This is "The Seven Deadly Songs". What is posted here is the first part of the three to tell the whole tale of an unfortunate family burdened with a partner's divorce, the confusion and bewilderment of an innocent young girl, and a mysterious statue along with certain tunes that revolve around it. Enjoy.
Wow. That was ridiculous...Who needs zoning for a fucking bathtub? Really? Oh well. I'm just glad to finally get into my comfy Toyota seat and settle in for the usual mundane ride home. Pulling into my reserved spot in the Crystal Heights apartments, I turn the key to off. Slowly the car rumbles to a silent rest. I can't do anything but just sit there. I'm so done with it all. I rest my head on the steering wheel and think through my situation. I find it helps me plan things out if I just sit there and think of who I am and what is wrong with me. From there I can move in the direction I so choose. Ugh. Fine... Here I go.
So, yeah. What's up? My name is Andrew. Andrew Brookstone. I'm 32. Male. I live in this shit hole of an apartment with one bedroom and little luxuries. I have a dead end job with a zoning company for the Crested Butte Montana, Zoning Inc. That company has been falling through the cracks of the United States payroll for years now. Barely finding money to stay running itself, let alone its employees. Me? My job is to go to the various businesses and residential of the local area and clear or decline people to different add-ons or renovations for their home or business. You wouldn't believe the crap I put up with. I think there are only two things in the world that get me through the day. One is music. I've loved music ever since my mom hummed my first lullaby to get me to fall into sleep's cool embrace. Now I collect all different types of music; classical, rock, metal, pop, disco, rap. Anything. It all feels so good to walk through the homes of customers and take my necessary measurements and listen to the various types of artists and groves that the different tunes offer. I've got a huge TV stand (that I got for a steal at the local flea market) filled to the brim, not with a fancy TV, no, with all my CDs and records I've collected over the years. Only one thing surpasses my love for music- My love for my beautiful daughter, Lilly.
Lilly is 14. She's around four foot seven, maybe. Not skinny, not fat. Average. Thank the God and his little tike that my kid isn't as big as the car I drive or so light that, with proper duct taping, could be used as an Olympic javelin. She's average in about every way you'd expect a 14 year old girl to be. Average social life, healthy mental state. However, I believe that she is the most beautiful girl out of any I've seen of others her age. All in all pretty acceptable. She's just freaking stubborn. What more could I ask for, though? In school, she has good grades. Favored by her friends. Wanted by the guys. There's only two down sides, however. She dresses like shit. No joke. I go into her closet and all I see is black, red, pink, and purple. In her laundry, I spot dark colored shirts, pants and under things. Believe me, I didn't pick out her wardrobe. All the clothes I bought her from places like Aeropostale and other name brand clothes of brighter colors, she simply tosses aside. Still, not a bad trade off. A stunning, young, polite girl that hides her beauty with a dark silhouette. The other down side is the other side of the gene pool. Janice, her mother.
She was once pretty, smart, outspoken, and funny but since has turned sour and bitter. Every phone call is filled with hateful words and venom-impregnated sentences. Clearly we are not together. It went down like this, in her eyes. She felt like my love for music was dumb, I was a jobless clown, hardly gets out, physically unappealing, and just overall a sloppy mess. She is, as of now, living upstate with her lonesome self in a big fancy house with those little porcelain figurines that cost about forty bucks apiece. Her damn mom and dad moved away and left her with a small bank account filled with a quarter of their savings. Ever since she's had it made. We are currently dealing with a custody battle with Lilly caught in the middle. Right now she has primary custody of Lilly and with the way things are going on this end, I don't even want to think what will happen with her. Wouldn't you find it little unfair if you can hardly afford a lawyer to help you while she's got a high class guy whose been doing this for years and is a professional at custody battles such as this? As for anything else I might know about her? Fuck if I care... I got it hard as it is, I don't need to get deathly envious of someone who has it better than me.
Ow. My head is staring to hurt. Maybe I should get a steering wheel cover to put on this thing to make it comfier. Leopard print sounds nice, or better yet that furry pink crap you see in teenage girls' cars. That’s something to lie and relax on...Whoa. I've been sitting out here for over a half-hour. Realizing that I should probably get inside, I tighten my grip on the key with my right hand that’s been resting on it for a while on and shove the keys deep into my pocket. I lazily grab my jacket and step out in to the brisk September air. I'm so out of it I barely feel myself slamming my car door shut. I start walking towards my door but get snagged and stumble backwards. Are you kidding me? I look at the car door to see my jacket got caught in it. Next time...I will wear the stupid thing before I leave the car. I unlock the door and free my jacket from the merciless mouth of my car door. Now I put that thing on and start walking to the mailbox. I should really check if it came in today. I dug my keys out of my pocket and unlocked the metal mailbox. Instantly I feel relieved to see the brown wrapped box sitting cozily in its room. I pull it out. Shutting the door and locking it all I can think of is how long I've been waiting for this to come in. I'm practically floating up to my door and breezing my way into the room. Everything I'm carrying falls onto the bed and I take the things out from my pockets as I get comfy, I'm practically made of Zen.
"Mr. Burglar? You inside already? Only a key can unlock doors that fast." A voice comes drifting down the hall into my room.
I turn around to only be more relieved and relaxed to see my wonderful daughter Lilly leaning on the door jam. Those sparkling sky blue eyes with raven black hair practically drifting around and on her shoulders. She's dressed in that damn black and dark purple again which is tensing but I'll let it slide. I mean, it's her. You couldn't turn Lilly down. She was just too cute and perfect to get angry at.
"Yes well... Um... I might have run into your dad who happened to drop all of his keys without even noticing" I reply, trying to play along.
"Well, before you make off with the only TV in the house, why don't you make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a crystal light. Okay?" She gave a fake excited face with her mouth open, exposing her perfect teeth, and had the biggest smile you could see. I paused, looked away at my things all piled up on the bed and turned back with a smile almost uncanny to hers and said with much enthusiasm.
"No!" I gasped, tilting my head like a cocky teenager. She scrunched up her nose and said,
"You're no fun." She ambled into the room and gave me a hug. I sighed.
"How was your day? Tell that chick to back off?" I say trying to be supportive while I put my various things away in their pre-determined spots.
"Yea, then she told me she'd 'Back off if I backed off the eyeliner' then proceeeeded to call me a gothic skank." She said without hardly any hesitation.
I fumbled and dropped my wallet on the floor during the transfer from the bed to the dresser when she said this and I looked at her with much concern for the end of this tale. "...And?" I denounce.
She shifted from one foot to the other and brushed the hair from her face. "Then I told her fine then, go back to trailer park home and do something useful instead of blowing other kids fresh sh..." She choked back the end of that. Close one. She knows I dislike using cuss words in the house so having this on her mind she was able to stop herself.
I looked curiously at her then preached, "Now that was a little rough. You know she can't afford even as much as we have. She has it worse off then us. Have you looked at this through her eyes? Perhaps she acts the way she does because she can't express anything other than hate to make people know how she feels." It didn't sound too good to even me, but at least I could see a bit of sympathy in Lilly's eyes."I guess..." She glanced over at the clock and squealed, "Oh my god! It's already four! Madison will be here in ten minutes! I haven’t even found that really nice smelling spray yet! I've got to get ready!" She darted from my room leaving me in a dumbstruck state. "...Okay...?"
I continued putting back all my things when I finally remembered my package. I sat on the edge of the bed and grasped my pocket knife from the table and flicked it open. I tried cutting slowly to build anticipation. Forget that. My knife was flying wildly around; slicing up the brown wrapped box like it was a fresh caught fish getting flayed. Before I knew it, a medium sized white box with one line on the front of it slid out from the wreckage. "May god be with you." I popped open the top of the box, tipped it over holding my hand out. Out fell a shower of Styrofoam rain and a four inch tall silver Jesus statue with a very Jesus pose.
Why would I buy something like this? I think any explanation would suffice but here is the main one. I was looking around on the internet of things that help depression. Between the many Tumblr pages and anti-depressants I stumbled upon a blog by some apparently well-known blogger asking the same question I was. In the blog, it had a poll of what things cheer depressed people up the most. Option 1 - Pills/Drugs, 13 votes, Option 2 - Cutting, 7 votes, Option 3 - Distractants/Games/Music, 9 votes, Option 4 - Social Interactions, 14 votes, Option - 5, Religion, 56 votes. I read all of the options and results over and over. All of these things didn't seem too attractive, especially since some I've tried. But my eyes got fixated on religion. It never crossed my mind that religion could alter one's mental status. Well, it probably had but I just didn't care. So I began looking into a religion that suited me. I eventually settled upon Christianity. Seemed the most soothing and the easiest one to follow. Go to church. Help out, don't sin, and you’ll win a five star pass to happiness and afterlifeness. It's been a year since I officially joined the religion. So I wanted to show pride in what I believed in by getting something as solid and pure as I was. A silver Jesus. Right? Pure, righteous, and shiny. All good things! It's not 100% pure silver, which is kind of ironic, I could never afford something like that. Instead I got a silver plated iron statue version which was still expensive but in my price range. I was told that this statue would also help me relax and feel one with god, so I got it.
I gave it a quick wipe of some Windex to clean him up before putting him on the table next to my bed. For a minute or two I just sat there and admired it. Felt so right, ya' know? It took me a few seconds to realize that Lilly was standing once again at her spot in the door jamb just looking at me.
"I didn't know you were religious. Since when have you been a Jesus guy?" She wondered out loud, curiosity simply drowning her eyes.
"About a year now. Heard this helps your mental state or something. Kind of like Zen." Again, I didn't know if I fully believed myself.
"Hm. Oh, I got to go!" She started to run out when I lassoed her with my words. "Oi?! Kiss and hug?! Really now?!"
A groan echoed throughout the apartment and I heard her footsteps as she came bounding back in the room like a flash flood. "Hug." She basically tackled me. Guess that’s what a hug is these days. "Kiss." I gave her a kiss on the forehead and simply couldn't get out of that room fast enough.
"Bye dad! Love you!" she yelled as the door slammed shut. I couldn't even register that she said that let alone reply before she was out that door.
I turned back to my statue and stared at it for a minute or two before finally blinking a few times and realizing how tired I really was. It was a long day of nonetheless. I got up, slowly due to the magnet of sleep imbedded in my bed and made my way to the kitchen to make a quick snack before I was off to bed. I had work to go to in the morning anyway. I pulled the sheets off my bed and placed me in their place and them on top of me and before switching off the bedside light, I gave that statue one last look. It just looked so right on that spot on my table. I flicked the switch off and laid there and let sleep comforting form engulf my mind as I drifted off. I was relieved that I didn't have to stay up late to let Lilly back inside when she got home. I had her a key made recently meaning she'd be fine. And tomorrow I would awake to her sweet face with a hot cup of coffee at the ready. With really the only thing to worry about tomorrow being work, which is generally little to worry about, I drifted out of consciousness. Maybe I'm getting my life back on track.
Chapter 1: An Almost Regular Day
A beam of light coming from down the hall greeted my face and I awoke to find Lilly walking into my room. “Good morning!” She piped as she bounced into my room. She immediately shoved a cup of warm coffee in my hand and tried to drag me out of bed. It seemed like I was in slow motion and everything else was moving at twice the speed. Though, it's usually like that in my early morning delirium. While rubbing the last bits of sleep from my eyes, I got up and stretched. I caught a glimpse of the small savior in the corner of my eye. Surprisingly, it brought a smile to my face.
“Maybe this was a good idea. I might even be able to take on the day. Maybe,” I thought. I recited a quick prayer that I had picked up and began my early day routine. I haphazardly threw on some old blue jeans and a fresh, bland company polo shirt provided by my work. I grabbed my half-drunk cup of coffee and headed out of my room to the dining area and took my accustomed seat at the far end of the table. As I let out a sigh, Lilly takes the seat directly across from me.
“Heeellloooo? Wake up sleepy head! Time to get ready for yet another day!” She spoke with such enthusiasm is was almost nauseating. I grumble back as a rebuttal.
“I don’t wanna… just let me sleep for five more minutes…” I lay my head down on the table and moan out of tiredness. I could hear her physically frown and walk over to me and gave me a good old-fashioned shake-awake. “Wake up! Wake up! Wake uuuupppppp!” She whined as I was jostled free of my peaceful rest and now flailing around without my control. I finally shook her off. “Alright! Alright! I’m awake! Quit ya’ little bugger!” Proclaiming with a little pinch of fun in my remark. She sat back down with a smile on her face and took a bite of her bagel she had made.
“Soooo… What ya got planned for today mister? Anything exciting? Or maybe some more BS you usually put up with,” she spoke as she swallowed a mouthful of bagel. She looked across at me, waiting for a response.
“Probably the same crap but you know something? I feel good. Today feels like it’s going to be a good day. I can feel it. Not even measuring a whole backyard down to the smallest centimeter could shoot me out of cloud nine, well maybe 8, today,” I lift my head and say with pride.
“Why’s that?” she questioned, still devouring her cinnamon bagel.
I pondered this for a moment or too, making absolutely sure that I was in a better light today and how to phrase it. “Well… um… You know that new statue I got yesterday?”
“Well, I don’t know what exactly, but that statue just gives me more energy. I feel… invigorated when I look at it and when I did today, I felt a kind of comfort.” Listening to myself, I sounded like some kind of prophet. Lilly seemed to use the same mental judgment. Following up that expression with,
“What? Pfft I’ve never heard you talk like that. You must have had an epiphany! What is the new discovery you’ve made lately, professor?” Ha. So called it. I sat there, again thinking of how to put the words together in my mouth in a way that didn’t make me sound philosophical. Once I finally found the words I state plainly, “I think I’ve found my way to get through every single day. Between Music and god I’ve found a sort of eternal peace. But, only one thing has gotten me through every day to see the end then anticipate the next day.”
“What’s that?” she question, finally finishing her bagel and now eager to hear the main point of her father’s sudden realization session.
