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The Fuel

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 10, 11 & 12

Chapter 10 – Angelina

 

 

I kept my appointment with the animal shelter around the block to the Creekside Hospital the next day. Sunday was a day of rest, but I wanted to spend the day to heal instead of in tears. The sign above the blue awning said, "Creekside Animal Rescue." A woman with green hair stood behind the glass double door. The place looked like a veterinarian office than a local animal shelter.

 

"Angelina? Is that you?" the woman at the door asked me, opening her arms expecting a hug. Her green hair looked alien, but bright.

 

"Yes, I am," I replied.

 

"Daisy, it's a pretty common name. For an uncommon girl," she said, shaking my hands with the most assuring and firm handshake. "Wow, shiner."  She commented on my swollen eyes. "Looks like you've had a rough weekend. Let's go inside."

 

"It's great to meet you. Were you waiting for me?" I asked her.

 

"I can give you a ride home if you need me. But, you're going to have to set up an appointment with the therapist at the hospital before you go home. I've been waiting for about half an hour. I thought you were going to come this morning. It's almost noon now," Daisy said, carefree and talking away. "I'm hungry that's why, and I'm the only one here. But anyhow, follow me." She walked to the back of the office.

 

There was an administrative desk and a large double doors to the side, behind the counter, leading to more rooms inside.

 

"I've been looking forward to meet you. But, let's start with the tour. This is the office, and we do all the paper work here. I'm going to ask you to help me enter some data for the website, take pictures of the puppies, and enter their descriptions...et cetera, et cetera. You've done computer work before?" Her jovial tone was rapid and cheerful, which made it pleasant for me to pay close attention.

 

"Yes. I can do all kinds of work. I'm so happy you're nice," I told her.

 

"Sweetie, this place built me. I met Bernadine when I was 16 years old. I started volunteering just like you. Then they hired me as full-time staff. I'm at school now, starting my junior year in college," said Daisy. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you."

 

Daisy held my shoulder for a short moment, and then my hand. We smiled at each other, and felt intuitively as close as sisters, instantly.

 

"I work well with animals," Daisy said. "And humans."

 

"I'm a sophomore at Silver Creek," I told Daisy.

 

"Oh, I had friends there. I was at a school in Brighton, it's further down closer to Denver, and you're rivals with Longmont and Boulder right?" Daisy asked.

 

"Yup, the armpit of Boulder and Longmont. It's nice there, cozy except for last night," I said.

 

"If Silver Creek was so nice, how come you were raped?" asked Daisy.

 

I wasn't sure how to respond. Daisy was right. If it was so nice in the world, how come I became a rape victim?

 

"Hahaha...just kidding wit' cha," Daisy joked, and looked closely into my eyes, "I can see you still have faith in the world."

 

"Smart," Daisy murmured, while nodding in silence.

 

I felt so naïve.

 

Daisy walked towards the back of the second room, behind the office. "This is the kitchen!"

 

She pointed to the giant sink that was two feet deep, as my eyes followed her every move. "This is your station for the next week and the week after. I'll train you how to wash our babies," said Daisy.

 

"I'm so excited. I love dogs!" I said, as I felt comfortable. I looked to the the right side of the room. "That's a huge fridge! What's in there?" I asked Daisy.

 

"Oh, you can't touch the stuff in the fridge, except for the dog foods. Those are left over sometimes we keep them in the fridge. But the rest is for the on-call vet," Daisy said. She opened the refrigerator and we looked inside, and said, "See. These are vitamins, and medicine, in case they get sick and some vaccines. The vet will be here in at nine in the morning, and off by noon. So you won't see each other."

 

"So where are the puppies?" I asked, yearning for cuddle times with a sweet pup.

 

"Well, some are puppies, the rest are grown up dogs. We have a couple of rabbits in the very back, then some cats, but we have about ten dogs right now," said Daisy. We walked to the swing double doors behind the kitchen. "We're an animal rescue so we're not as large as an animal shelter, but we do the same things. Come, they're here in the back"

 

As soon as the double doors swung open, the cages were the first thing I saw. There were ten floor length metal cages, all about five feet deep inside, with pull up cage dividers in the middle for each of them. The cage doors were wired steel, with up and down latches that were connected to the pull up dividers. The locks on the door were larger than usual, with plastic mats inside the cages on the floor, for the dogs to have a warm surface to sit on. There were five male cages on one side and five female cages on the other.

 

"Aww. This one is so sleepy," I said noticing a drowsy pup as I tried to touch the floppy ears of the sleepy cocker spaniel. The cocker spaniel was on her back, close to the cage door, exposing her ears and belly.

 

"She's funny, her name is Cougar. The vet and I named her, because she met the young lab on the other side on her first day here, and she kept licking him. I think she likes him," said Daisy.

 

"Cougar. Go get him, you little feline," I joked, as my finger barely reacheed Cougar's ears through the metal cages. Cougar wiggled a little and her paws reached up in the air and went back down again, as she fell back into a deep sleep.

 

"I think she's tired right now, sleepy baby," said Daisy, tickled by the sweet sight of a sleeping Cougar.

 

"Each one has their papers done and their shots done seven days after they arrive. The vet makes sure they're good to go in case someone wants them," said Daisy. "If they're not eating, that's a good indicator that they're sick. Just tell one of us, and we'll be on them with some love and meds."

 

"How long do they usually stay here?" I asked.

 

"It's Colorado, we're pretty pet friendly, and especially near the mountains. Boulder and Longmont and the Silver Creek area. They stay probably three months the most, but we've had some that's been here for a year or so. We use the dogs that aren't adopted for behavioral test to become healing dogs. We don't put them down as much here, unless they're really sick," said Daisy. She walked to the end of the row of cages, and pointed to the newest addition, Sampson.

 

"This here, is Sampson, he's our newbie. You'll see their charts in front of their doors, just like in hospitals. Sampson was abused pretty badly, when he's only eight months. You'll love him," she said. Daisy opened the cage and took Sampson out, a pug and daschund mix, but he looked more like a black dwarf beagle. "Hold him for me, you'll just fall in love with him. We all did."

 

Sampson licked my lips and bit my right hand gently. "Oh my gosh, he's so adorable. I love him already," I kissed him back, and hugged him tight to my chest.

 

"You can play with the dogs as soon as your stuff is done. We usually have a list for you to help us out with. Then we just let you lose with the puppies to play with them. You'll love it here," said Daisy.

 

Daisy took Sampson back from me, and held him close, and put him back inside the cage. Sampson had a tenacious spirit and kept on licking Daisy and holding on to her arms, as she let go of him inside the cage.

 

"Yeah, I can already feel it. You'll fall in love here," said Daisy, easing off Sampson's attachment with a few more kisses to his nose. "Did you see how he loves being held by you?"

 

"So, how many of us are there? Bernadine's girls?" I asked Daisy, as we walked towards the front office together.

 

"Oh Just a couple before you. There is me, I've got my story, but after me, there was another girl and another one. But, one got hurt and didn't make it. Also, I have to warn you, we don't usually talk about anyone," Daisy said.

 

"What do you mean got hurt? The perpetrator came after her?" I asked.

 

"Oh no, she hurt herself. It was pretty hard for her, I mean, she was really young, maybe fourteen or so, but that was a long time ago," says Daisy. "She was hurt by her dad, and they moved her out to foster care and she just kept cutting and never stopped."

 

"What's your story Daisy? Mine is pretty confusing," I asked. I wanted to head stories of other victims to help alleviate my pains and traumas.

 

"Let's trade stories later, I just met you. Trading stories is a common type of trading sorrows, however, such method of healing was only appropriate for the right circumstances and with the right people," said Daisy, with apprehension because I asked personal questions from only fifteen minutes of speaking to each other. "Rape victims get discriminated. For some reason, people treat us like we don't belong in the world anymore after the violence. We get looked down upon, as if we hurt the rapist. Sometimes we just keep quiet about it. It's for your own good. We can talk when we know each other better."

 

"I'm sorry Daisy," I said.

