Already picturing how he might need to play dead over and over again, Leana gauged Alec as the warranty for broken parts inside of herself since she couldn’t bring herself in for service. Chronically forgetful Leana pictured it would be incontrovertible to recommend that Alec accept her claims that she determined his worth. Meanwhile, as usual she took her time on everything.
Even as she reeked of cheap noxious perfume that emphasized diethyl phthalate with a resounding odor of hot plastic, the pheromones attracted only an unplanned rendezvous with a blistered discount-driven bee that removed himself from the natural order for an uncomplicated high. Not all that seductive, unlike a signature opulent fragrance of basil flowers mixed with creamy plum and orchid overtones.
Her moral sense gave her an authority to covet the last laugh to be felt by the most destructive in society, because they had justifiable reasons for destroying things and places people love. She took for granted many of the advantages life brought her. Still Alec found himself intrigued.
As a perceived victim of continual circumstance, Leana saw even the smallest matter as indistinguishable from the largest, because Alec hadn’t given her enough. Her entitlement granted her treatment afforded kings and queens. In every situation, he was supposed to feed her need or die apologizing. He almost ended up dying apologizing, literally.
Alec, in her estimation was overly law-abiding. Not with it and unfamiliar with bending the rules. The self-appointed belle of spray paintable fashion, she figured that crime was a dialect that was easier to understand and her jealousy of his happy life constantly crept in. She saw herself as a sort of roguish demagogue. So she figured, it was up to her to find the loose bolts in the perfect picture and slant the frame a bit.
Although many self-improved gangsters who chose to reform spent a lot less time underestimating everyone and more time exploring better times ahead and yearning to feel better, her love of gifting perpetual angst to people and deprivation rose from her splintered obedience to self-destruction. Hell bent as some would say and smelling, well, oblivious.
Alec worked as an IT professional, with a computer attached to his fingertips like a nail polish caught up in a false reality preordained for the soft part of the finger rather than the nail. Every code language he learned brought him closer to getting smart on internet security. He was schooled on all things cyber, a vestibule of sorts for everyone with computer issues. He’d been happily married to Adriana for three years, after they dated for a few years.
They had met Leana sometime during the third year of their marriage. Leana downplayed the objectification of women in certain rap music that both Adriana and Alec found contrary to the types of images of women they found impressive. She thought women all over the world would feel liberated for being personified as hyper sexualized, disrespected and thuggishly sought-after. By all estimations, they both appreciated political rap that related more to societal struggles. Although Leana had recently addressed herself as dysfunctional and liked to laugh about it, Adriana found it a ploy for an undesirable situation.
Distance grew between Adriana and Leana. Leana had in mind that there was a potential that their marriage wouldn’t last. Leana was banking on the marriage’s failure secretly, like a subprime mortgage speculator hoping for homeowner failures. The failure of their marriage was Leana’s prime motivator. Only Adriana felt that saving her marriage wasn't going to become her every day challenge.
Instead, she left it to her husband to deal with what she saw as Leana’s varying manipulations. Leana didn't like anything that interfered with her sense of entitlement. She labeled a right and respect for privacy and personal boundaries as cagey.
For Leana, a part time investment broker a happier life was refutable; the basis of happiness for her was an anchor that she imagined only came from fortune, not misfortune. Leana’s claims never were to be chiseled for fear of long term retributions. A state of deprivation encompassed her and led her to punish those who wanted to feel the benefits of positive motivations. A twisted reality of sorts built to rationalize.
Eventually, Alec began to falter when he tried relentlessly to explain to her that while her statements about his wife might not be based on anything other than Leana’s own insolence, they weren’t collaborative to say the least. Adriana felt alienated. Leana felt good. Leana seemed to find Adriana’s adorable ways too endearing like when Adriana smiled and looked down when she felt overpoweringly compelled by Alec’s laughter or when Adriana latched onto a decision to install a new walkway to their home and ingrained herself into her new project.
In fact, it was another example of how Leana enjoyed isolating people from friends and family. She always downplayed group efforts to get someone alone. Alec had recently begun to hate her, but knew it wasn’t the best response. Love was, but Leana toyed with Alec, even as he now realized that explaining himself to her needed to stop. Besides, he didn’t feel like it was love they shared, more camaraderie, but even still no salve existed for vindictiveness or made the fear of retribution fade away.
