The Man with Kind Eyes – One Shot
I don't know what time it is; they took my phone and my watch, but I can tell by the pink glow outside the one, small, nailed shut window in my room that it is almost dawn. It's been four days since I was brought here, and I have no idea if I'll ever get to feel the fresh, welcoming breeze of a warm California morning again as its gentle caress soothes across my weary face, cleansing me of the trials and tribulations of the previous day. That's my favorite thing about working midnights at the hospital – that the first thing I feel when I step outside those automatic doors is the balmy, seaside wind of daybreak. It refreshes me, calms my nerves after I finish an eight hour shift, and prepares me to do it all over again after I wake up from a few hours rest, but I'm not going to feel the salty gust off the ocean today. Although I don't know where they're holding me, I can tell that I'm no longer in Newport, for the air smells different and the sun doesn't seem to shine as brightly.
I don't know who they are; they won't tell me, and, so far, they haven't accidentally revealed their identities. However, with nothing to do all day but sit and think, observe and study, I have learned a few things about each of them. The first man seems to be the leader. He's older, makes all the decisions, and tends to be more aggressive, especially when questioned. It's almost as if the control he holds over both of us, me and the second man, is the only thing he has to pacify him in his life. He obviously doesn't work, for his hours are irregular at best. I never know when he might barge into the room they're holding me in and start ranting and raving, leering when drunk, or simply watching me with a sullen, almost covetous look upon his dark, rough, sinister face. If it wasn't for the second man, I'm not sure I would even still be alive at this point.
There are so many differences between the first and second man, but, yet, I do sense similarities between them, similarities which make me think that they are probably related, perhaps even brothers. Their mannerisms are almost exact – the way the walk, the way they quietly scrutinize their surroundings at all times as if they're just waiting for something bad to happen, the way they are capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings with only their eyes, dark brown in color for the first man and just as dark in nature, and a light, crisp blue for the second, but his are kind eyes. With just a simple glance, he can make me feel almost safe, and when his gaze settles upon me, almost tenderly, he tells me, without words, that he won't let the other man, the leader, hurt me, no matter what.
However, I'm not sure how he's going to make sure I'm alright. He leaves every morning at a quarter till seven, on the dot, after eating breakfast. I know this, because he eats it with me. The first man is always still asleep at that hour, but, because of my shifts at work, I'm always still awake, and the second man knows this. Every morning our menu is different. The first day he made us eggs, bacon, and toast, the second day was oatmeal and a banana, and yesterday was fresh muffins and sausage, always with a side of orange juice. I have no idea what he'll make for us today, but I'm sure it'll be fine. I just wish that he was as good of a conversationalist as he is a cook.
Although I was wary of both men after the first day, the man with the kind eyes quickly made me feel at peace in his presence, and, after almost 96 hours of sitting by myself, I could really use some decent, human companionship. If he would talk to me, I wouldn't try to talk him into letting me go; I simply want him to make small talk. We could talk about the weather, how he learned how to cook, or where he goes every morning. I know it's a job, because I've picked up on enough from the quiet conversations he has with the first man, but I don't know what he does. Sometimes, when he comes in to see me at night after he gets home, when he comes in to make sure that I'm alright and that the first man had not hurt me, I can tell that he works hard. His clothes, simple, basic, rudimentary pieces, are dusty and ringed with dried sweat. I've never really spent time with a man before who obviously works hard and isn't ashamed of it, and it's almost comforting, because it instantly conjures up the image of an honest, blue collared, family man. I know, I know, the idea is laughable, because, after all, he is an accomplice in my kidnapping, but I can't help it. Perhaps I just need something to believe in at this point, maybe it's my desperation for a savior, but, whatever it is, knowing that the man with kind eyes is near, that he will try to watch over me, it makes my captivity just a little bit more bearable.
I need something, anything to hold on to, because I know that their ransom will never be delivered. No matter what I told them, no matter how many times I've tried to explain that their plan is flawed, the first man won't listen to me. You see, they think that I'm the beloved daughter of a wealthy, Newport family, but they couldn't be more wrong. Ten years ago, sure, their impression would have been correct, but so many things have changed since then. My Dad's business went bankrupt, my parents divorced when my Dad went to jail, my Mom was forced to move back to Riverside where she was born and raised, and I shifted back and forth from one family member or family friend until the day I graduated from public high school. As soon as that diploma was in my hand, I was declared independent and responsible for myself, and I haven't looked back since. I went to college, thanks to government grants, and became an LPN, so that I could afford to support myself while I pursued my dream. I plan to be a journalist, to someday work for Rolling Stone Magazine and interview all the musicians I admire and respect; I plan to travel the globe, leave my past behind me, and make a success out of myself. Well, I guess I should say that I planned to do that, at least before I was kidnapped and held for the ridiculous amount of five million dollars.
