Chapter 19 - Ursula
The first few weeks at Jake's Pizza was horrible when I started three years ago, but now, it was cake and frosting. The gig paid and I fit into my jeggings just fine. Jake found me by his pizzeria when I slept on street corners, dodging perverts and old enemies. I scrapped some left-over pizzas dumping dive in his garbage when he yelled at me to stop messing with his shop. I asked for a job, and told him about me and dancing. We were lovers.
Now, I was a Billboard Master for Jake's Pizza on 120th and Federal in Westminster and I got rich enough to ride a bike to work from the shelter and finally earned a job at the grocery store at Louisville. Working part time, double time, made me a full-time hustler.
"What's up, Jake?" I said as I entered the door at 7 am, ready to please some crowds, catching some standing ovations from honkers, and whatever else would come from 7 in the morning to about noon.
The cash register closed as Jake opened the counter, "Cha-Ching," was the sound it made. His girlfriend, Crystal, a beautiful blonde with a petite figure, giggled.
"Love that sound," Crystal said. "Cha-Chink."
I smiled, and thought nothing of it.
Jake and Crystal lived together for the past three years, and I was happy because that didn't make me fall in love with his handsome face. Rugged, tall, almost burly, with major art on his arms, but kind.
"She's my dancing queen, Crystal," said Jake. "Put the records on, Ursula! Go out there."
"Should have hired a Latina, closer to white," said Crystal. She's always had a thing against me because I was 21 years old now, and she turned 27 when Jake just made it 30 years on this planet. Jake shook his head and told her, "Ursula's got it. Let her dance."
"Got it," I replied. I ignored Crystal as I always did, because her opinions didn't matter since Jake owned the pizzeria and I felt she was too judgmental for a quality woman.
I looked to Jake, and saw his darling brown eyes, a kindred spirit of his Native American tribe, a roughed-up baby, but loving others softly and gently inside. I had no problems with any of Crystal's commentaries, but I wanted to be sovereign as a Filipina and after running away from Merrick's sexual assault, I wanted support and the shelter was the only place I found solace. It wasn't until Jake found me sleeping near his pizzeria that I asked to work for him and with a smile he told me, "Dance with my billboard," and I said yes for $15 and hour and a play list of music.
With the company boombox, I put on the playlist cd made by Jake himself and held the board close to me. Jake wanted me to dance with a shout of confidence, so his play list always had some kind of girl power theme. Jake's the boss of all bosses.
I walked out to the sidewalk of 120th and Federal, and saw some cars, but not much. I held the billboard close to me, and turned on the boombox as the music pumped. I was roaring in the morning, and ready for Billboard Dancing. I stood in silence ruminating on my moves, but the tunes pushed the billboard forward as my left foot stepped back and with my arms, I lifted it high. Let's move this on, early in the morning!
My tights were always black because in the snow it shone with the glitter powders and my tanky was always what I always had on for pajamas. I didn't have enough for the laundrette, so I got smart and used the same clothes twice a week, interchangeably as I needed it to.
The Billboard said, "Jake's Pizza, A slice of satisfaction," in black lettering on white hard foam board. It was light enough to carry but sturdy for dancing with a swivel back and two short ropes on both back sides. If maneuver was an art, I was an artist and designer. I flipped, twirled, caught, tossed, lifted and swung that billboard like its master.
I took the billboard and swayed it far to the left as my right foot side stepped and did the opposite for the other side. Holding the billboard close to my chest, I turned it vertically and stepped in place and turned, with my "roars." Turning the billboard back to horizontal, I flipped it up and I let my body popped up and caught the billboard in place. Turning the billboard with the swivel back, I roundhouse kicked and pushed the billboard forward.
The ropes on both sides, I took one side and, "I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter," letting the billboard swung sideways above me as it twisted to let it fall in front of me as I back flipped then knelt to pick it up. On crescendo, "I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar," I pirouetted with the billboard holding it on the two ropes above me, as my body popped with my hand held on to the swivel back on one side, and my other hand danced and waved up above me. I swayed to the beat as my head shook to the right and left. My right hand pushed forward with the billboard but the wind breezed before me, and I stepped back and turned the billboard vertically and I let it push on my chest, turning around and around and letting it flipped up again, tricky to let it fall on my back and I caught it, as I pushed my left hand forward and popped my body forward to meet my hands.