 

"Don't worry, but I need you to fill out some paper work. It's for the volunteer position. I think weekends or after school for there hours just for a day is good. Unless you want to do more, but I think six hours per week is more than enough," said Daisy.

 

"I'll do six hours," I said.

 

"Great! I like that idea. Monday through Sunday, pick some days," said Daisy, her smile brought ease to the almost tense atmosphere.

 

"I think Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those'll be good for me," I said.

 

"If you can, we have fundraising days and party days. I'll give you a notice. We usually put messages for our

volunteers on the back corkboard. So check often, for envelopes with your name on it. That's how I update you, is that okay?" said Daisy. She opened her arms, and gave me a hug.

 

"You're so warm, it's really good to meet you," I said.

 

"Girl, I've been there. So, my story. I was raped by my own father, and he trafficked me to his friends. The sad part is, I get that feeling that just won't go away, the trash feeling. You'll know what I'm talking about, but don't be discouraged. Talk to someone about it," said Daisy. "You have me here and part of the job for me is to be the program coordinator for Bernadine's girls for the animal rescue. It's my job."

 

"How old are you Daisy?" I asked.

 

"I'm thirty years old this year. It's been a long road girl. I've been here at the shelter for almost fifteen years now, and I love it. I just work here full time and go to school part time. Taking it one step at a time," said Daisy, puffing her chest from the sense of accomplishment.

 

"How do you get over the bumps on the road? I mean…how do you handle the comments about being a victim. That type of stuff," I asked Daisy.

 

"I block them out. I have this great mental ability to just ignore people. I know, right, ignorance is bliss. But sometimes you just have to do it, to help yourself in our case. We can't listen to the name-calling, or the whispers that people say about you. I went through high school feeling like a tramp, because I was having sex with old men. But it's really not something that I wanted for myself," said Daisy.

 

"I'm scared about being the target for bullying and racism," I said, "I somehow feel that's the case. Because I was called derogatory names, and there aren't many Asian girls at school."

 

"You can't always look at it from a racism perspective. Unless there is a sudden surge of hate crimes in a period of time. Maybe it's one aspect of it. I'm Latina and there are a lot of derogatory names for every race. That's racism, too, but it's the violence behind it, and the labeling is the effect of it," said Daisy. "As human beings, we want to be the fittest, the strongest and the toughest, the one to survive so we can pass down our generations to our children. People hurt other people to prove they are superior, and to claim they are better than anyone else. They blame others because they refused to see the flaws in themselves and their own race," said Daisy.

 

"I feel scapegoated, and blamed for the circumstances that were not my own creation. I felt battered because someone wanted to oppress me to become stronger. As if they knew my future and wanted to steal the good things in my life so they can have it," I confided in Daisy.

 

"Try to help yourself, so when they start calling you names at school, just leave the premises. Look at it as a violence prevention method. Sometimes you just have to leave them and stay on your own path. Unless it gets bad, then you need to report to the authorities, and fight for your life," said Daisy.

 

The tears sneaked their way out a bit. "I'm sorry, I just start crying automatically now. It's hard to control now," I said. "It's just so hard to ignore anything."

 

"You may want to tell your counselor about that. The hospital is pretty good about giving sliding scales for therapy, for victims without health insurance. So they charge with a sliding scale and especially because you're under twenty-one years old," says Daisy. "It's all good girl, I've got my own diagnosis, I have PTSD, but mild now. I'm great at noticing my own triggers."

 

"I'm scared about having a diagnosis. I don't want to have PTSD, or Bipolar disorder, or anything at all," I said, in sobs. The trauma was yesterday, but now I felt it inside my blood, running through my veins, stabbing my soul.

 

"I've gone through a lot Angel, I'm sorry that I have a diagnosis," said Daisy, her eyes gazed to the side of the room.

 

"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry Daisy. I'm just so scared about being diagnosed with a mental illness," I said to her, holding her hand. I was so afraid of judgments that I accidentally judged a friendly soul.

 

"I know sweetie, it's okay. I just want you to know all races, have their victims. It's the violence, not the race. And it's not about having a diagnosis. It's about moving through it," said Daisy.  "I know, baby. It's okay. I'm really not upset. I know the first few months are the hardest. About the racism stuff, I always say to the people who just hold a prejudice against rape victims of another race, to picture that rape victim as a family member of their same color. Then, and only then, will they see their own mothers, sisters, wives, brothers, or children in the rape victim's eyes. Trust me, people will learn. We'll make it through."

 

My first Sunday as a victim was spent with Daisy, and if there was such a thing as a miracle, she was one in my eyes.

 

 

 

Chapter 11 – Ichabod

 

 

 

The broken pieces inside my heart was nothing to the shredded pieces of papers I tore during first period on Monday. I wrote hundreds of verses, stained with visions of the previous weekend. I was in math class, but I didn't care. I shoved the Trigonometry book to falsely let it fall, but it won't. Michael caught it, as he stood next to my table, invisible by the world except for me. He followed me, day and night, invisibly but his spirit crawled into this soul of mine to shield this life of mine. I hoped nothing foreseeably negative would happen to my life, or as it seemed. I tried to fraudulently sneeze, and Michael stroke his index finger under my nostrils. I breathed in.


"Bless you, Ichabod," said Mr. Fette, in Trigonometry. "Are you finished with tangents and cosines?"

 

I exhaled out frustrations, yet inhaled Michael's dusty scent. I tried to bite his finger, but his spirit shifted to the other side of the room. He might be the ghost who trailed me since birth, I thought to myself. The time when I almost fell off the tree near Leona's house, because no one watched me. I suspended in mid-air at ten years old and I never knew how to express my surprise, or confusion.

 

Now, I was inside this classroom, with a guardian angel, Michael, who was ordained by the heavens to defend me. Grateful I was to feel, but my mental illness led me to fears of why I needed a guardian for my life. Was there imminent danger to my everyday walk? With Michael around me, I became paranoid.

 

The bell rang, and I fumbled to clean my desk and ran towards my locker. Everyone turned in their tangents and cosines pop quizzes, but I just kept mine. I needed to talk to Sunjit, my best friend. Speaking to him gave me ease since we met. Elementary was only three years ago, and nothing would change our friendship. I sincerely hoped, nothing could.

 

The hallway was a crowd and the taller jocks tackled one another, wrestling in the hallways, as others flirtatiously strutted their lingos to girls, "What's up, ladies!" said one of them. Michael steadily followed as every bump towards his ghostly spirit passed through each high schooler.

 

One kid cringed as his hair spiked to the ceilings, and a chill came over him. He whispered, "Something is here." He ran to his locker as he stared at me, mumbling, "No demons nor saints, Please, get away from me…"

 

Sunjit walked towards me with his book bag over his shoulder. His face scowled as if a scab was on his buttocks and he couldn't dress it.

 

"Sunjit, look here," I told him. Our lockers were always close to each other. Sunjit Fajar, with an F, similar as Frenzy, my last name.

 

"Ichabod, my parents, they had another party and I couldn't sleep for half a day. They drank and drank coffee till morning. All I could do by sunrise was yawn," Sunjit said, with his red eyes.


His parents were Indian-American, from large families with multiple siblings from both sides. Their relatives congregated multiple times during the week, turning Sunjit's home into a transient housing for his cousins, aunties and uncles.


"My cousins, all they wanted to hear from me was how to be as tall as me, what type of exercises I do, and what type of clothing I would buy if I was a model," Sunjit complained. "I couldn't phone anyone, and these ears and eyes are sore!"

I breathed in. Michael leaned on the lockers next to me.


"Hey whore! Finished playing your part?!" I heard those words boomed from the other side of the hallway.

 
Sunjit and I were alerted with our eyes wide affront one another. We ran towards the voice as so the others. The crowd stood still as we saw Melody Johnson and her sidekick, Keisha Malone, shoved another girl, an Asian girl, whose face was familiar to my eyes. It was her…the girl in the vision. Angel!


"Whores were never named Angelina, or any form of the sort," said Keisha from Melody's side of the hallway, to the left side of our view. Keisha was a tall brunette, half Creole and Italian, everyone was crazy about her since she transferred in from Boulder High. The hallway was silent, in anticipation for a response.


