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The Fuel

Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 32

Chapter 32 – Ursula

 

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

 

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

 

"Gorgeous, are you ready?" said James.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Let's go," said James.

 

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

 

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

 

"It's divine," said James.

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Play money?" James asked.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Baggage?" I asked.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I don't know," I replied.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I care," Jake said.

 

"I'm trash," I told him.

 

I couldn't hold myself together and sobbed.

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Where is Crystal?" I asked.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I care," I answered.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 28, 29, 30 & 31

Chapter 28 – Ursula

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"You're definitely gorgeous," said Angelina.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Condoms?" asked Samantha.

       

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

 

"What was his reaction?" asked Samantha.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I nodded as Samantha hugged me.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

    

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

 

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

 

Angelina and Samantha laughed out loud.

 

***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

     

"Ursula, you deserve respect," said Samantha.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I stood still, grateful and humbled.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"What energy?" I asked, confused.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Yeah, go ahead," said Angelina.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"What was the real reason?" I asked.

 

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

 

Angelina was transparent, and told the truth.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

Chapter 29 – Angelina

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Where is that?" asks Angelina.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I smiled, and answered, "Yes."

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

         

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Go ahead,"

 

"Do you know what you want in life?"

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I don't understand."

 

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

 

"That's wise of you."

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"What kind of visions?"

 

"Of angels."

 

"Like deities?"

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"That makes me feel better."

 

"It does?"

 

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

 

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

 

"What else did they say to you?" 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Fineman," The Officer answered his cell phone.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

"Good morning," said the officer, startled.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I didn't lie," Ichabod said.

 

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

 

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

     

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ichabod practically ran outside of the Silver Creek Police Department.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Chapter 30 – Ichabod

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

        

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Chapter 31 – Angelina

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

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

        

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

 

"Yes, you may," I said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Give me your feet," said Leona.

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

   

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

 

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

 

 

To be continued. Just write.

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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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Ichabod Frenzy - Chapter 16, 17 & 18

Chapter 16 - Ursula

 

The grocery store at one o'clock in the afternoon was busy with mommies and toddlers, as I dodged every child on the way to punch in for work. Eversince I dropped out and decided to live on my own, I had to hustle and bustle and get things done my way.

 

"You're late again," said John. For some reason his tone made the five minutes sounded like an hour.

 

"I will take five minutes off my lunch. Sorry John. I had to clean up from my first job," I said, nervous and out of breath from a long bicycle ride from the edge of Westminster. "You won't be sorry. I'll take a fifteen minute lunch."

 

"I want our section spic 'n' span with our dairy in stock, produce arranged on the shelves, and nothing left in the back fridge. Nada," said John, as he was the one who made me lead for the produce section.

 

"I know. I'll get on it, and I'll help check out, too, if you need me," I told him. I wanted to show him that I wasn't a one trick pony. I was good for multi-purpose reasons.

 

"You know, I've been thinking," said John, his body closing in to me. "With you and me in this section, we can move up together." He gently twirled my long black hair. "You're so pretty. But, you can be a little pill sometimes, chicá."

 

I was silenced by fear because this was my job that paid the rent, and I didn't want to get in trouble by talking back.

 

"I'm just trying to help out. I'm sorry for being late. I promise I'll make it up," I repliep, with my eyes to the wall, fearful of what he might do next.

 

"Is not a problem, but we should do lunch sometimes," said John. He smacked me on my butt and walked away. "Make me proud chicá, I'll be counting on you."

 

I inhaled deeply and moved quickly about the dairy section, stocking the cartons of milk in its place and broke down the boxes. John approached me again as he walked down from the check out lanes.

 

"Mop please, chicá. Produce area," he said to me, with his right hand in circular motion with over the messy area. "Just that area."

 

"Yes, sir," I replied. Generally, team members won't mop the floors, until near closing time or housekeeping would do the work. However, the floor had debris on the isles with broken pieces of kale and cabbages, in between the produce section. The tomatoes and onions were not in the right places. The produce section was a vegetable war zone.

 

"Who made this mess?" I asked John, because the produce section was a blown-up produce ship. "John, you should talk to whoever made this mess. It's horrendous."

 

"Did I ask for opinions? I said 'clean up' not 'speak up,' YES? ZIP IT!" John scolded me, with his thumb and index finger zipping his mouth.

 

"Whoever made this mess, is so incompetent," I mumbled, fussing.

 

I mopped the whole section of the produce isles, and picked up the boxes and foams from the fruit boxes, the vegetable debris from the spinach, cabbage, lettuce and stuffed them into a large trash bag. I took multiple trips to the back of the store, bringing boxes to the storage area, and throwing away the trash. 

 

"Beautiful job, chicá. Is good," said John. "Easy, no? Only a little work."

 

"Yeah, it wasn't bad. Thank you John. I'm great with little projects," I answered, somewhat happy with my own tenacity about my tasks. My confidence was in pieces, but I replaced the depression with small achievements, to gain some self-worth.  

 

"You can mop the whole store can't you?" asked John. "A project for you. See, I give you good work, chicá. You're sexy when you're working hard." He winked at me and massaged my shoulders.

 

"Sure, I can do it," I answered, feeling a little overworked, but obliged for this professional duty, to do what he asked of me.

 

"Thank you, John. I wouldn't have this job without you," I said to him to remind myself that John was the person who, two years ago, gave me this job knowing I was homeless and living at the teen shelter in Boulder.

 

"You like me, Ursula?" asked John as he giggled and hugged me and placed his hand at the small of my back. His hand meanders from behind, to my waist. "Oh, you're so tight, chicá. Loosen up, Ursula."

 

I wiggled out of his hug, and pushed him back. "I don't want you to talk to me that way again. And don't touch me. It's not professional. I demand it," I replied.

 

"I've been nice to you, and a hug is a good hug for a good friend. It's natural," said John, approaching me again with open arms.

 

"No, I don't want your hugs," I said to him, with one hand in front of me, blocking him.      

 

"Okay, okay...just being nice. Is okay, everything is okay," said John. He had a menacing smile, and smacked my butt as I tried to smack his face to retaliate from his barbaric naught, instead he quickly ran to get away.

 

"Naughty Ursula Bonita," said John. "Pinay Mestiza, Ursula, you're playful!" John giggled, and ran to the other side of the store. "We belong together, Chinita Bonita!"

 

My conscience uprising and I was so angry with his smacks on my bottom, his strokes to my hair, his demeaning 'chicá, or 'Pinay Mestiza,' 'Ursula Bonita,' and all types of nicknames instead of my actual name. My anger just kept brewing as I kept mopping the floor with tears in my eyes. I wanted to report licentious John and his harassments to the day manager tomorrow. "You have no idea what's coming," I said to myself.

 

 

 

Chapter 17 - Angelina

*For Harper Lee*

 

 

Might as well walk my way to my bestie's house. Papa took the Prius and I had no one at home, as I expected my mind vortexed to the assault and my sleep was full of triggers of Merrick's face and Melody's verbal taunts. 

 

By the time I arrived at Silver Creek Estates, just a few blocks from the crime scene, I saw Samantha playing basketball with her little brother, Daunte, who just turned 10 years old a couple weeks ago. 

 

"Angel! Hi, what are you doing here?" asked Daunte, watching me walk up the drive way.

 

"I got suspended," I replied. "But don't say anything to anyone."

 

"Sam, you both faught the same girl?" asked Daunte. "Why are you crazy like this?"

 

"Daunte, get inside please," said Samantha, her braids in a high bun wearing sweatpants and a highlighter yellow shirt.

 

"Just don't get arrested while I'm gone," said Daunte.

 

"Don't say that!" I told him. "I'm already in trouble."

 

"Why did you get suspended?" asked Samantha. "Is it Melody?"

 

"No, a girl from some gang," I replied. "And I wanted to ask if you can help me with something."

 

"She hurt you? You're still swollen," said Samantha, with her legs apart and hands akimbo.

 

"Are you mad?" I asked. "She just started saying, "Drop Collin, Chink!" So loud and so aggressively in front of a crowd of students a couple days ago," I explained.

 

"I see," said Samantha. "It's not just about a racial issue I think. It's about Collin and how Melody wants him now."

 

"I get that," I said. "She should have talked instead of doing this. I need evidence of her crime."

 

"You reported? I thought you're working with the Hospital?" asked Samantha. "Who is the woman you told me about, Bernadine?"

 

"Mellinger, she's the SANE Nurse, yes I'm working with her," I told Samantha.

 

"Let's get inside. We can talk about this in the garden, it's not too cold," said Samantha.

 

We walked inside with a country home with light blue walls and white trimmings. Her couch was cream leather and the hardwood floor was waxed, with a few rugs on the floor on top of one another, Persian, Modern and China patterned with similar tones. We walked through the living room with her flat screen television and Samantha opened the glass sliding doors to her backyard garden. Roses, Peonies, and hydrangeas, and other perennials perfect for a flowering garden. Spring made her garden boasted with blooming beauties and we sat on the Victorian metal chairs.

 

"Do you to sit her or next to the flowers? On the grass?" Samantha asked.

 

"Let's sit here," I answered. We sat and I walked to the grass to touch the roses and caress the peonies and hydrangeas. I sat on the grass in front of them and Samantha came to sit next to me. I looked at the soils, and as usual, I searched for my favorite animals, the cuties roly-polies. Samantha and I met in elementary school and we would search for them when we had play dates, and put them inside a sand jar and let them curl up. I picked one up and let it rolled on my palm into a ball and I smiled, playing with it.

 

Samantha asked me, "What are you going to do now?"

 

"I don't know what to do," I answered. "I can only hope more tests results will come in and we can prove I was raped. I got the evidence I was, but no DNAs and nothing that showed a certain person did it. I can only accuse them, but without evidence."

 

"How is therapy going right now?" asked Samantha.

 

"It takes a village," I answered. "I felt like the sorry cause in everyone's love. The charity case, the loser, Asian, the broken life. The cursed woman."

 

"You can rise up, Angelina," said Samantha. "You can."

 

Samantha caressed the peonies in front of her as I searched for more roly-polies and placed them each inside my palms. After six or seven of these cuties, I got up and walked to the brick path and placed them on the ground.

 

"What are you doing?" asked Samantha, she got up and walked to me.

 

I stepped on the masses of roly-polies, and crushed them with my feet. I heard them crunch beneath me.

 

Samantha wailed, and screamed. "YOU CAN"T DO THAT!!!! They're your favorite! STOP THAT! THEY'RE MY ROLy-POLIES!"

Samantha took my foot off the carcass of crushed souls on the brick path and slapped my shin.

 

"You take that back! You're just as guilty!" Samantha screamed at me.

 

"They're nothing! They're just insects! It's okay to kill them!" I yelled back at them.

 

"Oh, it's okay to kill animals that are beneath you? You're beneath Merrick and Melody in status! It's okay to rape you?!" Samantha was in wrath. "You're just as low as them. We used to play with these polies! You're being stupid!"

 

"I'm the rape victim here! You're the stupid one!" I threw my arms at her. "I needed to feel better about myself."

 

"It's not okay to harm someone more fragile than you, or less fortunate, or lesser than in any way or forms! Do you understand that?!" Samanta said. "Merrick and Melody are sadists. It's inhumane to gang rape. Every creature, human or animal or even plants are sovereign. They're important, Angel!"

 

"Why? I need my power back!" I yelled in so much anger that my eyes teared and I felt warm from the jaundiced heart.

 

"You think they don't have value, Angel? Because they eat dirt?" Samantha asked.

 

"There are so many of them! It's okay!" I replied. 

 

"No, it's not okay. There are a lot of Chinese girls, and it's not okay to rape them, or to throw them in the forests to abandon them. There are a lot of Congolese women, but it's not okay to use them as a sacrifice to make the men feel more powerful," said Samantha. "Ahimsa, Angel. Have you learnt anything from your therapy?"

 

"What is Ahimsa?" I asked. "What does it have to do with me? I'm the victim here."

 

"You just proved to me that you're just as a perpetrator as the Johnsons," said Samantha. "Do no harm, and you need to start practicing love and non-violence, for everything, Ahimsa. Humans are emotionally rich, Angel. That's what separates us from animals. I understand you have a lot of emotions, but even animals deserve mercy and love. Misplaced anger leads to violence, Angel. You will perpetuate the cycle all over again."

 

"I'm so sorry, Samantha," I said, my heart trembled and the side of my waist felt stabbed, as I was the sacrificial lamb for the dracula at the next block just a few miles away from this sacred home.

 

"You can't keep hurting animals you love, and think it's okay because they're easy to harm," said Samantha. "They're just a beautiful as you, Angel." Samantha walked to the soil underneath the roses and peonies. "They fertilize my flowers. The more of them, the better and healthier the soils and the more blooms and beautiful blossoms for my Spring."

 

"I am so sorry, Samantha," I said, sobbing.

 

"These flowers were on the side of your temples, when you and I played together. When my Dad loses a case for his trials, he comes to the flowers, and smells them to put a smile to his face. And they just put a healing spirit into yours, Angel," said Samantha. "These are the magic of those roly-polies. They are oh so valuable, sweetie. They are our friends."

 

"How come I was chosen to be hurt by them?" I asked Samantha, hoping to have a validation for their rape.

 

"It's a crime, Angel. They didn't value you," said Samantha. "Their ethics and foundation were flawed inherently."

 

"I feel like trash," I told Samantha.

 

"Do you think these insects have value in this world, now?" Samantha asked.

 

"Yes, they do," I answered.


"What about homeless people? Do you think they have value?" Samantha asked, and we were silent for a while.

 

"I wish the better for them. So, yes," I answered. I tried to wipe my tears, as it kept flowing because I knew Samantha was angry at me.

 

"Good. What about people of different races? Do you think any of them are valuable? Black Lives, Jewish, White, LatinX, Asians, Koreans, Indigents, the Handicaps, homeless kids? Do you think any of them add value to the world?" Samantha asked.

 

"I do, but why didn't Melody value me?" I retaliated. "I want to be valued just as much."

 

"I know, sweetie," Samantha cried. "I wish it never happened. But it's not your place or your right to hurt others who are just as fragile and innocent as you."

 

"Nurse Maria said Merrick had a girlfriend at Silver Creek," I said, tears in my eyes, six feet apart from Samantha, a little awkward but I knew she was still on my side. "We need to talk to her. I want to talk to her. I value her, too."

 

"Where does she live?" Samantha asked. "Is she at CU student, too?"

 

"No, she dropped out," I said. "Something must have happened to her."

