icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

The Fuel

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 32

Chapter 32 – Ursula

 

James called, and he wanted to go out for sushi, with me, tonight. His strong jaw and handsome faced brunette with deep set eyes made me smile because he was hot and he asked me out. I finished my shift at the grocery store and hurried to the teen homes and went to community shower and washed the left-over cabbage scent on my body. I wore my black leggings and mini skirt with a tight red top to Jake's Pizza on my bike. It wasn't far, but it was a stretch from my shelter. I saw James waiting in his white Dodge Ram pick-up truck.

 

"Thank God, I thought he was going to stood me up," I said to myself. "A good night for me, please. First date since Merrick."

 

"Gorgeous, are you ready?" said James.

 

"Yes, thank you for coming," I said. "I was afraid you weren't going to show up."

 

"I wouldn't do that. I was the one who asked you," said James.

 

"I rode my bike, so I hope the place isn't far and it's okay for you to drive us?" I asked.

 

"Yes, we can drive back from there, or if the date goes well, we can still stop by my place," said James, with a wide smile and white teeth.

 

"We'll see," I said. I felt pushed by his inuendo of going back to his place after the date.

 

"Let's go," said James.

 

The drive took five minutes with Iwajima located close by. It was scant with customers but the ambiance was beautiful. Black furniture and dim lights with just the bright sepia lanterns as decors and small vases of fresh Gerber Daisies and baby's breaths. He picked a table by the sushi bar, and said, "I wanted to show you this beautiful drink. It's their specialty. Asamamurasaki, or Japanese purple rice wine."

 

"Sake? It's hard liquor," I said. I wasn't ready for it, but it's been a decade since I was on a nice date, that I was willing to try everything for the first time. "Is it sweet?"

 

"It's divine," said James.

 

I smiled, and told him, "I'll try a little."

 

The waitress came and shared the menus on the table as he ordered sashimi on a boat and miso soups with the infamous Asamamurasaki.

 

"Where do you work?" James asked. "Besides Jake's?"  

  

"The grocery store in Louisville, and it's a great job," I answered.

 

"Yeah? It pays the bills?" asked James. "That's what's important, right?"

 

I looked to the table and felt shamed because I was a minimum wage worker and worked two jobs compared to his career. "What do you do?" I asked him.

 

"I work at Kinko's as a manager there," said James. "It's an international franchise. I know the higher up district and regional managers. It's been good."

 

"I see, and that's more than just bills. It's got extra bonus play money in every paycheck," I said.

 

"Play money?" James asked.

 

"Yeah, the extra money to buy charcoal masks, or a sweet watermelon to treat yourself," I said.

 

"Honey, no money is play money," said James. "Or you will get played."

 

I sat back in my chair and felt as if I was in trouble, reminding me of the time when my teachers would put me on the spot for not doing my homework. I smiled at him, and realized he was more experienced than my 21 years of age. I didn't know anything, except rape and homelessness.

 

"Do you think you have baggage?" asked James.

 

"Baggage?" I asked.

 

"Yeah, I have baggage, like life issues," he said. "Everyone's got something."

 

"Of course, I do," I answered. "I sometimes feel bad for having them, but I'm thankful I'm alive."

 

"Well, if you have baggage, that's the baggage you'll carry for the rest of your life," said James.

 

I felt my eyes moistened and I looked to my hands folded in front of me, as I realized that I was more a victim than a young adult. My issues of trauma and rape were deeply fused with family issues, self-esteem issues, work issues with some sexual harassments, and so many more. James was right, I told myself, I had a lot of baggage and it would be with me for the rest of my life.

 

The waitress came back with the order, and James said, "Waitress, the Asamamurasaki, please?"

 

I looked to him and asked, "Is that the purple rice wine?"

 

He nodded, and said, "It's something to celebrate. For an evening, we can take our baggage away with just dinner. Shall we?" He poured some teas into our beautiful ceramic cups and began to dine with some sashimi, and he took a salmon piece and fed it to me. "Delicious, I'm letting you take this from me," he said.

 

Tears dropped to the table as I faced down because the thoughts of baggage and issues permutated inside my head and I felt miniscule compared to James who was a manager of an international franchise.

 

"What's wrong honey?" he asked and didn't take the sashimi into my mouth.

 

"Just some trauma issues," I answered. "I've been having some issues from the past."

 

The waitress came back with the Purple Rice Wine, Asamamurasaki, and two sake cups.

 

The clear tall bottle had some twirls of lemon zest and sparkler cubes inside the bottom of the bottle. James asked the waitress to do her trick as she placed some sugar crystals into the glass bottle to sweeten the sake wine, and the sugar crystals glittered its way down. James poured the sake into our cups and the frozen cubes of ice inside our sake cups gave a mist up towards our chest. I wanted to try it and the colorful trick enchanted me.

 

"It's beautiful isn't?" asked James. "Shall we drink it?"

 

He raised his cup and I raised mine, and cheered, "Bottom's up," he said.

 

I drank it like a shot, and it was strong with a sweet aftertaste. I wasn't sure how to drink a sake, but judging from the small amount of it, I thought drinking it like a shot was appropriate.

 

James laughed, and said, "Slow down, just sip it like a drink." As he sipped it slowly, and letting the misty frozen cubes decorate his cup.

 

"What do you want to do tonight?" he asked me.

 

"Just dinner and go back home, then go to sleep," I said.

 

"What about we take a drive?" said James.

 

My guard was up and I was afraid, as the intensity gave me a headache. The headache persisted and as we ate, James talked about Kinko's and how it wasn't a perfect place but he was willing to move up in the chain. I was happy for him, and chewed away while I ate the sashimi, and sipped the sake, but I wanted some water and the waitress took a very long time to give me the water I requested.

 

James waved the waitress, and as she arrived to our table, James asked, "The bill, please?"

 

"May I still have some water?" I asked. The waitress nodded, but never came back.

 

James got up from his chair, and I wanted to sit down to wait for the water. "I'll get you some water in the car," said James.

"I have a headache, I can't stand up," I said.


I felt my body weakened and my head felt a strong pressure as my body felt light as air. I told James, "Do you have aspirin."

"Yeah, it's in the car," said James.

 

I got up from my seat and began to walk with him. He reached for my hand and held me up, but kicked my left ankle, as I fell down to the ground and my body weakened.

 

"Why did you kick me?" I asked. My heels felt weak and my head spun.

 

"Just testing," said James. "Some girls….geeesh Ursula. You should have told me you're a light weight."

 

The headache intensified, and I was about to cry but I held it down, and asked him, "Could I just rest in the car for a moment, and please drive me back to Jake's."

 

"No problem," he said. We arrived to the parking lot of Iwajima and he opened the car door and I sat down slowly and laid my feet straight in front of me.

 

James searched inside his car, and said, "I know I have aspirin somewhere." He searched and took something out of his pocket and gave it to me. It was a small tablet in its pharmaceutical packaging, and he said, "Here, take this….it will make you feel better. It will take the headache away. Trust me."

 

I took it and swallowed it dry mouthed, as James said, "Guess what?....water!" James said, handing the water bottle to my hands.

 

I drank it and I felt the pill working inside my brains settling my body, and I felt a heat inside my chest and tingles all over my arms and legs. My breath constricted but I wanted to breathe more and more and felt my hormones raged and felt the inebriation took over me as I felt dizzy and my head spun. Seconds later, I felt in ecstasy and felt the small tablet made me happy as if I was in a dream. James took my face and he kissed me, and said, "Are you okay? I'm here for you."

I felt the hairs on my arms rose up and so did the hairs on the back of my neck and my head tingled as if it was immersed in hot water. James's kisses made me yearn for more, more physical connection, more touch, and incomprehensibly, more sexual connection. The inebriation pounced my brain and throbbed my head and the pill he gave me seduced my inhibition to a high sexual drive.

 

"What did you give me, James?" I asked. "I felt so weird."

 

"Aspirin, and it's probably the sake. It makes everyone horny," said James.

 

He smiled, and stroked my shoulders and massaged me and he walked to the driver's seat and sat next to me. He took my body and raised it as he squeezed himself underneath me and we cuddled inside his car on the passenger seat.

 

My arms and legs felt frozen as I was drunk, and I didn't know what happened to my body and my headache, but my head spun violently. I couldn't move, but wanted to be physically close to him. James stroked my neck and kissed me, and cupped my breast and took his hand underneath my shirt, and began to assault me.

 

My sexual drive was so high that I was silent and the violent headache incapacitated my mind as my body wanted the sexual interactions. I knew my brain was drunk from the sake as my vision blurred and his fondling twisted my soul. Was this rape?

"You're so hot, Ursula. Sex kitten, hot," said James.

 

He took off my leggings and exposed me, then laid himself over me as the undulating motion made me queasy, drowsy, confused and feeble. I was tired, my body was tired and my mind was tired, but James wasn't. He kept his sexual drive high as he had sex with the version of me with the pill, what I suspect was the Viagra, the sexual medicine to increase sex drive in anyone, increasing heart beats per minute, and murdering my spirit.

 

It was no different if I was inside a Dodge Ram, a Honda, a Mercedes or a Volkswagen, the rape was brutal for anyone. Tears rolled down my eyes as I felt the orgasm, but my mind told me I was raped. His groans made me sick and I was too distraught that I dozed off, and felt the car drive to someplace. He must not have driven far, because it stopped and the passenger car door opened. I thought it was James, letting me out, instead another man laid on top of me, heavy set, as he ripped my skirt and cupped my mouth. I opened my eyes but it was covered, and I felt strangled, and this man raped me violently, as I felt a punch on my face, with both sides of my eyes felt warm.

 

"Pinch you, Chevron," he said. I remembered inside my convoluted mind, John told me he would use a code to call anyone he hated, "Chevron," for Pinche Cabron or asshole in Spanish.

 

I tried to open my eyes, and called out, "John, is that you?" but the rape was through my body, the heavy set man shredded me from bottom to top, side to side and punched my face, as James's voice rang in my ears, "The baggage you have, is the baggage you carry for the rest of your life."

 

Darkness spun me close to death as I felt more punches on my face, and a jab to my stomach. I felt my shirt taken off, and I was naked. With my eyes closed, I tried to open it, but it was shut tight. I was asleep although my brain kept going and my body was frozen.

 

The total darkness made me cry, but the dream of me with James kept playing sexually in front of my face, as he raped me in the passenger seat. I felt sore underneath me, and I felt abused and violated. Who would be able to help me? I felt consent on my behalf because I said yes to the date and the drink, but I also never said yes to sex. Inadvertently and legally, I said no, because I was inebriated and incapable to decipher what went wrong. Was this consent, and if it was, what was the true yes? I was abused and confused and I felt it was all of my doing the whole time. Tears kept rolling down my face in the darkness as the evening lapsed on, and I felt my body dropped on the ground.

 

"So long, pendeja," said the voice of a man that was familiar, the same disturbing high pitched and annoying voice. The same man who wanted to degrade me all of his life, John, but I couldn't understand why he was here.

 

I felt a hit on the back of my head and I was in total darkness.

 

***

 

"Ursula, get up," said Jake. He shook me, and putting water on my eyes dripping it down to my face. "Wake up, this is severe."

 

I breathed in and my eyes fluttered open. I was inside his pizza shop, on a table behind the kitchen.

 

"I found you lying on the ground in front of our shop. It's six in the morning. What happened last night?" Jake asked me. His face dropped, his beard and mustache shaven and his brunette hair freshly cut. His eyes were moist, as he took some towels from the bathroom, and brought them to cover me. "Someone punched you. Your eyes are swollen, and so is your gut and your breast."

 

"I was on a date," I answered. Jake broke down and cried, and he took the pizza roller and beat it down on the ground. The handle broke off and almost hit me.

 

"I was supposed to go home, but we had sake," I told Jake.

 

"What was his name?" Jake asked me. "Was it the guy who asked you out when you were out dancing?"

 

"Yeah, and there was another man on top of me, a heavy-set man. He punched my face," I said. I was too distraught to cry, and my head still spun like a dreidle on Hannukkah.

 

"What's his last name?" Jake asked me.

 

"I don't know," I replied.

 

Jake looked to the back door, and sat on the chair as I sat up and sat on the table.

 

"You needed to care for yourself first," he said. "You were raped last night."

 

My right hand somehow found my swollen eyes and as tears rushed out, the sting from the punches finally felt real and I felt my face aged a million years out of violence.

 

"I want to take you to the hospital," said Jake. "Let's get you dressed. I have an extra t-shirt and jacket in the back office. We'll just work with what we got from now on."

 

All I could do was say, "I'm sorry Jake."

 

My shoulders hunched down to my stomach as my spirit crumbled and tears poured out. My naked body that was imperfect felt ugly and misshapen, damaged and broken, abused and violated, ripped through my skin, bloodied and mangled. I felt and heard taunts from John, my manager at the grocery store, and there were voices of ridicule from Melody and Merrick inside my head. I was trashed through the bones.

 

"How do you want to live in the future, Ursula?" asked Jake. "Is this how you want to die? I could tell you that you were close to death. You see your eyes? They're bloodied." Jake softly touched the side of my eyes and I cringed and cried.

 

"I want to die, right now. I doubt that anyone cared if I lived," I said.

 

It felt so cold and alone in this life, even with Jake in front of me.

 

"Do you think anyone cares for you?" Jake asked me.

 

"My Mom used to care," I answered. "She worked long hours and earned more money. I think she loved that more than me."

 

"I care," Jake said.

 

"I'm trash," I told him.

 

I couldn't hold myself together and sobbed.

 

Jake walked to the back office and took the t-shirt to cover me.


"Wear this, and cover yourself up. I'm calling the Broomfield PD and ambulance," he said.

 

"I don't have insurance," I said to him.

 

"They will approve you for State Medicaid anyhow, the same thing you've been doing," said Jake. "When you live like you're willing to die anytime, these things happen."

 

"I wish I had a good life," I replied.

 

"I was adopted, Ursula. It just so happened that I got lucky," said Jake. "There are a lot of us with a bad life and a bad past. You're not alone."

 

"I felt like I was made to die early," I said, with a sob story voice, all cracked and hoarse, in disbelief that Jake actually cared for me.

 

Jake sighed, and told me, "What ever life we've been handed, we have to believe there is work to be done. We can't do anything by ourselves, trust me. If anyone said they truly got successful because they did it themselves, they're lying. It always takes a village, even with a village of just two people. It's something."

 

"Where is Crystal?" I asked.

