Stranger in Black

Part I

Everthing about him made you feel he was the deveil himself. From theclothes he wore to the look in his eyes. He was tall and well built witharms like tree trunks. His hair was long and reddish black. When you did manage to look in his eyes you felt them pierce you to your very soul. When he asked the clerk for a room, the very air seemed to shatter at the sound of his voice. The clerk nervously handed him the key.

After he entered the room, he went to the window and looked the town over. It hadn't changed in the years he had been gone. He wondered if anyone would remember him. It had been 20 years since he was made to leave town because of an altercation which had cost the life of his father.

The years had not been kind to him in many ways. He had lived on the streets when he first left, sometimes wondering where he was going to stay next or his next meal was coming from. He had done odd jobs to get by. Then a chance meeting with a wrestling promoter changed his life. The man had seen potential in him. He worked cleaning the arena after the matches to help pay for his time learning.

It was hard at first. Days found him black and blue from the falls he had to take, but he was willing to endure any pain. At this time he had grown to nearly seven foot, which made him tower so much more above the rest of the students. He persevered despite taunts from them. Some months later he was in his first match. Although he made some mistakes and lost, the man continued to instruct him in some moves that he himself and done when he was younger. The more matches he had, the more he improved. Soon he was well known on the local circuit.

His unusual technique soon caught the eye of a TV promoter. At first, he was a jobber for the other established wrestlers. he eventually started winning his own matches. His finishing move soon won him respect and titles. As time went on he gained fame.

Everywhere he went, people would look at him with fear in their eyes. He began to like it. In fact, he liked it too much. He never talked to anyone, thus giving him an air of mystery about him. Because of his speech and the way he dressed, he became known as "The Man From the Darkside."

His thoughts came back to the present. He wondered how his younger brother was. He had been twelve when he left. His brother blamed him for the death of their father, vowing to kill him if he ever saw him again.

Maybe some fresh air would help. He left his room and started walking towards the downtown area. He remembered having to go by a cemetery on the way. He entered looking at the tombstones. Then he happened to see the gravesite of his parents. His mother had died when he was only twelve years old. She had been the bright spot in his life. She had been pretty, with beautiful green eyes. People used to say he had her looks. But for some mysterious reason she died. No one ever told him why. He had been upset and blamed his father. Up until the time he had to leave he made life miserable for his father. A tear formed in his eye thinking of her, but he blinked it back, not allowing his features to show any emotion.


He left the cemetery and continued downtown. There on the corner was the store his parents used to own, only someone else was running it. His parents had been in the clothing business, selling men's and women's clothes. His mother would do alterations when needed. Just out of curiosity he entered the store. It had changed having been modernized. A soft voice spoke.
"May I help you?"
He turned to look. The face was familiar but he couldn't place it then and there.
"I'm just looking."
"Call if you need help."

He was still trying to place where he had seen her. He thought to himself she was pretty, with those big eyes. He had never thought too much about being with a woman, his career occupying his time. He turned and left.

There was something familiar about the stranger, she thought to herself, as if from her childhood. Those eyes, she had seen them before. There were customers to tend to, she would think about it later.

He now was in front of the newspaper office, still with the same furniture from the time he delivered papers to earn money. He wondered if Mr. Patterson was still editor. Not stopping to find out, he crossed the street. Just as he reached the other side he stiffened. A familiar name was staring him in the face. His eyes narrowed to slits. His fists clenched. The name brought back bitter memories. Memories of rumors of what was said about his mother. He calmed himself. He had vowed to show no emotion.

By this time, evening was setting in. He started back toward the hotel. He walked by the clothing store. It was closing time and she was just finishing clearing the stock room. She saw him as he went past. She looked at him again. Then recognition came. It couldn't be, not after all these years. Her heart started beating faster.

She had secretly had a crush on him when they were teens. Then he had disappeared. She always wondered what had happened to him. When he first entered the store, she was not afraid of him as everyone else had been. She had been through her own hell the past few years.

He was now in front of the cemetery. He went to his parents' grave again.

She was on her way home and had to go past the cemetery. Seeing him standing there she stopped to see what he was doing. She entered quietly so as not to disturb him.