This was day time and music was in my body. As billboard master, I owned the street corner and every customer who came in, was because of me. The honking, the sneers, all the men at me didn't stop me from dancing. I was the dancing queen at least until noon every day, six days a week. It was healthy and the occasional honks from women supporting me for my dancing gave me a smile and empowerment. I wanted to dance since I was cheer at Silver Creek but when Merrick raped me in the locker room, I thought I was as good as dead. Not so it seemed, because I was now Billboard Master for Jake's Pizza, and heaven gave me a slice of life satisfaction. Dance, Just Dance!
Chapter 20 - Angelina
"I'm all yours. I don't have school for a week from suspension, so no homework and that means I can relax I guess," I said to Daisy. Daisy grimaced as she scrunched her face and then sighed a huge inhale to exhale as I looked to the ground.
"Take these three hours as your healing time. First, you need to give Sampson a bath and blow dry him. After that, take him with you to the hospital, to go to the fourth floor, cardiology. And let the patients pet him," said Daisy, reading her list of tasks for Angelina. "Canine Therapy Day. You can hold him and love him, as much as possible. This is a therapy session for you, too."
"That sounds fun. Which one is Sampson again?" I asked.
"He's the Pug and Daschund mix that's in the last cage. Black and adorable?" said Daisy. "He will definitely remember you. He's been tested for behavior and we just want to get him into the Canine Therapy Group."
"How sweet, he'll be ready in a little bit," I said, walking towards the cages with keys to open Sampson's cage.
"Be careful with him. I think he's a little confused sometimes and fragile, but very sweet with people. Just be tender with him," said Daisy, reaching for Sampson inside his cage.
Daisy took Sampson out to put him down on the floor, and he immediately wagged his curly tail and sniffed my hands. Sampson's one little ball of love.
With his curly tail, Sampson jumped onto my arms. I picked him up to hug him, as we walked to the sink to get the bath going. The bath was full of bubbles and suds, and after ten minutes of bathing, Sampson curled inside the towels. Sampson walked around the sink in his wet fur as I turned on the blow dryer.
"I can love you all day, Sampson," I said.
Sampson's every move took away the hormonal stresses that triggered inside my mind. Thoughts of Collin and what he was doing after the fight I got into, and what his parents will think of me. It all made me nervous and shortness of breath often followed. Daisy came from behind me and said, "Sampson looks good. Okay, so you just have to sign here to ensure that you'll take care of him while you take him to the hospital," handing me paper of a canine caretaker form, to allow Sampson and I to go to the Canine Therapy session inside the hospital.
I signed the form and took one of the leashes from the shelter cabinets to put it on Sampson. We walked outside to cross the street to the hospital. Sampson was a professional sniffer, as he sniffed all of the rose bushes on the way to the hospital. Upon entering the front doors, the guard asked for a badge to enter the cardiology floor. I peeled the visitor's badge and stuck in on my shirt, and placed the Canine Therapy badge on Sampson's leash from the guard.
We stepped into the elevator to go to the fourth floor, and a nurse stood inside the elevator. "Hi puppy, what's his name?" asked the nurse, petting Sampson.
"Sampson, and he's eight months old," I answered.
"Check the front door for the canine sign, and those are the patients who are allowed for canine therapy," said the nurse.
"Thank you," said Angelina.
Sampson wagged his tail as we walked down the hallway. The first room to the right looked empty, but there was a person inside the room sitting behind the curtains.
"Anyone here?" I asked, expecting the women to answer.
"I'm here, can I see him?" answered a woman. The curtain opened and a large obese woman protruding out of her wooden chair. "I have to see him, come here, boy." Her eyes looked swollen and her thinning hair showed her age, which I didn't want to guess or judge.
"His name is Sampson," I said.
"Oh, isn't that a proper name," said the woman. She smiled as Sampson wagged his tail allowing her to pet him.
"Did you have visitors? Is that why you're sitting on the chair?" I asked, my voice a tinge high in pitch.