 

The tears came out and what felt like water, flowed down from my nostrils to my mouth. My soul sobbed but my face was staunched in defense. My emotions had changed so much in a split second and I could hardly control them. I didn't know what I felt and how I felt, all I could feel were tears and shame, as I fell to my knees and to the ground. My anxiety overwhelmed me because I felt interrogated by Samantha, when I wanted to be held and comforted.

 

"Angel!" Samantha screamed. "Are you okay? I'm sorry, Angel. I'm sorry. I was hard on you."

 

I kept sobbing and sat on the ground. Samantha sat in front of me. "The healing will take time. It's okay....I'm sorry I was hard on you."

 

"I know they're valuable, Sam," I sobbed to her. "I just didn't deserved the rape."

 

"No one deserves rape," said Samantha. "This is not your fault. I love you, kid." Samantha's hug felt warm like home.

 

 

 

Chapter 18 - Ichabod

 

 

 

Raphael, Gabriel and Michael sat in a circle, in meditation with tears in their eyes. I walked around the room, and my head spun like a dradle.

 

"How is this possible?" I asked them in whispers.

 

The guardian angels confided in me before this moment, that with each evil action committed by human beings, came an equal and opposite reaction as vast and impactful as the origin. Sadly, evil beget evil and equally disastrous events manifested all across the world.

 

A young East Indian maiden walked across a bridge and wanted to use the restroom when a group of men attacked her and assaulted her, eventually murdering her. A young girl in Saudi Arabia was mauled by a soldier who belonged to the terrorist groups spanning all across the Middle East. Along with the atrocities, the ocean lost a fertile Orca and its baby because the sharks around it felt hungry and attacked the birthing mother. Somehow, someway, the devil's thumb had touched the otherwise different yet normal lives all throughout the universe, because a beautiful butterfly was assaulted in Silver Creek, Colorado. If one life was lost, another was an effect of it, and another affected by that loss and it went on. Everything had a purpose and a season to everything on Earth.

 

Raphael, Gabriel and Michael sat in silence, breathing in the suffering of humanity inside their heart, torn apart, heart and gut wrenched out of their joys. Their eyes in tears as Raphael had his staff next to him, and Michael had his sword to the side, and Gabriel kept the small hour glass inside his palm, in prayers with it.

 

"You are now my witness, my son," said Raphael. "There is an effect to everything in the Universe."

 

"Time and space had no meaning with this type of gros infection to the innocent," said Gabriel. "I tried to stop time and ceased its mutations, but it kept permutating. It felt hopeless for so many, Ichabod. Your Angelina will feel it in time."

 

Michael breathed in, and sobbed, closing his eyes. "I couldn't use my sword against them," he said. "They were possessed spirits, as if gaseous matters escaped the sacred ark of the covenant. A loss of good in a few hours, effects the whole world, Ichabod. It compounds to the depths of death."

 

"How can I fix this?" I asked them. "Can I help you somehow? You said I was chosen."

 

"She has to experience a rebirth, a new love, grown from within, without the presence of fear," Raphael replied. "But, you are too young to understand."

 

"What if I surrender everything and but let the good to be our means and hope for the good to be the end," I asked again. I turned to Michael, "Not everything needs a sword, Michael. Your heart, it kills multitudes of evils."

 

Michael turned to me, and said, "Then you must fight for her."

 

"Fight against whom?" I asked.

 

"Against the world, the circumstances, the injustice, the law, all of it!" Gabriel replied. "It was unjust and inhumane, therefore, you can help, in some peculiar ways, but it will good help."

 

"Can you see the people involved?" I asked. "You said, there were some you knew of, besides Merrick."

 

"You mean, disect their lives?" Gabriel asked me, his brown eyes widened. "I have never done that before."

 

"If you can hold time and space," I said. "You can see the past and hold it into Michael's Eye of the Universe."

 

"Raphael, what say you?" Michael asked.

 

"I will need to pray and ask for guidance if we are to dissect human lives and souls for observation," Raphael said.

 

"Please, Raphael," I pleaded. 

 

The guardian Angels sat back down in a circle, and closed their eyes.

 

To be continued, ... Just write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ICHABOD FRENZY - Chapter 13, 14, & 15

Chapter 13 – Ichabod

 

 

Sweat pearls ran down the back of my neck as Sunjit and I ignored the biting air of the cold morning. We ran parri passu as the heat from our bodies warmed us from the cold air on the tracks, because four miles must go on without incident every Wednesday morning.

 

"Last round, feeling a cramp coming," Sunjit said. His tall stature at a lean six-two often slowed in his pace for me, several inches shorter.

 

"Yah, call it," I replied, with deep inhales and long exhales, normalizing my breath.

 

"Now," said Sunjit, opening his arm in the air and slowing down to a stop.

 

We hurried to the showers and afterwards, Sunjit sat in front of me near our locker benches.

 

"So I'll need your help, Ike," Sunjit said, as he put on socks.

 

"What about?" I asked, putting on my shirt over my Levi's jeans.

 

"I like her, Samantha, I can already tell. But, she'll take some convincing, which I am not quite prepared for. I saw her before and I know she's a good one. So, I'm going the distance with this one," Sunjit said, as he grabbed his shoes from inside his locker to put them on.

 

I rolled on my deodorant and listened, intently.

 

"A week, Ike, … for a friend," said Sunjit. "That's some balls she's got." Sunjit shook his head and ran his fingers through his wavy hair. His chiseled jaw locked again, and closed his deep-set light brown eyes. "Never thought Silver Creek would have a physical fight."

 

"What's my role? In this love quest?" I asked him. A Romeo must reserve proper plans to woo his Juliet. What good would a love quest be without a plan?

 

"It's her heart Ike, I just know. I know she's pretty, but she has this screen against the world. I felt it. I love girls with screens, they watch out for themselves. They don't mess," said Sunjit, as he ties his shoes.

 

"I know she's smart. She's in my AP History and AP Calculus," I said, sitting on the locker bench.

 

"I'm just blown away by everything she is. She's daring, beautiful, and she just makes a package," Sunjit said, shivering from his hot emotional angst for Samantha. "Picture her on the tracks…miles and miles with anger and blood."

 

I held my smile frozen on my face, trying with all of might not to laugh at him, as he ran in place like a woman in her aerobics class. But, the room came to an awkward silence as Collin walked in from basketball practice. He sat down on the bench, and opened his locker on the bottom row, for those starting with the letters G, as in…Goodendaag, the name of the international chain restaurant best known for its European desserts and fresh baked breads for appetizers in all of St.Vrain Valley.

 

Collin's ancestors were born in the Netherlands and started the chain based in Boulder, and now his family owned all the Goodendaags Bistros in all of the United States, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and South America. It was known for its attention to details fo its desserts and the mixture of flavors in their dishes that were heirloom recipes from Collin's great grandparents. I knew of this was because my own philandering father worked for a company who dealt with restaurant chains, and Collin's parents were one of his best allies. I doubt anyone else knew, because Collin's family was very private. Words did linger about how Collin was steady with Angelina, but Collin never boasted and Angelina never talked about their private romance to others.

 

The sight of Collin irritated me as I slammed my locker in front of him because I knew underneath the peaceful demeanor was a bourgeouise with connections to the Merrick's Steak House. My melamine sword might be foolish but I wasn't born yesterday.

 

Sunjit whispered to me, "I know Ike, I know," he made me slow down for a moment before leaving the locker room. "Look, I know you want Angel. I feel it, and I want Samantha. It's a worthy effort, Ike. C'mon, follow me," Sunjit pleaded.

 

"Okay, here is the deal, Angel is hurt bad. I know Collin won't stay. He's just not the type. But, I don't know if she would want me, Sunjit," I told him. "I'm not the star student, the basket ball player, the rich asshole with a yatcht!"

        

"We get closer to Samantha, and you get closer to Angelina," said Sunjit, his right hand moving from one side to the other.

        

"What about Collin?" I asked.

        

"We know he's going to break up, for sure. It's his status. He owns all that foofy diner in every county. We all know this. They can't afford to get involved. Trust me, they have to keep a face," said Sunjit.

        

I wanted to tell my best friend everything I saw inside my dream… and those guardians. I looked around the room for Michael, but he was nowhere in sight.

        

"What? What's wrong, Ike?" asked Sunjit, tapping my forehead. "Focus! You have got to focus!" Sunjit formed two O's with his hands, pretending they were binoculars over his own eyes. "Focus, that's the key to our success! It's about us right now. Not Collin."

       

"Okay...okay. I don't know if she's going to like me," I said.

 

"Ike, we can't be nice about this. First of all, Angel was hurt by someone. So even if we're not involved, we still have enemies. They're the people who don't like our girls," said Sunjit. "Melody Johnson and her possé. She's rich, so by virtue in the real world, she's a princess."

        

"Princess from Silver Creek. Some title," I said. "There aren't real princesses anymore, not one with true valor and honest hearts."

        

"Wait, … are you listening? It's from outside….," Sunjit said. A soft chanting echoed through the air passage in the locker room. We followed it through the tremors on the walls as if hundreds of students were chanting loudly in unison.

        

"Fight! Fight! Fight!" We ran outside as the crowd of hundreds of students surrounded the quad in front of the school building.

        

"No, she can't!" I gasped, as I panicked and ran into the circle.

        

A dark-skinned brunette with skinny jeans and black tank top was taunting Angelina in front of everyone. "Drop Collin, chink!" said the Latina. "Loser, you're dad is a low life, minimum wage worker. You're selling high, chink."

        

"I'm not selling anything. We've been together for two years," Angelina shouted.

        

"You slept with a lot of men at the party, ceena. Words get around. You pulled a line! Whorrific line," the girl said.

 

The crowd of students were silent, but one instigator yelled out, "You going to take that, Angel?"

        

"Ceena, he's for a Latina, bitch. Our people got here first. America was Mexico, chink. We belong here. You're the true immigrant, taking up space and stealing our men. You need to date low, not high," said the girl.

        

"Oh…I see…I see!" yelled Sunjit. "It's about the money! Show me the money!"

        

The Latina stepped closer to Angelina and said to her, "You slept around. You're not clean no more. You're nothing but a slut, a has been."

        

Angelina slapped her, and immediately the girl punched Angelina's face. Angelina shielded her face with her hands, and tried to punch the girl but missed her target. The Latina grabbed Angelina's hair and yanked it as Angelina side swiped the brunette with her right leg as the girl fell and Angelina kicked her face. The Latina got up and violently punched Angelina on her face multiple times as Sunjit took the Latina and grabbed her arms to her back.

        

I took Angelina behind the crowd to the grassy lawn as she dropped to the ground in a fetal position from pain and shame. The crowd of students were perhaps embarrassed as they dispersed quietly, disappointed in the horrendous ordeal over a small matter of high school romances.

        

"Back off from Collin!" said the violent brunette, her knuckles with Angel's blood.

        

"You both just back off from each other, right now," Sunjit said, calmly taking his hands away from the girl's arms and letting her run to a nearby car with two men inside.

        

"Mind your own business!" Sunjit yelled to them. "Stay away from our school!"

        

Angelina wrestled me as she tried to get up off the grass to chase after the girl.

 

"Hey, hey, stop this, STOP THIS," I said to Angelina to calm her down and held her torso with my arms.

        

"You don't belong with Collin, ceena. You're miss saigon, concubine culture bitch! You're a second wife to someone else, chink!" yelled the derogatory girl.

        

"Stop! Stop talking to her like this! Who are you? Hey, psycho, who are you?!" yelled Sunjit to the girl inside the Camaro. The two men inside the car pulled out their middle finger and lifted them high in the air to Sunjit, and drove off school grounds.

        

Sunjit was livid and turned to the crowd of students. "You're all sea cucumbers! Flacid! All of you! You couldn't break that up?! Was it that difficult?" Sunjit screamed to the crowd of high schoolers standing around us. "You know who I am?! I'm a positive bystander! You need some education! All of you!"

        

The crowd scattered away, and Growling Rawlins came late to the scene and blew his whistle as everyone walked away.

        

"Angel, who was that?! Angel, are you okay," asked Assistant Principal Rawlins.

        

I let go of my hold of her torso as she wilted to the ground like a dying sunflower.

        

"I didn't do anything wrong," Angelina cried, her arms over her face. "I didn't know her."

        

"It's okay. That girl was dangerous. You're okay, Angel. You didn't hurt anyone," I said, with the hope that my words brought comfort to her soul. Sunjit stood in front of me as his eyes welled up in tears.

        

"Angel, can you let me know what happened for a minute," asked Growling Rawlins.

        

"She just came at me, saying that I need to back off from Collin," Angelina said, in a soft whimpering sob. "I didn't do anything wrong Mister Rawlins. I don't know her."

        

"Does Collin or anyone know them?" asked Assistant Principal Rawlins.

        

"I think Melody should. That stupid cheerleader probably told them to attack her!" Sunjit said behind Assistant Principal Rawlins.

        

"Okay, Angel, can you please go to the nurse's office right now, …again?" asked Assistant Principal Rawlins. "You need to clean up your eyes. They're both swollen."

        

Assistant Principal Rawlins ran towards the school as he growled and said, "I can't believe this is happening!" Sunjit and I covered our ears from the harrowing sound.

        

Blood dripped from the corner of Angelina's right eyebrow. I kissed her head and as she wigled to get out of my tight hug.

        

"Who are you?" Angelina said, as she sobbed and looked to my shirt that was wet from her blood, snot and tears.

        

"It's okay, you're fine," I said, patting the back of her shoulder. "It's Ichabod. Ichabod Frenzy."

        

"Ike, take her to the nurse's office," said Sunjit. His brain was always made a few seconds faster than mine it seemed. He saw an opportunity and called it, as I stood in front of this traumatized maiden, blushing because her snot was on my shirt.

        

"Let's get up Angel, I'll walk you to the nurse's office," I said, lifting her up from the ground to go inside.

        

"You know my name," said Angelina. "She attacked me. I didn't know that girl."

        

"Don't worry. Let's get you some cold compress," I said, taking her bag to walk inside the school.

        

"I'll talk to you later, Ike. I have to calm down for a minute," said Sunjit, with his hands on his hips and fuming.

        

"Thank you, what's your name?" said Angelina to Sunjit, offering to shake his hand.

        

"Sunjit. Sunjit Fajar," said Sunjit, shaking her hand. "Ike and I are in the track team, and fantasy club. I'm so sorry this happened to you, Angel."

        

"How come you both know my name? I've never seen you guys before," asked Angelina.

