Someone Else is Here – Pt. 2

Image: Destiny Word of the Day
Image: Destiny Word of the Day

On the way to school, Jake had concocted a plan on how to skip and go back home to work on his case. When his mother dropped him off, he entered the school doors – waiting on the inside for her to drive off. He then exited, ensuring that no teacher or parent saw him leave the premises.

Once home, Jake looked through the sheets of paper filled with prints. He separated the ones that belonged to him and his mother from those yet to be identified. He was smart enough to document the location of the door knobs, which made it easier for him to focus his investigation.

As he analyzed the locations, he noticed that the prints were on the bedroom doors, their corresponding closets, and the basement. Jake started to feel scared because this unknown person or thing had been in his private space.

He put on gloves, ensuring that he didn’t disturb the prints on the knob, and then eased his bedroom door open. Jake gulped in fear and anticipation on what he may find. Then he inched his way in, trying to remain calm by telling himself he was on a case and that finding the criminal would put him one step closer to his future career.

Jake walked around his room dusting this and that for further prints, when he found a long dark brown hair. It wouldn’t have been strange, except he and his mother have blonde hair.  And it couldn’t be his grandmother’s because hers was gray and short.

Jake could feel the nerves in his stomach flap around like butterflies. It intensified when he heard a noise in the closet. He wanted to be the best detective he could be, but in this matter, he had to think smart.

Jake ran from the room to get his cell phone out of his backpack. As he was about to dial for help, a man with a dark brown ponytail in dirty denim was standing behind him.  He placed a hand on Jake’s shoulder and turned him around.

Jake went stiff. His mouth was open in preparation to scream, but nothing came out. The man covered his mouth just in case some form of noise exited, then yanked the phone from Jake’s hands.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” the man removed his hand from Jake’s mouth. “I’m your father.”

Jake didn’t believe the man. “You’re not my dad. He’s dead.”

The man gave a slight chuckle, “So that’s what your mom is telling you. Well, I’m alive.”

“I don’t believe you. You could be anybody. Show me some proof.” Jake folded his arms, staring at the man as if a dare.

The man left the room heading towards the basement. Jake followed. Hidden behind boxes was a ratty-looking blue backpack. The man reached in and pulled out a picture. It was him and Margaret in an embrace. He handed it to Jake.

Jake looked at the picture.  Then he cocked his head to one side, studying the scruffy-looking man.  A flood of questions rushed from Jake’s brain and out his mouth, “So, what’s your name? Where have you been? Why are you here? Are you going to stay?”

“Whoa, whoa. Slow down,” the man leaned against the boxes. “My name is Chase. I’ve been all over, and I’m here because I want to get to know you. “

“I’m confused. So why would my mom tell me you were dead, if you’re really alive?”

“Not sure.  But things between me and your mom, well that’s a complicated story. What I can tell you is, we parted ways a long time ago. In fact, I didn’t know she was pregnant with you. I put two and two together when I saw the both of you at the store.”

“Well, I’m going to call Mom.”

Chase grabbed Jake by the arm before he could make it to the stairs, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not?”

There was a noise upstairs like someone opening a lock. Chase and Jake looked at each other puzzled and afraid. Then there were footsteps above that sounded hurried.

“Jake! Jake! Are you here?” It was Margaret. She was panicked, looking for her son.

Chase whispered, “Go upstairs! Don’t say a word about me being here. OK?”

Jake nodded in obedience and raced up the stairs. “I’m here Mom.”

“Jake!” Margaret was happy to see her son, but it quickly faded to anger. “You had me worried. Why did you come home? Did something happen at school?”

“No. I…I just wanted to find out about the prints.”

Margaret couldn’t believe her ears, “You’ve taken this detective thing too far. Where’s the kit?”

“In my room, but Mom!”

“Don’t ‘but Mom’ me. I’m putting an end to this right now.” Margaret walked towards Jake’s room with him continuing to plead behind. All he wanted to do was find out whose prints were in the house. But Margaret didn’t care.

