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The Fuel

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 39

Chapter 39 - Angelina

 

 

There were times when I fell in deep sorrows and Ichabod wasn't there, and Papa would help, only to be found in compassion fatigue. His sadness upon my life became more visible because I was his only daughter, and I was more vulnerable than ever before.  I had to ask for help, and Daisy was there, and we did the continued canine and equine therapy, but during the dark times and after midnight, my gut wrenched and my heartaches were so great that it infects my soul and jabs my spirit. 

 

This evening was one of those times, and no one was around as Papa worked late, and Ichabod and his friends were planning for the sting on The Blow Out fraternity party. I could only think of another human, almost mystical in being, but angelic in her heart, Leona.

 

"Leona, please pick up, please, please," I uttered to myself, dialing on my cell phone.

 

Surely and thankfully, Leona was there.

 

"Hi Angelina, how are you?" she said. "I meant to visit you or invite you over."

 

"I'm struggling, Leona," I said, as I began to sob. "My mind, it wounds in circles. I can't stop crying."

 

"Can you stay over at my house tonight? Tell your Papa, and you can stay here for the night, and we need to break some bondage for you," Leona said.

 

I love it when Leona spoke in a soulful language, it was as if she has the medicine I needed for my spirit, my mind, and my heart.

 

"Please pick me up, Papa used the car," I told her.

 

It took twenty minutes, but she arrived and I had told Papa that I needed to do another spiritual session with Leona for a holistic healing therapy. It felt brutal to my soul to not know what to do, but thankfully, I had resources that no one else had. I was privileged with access to Leona, and I knew not a lot of people accepted that holistic healing was essential for the soul, especially from the scars of violence.

 

When we arrived at her home, she took some pillows from her sofa and laid them down on the carpet. She lit some candles, then she went to the other room, and came out with a vial.

 

"This is holy water, that I asked from the Catholic Church, although I'm not Catholic, but I went to donate to their church for some holy water for you," she said. "We need it for the bondage breaking prayers."

 

"What is the bondage breaking prayers?" I asked.

 

Not having grown up in a spiritual home, I didn't know what I needed until I met Leona. Assault was so difficult, because I felt damaged through my soul, because my spirit was forcefully taken out of me, and even if I consented, sexual violence would damage anyone.

 

I felt my brain, my chest, my heart, my mind, and my thoughts were corrupted with negativities, anger, sorrow, depression, convoluted thoughts and confusion. I often became so lost in my own thoughts that I would disassociate and I confided in Bernadine and Daisy and my doctors for therapy, but nothing consoled my heart and nothing gave me peace.

 

"Bondage can be so many different things," said Leona. "It is whatever is separating you from truth, and often leads you to a broken path, temptation, abuse, violence, and it would be a hard sin. If you do believe in sin."

 

"I believe in sin, and I felt like a sinner," I told her. "I didn't know I was going to be raped, but I felt like it was my fault for being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

 

"It's not your fault," said Leona. "What's difficult is the persisting guilt, shame, negative emotions, anger, and those can lead to destructive behaviors. Often, we even compare ourselves to others, who don't even have the same walk in life."

 

"Can you help me, please?" I pleaded. "I know therapy helps, but there is a spiritual side of me who is thirsty for wholeness."

 

"That's holistic therapy, and often it's in the form of Christian Counseling, prayers, or even the therapy I gave you with tapping and so many more," said Leona. "Let's try bondage breaking prayers."

 

I knelt down on the carpet with the pillows as my cushions.

 

"First, let's have some tea," Leona said. "I have some Elderflower and Chamomile for you."

 

Leona went to the kitchen and brought out the Elderflower St. Germain, and took her tea cups with her. on a wooden serving tray. She had a spoon with her and Chamomile tea in a teapot. I took some Elderflower and poured on a few tea spoons in my tea cup. 

 

"We have to relax first, and when we pray, there will be tears, and I just don't want you to be so triggered that you'll have anxiety or more negative thoughts. So we stay here and do breathing exercises after the tea and start with the intercessory prayers," said Leona. "It's just prayers to break soul ties and demonic attacks."

 

"Soul ties and demonic attacks? That sounds massive," I said. My tears flowed down my cheeks, and I asked her, "I sometimes cry and I won't even know why, but it hurts in my heart and it feels so heavy in my soul and spirit and thoughts."

 

"That's PTSD and some bouts of Depression, and it's common. It manifests in so many different ways, negative thoughts, hormonal thoughts, fears, anxieties, and it can be from the demons of memories, or flashbacks or triggers that are often so miniscule," Leona said. "I will pray for strength, and surrendering to the Holy Spirit, and it helps with holistic healing and spiritual healing."

 

I nodded, and asked her, "Will it heal me?"

 

"It won't heal your PTSD and Depression, but it will help you understand what to do when you're hurting."

 

"Please help me," I said.

 

"Finish the tea, and lay down with the pillow underneath your head," said Leona. 

 

I drank the tea, and laid down on the carpet.

 

"Angelina, with your eyes open, can you tell me how you want to live your life?" asked Leona.

 

"I want to have a good life, a beautiful life, and a loving life, that I won't feel regret or heartaches when I look back," I said.

 

"Somethings are out of your control, but the things you can control are means, or ways of working things to get to a result," said Leona. "I want to tell you that if you want to have a good life, you have to try to give every means as a way to get to a good end. The means are the ends. If you want good, you have to do good. All the way."

 

"Thank you, Leona," I said. "For the things I can control, the means are the ends."

 

"Good, just so we are on the same page," said Leona. "Let's begin. Close your eyes and inhale deep and exhale out."