        

"Don't worry about that. We heard good things," I replied, and coughed as if something was inside my throat. I breathed in, confused because I did not inhale any air and as I looked around, Michael was leaning near the entrance to the school doors with his sword and a smile.

        

"Later Ike, I'll call you," said Sunjit, as he ran inside school grounds, and the rest of the students disappeared.

        

"So, you're a cheerleader?" I asked, with her bag over my shoulders and my own backpack on the other.

        

"No, I quit the squad," she said, her lips tightening and closing her eyes, as she must felt the sting from the punch. 

        

"Because of the fight? A couple of days ago?" I asked.

        

Angelina stared at me with her dagger eyes pursing her lips, perhaps from annoyance.

        

"Okay, it was," I said, my eyes to the ground. "I'm really sorry."

        

We paced each other, listening to each other's breath and hoping one of us would start a conversation again. We entered the school and saw Assistant Principal Rawlins inside the administration office behind the glass doors. Collin was inside the office with Assistant Principal Rawlins, sitting inside the office with tears in his eyes. He saw Angelina walking in the hallway, and their eyes met.

        

"Collin! What's going on?" said Angelina, rushing into Assistant Principal Rawlins's office.

        

Collin stepped out of the office although Assistant Principal Rawlins told him to stay inside. "Hey, Collin! I'm talking to you, son!" Assistant Principal Rawlins yelled at him sternly.

        

"I don't know what's going on Angel, but I'm infuriated. I'm being asked stupid questions, and..." Collin couldn't finish his sentence, because Growling Rawlins pulled him by the shoulders to step back inside.

        

Assistant Principal Rawlins closed the door behind him for privacy and Collin sat on the chair with his elbows on his knees and folding his hands into a fist.

        

"Let's go, let him be alone for a bit. You need to get some help, Angel," I said to Angelina.

        

"I am so worried," said Angelina, looking behind her into Growling Rawlins's office.

        

In front of me as if waiting for an update, was Raphael. I bit my lower lip and walked slowly as I twitched my hands, nervous for what was beneath this divine presence.

        

"Go in the nurse's office. I have to go to class," I said to Angelina. I felt prickles of needles piercing into my skin, all over his body. Was Raphael mad at me? Please, please, please don't let this be a psychotic episode. What did I do now?

        

"Let Collin make his decision before you pursue her," said Raphael. "You are one of us! There shall be punishment if you pursue her now." I cringed at his voice, that was once comforting, now demanding. "Your must wait patiently," Raphael said, as he pounded his staff on the ground, and disappeared.

 

 

 

Chapter 14 – Angelina

 

 

 

"You have quite a tumultuous life, Angelina," said Maria, Silver Creek High School Nurse, dabbing antiseptic on my eyebrows.

        

"I didn't plan it this way," I said, cringing from the sting.

        

"It will hurt for a minute, but let the ointment seep in and I'll just put a couple of small band-aids on it," she said.

        

"I don't know who that girl was. She just wanted to fight me," I said.

        

"Well, the principal will take care of that. For now, we want you to go to therapy with Bernadine's program," said Maria. "She called just to make sure you were under their treatment plan."

        

"What did she say?" I asked. I was worried Bernadine just gave my personal information to the general public.

        

"She told me that you came to her program and by law, we had to ask if it was an emergency. She said it was a treatment plan. I'll arrange the small bus to take you to her right now," said Maria. "Don't worry about school for a week. I think you should be given some time off. I'll tell your teachers that you're going on appointments all day for health reasons. Your eyes are fine. It's just cuts and bruises. The therapy is important, you should do that now."

        

I picked up my bag, as my heart fell to the ground. I was afraid I was suspended because of the two fights, but a part of me didn't care. I had to survive and I was defending myself.

        

"Tell Bernadine that you need to apply for government assistance," said Maria. "I know your dad works at China 2000. We go there to get take out."

        

"Thank you, Maria," I replied.

        

"You reminded me of another girl a long time ago, Ursula," Maria said.

        

"Ursula? Was she also hurt?" I asked.

        

"She was, but she never said why. I had a feeling she was assaulted, but she never told me," said Maria. "I saw her a couple of times, because she was in danger of self-harm, but she dropped out, and I never saw her again. I call her Ursula Bonita."

        

"Was she in cheer?" I asked Maria.

 

Maria had tears in her eyes and replied, "Yes, she was. She was Merrick's girlfriend. She was lead and she was a great dancer. But, ...she never came back to school."

 

There was a knock on my heart when Maria informed me, to find Ursula and ask her what happened to her life. "The last time I saw her was at the King Soopers in Westminster. But, you better get going, Angel. Stay strong and keep going," said Maria.

        

I took my bag and walked out of Maria's office and down the hallway. As I walked out to the smaller bus to go to the Silver Creek Hospital, I saw Collin inside Mister Rawlin's office. His face and eyes were red as he folded his hands behind his head and leaned back on his chair. Growling Rawlins was speaking to him inside his office, but as Mister Rawlins saw me, he walked to his office window and closed the shades.

        

I walked outside to find the small bus waited for me and as I rode inside, my mind took me back to the first time Collin and I met at the gym, during our practice after school. He was a Junior and I was a Freshman, and high school was so bright and new. As I walked out of the bus, arriving at Bernadine's office, I felt a lift to my shoulders and a soft breeze to my face.

        

"It takes an angel to know another," I heard the voice inside my head. Bernadine waited for me and I sat on the couch where I first introduced myself.

 

"How was school this morning? I heard you got into a fight?" asked Bernadine.

        

I remained still and quiet. Bernadine sighed and sat next to me, holding with her pieces of papers that looked like the results of the SANE exam.

          

"Angelina, I will go right to the matter, because no one anticipates being drugged. But, getting back to the matter, I think there has to be at least two or more people involved. It might be some group of men at the party. The exposure is for a long period of time and with a heavy weight. If it was with an object, there would have been more lacerations or even more swelling, but it seems like it was a natural entry, but prolonged."

        

"Merrick was in a fraternity. I think his brothers were there," I said.

        

"Yes, I mean that. A group of men who know each other well enough to keep this a secret," said Bernadine.

        

I looked to the wall in front of me and realized I was assaulted by more than one person during a party.

        

"Angelina, dear," says Bernadine, sitting closer next to her. "Sometimes we don't know why certain things happen. I didn't know why I was hurt when I was either."

        

"You were hurt, too?" Angelina looks into Bernadine's eyes, and saw a gentle soul, tender and wise, and most of all, experienced.

        

"Well, my husband. He wasn't very good to me when he drinks. Sometimes he would hurt me at night, and I wouldn't know why," Bernadine said.

        

"He's an alcoholic, that's why," I replied.

        

"Yes, but it's more than that, dear," says Bernadine. "I want to show you something. We can move on from this suffering."

        

Bernadine drew an X and Y intercepting graphs on a piece of paper.

        

"This is the X and Y quadrant and this entire graph represents progress in a person's life over time. When I was trained as a provider, I was shown this graph. The X axes represents the time it takes to progress for a person to get from one point in life to the next. The Y axes represent the actual progress, such as getting into a better state of mind, better professional career, and so on. Every time something progressive happens, you move up a notch," said Bernadine.

        

Bernadine drew a curve from the zero point of the X and Y axes, like sloping bowl, curving upward slowly at first, then curving steeper later on the X axes.

        

"This curve is the progress of you, the victim, if you don't get a lot of help. It's a slow start, dear. It's okay. It's going to be a slow start, but see, later in life, it will get better," Bernadine said, as she pointed to the steep slope on the X axes, as time went on.

        

Bernadine drew another curve on the same graph, this time, the curve began with a steep slope from the zero point on the X axes. It is so steep that it was linear upwards, but after some time further on the X axes of time, it plateaued to a steady slope.

        

"This is a progress of a normal life without tragedy. It goes fast, dear. It just goes from one progress to another, holding everything as normal and progress is achievable. Then, it plateaus as the progress reaches its peak. A normal person with a normal life, assuming he or she has opportunities, will have the chance to reach their potential," said Bernadine, as she pointed to the high and steady state progress in life.

        

After she drew the two curves, she highlighted the areas in between the two curves. "This portion right here, the area in between the normal vs. rape victim's life progress. What do you think this represents?" Bernadine asked.

        

"Hhmm....the difference between a normal progress and a rape victim's life progress?" I said, as I took a guess.

        

"You're a smart one. This difference is achievable. By virtue of this theory, you can achieve normal progress, instead of having this slow curving slope," said Bernadine, as she pointed to the curve sloping slowly. "You can close the gap and get to this normal curve, with a lot of help."  She pointed to the normal life progress curve. "I know some days you feel life is impossible, but keep working at it. Get help from me, from your nurse, your father, and Daisy."

        

I was in awe because I knew I needed help, but I didn't know how much help I needed, until I met Bernadine. Her honesty broke down the barrier of confusion and loss. I was eager to learn and eager to begin again.

 

"You will have to see all of us in tandem, dear. It's impossible to heal if you don't. It's all free, or at least at a sliding scale, and if you have insurance, all the better. I also signed you up for Victim's Assistance Program and Medicaid, and you will have the answer in a couple of weeks," said Bernadine. "Angel, you will recover from this."

 

"Thank you, Bernadine," I said, with teary eyes in endearing gratitude and honor for this woman, this angel, and this life-saver.

 

"Oh, Angelina, don't cry. This is why you have to keep with your health care. I don't want you to cry over silly things like me. It's my job, dear. I get paid to do this, because I love it! You don't cry anymore, here is a tissue box," said Bernadine, reaching for the tissue box and handing it over to me. "I have to tell you something else."

 

"Is it the Model Minority Myth? And how not a lot of Asian Americans report sexual assaults?" I asked. My tears peeked out and rolled down my cheeks.

        

"But, it's a façade, Angel. It's just a graph. It does show the racial breakdown of the different races in the United States in their median wage and income with Asian Americans as the highest, but what the graph should show is the number of access available for every race and ethnicity in the United States," said Bernadine. "We felt that with the income gap, we assume Asian Americans have access to everything, but that is not always true. Also, the truth was, labeling Asian Americans as a 'model minority' closes the opportunity for those who are impoverished in this racial bracket to gain services and resources. It became a hindrance to a lot of people. Making them feel embarrassed to seek help, especially in justice, mental health and health care. This under-reporting perpetuates the 'model minority myth' because people feel everything is okay with Asian Americans, but there are actually room for improvements."

        

"Are people afraid that Asian Americans will become a majority?" I asked.

        

"We are all important, as everyone has value in the community. The major ethnic groups in the United States are White, African Americans and Hispanics or Latino/Latina, but that's not the cause of the rape, Angel. What caused the rape is the misconceptions that you, Angelina, an Asian American woman, will be a threat to them, the assaulting party," said Bernadine. "The power in the world is mostly male, and the female species became a threat when they have the same clout and power as a man that his authority is jeapordized. The different ethinicities saw opportunity in you, just as the people who assaulted you saw a future in you, and they felt threatened by it. People will find every derogatory issue and anything controversial to harm you. Blaming for a disease, for access, for a genetic feature, for politics, for religion, for income, and anything else they felt necessary to oppress or tear down. It is what people do to one another, and sometimes they kill and rape to make a statement. It is the "majority rules" theory, that the group with the most common ideals will win the race, and sometimes they are desperate that they do so with violence, rape, murder, hate crimes. The same thing is going on with terrorism, and we saw that brutally with 9/11. But, we must not let violence take control, no matter what race they are. We have to work together to resolve it."

        

"It feels like everyone hates me, accusing me of something I did not do," I said. "That I was out to steal someone else's man. Or that I am with Collin because I want to marry rich, or because I'm only interested in certain traits of men."

        

"People just want control, Angelina. And they want their race to be higher than the rest. It's survival of the fittest, and you are in the minority, being Chinese-Indonesian and an immigrant," said Bernadine. "They wanted to hurt you so you won't succeed. The same way White Supremacists hurts everyone in this country. Don't take anything the accusers say to heart. They have no idea what your walk looks like, and they have never lived in a third-world country before. They assume without education and knowledge, and they felt entitled to their opinion when their opinion in your walk as an immigrant was negatively skewed. Stay away from them, the unhealthy men and women."

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

"That should be the officer," said Bernadine.

 

"It's a hot day today and all this black ain't helping me," he said, wiping his sweat from his forehead and neck with his handkerchief.

 

"Officer, I told her and we can start the investigation now. There were some fraternity boys there. I didn't get the names yet, but I thought you should talk to her first."

        

"Angel! It's so great to see you," said Officer Fineman.

        

"Hi, Officer," I said, with a giggle because Officer Fineman reminded me of a big jolly uncle she never had.

        

"So, Bernadine told you, I take it?" Officer Fineman sat down on the couch. "This is my job here and I have to take the continued evidence because I'm the one assigned to your case."

        

"I remember them, I just don't know their faces. I don't really remember everything," said Angelina.

        

"Don't worry. I was about to sign off the case to someone else, but Bernadine here reminded me that it is always better to just have one person for the report. With different people you will have to start the story over and over again. It's a repetitive trauma for you, so we don't want to do that," said Officer Fineman.

        

"I'm glad you didn't think I was lying," I said.

        

"Getting back to that night, do you remember the fraternity? You said it was Melody's party, what does she have to do with the fraternity?" asked Officer Fineman.

        

"Well, Melody's brother was the past quarterback for Silver Creek and he just got a scholarship to CU Boulder. His name is Merrick, like the restaurant. They own that chain, the one in Westminster and Denver," I said.

        

"Oh, I didn't realize they owned the actual restaurant. Merrick, the same spelling as the restaurant, M…E…R…R…I…C…K?" he asked. "Angel, I'm going to have to dig deeper into this. It's been known that in this area there are a lot of assaults at frat parties, but you're in high school. We haven't had this happen in a while. College students involving high schoolers, in this area."

        

"Do you think Merrick and his friends might be the people who hurt me?" I asked. "I suspected the same thing."

        

"I can't confirm anything, but I am going to have to ask them some questions. I will do that for you, because you filed a report and there are witnesses of the trauma, at the hospital. I'm not about to ignore you, kid," said the officer.

        

"What do I need to do, Officer?" I asked.

        

"Take care of yourself and if you have any more information or you need anything, you can give me a call," he said.

 

 

 

Chapter 15 - Ichabod

 

 

"Orcs! Orcs! Orcs!!! Settle down, and take your seats!" I had to scream in the midst of these high school creatures in our Fantasy club.

 

Michael stood in the back of the classroom, with his sword in his hand, practicing his slices with the air. I rolled my eyes and he whispered, "I can cut you." I gasped and focused on the Orcs again.