"I have bed sores. I'm alone. No visitors. No one cares," said the woman with a dour face and extended tubing from her nose and multiple lines of blue, white and red power cables connected to a ventilator and another machine. "Except maybe you, Sampson." Sampson brought out the smile out of her.
I saw her oxygen cannula, and wondered if she has a pulmonary illness instead of a cardiology problem. "How do you feel today? I hope Sampson will help you some," I said to the nice woman.
"I'm beyond hope with my heart, so I can't breathe right, and the oxygen helps me. I think it's the weight, but who cares. No one does, why should I?" she said, wiping away her tears. "I'm waiting for my last days."
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Ophelia, but you can call me Ophie," she said, rubbing Sampson on his belly with his submissive belly up.
My eyes moistened in tears and said, "Well, Sampson and I care. Right Sampson?" Sampson barked, loud. Ophelia laughed, but immediately coughed up so hard, that I was afraid she might vomit blood.
The nurse from the station across the hall rushed in, and told me, "Thank you for coming in, dear. I have to check on Ophelia for a second." The nurse checked her vitals on the machine that beeped as Ophelia dozed off to sleep.
"Oh, I'm just a volunteer, I hope it's okay for me to be here," says Angelina.
"Having these canine therapy dogs really helps our patients. The patients who've been here for long terms, especially, get the most benefit from them. So, thank you," said the nurse. "Are you walking the whole floor? How much time do you have?"
"I'll be here for three hours then I have to go back to the shelter. They close at five, so I'll have to leave at four thirty," I said.
"Great, make sure everyone who signs up for the canine therapy gets some loving," said the nurse. Ophelia was asleep.
"Will do, nurse. I'm sure Sampson won't want to miss anyone," I said, Sampson was sniffing the carpet underneath the desks in the nurse station next to Ophelia's room.
The next room was an old man with his wife who were both watching television on the hospital bed, holding hands.
"Look who's here!" said his wife. The older man had wrinkles all over his face and hands, but he was vibrant and smiling, especially after Sampson walked in wagging tail.
"I want to get down from the bed. Let me see him, please," the old man said.
"Here he is, sir. His name is Sampson," I said, picking up Sampson to help the man have some healing canine therapy.
"We're the Gibsons, his name is Art and I'm Shelby," his wife said.
"Hi, cute couple," I replied, smiling as I saw they looked very much in love. "I'm Angel."
"How precious! Oh, may I hold him?" Shelby said, with her arms open wide, hurrying to meet a new friend.
"She's a hog," said Art, who looked as if he was trembling from the waist up.
"How did you get to this floor, Art?" I asked.
"We're kept here because the doctor didn't get all the tests he wanted," said Shelby.
"They think I'm their science experiment," Art said, his arms flailing in the air. "They're making money off of me."
"But, everything is okay?" I asked.
"Yes, we're just old sweetie. He had an infection last week, plus a heart attack. We were just scared that's all," said Shelby.
"I'm a veteran! I've been through a world war. It's those pharmaceutical companies! They think I need more medicine when all I need is just peyote," yelled Art.
"Oh, don't pay attention to him, honey. He's in a rut. He just wants to get out of here," said Shelby.
"Pet Sampson, Art," I whispered to Art, and held Sampson close to him. Sampson's paw landed on Art's hands. The curves of Art's lips curved up to a laugh.
"I love his smushed nose. I bet he snores," Art said, tapping Sampson's nose with his finger.
"I know he does," I said.
"Oh, he's pure medicine," said Shelby. "I'd love to keep him, if I don't have to take care of him." Shelby pointed to Art. Art stuck his tongue out.
"He's so smooth and soft," I said.
"He tickles," said Art, as Sampson scratched Art's stomach with his soft little paws. Art couldn't stop laughing until he began to cough. "Oh, I haven't been tickled like that in years."
Sampson stuck his nose onto Art's stomach, and drilled his whole head onto his stomach. The room burst into laughter.
Sampson smooched on Art's hands and licked them, as Art petted him softly.
"He's mine," said Art.
"Oh, Art, you going to change his diapers?" asked Shelby.
"You will, won't you?" Art said, looking on to Shelby with weepy eyes.
