Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Starry Skies and the All Seeing Eye.

It was a quiet night on Main Street. At three in the morning, all the houses were dark and the only sound that could be heard was the leaves scuttling across the side walk in the rustling of the wind, making their way into the gutter. It was peaceful as Dan Ashworth made his way down the steps of his neighbors’ house, unaware of the fact that he was not alone. Dan took in a deep breath as he walked around the bushes that separated his yard from his neighbors. Just as he took his first step onto his own property, the trigger was pulled. In an instant, Dan heard the blast from the gun and a searing pain entered the back of his head. The lawn loomed before Dan, as if rising up beneath him before all had gone black.


Dan felt no pain when he opened his eyes. Instead, he was immediately consumed by fear. His hands grasped stone above his head and all around him was darkness. It didn’t take him too long to figure out that he was hanging at the edge of a great precipice. Confused and afraid of the unknown below, Dan began to pull himself up onto the ledge. It took all the strength he could muster, but Dan was able to pull himself up, rolling onto the ledge gasping for breath. It was strange in that there was no strain on his muscles, no pain in any part of his body at all. Only Dan, the grey stone beneath him, and the darkness in front and below him.
            Dan rubbed his eyes to make sure he was still awake and then continued to rub his head out of confusion. The thought of being dead hadn’t occurred to him until his hand touch a sticky, wet spot in the back of his head. Moving his hand upward, his fingers grazed the bullet hole which made Dan shudder. Again, there was no pain, only more fear and confusion. “What has happened,” Dan thought, “Am I dead? Where am I?”
            Before Dan could try to recall his last memories of life, a low but audible groan could be heard behind him. As Dan turned around, he saw that he was lying on grey stone steps leading up to an ominous stone building. The double doors of the building were made out of a dark cherry wood, arching up to a point, similar to an ancient cathedral but instead of a cross, there was only an engraving. Dan squinted his eyes to try to read the sign; Department of Soul Placement. “Either I am dreaming,” Dan questioned, “or I really am dead.” The groan Dan heard was the sound of the double doors opening to a soft orange glow. There was nothing else on this precipice, not even enough room to walk around the building. There was only the stone steps’ leading up to the doors, and the surrounding darkness.
            As Dan made his way slowly up the steps, he didn’t know what to expect. As he reached the door, his eyes focused on the orange light that dimly lit a long narrow hallway. Chills ran up Dan’s spine as his hand grazed the cold wooden door. As soon as he stepped foot inside, the doors slammed closed behind him by some invisible force. Frightened, Dan spun around in a panic and seeing that the doors wouldn’t budge, began to punch them furiously.
“Welcome, Dan Ashworth. I’ve been expecting you.”
Dan’s pounding ceased at once as he spun around. Across the stone floor, standing near the light was an old woman dressed in a nun’s habit. She was a short woman with a plump stature. Her black eyebrows were thin and seemed to have been drawn on by a pencil. Her face and hands were wrinkled with age, but her eyes glowed with deep blue orbs encircling what appeared to be tiny moons instead of pupils. “Don’t be afraid. Come.” She held out her hand and beckoned Dan towards her.
“Who are you?” Dan asked, “Where am I?” The nun smiled.
“My name is Sophia. In life, I was a sister of Mercy, but I took too many sleeping pills one night by mistake. We are in the Department of Soul Placement. Please, take a number.”
Dan walked forward cautiously, afraid of any more surprises this damned place might have in store for him. As his footsteps echoed against the stone walls, Sophia gestured her hands towards a stone podium. “Please, push the button and take a number.”
Dan looked down at the podium to face the black plastic face plate surrounding a small skull about the size of a tennis ball. The skull smiled up at him with a sickening grin.
“What is this? How do you know my name?”
“In time, dear, in time. All your questions will be answered, but you must first push the button and take a number.”
Dan hesitated for a moment before pushing the skull into the plastic face plate. Instantly, a brass gate swung open from where the light was coming from and Dan’s attention was brought back to the top of the podium by the sound a sharp click. A thin piece of paper with black numbers printed on it began to flow from a little slit in faceplate. The paper continued to flow past the face plate, down the podium, and almost reached the floor before it detached itself and fell to Dan’s feet. Dan bent forward to pick it up and took a look. 190,289,378,467,567,843, 921,650 … The numbers continued on and Dan gave Sophia a puzzled look.
“I don’t understand. What is this for?”
“Why, that’s your number dear. You need it in order to enter the department and to be seen by one of the judges.”
“Judges? What judges?”
“The judges are the ones who make up the High Court. They are the ones who determine the placement for souls. Hurry, dear, hurry, before the gate closes on you.”
Before he could ask any more questions, Dan’s attention was pulled back to the gate which was slowly beginning to shut on the light.
“But… but I-“
“Hurry, dear, hurry! Before it’s too late! May the judges have mercy on your soul!” Sophia pushed Dan towards the gate and into the next room before the gate clamped shut behind him. Dan whirled around and grasped the gate, but it wouldn’t budge. He called out to Sophia but she was gone. The hallway was pitch black. Suddenly, strong hands roughly grabbed Dan from both sides and spun him around. He found himself face to face with two angry guards wearing black security uniforms and rope nooses tied tightly around their bulbous red necks.
“Enough of that! You’ve taken your number; now get away from the entrance before we knock you upside the head!”
“It seems you’ve already suffered one head injury. You looking for another one punk?”
Dan’s startled body began to shake. “N-n-no... I-I jjust-“
“You just nothing punk!” The guards shoved him further into the room. “Now stay away from the gate before you regret it.”
