Joseph stood, his mouth wrenched open in a silent cry of mourning. Long ago his voice had given out and left him without tears, without hope. His fists were balled so tightly that his narrow nails had broken through the skin, leaving tiny rivulets of blood to drop to his feet.
He blinked his eyes. Time had stopped for him, though all around him progress in the clean-up had been made. His own family had been extricated from their mini-van and taken away. He didn't remember it, but paramedics had tried to help him too. When it was discovered he was utterly unmovable, they had simply left him alone. Now he slowly turned his aching neck and saw the last of the ambulances pulling away. All that was left now were the tow-trucks and myriad police vehicles with the task of figuring out what had happened here.
Joseph held up his aching, bleeding palms and looked at them. The blood traced the lines on his palm, his life line. He remembered in a flash, how Carolyn had laughed while she traced his uncommonly long life long around the base of his thumb. “You're going to live forever!” she had said. He remembered too, with a wince of pain that shot straight through his heart, that he had chosen not to comment on her short stubby line that ended abruptly midway through the fleshy part of her palm. He didn't really believe in that sort of thing anyway.
A quick intake of breath and a different sort of pain, this time piercing his brain just above and behind his right ear brought another memory, and every second of it's remembrance was excruciating.
Another palm, lines blanketed in blood. Not by accident, but caused, he was suddenly certain, by the viciously sharp bowie knife Joseph had wielded. Not his palm that bled, but anothers. Whose he couldn't recall, but he knew he had done that before, that he had found it to be a remarkably useful interrogation tool.
Not that his job had normally been interrogation. No, his skill had soon be found to be quite extraordinary in the art of killing. Soon there was no need for him behind closed doors, fiddling with tape recorders and truth serums. The world became his office, the tools of his trade many, as he perfected the art of the kill.
Joseph fell to his knees. He pressed his knees deep into the torn up road, relishing, welcoming, the fresh pain the gravel brought to the tight flesh of his knees. He pressed his bloodied palms to his pounding head, threw his head between his knees.
Coming faster now, the memories flew at him like knives in a failed circus act. Each one found its mark and did its damage. Memories of war, of a sterile hospital where he thought he had died. Memories of killing, more than he could stomach. Another death, this one welcomed and sweet in its release. Memories of Carolyn, of his boys. A time fresh and vibrant in its beauty and love. A real life, the one he should have had.
But now it was over. Everything was over, and yet it had all started again. Who was he? Whose memories were these? And rising above it all, a roar born of infinite sorrow and need. Who had done this to him? That question above all others became the hallmark of his new existence, born in that instant on that broken road. He would find them, and when he did, they would pay. And pay. And pay.