 

I closed my eyes and breathed in and out deeply, as I felt Leona stepped aside to fetch something and came back and knelt next to me. 

 

She uttered,

 

"Father God, it is with a humble spirit and downcast mind I come to You. Let mercy be upon my life, my soul, my spirit, my heart and mind. I was violated, and my soul felt damaged through my inner beings. Be with me, as I walk and as I talk and with every thought inside my mind, let Your anointing be a gift to me with sanity and wholeness. Be upon me and if my heart breaks, let it break so it will heal me, but live inside me, and shape me according to Your divine plans, for a life blessed with love, mercy, joy, peace, hope and faith."

 

Leona placed her palms on my forehead, and I felt her hand was soft and cold. I took in her words as healing verses to my life and my mind, calming me and helping me heal. 

 

She began to pray, "Father God, it is with humility, I ask for your protection, over me and my life, my walk, my thoughts, my actions, and over temptations. With every sin I acted upon, let it be thwarted out of me, and cast out evil and any deceit or harm towards me. I desire a life of love, healing, prosperity, success, and joy, with relationships around me, and those who support me."

 

Leona placed a sprinkle of holy water over my forehead with her hands.

 

"In the words of Psalms 18, It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me. He delivers me from my enemies, You, God, also lift me up above those who rise against me. You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore, I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles. And sing praises to Your name.

 

Father God, separate me from those who pursue my life, and from destructive thoughts from the enemies, the vice and malice that enters my being, the fears and misfortunes that harms me, cast out the demons of irrationality and harm towards others, and self-harm or suicide towards myself. Cast out negative thoughts, fornications, hormonal actions on sex and demons of temptations, and break the sorrows from within my soul.

 

Father God, break the spirit of confusion, convoluted words, emotions, irrational mindsets, fears of anything that perchance would harm or deflect blessings from entering my life, the sabotages from those who caused ill wills or harms towards me. The stagnant catatonia, the disassociations, the mental illness, break the bondage over me, and over my mind, my heart, my soul and my life. Bring a steadfast spirit within me, and lift me up from the gutters of the past, the sorrows and fears and heartaches of yesterday, the evils done upon me, and the violence upon my body, my mind, my life, my spirit. Father God, save me, bring me to wholeness, and separate me from the devils that are at work, the evil prayers, the curses, crush the oppressions towards me, all the abuse, the pleads of the criminals, the stalking of those who would profit off me and my sufferings, and aid me in my struggles. 

 

Father God, break the spirits of harm and violence, the victim's mark upon my soul, the demons that entered me through force, hatred, anger, abuse, rape, whether sexually, physically, spiritually, in words, or literature, in pornography or visuals, or the demons of abuse through drugs and substances and assaults or any means necessary to the criminals and evils who harmed me, the fornications without permission where upon my dignity and sacred wholeness was destroyed. 

 

Father God, break the bondage of shame and guilt on my heart and my mind, my shame on my body and the filth associated with the abuse, the assaults and harm and the harmful thoughts that often felt like skin on my flesh, peel it off, pluck it out, and rebuke the guilt and shame off of me, from the devil and his minions."

 

I couldn't stop crying and I felt shame attacked me and I felt fear over my life as I realized that PTSD and Depression and Assault could harm for a lifetime. "Leona, please break the soul ties. I felt the people who raped me has control over me," I said.

 

"Father God, I break the spirits and soul who assaulted (.......insert name here.....) and cast out and thwart out and take out the soul ties damaging my heart that also destroys and disturbs my thoughts. Please cast out sexual ties and bondage and rebuke the demons, the blood shames over me, through any ways, or forms, whether through consensual sex, or assaults, or adultery, or fondles of body and spirits. Cast out the spirit of shame and sexual demons that forces to abuse, the trafficking, the use of my body and spirit and mind and heart for the demonic pleasures of man or woman or consummate groups of vile and harmful means.  

 

Father God, as a matter of fact, erase, break, and cast out the victim's mark and the evils of soul ties amongst all victims of violence, whether child abuse, molestations, assaults, adultery or polygamy or any crimes found and unfound, seen and unseen, reported and unreported. Break the soul ties and harmful sexual ties and the abuses of men and women to the victims, in every possible way, for all races, all religions, all ethnicities, and all nations, all cities, all countries, all ages, and all sexual identities. Father God, break the soul ties between the perpetrators and their victims, for the innocent to survive and to live in peace, to gain harmony and peace of mind. To bestow blessings for all who were harmed and to break soul ties to deflect harm and suicide and abuse towards the innocent. 

 

Father God, bring justice where there are or were none, and bring healing to places, people, cities, minds, hearts, homes, and lives with every need and dire circumstances. Where there are confusions, ridicule, shame and crimes, bring justice and truth and clarity into the situations and aid the innocent to survive and gain clarity and wholeness with a peaceful breath of fresh air into their lungs, their lives, souls, minds and hearts. Heal every soul in need of healing, hope and joy, God. Bring all the wounded into Your holy presence, place your healing arms around each one of them, and bring the blessings to shower and pour on the love into their futures."

 

Leona placed her palms over my eyes and annointed my eyes with her holy water. She uttered, "Let her visions be of love, and what is noble, beautiful, trustworthy, real, pure, healthy, sane, profitable for her life, and grounded in Your truth, and propiritous of love, joy, faith, hope and truth for her life."

 

She placed her hand over my hand, and uttered, "Bring those who will be instrumental to a healing journey and prosperous future, healthy relationships, supportive friendships and courtship. Loving and protective of her soul and life in every way."

