The grocery store at one o'clock in the afternoon was busy with mommies and toddlers, as I dodged every child on the way to punch in for work. Eversince I dropped out and decided to live on my own, I had to hustle and bustle and get things done my way.
"You're late again," said John. For some reason his tone made the five minutes sounded like an hour.
"I will take five minutes off my lunch. Sorry John. I had to clean up from my first job," I said, nervous and out of breath from a long bicycle ride from the edge of Westminster. "You won't be sorry. I'll take a fifteen minute lunch."
"I want our section spic 'n' span with our dairy in stock, produce arranged on the shelves, and nothing left in the back fridge. Nada," said John, as he was the one who made me lead for the produce section.
"I know. I'll get on it, and I'll help check out, too, if you need me," I told him. I wanted to show him that I wasn't a one trick pony. I was good for multi-purpose reasons.
"You know, I've been thinking," said John, his body closing in to me. "With you and me in this section, we can move up together." He gently twirled my long black hair. "You're so pretty. But, you can be a little pill sometimes, chicá."
I was silenced by fear because this was my job that paid the rent, and I didn't want to get in trouble by talking back.
"I'm just trying to help out. I'm sorry for being late. I promise I'll make it up," I repliep, with my eyes to the wall, fearful of what he might do next.
"Is not a problem, but we should do lunch sometimes," said John. He smacked me on my butt and walked away. "Make me proud chicá, I'll be counting on you."
I inhaled deeply and moved quickly about the dairy section, stocking the cartons of milk in its place and broke down the boxes. John approached me again as he walked down from the check out lanes.
"Mop please, chicá. Produce area," he said to me, with his right hand in circular motion with over the messy area. "Just that area."
"Yes, sir," I replied. Generally, team members won't mop the floors, until near closing time or housekeeping would do the work. However, the floor had debris on the isles with broken pieces of kale and cabbages, in between the produce section. The tomatoes and onions were not in the right places. The produce section was a vegetable war zone.
"Who made this mess?" I asked John, because the produce section was a blown-up produce ship. "John, you should talk to whoever made this mess. It's horrendous."
"Did I ask for opinions? I said 'clean up' not 'speak up,' YES? ZIP IT!" John scolded me, with his thumb and index finger zipping his mouth.
"Whoever made this mess, is so incompetent," I mumbled, fussing.
I mopped the whole section of the produce isles, and picked up the boxes and foams from the fruit boxes, the vegetable debris from the spinach, cabbage, lettuce and stuffed them into a large trash bag. I took multiple trips to the back of the store, bringing boxes to the storage area, and throwing away the trash.
"Beautiful job, chicá. Is good," said John. "Easy, no? Only a little work."
"Yeah, it wasn't bad. Thank you John. I'm great with little projects," I answered, somewhat happy with my own tenacity about my tasks. My confidence was in pieces, but I replaced the depression with small achievements, to gain some self-worth.
"You can mop the whole store can't you?" asked John. "A project for you. See, I give you good work, chicá. You're sexy when you're working hard." He winked at me and massaged my shoulders.
"Sure, I can do it," I answered, feeling a little overworked, but obliged for this professional duty, to do what he asked of me.
"Thank you, John. I wouldn't have this job without you," I said to him to remind myself that John was the person who, two years ago, gave me this job knowing I was homeless and living at the teen shelter in Boulder.
"You like me, Ursula?" asked John as he giggled and hugged me and placed his hand at the small of my back. His hand meanders from behind, to my waist. "Oh, you're so tight, chicá. Loosen up, Ursula."
I wiggled out of his hug, and pushed him back. "I don't want you to talk to me that way again. And don't touch me. It's not professional. I demand it," I replied.
"I've been nice to you, and a hug is a good hug for a good friend. It's natural," said John, approaching me again with open arms.
"No, I don't want your hugs," I said to him, with one hand in front of me, blocking him.
"Okay, okay...just being nice. Is okay, everything is okay," said John. He had a menacing smile, and smacked my butt as I tried to smack his face to retaliate from his barbaric naught, instead he quickly ran to get away.
