Friday, July 2, 2010
The rain had washed the city down; the setting sun sparkled and shined on the buildings. Ellen walked with her head down only occasionally glancing up to enjoy the beauty of the quiet, deserted streets. She quickened her step knowing she was going to be late, afraid.
The echoes of her steps were interrupted as she made her way down the block as a strange old man standing in the doorway of a shop cleared his throat. She stopped. She didn’t mean to stop, she was in a hurry and she just did so without thinking. She turned her head toward the strange old man, bringing her eyes up to his and making contact. She never did that and the feeling was odd. Ellen hadn’t looked someone in the eyes for years, it scared her. She was afraid they would see her pain and sadness.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, Miss, you look sad,” his dark brown eyes searched her face. He could see. She tried to smile, the phony one she put on for people.
“Mrs.”, she corrected, “and I’m in a rush.” She broke eye contact and glanced at her feet. An old hand appeared in her vision and drew her gaze back up.
“Could you spare a few minutes and tell me what you think of my shop? I’ve had no visitors since opening the doors a week ago. With all the rain, no one wants to come out and I would appreciate a pair of fresh eyes to have a look.”
The strange old man stood aside and Ellen, compelled and not understanding why, entered into the shop. It was as if her feet and brain had disconnected. She would be quick, in and out and on her way.
The shop was sparse, only a few items, statues of different sizes placed here and there was all there was. A small wooden statue, the surface worn smooth with age, stood on the counter facing her. She moved towards it as if it called to her, drawing her to it. A whisper came from behind her, startling her.
“Do you like it?”
“What is it?” she whispered back?
“It is the ‘God of Sleep’. He helps you sleep well at night. Gives you beautiful dreams so you are awake fresh and happy in the morning.”
“Sleep has no property. My husband Joe says so, nothing gets done, it’s a waste and non productive”
“With respect, I disagree with your husband. Why don’t you take it?”
He handed the statue to her and she took it in her small hands. It was beautiful. Ellen started to hand the statue back protesting she couldn’t take it.
“I insist. Think of it as a present for being my first customer and for keeping an old man company for a few hours.”
Ellen’s gaze broke from the statue, “A few hours, don’t be silly, it’s only been a few minutes.” She glanced at her watch. Two hours had gone by. How could that be? She swore it had only been a few minutes. It was impossible. Her heart skipped and started to beat a little faster. She thanked the strange old man and hurried out the door. Half way down the block, she began to run, afraid.
She stopped at the edge of the yard, staring at the dark house. He was in there waiting, waiting for her, for his dinner that was an hour late. A tear would have rolled down her cheek had she any left but they had dried up years ago. Dread of what was to come wrapped itself around her, thick and heavy. She had to go in.
She opened the door and softly called his name. Silence answered her back. She walked in and down the hall to the living room, eyes wide trying to pierce the darkness. He sat there in the dark but she could still see his face staring at her, filled with hate.
He stood quietly and she started to apologize, stuttering. Ellen backed away as he loomed closer, reaching her hand behind her to find the wall. His fist shot out and it felt like a block of concrete had hit her just below her rib cage. Her breath flew out as she crumpled to the floor and dropped the statue.
Joe reached down and picked the wooden object. “This is why you’re late?” he growled. “This is why I haven’t eaten yet?”
Ellen tried to stand using the wall for balance. Half way up, she felt the wood of the statue hit her in the temple just above her right eye. Blackness filled her vision as she crashed to the floor once again. She began to crawl towards their bedroom when Joe’s foot came out of the dark and connected to her chin sending her head back.
As she crawled towards the bedroom through the dark, she knew Joe was still beating on her but she couldn’t feel it. All she felt was a constant pain through her whole body. She prayed that one of the blows would finally kill her so the pain would cease, emotional and physical.
Joe stopped at the bedroom door as she crawled through and made her way to the bed. As she dragged herself onto the bed, Joe threw the statue at her hitting her in the back of the skull busting the skin open. She felt the warmth flowing down the back of her neck.
“You are useless Ellen, useless!” He slammed the door and left
She lay on her side unable to move. She could hear Joe crashing around through the kitchen, still hollering obscenities at her. The little wooden statue lay in front of her as if it was staring back at her. She could see blood on it, her blood.
The sound of carnage coming from the house as Joe tore threw it was defining but she didn’t care, she didn’t own anything nice anymore, Joe made sure of that.
As she lay there staring at the little wooden statue, she felt a soft breeze blow across her face, cool and soothing. Across the room, the old and dusty curtains began to softly dance in front of the open window. It felt like a little piece of heaven sent down to hell to give her a little piece of comfort.
The crashing sounds coming from the house and Joes yelling seemed to be getting quieter, as if the rest of the house was moving farther away. She thought she could hear drums, tribal drums, and the sweet soft music of angels singing softly. The breeze flowed gently across her body, caressing it, soothing it like a gentle touch of a lover easing her pain.
She could see little cherubs crawling through the open window filling the room and surrounding her bed. She must have fallen asleep she thought. They encircled the bed looking up at her with soft brown eyes.
The drums she heard began to get louder and the cherubs began to get restless. The gentle breeze began to blow a little harder. The pain she felt from her wounds inflicted by Joe began to subside. The sweet soft music of angels began to get more frantic.
The cherubs surrounding her bed began moving about, looking at each other in understanding but never talking. Not a word came from them. The drums became louder, faster; the wind blew quicker. The music was screeching. The cherubs opened the door of the bedroom and they exited out the door. As the last one left, the door closed.
The drums were deafening, the music and singing shattered glass. The wind swirled around the room at gale forces but it was gentle around her, lifting her softly off the bed. She felt no pain, only peace
The sounds of drums and music stopped abruptly. The wind began to die down and she was gently set down on the bed. As the last of the breeze gently flowed over body and drifted out the window, she closed her eyes and for the first time in what felt as forever she was happy.
At 8 am, the gardener showed up. As he passed the kitchen window he saw it was cracked. Peering in, he saw the damage. It looked like war was waged in the little kitchen. He banged on the front door, calling out but no answer. Within the hour the police had arrived.
None of them had ever seen what they were about to witness. Upon opening the door, they found Joe laying in the hall way, motionless, his skin missing from his entire body. In the bedroom they found Ellen. She was on the bed, looking like an angel, with a smile on her face. The officer called out softly. No reply. He gently reached out and checked for a pulse, “better call for the coroner, looks like we have two dead bodies.”
A scream of agony and pain came from the hallway. It was the sound of hell itself, “Sergeant! We need ambulance, this one is still alive!”
at 1:44 PM