After a good breath, I turned and looked at her, love in my eyes. “You. You made every day possible for me. Every day I wake up to you with your bright smile and sparkling eyes and I feel like I’m the luckiest man alive.”
She gave that perfect trademark smile of her and came over to me “Awww. Come here.”, and gave me a warm hug. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” I spoke quietly back to her. Glancing over her shoulder I realize what time it is. I leaned into her ear and say, “Does your class start at 7:20 or 8:20?”
She paused a moment, thinking about what was said and reply, “7:20…Why?”
“Well that means class starts in 15 minutes.” She immediately broke free of the heartfelt hug remembering she has school to get to. She darted down the hall and after some rustling returned quickly with a jacket on and a backpack swung over her shoulder.
“I got to go! Bye dad, love you!” and with that she was gone out the door with a rush of cool air from outside rushing in as she slammed the door shut.
Now I’m left with just me and my thoughts. I only had about an hour to finish getting ready and go. I decided to sit down and watch the morning news to see how the weather was going to be for my trek around town. I slumped down into the couch and groped around on the table till I found a controller that was familiar. Found it. I click the power and was dulled out to the TV and its staticy voices. Before I knew it, it was ten minutes before I myself had to leave so I got my jacket and swiped my keys from the holder. Not five feet from the door something hit me. A sudden urge. I left the living room and headed back into my bedroom. There it sat.
The tiny, shiny Jesus was sitting there peacefully resting on my bedside table. It seemed to speak to me and wish me to have a good day. I silently thanked the small savior with another prayer. After that I left my house, being sure to lock it, as always. I spot my little Toyota sitting there almost pleading with me to go somewhere with it. The key gently unlocked its door and I slid inside, being sure to pull my jacket all the way as to not get it caught on a tooth of the vicious door. Another key was used to rev the engine to life. The gears in the transmission growled and sputtered as I pulled out of my parking spot and rolled away to my monotonous job.
The day seemed to ease by. A simple day, not too complicated. Just the normal business trying to get permission to buy an industrial sized dumpster for behind the business and the couple people trying to get a permit to build a pool somewhere on the property. Which don’t you think is a little odd? I mean, a brand spanking new pool right before winter, in one of the coldest fall months. Pssh. Not my cash. So oh well. That was pretty simple enough and with a rock album I got about a month ago and never listened to, bumping through my ear buds the day went by relatively quick.
I got home a little later than usual; striking up a conversation with a hot gas station employee tends to kill a bit of time. I rolled up and put the car to park. Walking up to the door I tried to open it, as usual Lilly would be home by now and tends to leave the door unlocked, a found myself walking straight into the door with my nose smacking hard against the solid oak. Locked? Hmm, a little weird. I pulled my keys from my pocket and unlocked the door to find the house was dead silent. That kind of eerie silence that usually transpires when a small crowd of people are all chatting and suddenly go deathly silent. It was almost deafening.
“Lilly? You home?” I yelled throughout the room as a shut the door behind me. I was still greeted to that same silence. Maybe Lilly just isn’t home yet. Did she say something about staying after today? I don’t think so. But still, it didn’t bother me too bad as opened my bedroom door and began emptying my pockets. I was just about to take my shoes off when I realized something. I saw that the place normally reserved for my Jesus was empty. I didn’t move it, did I? I walked around the house and even checked Lilly’s room. Nothing. What the hell? Why would it be gone? At this I began to get frustrated. The anger of having a wonderful day and coming home to this crap made me blurt out.
“Where the hell is my tiny Jesus!” Not a moment after, I heard the door shut and a quiet and calm coo came drifting down the hall.
“Dad? Hello?” I came back out from checking in the kitchen to see Lilly standing there, adorned in her usual black and pink jacket and skirt with a face that simply leaked questions. “What was that all about?” She had apparently heard the end of my little rant and burst of anger.
“Oh hey.” I said. “Sorry about that. I seemed to have misplaced my silver Jesus guy that I got yesterday. Lilly still had a looked of bewilderment but look around the room for no more than a second or two and pointed over to my CD collection in the corner of the living room. “Isn’t that it over there?”
I turned my head over to that area and, who would have guessed, it was sitting there on the top of the stacks of CDs simply staring out at us like we were stupid for not noticing it earlier. I leap at the stand and snatched the statue from its perch. Glancing down at him I can't get rid of this dumbfounded look on my face. Why was it out here? Did I move it without remembering? "Lilly, did you move this statue from my room?" I ask half hoping for a reasonable explanation.
"Nope. You've seen me leave the house and come back. I haven't been home yet." She replied simply.
"Ok." I look back down at the statue and then back at Lilly, a newfound question on my mind. "Well why are you late home?"
"Oh. I went to Madison's for a bit to hang and do some homework. Sorry about that." A half guilty pose became apparent on her.
I sigh. "Yea that's ok. You sure you didn't move this though?"
"Positive." She turned and disappeared into her room.
This didn't comfort me at all. Why was it here? The thought left me feeling quite unsafe. I guess I can't let this get to me. I have bigger things to worry about. I have to wait for a phone call from Jessica, my lawyer. She's calling to give me a status on my current situation in the custody battle. Hm. My pocket is vibrating. I pull out my phone and, speak of the devil, Jessica is calling. I step out onto the back porch; well more or less a five by five foot fenced in cube. Basically my office. Half an hour later, sure as shit, she called to tell me Janice is pushing harder on child support and trying to get more days. Freaking crazy chick. Jessica told me that she had things together but she’s holding on by a thread. One slip up and I'd be screwed. I reassured that I had it under control and hung up. I came inside and spotted my little guy sitting on the stack again. I left it on the chair where I put it down to answer my phone. I grabbed it walked quickly to my room and placed it back the spot it should go. That's twice now. I went over to Lilly's door and pushed open. She was sitting on her bed unpacking her things from her bag. When I asked her if she came out of her room when I was outside, she only said,
"Um. No? I've been sitting in here relaxing since I came home."
Chapter 2: House Call For Father Wilkes
The next two weeks went off without a hitch. Same calming mind set. Lilly has been doing fine. Janice hasn't given me any fresh shit for anything which is always good and just as relieving; the statue hasn't done any unwarranted traveling. Things are going pretty well. Today is my birthday and from the moment I woke up, I felt like this was going to be one of the best days I've had in a long time. The usual morning routine went just as usual as they come. Lilly didn't remember it was my birthday but then again, what kid does know their parents day of birth? Not many. I came into the office and went to my station to see what today's tasks are. I fall into my beat up old rolly chair and grab my assignment sheet. Let’s see. An elderly woman needs permission to have a pre-paid for renovation of her bathroom and the piping to be reworked. A fair task. Next on the list, the local bar, Jims' Eat Em' and Beat Em', needs new lighting which calls for a replacing of all the wires in the whole damn place for the whacky fist shaped lights. I hate bartenders. That will take most the day. And the last two...blah blah blah. Maybe I can have one of my co-workers whose list isn't too filled up take up those. After all, it is my birthday so why not? I'd do it for someone else, so why not me? I left the building and put my buds in as I got into my tin can car and sped off to a day’s work.
As I thought, the day went just about how I thought it would. The elderly woman’s bathroom wasn't the cleanest but better than some I've seen. I gave her an estimate and said I would be back in a few days to check up on her and the installing crew. The bar was tougher than I thought. They had closed the place for the day just for me. How sweet. Well apparently the owner got bored waiting for me and decided to get hammered. So I dealt with a drunken old soak following me around while I did my job, not bothering to talk to him much at, for around five hours. After that tiring ordeal I made my way back to the office to relax for the rest of the day. Reluctantly, a friend of mine took my other tasks as I remember he also owed me a favor. Last year around this time, he got wasted at a bar across town and didn't have a ride and no one else would come and get his sorry ass so I kind of had no choice. Still, he was happy to take the other two tasks and wish me a happy birthday before heading off for the rest of the day. So I sat in the lounge area for the better part of the day. I watched the hours tick past and zoned out a few times getting woken up by the occasional employee getting a bite to eat or some coffee.
The clock finally hit two and it was time to finally head out of here. A grabbed my jacket sitting on the chair next to me. Just as I was leaving the room, I was greeted with a blob of sweat and a smell of old shaving cream. My boss, Mr. Chuck Warburton looked more surprised than me.
"Sorry about that." I say and try and squeeze past him but he was clearly blocking me in.
"Not actually, I'm glad I found someone. We got a call recently and no one is here to take it. Which leaves..."
"Where is everyone else?" I rudely cut him off. May have been a little mean but I couldn't care less.
He choked back his old statement and made a new one like that. "They're all out, you can take this one." The smell of alcohol permeating the air.You also could most likely cut that stupid eager tone of his when he gets to ruin someone’s plans for the day with a butter knife. He handed me a clip board with the papers stuck to it.
"Really? I mean my shift ended about, oh, ten minutes ago and its my birthday, so if you would." I tried once more to move past him but that globe shaped form of his was taking up the entire doorway.
"Is that right? Well, too bad. You don't see anyone else complaining when I have them stay a little extra. I like to think they like their jobs, so they do it anyway. So why not be a team player and take it on faith." He shoved the clipboard into my hands and gave his pig-like smile. He pushed me aside and waddled his way over to the vending machine. I was frozen were my foot stood. What a five star asshole! I nearly broke that stupid clipboard. People wouldn't take any crap from you if you didn't have the power to really screw us over. Just wait till someone knocks you down a peg. I'd love to see his face when the CEO of this company comes up here and breaks the news that his porky ass is now jobless and the company shuts down. Oh what a sweet retard for putting up with his crap. Maybe I stay here for the job, but I think a better reason I stay is just to be there the day he gets what’s coming to him. That'd be a wonderful day. If only that day was today. That'd make it perfect.
Whatever. I took my clipboard and got into my car for one last trip. I started to look at where my destination was and realized it was at the only church in town. They needed to have the pipes redone since the rust on them as finally worn through and is now leaking in the walls and basement. Seeing this made me smile a little bit. Not sure why. Maybe the idea of being on a holy place on the day of my birth was somehow comforting. I made my way across town and pulled into the parking lot and the engine whirled to a stop. I was walking up and thought for a minute. I shouldn't listen to my music player while I was here. Disrespectful. I pulled my buds and turn the shuffler to stand by. Shoving into my pocket I made my way up and into the doors. I was met by an empty chapel with not even the soul of god present, it felt like. Something felt missing. I've been here before. I relatively small church, it's been here for around 230 years and is, needless to say, in need of desperate work. Originally, the colors were a vibrant tan on the walls, white ceiling, real stained oak trim around the floors and doors, and a dark stone floor but has since become faded and tarnished. The roof was old and moldy, wallpaper is peeling off in random spots, and the old stone tiles are cracked and filled with dirt. I felt bad that the city didn't pay for the place to get redone. That's kind of like slapping the big man in white in the face.
"Hello? Who comes in?" A voice came from behind me. I turned to see an older man, white beard and too many wrinkles to count in a traditional pastors get up coming up from a stairwell, I assume to the basement. He kind of startled me simply for the fact that if you see a ghost, white as a sheet, appearing behind you would give any regular man a jump.
"Oh yea. Hi. My name is Andrew. I'm from that zoning company that needs to talk to about your pipes." I extended my hand as per usual in any house call. He lit up and clasped me hand with both of his.
"Ah yes. Praise god they heard me. Thank you so much for your time. Please, follow me." He said. Even his voice was rittled of age, filled with bumps and wheezes. He started to make his way down the stairs once more. I adjusted my papers around to get the page I use to write down the status on to the top of my little stack. Soon after I followed him to the basement.
Surprisingly enough, the basement was rather well kept. Boxes and other rugs and such neatly stacked in organized piles. Carpeted. Nice plastered walls and great lighting. The only things setting the whole atmosphere off was a water worn wall on the far wall and a musky smell floating around aimlessly. In a corner I could see another stairway that split off in two directions. I can only guess that one went to the stage and pedestal in the main hall and the other heading into the office and room of the pastor himself.
"Alrighty what have you got for me today mister..."
He was busy moving things around so that I could reach the far wall. "Me? Father Wilkes. First name Elijah. Just call me father."
"Will do father. What have you got for me today?" I come over and start helping him move things around.
"These confounded pipes have finally breathed their last breath. They began to leak around a couple days ago."
"What were these pipes made of? Aluminum or iron?"
"Oh...I'm not quite sure. I'm pretty sure iron."
"How long have they been in the building?"
"Oh...Let me think...Around six-...no, seventy years ago. Around the time we bought the place."
I almost dropped a box I was moving. "Seventy years?! And they only went bad now? That incredible! Normal true iron pipes like these rust in about ten to thirty years." He didn't seem so impressed.
"Yes well. My family put these in after we bought the place and they haven't gone bad since about the time I took over a year ago when my father passed away."
"Hm well I wouldn't if they gave out any day now. Good thing we're going to fix it now and not having that water leaking do permanent damage to the rest of the building such as mold or wood rot." We finally finished moving all the random crap around and I was able to reach the wall. "You mind if I break open a little bit of wall to see what really is going on?"
"Not at all. Go right ahead. If you don't mind, I need to excuse myself. I was tending to other business before you came and I must really get back to it."
"Will do father." And with that he was up the second set of stairs. From below I heard his door shut.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket knife and flicked it open. I then proceeded to cut into the water soaked part of the wall. After some time I was able to break through the plaster and see inside. Perfect choice of wall to deface. Right above the pipe. Sure enough, the old pipe was rusted as all get out. The water which was coming out was a murky brown and it all smelled musky. Found the source of the odor. Yup. That’s iron piping, and what do you know? It's really freaking old. He wasn't joking around. Yup this guy needs this renovation. I filled out my end of the necessary paperwork and with a successful click of my pen; I came out from the jumble of boxes and random gadgets. I made my way up the stairs and up to what I presumed to be the father’s room. Knock knock. "Father? You in there?" No answer. I opened the door slowly, cautiously and as quietly as possible. I peek inside. I'm dumb. Broom closet. From my left I hear a whistle. The pastor came out of his room and made his way over to me.