 

"She's with her son," said Jake. "We're not dating anymore. She has too much issues against you and my business. I was learning to be strong, and loyal, but I wasn't going to win with her beside me."

 

"What do you mean?" I asked. Jake's phone rang and it was the EMT from the local police department.

 

"Yes, I want to report an assault, and she's here with me," said Jake. I could hear the dispatcher on the other line asking some questions, and Jake stepped away from me to answer her.

 

"They'll be here in a minute," said Jake. "I just want you to care about yourself. That's all."

 

"I care," I answered.

 

"Good. Let's start there," said Jake, with his hands on his pelvis.

 

 

 

 

Be the first to comment

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 28, 29, 30 & 31

Chapter 28 – Ursula

 

Katy Perry's Fireworks blasted on the boombox I had with me. Jake brought me some fresh mixed music with girl power themes again. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Samantha parked her car in the parking lot in front of Jake's Pizza with Angelina inside her car. They ran up the grassy knoll leading to the street corner where I danced every Saturday morning.

 

"Ursula!" I heard a voice, that was soft against the loud music. I high kicked in the air as Katy Perry's song dissipated and turned down the volume.

 

"Hey girls, we can just talk with the music softly on," I said. "I have to work from 9 to noon today, so I thought I could dance while we talk."

 

The music was not on full volume, but loud enough to hear the rhythm to billboard dance.

 

"We're so sorry about being late," said Samantha, trying to talk as loud as she could without yelling.

 

"No problem, but I at least have to dance for 30 minutes at a time," I told her.

 

"Ursula, you still dance?" asked Angelina, breaking the ice.

 

"Absolutely! Where else can I dance for money without stripping?"  I winked. I raised the billboard, and wiggled my bottom towards the passing cars. The passing cars honked for the booty action. Samantha pumped up the stereo to full volume and Katy Perry's 'Fireworks' blasted on.

 

Ursula handed the billboard to Samantha as she laughed and began to dance with the music. The billboard puzzled her at first, only raising it up and down, and Chaplin jumping. A car honked three times at the girls on the sidewalk. Triple the applause.

 

'Do you ever feel like a plastic bag…drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?' Samantha handed the sign to Angelina, and she held one end with her hand and popped it to the opposite directions then raising it and swung it to the left and right with the rope handles behind the light billboard.

 

'You just got to ignite the light…and let it shine…' Angelina opened one arm wide and pointed to the billboard, raising it over her head and pivoted forward and backwards. She wiggled her bottom, and handed the billboard to me.


'Cuz baby you're a firework…' I straddled jumps with the billboard over my head and an old lady driving inside her car honked one long continuous horn. I loved her and blew her a kiss. I took the billboard and turned it around and around by the left rope handle over my head, as I stepped to the side, the front, the other side around about then straddle jumped for an end to the verse of the music.

 

'Boom Boom Boom…even brighter than the moon, moon, moon...' We chained our arms together, passing the billboard to each other as Ursula switched arms in the center, turning us around and high kicked in a circle.

 

As the song finished, I took the sign and Russian split in the air and landed on her feet, to a kneel forward with the billboard on her thigh. I waved to the cars passing by and multiple loud horns were my form of a standing ovation.

 

Thirty minutes quickly passed and I took a small break and turned the volume down on the stereo. We laughed and plopped down in a circle on the grass of sidewalk for the break. We faced Jake's Pizza, in case Jake got angry and wanted us to dance more and more to bring in more crowds.

 

"So, this is my other part time gig. To make ends meet. I want a MacBook Air," I told Samantha and Angelina as sweat pearls dropped on to my lap from my forehead.

 

"Should we talk now? We didn't know you're working right now," said Samantha, out of breath.

 

"It's all good, I didn't tell you anyhow," I replied. "So, what do you want to know?"

 

"Well, let's just get into it. We got word from Maria that you were in cheer once?" asked Samantha.

 

"I hope it's okay for us to ask you all these questions. You don't have to answer any of them, if you don't want to," said Angelina.

 

"Nah, it's all good," I answered. I kept waving to people in the cars passing by while lifting the sign up and down and side to side. "I was in cheer. I was squad leader actually. I guess Melody took that job now. She always had an eye for my spot."

 

"She got leader as a freshmen?" asked Angelina.

 

"Yeah, well, I was captain, and dated Merrick, he was quarterback. She got in because I was Merrick's girl at the time. I was a junior and Merrick was a senior and it would be rude for me not to take her in," I told them. "He was dreamy and I was just a poor girl with no money, but real cute. Don't you think I'm still cute?" I posed for them with my right chin touching my right shoulder. My petite figure didn't imply fragility, and I wanted the girls to know that although I was a high school drop-out, I was still toned and strong from dancing as Jake's Billboard Master.

 

"You're definitely gorgeous," said Angelina.

 

I loved her compliment. I haven't heard one in a long time.

 

"Were you both in love? I hope it's okay for us to ask you this," asked Samantha.

 

"No worries. I was in love. He was in it for the sex. He had a voracious appetite for it. I couldn't satisfy him sometimes," I told the girls. "We would meet after school or after practice, and just do it in his car or in the bathroom. He had an SUV, so we had plenty of space in the back." The corners of my eyes are moistened as she recalled the past. "I felt like a slut sometimes, and so when Merrick kept wanting more, it was hard for me to go back to the good girl I was supposed to be."

 

"Condoms?" asked Samantha.

       

"Oh yeah, I can't get pregnant early. I was on birth control pills and he doubled up," I confided. "One time, after a real good number, I gave him this red granite heart paper weight. To told him I loved him. I got it at a bookstore somewhere."

 

"What was his reaction?" asked Samantha.

 

"I think he took it as a sign that he could do anything to me. He knew that he could do no wrong, even though he eventually did," I said. "He wanted to see other people, and when I said no. He slapped me a couple of times. He said I was being needy."

 

"That's a crime, Ursula," said Angelina sitting cross-legged with her hands towards me, touching the sidewalk.

 

"Who cares? It was a long time ago. I don't care for what happened," I said. I leaned back, with my two hands behind me. "I'm trying to forget all those things."

 

"What happened after a few of those slaps?" asked Samantha. Her head tilted to the side, as if in curiosity.

 

"After a couple of months of him slapping me, I couldn't handle it anymore. I told him that I'll tell someone. He asked me to wait for him one night after practice. We did it in the girl's bathroom," I said. "I thought it was rough sex, but it felt like rape. I told Maria, because I felt symptoms of rape trauma and I didn't know what it was. I didn't want to be a rape victim, so I never reported, and I told Maria not to tell anyone or I'll drop-out. She told my Mom, and we got into a huge fight and I ran out." 

  

"So, he raped you?" asked Angelina. "Then you dropped out and ran away from home. Where do you live now?" 

 

My tears leaked out of my eyes again. "It felt like rape because it was really rough. I was totally hurt by it. My whole body felt really weak afterwards," I answered. "I wanted to scream. But, I didn't. I just forgot about it. Let's just say, it's really rough sex."

 

"Did you say that it was okay to rough sex you? If not, it's rape, Ursula," asked Angelina, with her elbows on her knees and he hands crossing over them. "Even if you gave him consent. If he was rough with you and raped you, after you said 'okay,' It was still rape."

 

"I don't know if rough sex with force is rape. Is it?" I asked. "Who cares? I didn't want to bother with all that stuff. I just wanted to get away from everyone."

 

"That's why you dropped out? Because he raped you, and you were scared to report?" asked Samantha.

 

"I didn't want to cause a ruckus. I got no money. My Mom and I were immigrants, we didn't have a good family, okay. I told my Mom I was going to take the GED, but she flipped out and kicked me out," I said. "I have the sorry-est family in the world. You can call them trailer park trash, whatever you want. That's what I feel like sometimes. Asian trash, that's what it feels like."

 

"Why do you think that, Ursula? Why do you think you're trash?" asked Samantha.

 

"Do you have anyone one, now? Relatives or a friend?" asked Angelina.

 

"My parents divorced because my Dad slept around. He was a mechanic and my Mom was a stay at home Mom, until she went back to school and got her nursing degree. When he left, my mom and sister and I moved to this dump near the edge of Niwot. Some dumpy old trailer ranch house," I said. "When I started high-school at Silver Creek, my Mom got a job at the gas station near the freeway. It pays the bills, but she got bitter. I hated my own Mom growing up. She just had a mouth on her."

 

I felt my eyes moist and tears crept out, although I thought I wasn't crying, … but I truly was.

 

"I just thought the world of Merrick. When I met him, he was so pretty. So clean, neatly dressed, charming, and smart. Classy. I feel so bad standing next to him and his pretty sister, Melody. But, I didn't think he'd hurt me. I just feel so bad." My chin rubbed against my left shoulder, and as I looked to the girls once more, and said, "I think he was every girl's dream."

 

Angelina and Samantha looked at each other with tears hovering in their eyes.

 

"I understand. That's how I feel about my ex-boyfriend, Collin," said Angelina. "I met Merrick, and saw who he was and what he looked like. He truly does look like a dream. I agree."

 

"I'm mostly on my own now. I was homeless for about four months after I dropped out. I didn't want to stay at home and get harassed by my mom. I took a bus to a youth shelter in Boulder. But, some girl at the shelter told me about the grocery store in Broomfield, how they're always looking for someone at the produce section. I just been working there ever since," I said. "Who cares, I don't need anyone. Anybody who needs anyone is weak." I wiped my tears with my bare hands, sobbing for a minute, then exhaling out the fears and anxiety to prevent more tears from falling.

 

"Ursula, Angelina was raped, and she needs your help. It's not because she's weak. It's because she was violated," said Samantha. The moment stood still for a few seconds. "May I give you a hug?"

 

I nodded as Samantha hugged me.

 

"Oh God, I'm so sorry," I said in realization. "I forgot I am ridiculing your rape. I didn't mean to say that you're weak. I'm sorry."

 

"You're not ridiculing anything. It's okay," said Angelina, calmly and with understanding.

 

"You're not weak and I just hugged you to calm you down," said Samantha. "It's okay to admit you need help, Ursula. Everyone needs help sometimes. Even the strongest person you know. You didn't do anything wrong."

 

"That's not what I meant," I said. "I use self-talk to tell myself that I'm not a rape victim, so I won't be afraid to be alone or feel broken inside," I fidgeted, and said, "I'm so afraid of labels such as rape victim, whore, prostitute, or easy. I slept with Merrick multiple times and I just didn't want anyone to know."

 

"Ursula. I don't know who raped me that night at the party, but I know I was raped. Also, please forgive me, I feel like I'm intruding into your life by asking all these questions," said Angelina, sitting up.

 

"Oh no, sweetie. I'm not that type of person," I said, giving Angelina a huge hug. "I just don't think I'm as raped as you."

 

"How can you say that?" asked Samantha. "What do you mean, not as raped?"

 

"Well, I mean, I didn't end up at someone else's house and got raped. Or got ambushed near some bushes in the dark. I was there, he asked me to have sex in the girls' bathroom and I said nothing. Then he raped me and he was rough, but I saw it coming," I said. "I asked for it."

 

"That's rubbish!" said Angelina, her voice trembling. "It was rape, Ursula. 'Not as raped' does not exist!" Angelina was so upset that she walked away for a second, starting to sob a few steps away from them. "You're denying the rape, Ursula."

 

"Does she cry like this often?" I leaned to Samantha.

 

"It's the side effect. She gets these crying spells now," said Samantha, looking directly into Ursula's eyes. "You're a strong girl, Ursula."

 

"Well, if you grew up in my family, you got to be," I said. "My parents don't really care for me. They just don't know what's going on in my life. I barely even talk to them before I was kicked out."

 

"It's not your fault, Ursula," said Samantha. "You didn't ask for it. It wasn't your fault. But you have to realize that running away from home and feeling anxieties, or fears, or loneliness, or broken are the symptoms of rape trauma. At least the first signs of it."

 

"If nothing is my fault, then what is?" I asked. "Listen, I don't admit to the rape, so I'm not a rape victim. I don't care if I was raped or not. I'm not letting him take the best of me."

 

Angelina looked to Ursula, and asked her, "Do you go to a psychiatrist?"

 

"Oh, hell no. There is nothing wrong with me. It's him that needs some mending!" I shouted, defiantly.

 

"You may need the therapy, Ursula. To help yourself feel better about your life. It's vitamins for your soul, especially because of Merrick," said Samantha, with a gentle voice.

 

"Nah, I'm good. I chose sex. I dropped out. It was my choice. I'm happy," said Ursula, pointing to herself, in all of the spirit of self-sufficiency and arrogance. She looked at the billboard and said, "I know I just need to work hard. Everything will come together. It wasn't my fault, but I also don't want to blame other people for choosing to have sex with him. I was the dumb girl and got tricked. I need to work my ass off now!"

 

"So, that's how Melody got captain so early," said Angelina. "Her brother pushed you out."

 

"She always had it in for me. She was always jealous for Merrick's attention. And me, being out of the relationship and the team, was like a gift to her. Merrick wanted her as captain, so everyone just agreed," I answered, with a shoulders shrug.

 

"You're a great dancer, Ursula. Were you a tumbler, too?" asked Angelina, changing the subject. "I was a flier," I answered. "I use to choreograph some of the numbers for homecoming and dance routines. I was good as a tumbler."

 

"You're extremely talented," said Angelina. "I was a flier, too."

 

"But, it all don't mean a thing now. I've got to work, honey," I said. I took the billboard, and turned around. I held the billboard in front of me and high kicked to the side. "Independence! It's bliss."

 

"Ursula, can we be your friends?" asked Samantha, in compassion.

 

I stopped for a minute, and stared at Samantha and Angelina for a moment, and asked, "Why? Because you feel sorry for me?"

 

"Because we care for you. We really do," said Angelina, "Please?"

 

"I don't want to report, if that's what you want in the future," I said, because I wanted to remain anonymous.

 

"It's not that," said Angelina. She looked towards Samantha for a second, and Samantha nodded an almost secret agreement between the two best friends.

 

"We can be your allies and help," said Samantha.

 

I turned around to face the street with indolent eyes, as cars were passing by. I looked down to the ground holding the billboard sign, and decided to reach for my cell phone.

 

"What's your cell number? I get these pre-paid cell phones, and I can use it sometimes in case I need to talk to someone. I use it mostly for crisis," I told them the truth.

 

"Thank you, Ursula. We want to be friends with you," said Samantha, wiping her tears away. Samantha pushed the buttons on her phone, as I gave her my number and my cell phone rang.

