the session to get started, so he could surrender himself to a ‘better’ arrangement.

The moment came right before the trial was to begin. All David could think about was his impending, failure due to come by the end of the day.

At that, the groan of the courtroom doors sounded again. Before David got a chance to glance behind him, he heard high heels tapping in a heart-pounding familiar rhythm. The room became silent, and an electrical pulse surged through his body. Familiar smells, sounds, and memories rushed into his once distracted brain.

He knew this feeling.

Could it be her?

Knowing that he had a tendency to daydream about what he really wants to happen, he turned his head around to see if his mind was fooling him. With the whole atmosphere blurred and muffled, streaked with the turn of his head, Erica approached the defense bench. She set up her briefcase next to David and said without looking at him,

“You’re going to need an attorney, idiot.”

David could not believe his eyes.

He just stared at her.

This was great and terrible all at the same time. He knew he was going to have to be a client, possibly a current lover, an ex-lover, and future lover, all at the same time. Somehow—anyhow—he had to make it happen.

 

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