 

"What is the deal with these fights? Niwot High never had one, what happened?" asked Shane. Shane was our After School Fantasy Club President from Niwot High School, as we often held meetings monthly at Silver Creek High, to prepare for The Battle of the Goar, that happened each year as our celebration together. His six-feet frame had to sit on top of the table because his long legs would have to be cut in half to fit the seat. "I've been travelling for my gigs, so update me." Shane was contracted with a Japanese modeling agency with a branch in Denver, as his Japanese mother and African American father encouraged him to pursue a career with his good looks. 

 

"What gigs, Shane?!" asked Fanny, one of our Orcs in Silver Creek Fantasy Club. "Can you share some cute pictures?"

 

"Tell ya later, gorgeous!" said Shane. He blew her a kiss and Fanny giggled. The rest of the Orcs shouted, "Get a room!"

 

"Angelina, she's the cheer co-lead, and ...," Sunjit began to explain.

 

"CHINA DOLL?!" Tim said, flabbergasted. "She's in a fight? OMG!" Tim was an Orc at the Boulder High School Fantasy Club, and he was the loudest tow head anyone could possibly meet in a lifetime.

 

"Yah...got socked in the face, about four or five times," said Fanny, punching her right eye, jokingly. Fanny was Chess champion at ten years old in Burlington Elementary in Longmont, and during middle school, she would travel to Washington D.C, for a tournament, and came back with a trophy. She joked to everyone that she got it in East Los Angeles in some alley because a man needed cash to replace his stolen wheels.

 

"She got hurt, Orkc," I said, to everyone in the room.

 

"What's the stats here....what kind? How bad? Who's involved?" asked Tim. "Why her?"

 

"We all know Collin Goodendaag, right?" I said.

 

Sunjit scratched his head, and said, "It's all about the money!"

 

"They couldn't just ask her for some sugar?" asked Shane. "I mean....not that sugar, but you know...the kind you bake with."

 

"Lame..," said Fanny. "Stick to modeling, Shane."

 

Shane threw her a kiss and Fanny caught it and planted it on her forehead.

 

"Why not just ask her out? I heard it was a glow-in-the-dark party," said Shane. "What kind of rich people party like this in the middle of Spring?"

 

"First of all, Angelina, is Collin's girlfriend, and now everyone wants them to break up," I said. "I think they should just break up."

 

"Wait,...they hurt her because someone wants Collin? To get in his pants or bank account?" asked Jennifer, another Orc from Boulder High School Fantasy Club.

 

"Basically," said Sunjit. "You know....they had to make it dramatic, otherwise she'll make a come back."

 

"Oh, I see. Hurt her forever, so her man won't be back....ever...like forever...ever," said Fanny.

 

"What does this have to do with us?" asked Tim. "I'm a little worried, because we're talking fraternity men. We're still boys. We're not in our twenties and we sure don't carry condoms in our wallets."

 

"Why would you carry a condom in your wallet, Tim?" asked Fanny. "You're asexual!"

 

"Hey! Hey! Stop that!" yelled Tim. He stood up and measured Fanny's arms and told her, "You're overgrown.....sideways!"

 

Fanny shook her head and ignored him. Sunjit and I giggled. Fanny and Tim always had sarcastic remarks for each other, coming from rival schools and living as nextdoor neighbors, sometimes things become intense in their neighborhood.

 

"Listen up...here is what we're going to do," I said.

 

 

To be continued, Just write.

 

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ICHABOD FRENZY - Chapter 4 & 5

Chapter 4 – Angelina

 

 

"Papa, may I use your car?" I asked him. It was six o'clock in the evening, and the annual-year-end cheerleading bash at Melody's house will commence in fifteen minutes. "I just need it for tonight."

 

Hot iron was made for long silky hair and the style felt prim and proper. It was a gift under-appreciated by some, but a golden nugget for this superstar.

 

"It's the last party Papa. I just want to end the school year with a lot of fun." A few fragrant spots of 'Pleasures,' on my wrists and my clavicle, and now I'm ready to go.

 

"Don't come home too late," my father said, dangling the key to the family's Toyota Prius. He placed it on the bathroom counter, and kissed me on my forehead.

 

My father, Tom, worked as the chef of China 2000, a local Chinese take-out in Silver Creek. His young face has often been falsely mistaken for an amateur cook with no experience. To the contrary, my father was once a premier chef of a swanky restaurant in Chinatown, New York, before moving to Silver Creek, Colorado, on contract with the current establishment.

 

The poor son of a rice farmer in rural China, who impregnated my mother out of wedlock in a small village, he had no status to marry my mother, Sun-Chen (Sunny), a Chinese Princess of a noble Lee family, who was deemed the imperial jade of the small town they lived in.  My father was just the creek pebble, and marriage with Sunny had to involve equal worth of valuables and lineage. There was no other way, other than to run from the predicament and escaped to Jakarta, Indonesia.

 

My mother, Sunny, was the one who left my father in Jakarta, after giving birth to me, Angelina. Her family wanted status to remain in their lineage, so she was later arranged to marry the heir of a tobacco plantation for financial stability. My father had no prospect for a future, nor respect, but a super chunk of a beautiful daughter who proved to be his path to America. I was the reason he moved, so I will be the reason he succeeds.

 

"Don't drink anything with alcohol in it," he said, walking around our two-bedroom apartment searching for his spare keys.

 

"Papa, when have I ever gotten drunk?" I replied, my hands akimbo.  I brushed some last sprinkles of glittery powder on my shoulders, showing off my smooth skin.  Just a white tank top and blue jeans would work tonight. Nothing pretentious, and nothing too provocative. Sometimes, subtext to the mind gave more to the imagination.

 

"Just don't stay there too long. Pay your respects to Melody. Then go home," my father said. "I know what goes on at parties. I wasn't born yesterday."

 

"I'm going alone Papa, Collin's not coming," I told him.

 

"Why not? I thought they're friends?" he asked.

 

"No, Papa. Collin is completely mine. He's all about me, and me, and me," I told my father, pointing to my heart. I took the keys and kissed my father's cheeks. "I'll be home early."

 

"We'll see if Collin is Egg-Foo-Young or Peking Duck," my father said. He frowned upon parties during weekends. He told me it hollowed his heart because he always felt unsteady from the unknown without me in his arms. Once a princess in his eyes, I will always be.

 

"Love you, Papa. I'll be back, I promise," I said. I closed the door, because the evening awaited.

 

 

A dozen cars were parked on the curved driveway atop the regal hill of Silver Creek Estates.

 

"What kind of people can afford this neighborhood?" I asked myself, as I drove my small Red Prius closer to Melody's house. 

 

Silver Creek Estates was a gated community, in the upper crust of St. Vrain Valley, closer to Boulder. Multi-million dollars mansions surrounded the large private lake in the middle of the community.

 

I found a parking spot three full block away from the house, passing rows of Mercedes Benz, BMWs, Saabs, Hummers, and fancy sports cars.

 

"I love my little car," I said, in awe of the expensive alternatives.

 

The deck from the lake from a side angle gave me a glimpse of Melody's party. Floating tea candles were on the water with some paddle boats for kicks. It was a hot spring season, and the snow subsided, closing in on June.

 

"Get in, get out, and stay out of trouble," I mumbled to myself, charging off temptations for staying late, or being "lushed up" by alcohol, and peer pressure.

 

I rang the doorbell as the first few bars of Strauss, tuned from inside the house. I felt a stab to my right shoulder from behind me, as if a large needle prickled into my back pushing me forward onto the door. "O god! Who's there?!" I thought someone hurt me, and I touched my right shoulder, but it was normal. I looked around, yet nothing was around me.

 

"Where did that come from?" I wondered. "That hurt a lot!" I said, crossing my arms and touching my shoulders on both sides, but really, nothing was there.

 

The oval door knob twisted, as a girl in a white tube top opened it. Two dozen other Silver Creek High School seniors were dancing to The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," behind her.

 

"Here is our China Doll! HELL YEAH!" Melody yelled from behind the girl in the white tube top. She pulled me inside the house and hugged me, then squeaked a high note as she usually does upon excitement. Melody wore a black mini-strapless dress countouring her athletic body. Her hair was pixie brunette with blonde highlights, striking to her cute heart shaped face. With her hazel eyes, creamy light skin and cherub face, Melody no doubt deserved the title, "The Prettiest Girl in Silver Creek High School."

 

"Jeans? But, you always wear jeans!" Melody yelled at me. She squaked again, and this time, with a blink and a fast head shake for disapproval. No one around us cared to listen about fashion faux-pas, as the seniors kept dancing to the hip-hop mix. "At least the cute white baby tanky is a classic."

 

"I don't have a house with a lake, Melody. Here, I have something for you," I told her. I reached into my left jeans pocket and took out a small box with a silver wing necklace.

 

"I'm wearing mine," I said, showing her our matching necklace. I handed her the cute small box and kissed her cheeks.

 

"Oh my gawd! China Doll, you are simply irresistible!" Melody said, this time with a softer tone of voice, perhaps out of surprise as she opens the box. "Thank you, baby, you're my best in the squad."

 

"Really?" I said, and giggled. I looked around the house, and all the lights inside the house were off. Only black lights glowed everything white.

 

I saw glowing shirts, skirts, hats, tube tops, and shoes from some Silver Creek seniors, and my own tank top was bright as a paper lantern in the dark. I peeked to the kitchen window from the living room, and saw some cheers from our squad standing out in the backyard, in a small commune. I walked closer to the window, and someone grabbed my elbow from behind me.

 

"Check me out, Angel. What say you?" said Samantha, pointing to her outfit. "I bought it all from Target!"

 

Samantha aimed for intrigue for every party, but sometimes she goes way too far from French Couture. To her, every party was a costume party because if she was not in a costume at a party, she won't feel "The Vibes," as she confided in me, multiple times ago.

 

"A bit disco, you say?" Samantha said, grinning with her non-smoker teeth glowing bright. She lifted one hand to the sky posing a magician's assistance stance. Her wig was glow in the dark blonde Shirley-Temple curls with red bows. Her tights were black and white plaid and she wore a tight black mini-skirt with a black tank top with a white heart of faux-fur glowing in the dark. 

 

"There was a lamb sacrificed, somewhere in Boulder for this fur," I told her.

 

 Samantha's hips swished to the side.  "Harper's Bazaar, right?" says Samantha, her hands in the air.

 

"Bazaar! Yes! You're a natural goof-ball," I told her. "This is so crazy cool. You were right! It is a glow in the dark jam."

 

"I'm a genius, and I know everything," Samantha said. She held on to my arms to walk towards the kitchen island, where the keg was. "Those kegs have liquid vemon inside. Those beefy fraternity boys hauled them in. I saw them." She pointed to the chiseled men standing outside of the kitchen in the backyard, talking to Melody while sipping on their beers.

 

"I thought this was a high school party?" I asked Samantha. "Those guys looked like college men?"

 

"They should have hired a bar tender for their empty bar over there," said Samantha, pointing to the medium sized bar at the edge of the kitchen, next to the living room.

 

"Angel, Melody's here," Samantha nudged me from behind.

 

"So here's the deal, I'm concerned about our relationship," said Melody. She placed her arms on my shoulders. "Collin is not here, why? Isn't your boyfriend supportive of me and you? I'm squad leader, why isn't he here? He's power forward."

 

"But, it's all about me and you, Melody. You're my co-squad leader. Our time is precious and he needs to give me privacy for girlie times," I told her. I didn't want Melody to bring up my Collin.

 

"Well done, but still, squad leader is not well pleased with star baller," Melody said. She walked to the kitchen table and took a test tube shot arrayed nicely on its rack, free for all. She walked back to me, and told me to drink up.

 

"For penance, and justice," Melody said, handing me the tube.

 

"Umm...nope, that's an alcoholic one," I said. With my pointer finger to the sky to stop the tube-feeding.

 

"What is inside the shot?" Samantha asked. She took the tube as it it was a specimen and smelled it, then handed it back to Melody. Melody gulped it down.

 

"Love Bomb," says Melody. "It makes you love everyone, I call it my secret weapon."

 

"I see. Thank god Collin's not here. He is only allowed to fall in love with me," I said, and made sure the insidious tube shot won't drug me.

 

 "China Doll, let's meet my brother, Merrick. He brought some of his hot friends," Melody said, pointing to a group of atheletic college men outside near the lakeside deck. The flock of men or hawks, as I saw them, looked chiseled, gorgeous, and of diverse races. 

 

"Let's go outside," Melody said, taking my left hand holding it as we walked to the backyard towards the lake under the moonlight. Melody made it a point to ignore Samantha.

 

"Wait, can I come?" Samantha asked. She tried to follow, and Melody turned around and hugged her, her pointer finger to the sky whispering. "Wait your turn. Angel is my co-lead," said Melody.

 

Melody and I walked outside, leaving Samantha pouting behind us. Standing near the edge of the deck, with his face in amber glow from the reflection of the floating tea candles, was Merrick, Sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Merrick was the most popular guy two years ago at Silver Creek High School. Melody mentioned to me sometime ago, that Merrick became the Pledge Father for a popular fraternity at CU Boulder.


Merrick and Melody Johnston were what the Silver Creek High Schoolers called "Pedigree Siblings." Their parents owned the Merrick's Steak House restaurant chain in Westminster, and Denver, and soon to open in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Estes Park.

 

"Merrick, this is China Doll. Introduce yourself, baby," said Melody, holding on to my waist. "She's my best friend for tonight. She gave me this." Melody showed Merrick the silver wing necklace.

 

"Nice," Merrick says. His striking face sent chills down her back, and his smile felt organic to my bones. I must say, he truly was Greecian Gorgeous.

 

"Pleasure is mine," said Merrick. He offered his right hand for a handshake. 

Merrick was a 6'4 brunette-green eyes darling with a strong bridge of a nose, strong jaw line, crescent moon eyes and smooth complexion. He wore khakis and leather shoes, and if I was Harvey Weinstein, I'd recruit him for a runway model for my agency.

 

"Likewise," I said, as my hands shook slightly in the presence of the elite. I never meant to have friends of priviledged status, but now that I met The Johnstons, I felt an invisible lift to my soul. Oddly, it felt sublime as if I was on a yacht in the middle of the Pacific Ocean wearing linen pants and a white button down, my hair blowing in the wind.

 

I kissed Melody on her cheek. "Beautiful family, Melody. Thank you for inviting me." Merrick dove deep with his green eyes into my soul sending a rush of needles into this heart of mine. If temptation was the test, I failed subliminally and pscychologically. Merrick was simply intoxicating.