"I am no such label," said Angelina, in sobs. Angelina was in her grey sweat pants, and a t-shirt, hardly the gorgeous girl in the vision. Her hair in a ponytail with tear stained eyes as if she was a lost puppy. Her petite shoulders shivered, and I wanted to hold her.


"When the most popular cheer squad of Silver Creek High invites you to an exclusive house party…pupils of Silver Creek, would you rummage through her home?!" Melody shouted, her hands pumping the crowd.

 

"Noooo……," almost everyone replied. Except for me and Sunjit.  


"You chinks, came here to build a life or so called it so, but you just steal our business, our money and our resources. You need to know where you belong. Go back where you're from, Angel. You're nothing but a nuisance here. Ungrateful bitch!" said Melody.


"You don't belong here, chink. My ancestors got here first and were slaves here. You respect our people, chink!" Keisha shouted.

 

"Ichabod, would I have been invited to her home?" Sunjit asked me in whispers, he looked into my eyes. "There were ladies there, eligible maidens?"

 

I shook my head, "Not our business," I replied. Sunjit slowly returned his gaze to Melody, and back to me, "It was our business…..Keisha, Melody, this Angel, there were others…."

 

I took his jaw and returned it forefront to the ordeal that was about to unfold. Another girl came to the scene, another halfie, with braids, heart shaped face and beautiful. I knew Sunjit would notice her. As expected, Sunjit gasped, and held his chest.

 

"Angel, stay back," the girl in long silky braids took Angel by her side and stood by her. They backed to the lockers and let Melody and Keisha gained the attention.


"Samantha,…they hate me so much," said Angelina. "I don't deserve to be ridiculed after what happened." Angelina looked distraught and closed her eyes with her palms, turning around on the spot and reached out to Samantha.


"You two need to let Angel be," Samantha calmly stretched out her arms and drew a vast space between Melody and Keisha from Angelina.


Sunjit looked to me, and said, "There were others…, beautiful others."


I shook my head, and took his jaw and moved his face to focus on the scene of Melody and Keisha.

 

Samantha peacefully calmed Melody and Keisha, who were hawks about to swoop their prey. "Angelina is an immigrant. No need to call her racial slurs," said Samantha, her arms stretched in front of her.


"The whore has to tame down her manes," Melody yelled out loud.

 

"Do you even know The Civil War, chink?!" Keisha shouted, edging everyone to prejudice. "You never fought for our country, cunt!" Keisha looked to Samantha and asked, "You seriously gonna fight for the chink, whore?"


"Who did you call whore?! I'm biracial, bitch!" Samantha lost her calm and jumped towards Melody to pounce her face, as Keisha jolted forward and separated them. Keisha took her right leg shoving Samantha to the other side of the wall. Samantha fell backwards yet held herself up with her hands, as Angelina got up to batterfang Melody. The four girls fought hard, and ripping out Samantha's braids, pouncing faces and causing a violent scene in the hallway in mid-morning on a Monday.

 

Sunjit and I stood back in awe with our mouth gaped open. This must have been a comet of a fight in the history of Silver Creek High School. But, one should never assume.


"What beauty crossed my path?" said Sunjit. "Ichabod, she's a rose, the braided one."

 

"I just saw the Angel inside my dreams?" I said. A vision of Angelina manifested in front of me.

 

"Her energy, … of a champion," Sunjit said. I rolled my eyes, as I knew all Sunjit could relate to in the world was about track and field. It was about "energy" for Sunjit, but my eyes was fixated on Angel.

 

"She caused the fight," I told Sunjit. "The cute one with braids."


Assistant Principal Rawlins burst the scene with his whistle separating the crowd. Principal Rawlins took his body in between Keisha and Samantha and managed to keep them away from each other. Collin came from the other side of the hallway, and took Angelina from Melody.


"I heard the whistle," Collin yelled. "What happened? Angel, stay calm!"

 

Angelina cradled into Collin's arms, as they sat on the floor and Angelina sobbed in distress. A jab jolted me from within, as if my heart had a prickle of a needle from Collin's touch. Melody ticked nervously with Collin in the hallway as she stood still next to Keisha.


"Samantha, Angelina, what happened?" Principal Rawlins placed his hands in front of him standing in between the four girls with Melody and Keisha on one side, and Angelina and Samantha on the other.


"They started it!" Keisha yelled out. "Samantha threw the first punch!"


"Samantha, is that true?" Principal Rawlins asked her. Samantha stood next to Angelina and Collin who were both on the ground. She looked directly to Melody, and told her, "You threw the verbal abuse. That's personal injury."


Principal Rawlins whistled another call. "Stop!" he placed his hands in front of him with his back towards Samantha, separating her from Melody and Keisha. "This has got to stop!" His once jolly face was distressed with his eyes wide as if he was about to swallow his whistle.


"Everyone go back to your classes!" Assistant Principal Rawlins cleared everyone in the hallway.

Sunjit and I were engrossed and suddenly invested in Angel and Samantha, deeply, intently, and emotionally. "Mine, the one with braids…that power! Ballsy," Sunjit said to me, shaking his head.


I looked around to find Michael, and he stood near my locker that was left opened. He held on to his sword, as if Armageddon was about to happen.


"I'm on a mission, Ike," said Sunjit. I clenched my fist and tabbed his fist over and underside. Sunjit laughed and ran to his class. I stood still to wait and listened to my guardian.

Michael came closer, and said, "Allowable, but not the most opportune time to meet Angel. You will have another. Wait for it."

 

 

 

Chapter 12 - Angelina

 

 

 

Collin twirled my fingers, as he always did when we had fights. His smile was worth waiting for. His short dirty blonde curls were perfect to my soft hands as I ran through them. We waited inside the nurse's office, where Samantha and Principal Rawlins talked about the fight in the exam room.


"What happened, baby?" Collin asked me.


"I think I was raped," I told him. My tears quenched as my heart shattered into pieces. Soft whispers eluded me, a voice of a man, who said, "He won't comfort you." The disturbing voice lingered inside my ears as it echoed inside my thoughts.

 

I looked around the vicinity of my chair, as Collin pulled my hands to his face. My eyes back towards Collin as he kisses my palms. My hands touched his face and my heart beats stronger for his touch.


"By whom?" Collin held my hands, his eyes moistened and tears rolled down his eyes. I didn't anticipate his tears, but it felt sweet, warm, loving, kind and compassionate to my heart. It was what I needed most.


Principal Rawlins and Samantha walked out of the exam room, and as they walked out, Samantha told me, "Suspension, a week."


Principal Rawlins pulled a chair to sit near me, as Collin gave us space, "What happened at Melody's party?"

 

"I woke up in an empty room and I felt raped," I told him.

 

"Did you make a police report?' Principal Rawlins asked me.


"I made it through the SANE exam," I said.


Samantha stood behind Principal Rawlins, and said, "Mr. Rawlins, labeling is considered violence. Angelina was hurt, and I don't know why Melody would call anyone that, but everyone heard it."


"Sam, you caused a scene!" I couldn't help but shout to her.


"Angel, do you know what happened to you?" Samantha yelled back. "It might be a hate crime."


My tears kept flowing as my cheeks felt apple red out of anger. I never compared myself to anyone based on race or my ancestry. I came here with Papa to escape a dysfunctional family, and not to steal resources from any one of any race. Every race had struggles, and it was never my intent to compare or ridicule or degrade the troughs our ancestors walked. I felt shamed but I knew I shouldn't, because I was allowed to have a life worth living for here in the United States, the land of freedom and justice for all. "Is this because I'm Chinese-Indonesian?" I asked Samantha.


"Everyone calm down," said Assistant Principal Rawlins.


"Who did this to you?" Collin asked me. "The rape, I mean."


"I don't know," I said, as I sat on my chair, myself still confused of what happened.


"What did Melody mean when she said you mistreated her parent's home?" Samantha asked me. "I was there at the party, Angelina. What happened?"