His eyes were closed, as if drawing strength from an unknown source. He felt her presence, but did not acknowledge it. She stepped closer, being only a few feet from him. Before she could move, he turned and grabbed her arms, holding them in a vise-like grip. She tried to twist free, but the more she moved, the tighter became his grip.
"Let me go!"


His grip lessened, but he still held her arms. He looked at her closer.
"You don't remember me do you?"

He had to think back. There had been a girl who had lived down the street from them. She was the only he would talk to after his mother died. He let go of her arms.
"Why did you sneak up on me?"
"I did not sneak up on you. I didn't want to disturb you."
She was rubbing her arms. There would be bruises where his fingers had been. He didn't apologize for that.
"It took me a little while, but when you walked past again, it hit me who you were. Where have you been all these years?"
"Living in hell."

She wasn't going to ask him to explain it. Her arms were still sore. Now would be as good a time as ever to tell him.
"If you're looking for your brother, he's not here. After you left, he was sent from home to home. No one could handle him. He finally left on a train for wherever. No one has seen him since."

That's not what he wanted to hear or came back for. He wanted to find out why his mother died and who could have been responsible for her death.

She was studying his face, trying to read what he was thinking. Even when they were kids, it had always been difficult. She thought about asking him to her house. He probably would turn her down, but she had to try.
"Would you like to come to my house? I don't live far from here."
He hesitated, wondering what she was trying to do.

It wasn't but a couple of blocks to her house. He noticed that they hadn't changed much over the years. But there was something about them that wasn't right. Some of them were empty. They soon were at her house. He noticed she didn't live far from where she grew up.

People saw her walking with the stranger. They knew she hadn't dated anyone for a few years, especially since the divorce. No one though came up to ask her, one look at her companion kept them from asking. It was a modest home with a nicely kept yard and the usual flowers and shrubbery.
"It's not much, but it's mine. Do you mind if I change into something a little more comfortable?" He shook his head. In a couple of minutes she came back out in a sweat shirt and pants and went to the kitchen.
"Are you hungry? I can whip up something fast."
He didn't feel like eating. "No."
She had to ask. "Why did you go away?"

There was a moment of silence. He was looking at her with eyes that any normal human would run away from, but she was not going to be intimidated. She was wanting to know, for all these years she had kept his memory locked in her heart.

He was wondering should he tell her, not having trusted anyone all these years. She was not backing away. He had to give her credit, she had courage. He decided to take a chance.
"After my mother died, rumors went around about her and an affair she was supposed to have had. My younger brother was to have been the result of that affair. Dad would do nothing to stop the rumors. I had a pretty good idea who was spreading them. I tried to get them to stop, but it only worsened. When I got into a fight with them, they tormented my dad all the more, causing him to have heart failure. Because of it, they told me I had better leave or they would do more harm, this time to my brother. He never knew what happened."

She listened, showing no emotion. But she could understand why he left. To think that all these years he had to stay away, his younger brother never knowing the real truth. There was something else though, something he wasn't saying.
"I understand, but there has to be some other reason you came back."
He could see that she wasn't satisfied. He decided to let her know the real reason, hoping she was like she had been in when they were younger.
"I came back to find out the real reason why my mother died. There was no way she could have died naturally. When I do find out, there will be hell to pay."

Now that she thought about it, it was rather odd that she died all of a sudden, and no one knowing how.
"How are you going to do it? The minute you try asking questions, they will start to wonder. Let me find out. I can gain access to any information that might help. Someone here in town knows the real reason she died."
He had not wanted to trust telling her, but now that she knew, it seemed that would be the most logical way. The less anyone knew, the better.
"Do you have a place to stay?"

He nodded and told her. She told him she would start the next day as the shop would be closed. She was disappointed that he already had a room, wanting him to stay with her. He left to go back to the hotel.

Once he got back to his room, he started having second thoughts about having told her, having wanted no one to know. Why, he wondered to himself, had he opened up to her.


She knew she should have insisted on him staying there, but she felt lucky that he had told her. It had been wise not to push it. She thought about what was said. He had not revealed who it was that had started the rumors. But then his having to leave town. She remembered his younger brother vowing to kill him if he saw him again.