 

"Saved," I said. "I have three numbers in my cell now. Well, besides my mom's, crisis line, the grocery store and Jake's Pizza. Five numbers! Check that out!"

 

"We'll keep in touch. Are you going to stay here for long?" asked Angelina.

 

"I have to be here till noon, then I go to the store. It's a day job," I said.

 

"You're a good girl, Ursula," said Angelina. "We'll hang out more sometime."

 

"Most definitely," I said. "Remember, don't let him beat you down."

 

Tears gathered in Angelina's eyes as they rolled down her cheeks. Inside me, were words that spoke to me, as if a spirit was inside my chest, I feel beaten, Ursula. Perhaps that was what Angelina felt right now, and I felt the same, but I won't acknowledge it. I won't let Merrick drive me to a crazy house.

 

"I want you to give us a call when you're alone, or hurt, or sad, or for any reason," said Samantha.

 

"For ANY reason, give us a call," said Angelina. "Especially when you're hurting. Even text us."

 

"How did you guys get this sweet?" I asked. Their kind gesture was fresh air for my morning. "Oh, I know. You're both princesses, from Longmont with your rich family, rich houses, and rich futures." My right fingertips in the air with my eyes blinking in humor, teasing them.

 

"No, not true. I'm not rich. My Dad works at China 2000," said Angelina, giggling from Ursula's animation.

 

"What's China 2000?" I asked, almost breaking into a laugh.

 

"It's a Chinese fast food place in Silver Creek. They have good food! Szechuan style," said Samantha, wiggling her body, because she loves Chinese food.

 

"Oh boy," I said. "Well, anytime you guys want Jake's Pizza, I'm your girl."

 

"We'll take you up on that," said Samantha, both thumbs up.

 

"All right, you kids stay safe," I said. 

    

"Let's go bowling after your shift ends at six this evening," said Angelina, hugging me.

 

I almost cried to pieces, and said, "Well, give me a piece of meat, because I have friends! I can't believe it. Nobody ever invited me to anything, even in high school!"

 

Angelina and Samantha laughed out loud.

 

***

 

I sat down on the sidewalk in front of Memory Lanes in my black slacks and grocery store polo, because I didn't have time to change.

 

"Hi, Ursula," yelled Samantha from the parking lot, with her opened window from her SUV. Samantha parked her car on the first row of the parking spaces in front of Memory Lanes.

 

I smiled and waited for the girls to walk towards me. As they both hugged me, Angelina said, "I'm glad you came, I'm happy to see you for fun now."

 

"I'm so happy you girls came," I said. "I thought I was going to be stood up."

 

"Oh, we would never turn you down. You're awesome!" said Samantha.

 

"I've been stood up before," I said. "It's common for someone like me. I think people don't respect me."

 

"You're someone great. And we want to be here," said Angelina.  

     

"Ursula, you deserve respect," said Samantha.

 

"I've just been working my jobs that I don't have friends anymore. So, this is good," I said.

 

"Let's go in. I've never been here before," said Angelina, pumping up her energy for bowling.

 

Families and bowling leagues filled Memory Lanes to the last rows of lanes on a Saturday evening.

 

"Let's do two games and we can go from there?" said Angelina, as she walked to the shoe-rental cashier.

 

"Oh yeah, the first game is warm up for me," said Samantha. "I've bowled once before, but I'm so damn good. Trust me."

 

I laughed out loud. "I'm not a good bowler, but I used to bowl with Merrick, a long time ago," I said.

 

"Oh, you must be much better than me," said Angelina. "I'll get some fries, with Diet Cokes? Pepsi?"

 

"Pepsi, for me," I said. "I can pay my own. Don't worry."

 

"We wanted to take you out, Ursula. Let us treat you. You've been so kind to share with us your life. We were just random girls you barely knew, and you trusted us," said Angelina. "We just want to love you."

 

Samantha gave me a huge hug as Angelina walked towards the bar area where she ordered the bucket of fries and two Diet-Cokes and a Pepsi.

 

"I'm surprised you don't have anyone, Ursula," said Samantha. "Was it because of what happened?"

 

"Well, I lost everyone after Merrick broke it off, and I just didn't feel right calling the other cheerleaders. They were mostly Merrick's fans, and I know they all voted for Melody to get into the team without me," I said. "All of the cheers were all into Merrick, too. I was seen as the poor girl with no future without Merrick."

 

"Exclusion is rough. Did you feel isolated?" asked Samantha. "I know Angelina was excluded by the team. She would feel isolated if I'm not here."

 

"I don't care about them anymore," I said.

 

"Exclusion is a form of bullying, so you don't want to be around them. They're not healthy. Sometimes bullying is a form of secondary victimization often after a rape victim shares her experience or if somehow other people knew about the rape," said Samantha.

 

The shoe rental attendant gave Samantha our shoes and Samantha gave me my pair. Samantha took the bill and I looked to her with a slight smile, because for once, someone was generous to me and wanted to explain what the truth was to me.

 

I never knew any of the victimization concepts without someone as generous as Samantha and Angelina. I felt I had knowledge, privilege and information that was more valuable as a woman. It was street smarts, education, and enlightenment to me. For once, I felt cared for.

 

"You're so sweet, Samantha," I said. "You didn't have to get the bill."

 

"No worries. Angelina and I wanted to pay for you," said Samantha. "I'm a friend, Ursula. You have us and don't be embarrassed about being homeless."

 

I stood still, grateful and humbled.

 

"I know, doesn't it feel good?" said Samantha, smiling from ear to ear. "You know, it's not that hard to be nice to people. I just think that violence could be diffused with just some awareness. Just know, that what's unkind will hurt. So, I just try to love, even with my own reservations on others, or certain religions, or backgrounds, or even through my own judgements…to just be kind and love everyone. Ursula, I don't want you to have sex with a man in the future and think it is love. Love is not sex, and sex is not love."

 

"Did you tell Merrick how you felt after he broke it off?" asked Angelina, walking back with a tray of large curly fries, two Diet Cokes and a Pepsi in her hand. We walked to the end lane, to pick out our shoes and bowling balls.

 

"I told Merrick I was really hurt by what happened that night. But, he convinced me that it was mutual. He was right, I didn't say no," I said. "He even taped me saying it."

 

"Let's get some neon bowling balls," said Angelina. "Taped you, huh?"

 

Samantha came back with a hot pink ten pounder ball, and was ready to set the standard for the lane.

 

"Okay, I want to be second. So, I get to feel the energy," said Samantha.

 

"What energy?" I asked, confused.

 

"The bowling energy, there is an art to it," said Samantha, rolling her shoulders, warming-up.

 

"She thinks there is energy to everything," said Angelina, almost cracking up. "She thinks Target and Walmart have different energy and she hunts for certain items for herself only at those two stores because each item has different energy….and,..."

 

"Shut up!" said Samantha. "Trust me, just trust me. Even bowling, there is an energy to it."

 

"I see. I'll be first. If you don't mind, Angel," I said. "I wonder what my 'energy' is."

 

I bowled the way Merrick taught me, with full force and a straight arm while twisting the 12 pounder just a soft bit. It hit a strike. Angelina and Samantha looked at each other, and they started giggling. "Not a good bowler I see," said Angelina, laughing.

 

"You have 'Turbo' energy," said Samantha with a laugh. Samantha was next and landed a gutter ball. She raised her arms and told her, "I'm still aiming high. I don't care what that ball did. I'm relentless," said Samantha. "It's all about perception. I'm just good at not hitting anything!"

 

Angelina also landed a gutter ball, and started laughing. Witnessing these girls have so much fun landing gutter balls, I couldn't help but to start laughing with them.

 

I never fathomed the idea of friendship blossoming, especially after Merrick. I never knew a Sunday could be fun, and of all the things, it was with two girls from the high school where I was once an outcast. Sometimes when good things happened, I could only enjoy the moment. I felt the sensation to just live, breathe, and love.

 

"Hey, girls, I need to ask you something," I said, suddenly.

 

"Yeah, go ahead," said Angelina.

 

"Is it some bowling terms? Because you already know the answer," said Samantha.

 

I smiled for a moment, and asked, "It's something a little more serious. Why did you guys come to me? That night at the grocery store."

 

"What do you mean?" said Samantha. Angelina bowled her turn, as her face grew stern.

 

"Well, I wanted to meet you because of Maria," said Samantha.

 

"What was the real reason?" I asked.

 

"I needed your help because I didn't know what happened to me," said Angelina.

 

Angelina was transparent, and told the truth.

 

"I was going to ask you to help with the report," said Angelina, honestly.

 

"I see," I said. "That's what I want to talk about."

 

"Yeah, I got it. What do you feel, Ursula?" asked Samantha. "Be honest. I don't want you to suffer again. I know it was a life changing experience, two years ago."

 

"I don't want to report," I confided. It was too much for me to handle, on top of being homeless.

 

"Can you explain? So, I will understand?" Angelina asked.

 

"I hope it was okay for us to meet you. I am so sorry, it was my idea to go find you," said Samantha.

 

"I'm happy you found me. I want to be friends with you," I said, tears flushing from my eyes. "I just can't report because I'm struggling. I'm struggling so bad, that I work two jobs to make ends meet, and I know I have mental illness."

 

"We understand," said Angelina. The bowling was on hold for a moment, to let the conversation explained my situation.

 

"When I was kicked out and went homeless. I just didn't want to live anymore, and I didn't want to ask anyone for help. It was really embarrassing. I tried to talk to Merrick, but he thinks I'm a whore. I felt like a dirty tampon that people throw away," I said.

 

"Tell us," said Angelina, accepting my brokenness and letting me vocalize my thoughts.

 

"I just feel like garbage next to Merrick. He's everything I wanted. When he asked me out, I felt like a princess, and I've never been a princess. I grew up so poor on welfare and my Mom, she has her issues, and so did my Dad. So, I pretty much took care of myself," I said. "I was so lucky to meet Merrick. He had a lot of appetite for sex, but that's how he shows his love for me. I just didn't think he would be rough with me that night. That's all. It wasn't all the time, just sometimes, and I never said no, because if I said no, he might go away."

 

"You're not trash, first of all," said Angelina. "You shouldn't feel ashamed about giving in to Merrick. It happens to a lot of women. We often get the physical and emotional and spiritual confused. It was a gut feeling that wasn't explained well to us as a woman."

 

"We're royalty, Ursula. We have the physical quality as gods, and those who are born with less, are still spiritually in the same quality level as gods. It doesn't matter what type of background we grew up in. Women deserve to be treated as royalty, like princesses and queens. We deserve to be treated well," said Samantha. "Merrick is lucky he had you as a girlfriend. He's not good enough for you. He had money, I understand, but money doesn't explain his behavior. His heart and his mind explained it, and those qualities were not from a good heart nor a good mind."

 

"I can't report because I know I'll be in more trouble," I said, as my sobbing worsened. "What if they found him not guilty? Then, I have to live with the record that I'm a rape victim? I'm a runaway, and I was homeless. People don't believe runaways or poor girls, homeless people, especially homeless teens. I'm not credible. People will think I'm a waste of society."

 

"We understand. We don't want you to feel more pain, Ursula," said Samantha, holding my hands.

 

"You don't have to do anything. We can just hang out. Is that okay?" asked Angelina, holding my shoulder.

 

"I know people think I'm the whore who slept with Merrick. That I deserve to feel this way, but...," I said, sobbing. "It is so hard to play this part. I don't think it's fair for me. I am beaten by the world. Somehow, I felt so lucky that Merrick was handsome and rich and wanted me. Even if it was for sex. I still felt lucky."

 

"Ursula, may I say something," said Samantha, sitting on the floor, holding on to my calves. "Ursula, we're entitled to respect, safety, security, justice, freedom, health and love. What he did was inhumane, do you understand? He treated you like an object, some kind of candy that can be thrown away, but humans shouldn't be thrown away. We all deserve the opportunity to grow, to live, to have the pursuit of happiness and the chance to have a good life."

 

I looked to Samantha for a moment and nodded in affirmation.

 

"You too, Angelina, never stoop to their level, and think that it was you, who should be blamed for their crime. There are a lot of people who would abuse others. The Johnsons were abusive. What they did was wrong, and who knows what else they do behind our backs," said Samantha, still holding my calves. "You're not a waste to society. You're working hard, Ursula. It is our human right to be treated kindly, to never be harmed, and to never be raped, to never be swindled, or sabotaged, abused, harassed, or stalked. That's part of being human, having human rights."

 

"I just think it was my fault," said Ursula. "I didn't say no. Then, that means I said 'okay'."

 

"You don't have to feel ashamed because you gave in during sex," said Angelina. "I was at a party too and I feel like it's my fault because I drank, but it wasn't. You're not at fault, Ursula. Even if you were having sex with him. You gave in because of fear. You didn't have the sexual relationship with him because there was a healthy mutual agreement, it was based on force and violence. It was a domestic violence relationship. It was what it was."

 

"He still didn't have the right to rape you. Ursula, what he did was a violation against your right. Even if you gave him consent to have sex with you every day. Do you know how many wives are beaten and raped by their husbands? Those wives gave them consent to sex, but they are still being violated," said Samantha. "I don't want my girls to think that they're garbage because some guy hurt them, and made them feel bad. I don't want that. I don't want the enemies to win. I want us to win. I think they should be in jail." Samantha pointed her finger to the ground, to finalize her statement.

 

"I know, but I can't relive that episode of my life. I'm so sorry," I said, afraid the girls will keep pressuring me to report the crime. "I just can't report. Please understand. Please..." I covered my eyes and sobbed.

 

"No worries. I'm not here to tell you to report. We wanted to meet you, because all these times, we think Melody and Merrick were like gods," said Samantha. "I thought they were so beautiful. But, the truth is, they're criminals."

 

"I trusted them so much, Ursula. I didn't anticipate any of the things that happened to me," said Angelina.

 

"I went through so much, and I don't have anyone right now. If my Mom found out that I was raped, she will never let me visit my sister again," I said. "She's the only family I have. I can't be so alone that even my family won't see me. I can't function. I just can't."

 

"We understand. We don't want you to feel alone," said Angelina. "Can you keep in touch with us? I'd like to keep in touch."

 

"Me too," said Samantha. Samantha gave me another bear hug, as I cried inside her arms.

 

"Merrick was my first," I said. "He was my first everything. My first kiss, my first sex, and my first heartbreak. I haven't met anyone since. I am so scared because I was told that rape victims don't get married."

 

"You take your time," said Angelina. "I didn't know what happened to me, Ursula. I was drugged, baby. We were hurt."