 

I cried, because I didn't know what I needed to ask for, and what I needed to say in prayers to ask for healing.

 

"Leona, may I pray?" I asked her.

 

"Of course," said Leona.

 

"God, help me," I said. "I don't know what to do. Guide me and restore me, help me all the way, every instant of my life."

 

I opened my eyes, and Leona smiled at me. She had a most endearing face upon me as I laid on the carpet.

 

"I need you to get up and drink more of the tea and we will repeat 'I Am" statements," said Leona.

 

I got up from the carpet and sat cross-legged on the carpet. I took another cup full of the chamomile tea and wiped the tears from my face. 

 

"Repeat after me, (....insert name here.....) Angelina," said Leona.

 

"I am God's masterpiece, made of the same particles of stars and the heavenly bodies, made to perfection."

 

"I am made Imago Dei."

 

"I am royalty. I am of God's royal bloodline."

 

"I am human, a woman (or man) or valor, and honor, and I deserve a good journey in life."

 

"I am made of truth, not lies, and I will listen to truth and not the lies of the enemies disturbing my thoughts."

 

"I am not a victim, but a brilliant woman (or man), and deserving of a compassionate life."

 

"I am a genius. I will heal and thoroughly, I will love again."

 

"I am beautiful. I was and am, and will always be."

 

"I am a living being, and life is in me."

 

"I am alive, and I will enjoy my sunrise as if it's my last."

 

"I am, with God."

 

I repeated every word, and the chamomile slowly drifted me away. 

 

"I fixed the guest room for you, Angelina," said Leona.

 

Leona took me to the guest room, and I rested till the morning.

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Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 36, 37, 38

Chapter 36 - Angelina

 

It has been weeks since I heard from Ursula, and when her assault happened, I was devastated.

 

"Why didn't you call me. If you're lonely or sad?" I asked. 

 

Samantha was with me, and there were tears in her eyes, after Ursula showed us her bruises on her legs and ribs and back on her hospital bed. The assault inside the car was so brutal that left her bruised and spiritually wounded.

 

"Wounded Butterfly can still mend its wings, Ursula. All is not lost," I said.

 

"Wings regrow, Ursula," said Samantha. "We're here because we have to report the crimes."

 

"The men who hurt me this time were reported. Jake took care of that and saw my scars. These are all evidence," said Ursula.

 

"What about Merrick?" said Samantha. "You have to report him, too."

 

"That's justice, Ursula. He hurt you when you were so young," I said. "I didn't know I was going to be hurt by him either."

 

"I'm scared about his family. Jake's shop, my life, and what will happen afterwards," Ursula said.

 

"That you will be hurt?" I asked.

 

"They're billionaires," said Ursula. "When I was raped by Merrick, one of their hit men, followed me. He was a cop, or had a badge for a detective from Denver. He said that if I talked, I'll be killed."

 

"That's a Johnson's thing to do, reminds me of some kind of Italian mafia shit?" yelled Samantha. "Ugh, I want to arrest these rich bastards with too much powers that they abuse the system!"

 

"They somehow know politicians, mayors, more billionaires, more rich people who would hurt me," said Ursula.

"There was a billionaire architecture firm and construction company who sent the fraud detective to hurt me when my Dad won the case against a human trafficker. He built one of the sports-stadium in Denver, and when he heard my Dad put down his friend, that bastard millionaire sent a fraud detective to taunt me at school. Angelina was there. We were at a Starbucks and he sat next to me, and whispered, "if you hurt us, you'll be killed," said Samantha. "They do corrupted crimes like this all the time. They need to be put to their place."

 

"The Johnsons and their friends called me on the phone and my Mom picked up and they cussed her out," said Ursula. "That was before I became homeless and I was still living at home with my Mom. My Mom cried and she wanted to hurt herself because I was raped and we were living in a trailer, and we were just so poor and on welfare. They have no remorse."

 

"Do they know the Walton family in Colorado?" asked Samantha. "The constructions companies who hurt me knows them."

 

"I'm sure they all hang around the same circle of friends, and probably in the same sports box at the stadiums watching Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos, all sorts of things," said Ursula.

 

"So we're fucked!" I said. "If they know the richest family in America and in the world, we're fucked!"

 

"Not so fast, I may be in high school but everyone has rights," said Samantha. "If the Waltons are smart, they'd side with the people. The innocent people who buy their stuff and give them our money to make them rich. That's normal people like you, Ursula, and you, Angelina, and me."

 

"We have to report Merrick," said Ursula. "I'll report him if you both help me."

 

Samantha and I looked at each other, because we thought we would need to convince Ursula for a while before she agreed to report Merrick.

 

"Ursula, are you sure?" I asked. "I know for a fact, Melody was in on it, too."

 

"I was in the way of her rising to the top," said Ursula. "Merrick raped me to get Melody the lead in cheer."

 

"I was in the way of Melody going out with Colin," I said. "I was assaulted by Merrick and his friends because The Johnsons wanted Colin and his international restaurant company to be a part of their family."

 

"Colin is already going out with Melody," said Samantha. "Angelina, you have Ichabod now. don't compare them and don't cry over spoilt milk."

 

"It still hurts the same, because of the assaults. I didn't deserve to be raped at all," I said, tears still flowed down my eyes anyhow. Ursula took my hand, and said to me, "We got each other, sis."

 

Samantha hugged me, and took Ursula's hands and we hugged each other on Ursula's hospital bed.

 

 

 

Chapter 37 - Ichabod

 

 

Saturday morning was always so serene, but this evening will be the night of the Blow Out Party at the fraternity house in CU Boulder. Shane, Fanny, Sunjit, and I will go there with the Longmont and Silvercreek Police Department to bug their party.

