By Delbert H. Rhodes
For the past year, here, he lingers. Peering out over the quiet terrain, he finds solace. Funny, he thinks, as a child this would be the last place to find me. Yet this place calls to him. The voices here are quiet: dreams have long freed their hosts of hope, and thoughts of grandeur; time (now) perhaps, they truly understand-for he does not.
Theorists relate it as an invisible boundary between death and life. Nevertheless, nobody (actually) knows or understands the truth of time. The dogma and tangibility it offers are scientifically applied and argued.
Here, in this place: dogma, tangibility and argumentation have neither need nor a place. Here: one concept is clear, and the clarity is breathless.
Like ghosts, his thoughts spirit his mind in veils of query. Questions surely those here could answer. He is unlikely to find his answers in books the Internet or some tired old professor. The answers, and somehow he knows, would be found only here, here in this place, a place of stillness a place where the tenets of life are pondered, a place where voices speak one truth the truth of living.
Many footfalls of life lead him here. Somehow, he knows he need venture no further. Somehow, he could venture no further. The quiet gentle breezes whisper to him; he hears words never spoken by any in life, he knows. The trees and grasses the stones and flowers the inscriptions all sing a song, and the melody feels all too familiar. Casually he strolls about the landscape, it is a beautiful place and immaculately preserved. The names he sees none he recognizes none he knows.
The valley embraces distant mountains redwood trees and maple trees. The trees are straight and strong, their branches reaching to the heavens, as would fingers of an outstretched powerful hand. Various flora and animal life teem. Just then, a large buck stretches across the field. Everywhere something is happening. A throbbing ebbing pulse accentuates this place. Yet the stillness remains …undisturbed.
Only the stillness serves to distract him; for within it surely are his answers. A part of him senses reluctance a part of him fears knowledge. For, realization could leave him more distraught. Yet he is determined he continues the search. Not far away a headstone catches his attention. He walks closer.
For hours, he sits near the grave. Tears welling in his eyes, “Life just isn’t fair,” he mumbles quietly, as though anybody in this place would hear. Staring at the stone’s inscription, he mouths the words repeatedly. The date shown tells of when the incident whatever it was had occurred. The time has long passed. The person lying below had been thirty-five years old. He feels powerless while sitting here; he needs something to hold on to; something anything but the emptiness he suffers. Somehow, and as though they have separate minds, his fingers clutch each other. They wrestle and twist they claw as though agonizing.
Suddenly the sky grows blacker the sunny day becomes lost. Clouds swell ferociously, and the winds pick up. Around him, the day manifests a being a thing strange and alien to this place. Treetops begin bending and swaying as the thickening winds rush across them. He is startled by the immediate change. Quickly, he rises to his feet: “Oh, my God! ‘What’s going on?’” A downpour ensues, and his clothes hair face and him become immersed. Maybe I should get out of here he thinks, but something holds him. Something needs him… here.
Turning to the headstone, he falls to his knees. All about him, the ground inflames with the torrents, but he is unaffected. His thoughts are there and with him. The rain pours and his mind soars to another time another place.
She stands staring out into the darkness. Every night about this time, something beckons her to the window. Each time she would stand and stare at the graveyard. The place of the dead lives across the street, and for reasons unknown to her it needs her attention. She never fears graveyards, but now something different is happening.
The night is black and thick with quiet. Although the gloom of night never bothers her, lately, she seems to grow tense. Jessica is just five years old, and the things she thinks of make her feel cold. A child she should be (more) concerned with dolls, fun, and more fun. Why is she drawn to a void so unfamiliar so strange? Something wants Jessica to enter the graveyard. Something calls to her every night, something scary.
Bodies and blood paint the battlefield. The battle has been difficult leaving no side the victor. Today everybody loses. The captains of the guard summon the count, and the numbers are staggering. The warring Kings watch from lofty hillsides. Battle worn soldiers walk away others slump away on horseback. The encampments wait and every man wants rest sleep and food and wine.
