Conversation with an Angel

“Lincoln?” I asked again.

A sharp bark reverberated through me.

“It is you!  It’s really you; but how?” I called out delightedly.

And then…  Something more: Lincoln was not alone!

“Everyone sleeps.  I have made it so.”  A voice said.  That voice – the voice – that old voice –that peculiarly female voice – a voice I knew – it shimmied through my body and reverberated across my soul.  The voice was mournful and deep with a power and a magic to it that did not need it to tell you that it was not human.

“I know you; don’t I?”

“You do child – you do.  And in time you will remember our earlier conversations.  But tonight, you must remember what I have to tell you — and you must act upon it.  Your sorrow is deep – and of this I cannot console you.  Of this, we have spoken before.  But, tonight you must listen closely to what I have to say.  And you must remember!

“Who are you?”  I asked stretching out my arms – the jacket that bound me fell away as if it had never been there.  Lincoln put his heavy forepaws on my lap and licked my face.

The creature answered.  “As Arbol is my mother, I am your mother.  Some call me Ayesha, some call me Eve, and others still, call me Minerva.  I am SHE, born of wisdom, but through theft of Knowledge I am forsaken and damned.  You shall call me by my first name: Lilith! I am to this Earth what the Heavens are to Him – He who made us all!

There was a power of gut-emotion in me of which was thrilling but inexplicable; and now, as she came closer, I felt her hot breath upon my face — and yet as Lilith spoke — an overwhelming sense of dread and fear coursed through me and about me; a chill took my body.  I shook to her words; it felt as if an electricity took me, shook me, and vibrated my skeleton proper.  And the sensation seemed to heighten the closer She came.   “Hush child — listen closely to what I have to say!”

I fondled Lincoln’s ears and listened to her words with amazement.

“It is from your attic, built by the future- man Scudamour, that I have come.  My dealings with Scudamour are now done; that thorn-man-thing – that contemptible monster! Your attic — it is what he has left us!  It must be cleansed… but before it is… for you my dear sweet child — broken and weakened – pitiful and damaged – wronged and injured – I have a task.”  Her voice trailed softly away and I felt a hand stroke my cheek.  I pulled back sharply.  It felt like fire.

“Restitution is demanded!  Scudamour opened a wrong-place in the heart of God.  That place grows by the hour, if not by the second…  It is a dangerous and rapacious place.  Three of Time and one of Space; your atticit is full of devilry and magic.  Lost things – they find their way there.  And so it is appropriate: as you are lost – so too am I.  Lost we are – perhaps together…” She left this sentence hanging.  I felt Her move even closer.  I sensed Her motion as She sat down in front of me.  She grasped my head in Her hands and said, “Look at me!”

My eyes opened and I saw a face of an extraordinary and staggering beauty.  My breath was taken from me as if a whirlwind had just swept into the room.  Her face beamed – fleeced with golden rays that drove out from her inner-self and into mine.  What sensory perceptive organ transferred her image past my ruptured and ruined eyes I’ll never know but the physical experience of past real-eyes gripped me and I tried to close what was now lost.  I tried to shut her out!

“I am but mortal!” I cried silently — for her thumbs held my lips still!

She ignored my protest and held my head and continued to stare.  Try as I might I kept up the automatic physical response of closing my eyes to keep her face out – but I have no eyes – and so – they could not close — I drank her beauty in.  She forced it on me!  It overwhelmed me.  I began to cry – but without eyes the emotion could not be excreted… and so the emotion took me and shook me inside – it woke me – and this surprised me!  As if this sleep was my first.  It was as if I was awake in life!  Has my whole life been a mere dream? It had always seemed real and sweet and true – even bitter-sweet – bitter-true — and yet – this was an awakening!  It is as if, in the whole of my life — I had spent it dead – and now…