"You better give him back to Angel. You only can kiss him today, right now," said Shelby.
"Kisses please," said Art. He tried to stoop down from his chair to be closer to Sampson, but his octogenarian body couldn't do so, as he slipped down onto the ground as Sampson landed on his chest.
"Old man okay," said Art. He picked himself back on to the chair as Sampson kept wagging his curly tail.
"Angel, thank you for bringing him here. I hope you won't see us next time, however," said Shelby, taking Sampson and handing him back to Angelina. "Art is falling all over the place."
"You can kiss him one last time," I said, holding Sampson close to Shelby's face, letting her kiss him one last time.
"Oh, I sure want to keep him," said Shelby, "But, we just can't take care of him right now."
"I understand, completely. I'll go before you guys get too attached," I said with a smile and a heart so full of sweetness from a moment of heartwarming intimacy from an old couple whom I never knew I would ever meet. This small moment helped me with an instance of hope that love existed between a man and his wife and possibilities of a lasting relationship was possible. The more love surrounded me, the more I believed love was possible for me, and perhaps love lived inside me.
"Thank you, baby!" yelled Art.
"You're welcome, Art," I said.
We walked into the elevator, as I whispered, "I love you. You've been a good boy today." Sampson licked my face and lips. "For a moment, Ophie and Art were happy. Was it your kiss?"
After three hours of canoodling with patients and Sampson, the walk to the animal shelter seemed short, because this time I knew the direction to my destination.
"He's still alive! I'm so happy," said Daisy, as I walked towards the front entrance with Sampson leading the way. She hugged Sampson, and gave him a treat. "Isn't he amazing?"
"I will have to go now, Daisy, but I'll be back tomorrow," I said, reaching for my cell phone to call Papa to pick me up.
"Of course?" asked Daisy. "Any plans?"
It felt serendipitous as Collin called me on my cell and I picked up the phone. "Hi baby, how are you?" I said, hoping everything was healthy and exciting as our relationship used to be.
"Can you and your Dad come for dinner at our restaurant in Longmont?" asked Collin. His voice was soft and sweet.
"Of course. Is everything okay?" I asked him, my heartbeat would awaken the flatliners.
"I need a long talk, just be patient with me," said Collin.
"Yeah, please be patient with me and my Papa, too. I've never been raped before," I replied.
"Just come in, and we'll have dinner and a long talk," said Collin.
"I love you," I told him.
"I know, we'll have to talk," Collin said. "I have to go." And hung up the phone.
When Papa arrived, I shook my face and pretended everything was okay. "Papa, we're going out tonight. Get ready. We have to meet Collin's family. Yes, I'm going to take a shower first," I said.
"Oh? What for?" Papa asked as he drove to our apartment.
"I don't know," I said, trying to hide the tears that dropped onto the back of my hand.
"He's not crispy noodle," Papa said, his face looked solemn, as if he knew another tragedy was impending.
We got home shortly and I finished my shower in cat speed, and wrapped myself inside my towel to put on my clothes.
Papa finished his fastest shower, and quickly put on his blue Hawaiian print short sleeve shirt with khaki pants. He combed his hair neatly, and sprayed on some cologne, to make himself presentable to a family that his daughter respected with all of her heart.
"Ready, Papa?" I asked, hoping that my radiant skin and soft pink cheeks took away the attention from my swollen eyes.
"You look so pretty, Angel," Papa said. He hugged me and said, "Your life story is not finished yet."
We arrived at Goodendaag's after a little over ten minutes. Crowds of people seemed to be permanent during dinner time at Goodendaag's best and flagship bistro. The general manager was in his black uniform, sitting on the bench near the fountain. and as he saw us drove up near the fountain at the front entrance, he stood up and readied himself to greet us.
"Good evening, Mr. Lee and Miss Lee," he said.
"Collin is expecting us," I said to him.
The General Manager led the way into the bistro with dimmed chandelier at the lobby entrance, as the hostess took her walkie-talkie and spoke into it. "The Lees have arrived, sir," she said.
"Thank you," Papa said to the hostess. The hostess gave us a respectful nod, and the general manager led us to the banquet room. The black marbled floor brought out the Victorian style wooden chairs and tables.