Tomorrow is another day and war is hell, more fighting more dying more fighting. The reason seems at a loss, a great loss. Dying for the sake of love never makes much sense. Not even in the tales told at court. This war is fought because of betrayal and denial. Death would be victor and life (perhaps) spared the disloyalty. The Queen and her lover Knight are to blame. Be damned with them. Lanto stands holding a bloody sword.
The dust settles, but the wind kicks it up again. The day has been long and riding the herd seems a bit tougher. Back home his dad is dying, and then he would own the Big Bar-2. Two things about that bothers him; one, his farther dying and two, for him ranching has run its course.
Tom Solby wants to call it quits and badly. All his life the west was everything. The old ways quickly fading, Tom Solby has been doing a little research. He is the only son, although he has two sisters. Holly and Maryanne enjoy, love the cowboy life. Had either of the two been men, Tom might have been off the hook. The ranch could be run by one or both of them. Tom loves his sisters and would do anything for their happiness.
Daddy is old fashion and believes strongly that ranching is a man’s job. Women aren’t tough enough.
Not so, for Holly or Maryanne, these ladies are as tough and could be as mean as rattlesnakes. The women ride shoot fight and suck the suds as well, heck, maybe better than the toughest men.
In childhood, Maryanne nicknamed her brother Bolsy. The name is the families’ last name jumbled up. Tom liked the name and he has been called it since.
Bolsy reads a lot, and during the past two years, he has been preparing. His dad lying on his deathbed makes the desired change more difficult. “Daddy would die,” Bolsy always said, ‘if he knew I tired of ranching.’” After daddy dies, Bolsy thinks, I will turn the ranch over to the girls, and move on. Yep, or so he hopes, but the old man is way ahead of him. Sure-fire plans have been made. “My boy would run the Big Bar-2,” and daddy means just that.
The music is loud and exciting. Tonight is her first night and she is a little nervous. Blonde hair blue eyes and a figure that drives men wild, Shelly Marmo has everything she needs, everything to make a great living in this new profession. Everybody is friendly and likes Shelly; they seem to care about how well she does on her first night. Everybody encourages and cheers her on.
“Go get ‘em “Shel,” says one of the other girls. Just a little while ago Shelly worked as a Surgical Nurse: the hours the blood the pain the death ultimately sickened her. She could not endure it anymore. A girlfriend of hers had been stripping on the side for about three years. The money is great although a girl has to learn to handle the creeps-and there are lots of them.
Shelly’s first night gets off to a good start. The night would prove to be long and memorable. She is tired, but teeming with energy. People looking at her up there on stage have provided some kind of nourishment. Shelly does the pole dance, and her presentation turns them all on, even Herby the boss. He has been standing and staring at her. She is glad that the boss likes her routine because she needs the money. The men in the club shout and cheer her as she snakes the pole.
The pole becomes a hot lover and her body its joystick, and together they unite in sensuous pleasure. Shelly has to admit the experience also affects her. She becomes hot and bothered sex consumes her every thought. She never realized (before tonight) that she would become affected. Previously, Shelly thought it to be just a show, a way to earn money, while dealing a hot deck. Well, she was wrong, for she totally enjoys every minute.
The night ends and the crowd leaves. The club lights have been turned down, and everything is quiet. Strange: after so much noise and action, the place takes on another character. Herby busies himself with receipts and the bartender tidies the bar. The bar maids go about cleaning tables sweeping and other details. Herby locks the outside doors and returns to his office.
In the girls’ dressing room, one of the dancers struggles out of her skintight outfit. Another removes the makeup she uses while stripping. She never likes to wear the stuff after work she says. Shelly makes a quick run to the bathroom and communes with nature. The rear door slams shut as Shelly returns to the dressing room. All the girls are gone.
Quarterlies just around the corner maybe she should reconsider. This is her junior year and she feels conflict about her plans. Her parents have high hopes for her future, but right now, a future seems too distant. (Right now) a decision has to be made, but exactly what should she do.
Samantha Johnson entered Goodson University on an academic scholarship. A bright girl she has earned ‘A’s’ through all school years. “Mantha” enjoys school and certainly the praise, but her life has taken a slight detour. Now Mantha is eager for daring, she aches for the taste of something slightly different. The need grows in her like hunger after days of starvation. Mantha has not indulged just yet, but the time is coming.
