When Harmon returned to the house in the morning he found Andy’s car in the drive and a pile of boxes sitting on the front porch. Boxes filled with his personal effects. Andy watched from the living room window, his expression dour and wrathful. Harmon turned from the boxes to the window. Andy was gone.
The door burst open.
“Andy, why are my-”
Before he could complete his sentence, Andy shoved him hard in the chest, nearly knocking him off the porch.
“What’s your problem?”
“What’s going on?”
“Think she wouldn’t tell me?”
“What did she tell you?”
“Take your things and leave, before I do something I’ll regret.”
“Be happy to, but not before I understand why you’re so put out.”
“Don’t test my patience, Harmon.”
“What did she tell you, exactly?”
“Oh you already know what she told me. I offer you my house – MY HOUSE – and you pull this shit?”
“I didn’t ‘pull’ anything.”
The air grew still and for a moment neither man spoke as storm clouds built in the distance, rumbling like the war drums of an wrathful god.
“I told you—take your things. Leave.”
Andy’s face twitched momentarily before he reeled back his arm and caught Harmon full in the face with a stiff right hook. Harmon went tumbling from the porch, down the stairs and landed on the flat of his back in the gravel drive. He groaned and rubbed his jaw as blood trickled from his nose in tandem with the rain that trickled from the sky.
“I told you not to test me.”
Harmon rose to a knee and wiped blood.
“And I told you I’m not leaving til you lay things out. Can’t do that if you’re trying to put your fist through my brain.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“I’m not sure what Marla told you. But whatever it was, its a lie.”
“Said you tried to force yourself on her. You denying it?”
“Like I said—a lie.”
Andy descended the creaking wooden porch stairs, body shaking with rage.
“You callin Marla a liar?”
“Every bit as accurate as callin you a fool. Fitting descriptions for the both of you.”
Andy’s face went red as he drew back his right arm and lunged. Harmon blocked the haymaker and took a wide step back, hands up in defense much as entreaty.
“I aint gonna fight you.”
“Then you’re gonna bleed.”
“Ain’t gonna do that either.”
Andy lunged once more but this time Harmon caught his arm and bent it forcefully and awkwardly behind the assailant’s back and brought him to a knee, then down, facefirst to the ground.
“Get offa me!”
“When you relax.”
“I’m relaxed. Alright. I’m fucking relaxed.”
“You don’t seem relaxed.”
“I am. I am.”
Slowly, cautiously, Harmon released the man’s arm and drew away. Andy rose, breath heavy, fingers furled, face smeared with mud, nursing his injured arm along with his wounded pride as the tatterdemalion sidewalkers stopped and starred.
An ill-kempt and middle aged man in a blue hoodie withdrew a phone and began recording, clucking to his disheveled companions who jeered and began to howler.
The bested man looked to the spectators, then to the source of his ire. Wordlessly, he barreled into Harmon with all the ferine strength his thin frame could muster, knocking the slightly bigger man off his feet. Harmon swiftly brought his arms up tight about his face, curling his body towards his attacker, nullifying the hammering, erratic blows of Andy’s knobby fists. Harmon then twisted hard, shucking tormentor from torso and rolling to a knee and springing onto Andy, hooking his left arm about the thrown man’s throat. Andy grabbed up on Harmon’s limbs in a futile attempt to free himself, gasping, choking, gnashing teeth.
Wriggling like a worm on a hook.
As Andy lapsed into unconsciousness and the electric symphony of the welkin reached its fervent crescendo, Marla, emerged from the house, terror-struck and bath-robed, and screamed.