New Stories for 4/13/2015
I stopped eating on the first day of fourth grade. I opened my lunchbox and nearly puked at the sight of the food. My PB&J looked soggy and gelatinous, like the corpse of a beached whale about to explode. I imagined the interior of my apple crawling with fat worms. So, I ran to the nearest garbage can to dump it all out.
That night at the dinner table, I swore I caught a whiff of gasoline in my meatloaf; imagined there was glue mixed into the mashed potatoes and tar in the gravy. I pushed my plate away and went to my room. My parents were too deep in discussion about my father’s unemployment to notice.
“But I thought Dan said there were jobs at Microsoft,” my mother said, bewildered.
“Everyone remotely associated with our company is blacklisted,” my father sighed. “Microsoft won’t touch me with a ten-foot cattle prod.”
The barrel of a Colt .45 tastes like a handful of nickels. As a kid, I would shove change in my mouth and suck on it like caramels. I loved the taste of money. Today, I woke in my hotel room to the barrel of a Colt .45 checking my tonsils. I dreamed I was choking on my mom’s change again.
I opened my eyes. On the other end of my steel lollipop was the blank stare of Dominique. I hadn’t seen her since the casino job, and the two days hadn’t treated her well. Her cheeks were hollowed out, her body shaking like a small dog left in the rain. Didn’t look like she’d so much as closed her eyes, let alone slept.
“3,604; 584; 20; 2,” she muttered out a string of numbers like a calculator suddenly granted the gift of speech. “3,604; 584; 20; 2.”
She stood in the shadows.
There was a perfectly safe, well-lit space to wait in the Peace Garden. Only a moment ago, she stood for a brief moment in time, gazing at the pillar with the word “Peace” illustrated in several languages contemplating what the world could be if people embraced this concept. That was the place that safety experts would say an unaccompanied woman “should” stand at night. It was the center of the garden, exposed to the city streets, well illuminated; a place where no potential attacker could approach without being seen and any call for help would be noticed an answered.
But it also exposed her to a world that was mostly foreign to her; a place that held no secrets and no adventure, and that displayed conspicuous consumption. She watched the valets parking the luxury cars that came to dine above the city and the eager sports enthusiasts heading towards the arena for a game. She saw the lights of the city and the hustle and bustle of crowds wandering by, and she felt naked and exposed.
The legend of shadow people goes way back from the passing down of a story which is steeped with tradition from the descendants of the Seminole Indian from one generation to the next. You can say this is partly true for those people who believed and say they witnessed the shadow people figures, for others, perhaps it is just myth. They were often called upon in desperate times as the protectors and guarded over you, and those highly evolved were endowed with their spirits to be powerful warriors against evil doers, as the legend goes. No one really knows the exact origins, or era or period of time, it just always was and always will be.
Every child, girl and boy, learned about the shadow people who follow you to protect you against evil spirits, those known as the evil-doers or otherwise known as our enemies in life. They learned that enemies are not just the obvious haters but are those who challenge, oppose, possess or may even envy you. It started when they were young learning about superstitions of what not to do and who not to trust, it was always about what not to do but never what to do when faced with adversity. Bobby Jean believed in the shadow people and was never threatened but was insecure that possibly one day they would desert her, and leave her to her own devices. You see, she was not that emotionally strong, she trusted everyone and doubted very few. She was naïve to a fault.