A/N Betty's POV
Thoughts from the living
I was halfway down the drive before I realised quite how wet I was. The rain was lashing down from the heavens and pinging back off the sleek concrete. I felt it smashing against my skin with stinging force even though I was so drenched that it seemed impossible that I could have even felt it. My clothes were sticking to my body making me uncomfortable but I ignored it, my mind too focused on the yawning hole that felt like it had opened up inside of me and swallowed my entire existence so I could no longer envisage any future. Rivlets of water ran though the forest of my hair, hot against my skin, warmed by my body temperature. I could hardly feel whether or not I was crying anymore.
I slipped on the pavement and half caught myself as I hit the ground. I didn't really hurt myself but I couldn't summon the will power to get back up. Every ounce of energy had drained from me, so instead I drew my knees up to my chin and sobbed onto them, letting the rain pelt me and punish me for ever allowing myself to fall in love with Joe; especially for allowing myself to betray Artie and sleep with his best friend.
Eventually my hysterics died and I felt the tears stop flowing. The raindrops began to feel like more of a caress against my slightly numbed skin, soothing me for my foolishness, and for trusting a man who had even warned me against himself.
I managed to collect myself together and get to my feet. I'd parked at the bottom of the drive so my car wasn't that far away and I focused my energy into reaching it and dragging my saturated body into the front seat.
The gunshot made me jump out of my skin. My stomach leapt up towards my throat and my heart thundered in my chest as chills swept up and down my spine and my head felt light. The second and third shots left me practically unable to breathe.
I was frozen in disbelief. Theories raced through my head; maybe it wasn't the same house, maybe they were warning shots, maybe they were shots at an animal or a burglar…maybe Joe was the one doing the shooting…but I knew Joe didn't have a gun. It took me a moment to come to a decision. It was foolishness to go back up to the house, especially if the gunman was still there, and if it were a false alarm then my pride would take a severe beating and would probably shatter all together. Nevertheless I returned. That is the same foolishness that convinced me to tell Joe I loved him. So I went back up to the house. Everything was deathly silent, in every sense of the description. I moved around the back and stopped, rooted to the spot, bile rising up into my throat.
Norma Desmond was crouched on the patio, sitting in a hunched over position. Her eyes were wild, her expression confused and bewildered and scary. Her hands were clasping and unclasping in her lap as she muttered to herself.
The butler stood next to her, holding a gun gingerly and trying to comfort her. Neither of them had noticed me yet, which was probably just as well. Blood splashed in a trail leading from the house and a broken typewriter lay discarded to the side. My eyes were fixed however on the body floating face down in the pool. The water was stained red with his blood and he was clearly dead.
My knees buckled and I caught myself against the wall, scraping the skin from my arm. I did not feel the pain, I had gone completely numb.
His name broke from my lips in a half sob, half moan of distress.
The butler jumped and turned to look at me.
"Madame!" he uttered. "Madame, you should not be here!" But I was barely listening. All I could see was Joe and I whispered his name over and over to myself in a sort of mantra or chant as if it would bring him back.
"Madame!" I felt the firm grasp on my shoulder and turned my glazed eyes onto him.
"The police will be here soon. If you know what is good for you you will leave now."
Norma Desmond was staring at me too. Her gaze was piercing and feverish and I knew that she recognised me.
"IF SHE CAN'T HAVE HIM LIVING SHE'LL TAKE HIM DEAD!" she shouted at me. I was grateful that the butler had removed the gun from her possession.
"Madame, please!" he begged me and slowly I was able to get to my feet. In a daze I returned down the drive and reached the gate. It wasn't until there that everything caught up with me again and I threw up all over the floor.
Clammy and shaking got into my car and there I just sat while my mind tried to comprehend what had happened. I started the car and drove automatically in a half daze away from the crime scene but the horrific image stayed in my head, burned into my memory.
I stopped the car next to the beach and rested my head against the wheel. I couldn't think straight, everything was a boiling cauldron of what had been said, what had been done, what I should have changed, what I could have prevented, and overlapping it all was the image of the man I loved floating face down in the red stained water. I wanted to just stop thinking. The very intensity of it was driving me crazy. I wanted to scream at my mind to shut up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go to sleep and let it all be a dream…instead I couldn't do anything. I was just numb.
Slowly I got out of the car. I walked down onto the sand and sat. I drew my knees up to my chest and as the sea breeze caught at my hair and tugged at my clothes I allowed the shock to take affect and let myself just shake.