Chapter 22 – Ursula
It was a hot day and these black jeggings and tanky caught more attention for the pizzeria than I expected. Carrying the billboard sign, I went back to Jake's before the grocery store, but this tall brunette looker with tousled hair and flawless skin caught my eyes.
"Hi," I couldn't help but say to him.
"Hey, gorgeous," said the guy. He walked the same direction as me and I wondered if he was coming in to Jake's for a pizza.
"You're not bad to look at," said the guy.
"Thank you, and your name?" I asked. "I work for Jake's Pizza, that's where I'm going. Are you going there, too?"
"About to get a slice of heaven," he said. "James. Today is one of those pizza kinds of day."
I carried the billboard sign and about to walk into Jake's when he said, "Watch out, don't drop that, you might hurt your feet," James said.
"It won't hurt if it falls," I said. "The sign looks heavy, but it's just printed nicely so people think it is painted on wood. It's actually a sticker on a heavy styrofoam board. So how did you know about Jake's?"
"Billboard master, aren't you happy your work paid off?" said James.
"Really? You saw my billboard and you came in?" I asked.
"You're a cute one, so that's why I came in," said James. "I hope you get free pizza."
"I do," I said, smiling.
"So….," said James.
"So…what?" I asked.
"You gonna give me your number?" asked James. "I don't waste any chances."
"I don't want you to," I said, reaching for my cell phone in my pocket.
"720-890-0978," James said.
"I just texted you mine," I said.
"Can I take you out tonight?" asked James.
"Where you taking me?" I said.
"What about Iwajima," said James. "It's about five minutes from here."
"Sushi?" I said, surprised someone wanted to take me out for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant for once.
It has been a long time since anyone asked me to go anywhere. Since Merrick, and living at the shelter, no one wanted to touch me, let alone speak to me kindly. This felt right, it felt surreal that I felt James was sent as a gift to me.
"I know you've been working hard," said James. "It's the least I could do."
My gut swirled as I faced the street and thought about how this all happened so fast. James just asked me for a date, and here I was on a hot day, sweaty from the heat at work and he thought I was beautiful. For the first time, I felt his complement gave me a breath of fresh air, and I felt confidence inside my soul that I didn't want to let the feeling go.
"Ursula, what are you doing?" asked James. "Don't think about it too hard. It's just a date. NBD."
"I'm just surprised," I said, with my eyes almost lost in tears, that I couldn't look at his eyes directly.
"You're beautiful, and you're surprised that I would ask you out? I'm surprised it doesn't happen often," said James, lifting my chin with soft hands to look deeply into my eyes.
"I didn't anticipate you," I said.
"What's the verdict? Let's go out tonight," said James, with a smile to the side of his lips.
"Promise you treat me well. I've been through a lot," I said. I wasn't sure what to do, and how to show up to the date, but I supposed we could just be, just live out life, and stopped the hard work to ease into a relationship.
Letting my guard down, I told him, "Meet here at 7 pm on Friday night."
"You got it," James said. "I'll let you get back to work. See you soon."
"What about the pizza? Weren't you getting some pizza?" I asked, wondering if cupid gave me a blessing or if this was another wolf in sheep's clothing.
"I'll get it later, I just felt lucky to meet you. I don't want to jinx it," James said. "I'll see you later."
"Okay," I said to him. James left the plaza and I entered the pizzeria.
"You got me close to a grand, Ursula," said Jake. "Just lunch and it closed out the whole day pretty good. You're something else!"
Jake smiled then he high-fived me, and I just couldn't stop giggling and smiling as I saw his face brightened and his eyes like sunshine.
"I sure am so thankful you're here," he said. "Don't give up, okay?"
Jake just knew what to say, although it was always something along the lines of health awareness because he wanted me to heal from the assault. I supposed 30 years on Earth compared to 21 years gave a man some wisdom.
"Who's that guy you spoke to, just now?" Jake asked.
"A nice man who asked me out," I said. Jake's face turned red and he looked upset.
"I don't think you should date just yet, baby," said Jake. "It's not healthy."
"You're dating," I replied. "And Crystal hates my guts. She called me "that homeless woman."
Jake went silent and walked to the back of the kitchen and sat down on the boxes near the exit door.
After a few seconds, I walked to him. "Jake…," I said, and wanted to explain.
