Chapter 16 Break on Through...

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From within the void, Hank noticed a trickle of light as fuzzy shapes and colors started molding together into movement. Maybe it was because of the voice he had just been painfully made to remember, but the movement before him resolved into Diana. No, it wasn't Diana after all. It was her. The girl from downtown. The one who got him into this mess in the first place. Well, that wasn't completely accurate. He shared a big part of the responsibility as well.

Even though she was dressed like trash, she took his breath away as soon as he saw her. He was crossing Illinois Street, minding his own business. She looked so much like his dead wife that Hank found himself staring at her from the middle of the street and only realized it when he was woken by several angry car horns. He was there now, all over again, watching her. The sound of car horns and disgruntled shouts for Hank to move caught her attention and she turned and looked right at him. He froze again just like he did back then. He tried to fight it, but he found himself doing just as he did that day.

He raised his arm to keep her attention, but she turned and race-walked away from him. This time he understood why. He failed to notice the first time that he must have looked like a madman looking for an innocent victim to assault. Just like the gesture itself, he was unable to stop himself from repeating his next move. He ran after her. She had just disappeared around the western corner of West Ohio Street, looking back at him as if in fear for her life, just like she had then. He never knew why he had taken off after her, not even then. He hadn't thought it was his wife, he just wanted to talk to her for some strange reason. As if meeting her would give him some kind of closure that nothing else had so far. This time, even though he knew how ridiculous his reasoning had been, he found himself still unable to prevent his actions. He grabbed hold of the two-tone granite wall to help slow him as he spun around the corner. He called out to her as he set foot onto the sidewalk of Ohio Street.

"Ma’am! Please, wait! You look like someone. I just want to talk to you," he yelled out as he gestured toward her again.

Almost breaking into a run, the woman seemed to have no interest in meeting Hank. She reached into her bag as she started to run and pulled out a cell phone. The phone had shiny, gem-like designs on it. Every other second or so, it reflected a blinding ray of sunlight into Hank's eyes as the woman ran with it at her ear. As she talked into the phone too fast for Hank to understand, he saw her glance periodically at his reflection in the windows that lined the building beside them to the left. The next thing Hank knew, she made it to the end of the block and swung left fast, following North Capital Avenue. Hank noticed as he turned onto the street himself that the same configuration of four windows grouped between stone pillars lined this side of the building as well. But it didn't last long. The building ended at an opening between itself and the next building that lead into a parking garage built into the next building.

She turned left and ran into the opening for the garage. Hank knew what was coming but had, by this point, realized that there was no escaping the fact that he was going to relive it completely untainted from the first time.

The pimp came running out from the ground level of the garage right on cue, baseball bat in hand. Hank stopped immediately, holding his hands up in a gesture that clearly said, "please don't hit me." The Diana clone ran behind the pimp without looking back as if she were running for home base in the major leagues. The heels of her shoes nearly broke off as she waddled for the garage.

"Starla doesn't hook up with anyone without an appointment made through me, ya hear, son?" the pimp said as he aimed the bat in Hank’s direction. He stood about six feet tall, wearing a brown corduroy suit with a purple silk handkerchief hanging from his jacket pocket and a cowboy hat that almost matched the color of his suit. Aside from the handkerchief, his clothes nearly camouflaged his pale skin. And here it was, the crucial moment, more than any other, that Hank wanted so badly to do over. It was the last chance he could have taken to walk away. Even though he knew in the real world, no one could really go back and do anything over again, he still tried to will himself to do just that. But no dice. He once again found himself reaching in his back pocket for his wallet with his right hand as he continued to hold his left up in that gesture of safety. The pimp, with a look of greedy curiosity, watched him as his arms loosened, letting the bat rest against his shoulder.

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