"What did you find down there?" He asked.
"Not much. Just a paper showing clearance to get new pipes and a rework of some the walls."
"Great to hear! Praise god! Thank you so much kind sir! Here, for your troubles. I found these at the market and they looked so good. I doubt I'll every eat them and they're too good to waste." He handed me a Shiny bag of marmalade candies, with a note attached saying "May god be with you."
"Thank you very much father. I would stay and chat, you seem like an ok guy, but I really must get back to my daughter. I'm not so sure she has her key with her today and I very much doubt she'd be able to get in through locked windows.
"Oh! Then by no means let me keep you. Please, go to her. In any case, I believe our paths will cross again." He proclaimed while ushering me out the door.
"Yes, that can be arranged. I'll need to come by later when the plumbing crew arrives to give them the proper paperwork and clearance and such. Don't worry too much. God has his ways. I'm sure we'll meet again." I say walking away from him.
"A man of god are you?" His words stopped me in my tracks for a moment. I turned on my heels to face him.
"Why of course. For a while now. He's been very supportive in my hard times."
"Ah so that's why."
"You carry it."
This puzzled me. "Carry what, if I may ask."
He gestured to my jacket pocket. "The son of our lord."
I froze. Looking down I see a hint of silver poking out from my pocket. Without really feeling anything, I reach numbly down and pluck the tiny statue from my pocket. I stare the miniature man in the eyes as he stares back. What is this...doing in my pocket...This doesn't make...sense...I feel the old man now uncomfortably close now. I hadn't seen him even move.
"Ah and might I say, what a nice touch of silver."
"Um...Yea...I...I d-don't..." I stammered. What is this? Is this really my statue or something of my mind? What the hell is happening?
"Hm, my father had one like that once. Oh my my! Look at the time! You must be so late home to your daughter! Please you must be on your way." Now pushing me out the front door and I land with my feet barely a couple steps below.
"Um yes well...I'll see you...Uh in a f-few days... Uh ok?" My mind still numb from the recent events, my eyes held firmly on the little man.
"Oh absolutely! Oh and Andrew?" He says as he stands in the doorway.
"Things aren't always what they seem to be..." My eyes snap from the statue to the old man now. Our eyes locked in an intense gaze. What? I thought to myself. "...Oh, and say hi to Lilly for me if you would. She's such a nice girl." He now closed the door and locked it behind him.
Chapter 3: The Precious Gift Of Silver
I amble to my car and get inside and shut the door. I just sit there in the quiet of the car. The last of his words barely registering in my mind. Who was this guy? Who the hell did he think he was? What the hell is my statue doing on my person? What the hell is going on? I look back into my hand at the tiny man and all he does is stare back. Like moving around without physically being moved the most normal thing in the world to him and it was ok to shatter someone’s reality like such. I hardly felt me turn the key or me driving away from the freaking church. Time simply didn't apply to me as before I knew it I was sitting in my parking spot in Crystal Heights Apartments. I turned the car off and grabbed hold of my keys, my tiny savior and made my way to my front door. When I'm inside, I slump into the couch and just sit there. I'm just sitting there. What just happened not twenty minutes ago...I don't even kn-
The whine of the squeaky front door yells out and in comes Lilly with her normal bag and a small black gift bag. "Happy B-day dad!" She squeals as she comes bounding over to me and locks me in a warm embrace. She pulls back, her arms on my shoulders and looks into my face. Her happy smile quickly fades into concern as she asks, "What's wrong? You should be happy!"
I glance down at my hand in which the tiny man was in. He wasn’t there. Just a shiny bag of marmalade candy. "...What...the...?" I say but am cut off by Lilly's curiosity.
"Ooo! You got a gift from someone! Who'd you get it from?" She got up and sat next to me, grabbed the bag from my hand and started to examine it thoroughly.
I quickly throw a glance to my music stack. Nothing. I get up and almost run to my room. As glance down at my table by the bed. My silver man is just sitting there. Staring at nothing in particular. Just resting on its platform of a bottom, all cozy and peaceful. I pick him up and gaze into its heartless eyes and he does the same. What is that? After a moment or two of powerful squinting, I notice a small chip, under the chin, where the regular silver is showing off that dull iron underneath with a small bit of rust forming at the center of the blemish. Did I do that? I put him down and left the room. Coming back into the living room I'm met with a concerned looking Lilly in my face with the bag of candy still in her hand. I just sigh and go into the kitchen. I need something to calm me down. I grab some Lays and a cold Budweiser. I don't drink. It's just relaxing. Least not a heavy drinker. I crack it open on my teeth. I need music. I throw on some Beethoven and play it through my stereo. Finally I come to a rest on the couch, chips and beer in hand. Moments later Lilly joins me.
"Are you ok?" She grabs my hand with a chip midair to my mouth. Those sparkling sky blue eyes staring at me with a feeling of legitimate worry flowing from them, not in tears, in unspoken words.
"Yea...Just a long day." I reassure her and close my eyes for a minute or too.
Could all that just happen really be real? Did that all really happen? Maybe it was just a dream? It was all so real though. Time felt real. All my senses felt too real for just a dream. Perhaps I'm too stressed out. I've heard others talk about how much I've been through and still going through and how rough it has to be. Maybe I just got tired and passed out in the lounge room and didn't really feel myself drive home. Maybe I stopped in the local market and bought those candies. The length of time I was doing "overtime" was well pass the time Lilly gets home from school and so a dream, stressed induced or not, would explain why I still got here before her like usual. Yea. That makes sense. I'm just over reacting. Nothing happened during that time. Just my trusty old mind messing with me. Ha-ha! Maybe that's its way of saying, "Happy thirty third birthday Andrew!" Yup. Just my imagination.
I open my eyes a few minutes later to find Lilly still waiting for a response that doesn't suck. I give her a real smile of relief and give her a hug and say "Yea I'm fine. C'mere you!" We roll around on the couch laughing.
Afterwards we sat back normal and after a good breath she said, "Ah, so glad your ok. For a minute you looked legitimately...something..."
"Yup. I'm alright." I remember the black gift bag and look for it. After spotting it I look at her and ask, "What's in the bag?"
As if remembering the bag herself her expression lit up, a smile practically going ear to ear, spread across her face and she leaned over and retrieved the small plastic bag. She holds it in front of her face, covering her mouth with it as she says, "I got you something...Ya' know. It's your birthday." Every word coated in excitement. She then holds out the small bag and waits for me to grab it. I snatch the little bag from her.
"I know how much you love music..." She goes on as I begin to open it.
"...and I know how you love religion and god..." I hesitate, only for a moment or two then remembering that that was all just a dream and that I'm just a silly "old" man and continue unwrapping it.
"...so I paid my friend with my money to use his parents credit card to go and buy this off I site I found." This time I do stop. I cast her a disapproving glance as any good parent should do in a situation like this. She shrugs and says, "Calm down. You'll love it."
After a few more seconds of pause I give up and continue unwrapping until the small square is revealed. I salvage it from the wreckage of the wrapping paper and tape. It's a CD. I speak the album and band out loud, the name so strange. I never heard of them but I'm sort of drawn to this CD. Why? I don't know. It calls to me. I make sure to say it properly to unsure I fully understand the name. I can't help but notice a coincidence that makes my heart sink a few feet.
"Carved In Stone album by Messiah of Silver..."
"Yup! They're some band I found while surfing the high seas of the interwebs and found it on eBay. I typed in religious music but most of it looked pretty gospel and chorusy. I instead searched religious band. On around the fifth page, there was an older looking CD case and cover but the description was pretty convincing. So, I bought it!" She looked at me with great anticipation for the answer to the next question. "Do you like it?"
I'm still sitting there staring at this old beaten up case and read the song names one by one;
1. -Rust on the Hammer- Hm, seems like a rock song or something. 2. -Take Me Away- An upbeat traveling song? 3. -Silver in my Wrists- Charming... 4. -Lift Me High- Now that sounds like a religious song. 5. -Hold Me Down- Ehh. Violent or suggestive much? Who knows. 6. -Nails of Silver- Hm, this band must have like silver or something. 7. -Tear Stained Cross- Sounds sad or depressing.
All and all it seemed odd but still I might like this band. The case itself has the two commandment stones next to each, seeming to depict god handing them to Jesus with a glorious light bathing him. Like I said, the case is old and dusty so much of the color has faded. The back of the case showed the song names in order with the same picture behind the words. I open the case and look at the CD itself. It's shiny in a swirly pattern etched on it. I pop the CD from its holder and look at the back of it. Wow, that's surprising. Not a single mark or scratch. All I can see is my reflection peering back at my curiously as well as little tiny particles of dust beginning to stick to the seemingly new CD. I put it back into its case and close it. I can feel Lilly's eager eyes still waiting for my lips to say the words she wants to hear.
"I love it." I gave my best smile, "Thank you so much."
She lit up and flung to me and gave me another hug. "Happy birthday."
Looking over her shoulder I spot the clock and say, "So you want to eat here in about an hour?"
"Mk. I'll go do my assignments for a bit. Just gemme' a call when you want to eat." Proud with pleasing her father with the dusty CD, she trotted back into her room and shut the door. Soon after I heard her own music begin to bump.
Well that was still nice. Giving one last look at the CD, I stood and placed it on my stack. I'll listen to it over the weekend. I come back over to the couch and grab my pile of trash and wrappings and throw them away. I lay down onto the couch once more and finished of my beer and polished off more than half of the chips. Satisfied with a good, but strange day so far, I lay and slowly nod off for the better part of that hour. Snapping back awake, I call Lilly to let her know dinner was going to start being made. I eventually got up and with the help of Lilly, we made spaghetti from scratch. We both loved to home cook. We didn't eat out much. A fast food place's food is pretty nasty after eating it for so long. We ate at the table for once in a while and chatted on and on about her past and funny as well as embarrassing stories from my past. We killed and hour and a half without relishing it. I put the dishes away while Lilly cleaned off the table. We sat and chatted in the living room for another hour. Before either of us knew it, it was 9:30 and the nighttime routine had to begin. I went and hopped in the shower while she cleaned up around the house a bit. After I got out, I went into my room. I sat on my bed, towel wrapped around my waist. I give a sigh and glance over to the Jesus statue whose seems to be staring at me. "Pervert." I say at him. "Ggiiiirrrlll you know wanna peak. Well heeellll nooo. You gota' put a ring on it first baaabaaayy." Whoa. To much of me falling asleep in front of the TV when a late night show showing some cocky black chicks has got be doing it too. Still funny has hell. I hear Lilly coming down the hall.
"Hey dad, you save me any hot water? You in he-" She says as she comes in my room and immediately turns back out. "Oh my god dad. Put some clothes on for Christ’s sake. Just because it's your birthday doesn't mean that you are allowed to parade around the house in your birthday suit. Geez!" She left and went to get in the shower.
I shut my door and let the towel fall as I go to my dresser to grab any form of comfortable garb or cloak that suits me. Long johns. Good enough. I slip them on and lay down into my bed. I switch the light out and let the darkness grab at me from all sides. I lay there thinking of what my day tomorrow will consist of. Well, I got to get up early enough to wake Lilly and have her get ready to leave. Tomorrow and Sunday is Janice's days. It sucks to not see Lilly those two days but I count myself pretty lucky since even though Janice has primary custody, she gladly gave me the weeks while she kept the weekends. I don't know if it's she doesn't want Lilly to switch schools and move away from her friends or if it's the idea that she knows she'll win this whole thing and will have Lilly permanently soon enough. Stuck up crazy ass bitch...May be rude and cowardly to talk about someone behind their back but sometimes it's just too hard to hold back your anger. I open my eyes and give one last glance over to my statue and pray to him good night. My eyes drooping with sleep I rolled back, now unable to fight against the weight in my eyelids anymore, I let sleep take me and I feel into a deep sleep.
Chapter 4: "Aw, Come On Jesus. Five More Minutes..."
I woke in the middle of the night, covered in sweat with my blanket wrapped around my legs and gave a good amount of rustling around, accidentally hitting my arm against the wall fairly hard. I sat straight up in my bed and took well needed deep breaths. That was awful... My night terror tantrum seemed to make Lilly stir a bit. I could hear her down the hall rustling around in her bed tiring to get comfy again. Both of our doors were open so just about any noise made by either of us traveled a long way. I sat there and tried to gather my bearing. I stand and walk over to the light switch, flicking it on, while still remembering to close my door as to not wake her again. I sat back down on the corner of my bed and rested my head in my hands. Freaking dreams man. But something about this one was...different.
Usually, in the past few months I've had dreams about normal stuff for me. My mind telling me what my situation was and what to do next, using weird and crazy physical metaphors and representations to show them. Normally such as me driving Lilly around. Nowhere in particular and running low on gas. I took it that as me running into a wall in my custody battle and not knowing what to do. Soon though, I found a gas station and wouldn't you know it, Jessica came up and pumped my gas. Maybe saying she's my only way to keep going and stay strong. But the ones lately have been even more strange. About two weeks ago...Come to think of it, that's around the time I had got my statue...Anyway. I saw myself getting horribly murdered or mugged when on my usual job runs.
One recently was me going into an abandoned building and seeing a shady figure walk at me from behind a wall and I couldn't get back out the door. He would run at me and tackle me to the ground and pull a long sickle from his coat. He would laugh and cut my shirt open. He would be sitting on my stomach, knees pinning my arms down to the ground. He brought the sickle to my chest and carved a sentence I couldn't quite read at my position. The pain would be excruciating and numbing at the same time. I would then appear over my body, probably from the eyes of the killer, seeing me struggle and writhe in pain. The sentence on my chest became, at that moment clear. It read "NO MAN OR WOMAN ESCAPES THE WRATH OF GOD." The pain would be still surging through me and at that point my body convulsed one last time as he hooked the sickle through the bottom of my jaw and have it stick back out of my mouth. A scream would ring through the air, I think it was probably Lilly's and I would wake to my status that I have tonight.