 

Michael meditated on the floor of my porch with his sword, and said to me, "I will let you take control of the situation. You won't need me to help this time. I will be at the party with the others." I nodded as I sat on the porch swing with Shane. Michael disappeared and I knew Officer Fineman was going to come soon.

 

Our porch swing was comfortable and Shane and I sat side by side as the swing made a creaking sound as it swung back and forth. Shane looked to me and asked, "What's the plan?"

 

"We're waiting for him, let's wait for a minute," I said. "He's bringing some wireless devices for us tonight."

 

Officer Fineman arrived outside of my gates and nextdoor, I saw the tenants of Leona's former house looking through the windows. I quickly walked towards Officer Fineman and left Shane on the porch swing.

 

"Need help bringing anything inside?" I asked Officer Fineman who got out of his car.

 

"Nope, everything is compartmentalized and some of my officers are on stand-by near the Department. We're ready and getting the van out when it's time. We will be about three blocks away from the frat house," said Officer Fineman. "So, here is the deal, all of you will be ready to perform. When we say we're coming, you get out as soon and as fast as you can. Understood?"

 

Shane looked intently at Officer Fineman, and Fanny opened my doors, and Sunjit was sitting on my sofa when we all came inside my living room. 

 

Officer Fineman had a small box of small patches of stick-on devices. "Here, let's take one of your friends, pick one, Ike," said Officer Fineman.

 

"I pick Sunjit," I said, pointing to my best friend, and as a matter of fact, I think Sunjit, Fanny and Shane were all of my best friends. Now that we were on a mission together to bug the fraternity house.

 

"We stick this on," said Officer Fineman, peeling the stick-on rubber device from its pallatte of devices that came in pairs. "We stick this on his chest, lift up your shirt, Sunjit." Sunjit took off his shirt and Officer Fineman stuck on a device on his lower rib, and another one on his upper chest just between his shoulder blades. "We stick these on these locations, because these aren't suspicious, and your clothes cover them well. We stick these on just like a Salonpas or something like that, and then, we stick these small bugs on them," said Officer Fineman. He took a small black and round device in the size of a cellular battery, and as wide as a SIM card, and peeled off its stick on and paste it on the small patches on Sunjit's torso.

 

"The first peeled on plastic device is the conductor to these bugs, and they turn your body into a huge conductor to become a wireless detector for sound and anything of the sort. We have other ones that were built as small camera bugs, but we don't need that right now. We just need these sound bugs," said Officer Fineman. "Get into the conversation with these men, especially Merrick. Ichabod, I'm relying on your dreams and visions to give the men's descriptions to Sunjit and your friends, so they can speak to them directly."

 

"I saw one African American, another Asian man, and Merrick, and another one who I couldn't make out, perhaps another white guy, but unsure," I confided to my best friends and Officer Fineman. "Angelina will be here in a minute, she can tell you how many people."

 

Angelina stepped into our living room from outside as she just arrived to my house. "There were four I felt in my soul and I sometimes still get triggers about their spirits," Angelina said. "For some reason, the names Eric and Tim made me cringe."

 

"So we listen for Eric and Tim, and Merrick, and another man who is Asian American," said Officer Fineman. "But, there could be just anyone, right, Angelina?"

 

Angelina nodded, and her shoulders rose as she rubbed her forearms and folded them across her chest.

 

"I think Shane should approach Merrick, because Merrick saw me once at his restaurant and Shane is not from Silver Creek High," I said. "Melody knows who I am and she knows Sunjit."

 

"Fanny, can you make sure you don't get too drunk?" asked Shane. "I'm counting on you for the Asian guy."

 

"I'm going to perform though, what am I going to ask the guy? I'm going to bring my feather boas and shit," said Fanny.

 

"Just be grotesquely sexy, like your usual self, and start with anyone you think is cute, and then search for the Asian guy. There can't be too many Asian fraternity guys at the Blow Out, it's a typically white fraternity that Merrick's in," said Angelina. "I know Melody and Merrick only have token Asian friends, in their groups, that's why they called me China Doll, and I'm not sure what they call that Asian guy."

 

"Depends on his ethnicity, right?" I said.

 

"Okay, but don't let anyone rub your torsos that these bugs fall out and don't let anyone get you drunk that you slur your words and you can't get out of the party. Understood?" said Officer Fineman.

 

We each took two rubber stick on conductor and two stick on bugs, then put them in our pockets. Fanny blurted out, "I'm sticking them on my boobies."  We all high fived and Officer Fineman giggled.

 

"So our van is three blocks away, and you can't hear us, but we will be entering as soon as you get a confession from Merrick or the other men. The code word is "Hawks," said Officer Fineman. "We will be sending two officers, younger ones, and they will sweep the floors, and whence they saw you, they'll utter the words and you get out. We will bring in the officers with badges and make an arrest."

 

"What if they don't confess? Merrick is a drinker, and it's going to take a lot of beer to get him to confess," said Angelina. "He's a tall guy, too, and he's been drinking a while."

 

"Shane, can you top him?" I asked. 

 

"I can act like it," said Shane. "I'll probably drop it on the ground and knock it over. I'll bring in my own, and we can add CBD in it, to make him relax."

 

"What are you planning to bring?" Sunjit asked.

 

"My mix of Rum and Bailey's and CBD, and some caramel liquor," said Shane. "It's going to be pretty intoxicating. I learned from my Dad."

 

"YOUR DAD?!" yelled Officer Fineman. "Do I need to talk to him?"