Was I more awake or more alive?  What was happening to me?  Still she stared!  Still she held me! Her grip was hard and firm.  Her strange beauty was a strong and visceral thing.  Alive and vibrant it wormed past my biological-self and into my real-self: my core, my being.  It burrowed deeply, snugly, tightening its grip upon my soul – it — was choking me!  I could feel sweat breakout in a tortuous wave of heat.  It swept across my body, flaying me into submission.  I was shaking so hard that my body temperature was rapidly rising.  I recognized it as a hypothermic state – and somewhere deep inside the recesses of my mind — I registered that this would probably kill me if it did not stop.  I felt Lincoln nudging his wet nose into my chest as if to tell me he understood and that he was there for me…  I began to die — but just before I did I heard Lincoln bark once, and then twice.  I came back from the brink only to find the face in front of me shrinking – glowing still – but shrinking in beatific magnitude – fading in gold and draining into bronze.  Still, I could not look away.

My shaking slowed and my body temperature decreased.  The golden face and the emanating energy it generated cooled and began to rearrange itself ever so softly upon her countenance.  And like a scattered jigsaw puzzle only a semblance of what once was – but could be again – remained.  Gone were the glorious shinning eyes – now replaced by heavy lidded reflective doe eyes.  Gone now were the proud aquiline nose and acquiescent mouth, they were replaced by a sturdy beak-like structure that jutted forward with a noticeable hook to its end.  The mouth morphed into a roundish and lipless contraption that housed little pointed teeth.  The head elongated and her brow pushed backwards.  Her hair froze as if in bronze and slung up and back, hardened and grim – tight and coiled.  As the first form faded and the bronzed reptilian form emerged my heart rate slowed and my adrenalin ebbed.  Her hands relaxed their grip upon my cheeks.  Eventually, she dropped her hands for they had become fleshless and bony, almost claws.  She fell back on her haunches and watched me.  A sense of relaxation took me, and after several minutes, I gathered what whit I had left and asked her a question.

“Are you an Angel?

“No,” her tone was blunt but filled with sadness, “but instead, something made from kindness, anger and love.  I am SHE, doomed to walk the Earth as witness to my sin.”  Her tone was desolate, but filled with a lurid softness that was hard to describe.  It was virile and fully nourished.  Her voice now, seemed somehow different and changed from Her first greeting – but that difference was hard to quantify.  Then another notion took me: it dawned on me that because I am almost deaf and I was not wearing my hearing aid that this Lilith was talking to me, somehow, from within my head.

“Housed I am; in an angel’s body.  No thing; nothing lives longer or suffers more than an angel.  So it is the perfect home for such a sinner as I.”  She paused and shifted closer to me.  Lincoln squeezed in between us — amongst the huddle – the way dogs do — so as not to be left out of the action.  Lincoln’s purpose though, seemed otherwise.

“Exnzpat I must ask you,” she began, “where or what have you done with the sacred texts that Scudamour so carefully gathered over the years?”

“Sacred texts?  What texts?  Surely not the letters from the attic?”

“Yes, those are they – they are the sacred documents that I refer too; sacred to Scudamour – and so — sacred to me.  It was the first time we met.  That was when I asked you to protect them and keep them safe.  You told me you would do this — what have you done with them?”

Her tone was accusing.

Her tone was dangerous.

In my mind, I tracked back through the past; the rental — in June of last year.  While I do not recall ever meeting such a thing as this Lilith before I do know that there is a certain familiarity between us – it’s hard to explain – but I did not doubt it when she told me that we had met before – but for the life of me I had no recollection of such a meeting.  I remembered a box.  I remember a bundle of letters.  One of the letters had a return address from New Zealand.  I remember it was that that caught my eye.  I remember the word “buddle,” it was misspelling of the word “bundle” I remember… I remembered…

I stopped short.  Sunday’s Post: “…I decided to get the box…

This cannot be correct.  I corrected the word “buddle,” logged out, and reread the entire Post to be sure.  I moved the box?  Not only that — I opened the box and spent a couple of hours going through the contents of the letters?  This cannot be correct!

