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CeaseToEase (The End)


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Previously on the Chronicles of Easton West:

Chapter 1 - Tough first practice for Easton West (Part 1)

Chapter 2 - Tough first practice for Easton West (Part 2)

Chapter 3 - Tough first practice for Easton West (Part 3)

Chapter 4 - How's it Feel?

Chapter 5 - One Door Closes & Another One Opens

Chapter 6 - Graceland (Part 1)

Chapter 7 - Graceland (Part 2)

Chapter 8 - Graceland (Part 3 - Finale)

Chapter 9 - CeaseToEase (Part 1)

Chapter 10 - CeaseToEase (Part 2)

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

CeaseToEase - The End

 

 

Pressed against Karen’s chest was a brown paper bag filled with groceries that she had just purchased and as she fiddled for her keys in her pants pocket, she noticed that the front door to her apartment was already open by just a crack. Instantly she felt nervous at the sight of it and although every urge within her told her to turn and leave, she resisted the logic that rang through her mind and continued inside. Believing that she may have been burglarized her first instinct was to look for anything that had been stolen and to see how much of her belongings were in disarray. But nothing had been moved, and outside of her door being pried open there was no sign of a disturbance at all. Hoping somehow that there had been a mistake or that she would be notified by her landlord that something had happened, perhaps a leak or a burst pipe, she continued her way inside and placed the brown paper bag upon her kitchen counter.

 

“Karen,” the voice spoke from behind her and immediately she knew who it was, “I’m not here to hurt you,” Easton West told her, and as he finished his sentence she froze in fear. She hardly knew Easton, to her he was the man known as her stalker and the fact that he had found out where she lived terrified her beyond belief, and now he was in her home. She looked around for anything close by that she could grab as a weapon, and the knife rack that sat on her kitchen counter was at least five feet from her. Karen knew that if she went for one of the knives, he would likely get to her first. He was a professional athlete and she knew how much stronger and faster he was than her. “I know you’re scared,” he said, his voice now closer in proximity to her, “But I just want to talk.” Her hand moved back to her pant pocket and she felt the outline of her phone on the outside of her jeans. “Don’t try to call the police,” he said, and as he spoke this time, she knew that he was now standing directly behind her, “I promise I won’t hurt you.”

 

“Please leave,” she finally mustered the ability to speak and as she did her voice cracked, she was scared for her life and the possibilities of what he was about to do raced through her mind.

 

“Five minutes,” he said, “Give me five minutes and then I’ll leave, and I’ll never come back.”

 

“What do you want to talk about?” She asked, still facing away from him, “Everything that was needed to be said has been said.”

 

“Can you look at me?” He asked her, but she remained still. “Please,” he said again, “I’ll step back so you can turn around.” She could hear him move away from her, “You can turn around now,” he told her, “Please, look at me.”

 

At first, she was still unable to move but after a moment she collected herself and turned to face him. She gasped as she saw the condition he was in, he looked as though he hadn’t slept for weeks, his hair was a mess and his beard had grown out. His eyes were wild and constantly moving back and forth, and he was shaking slightly, as though he was developing the onset of Parkinson’s disease. “What do you want?” She asked him, trying to remain as calm as she could.

 

“I wanted to see you one last time,” he told her, “I’ve been having a hard time since I left the hospital, I haven’t been myself.”

 

“I think you should go back to the hospital,” she said in the hope that he might liste but she was also speaking her thoughts. 

 

“I plan to,” he nodded as though he agreed with her, “I plan to go back after we finish talking.”

 

“Easton,” she used his name in an act to build trust and to try to keep him calm, “I’m sorry this has happened to you. I really am,” she paused for a moment, “But you and I-”

 

“Don’t,” he cut her off, “Don’t tell me it wasn’t real.” 

 

She fought back tears, and again her eyes drifted to the knife rack that sat a few feet away. 

 

Easton noticed what she was looking at, “You won’t need to do that,” he tried to reassure her, “I’d never hurt you. I never would have.”

 

“Whatever you believed happened between us,” a single tear streamed down her cheek as she spoke, “It wasn’t real.”