In the center of the restaurant was a koi pond, with greeneries and small side tables surrounding the natural habitat. The servers were busy delivering the dishes on their silver serving trays and pushcarts. There were two banquet rooms with the names of Collin's great-great-grandmothers, Margaret and Sophia, at the back of the restaurant. The Goodendaags were inside the Sophia, waiting for the Lee family to arrive. The room was empty with only Collin's family sitting in a round table, with two empty seats for me and Papa.
"Good evening, Mister Lee," says Collin's father, John. He walked towards Papa to shake his hand.
"Tom. Tom is better for me," Papa said, shaking John's hand.
Collin's father hugged me, and showed us to our seat.
"Thank you for coming, Tom. I'm Amy, Collin's mom," said Mrs. Goodendaag.
"It's nice to see you again, Mr. and Mrs. G," I said.
"We are so pleased you can come, sweetie. Thank you for this," John said.
Collin sat quietly with his face freshly shaven and clean, that I reached out to touch his face and kissed him. He kissed my lips and my hands, then pulled up the chair next to him, and asked me to sit down with him. Papa pulled the chair next to me, and the dinner was about to begin.
"Let's order from the menu. Tom, Angel, order anything you'd like. I always order my favorite, medium well Goodendaag's Grilled Salmon Pie. You should try it if you haven't. It's delicious," says John. The waiter wrote down the order, and waited for the rest of the party to look over the menu.
"I'll have the same," said Collin. "It's pretty big in New Hampshire."
"Tom, try the Steak Salad and Homemade Croissant, it's our signature dish. Or you can try anything else on the menu. But, we recommend the Steak Salad with the sweet Croissants," said Amy.
"That sounds great to me," said Tom.
"I'll have the Split Pea Soup with Bacon, please," said Amy.
"Papa, my stomach doesn't know what to order. I'm not sure if I can handle any big foods right now," I whispered.
"Angel will have your soup, too. Do you know which one has a clear broth?" asked Tom to Mrs. G.
"What's wrong with your stomach?" asked Collin.
"Oh, it's just that I've been through a lot these couple of weeks. I think my stomach is just not used to it," I said.
Collin looked on to the tablecloth on his lap, as I felt embarrassed about myself and what the assault brought to me and Collin. I felt an imminent bruise inside my soul, and I tried to shake it off with a wiggle to my shoulder but it felt stuck on my skin.
"Oh, you can order our Chicken and Macaroni soup. It's wonderful and it has vegetables with clear chicken broth. It should do wonders," said Amy.
"I'll have the Chicken and Macaroni soup, please. Thank you," I said to the waiter.
"Anything to drink?" asked the waiter to the group.
"I'll have hot tea. Angelina you might want to order some, too," said Mrs. G.
"I'll have the same, please. Thank you," I concurred.
"So will I," said Collin.
"A selection of teas coming up for everyone," said the waiter, as he scribbled down every order and left to the kichen.
"How are you doing in your classes, Angel?" asked Mrs. G.
"I'm not sure yet, Mrs. G. I'm going to ask my teachers if I may be placed on some type of special instructions. I've been going through some rough patches these past few weeks," I answered, comfortable with Collin's Mom, because Collin's parents were always pleasant with me.
"Yes, Collin gave us a brief version of what happened," said Mr. G.
"I hope she hasn't caused you any trouble," said Papa as he nodded to Collin, as Collin sat quietly, still having an affair with the napkin on his lap.
"Well, that's what this dinner meeting is about," said Mr. G.
"I was suspended today," said Collin, opening up. "And for the whole week."
"Why? Was it because of the fight that I was involved in?" I asked.
"Angel, what happened with your eyes?" asked Mrs. G, as the tone of her voice sounded in low distress.
"Angel got into a fight with a girl, and Mister Rawlins said that I was the cause of it," said Collin.
"What happened this morning? Why didn't you say anything, Angel?" asked Papa, his voice shook.
"I'm so sorry, Collin. I didn't tell Mr. Rawlins you caused anything!" I answered loudly and in panic.
"Now, Angelina, what happened exactly during the fight?" asked Mr. G.
