KILL AND RUN
The Longest Night
I let out a long withheld sigh for what seemed to be the umpteenth time that night as Tom continued on with his verbal rampage. Jordan caught my exhausted gaze as my eyes flickered to meet hers. She had not uttered a word since what was originally slated to be a realizing and fun outing had devolved in a nightmare. The fact of the matter is that this afternoon was a disaster. And the raw shock in Jordan's all seeing eyes and the acid clinging to Tom's words said it all. Despite the distance we had since placed between ourselves and that horrible hour, my heart still threatened to leap from my breast. I sat there thinking what had been on everyone's mind for the remainder of the evening: that it was over. His lifelong obsession and goal that he could caress with his fingertips a mere few hours ago had been violently torn from him in mere seconds. Looking back, I suppose there was always some fraction of me that knew that it was always a gamble, and yet deep down a whole other fraction, equal in size had wanted it to work. No one in the world deserved happiness more than Gatsby, but he had asked her for too much. Any lingering chance he had at that happiness was null and void because she could never leave the man next to me. Because she could never giver he love to the man who had literally built his entire world around her. My mind will never forget the markings of pure agony that Daisy left painted on Gatsby's face and life and I hated her for it. The saddest part of it all was that she would never love him fully and he would never understand or accept that.
"You damned fool." I muttered out in silent agony. It was very short-lived; however, as Tom slandered my neighbor once more. My hands unconsciously dug into my pants leg.
"Where the hell does that low-life get off on trying to cause a row in my house?" Tom ground out at nobody in particular, but I still found myself cutting a dangerous gaze towards my left.
"The only one that was causing a row was you." I might have imagined it, but the coupe seemed to speed up a bit.
"What's all that?" Tom demanded. He turned hi head towards me, but maintained a firm grip on the steering wheel. Apparently my biting words were not imagined either.
"Nothing." I replied back trying to diffuse the situation, but Tom had sensed defiance like a shark would blood. He was ready to go in to a feeding frenzy.
"Nick—", Jordan warned, steely eyes ricocheting between us.
"No no no," he flashed a humorless smile in my direction. "I want to hear this. Go on Nicky. Tell us how I am the bad guy in all of this because the last time I checked, good decent men didn't go around sleeping with other men's' wives!"
The words slid past my lips faster that I could process them.
"I don't' suppose you are a decent man then." If he were not so keen on focusing on the road ahead of us, I am certain he would be glaring at me in anger. Betrayal? Perhaps a mixture of both. Tom had reared back into his seat and taken the expression of one who had just tasted or smelt something foul. He knew exactly what I was getting at and there was no hiding from it. WE passed a particular bump in the road that finally woke Tom from his reverie.
"That is not the same." The silence that followed Tom's statement only highlighted the absurdity of it. I turned on him in disbelief.
"It is exactly the same Tom!" The only difference is that Gatsby actually loves Daisy. Hell he has shown her more love this past couple of months than you have for your entire marriage." A blank look passed over Tom's face, taut like the sea floor when the ocean tugged away from it. Just as quickly a wave of fury came tumbling over him. My breath caught in my throat and I paled.
Suspiciously, he leaned over Jordan, cupping a free hand over his right ear to better hear me, but I know he caught each word and its meaning.
"Months?" I kept my eyes glued to the hundreds of crossed and ridges on my trousers.
"You mean to tell me that—that filthy, bootlegging pauper had been fooling around my wife, your cousin, this entire time, and you knew about it?" All of a sudden I lurch forward and Jordan had latched onto my left arm for dear life as the coupe starts tearing down the pavement with a purpose. I draw her into my side, wrapping a comforting arm around her.
"I always knew there was something off about you, but this? Where do you get the gall to do this to me?"
"I-I", my hands form obscure gestures eventually settling for squeezing Jordan's soft arms, and none to gently, as I fumble for words.
"It does not change the fact that you do not love Daisy!" I shout, voice battling with the crying wind around us. Tom slammed his fists on the dash in a wily fury and the coupe jerked violently to the side. I envied Jordan's sense of security as she buried her face into the crook of my neck.
"I love Daisy! I have loved her since the day I met her and I will be damned if I let you two home wreckers take her away from me!" His voice was so laced in cold malice that I actually cringed.
"What did he promise you anyway? Huh? What did it take for you to lie and go around my back, hm?" I do not know who was trembling more, Jordan or me. We could only cling to one another as the world panned around us. Tom's sudden laughter mingled with the screaming wind. The sound was a painful as his words.
"Was it a couple hundred? Lord knows you don't make any money. Or was it an invite to one of his fancy parties? No wait! I have got it! I'll bet it was a night in his bed. That's all it took for Daisy after all."
"What's the matter, Nick?" he cooed in mock concern, he reached a hand out and pinched my face hard. I slapped his arm away and started rambling in a fit of anger and guilt.
"It wasn't like that Tom. I was just trying to…" I broke of lamely. 'I was trying to help Gatsby', I wanted to say. But at what cost? Tom was one hundred percent wrong in his pursuit of another woman in the midst of his marriage. But Gatsby had done the exact same thing, so why was he except from my scorn. Why were his actions permissible instead? Why did I help Gatsby, a mean whom I have only known for a few months over Tom, whom I had known for years? Why did I feel so guilty about going behind Tom's back? Was what he said true? Was Gatsby even my friend or had I been bought as a means to his own ends?
"I was just trying to help," I muttered, but Tom heard me nevertheless. He parted his lips prepared to engage into a new tirade.
In spite of my fear in that moment, I have always wondered what he would have said to me that night. Would he have continued screaming or would he have distributed more accusation in that drunken fervor. And I don't supposed I'll ever know, for the last thing I recall before my head slammed into the dash were the wild and haunted eyes of Myrtle Wilson.