"I drank something Merrick gave me, then I woke up in an empty bedroom, and I was raped," I said, with tears in my eyes. I didn't know how to explain it any other way.  This was the truth, and I felt imprisoned. Please don't say I'm incompetent. Please don't blame me. I feel bad enough, I thought to myself.

 

"Merrick? You met him? What was he doing there?" asked Collin, thirsty for information.


"I don't know. He was Melody's brother. I don't know anyone else, I thought Samantha was there, but she left early," I said.


"Did Samantha drink, too?" Assistant Principal Rawlins was furious about the new information.


"They put the test tubes to my mouth, and sort of forced me to drink it," I said.

 

"Then what happened after that night? Did you tell the police?" asked Collin.

 

"I woke up in some rape shelter and my Papa met me there. He missed work because I had the car all night," I said.

 

"I shouldn't have suggested the party," said Samantha, her hands to her face.


"What can I do to help you?" Collin asked me. I finally could breathe.


"Please don't break up with me," I said. "I know I'm damaged, but I didn't mean to drink and become a rape victim. Please Collin. I'm so sorry."

 

"I started it, and I'm so sorry," said Samantha. "I lost it when they called me a whore."


"Sam, you know what to do for a week," said Assistant Principal Rawlins. "Collin, why don't you take Angelina home. Angel, after today, you have to go to the Nurse and do your program. Bernadine designed the program for you. It's your job to keep it together."


Collin took my book bag and we walked to the parking lot. We passed a strange kid with deep set eyes and dark brown hair, staring at me and Collin as we walked outside our school.


Collin opened the passenger door to his Highlander SUV, and I slid on to the seat. He walked to the driver's side and slid into his seat and started the car. "What kind of person would fight the Pedigree Siblings?"

 
"They're not as nice as you think," I said. "When I woke up, Melody bullied me out of her house and I felt so bad, Collin. I wished it never happened!"


"You know we've been dating, Angel, then why did you talk to Merrick? Were you flirting?" Collin asked me, his voice tense and his jaw looked clenched.


My eyes began to water and told him, "No…he was flirting with me."

 
"This is not good for me," said Collin, because his parent's restaurants were The Johnson's competitor for over a decade. "They're going to think I'm out to ruin them."

 
"How is this about you?" I asked in anger. "I was the one who got raped."

 
"But, I'm affected by this!" Collin yelled at me, as he started the car, and I couldn't help but sob.


"I thought you wanted to help me?" I said, lowering my tone, trying to de-escalate our fight. The last thing I want is for the love of my life, thus far, to break up with me.


"Not good, Angel. This is not good," said Collin. His face reminded me of a losing war.

 

To be continued, ...Just write.

 

 

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ICHABOD FRENZY - Chapter 6, 7, 8 & 9

Chapter 6 – Angelina

 

 

A gauze in between my thighs made me grimace. It felt moist, as if I had my period.  My head drowsy from the alcohol last night, and the bedroom lights were dimmed. I fully opened my eyes, although my eye lids were stuck from tears as I looked around me. The small wooden sign facing me on the door said, "I Love You." A small round table with a collection of large pink and white feathers in a glass vase was next to the bed I slept on. I raised my body, and felt the downfeather comforter, with red satin covers and red satin sheets as if silk to my skin.

 

The gold trimmings of the wall felt Victorian with carvings of leaves all around the room. To the side of the bed was a round wooden table with white crocheted table mats with another glass vase filled with more pink and white feathers and there were two chairs with red heart pillows of terry cloth beside it.  

 

"Where am I?" I wondered. The room made me felt a surge of love inside my heart, as if someone placed me inside this beautiful room insinuating love to me.

 

The door opened slowly, and a friendly face with tortoise shelled glasses peeked in.

 

"Oh, you're up, pretty girl. Let me check your vitals," said Bernadine, she swiftly came in and sat at the edge of the bed. "Did you sleep okay?"

 

"Where am I? I need to call my Papa," I said. Who was this woman? "I haven't told my Papa, yet."

 

"Let's check your vitals and we can go to the phone here. Won't take too long, dear," she said. Her pixie hair was brunette with blonde highlights and she looked normal, or so it seemed.

 

"My name is Bernadine, and I'm a SANE Nurse. SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. I heard you went to emergency department last night and passed out," she said.  "They transferred you here because we don't want you to feel violated again in an emergency room. We have to make sure the victim is taken care of. Can you stick your finger into this thermometer, dear?" Bernadine gently placed my index finger into a plastic finger thermometer.

 

"What happened to me?" I asked Bernadine.

 

"Well, we're going to find out," Bernadine said. "101.3, you're a bit warm, but that's normal after a harsh night." She took out her iPad entering my vital signs and information.

 

"She's up, well good morning little angel," said Officer Fineman from outside of the room.

 

"How did you know my name is Angel?" I asked, sliding back on the bed. The large frame of the police officer frightened me.

        

"Oh, my goodness! Officer, maybe you can wait outside until she finishes her phone call to her father. Then we can get started with the procedure," Bernadine said.

 

"Oh right, I'll see you later, kiddo," Officer Fineman said. He waved his good-bye and walked outside.

 

"I need to make a quick call, and I never called the police," I told Bernadine.

 

Bernadine stood up, and took a cell phone from her scrubs pocket. "Here is a phone. Take your time, dear." Her pace was fast as she walked out and disappeared from the room.

 

The dial tone rang, and Papa picked up the phone.

 

"Angel, where are you? Are you okay?" Papa said. His voice trembled. I knew he cried all night.

 

"I'm okay. I don't know if I am still at the hospital, but I will be back. I promise," I told him.

 

"What hospital?" Papa asked me.

 

"The closest one near Silver Creek Estate," I answered. He hung up, and I was afraid. Afraid of my life, the future, the past, and the present. I didn't know what to believe about myself and what happened last night. All I wanted was to hear my Papa say, "Everything will be okay." I sat in silence. I felt it was the only thing I could do.

 

Bernadine walked in, this time, she slowly approached me. "This room is a safe place," she said. "You are safe now."

 

"What happened to me?" I asked Bernadine. Her eyes looked deep into mine, and she told me, "An accident."

 

"I was raped," I said. My face drooped and I felt my feather shaped eyes frowned. "I don't know who raped me."

 

 

Chapter 7 - Ichabod

 

 

Depression was never my choice. It chose me. When my father left me, I also left the world.

 

"Ichabod, must you be so agitated?" Mother asked me. My body often had a mind of its own, also Michael appeared upon entering our family car. He sat on top of my lap.

 

"Why couldn't you sit beside me?" I whispered to Michael.

 

"I must protect you in case of danger. It was my rule!" he replied. The depth of his voice so close to mine was a nuisance.

"Your breath! On my face!" I yelled.

 

"Ichabod! Whom are you speaking to?" Mother's angry voice startled me.

 

"Breathe…," Michael told me, his face inches away from mine.

 

"Life is so difficult at this moment. So very difficult," I murmured. I didn't realize the guardians were real. My eyes probed Michael's hazel eyes, "You were supposed to remain in my dreams."

 

"I have dreams, Ichabod. I dream you won't talk to yourself," Mother sobbed. Her face was messy, tears gushing, mouth rambled on how depression was to be controlled with effort.

 

"You are inside my family car!" I yelled into Michael's ears. His face, as calm as the ocean, kept at peace as his eyes closed and I couldn't help but follow. Breathed in peace, breathe out love.

 

"I won't abandon you," Michael told me.

 

"I won't abandon you," Mother said. "I felt I needed to speak those words. Ichabod, I won't leave you."

 

Mine heart beat stronger and the words echoed into my ears, of my guardian and my own Mother. "I know," I replied. Tears welled inside my eyes as it felt the warmth of love.

 

Michael blew his hot breath onto my face, and my serenity went to blasphemy. "And breathe…," he said. My face fidgeted with my eyes closed. His hot breath felt like fire over my face. I tried to murder him with my eyes, piercing his.

 

"We're here. Ichabod please take your Effexor, immediately," Mother demanded. "Who is this Michael? Should I set a plate for him for Pesach?"

 

"No supper for Michael," I replied. The car parked and we struggled to step out of our Prius. Michael was effusive, pushing me out as I pushed him. His troubled soul might not help mine. "Why couldn't you leave?!"

