Inner Conflicts

By Delbert H. Rhodes

 

A nice October afternoon, and Deklin has swallowed the last bite. Eating lunch while sitting in his car is habitual, but occasionally, he ventures off property to his buddy’s Pizza Shop. Most times, the parking lot and the car are top choice. People drive and stroll by, as he relaxes and observes. Deklin recognizes most faces, but some are strange to him. A haunting melody from his car cassette player grips Deklin’s imagination. The tale tells of two “hombres,” the old west, the trail, and trouble. In his mind, Deklin is riding with those two, and dealing in dirt. You know: the kind for which good bad guys live.

In his mouth, and still teeming from his lunch, Deklin savors tasty juices. Emotionally, and poising somewhere between the melodies and his fantasy, she lingers.

Preferring the freedom of his fantasy, and fighting the melancholy of his memories, Deklin is an aimless drifter on a ride to nowhere, but riding still. Moreover, nowhere is somewhere in the distance. The more distant the horizon, the harder Deklin’s heart hammers his chest. The trail before him is difficult to see. The memory of her continues to get in his way, continues to block his view. As the melody of the song rises and falls, Deklin drifts in and out of his daydream; and although un-welcome, she drifts right along with him. Riding an elusive lustful sweet horse from hell, she is unshakable. As breezes play touch tag in browning tree leaves, and another haunting melody hammers his heart, Deklin surrenders to his mind, and to her memories.

Many years ago: they were acquainted at the job site. She is a beauty of Puerto Rican descent, and Deklin is attracted to her type. From the first day, he feels desire for the lady, and wants to get to know her. Standing about five feet two, or, three, she is petite with long brown hair. Neatly swept in a ponytail, her hair hangs the length of her back. Ponytails captivate Deklin, and he never fights the feelings. Her eyes are dark brown, and exceptionally alluring. She is exceptionally alluring. Furthermore, her figure, fantastic!

An attraction between them is obvious, and they begin to talk. Her playful manner relaxes Deklin, and makes him hunger. Shyness, however, hinders him; and expressing his feelings is difficult. Apparently, she is less shy, using foreplay as encouragement. Still, Deklin never says what he feels. Once, however, he almost asks her for a date. Nevertheless, when asked to repeat the question, Deklin freezes. Without meeting her gaze, he covers with a different remark. Feeling like water Buffalo shying the river’s embrace, Deklin bathes in a tide less pool. Everything within the man aches for her touch. He endures.

The walls of Deklin’s heart hurt, and the cowboy continues to sing.

On and off the trail, Deklin drifts, but she never rides far from his side. Backsliding into the memories, he fights to remain in the fantasy. Lunchtime would soon be over, and then he would return to work. Hence, he would be distracted from the anguish and torment of her. Glancing at the watch on his wrist, Deklin notices that he has plenty of time. Perhaps he has too much time.

Staring out into the trees, winds gleefully brush the branches. To a chorus of swaying tree limbs birds sing harmoniously. The smells of flowers permeate the air, and being a sensitive man, Deklin appreciates these things. The country songs dance in his mind, but his mind denies him the lead. Actually, the songs deny him the pleasure. Throughout the years (Deklin broods) his cars, his cameras, and his words, remained with him. Them he trusts. Although inanimate, he views them in animate terms-Human terms. “They” are loyal.” “They” never leave him.” Never. In a woman, one day, Deklin hopes to find the same qualities. One day, maybe.

Finally, Deklin courageously asks Angela to have lunch with him. “Angela.” Just to think her name, spears his heart. The feeling is like a hot fire stoked by a cold poker. His heart, as would the fire, intensifies with flame. The invitation to lunch is extended to both her, and a girlfriend with whom she works. A yes from them is never expected although gained. On his arrival, Deklin is met with surprise and embarrassment.