Why would a person commit a crime? What drives people to become criminals to become unlawful? Do they really believe they can get away with it? These and other questions plague society. These and other questions are queried and answered by professional thinkers, armchair theorists, and you and I. (These) and other questions like them are the brunt of jokes shared at the table of a murderous thief.
Baldwin Jones is only twenty-four years old. Nevertheless ten of those young years have been behind prison walls. Do you think he cares? The answer is ‘no,’ for Baldwin enjoys stealing and more than theft “BJ” has a bigger appetite for death. Somebody else’s.
Fourteen people have perished at the hands of this young man. Fourteen innocent men women and yes, even two children have died. Ten years ago, he blew away a cop. He was never caught. Baldwin enjoyed every minute of it. He says it made him feel, “Special.”
Baldwin Jones has served the last year of his latest sentence. Because he has served all his time, he is not under the division of Parole. Yes, that’s right BJ can go and do (almost) as he pleases. Hell, probably, he might even be able to vote. According to prison records, his new address will be two blocks from your house. “Welcome” to the neighborhood.
Bolsy never knew his grandfather; Indians had killed him many years ago. Many times at the dinner table, the story has been relived. In childhood, and for most of his young adult life, Bolsy hated Indians. After all, they were to blame for his grandfather’s death.
Nowadays there is little trouble between Indians and Whites, but the memories linger. Most people in these parts prefer to be without Indians. They prefer them removed or killed. Some hold differing views however.
Nobody ever asks the Indians, but who gives a damn what they think. (“The murdering devils should be burned alive, every man woman and child.”) Bolsy vehemently despises the lot of them. “Kill ‘em all,” he could be heard saying. Especially after a good stiff, drink.
Those were the old days. These days Bolsy sees things differently. He no longer savagely hates Indians. These days Bolsy quickly defends them.
(The change in Bolsy occurred some time ago, out on the trail.)
While driving a thousand head through a tight canyon Bolsy and his men happen upon a hunting party. The braves are moving across the plains in search of buffalo. Unusually among them are a small number of women. Bolsy and his men know this to be strange because women never accompany raiding or hunting parties. “The ways of these ‘people’ are strange, but who gives a damn anyhow?”
(The encounter would leave Bolsy changed and forever.)The two groups spend a little time together. Some talk some information and then the trail: Bolsy has ‘work’ to do, no time for lollygagging. The braves need to find buffalo. (And then) Something burns the eyes of this big man. Something real nice. Bolsy stands 6’ 3” at about 235 lbs., and today something softens him something shakes him.
She has the deepest dark eyes he has ever seen. She is beautiful and although a redskin, Bolsy sees only her. He immediately falls in love. Suddenly everything all the hate the vehemence leaves him. He is cleansed of years of horror he held for Indians. Today Bolsy is saddled by passion. Today Tom Solby is a new man, a changed man.
Three more canyons trace the trail. Time never waits. The herd grows restless, as do the men, “Head ‘em out!” (Bolsy wants to talk with her but fears attack by her companions.) Besides, she might be somebody’s squaw. She offers long glances and smiles. She too likes him. His heart grows hotter than a campfire. The trail waits.
Bolsy finally has his way. The braves have camped a few miles south of town. Some of the Indians come in to trade. She would always accompany the traders. Bolsy strikes up conversation with some of the braves. He knows care is needed and he takes his time. His behavior never arouses suspicion and he finds out more about her.
She is not simply a squaw. Some Indian women are as fierce as the men are and become warriors. The life is a hard one but honorable. She has a higher standing than other women have, and is well respected in the tribe.
Her name, Bolsy is told, is ‘Quiet Fire.’ In time, the two become friends and later lovers. Bolsy wants to marry her, but the Chief and Bolsy’s father forbid it. The lovers would find a way.
Jessica stands staring for a long time. She begins to tremble, and fear consumes her. Although it is a warm night, it is growing colder. The little girl wraps her arms about her. Still she never leaves the window.