I remember none of it!  Least of all reading the letters!  Until now my memory lapses had been small.  Things here and there, but you know, like most things, you just take some forgotten things for granted.  Bigger things – now they make you think.  Like the high gloss paint on the kitchen cabinets now that was pretty unusual but I chalked it up to stress like the Priest said.  But, this — this was astounding.  How can two hours just simply slip away from my life with no recollection whatsoever?  What else had I forgotten?  What is wrong with me?…

Excerpt from “exnzpat buys a rental”

Yes…, I remember – I remembered losing my memory.

“I took them down and read them – I remember doing something with them – categorizing them I think, nothing more.  Most of all I remember being afraid, most of all.”

Lilith hissed, “Days later – the night I rescued Lincoln from you; Scudamour was not yet comfortable in your body, and so that was the night I tasked you to preserve the sacred texts.”  She was close to me.  I felt as if she were a lover whispering in my ear.  Her breath was hot; she was angry.  I needed to remember for her – but I could not.  The last place I remembered seeing the box was in the accursed back bedroom.  Wait…

“A shipwreck!  Something about a boat!  I remember now…” I said excitedly.  But as I said this, my memory betrayed me and the images slipped from my mind.  I felt Lincoln’s heart beat as his body pressed firmly between Lilith and me.  He was warm and pleasant to the touch.  Thank God for him.  Lilith was so close.

“This is no good!  Perhaps the charm and shock of me and Scudamour has scarred and ravaged your mind beyond repair?  I think not though!  You will need to escape this prison!  You will need to find your way back to the rental! When you do — we will be waiting!”  And then she pulled away from me.  Lincoln licked my hand in farewell, and shook himself.

“Exnzpat!  Come back to the rental – we will be waiting.”  Her voice was fading, draining within my mind.  “Bring another – bring a surrogate.  You are no good to me in this broken state.  Three of Space and one of Time are our friends; the attic, in all its glorious anomalous manifestation will distort! You will need it to use it to your advantage!  Nay!  To our advantage!”

And then they were gone – and I was alone in my room.  But now, I saw a way out, an escape if you like…

*          *          *

What a strange and incredible day I have had.  The creature sleeps as if dead.  Lincoln sleeps lightly beside her as if on guard; and I – I wander about — alone in the rental.  My thoughts as to what all this means are confused, expectant, and wondrous all at the same time.  To what realm of fiction do these happenings belong?  A miracle has occurred, and yet, my two champions sleep as if nothing at all has happened.

Poor executionerofthewill looks particularly put-out by the whole miraculous thing of it — as I’m sure you can appreciate.  The creature, done with the transference of our souls, laid us both gently down; and she herself, with Lincoln in tow, staggered into the master bedroom and collapsed — I think from exertion – but I do not know for sure.  I followed them, dazed and not sure what to expect next; but was ignored.  The creature lay down and closed her eyes and appeared to fall asleep immediately.  I stood dumbly and expectantly waiting for something – anything – but something I knew not – and when there was nothing forthcoming other than a series of light snoring sounds from Lincoln, who too had curled up beside the great bronzed creature, and also, it appeared, fallen asleep, I turned and went back into the dining room to check on executionerofthewill.

If confusion had punched me in the gut by the influx of normal sensors, which for a year now have been missing in me, came flooding back in the form of sound and light; no doubt, an opposite and a more terrible confusion reigned, wherein the dulling and the killing of those same sensors must have consumed all of executionerofthewill’s mental strength.

I went to him.  He looked strange, forlorn and lost.  For the first time now I saw what I had done to myself in order to shut the real world out.  A pointless effort – I know that now.  But then, on that terrible night last June, it seemed reasonable and just.  But perhaps, (because I am clearly insane), that is exactly what one would expect me to say.

I touched him; he, executionerofthewill, in my body, on the shoulder and then a wave of emotion broke over me.  My face – his face now – eyeless, scarred and pierced, reflected the pain of real fear, bordering on absolute terror – his confusion was very real and very present.  I felt a great empathy towards him; the way a parent does towards a frightened child.  A love palatable and true – I wanted to protect him and keep him safe.  I knelt and embraced him.  I held him close.  His body stiffened at my embrace.  I imagined that perhaps he was consoled; I don’t know if he was.  I kissed him on the forehead and ran from the room.  I made it to the bathroom just in time and vomited.  The porcelain of the sink was cold to my touch.  I felt as if I was choking.  Soon my dry-heaving gave way to hyperventilation and shortly after that settled down into a heavy but controlled breathing.