 

“Don’t cry,” he said and then he inched forward, “Can I hold you?”

 

She shook her head, “No, don’t touch me.”

 

He stepped back, “I won’t,” he told her, “I’ll do whatever makes you comfortable.” He watched her for a moment and then shook his head in frustration, “It’s so hard to believe,” he said, “You telling me it wasn’t real, the doctors telling me it’s all in my head. People say I’m sick,” he stopped for a moment of reflection, “I had to retire, Karen, the league wouldn’t let me play anymore, did you know that?”

 

She nodded, “Yes.”

 

“What am I supposed to do now?” He asked her, “If I can’t be with you, and I can’t play the game, what am I supposed to do? My thoughts are all scrambled, my life is meaningless. What am I supposed to do now?”

 

“I don’t know,I can’t answer that,” she said, “But life is never meaningless.”

 

“It used to mean something to me, but I don’t know what’s real anymore,” he told her, “I left the hospital and I knew I had to see you again, and I’m not sure how I got here. I just found it, do you believe me? I was led here, I listened to the voice inside me and it brought me here. Did you know that I don’t feel hungry anymore Karen? I don’t even want to eat. I’m not sure when I last ate anything, I’m not sure when I last did anything at all. I just knew I had to see you, and I’m here now. I don’t know how I got here, Karen, I don’t know. Do you believe me? Do you believe in fate?”

 

“I’m not sure,” she said honestly, “But I’m sorry this has happened to you.”

 

“I wondered if I came here, if I could talk to you again in person, that maybe you’d tell me that it was just a bad dream. That what I thought was true, was true. That you loved me as much as I love you. Do you think you could love me?” He asked her out of desperation, “Do you think you ever could have feelings for me at all?” 

 

Tears streamed down her face. 

 

“Please,” he said, “Please don’t cry. I love you; don’t you understand? I love all that you are.”

 

“You need help, Easton,” she told him, “You need to go back to the hospital. They can help you there.”

 

“I don’t think they can, not like this, not like this. But is that what you want?” He asked her, “Do you want me to leave still? Even after I told you all of that?”

 

She nodded, “Yes.”

 

“I had hoped you wouldn’t, I really believed that you wouldn’t, but hope is a lie, Karen, it’s only ever been a lie,” Easton’s eyes started to water now, “I was raised on the belief that hope can change lives. That it can make things better, make you feel better about things, but it doesn’t. It just hurts to have hope, and I don’t want it to hurt anymore.” He stepped toward her again and the moment he did she made her move and ran toward the knife rack, he remained in place and watched as she pulled a carving knife from the rack and turned to face him. “You won’t have to use that,” he said, “I’d never hurt you. They say I’m sick, Karen, they say something is wrong with me,” he pulled a piece of paper from the pocket of his pants, “I wrote this,” he told her, “Will you read it?”

 

“What are you talking about?” She asked him as she held the knife up in his direction. 

 

“Sometimes when I try to explain myself, I get lost, I get confused. There’s too much in my head for me to say things now, and I don’t want to scare you anymore. I’m so sorry I’ve scared you.. I’ll go back to the hospital now,” he said, “But I wanted to make sure you knew about this, it’s a letter I wanted to pass along to you, will you read it for me? Will you?” He held it out for her, but she did not move toward him. “I’ll put it down,” he said as he lowered his body to the ground and placed the paper on the kitchen floor. “I’ll put it right here. You don’t have to read it now, but I hope you will,” he shook his head again in frustration, “But hope is a lie, isn’t it? It’s only ever been a lie, right?”

 

“Please Easton, I want you to leave now,” she said, her grip on the knife in her hands tightened, “I don’t want you to come back, do you understand? Don’t come back here.”

 

“I won’t. I’ll go now,” he said, “I won’t come back, I promise,” he told her, “I wanted you to love me, that’s all I ever wanted, but who’s going to love me like this? I thought you would understand, I hoped, but it was a lie- it’s only ever been,” He reached behind him and pulled out a 9mm handgun.

 

“No!” She screamed, “Please! Don’t!”