Chase sat, listening in silence to the commotion upstairs. When he had had enough, he went up. “Margaret!”

She whipped around quickly towards the voice calling her name. “Chase?”

Someone Else is Here

Image: Holliston
Image: Holliston

“Alright Jake! Time for bed.”

“Ahh, Mom! Can’t I stay up a little longer? That new detective show is about to come on.”

Margaret paused for a moment to consider. She knew there could be a consequential outcome to whatever decision she made – Jake would be too sleepy for school the next day or she would be helping him to learn more about the craft that he seems enthusiastic about. She chose the latter. “Just this time. You’ll have to record it from here on out, you understand?”

“Thanks mom,” Jake gave his mother a hug around the waist then stretched out on the floor, propped up on his elbows.

With each scene, Jake was glued to the television. His 10-year-old mind was determined to be like the detectives on the screen. Jake loved the science of it all – gathering evidence, running it through microscopes and tests, and linking what was found to the criminal.

The next morning, Jake had arose before his mother. He was still high on the excitement from the detective show.  He was sitting in front of the computer looking for forensic kits online when his mother came downstairs.

“Well, good morning! Surprised you’re already up.”

“Mom, I found this detective kit for fifty dollars. Can I have your credit card to order it?”

“Excuse me, young man. I know I taught you manners.”

“Sorry Mom. Good morning. Can I get it?”

Margaret grabbed a cup of coffee before going to see what her son was so consumed with. “Honey, that’s a lot of money to spend on something you’ll probably play with once. “

“I promise Mom, I’ll play with it every day.”

Margaret wasn’t convinced. “You’ve said that before and I’ve ended up giving away a ton of stuff. “

“But this is different.”

“How?”

“I want to be a detective. This will help me learn about it. And didn’t you tell Grandma you wanted me involved in more things to enhance my educational development?”

Margaret was stuck. Jake was right. “Alright mister, here’s the deal. When you get home from school and your homework is done, box up all of the things you have not worn, played with, or touched in the last six months. You’re going to help me tag ‘em and sell ‘em.”

“Like a yard sale?”

“Exactly!”

“Ah man.” Jake’s shoulder’s slumped. He didn’t want to put in the work. Then he glanced at the computer screen and knew he had to do what he had to do.

***

When the detective kit arrived, Jake was on cloud nine. He viewed each piece, thinking of a thousand things that he would “investigate”. He finally decided to start with the dusting powder, brush, and tape.

Jake dusted every door knob, collecting the prints and taping them to sheets of paper. He then inked his own as well as his mother’s for comparison. After viewing under the microscope, Jake found that most belonged to him or his mother. But there was a third that he could not identify.

“Mom, I think there’s a ghost here.”

“Don’t be silly Jake.”

“No, really! When I took prints from the door knobs there was another set that wasn’t ours.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be a ghost.  Maybe they’re Grandma’s.”

Jake conceded. But the next time his grandmother visited, he made sure to collect them. They didn’t match. Something was going on and Jake was determined to find out.

Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…Part 3

Image: The Gifted Way
Image: The Gifted Way

Abby woke up with a terrible taste in her mouth, awful smell in her nose, and a headache that could have been deemed an eight on the Richter scale. She still hadn’t opened her eyes. And with what was going on with her other senses, she wasn’t sure she wanted to. But she had to take a peek – at least find out what that retched smell was.

Abby couldn’t believe her eyes. She was lying on a hard bench in a jail cell with five other women she did not know. She could have sworn she was in her apartment. She tried to reach into her hurting head to determine what was real and what had to be a dream. She was hoping her present situation was the latter, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

“Ahhh. Sleeping Beauty finally woke up.”

Abby looked over to see that the person addressing her was a tall, heavy-set woman who seemed mad at the world. Instead of responding Abby turned away.