I splashed cold water on my face — and realizing that there was no towel in the room — or in the house for that matter – so I used the inside of the jacket to dry off.  It was Gucci – almost effeminate really.  Executionerofthewill had good taste – but his suit was definitely out of place at the rental.  Though, the jacket made for a good face cloth.

I took stock of my new body, stretching it and bending it, this way and that.  He was taller than I had thought.  Strange; different fingers prodded different places.  What a strange feeling it was to have a face that was twenty years younger and a full head of dark hair.  The face was not unpleasant but it had a cocky jaunt to the chin and narrow eyes.  Somehow I knew that of him.  The body was lean and thin and even though it was early summer had already been tanned with no tan lines; such vanity in one so young!  I felt embarrassed for him.

On my chest, I found a small but elegant tattoo of a crucifix sealed in red ink that marred an otherwise unblemished body.  I touched it carefully with my finger.  Odd, he did not seem much like a religious man.  Probably a Spring Break regret during his college years.

I cleaned up my vomit and rinsed off.  I peeked back into the master bedroom – the creature and Lincoln were still fast asleep.  Quietly I closed the door and went back into dining room.  I stared at executionerofthewill.  There he was in my body, he was trembling with fear.  What an ugly thing he was –in my body — his balding scarred head – great clear-skinned lines tracked the path of the nail-puller where it had rendered the face into separate pieces.  The hollow and empty eye sockets showed the man to be devoid of self – it’s no wonder the other inmates at the asylum had shunned me.

I looked away, hung my new head and thought about other things.

SHE!  What a strange and extraordinary thing She is; tall She is – hunched, She has walked about my rental.  My guess: if stood upright and erect She would be ten feet if not a hand more.  She is a bronze colored and lizard-like thing.  Long in the face, horse-like to be more exact.  Her eyes: large, brown and bulbous.  A female of her species, this is true.  She knows no shame – as we — in human terms would say – for nakedness is Her natural state.  She said that Her name was SHE: Lilith or Eve, and Mother of this Earth.  But how could this bizarre oddly inhuman creature be Eve of the Bible — wife of Adam?  It made no sense.  She told me some months ago, during Her visit to me in the asylum, that I was to call Her “Lilith” – who or what could that possibly be?  Lilith, in Jewish lore, was the first wife of Adam; made on the sixth day, at the same time as Adam.  Eve is said to have come later – made from Adam’s rib and is actually Adams second wife!  This “confusion” I knew from a university course on theology many years back.  I remember my professor had dismissed this disturbing disparity in the Book of Genesis as “a stylist error,” and chalked it up to poor editing.  A brash and bold summation considering that he was referring to the world’s bestselling book!  And Lilith, it is said of Her: She left Adam because She saw Herself to be an equal and would not submit to Him.  It is also said of Lilith that She is a barren, jealous, and hateful thing that lives in desolate places and spends Her time killing the children of Eve — especially on the darkest and blackest of nights.  Indeed, a far cry from the Garden of Eden story we knew as children!

Here, I must pause to laugh silently to myself! Oh!  What company I keep!  I take comfort in the fact that I am already clinically insane.  God forbid my new circumstance will drive me to some greater madness!

And what has become of my faithful dog Lincoln?  He is changed – of this I am sure. Something strange, and (dare I say it) glorious and special has taken to his being. His coat appears to glow with a white effervescent shimmer that comes and goes as he breaths.  His black coat shines with stark bleach-white radiance.   Where has he been this past year?  And what is the real truth behind his new mistress?

I feel as if I’m alone!

Aimlessly walk about the rental.  My interaction with an angel has guaranteed nothing.  My mind is not healed; far from it – confusion reigns.  My psyche is still beaten and trodden.  My medical prognosis, up until my last session with my psychiatrist, predicts a lifetime of institutional confinement — and what’s worse — I must agree.