"Naughty Ursula Bonita," said John. "Pinay Mestiza, Ursula, you're playful!" John giggled, and ran to the other side of the store. "We belong together, Chinita Bonita!"
My conscience uprising and I was so angry with his smacks on my bottom, his strokes to my hair, his demeaning 'chicá, or 'Pinay Mestiza,' 'Ursula Bonita,' and all types of nicknames instead of my actual name. My anger just kept brewing as I kept mopping the floor with tears in my eyes. I wanted to report licentious John and his harassments to the day manager tomorrow. "You have no idea what's coming," I said to myself.
Chapter 17 - Angelina
*For Harper Lee*
Might as well walk my way to my bestie's house. Papa took the Prius and I had no one at home, as I expected my mind vortexed to the assault and my sleep was full of triggers of Merrick's face and Melody's verbal taunts.
By the time I arrived at Silver Creek Estates, just a few blocks from the crime scene, I saw Samantha playing basketball with her little brother, Daunte, who just turned 10 years old a couple weeks ago.
"Angel! Hi, what are you doing here?" asked Daunte, watching me walk up the drive way.
"I got suspended," I replied. "But don't say anything to anyone."
"Sam, you both faught the same girl?" asked Daunte. "Why are you crazy like this?"
"Daunte, get inside please," said Samantha, her braids in a high bun wearing sweatpants and a highlighter yellow shirt.
"Just don't get arrested while I'm gone," said Daunte.
"Don't say that!" I told him. "I'm already in trouble."
"Why did you get suspended?" asked Samantha. "Is it Melody?"
"No, a girl from some gang," I replied. "And I wanted to ask if you can help me with something."
"She hurt you? You're still swollen," said Samantha, with her legs apart and hands akimbo.
"Are you mad?" I asked. "She just started saying, "Drop Collin, Chink!" So loud and so aggressively in front of a crowd of students a couple days ago," I explained.
"I see," said Samantha. "It's not just about a racial issue I think. It's about Collin and how Melody wants him now."
"I get that," I said. "She should have talked instead of doing this. I need evidence of her crime."
"You reported? I thought you're working with the Hospital?" asked Samantha. "Who is the woman you told me about, Bernadine?"
"Mellinger, she's the SANE Nurse, yes I'm working with her," I told Samantha.
"Let's get inside. We can talk about this in the garden, it's not too cold," said Samantha.
We walked inside with a country home with light blue walls and white trimmings. Her couch was cream leather and the hardwood floor was waxed, with a few rugs on the floor on top of one another, Persian, Modern and China patterned with similar tones. We walked through the living room with her flat screen television and Samantha opened the glass sliding doors to her backyard garden. Roses, Peonies, and hydrangeas, and other perennials perfect for a flowering garden. Spring made her garden boasted with blooming beauties and we sat on the Victorian metal chairs.
"Do you to sit her or next to the flowers? On the grass?" Samantha asked.
"Let's sit here," I answered. We sat and I walked to the grass to touch the roses and caress the peonies and hydrangeas. I sat on the grass in front of them and Samantha came to sit next to me. I looked at the soils, and as usual, I searched for my favorite animals, the cuties roly-polies. Samantha and I met in elementary school and we would search for them when we had play dates, and put them inside a sand jar and let them curl up. I picked one up and let it rolled on my palm into a ball and I smiled, playing with it.
Samantha asked me, "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know what to do," I answered. "I can only hope more tests results will come in and we can prove I was raped. I got the evidence I was, but no DNAs and nothing that showed a certain person did it. I can only accuse them, but without evidence."
"How is therapy going right now?" asked Samantha.
"It takes a village," I answered. "I felt like the sorry cause in everyone's love. The charity case, the loser, Asian, the broken life. The cursed woman."
Samantha caressed the peonies in front of her as I searched for more roly-polies and placed them each inside my palms. After six or seven of these cuties, I got up and walked to the brick path and placed them on the ground.
"What are you doing?" asked Samantha, she got up and walked to me.