“What?! You too good to speak?”

Abby still said nothing. Finally the woman walked over to her, and stood in the line of her vision. Abby tried to stare at the wall beside her out of fear and hope that the woman would go away.

“Abby Marlowe!” Abby jumped up from the bench and hurried to the front of the cell. “Let’s go! You’re being released.”

Abby was so thankful for the timing. She didn’t know what was about to happen, and with her luck thus far, it wouldn’t have been good.

After grabbing her belongings and heading towards the precinct exit, she caught sight of a man in a tuxedo and a woman in a wedding gown sitting in the waiting area. It was Agustin and his bride.

“Oh my goodness! What are you doing here?”

“Someone from the bar left a voicemail that you were being taken to jail. We thought we’d help since you were in trouble.”

“I don’t need your help.”

In the most southern of accents, “Well hun, seemed like you did.” Then with an attempt to soften the exchange, “Excuse Agustin’s manners, I’m his new wife, Madelyn. Why don’t we leave and discuss the matter elsewhere.”

“Good idea! I’ll leave, and you two can go elsewhere.” Abby moved swiftly past them and out the door.

Agustin followed with Madelyn closely behind. “C’mon, Abby! I, uh, we just want to make sure you get home safe.” Madelyn shot Agustin a barbed look, but said nothing. Finally he jogged to catch up with Abby, leaving his new wife behind out of earshot. “Abby, please. I still care about you. I couldn’t let you sit in there.”

“You could have sent someone else. Instead, I’m greeted with a man and woman that look like they belong on the top of a cake. I knew it was over Agustin, but I didn’t need the visuals. Besides, how did you convince her to come?”

“It wasn’t easy. And you’re right. I should have sent someone else. But Abby when I heard that message, old feelings kicked in. I knew you needed me and any other reasoning left my brain. It’s wrong, I know.” Agustin paused, looking up at the sky, then back at Abby. “I love my wife and I know I hurt her on the most important day of her life. Madelyn was willing to support me even when she wasn’t happy about it. Can’t you tell?”

“Actually, she seems like she’s trying out for a pageant. Too poised and polite. If the tables were turned, she would have had to just sit in jail. And if you chose to come anyway, we’d be heading to divorce court. Madelyn hasn’t really done anything.”

“I’m not surprised. She’s a patient woman. But I don’t want to put her in a position like this again.”

“You won’t.” Abby started walking back towards Madelyn with Agustin following suit. “Madelyn, thank you for coming to bail me out. I’m so sorry I ruined your special day. You don’t have to worry about me anymore.” Abby gave a heartfelt smile as she began to walk off.

Madelyn nodded. Agustin took her hand and led her towards the car, “I’m sorry.”

The married couple sat in silence with the only sound coming from the clang of the cans tied to the car bumper hitting against the street. “Just Married” painted on the back glass. Agustin hoped that in the years to come that this moment would be one of those things they could look back and laugh about.

Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…Part 2

Abby decided to stay awhile, ordering as many drinks as her body could tolerate, or rather to numb every sense that was hurting. She really didn’t want to let him go, but she also didn’t want to be the one responsible for someone else’s pain.

With each drink, Abby tried to piece together a picture of what she thought Agustin’s fiancée looked like. Maybe she’s a beautiful, modelesque woman with long flowing hair and a Stepford wife personality. Then again, maybe she was an out-of-shape, hunch-backed troll with warts and hairs growing out of a mole on her nose. Abby giggled to herself.

“Hello, is this seat taken?”

Abby looked up to see a very handsome blonde-haired man stand before her with a gleaming smile. She perked up thinking that maybe her luck was about to change. “No, no one’s sitting there.”

“Thanks!” The handsome man took the chair and rejoined his group of friends who seemed to be celebrating something or another.

Abby sulked. Head low. Heart lower.

“I guarantee you that whatever it is, really isn’t as bad as you think.”