Desolate and alone I wander about the rental.  I still cannot bring myself to walk into the back bedroom.  But it was not from fear as it had been with the ghost of Scudamour on the loose; but more, from the evil deed of mine committed there.  Lilith told me that Scudamour was an evil thing.  And if that is true then what does that make me?  Am I evil too?  Granted, I was possessed by Scudamour; and it was also true, as executionerofthewill had discovered, I had ingested trace amounts of ergot from the pumpernickel bread I had been eating.  So I have to ask myself: where does my responsibility lie?  Is it totally within myself?  Should I have fought harder against Scudamour?  Could I have fought harder against Scudamour?  And what of the questions left unanswered?  Why did Scudamour kill his family?  And what was the attraction to me by Scudamour – why did he need the blood and dissection of my family?  What was in it for him?

As I walk I feel no presence of any ghost or specter-strange; neither the mother or the dark haired boy, or even my own family.  Where are they all now?  Is it Lilith’s presence in the rental that keeps them at bay, or are they all appeased now, and deep in the bosom of Heaven?

I walk, and I walked.  I avoided the master bedroom and the sleepers therein.  I avoided executionerofthewill tucked tight into my straightjacket and sitting upright and confused in the chair.  I walked until Ben, Jerry and the deputy, Bob B returned: well fed, they seemed to be in better moods.

*          *          *

Poor executionerofthewill – a victim of circumstance or a victim happenstance – hunger an excellent motivator.  What alignment of the stars brought all three men – hungry together – to vacate the premises and leave us in the deadly claws and paws of Lilith and Lincoln?

The three men appeared visibly relieved that I, exnzpat, was still strapped tightly in my straightjacket.  Only…  I wasn’t me!  My soul had escaped my body and had metamorphosed inside the body of executionerofthewill, and he in mine.  But who could tell?  And even if the truth were told what could they do about it?  The inevitable must happen: the physical bodies of executionerofthewill must go free and exnzpat must return to the asylum.  This is the way of the world.  Humans tend to judge by the cover and ignore the inner sanctum of the heart.

I did my best at casual conversation; trying my hardest to sound cocky and superior like that of executionerofthewill.  But I was having difficulty pulling it off.  Of the two orderlies, Ben knew me best and I noticed that he cocked his head from side to side as I spoke.  I told them that nothing had transpired as exnzpat had said it would.  No box “magically” materialized as he said it would – it was time to go home.  I did my best to inject just the right amount of contempt just as executionerofthewill would — but felt I lacked the real feeling it needed.  Let’s face it, I might now own executionerofthewill’s body but I was not him!  In truth, my pacing had drawn up a giddy excitement from my core.  Escaping my biological cage was coming to the forefront of my mind.  I had a new and younger body and I was beside myself with thoughts of what the future might hold – no matter how frightening.

The three men stood and looked at me expectantly.  And then with a start I realized that Ben, Jerry and exnzpat needed a ride back to the asylum.  The deputy also waited expectantly for something, I knew not what.

Cautiously I made small talk about the drive back to the asylum.  Exactly where was the asylum?  If I were to drive them then I had absolutely no idea what part of town it was in or how to get there.

Then an idea struck me.

“So what did you think of the car?”  I asked the three.

“Nice wheels man.”  Jerry replied.

“You want to drive us home,” I asked a little too brightly, “I mean to the asylum.”  I said correcting myself and hopped no one noticed my faux pas.

“No man – they’re your wheels.”

“No, no — I insist. Really.”

Jerry looked quizzically at Ben.  I could tell that Jerry wanted to drive the car.  But I was pretty sure that the rules of escorting mentally insane patients outside of the asylum prohibited it.

Executionerofthewill was not a small man.  He (or I) was about six foot with a broad build.  I could see both Ben and Jerry, as if for the first time, sizing me up.

“Guy’s, he’s in a straightjacket.  What could go wrong?”

Jerry grinned brightly and Ben said, “OK.  But you have to sit on the other side of exnzpat.”

“With pleasure!”

