Faded Angel


It was the kind of place he never came too. Why should he? He had it all, didn’t he? Or had. Fame, money, good looks and a family that loved him unconditionally. This was the kind of corner bar you found in every city, the place that was all but invisible as you passed by. That kind of bar. A place nobody wanted to be caught in. It was a bar for losers.

He knew he was at the bottom. He knew because he had noticed this place, he had seen it, sitting between a coffee shop and a tattoo parlor. He had also seen people walk right on by it, as if the place hadn’t existed. But he had seen it. He had gone inside, finding exactly what he had expected to find.

An old woman sitting in a corner, mumbling to herself as she sloppily drank a glass of some questionable brown substance, occasionally wiping the liquor from her chin. A pair of young men playing at a dingy pool table, neither talking, just focusing on the game as if it were a life preserver that could save them from whatever life had currently stuck them with.

Several more of the old clichés were found throughout the bar and he acknowledged them all because he in fact had become a cliché himself. There had been a time when he had been top of his game. He didn’t take shit from nobody and nobody was dumb enough to even think about trying to pull a fast one on him.

He had been adored by the masses, loved by millions he had never even seen.

He had been Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid. The Show Stopper. The Main Event.

Now he was just Michael Hickenbottom. A broken down old man. He settled himself onto a barstool that was almost generic for this place. Rusted legs and a rip in the faded, red leather seat. Tapping the counter, he got the bartender’s attention.

“What’ll it be?” The man had asked, not interested enough in his newest customer to even look up from the crossword puzzle he was completing.

“Whiskey. A bottle.” He had replied, his voice hoarse. He could have tried to clear it but what was the point? It wasn’t like he really had anything to say. He fished in his back pocket for his faded, ragged wallet, pulling out a few crumpled bills -what remained of his ’allowance’- and tossed them on the counter.

When the bottle and a shot glass had been set before him, he immediately began to drown the whiskey, needing to forget. If even for a moment, he needed to forget.

Why had he gone to John Layfield? Why? What had happened to the money? Had he really been that careless with his earnings? His paychecks? Hadn’t he saved anything? He’d thought nothing of lavishing expensive gifts on his wife and children, didn’t they deserve to have beautiful things? He donated to charities, gave his weekly tithe to his local church. Where had the money gone?

Why, oh, why did he ever go to Layfield…

He should have asked Paul for the money, or even Vince. It was such a small amount, just a pittance to get him through till his next paycheck. Instead, he had found himself asking John.

John had been so friendly about it. He acted like it had been nothing, whipping out several hundred dollar bills and pressing them in Michael’s hand like they were old buddies.

Michael knew now he had made a deal with the Devil.

He downed another shot, pouring a refill before resting his head in his hands, staring at the amber liquid. Merciful unconscious was what that beautiful amber drink offered him. Peace from his troubles.

“You look like you’re having a rough night.” Came a low voice from the barstool beside him.

Michael looked up to find a woman sitting beside him, automatically glancing behind him. “Are you-” He cleared his throat. “Are you talking to me?”

“Yes, I was.” She replied, her gray eyes twinkling. “Murry, could I get the usual, please?” She requested sweetly, the bartender already setting a glass before her. “Mmm, thank you.”

He could only watch as she took a slow sip, her pink tongue darting out to catch a drop that remained on her full lower lip. “A rough night…” He echoed.

She nodded, placing a silver cigarette case on the counter beside her glass, pulling out an unfiltered cigarette. A silver lighter flashed, a slight sizzling sound then she was inhaling, drumming her fingernails on the counter, staring at him patiently.

“I sold my soul.” Michael whispered, fingering the rim of his shot glass. “Sold my soul.”

She tapped her ashes into a cheap plastic ashtray, one you found in every joint like this place, nodding again.

“Borrowed some money, paying it back.” Michael knew he wasn’t making any sense, just rambling. “Paying.”

“We all sell our souls.” The woman commented, as if talking about the weather, taking another slow sip of her drink. “Was it worth it, is the question.”

“No…” He shook his head, his long brown hair coming undone from the sloppy tail he had pulled it into, framing his lean, hollowed face. “No, it wasn’t.”

She leaned towards him, her gray eyes locking with his. “Then get it back.” She murmured.

Now he could smell her. She smelled like menthol cigarettes. Scotch. And something light, almost a floral scent. It took him a moment to realize it was perfume. “How?” He stared at her, his mouth slightly ajar. She looked somewhat like an angel, pale blond hair hanging down to her mid back, giving her the look of something ethereal in such a grungy place.

“Deal with the devil.”



“I’m Christian.”

“It was a metaphor, honey.”

“Oh…” Michael took another shot. After several moments of silence, he once again cleared his throat. “What’s your name?”



She laughed, her voice velvet lined, shaking her head slightly. “It’s weird, I know. It means ‘look and behold’, my parents were vain I suppose.”

“Look and behold.” He repeated, looking at her appreciatively for a moment, dropping his gaze back to the counter. “Suits you.”

“Well thank you very much.”

“I’m married.” He blurted out, blinking.