I stepped on the masses of roly-polies, and crushed them with my feet. I heard them crunch beneath me.
Samantha wailed, and screamed. "YOU CAN"T DO THAT!!!! They're your favorite! STOP THAT! THEY'RE MY ROLy-POLIES!"
Samantha took my foot off the carcass of crushed souls on the brick path and slapped my shin.
"You take that back! You're just as guilty!" Samantha screamed at me.
"They're nothing! They're just insects! It's okay to kill them!" I yelled back at them.
"Oh, it's okay to kill animals that are beneath you? You're beneath Merrick and Melody in status! It's okay to rape you?!" Samantha was in wrath. "You're just as low as them. We used to play with these polies! You're being stupid!"
"I'm the rape victim here! You're the stupid one!" I threw my arms at her. "I needed to feel better about myself."
"It's not okay to harm someone more fragile than you, or less fortunate, or lesser than in any way or forms! Do you understand that?!" Samanta said. "Merrick and Melody are sadists. It's inhumane to gang rape. Every creature, human or animal or even plants are sovereign. They're important, Angel!"
"Why? I need my power back!" I yelled in so much anger that my eyes teared and I felt warm from the jaundiced heart.
"You think they don't have value, Angel? Because they eat dirt?" Samantha asked.
"There are so many of them! It's okay!" I replied.
"No, it's not okay. There are a lot of Chinese girls, and it's not okay to rape them, or to throw them in the forests to abandon them. There are a lot of Congolese women, but it's not okay to use them as a sacrifice to make the men feel more powerful," said Samantha. "Ahimsa, Angel. Have you learnt anything from your therapy?"
"What is Ahimsa?" I asked. "What does it have to do with me? I'm the victim here."
"You just proved to me that you're just as a perpetrator as the Johnsons," said Samantha. "Do no harm, and you need to start practicing love and non-violence, for everything, Ahimsa. Humans are emotionally rich, Angel. That's what separates us from animals. I understand you have a lot of emotions, but even animals deserve mercy and love. Misplaced anger leads to violence, Angel. You will perpetuate the cycle all over again."
"I'm so sorry, Samantha," I said, my heart trembled and the side of my waist felt stabbed, as I was the sacrificial lamb for the dracula at the next block just a few miles away from this sacred home.
"You can't keep hurting animals you love, and think it's okay because they're easy to harm," said Samantha. "They're just a beautiful as you, Angel." Samantha walked to the soil underneath the roses and peonies. "They fertilize my flowers. The more of them, the better and healthier the soils and the more blooms and beautiful blossoms for my Spring."
"I am so sorry, Samantha," I said, sobbing.
"These flowers were on the side of your temples, when you and I played together. When my Dad loses a case for his trials, he comes to the flowers, and smells them to put a smile to his face. And they just put a healing spirit into yours, Angel," said Samantha. "These are the magic of those roly-polies. They are oh so valuable, sweetie. They are our friends."
"How come I was chosen to be hurt by them?" I asked Samantha, hoping to have a validation for their rape.
"It's a crime, Angel. They didn't value you," said Samantha. "Their ethics and foundation were flawed inherently."
"I feel like trash," I told Samantha.
"Do you think these insects have value in this world, now?" Samantha asked.
"Yes, they do," I answered.
"What about homeless people? Do you think they have value?" Samantha asked, and we were silent for a while.
"I wish the better for them. So, yes," I answered. I tried to wipe my tears, as it kept flowing because I knew Samantha was angry at me.
"Good. What about people of different races? Do you think any of them are valuable? Black Lives, Jewish, White, LatinX, Asians, Koreans, Indigents, the Handicaps, homeless kids? Do you think any of them add value to the world?" Samantha asked.
"I do, but why didn't Melody value me?" I retaliated. "I want to be valued just as much."
"I know, sweetie," Samantha cried. "I wish it never happened. But it's not your place or your right to hurt others who are just as fragile and innocent as you."
"Nurse Maria said Merrick had a girlfriend at Silver Creek," I said, tears in my eyes, six feet apart from Samantha, a little awkward but I knew she was still on my side. "We need to talk to her. I want to talk to her. I value her, too."