The man’s accent was thick. Between that and the effects of the alcohol, Abby’s mind was starting to swoon. She really didn’t want to entertain conversation – mostly because she didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. “Yeah, well, you don’t know so why don’t you buzz off.”

“I could, but you look like you need a friend.”

Abby looked up at the man – hard. “And I guess you’re trying to be my friend, right?”

“Alright, alright. Maybe not a friend per se. Maybe I could be a listening ear.”

Abby really did want someone to talk to. She need to be comforted, but a part of her felt like she was being desperate about confiding in a stranger.

“How about we start with names.” He smiled trying to encourage Abby to do the same. “I’m Khalil. And you are…?”

“Abby.”

“What is troubling you Abby?”

“You just want to jump right in. Let me ask you this. If I tell you all about me, what benefit is it to you?”

Khalil sat back in his chair considering her question. “Is it so wrong for a person to want to help another?”

“No, but most men have some type of agenda when they see a woman who’s down.”

“Sorry you think that way. I am not most men. I want to help you, if I can.”

Abby leaned back. Her brain was still swimming, fighting against inebriation to determine whether to take a chance or not.  He was decent looking.  Tan skinned with coal-black hair and a friendly smile.  But most of all he was being nice at a time when it seemed that she was falling apart.  After studying him, she gave in.  She hoped it wasn’t another mistake.

Abby gave the highlights of her day with Khalil listening attentively. There was something about his eyes that made her feel comfortable.  As the conversation continued, Khalil’s eyes danced in a way like a snake charmer putting his prey in a trance. Before Abby realized it, they were leaving the restaurant and heading back to his place.

When all was said and done, Abby had slept with Khalil. She felt ashamed, embarrassed, and like an easy whore. While Khalil was still sleep, Abby eased out of bed, grabbed her clothes, and cried all the way home. She couldn’t believe she’d stooped to this level. Was the hurt from Agustin that bad that she had to resort to this?

Abby didn’t know what to do with herself. She didn’t have girlfriends to confide in or at least a relative that she felt wouldn’t judge her. She wanted to turn herself inside out and wash away all the bad things that had happened today. But all she could do was pace….rummage through uncomfortable feelings….rack her brain through questions that didn’t seem to have answers.

Ding, dong.

Abby stood still. She prayed that Khalil had not followed her.

“Abby open up. It’s me.”

“Agustin?” Abby hurried to open the door.   “What are you doing here?”

Agustin hastily entered the apartment, taking Abby’s face into his hands. He began kissing her. Abby pushed him away.

“Aren’t you supposed to be getting married?”

Agustin slowly held up his left hand.  Without making direct eye contact, “I am married.”

Abby moved further away from him wiping away his kiss with the back of her hand. “Married?! Shouldn’t you be with your wife then? Why would you come here?”

“Abby, I love you. I don’t really know why I went through with the wedding, but I know my life is with you.”

“Get out!”

“But Abby can’t we talk about it?”

Abby started a push-punch combination on Agustin, “GET OUT!”

He left. Abby slunk on the couch.  Her emotions were numb, but her mind was in disbelief.  She quickly scanned the room to see if maybe she was being punked.

Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…

It’s Saturday morning. The sky is blue, birds are chirping, and everything in the world seems right. As I roll over in the bed there’s an empty spot. Loneliness sets in. Doesn’t seem like that long ago that he was here.

Abby stewed in her funk until she couldn’t take the depressing road it was leading her down. She rose from bed, trying to figure out something positive to do with herself today – and to help drive out the thoughts of him.

After putting on her workout assemble, Abby headed out of the apartment and began jogging through the neighborhood. As each foot pounded the pavement, it seemed to echo her heartbeat which only intensified because her head was still on him – Agustin. She used to think that name was funny, but in the throes of passion it was rhythmic and romantic to the ears.