 

Michael quickly jumped out of our family car as he pulled me by my arms. This stubborn guardian was never my plan.

Mother opened the door to our home, with a gust of wind as his entrance, Michael barged in. "I shall be here, as long as you are to help Sarah," he told me. He looked about our home, and commented, "Humble. Suitable for a temporary dwelling." He rushed to the stairs to survey the house.

 

Mother walked into the kitchen, and said, "Thank goodness for weekends. It's Passover, Ichabod, I think our life will be fine…"

 

I slumped on the sofa. My brain felt pressure beyond help. This life was not my choice, neither was depression. Escape was my next plan. What karma gave me this journey?

 

 

 

Chapter 8 - Angelina

 

 

 

"What are those little blue plastic boxes for? Are those razors?" I asked, intimidated.

 

My fingers fidget to my lips as I stood near Bernadine's table inside her office. A proper clean table with nothing but stapled papers about to form my destiny.

 

"It's a part of the 'Chain of Evidence' for the forensic exam," said Bernadine. There were plastic blue boxes with slides. The Sexual Assault Incident Form and the Release of Information to Law Enforcement were both before me on the table. I signed them both.

 

"Is the procedure intrusive?" I asked.

 

         'Type of Assault,' I cheked 'other' and wrote, 'I was unconscious. Rape.'

         'Type of Penetration,' I checked 'other,' and wrote, 'Vaginal. I was unconscious.'

         'Did suspect ejaculate,' I checked 'other,' and wrote, 'I don't know. I was unconscious.'

         'Did suspect wear a condom,' I sobbed as I wrote 'I don't know.'

 

         The questions shattered me. I never wanted to be a rape victim. Who decided it so? My sobs suffocated me, as I screamed in silence.

 

"Angel, let me guide you," said Bernadine, as she quickly came to my aid. "You can check 'present' on Trauma, which meant you felt the effects of the trauma, right now, at this very moment," said Bernadine.

 

"I don't know if I can do anything, Bernadine," I said. My life was tattered overnight and I felt responsible for the tragedy.

 

"How difficult does your life feels at this moment?" Bernadine asked. She stood in front of me, beside a long computer desk.

 

"Very difficult," I replied. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

 

"We must work hard to recover from it," Bernadine said. She took several papers and sat on the chair next to me. The papers were titled, "Sexual Assault Recovery Program." Perhaps these papers were my recovery, and not the other signed documents. One could only hope.

 

"We work with Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and we've designed a program for every survivor," Bernadine said, placing the papers in front of me. "Here is our plan. Angel, you will recover. Time is our friend, and it will heal you thoroughly. Walk with me."

 

The paper showed partnerships with several programs around Colorado. A homeless shelter, an animal shelter, a psychotherapy and psychiatric mental health facility and an equine center.

 

"Three months with the Silver Creek Animal Shelter, with play therapy with the puppies, and all types of animal friends. It would be a splendid joy of a time. Continue this as long as you would like," said Bernadine. "Health insurance will be the next application, and we will attempt for psychological therapy on alternate days from the shelters."

 

"I still attend high school," I told her. "What dedication will I need to submit to?"

 

"8-10 hours per month," Bernadine replied. "Equine therapy is next, with a monthly fee, not expensive. We shall arrange them through this office."

 

"What is equine therapy?" I asked her.

 

"Therapy with horses. Bailing hays for their feeding schedule, to slowly have the courage to make contact. The larger the heart of the animal, the more grounding you will feel in your soul and heart. It eases the mind," said Bernadine.

 

"All these together?" I asked her.

 

"Yes, and I presume some anti-psychotics for some form of Rape Trauma medicines will be prescribed," Bernadine replied.

 

Her face felt like sunshine on mine, with her endearing glasses that showed the beauty of her intelligence. She was a mother swan to this lost duckling. "Don't be scared. It's not everyday someone gets hurt at this level. It's a serious crime and it takes serious measures to solve it. Open your mouth, dear."

        

Bernadine held four cotton swabs together, and swabbed inside my mouth and along the gum areas. She smeared her cotton swabs onto a slide, and walked back to the table. A small black comb with fine bristles was next, as if it was for a baby. 

 

"You have to comb your pubic hairs onto this paper, with this comb, and place the traces inside this envelope," Bernadine said. The process was swift, but I aged ten years as seconds went by.

 

Pubic Hair Control meant plucking twenty-five of my pubic hairs from all random places in the pubic area. Although the rape was not my fault, the exam made me feel guilty.

 

"I'm done, dear," said Bernadine, as I stood up from the last portions of the SANE process. The swabs air dried for a moment, and Bernadine dropped it into the "Anal Contents" evidence collection envelope. There were different steps to the process, but I felt honest, vulnerable and thorough. The truth was my responsibility, and it felt good to defend my human rights. I did not lie about the rape, and I supposed this was a courageous way to show it.

 

"I want to assure you, you are being kind to yourself," said Bernadine. "We will try to report with this statement." She handed me a Criminal Report for the police department.

 

"I'm scared," I said. My eyes dropped to the floor, with more tears. "I think it was racism."

 

"It is the violence, Angel," said Bernadine. "It might be a by-product of racism, but it is not the race. It is the violence. When people assault, their motivation is most likely, power. There must be something else than racism."

 

"Why would they hurt me so?" I asked. I realized I was a product of an unwanted family. My own mother did not want me, and now, someone did not want me to have a future.

 

"About the homeless shelter," Bernadine sat down near me. "You will meet others. Some were destroyed, to their very core. Trade stories with me and your therapists about them. All we need is for you to serve meals and be in the midst of the homeless. It's not to discourage you, rather, it is a look at life. Unfiltered."

 

A knock on the door, jolting us both. "A bit tense are we?" Bernadine said, as she stood up to open the door.

 

My father, Tom, stood in front of her. His face messy, sobbing, as he rushed to me.

 

"Angel," he walked inside. "Sorry, excuse me, I'm her father."

 

"Yes, yes, please come inside," Bernadine said.

 

My father hugged me, and we sat on the chair. His face tout as if he was chased by a million demons.

 

"What happened?" He asked, as his hand held my arm tight.

 

Bernadine closed the door as I realized my destiny was not on paper. It was in my every reaction to life.

 

 

Chapter 9 – Ichabod

 

 

There was a misfortune or scandal perhaps in my ancestry, and for such, I may have to repay it. Mother telephoned Leona, our family friend, a minstrel who dwelled at the edge of Silver Creek, atop her café, Elves Tavern.

 

Leona wore a long white layered skirt with a tight green bateau shirt. She was as fresh as the morning dew, and her oval face was young without wrinkles. As if time had no limits to her youth. Her long silky black hair framed her face perfectly with thick long layers.

 

"Let us pick our daily card for the day," Leona took a stack of cards from inside her bag. She shuffled the stack, and offered them for me to pick out. I chose a center card, how I felt my soul lived, thus far. In the midst of chaos.

 

"Dreams," Leona read to me. She turned the card over, revealing a woman in between the sun and the moon in the midst of stars and the clouds. "The angel card believes you are to give attention to your dreams, as they reveal a path or desire foretelling in life."

 

My eyes rolled, and I turned to Michael, who stood near the door. I stayed silent, as Michael's face showed anger as he held on to his sword. "Don't speak to her about me," he said.

 

"Leona, my depression is getting worse," I told her. "I have visions. Is this called psychotic features?"

 

Mother came to me, from the kitchen. Her face concerned with her lips tightly pressed together. "Is this about Michael?"

 

"I saw guardians and I was to help a young girl," I told Mother and Leona.

 

"Often apparitions come as a form of revelations, and often it appears in dreams, visions or forms of energy," Leona said, placing the stacks away inside her purse. "They are not always a sign of misfortune. I will meditate on this phenomena. I've read all of the sacred books, and the spirits will reveal to me, what we need to do."

 

Mother sat on the table across from Leona, her knees touched mine. "Ichabod, keep taking your medicine."

 

"I saw familiar faces, and a crime," I confessed to Leona. "Perhaps,…it was my calling, even just for a season."