“I know.” She whispered, smoke drifting his way as she exhaled. “I seen your ring.”

Michael just nodded.

She hummed to herself, not making conversation anymore, sipping her drink until it was gone. Smoking another cigarette, gesturing for a refill. After another round of silence, she slipped off the barstool, ambling to a jukebox Michael hadn’t noticed.

He watched as Tarisai idly flicked through the selection, finally depositing a few quarters. She returned briefly to the bar to get another cigarette.

Send away for a priceless gift

One not subtle, one not on the list

Send away for a perfect world

One not simply, so absurd

In these times of doing what you’re told

You keep these feelings, no one knows

Michael listened to the opening of the song, swirling the whiskey in his glass. He could sympathize. When Tarisai didn’t come back over, he slowly turned on his stool, finding her dancing by herself, cigarette between her fingers.

He sat there, holding the shot glass in his hand, watching her sway in time to the music. Her eyes were closed, lips moving silently, mouthing the words. Her long, blond hair shimmered under the flickering, dim lights.

What ever happened to the young man’s heart

Swallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart

Tarisai’s eyes opened, her gray orbs staring at him, a knowing smile playing her lips. Crooking a finger at him, she beckoned him to join her.

And I’m staring down the barrel of a 45

Swimming through the ashes of another life

No real reason to accept the way things have changed

Staring down the barrel of a 45

Almost against his will, he did. Leaving behind the bottle of blessed oblivion, he almost sleep walked to her. His hand reached out for her, cupping the back of her slender neck, pulling this faded angel against him.

Send a message to the unborn child

Keep your eyes open for a while

In a box high up on the shelf

Left for you, no one else

There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life

Wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight

The song had never been intended for dancing, that much was obvious. But they danced anyway, swaying against each other. Her pink lips were right by his ear now, he could hear her singing along, her low pitched voice sending shivers down his spine.

What ever happened to the young man’s heart

Swallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart

Her eyes swallowed him, as if she was trying to draw his pain into her.

Michael looked over her head. “I’m married.” He whispered, repeating himself.

“I know.”

And now I’m staring down the barrel of a 45

Swimming through the ashes of another life

No real reason to accept the way things have changed

Staring down the barrel of a 45

He began entertaining thoughts he normally wouldn’t have. The strain of his situation, the alcohol, the beautiful woman in his arms.

They were poisoning his mind.

What was left of it.

Everyone’s pointing their fingers

Always condemning me

Nobody knows what I believe

I believe

“I have a room across the street.”

Tarisai smiled, it was a sweet, sad smile. “Okay.”

And I’m staring down the barrel of a 45

Swimming through the ashes of another life

No real reason to accept the way things have changed

Staring down the barrel of a 45

Michael finished the dance, ignoring the scent of nicotine on her breath as he bent down. Her lips parted for him, returning his tender kiss.

And I’m staring down the barrel of a 45

And I’m swimming through the ashes of another life

There is no real reason to accept the way things have changed

Staring down the barrel of a 45, 45

Staring down the barrel of a 45

He led her from the bar, halting long enough for her to grab her clutch. Silver flashed briefly before disappearing into the purse.

An angel who smoked menthol cigarettes and smelled like liquor. She was a faded angel.

A gentle rain had started while they had been inside. Michael almost smiled. The rain felt like it was cleansing him, washing away everything that was wrong with him. He closed his eyes, tilting his head back to catch the rain on his face.

When he looked down, she was smiling at him, damp tendrils of hair clinging to her pale face.

He kissed her again.

And again.

And again.

While letting the rain wet them.

No words were needed as he pulled her across the street, her hand fitting in his perfectly, their fingers intertwined like they were old lovers.

She smelled like lilacs and rain now.

It was a cheap motel, nothing fancy. He couldn’t afford anything even remotely nice. The man who ran the place glanced up once and nodded, returning to his small black and white television. It was exactly how movies portrayed places like this. Faded, chipped paint on the narrow walls. The cheap linoleum was peeling off the floor.

The room wasn’t much better. A dingy carpet that was worn through in places, looking like it had never seen a vacuum cleaner. The light didn’t work in the bathroom which was a blessed relief because he didn’t want to see how disgusting the toilet probably was.

If sickened by the room or somehow disappointed, Tarisai didn’t show it. She guided him towards the bed, setting down on the clean but stained comforter.

He stood between her parted legs, looking down to see her knees, the creaminess of her inner thighs as the black skirt she wore had ridden up her legs. Almost reverently, he dropped to his knees, moving his hands up to rest on her kneecaps.

“Touch me.” She whispered, grabbing his hand and gently guiding it to her chest, molding his palm against her breast. The silk fabric of her blouse gave way under his touch, adhering to her heated flesh.

This was wrong, so very wrong. It was a sin. A hurtful thing to do to his beloved wife and for a moment Michael was wracked with guilt.

All guilt was pushed away when she kneeled down in front of him, leaning forward to kiss him again. Effectively driving all thoughts away but one.

He needed her. He wanted her.

She tasted like cigarettes and a lingering trace of peppermints, a hint of scotch.

His faded angel.