 

I yearned for acceptance from these pedigree siblings, the royalties of Silver Creek, and the most popular teens in Boulder County. I wanted to be Melody's sister, and her confidant. The desire was so strong, and I wanted to be loved by them, simply because the finer things in life felt centimeters away from me. Rich by association wasn't just an idiom, it was the American power of privilege.

 

"We're going to party some more. Merrick, join me and dance with China Doll," Melody said, handing my arms to him.

 

"Um....I was going to just hang out and talk to Samantha, then go home," Angelina said, my nerves crept up and my shaking hands left no subtlety.

 

"Nonsense," Merrick said. He took my left arms with his left arm, and grabbed my waist with his right hand. "It's the last party of the year. There is no way, I'll miss out of this Chinese beauty." I blushed, his touch sizzled the center of my being. There was a gentle sway from deep within me, as if I was swooned to the left. I've never felt this way before.

 

"How about you and Collin switch?" Melody said sarcastically. "Merrick for Angel, and me for Colin." Merrick laughed out loud as I wriggled away.

 

"No, thank you," I scolded. "Colin and I are steady." I didn't want this to happen. Temptation beckoned lifelong regret, and I didn't want to be broken because Colin meant everything to me. No, I won't touch Merrick, but he touched me. 

 

"I'm sorry, Angel," Melody said. Her hands on her cheeks. "I just want you to be with Merrick so so much."

 

"Oh, that's okay, Colin and I are pretty committed to each other," I said, insistently. Merrick's every touch became irritating and itchy. I took myself out of his arms.

     

"All right, let's just go in and have fun. Melody, shame on you," said Merrick. He let go of my waist and softly caressed my right arm and held it tight. "I take care of my little sis's friends, and that includes you, Porcelain Beauty."

 

I closed my eyes for a split second to ground myself, as if the clouds bumped into me, tumbling forward into Merrick's chest. Melody couldn't stop giggling and I noticed she must be tipsy from the alcohol.

 

"Cliff, take my sis, will ya?" said Merrick, to one of the fraternity brothers near the lakeside deck. Cliff, a tall dark skinned fellow with light brown highlights also looked runway material. I looked to the other brothers, and they prime caliber of model good looks with stylish fashion sense. Silver Creek was an enclave of the gorgeous and rich families in Boulder County. This was not an imagination, it truly was my reality.

 

A hip hop song came on, My Pony by Ginuwine, with beats demanding moves to release my nerves from all of this guilt. Merrick took my right arm and whispered, "Since you're alone tonight, I'm taking my chances." His tongue spoke flattery, but I shook my head, "No."

 

Yet, he came closer, and whispered, "Yes."

 

Melody was suddenly beside me, girating her shoulders and poking fun at Cliff, who swirled his left hand over his head.

 

"You're babe on top!" He moved in to kiss Melody, as she kissed him back. The room became sexual, and I was utterly nervous. Samantha was gone, and I felt the same fear when I lost my father in a crowd of strangers.

 

"Stop. I can't," I told Merrick, he held me close to his chest. Instead, he held on tighter, and lifted me over his shoulder, and carried me to the kitchen. "Put me down! Merrick! Put me down."

 

Merrick put me down near the kitchen island, and no one cared. He kissed me and forced his tongue down my throat, holding my jaw hard. He took a test tube shot, and held it over my lips. He squeezed my jaws, opening my mouth as my hands shook. I tried to push him away, but he was too strong for me.

 

"Just once, try it. Just for tonight," he whispered. He poured the Love Bomb into my mouth, as my tongue wiggled from anxiety. "Just drink, baby."

 

Tears rolled down my face, because I wanted to be their family, and so I swallowed. He held my waist tight, and he kissed me rapturously, and I gave in out of passivity. Our bodies bounced to the beat of the hip-hop remix, as Cliff came to the kitchen island with Melody and whispered in secret to her.

 

The next song was Billy Currington's "People are Crazy," and Merrick gruffed my arms, and pulled me close. "Slow dance," he whispered. The vocal chords that would wail during cheer was silenced, and the darkness and loud music made me frantic. I couldn't speak, and I didn't know what to do.

 

The room spun in my eyes and the black lights made the polyopia worsen. I staggered away from Merrick, and felt my body lift up from the floor into his arms.

 

...

 

The dim light from the lamp next to the bed was too bright, as the crevices of my eyes opened slowly. The light burned my corneas as I grimaced and tried to open my eyelids slowly. I felt the edge of a messy bed with my hands as it was spread open as an eagle's wings. My body felt fatigued, hollow, and sore. My stomach felt like eels ate through its layers. I was frozen, incapable to think. There was a dim lamp beside the bed. I felt my tank top was still on, and so were my jeans. I raised myself slowly, and felt my jeans were on too high, as if someone forced it up my hips. My tank top was on backwards, because I felt the front seam was higher than the back.  

 

As if a screwdriver was stuck in my belly, I felt it twist inside me as I cringed in pain. I felt bruised internally, and my pelvis felt tender, as if someone used my stomach as a punching bag. My vagina felt sore and my head was still spinning.

 

"What happened to me?" I mumbled, swiping my hairs away from my face. "I'm so drowsy."

 

My eyes wandered around the empty room, with a flat screen television in front of the bed with matching furniture. My blood boiled from under her skin. A spirit inside me said, "Something is wrong," as my mouth felt dry and my tongue had mint and mouth wash after taste. Something in me inflamed, stirred, and shattered.  

 

My eyes moistened, as I struggled to focus with blurry vision. My head felt heavy and splitting open. My brain throbbed inside my cranium.

 

"What happened?" I asked myself again. Fears filled me up to my chest, and I heaved again, and tears gushed out.

I struggled to walk out of the room, because of the intense pain in my abdomen. The party was still on, but fewer people were inside the house. It was later in the evening, but I didn't know what time. My soul felt burnt by a sinister force. I didn't know who to ask for help. I stepped down the stair case, and nearly fell down the stairs. The dance floor was bumping, and I saw Melody, still grinding Cliff.

 

Melody looked up the stair case, and saw me, "China Doll, why are you upstairs?"  She briskly walked up the stairs to face me. Attitude, anger, and coarse language was next. "How dare you sleep inside one of our rooms? We didn't give you permission to sleep here!"

 

"I don't know what happened," I said. "I don't know how I got there."

Melody walked down the stairs to the living room, turning on the lights. The dancing stopped. The music stopped. Everyone froze in place.

 

"I don't know what happened. I think I was raped," I said. Tears on my face, I felt my skin dry, aged a thousand years, as my soul cracked from between my chest.

 

 Melody was bewildered, and in a rage, she yelled, "Slut! This is not a whore house! Get out!"

 

 "I think I was taken there by someone," I said. I didn't understand what happened or how to speak at the moment. All I wanted to do was cry, and ask a wise spirit if I would be okay. "I think I was with your brother last, Merrick."

 

"This is just so rude. Angelina, you're ruining my party. Merrick's outside and he doesn't sleep around. How dare you come into our private rooms without my permission," Melody says, in all coarseness of speech. "Get out, slut!"

 

My feet rooted to the ground as I found myself in panic. The whole house stared at me, as if I was ugly animal inside a zoo of peacocks and butterflies.

 

Sobbing, I said, "I need help."

 

Melody yelled, "Get out, China Doll! You need to go home. This is an exclusive party. I expect you to be respectful of my home, not treat it like a hotel."

 

My body shivered from distress and humiliation. I slowly walked to the door, and no one came to help. Not a single person at the party wanted to look at me.

 

The door slammed behind me. I stood in front of her house, in sobs as the lights inside the house turned off again. The pains in my vagina burned and my gut felt a jabbing pain. Help was a far cry at this moment, because I wasn't sure if it was an emergency, a crisis, or a dream.

 

 "Papa, I am so sorry," I said, under my breath. Nobody could hear me. "I don't know what to do, Papa."

Drowsiness and fear made me feel so completely confused, and all of my intent to go home early was the only thing inside my head. Was this supposed to happen? Was this real?

 

"Is this rape?" I asked myself. I felt I was raped somehow, by someone.

 

The walk felt like a gauntlet in medieval times, with barbarians awaiting my death. Some men who looked familiar were in front of me, and I felt so lost and in defeat. I lost to temptations, to shame, to judgements, and was thrown out from the most desireable family in all of Silver Creek. One of the high schoolers from the party looked at my tank top, and looked to the ground in embarrassment. There were other high schoolers standing outside near the parked cars, whispering.

 

I was savaged out of the comfort of my being. As helpless as a dying queen, I lost control of my body, my soul, my mind.  Racing thoughts came to me, and I sobbed and sobbed. I felt my pockets, and my keys were there.

 

"I don't know what to do?" I told one of the familiar faces. He looked down. Their silence showed disgust towards me.

I kept walking, as my heart kept bleeding. I staggered to the Prius, and slowly sat myself inside the car. My microcosm of life was now brutally damaged.

 

"I have to drive to the ER," I said to myself. The human body was resilient and so was the human mind, but all these ideas must be theoretical. I felt dumb.

 

"I am so hurt. Please help me," I sobbed. I wailed inside the car in agony.

 

"Help! Someone help me!," I screamed inside the car. "Hospital! I need hospital! I was raped!"

There was nothing that could prepare me for this tragedy, not even the angels. I was a sole victim, in a house full of princes and princesses. I felt trashed.

 

I drove to the hospital, barely aware of street signs, and dodging incoming traffic. There must be a patrol officer who would ticket me, or so I hoped. But, none was around early in these hours.

 

I saw a light to the left, Silver Creek Hospital, as I swerved into the drive way. The front door looked empty of visitors, so I drove to the front of it and slowly walked in, hoping for some help.

     

"Please, help me," I said to the front desk volunteer, sobbing with my blurry vision as my head spun out of control. I waited for her to reply, but my vision faded to black and I slumped to the ground.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Ichabod

 

 

In peace and tranquility, I walked on soft grass inside this garden with birds serenading my thoughts. The tall trees soared to the skies as the clouds burned from the hot sun. I looked above me and the sunshine was tender, loving and constant. The stony path ahead was unscathed by the tall grass, it grew around it, and I wondered if such was possible with natural growth? What was this, I wondered? A dream or fantasy unheard of that puzzled me. The sun was a sign that beamed a bright journey ahead in my life, as my face enjoyed its glorious light. Ahead of me was a bench underneath a sequoia, and as I approached it, a voice boomed about me.

 

"Welcome, Tobias," said the low echoing voice. Why that name again? This was serious, if even spirits couldn't recognize me with my birth name, what was I in reality to humans?

 

Searching for the source of the voice, I turned around as the sunlight beamed upon the stony path. Particles of the sun came down from the clouds and formed into flesh, that of a man with a long wooden staff. His dark skin vibrant in contrast to his tattered cream robe. As he came closer, there were freckles on his cheeks. The face of a humble soul, with hair was dark as the soil and his tattered brown robe seemed hundreds of years ancient, with torn parts sewn back on with patches made of thick animal leather. There were threads protruding out of his brown robe and the glow of golden yarn in the midst of the ripped and torn parts as if beauty out of human suffering on his cloth shined through.

 

He wore a smile as if I was his family.

 

"Tobias," he said, opening his arms to me. He had a regal walk, that of a warrior with a soft glow of light surrounding him.

 

"I'm Ichabod," I replied Ichabod. "Who's Tobias? "Why did you call me by that name?"

 

"Your spirit is Tobias, my son," said the man. "I am your father, Raphael, the healer."

 

"But, my Father left my Mother and I, for another woman," I said. 

 

"This is about a young maiden, Sarah," Raphael said. "You are meant to be here."

 

Of all the gods in the world, I was not sure this man was a god at all. He looked somewhat ordinary, a man of humble appearance, although his voice was comforting and his presence felt diety.

 

"You are chosen, son," Raphael said. "To help someone as Tobias came to help Sarah long ago."

 

"Why would you come to me for help? I have Major Depression," I asked him. How would I help another, if I couldn't understand what was before me? Watching National Geographic was beaten to this strange fantastical encounter.

 

"Because your help is valuable, Tobias. You will understand," Raphael said. He reached for my shoulder, as my brain tingled with sparks through my synapses. "Do not be afraid, I am with you at all times, and so are your guardians."

 

His touch calmed my soul, and I felt a wholesome peace inside my chest. I felt safe, and I felt home. I breathed in, immersing his presence into my being.

 

"Guardians?" I asked.

 

Raphael stepped aside, and the same particles of sunlight formed into another man. A man, much younger and shorter in stature, came into form. What circus magic was happening in front of me? This was baffling!

 

The newly formed man wore a similar robe with dark hair and dark eyes, but a youthful face. The face of a boy holding an orb made of glass, and inside it were the hands of time ticking before my eyes.

 

"This is my friend, Gabriel. He holds time and space," Raphael said. He had a kind smile, a smile of a friend with whom we all knew. His dark eyes befriended me, and his boyish face reminded me of myself when I was a boy. He shook his body and shivered.

 

"Life and death, is in the palms of heaven," said Gabriel. "Thank you, Raphael, it was cold in between passages of the worlds."

 

Raphael nodded, and replied, "You are most welcome, and here comes our protector."

 

Another man came into form out of the particles of the sunlight. This time the transformed man appeared to be in between in the ages of Raphael and Gabriel. He was tall with dark hair and dark eyes. He had a face of a fierce swordsman, with lines along the sides of his cheeks, as if signs of battles won.

 

"He is your protector, Tobias," Raphael said. My shoulders tensed as I felt a force around me, cocooning my body.

 

"Michael," the new man told me. "At your service."

 

He truly was as I expected, with a white sword on his belt of jagged edges that shined as steel. In his other hand, an object unbeknowest to man. A small oval magnifying glass with a gold rim encasing it, covered by metal of somekind. He came gallantly towards me, as I stumbled back in fear.

 

An invisible force pushed me against gravity and lifted me to face him, as he hugged me. His hug felt like a bear was holding me close to his chest, in safety, strength, and solace.

 

"My honor," Michael said. "And with the strength of dragons and lions, I will protect you," He took the glass object and held it to the skies.

        

"Protect me from whom? Or what?" I asked Michael, as my nerves and anxiety radar was on like a fog light in the dark. This moment felt like an omen from above. Not desireable to a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

 

"Show him, Michael," Raphael said to him. Raphael turned to me, and said, "Michael has the eye of the universe."

 

Michael took the small oval magnifying glass that hung on the strap on his chest, and held it to the skies. It reflected the sun, and quickly, the day turned into night as the sun became the moon. The clouds moved across the skies faster than during a storm. The wind gushed about me inside the garden and a cold chill froze me on the spot.