 

He waved his hand softly, “It’s okay, Karen, I’d never hurt you, don’t you understand? This isn’t for you,” he said before he aimed the gun at his chest and fired. The moment the bullet pierced his skin, Karen let go of her knife, and as it fell to the kitchen floor- Easton West collapsed down in front of it.

 

Karen screamed at the top of her lungs and backed away, and as blood began to pool under the body of Easton West, her neighbour called 911.

 

***

 

“You did the right thing,” the Detective told Karen as she stood in the hallway of her apartment building. “This wasn’t your fault.” The Detective was calm and collected, and his phrasing was too well rehearsed. It was obvious that this wasn’t his first rodeo and he didn’t expect it to be his last.

 

Karen nodded, she was still shaking from the trauma and was struggling to keep focus on any one thought, “I can’t believe it happened, I still can’t believe it.”

 

“Take some time for yourself,” the Detective told her before he asked, “Do you have family in the area or a friend you can call?”

 

“What?’ Karen asked in a daze before she responded with, “Yes.”

 

“Best to spend the night with someone you know,” the Detective said and then remarked, “When you’re ready, in a few days, we’ll need a statement from you.”

 

“I understand, yes, that’s fine,” she said and as the Detective turned to leave, Karen called out to him, “Did you get the letter off the floor?”

 

“Yes,” the Detective said as he turned back in her direction, “We collected it.”

 

“Did you read it?” She asked him.

 

“Most of it.”

 

“What did it say?” She was curious but hadn’t wanted to touch the paper, she hadn’t touched anything in her kitchen since the incident, and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to go back inside her apartment ever again.

 

“It was more or less a love letter to you,” the Detective told her, “He asked for his brain to be studied, so that people like him in the future could be helped. We will contact his next of kin and inform them of the rest. Did you want a copy of it?”

 

“I’m not sure,” she said as her eyes drifted for a moment, “I never knew him,” she told the Detective, “I don’t know if I should?”

 

“You don’t have to decide that now,” the Detective stepped back toward her and placed his arm lightly on her shoulder, “Mental illness is a difficult thing for a lot of us to understand,” the Detective remarked, “But it’s over now, he’s gone, and you won’t have to worry about him anymore.”

 

“I hope that’s true,” she said aloud, speaking her thought, and as she said the word, ‘hope,’ – it hung in her mind. “Hope,” she repeated as she looked back at the Detective, “Do you think hope is a lie?” She asked the Detective suddenly.

 

The Detective thought about the question for a moment, “No,” the Detective told her with a sincere expression and then added, “I think a lot of us feel the same way about that.” The Detective studied her for a moment, “I’m going to be here while forensics finishes. I want you to call a friend or a loved one, do you want to borrow my phone?”

 

“No,” she shook her head, “I have my phone,” she hesitated and then pulled her phone from her pocket, “I don’t know who to call first.”

 

“Someone you can talk to, it’s best not to be alone right now,” the Detective said before offering, “We can get you a hotel room for the night.”

 

“Thank you,” Karen said, nodding her head in agreement.

 

“You’re going to be okay, but it’s going to take some time to feel that way,” the Detective said reassuringly, “And that is something you won’t need to hope for.”

 

“Thank you,” she repeated.

 

“Make the call,” he told her, “If you need anything, I’m here.”

 

 

***

 

Excerpt from the New York Times:

 

WEST FAMILY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST ELITE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

 

A month after the tragic suicide of former Elite Football League linebacker, Easton West, his family has filed a lawsuit against the league that made him famous. The West family is seeking damages in the death of Easton West, stating that the league is responsible for the mental illness he occurred while playing the game. The lawsuit cites multiple instances where head trauma was suffered by Easton West, and the league still allowed him to play. Based on the recent autopsy it was confirmed that Easton West was suffering from a severe case of C.T.E, otherwise known as Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and it is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head.

 

The league issued a brief statement regarding the lawsuit, “We are aware of the lawsuit filed by the family of Easton West and we will be reviewing it in detail with our legal representation. We offer the West family our deepest condolences and have nothing further to say at this time.”

 

End of excerpt

 

(2506 words)

 

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