Abby shook her head to try to rid herself of the reminders of the great sex they had. But it really didn’t matter because the path she was traveling contained many memories of the love they once shared. There was the park where they’d picnic and listen to the live concerts. The bakery where they’d get up early on the weekends to have coffee and bagels. And the bridge where…

She didn’t want to think about it. It was her mistake to let him slip through her fingers. She sat on a grass-laden knoll looking out to the bridge. Inside her soul was filled with guilt, anger, and regret.  She loved Agustin and she knew without a doubt that he loved her, but they were too young for the type of commitment he wanted.   But time’s past. She felt more mature, experienced even, aware of what she really wanted in life, but would he still want her?

Abby hurriedly grabbed her phone from the fanny pack and dialed a number that she prayed was still in service.

“Hello?!”

“Hhhii. Agustin?”

“Abby! It’s great to hear from you. How have you been?”

“I’ve been doing well. Hope you have been too.”

“Well, um, yeah I’ve been doing well too.  Finally moved up in the company, heading projects and all.”

“That’s great! Congratulations.”

“Thanks. So what have you been up to these days?”

“Still working and volunteering. Almost finished with the master’s. One semester left.”

“I’m happy for you Abby, but I’m a little caught off guard for why you called. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you did, but…”

“I was thinking about you this morning and, well, I was hoping we could, I don’t know, meet for a drink and talk?” Abby hoped she didn’t sound as awkward as she felt.

“Um, sure. How about that little restaurant on Sycamore in a half hour?”

Abby was surprised that he wanted to meet so quickly, but she took it as a good sign. “Ok. Make it about forty-five.“

Abby hurried home and scrambled around in her closet for something to wear. She didn’t want to look too sexy for fear of being obvious and desperate, but she didn’t want to be too casual or plain Jane either. She opted for a simple olive summer dress. It was one of Agustin’s favorites. Abby put the finishing touches on her hair and make-up and heading out the door.

***

Abby arrived to the restaurant early and grabbed a table close enough to the entrance where she could see Agustin come in, but still intimate enough where they could have some privacy. When he did show up, Abby’s mouth dropped. He was dressed in a black tuxedo complete with pink boutonniere and baby’s breath. Abby knew he hated dressing up, so there had to be something significant for him to be dressed this way.

“Wow Agustin! I didn’t know that this was such a special occasion,” she tried to joke to break the ice.

“Hey, why not have drinks and appetizers in style.” The two shared a giggle as he sat down.

Then there was silence. Abby’s curiosity was killing her about why he was dressed up, and Agustin was wondering how he could break the news. Almost simultaneously they began to speak, but it was Agustin’s voice that won out.

“Abby I’m getting married today. In fact, in a couple of hours.” Agustin’s face looked pained at having to tell her, but how could he continue to hide it considering his attire.

At the other end of the table, Abby looked shocked, hurt, and then near tears. She tried to recover quickly, “Oh, well congratulations!” After a moment of silence, “So why did you agree to meet me?”

“Abby, I’ve thought about you a lot over the last couple years and thought maybe we’d get back together, but you were pretty adamant about getting through school and a career. And if you remember, I did propose that day on the bridge. You turned me down.”

Abby felt the stab of guilt to her heart. She turned her eyes away from him because she knew he was right. “I’m sorry about that. I just….wasn’t ready.” She turned back to look at him directly.

“And I’m assuming, now you are and you thought that somehow we’d get back together and live happily ever after.”

“I didn’t really know what would happen, but I at least hoped for a chance.” The sound of disappointment and heartbreak resonated in her voice. She held her head down trying to fight away the tears that were trying to break through.

Agustin wasn’t sure what to say. Since he’d seen her he felt confused. He knew he loved the woman he planned to marry, but he couldn’t ignore that he was still in love with Abby too.

Abby finally found strength and raised her head with confidence. “Agustin, you found the woman who you’re really supposed to be with. I’m happy for you. I admit that it hurts knowing that we’ll never be together, but maybe it’s all for the best.”