 

The object Michael held showed an image as if a large screen was afront. A film, or perhaps something else? There was an image of a young girl, about my age with a beautiful oval face and long silky dark hair. 

 

"She looks familiar," I told Raphael. "Who is she?" Suddenly, the girl on the screen evanesced into the darkness.

 

"Watch closely," said Michael. He tilted the magnifying glass to reflect the light from the moon.

 

"She is your Sarah," Raphael said. "She is in trouble."

 

 "You are to help her, Tobias," Gabriel said. He placed his orb inside his leather pouch across his belt. "There is much to be done."

 

"Guardians, please call me by my birth name, Ichabod. Calling me Tobias only confuses me," I told them.

 

"Fair enough," said Michael, holding the oval glass higher towards the clouds reflecting the moonlight. Standing next to them, I felt protected and strong as a stealth ship. 

 

"The devil cheated through time and space," said Raphael. "Look closely."

 

There was a party showing on the screen, a dark room with glowing objects and some familiar faces. One face I knew since Freshmen year. "Melody Johnston," I said. "Why am I watching this? I don't like her."

 

The screen showed Melody walking upstairs to a room, as she opened the door, there were men inside. Men of elite status, I presumed. Good looking, almost aristocratic, fit to be kings and princes.

 

"Is this the cheer squad glow in the dark party everyone spoke about at my school?" I asked, pointing to the screen.

 

"Tobias, warning," Raphael said.

 

"ICHABOD!" I yelled and pleaded, may hands in a fist in front of me. "Let there be no punishment for this. I never knew Tobias. I am not him!"

 

"Your soul is. In the other realm, you are Tobias, on Earth, you are Ichabod," Gabriel said. "But, let us call him by his birth name."

 

"Keep watching," said Michael, holding the oval glass closer to his chest, and centering it as the screen became closer to view.

 

The men inside the room were standing around the bed, and there was a body, a strange sort of act was committed.

 

"She's snug, bro," a man said. Melody closed in to the group of men, and her brother, Merrick, a man I won't remiss, stood in front of her.

 

"Melody, don't watch," Merrick said. "She's hot, brother. Tight as rumors said."

 

"China Doll don't disappoint, right?" Melody high-fived her brother., Merrick.

The room appeared dimmed, but the young girl's body was in the center. Merrick held a beer in his hand, drinking it, downing it, as he walked about the room.

 

"Cliff, you next," he told his friend. Another man with dark skin stood in the middle, and unzipped his pants.

 

"Tighest vagina on Earth, Bro!" Cliff said. 

 

Michael shut the object with the gold rim with its covering, and the guardians stood in silence.

 

"What happened?" I asked. "They objectified her and de-humanized her?" My mind could not grasp the very detail in such a short moment of time. What tragedies unfolded before me?

 

"They took turns assaulting the young maiden," said Raphael. "All of them, all those men of different races and backgrounds. They destroyed her."

 

"We need you to help her," Gabriel said. "She doesn't know what is ahead." Flabbergasted, I stood in silence. Was this a life long mission? A journey? A season of friendship? Why me?

 

The sun came back above me. The night turned into day, and I looked to the skies with the clouds above me. Michael's face as doomed as my depression. The lines on his face became more defined as his tall figure walked further down the cobbled path. Michael took out his sword and slashed the tall grass in front of him, destroying the tranquil pasture apart.

 

Raphael took me beside him as we walked away from Michael. Gabriel stood still, with his right hand over his forehead. They knew I was not confidently in agreement to the challenge.

 

"Ichabod, Sarah is not her name," Raphael said. "She is a friend, with a ravaged soul."

 

"Why would you ask me to help her?" I asked Raphael, his dark face soothed my spirit.

 

With gentle eyes and his friendly voice, he replied. "Just lead her, but let her work her own salvation. Ichabod, you are the crux of time."

 

"My own father doesn't want me. He left me for another family," I told him. My voice deepened, loud, agitated. "I was left behind."

 

"Not everything you believe is true, Ichabod," said Raphael. "Truth won't always feel convenient."

 

"What made you think my life was convenient? I have mental illness," I told him. "Nothing in my life has been convenient."

 

I never felt sane or at peace, since my own father left our home without care. He took all of my sanity and hope with him. "What do you want me to do?"

 

"Lead her to truth and love," Raphael said. He took my hand and encased it with his two hands. "We will guide you."

 

My eyes were deeply shut, but a jolt woke me. I raised up from the bed inside Room 25, with Mother, asleep on the chair beside me. My hands palpated my stomach, and as I lifted my shirt to check, Mother awoke. "Ichabod, are you okay?"

 

There were no more bruises, and my own Mother gasped. "How did it disappear?"

 

"Mother, I had guardians in my dream," I told her. Seldom do I remember the details of my own dreams, but this time I felt destined to remember.

 

Mother scratched her forehead, and said, "Nothing bored me since I gave birth to you. The bruises, the pains. I saw them, and now, they're gone." Mother touched my stomach gently and raised her palms to cover her eyes. 

 

A knock on the door startled her. I rubbed my stomach, and breathed in.

 

"May I come in?" asked the woman behind the door.

 

"Please do, perhaps you could explain some things," Mother said.

 

"Ichabod, how are you?" said Nurse Practitioner Young. She had deep set eyes, and dark shoulder length curly hair with light brown eyes. A round face with a subtle smile and a voice of an endearing woman, soft and comforting.

 

"The bruises, they disappeared," I said. I lifted my shirt and with a bare stomach gifting her a moment of surprise.

 

"This is very strange," Nurse Practitioner Young said, as she came closer. She pressed her hands into my gut, and asked, "Any pain?"

 

"Nope," I answered, smiling.

 

"Truly, odd," said Nurse Practitioner Young. "A fluke won't explain the level of your anxiety last night. You looked tormented and in agony."

 

"Yes, he was," Mother said. "Would allergies explain what happened?"

 

"No allergies caused jabbing pain, Mother," I told her. I kept rubbing my stomach. "I had a dream last night." I told the Nurse Practitioner.

 

"I see. A disturbing dream? Or a pleasant dream?" Nurse Practitioner Young asked.

 

 I sat stunted for it was all of the above. "Both," I answered.

 

 "Jenni, is Ichabod still taking his anti-psychotic and anti-depressants?" Nurse Practitioner Young asked Mother.

 

"Yes, both of them. But, how could you explain the bruises?" Mother asked. For the first time, in years, my own Mother argued against medical proxy.

 

Nurse Practitioner Young stood up from her chair and leaned onto the wall. Her hands over her chin, she answered, "I saw the bruises. And from the level of pain you described, it felt internal. But this speedy recovery showed signs of healing from external symptoms. Which meant, nothing affected your organs or intestines or anything in your physiology."

 

"Ichabod, were you reactive to something else?" Mother asked me.

 

"You meant lie? You are asking me if I lied? About the bruises and the pains?" I asked her, with my voice calm but inside my chest was a volcano erupting. My breath short and my face felt stiff, from anger, from accusations. No one in my life thus far, believed in me, even with physical evidence last night.

 

"Ichabod…," said Nurse Practitioner Young. "It is medically impossible."

 

My eyes moistened. Rage and fury entangled inside my chest, as I was doubted by the most intelligent and believable staff who heals human beings.

 

The dream, the bruises, this situation felt alien and I couldn't handle it. Tears gushed and I felt my eyes warm from anger as the tip of my eyelids tinged. Life was too difficult with mental illness and this soul of mine wrung out of control. Mother held me close and hugged me.

 

"I want to go home," I told my Mother. Depression wasn't the cause of my trauma. It was their disbelief.

 

To be continued...Just write.

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ICHABOD FRENZY - Chapter 2 & 3

Chapter 2 – Angelina

 

 

Sweat dripped down my royal blue and green crop top, as the two cheers tumbler, a tuck and double back, cross the cheer formation. No small business. Our four rows of five cheers staggers in straight lines on the gymnasium floor go in formation, as we preluded with a chant to dance for the hip-hop mix.

 

"Thirsty….Fury….Wolverines," I chanted with my hands caressing my throat with an insatiable thirst for victory for the basketball team. "Thirsty….Fury….Silver Creek High!" I chanted as I wiped my lips in slow motion, whisping my hips as my fellow cheers slide close to me, the lead in center floor. The music started, Fashion by Lady Gaga, the beat of techno and pop mixed with a splash of lyrical rap.

 

"Wolverine, we come right out of the ground, ripping you apart, slashing you so tight. We're wolverines! We leave no survivors behind!"

 

We tossed our poms in the air and synchronized to a standing tumbling. We landed on two feet, catching our poms on our spot. I was, Angelina Lee and cheer lead for this year.

 

We broke into a dance routine to the hip-hop song, and the formation divided in half, forming two rows of cheers. I was center with my co-lead, Melody Johnson, as usual. I had to admit, we owned it.  Our two rows broke into four, Melody, my co-lead next to me. The music stopped. Acapella chant resumed.

 

"This is Silver Creek High!" Melody and I staunchly pointed to the ground, indicating territory. "Go on, go home!  We will ravage you! Go on, go home! We will annihilate you! We're Silver Creek High! We'll take the trophy, thanks! We're Silver Creek High! Here's our wave goodbye!" We fluttered our hands higher and higher, shooing off the other team. Two tumblers finished off with a double back hand spring, from the back to the front, then to both sides of the rows of cheers, and back to the center to finish with a hand spring.

 

We spotted each other for an aerial, with Melody and I for an air-split, returning back on the springs of our cheer-arms, and back to the ground on two feet. The music pumped loud, the sound of techno mixed with pop beats. It felt like heaven springing into mid-air, kicking high off the ground, with our dance routine. Nothing felt right if dancing wasn't involved in my cheer years. This was my first year as lead with Melody, and it felt perfect.

 

The sweat on my temples made me yearn for more tumbling, swishing my hips left and right, pushing my arms forward, and clapping to spread the pomp.

 

This was just practice, but I couldn't live without it. The music stopped, as Melody and I kneeled on our left knees with our arms to a "v" to the ceiling. "Wolverines, Silver Creek High! We're justified!"

 

My chest heaved, and my crop top was moist. My bare stomach trickled with sweat of effort.

 

"Allright, ladies, it's like last time. We take showers and next time, we do one or two more aerials, with just something simple like a mid-air twist," Melody yelled out loud.

 

"Thank you, girls. You're hot!" I yelled out in confirmation. We group high fives, and took a breath a bit, before hitting the showers.

 

I walked towards the far end of the gymnasium, still a bit heaving. Samantha stood near the entrance to the shower hall, popping her pop rocks inside her mouth, playing with her braids. The pop rocks exploded into squirts of pink juices on her tongue, and she showed it to me. Her eyes squinted from the sour rocks. She squirmed and squiggled, all by herself near the benches, doing her own candy cheer. I shook my head, "You've got a silly case of the wiggles," I told her. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes, and walked towards me and Melody.

 

"Practice is DONE!" said Samantha. "Can we go home now?"

 

She waved to the girls and I couldn't help but smile at Sam, as I called her. Samantha and I met in middle school when she had braces and short hair. Then she grew boobs and so did I, and we compared the lengths of our knees, and we've been pretty much the same height since then. We grew about four inches, and if we never grow again, I really didn't care.

Melody kissed me on my cheek, and sprinted to the gym showers. On her way there, she yelled at me, "See you at my bash tonight!"

 

 "I'll be there!" I replied to Melody. I pick up my duffel bag and hugged Sam, "I saw you getting it on from pop rocks," I told her, smiling. Samantha's eyes roll.

 

"So, I heard the bash is a Glow in the Dark Jam!" Sam said, sucking the juices of the pink pop rocks, as it fizzed inside her mouth.

 

Spring Semester at Silver Creek High School beckoned house parties and spring romances. Some of my girlfriends, Melody especially, called me China Doll. Being in the varsity cheerleading squad and the girlfriend of the power forward, meant China Doll has to go to the last spring fling thrown by her co-squad leader, Melody Johnston. It was just manners.

 

"How do you know this?" I asked, throwing my duffel bag beside Samantha's feet. "How come you know everything?" I looked quizzically at her, fixing her ponytail. For a sidekick, Samantha knew every update about the popular crowd, from her mutant hearing near the lockers and during lunch hours.

 

"Today is Friday, too! Oooo….date night!" Sam always teased me. "Do you make out on every date? I'd make that a requirement. Collin's lips are just too inviting to ignore," Samantha touched her lips pretending to kiss someone, then quickly licked her mouth. I truly believed Samantha was a genius, but she was also a nutjob.

 

"You know, if you weren't such a great friend of mine, I'd give you a penalty," I said. "I'm keeping you for comedic value." I love teasing Samantha, because she reminds me of a cute kitten with sharp claws.

 

As for me, I had feather shaped eyes, and soft rosy cheeks. My cheer uniform was tight, but not too much to show every curve. I got by being teased as a pretty girl and "China Doll," being the only Chinese girl in the squad.

 

"I'd make it a requirement," said Samantha, offering her chapstick to me. For a bi-racial Jewish and half African American teen, Samantha was an unconventional beauty with long silky braids, and perfect supple lips and hazel eyes. Samantha was the coquettish best friend whom Colin's friends would love to date, but she claimed she was a prude publically and announced to everyone that father was a human rights lawyer.

 

"It the kiss was consensual, it wouldn' be a crime, and there would be no penalty," Samantha joked. I giggled.

 

I took the chapstick from Sam. As for Collin, he was just perfection. The all-American boy next door, with dirty blonde curly hair, brown eyes, chiseled jaw and sharp nose. Two years ahead of me, a Senior, dating me a Sophomore. Collin was a tall and athletic looker, from a long line of restaurateur.

 

"It's going to be the same in college right, you and me?" Samantha asked, "You know I can't be left alone with all those men. I'd start charging Visas and Mastercards."  Samantha's virginal status leds to some teen sexual frustration at inopportune times.

 

I laughed out loud. "You talk big, girlie. You know human trafficking is illegal," I told her, looking into her eyes, "Yup, still a virgin."

 

Knowing Samantha's innocent disposition, I couldn't help but to shoot down her talks on sexual angst with mockery. Samantha was too sweet to talk like this.

 

With a sleek lean stature and big brown Bambi eyes, she easily passed for hot stuff. She prefers unfussy jeans, and button-down shirts for everyday wear. Underneath all the hormonal talk, Samantha was an "intelligent" from an upper-class Jewish family.