"Where does she live?" Samantha asked. "Is she at CU student, too?"
"No, she dropped out," I said. "Something must have happened to her."
The tears came out and what felt like water, flowed down from my nostrils to my mouth. My soul sobbed but my face was staunched in defense. My emotions had changed so much in a split second and I could hardly control them. I didn't know what I felt and how I felt, all I could feel were tears and shame, as I fell to my knees and to the ground. My anxiety overwhelmed me because I felt interrogated by Samantha, when I wanted to be held and comforted.
"Angel!" Samantha screamed. "Are you okay? I'm sorry, Angel. I'm sorry. I was hard on you."
I kept sobbing and sat on the ground. Samantha sat in front of me. "The healing will take time. It's okay....I'm sorry I was hard on you."
"I know they're valuable, Sam," I sobbed to her. "I just didn't deserved the rape."
"No one deserves rape," said Samantha. "This is not your fault. I love you, kid." Samantha's hug felt warm like home.
Chapter 18 - Ichabod
"How is this possible?" I asked them in whispers.
The guardian angels confided in me before this moment, that with each evil action committed by human beings, came an equal and opposite reaction as vast and impactful as the origin. Sadly, evil beget evil and equally disastrous events manifested all across the world.
A young East Indian maiden walked across a bridge and wanted to use the restroom when a group of men attacked her and assaulted her, eventually murdering her. A young girl in Saudi Arabia was mauled by a soldier who belonged to the terrorist groups spanning all across the Middle East. Along with the atrocities, the ocean lost a fertile Orca and its baby because the sharks around it felt hungry and attacked the birthing mother. Somehow, someway, the devil's thumb had touched the otherwise different yet normal lives all throughout the universe, because a beautiful butterfly was assaulted in Silver Creek, Colorado. If one life was lost, another was an effect of it, and another affected by that loss and it went on. Everything had a purpose and a season to everything on Earth.
Raphael, Gabriel and Michael sat in silence, breathing in the suffering of humanity inside their heart, torn apart, heart and gut wrenched out of their joys. Their eyes in tears as Raphael had his staff next to him, and Michael had his sword to the side, and Gabriel kept the small hour glass inside his palm, in prayers with it.
"You are now my witness, my son," said Raphael. "There is an effect to everything in the Universe."
"Time and space had no meaning with this type of gros infection to the innocent," said Gabriel. "I tried to stop time and ceased its mutations, but it kept permutating. It felt hopeless for so many, Ichabod. Your Angelina will feel it in time."
Michael breathed in, and sobbed, closing his eyes. "I couldn't use my sword against them," he said. "They were possessed spirits, as if gaseous matters escaped the sacred ark of the covenant. A loss of good in a few hours, effects the whole world, Ichabod. It compounds to the depths of death."
"How can I fix this?" I asked them. "Can I help you somehow? You said I was chosen."
"She has to experience a rebirth, a new love, grown from within, without the presence of fear," Raphael replied. "But, you are too young to understand."
"What if I surrender everything and but let the good to be our means and hope for the good to be the end," I asked again. I turned to Michael, "Not everything needs a sword, Michael. Your heart, it kills multitudes of evils."
Michael turned to me, and said, "Then you must fight for her."
"Fight against whom?" I asked.
"Against the world, the circumstances, the injustice, the law, all of it!" Gabriel replied. "It was unjust and inhumane, therefore, you can help, in some peculiar ways, but it will good help."
"Can you see the people involved?" I asked. "You said, there were some you knew of, besides Merrick."
"You mean, disect their lives?" Gabriel asked me, his brown eyes widened. "I have never done that before."
"If you can hold time and space," I said. "You can see the past and hold it into Michael's Eye of the Universe."
"Raphael, what say you?" Michael asked.
"I will need to pray and ask for guidance if we are to dissect human lives and souls for observation," Raphael said.
"Please, Raphael," I pleaded.
The guardian Angels sat back down in a circle, and closed their eyes.
To be continued, ... Just write.