 

"We'll keep you in our hearts, Ursula. You're a baby still. We're still so young," said Samantha, taking some of the napkins from the food tray and giving them to me.

 

"Yeah. I figure I can fix it with time," I said, wiping my nose with the napkins.

 

"Yes, you can," said Angelina. "I'm getting therapy, and on medicine right now."

 

"I'm not on anything. I just don't have that kind of money. But, I have the crisis line," I said.

 

"You don't have benefits?" asked Samantha.

 

"No, it's just part time and I work at Jake's part time too. It's been hard. I'll try to get full time at the grocery store," I said. "I need to ask them today. I can't afford insurance on my own."

 

"You call us whenever you want, Ursula," said Samantha. "You can get Affordable Health Care through the State or Medicaid."

I nodded and said, "Thank you for understanding." Samantha and Angelina sat next to me, letting me call the situation on what I wanted to do next.  

 

"Let's bowl ladies," I said, shaking my head to get ready to strike a Turkey with my neon ball for the next turn.

 

 

 

Chapter 29 – Angelina

 

My cell phone vibrated and rang underneath my blanket as I searched for it with my eyes closed. It was still dark outside and the windows were still shut in my bedroom.

 

"You have an emergency?" I asked, groggy and yawning, under the covers.

 

"No, but I'm picking you up in 15 minutes. We're going for a hike!" said Ichabod, on the phone.

 

"NOW?!" I said, waking up to a surprise.

 

"Yes! Yes! YES!!! Wake up! Wake up!" said Ichabod, as he hung up the phone immediately.

 

I rolled to my side and fell on the floor with my blanket over me.

 

Ichabod arrived at my door in his cargo shorts and a t-shirt. My hair was still messy and uncombed as I tried to straighten out my compression shorts that I put on too quickly.

 

"Hey, you got here really quick," I said. I pulled my hair back in a pony-tail and put on sunscreen on my face. I yawned but was awake enough to show Ichabod the inside of our apartment.

 

"Come in. Meet my Dad for a minute," I said, walking to the kitchen to prepare some oatmeal and milk.

 

"I have some sports bars. Can we eat in the car?" asked Ichabod. "I want to get there early before the sunshine hits."

 

"Okay," I said, turning to Ichabod. I saw my Dad near the kitchen with his messy hair, scratching his leg and yawning because it was 5 a.m in the morning. "Papa, this is Ichabod, my friend from school."

 

"Hi, Ichabod. Funny name for a boy," said my Dad, Tom.

 

Ichabod laughed, and waved to say hello. "Thanks, it's a happy name," he said.

 

"Funny response," said Tom, staring at Ichabod.

 

"We're going to the Royal Arch," said Ichabod.

 

"Where is that?" asks Angelina.

 

"Boulder, Chautauqua Park. Not too far," said Ichabod. "Do you have a water bottle? Fill it up and we'll bring it for the hike. I have some snacks for us."

 

"I have one," I said, filling up the water bottle with tap water and ice from the fridge.

 

"Nice meeting you, Mister Lee," said Ichabod, walking out of the townhome.

 

"See you soon, Papa. I got the celly," I said.

 

"Don't break a bone," my Dad said. He locked the door.

 

"I guess Ichabod is a funny name for anyone," I said. Ichabod laughed.

 

 

A young man was walking his golden retriever up the mountain, with his backpack leading his dog on the leash. Ichabod parked his car in the parking lot in front of the ranger station. Baseline path was mainly dirt and rocks, with the steep walk that might be rigorous for anyone without the fond for cardio exercise.

 

"Wow, haven't climbed this path in a while," I said with a slight huff and puff on the way up the mountain, nearing the first large rock.

 

Ichabod looked like he didn't break a sweat. I breathed out from annoyance, because since I quit cheer, my stamina dwindled to normal. We were in silence as if Ichabod was walking in meditation and prayers. We reached the first resting stop with the sign that said "no leaning" nailed on wooden railings behind the shrubs and trees.

 

"I can't believe hiking is so hard right now," I said.

 

"We're almost near Bluebell, just another quarter of a mile," said Ichabod. He sucked out a little water from his Camelbak tubing. "Drink your water."

 

"Yeah," I said, drinking the water from her bottle.

 

Ichabod gently took my left hand and walked with me up the mountain.

 

Ichabod stopped to look at me, and said, "Close your eyes for a minute." I closed my eyes and he asked me, "May I kiss you?"

 

I smiled, and answered, "Yes."

 

Ichabod kissed me on my lips, a small supple kiss.

 

"Thank god, I brushed my teeth this morning," I said.

 

"Thank goodness, because I won't get over it," said Ichabod.

 

I smiled and leaned into his chest, taller over me as he hugged me inside his shoulders. I felt attraction, chemistry and a magical connection by a tragedy that we won't ever understand. 

         

"Do you think about your future often?" asked Ichabod.

 

"Yes. I'm just so afraid," I said. "I don't know how to handle the simplest things now. I cry so much. I'm taking medicine to help me with it. So that helps."

 

"I'm proud that you're taking your medicine every day," said Ichabod. "Let's go this way. This first part is just rocks and a lot of bouldering over them. Don't look down if you're afraid of heights, just look forward and keep talking to me."

 

I faced forward with Ichabod leading the way, and I was ready for more adventure.

 

The morning was perfect for a hike, with a slight chill that cooled the skin, as we burned some energy for the exercise.

 

"Can I ask you another question?" asked Ichabod.

 

"Go ahead,"

 

"Do you know what you want in life?"

 

"I know I've been hurt, and I've thought about that the other day. I just want to do my life well."

 

"What if you make a mistake? I mean, not that you will, but you've gone through a major tragedy. Not everything is perfect," asked Ichabod.

 

"Well, the way I see it. I have more room to grow with doing everything right than doing something wrong. One can attempt for perfection, right?" I said. "I don't want to make any more mistakes from now on."

 

The rocks became larger and steeper, with less dirt and more bouldering, requiring more agility and the indomitable will to keep going.

 

"Let's rest for a minute," Ichabod said, as he looked up to the sky.  He sat on a huge rock on top of a path with Angelina near the bottom of the rock on the dirt. "Climb up here, sit with me."

 

We sat together, enjoying the warblers chirping and the soft crisp breeze of the morning air in Boulder.

 

"I just worry sometimes," said Ichabod. "I worry about "perfection."

 

"Why?" I asked. "If I aim for perfect, then nothing can go wrong."

 

"I don't want you feel horrible, if you don't become perfect again,"

 

"I don't understand."

 

"I don't want you to have so much pressure that it hurts you."

 

"That's wise of you."

 

"Angel, I know something," said Ichabod, with his eyes tearing. "I'm odd."

 

"You're cute, Ichabod. Not odd," I said, looking to the skyline above Chautauqua Park.

 

"Cute, not hot?" joked Ichabod. I grinned.

 

"Okay, hot," I said, slapping his arm.

 

"I like cute better," Ichabod said. He kissed my forehead as I leaned into his chest and hugged him. "I sometimes have episodes."

 

"What do you mean? The same episodes I get? The crying spells?" I asked.

 

"No, it's hard to explain," said Ichabod. He looked ahead to where the large Ponderosa Pines soared high towards the sky, the natural ambiance of Colorado. "I have seven senses."

 

"What do you mean? Like a mutant?" I asked.

 

His eyes flooded with tears, as I held him, sinking into the deep sensory of love blooming.

 

"No, not a mutant. I get visions and prophecies."

 

"What kind of visions?"

 

"Of angels."

 

"Like deities?"

 

"Yes. I can sense things, and sometimes I can feel particular events before it happens," said Ichabod. "So often times, they're tragedies or just..."

 

"Horrible things?" I asked, trying to understand him.

 

"Yes, but you can't tell anyone. You're the second person that I saw in my visions," said Ichabod. "The first was Leona, and I saved her life. Then, you came."

 

"You saw the rape? Is that what you're telling me?" I asked, my voice broke apart as I looked into his eyes intensely.

 

"Those angels I see are my guardians," said Ichabod, as he suddenly stood stiff and nodded. He breathed in and stepped in front of me.

 

"What? Oh, the angels, are your guardians. That's great, what's wrong?"

 

"One of them is here right now," said Ichabod.

 

"Oh, that's a good thing. Is he loving?"

 

"Yes, they're loving, they're protecting us."

 

"That makes me feel better."

 

"It does?"

 

"Of course, it does. I know some things happen for a reason. For instance, my name, Angelina, and how you just told me that you can see angels. It's a good sign. A divine sign."

 

"I'm imperfect," said Ichabod. "I have to tell you that. They're telling me what to say to you."

 

"What else did they say to you?" 

 

"Angel, you should embrace life, one day at a time," said Ichabod.

 

Ichabod finally exhaled and faced to the ground and placed his hands on his knees as if he was feeling an emotional relief.  

 

"Is this because you're imperfect?" I asked.

 

"Allow some flexibility. I don't want you to be perfect, that you criticize yourself," said Ichabod.

 

"Tell me what you saw about me in your visions," I asked, finally realizing that Ichabod could see divination, to save lives and souls, to help and to heal. Perhaps he was my Angel and I was his.

 

"I felt the attacks in my body, when you were being hurt," said Ichabod. "I was there, at Creekside Hospital. You drove there yourself."

 

"You saw me there? Did you know who I was?"

 

"No, but I was there because I felt the physical pain from the rape."

 

"I wasn't sure what to do. I was bleeding and I woke up inside a room in Melody's house," I said.

 

"I saw Merrick and his fraternity brothers hurting you," said Ichabod. We began to walk towards a rock and bouldered over it.

 

"I want to tell Officer Fineman. Can you tell him this?" I asked him.

 

"I think I can identify them, but I don't really remember them clearly. I know there were other men with him."

 

"We have to tell Officer Fineman," I said, reaching for my cell phone in my pocket.

 

"Fineman," The Officer answered his cell phone.

 

"Officer, my friend would like to meet you today. We have to meet you today. It's about the rape," I said.

 

"Well, I'm in the station right now, if you want to...," he says, "Hello?"

 

We immediately returned to the parking lot, to meet Officer Fineman

 

 

We ran inside the police station, and saw the officer sipping his coffee.

 

"Good morning," said the officer, startled.

 

"Officer, sorry to just show up. I want to add to my statement," I said, slightly out of breath. "This is Ichabod, he has something to say."

 

I pulled Ichabod to face the officer, but his eyes bulged out of fear from him.

 

"I had a dream about the rape and Merrick raped her with three other men at the party," Ichabod blurted out quickly, then stood with his back against the door, as if he wanted to escape from the room.

 

"A dream? Angelina is this your added statement?" asked the officer, with one eyebrow up.

 

"You can't discount karma!" I said, a little loudly than usual. "Ichabod's telling the truth. There were three other men. Ichabod had visions of them, and we ended up at the same hospital."

 

"I have a lead, but how many people were there, son?" asked the officer, rubbing his forehead.

 

 "I think there were three, but I saw two clearly, Merrick and another friend or his, Cliff," Ichabod said, leaning against the door, staring at Officer Fineman's badge.

 

"That's fine son, I will add it on, but I really couldn't do a thing because of who they are," said the officer. "There is no real evidence. I can't investigate them based on a dream."

 

"I didn't lie," Ichabod said.

 

"Officer, we're going to work on the fraternity men and see if we can some kind of evidence," I said.

 

Ichabod looked to me, and said, "Yes, I think we can get some evidence."  

     

"I understand. I'll just...wait for time," said Officer Fineman.

 

"Thank you, officer, sorry to bother you this morning," I said.

 

"Thank you, sir," said Ichabod, opening the door, anxious to walk out.

 

"No problem," said Officer Fineman walking the two teens out of his office.

 

Ichabod practically ran outside of the Silver Creek Police Department.

 

"Angel, I don't want you to think I'm some kind of nut. Don't tell anyone about what I told you at Royal Arch. Please?" pleaded Ichabod.

 

"No worries. I'm happy I'm not the only one feeling critical about this. They want something to control over. I wonder what they wanted from me?" I said. "I think Officer Fineman needs something tangible for him to hear or see to make an arrest."

 

"Well, I want to invite you to Leona's house on tomorrow. She wanted to know if you'd agree to a healing therapy bath," said Ichabod. "I will talk to the Fantasy Club. I have something planned."

 

"Yes, on the healing bath. I trust her. Should I invite my dad?" I asked.

 

"Yes, he needs to be there," said Ichabod. "Let's get out of this Police Department neighborhood. It gives me the creeps."

 

 

 

Chapter 30 – Ichabod

 

 

The football team stood around the same table at the southeast corner of the cafeteria. Melody was sitting on the table, in her short-pleated skirt, straddling Collin between her legs.

 

"You're so hot," said Melody. She kissed him passionately, as he held her around her waist and inserting his tongue inside her mouth.

 

I waited in line to pay for a box of pizza, but couldn't help to glance at the new couple, tongue twisting in public. I reached the front of the line and walked to the exit door, but stopped behind the wall, to peek at Collin and Melody, silently.

 

I watched for every expression on Collin's face. I wiped my tears, as I saw him smile. The smile that still swooned Angelina before the rape. Collin high fived his team mates after he was done kissing Melody, as Melody puts on her lip gloss, and brushed her hair.

 

A bittersweet emotion overtook me as I now won't care for Merrick, Melody or Collin because Angelina was my girl. Tears pour out as I walked upstairs to meet Samantha, Angelina, and Sunjit.

 

"I have good news," said Angelina when I got there with my tuna sandwich.

 

"Yeah? Tell us," said Samantha, biting into her grilled cheese.

 

"Melody has herpes?" asked Sunjit, jokingly. Samantha threw a napkin at Sunjit.

 

"No, it's not about Melody. It's about me," said Angelina. "I forgive them all."

 

Sunjit, Samantha, and I were baffled as our jaws met the floor.

 

"Did they say sorry to you?" I asked.

 

"I want Collin to be happy," said Angelina. "Maybe the break up was as sign for me, that he wasn't perfect for me."

 

"Maybe, you're not meant for him," said Samantha.

 

I smiled, because Angelina's loving and forgiving heart was auspicious of a peaceful future in her life.

 

"You have a pure heart, Angelina," said Sunjit. "It's like seeing strawberries in my yogurt, that's how sweet it feels." Sunjit spooned a pink dollop of strawberry yogurt into his mouth.

 

I saw a wooden staff behind Angelina, as Archangel Raphael stood behind her, listening to her decision to forgive all of her enemies.

