Friday, July 3, 2015
Confessor Angel (Blogophilia 19.8)
The rain finally stopped. Several stray droplets land on the ragged man as he straightens the tail on his shirt. It’s another day in paradise. Geez, what a night. Asshole pissed all over his sign, so sidewalk cruising is out. The shelter kicked Mark out when he plowed the bastard’s fat face into the wall afterward. He couldn’t blame them. Rules are rules, you know. He snagged a cup of coffee as he left, so it wasn’t a complete loss. And he was still sober.
Story of his life. Get a scheme set up working the saps willing to throw a dollar and some jerk screws it up for you.
The pole sounds like an alarm as the purse lands next to his head. A woman is screaming to prepare for his funeral. A bunny haired black girl sat on the wall watching. Maybe her daughter? She was the only sane one.
Crazy lady said Jesus wasn’t going to save the world, it was too far gone. That was a twist. Preachers mention repentance was the way out, but not this one. A bored cop materializes and tells everyone to move it. Mark obliges. No sense starting the day in jail. Especially since the sun has decided to show up.
At the corner, an older woman had her head back of a rusted VW Bus that looked like a refugee from Woodstock. The woman’s flowing graying hair and flowered dress reminded him of an old hippie mother back he knew back in California. This should be a good score. Staying on the sidewalk, he calls out.
The round, serene face turned towards him.
“This old thing is being a pain this morning. It decided to quit while I was going to the store. One of these days, I am just going to have to retire her.”
“Maybe I could help?” Mark sets the hook.
“It needs to get out of the street before the tow trucks come. I don’t have the cash to bail her out.”
Stepping up to the engine bay, he spots the loose wire. on the greasy generator With a twist tie pulled from his pocket, it is reconnected and the faded relic to is brought to life, spitting pale smoke out the exhaust. Squealing with delight, she kisses then unshaven cheek.
“Thank you so much, I didn’t know what to do.” Looking in her purse, she frowns. “I don’t have any money with me, but could I give you a ride?”
“I don’t really have any place to go.” Mark looked down at his scuffed shoes.
“How about my house?” She giggled “It’s a very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard. I’ll fix you dinner and you won’t have to hustle today. By the way, my name is Kari Summers.”
“Mark.” With a smile, he shakes the offered hand and walked up to the side of the car.
“Come on, we haven’t got all day!” She opened the passenger side door for him.
Pushing the accumulated papers on the floorboard between the seats, he perches on the cracked vinyl. As they pull off the curb, he spots the small amethyst heart set in silver dangling from a delicate chain hanging from the mirror. Touching it, the sounds and smells of the shelter appeared and just as quickly, disappeared. The amulet warmed Mark’s hand and he struggled to control the tears that came out of nowhere.
“Interesting piece.” He yelled over the engine. “Where did you get it?”
“I found it in a pawn shop in New Orleans.” Kari shouted as she shifted gears. “There was something magical about it, like it had a destiny and a past. I like stuff like that, so I bought it.”
Mark’s voice filled with sadness. “I knew a girl who had one like it.”
“Really?” Looking at the scruffy figure. “Sounds like a story to hear over dinner.”
They fell silent. The van pulled up to an older structure in a neighborhood that had seen better days. Two ginger cats rushed into the bushes as the car stops. They eye the scruffy intruder warily. Just past the house, the street dead ended at a rail yard. Selecting a key from the ring on her purse, she jiggled the door open. It opened on a small room smelling of reefer and desperation. The living room was cramped with faded gray walls. A pack of Camels and a small Bible sat on a table next to a torn leather sofa. A recliner covered with cat hair sat on the wall opposite the windows. He’s seen worse crash pads.
“You can stay here tonight. I don’t bite.” She grinned and brushed her hair back. She pointed down the hall towards the bathroom. “I bet you’d enjoy a hot shower. Washcloths are on the shelf and there should be enough soap. Just set your clothes outside the door and I’ll take care of them. Take your time”.
Thanking her, he noticed the photographs of long dead relatives as they looked solemnly down from their perches. He wasn’t much for pictures and most of his relatives would like to forget he existed anyway. Clicking on the light, he stepped into the Spartan bathroom.
As his rags drifted to the floor, he wondered, who is the angel? Stepping in to the warm stream, he feels his sins begin to slough off. Tears and water were inseparable as they swirled around the drain. Everyone else had left him broken and broken hearted. Or he bailed when things got to hot, sneaking away to avoid the results of his actions. God had finally heard his prayers, but he knew there would be a price.
She knocked on the door and exchanged the worn clothes for a robe. When finished, he came back to a sandwich and a cup of tea on the sofa. Taking a bite, he leans back. It didn’t matter how many drugs he did or whose shelter he was hiding out in, the past always returned.Shaking, he wonders what happened to her and had anyone found out.
Sleep overtakes him. Young girls and old women switch places in his as they float above him. The rich dark form and scent of long ago fill his nose.Eyes like toasted almonds smiling and laughing. Soft finger tips on his shoulders, he reaches out only to awaken with his hands touching Kari’s wrinkled geisha face. He pulls back and sputters an apology. She waves it off .