It's really quite laughable when I think about it. At 7:05 I walked out of Newport Memorial hospital, clad in the clothes I had worn to work the night before, and made my way towards my roommate's car, an adorable Porsche Roadster, the color of candle apple red, but, just as I went to unlock the driver's side door, I was grabbed from behind, gagged, and wrestled into the back of a windowless, rusting van that smelled of a pungent mixture of marijuana, cat urine, and motor oil. At that point, it was only the first man involved in the kidnapping, and, through his incensed ramblings from the front of the moving vehicle, I pieced together his plan. He had been driving past the hospital, saw me in an empty parking lot, and believed it had been the opportunity of a lifetime he had been waiting years for. Because I had left my scrubs in my locker, he couldn't tell that I was just a nurse, because I was driving my best friend Summer's car, he had no idea that I wouldn't have been able to afford the expensive luxury even if I sold one of my kidneys on the black market, and there was no way he could have known that the designer clothes I wore were my best friends cast offs from seasons past that I had altered myself with a used sewing machine my grandmother had given me for my birthday two years before. To him, I was simply what I appeared to be: a twenty-two year old heiress whose parents would do anything to get her back safe and sound. Too bad my Dad is still serving his ten year sentence in a California state penitentiary and my Mom is always too boozed up to get a job.
I tried to tell him after we arrived at our destination, his house I presumed, when he untied my gag, but he simple told me to shut up, that he didn't believe my desperate lies. So, instead of listening to reason, he fished my cell phone out of my purse, scrolled through the numbers until he found my Mom's, and dialed, leaving his demands for my return on my Mom's answering machine. She had one week to gather five million dollars all in small bills and have them stored securely in a locker at the Newport bus station. There, he would pick up the money late at night, and, if it added up to exactly five million and not a penny short, he would release me in the middle of nowhere and let me make my way back home. If she contacted the authorities or tried to pull a heroic stunt, he would shoot me and hide the body somewhere that not even a drug dog would be able to find. I know the ransom would never be paid. Hell, it wouldn't even surprise me if my Mom never even listens to the message. I told the first man this every opportunity I got that first day, but the only response I received that let me know he was listening was a kick in the ribs.
That night, the second man returned from work, and I could hear him fighting with the first man as he listened to the story of my kidnapping. Eventually, the fighting ceased and the loud crash of the front door alerted me to the fact that someone had left. Thirty minutes later, I saw the man with the kind eyes for the first time as he brought me dinner. He apologized for the other man's actions, promised me he would do whatever he could to get me out of this mess unhurt, but almost regretfully admitted that, despite his own subsequent implication in the crime, he couldn't turn the other man in. It went against everything he had been taught, everything he believed in, everything he had promised his Mom on her deathbed three years before. His tone belied honesty, and I believed him, so, with faith in his sanity and mental capacity, I shared my story with him, I told him that my family would never be able to pay the ransom, and that the only thing the first man's kidnapping endeavors would inevitably get him would be time in jail. The second man agreed, hung his head in shame, and, without another word, said goodnight.
So, from that point on, my life took up a new routine. Instead of sleeping in the mornings, attending school part time in the afternoon, and working at night at the hospital, I spent my early mornings eating a silent breakfast with the second man, sleeping until the afternoon when the first would come in to harass me, my evenings eating dinner with the second man again until he went to bed, and my nights wide awake in the empty room I was held in as I watched the moon and clouds in their never ending dance across the sky. It was the only constant I still had from my life before the kidnapping, the view of the night sky from a window, for I would watch it during my breaks at work from the on call room. I needed that comfort, that tenet of strength and reassurance after a day spent with the first man.
More than half a week has passed since I was kidnapped, and I know that he has been keeping an unsteady grasp upon his sanity. He, the first man, seems angry with the entire world, and, by the size of the chip he carries around on his shoulder, I can tell that he feels the entire universe owes him something. Whether that was wealth, security, or even respect, I don't know, but what I would have told him if he asked was that abducting me and demanding a ransom was not the way to go about getting what he wanted. Not that he would listen to me anyway even if I did offer that word of advice. The only thing speaking up would get me would be another physical attack upon my body.