"I love you, Ursula, but it would be difficult between us," said Jake. "I'm your boss."
Chapter 23- Angelina
"Officer Fineman came yesterday and told me that he couldn't investigate the incident," said Bernadine.
"I made the report, and I was there," I told Bernadine at the hospital during my therapy session.
"I know, but it didn't have a DNA or any bodily fluids, except for yours," said Bernadine. "There was a lot of rubbing alcohol."
"But you saw me, I was raped," I said. "I don't understand why Officer Fineman won't investigate Merrick."
"It's not that he won't. He can't," said Bernadine. "It's complicated."
"It's not complicated. I reported, and he investigates," I replied. Bernadine closed her mouth with her right hand. "I see, it's money," I said. "The Johnsons have money, and I don't."
"Let's talk for a minute, dear," said Bernadine. Her hand held mine and we sat in her office once again. "What I'm here to do is to help you heal. The investigative part is Officer Fineman's portion. We will have to wait for him."
"What will I do in the mean time?" I asked.
"Heal, catharsis," said Bernadine. "It's letting the be just be, and moving forward."
I was so disappointed. I thought she was on my side.
"I am on your side, but you have to realize, I couldn't do everything. I could only do my part," said Bernadine. She took out her pen, and she walked to her desk for a legal pad.
"It's one of the diagram times again," said Bernadine.
I was getting tired of diagrams and her "healing" speeches and pep-talks. I wanted some justice.
Bernadine drew a circle with a stick figure inside, and underneath it, as a long and thick horizontal line all the way to the end of the page horizontally. "This is you, inside the circle, as feeble as the stick figure. This long thick line underneath is your life line."
I took the paper, and analyzed it. "What do you want me to do with it?" I asked.
"Everyone has boundaries, dear, this is the circle," said Bernadine. "I want you to pay attention to this for me. It's critical."
"Thank you, Bernadine," I said.
"What can harm your boundaries?" Bernadine asked.
"Negativity, harm, bullying, we talked about this," I replied.
"What about dating?" asked Bernadine. "Now that you told me that Collin broke it off."
My chest felt heavy as my breath constricted, and I gasped for air. "That's your first anxiety attack," said Bernadine.
I broke down and cried to pieces. My tears couldn't be supressed and Bernadine was right, I was as feeble as the stick figure.
"You're stronger than you believe," said Bernadine. "This stick figure has protection. This boundary of the circle can become thicker with knowledge, empowerment, wisdom, truth, faith, love, confidence and speaking life into yourself."
I breathed in and Bernadine gave me a small satchet of mint leaves, and said, "I breathe into this when I'm scared. It reminded me of a girl I once knew."
"What happened to her?" I asked.
"She was raped by a famous man, a celebrity and his friends. She was hospitalized five times, and she was hurt beyond measure. She was in and out of the hospital for a decade and afterwards, she dated the wrong man and was date raped. She was almost trafficked and was objectified to be trafficked to certain races of men, who made her feel more vulnerable and broken. She ended up alone, and now living in a small house and never married, but she made it alive," said Bernadine. "But with the price of without love and marriage. I don't want that to happen to you, Angel."
I realized Bernadine was on my side. Her argument about boundaries also must include dating, and to be cautious and conscience of the repercussions with dating and relationships before I was on a healing path.
"It's good to press charges," Bernadine agreed. "But, let Officer Fineman and his police force handle that. We can focus on healing in this hospital."
"Okay," I told her. "Do you think I will be alone forever? There is a myth that rape victims don't get married."
"That's not true," said Bernadine. "Only those who felt too broken to love might not be, but those like you, the strong survivors, we will." Bernadine smiled at me, and in her eyes were optimism and faith.
"Should I date everyone, every race, every religion?" I asked. "I felt like I should give everyone a chance."
"That's what I wanted to tell you," said Bernadine. She pointed to the diagram, and said, "Only if this circle is strong enough to not be harmed, and this long thick line is rooted to the foundation that you have in life. That's when you can walk steady, unshaken by the world."
I realized that "everyone" also meant the violent men, those who wants sexual and physical pleasures, the strange idiosyncratic humans who might be a danger for me and my mental health. It was too much of a casualty, and I needed to be cautious, and to help myself. Not racists, not prejudiced, but cautious, and to screen every man with a pre-cautionary and healthy screen to preserve my well being and mental health.