Another one is of me. But I'm not me. Not really. I'm in Janice's body sitting comfortably on one of her many fancy couches watching some stupid show. From behind I would feel a hand grab my mouth and another around my neck as I was pulled from the couch. I then be dragged through my house and thrown onto my kitchen table. It didn't matter how hard I struggled. I couldn't stop this man. He then proceeded to get onto the table and undo his pants. After I was raped he would grab some nails from his pocket. Now that I think about it, I think it was the same man as before. He pulled a hammer from another pocket and nailed me crudely to the table. Two nails through both of my wrists and ankles. As was before, the pain too intense to even register. My screams rested on deaf ears and soon went flat with a nail through the throat. He stopped to shut the fuck up. He pulled the same bloodied sickle from his pocket and rip my shirt open to begin carving some more. This time that I went into his eyes the line he was writing so intricately on my exposed chest read, "THE LUST FOR PENANCE IS BITTER SWEET AND ALSO A FALSE COURSE." I then passes out and saw my body, maybe a few hours later, bleeding all over the table and onto the floor. Instantly I was face to face with a terror stricken face of Janice with that same scream drowning out all other sounds.
Today was different, much different. I’m sitting at my little cubicle at my office. No one else seemed to be there at the time. I'm doing some sort of filing or paperwork when I just stop in the middle of it all. And I sat there. Just sitting there. Something made me glance to my right of my desk and see little Jesus standing there in all his pride. His head seemed to look up a little at me. We just sit there and stare at each other. His features seemed to physically loosen up. His face then went completely loose, similar to a human and told me in plain, simple, language, "He who desires penance, sins to do so. That which seems right is false. Only god’s judgment rules over man. You've wronged me Andrew. You've spit at the feet of god. Why would you do this? He is displeased. He demands obedience. No man is above him. Now pray. Pray upon the deaf ears of your former father. Pray. Prayer is needed. For penance. No... You're past penance. Pray. Pray with all your might...
Pray... For... MERCY."
Blood began to trickle then pour from the center of his chest. The bleeding refused to stop flowing. My mouth felt like it was being pulled open wide. The rest of me is frozen to the spot. The blood now covering my entire desk and falling on the floor, splattering against my feet. With my mouth fully open to its max and then some, my mind races. It can't seem to focus on any one thing. The statues mouth began to go slack jawed, stretching down far past what is physically possible by any human. As he did this a low guttural, demonic tone took place of the saviors and warned in a volume so loud my ears felt like they were bleeding.
"Pray for your soul. Not to me. To god. He won't save you however. For he has lost faith for you. Still, pray for mercy. Now to me. Maybe you could stir some mercy up from deep within my form." With his last word spoken, he let out a monstrous, low, growl. His face seemed to twist into one of horror. He started to shake and vibrate in the table, first slowly then more and more violently. Now with blood flying in every direction it was hard to see him fly from the table into my elongated mouth down my throat. My mouth snapped shut soon after and I fell to the ground wheezing and gasping for air, the tiny man cutting off my airflow through my windpipe. It began to burn. Stinging and singeing my trachea, my mind began to shatter. I fell through the floor. Then another. As if I was on a thirty story high building. Once I reached the bottom floor I felt and heard, felt more than heard, the sickening cracks ripple throughout my body as I hit the concrete floor. After I hit, I woke violently.
All of it was just so violent and vivid. Just the realism of the dream sent me into paranoia and insecurity. I sat there on the corner of the bed in the dim light for the better part of a couple hours. I had to go back to sleep. I needed it. I had to get up early. I couldn't afford to be tired. I got up and turned the light back off reintroducing me to the darkness. I laid down and pulled the drenched covers back over my body. I turned to look at that damn statue in the readjusted lighting. He just sat there, dull expression, right hand down and left hand to his chest. Fuck looking at you...rolling on my side I was drifting slowly back to sleep when a noise ruined it all for me. From about two or three feet behind me, it was so faint I had to strain to hear but at the same time crystal clear, and if it was in my mind's ear or if I really heard didn't matter, I heard the sound. It came quiet and low.
I didn't sleep the rest of the night.
Chapter 5: Simple Days, Unclear Waves
The sun finally poked through my curtains and hit me dead center in the face. I almost jumped at this, still being rattled up by last night. I could hear Lilly moving about the house, most likely starting her morning routine. God my head hur-...wait no...Fuck god...Man my head hurts and my eyes burn. I lazily glance over to the clock and realize I'm a half hour behind schedule. Shit. I jolted up, rubbing the last of sleep from my still weary eyes. I hurriedly throw on some jeans and a plain old shirt. I grab the door knob and stumble out into the living room were Lilly is happily watching some cartoons on the TV. It doesn't matter she's 14. She still looked cute looking away from the screen to give me a big smile and those cheery words coming from those pretty pink lips. "Mmmoooorrrnnninnnn' sleepy head. Finally your up. You never wake up late on Saturday." She gazed at my crusted face and could most likely smell me from where she sat. "Wow. You don't look so good. You ok?"
"Yea. Yea. Just...didn't get much sleep last night. That's all." I tried to give a halfhearted smile but failed even at that. Man I feel awful. Clearly she didn't buy it this time. She could see something was up.
"Um. No. Not this time. Usually lately I've just shrugged it off but you've been going downhill for a little while now. Come on. Tell me."
"It's nothing. Promise." I began to walk to the kitchen but was grabbed on the arm and pulled back. She moved quickly.
"No. Tell me." She looked generally concerned. Love showing behind her eyeliner inside her eyes. She really cares right now. Maybe I shouldn't beat around the bush like this. It might just make her mad.
"Just had a rough night. Uh, Um...." I stammered, "Uh...d-...Nightmare. I had a nightmare last night. I guess it kind of took its toll on me. Just didn't get much sleep that's all."
"Are you sure?" She said. Now she was getting pretty peevish.
"Yes, Yes. I'm alright. You ready to go yet?" I retort. This seemed to make her frown a little bit. She walked off towards the kitchen.
"*sigh* Not yet. I'm not done eating."
"Alright well hurry up. We have to leave in about an hour. Ok?" I say but she just mumbled back.
"Fine!" She snapped. I don't know whether she meant those words to be that sharp but none the less they hung in the air like sharp knives dangling from the ceiling.
Did I make her mad or something? Guess I came off kind of forceful but I didn't think on it too much. Dancing around the ceiling knife stricken air, I made my way to get something to eat myself. I was hungry. Usually I felt famished after the dreams and more tired than when I fell asleep. I think it's due to the physical strain I endured in the dream. Oh! I should make that into an exercise and send it into one of those crappy daytime fitness shows for stay at home moms. When you get home, find an object and make it have super-natural properties. It will make you have nightmares since it is all you can think about. In your dreams, struggle as much as possible. When you wake, don't sleep for the rest of the night. Perfect solution to that stubborn belly fat! Lose pounds in weeks! The thought made me smile.
I got into the kitchen and made a bee line for the fridge. I opened the fridge door to only be greeted by a wave of rancid smelling, potent poison filled air. "What the fuck?!" All my food was rotten and molded. The new food was imploded on itself and the leftovers had little white forests growing on them. The condiments turned from their original bright colors to a sour tinted green and grey. Some of the food was leaking onto the trays that supported the different tiers of food and was starting to crust.
"Lilly!? What happened to all of our food!?" I shouted which wasn't necessary since I had forgotten that she was over at the table not five feet from me. She just turned away from her Poptart and said.
"What do you want? What do you mean the food?" She clearly hadn't noticed since she had gotten her food from the cupboard and never really cooks anything fresh from the carton or wrapping such as the sausage or eggs.
"I mean all of our food is rotten! Did you leave the fridge open all night or something?" I could no longer take the smell and shut the door.
"No!" She replied. "I haven't touched the fridge since yesterday and all the food was fine. Ew that does smell awful!" The wall of scent finally hitting her.
"well. I got to fix that now. Fine, finish eating and get ready. We'll leave in a bit." I walked away and down the hall to my room. She just turned back to her food and went on her morning.
Great, now I had to clean out my entire fridge and also buy all new food. I just went fucking shopping! Probably have to scrub out my fridge until that horrible smell is gone. Maybe I can do it when I get back. I went into my room and slumped down on my bed. Pulling my left sock on, then the right, and grabbing some random crap off my table, I can't help but notice that my statue seems to be growing a beard. Not of hair, of rust...and on his neck. I stop my current tasks and reach for him. Holding him in my hand a flip him around to see that the tiny spot of rust forming under his chin had since grown into a much bigger spot on his neck. The rust coming of in my hand it seems, denser, thicker, stranger. I'm not sure how or why but the way the metal felt against my chaliced skin seemed off. Why is he rusting? He should rust like this unless some insane voodoo Chinese water torture was being done to him in my sleep. The silver itself was pretty tough for being so thin in the first place. It would take a couple strong finger nail scrapes to get it to come off. It wasn't by any means a toy. It is a valuable figurine usually shown off at a party on the shelf or something. But I had hardly touched it and I doubt Lilly had anything to do with, for how ignorant she has been acting to all that’s been happening lately.
Still puzzled I put him back on his little perch and went about my business. We finally got ready and got in my car. I pulled away from the apartment and sped off to Janice's rendezvous. The whole idea was dumb but I agreed in court on it. Granted, I didn't like to drive 50 miles away but it sure as hell beat driving all the way to northern Montana just to drop Lilly off and drive all the way home. Me and Lilly didn't talk much on the way there. This was normal. We didn't need to speak as much as we shared silent thoughts, even though we couldn't understand each other. It's kind of like talking in a chat room with just you and one other person but both speak different tongues. It's nearly impossible to understand one another but still share the same mindset. So we sit there and let the car carry us to the location, the hum of the car and the sound of wind rushing between us and other cars being the only noise.
Around forty minutes of driving later, we finally pulled up to the desolate parking lot outside of a rather old cafe. I turned the key off and pulled it from its slot. The light hum of the car being replaced with a numbing silence again. Our silent words still filling the air. A few minutes pass till another vehicle comes rolling into the parking area, headlights piercing the early morning dew. It's a white SUV, hardly looking a week off the lot that made my little Toyota car seem like a dirt covered rock compared to a shining bar of platinum. It came to a stop right in front of my car, maybe eight feet away from the bumper, bearing down on my piece of shit car, waiting for a small girl to emerge from inside.
"Well, I guess I got to go." she said solemnly. She started to get out of the car when I caught her with the words,
"Hey." She turned. "I love you."
"I love you too dad." She leaned back in and we embraced each other then she slid from my car. She shut the door behind her and made her way to the menacing SUV.
When she got to the door of the passenger side door she cast one last look in my direction. We caught each other’s eyes and held it there for a minute. I could never imagine what I'd do if I had lost her. She seemed to think the same thing. She didn't want any of this but, it’s happening. She just wanted it to be over and for her to live in one place for an extended period of time without worry about the uncertainty of the future. She only had one problem that shadowed all others. Who would she live with? She knew she couldn't live with both but yet she wanted to settle somewhere. She loved both of us too much for her to break the others heart. She's too young to make a decision like this. She shouldn't have to go through this. I don't wish the curse upon anyone. Anyone who has felt this longing and eternal pain, they have my sympathy.
The enormous white door shut and the engine roared back to life. Without a moment’s hesitation, she backed out from in front of me and sped off past me to the exit marked in concrete. I just sat there and rested for a few minutes. Mostly just resting my eyes for the lack of sleep coupled with the early morning rise and the 50 mile drive I have done so far and the return trip as well. I told hold of my keys once more, putting them into the slot, and kicking my car back awake. It didn't want to and neither did I but we had to get home somehow. I followed the same route Janice took to get out of the lot and sped off in the direction of my own home. I have got so much work to do when I get home. "I don't wanna'." I pouted like a spoiled kid. My plan is to check the mail, get into something comfy, grab some trash bags, empty and clean out my refrigerator, do some laundry, clean off the dishes, vacuum, and probably some other mindless crap the someone has to do on a weekend or every other. I think while doing all this, I'll listen to the CD Lilly gave me to pass the time while the excitement of listening to something new always kept my spirits running high.
After what seemed like an eternity and then some, I finally pulled into my spot at CHA. I went over to the mailbox to check to see mostly for if Jessica had sent those papers I need. Bill, bill, bill, bill, advertisement, bill, missing child, newspaper, cigar catalog. Nothing. "Fine." I said to myself and made my way inside. As soon as I made my way inside, I noticed that the house was empty, duh, but it had a sort of presence in the air. The kind of feeling you get when you walk into a restaurant late at night and only one other person is there but you don't quite notice them right away, was what I was feeling when I went in and shut the door. Standing in the middle of the living room, I listened to the silence for a bit before I remembered I had things to do and headed off to my room to begin to get comfy. Reemerging a few minutes later with a pair of clean long johns, the ONLY clean pair, and a wind breaker hugging close to my body, I went off and began the easier tasks. I decided to start with laundry and remember the CD I could listen while doing all this.
Finishing up the laundry, I went over to my stack and searched for Carved in Stone. I found it exactly where I had left it, on the left side of the mountain of plastic. I grabbed on to it and opened it up. Something pretty dumb to do was to check for the CD to make sure it was there in the first place, as if I could break out of its case and zip in to the to another location pretty farfetched but with all the strange crap happening around the house lately, one couldn't be too sure. I skittered over to the stereo, the anticipation practically fuming off me, and smashed the "On" button with my thumb. Come on, come on, come on. I noticed that things you want to happen, happen slower of your happy or ancy. The tray rolled out on its track and it barely was out of the player case before I had shoved the track into it and pressed "Close". Since a CD usually plays by itself at this point I went off to the hallway closet to look for some trash bags. I came back out into the living room only to be greeted with silence. I was odd so I went over to the stereo stand and look at the player to make sure it was running. It was. All it said on the tiny display was "Track 3 1:13" and still playing, omit any sound at all. "Why start on track 3 hm? Buddy!?" I smiled, still too excited to get too angry right now and flipped through the tracks to see if they all were like this. 4 nothing. 5 nothing. 6 nothing. 7 nothing. It reset back to one now. On 1 the speakers made small hiss before beginning the song. I gave a smile and went off to my chores. The song was Rust on the Hammer. It started out with a drum set intro, pretty standard to 80's rock. Then it went into a guitar rift and a singer came on in a booming voice. I think the gist of the song is him talking about he's the best singer and rocker out there and to watch out for him. He's too cool and too proud to be stopped now. It felt so rhythmic. It soothed me but at the same time, filled me with a sort of energy.