He felt the resemblance of the heartbreak like years before at the bridge. “Maybe you’re right.” He stood and stared at her as if taking a picture to hold forever in his heart. Then he turned to walk away.

Abby sat. There was numbness at first. Then a myriad of emotions ran through her body. Finally one settled – heartache. The flood gates opened and she cried.

Burning Bridges

Image: Pix For
Image: Pix For

 

Paul,

Since I got your letter,  I’ve been thinking about my response.  I’ve written this letter a thousand times in my head.  Wish I had actually wrote some of the stuff down, ’cause I can’t seem to find the right words right now.  The balled up pieces of paper around me are a testament of that.

I’m just not sure if I’m ready to reconnect.  I mean, we haven’t spoken in years.  My thing was, when I left the house I left the family.  Nothing good ever came from being a part of it.  I only went to the funeral to make sure that old bastard was really dead.

You’ve always been the understanding one so it doesn’t surprise me that you’re moved by those letters you found.  But all that does nothing for me.  They were our parents.  The adults.  The ones that made the decision to have us.  They should’ve done better.  Or at least tried.  I can’t think of one time where any of us were happy.  Or at least not together anyway.  Well, I’m happy now with my family.  Too much pain dealing with the past.  I’m sorry, Paul, but I just don’t want to deal with that.  Hope you understand.    The end of the road for us was long ago.

Alvin

 

Daddy’s Basement

Image: Amanda Dykes
Image: Amanda Dykes

Hi Alvin,

I hope you and your family are doing well.  I didn’t get a chance to speak with you after the funeral.  I was hoping that maybe we could sit down and talk.  Make amends.  Heal old wounds.  It’s not too late – for us anyway.

I’m writing to let you know that I’ve begun to go through Daddy’s things.  There were a lot of old boxes in the basement that I thought were junk, but looking more closely, I think it explains a lot.

I found some letters Mama and Daddy wrote each other while he was in the Korean war.  This was before they got married, and in fact, I think it explains why they did. 

Mama had been sexually abused by her cousin for years.  She kept it quiet until she couldn’t.  She told grand-mommy and it got to poppy and the rest of the family. She was either called a liar or told to just put it out of her mind.  Daddy wanted to come home to “deal” with it, but Mama told him to just focus on getting himself home in one piece.   He sent money so she could move, but Mama made excuses about why she couldn’t.  I think she was just afraid.

There was also a part in some of the letters where Daddy alluded to being abused too.  Something about his father cut his toes off and his mother sewed them back on with the needle and thread she used for clothing.  I thought at first that he was just trying to make Mama laugh or help her to not feel alone.  But the more I read, there were awful things that happened to him.  Like his father burning him with a cattle brand. 

Remember when we were little, you asked Daddy why he had that big ‘W’ on his shoulder?  That look on his face could have killed.  He tried to dismiss it as him and his brother playing around.  Well, now we know the truth.  I guess all the times he lashed out at us, he was just repeating what his father did to him.

Anyway, I didn’t want to write to bring you down or anything.  Just that I think I understand now that our parents were hurt individuals who turned to each other for solace, later finding out that they really were nothing to each other.  Remember how Mama and Daddy were around each other?  They never really seemed to like each other.  I don’t think I ever saw them hug or kiss.  It was obvious that they didn’t love each other, and I think that only intensified the pain they already were enduring, trying to forgot their pasts.

Alvin, I think you and I were supposed to be the remedy for their pain.  A way to make up for everything they went through by being better parents than their own.  Instead they repeated patterns turning their childhood horrors into generational curses.  But now that we know, we can free ourselves.  There’s no reason for us to continue to hold on to the old burdens. Mama and Daddy are gone.  Nothing we can do to correct anything there.  But we have a chance.  Are you willing to try?

I’ve included my business card.  I’m hoping that we can talk.  I miss you, brother.  And I love you.  Please remember that.

Always,

Paul