 

Samantha kicked my heels, and I tripped midst walking.

 

"You are so annoying!" I yelled, as I toppled to the ground, and landed on my knees. Samantha chuckled. I shook my head.

 

"Get up!" Sam lifted me up. "I have to keep you grounded, otherwise that "China Doll" stuff will get to your head."

 

 "Hi Angel," Collin walked towards me, reaching for my hand. I feel my eyes twinkle at the sight of him. His baby blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves and blue jeans made him looked photo-shoot ready. "Hi handsome," I said. In my chest, I hoped I was the only girl in his life. It has been two years, but I was shooting forever.

 

Samantha tickled me, and I squirmed. I gabbed at Collin, "Oh…ugh, Ah, hi, Colin," I caught Samantha's hand in mid-tickle. "You HAVE to stop this!"

 

"You are too fancy!" Sam joked. "Tickling cures everything. Even googly eyes for Colin."

 

"Sometimes I wonder about you crazy girls," Collin said. He kissed my forehead. At six feet, he towered over my five feet and three inches height.

 

"I got to go, you guys get a room," said Samantha, walking towards the parking lot.

 

"Your regular Target walk about?" asked Collin. He sneered at Samantha about her penchant for walking around stores, looking for strange items. Samantha believed she was always on a mission for something, because life was a daring mission for her. Collin and I wondered what happened to her, because she was always on a scavenger hunt at some store somewhere on Earth.

 

Samantha turned around, and stuck her tongue out, and told him, "That was personal injury and bullying. Two counts of misdeameanors." She walked away and stuck her pinky finger out.

 

I breathed in for a minute, covering my blushing cheeks with both of my hands. Collin kissed me on my lips by suprise. His kisses tasted like fresh like strawberries with sugar crystals, as I bit his lower lips tenderly.

 

"You taste like dessert," I softly told him, and kissed him.

 

"I'm so happy," says Collin, taking me into his arms. He pulled me close to his body, holding me close for a few minutes. "Wanna get ice cream?"

 

"Yes," I replied, holding his cheeks and kissing his lips again.

 

He took my book bag over his shoulders, and we walked towards the parking lot. Tonight was our usual Friday night hideaway, Sacred Ground Cafe.

 

"I have two recruiters coming for the game," Collin told me. "UCLA and USC."

 

"You're not going to CU Boulder?" I asked. "Silver Creek is a sure route to CU, Colin."

 

I was surprised because I really wanted him to stay, even after he graduates this year.

 

"No, I'm staying, but I just want to keep my options, just in case," he said.

 

"But, I thought we were going to stay here until I meet you all the way there?" I asked him.

 

"I know, but I just want to know how high I can reach," Collin said.

 

I stayed quiet and didn't want to speak to much about his decisions. But, I couldn't help but wonder.

 

Silver Creek, Colorado, was known as the armpit of Boulder, nestled between the border of Boulder and Longmont, but never making it into the big city. The city had a main street, with a charming parlor, a pottery shop, a nutrition store, a burrito joint, and some odds and ends stores that makes a quaint little downtown.

 

"What if your father wants you to go for USC?" I asked him, my heart a bit anxious.

 

"That's why I'm staying for the rest of the year, and we can talk about this later," said Collin, approaching Sacred Grounds parking lot. The last thing I wanted was for Collin to go away.   He smiled because he knew how crazy I was about him.

 

"Collin, do you want to go with me to Melody's party tonight?" I switched the subject. The thought of him leaving to another state meant the end of love for me.

 

"Nope. I don't like her, she always checks me out, although she knows we've been dating for two years now. There is just something about her that I'm not comfortable with," said Collin. "You're going though, I know you would. She's squad leader. Chinese manners."

 

He looked to me, and winked. "Yes, Chinese manners. It's her last party, and she's been giving me lead cheer for a while now," I said.

 

"I'm just going to hang out with my Dad, and maybe watch a movie," said Collin. "I just don't want to be around her. She's pompous."

 

"What do you mean?" I said. To me, Melody was a talented dancer with perfect gymnastic skills, and rumor had it, her family was royalty in Silver Creek.

 

"Well, I saw her a couple of days ago, and she kept gossiping about other cheers in the squad. I'm just not into backstabbers," said Collin. "For a squad leader to do something like that, it's looked down upon in general. My mother taught me well." He held my hand and breathed in. "But go. I know you want to end your squad year well. Give me a call this weekend."

 

"I'll stay and pay respects to her and leave. Won't take nothing but an hour, maximum," I said, holding on to his soft hands.

"Sounds good to me. Call me this weekend for sure," said Collin, shifting to parking gear.

 

Sacred Ground was always full of local newspaper reporters, following their lede for the most current news for this small town. News was, Colin and I were off the market on the teenage dating game.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 - Good Friday for Ichabod

 

 

Every Good Friday deserved a good night sleep for a gentleman's slumber, but not without a mint and patchouli bubbly lather inside this bath. The week was harsh, with trialed times on the tracks as athletes found ourselves so, and there were more mass shootings in North Carolina and the Mid-West. The television replayed the latest violent attacks on Asian grandmas crossing the street in New York, and I couldn't believe someone would punch her on the eye. If I was the man who assaulted her, I'd think twice and opted to ask for some Post-Chinese New Year Money. She wouldn't care if I was Jewish. But tonight, I wanted peace and ceased violence.

 

I swayed my sword, melamine as it may, to the Coldplay tunes, Viva La Vida.

 

"Nothing could keep this soldier from Battle of the Goar!" I said, my voice resounded through the roof of my bathroom.

The hour-long bath proved to soak off the callouses out of these tired feet. Drying off with a large black towel, I marveled at the sight of my muscle striations and mumbled, "Fierce!" as I pumped my two fists and tightened biceps. I bumped them, and whispered, "Force!"

 

The melamine sword shall rest for now, because everything deserved a re-charge.

 

I felt my hair upon my face and took a pair of shearing scissors, to trim my dark mane. Snip. Snip. Short strands of dark brown hair fell down upon the sink. "I am a good-looking monster," I uttered, smirking with playful confidence. This lad might be a bit stocky at five feet and nine inches, but my heart could crush a pride of lions.

 

Humming a few random notes, a sharp object jabbed into my pelvis. My neck strangled, and I choked as something cusped my nostrils. I felt a hand yanked out the hairs of my scalp. The strangling constricted my breathing. My legs bumped the tub and I fell to the ground.

 

"Help! Mother, Help!" I screamed. What demon attacked?

 

Crouching down on the bathroom floor, a force punched my face! I crushed down into a helpless fetal ball, as I held onto the toilet. "Help! Mother! Help!" I kept screaming.

 

"Stop abusing me! What evil ghost are ye?!" I yelled in defense. Friday nights were for contemplations, not violence!

 

My body jolted in shock, and the back of my skull bashed against the tub. Another jolt shook me from inside my body. Paralysis might be next but the stabbing pain penetrated into my gut pressing down mine intestines. I vomited with volatile pain, as clear liquid expunged out of my mouth as my nostrils dripped with body fluid.

 

"Mercy! Please….mercy!" I implored, with my vocal chords shattering in fears, tumultuous to my brains. "What have I done to your soul? O good spirit? What have I done?!" I yelled in agony. My Mother never came to help me in my need.

 

Foggy mist filled the room, as frost condensed on the full-length mirror behind the bathroom door. A chill came over me, as the hairs on the back of mine neck raised to vunerability. Rivers of tears gushed from mine eyes.

 

"Good god! Please give mercy upon this gentle soul," I begged to the invisible force in utter confusion.

 

An apparition of a young woman with silky black hair appeared in the mirror behind the door. Her face covered by her youthful hands.

 

I spoke in complete agony, "Who…are… you?" My voice trembled. "What… are…you?"

 

The pounding on the door frightened me.

 

"Ichabod!" I heard Mother's voice in feral tremors. "Are you allright?! What is happening in there?!"

 

The door was locked, as it should be upon bath time.

 

"Ichabod, open the door! What's wrong?!" she yelled, trying to break down the door. I reached the door knob with all of my sanity and stability fumbling. I held on to my gut and opened the door for Mother.

 

"Mother, I saw a ghost," I told her, pointing to the mirror behind the door.

 

Mother stepped aside and closed the door to see the mirror behind it. There was nothing but fog on its surface. She took my bathrobe and covered my body, as I sat curled up with my knees to my chest.

 

"Baby, are you okay?" Mother closed in on me. "What happened? Speak to me, please, Ichabod."

 

"I don't recall I have experienced anything like this before," I told her.

 

Another jab gutted me as I twist into my stomach with mine hands. I cried in terror. "Aaarrrgghhh!" Tears and sobs came, although nothing was around me or Mother that caused it.

 

"Baby, hold on," Mother said. Her hands capped my skull to prevent my head from a concussion. "We must go to the hospital, Ichabod."

 

"Mother, please believe me. It's the spirits again," I told her. The stomach pains dissipated, but the jabs kept on. Hitting my full conscience as if I was inside a horror film. My breathing sparsed and I felt the cusp upon my face pressed deeper. I tried to yank out of my face, this evil besotted upon my death. Then suddenly, the jolts of pain stopped.

 

I was in disbelief.  "Mother, please believe me. It's the spirits, since I saved Leona, the spirits stalks upon my life," I told Mother, as she tried to hug me. "Perhaps it was the curse of a True Knight?"

 

"Baby, that's untrue. No one dares to take your life away," says Mother, as she caressed my cheeks, calming my nerves. "And you're just a weird kid, baby. It's okay."

 

"It stopped," I said, as I rose up from Mother's dancing space. I pressed into my stomach, but there was no pain. I dared to stand up and succeeded, although mine eyes were moist with tears of fears. I breathed in peace, and exhaled hope. 

 

"Meds, baby. Did you take your meds?" Mother asked me. She opened the medicine cabinet, and took a small orange tube with white pills that I regrettably deplored out of my soul. She placed one on my tongue and I ingested the cursed crutch. 

 

"Thank you," I said, with a cathartic breath, releasing the satanic depression.

 

My father left the family for another woman on rainy night in October, a decade ago, but it seemed like yesterday. Tears kept gushing out. Was I a handicap?

 

"Maybe another therapy session?" Mother said. "And take an extra pill when you feel the jolts."

 

"Something is wrong. The spirits, they don't usually appear after a good day," I told her. "I was not the demon, Mother. It was the spirits again."

 

"Do you believe in transformations, Ichabod? It is possible," Mother said. She held me close to her because moments like these required comfort to cast away all fears.

 

"No, yes, I meant…it was no hallucinations," I told her. Why was it so difficult for her to believe in my judgement, my capacity to decipher between reality and wonk? I was NOT a lunatic.

 

"If the depression becomes worse, we can handle it together, Ichabod," my Mother said, trying her best to console me. Her disbelief hurt me. 

 

"Ichabod, if it's not the spirits…," said Mother.

 

"Mom, it is. I know it is. I felt it, that night Leona almost died. I know the spirits visits me," I retorted.

 

"Okay, okay, but if it is some other type of mental illness, we can deal with it," Mother said.

 

The stomach pangs disappeared with no more jabs, at least for now. I wanted nothing more than a good restful night. My face drooped as I walked out of the bathing room, to my bedroom, in confusion and jagged edges between my chest from Mother's repudiation.

 

"Good night, Mother," I told her. I closed the door with my belittled confidence and distrust from insanity.

 

Inside the bedroom my bed swooned me with soft pillows and comfort. My pelvic was tender as I closed my eyes in the belief all was calm. I laid on the bed, with my eyes closed. Suddenly, my abdomen throbbed this time as I felt a sting from inside my gut with redness burning through my skin.

 

"No! No! O god, please help me!" I cried out.

 

A ghostly, soft voice whispered into my ears, "Tobias, awaken and lead her to love." My heart beat a million times per second as this moment crushed my spirits again. Why tonight? Fridays were for peace.  Who was this eerie spirit speaking of?

With all the blood of courage inside my heart, I answered, "My name is Ichabod. Who is this Tobias?"

 

Soft whimpers of a young girl crying came from the ceiling as the apparition formed across my bed of solace. Sparkles came from outside of the window transforming into an amorphous image surrounding her. The voice whispered in my ears. "She is a friend, Tobias. Awaken!" said the voice.

 

Cringing for a moment, I held on to my conscience, afraid to speak. I slowly got up to touch the young girl, but the girl vanished.

 

"What's wrong, Ichabod?" Mother asked from outside his bedroom. She opened the door, as I touched the hard wood floor where she once was, touching it, and feeling it. Perhaps, it was real?

 

"I'm Tobias," I told Mother, my face taut. "Perhaps these spirits will visit again tonight, inside my dream." I knew I had a soul touched with something peculiar. My father told me it was an illness. To me, it was a gift.

 

"We have to talk to Leona about this," Mother said with her eyes scrunching like a feral kitten in disbelief. "She would know what to do. At least they're good spirits, right, Ichabod?"

 

"I believe someone needs help," I said. "Or, I might need to help someone." Feeling rather significant since ghostly spirits had revealed to an interstellar purpose of some kind.

 

Mother came towards me, and gently said, "Let me see your stomach." Her caring voice carried her far into her nursing career. She lifted my hand over my stomach, revealing red swollen marks across my abdomen, all the way down to my lower pelvic bone.

 

"O god! We must go to the hospital! Now!" Mother yelled frantically turning about like a lost pug chasing its tail.

 

"Maybe it will just go away," I told her. I squirmed with her every touch, pressing into the swollen areas.

 

"Emergencies are non-negotiable, Ichabod!" Mother said.

 

She took me by my shoulders downstairs, and we walked me to our family car as if I was a handicapped but to be honest, I felt I was at that moment. We drove me to Silver Creek Hospital Emergency Department within five minutes flat, escaping accidents, crazy policemen, and mass shootings.

 

"I just don't know what to do about these spirits you experience, all on your own," Mother said. "I'm so worried, Ichabod.

Perhaps we need some form of brand name anti-psychotics, not the generic anti-depressants you usually consume."

 

"I have bruises, Mother. They are evidence for something," I replied, in my attempt to convince her on the evidence to prove my sanity. Another twisting pain, as I squirmed on the passenger seat. "Good god, it hurts!"

 

"We're here! We need the wheelchair and a nurse," Mother told me. She parked the car and ran out of it, towards the entrance of the hospital emergency department. 

 

A female nurse rapidly came to me with a wheelchair. With Mother, they lifted me into the wheelchair and wheeled me inside. 

 

"Don't leave me, Mother," I told her. Intense with distraught, I felt fragility over my bones as if a brutal crime happened upon my body.

