Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Running through thick woods, he wondered why? Branches and rocks littered the way, reaching up to grab and scratch his body. Feet about 25 feet behind him. Hurry up. The fetid smell of rotted leaves and bodies ran up his nose as he jumped a large log. The path cut sharply to the right here and broke into a large pasture. He heard a thump and the cursing of his stepfather as he hit the log.
Across the field was an old farmhouse. As he started towards it he wondered if there would be anyone there to help. Over toward the right was a herd of cattle with a large bull standing guard. The bull just stared as he came across. As he approached the house, he could hear the clank of the shotgun. He hits the steps….
“Randi! Honey, are you alright? Wake up. “Kari asked as she shook him. “You were yelling so loud I could hear you over the engine. Anyway, we are at my house. Come on. We’ll get you cleaned up.”
Disoriented, Randi slapped out at the Geisha face. She took his cold, shaking hand gently and kissed it. Then she put the hand back against his chest and kissed him lightly on the lips. Another strung dude coming off a binge. He’ll sleep it off. Kari stood over him and rubbed his head and arms until he calmed down. Then she gently lifted him off the camper’s bench and on to the cracked driveway.
A forlorn structure, the house’s grey and white paint had chipped and faded over the years. The porch looked like it covered the gate of hell. Tuning his head, Randi saw the abandoned rail yard at the end of the street and wished there was a car he could hop. But he was too weak to even considered escaping the grasp. A small black boy stared as the two lost souls staggered through the door.
The living room was mess. Ashtrays were scattered around the room unused, but the cigarette smell was everywhere. A pack of Camels and a small Bible sat next to an easy chair, with a sofa sitting sideways along the wall. Strange. She wasn’t smoking last night. No plants or indications of animals. The house had an air of quiet desperation.
“Sit down, Sweetheart.” Kari said “And I’ll make some tea.”
Stepping over to the sofa, a framed poster of a skull caught his eye. “Those who live, live off the dead.” It startled and disturbed him. He wasn’t where he should be or wanted to be. Can’t he just spend his time in peace? He was part of the dead and he resented this bitch’s attempt to live off of him. The bank across his chest tightened. He began to cough.
Kari brought in two cups full of steaming liquid. Smiling, she handed him one.
“Sorry about the mess. I really haven’t cleaned this place since Mom died.” She paused. “She used to sit in that chair smoking and reading Bible and rail at all the sin in the world. It seemed to bring her comfort. But she couldn’t see the burning stick in her hand was just as bad. I never did see the use for it. All I knew how to do was party. “
She flipped on the IPod and set it in the dock on the side table. Harry Chapin’s scratchy voice began talking about a better place to be. A slow smile came across her face. She looked up at Randi and it disappeared.
“You don’t look good. Let me feel.” She touched his head. “Lord. You are feverish. Wait here”
She came back with a towel, blanket and a couple of aspirin.
“It’s all I have right now. Let’s get you out of those wet things.”
He was too weak to resist as the blouse and skirt disappeared. His hairless chest shown like the sun, ribs prominently showing through the skin. He reminded Kari of an injured bird she had found when she was little. She cried when it died in her hands. Lovingly, she dried his small, naked form and wrapped the blanket around him. The question came to her mind.
“Honey. Are you positive?” She asked as she handed him the aspirin.
The cup shook in his hand. He nodded slowly and the tears began to flow. The shame of his condition was finally released. No longer in control of his fate, he began to cough. She knew and the whole world knew he was lower than dirt. He had sinned against the world and was now paying the price. The revolting Geisha face began to waver and the room spun.
Kari helped him drink the warm liquid and wrapped her arms around him.
“It’s alright, Baby. I am, too.”
Randi’s body convulsed. He was more confused than ever.
“You’re safe. If it is your time, I’ll help you there. No one should go alone.” She began to sing to him softly.
Randi kept shaking. A hole appeared in the floor and he could see the farmhouse again. He saw the belt in his Stepfather’s hand. He also had a hole in his chest where Randi had ducked the shotgun. He relaxed a little. The end was in sight. He was aware of the Geisha’s soothing contralto lullaby. He turned to see her smiling face, thankful she was there.
There was a light under the front door of the house. Better and brighter than any he had ever seen. But his stepfather’s corpse was there. He had to get past it to go in. He felt the Geisha’s lips against his own. It was the deepest, most loving kiss he had ever known. As she loosened her grip, he felt his wings unfold. He looked and hers had unfolded as well. The Angels had claimed him. Randi flew over the body and joined the rest on the other side.
Bittersweet tears ran down Kari’s face as she finished her duty. It wasn’t the first time she had helped someone as the Angel of Death. The pain of the finish was always there. The poor and broken helped through the transition not of their own making. After a brief prayer for the healing of their souls, she reached for the telephone. She winced as the cramp went through her. She went to the bathroom to change.