 

Leona came closer to my chair, as I began to tear up. Her hand touched mine, as she wrapped my hands with hers, closing her eyes. A soft fuzz entered my spirit, as if I had a kitten in my palms. I felt a comfort and warmth about me.

 

What rational explanations could untame my soul? I felt displaced from the norm and my head spun during times of the day. With the dreams, and Michael who stood by the door with his sword, I yearned to hear a voice of logic.

 

"I am a mystic, and I believe you felt those sensations," Leona said. "It might be a form of warfare, between the worlds and between spirits." Her voice soft in tone and maternal, lifting my heart. At least someone believed me, although Leona was not scientific, rather, she was a friend.

 

"Shabat meal was last night, and we missed lunch. We deserved a good meal tonight," Mother said. "Let us sit this time, and enjoy."

 

Michael briskly walked towards me as he whispered, "Leona is a hypocrite, I forbid you to take her words over mine." He held his sword tight. His hard face and sharp nose as fierce as a lynchman, and I thought all angels wore halos. "It is my duty to protect you from heathens and false prophets who are threats to our missions."

 

I felt my breath constricted and Leona noticed, as she walked towards the door, and left it ajar. "There is some form of hot air in this room," she said. Michael looked to her, but Leona couldn't possibly know of his presence.

 

Michael stepped to the back of the room, as he summoned for Raphael. "My brother, please come," Michael spoke, as I looked to the door and the mist from the cold air outside came into the room, yet no one noticed. The mist rose to the ceiling and whisped around the front door, as Raphael came into form.

 

"She is a friend," Raphael said. "They called her Zalmunna, the hypocrite amongst clerics, but she is none of the sort."

 

"Leona, please guide me. As I will need your help," I said to Leona.

 

"I have something small and discreet, for you to carry. It should help in times of confusion." Leona said. She came close to me and hugged me. My stocky body felt whole as her arms encased me in love.

 

Michael stood still, his eyes moistened. "She knows we're here?" He asked Raphael.

 

Raphael walked to Michael, and uttered, "Yes,… that is the gift of a Zalmunna. But her powers are bright, she is a light."

 

Michael nodded. I could finally breathe in easily.

 

"Ichabod, Gabriel witnessed some changes, before you arrived," Raphael told me. "We will find out soon enough." I said nothing, afraid of any responses that will be heard by Mother and Leona.

 

Mother finished setting the table, and we sat around the small round wooden table with our roasted potatoes from two days ago and green beans with garlic.

 

"It's Saturday Passover meal, let us rest for the moment, and help ourselves to a time of restoration and communion," Mother said her prayers, for our family meal long overdue.

 

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!

 

Just write.

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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.

 

Just write.

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Thoughts with tiny bubbles

My head submerged underwater and my lungs breathed out the condense air as tiny bubbles floated over my face. The evening news showed deaths of Asian women in Atlanta a few days ago, but I refused to listen to the thought and immersed myself in the bath water relaxing my mind. 

Two days ago, an active shooter murdered 10 innocent people at the King Soopers Grocery Store, in Boulder, Colorado, nearby a cafe I frequently spent time in to write. There was a clearing force injecting my heart, to clean nonsense and only give space to those who loved me and no one else.

 

The rest of the world no longer mattered, and I felt forced to shelter in the comfort of stable friendships, critical people only, because those were my community. I didn't want to speak or process my grief to anyone around me. I wanted to close the door to the friends I have yet to meet or develop relationships with, and focus only on the current and immediate close circle of families and friends.

 

Those violence almost closed the door to a future filled with harmony, new friendships with beautiful lives and souls, and almost impeded my growth as a human being.

 

My drive and purpose in life came knocking on the gates of my brain, and asked it to open and relent compassion for my well being; through trauma processing and making connections with my fellow coworkers and customers I met on a daily basis.

 

I realized, my purpose was to send out beautiful energy and to help others in words, action, and love, more than I received. It was my calling to fulfill as a fateful destiny, for which I never chose but it chose me and happened accordingly. 

After witnessing those tragedies via social media and television, I almost lost my sparks. It stunted my creativity for a couple of days, from fearful thoughts that I might pose as a threat for a senseless and irrational human being. People who committed mass shooting, racism, rapes, violence, terrorisms at all levels, including stalking and gang banging, have no purpose in life, their souls full of egos. They felt the existence of good prevents them from their freedom to release the erratic behavior to oppress those who pose as revolutionary. They felt threatened in their subconscious by good lives, opportunities, diversity, tolerance, harmony, and peace. The crazies almost had their statements fulfilled, but that would only suppress growth of our future and ridicule our youth. 

Came back my thoughts to the knocking of my own heart beats pumping my subconscious. It asked me to write out my thoughts and gave me a newfound freedom of expression. It was my right to be Asian because I was born with it, and my right to want gun safety, and my right to grieve for my beloved Father, who died a month ago.

 

I had the right to process it, to not fear it, to be angered by it, but not to be negatively moved or provoked by it. I was the strong tower who had the right to sunshine, and it was an ordained future. Those vile acts and the death shan't lead me to captivity. I was free to express my emotion, because it was sane and creative, not vehemence of ghore. 

Submerged underwater, my brain cooled down, the door to my mind and heart opened for a life of adventurous journey, running with beating pulse pacing my life to enjoy it once again. The tiny bubbles kept floating over my face and I rose up exposing my shoulders over the bath water.

 

This was a thought processed, after a few dismal days.

 

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No Babies, No Cry.

The crevasse of dirt ran down the path to the right side of the road like a long Earthworm sleeping on land. Summer in Colorado was torrid after a blizzard winter, and driving by dry farm lands scorched me in this car with no air-conditioner. I felt the Pontiac swerved but my thoughts flashed of Julie's face with her clear plastic glasses. I could careless of the passage I ignored at home about her, because she made me cry. This old Pontiac was red once, but now it streaked with bronze and copper marks from scraped paint. It was my soul deteriorating as an augury of life, and I wanted nothing more than a few Pabst for consolation earlier, but this mess got me guerilla driving. 

 

The steering wheel made me sick, and the leathery crap slipped out of my hands. Julie's face was on me again. I tried to hold it together, but just like trying to control Julie, it wasn't my time. Damn tree was too close along the path as the road ragged on the wheels and I hit that damn dead bark in the middle of nowhere. 

 

The crash was bad. I felt my neck popped forward out of my back and I knew I just about died. Nothing in my vision. There was dark and more dark, and the air felt light in my chest, lifting me up. I breathed in, and got shook out of my beard. It wasn't even a long one, and I even moisturized my beard. 

 

"Wake up! Get the hell out!" said a voice. 

 

I shook out and shook up, my eyes like a wild dog, searching for something I could focus on. The hand pulled my shoulders and dragged me out of the car. Whatever animal was dragging me, pulled the hell out of me like I was food.

 

"Stop! Get the hell off me!" I screamed, my legs kicking as my temples throbbed. The six pack of Pabst slowed me down and I gurgled out some and was about to vomit a pint or two.

 

"Stupid! You're stupid! Get up! or I'll kick ya!" said a man's voice. What kind of a man would help someone then kick him? 

 

He stopped dragging me and left me on a hot afternoon like a broiled shrimp on the ground, with my skin all pink and burned. Old white men cooked in his own flesh like seafood on a grill in times like these.

 

"Who the hell are you? Do you know who I am?!" I shouted and something liquid spat out of my mouth. My legs folded and I pushed up off the ground. "Mind your own damn business!"

 

"Lucky dog, you bastard! You thank me!" he said, his head cocked at me like a rooster in a hen. "Drank up and drived like you own shit!"

 

"That's my car, you asshole!" I told him. "Carl! Who the hell are you?"

 

He was short, with dark hair, his nose flat, like he was Chinese. A brown t-shirt and jeans with sneakers made him looked like a young college student. Maybe he was Chinese, maybe he wasn't, but I didn't care what he was. He looked double and my eyes watered.

 

"Paul!" the man said. "And you're stupid!"