The sheriffs’ car sat squarely under the carport and executionerofthewill’s big BMW sat behind it, blocking the driveway.  I had to smile.  A BMW! Executionerofthewill was so pathetically transparent.  The poor boy had no class!

Jerry still had the keys and together with Ben sidled up to exnzpat and gently raised him to his feet.  It was strange to watch them at their work – from the outside looking in, so to speak. How many times had I felt their strong but gentle hands grasp mine, and either bind them, slap them, or hold them down.  How many times had these two ungainly heroes saved my life?  My rescuers – they — who kept me breathing to a life that I did not want?

More times than I care to remember; I may have escaped but I was not free.  Watching the two with exnzpat reminded me of this small fact.

I shrugged off my pathos and sidled up to my old and desiccated body but there was no need.  Ben and Jerry had him firmly within their grasp.  They brushed me aside and I was content to keep myself busy by opening doors.

Because he had no eyes it was hard to judge exnzpat’s expression.  It is amazing how much we use our eyes to convey emotion and it was weird watching another man move inside my body.  The straightjacket confined him but still there was an unsettled stance in him.  Ben and Jerry guided him gently out of the rental.  What must he be feeling?  What must he be thinking?  How unsettled he must be to lose his senses so instantly.  The unbalanced nature of this surreal state must be staggering – thrown into darkness and silence in the space of a few seconds.  Together we are bound — but separate we must be!  “I will look after your body if you look after mine.”  I promised him quietly under my breath.

Our little crab-like dance to the car was interrupted by Bob B who cleared his throat loudly in a tone that said. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

I stood at the left rear of the BMW and said. “Oh, can you get the door?”  I asked, meaning the kitchen door.  I knew that the sheriff’s department had a key to the rental and that executionerofthewill had an arrangement with the City to keep an eye on the place.  Infamy has a way of drawing sightseers and crackpots to a neighborhood with bonafide house-of-murder in its midst, and with the comings and goings on Erehwon Street over this past year this city had had its fill. The city saw my house as bad for their commercial redevelopment and so worked with executionerofthewill to keep things tidy, neat, and above all — quiet.

Bob B looked uncomfortable but said nothing.  Jerry, emerging from car after safely tucking exnzpat in said.  “You promised the man a tip!” I was stung by Jerry’s tone.  It was pretty obvious they did not like me, or rather the real executionerofthewill.

“Oh, sorry – in all the excitement I forgot.”

I was not sure of what dollar amount executionerofthewill had promised these three men and realized that I would need to look for the tell-tale facial signs of pleasure or displeasure, though I must confess, after a year of blindness, I was not exactly sure if I could remember what those expressions looked like.

It had been raining.  The lawn looked soggy and pools of water gathered in the gutters on the street. The sky had that hurried look, where the clouds looked as though they had been whipped and beaten into submission and couldn’t wait to get away from above your head.  The smell of ozone hung thick in the air as it is won’t to do after thunderstorms.  Water dripped from the roof of the carport and splashed about me as I stood next to the BMW.

I found executionerofthewill’s wallet in my right rear pants pocket and thumbed through it.  Damn!  He had almost $800 bucks on him.

I quickly calculated the tip. There was no way that Bob B was getting as much as Ben and Jerry because of the extra time going to and from the asylum.  In fact, today was a Monday and I was pretty sure this was a day-off for the both Ben and Jerry.  I’d never given it much thought until now.  The blue-funk of depression that had occupied my mind this last year never before allowed me time to think of those others who cared for me.  I know that Jerry worked mostly at nights and Ben seemed to work weekends.  I know I always enjoyed their company individually, and when the two worked together with me I considered it a blessing.  Also, the two men were friends, friends with each other, and that was a boon to guiding me through my darkest moments.

I made a rough guess — and using the large sum of money executionerofthewill had given them for lunch to get them out of the house as a guide — I flipped out four twenties and handed them to Bob B.  He seemed unexpectedly surprised – that was good.  He thanked me; not offering to shake my hand.  Instead he pulled the kitchen door closed and carefully locked it. The key he slotted into a padlocked real-estate lockbox which hung around the door knob.  He spun the little numbers locking the key inside; and then turned towards us and simply waved a goodbye.  He climbed into the cruiser and waited for us to move out of his way.