The friend explains that she thought Deklin to be kidding; she kindly declines the offer. Angela also refuses him. How could she mistreat him so? Disappointed, the tarnished man leaves. From that day, and for the following three years, Deklin no longer speaks to Angela. Unless of course, it is job related. Because of his indifference, Angela quietly leaves Deklin alone.

A country spiritual swells in Deklin’s eyes, its heart cries out to him. An angelic Gospel tune, it chimes like church bells. The song exemplifies the love of a guy and his girl. The guy, an outlaw, would never be taken alive; the girl refuses life without him. The arms of death embrace them both. In a small way, Deklin is just like that guy. Here and alone, however, he is without companionship. In the arms of life, Deklin embraces emptiness. Additionally, its loyalty is never questioned. The days are tolerable, many things preoccupy Deklin’s mind. The nights, however, are different…

…At home and alone with his T.V., his radio, or even with his computer, Deklin’s thoughts cannot escape Angela. Furthermore, when he tries to sleep, the sheep keep coming, and he keeps counting and counting and counting. Tossing and turning he lay until time to wake. Nevertheless, and of course, Deklin’s eyes have never closed, and he is already awake. The morning mirror is witness to an unrecognizable face. For, it is a strange face, an almost hideous face. Dark circles surround Deklin’s eyes: mourning an ominous graveyard look. Small worry: from the mask of death, no one can hide. In time, (he knows) it would be less difficult. Yet, still, never easy…

…As the song seduces Deklin with delicious harmonies, Angela’s Jeep turns into the parking lot. She is heading his way. Deklin always parallel parks next to the wall and everybody knows this. Naturally, Angela knows as well. Seemingly, a goddess, sitting high on her pristine pedestal, Angela’s eyes acknowledges Deklin’s presence. Deep in his soul, Deklin feels she is a goddess. To him, what else could she be? The man’s passion stirs, but it is refused; he no longer knows her touch. For him the glow in Angela’s eyes has dimmed. To never share her day’s adventures; hear her smile while talking on the phone; or hold her passionately close, leaves Deklin with a sense of loss; a sense of barren.

The harmonies are the only arms, which hold Deklin now, which keep him whole. Moreover, this moment, within them he finds security. Close by, her car rolls to a stop. Angela’s car windows are down and she yells over to Deklin. The light dances sweetly across her face; her radiant brown eyes warm the chill in his heart. Deklin adores her lovely chiseled nose it is a perfect specimen and he miss’s kissing it. She asks how he is, and Deklin says, “Fine,” as he smiles back at her. He lied. Briefly, they speak, and then she departs. As the Jeep speeds away, the whine of its engine, and the whine of his heart, deafens Deklin’s ears.

Three years ago, Deklin and Angela were involved. Now three years later, he agonizes. The doors to pain should have remained closed. Day after day, he fights sleep and her memories. Sleepless nights, the battles are lost to his feelings. Deklin’s mind writhes and screams, as though ravaged by some graveyard ghoul, hungrily draining his life force, to sustain that of “its” own. Sallow, Deklin faces the darkness of loneliness and self-pity. Mentally and emotionally, he is a mess. “Why?” the man demands, “Why am I denied two minds, and one memory?” “Why?”…

…Things are changing at the worksite, and Deklin gains responsibility of the building in which Angela works. From a distance, and because of his position, she is unidentifiable. When realizing who she is however, Deklin is pleasantly surprised. Later, he approaches her. Then for the first time in three years, they talk, laugh, and smile….

That day was a beginning. On a morning in March, seven months ago, Deklin would hold and kiss Angela for the last time. As she turns away, and without saying to, Angela tells him to go. She sleeps, he cannot. Leaving her bed, Deklin dresses and then departs, quietly closing the door.

The speakers grow quiet; they seem, somehow, to sense Deklin’s pain; and his wristwatch has ticked out of time. Deklin turns the cassette deck off, and then rolls up the windows, before stepping out of his car. In childhood, he was (nearly) attacked by a large tree snake. The viper hung from a low limb and close by. Though Deklin has never seen a snake on this property, (cautiously) while walking to his worksite, the man scans the shady trees.