The song continued to play while I did the dishes and vacuumed. I picked up the trash bags close to the stereo and went into the kitchen. I feel so alive. This music just hits me in my core. I started to empty out the fridge when something occurred to me. The same song was still playing. Whether or not it had repeated or was on loop I couldn't tell. I stopped what I was doing for a moment. Something took control of me. I returned to my task of cleaning out the rotten food. I couldn't stop. I just kept going and going and before I knew it I started to scrub the damn fridge out! I had no control over my actions but still it felt natural. I finished with the rest of the gunk and what not and tied the trash bags closed. I went out to throw the bags in the can outside my apartment but I could still hear that song clear as the sky. When I returned the music started to die down. I sat down just as the song ended. I tried to look to see if the song was really half an hour long or it was on loop or something but I didn't show track one. It showed track to but track 2 didn't make any sound either. I regained control of myself and tried to flip back to one. I when I had got to it, it wouldn't play. It just showed "track 1 0:00" nothing I did made it play. It didn't even make any sound at all. I was bathed in that same awkward silence. Finally getting frustrated, I turned it off and sat down on the couch. That song sounded pretty good but still. What was it about it that made it go on and on like that? Clearly I heard it, I know I did, but was it really that long? Still, it was so soothing and calming. I feel proud of the work if done today, not that I did too much. Wait, no. Not just today. Every day. I've done great these past few months. Normal people would crack under circumstances like mine. Not me! You know what? I deserve a reward. I think I'll head out and go for a nice drive in the country. That I think I need.
I shot up and went to go get ready for the second time today. I tossed on some clothes that were dirty and old tattered shoes. I didn't even think about using the same clothes I had worn in the morning or the newer shoes sitting right next to the old ones but, you know, who gives a shit. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. I dashed to my car and jumped in the driver seat. I feel good. I'm not sure what it is but I feel really good. Confident. I revved the engine and didn't even give it time to warm up. I backed out and drove probably faster than I should have out of the complex and onto the streets. I took the first left I could and just went straight. At the pace I was going, I got into the country side pretty quick. Something started to come into focus. I sound. I could hear it faintly, then more clear.
Rust on the Hammer began to play in my head. Man that's a good song. It sounded so smooth. Made me feel invincible. I know I'm not but with this mindset, I could do anything! The buildings and telephone poles began to blur and the road seemed to stretch on into the horizon. I could feel nothing but full confidence and pride in what I do, what I've done, and who I am. I looked around to see the world curve around me. I looked at the speedometer. 140 mph. Could my car even go that fast? Could a little Toyota shit 2000 go 140 let alone 100? The numbers on the meter seemed to blur even more to me as I leaned back and sunk into the seat. I could see a rusted farm truck roll slowly up unto and intersection ahead. He'll stop. He didn't though. He continued to turn onto the road I was flying down. I had to turn. This sadistic old man wouldn't do it. Feeling no control over myself yet full of reassurance that I'd be fine, I turned slowly into the field next to me. The thing about going fast is, the faster you go, the harder to turn. The faster you go, the slightest nudge of the wheel turns you a lot more than you think. The faster you go, the road is eaten up fast. When I felt myself tap the wheel to the right, my car flew off the road and over a ditch into a field. Being in September, no crops were there but still, the slightest bump on the tires sent me bouncing like a rabbit on crack. The old man halted to a stop, his breaks squealing. He turned to look at me, a tinge of bewilderment twinkling in his eyes. I only caught a quick look at him then he disappeared from my eyesight. I turned back to look ahead of me. A concrete field marker was coming up on me as I had swerved to look at the old man and was now headed for the intersection.
The concrete markers usually protected the field and told others whose property was whose. And man are those things solid. Only four or five feet of it stick above ground but they extend about ten or fifteen feet below the surface. My foot slammed into the brake and my tires began to dig themselves in to the half frozen tilled earth. That post was getting big fast. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact. The slowed and jerked to a halt. I didn't want to look at where I was. I peeked out and saw that I was no more than a couple inches from colliding with it. My shaking hands fell from the steering wheel. The song faded in my head. What did I just do? Where was I? I slumped back in my seat and rested my head on the window. Out of my proverbial vision, I could spot a rusty old truck coming up on me from the left. The battered truck came to a stop right next to me but on the road. The old man rolled his window down and leaned over to the passenger side window.
"Good heavens man, are you alright?" His voice sounded dusty and worn. I roll down the window and glide my head to the outside of the window.
"Yea, yea, I'm fine. I think I feel asleep at the wheel. I'm ok though." He got out of his vehicle and made his way over to me.
"Would you like a tow or a ride back into town?" He asked. Trying to but as calm as possible despite my still shaking body, I replied, "No thank you. I don't think my car was damaged at all, and surely after that, I'm sure I'll stay awake."
He paused for a second, as if mulling over possible options to help this man but ultimately decided against them all. "Ok, just get home save now ya' hear?"
"Yea. Will do." He turned and began to walk back to his truck. I wanted to stop and thank this man but getting out of the car wasn't an option. I couldn't stand straight let alone form a good response. Still, I hollered over to him.
"Hey sir!" He cast a glance back then turned to face the car. "Thanks for stopping and making sure I was alright."
A small smirk crossed his face. "No problem."
"What's your name? I'm Andrew Brookstone." He came over to the side of the car and extended his hand inside the window. I met him with a firm hand myself.
"Elijah Wilkes." He said with a smile and turned away to walk back to his truck.
The whole handshake thing ended quickly since my grip loosened, blankly. What was his name again? Elijah Wilkes? Wasn't that the old man from my dream in the church? Come to think of it, he looks the same as the guy. I guess I hadn't taken any notice to him since he wasn't in his pastor get-up. Instead, he dawned a pair of overalls, Dusty blue jeans, and dark work shoes. Was it all a coincidence? Hardly. When I got into his vehicle, he turned on the radio. The song playing was so familiar. It was only after he sped off and the waves from the song came drifting through the open back window. A soothing rock song.
About half an hour later, I returned home. I took so long since I was traveling a lot slower than the speed limit because I didn't want to attract the attention of anyone who saw me earlier. I went pretty far away in the ten minutes I took to get out to nowheresville. When I went inside all was silent. Nothing out the ordinary here. Still. I wanted nothing more than this day to be over. The whole situation finally sinking in. I floated to my room and didn't even take my clothes off. I let my body collapse in the mess of blankets and sheets. Slowly, sleep filled my head and before I knew it, I was gone. Man, this felt so relaxing. The stresses of earlier melting away.
I woke early in the morning to the same beam of light that would usually wake me up in the morning and with Lilly running in with a big smile. Only today, there was no Lilly. This kind of bummed me out when I remembered that it was Janice’s weekend, but at least I'd be able to go get her at around eight or so. I rolled out of bed and made my way to the kitchen still with sleep in my eyes. I went to go make some bacon and eggs. That, to me, was the best kind morning I could think of. Opening the fridge door I was greeted with a white sheet of light. I waited till my eyes adjusted and when they finally did, I cursed to myself for falling asleep and forgetting all about it. The fridge was completely empty. I had completely spaced going to the store and getting more groceries. Maybe I didn't want to. After the whole ordeal yesterday I didn't think a second longer on getting back in the car for another high speed joy ride. I'd have to go out and do it today then. So I finished waking up and got ready. Might as well knock that out before I start anything else. I grabbed my coat and keys, and right before I made it out the door, something stopped me right in my tracks. Another urge. I couldn't quite place it. I shut the door and look behind me.
Sitting on the stack of CD's was my mp3, Carved in Stone, and, who would have guessed it, tiny Jesus. Just staring at me. Begging for me to do its will. I secumed. I went over to the stack and plucked the mp3 from the top of the stack and then went for J man. I lifted him to my face and dared him to tell me his plot. If I couldn't avoid him, let him join me. I slid him in my right front jacket pocket and headed out the door. Something seemed off to me about bringing him along for the ride, like some weird taboo shit or something but oh well. He couldn't do much harm. Unless he came to life like in my dream, then I'd have nothing to worry about. Maybe he wanted to protect me even though he's a psychotic midget; he was warm and soothing to my core. I locked my door and headed for my car. I slid the keys in and the ignition didn't take long to resurrect my vehicle. From there I pulled out onto Main Street and down the road I went.
I had completely forgotten how far away the store was in this town and I might as well listen to some REGULAR music to get me through all of it before I lost my mind. I stopped at a red light with a single car ahead of me. The light had just changed to red so I think I have some time. I reached for the mp3 in my left jacket pocket and jammed the buds in my ears. I went to shuffle and put it back in my pocket. The light changed and I was off. Let's go music. You can start playing now. But all that played through the miniature speakers was a hiss. Pulling the mp3 from my pocket and glancing quickly between the road and the screen, it said my library only had seven songs. What the hell? Where my other 780 songs?! Fuck life man... The song that was currently playing was Rust on the hammer. "No." I said defiantly and shuffled through the next few songs. All the song names were not the names I had read on the case. They all said, "???". Went I returned to the main screen, having shuffled through all the songs with no luck, I clicked shuffle once more. Now instead of track 1, Rust on the Hammer, it read track 2, Take Me Away. The track was paused which I quickly remedied with the play button. Hopping it would play on its own, I shifted my gaze back to the road. Then the intro kicked in, which I was thankful for.
It began with a flute and clarinet opening. Classical? Hm, interesting. Still, I made me feel welcome, so to speak. Then, a powerful brass section faded in then out. Nice crescendo decrescendo. I know my music. Some violins and fiddles came into effect now, with a fancy piano accompaniment and from there on out seemed to take the feel of some Victorian mansion. "Oooo." Fancy fancy. Well done sire's Messiah of Silver. You must know to right audience." I say out loud to myself. I finally pulled in to the Shop N' Mart...um...mart and came to a rest in the closest spot I could find to the store. I got out of my car making sure I had everything; wallet, keys, jacket, Jesus, mp3, and the rest of me. The music still played. It seemed to be around the same length as Rust on the Hammer. I didn't mind. Because of the fancy dancy music playing in my ears, I practically strolled up into the store, feeling smart and full of myself. I made my way around the mart faster than I remember and swiped my card in the thing-a-ma-jig and left with my bundle of items.
I got to my car and popped the trunk open with the button on my keychain. At this point, the music had faded then stopped. I came back from my high on life feeling to reality. What...? What’s all this crap doing in my cart? I take in sight of the massive mound of different foods and other miscellaneous shit piling up more and more the more I stare it. I had foods and different boxes of things I could hardly pronounce let alone eat. I spot my recipe at the frayed edges of my jean pockets and rip it from its hold. 604.65$!? This is outrageous! I didn't want all this! This is enough food to feed an entire football team for a month! I momentarily thought of coming back through those sliding doors, slamming the recipe down on the counter in front of the cashier and making them feel terrible about themselves but what good would that do? Leave me in the dark with a normalized bank account and a stained conscience? Nah, I'll be fine.
It took me fifteen minutes to Tetris all the different food items properly in the trunk, backset, and passenger seat, doing my best to not crush the breads or leave the soaps to the meats and what not. When I got in my car I sighed and a realization came to me. This shit's heavy. I felt I foot shorter in my already small car. This was going to suck trying to haul all of this home. My mpg will surely hate me when this was all over. Getting out of the parking lot and onto the road, I figured out I was right. I needed gas. So I pulled in the nearest Quicky's and filled my tank to the brim. Again, more than I needed or had the money for after splurging on this pluffer of food over flowing my car but still. I didn't care. I got home and went to unlock the door. The silence still making itself present in the home. It took longer to get all the crap inside than it took to put it in the car. It was all in and I put it all away. I slumped into the couch and rested my eyes, trying relax after that straining task. Once again, a noise faded into my head. Take Me Away was dancing its way into my head.
My body began to come over the control of something I clearly didn't like. I stood and went straight for the kitchen. I grabbed some of the things I had just bought, bags of chips, drinks, chicken, and random other foods I didn't mean to buy. I threw them on the couch and sat on a bag of chips. I didn't care. I began to gorge myself in all the fantastic things I got. My face was stuffed in seconds and still shoveling in more. Soon my stomach hurt. It told myself to stop and slow down but I ignored. My teeth rattled and my gums were stressed an hour later when I called it quits. The song, once again, faded away. Oh crap...Ow....ow...Ow.OW...OWOWOWWOWOOW! My stomach kills! I let out a groan of pain and fell forward onto the floor. My stomach hated me. "Why are you being so irrational and eating all this food?!" It screamed at me. I don't know tummy, I don't know. It apparently wasn't happy with my answer and fought back. I empty all that I had eaten onto the floor below me. Two, three times. Now my guts hurt. I different pain. It came from my abdomen. I ran to the bathroom and emptied more. That was the worst shit I had ever taken. I fell to the floor outside the bathroom afterwards and felt exhausted. My vision back to fade.
I awoke a few hours later with the noxious smell of something. Duh. My stomach leavings still fermenting on the carpet. I sat up and clenched my nose with my hand. Awful. I stoop wearily and went to go some cleaning things. My trusty tools by my side, Windex, Bounty Paper Towels, and Frebreeze by my side, I began the fight against the awful mess I had made. I never want to have to do that again. I threw the used items away and sat on the couch. Awww man... The food is still here and some of it is starting to rot. Nasty. I threw that away and put other things in the cabinets and went to my room. I lie down on my bed and close my eyes. I felt like shit man. I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. A few moments later I felt an ever increasing weight in my front right jacket pocket.