 

"No No...No it's not like that...it's the drinks that got some Japanese girls drunk at the Karaoke bar one night and he told me that there were high humn trafficking in Japan and a lot of rapes and all sorts of things there. They usually get the girls drunk first and offer them coffee or chocolates and it's laced with something,' said Shane. "A lot of shit happens in Tokyo."

 

"No shit!" I said, my eyes wide open. "Good God!"

 

"Well....we have Angelina here, and we're going to get to the bottom of this, because gang rapes happens, but it's a human rights violation and it's a severe crime," said Officer Fineman. "Ike, I trust you, so we're going to do this based on truth and trust and faith. I'm counting on at least one guy to admit to it."

 

"Ike, does Merrick and the men know who you are? or you, Sunjit?" asked Fanny. "Didn't you guys go to the same school?"

 

"Merrick is like god at Silver Creek High, and I know he's not going to remember me and Sunjit. We never interact with Melody, either," said Sunjit. 

 

"We never talk to their group of cheers and players," I said. "Sunjit and I were always the Fantasy Club kids. They won't even know us."

 

"Okay, that's perfect," said Officer Fineman. "So it's almost ten in the morning right now. When does the party start?"

 

"I think about 7 at night," said Shane. "I know the fraternity houses are all prepping there. We have to stay away from there until it's about 8 and we can start performing."

 

"Got it," said Angelina. "We can meet another friend of mine, first. Ursula, Merrick's first girlfriend."

 

"Is she reporting?" asked Officer Fineman.

 

"I'm going to convince her. Right now, she's at the hospital in Longmont," I said. "She texted me. She was hurt again."

 

We all stood in silence and Officer Fineman said, "I never thought these things happened here in Colorado. I thought it was the least of our problems. I know of human trafficking, which was common, but not in Longmont or Boulder, or Northern Colorado. Now, we have assaults everywhere."

 

"It's becoming violent because of the violence that weren't put to justice, I think. There are so many unreported assaults, and all types of violence that were unattended, and the forces of this world tornadoes to swarms of evils spread all over the place. Natural disasters, evil manifesting everywhere, and the Angels among us has to work harder and more ferociously to defend the good," I said. 

 

"I have no idea how you know this, Ike, but I'm going to trust you," said Shane. "My gut said Merrick is an asshole."

 

"I trust Ike," said Officer Fineman. "I've suspected something sinister in that family for a while now, because they seem so rich in a fake sort of way, like they hurt someone before to get there."

 

"How is Leona" asked Sunjit. "Didn't she have a long-winded altercations with the Johnsons?"

 

"They wanted her business," I said. "But, my Dad worked with the Johnsons and Leona so they won't get into each other's way."

 

"Yeah, look what that got you, Ike?" said Fanny. "What does your Dad do?"

 

"He was an engineer, but he became a business owner, supplying gross amounts of supplies to restaurants and businesses."

 

"Restaurant suppliers, Company, like Costco, but for businesses only," said Sunji. "He's got warehouses for them."

 

"Ike, will you be losing your consumers?" Angelina asked. "It's your Dads business'."

 

"I could careless. I mean, don't worry," I said. "I got it covered. I'll tell you later."

 

We all stood in silence. Angelina began to sob, "I'm so scared, Ike, I'm so sorry," she said.

 

"If the rich is above the law, then what is the law for? The chaos will go down to the streets, and the people will be ingrained to harm in order to gain," I said. "That's injustice to its raw form."

 

 

 

Chapter 38 - Ursula

 

 

I supposed there would be time in a woman's life to start over, and it felt like starting over with my life after the hospital released me today. Jake came to pick me up, and we both drove to the shop and then to his apartment.

 

"It's small but will do," he said. He showed me the bedroom, the bathroom, and the living area. "Hey Ursula, let's talk," He said. "I want to be with you, but I don't want to pressure you. We just walk it together, and be honest. If you need space, tell me. You've been through a lot."

 

I looked to his eyes, and there was this sincere man who grew up lucky or as he told me, but inside he knew that his heart was to die for.

 

"I love you," I told him. "You saved my life."

 

I walked to him in the living room, and hugged him around his tout waist, as he wrapped his arms around me. "I want to grow, and learn," I told him. 

 

Jake smiled at me, and told me, "One day at a time, is growing."

 

"I will pick up after myself, and help as much as possible, for the shop and here," I said. 

 

"I'm happy with you safe with me," said Jake. He took my arms and wrapped them over his neck as he kissed me, passionately, and placed his lips slowly to my neck as his hands wandered on my body. For the first time, I wasn't in trauma, and I wasn't afraid, instead, I was relaxed and at peace. I stood breathing slowly in and out and let his lips wander on my body, my neck, my chest, and my stomach, and the rest was blissful romance between Jake and I as we cuddled, made love and he gently loved me and my body.

 

Several hours later, we laid on his bed in each other's arms, and his lips were still kissing me. He massaged my left thigh as I faced his body and I grimaced from the soreness. "It's a loving sensual pain when sex is with someone I love," I told him. "As if women were supposed to bear the pains of sexual intercourse from Eve's mistakes in Eden."

 

"It took both of us, and I'm here," he said, caressing my cheek with his palms. "If she was blamed for everything, mankind won't exist. In a way, you took me out of a damaging relationship from Crystal. She hurt you and Crystal hurt me. She brainwashed me for a time, and I didn't want to be that way again."

 

"Jake, you helped my mental health and well-being," I softly whispered. "Thank you, but maybe we're going too fast?"

