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The Fuel

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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Love Letters to Dear God,

February 27, 2010

 

To the Forever Gorgeous Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live,

 

Have I told you my love for you just hit its formative years? 

 

When I was little, I thought you were most likely that brave soul who wasn't afraid to hold my hand to play in the sand box. You whispered to me, inside my dreams, "It's okay to be shy. I still know who you are."  Then, you said in my dreams, "I have a huge monster in my backyard, wanna see him?" and I would be silly enough to believe that monsters really scared me at all. 

 

Times when the skies were grey made me wish you were my sand box buddy, because you would be the cutest sand box buddy I would ever have (and the oldest);and it would be completely fun to have you as my friend. 

 

Maybe if I was your sandbox buddy you'd be my best friend, although I never grew up with sand boxes or monsters in my back yard.  I grew up with lots of mud and rain that I played outside all the time, to watch the ground turned slimy and muddy. In the springtime, I would run outside in the fields of flowers where their buds bloomed and somehow, there was an ocean nearby, where I soaked my feet in the sand, and looked up to the sky and said, "Thank you for loving me."

 

I prayed for those wishes and prayers to be worthwhile for God, or for another soul like ours, to meet one day, from across the world. That perhaps a little girl and a little boy with the same wishes like mine, would meet and their hearts would take form, and they fall in love.

 

I know there were more important issues in the world than wishing for you to be my play mate. Like the fate of a little boy who carried a basket of rocks in India, or the little girls fighting assaults from the Rwandan militia; that my wishes of having you as my sand box buddy seemed like hop-scotch to God.

 

I prayed for those children too, that maybe they will have such a loving sand box buddy like me or you.  But today, I just wanted to love you very much, and maybe my wishes to meet you will one day come true.  I knew we live under the smile of heaven under the same moon and stars, with angels watching over us. Maybe they would notice that I was in love, and praised my wishes to God, to send you one day to be my friend.

 

For every letter I wrote, I prayed for every heart to be lifted up, and immersed inside that happily ever after I wished for everyone.  I also hoped for you to appreciate these series of love letters to God that I wrote for you. I raised them to heaven as a protest for love to conquer all.  For every child to grow up and experience true love as I wished in that vision of you and me, as sand box buddies. For the happy childhood and loving memories of all children to withstood the test of time. 

 

This sand-box buddy wishes might come true one day, maybe if not for you and me, then for two little children who God saw as a pair of doves, meant for true love.  If not, these wishes were still true, as I prayed dreams to come true, hearts to mend, and my heart to manifest to life!  In hope of you, Seth Meyers, that maybe one day, I would meet you.

 

Because I love you,

WishesOoohWishes

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