I climbed in next to exnzpat.  He sat rigid and afraid.  New smells – car smells assailed his senses.  He could tell something was going on and perhaps the initial shock of being transferred into my body was now finally wearing off and he was becoming more aware.  But for myself, the feeling in me was becoming quite euphoric.  I wasn’t sure if my feelings were due to having working eyes and ears again or something more subtle; something more divine and something more spiritual.  I would have to tone down my behavior lest I give myself away.  Though, what if anything, could anyone do at this stage – I had escaped.

Jerry backed the car down the driveway.  His big arm slung across the cool leather back of the bucket seat.  I smiled broadly at him.  His forehead creased with confusion, and why not; the executionerofthewill he knew was arrogant and vain: education, profession and money were the barrier he built between himself and people like Ben and Jerry.  These things were real and insurmountable to people like Ben and Jerry, and people like executionerofthewill liked it that way.

I have never been a fan of BMW’s – boxy and stiff – no more than a very expensive Volkswagen than a decent luxury vehicle!  But it drove smoothly all the same.  It had good “pick-up” and Jerry powered the big car through the morass of the neighborhood and out onto the freeway.  I could tell that he was enjoying himself.  I smiled at that, glad for him.

The freeway was moving slow but it was not too bad for Monday afternoon – traffic splashed along without too much fuss.  Then all of a sudden…

“Where am I?  What’s going on?”  It was exnzpat.  He was licking his lips – feeling himself, as if for the first time.

“Hush now Pat.  We’re on our way home.”  Ben answered gently, resetting exnzpat’s seatbelt. Ben fired me a warning look – don’t interfere – it said…

“Why can’t I see anything? — and what’s wrong with my ear?”

I understood what he meant.  With only slight and partial hearing in his right ear the stereophonic world was effectively blocked-out and a subdued and distant humming noise was all that could be heard.  Until executionerofthewill got use to the machinations of my damaged body he would continue to have difficulty. Time would help.

“You’re deaf exnzpat,” said Ben loudly.  “Here let me turn up your hearing aide,” he said reaching up to exnzpat’s ear to adjust the volume.

Exnzpat flinched, pulling sharply back and away from Ben’s arm.  His head hit mine rather smartly.  “Damn!”  I said protecting my head.

Exnzpat began to mouth obscenities.  His body shook in an apoplectic way.  As his body raged his mouth spit forth a litany of foul terror.  He was afraid.  I tried to reassure him…

“Jerry!  Pull over!”  Ben shouted.  “He’s having an episode,” he added unnecessarily.

Executionerofthewill, in my body, was going virtually berserk.

“What’s going on?  Where am I?  Why can’t I see anything?

“Get your damn hands off of him!”  Ben shouted at me.  “Don’t you think you’ve done enough already!”

Jerry swerved the car dangerously to the right; directing the big car across two lanes of traffic and pulled onto the shoulder.  With lightening speed he was out of the car and after dragging me out of the way, pushed past into the backseat.  While I couldn’t see what they were doing I knew it all too well; the cold rush of liquid-drug in the veins.  It started cold, and then after a fashion, warm.  Its warmth spread, upper body first; then the legs and last the head.  It was sweet in its simplicity.  Sweet like banana peppers.  And then…  nothing…

For the rest of the ride I kept quiet.  I stared out the window looking at the traffic.  I was enjoying my new eyes.  Exnzpat, beside me, lolled; practically comatose from the drug Ben and Jerry had administered.  He too had been silenced.

On the off-ramp, where the traffic slowed to a crawl I read a bumper sticker off of an older model Toyota.  “If you can read this you’re not George Bush.”  It said.  I had to smile at that, and looked about for more of the same.

Then, on the bumper of a Cadillac, was plastered, “If God has brought you to it – then He will bring you through it!”  The words seemed somehow appropriate; both for me and for executionerofthewill.  I leant over and whispered the words into his ear.  Exnzpat made no acknowledgement that he had heard what I said, and I doubt that he did.  Regardless, I felt better for saying it.  Ben just glared at me.  I went back to staring out the window.