"If you felt in your gut, that this person is a danger to you," said Bernadine. "You need to listen. I know the world told you to listen to your mind and to the facts, not your gut, but you need to heal first so you can develop your gut feelings well. So you can be sure of yourself." She took two books from her desk titled, "Safe People," and "Gut Feelings," and handed them to me. She took another book, "No Asshole Rule," and said, "This one is for the work place, but it has the same effect as the two I gave you."
"Do you think I will find true love, Bernadine?" I asked her.
"Then, so will your friend you spoke of," I decided.
Chapter 24 – Ichabod
"Orcs, c'mon! Help me!" I yelled, in the middle of the class room.
"Who would believe you, Ichabod?" asked Shane. Rolling his eyes, as if he knew all of the answers of all questions I was about to ask for Angelina.
"Angelina's a nobody," said Fanny. "If she doesn't even know you very well, then how are you even going to help her?" Fanny was too loud sometimes and I was irritated because no one listened to me.
"I need to help this girl," I said.
"No one cares, Ike," said Tim. "It's none of our business. We got classes to tend to."
"You're serious about this, Ichabod?" asked Shane. "I'm thinking we need to know what's in that house."
"What do you mean?" Sunjit asked. "You want us to get into the Frat House and get some beer samples?"
Everyone laughed and Fanny said, "Bring me an apple cider if it's cold."
"I'm thinking we need to know what kind of people they let into their group," said Shane. "Who they are, and who Merrick went to the party with that night. Then we get inside and get evidence."
"It's worth going into during mid-day when classes are running," I said. "I'm thinking after school for us, and it's a lull for them."
"Just see their basement and how we can sneak inside to the top," said Shane. "There are always basements in all the old houses built in Boulder."
"You're right," said Sunjit. "Let's just see for a minute, and we can just stop by and see what's inside."
"Let's go!" I said.
"I'll drive," said Sunjit.
"I can show you the house where they live, depending on the Fraternity," said Shane.
"Omega Xi Epsilon," I said.
"How do you know about Merrick so much?" Fanny asked me.
"Yeah, and how come you're so crazy about Angelina?" asked Tim. "It's like you're in some kind of mission from outer planet!"
I looked to the ground, and I replied, "I saw them, in my dream."
"You dreamt about a rape?" asked Sunjit. "You never told me this."
The Fantasy Club held their breath, and the leads, Tim, Fanny, and Shane looked to me. "Is it the PTSD?" asked Shane. "It's not uncommon."
"How come I knew all the details of the glow-in-the-dark party?" I replied.
"It was a glow-in-the-dark party?" Fanny asked, intrigued with her hand on her cheeks. "I've always wanted to glow in the dark."
Shane quickly said, "You're already a glowee child. A beautiful, round, glowee, summer fairy."
Fanny blushed and slapped Shane's hand. Shane smiled at her and caressed her hair.
"We need to get evidence, because if what my Dad said in the past were true, then Angelina won't have her justice. We have to get the police to arrest Merrick and his fraternity friends," said Shane.
"What do you mean we need to get evidence?" I asked.
"Ike, let's just say that with all the prestige the Johnson has, there is no way they will get an anything without evidence," said Sunjit.
Fanny yelled at Sunjit and I, and told us, "Listen to Shane, his Dad was an informant."
"Let's go, I'll tell you later," said Shane.
"I'll drive," said Sunjit. "Let's go."
The Fantasy Club decided to meet another day and Sunjit made Shane and I go to the Fraternity house. It was a twenty minute drive to Fraternity Row and the Stratford house of Omega Xi Epsilon had pillars and soap stone lions on both ends of the mansion. Aspen trees were on the sides of the house and large bushes of evergreens were on the front. We parked around the corner of the entire block and walked to the house.
We took Fanny with us because although she won't be able to run with her rather chubby physique, she was a great person who could watch our backs.
"I knew about this house because it was rumored to be haunted. On Halloween, they have the best decorations and there was always a ghost rumored to live in the basement," said Shane.
"There is always some kind of rumor of a ghost somewhere inside a huge colonial home like this one," said Sunjit.
"Okay, I've never heard anything like that," I said. "I wouldn't know because it's always Halloween inside my head."