The first man was vicious when he was in the mood to take his frustrations out upon my thin, fragile form, but he was smart about his assaults, too. He only hurt me during the day when the man with kind eyes wasn't there, and he made sure that he left enough time for my tracks of pain induced tears to dry before the second man arrived home for the evening. When he would kick me, he aimed his steel toed boot towards the core of my body, always making sure the damage would be inflicted on a portion of my frame hidden by my clothes. When he punched my tender abdomen, he purposely aimed the physical effects of his fist so that they would be hidden from his accomplice's concerned visage. When he would viciously pinch my soft, tender skin, he knowingly made the bruises so that they could easily be explained by clumsy behavior or unintentional self-infliction. The second man had no idea what went on while he was at work, and, for some reason, I still refuse to tell him. It might be stupid, and it might be naïve, but I somehow knew that emotional pain the knowledge of his accomplice's behavior would bring to the man with kind eyes would hurt me more to inflict than the physical pain I have to endure from the first man.
So, I bide my time, waiting patiently to see if anything will ever happen. Will my Mom find the message on her machine and attempt to pay at least some of the ransom by calling in favors from old friends or going to Summer's Dad for help? Will she, instead, contact the police and let them deal with the mess, practically insuring that I'll either end up hurt or, even worse, dead, while both my kidnappers go to jail? Will the second man somehow find a way to prevent the first from hurting me; will he somehow find a way to end this whole disastrous affair without anyone getting injured? Will my life ever be the same again after this experience? To that question, I know the answer. No, it won't be.
How could I forget four days of captivity, four days of torture, four days of meals with the man with the kind eyes? No matter what happens, his eyes will haunt me for the rest of my life. Despite everything, despite the fact that he is allowing this mess to continue, I don't want anything bad to happen to him. In fact, I hope that he someday escapes from underneath the hold of control the first man has upon him. He deserves more from life than cleaning up after his partner in crime, but I fear the only way he'll ever break free of him is if the first man dies. Even from a guarded prison cell, the first man would be able to get the second to do his bidding. Sighing, I realize the whole situation is almost hopeless, and, with that thought in mind, I slowly close my eyes and allow a single tear to drop onto my dry, dirty face.
The sun has now fully risen, the day has begun, and I can hear the man with the kind eyes moving about in the kitchen as he makes our breakfast. My life is now measured by benchmarks; I count down the time by waiting for the few minutes of respite I get in his presence. While I wait for him to arrive with two trays of food, I resist the waves of panic and fear, of grief and sadness, of pity and resentment about to crash over, through, and around me, and I save them for a time when my desperate emotions won't startle or frighten the second man. Somewhere along the lines, I've started to protect him just as he tries to protect me. In another lifetime, we might have been friends, maybe even more, but, for now, we can be each other's white knight, even if he'll never know what I do for him and even if we'll never be able to show each other our appreciation. For now, it'll just have to serve as my salvation, the thing that gets me through another day of being the first man's captive. It's funny really, how simple your life becomes once you're stripped of everything but the desire to survive. Ten years ago, I was a self child who lived solely for my own pleasure, a week ago I was an adult who put her dreams and goals ahead of everything else in her life, and, now, I live to make my sapphire orbs of misery just as sympathetic as those belonging to man with kind eyes.
I can sense a presence in the room, and, before I can even open my eyes, I know that it's him, that it's the first man. Before I was kidnapped, I was a heavy sleeper. I had to be in order to get enough rest to sustain my heavy work load, but, now that I'm here, I sleep light so that I can be awake at even the slightest hint of any threat. The stench of stale beer and hard liquor rolls off of him, and I immediately am aware of the fact that he's, once again, drunk. It seems to be his pattern. As soon as the second man gets home at night, the first disappears and returns the next morning, completely inebriated. Normally, he goes to sleep first before he comes in to harass me, but I guess today he's in a special mood.