"I was attacked by some girl. I don't know her. I don't think she even goes to our school," I answered. "She said that I have to break up with Collin, or else. I don't know why? I didn't know what to do. It wasn't my fault."
"Well, the principal thinks it was my fault," said Collin, indignantly. He dodged any eye contact from anyone at the table, and kept looking down at his cloth napkins, twisting it in his hands. His face began to turn red and his eyes wet in tears.
The small burst of conversation seized, as the waiter entered the room, holding a silver tray of two wooden boxes of teas, and two large silver teapots for the families. He placed the silver teapots on the center of the table with the boxes of teas, and hurried outside the banquet room.
"Collin, you have to believe me. I didn't know her and I didn't tell the principal that it was your fault," I implored, hoping Collin still trusted me, his girlfriend of two years.
"I was suspended, which means I'll miss the training for the end of the season," said Collin. "Spring training won't work with me missing the beginning of it."
"Now, Collin is not upset at you, Tom, or you, Angel. We just want to make things clear, because Collin felt that he is now a target at school. This never happened to us before," said Mr. G. "We also have a reputation to uphold, Angelina."
"I understand, Mister Goodendaag," I answered, my eyes closing in tears, facing towards my napkins this time.
"But, Collin, you can't blame Angel for the suspension. Angel got into the fight but it's not her fault," said Papa.
"Mister Lee, I just don't want to be a victim. I just know the fight was not my fault and the suspension may destroy my chance with USC," said Collin. "Scouts are looking intently at these times near the end of the year."
"USC? You're going away to California?" I asked. Collin was supposed to go to CU Boulder, to be with me, he insisted... he said so. I'm completely destroyed because the fight ridiculed the dreams I had for our relationship.
"Collin and I talked about this. We all agreed that it will be better for him to take his chance with another school," said Mrs. Goodendaag. "USC is giving him a scholarship. He's going to have a brighter future there. But he has to finish his season with great rapport with the team."
"I thought he's going to take the full ride to CU?" I asked, desperately.
"Well, what about you Angel? Are you thinking of going to CU?" asked Mr. G.
"Angel has to think about this, because I don't want her to be hurt because she was hurt by someone else," said Papa, defending me.
"We understand, but it's also not Collin's fault that she was raped," said Mr. G, defending his son.
"We didn't blame him. Do you understand?" said Papa, in open hostility clenching his jaw.
The fervor of fuming anger from my Papa and Collin's parents triggered me as I flared with guilt, disgrace, doubt, and most of all, fear. Fear that all hopes to be with my dream man was gone, and fear that she I will be alone forever, and will be seen as a curse by everyone.
Collin fidgeted in his chair and said to my Papa, "Mister Lee, I'm just a kid. I just don't think it's fair for me to have to be in this position. I'm sorry. Angel, I've never been in this type of trouble before.
"I've never been in this type of trouble either, but it's not my fault," I replied. "It's not fair. Please give me a chance."
"Sweetie, I am so sorry, but Collin can't be with you anymore," said Mrs. G, although in a soft tone, her words pierced me in half.
I reached for Collin only to witness him jolt back, and tried to dodge my hands. "I can't, Angel," he said.
I kept reaching for him, pleading him, wishing for his affections, his consolations that everything was okay and we could go back to normal. Collin pushed me away as I fell off my chair to the ground and bumped the table, accidentally knocking off the water carafe and the tea-pots on the table. Water spilled onto the table and to the floor and on to my dress. The hot water from the tea-pots burned me, as I cried from the sting.
"Don't do that to her! Don't push Angel!" yelled my Papa, as he tried to reach for Collin.
Mr. G got up from his chair and held Collin, his son, by his shoulders, blocking my Papa from reaching him.
"Okay, this is going out of control. Collin, get back in the car. Dinner is over," said Mr. G. Collin stood next to his Mom, and as Mrs. G, held him by his waist, I couldn't help but to plead for their forgiveness.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Goodendaag! Please...please believe me. I didn't want this to happen," I begged, with tears welled up, emotional self falling into pieces, as my Papa stood beside me, with tears in his eyes. I was embarrassed to be myself, the immigrant, the rape victim, the girl who was now a charity case. The strength inside of me weakened and broke into garbage. I tried to stand, but my kneels fell and my eyes stung as I covered my face with my palms. I sobbed, the way a poor child who lost her favorite kindling would.