 

"I'm here to stay, Ursula," said Jake. "Stay with me. I don't want you to leave."

 

"I'm staying," I answered, confidently. "All of me, loves all of you."

 

"All of my flaws? I'm just a pizzeria owner, and my parents live in Lakewood," Jake said. "We're just a humble family. Not rich, just comfortable, but we love each other. That's what matters most. We won't be glitz or glamour."

 

"You're everything I need. I'm sorry I made all of those mistakes," I cried to him, caressing his cheeks and tracing his eyebrows. "I was so careless."

 

"I promise to forgive, as long as you promise to forgive me, too," said Jake. "I'm not perfect. I am just so in love with you, fpr a year now. You're the most beautiful girl I've ever met. I was in love even when you were carrying that duffel bag after walking from the shelter, looking for a job."

 

"I just wanted to work, and I surrendered to God, asking Him to help me," I said, as I cried to pieces and I realized that miracles had happened to me, and I never appreciated it. I didn't know Jake was compassionate until Crystal made racial slurs towards me. All I knew was that he needed a girl who would dance for him, and didn't mind the Summer heat or the minimum wage with no benefits. I was desperate and so was he. 

 

"I didn't know what would happen with my pizzeria if I didn't bring in customers. I was hoping I'd make it every month," said Jake. "In a way, you saved my life and my business. The pizzeria was all I had. I used up all of my money and was on loans from the bank. If I don't make it per month, I'd be in deep shit."

 

I giggled, and replied, "You didn't think you'd meet anyone in more trouble than you?"

 

"It wasn't your fault. I'm happy you're healing. We'll heal you," said Jake. His hands wandered to my waist, and down my spine, hugging me. "I was crazy about you, since you accepted the job. I didn't want to lose you. So, tell me where you're going, and how I can support you," said Jake. "I'll be here."

 

I breathed in and slowly let my breath out, while kissing him.

 

"I'm not looking anymore," said Jake. "I want you to grow with me."

 

I was the luckiest girl in the world. 

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Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 35

Chapter 35 - Ursula

 

 

It felt like death was inches away and my life was about to be lifted up to hell when the ambulance arrived. Jake sat beside me near the gurney and I was naked under the cotton blankets with satin lining. The EMTs took Jake's statement and so did the police. They wanted descriptions of the perpetrators and where to find John, as described by me and from my memories of it.

 

I was asleep by the time I was in the hospital and now I woke up a day and a half later, in the early morning of 4 am on a Monday. There was no one here, except for the Certified Nurse Assistant, Marley, and she gave me a chicken broth to sip on because I was hungry but I didn't want to eat anything because I was afraid I might vomit.

 

My headache was still there and I felt so used up, and my body felt abused and battered. My bones hurt, my shoulders felt tense and my legs felt sore. It felt like I was at the gym for hours without water, but it was actually a physical and violent trauma. I never knew I would ever experience this in my whole lifetime.

 

Marley called Jake, because he placed his number as the next of kin, and told them that he was my supervisor at work and my boyfriend. "That's the only reason why we trusted him and let him in the hospital," said Marley. "He said he'll be here in twenty minutes."

 

I tried to stop the tears but it flowed down my cheeks like a dripping faucet from my eyes. I didn't know how to stop it, and I didn't know what to say to Marley, other than, "Thank you."

 

Marley gave me a box of tissues, and told me, "I've had a friend all of my life because she was the only person who believed in me when I was hurt by my father. Her name is Jane, and she has been my best friend since third grade," said Marley. "Jake....Jane, almost serendipitous, don't you think. It might be a sign. That things will work out at the end."

 

My left hand reached my face and I sobbed uncontrollably, dropping tears like rain on my hospital gown and moistening my palms. 

 

"Hey....it's okay. Let it out," said Marley. "It's normal. I'd be scared if you weren't sobbing."

 

I nodded, and said, "Thank you."

 

Marley sat next to me, and asked me, "What was the perpetrator's race?" 

 

"Latinos of some kind. I'm not sure, but I was hurt before too, and he was white, and there were others from the shelter, and they were black. Basically, all men hurt me," I told her.

 

"My Dad was Asian," said Marley. "I'm Hmong. Do you know what that is?"

 

"I think so. Mountains area near Vietnam, Laos...around there," I said. I was hoping I didn't sound too uneducated with being a high school dropout.

 

"Yup," said Marley. "We are a close family, my family, so no one expected what happened to me. People thought I was trying to kill my parents."

 

"How did you get over it?" I asked. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

 

"This was a long time ago, I was in third grade and I'm in my forties now," said Marley. "But, it still hurts. It's time and effort."

 

"Are you married?" I asked. "If it wasn't for Jake, I would have ended my life in self-harm."

 

"No, I'm not married," said Marley. "But, I'm surrendering. It is what it is. When you're older, and realized that life can be okay without a husband, I think you've reached maturity. I make efforts to help myself, and you should to. Don't underestimate yourself, and don't think less of yourself, even with the trauma you endured."

 

"I was raped badly, and I didn't know if I should say anything, but I felt so low, that I was so afraid. I was afraid I'd get in trouble for being raped," I told Marley. "I'm thankful you are so open to me. I thought I was going to cry alone here."

 

"To tell you the truth, every rape victim thought they did something wrong, and that they felt it was their fault and that they were in trouble. It's a strange victim mentality, because we felt oppressed that we were obligated to feel lower, to be at fault, and to be victimized even more," said Marley. "Those are lies. We deserve extraordinary miracles in life. Especially because we were hurt. That's the truth!"