My first and only hope is that he'll believe I am asleep and will decide to leave me alone until he can scream and hit me while I'm conscious. After all, he is perverse enough to want me fully aware and present during my daily beatings. As he slammed the door to the room, I, unfortunately, knew that he either didn't buy my act or didn't care, and I started to mentally prepare myself for his upcoming assault upon my body. His steps were slow, almost calculated as he stalked his way closer towards me. There was no furniture in the room, so that left me with the floor to serve as a bed, a couch, and a table. It also left me with nothing to hide behind and nothing to use to ward him off. Before I could even think of a way to delay the inevitable, he was there, crouched down beside me, breathing heavy and sending chills of fear up my spine.
There would be no reprieve, he wouldn't walk back out the door he had come through, lock it again, and disappear for the afternoon, and the man with kind eyes had already left for the day, and, although it was Saturday, I had no reason to pray for him to rescue me, especially since common sense told me he probably worked six days a week. I was trapped, powerless, and scared more than I had ever been during my entire life. There was only one way the confrontation could end for me and that was unfavorably.
Without a word, he gripped my hair in a tight clench, jerking my head around to face him. As our gazes locked, mine fearful and his predatory, I knew that he was not only drunk that morning but high as well, so high there was no way his brain would be able to comprehend the consequences of his actions. Under the best of circumstances, he was reckless, but this morning he was completely without boundaries and had absolutely no sense of right and wrong. "You see," he taunted me. "I thought rich bitches like you had manners. What's wrong, Princess, didn't your Mommy ever teach to look at someone when they're speaking to you?"
I knew he wanted me to play along, that he wanted me to yell and fight along with him, but I refused to lower myself to his level. It wasn't as if my inconsequential words would affect him anyway. However, instead of hitting me like he normally would if I remained silent, he simply let go of my hair, rolled my body over to face him, and sat down beside me. "Do you know what first made me want to take you," the first man asked, his voice softer than what he normally used when addressing me. "I'll give you a hint - it wasn't the car." Sighing wistfully, he sat back against the wall and raked his gaze down from my eyes all the way to my bare, filthy feet and back up again. "It was your hair, Princess," he revealed, skimming his right index finger down my face before the digit dropped to wrap around one of my long, blonde tresses. "You see, no one around here has hair like that. If it's long, it's not taken care of, and the women always wear it up so it's not in their way when they work." I, too, where my hair up when I'm at the hospital, but I took it down before I walked outside. However, I knew better than to bring up the career he didn't believe I had. "Plus, no one in Chino has naturally blonde hair. Most women are Hispanic, so their hair is black or dark brown, and, if you do see a chica walking down the street with lighter locks, it's either dyed or a cheap wig, but not you, Princess. Your hair is naturally this color, and for once in my life I wanted to be with a woman like you, a clean, rich, special white chick who took care of herself and would scream in English when I pounded myself into her."
Despite my best intentions, I couldn't help but gasp out in terror when the meaning of his admission became clear. I tried to scramble away from him, but the first man merely gripped my arm tightly, bruising it in the process, and kept me at his side. However, instead of punishing me or making an unwanted advance, he simply kept talking. "But then I saw the car. Only true princesses drive Porches, and I knew that you were too young to have earned that sweet ride on your own, so that left Daddy to pay for it. If Daddy would shell out that much money for his daughter's car, imagine how much money he would spend to ensure her safe return to the castle. So, I took you. When I had left that evening, I went to Newport to go to a party; I never imagined that I would stumble upon you on my way home. Unfortunately, I couldn't make you mine like I had first wanted to, because, if one strand of blonde hair on your pretty little head was harmed, Daddy would come after me like a vengeance. So, I settled for our unsatisfying encounters in the afternoon, and, after I left you, I would go back to my room, unbuckle my pants, and jack off with the image of you in my mind."
I knew that I shouldn't say anything, that playing into his hand would only hurt me in the long run, but I was too scared to think straight. "Why," I stumbled over my words, "why are you telling me this?"
"Because, Princess, last night, while I was at the bar, I had a brainstorm." Smiling wickedly down at me, he continued. "You see, I only told Mommy in my message that I would return you; I never said in what shape you'd be in. So, as you can see, I get both of the things I've always wanted: money and I get to fuck a blonde, spoiled bitch."