We continued on towards the asylum in silence.  I was surprised at its location.  I must have driven past the building a million times in the past and never knew what it was until now.  It looked to be an old converted Veterans Hospital — well primed red-brick with clean crisp mortar spoke of federal dollars.  It sat squarely on a large well groomed lawn.  Old-growth oaks lined the driveway.  It was very nice.  We parked at the main entrance.   After much fussing, another orderly joined Ben and Jerry and helped extricate exnzpat out of the car and into the building.

Like a sleepwalker exnzpat moved in slow somnambulant movements.  It was strange, I must say.  I have no idea what drug they used on him but only that his motor functions seemed completely unimpaired; slow but unimpaired.  However, his overall awareness was nil.  I wonder how many times they had used this drug on me in the past – and I never knew it — it seemed somehow unfair – time passes and your awareness of its passage is completely lost.

They led exnzpat through the lobby and then over to an unmarked door in the back wall.  I tried to touch him one last time.  But it must of looked queer because Jerry brusquely pushed me aside.  The last glimpse of my body was of the back of my bald, scarred head being enveloped by nurses who took him from Ben and Jerry. They led him away – way back – back into the deep recesses of the asylum.  Taken from my sight; he was gone.

A lady from out of the reception area approached me and asked me to sign some documents.  I could barely read them for the tears in my eyes.  I forged executionerofthewill’s signature badly.

“Look after him.”  I told Ben and Jerry.  I pushed the entire wad of cash from executionerofthewill’s wallet into Ben’s hands.

“Thank you,” was all I could manage.  From the observation point of executionerofthewill’s body I had witnessed a strange thing.  Ben and Jerry were not just two employees.  They really did care for me.  Me — monster: murderer and now body snatcher.

Before either of them could say a word I turned and walked from the building.

On the way back to the rental I stopped at an IHop.  Even though it was late afternoon I ordered myself a large breakfast plate; I also ordered a side of pancakes topped with blueberries and whipped cream.

I don’t know what the deal was with executionerofthewill’s body but he was definitely skipping meals.  I was starving!  I downed the food quickly.  The restaurant was almost empty and I polished off at least five cups of coffee during the meal in relative silence.  The pancakes were probably overkill but I finished them off all the same.  Somehow I knew that this would piss-off executionerofthewill.  Vanity by starvation — he was such a fool!

I paid with one of executionerofthewill’s credit cards; it was probably my money anyway so I didn’t feel bad about it.  I forged his signature badly again and left the restaurant.  I was free – well almost.  The mission Lilith and Lincoln meant for me was now only just beginning.  What the future held I could not imagine.

*          *          *

I didn’t see it: and even if I had noticed, it would have meant nothing to me.  A little blue Honda Civic tailed me from the restaurant all the way back to the rental.  The car parked across the street, and the driver watched me park under the carport and enter the house through the kitchen door.

*          *          *

I walked through the rental and went into the Master bedroom.  Lilith and Lincoln were still asleep.  Though, I noticed one eye of Lincoln’s flip open and close almost immediately when he saw me.  He had always been a good guard dog.

I knelt beside them and reached out my hand in curiosity to touch the hair of the Lilith.  But, Lincoln stayed my hand with a low guttural growl.  Both eyes open now!  Lincoln’s eyes are intense – he looks as if he means it!  I withdraw my hand.  I am not his master now.  He serves me not.  I lost the right to be his Master the night I murdered his pack; for this is how a dog sees the family it belongs to.  Mrs. Exnzpat had high favor, Exnzpat1 a little lower, Exnzpat2 lower than that, and finally sweet little Exnzpat3 an equal companion and best friend.  What right did I have to expect kindness and respect from Lincoln?  I withdrew my hand and tears fell from my stolen eyes and stolen face.  Lincoln stretched up into a crouch and licked them from my face.  No matter how weird our current relationship, he was still a good dog.

I lay down next to my old friend and my new.  I was exhausted.  A powerful sleep took me and I began to dream…