 

I felt her spoke life in to me, and I felt my spirit comforted, that someone wanted me to be better, to feel better, to heal and to progress. Marley wanted me to be healthy and to lean forward to a bright future.

 

"I'm not young, and I don't know if I will have a boyfriend or a husband," said Marley. "But, I know that I deserve someone who values me, and loves me, and wants me because he not only needs me, but wants the best to happen to my life."

 

"I haven't met anyone like that, but Jake is close," I said. 

 

"Jake is biracial isn't he?" asked Marley.

 

I looked down to my palms on my stomach while laying on the bed with my back against two pillows. "I'm worried he's like them, because he said he loved his ex-girlfriend once and she hurt me. I'm worried that because I'm an easy victim, he'll drop me later if I do something wrong."

 

"Do you hurt other people?" asked Marley. "I think Jake thinks for you."

 

"What does that mean?" I asked. "I don't hurt other people, no."

 

"Jake thinks about what you need, and what makes you a better human being. He told me that you work for him, but he was willing to put his name down to make sure you have someone who is responsible as a support system. That's a huge move," said Marley. "If someone is willing to go the long way with you, it means they care about your well-being. Family kind."

 

Tears peaked out and went down my cheeks, because I never knew what it meant to have someone cared for me that much. My own family won't speak to me because I wanted to drop out and take time off. My Dad ran out faster than a laser beam to drop his own family and be careless himself. My Mom acted as if I was her mistake, and every day was a sad day with me. I wished I wasn't born into the family I was born into. I belonged elsewhere, but nowhere, so homeless I was.

 

Jake knocked on the door, and Marley stood up from the chair next to my bed, and dimmed the lights in the room.

 

"It's soothing for serious conversations," said Marley.

 

"Hey....Marley," I looked up to speak to her before she left. "I will keep you in my heart and thoughts."

 

Marley smiled at me, and left to the nurse's station.

 

Jake tapped Marley on her shoulders, and told her, "Pal." Marley high-fived him. Jake sat on the chair where Marley sat, next to my bed, facing me.

 

"Sleep is good for the brain, Ursula," said Jake, taking off his blue cap.

 

"Induced sleep helps too, I hope," I said.

 

"I have a surprise, later," said Jake. His eyes smiled at me, with a shine that lifted high and the wrinkles near his eyes crowed a bit. His endearing face made me smile. 

 

"I'm sorry," I said, blurting out and sobbed again. It felt so bad inside, that he had to see myself in this horrible light. The worst of me, instead of the best of me. I wanted to show Jake I was capable and had a responsible demeanor, someone he could count on, and I failed miserably.

 

"The perpetrators will be sorry," said Jake. "You don't deserve any of this. At all." His smile was gone, and his eyes told me that he did not expect this much suffering either. That he didn't know what happened either.

 

"I just know the Ursula who worked for me, worked hard. She danced that billboard like a pro. She brought in customers, and she was ready to work. You're valuable to me," said Jake. His eyes moistened. "I'm sorry, Ursula. That you were hurt this way. I didn't anticipate this much violence in anyone's life. I never experienced it."

 

"I wish I know what to do," I cried my reply. "I don't know what to do."

 

"And that's okay," said Jake. "Most adults, to tell you the truth, wouldn't know."

 

I just kept crying, and I was so embarrassed, because he saw all of me, broken in my skin, raped and battered as if I was a dead dog by the freeway. But, he patiently waited until I breathed and said to me, "I told you I was an orphan, but my parents never made me feel adopted. I think all they taught me was based on love. That's how life works, Ursula. You just love others, as you love yourself."

 

"I'm not sure I know how," I said. "I know uncontrollable emotions, and suicide attempts, and drinking problems, and pain."

 

"Well....first thing is that sex is not love. They are not the same. Especially, the abuse of sex, is not love. It is called rape," said Jake. "What happened to you was a crime, and it was rape. It was a violent crime, and it was done to you, not by you. You didn't choose it. It forced you down to a broken path, but you're going to heal. That's first. I can write it down later."

 

I knew Jake was smart, but I never knew he was wise. I knew the difference between smart and wise, and often it was arrogance, but he was wise and kind. I really felt lucky to have him as my supervisor, and I hope, boyfriend, although it was unofficial, and only on hospital charts.

 

I stayed silent, because I wanted to listen to him speak life to me.

 

"The surprise is here anytime now," said Jake. He stood up from the chair and looked outside the room. A few moments later, a familiar face came in, and I screamed!

 

"Barbara!!!!! Oh, My, GOD!!!!" I yelled. Barbara Paradiso walked in with her support dog, a large golden doodle.

 

"I brought Bessie with me," said Barbara. Barbara Paradiso and I met her when I sought help from Safe House Boulder, and she helped me with therapy and spoke to me, many a times, about life and how to learn to cope with violence.

 

My eyes were wide open, and Jake laughed and said, "You looked like you just saw a ghost!"

 

"I have chocolate, dark ones," said Barbara. She gave me a small box of Dove Chocolate, and I quickly opened it and devoured one at a time. 

 

"I wish I spoke to you more often," I said, with tears in my eyes, wishing for time to come back and our friendship wasn't so short, although it has been 15 years.

 

"Well...I'm busy and you're busy dancing on the street, as Jake told me," Barbara said. "How do you manuever those things? They look heavy."

 

"Not really, foam boards with handles behind it," I said. 

 

"I'll leave you two in conversation," said Jake. "Ursula. I'm here. Always. And I'll be here."

 

I smiled at him, and told him, "I want to be with you here." 

 

"Good," said Jake. He tapped the doorway, and walked out of the room. "I'll be back. Enjoy."