"I’ve been grabbed by much worse looking guys that you. In fact, you're kind of cute. Sit up and let’s talk” Wearing an azure kimono with honeysuckle pattern, she pours Riesling in to a small cup. The smell of gardenias relaxes him .
“So, where are you from?" Kari settles on the sofa. Taking a sip from the cup, Mark leans back.
"Army Brat. I was born at Fort Hood and was an only child. We never stayed in one place more than a year or so, went to eight grammar schools and three high schools. Germany for a while. Dad died in Korea in a training accident when we were stationed in California. My mom died the day she was notified, staying drunk from that point on. She crashed into a semi on the PCH about a year later. I was 16.
“I finished school in Merced and then worked on cars, VW’s mostly. That’s how I knew where to look for the problem on the bus. That generator wire works loose quite often and it just needs to be tightened up. Anyway, I did pretty well for a while and had a good time.”
“Boredom and a DUI sent me to Vegas. Bright lights and all that. I found a job in a small shop out by the Air Base. I met a girl in one the smaller casinos, soft blond hair and a body that wouldn’t quit. She was a dealer and made pretty good money. We moved in together and had a daughter. Things seemed to be working pretty well."
Grabbing a cigarette out the pack on the table, Kari handed it to him with an ashtray. He lit it and continued
"I started drinking pretty heavy and she didn’t like it. Can’t blame her really. One night, I got really lit after work and came home to find her in our bed with this black guy. I freaked out and started swinging. Screams and blood everywhere. I got hit a couple of times. The scar on my face is where he got me with a knife he had. It wasn't pretty."
Kari nodded. "Your daughter?"
"Don't know if she was in the apartment or not. I just hit the road, never turning on the news to see if they were alive or dead.”
He took a slow drag. A smoke crown ringed the still damp head.
“I drifted east. Denver. Oklahoma City. I landed in St. Louis for awhile, working construction. The guys I worked with never asked questions, so I never told them any lies. Started smoking meth, I found I could go several days straight on it without problems except when I needed to sleep. Then I would be a handful. Got arrested a couple of times, but I guess there never was a warrant from Vegas. At least nothing they ever found.”
“The construction work ran out and winter there sucks, so I went down to New Orleans and worked at an oil refinery. It was a good gig, so I cut down on the meth. Only needed to smoke for a swing shift. Things were beginning to settle down when Katrina came and I got chased down to Houma to ride it out. I …met a girl there.”
Stubbing the smoke out in silence, tears began to form around the creased eyes. Gulping down his wine, he refilled the plastic chalice. Angel Confessor sipped hers.
“What did she look like?”
With a cough, he found his voice again.
“Keisha was a black girl. Maybe 14 by the way she acted, but she was big on top. Short cropped hair and almond eyes. She wore the heart on a silver chain dangling in her cleavage. She was too young, but I flirted anyway, always bragging on how the purple glowed off her skin. She would give me a hug. The sweet sound was something that was always in short supply in the shelter.”
He took another sip.
“She had been separated from her family during the evacuation, so I kind of played guardian. We would spend the day playing cards and talking about boys she knew. There were a couple of girlfriends she would go off with, but she would always come back. There were a lot of scared and scary people there. We were battlefield companions, sort of. She told me she felt safe with me.”
“When the other hurricane came, we were in the shelter. It sounded like God himself was smiting us, the rain and lightning. There was a little weed and we smoked to calm down. She shifted close to me as it got louder and my hand ended up under her shirt. She… pulled away.”
Stopping again, the thin chest heaved it's distress. The Dark Angel slipped her arms around him, kissing the damp face. Pouring the last of the wine, she presented communion.
“Go on, Honey. You need to get it out. The memory is poisoning your soul.”
Mark looked up into the Angel’s face. Would it be benediction or punishment? Resisting was futile. The memory was too strong and it flowed from his lips like a flood.
“I pulled her back against me. Shirt and bra lifted, leaving the small copper nipples. My hand brushed them. She bucked a little and turned to face me. Suddenly, there was no resistance. The Heart was offered. I kissed those breasts and smelled the unwashed skin. The medallion glowed like it was another person joining us, filling with joy as it dipped on and off of my chest. It didn’t last long. The flower was mine and the Heart was satisfied. Laying against each other, we slept like children. The next morning she brought me breakfast and we made love again.”
“Later that afternoon an uncle found her while she was hanging with her friends. I saw the reunion from across the room. There was happiness and I didn’t want to interrupt. I couldn’t see the Heart. I don’t know if she ever let on what had happened, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. I snuck on to an evacuation bus and ended up here. “
Silence filled the room. The silver heart was glowing on the table beside them.With a sigh, she donned the medallion and brought him to her soft bosom. She looked the stained, shamed face. There was no sin to forgive, just Keisha’s grateful spirit to impart. Rocking him like a child, the breathing slowed. First the left, then the right eye blinked out and Mark was still. He had gone home.
Pic guesses-Death Angel, Confessor (in blog). Danse Morte, Final lover. Ride's here, The end, Not afraid., We all get here.