 

"Paul?" I said. "You look like a Chang, or Van or something...."

 

"Why? Because I look Chinese?" he said. His arms beside him, and his face looked red and I saw sweat on his forehead. Might be because I was a heavy load and he pulled a fat man out of his car, or he was mad. "Just because I'm Asian, I'm supposed to have a China man's sounding name?"

 

I stayed silent, and looked into his eyes. "Nah...," I replied.

 

A soft peace was about me, as if I knew he was helping me somehow, but I wasn't supposed to know.

 

"We gotta go up a mile and talk!" said Paul. His right hand made a fetching gesture swaying and I felt like a small animal.

 

"What about?" I asked. I looked behind me, and the car was wrecked with the front bumper concaved in and some oil must have leaked with whisps of smoke exhausting out. There was a shadow of a body inside, but it couldn't be mine. I was outside, talking to Paul.

 

I looked to Paul, and didn't have nothing better to do and the dip of the crevasse looked like a cliff and I wanted to dive into it. 

 

"Don't even think about sleeping in that dirt," said Paul. "You're crazy if you do. Come with me!"

 

Paul was mean, and his tone was gritty like a chain smoker but clear sound of voice.

 

"Where we going?" I asked. 

 

"Quit it! Just walk," Paul said.

 

I followed Paul, with his shorter legs, as I caught up. My husky 6' feet body could sit on Paul and squash him, but I wasn't about to get rude to a man who said he had something to say to me. I walked and stayed calm, but Paul wasn't double anymore and my chest wasn't full of puke either. Inhaling the hot air, I swayed a bit, and almost tripped, but I staggered my legs and kept my stance. Paul ignored me, and kept walking. 

 

In the distance was a small house with a porch and a rocking chair in front. The sign on the top of it said, "Highway to Hell," in wood and white lettering and the "Hell" part was hanging down. My eyes felt wet and I looked back to the Pontiac and it was still there, down the road, kissing the tree with branches that looked like the witch's fingers.

 

Paul kept walking and stepped on the porch and opened the door as it creaked and walked inside. A few steps behind him, I looked around and realized this was some kind of bizarre something, because I must have passed this road before and never saw some small shack for a resting point. I followed Paul and walked in, and saw a few tables and chairs with yellow gingham liners.

 

"Just got in, Paul," said the waitress. She looked like a waitress, with an apron and a flowery Summer Dress and her hair was in a bun. Her brunette hair made her blue eyes prominent, and while she was beautiful with a heart shaped face and high cheek bones, I knew she was of age. She walked from the kitchen from the back to a table, and what seemed like a small house, felt vast inside. I looked around the room, and it was like stepping into a prairie cottage, with chairs of wood with soft yellow plaid padding and a blue gingham love seat to the left of the room. A small fireplace over the chimney was in front of me, and next to the hallway leading to the kichen in the back of the house.

 

"Yogurt please, Bonnie," said Paul. "Pro-biotic treat for me."

 

"And you, Carl?" asked Bonnie.

 

"How'd you know my name?" I asked. Bonnie sure was pretty, and if I wasn't in my sixties, I'd marry her.

 

"Stop thinking smack, Carl. What are you having for your afternoon snack?" Bonnie asked. 

 

"What are we? In kindergarten?" I joked. "Are you serious?"

 

"Just,....," Bonnie said, as she exhaled and seemed upset. "Milk and chocolate chip cookies, then."

 

She walked on to the back of the house and must be for baking or some sort, because how else would chocolate chips be made? I sure never tried.

 

"Julie," Paul said. "She's your only daughter. Why aren't you behaving properly?"

 

Paul pulled up a seat and sat down, as he leaned back and I stared at him for a moment. Paul was a bastard I didn't want to talk to right now, because who was he to ask me these questions at a time like this? I wanted to die about thirty minutes ago, and Pabst was helping, and now this Chinese thing was in front of me, asking personal questions.

 

"I really don't want to talk to you," I said. I stood at the same spot, and my arms tensed and felt my veins pumping my heart and hands. The heat must got me overwhelmed because my eyes rolled back and I dropped like a dead fly.

 

Paul immediately got up off his seat and picked me up, and threw my arms around his shoulders and laid me on the couch.

I inhaled and closed my eyes. Breathing for five full minutes, as Paul must have pulled the chair next to the couch where I laid and sat there. He waited for me to flutter my eyes open.

 

"Here, Bonnie gave me a glass of water," said Paul, holding a small glass half full.

 

"Thank you," I said. I felt my heart beating hard. 

 

"It's your coronary heart disease. You shouldn't be drinking this much," said Paul.

 

"Julie's getting married, and no Gypsy woman should be marrying another woman," I said. I cried, holding the bridge of my nose. "She's my baby girl, and now she's gonna marry some Gorger lesbian named Tristan."

 

"That's a nice, name, Carl," said Paul. "But, I don't look like a Tristan."

 

"You look like a Van," I told him. Paul sighed, and giggled. 

 

"Your daughter is a lesbian," said Paul. He smiled at me, and I looked at him with sharp eyes and moistened beard from the water dripping off my mouth. 

 

"She never told me. Now, she wants to elope with this woman,... or man. This thing," I said. My heavy chest heaved and my mouth frowned down and felt my heart dropped to my gut. "I wanted babies for her."

 

"Oooohhh, I see," said Paul. "Babies...."

 

I looked to Paul, and he smiled at me. He must felt smarter with probably all that computer knowledge all Chinese men knew and got chops for. 

 

"I know what you're thinking," said Paul. "That's Bill Gates."

 

"You're shitting me!" I said. 

 

"You asked, and you thought it," said Paul. He shuddered, and said, "Stop thinking racists things. Okay...let's start over."

 

"Julie never told me she was a lesbian," I said. "Gypsies don't do lesbians. We give birth to normal people, like everyone else."

 

"You have a beard, Carl," said Bonnie. "Not everyone has a beard."

 

"Bonnie,...it's okay," said Paul. Paul looked to Bonnie as she came out with some chocolate chip cookies and milk and placed it on the ground next to the couch where I laid. "That's good stuff. Bonnie is top stuff."

 

I looked at Bonnie with endearing eyes, but Bonnie rolled her eyes. 

 

"Divorced," I said. 

"Not interested!" Bonnie replied, and left to the kitchen.

 

"Carl! FOCUS!" said Paul. He took a cookie and handed it to me, and I accepted. The brown chocolate chip cookies was warm and soft and I must have slobbered because Paul handed me a napkin. I took it and wiped my whole mouth with it. Bonnie was talented and I kept chewing on the chocolate chip cookie. Paul smiled again and folded his arms. He breathed in and waited for me to finish my cookie. I gulped the last morsel down and wiped my hands with the napkins. 

 

"Thanks, needed that sweetness," I said. 

 

"Why aren't you smiling?" Paul asked. He smiled at me and I couldn't help but to return the kindness.

 

"She was my favorite," I told Paul. "She's the only daughter I'll ever have, and since her mother died five years ago, she's been driving up to Denver to meet some friends, or so she said. I didn't know she's been out with that Gorger lesbian."

 

"Tristan," said Paul.

 

"Yeah, that's his boy name. I don't even want to know his girl name," I told Paul. I closed my eyes, and breathed in.

 

"Tap your chest, three times with both your forefingers on your hands," said Paul. "Like this." Paul tapped his chest with his two fingers of both hands and I followed him. "Breathe, Carl," said Paul. "Say "I'm good and I'm kind, and I sure love these cookies."

 

"I'm good, I'm kind, and I sure love these cookies," I repeated. I tapped some more, even more than three times. I liked this tapping shit.

 

"So you think she's crazy now?" asked Paul.

 

"Yeah, she's nuts! What the hell do they do? These lesbians! Where do they go? How the hell are they going to be good Gypsies and raise children?" I screamed out all of the chest air and flumoxed anger. "I don't even know how to hug her anymore. Is she the same Julie?"

 

"I see," said Paul. "You think she's transformed into some outer space being who likes only women?"

 

"No," I said. "I'm a Catholic, and Catholics don't do that shit."

 

"Are you a practicing Catholic, Carl?" asked Paul.