 

"I don't want to blame Collin for the rape, because he never hurt me. I don't want to know Melody and Merrick, although I felt they had something to do with the rape," said Angelina. "I don't want to look back fifty years from now, and still hate them. I want to get over it. I'm just going to release all these hate out of me. Take it away from me! Be gone!"

 

Archangel Raphael took his wooden staff and raised it over Angelina. A light puff of smoke lifted out of Angelina's soul. Then as Raphael swayed it away, Angelina opened her eyes in surprise.

 

"Wow, I felt a huge burden lifted off me," said Angelina. "I really felt something come out of me. Wow."

        

I saw Raphael smiled at me and I nodded as he disappeared.

        

Angelina said, "I forgive them for being criminals."

        

"Angelina, you really surprised me," said Samantha.

        

"Forgiveness is a healthy gesture, my friend," said Sunjit. He reached for Angelina to give her a hug. "I know it was hard, but you sure showed me who you are."

        

Tiny bursts of freshness sent a smile to my face. "You really did forgive them," I said, as I felt a sensation of peace over me.

        

"It's not that hard, the forgiveness. I just want Collin to be happy, that's all," said Angelina. "Besides, I'm happy I have someone, too." Angelina smiles at me, and I sat closer to her, wrapping my legs around her, hugging her whole body from behind.

        

"Samantha, I want you to go to prom," said Angelina.

        

"I know, I'm just scared. I don't want to feel so odd in a dress when I've been wearing jeans for my entire life now," said Samantha.

        

"We can wear jeans together," said Sunjit. "We can wear jeans to prom! Who cares about the attire?"

 

Samantha looked to Sunjit, as his eyes longed for her.

 

"I'm still thinking about it, Sunjit," said Samantha. "But, we won't be wearing jeans."

 

Sunjit looked down at his pizza, and replied, "I'll wait for you. Take as long as you need, baby."

 

***

 

The stroll to Leona's cottage around the corner was short and brisk, under the evening moon after dinner. Leona prepared her living room for the ceremony, moving her furniture aside, closer to the walls creating more space in her living room to become the meditation area. Her cottage was dainty with scented candles everywhere, matching furniture and beautiful paintings of Colorado on every wall in every room. The smell of jasmine emanated throughout her house.

 

"Are these from your garden?" my Mom asked, referring to the yellow roses on a side table next to her couches.

 

"They are. Lovely aren't they?" said Leona.

 

"So, Tom is coming," I told Leona.

 

"I will be here, with you," said Archangel Michael to Leona. I smiled, but didn't say a word to Leona.

 

"Who's Tom? And who is this angel I felt near me," asked Leona. She took a few of her candles from the dining room to surround the living room, placing them on the side tables, the coffee table, and the mantle above the fireplace. "Please be kind." Leona looked into Michael's eyes, as if she knew him in a prior time. 

 

"Tom is Angel's father," my Mom said. "I haven't met him yet, either, but he needs to be a part of this. He's a secondary survivor and he needs as much support as she does."

 

"I agree," said Leona. "I'm getting the teapots for the ceremony."

 

The doorbell rang, and my Mom opened it to let Tom and Angelina inside.

 

"Hi, Ichabod," said Tom. I gave him a hug, although he didn't expect the hug. He patted me on my back, as I hugged him around his stomach.

 

Tom laughed, and said to me, "Your parents must be so affectionate."

 

"I am," said my Mom, reaching for a handshake. In surprise, Tom shook her hand, and was mesmerized by her beautiful face.

 

"Pleased to meet you. You're so pretty. I mean….thank you for inviting me," said Tom.

 

"Oh, it was Leona's idea," said my Mom. Leona came into the living room from her kitchen, with a silver tray of two clear teapots.

 

"It was my idea," said Leona, placing the silver tray on the coffee table. "Leona. I'm Ichabod's adopted aunt."

 

"Tom. Angelina's father," said Tom, still smiling, and staring at her.

 

Archangel Michael stood in between Tom and Leona, and suddenly took Tom's head and directed it to my Mom. Tom smiled and so did my Mom.

 

"I'll show Angel around the house," my Mom said. "Tom, please come."

 

"My pleasure," said Tom. "I like Ichabod. Thank you for doing all this for Angel."

 

"I've had my suffering. She makes me feel important and I'm happy to help. Victims of violence needs all the support we need," said Leona.

 

After the short walk around the garden outside, Leona gathered everyone around the living room.

 

"Your house is so pretty, Leona," said Angelina.

 

"Thank you, Angelina, and you also need to know how beautiful you are, Angel," said Leona. She embraced Angelina with a hug. "Let's sit in a circle on the floor. Angel, you sit in the middle of the circle and I will give you directions as to what to do."

 

Leona turned off the lights in the living room. My Mom and I sat next to each other, and Tom sat a few distance away from us and Leona sat at the opposite end of the circle, all on the living room floor. The only source of light was from the candles around the room, dimming with serenity.

 

"Let's close our eyes and just breathe," said Leona. Everyone breathed in and out, slowly, gently, softly, sitting in silence, waiting for instructions from Leona. "Let's introduce ourselves and how you feel today. Angelina, please speak first, then we'll start with Jenni."

 

Angelina began to speak, "My name is Angelina Lee, and I have several emotions today. First, romantic because Ichabod took me hiking in Boulder yesterday and I was so happy that he kissed me."  

 

Tom's eyes opened wide to look at me, but I smiled at him as Tom closed his eyes again and shook his head.

 

"I also feel scared that I am going to high school with a long list of things that I have to be careful for and to be fearful of. I know there will be things that I can't handle. I feel that I can't look forward to the future, as bright as it used to be."

 

The outer circle sat in silence, as Angelina took a moment to breathe. She sat in the middle with comfort and safety, but tears mounted up, and she began to cry from her own thoughts of what she was about to say to everyone.

 

All eyes were closed, and everyone sat comfortably and at ease, accepting Angelina and her emotions at this time.

 

Angelina began to speak again, and said, "I feel betrayed. I think they planned all of the things that happened to me. I feel like a guinea pig. An experiment. Where they get to violate me for a purpose, and I have to live with the suffering from their abuse. I think it's unfair, sadistic, and prejudice of them to pick me, out of no reason at all. I've never hurt them, and I will never hurt anyone."

 

Angelina was in tears, but she slowly breathed in. "I deserve justice. I think they deserve punishment. I hate myself, and what I have to endure. I am scared that I will hurt myself, and can't cope with my own life. I am so young, but I feel like I will not be able to enjoy my youth, because I have rape trauma, or Post -Traumatic-Disorder now. I feel so damaged."

 

"Everyone, how do you feel about Angelina as a human being?" asked Leona.

 

"I love you," said my Mom, Jenni.

 

"I loved going hiking with you," I said. "I want to know you more and more, Angel."

 

The tears poured out, as everyone was ready to utter positive words of encouragement.

 

"I will protect you and back you up, Angel," said Tom.

 

"I think you are beautiful girl, Angel," said Leona. "You have a whole lifetime and endless opportunity on your side. God is on your side. You are in the right."

 

Compassion filled the room, and the energy that exuded from the Circle of Love was of acceptance and support, although no one hugged Angelina, but the energy in the room was a capsule of love towards her.

 

"Jenni, Ichabod, and Tom, in that order, please say how you love Angelina, and describe how you feel about her statement," said Leona.

 

"Angelina, I met you at the hospital. I know you didn't know it at the time, because you were unconscious. I loved you from the start. No reasons for the love, it was just is," said my Mom, Jenni. "I want you to heal nicely. I feel that we are here for a purpose for you. You are welcome here with me, Ichabod and Leona. We have to spend more time together."

 

"Angel, you are so beautiful, and I am so happy that I took the chance to kiss you this morning. I've wanted to kiss you since the night I saw you on the gurney at the hospital," I told her. "I know I'm not Collin. I will never be him. I am happy I am not Collin. I am happy, I am with you. I am proof for you, Angel, that although I am not as handsome or rich as Collin, I am capable to love you. Angel, and I don't want to lose you to sadness, or rape trauma or the loss of dignity that you feel. My emotion for you is growing stronger, and I don't want to lose to those negativities. I know you are brilliant, beautiful, loving and powerful. Nothing can keep you apart from love, and love will never be apart from you. Life is bright for you, and I want to see the future with you."

 

Tom opened his eyes for a moment, as he watched me wipe my tears.

 

"Tom, you take as long as you need," said Leona.

 

"Angel, I'm not used to this, and I've never done this before," said Tom. "But, I'm here for you. I love you, Angel, I am your family. I am your father who loves you with all of his heart. My heart was broken, the time you told me you were raped. But, I don't want you to feel that it was your fault. I don't blame you. I love you. I want you to be happy and successful. We will build our lives over again. I will keep sharpening your skills and logic, to help you through it. I want you to talk to me, the way you always have. I don't want you to be embarrassed to talk to me about anything, even dating and sex. I told you before that I will back you up, so I will. I love you Angel. You're all I have. You're my life, Angel. You make me feel so happy when you're happy."

 

I opened my eyes and saw Tom sobbed, and said, "I am so scared Angel, because I know things might be different with the rape trauma now, and I sometimes have fears of my own. But, I love you so much that the fear subsides. That's all I think about, how much I love you. You are my daughter, Angel and I can't lose you. I don't have anyone else in this world. Please don't ever feel that you need to hurt yourself, blame yourself, or think you are lesser than everyone else. I love you so much. I know I might be so busy and forget to say this sometimes, but sink this deep into your soul, and your mind. I love you, and I will never stop loving you. Nothing in this world can keep me away from holding you and carrying you in times of trouble. Never feel desperate or needy for love, because I have so much love for you. I want to make sure, that one day, you will be able to express and infuse so much love to others. The future is not the rape trauma. Our future is not the suffering. Our future is our skill, our intelligence, our hard work, our dedication, our love, and hope for each other. You and me, Angel. I'm always here for you."

        

The energy in the room was warm and powerful. Love exuded from each person cocooning Angelina through the Circle of Love. Leona sat silently, and focused on her turn to speak with her eyes still closed inside the circle.

 

"Angel, I know you feel that you are facing this by yourself sometimes. Everyone here is ready to be your loved ones. We are committed to be with you. We want to be your guardian angels. We can't do everything for you, but we will be here for you. In spirit, or on the phone, or in person. We don't want you to feel that you've lost your life. You've gained a lot of respect from us. You are our loved one, and you are precious in our eyes," said Leona.

 

There was an extra layer of strength surrounding the room from the supportive words. Everyone in the room accepted her, and respected her for who she was, despite what happened in the past.  

 

"I don't want to be bitter. I want to do everything right. I don't want to make another mistake, meeting wrong people, being abused by them. I'm scared because I have so many enemies, but I'm grateful that I have all of you in my life," said Angelina as she closed her eyes, and dipped her head low.

 

Leona stood up from the ground, and turned on the light. She walked to Angelina and led her out of the Circle of Love. "It is time for the healing bath. Everyone can stay here. I will take Angelina to give her the therapy bath. You can hug her and Tom can kiss her afterwards."

 

 

 

Chapter 31 – Angelina

 

Leona led me to the master bedroom, where there was a large bathtub with bubbles and warm water. "Let me make it warm for you. You can change and put on the towel first. I will massage your feet," said Leona.

 

I took off my clothes, to wrap the towel around my body. Leona's bedroom was connected to the bathroom, with a glass door shower next to a large bathtub and the marble counter vanity. Leona laid a large towel on the bathroom floor, and said, "Angel, lie down on this towel. I'm going to do some tapping."

 

I laid down on top of the towel, waiting for Leona. Leona came back with a small vial of lavender and mint oil. She took some of the oils and rubbed the bottom of my feet and pressured the sides of my big toes. She rubbed a little of it on my palm, and said, "Close your eyes. With every word I say, repeat after me. And if I breathe, you should also breathe. Inhaling all the air inside your lungs, through your nose, and breathing out through your mouth."

 

Leona began to speak, "My name is Angelina Lee, and I was raped," she said as I repeated after her. "I am, however, loved by my father and my family. I am important to them, and they love me, forever. From now on, no one is allowed to harm me, in any way, shape, or form."

 

I was open to the possibility of healing, and Leona gave this bath therapy to give a sense of purity and peace.  Leona tapped with her finger, five taps on my forehead, "I am a new person, and I am going to become a beautiful human being, and a gorgeous woman. I am capable. I am taking care of my life. I know that I can do all things through proper guidance and love."

 

Leona tapped on my temples on both sides, with her two forefingers with both hands. "I am not a product of any mistake, I am not the product of the assault. I am beautiful. And I am strong enough to know, that I can do anything through God who loves me. I will ask for help, when need be, and I will always produce love, not hate. I will overcome, because I am a conqueror. I am a warrior. I am beautifully made. I am an Angel. I am Angelina."

        

Leona rubbed the lavender and mint oil on my temples, and on my left and right upper chest, with both of her hands, and said, "I lost all of my will when the rapists took advantage of me. I won't blame myself for other people's judgments, crimes, or prejudices, because they also took advantage of my dignity. I am more precious than their crimes and I am brilliant in God's eyes." 

 

Leona breathed in and out, and I mimicked her. "I will stop analyzing my every move, instead trust on my skills that I have developed as I grow older to develop loving relationships, good communication, and self-control. I will not blame all outcomes of perils on me or others, instead to rationalize with my loved ones first, and ask my support group for help, when I feel lost and out of control. One day I will feel the absence of fear and doubt," said Leona as I mimicked her every wordsd. She rubbed some oil on my upper chest, and to the side of my waist, and as I spoke, she tapped on those spots, and breathed in an out.

        

Leona took my arms and lifted them to reveal a tender spot, a spot of trust and vulnerability, and asked me,   "May I tap on different spots on your body, Angelina?"

 

"Yes, you may," I said.

 

She tapped on the spot between my under-arms and her waist, and said, "Repeat after me, Angelina, I will be strong, and courageous with my life, forgiving myself and others when there are causes to forgive. Not letting anyone intimidate me or take advantage of me. I will verbalize my feelings and be honest about them. I will not be silent in expressing my love and my emotions, instead to let it out at the right time, for the right reasons. I will try my best to be genuine and loving. When anger strikes, I will breathe, and let the anger bubbles set aside for a moment, to calmly make my decisions."

 

Leona lifted my right arm, and tapped underneath my arm just above the towel mark, "I will try my best not to express anger physically, abusively or take advantage of anyone, or anything, to gain control. I understand my boundaries, and I will express it, because I have the human right to help myself. I do not want my boundaries to be crossed," Leona said, and she dabbed oil on her under-arms and waits and breathes in and out, as I followed her words and her breathing pattern.