Their lives had entangled through a mutual friend and quickly became a sorted and tattered sibling bond ensconced with dark overtones sharing an edginess that put others off, but that initially Alec enjoyed. They became sparring partners in crimes against kindness and good deeds, except if they were the beneficiaries.
Had it been her inability to embrace others’ dreams as being respectable? Had it been her hate for reconciliation? Had it been her fatalism? Her disdain for religion? Her macabre video collection? Her demented way of changing her position on the simplest of things from one situation to another that confused him, as if she were mulling over a criminal’s motivations? Or her ever changing hair color streaks? Had she been the pool for his inner child’s ever suppressed distorting side that made him embrace her influence over him?
Formerly deeply serene Alec lost his famously meditative dark brown eyebrows in the fold of a real friend’s arm while fighting for his life. He couldn't answer any of these questions. Affectionately, Daniel desperately held Alec. Alec’s disheveled brown hair and his inelegant white t-shirt surfaced under his chin like a sob for worriless days. Daniel’s yoga body seemed frail at the moment, for the first time in years.
Daniel hoped that Alec would once again open his eyes. He cried, grasping for air, and bereft, pictured all the future opportunities he and Alec may have shared disintegrate. Although Daniel never understood it, Alec without fail was drawn to the worrisome Leana and that which never emotionally satisfied him.
Essentially, Alec thought he could fix Leana and help set her on a more encouraging path. Now as tears fell from Daniel’s face, a roar in his mind made him wonder if he wasn’t screaming out loud at the top of his lungs. Might be.
Despondent, as Alec gripped Daniel, Daniel noticed that Alec was dressed as if there should be no care in the world. Except, Daniel feared that the love of getting people to squirm that Leana infused in him might fundamentally have indirectly led to Alec’s destruction, no matter how easy-going he looked.
It’s sufficient that as Alex fought for his life, Leana ran through his mind. All the while memories of Leana were faithful. Leana started most of her sentences with, “I only meant that…” or “All I said was…” tied in with her foot-dragging on any idea she didn’t propose. She exhausted people with her lack of emotional availability, her denials and her own constant calamity.
She figured for all intents and purposes everything was inevitably going to involve a crime, so why develop a legal approach to life. Her deflection and downplaying others’ normal emotional needs in any relationship made her more obedient to her decision to avoid basic kindness and humanity than common decencies. As a psychologist might call it, she was an emotional hijacker, a crazymaker, a denier. As the general public said an emotional vampire, divesting every situation of any emotion other than what was ripe for predatory practice. Leana was divisive.
Her romance with malice started as she first destroyed a neighbor’s home and watched as they sorted through the emotional web of pain and suffering at a distance. She felt absolutely no remorse, somehow the person needed to know what her state of emotional being felt like. If she had to suffer then they would have no weekend. A cycle of internal violence that bleeds from one to the next as a means to justify why we do each other harm or explain why there is pain in the world to begin with.
By causing the pain, she controlled the situation. She feasted on schadenfreude as a way of life so that someone’s skin would get tougher. The quashing and deliberate reductions of individual ambitions were minimized by her angry assaults and lack of ingenuity. She abused her relationships, throwing Alec and others into a deliberate game of misplaced loyalties, misdirection and self-indulgence. She was undeniably unconquerable.
Alec’s hand rested so passively on Daniel that tunnel vision caused Daniel only to witness the limp arm as the ambulance pulled up.
Blatantly, Leana transformed holding a beautiful flower into a nonverbal behavior that provoked rage somehow by honing in on a portion of the flower to question if it truly was as beautiful in the eye of a beholder. Can flowers grow beautifully in factoried Newark? Insincerity fell from her tongue at every juncture as she bled anyone doing better than she was for actively contributing to her role as victim.
She created an insensitive environment for her wrongdoer, always targeting people who she was desperate to manipulate and break down so that they too would learn how to play dead. They would eventually accept these terms she figured or die trying.
The object of her rage did not exist anymore in her mind; it was already fighting for air. Her lack of reciprocal helpfulness for those who she wanted to bring down to her level included such silent wrath as stirring on something mundane in each conversation only to then find someone more interesting to talk to herself. She grudged. She passively ordained blame on whomever she deemed as taking things the wrong way. This lack of empathy worked for her only as far as those who felt obligated toward her denied themselves emotional fulfillment in her presence. Her shallowness ruled supreme.