I look down to see a hint of silver poking out of my pocket. I pull the tiny Jesus out and hold him above my head to look at him for a sec. What is all that on him? Clearly the silver little man had been dipped in mud while I wasn't looking. I got up and flicked the light switch on. Rust. Rust was now covering his lower part of his body. The damaged reached up past his robe shrouded knees and was extensive. The rust under his chin had stayed the same but the new damage was shocking to say the least. I know I hadn't feel in any puddles of water lately and I also know that I didn't vomit on myself to make this happen. Were the rust resided was starting to crater in, as if more than just a few grams of silver had worn away, and was now eating deep into the iron underneath. What. The. Hell. MAN?!?! I got angry at this for some reason. I think it was an awful idea to bring the man with me on my daily chores. I think HE made me do what I did. I clenched my fist around him and stormed outside. I threw him at the fence out on the back porch and hit landed with a solid thud in the earth. "Fuck you." I proclaimed and went inside. I shut and locked the door behind me.
I came to a rest on the kitchen counter, still rittled with varying sizes of food items that didn't fit anywhere else in the cabinets, cupboard, or fridge. I rested my elbows on the counter and my head, softly in my hands. I am so stressed out right now. It's destroying me. I'm just so done. My calm demeanor slowly but surely fading in a grim and forbidding state. I need to talk to someone. Anyone. I reached for my phone and scrolled through my contacts. Only one stuck out of all the different names and numbers, Jessica. She would understand. Even if I had to pay to talk to her. She wasn't paid to talk to her clients about their personal lives to deeply, just deep enough to get the facts. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't mind though. Me and her are forming a sort of friendship, if I can say. I clicked call and let the phone ring. Once, twice, three times, a forth, "Hello you've-" "Jessica?" I hurriedly said cutting the recording off. "-reached the office of Jessica S. Lacy. I'm not in at the moment, but if you would leave your name, phone number, and time of calling, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!" Then it cut back to the "if you'd like to leave a message" crap. I pressed end and slid the phone, depressed, back in my pocket. Even Jessica couldn't, wouldn't, talk to me. I returned to my original pose. The depression emanating from me. I gloomily looked up at the oven clock. 6:53 it read. Oh crap! I have to get ready to go get Lilly! I hastily grabbed my jacket and shoes and sprinted for my car. Did I lock it? Who cares. I gota' go go go! I hopped in the car and raced off to the usual rendezvous.
I arrived a little after eight with a white SUV waiting for me, like a bully ready to beat up some kid right after school. I pulled in beside her and cast a look over into the other window. Though it was tinted and dark out, I could still make out the faces of Janice and Lilly in the car, the blue glow from the stereo lighting up their features. Lilly leaned in and gave what I made out to be a kiss on the cheek to her mother and the door opened. Lilly slammed the door shut and made her way over to my passenger side door. she turned and gave one last wave before hopping inside my car and throwing her things in the back seat.
"Hellooooo there dad." She turned and gave a full-hearted smile. I smiled back and gave her a hug.
"How are you doing?" I asked as the white monster rolled away and me following behind but going in the other direction.
"Oh, pretty good, pretty good. And you?" She might have meant it but still, she seemed zoned out and was now staring out the window at the passing landscape. I thought about what she said for a minute or two. Should I tell her or should I just leave it be... I didn't want to worry her but I also wanted to tell someone to get this off my chest. I mulled over this for a minute and finally turned to her. She seemed to notice the length it took me to respond and was already facing me, waiting for an answer.
"I'm doing alright myself. Pretty quiet around the house while you were gone but I was able to manage." I smirked and turned back to the road. "You know how all that food went bad?"
"Yea?" More of a question than a response.
"Well I cleaned all that crap out of there and bought some more food to fill it back up." The smirk still dancing on my lips since it was, when I think about it, pretty funny, the whole situation. The food being rotten, thrown out, just to be replaced by a monstrous amount of food, then being sort of eaten as soon as it was bought.
"What if it goes bad again? Do you know what caused it?" She said without hesitation.
Her comment hit me with such a blow that the air in my lungs seemed to get caught in my throat. The thought never crossed my mind. What had caused it all to happen? I'm not sure. Was it that the fridge went bad? I think a better explanation is that damned Jesus. I think it is a curse. I just happened to be the poor bastard who it fell into the hands of. Was that it? Did I really buy a cursed Jesus? Seemed to me sort of ironic if you think about it. And what's with that music? Did that have something to do with it? It's as if when I play a song, something bizarre and outrageous happens, between the confidence in my driving abilities or the buying and consumption of the stockpile of food. Maybe I shouldn't listen to my mp3 anymore. It'd be rough, but maybe by next paycheck I could get another. Lilly was again looking to me for an answer.
"Hm. Not sure. Guess I'll have to clean it out again and buy more food." She pondered the response well before returning to her window view.
The rest of the ride was pretty silent. I was silent because of my unsure mind and mounting stress, Lilly because of physical exhaustion. I'm not sure why, be she seemed pretty tired when she came back from Janice's. I could only stretch my mind so far as to think that Janice made her work to the bone. So we rode and arrived in silence and made our way up to the apartment. I unlocked it and made our way inside. The numbing silence was broken by our shuffling feet and rustling of clothes and bags. She scampered off to her room and I took my place at the far end of the couch. I flicked the TV on and starting dulling my mind with dumb shows. Lilly went off to take a shower and I thought it was about the time to start dinner. She didn't like to eat at her mother’s since Janice didn't really buy the foods that Lilly liked. I didn't give into all of her cravings but I did give her some leeway. I got up and started to make some beef stew for me and some stroganoff for her. I set the table and waited patiently in the living room, leaving the food unattended.
She was still in the shower. What the deuce? How long does it take for a teenage girl to take a shower? I was starting to get hungry. I went in and grabbed a full bag of chips. I began to munch on them and the shower shut off. Just in time too. The door stayed firmed shut. A few noises made their way out of the bathroom then the light went off inside there. What is she doing in there? I got up and went over to the door and knocked. "Lilly? What are you doing in there?" No answer. I opened the door, unnerved to find it unlocked and was met with darkness. I flicked the light on and no one was inside. The curtain was splayed and I could see no one was there. "Lilly?" I called out.
"What do you want dad?" I heard from her room. I turned the light off and speed walked to her door.
"Lilly you in there?" I said.
"Duh." She retorted sarcastically.
"What are you doing in there?" My mind more than a little confused.
"Getting dressed. Duh. Gimme' a minute and I'll be out." Uh? She was in there? Who was in the bathroom then? I grabbed my bag of chips and went to the kitchen, my mind still a haze. Too much weird shit is going on lately. I need to find out what. Even if I can just talk to someone about this. I need to get this burden off my shoulders. Lilly came out a few minutes later dressed in sweatpants and a tank top. We sat and ate and by ten, both of us where completely wiped out. She went to bed and I soon followed, retreating to mine, making sure to shut down the TV and lights as well as locked the doors. I lay down and pulled the sheets over my body and tried to rest. Tomorrow I had work. Another mind numbing week ahead of me, and with no music at that! My eyes shut and sleep soon took a hold of me. I dreamed of music that night. Songs. Two in particular. Rust on the Hammer and Take Me Away.
Chapter 6: Horrid Revelations
5:30 rolls around and it's time for me to get up. I didn't get a wink of sleep last night. Those damn songs played for hours in my head. I couldn't get them to stop. The dream itself told me of hard times to come and that this was just the beginning. I was just a piece of the puzzle. Something larger was afoot. For hours, days even, my mind became some sort of fucked up prophet. All of it is unnerving however. Even though I know it's just a dream, it still scared the shit out of me. I remember being told that no matter what I did, I could not escape my fate. The "Rust" is eating away at my soul and would soon fully consume me. I'm taking no risks. I don't want my mind to be true. For once, I want it to mislead me.
Lilly came in as usual with a cup of coffee in one hand and shoved me a few times with the other to try to shake me from my sleep. A smile was on her face, which always made me light up on the morning.
"Morning! Get a move on mister!" She beamed at me.
"Fine, fine." I mumbled, took the coffee and rolled out of bed.
A painful feeling was creeping it's way into my thoughts. I felt somehow off. I still got up and got ready for the day. Emerging from my room, I took a seat at the kitchen table to enjoy a warm breakfast that Lilly had prepared. Time passed and Lilly was out the door to school. I finish up cleaning and getting ready and before I know it, I myself was out the door. I open my car and sit in the driver’s seat and fish around my pocket for my keys. I wait for the car to warm up. Hurry up... Come on... I want to be done with this day already. I close my eyes trying to get a wink more of sleep. The heat was on and only usually take off when it gets warm enough. I felt the temperature reaching that point so I open my eyes.
My mp3 is sitting near the meters and J man is sitting on the dash. What the hell? I grabbed the tiny man in a fist of hate and glared down at him. "What do you think you're doing here huh buddy?" I say, defying him. He's resting in my fist with a few chunks of rust coming off. I roll the window down and chuck him out into the cold. He hit the pavement with a crack, sending more rusted chunks flying around him. "Crazy sadistic fuck!" I thought I had left him in the backyard. Crazy thing is following me. Maybe when I get home, I'll saw him up and melt him down. He'd sure make a good paperweight. My hand reaches for the stick shift and click it into reverse. I hurriedly back out, throw it into drive, and speed off. I don't think going that fast was that necessary but I don't know why I wouldn't at the same time.
The ride began quiet and calm. More quiet than normal since the lack of music was ever so present. I was almost settled in for the long haul when something began to bump. A deep bass. Vibrating from a few feet in front of me. It was coming from the mp3. The sound was abnormally loud for the tiny waves coming from the buds but still it was enough to rock the mp3. It began to get in rhythm with the bass and began to move off the dash. It fell and started to dance around the floor with that same bass playing. I couldn't look away from the road to stop it from moving, so I let it bounce around. It stopped for a minute. It resumed after a man with a deep bombing voice said a few lines. The man in the recording sounded young. He wasn't black, despite being a rap sound, he was white. I'm pretty sure I can tell just by the inflections in his voice. The bass coupled with the rapping man went on for a bit before stopping and saying what I'd assume was the main verse of the whole song.
"Find me in the shady mist, stuck on the rotten bark. You'll find the silver in my wrists, come alone, half past dark."
After those lines the bass ensued and was returned to the original lines and groove. What did he mean by stuck on rotten bark? And how about the next line, you'll find the silver in my wrists? That sounds familiar. Duh. That was the song name. I remember reading it on the case. I came to a stop in my parking spot at work and turned the key off, choking the life from my car. As the car finally coughed its last few breaths, the mp3 died down slowly, too. The music faded out leaving only the heavy bass in its wake. After one last bump, the bass shut off and was replaced by a loud hiss. Now I had a chance to grab the mp3. The screen said that song on queue was Track 4. The hiss was the standby sound of the speakers being turned up so high. A sudden pop made me drop the music player, the noise taking me by surprise. That was the sound of the speakers cutting out and being blown out. Great... Now there REALLY was no music to listen to.
I left the dumb thing in the car and hauled my way to the main plaza of my dead end job. What do you know? Chuck was coming out of his office with the same musky clothes he's being wearing for weeks now with an armful of paperwork. He was dropping a few of them and stumbling a bit. I could faintly hear the echo of a mumble in the plaza. He looked to the side of his path and spotted me coming in the doorway. As soon as he saw me, he immediately seemed to grin. He threw the papers down on a nearby table and starting fishing through the mountainous stack. I tried to hurry past without him stopping me but unfortunately, he ran and blocked my path. He held out a single piece of paper. A work order.
"Oh, Andrew! Glad I caught you. You need to take this call." Ew... His greasy sticky fingers are seeping onto the paper.
"I can't Mr. Warburton, I've got my own calls to attend to at my desk on top of the papers I need to input into the computer."
"No time, this one has been sitting in here for hours. Money is money. Go do it before she changes her mind."
"Get someone else to do it, I'm busy." I try and amble out of the way of the sticky wall but he kept me from passing.
"Do it anyway." He stopped me with a firm hand. "No one else will be back in time and you're not busy RIGHT now. Get going before I kick your ass to the curb." He didn't seem smug today, he seemed infuriated. I think I was right in my assumption of someone coming out here and threatening him with his job over his head.
"Fine." I snatched it out of his hand and he collected all of his papers and was on his way.
I turned the paper over and read the description. It was a woman in her 80's with a decently sized house for being a widow. She wanted to put in a new kitchen with a rework of all the pipes and gas lines for the stove. Come to think of it, this was the same woman who I went to to look around her bathroom. This girl was loaded! I had no idea where she got all of it but sure as hell spent it well. Something inside me jumped at the opportunity. I could have went to find someone to pass it off to but something told me I should go, you know... look around... I threw my things down on my desk and donned my work polo. I was out the door and in the car in mere minutes. I sped off in the direction of the home. I can't wait to get there! The silence of the car was numbing. After I pulled into the driveway and shut off the key, I was just about to step out but something stopped me. A faint bass in my head. Bump. Bump. Bump. Silence. It hadn't really deterred me but still slowed me up to the front door. I rang the doorbell and a small, quiet, speak came from inside what I could tell the living room.
"Coming. One moment." The voice sounded dry and withered. The same old woman opened the door and smiled up at me. I knew she trusted me which somehow made me grin.
"Oh! It's you! Oh, please come on in. Would you like a cup of tea before you get to work?" She beamed at me and slowly made her way to the kitchen.
"Sure! Why not!" I beat her to the kitchen, sort of cutting her off. She didn't seemed to notice, but I did. It was rude but I didn't care. She started the tea and I took a seat at the table.
"Make yourself at home now."
"Oh of course!" She put a cup of tea on the table in front of me. I gulped it down and asked for another cup. She quickly filled it again and I finished that cup off too.
"My my, thirsty today? Oh well. Would you like to begin looking around?" She said as she started out of the kitchen. She didn't even want to watch me. Sweet!