 

Leona tapped the center of her belly button, and said, "I will respect myself most, and love myself first. I will be victorious, and I will succeed in life. I will release every worry during meditation, instead of letting negative thoughts consume me." I repeated after her, letting every word sink into my heart, and Leona said, "Angelina, we are letting little tingles of anti-oxidants perform neurogenesis inside your brain. Every word soothes the spirit and increases healing."

 

Leona tapped her gently with her fingers on her belly button and dabbed some oil and also on my palms.

 

Leona moved her tapping down to my left and right knees, and moved further down to the bottom of my left foot, right at the arch. Leona said, "I will count my happiness and positive decisions, as part of the plan for me. I will note every good move and write each one down if I need to. I will note my blessings each day, even the smallest details, like waking up in the morning in a good mood, or having the best ice tea in the world."

 

Leona stopped tapping to breathe in and out, and dabbed some lavender oil on my forehead and temples again. "I love myself. I am an Angel. I am Angelina Lee. And, I am perfectly made," said Leona, as I repeated her every poignant word to help myself.

 

"Angel, open your eyes," said Leona. I opened my eyes and sat upright, to face Leona with her mental health fully in serenity.

 

"Who is inside your soul?" Leona asked me, piercing deep into my eyes, as if searching for that light of truth.

 

"I am Angelina. I suppose an angel of love is inside of me," I answered.

 

"Angel, do you know what the upside of love is? It's benefits and rewards?" asked Leona.

 

"Companionship and care, that I won't be alone anymore," I said.

 

"Love makes you have more capacity to live, and the endurance to live. And the physical effects manifest inside your mind, body, and soul. The more you love, the more you will love your life," said Leona, infusing energy, and the drive to live with a good omen. "If you have LOVE inside you, you will never feel alone."

 

Leona began to cry, and said, "Hate breeds hate, Angelina. The more you hate, the more you hate living and everything in it. I want you, to feel love breeding inside your soul, because your brain will produce the right hormones, and will become happier. Love breeds love."

 

Leona took a small ceramic bowl from the bath counter, and pumped out half a cup of lotion into it, to mix it a half a cup of Epsom Salt, and some whole mint leaves she has in a jar to concoct the reflexology potion for Angelina to scrub onto her feet.

 

"Give me your feet," said Leona.

 

I sat on the floor, placing both of my feet in front of her. Leona scrubbed the potion and applied deep pressure on the center of her soles, then up and down from the top to the bottom of her soles. "Close your eyes and lay back down," said Leona.

 

I relaxed my body and felt the pressure from Leona's hands soothing her muscles. I breathed in an out, letting the soreness on my lower abdomen subside, and all of the tensions on my shoulders be gone.


"Angel, keep pursuing your life with true love in your heart. One day, all of your desires will bear fruit," said Leona, as her soft motherly voice rang wisdom, dwelling inside me. She applied the last bit of pressure, deeply on the center of her soles.

"I will keep loving, Leona," I told her, with my eyes closed.

 

"You can take a bath now. Scrub the rest of this mixture all over your body, and let it scent your whole body. I will be waiting with the others in the living room," said Leona. "Get dressed when you're done and come out. We will do the tea ceremony in the living room, with the others."

 

I felt totally loved, because someone took the time to give me so much attention, and made me feel so beautiful. "Thank you so much Leona for doing this for me," I told her.  

   

"You take a good bath, now. I've put in some more mint leaves in the water, so you will come out smelling gorgeous. Ichabod will be smiling," said Leona with a little giggle. "Angel, when you come out of the water, you are pure. You are CLEAN."

 

The water was warm and comforting, as I immersed my whole body inside the bubbly bath. The minty water soothed my soul, and the lavender oil on my forehead, temples, and palms gave me a tingling sensation that eased my tense spirit. I dipped into the water, like a little girl in my Mother's bathtub, playing with the water.

 

 

To be continued. Just write.

Be the first to comment

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 25, 26 & 27

Chapter 25 - Ursula

 

 

The benefit of working in a grocery store was that the busy time never died, turning the clock faster for me. Amongst broccolis and cauliflowers, I packed the celeries in plastic bags and checked if the bell peppers needed re-stocking.

 

"Honey, you want to go to lunch with me?" said John, holding up his sandwich bag.

 

"No, I have to take off early today. Another side gig at Jake's, so I won't take a lunch," I said.

 

"You should loosen up, chica," said John, walking behind me closely. My thin body felt inferior to his beach ball physique, and my silence fueled his confidence.

 

"You work so hard," John said.

 

He crept up behind me and touched my waist from behind and it made me uncomfortable again. I stepped a couple of feet apart to the right and he noticed how I walked away from him.

 

"Hey, I'm still a man, honey," said John.

 

"I thought you were gay," I said.

 

"Gay, straight, don't matter. Why does it matter?" he said. "You look good right now."

 

"I'm reporting you," I told him, walking to the front of the store to find the Store Manager.

 

"Baby, I'm the manager. Who are you looking for?" John said, laughing at me. "They won't believe you. You're a wreck."

 

I walked up to customer service and asked the girls behind the counter for the district manager's phone number.

The sexual harassment has been going on for the past year and this time, I will file a report because I couldn't handle John's advances any longer.

 

"Hey, what you doing, chica?" asked John, looking at me filling out the paper work for a meeting with the Human Resources while asking the customer service for the number for the district manager.

 

"I'm not putting up with your abuse. I'm telling the district manager," I said. "This is my job, Scott. You're not professional."

 

"You little bitch! You gonna get something from me!" said John. He cursed in another language that customers in the store couldn't help but to look at him.

 

"You have to be careful. He's your manager and he has a lawyer," said one of the customer service girls. "He's been here for over twenty years."

 

"It's just a complaint. They can talk to him," I told the customer service girls. "I don't have to keep it a secret anymore."


From afar, I heard him talk into his cell phone, "Hi honey, I have a favor to ask from you," John said.

 

I didn't care. It was about survival.

 

 

 

Chapter 26 - Angelina

 

 

I slid onto the passenger side and Samantha leaned over. "Okay, here's the deal. Ursula. That's who we're meeting today. We have a couple of days with no school. I called the grocery stores all around St. Vrain Valley, and I found her in Lafayette, and they said she's working today," said Samantha, making a three point turn to go back to the main road from my apartment complex parking lot.

 

"So..., she knows we're coming?" I asked, hoping inside my heart that Samantha and I weren't about to stalk a victim of violence, because it was a federal crime with intent to harm.

 

"No, but we're still going to meet her. We'll just introduce ourselves to her. Then we'll have to tell her about Melody," said Samantha. "We have to tell her what happened with you, and how we suspect Merrick and his boys did this to you."

 

"She's not going to talk to us," I replied. "We have to ask her about Merrick. Straight up."

 

"That's even worse!" said Samantha. "Break it down easy…"

        

"We have to tell her we know what happened with her and Merrick from the school nurse," I said.

 

We approached the entrance to Highway 287 and Samantha drove slowly.

 

"So we have to be honest, I agree. But, we can't just show up and tell someone that we know about her rape," said Samantha.

        

"Okay, well, we have to tell her about me first then. Just to tell her that we don't mean any harm, but we need her help," I said.

 

"Okay, I don't know if that's going to work, but I really want to meet her and tell her that we've been getting attacked at school," said Samantha.

        

The drive is smooth and there was no traffic on the way there. Highway 287 usually had cars driving up and down the highway, but there was no one in the highway this afternoon.

        

"Here is the plaza, we make a left here," said Samantha.

        

"How many grocery stores are there?" asks Angelina.

        

"Three, but we're going on the one with the Chinese restaurant in the plaza," said Samantha. "Hong Kong Palace."

        

As soon as we found a parking spot, we walked into grocery store, and Samantha approached the customer service counter.

        

"Hi, I'm one of Ursula's friends. We're here to just visit her. Do you know where she is?" I asked the customer service clerk.

        

"She's in the dairy and produce section. She should be there," said the customer service clerk.

        

"Thanks," said Samantha.

        

We walked to the produce section and in front of them stood a petite girl with short black hair with green and pink streaks in her hair, stocking eggplants on to the vegetable shelves. Her fair skin made her complexion almost gaunt and gothic. She wore the store uniform, a blue t-shirt with black pants and a black apron. She had black nail polish on her fingernails and a pair of skeleton earrings.

        

"I thought you said she was Filipino?" whispered Samantha. "She looks Latina." I shrugged my shoulders and Samantha was quiet for a minute, debating whether or not to approach the girl who might be Ursula. The petite girl turned around, as her red eyes looked swollen from crying. We both wanted to speak but were too nervous.

 

"Does it matter? She's one of us," I said. Samantha held my shoulder and we stood behind Ursula, as she lowly turned towards us.

        

"Hi, is there anything I can help you with?" she asked, softly. "Kale is not here yet. We still have them in the back. Just let me know and I'll get it for you." She lifted the carrots plastic bin and placed them to the side of her waist against the produce display.

        

"Ursula?" said Samantha.

        

"Yes? Have we met before?" said Ursula. "I'm sorry, I'm just not good with faces. Do I know you?"

        

"Well, we know you. My name is Samantha...Samantha Markowitz. This is Angelina Lee. We go to Silver Creek High," said Samantha.

        

Ursula immediately turned around upon hearing "Silver Creek High School," to keep on working and replied, "I don't talk to strangers. Please go if you don't have anything to buy here. I can call security." She puts the rest of the eggplants from the cart onto the produce shelf as she began to clean up.

        

"Ursula, we need your help. Angelina here...," said Samantha. "Angelina was..."

        

"I was raped, by multiple people," I just said and without remorse, I told her, "I think Merrick did it."

        

Ursula stopped for a minute and looked to Angelina as her hands shook and her eyes too timid to look at me. She looked back down to her produce cart and said, "What does this have anything to do with me? I haven't been to Silver Creek in two years."

        

"But we know Merrick, and ...," said Samantha. "Merrick, is uh..."

        

"I think he had something to do with the rape that happened to me," I said to Ursula. "I'm the rape victim and we think he's a serial rapist."

        

"Why don't you go to the cops? Why are you getting me involved? I can press charges you know," said Ursula, looking down on her cart, so afraid to look at our faces. Ursula was very slim and as her body tenses up, she froze on the spot mannequin still.

        

"I just heard from someone that something happened to you. When you were going out with Merrick," said Samantha. "We heard you were raped in the locker room."

        

"That's a lie!" said Ursula, almost too loud for her own good. The rumor exasperated her as she gasped suddenly and closed her mouth with her hands and began to cry.

 

"Ursula, I was drugged. I don't know if Merrick really raped me, but he was at the party. I was one of Melody's girls in her squad. Merrick's sister," I said.

        

"Who told you about me?" asked Ursula, whispering.

        

"The School Nurse told us, and she said that you've changed, and dropped out," said Samantha, with earnest intentions.

        

"Maria?" asked Ursula.

        

"Yes, she didn't say anything else and she said she didn't really know what went on, so she didn't report. She told me you cried so hard that she was worried about you," I said. "We were attacked by Melody's friends. Or at least we think they're Melody's friends."

        

"The girl from Longmont High? She always calls them," said Ursula. "They know each other from business. She works at her dad's restaurant."

        

"Ursula, we know you were raped. We need your help, because Angel is really going through a rough time," said Samantha, pleading her.

        

"I'm sure I'll get a diagnosis with rape trauma, PTSD and I don't know what else. I had to go to the ER because I was bleeding," I said, with just a fraction of dignity because I found myself telling stories to strangers.

        

"Bleeding? He was that rough on you?" Ursula looked at me then her eyes meandered on her produce cart again. Her black eyeliner bleeding from the corner of her eyes. I knew anyone won't be ready for an interrogation about rape that no one was supposed to know about, especially at work.

        

"Ursula, we're no harm. We just need to talk to you," said Samantha. "We promise to do no harm, but we got hurt too."

        

Before Samantha could finish her sentence, Ursula's supervisor, walked out from behind the swing double doors to the side of the produce section, approaching us. "Girl, did you get it done yet?" He said with a high pitched voice almost musical but annoyingly demeaning.

        

"Yeah, I'm on it," she answered, putting down the carrots and hurrying with the lettuce and bell peppers.

        

"Girl, we need you near the front now. Get on with this, hurry up!" he demanded walking away with a champion swag and his nose up in the air. "Get the dairy put up and get to the front of the store, pronto chica!"

 

"I'll be there in a minute," said Ursula, servile to his demands. "I'll have to talk to you ladies later."

        

Samantha paced with her and whispered, "Can we meet you another time? Please?"

        

"Corner of 120th and Federal," said Ursula, "This Saturday. 10 am. Sharp."

        

"Got it, we'll see you there," said Samantha, letting Ursula walked to the dairy section on her own.

        

I couldn't hold my tears any longer, and began to cry near the refrigerator.

 

"Let's go home for now," I said to Samantha. We quickly walk out of the grocery store and drove back to Silver Creek.

 

 

 

Chapter 27 - Ichabod

 

 

The smell of romance made me giggle as I put on my blue shirt and khaki shorts. I looked at the clock and it was nearly three in the afternoon. I overslept this morning but my mental health brimmed radiance on my face. I found Angelina's number from the admin office because her name was written in the principal's visitor's log.

 

"Hi, is this Angelina? This is Ichabod," I said, after she picked up.

 

 "Ichabod, how are you?" said Angelina. I could feel her broad smile over the phone.

        

"Hey, what are you doing today?" asks Ichabod.

        

"I'm with Samantha, we just met a friend here in Lafayette, but we're driving home. It was an early afternoon appointment. Why?" said Angelina.

        

"I want you to meet my aunt, Leona.  Do you think you can ask Samantha to drop you off at a place near Longmont?" I said.         

 

Angelina asked Samantha and I could hear Samantha said, "Sure. What's it called?" 

                 

"Elves Tavern," says Ichabod on the phone.

        

Angelina tells Samantha, "Elves Tavern."

        

"Oh, I know where that is. I used to go there for scones with my mom. We'll be there in twenty minutes," Samantha said.

        

"Great. I work there," I said, overhearing Samantha's response. I grimaced a little because bashful, new romances and friendships brought peculiarity inside my chest that made my arm hairs rise. I cupped the cell phone for a moment and breathed in.

 

"How sweet of you to invite us, Ike," said Angelina.

        

"My aunt Leona owns it and I've known her all of my life, so it's a cushy job," said Ichabod. A part of me was happy I had access to all the teas, lattes and desserts for free.