The waiter walked into the Sophia room with dinner on a silver tray, yet he stood still near the door way. The only sound in the room was the sound of my voice, pleading the Goodendaags, "Please help me. Please don't leave."
The waiter left the tray inside the room and walked out of the Sophia room.
"Angel, we don't feel the whole situation will help Collin in the long run. You're going to have to get help from professionals," said Mrs. G, firmly.
"This turned out to be a disaster. I'm sorry, Tom, we're sorry to have to trouble you. We wanted to explain why Collin has to get out of the situation," said Mr. G, in distress.
"Please. I'm not a bad person. I was raped. Please, Mister Goodendaag," I begged for a change of heart from this prominent family, the Royalty of all of Silver Creek and perhaps the only form of royalty I will ever have the fortune to meet in life.
"Angel, let's go home," Papa softly told me, holding me by my right arm, kneeling next to me. He took me off the ground, pulling me up to stand and held me close to him. He hugged me as I sobbed inside his chest and together we walked away from my love.
We walked together out of the bistro and as my Papa opened the door, he knelt on the ground, and held my hands for a moment. "Angel, I'm still here," he said. He held my hands although sadness confined me and my sorrow engulfed my soul at this moment.
"I wanted to marry him, Papa," I confessed to my father, as I trembled in immense grief and tears.
"He's not going to marry you," said Papa. "Not anymore. You have me as your Papa, forever. I'll back you up, don't worry."
"Why, Papa. I'm a nice girl, why does he think I'm hurting him? It's not my fault, Papa," I cried.
"We'll go home and I want you to go to sleep," Papa said. I curled into the passenger seat as my Papa drove home.
Chapter 21 - Ichabod
Michael held his Eye of the Universe and a reflection came in a visible wave of colors onto the wall inside my room. I sat on my bed since midnight, listening to the voices of angels only i could hear. Finally, I saw a sign of life in front of me, although I felt frozen and asleep inside.
Merrick was with his father at dinner with Collin's family because the Johnsons had invited the Goodendaags to their house to celebrate their children's prom nominations. There was a feast of steak with potatoes, corn, baby back ribs and the trimmings.
"She's going to be queen and Collin, you have my permission to take my daughter for her first royal ball this year," said Mr. Johnson. "You both deserve the prom court."
"Oh, Daddy, it's just high school," said Melody with her usual playful baby talk.
"Melody will be a gorgeous queen," said Mrs. G. "Sweetie, where are you going to school next year?" She took a bite of mashed potato as Melody held her hand to reply.
"Well, Mrs. Sheldon. I have my choice between USC and CU Boulder," said Melody, jumping in her seat. "Isn't that wonderful?"
"What a coincidence," said Mr.G. "Those are the same schools as Collin's choices."
"Oh? Are you having the same trouble, son?" asked Mr. Johnson to Collin, cutting another piece of steak.
"Oh, huh. Oh, yes," said Collin, off guard.
"Well, what's ideal is if the king and queen stays in the same royal palace," said Merrick, winking at Collin, and cutting into his piece of steak.
"How do you like CU?" asked Collin.
"You've got my support at the fraternity house. I can almost guarantee a successful transition," said Merrick. "Brother, welcome to the elite." Merrick reached for his wine glass and raised him a toast.
"You okay?" whispered Melody to Collin, who was sitting next to her.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just happy," said Collin with a fake smile.
"Everyone has to guard their loved ones, otherwise they'd be abused by girlfriends who is just not a good seed to be with," said Merrick. "Trust me. I've had my share of bad babies." He placed a large piece of steak into his mouth and raised his eyebrows to Melody.
"Now, not everyone is bad, but we have to say that we were a little more guarded now," said Mr. G.
"Thou shalt not judge," said Mr. Johnson. He paused for a moment as the table was silent, then burst into laughter, and said, "Oh, who really follows that nowadays? We're just as guarded, but we just love you. Collin will make my princess very happy."
"Thank you, Mr. Johnson, I'm honored," said Collin.