Out there in the dark, something wants her. Something needs her, desires her. She begins to become afraid, and thinks of running from the window to mommy. She could not she almost dares not. Jessica is too young to know what is happening to her. She is too innocent and too terrified, too frozen to move.
“Mommy, Mommy,” she says ever so softly. Jessica tries to call her mother, but the words are not loud enough. Her arms and hands limp by her sides the little girl stands transfixed. Her little gray eyes water and her long auburn hair is tossed by a spiriting wind. “Mommy,” “Mommy,” she mumbles again.
The clock on her nightstand shows two A. M. and today is Saturday. Jessica loves the weekends because both her parents her older brother and she visit the local park. Jessica loves the park. She plays with and feeds the ducks and birds, and enjoys the swings and merry-go-round. Sometimes her older brother Bobby pushes her in the swings. Boy, she would fly so high that the sky would be in her face. She just loves it.
Then she and Bobby take walks with Mommy and Daddy. The park has a tiny petting zoo of horses. After the zoo, the family would sit under a shady tree for a picnic. Jessica has a great family, and she loves them-so much.
Right now Jessica needs her family-so much. For she is afraid, she is terrified. She is a tiny girl trapped in the embraces of unknown horror, a horror hidden by the night, a thing calling to her, a ghoul to take advantage of an innocent child.
He is a well-respected professor at a local university. The school hired him on sight because he is brilliant. The history courses he teaches are filled with interesting topics, and his students clap after every session.
Greer Dennison Braithwrite is born to English parents. His father Brandon Garson Braithwrite had been a Science professor at Oxford. The old man was a full professor early in his life and holder of many prestigious academic awards. Greer is a chip off the old block, as it were. Father and son, are playwrights and writers of fiction, penning under fictitious names, the Professors Braithwrite are highly acclaimed.
The two men are similar in many ways, including sexual preference. Greer, as is his dad, is bisexual.
Greer’s mother Greta Thomlinson Braithwrite, and prior to marriage, is born to privilege. Her famous parents are renowned; they own castles and clubs and are of aristocratic lineage. Because they are so private, to name them here would embrace intrusion; therefore, leave it to say you know them, and well. Subsequent to her marriage, Mrs. Braithwrite resumes her aristocratic renown, and her dear hubby is pleased.
Greer frequents a local pub, he spends evenings there to relax, to free his mind. Semi-private as he is, Greer is never socially expressive of his sexual interludes. He is highly charismatic, and never the cheap dime store type. The professor is cautious of his partners, of whom there are many, and he relishes every moment with them. Every moment fulfills him physically and mentally.
His partners, as is Greer, also are astute academicians of various types. Among them is a well-known Scientist. Greer never engages in the lower forms of sexual play, he and his lovers are dignified individuals. Although, and at times, they come together as a group, for parties and such. Yes, they all know the other is involved with Greer, and this tid bit never causes issues. At least until one evening in June of 1987.
This morning the gates of Walsey Prison open. Today is a happy day for at least one XCon. Baldwin Jones, escorted by the guards, smirks as he looks at the outside world. A world he loves a world he hates, and a world where into much hell would be brought. BJ has a plan and it might involve you. Surely you would love the inside skinny. Sorry, no can do. Nonetheless never fear, you’ll know soon enough-Guarantee it.
Okay, but just a small sample. While serving his time BJ and a few Cons make a deal. No not like that game show, but (then again) maybe something like it. You see they intend to do something memorable. They intend to shock everybody, especially the police, and one particular police officer: the one who put BJ behind bars. “That bastard won’t ever forget me,” BJ always rants. “I’ll get him back for what he did to me. (Yeah) his family will pay as well.” More later and you won’t like the results- promise.
Back at camp Lanto and his men sit around a warm fire. Although it is not winter a chill fills the air. The fire brings a pleasant welcome to the night. The food and wine help as well. Especially the wine, the sweet grapey flavor is invigorating. His belly full Lanto falls backward and closes his weary eyes. The night is black the morning would be blacker.
Copyright © 2007 Delbert H. Rhodes