There had to be something going on, something that maybe she knew about, something that made his mother mysteriously die. Then his father not stopping the rumors about the supposed love affair. Could there have been a conspiracy of some kind, was perhaps he a part of something much bigger? It was a lot to think about. The first thing she was going to do was go to the library. They kept copies of old issues. Perhaps she would find a clue.

She got there just as the library opened. The librarian showed her the archives. She had to go back 26 years. So far she had found nothing, but then a certain article caught her eye.

When the librarian wasn't looking, she tore the article out as quietly as possible. She looked at other issues after that, but found nothing. It was odd there were no other articles after that one, as if something or someone had stopped it. She had to get the article to him without arousing suspicion. She put the article in her pocket and left.

He wondered where was she going to start. He was beginning to have second thoughts about this again. How would she know what room he was in? What could she possibly find? He was pacing his room like a caged animal. Then he heard a soft knock. He asked who was it.
"It's me. I may have found something."
He opened the door and pulled her in.
"How did you find my room?"
"The clerk was away from the desk. Since he doesn't get much business in the hotel, it wasn't hard to figure out which keys were being used. I don't know if this is it, but I found this in the archives. It's an article from 26 years ago. According to the date, it was shortly before your mother died. I looked for other articles after that, there were none. Someone didn't want the world to know about this."

He read the article. Could this really have been the reason? Could this be why his father never bothered to stop the rumors? Was he a part of it? There were a lot of questions that had to be answered.

As he was reading it, there was a passenger departing a bus. He seemed to know where he was and where he wanted to go. He was tall, with long brown hair. He had a solidly built body. A car was waiting for him. It took off for the outskirts of town, not stopping til it had reached a gate, with a driveway that led to a large house.

Part V

She left his room, wondering what he was going to do next. As she was walking back to her house, a car went past. She happened to notice the passenger. She couldn't tell who he was because of a mask he wore. That was unusual. She went on her way, thinking no more about it.

For the rest of the day she stayed at home doing the normal chores. She had just gotten out of the shower when there was a knock. Hurriedly she put on her robe and answered. It was him.
"I was out for a walk and found myself coming this way. Do you mind?"
"No, come in. Excuse my appearance having just come out of the shower."
She wondered why did he come here. Was there something else he wanted? No, she told herself, that wouldn't be it.

On the outskirts of town, there was a meeting being held at a large house. The man in the mask was talking to the owner of the house. He was a short, fat man with bulging eyes, very pale skin, and a high-pitched voice.
"It's good to have you home. I have some news for you. something that will make your day. There's a stranger in town. He's tall and well built, just like you. He thinks nobody recognizes him, but I saw him yesterday as he was walking. The first place he visited was your parents' grave site.
The masked man became very interested at what was said.
"I believe it's your older brother. Now why would he come back after all this time? You wanted revenge for the death of your father. Now is the time."
The masked man sat back in his chair.
"I suggest you go do it, get it over with. In fact, I order you to do it now or else."

The masked man looked at him. The only thing you saw were his eyes. They had a look of anger in them. The fat man became pale.
"No one tells me what to do and when to do it! I will decide when the time is right!"

There was a moment of silence. Then she asked, "Would you like something to drink? Perhaps a soda or beer."
He said a beer would be fine. She went in the kitchen. No sooner was she
in there than he was right behind her. She turned, almost dropping the beer.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I'm wondering, why are you helping me? What do you want out of this?"
"Did I say I wanted anything out of this? I am helping you as a friend. I can't begin to understand what you went through, but I can be a friend to you, and friends help each other."

She brushed past him, trying not to let her emotions show. He sat back down on the couch thinking of what she said. She wanted to be his friend. That was a new word to him. He had never bothered making friends, preferring to be alone. He turned and looked at her. She had been there for him when his mother died. She had been a friend then, and was willing to be his friend now.


She looked at him. What was he thinking? She had extended her friendship to him. Now it was up to him.
"I have to tell you, I was married for about five years."
She told him who it was. He stiffened at the mention of that name. She saw what it did to him. He got up to leave. He knew he should never have told her.
"So that's who caused the trouble, wasn't it?"
He turned and looked at her.
"Yes! I never should have trusted you. You want to be a friend to me yet you tell me this?!"
"You would have found out eventually. Isn't it better it comes from me?"
There was a silence so dense you could have cut it with a knife. He looked like he wanted to hit her. He left.