I stood and left the chair cooked to the side. I pulled my notepad out and began inspecting the walls and pipes underneath the sink. Silver in my Wrists faded into my minds ear. I stopped what I was doing for a minute, sort of taken aback by the catchy bass line and the lyrics. My foot started tapping and my head started bobbing with the beat. I stood up, leaving my notepad on the ground and started to look around the house. This wasn't my curiosity, it was the songs. I made my way to the bedroom and started to investigate. This chick was loaded, she has to have some money chilling out somewhere. There on the nightstand, I spotted what looked to be the stereotypical old granny purse. I snatched it from its resting place and started fumbling around inside looking for anything that either I could sell or maybe just pocket. My fingers rested on a faded money clip and I ripped it from the purse. Without thinking, I tossed it in my pocket and left the purse on the bed. What else, what else. There was a jewelry box close to a mirror and I flipped it open. Gems. Shiny rocks stuck to different colored and curved rings and necklaces. Fake or not, I liked them. I tucked them snuggly in my back pocket and didn't even care to shut the lid of the box.
"She's cleaned out." I said to myself. "This will cover the cost of me wasting my time here. Whatever, she gets her clearance and what not." I went around the house and found her deeply interested in a book in the living room. Good thing the hallway to her bedroom wasn't in line of sight of the living room. As I came in, she noticed me and said.
"What’s the plan Stan?" A smile still dancing on her lips. Poor ignorant bitch.
"Oh, you're clear to do the renovations. I'll leave a copy of the clearance sheet with you and I'll take the other back with me." I handed her a half-assly filled out sheet. She didn't know that it was half filled out but she was just the innocent old lady needing some help. She didn't know any better.
"Oh great! Well I don't suppose you're headed back now hm?"
"Yup, I got a lot of other places to get to in the wee hours of the day. Yea, I got to get going. I'll give you a call in a few days to let you know what’s going on.
"Alrighty then. You take care now. Bye!" And with that last comment of hers I was out the door and on the path back to the car. The heavy bass was still bumping in my head with a vengeance.
I finally reached my Toyota and sat in the driver’s seat. With a bass in my head and a wheel in my hands, I made my way back to my parking spot at work. The song in my head faded and was replaced by the eerie silence. What just happened? I got out of my car and went in. I arrived at my desk and slumped in my chair. I felt something poking out of my pocket. Scratch that, pockets. I reached in my front pocket to find a clip of cash. Scared, I went for my back pocket. Pointed shiny rocks and rings filled my hand. Did I steal these? What did I do?! I threw the various rock at the wall and hit like rain on a metal roof. The clip fell from my hand and plummeted to the floor. I backed out of my cubical and stood a few feet from the station. I peered around. No one else was in the area near my cubical. I quickly grabbed the merchandise and ran out of the building.
I arrived at my car once again. I tossed the goods to the seat next to me and roared the engine to life. I was just about to turn the stick to drive but something caught my eye. My hands. They were shaking, and bad. I closed my eyes and did the best I could to calm down. I couldn’t go driving around with an unsteady hand now could I? A few minutes passed and I felt I had regained control of myself. I pulled from the parking spot and sped off in the direction of the old lady's house. Not ten minutes had passed till I had came to a weary stop at the mailbox. My hand reached to the seat next to me and grabbed a handful of her goods. I chucked them in to the box and slammed it shut. The least I could do was to give this crap back. Just because I wasn't thinking when I stole it, didn't mean I had to stay a thief.
The old woman peeked through her curtains at her front window which scared me pretty bad, like seeing a ghost. I immediately pushed the pedal to the floor and drove away, tires screeching. A few blocks away, I saw her get to the mailbox and look inside in my rear view mirror. She pulled some of the things out and physically remembered them then turned to stare at the car peeling away from the scene of the crime. Her face gave it away. She was astounded, relived, and furious. I couldn't stand her gaze a moment longer. I turned from the mirror back to the road. Guilt filled my mind to the brim with pain. I didn't mean to do it. I wasn't all "there". Surely she couldn't blame me for mental instability. It wasn't me...It wasn't...It...it was...THAT DAMN SONG!
It did this to me! Come to think of it, all of the things I've done recently have made me do things out of my will! That explains the robbery, the stockpile and consumption of food and the near head on collision with a concrete barrier! Well...! Actually...No...It didn't explain anything. The most I could piece together was that whenever I listen to one of those songs, something completely wild and unpredictable happens. I might be able to stop this this time around. If I completely avoid any type of music, I should be in the grass green clear! The whole idea made sense in my mind but who knows, I'm off my rocker at the moment. I couldn't think straight about anything. I could just be experiencing a mid-life crisis. Could I? Doubtful. I'm like, 33. No record, that I can think of, of mental instability in my family tree. No clue. For starters though, the mp3 and CD have GOT TO GO.
I came to a abrupt halt at my parking spot at home. It was early, but I couldn't go back to work. That old lady will mostly likely be hunting around for me. She seemed quiet and nice enough but also seemed like one of those people that if you provoke that they come at you with knives in hand. I opened the door to my home. Quiet, still, petrified air hung gloomily in the room. All the rooms. Although, somehow this was normal as well as comforting. It matched me, this stillness. I flopped onto the couch and flipped the TV on. Hours of mind numbing static and pixels ought to cool my heels. Some crafting show was on, not surprising in the least. It was the middle of the day and nothing was ever on this time of day. The pixels began to fade together and my eyelids became tremendously heavy. They fell onto my eye socket and sleep took my by the hand. Sometime later, I was rudely awoken by a slam of a door and a high pitched squeal.
"Aaaafffttterrrrnoooonnn dad." Lilly said and gave me a hug on the couch. Me, still being semi-asleep didn't really fully comprehend the hug but it did vaguely register.
"Afternoon doll. How was school?"
"Oh, alright. Boring but it's whatever. Nothing new." Well, still a crappy answer but no parent really argued of the half-assed story telling of the day.
I rubbed the last bit of sleep from my eyes. "Why don't you get yourself something to eat. I'm wiped so I might just go back in my room and hibernate in there.
"Mk. Whatever ya' silly." She bounded off to her room for a second or two and reemerged only to go straight for the kitchen. I picked my sorry self up and Frankenstein walked to my room. The door shut softly behind me, my hand not letting it hit to hard. I made a bee line for my bed. "Ah, sleep. I return to you. Make me a samich'" I was weird like that. I closed my eyes and feel hoping the bed would cushion my fall and I'd fall right back to sleep. Nope. Not this time pally.
I was met with an intense pain starting in my nose and reverberating throughout my entire body. I coiled out on my side, my hands making a race to my face seeing which one would make it there first to comfort me. It hurt immensely. After throwing a few hate words blindly into the air, I sat up on the bed, my hands still cradling my poor, poor nose. Lilly came crashing through the door and gave a rather loud shriek.
"Oh my god dad! Are you alright? What's wro...*Shriek* Oh shit dad, your nose!" She came over to me and tried to get a better look but I firmly held her at bay with a rough hand pushing the air in front of her at her. She stopped and got down to see if she could see my nose. All she saw was a dark liquid coming from the crevices between my fingers. She left the room and returned moments later with an armful of paper towels, rags and disinfectants. Man this really hurt a lot. She shoved a lot of it at me and I took the nearest towel and held it to my face.
"Ow. This hurts a lot, Lilly. I can harbly breeb." My voice sounded like Squidwards or something with this rag clogging up my nose. I stood and went into the bathroom to get a better look at my wound. I flicked the light on and even I was a little shocked. Well, for starters, the rag on my face, once white as snow, now was red as rose. It was covered in the center with blood and different splotches were dotting the outside of it. My hands were bloody as well as my shirt. If you saw me, you wouldn't be able to tell if I had just came from ripping someone’s organs out and happily enjoying them without having the courtesy of cleaning up after myself. I removed the rag from my face slowly, as to not throw blood around the bathroom and give it a dashing new wall color. Almost right I wanted to put my hands back, out of pure fright of the damage that has been done. My nostril had been smashed to the side with blood simply gushing from my nose, no shocker there. On my face however was a mark, not like a fancy tattoo or a creative and fortuitous injury. Right between my eyes and above my nose was a heart, or maybe a bag, I'm not entirely sure, with sunshine markings shooting from it. The symbol was small and innocuous but still was no normal injury. I too was bleeding, not bad though, just cut open.
I had to hurry up and fix this before the nose began to heal in such a way. I took another wash cloth and rinsed it with some water. I began to clean the blood from my face and hands. The shirt I couldn't care less about. I've got plenty of these polo’s. With the majority of the blood gone, I grabbed my nose, closed my eyes, and braced myself before snapping it forcefully back into place. I started to bleed again but that didn't really matter that much, I had set it back. Now if it stayed there, it would heal properly. I kept cleaning up after myself, trying to stay ahead of the rushing blood and eventually, I did win the fight. The bleeding subsided and I took the rag and finished cleaning the last of the blood. Lilly came into the bathroom to check up on me.
"Yall' right now?" She asked with concern in her eyes and worry in her words.
"Yea, yea I'm fine. I set the nose so now it should heal right." She seemed relived at the thought and site of a cleaned up dad.
"I think I found what you landed on." She inquired. Apparently, she had something behind her back.
"Your tiny Jesus man." She held it a couple feet in front of her face, in a way asking for me to take it. My heart stopped and without thinking, I snatched it from her hands and threw it across the bathroom. It impaled itself in the wall with a loud *thunk* and a plume of dust. Lilly screamed out of reaction. Why did I throw it? Reaction. I'm so done with him! Hope he burns... I stood there staring at the wall; Lilly was burning holes with her eyes in me and in the wall with pure bewilderment. She snapped out of it and yelled.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR!?" Anger tinged a little in her voice. The noise made me cringe just a bit. I turned to her.
"I...I have no idea..."
"You just threw a Jesus statue in our wall! What made you do that!?" Yup, anger was rising and falling in her voice as she spoke.
"Don't give me that!"
"I don't know!" I responded rather loudly.
The house fell silent. Hurt and confusion lurked behind Lilly's eyes. She turned and went off to her room. She slammed the door shut. I was left alone in the bathroom, with just my fuzzy thoughts to comfort me. I took one last look in the direction of the hole. Something caught my eye. I went over to the embedded man and wiggled him free of the wall. His chest was what caught my attention. A symbol he was pointing to with his left hand. That's what I landed on. I must have hit dead center on him and that’s how I got hurt. But again...WHY THE HELL WAS HE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!? I threw him outside in the cold and left him to rot. Well, break down and chip into dust. Come to think of it, he seemed even more rusted now. It was spreading around him, making various rings around his body. I am so done with this silver menace. I stormed out of the bathroom shutting the light off, and going to my room. In my closet, I had a gun safe. I didn't own any guns but still, these things are impossible to open or break into. I wheeled the latch to the combination and the door opened with ease. I tossed him in and shut it hard. That will learn him.
Now I was tired. I wanted nothing more to do than go back to my bed and let this day end. Too much bad shit has happened today and I just want to forget the whole thing. I went to go lay down but I pieced together I probably couldn't, given the current situation of the bed. The bed was just covered in my blood with chunks of small things sticking from the sea. I leaned in closer to see what they were. Rust, they were tiny rust chunks. The force of the impact must have knocked a few loose pieces free. "Fine..." I sigh to myself and rip the sheets from the bed. Luckily, the blood hasn't yet reached the mattress yet so I was in pretty good shape. I tossed the covers aside and laid on the bare bed. The raw material of the mattress wasn't the greatest and sure was itchy but all in all pretty comfy. Not being able to stay awake another minute, I collapse unto the bed. as I lay, sleep already was waiting in a taxi to take me to soothing dreams.
What seemed like hours later, I awoke. I was cold, freezing actually, it was dark. Wind was hitting my face. What? Wind? What is this crap? My eyes opened as well as my senses and I felt the stabbing of splintery wood all around me. Water hit my face in waves, more misting than anything. I sat up quickly and found I was clearly not in my bed. I was on a boat. A small boat. In the middle of the sea. Nothing was around me for as far as I could see. The wind was kicking up and water hit me in the face again. I'm stranded! Oh crap someone save me! I thought to myself. I couldn't speak, the words wouldn't come out. So I just yelled with my thoughts. All the stimulants around me were mind bending to take in at once. The noise was getting increasing louder. I held my hears shut and closed my eyes trying to cut the connection of sight and sound from my senses to calm me down. I didn't help. The wind was getting louder and the ship became more and more unstable. I would die in this boat before to long, or worse yet, lose my mind completely and go completely mad.
Just as I thought that I was about to lose that last strand of sanity, the noise dulled a bit. The boat began to rock slower. The water was hitting me lethargically and the wind was brushing the air from my face smoothly. I felt like I was in a time warp in space...and in an ocean. With the noise now almost completely faded in my head a new sound arose. It was slow. An acoustic guitar began to ring out above the waves, sounding fairly similar to a song playing over dozens of speakers in a mall. I slow voice of an aged man could now be heard, singing calming lyrics. I removed my hands from my ears and opened my eyes a bit wider. The atmosphere seemed to answer to the words of the man and the weather got in sync with this man’s booming vocalizations. I actually sat back in the boat and rested my head on the side. I simply watched the world around me revolve. I began to catch on the lyrics and began to hum a beat out loud. I was getting calmer and calmer as time went on. I sat and observed the ocean roar and spit all around me in slow motion. I didn't care. I was feeling peaceful and tranquil, maybe even tired. I could just sleep while all this went on.
I thought that was a good idea so I laid flat on the planks. So peaceful. The sky was still dark, a few stars poked out of the clouds. The guitar slowed and the voice did to making the words ever more the clearer. I heard these lyrics.
As life does tumble; and the clouds do rumble, never let life make your bright mind dry. Make life vibrant, and lift me high!