"Oh, Princess, you disappoint me," the first man mocked, straddling my quivering form despite the fact that I was hitting him with all the strength I had and flailing around my weakened form below him. "Here I thought you were not only rich but intelligent, too, but I guess I was wrong." Suddenly, his strong hands were locked around my throat, suffocating me and immediately ceasing my defensive actions. "Do you actually think I care whether or not you agree to me fucking you," he screamed in ire. "Do you actually think this would be the first time I took a girl without her permission?" All I could do was cry and shake my head in a vain attempt to get him to let go of my neck. "That's right, I've done this plenty of times before, and, between you and me, the struggle's half the fun. And, don't let anyone fool you, by the time I'm finished, the women secretly enjoy it just as much as I do."
He finally releases my throat, but it's too late. I'm already trapped. No matter what I do, what I say, or how hard I fight back, there is nothing I can do to stop him from raping me, and, though I won't admit this to the first man, this is my worst fear. I'd rather be beaten until I break, killed even, but to endure this, I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to recover…if I'll even have the chance to try.
Despite my dark thoughts, I still attempt to fight back. I kick, I cry out, I whimper the word no through the deluge of tears racing their way down my face, I spit, I twist away from him, I scream in pain, I fight him off with everything inside of me, but nothing helps. Before I know it, he has my arms pulled over my head and my wrists taped together so I can't hit him, and my legs are pinned underneath his strong, corded thighs. He's pleased with himself that I'm trapped in this position, and all of my tears and my begging for mercy only seem to heighten his arousal which is pressed threateningly against me. With cruel slashes and an almost primal sense of scratching, he tears my shirt off first before ripping my bra away from my body and twisting around while still on top of me to remove my jeans and panties, and, before I know it, I'm completely vulnerable to his hungry gaze and malicious intent.
His first action surprises me; he merely runs his blunt, coarse fingers through my hair, lifting the soiled locks and letting them run wild through his loose grasp, but it's almost as if he allowed himself one moment of weakness before he returned to his usual cruel self, and, before I can brace and mentally prepare, he's, once again, attacking brutally. Leaning over me, he latches his teeth onto my left breast, taking nearly the entire globe into his mouth before biting down and breaking the skin, biting me, marking me, branding me his forced conquest of the day. The pain that swarms through my body is so intense that the tears I have been crying in fear and trepidation cease momentarily before they start all over again due to the physical anguish he is ravaging against my form. I scream like there's no tomorrow, earning myself a vicious backhand across the face, but I don't seem to care, because I keep yelling, I keep shouting, I keep crying out in the hope that someone, anyone will hear my pleading calls for help and rescue.
When he lifts his face away from my quivering chest, I risk a glance and notice the blood dripping down my pale form; its brightness, its vitality, its aliveness mocks me, and my quivering progresses into full fledged shaking, and I start to hyperventilate as I can't seem to control my panic any longer. However, the first man doesn't seem to care. Instead, he simply continues his assault, taking pleasure in my pain as he pulls a pocket knife out of his jeans and runs its sharp blade down the expanse of my abdomen. The cut is not deep enough to severely wound me, but it stings when the blood oozes away from the gash and it burns when he spits on me and rubs his fetid saliva into my now pink tinted skin. He finds my discomfort, my hurting humorous, and, as his sinister laughter fills the heavy air, I can tell that my suffering is a kind of aphrodisiac for him.
The games continue for several minutes – he cuts, he tortures, he spits, he cackles, but, eventually, he tires of the repetitive cruelty and sets his sights higher. Making sure that I'm watching him by holding my jaw roughly with one hand, he undoes the clasp of his belt, unbuttons his pants, and slides the zipper down to reveal that he was not wearing anything underneath his jeans and that he's completely ready to force himself upon me. I shudder in disgust, clamping down my stomach's instinctual reaction to revolt and heave its contents. After all, I won't be able to scream for help if I'm choking on my own vomit, but it seems as if my cries for relief are either not being heard or are being ignored, because no one is coming.
"You better make this good for me," the first man warned with a malevolent smirk as he slid his way down his body and gripped my thighs to pull them apart, so wide, in fact, that, yet again, I cry out in pain, "because I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time."