He went back to the hotel. When he got there, there was a note waiting for him.
"I know who you are. Be careful where you go. I am watching you."

He asked the clerk who brought this note. The clerk said he saw no one come here. There was no name on the note either.

She thought that was the last she would see of him. There was a knock.
He was back.
"Now what?"
He showed the note.
"When did you get this?"
"It was waiting for me when I got there. Someone else knows I'm here now."
"You can't stay at the hotel now if they're watching you. Get your things and bring them here. They won't expect that. They'll think you've left. Just enter and leave by the back entrance at the hotel. I have a spare room."

Soon he was back and settled in. It was late. She was getting tired, so she told him she was going to bed, leaving him in the living room by himself.

She was in her room brushing her hair. It wasn't going to be easy with him here. Feelings of long ago surfacing again. She had to get her mind off it. He didn't have any feeling now, or would he probably ever.

What was the strategy going to be now? She saw him stiffen with rage at the mention of that name. The editor was still alive. She would start with him in the morning.

There wasn't a sound. She assumed he was in his room. She had just taken her robe off when he came in. Quickly she covered herself. For the first time in her life, she was scared of him.
"What do you mean walking into my room like that?!"

He didn't answer. He started towards her. He grabbed her arms, his eyes had a look in them. Before she could utter a word, he pulled her roughly to him, his lips coming down on hers. She tried to get away, but she couldn't.

He pushed her onto the bed, tearing the robe from her. All she could do was watch as he quickly undressed. He was on top of her, kissing her with a fierceness, grinding her into the bed. His hands roughly pushed her legs open, then he was in her. She felt like she had been split in two. What seemed liked forever, he stopped, having spent himself. He left her bruised and sore.

For the first time emotions ran through him. He had done it because of what she told him. She hadn't tried to hide it. What would happen now?


She laid there in a daze by what had happened. Then she started crying. He had been cruel. She sat up thinking of why. The only conclusion she could come to was her marriage. She became angry and went to his room. She opened the door, catching him off guard.
"Why?! Was it because of my marriage? Just what did you think that was going to accomplish? Revenge?!"
Walking over to him. "You don't have anyone but me to help you. I'm the only one who can get the information you need. This is how you repay someone? My marriage was a farce. If you had bothered to ask you would have found out! The quicker I help you solve this, the sooner you can take your uncaring self out of here!"

With that she walked out, slamming the door to emphasize the point. Never had he been talked to like that before. No one had ever dared. She was right about him being uncaring. He was fortunate she was still helping him.

The next morning she went to the editor's house. Mr. Patterson was a man in his late seventies. Although somewhat feeble, his mind was sharp. She started asking him questions about an article he had printed. She showed him the copy. He got a look of dread on his face that did not make her feel good. He asked why after all this time. She couldn't exactly tell him, but just said an interested party was wanting to know about the article. He decided to be open with her as he had nothing to lose.
"Seems that before the article, there had been rumors of a dope ring being run here in town. Nothing had been proven up to that time. The clothing store was heavily involved in the dispersement. The wife had known nothing about it. One day the wife happened to be in the store but her husband didn't know it. She heard some voices coming from the back. She walked in when they were putting the stuff in bags. They wanted to get rid of her at first, but he said she wouldn't say anything. He forced her not to. When the youngest turned six, she had had enough. She told him she was sick and tired of him doing this. She threatened to tell the police about it. He tried to get her to stop, but she went ahead. Seems though one of the police was in on it. The head man got wind of it.

They decided to find a way to get rid of her without causing suspicion. They told him what he had to do, thus when she died, no one was the wiser. Shortly after that, rumors started to go around about her supposed affair. By that time, the oldest was visibly upset about it as his father never bothered to deny them. Up until the day he left (18 years of age) he caused his father all sorts of problems. Then he found out about who was spreading them.

He was told that if he didn't stop, something was going to happen to his younger brother. But before he could leave, his father died from heart failure. But I tell you, its my opinion that it wasn't heart failure. He had to been given something."
"How do you know all of this?" she asked.
"I got the whole story from him before he died."
"Why wasn't anything else printed?"
"I did it as a favor."
Walking back to the house she couldn't believe all that had happened. Both were deliberately killed.

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