 

"No, but I still am a Catholic," I said, defending myself, my core, and who was Paul to ask these questions?

 

"I've never met anyone who was a non-practicing Catholic," said Paul. 

 

"You're shitting me?!" I asked. What god-damned person has never heard of that before? I was baffled.

 

"I know....I'm an atheist," said Paul. "I don't practice any religion."

 

"You're going to hell, Paul!" I told him. What sort of cookie maker was this Chinese man about? He kept telling me what to do and told me to follow him to some shack and now he felt he was sane for telling me he was atheist? I had to ask him, "Do you think Julie should get married?"

 

"You know what I do think?" said Paul. His eyes wide and looked intently at me. "You drank and drove into a tree, and you told me that you didn't want to live. I think you need therapy!"

 

I felt the sweetness inside my mouth, and shut my mouth for a moment. Paul was right, I drank and drove carelessly and I hated Julie for wanting to elope with Tristan, the woman who was a man, who was actually a woman. I reached down to the ground, and took another cookie.

 

"Are you a cookie maker?" I asked, just softening the hard water.

 

Paul shook his head, and took a cookie and ate one, and said, "I don't want you to be a coward, is all."

 

"I'm no coward," I said to Paul. I swallowed the whole cookie and felt almost full. 

 

Bonnie stepped out and saw me, and looked down to the ground, and nodded. She went back to the kitchen.

 

"Are you a good father, Carl?" asked Paul. "Tap your answer on your chest."

 

"I'm a good father," I said, tapping my chest three times, and repeating it.

 

"Are you a damn good father, Carl?" asked Paul. "Repeat it. Three times."

 

"I'm a damn good father," I said, tapping my chest, repeating the words three times. 

 

The room felt still and I closed my eyes and breathed in. I stayed still and basked in the quiet silence and solemnity. It felt peaceful, and for once, I was happy. I haven't' felt this calm since Julie graduated college.

 

"Describe her dress to me," said Paul.

 

"It's got a thousand jewels, and a Sondra Celli knock-off. We got it dressed in Broomfield," I said. "The ruffles has rainbow colors, and the fabric is pink glitter with more beadings and jewels all over."

 

"Sounds girlie," said Paul. "All those jewels must cost much."

 

"We saved up for six months, and we're having it at Estes Park, in the small white church, but we're having a friend do it. We won't have a priest," I said. "I felt bad, because her Mom wanted her to be traditional, marrying a Romanichal and into the community. Not some Gorger boy and girl in one body and just having me as witness."

 

"If you don't do it, who will?" Paul asked.

 

"That's why I drank and wanted to die," I said. "I lost her, and now I'm gonna be alone. And she's a lesbian."

 

"Okay, let's go outside, we gotta go back to the car. I'm tired. You're crazy," said Paul.

 

"What?" I asked him. "We're not done talking."

 

"Yeah, we're done," said Paul.

 

I got up the couch and drank the milk. I lost the headache and the intoxication was gone, completely. I didn't know chocolate chip cookies was magical, but I was mistaken.

 

Paul opened the door, and stepped outside, as he stood for a minute on the porch, inhaling the now evening air. Summer nights was breezy tonight, and it felt smooth caressing my skin this evening. I stood next to him, and Paul began to walk before me. 

 

"You remember Arlene?" asked Paul. He looked above, and kissed his hand and waved at the stars.

 

"My ex-wife, Arlene?" I asked. My throat choked, because Arlene was a sore subject of a woman I once married too young, and had to let go out of heartache and addictions. She was my red, in my white suit.

 

"She never re-married," said Paul. "You never kept in touch with her, did ya?"

 

I walked beside Paul, pacing him, slowly together. "Nah, no need to. She was gonna be allright," I told Paul.

 

"She died a month ago. Breast cancer," said Paul. "She was at St. Joseph's in Denver for a year."

 

I gasped and stood still. Arlene never reached out to me and I never cared for her to. I knew she was going to be okay, because she was always a career woman, working, hard core business oriented and never backing down in an argument. She was the balsy type with black hair and angst for miles. Arlene was a kicker in the football team.

 

"She never told anyone, because she thought no one cared. Her parents passed before her, and she was alone," said Paul. "You know what her motto was?"

 

"What?" I asked, confused of how this had to do with me and Julie.

 

"No babies, no cry," said Paul.

 

I felt tears rolled down my eyes, and my body shook from the triggering conscience of understanding how Arlene never had babies. She was alone, all this time. 

 

"She was a good woman, Carl," said Paul. "She was just different. Ambitious, but she was kind. She put up with you for a good six years, didn't she? She almost ended her own life one night."

 

I didn't reply. But, I knew she did love me. I didn't cheat, but I was addicted and she didn't care for it, so she left, and I found Mary, Julie's Mom. "I thought she'd be okay," I said to Paul. I sobbed and smelled my breath of alcohol.

 

"That's what you think, Carl," said Paul. "I wished you can love a person just as she was designed, but not all ends well. She was alone in the hospital, but I was with her. And we talked, and that's how I knew about you," said Paul.

 

"Who the hell are you, anyway?" I asked. We were a few steps away from the car, as the conversation drawned out to a mile or so. 

 

"You son of a bitch!" said Paul. He punched me and kicked my shins, and dragged me into the car, and screamed into my ears, "It's not always about you and your addictions, Carl! It's about loving them back! You piece of shit! You fight for your life, you bastard!"

 

I fought for dear life, with my arms searching to fend him off, but Paul was a strong one with that tout Chinese Karate chop stuff physique. What kind of person would invite some man for cookies and milk, then attacked him near his car? I was about full cup anger and half cup of confusion, all drunk again.

 

My eyes opened as my head cocked back and my whole body shook as I suffocated from the air bag blown on my face. I was inside the car and I smelled smoke in whisps inside the car and I smelled fumes. My gut stuck in between the air bag and the steering wheel, I wiggled and couldn't move.

 

"Oh shit!" I kicked the driver's side door open, pushed down all of the air bag out of my face and crawled out. I crawled on the ground so fast, I didn't realize I was alone. I stood on the dirt and stepped back and almost fell into the crevasse of dirt. My foot got stuck and it turned out it was just a crack and it looked bigger than it seemed.

 

I took my foot out and stepped back on Earth, and pulled out my cell phone. Julie's number was my emergency contact and it rang a couple of times as she picked up the line.

 

"Hello, Dad?" said my daughter, Julie. She's my baby, no matter if she was lesbian or not. 

 

"Baby, I need a ride home," I said. "Got into an accident, but I'm okay. Where are you?"

 

"Dad, you're supposed to be at the rehearsal with me!" said Julie. "The wedding is tomorrow!"

 

"Why you want to get married so much anyway?" I asked, still irritated.

 

"I want to have a family, Dad. You'll be a grandpa someday. I want to have a family with Tristan. We wanted to adopt or something like that," said Julie. "Please, Daddy."

 

Tears ran down my cheeks and I sobbed, gasping for air, and thought of Arlene in the hospital and how she must have wanted to have a family with me, but never amounted to anything. I felt like a jackass, but hearing Julie, I was a happy jackass.

 

"I'll be there, honey," I told her. "I'm so happy you're getting married!"

 

"Oh, Daddy," said Julie. "If you only knew how much Tristan loves you. We want to do things right. We are crazy about you! You're my only Dad!"

 

"Pick me up, baby. I want to be at the rehearsal," I said. 

 

The tears felt warm and Summer got hotter with my cheeks and beard moistened from something that felt familiar and smelled like chocolate chip. I looked around, and Paul wasn't around. While waiting for Julie, I ran a mile up the road, and there was no small house, and no shack and nothing but barren land, and further up, there was a farm. I was confused and hurting inside of the memories left behind of Arlene, my darling wife whom I never cared to help. I fell to my knees and my heart broke in half. 

 

"I'm so sorry, darling," I said to Arlene, but she wasn't there. I looked above me, and kissed my hand, and uttered, "Thank you, Paul."

 

The End. Just write.

 

*Inspired by The Stand, a novel by Stephen King.

 

 

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