"Please," I beg, "please don't do this." It didn't matter who heard me; I was begging for him to stop, for fate to step in and help me out, for the kindness of a stranger. As he readied himself for his attack, my life flashed before me in the shape of instant memories: the day my Dad brought Dustin home from the pet store for my third birthday, my first memory, the first time I met my little sister in the hospital and held her, the morning after I lifted my pillow and found a dollar bill from the Toothfairy, the day I had been dared to walk across the monkey bars at school and fell down, breaking my arm, the first time a boy kissed me and then I subsequently slapped his advances away, how it felt when I would get drunk while in high school, the day my world fell apart and my Dad was exposed as a fraud, the pride I felt when I graduated from high school, knowing that any future I had I had secured for myself, sitting with Summer in our apartment the day we moved in, how it felt to wear a stethoscope for the first time, what the morning sky looked like right before I was kidnapped. Anything good, anything bad, anything important, anything seemingly inconsequential, it didn't matter what it was, anything was better than focusing on the present. So, as I continued to plead for mercy, crying and whimpering, tossing, turning, and bucking my hips in a vain attempt to ward the first man off, I never heard a third person enter the room, and, before I knew what was happening, a shot rang through the air, the first man's body fell down to slump across my still shaking form, and I moved my face so I could focus on the person who had rescued me, locking gazes with the man with the kind eyes.
"Marissa," he questioned hesitantly. They both knew my name after going through my purse. "Are you….did he….was I in time?"
I tried to answer him, I tried to reassure him that he had appeared out of nowhere like a miracle and stopped the first man before he could rape me, but I couldn't find the strength to talk. Instead, I simply remained lying there, unable even to move out from underneath the dead man's body. He seemed to sense my exhausted, and, in a moment, was at my side, tossing the gun aside and pushing his accomplice's form off of mine. Seeing my naked body, he actually blushed, averted his eyes, and hastily apologized before disappearing out the door he had just passed through to save me. When he returned, he brought with him a warm, wet washcloth and some clothes, a pair of boxers and a large t-shirt, both of which I assumed was his. At least, I hoped they were his, because, no matter what, I couldn't wear the first man's clothes…not after what he had done to me.
Without looking at me, he unbound my wrists and gently massaged the wounded joints that had been rubbed raw by the duct tape during my struggles to escape. Once the circulation started again, he carefully placed my arms at my sides before tenderly sweeping the washcloth across my form in an attempt to wipe away as much blood as he could. It seemed to be a hopeless task, and, eventually, he gave up and simply dressed me, lifting me up into his arms and walking out of the house before I could object. As the fresh, afternoon air swept over my still quivering body, my sobs ceased, and quiet, silent tears replaced the torrent of loud cries that had been wracking my abused form before.
"I'm sorry," he whispered to me as he made his way towards his truck. "I'm sorry that I let this go on for as long as I did, that I ever left you alone with him, that I didn't get back from the store sooner today. I just…I promised my Mom that I would always look after Trey, that I would always take care of him, but, what he did to you, what he was going to do to you just then if I hadn't of stopped him, it made me realize that I couldn't keep my promise to my Mom, that she wouldn't even want me to."
"Thank you," I hiccupped through my appreciation, my emotions still too intense to control. "Thank you for rescuing me."
By that point, we had reached the truck. Shifting his hold on me, he got the door open and put me inside, even going so far as to buckle me up. Before I could say or do anything else, the man with the kind eyes did two things that surprised me. First, he looked deeply into my gaze, a lone tear of his own falling free of his watery, cobalt blue eyes, before leaning in and placing a chaste, tender, apologetic kiss against my soiled brow, and, secondly, he pulled back only to hold out his hand for me to shake. "My name's Ryan."
With that, he shut the truck's door, ran around the front of the vehicle, and climbed into the driver's side. Starting the truck up, he only paused to glance in my direction when I feebly reached across the space between us and touched his arm.
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to the police station," he answered, smiling towards me in reassurance. "I'm going to fix this; I'm going to make this right for you."
Satisfied with his response, I settled back in the seat and relaxed, letting my exhausted eyes droop shut in relief. I was safe, I was secure, and the first man would never be able to hurt me again. He, the man with the kind eyes, Ryan, had made sure of that, and, just like I always did since the moment I met him, I was going to take care of him, too. This wouldn't touch him. No matter what I had to do, he would walk away from the police department that day safe and a free man, and, maybe, just maybe, we would be able to be friends after all. We had escaped from the control of the first man, and now anything was possible, even the improbable. I would become that writer for Rolling Stone, I would travel the world, become a success, fall in love, and make, for myself, a new family, and, with my help, the man with the kind eyes would break free from his past and find his fairytale, too. If nothing else, the first man's actions had taught me one thing about life: sometimes it was okay to depend upon the kindness of a stranger. After all, you never know when that stranger might become the most important person in your life.