        

"We'll be so happy to meet her," said Angelina. "We'll be there soon."

        

"Okay, see you there," I answered and hung up the phone.

      

The rain came and went with the swift wind breezing through from time to time. This will be the first time I invited anyone into Elves Tavern, Leona's teahouse. It was a converted old cottage turned into a family friendly teahouse with a swing bench on the front porch. The front garden had large patio umbrellas with tables and chairs underneath, surrounded by Knock-Out roses and white hyndrangeas.  

        

"This is the place," I said to Angelina and Samantha, when they arrived. There was plenty parking near the sidewalk.

 

"It's so cute inside. There is a theme to every floor. The first floor has a fireplace and a backyard behind the house. The kitchen is the tea bar. You'll like it," said Samantha, stepping on the welcome mat with a rounded edge and picture of a sunflower.

 

"Wow, this looks exquisite," said Angelina, marveling over the budding roses at the front yard.

        

"Yeah, it's one of the little unique novelties of Longmont that everyone loves in the neighborhood. I'm surprised you haven't been here," said Samantha.

        

"Collin and I always go to Sacred Grounds in Silver Creek," said Angelina.

        

"We love Sacred Grounds," I said.

 

"I like that place too, but this place is just so fun," said Samantha, pressing the locked car alarm doors to her car.

        

"Welcome and thanks for coming girls," I said, opening the doors.

 

"This place is your family's place?" asked Samantha.

        

"Well, my adopted aunt, Leona. She's inside, you'll meet her," I said. My eyes met Angelina's and smiled from just the beautiful sight of her. Archangel Michael stood near the porch and told me, "Closer your eyes and utter my name when you need me," he said. He nodded and effervesced into the wind.

 

"I love it, you look great," said Angelina, rubbing the top of my head with her hands.

 

"Thanks, I needed a change," I said, happy that she liked my buzzed haircut.

 

Angelina's feather shaped eyes, and her soft and small pink lips with a slight shimmer of lip-gloss made me feel giddish inside. She was perfect in all of her natural beauty, enchanting as a rose. I just wanted to hold her, but instead I fidgeted and ended up shaking her hand.

        

Michael in all of his ghostly apparition entered my body and I lost control of my arms and wrapped Angeline inside my chest.  I felt his spirit and I had to step back suddenly and fidgetted him out! I was so embarrased as I saw Michael walked out of my body and strolled about the garden whistling.

        

I felt my face red and angry, and said, "Gosh, sorry. I just wanted a small hug. Ended up being a big one," I joked, trying to lighten the awkwardness.

        

"I needed a big hug, Ike," said Angelina, smiling.

 

Samantha chuckled. She smacked my arm and points to the tea tavern, signaling to him that she wanted to go inside and looked around.

 

"Oh yeah," I said, suddenly aware I almost spaced out. "So why Broomfield this morning?"

        

"A friend, maybe a lead to what happened with me," said Angelina. She looked towards me, and asked, "Will you introduce me to your lovely aunt?"

        

"Yes, come in, please," said I said, leading them further inside the teahouse.

        

The hard wood floor looked polished, with four small tables each with two chairs near the living room and a brown leather couch near the fireplace. Large paintings of winged large male and female fairiesand elves with exquisite bodices graced the bright cream walls.

        

"This place is really amazing. I use to come here for tea parties with my mom," said Samantha, scanning the first floor of Elves Tavern.

       

The kitchen was the tea and coffee bar, with coffee cakes baking in the oven. A vase of fresh peonies were next to the sink, with cupcakes on a plate covered with a mash food covering on the other side. There was a marbled island in the middle of the kitchen with more desserts of muffins, scones, bagels, and brownies. The smell of cinnamon lingered in the room.

        

"Always smells yummy in here," said Samantha, her senses noticing the sweet aroma.

        

There were two medium sized round tables in the dining area, with four chairs to each table. Rows of shelves were to the back of the dining room with the lowest row of bath salts, raw rosemaries, lavenders, fresh mint and ginger roots, all in jars. The second shelf held smaller containers of ointments as well as herbs for the apothecary, and the higher shelves were full of small stock glass jars of loose-leaf teas.

        

There was a side bar at the end of the kitchen with stools for more seating. Leona was sitting on a stool with a pad of paper in her hand, talking on the phone with a family who needed the whole house for a birthday party in the near future.

        

"We will see you in August," said Leona to her customer on the phone.  She hung up and walked over to Samantha and Angelina. Leona was beautiful, now in her late forties, with long black and caramel hair, large dark brown eyes, soft silky skin and small full lips.

        

"Hi, I'm Leona, pleased to meet you," Leona said, offering a handshake to Angelina. She almost glided on the floor with her pink flowing tiered skirt and a small white t-shirt that perfectly shapes her petite athletic body.

        

"Angelina Lee, but you can call me Angel," said Angelina, in awe by how attractive Leona was.

        

"Divine name, for a gorgeous girl. Ichabod tells me great things about you," said Leona, reaching for Angelina's right hand and holding it for a few seconds, feeling her spirit.

        

"Oh, wow," Angelina smiled and looked to me. "Is she always like this?"

        

"Loving, inside and out," said Leona with a gentle voice, both of her hands surrounding both sides of Angelina's cheeks. "You are a gift, sweetie. Don't forget it."

        

"Leona, let's have a tour of the house," I told her.

        

"Definitely. So, this is my house, and I renovated it. It's now a tea or coffee house, but we specialize in teas, deserts and tinctures for our apothecary," said Leona, with one hand on the marble counters. "We have tea parties here, especially for the little ones. I just love having parents and their little kids here."

        

"My mom took me to a tea party here once," said Samantha.

        

"Oh really? What is your last name, sweetie?" said Leona, offering a handshake to Samantha.

        

"Markowitz, but you can call me Sam," Samantha said, shaking Leona's hand. 

        

"Samantha's my best friend, Leona. She's the best thing that ever happened to me since middle school," said Angelina, holding Samantha by her shoulders.

        

"I can tell you both have a great friendship," said Leona. She smiled and looked at Ichabod who towered over all of them.

 

"This one must be new to you girls. I hope he's made a good impression. We try to teach him everything we know. Me and his mom, Jenni," said Leona of me and my Mom.

        

"Oh, I'm good. They know I'm good," I said. "I hope Samantha approves."

        

Samantha winked at Ichabod and said, "Well, I am so sorry but I have to go. I have to meet my parents at five in the evening. I will catch you guys later?"

        

"What? How am I going to get home?" asked Angelina, in a bit of a panic seeing how she lost her ride home in a few minutes.

        

"Oh, Ike can take you home. He brought his car here," said Leona, calmly.

        

I was glad Samantha was letting me take some time with Angelina alone.  Angelina timidly turned to me and asked, "May I catch a ride from you, Ike?"

        

"Pleasure," I answered, as I felt my eyes and lips smiling brightly in unison. I finally get to be alone with you, I thought.

 

Leona held Samantha's hands and said to her, "I am so pleased to meet my nephew's friends. Please come again, Sam. I would be so happy to see you here."

        

"I will bring my mom here next time, Leona.  I think you met her once before," said Samantha, giving her a hug.

        

Leona walked Samantha over to the door, leaving Ichabod and Angelina alone in the kitchen.

 

"Wanna see the rest of the house?" I nudged Angelina.

        

"Yes. This place is sweet," said Angelina, looking up to the ceiling and the beautiful paintings of magical creatures on the walls.

        

We walked upstairs and the walls next to the stairway were full of drawings of children's hand paintings in hand made frames, up to the top of the ceiling over the stairs. Little fairy dolls hung down from the ceiling in mid-air, and the ceiling of the tavern was a painting of the sky with clouds of glittery light blue paint glimmering from afar.

        

"Who did the art work?" asked Angelina. "Reminds me of a little kindergarten somewhat."

        

"Leona did. I helped a little bit, but I was really little," I said. "The upstairs is the other seating area, but the rooms are the little tea party places. This place is originally a four-bedroom house, so it's pretty spacious."

        

A large indoor balcony has three little tables upstairs, each with two chairs and more paintings of flowers and fairies on the wall. There was a hallway leading to different tea party rooms with small five inches fairies dolls, hanging on each door knob.

        

"So here is the first room," I said, opening the door to the girl's party room.

        

The room was charming bedroom turned tea party haven, with a paisley print couch at the end of the room and a large wooden trunk of old vintage play clothes next to the cheval mirror to the side. There was a tall coat rack with old hats and feather boas of all colors. The walls were one continuous painting of male and female fairies flying in the clouds with tea cups nailed on and pressed flowers in frames. On the other side of the room, near the door, was a round wooden table with four chairs and a silver platter with porcelain white cups and saucers.

        

"This room is so cute," said Angelina, touching the ceramics on the cupboards above a small sink.

        

"Yeah, I came to the tavern when I was really little and had a tea party with my mom in the next room," said Ichabod. "I was seven back then. Let's go there."

        

The next room down the hallway looeds like a library. Covering the floor was a large red Moroccan rug with rows of bookshelves of old books all around the room. The round wooden table was towards the middle of the room with four wooden chairs.  There were two leather high backed reading armchairs with ottomans in case the tea partier would like to read stories to each other. Another large oak cheval mirror was at the other side of the room with another large trunk, but with boys' jackets and tailcoats. A coat rack, with mens' scarfs, top hats, cowboy hats, button hats, Gatsby hats and fedoras were hanging on it, just for costumes fun.

        

"So this is the boy's tea room, I presume?" asked Angelina.

        

"Yes. The first one is for little kids, too. The next room is for older people," I said. "There is another room downstairs for a larger party, but that room is Japanese."

        

"This place is amazing," said Angelina, trying on a Gatsby Hat.

        

"I had a British Pop band party when I was in kindergarten in here. My mom and I dressed up and I was John Lennon," I said, putting on a fedora, but it was much too small.

         

"Was your mom Yoko Ono? or Ringo Star?" joked Angelina.

        

"Hah! Come…let's see the next room," I said, as I pulled her by her hand as we walked towards the end of the hallway with a reading bench underneath a round stained window.

        

"How old is this house?" asked Angelina.

        

"It's probably built in the 1940's but it's been renovated and everything is actually new. When Leona bought it, everything was perfect as it is. Nothing was broken, the plumbing was great, toilet was redone, and the walls were repainted," I said. "My mom and I used to live next door, when we lived with my dad. But my dad moved on. Leona lives close by us now."

        

We walk over to the next room and the door was different, made of a darker shade of wood than the floor and the door slid inside the wall. The room was bigger with a large round dining table in the middle of the room with six chairs. The table has carving on its sides and on the chairs. The walls has vintage flower wallpapers and small oil paintings of male and female fairies were all around the room.

        

"I love the decorations and paintings. They're so imaginative," said Angelina.

        

"Look at this side of the room," I said. To the right of the room was an old Victorian couch with two round side tables with battery operated oil lamps. Across it was a large flat screen television inside a large double door wooden armoire. Next to the armoire was a very large wooden trunk, with all types of board games inside.

        

"This is an adult play room," said Angelina.

        

"Yeah, this is my favorite room, but the boy's tea room comes close," I said. "I use the flat screen to watch movies after closing time. It's so awesome. We close at 10 pm every day and we get to have bonding times as a family sometimes so we would watch movies, like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight and even The Hunt for Red October."

        

"How long have you been working here?" asked Angelina.

        

"For a couple of years now, since I was 15, after I got my worker's permit," I said.

        

"How do you keep up with everything? Aren't you in track also? And the Fantasy Club, I heard about that," asked Angelina.

        

"I think if you love it, it all falls into place. One step at a time, mostly," I said. "Besides, I only work weekends. Plus, it gives the Fantasy Club a place to party."

        

Angelina looked as if she was in enchantment with the Elves Tavern, discovering every nook and looking inside the trunk for the types of board games ready for play. "Hey, let's see the rest of the house," I said, taking her hand.

 

I saw the corners of her lips lifted to a smile as I hoped her heart molded back into shape from its torn pieces. "

 

So....what's the occasion for inviting me?" asked Angelina.

        

"I wanted to know if you'd like to come more often," I said, looking down to the ground blushing crimson. "I mean, sometimes Leona is here, but most of the time, I'm here alone."

        

"To keep you company?" asked Angelina, looking into my eyes.

        

"If you're not doing anything," I said, sincerely. "Just let me know if you have things to do, and I'd understand."

        

"Well, I'm usually at cheerleading practice around this time," said Angelina, her hands on her back. "But, I'm not in cheer anymore, so I'd love to come and hang out."

        

"Yeah? You get free desserts and teas," I told her. "We just have to clean too, like mopping and doing some gardening to keep up the look of the place."

 

"Well, I'll have to take you up on that offer," said Angelina.

        

"You want to see the Japanese tea room?" I asked, jerking from excitement. "It's cool!"

        

"Yes!" said Angelina.

        

We walked downstairs to the back end of the house just before reaching the backyard. There was a larger guest room with a shoji (Japanese sliding door) before reaching the sunroom that led to the back garden.

        

"This is the Tatami Room," I said. "Leona is Chinese, but she loves Japanese tea rooms. She made one for her customers who wants to experience a cultural Asian tea ceremony."

        

"I've never seen anything like it," said Angelina, touching the Japanese tea set on the table inside one of the Tokonoma or Japanese tea-room alcove. Inside each alcove was a scroll of a Kabuki Dancer and outside of each alcove was a bamboo mat for shoes and slippers.

        

The walls had Japanese paintings and on the center floor table was a very large Bonzai tree with a Japanese cushion mats for customers to sit on.

        

"She added this room last year," I said. "This used to be a part of the sunroom, but Leona wants a cultural room. To add some flavor."

 

"Definitely a great addition. I love it," said Angelina, walking closer to the walls to see the Japanese art.

 

As they look around the room, a gentle breeze touched my neck and Michael appeared before me. Angelina was observing the paintings as Michael stood invisibly behind her.

        

"We have guests," said Leona, opening the door to the Tatami room, sensing Michael's presence. "I pray inside this room. I feel the spirit close to me."

        

"Leona," I said, nervously. "I was just showing Angelina around."

        

Leona looks directly into Michael's eyes as he smiled at her. "She hasn't changed," Michael said to me. "Still a Zalmunna."

        

Leona couldn't hear conversations between angels and messengers, because she had tried to take her own life and her divine powers was cast out of her. But, her talent for strong intuition and sensing the spirits as well as her gift of dreams were still well inside her soul. Leona's gifts were now her skills to heal and holistically restore others from suffering or ailments of any kind. Leona taught me to channel my mental health thoughts to meditations and prayers and to trust my gut intuitions with my body and if anything was irrational, we consult each other and use the Bible to combat negative thoughts and emotions. 

