Strigoi (Part 3)
Roy Armstrong was the town drunk and he accepted it. It was what he was and probably will be until the day he died. He spent his days panhandling downtown in the square, and using the change he accumulated early in the day to purchase a sandwich and a pint of Wild Irish Rose from the QuikMart on Hall Street, in the evening. Roy slept in the park on the bench every night except when it was too cold or if it was raining too hard. Then he would go to Ms.Webster’s house and she would allow him to sleep in the shed that she kept in the backyard. In the morning, she fed him a big breakfast, read him some bible scriptures and gave him a long lecture about how he had his whole future ahead him and let the past destroy it, but with God he could get back on his feet and be made whole again. After that, she would send him on his way with a bag of food, wash towels, soap, and some old clothes that her deceased husband left behind. The whole town thought that Roy lost his mind when he came back from the war twenty years ago. That his mind was just too fragile and completely cracked after all the blood, mayhem, and murder that went on overseas. But boy were they wrong.
Roy and Ms. Webster’s son Darren were the best of friends since they were six years old, assigned to sit beside each other on their very first day of kindergarten. They were thick as thieves all through their childhood, teen years up until they joined the army together and then they outgrew each other. Or maybe they did not outgrow each other, maybe they reminded each other too much of a horrible past they tried to bury. The last time Darren and Roy spoke to each other they almost came to blows. Darren pissed off at Roy for being so stupid as to get kicked out of the army for being a drunk and being sent back to Stamburg. The town they both vowed to leave and never ever return. But Darren was stronger than Roy, always have been. Darren had always been physically stronger, emotionally stronger and of course mentally stronger. Which is why Darren was able to repress the ugly memories of the past and keep going through life without needing a stimulant just to get through the day.
Roy’s father died when he was thirteen years old of a heart attack and his mother died when he was stationed in Korea fifteen years ago, of an aneurysm. When his mother died the drinking got so bad, he would get into fights with other soldiers, being sent to the brig almost weekly. Then he started showing up to his post late from oversleeping due to drunken stupors. The last straw was when he showed up to his post drunk. The army gave him a one way ticket back to Stamburg along with dishonorable discharge papers. The house his mother and father left him ended up becoming condemned and foreclosed on due to lack of upkeep and not paying the taxes on it. Everything he ever loved and lived for was gone, so Roy felt like his life was worthless so he waited to die. Drinking day and night until his liver gives out and he stops breathing. Of course people tried to help him. Especially those he grew up with and the older people in town that knew him since he was a little boy. The pastor of the church he grew up in offered him a job with room and board, but Roy declined it. He didn’t deserve it. Guilt from the past ate at him.
Roy sat on the side of the fountain that stood in the middle of the town square, with an empty old tin can in his hand. He sat there waiting on someone to drop a quarter in it out of pity. He was used to pity. Roy would see his former high school classmates walk by as he was panhandling in town, shaking their heads in pity. Some would drop coins or dollars in the can, tell him to take care of himself and quickly walk off. Others would just keep walking by him, muttering under their breaths about how his mother is probably rolling in her grave. Roy’s mood was much better than normal, possibly because of how warm it was outside. “I think I might take my change, and buy Miss Webster a flower”, he thought to himself, as he turned towards the flower shop. But that wasn’t his only excuse for going into the flower shop. Michelle Mitz was one of the reasons why he wanted to go into the shop. She was the only woman that didn’t treat him like a leper or a sad charity case. She never gave him change but she did offer him a job sweeping the front of the shop and washing the windows, which he declined. It wasn’t because of pride, it was because he felt as though he didn’t deserve the help of anyone. When he declined her help she became offended. Told him that she will not just drop change into an able bodied man’s coffer. That if he wanted anything in this world, he’d have to earn it. What she said made her even more attractive to him.
Roy counted the change that was in the tin can which came up to Eight dollars and some loose change. He stood up, stretched and begin walking towards the flower shop when he something that made him stop in his tracks. An ice cold finger of familiarity crept down his spine and his breath caught in his throat. Roy could not swallow, could not move, could not move his eyes from the figure that was standing in the window of the shop. His heart beat in his chest ten times the normal rate and if he didn’t know that it was fear causing it, he would have thought he was having a heart attack. But this wasn’t a heart attack, this was pure fear and shock. Roy willed himself for three minutes, to get his ass up and walk in that flower shop to save Michelle before that thing that he and his best friend fought twenty years ago, took her and do to her what it did to over half the townsfolk back then.