Empty spaces between the treetops boast patches of blue. Though nature’s canvas displays a colorful tapestry, Angela cannot be blotted out. Embracing Deklin, the day is radiant and loving. All the same: his heart aches in deep looming shadows. Each footstep painfully echoes in a world of worry and hurt. Whilst the day is sunny, the air seems dewy. The moment mystifies Deklin and he is surrounded by sweetness. Staring into the trees, the timeless stillness becomes personified. Something seems to wrap itself around Deklin.

The stunned man paces slowly while listening to the winds. Seductively: they have taken voice; theirs is a lovely Viola stroking Deklin’s heart. The feeling is wonderful and Deklin becomes immersed by unexpected passion and contentment. The man cannot believe how special it all is how special it all feels.… Deklin continues on his way.

Though he (now) feels better, still his sorrows grip Deklin’s mind. The moment of passionate contentment fades, and once more Deklin is mildly depressed. Sighing deeply the torn man looks to his left. Across the circle, is the building he once coordinated, her building, Angela. Her ghosts spirit Deklin and (sadly) he smiles at the seductions. Languishing, his starving hunger rises and Angela consumes him. Hurtfully, he feels her wrapped around him, tormenting his deserted love. Every nerve every cell the man’s entire structure teems from the woman’s everything.

(Just) then, something distracts him, and Deklin looks to the woods. Artfully, the winds play catch me with the trees. Strangely: the tree trunks seem to swell; they appear to breathe. One imagines huge tree lungs filling with fresh air. While he stares intently: the sturdy oaks seem to bend, they seem to beckon him. Deklin is filled with awe discontinuing his pace. Then an eerie feeling embraces the man, causing him to feel distraught. Stressing: the tormented man becomes mystified almost frightened. Deklin shakes it off as nothing and then turns away. No, once more, something seeks him out, demanding his attentiveness.

Deklin stares into the shadows though he sees nothing. Suddenly: the bewildered man believes he hears voices. “Crazy,” he says, “I must be a basket case.”

Refusing to yield to his burning imagination, the troubled man resumes his walk. Deklin’s building is not far away, and the tedium of work waits. (The anguishing man rests deep in his thoughts.) Once more the voices, and then wide eyed, and while peering over his shoulder, Deklin struggles with his feelings. The distressed man continues onward (yet) still searching the shadows.

(Then) as would the spider’s web snare a sweet juicy morsel, something seizes Deklin’s soul. Viscerally: and permitting the environmental heart to stroke him, the driven man ventures deeper into his core. His mind swells his body aches and his heart hurts. Redirecting to the woods, Deklin surrenders to the mystical force. Though walking over dry leaves the sounds never distract him. The man is conscious, but numbness invades him.

Deklin senses nervousness and cautiousness though he is unafraid; therefore, and curiously, he ventures deeper into the woods. (“Come…”) Acting as guides, the winds (seem) to point the way. In this place: the arboreal umbrella fills the sky diminishing the sunny day. Here: darkness reigns, yet luminosity permeates the gloom. Oh, my…in this place: the voices cry out, but strangely, Deklin’s heart throbs with peaceful clarity.

Invasively: Deklin senses what feels like a veil surrounding him. A thin semi-clear substance embraces the man, and he begins to tingle. Internally fashioned by tiny lights, the material radiates. The illuminations are mobile, moving from place to place every few seconds. They behave as though gliding across a highly polished floor.

Reaching out, Deklin touches the tiny sparkles with his fingers. “What the hell is this?” The man is awe-struck by the living visions before him. Then once more Deklin hears the voices. The woodlands Wow the mystified man in sweet whispers. Looking to the trees, Deklin feels drawn to them, and thereby surrendering to their counsel, he submits to the “Old Ones.” The mega-monoliths beseech the man, and somehow he feels better…for now.
Copyright © 2002 Delbert H. Rhodes

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