        

"Is everything okay?" asked Leona. She looked directly at Michael, but decided to turn her eyes towards me. 

        

Archangel Michael nodded to me, and I replied, "Yes, everything is fine."

        

Archangel Michael looked to Leona and his eyes moistened, and said,"She was dear to us, and she had the talents to speak to Raphael."

        

I was worried, as I saw tears in Michael's eyes, and asked him, "What's wrong?" 

 

"Nothing's wrong. I'm just loving these paintings," said Angelina, as she turns around.\

        

"Guard her mind," said Archangel Michael as he slowly disappeared from the room.

         

I replied, to Michael, "I will."

        

"Ichabod was talking to me, Angelina," said Leona. "What are you thinking, Ichabod?" 

        

"I just want to make Angelina happy," I said, smiling at Angelina. "Leona, would it be okay for Angel to keep me company sometimes?"

        

"Of course. A good friend of yours is a good friend of mine," said Leona. "Angelina, Ichabod is going to make you the best fudge brownie and blueberry scones you'll ever taste."

        

"You bake all of the desserts, Ike?" asked Angelina.

        

"Sometimes, when we run out of the ones Leona makes," I answered.

        

"He's been my nephew since we met a decade ago in this very house. He's the only person in the block who would say hello. He was the only one who cared for me," said Leona, rubbing Ichabod shoulders.

        

"Leona was too shy to meet me, but I couldn't resist. She's my aunt," I said.

        

"Where do you live now, Leona?" asked Angelina.

         

"Nearby the Silvercreek hospital. Around the corner from it, actually," said Leona.

        

"We live close by. We just don't want to lose touch," I added.

        

"Why did you move?" asked Angelina.

        

"After Ichabod and his family left, I just felt so alone. I turned this house into a café. Do you like it?" asked Leona.

         "

"I love it," said Angelina, looking around the stunning Japanese tea-room.

        

"But, how is school going for you both?" asked Leona, changing the subject.

        

"Angelina's being hurt at school," I said.

        

"Just some random bullying," said Angelina.

        

"Bullying is not random, sweetie. They never are," said Leona. Leona had a keen understanding of human nature, because she had to overcome so many layers of violence.

        

"I love your café," said Angelina, changing the subject. I took her hand to show her the little Japanese Rock Garden at the south end of the room. A large and thick black square box was on the floor full of sand up to about five inches deep with numerous rocks surrounding it.

        

"This was added in, to be a relaxing game for anyone," I said. I took the long wooden rake at the end of the room on a wooden stand. "This life size Japanese Rock Garden, is a Zen Buddhism tool. You can use this rake is to draw anything on the sand." I drew a row of lines with the wooden rake on the sand.

        

"You can drink tea and play in the garden. That's the whole point of it. Relaxation for our customers," said Leona.

        

"This is cool. I've never known about this game before," said Angelina, kneeling beside the sand box and pushing her hands deep into the granules.

        

"It's a therapy garden," said Leona. She lifted one of the small rocks from the sand and placed it on top of a larger one. "You can create your rock sculptures and sink into the deep healing peace it concocts inside your mind." She smiled at Angelina and reached to her to give her a hug. "Ichabod, I'll leave you in charge till closing time. Angel you can help him if you can stay," she said.

        

"Sure, I'd love to," said Angelina.

        

"It is so great to meet you, Angel. I'm happy Ichabod finally brings some of his friends over to meet me. I was getting worried that he was becoming a hermit," said Leona, jokingly.

        

Angelina smiled, and said, "I think he's fun. He's very social to us. Thank you for having me, Leona."

        

"Okay. I'm off," said Leona as she walked outside of the Tatami room to grab her purse and keys. "If you need me, call or text me, Ichabod."

        

"Will do," I replied. The door closed and I turned to Angelina. "Let's make some tea. What do you feel like? Green, Jasmine… or Rose tea?" I led her to the kitchen by her shoulders.

        

"What about chamomile? It makes me feel peaceful," said Angelina, leaning on the kitchen counter.

        

"I'll have some chamomile with you," I said.

 

The empty kettle was in close reach as I took it and filled it with water. I turned on the electrical stove and placed the kettle on top of the first stove top. I took the tea cups from the cupboard above her, taking my time. He took two tea cups and placed them on the counter. I took the honey in a large glass jar from the fridge and walked over to Angelina.

        

"Smell this honey," I said, opening the large jar of raw honey with clumps of honeycombs inside. "We bought this online from Seattle. A local bee farmer in Seattle made this for us." 

 

As she tried to smell the honey, I pressed the cold glass jar of honey to her left cheek as she giggled.

        

"I want us to talk about everything," I told her, still pressing the jar of honey on her cheek. "Anything in your mind. Good. Bad. Scary. Anything. I want to hear you." He finally stopped pressing the jar on her cheek because she tried to lick my hand.

        

"Are you sure you won't be scared?" asked Angelina.

        

"I want you, to just...be. Don't care about what I think. Say anything," I told her, placing the honey jar on the counter and opening the cupboard next to the refrigerator to find the chamomile. "I want to be your friend. I don't care about the other stuff. The thing that happened."

        

"What if everything I talk about gets you upset or frustrated," asked Angelina.

        

"I'll tell you what I think but you have to be open minded . If I get frustrated, then we take a breather," I replied, as I found some chamomile. "Loose-leaf or tea bags?"

        

"Loose-leaf," said Angelina. I walked to the kitchen counter where Angelina stood and picked up two teapots to hold the loose-leaf teas.

        

"Can I tell you something, Ichabod?" asked Angelina. 

 

I held the teapots in my hands and placed them behind her with Angelina in between them. Her cheeks flushed, and I stepped back. 

        

"I'm not over Collin," said Angelina, warning me. Her eyes faced down and I sensed warm energy from her direction and sensed she was about to cry.

 

I walked to the kettle, turned the stove heat to high, to quicken the process for some tea, as I leaned back against the counter. "Sorry to put the moves on you. What do you still love about him?" I asked, softly. "I know you guys were together for a while."

        

"Two years," said Angelina.

        

"What broke it off?" 

        

"The fight. He thought I'd be trouble to his life."

        

"You're not trouble. I think people are scared of beautiful and smart girls. They feel threatened, because they're destined or have the potential for success."

        

"I just wanted to be with him forever, but it didn't happen."

        

"You had plans."

        

"So did he. We were supposed to go to CU together and just be with each other and keep working until we graduate and find a job," said Angelina. "Then, maybe, we get engaged. I felt it inside my heart."

       

My eyes drooped to the ground, beset by silence from hearing the depth of her feelings towards Collin. The kettle whistled and I turned off the stove, and asked, "Do you think you can move on?"

        

"I just feel a great amount of loss. I still care for him and it hurts," said Angelina. "His parents...Collin told them about what happened with me. They felt it was time for us to separate because I got him in trouble."

        

"I don't think you brought him into anything. I think there is something else, but you just don't know," I said, with my frontal lobe playing scenes of Merrick's assault, and fear made the hairs on my arms rose up.

        

"What do you mean?" asks Angelina.

        

"Well, those people who came to our school to hurt you," I said. "How did they know you're still with Collin that morning? You never met them before, did you?"

        

"No, I didn't know who they were. I don't think they go to our school," said Angelina.

        

"I know they don't go to our school," I said. "They started it. It wasn't your fault."

        

"I didn't think Collin would get suspended," said Angelina. "We were in love, for two years. One suspension, and he broke it off." 

 

        

"Okay, okay....here, let's have the tea first," I said, handing her the tea cups. I took the loose-leaf chamomile and a teaspoon to fill the strainer inside each teapots. "Let's sit near the front, so we can watch out for customer."

        

I walked with the two cups and two tea pots full of hot water,on a wooden serving tray, and she held a spoon in one hand and the glass jar of honey in the other.

        

"Did you think you hurt the relationship?" I asked, placing the serving tray on the table.

        

"Yes. It was my rape and I screwed it up by telling him what happened," said Angelina. "I shouldn't have gone to the party."

        

"You shouldn't have been there at all. That's what you're saying."

        

"Yes. I shouldn't have let them feed me test tube shots. I was careless."

        

"You have the right to privacy, safety, well being and personal boundaries. They crossed it. It's embarrassing to be drunk, I get it. But, to be attacked while you were drunk, it's called a crime, Angel. You need to know the truth."

        

"I could have prevented it. I was asking for it, I was vulnerable."

        

"Well...I guess if I was a rapist, I'd always jump out of the bushes in a dark alley so the women who gets raped can blame themselves for walking there. I mean, they should have known they were asking for it," I said. "Or better yet, I'll always rape the girls wearing skirts because it's their fault for wearing short skirts or maybe shorts...yeah...shorts. Or even the ones walking in the dark at parking lots. They're all asking for it."

        

"That's not what I meant," said Angelina. She took a teaspoon full of honey and put it inside her teacup.

        

"If we all know the impending events, we all would be so happy and mistake free," I said. "Or we'd all become Superman. With telepathic powers, or we can know everyone's real intentions." My index fingers moving in a twisting motion over my head. "We should all fly like bees, too. The men can pollenate the women who were asking for it. The women can all be Amish bees, and churn butter all day!" 

        

"I meant… I shouldn't have gone without Collin or let them feed me those drinks," said Angelina. "I should be more cautious or brought protection."

        

"You're saying the same things. You thought it was a foreseeable danger," I replied.

        

"Yes, it is," said Angelina.

        

"You should be a psychic," I said, licking my spoon with honey.

        

"I feel dumb," confessed Angelina. Her eyes are moist again.

 

"You're not dumb," I said. "I don't think you should always blame yourself for something that goes wrong. Especially for this tragedy. You knew Melody for a while, at least for two years, and you guys were having fun. I don't think anyone expects anything to happen to anyone at parties. You guys were already comfortable with each other. You thought the friendship was strong."

        

"Humans can't be trusted, and I should operate as if we have no safety net. Then I would be more careful," said Angelina, effusively defending her point of view. "I was too careless. I wish I can turn back time."

        

"I agree, humans can't be trusted. Yet, we do. We trust because we build relationships. The closer we are, the more trust we earn. Right?" I said, looking into her eyes, tenderly. "So, since you knew everyone there for at least part of the high school year, it was supposed to be safe. You just don't know they're also evil. You never met Merrick or his fraternity friends. You didn't have a magic 8 ball that told you, "It has been decided that you're shit out of luck tonight!"

 

I sipped my tea. "You're not a mind reader and you're innocent from blame. You're a bright girl, Angel. Also,…I think it was planned." I knew how vulnerable she was, and I just wanted to hug her, but I inhaled the scent of chamomile. "It was an accident, where you were left physically attacked. I never thought the 9/11 could happen to anyone, but terrorists killed a lot of people. They were murdered, and it wasn't their fault they all went to work that morning."

        

"I knew Melody for two years before this happened. I still think it's someone she knows, otherwise she wouldn't be so mad," said Angelina.

        

"I thought we agreed it was Merrick who was our suspect," I said, putting his cup on the table.

        

"Did Sam tell you this?" said Angelina, a little irritable about the "Merrick" theory.

        

"I had a feeling actually," I said.

        

"Well, we don't have proof, but it has to be one of the men at the party," said Angelina.

        

"I see. So, Melody was just mean to you because you reported to the police? And those people who came to our school to fight you, just wanted you to break up with Collin? Just because they're nosy?" I asked her, sarcastically.

          

"I still don't know how I was raped, because I was drugged. But I do feel Melody saw someone and didn't care about what happened," said Angelina.

        

"I think it is Merrick," I said, with assurance, and annoyance because I didn't want to tell her, otherwise, I was a delusional source.

        

"Why do you think it was Merrick?" asked Angelina.

        

"I think they wanted something out of you, and Merrick was there purposely to be introduced to you by Melody," I answered. "I think Melody wants Collin, and they were just waiting for the right time to attack."

        

"I don't know if that's true. Melody has been so sweet to us. I think she's mad because I reported the rape and now, she's implicated," said Angelina.

        

"You're defending her, I think you're trying to be nice, but it's not working," I said. "You have to remember that it was a crime. Do you want to be their victim forever?"

        

"I reported because I was bleeding. The hospital was convinced that I was raped," says Angelina.

        

"What do you think happened?" I asked, wondering where she was going with this conversation.

        

"I would rather not be a rape victim," says Angelina. "But, I know that I woke up with my shirt on backwards and my jeans pulled so high up my waist that my privates hurt. Then, I bled. But, I wished I didn't report, because now, Collin is gone!"

        

The cup of tea felt warm in my hands.

 

"Do you believe anyone could see a crime before it happened? It was a crime, Angelina. It wasn't something you can predict. No one wants to be a victim. I understand," says Ichabod, repeating his words, hoping that this time, she will sink every positive enforcements he is giving her. He sips his tea and says, "We would all feel safe, Angel. There would be no need for a government, or police, or alarms, or doors, or locks and keys. The whole society would be utopic, and the world would have no war. You're not dumb. They're just criminals."

 

"I still have to heal and really accept myself now. I'm happy to be here," said Angelina. "You're the first person besides Sam who really accepted me after what happened."

        

"I think you're beautiful," I confessed. "So pretty." The corners of my lips genuinely smiled.

        

Angelina smiled back kindly, and asked, "Are you flirting?"

        

"Yes," I said, locking my eyes on her and my cheeks burning reddish flesh like a hot campfire.

        

"Can we get to know each other more?" she asked.

        

"I would love to," I answered, and my heart ardently loving every bit of her.

 

 

To be continued. Just write.

 

 

 

 

Be the first to comment

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 22, 23 & 24.

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."

 

Tears rolled down my cheeks and I walked back out of the pizzeria for my shift at the grocery store.

 

 

 

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. 

 

"Of course, my dear," Bernadine said.

 

"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?"

 

Michael had disappeared as he often does.

 

"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.

 
 

 

 

 

Be the first to comment

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 19, 20 & 21

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

 

 

 

"Well. I have a plan for you today, for the whole three hours for you," said Daisy, flipping her notebook at the front desk, opening to a page of written tasks.

 

"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 knew this was my dramatic tragedy as I reached for Collin's hand and he was reluctant to touch me. 

        

"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

 

Gabriel shook his hour glass as the sands separated into the two glass bulbs and vortexed at the top and bottom. He whispered, "Capture the impending events only for the eyes of the angels."

 

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.

 

Be the first to comment