As the last words "lift me high!" were spoken, a wave came underneath me and lifted the boat up. Life picked up its regular pace and everything shot back to real time. Out of reaction, my arms shot to the sides of the boat in an attempt to brace myself. The wave lifted me higher and higher. As I reached the peak of the wave, the boat shuttered and began to turn on its side. I was essentially becoming a reverse sail to this wave. I began to fall, with the force of the wave behind me, straight down into the ocean. when I was nearing the top of the water, a rock was revealed out of the murky abyss. The wave retracted the water and made the rock more clear. In seconds I was flung towards the rock and hit face first on the charcoal colored stone.
I awoke on the floor covered in sweat and blood coming from my nose. I must have fallen off the bed and landed on the ground hard enough to get it going again. "God dammit." I thought to myself. All I'm feeling is shock. I look at the time. Three in the morning. I hate to say it, but I need to get back to sleep. Work was in a few hours. With as tired as I've been lately, I can't afford to come to work tired or worse, fall asleep on the job. Mr. Warburton has given me plenty of warnings lately and if I were to fuck up one more time, I can kiss my job goodbye.
I crawl back in bed, pull the sheets over me, and try and go back to sleep. Maybe this wouldn't affect me and I'd be fine. Come on body, sleep! For hours, it seemed, I laid there in the dark. I can't sleep. Not after that fucked up dream and the recent events. For some reason, that dream messed me up. Seems like hours...just lying there. The darkness clawing at me above the sheets. I toss and turn forever. How long have I been laying here? I glance at the clock. The numbers are blurred, I can't quite make them out. Probably due to the fact I'm almost asleep. I shrug it off and go back to enduring the tortuous night. Guess I'll have to try my hardest today to stay awake.
My eyes are cracked open at the unexpected sunlight. What time was it? I throw a look at my clock. Nine! Nine in the morning! I'm so late! I hurriedly try and get ready. My phone makes a blipping noise. This stops me. What...Oh no...I begrudgingly retrieve the device from my pocket and worriedly look at it. Holy crap! It's tomorrow already! I've been asleep for two days! Three new voice mails, all from yesterday. The number...That pig of a boss of mine. I put down my socks I was going to put on and take a seat at the corner of my bed. I click call for voice mail and click speaker on, just to be sure and crystal of the words I was to hear.
"First unheard message." The recorded woman said.
"Andrew? This is Mr. Warburton. Where are you? No one is in here again and the orders are piling up! Get in here right now. My fuse is already short and you don't need to make it any worse." After that it ended. Not as bad as I thought it would be, since he's usually pretty negative. Still, he can't be happy I'm not there. My mind still shaky and holding on by a mere thread, I click on the next message.
"Second unheard message." Here we go. I hold my breath and hop for the best.
"Andrew! Were the hell are you! No phone call? No "I'm sick boss, I can't come in."? Didn't even tell anyone? Who do you think you are just not coming into work. I'm so tired of your crap Andrew! You know what, YOUR DONE! Your sorry ass is gone. Good luck finding somewhere else to work you sorry fuck, cause you’re sure as shit not getting a job here again!" With that the recording ended. I place my head in my hands and shed a few tears. A defeated sigh makes its way out of my lungs.
"Third unheard message." What...I raise my teary head and look at the phone as if it was a person. Staring into its face, it started to speak its words.
"Andrew, how are you? Feeling alright son? You haven't come back yet and the builders haven't either." The voice was...familiar. It sounded rittled with age. Bumps and cracks could be felt as the words passed through my ears.
"You said you'd be back in a few days and when you didn't come back, I decided to give you a call and see what is wrong." This...this man was...Father Wilkes from the church. Also, I-I think, Elijah, the old man in the rusty old truck. I didn't give him my number. What did he want? What di-
"Is it that racket of music you listen to? Can't believe you got one of those... So awful and harmful. Not good for your health you see. Makes one go mad you may have noticed. I surely feel bad you've listened to four of the seven songs. Most can't even survive that long. You must be truly suffering right now. Any matter, I think you remember me. I also believe you know how I know all this."
All the air from my lungs are gone. He crushed them with his blatant words. He knew I had a Carved in Stone CD? He knew how many songs I've heard? He knew I was suffering. That's sure as hell true. But how? I can feel it...I know it's true...Mind is unhinging slowly. He's doing it so subtly. I-It's impossible. Keep it together Andrew. It's all in your head...It's all in your head...IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD! I keep repeating over and over in my head. The recording seemed to pause, as if giving me this time to gather my thoughts. What a foolish attempt at this it was. The longer the silence lasted, the more my mind became unstable.
"I know all this from my helpful friend. You bought him not too long ago. He's a direct connection to your thoughts you know. The more you pray to him, the stronger that connection gets. The more you worry and think about him, the stronger he gets. Feeding off you fear and despair. Oh come now, you must know of him. His striking resemblance of that bastard above is too much to ignore."
No...not THAT. All this time. A-after all this time, it was that small silver shit.
"Ah, I see. you do know him." What? Did he hear that!?
"Yes Andrew. Don't fear me. I'm here to help." The last bit of tears dried from my face and now I'm glaring into the phone. He was real.
"What the fuck are you?" I say, shaking and fright stricken
"I'm just a man. More a prophet. I'm also a rather enthusiastic music fan. I was in a band once. Ha. That fell apart quick. You may know them."
"Don't think to much on it. Back to the point at hand. Andrew. I've been watching you. I'm always there, in forms that may not make sense to you. That object has a connection to you, as well as me. Both of us are bonded with the object as the syphon and connector. I can feel it. That's the way it's made. Your thoughts, I can read them. I see what you see. I feel what you feel. Your fear, it's a grand thing. Never have I felt so much courage clashing with terror in one’s head. It's filling. Though you seem to be spent. Your mental state is declining fast and your body is worn. It's a shame you've been marked this early."
"Marked?" I respond. Marked for what? What was going on here?
"Yes, marked. I believe you know of the mark. It happened not to long ago actually. You must know. I felt it too." I briefly recall the bloodied mark between my eyes.
"Yes, that mark. It means that you no longer have any will to continue. Your life is over. You have nothing to live for anymore."
"But Lilly! I have her! You have no idea what I stand for! Here it is! I live for her! I put up all crap to see her happy!"
"Ah but you'd throw your life away at the same time. You don't deserve to continue on. You must be ended. You will is broken, your mind is unhinged, and your emotions are sporadic. At this rate, she'd be taken away within days! I will save you however."
"Fuck you! You have now power over me!" I throw the phone down and run towards my bedroom door. My hands fumble with the knob but nothing happens. "Come on! Open!"
"It's no use Andrew. I control your actions now. Nothing can save you from my wrath. If you want to take your fury out on something before you part from this world with it all, attempt to break our bond." My hands loosen and I turn around slowly. There in the middle of the room is the tiny Jesus statue. Standing there almost completely rusted now.
"You remember me saying that the statue resembles your mental state? The rust Andrew. It's chipping away. Your conscious mind is chipping. The pipes, filled with thoughts are cracking. The transportation for emotion is becoming unstable. Let it flow Andrew release your hate. Strike it down."
All the hate, all the fear, all the stress, all of it welled up inside me and I snapped. I charged at it with a fist held high. My hand came down on the statue hard, knocking it over and blooding my hand. I raised another and another, pummeling it. Blow after blow my hands became more covered in blood and rust. My thoughts began to blur with all the pain I've ever been put through. The statue just laid there on the ground, taking my onslaught of flying fists and flurried emotions. Eventually, my hands slowed and my emotions drained. I let my hand fall to my sides and I rest there in the middle of my bedroom floor on my knees. I felt...relieved. For once in a long while, I felt at peace. True peace. Not some false instated peace. Real tranquility. I closed my eyes and let my body rest.
"Done now?" A voice echoed in the stillness of the air. Elijah was still on speaker. My eyes shot open. I mumbled something to myself the resembled "No".
"Ok then. Your body is now forfeit. Nothing stands in my way of controlling you know. No more clouded thoughts or powerful rage is harboring me. Your mind is at its weakest...I am at my strongest..." Shit... My body begins to freeze up. New emotions come to my head. Thoughts. Words of foreign languages and a feeling of absolute terror. A feeling of fear for my own life.
"That's good now rise." My body stands, not on its own. I raise myself to a standing height and bloodied arms outstretched. The silver man, covered in blood arises from the floor and straightens himself upright. I turn slowly and back up to him. From what I can judge he is about a foot behind me. All my memories now flood my head, perhaps a last blessing from the devilish prophet.
All the happy days with Lilly...No more...All the better days of Janice’s presence...Flooding from me...Every happy moment, every wonderful friend I've made, every pleasure of mortal life as I know them...No more. Something fades now into my head...noise...It wasn't till now I noticed I couldn't hear any sound at all. The noise of voices and forceful slamming carried its way into my room. I could see shadows moving underneath my door as well as my door being slowly broken down. The door bent and cried with every crush of the object on the other side. Over the commotion, I heard a rough man’s voice.
"Hey! Stop her! I told you to keep her back! Someone grab her!"
"Let go of me! I need to see him! He'll open up for me, I promise! Dad! Open the door! Please! They're taking me away! Hey, let go of me! Help! Dad!" It was Lilly! She was trying to save me! She must have been trying for days now and only recently called the police. Her voice was soothing and comforting despite being spoken as a yell and worried. A tear found its way onto my face. The mark in the middle of my face began to burn a vengeance. It hurt, so did my hands, but nothing hurts more than watching your life come to a halt before your very eyes.
"Touching but we don't have to waste this day. Goodbye, Andrew." Elijah said than began to chant in some language I couldn't quite understand. My legs began to fold and my back started to arch. My body was starting to bridge with my legs going down and the rest of me beginning to level out. Something hit me at that time. I was poised in such a way I would descend on the statue.
My whole form hurt. My body wasn't meant to arch like this. As I was nearing the floor, the head of Jesus touched the base of my neck from behind. I wanted to scream or tell Lilly I loved her but my voice was shot. I couldn't even manage a squeak of fright. I Started to feel my bones crack and the Jesus head now starting to pierce my neck. Pain shot throughout my whole body and my mind began to shatter. All the mental insanity and physical pain began to make my body numb and my vision blurry. Pain sensors and nerves shut off and I could feel my body slip into darkness. Just as my vision was about to go completely black, I saw the head of the savior reemerge out of the front of my throat, blood following and flowing behind it. I blinked one last time and took one last choking breath just as the door was broken down and people rushed in. The sharp, icy hands of death grabbed onto me and I fell from my once happy and vivid life into a foreboding and ever dark abyss, never to think or feel a thing again.
Chapter 7: Silver Is But An Heirloom
"I simply cannot believe that sorry fuck went and offed himself. How selfish!" I thought to myself as I drove in my SUV to go get Lilly. She must have been traumatized by this whole thing. There's no way in hell he ever deserved her. I just hope she'll be ok.
I pulled in the Crystal Heights Apartments to be met with a swarm of flashing lights, brightly colored vehicles and crowds of people. It was hard to maneuver through it all but I eventually came to a stop just outside the barrier set up by the crew. Lilly was sitting on the back of an ambulance with her makeup streaming down her face. She looked a wreck. Son of a bitch, she was hurt by this. I honked my horn and she looked up quickly and saw my car. She gave a brief thank you to the paramedic and ran over to my vehicle. She hopped in and slammed the door and started going on about how awful the whole thing was and that she was so scared and that there was nothing she could do. I hushed her with a hand on her head.
"Lilly, it's ok. You're save now. I know, I know, there there. Let's get going shall we?" She sniffled a little and nodded her head slowly.
"I'll call movers later to come by and get your things. For now, let's just get home and get some well needed rest." She nodded again and rested her head on the window, the whole ordeal still fluttering in her head.
I put the car into reverse and backed cautiously out of the scene. I spun the wheel back and shifted to drive. I made my way out of the crowd and was just about get out of the complex when something made me slam on the brakes. Lilly braced herself on the dash while I crushed my foot into the brake, a look a frustration and shock on my face. An old man had ran in front of us, waving his arms wildly. We came to a rest, slightly cocked sideways on the road. He ran over to the window and I gladly rolled it down, ready to give this guy hell.
"So sorry miss! Please hear me though!"
"What the hell do you want you old fuck! You almost got ran over! Would could possibly that important!?" My pretty face twisted into anger.
"Sorry! But I had to stop you! You see, a neighbor asked me to give you these. They had begun to take things from the home and he wanted me to stop you to tell you. I managed to grab some of it before all of it was removed from the premises."
He went back to his car for a moment before returning and offering a box to me. At this time, I'm more than skeptical. I gave a look at Lilly who was in desperate need of rest. The faster I could get out of here, the better. I turned back to him and reached out the window. I took the box of things. It was rather heavy. Putting it all in the back seat, I gave a quick glance in. Some papers, clothes, personal things and souvenirs, and a faded CD case. I rustled it free and scanned over it. Most of the words were etched out. I flipped it over to find a set of numbers scratched into it. 5163742. What did that all mean? No fucking idea. Looked like it at seven tracks to its name. Before I could make out the words, the old man made his presence known again.
"So yea, his things are being taken into the police station to be looked at for evidence, given the circumstances of the death." I scoff to myself at his words. Well I should probably thank him. He did kind of go out of his way for us.
"Thank you so much for this. Um. I really must get going though. So I'll let you go. Again, thank you so much. I'm Janice, his ex-wife."
"No problem Janice. My name is Elijah. Elijah Wilkes." He extended his hand meaning for a handshake. I'm not one for handshakes but it was only polite. I grabbed his hand with my right hand and gave a quick shake or two before drawing back into my SUV.
"Take care now!" With that he turned and went on the other side of my car. He hopped in his ramshackle rusty old truck. His engine roared to life and moments later, was off in the direction of the scene once again. I clicked my shifter to drive and made my way to the exit of the apartments. Maybe now that I have Lilly, things will be back to normal. She was fast asleep as of now, tired from all the stress and mental torment. I made a left out of the apartments and was quickly on my way home. Maybe when I get there, I'll pop in that CD just to see what kind of music this fucked up guy listened to. The title seemed nice enough at least. Carved in Stone by Messiah of Silver.