"Now how is your business doing?" asked Mr. Johnson to Mr. G.
"Never been better. We're not worried because our menu is top knotch and no one in the St.Vrain or Boulder area has what we offer. It's like a Chinese restaurant in Omaha," said Mr. G.
"Speaking of Chinese food. I have an idea that you might want to put a stake in," said Mr. Johnson. "Fusion. I'm thinking healthy, Asian delicacies, infused in Italian or American, just what we both have in our restaurants and your bistros."
Merrick smiled and offered Collin a glass. "Red?" asked Merrick.
"No, I don't drink," said Collin. Merrick poured a glass for him anyway.
"Let's start building your tolerance," said Merrick.
"Sure," said Collin, reluctantly.
"Well, I've been thinking about the diversity of Longmont and I think Longmont is ready for a fusion restaurant. I've been doing some research, and since our place is a sort of pub or bar environment, I've been looking for someone to partner with for a fusion restaurant. What are you thinking?" asked Mr. Johnson.
"I've been working on a menu for a while," said Mr. G. "We just haven't had the right chef with the right talent."
"We can train them. Get the recipes and hire some Mexican to do it. They're good for everything, even building railroads if the chinks didn't exist," said Mr. Johnson.
Raphael whispered to me, "Some have a sewer in his heart that explodes out of his tongue." I smirked and concentrated back to the reflection on my wall of this forthcoming event in Collin's life. I realized Collin had shattered Angel's heart.
"Oh, I am so sorry. Where is my manners," apologized Mr. Johnson. "We hire a Mexican chef and teach him how to be more versatile with Asian foods. We create the menu and ask him to create the dishes. Simple plan, simple execution, great results. Lower wage and most likely, more people will come knowing he's Mexican, instead of those foreign Asians."
"That's an interesting idea," said Mr. G. "I was just thinking fusion because I enjoy Asian foods, but I didn't go as far as diversity and all of what you've just told me."
"It's a golden idea. It's going to work," said Mr. Johnson. "Which brings out my next question. How would you like to work together on this?"
"We already have two places that we're happy with. I don't foresee another one to start from scratch," said Mr. G.
"Not build another one, I'm talking merge a few of our restaurants. Two of ours and two of yours, one big grand idea. Makes four giant restaurants," said Mr. Johnson, with rapacious intent.
"Where is your place again? Over by Niwot?" asked Mr. G.
"Westminster and Denver," said Mr. Johnson.
"Those are great areas," said Mr. G.
"Think about it. But, remember it was my idea and we join forces to make it work," said Mr. Johnson.
"So, I'm not going to Prom with anyone, yet," said Melody to Collin, who looked confused about the sudden friendships between his parents and The Johnsons.
"Melody will be so stunning in a red dress," said Mrs. Johnson.
"Collin, son, you have my permission to take my princess," said Mr. Johnson, pointing over to Melody and giving her an affirmative wink.
"It's set then. Melody and Collin," said Merrick.
"No, I meant...wait, what?" asked Collin, confused over the inter-mingled conversations.
"You just said that you will take me, right?" said Melody.
All eyes were on Collin, who was red in the face.
"Okay, let's go together," Collin said. The Johnsons were so happy, and they got up off their chairs to hug the Goodendaags. The dinner became a lively ceremony of match making and restaurant mergers as the dinner went on.
Gabriel shook the hour glass, but Michael took away the Eye of the Universe from the center of the bulbs and walked away.
"Power, riches and violence, as they all seem to manifest," said Michael. "It's an ethical, spiritual and moral dilemma, perhaps a mental one as well."
"It's the need to control that leads them to violence and prejudice. The need to feel better than and to make others feel lesser. To prove supremacy over another to feel good about themselves," said Raphael.
"Women and men became the same greedy species as we never intended. To feel stable with riches and influence, only making our own cultures better to make ourselves feel worthy, when it was always on a case by case basis," said Michael. "To work our own salvation while helping one another. Now we tear each other apart just to feel superior."
"Stealing lives," said Gabriel.
I finally fell asleep with the voices of angels surrounding me, in discussions of the fallen heaven on earth.
To be continued, Just write.