Fanny walked around to the front of the house and just as expected, no one would suspect a cute petite and chubby Vietnamese girl with a Hello Kitty backpack. She called us on her cell phone, "They're leaving to campus. Some sort of mid-day beer pong game," Fanny texted me.
"Okay, Fanny said we can go in," I said, reading her text.
"There is the basement to the side of the house, near the bushes. We can climb in and get in there," said Sunjit.
Shane creeped to the side of the bushes and got in between the wall and the evergreen. He pushed the window to the basement up, and climbed inside. Sunjit and I followed him, and as we tried to look around the room, Michael bumped my head with the edge of his sword inside the basement.
"You must think I wouldn't notice," said Michael.
"Oh my god!" I shouted, as I accidently fell on the floor of the basement.
"Quiet, Ichabod," said Shane. He shushed me and we were silent to listen to any imminent danger of being found by the fraternity men.
"You're fine," said Michael. "They all left to campus."
We looked around the basement and it had a billiards table with a dart board on the wall, and a well-stocked bar with a standing heater to one side of the room. There was a large refrigerator to the side of the bar, and a flatscreen television at the other end of the basement with a soft couch and a wooden table.
We were in awe of the comfort and luxury of their Omega Xi Epsilon mansion, and this was just their "half-done" basement without carpeting or wall paper.
"How much does it cost to get into a fraternity?" I asked.
"Don't know, and don't care, because I won't be able to afford it anyhow," said Shane.
"I do care, but I would rather not use the money for this. I still need to get books somehow," said Sunjit. "I think it's a privilege and not something essential for me."
There was a thump to the wall as we all gasped. We all walked to the billiards table where the basement window was located.
"Hey boys, you're cute, what are you all doing?" said a sweet voice of a girl, who we couldn't see.
Shane put his index finger to his lips as we all stayed quiet. "It's okay, who's there, what's your name?" said Shane. No one answered him. Shane stood still in the dark frightened by the voice, and afraid to turn on the lights. The bright sun from the small window blurred his vision as a ghostly spirit of a blonde girl holding a can of beer smiled at me. She wore a tight red sweater with a black cotton mini skirt and black pumps. She sat on the billiards table drinking a beer with her legs spread open, as if a man was standing in between her.
"You look hot, too," said the ghostly girl.
"Ike, who is she talking to?" Sunjit said.
"You can see this? This ghost?" I asked. I knew Sunjit won't be able to see Michael, but I thought I was the only gifted soul in the room. "I think this is real." My voice softened as Sunjit stepped back and Shane also stepped to the side.
"I could see it, too," Shane said, his eyes wide.
"She is definitely a ghost," said Sunjit.
Michael stood behind me then walked behind the billiards table to the other side of the room. He looked above him, and around him and as he took out his sword he swung over the spirit of the ghostly girl in between her spine. The sexy ghost of the college girl placed the beer on the table as her sweater ripped off in half by a powerful hand of a man whom none of us could see.
"Hey, calm down. Hey, stop, I didn't say you could touch me," said the ghostly girl in her bralette. This re-enactment of an assault made me cringe as Sunjit stepped back and Michael took out his sword from behind the girl's spine yet, nothing happened.
"Her spirit is permanently here. She was killed," said Michael. "There was a murder in this room or in this house."
"I think her spirit is not at rest," said Sunjit.
Shane tried to touch her, but she was as air and his hands went through her as if she was a hologram. "This is very scary," said Shane, waving his hand in between her chest.
The powerful hand slapped her ghostly spirit on her face and her hair was violently pulled back by an invisible hand, as Shane jolted back and hit the wall. Her neck was clenched as she tried to speak. All that came out was a soft and raspy, "Stop….help," as she struggled to stop the assault.
Sunjit uttered, "In the name of Allah, for the Jinns and all things that cannot be undone to be rid of this Earth and from our lives." He stepped forward and flailed his hand to thwart the evil spirit.
Michael swung his sword once more and ran towards the front of the billiards table and beheaded her spirit to disappear from the Earth. "Return to your hell," said Michael. "Be gone!"
"I think she's gone now," I said, as her spirit turned into ashes and disintegrated onto the billiards table. Michael exorcized the ghost.