 

The night was restless for Mother and I, as she cried beside me. What spirits could possibly caused bruising and swellings? Everything was too baffling, too strange, and too incomprehensible, and most of all, violently traumatic. This was one Frenzy Friday!

 

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ICHABOD FRENZY - Prologue & Chapter 1 - Battle of the Goar (or Deep Thoughts on a Winning Move)

This entire literary work is a work of fiction. All characters, certain locations, events and descriptions are entirely works of fiction. Any resemblances of any persons or events are purely coincidental. All symbolic version of religions beliefs are all works of fiction and not to be miscontrued as fact.

 

ICHABOD FRENZY

By

Diana Kurniawan 

 

 


"Scientists tell us that without the presence of the cohesive force amongst the atoms that comprise this globe of ours, it would crumble to pieces and we would cease to exist, and even as there is cohesive force in blind matter, so must there be in all things animate, and the name of that cohesive force among animate being is love. We notice it between father and son, between brother and sister, friend and friend. Where there is love, there is life." – On Non-Violence by Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Every moment mattered, and everything meant intrigue to him. His red beanie with an embroidered sun tilted to his right temple, exposing the soft brunette strands of his baby hairs.  He softly tiptoed on to the stony dirt path ahead of him, as each step of his small bare feet gave into the earth. A leaf fell on his nose, that was wet from the dewy moisture of the spring morning in Longmont, Colorado. He blew the leaf away. Wisps of his breath danced in the air, as he walked one step at a time with gargantuan curiosity.

 

The vision of white soft fur enlarged his eyes. The rabbit hopped. One hop, two hop, three hop. He leapt to catch the white cottontail from behind, but missed. He landed on the dirt on his front yard, face first and ambition second.


"I'm catching you," said Ichabod Frenzy, seven year-old hunter of small furry animals and a fan of mud. Smearing dirt on his striped green shirt, he sneaked to the bushes near the steel gate towards the neighbor's house.

 

Leona, his neighbor, was pruning the lavender with shears and empty eyes, almost glazed as that of a mannequin. Snip. Snip. Robotic movement of lavender stem being pruned, to concoct her usual lavender and mint oils. Ichabod stared at her dry cracked lips, almost whispering to herself. Something along the lines of, "Bad landscaping."  

 

Strange but interesting, Ichabod thought.

 

Her tear-stained eyes glanced to the center branch and met Ichabod's doe-eyes. Stillness beset them both. They raised their heads and met each other in full view.

 

"Boo!" said Ichabod jokingly.

 

"AAArrrrggghhhh!" Leona's bottom slipped away from her gardening stool, as she landed on the dirt. She never anticipated ruckus and gardening mayhem at this early in the morning.

 

"Oh gosh," Ichabod hid back behind the lavender bushes that were overgrown past the trellises.

 

 "Who are you?!" Leona yelled, cruelly.

 

"Ichabod. That's my name. Ichabod Frenzy. I'm seven," he said from soil level. He slowly raised his head, and asked, "Did you see a bunny rabbit?"

 

Leona turned around, and saw the white rabbit hopping across the other side of her lush garden.

 

"I'm your neighbor. It's my new word "neighbor." I like you," Ichabod said, half smiling. "My mom said we should be friends with our neighbors."

 

She gathered her pruning shears and gloves to go back inside. Ichabod scowled seeing her silent movements to abandon him without a reply. She has to be kind somehow, he thought.

 

She was about to pick up her gardening stool when the grey haired lady across the street yelled, "Top of the morning! It's pretty today, isn't it?"

 

This was way too much attention for Leona. A fake smile was too much of an effort for someone she hardly cared for. Noticing Leona's silence, the old lady across the street grumbled, "Ignoramus," as she scowled and crouched down to get back to her own gardening work.

 

Leona grabbed her shears from the ground, then smeared the mud off on her brown shorts and ragged t-shirt. She turned to Ichabodm and tenderly spoke to him. "Don't listen to her, you're still little. Don't believe rubbish," she said.

Ichabod nodded and smiled, because she'd finally spoken to him. He saw the old lady hissed at him, then ran back into her house across the street. Ichabod ran outside of his yard and opened Leona's front gate, to see if the cotton-tailed rabbit was still inside her fecund garden.

 

The roses of Sharon bloomed, as if it was the epitome of blossoming love that Leona lacked in her life. Ichabod did not care who Leona was, because the rabbit was his main concern. There were judgments about the neighborhood that Leona was the peculiar, single, and barren lady living next to the Frenzy family. On the contrary, Ichabod was the doe-eyed darling everyone wanted to meet, simply because he was the bright ornament to the otherwise mundane neighborhood community.

"I'm hunting," said Ichabod, searching underneath Leona's rose bushes.

 

The house Ichabod and Leona lived in were a pair of two-story Victorian style doll-houses made life sized, with fish-fins details on the roof and ornate trimmings with a porch swing on the Frenzy side and a bench on Leona's side. Leona's front yard was trailed with cobbled stones steps from the front porch, leading to the front gate. Her perennial garden charmed the house, with bursts of colors and robust characters. The Frenzy family front yard was detailed with round topiaries and an arched walkway, with finely trimmed green grass and a small little fountain to the left of the stony path. Longmont, was a small city with its fair share of Victorian style neighborhoods, and the Frenzy block was one of many.

 

The grey haired lady across the street slammed her front door shut after she went inside. She peeked outside of the window and stuck her tongue out to Leona.

 

"And people say I'm weird," Leona said, seeing the grey haired lady scratch the window like a tiger on its prey.

 

Jenny, Ichabod's mother yelled at the top of her lungs from next-door, "Baby! Where are you? Let's go to the pool! Summer time, summer fun!"

 

Ichabod immediately ran out of Leona's yard. "I'll see you tomorrow. I'm busy, I have to go play," he said. He sprinted back to his house because pool time beats a white cottontail rabbit anytime, anywhere.

 

       …

 

The next day was sweltering hot. There was no air conditioning in Ichabod's house, only the occasional breeze from the open windows. From noon to three in the afternoon, Ichabod popped into Leona's yard every ten minutes, to see if she would ever come out.  There were no signs of her at all. Anxious and impatient, he took off his beanie hat, and threw it on her front porch.

 

Leona peeked outside through her windows, and closed her curtains immediately. She cracked open the door a few moments later, and took the beanie hat inside. Ichabod wiggled from side to side, giggling uncontrollably, and covered his mouth with his hands. "She loves me," he said to himself. He ran back happy into his house, and the rest of the afternoon was all about coloring and puzzles.

 

Several days passed and the summer heat on that day could burn unprotected skin, but that didn't stop Leona from walking to the flower shop.  She wore Ichabod's red beanie, and held a basket of pink roses. Ichabod saw her and ran to say hello.

 

"Did you like my hat?" he asked. Leona fell to the ground and dropped her basket of roses. Tears hovered in her eyes and the embarrassment trembled her hands, as she tried to clean up her own mess. Ichabod quickly helped to pick up her roses, to put them back inside her basket.

 

"I'm the strange lady, remember?" said Leona nervously. She picked up the rest of the roses from the ground and started to sob uncontrollably.

 

"What's wrong? You're not strange. I like you," said Ichabod. He took one of the roses from the ground and gave it to her. "Not everyone is mean."

 

Leona ran home out of fear, because perhaps, Ichabod had broken the ice of friendship.

 

"You can keep the hat!" Ichabod yelled, holding a stem of pink rose in his hand.

 

That same evening, Ichabod was restless. There was a sadness looming about him, the same feeling he got when his bike was broken, and he couldn't spend the day riding around. He ran next door to Leona's house. The front door was ajar, and when he walked inside, he found her on the couch with one leg partly down to the ground and her body, lifeless. There were large bottles of wine with empty plastic pill bottles on the table.

 

"Are you asleep?" said Ichabod, tapping her and kneeling next to the couch. "Are you dead?" He whispered in Leona's ears. He shook her body and thought, maybe he had a dead body in front of him, making his evening full of peculiar surprises. Yet, something harrowing discreetly seeped into his blood. She was a friend, how could she leave me without saying goodbye? He thought.

 

Tears rushed down his cheeks, as he looked frantically for a telephone and dialed 911.  The emergency dispatcher picked up the other line. "I think the lady neighbor is dead," said Ichabod. "No, she lives alone. There are medicine bottles on the table, and other bottles too."  The operator said the paramedic was going to come home for her immediately.

 

Ichabod dropped the phone on the floor, and knelt next to Leona. He wiped her tear stained eyes with his bare hands. He understood that Leona was not strange, instead fragile, and needed a friend. He kissed her forehead and as he held on to her hand.


A source of light rushed down from the sky, as if a star had rushed in from heaven. The light travelled into Leona's house, jolting Ichabod's heart. The impact threw him across the room, and the force wilted him to the floor.

He never saw Leona again, not until months later, on one evening in mid-October.

 

 

 

Rain was pouring, as if a hurricane from Florida had paid Colorado a visit. With big droplets of water and whirling wind, leaves were flying in small tornadoes on the neighborhood street. Leona stood inside her living room, looking out from her curtained windows at the ferocious storm. A car pulled up in front of Ichabod's house. A man in his black suit and tie, got out and ran to the open the passenger side. A woman with a brown raincoat stepped out, and they kissed, passionately.

 

"Hurry! Before they come back from their aunt's house," yelled the man in the black suit. He picked her up over his shoulder, as the woman held the umbrella. They laughed together and went inside. Leona closed her curtains and lit her candles to enjoy the rest of the night.

 

A few hours passed and as she was about to eat her fettuccini alfredo, loud poundings on the front door made a rude intrusion. She opened the door, and couldn't help but empathize for a cold little soul, dripping wet from the thunderstorm.

 

"My dad wants to leave us. He hates us," said Ichabod, sobbing as he wiped his wet hair away from his eyes. "I want you to be my dad."

 

"You have a dad," said Leona.

 

"He wants someone else. He doesn't want me and my Mom. Can you be my dad? Please?" His wet shirt stuck to his body. His hands were folded and begging Leona for a resolution.

 

"Come in," said Leona. She opened the door for the scared little boy and hugged him. His wet shirt seeped into her dress, as she held him tightly to soothe his tears.

 

"Stay here, I'll grab a towel," she said, as she closed the door.  She hurried upstairs and opened the linen closet. 

    

Another loud pounding came to Leona's front door, and her heart thumped. She accidently dropped the towel from her hands, and Ichabod wailed out loud. Leona panicked because she was scared of whom it might be.

    

"Leona, I remember you. This is Jenni, I'm Ichabod's mom. He told me about you. Is he there with you? I can hear him crying. Please ...," the voice pleaded from the far side of the door. "I've been walking out in the rain to find him. I'm so sorry to bother you. Please, are you inside?"

 

Leona opened her front door and smiled at Jenni, who was also sobbing and wet. "My husband. He's out of his mind," Jenni said. "With his co-worker." Her blonde hair glistened under the moonlight, and her whole body soaked in the rain as she sniffed and sobbed.

 

Leona nodded and was compassionate about her little lifesaver's family, especially since his Dad was a cheat. "He's here," Leona widened her door, and Ichabod ran to his mom and hugged her knees. Jenni picked him up to hug him tight, and looked to Leona, speechless. Jenni's bright blue eyes drooped, swollen red from hard crying.

 

"You can stay here as long as you need to," said Leona. She moved close to Ichabod and kissed him on his forehead. As the two tattered souls walked inside, Leona closed her front door to shield them from the wind and rain. As a matter of fact, she closed the door on the world, to protect Ichabod, Jenni and herself, from harm.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 - Battle of the Goar (or Deep Thoughts on a Winning Move)

*(To be accompanied with The Champion, performed by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris)*

 

 

 

The melamine sword inside the plastic scabbard neatly tucked underneath my cape, to the right side of my hip. If it was real, it would cut linen the same. Might be a sin to carry such a thing inside a Walmart, but who would notice? The Battle of Goar commenced behind the Silver Creek High School on hallowed ground behind the tennis courts, far from the real world. Legends of past alumni told, the grassy knoll was once a place of ancient rituals to knight students with high honors and respectable sportsmanship. It was part of the secret society for young teens with the highest IQ in all of Longmont. This might be true, but I was never invited.

 

The silver cape on my back was made of silk and rayon, and no one argued of its regal appearance. A cape of a soldier who won battles exactly three weeks afore this day on these same grounds. The Battle of Goar came with our own adversaries, the Reckards, of Boulder High, who stole our trophy a year before, our nemesis clan just as the Legions, of Niwot High, followers of The King.

 

I was a Luthien, a tribe in the Fantasy Club at Silver Creek. Everyone wished they were a Luthien, only to be found soaking under the Spring Rain in May if they didn't pass our 3.1467589 grade point average.  

 

The Reckards's colors were red, thus their red capes. A little awkward and egotistical for anyone to handle if you asked me. They felt powerful because Superman wore the same color, but their fantasy was delusional. First, because Superman didn't carry a sword, and although he was a fantastical character, what potion made them believed of the same time period as The Battle of Goar? Anachronism! Second, The Reckards were made of the spoiled brats with the permission to carry a metal sword, combined with their egos, these monsters were twins with Osama Bin Laden.

 

The Legions carried firecrackers as missiles with their bows and arrows. Crossover from The Hunger Games, with shoulder length hairs of fools from the 70s Show. They might as well wear lipstick and slobber underneath their masks. Covid-20 would stick on their hairs and bows and arrows, plus they'd have to fetch those darling arrows like baby toys after the battle was won by The Luthiens. Their firecrackers were Chinese Pops, those that popped on the ground upon a slam. There were no skills involved, only bad aims. The Legions never won a single battle, and after our Fantasy Club social, all of Silver Creek High portend of a powerful journey ahead by showing them a salute for being good sports.

 

The Luthiens wore silver capes and plastic swords, but we were all soccer players. Stamina and drive were our skills, and we looked up to Sia and Lady Gaga for motivation. Beginnings were hardest, because between The Reckards, The Legions, and The Luthiens, no one wanted the first attack, but we all agreed losers always makes the first strike.

 

The Luthiens never felt defeated, although we were last year. As men and women of The Luthien tribes, defeat only meant practice runs for a championship. We shall drink two doses of 5Energy drinks next time, because it proved its reward now, as I sauntered inside a grocery store like a champ.

 

For now, Ichabod shall lay low for next Spring, sipping two percent milk and eating Starbursts.

 

Once Summer beckons for play, The Battle of Goar Round 2, will be won….again!

 

I, Ichabod, the triumphant one.

 

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