 

Barbara sat on my bed near my feet, and held my hands. "How are you, dear?"

 

I took her hands, and put them on my forehead, and I cried and cried, and cried. Barbara looked at my face, and told me, "It's healing. It breaks 10 calories a minute."

 

I told her, "I don't know how many girls and women understand me."

 

"They all need to understand you," said Barbara. "You deserve happiness, Ursula."

 

"As you, and I am so happy you married, and found true love, and had a beautiful daughter, had a pregnancy and gave birth, and you're stable. I miss you, so much. I wish I can sit on that chair again, in front of you, and talk about life with you," I told her. 

 

"I think your story is a long one, a saga," Barbara said. "But, it has a happy ending."

 

"How do you know?" I cried my question out, because I wasn't sure what life would look like now. Everything felt so uncertain, and I was so broken, in all of my nakedness, I was assaulted and beaten and left for dead like the rats of New York. I was a long story that no one would read.

 

"I know, because if I'm important and true, then so are you," said Barbara Paradiso. "I've made it my life's mission to end violence. And you're an instrument of my peace."

 

"Am I important to you, Barb?" I asked. I felt Barbara was my guiding light, and I was the little girl she helped along the way. There must be millions of us in the world, because of Barbara Paradiso's bravery, talent, hard work and grit, truth, wisdom, and knowledge.

 

"You owe it to this world, to know how important you are," said Barbara. "People are born important. Life is important. You willing to keep living is important. You helping others, through your work is important. You are important."

 

"Barb, you're important to God, because you saved so many lives along the way," I told her.

 

"It takes one to know one," said Barbara. "I'm happy you woke up from the long nap after the assault. Some women didn't. Some women died."

 

I took her hands, and kissed them. "Thank you for your heart, Barb." I said. I meant every word.

 

"Jake thanked me, too," she said with a smile. "He's a good man. I'm happy you met him. Keep working for him as a billboard master. It's good exercise."

 

I laughed, and Barb said, "You giggled."

 

"That was me, laughing, Barb," I said to her. 

 

"It was a giggle, Ursula," she said, laughing.

 

Jake walked in, and told us, "The doc said, a week, and mental health follow up, and bed rest. Ursula, I'll put my apartment as your future home. It's a two bedroom."

 

"Thank you, Jake," I answered. 

 

Barbara smiled. It was worth a zillion dollars in heaven and Earth, that no one could take away from me.

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Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 34

Chapter 34 - Ichabod

 

"Officer Fineman, are you serious?" I asked. "You want me to do what?!"

 

"Wear the bugs and go to their Blow Out Party," said Officer Fineman.

 

"I thought you didn't believe in all of the dreams I told you about?" I asked. I was flabbergasted. Officer Fineman told me with Angelina that he felt the myth and the superstitions were false and we needed evidence.

 

"That's how you'll get evidence, son," said Officer Fineman. "You told me yourself. It was worth believing, besides, I felt something was wrong when I kept having nightmares that there were other victims besides Angelina. I saw faces and they cried, and some were blondes, brunettes, and even red-heads...every type of girl was there. I think Angel was just a symbol of a familiar girl we all knew who Merrick and Melody hated."

 

"There were other victims, Officer," I said.

 

"How did you know?" asked Officer Fineman. "How do you so much? What do you eat?"

 

"I'm kosher, sir," I said. "But, it's not about that. It's about Ursula, Angelina, the ghost of the blonde I saw in their frat house basement."

 

"How did you get into their basement?" asked Officer Fineman.

 

"Shane, Fanny, and Sunjit came with me to their basement. We sort of went inside from the window near the bushes," I said, smiling. I reached Officer Fineman and gave him a bear hug. He was such a kind soul, believing in me and everything, I just couldn't' resist.

 

Officer Fineman stayed silent for a minute, and wrote something down in his small notepad that was inside his pocket. He placed his finger in the center of his lips, and mumbled to himself. Then shook his head and cried a little, then placed his right hand on my left shoulder. "You are forgiven. Perhaps in the times of Berekoth, we were once Father and son," said Officer Fineman. "I trust you are a good kid inside."

 

"Can I bring friends, and we all wear the bugs?" I asked. "I need Shane because he looks like a frat boy and he's black, but mostly because he's tall, dark and handsome and he's going to get us all inside."

 

"Okay, Shane is in," said Officer Fineman.

 

"Then I need Sunjit, because he's also tall, and he's really smart and although he's handsome, he has a silent presence. People notice him, but they all trust him," I said.

 

"Okay, Sunjit is in," said Officer Fineman. "Then, you. And that's it."

 

"Okay, one more, Fanny. Because she has a vintage Bettle and she's going to be our loudest fake Freshman for the upcoming year. Trust me, Officer, she's Vietnamese and chubby, and really really cute. The kind you want to pinch her cheeks for a dollar type of girl," I said. "Please...she won't wear the bug, only the boys, so she can dance and bring the joint on fire."

 

Officer Fineman shook his head, and rolled his eyes a couple of times and took out his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. "Sweating, not swearin," said Officer Fineman. "Okay, Fanny is in."

 

I jumped on his chest and hugged him and fist bumped his hand as I took his palms and tried to make a fist but his hands were sweaty and I got his sweat all over my hand, so it didn't really work out, but I tried. Then, I high kicked with my right leg, and told him. "I'm also dating Angel," I told him. "What do you think? Bad ass?"

 

Officer Fineman turned around from my front porch and walked swiftly and drove off.

 

I was left alone, but was feeling it...the bad ass feeling. I was a bad ass.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 
 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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