Peter climbed the stairs to his apartment. It has been two weeks since the wedding and he was reminded by it when he wore his coat again. He thought about the significance of certain objects in one’s mind and how these objects can absorb moments and replay them when the mind sees them.

Someone was in his apartment. The door hung open. He stepped inside and saw a figure bending over his bed. It was a female figure, a very attractive female figure. “Manny, is that you?” Peter spoke cautiously as the figure turned.

“Peter! Where were you?”

“Why did you break into my apartment?” His voice was calm.

“I do believe that I still have a key to this apartment.”

“No you don’t. What do you want?”

“I want you, Peter.” She said in a sultry tone.

She stepped towards him as she said this. He backed away and observed her appearance. She had a black eye. Peter knew why she was here. Manny was a drug addict and she wanted Peter’s help. It was either money or muscle. He had to get her out of here.

It was pouring outside and Manny was already in the car. Peter looked at her through the car’s window and he saw that she was in pain. He wondered whether he was the first she turned to or whether others refused her like he was about to. He remembered the nights they had spent together, under sheets of promise and on mattresses soaked in lust. He had loved her back then. She was the only thing he had lived for. The drugs and the partying would have meant nothing without her. Now he was standing in the rain, two years drug free, letting his past back in. He could not deny her help. She had never done him wrong. She was just a victim of his past obsession. He had to help her.

There was an awkward silence in the car. The radio was playing an upbeat melody and Manny was bopping her head to it. Peter thought about how she always did that when they were high. She would play a Hip Hop song on her I-pod and urge him to dance with her. He would always refuse and she would just continue bopping her head to the rhythm. Peter regretted not dancing with her. Maybe things would have been different. Maybe she would have gotten out with him. He should have paid more attention to her.

“Where are we going, Manny?” Peter asked. She stopped her bopping and looked at Peter curiously.

“You know where we’re going.” She answered. Peter did know.

They were going to the place he was avoiding for two years. It was called The Mansion and it was littered with drug addicts and prostitutes. It was an abandoned hotel in the middle of the old part of town. This was where Satan lurked and Peter was afraid.

The Mansion had not changed much since Peter’s absence. It still had the smell of rotting flesh and hopelessness. A welcoming stench if you were a junkie, but to Peter it was nauseating. Manny was holding on to him like a child going to a carnival. She looked excited and fearful. Peter observed her appearance again and noticed that she had a scar on the side of her face. This was not the first time things had gotten violent for her.

“Who did this to you?” his voice was neutral. He regretted not saying it with more empathy.

Before she could answer, The Mansion’s doors burst open and two naked women came stumbling out. Gunshots could be heard from the second floor, all the inhabitants starting running out after the naked women. Peter grabbed Manny and ran to the side of the hotel. This was not going to be pleasant. Peter heard shouts coming from the ground floor. The shooters were coming out. He saw the first shooter holding a shotgun firing into the hotel. The shot-gunner was shot in the leg then the head. His lifeless body rolled into a puddle. The shoot-out ended suddenly. It seemed that the target had been killed. The police would be at the hotel soon. Peter needed to leave.

The tree burns and man utters his goodbyes in loud songs of triumph. The broken branches are turned to ash and the squirrel scampers to safety. Such is the cruelty of man. Such is the rape of nature.