Daniel’s moustache, beard and baldness were undetectable to Alec as he had become entangled into his arms, while Daniel suspected Alec’s wife had no idea of Alec’s current frail state. He suspected that Leana had somehow precipitately brought Alec into a situation that would test his fragility and let her cruelty shine. He just wasn't sure how yet.
Leana always felt more sympathy for those who held the bigger stick because the intimidation factor quieted inner wills. Her oppressive laugh often cut through Daniel’s peace of mind and although her charm offensive seemed to assimilate with Alec’s need for calculations, Alec’s wife Adriana grew distant. Alec would have found Leana’s conscious femme fatality a force to reckon with and would have determined that he could temper her.
Alec lay in Daniel’s arms and Daniel had no idea how to reach Adriana. Adriana had desperately tried to call a few hours earlier, but Alec’s phone had died.
Daniel helped put Alec into the ambulance. Once inside, he plugged in Alec’s phone hoping he might be able to reach Adriana. He called her. Panicked, Adriana answered. She asked Daniel if Alec was alright. He told her he and Alec were on their way to the hospita, and that he could barely breathe when he was found on Daniel’s front steps deeply bruised. He’d been left there to die. Seeking salvage, Adriana explained to Daniel that they had been the target of a massive con.
The police told Adriana that it was something very similar to the Tim Dog legendary rapper con job she read about in Vice. Tim Dog the rapper had allegedly faked his own death in February reporting that he had died of a seizure following a battle with diabetes. His criminal history of grand larceny forced him to pay a pretty high sum for restitution, almost $20 grand. However, the defrauded victim claimed that the death was faked to avoid the payment. CBS confirmed that the rapper released a new song this past summer titled “Falsified” featuring himself and another rapper singing about how he faked his own death and blamed others for conning everyone.
Police told Adriana that they were the target of a copycat situation, except that a few of the details were different. Someone had faked Alec’s death and had set up a Paypal account hooked up to their joint bank account. The fraudulent extortionists claimed that donations for Alec’s three desperately abandoned and surviving children who supposedly lost their father to a blood disease that cost their family thousands in medical costs would prove too much to bear for the family of three and the widow.
Thousands of dollars of donations started flooding in over the course of a week and neither Adriana nor Alec could explain what was happening, especially since they were actually still alive. They also didn’t have three children. They appeared to be involved in a fraud.
Alec couldn't explain what was happening and asked the bank to look into it. In the meantime, he had been trying to rein in his relationship with Leana only to find her suggesting that his IT skills weren't all they were cracked up to be. It seemed like reading between her lines started consuming his nightly thoughts and reflected poorly on his attention on his home and his usual exuberance for recreation. Consumed, he began reading Leana’s emails to him and decided he needed to confront her with her fear.
However, Leana had other plans for Alec. She said she was too busy to meet for coffee, but mentioned she could meet him at his office a little after 4:30 pm to get him home on time for dinner. He agreed. He arrived five minutes early to park.
As he locked the driver side door to his car, he felt like his kidney had made contact with a pole and briefly thinking he may have rammed into something accidentally, he turned his face exposing himself to punch after brutal punch. His nose cracked, his eye bled, his stomach seemed to be eating his breath without engaging his failing lungs. He imagined that his brain would lose functionality too soon. He saw his wallet and keys disappear and then everything went dark.
At the hospital, Adriana grabbed Daniel to hug him and thank him. The natural order felt subsumed by a veneer of fatality.
Until Alec would awake from his coma a week later, no one would know anything about his failed meeting with Leana. The donations had been withdrawn from the Paypal account. With fear of retribution grasping at his very being, Alec returned home silent, violated, tormented to a doting Adriana. Leana’s escape had been all the more imperceptible and yet no one except Alec would ever have the true history of what happened those extraordinary few months that led up to his being set up to almost die.
Had there even been a warning? Or had Leana’s nefarious purposes mesmerized him into inviting extortion with one false move which in some inexplicable way led to his reality check that détente with a criminal was an unsolicited thaw? Playing dead, he saw it more as irreconcilable and blemished by his wishful thinking that his accommodating approach would thwart Leana in asserting her will to conduct her criminal tug of war. Like a book of lost fragrances, Leana rolled around in Alec’s mind like a lingering afterthought as he had evaded death although playing at it; with only the aspiration left of a wanting disciplined spirit on a journey of spiritual flagellation.