We heard footsteps and Sunjit gasped as Shane got ready to climb out of the window onto the backyard and returned home. I climbed back out of the basement window with Sunjit and we escaped the rush of Fraternity men who must be home upstairs. Michael waited for us across the lawn as we ran as fast as we could from behind the house away to the house after them to wait for the rush of Fraternity to get into their home.
"Just wait until they all get inside and did we close the window down after us?" I asked.
"Damn it! I didn't," said Shane. "Do you know how tall I am and that small window got me stuck."
"I didn't close it and we went out after Shane," said Sunjit.
"No one will know," I said. "We have to get out to the car at the next block."
We squatted behind the bushes of the house next door to the Fraternity house and as the rush of Fraternity men went into their home, we ran to the Sunjit's car around the corner. Fanny was in the driver seat, and said, "We're safe, no one was around. You guys were only there for half an hour. What did you see inside?"
"Angel wasn't the first victim. They have a history of violence," said Shane, as he closed the passenger door. "I have to tell you the history of how these crimes can happen in fraternities in the United States."
"Yes, you still need to tell us that!" said Sunjit.
Fanny turned on the engine to the car and we drove out of the neighborhood.
"All fraternities were based on the founding fathers of the United States, the forefathers before us, not just the United States President, but the people involved in the government at the time. They felt they all needed to create some kind of system where religion and government were aligned with one another. So the Free Masons were the one of the first forms of Christianity were prominent at the time. They were also an extension of the European churches. When they came here, they created a group, and that group of the Free Masons became the Klu Klux Klan, and the years were as early as 18th century, not just the 19th century or 1800s. They were here much earlier than that, and when the minority groups came into the land as slaves, they felt they were higher in status, so they became supremacist, and believed that the Arian race was the supreme beings. Those groups became more liberal and as the years went on, they separated and created their own groups, and those were the fraternities to include youths and young men in universities. There were rites and liturgies, and ceremonies that resembled the Klu Klux Klan in every fraternity and most fraternities don't accept minority men, especially Asians and African Americans."
"This is all crazy! Are you serious?!" asked Sunjit.
"Those Free Masons were the elite, Presidents, Owners of the Oil Industries, Conglomerates, Land Developers, and some owned slaves and some had more monies than the entire countries in Asia or Europe," said Shane. "My Grandpa was a black man and he was ousted when he knew too much, and lived in Japan during Pearl Harbor and Japanese Internment and married Japanese. He lived during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and continued to help the families who helped him there. When he returned to United States, he lived in the South, and my Dad was born and he worked for the government and the same thing happened to my Dad as did my Grandpa. They were both told to go to Japan, and live there because we knew the history of the Free Masons and Slavery, Fraternal Society, and Greek Societies and the History of Black Colleges and White Colleges, and the Socio-segregation of the United States. Basically, they thought we were informants, when we were actually just really smart."
"So, you are actually third generation Japanese and African American descendants," I said.
"No wonder you look like John Legend," said Fanny. "You make me happy, Shane."
Shane laughed and I patted his back, "Good kid, brother," I said.
"It's not fair how they all recruit the elite, and not inclusive of everyone," said Sunjit.
"Well, they are becoming so, but it's not accepted," said Shane. "There are other societies and fraternal orders that spanned out of it. Phi Betta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega, Omega Chi Epsilons, those are merit based and they include everyone based on intelligence and volunteerism, and nothing else. Some good came out of it, but for the majority, it's racist."
"So, you're saying Merrick's group is racist?" I asked.
"They might be anti-Asian, or anti-minority, or they wanted the elite and prominent to only include Melody and Collin, and not Angelina. I have a feeling Angelina would be an equity to Collin, but in the way of the Johnson's ambition of some sort," said Sunjit. "It's only common sense."
"You're so right," I said. "Collin broke it off, I bet you a hundred percent. Angelina will impede the growth of the Johnsons if the Lees become bigger and more established with having Angelina's Dad on the side of the Goodendaags. I see a new menu for the Goodendaags Bistro with the Lee family and a dime-a-dozen steak house for Merrick Johnson, competing with Outbacks, Longhorns, Black Angus and all the more in the Midwest and continental United States. The Johnsons would lose their business in no time."
"We have to get a recording of Merrick and his men who did it," Sunjit said, as we both came into the back seat.
"We can ask Google," I said.
To be continued...Just write.