Dan continued to face the guards as he clumsily walked backward further into the room before hitting his heal on something metallic and fell to the floor. He looked behind him to see what he had bumped into. The floor was made of a dingy pink marble which wrapped around a large circular metal extrusion out of the floor. As Dan crawled up to a crouching position, he saw that metal curved into the shape of a half bubble, on which the top was painted a single purple eye.
“Here, sir. Please, let me help you to your feet and away from this horrible thing!”
Dan turned to face a thin, balding man, dressed in a brown suit with a blue paisley tie. The man was older, but there was a strange kindness in his eyes as he held out his hand to Dan. His brown eyes were worn, but had not yet dimmed with old age but instead sparkled with mischief. In his other hand, he held a black briefcase while he pulled Dan away from the metal disk.
“Wh-what is that?”
“We call it ‘the all seeing eye.’ When someone is found to be damned, it opens up and the guards throw the rotten soul into the fires of Hell, to burn for all eternity for their sins.”
Just then, the walls reverberated with the deafening sound of a bell being rung. Dan looked around and saw nothing but people, lots and lost of people. Many standing in lines before dark glass windows. Many sitting in pews. Many standing, leaning, sitting, everywhere and all around there were people. Some stared at the All Seeing Eye with horror. Some looked away in fear. Most, however, continued on with their business with blank faces, seemingly unaffected by the deafening sound. The metal lids on the All Seeing Eye began to open to reveal a fiery pit. The only sounds that could be heard above the tolling bell were a woman’s screams.
“No! No! Please! Please don’t! Don’t put me in there! I’m innocent! I’m innocent, I swear! I only took enough to feed my babies! I was going to put the money back! Please! NO!”
But her cries proved futile as two more rough looking security guards dragged the women across the floor away from one of the windows, lifted her up and threw her into the pit. Her screams of agony only lasted a moment longer before the lids on the All Seeing Eye shut and the tolling bell had stopped. Children began to cry as women tried to comfort them. Men looked away, dropping their heads as others acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, numbed at having witnessed many others who had been thrown into the eye.
“Ah, see what I mean?” The man in the brown suit shook his head and looked back at Dan who stood in shock at what he just saw. “Another one who’s broken the ‘thou shall not steal’ commandment. Really, you don’t want to stand too close to the eye. You could fall in by accident before you’ve had the chance to plea your case.”
Dan looked back at the man.
“Plea my case? What are you talking about? What is this place? Who are you?”
“Ah, I’m sorry,” the man said with a smile before reaching out his hand to shake Dan’s. “My name is Henry Wadsworth, attorney of law. And your name sir?”
Dan stammered, still in shock, “D-D-Dan Ashworth.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Ashworth. As the signpost above the outside doors reads, this is the Department of Soul Placement. This is where people who have broken one of the Ten Commandments come to be judged by one of the cursed after they die.”
“So… I am dead then. This isn’t a dream?”
“I’m afraid so, sir. Dead as a door nail and in much need of legal counsel. I’d be more then happy to take on your case if you just exchange your ticket number with mine.”
Though still in shock, Dan couldn’t help but take note of the man’s mischievous looking eyes. “Why do you want my ticket number? What’s wrong with yours?”
“Oh, nothing, my dear boy. Absolutely nothing. It’s just … from having been a lawyer in life; I was accustomed to break any one of the commandments on a daily basis. I suppose I could argue that it is part of the training, but that excuse has never worked for any of the other lawyers and they all shared the same fate of the pitiful woman you just observed. So, rather than burning in the fiery pit of Hell, I’ve decided to continue on with my practice, even in death. By exchanging numbers with new comers, it becomes a fair bargain. Frankly, I prepare others to plea their case before the cursed judges of the High Court, in exchange for time. Time is really a precious gift, Mr. Ashworth, especially in this place.”
Dan looked back at the All Seeing Eye again and another chill crept down his spine. By exchanging numbers with Wadsworth, he may be speeding up the inevitable.
            “What happens if I am found innocent? What do they do then?”
            “No one is found innocent, Mr. Ashworth. You are here because you have broken one of the Ten Commandments, a fact made clear by your very presence here. However, one of the judges might excuse you from your crime depending upon the circumstances. In which case, the ceiling will open up to a great bright light and you will be lifted above the rafters, entering into the kingdom of Heaven.”
Dan looked up towards the ceiling. It was a dark blue starry sky, with shooting stars that flew around in spirals. “Beautiful, isn’t it? We call it ‘the Starry Skies.’”
Dan was in awe.
“It is beautiful. But, what if I take you up on your bargain and they still send me to the All Seeing Eye?”
            “Well, chap, I’m afraid that is a possibility. However, I was the best damned lawyer in life and have yet to loose a case! I’m afraid the only guarantee I can give you, Mr. Ashworth, is that if you take me up on my offer than at least you will be prepared to defend yourself. I believe in the old saying ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but the judges, they follow the credence ‘damned until forgiven.’ You must plea for forgiveness when your number is called, Mr. Ashworth, whether or not you exchange your ticket number. Sure, that time will come much quicker if you do, but at least you will be prepared and will have a better chance of being placed in Heaven. Honestly, Mr. Ashworth, you’ve got nothing lose.”
But that wasn’t entirely true. As Wadsworth said, time is a precious gift, especially in this place. However, sooner or later, Dan would have to approach one of the judges. Wadsworth seemed to know a lot about this place and was the only one who had answered his questions since he came. After a final moment of hesitation, Dan handed his ticket number over to Wadsworth. With a smile, Wadsworth took Dan’s number, placing it in his right pocket, before pulling his ticket number out of his left pocket and handed it to Dan. Dan looked at the strip of paper; it was half the length of original number.
            “Thank you, Mr. Ashworth,” Wadsworth said with a sigh of relief, “now we haven’t got much time. As you can see, there aren’t that many people ahead of you.” Wadsworth pointed towards the far end of the room where a large black screen displayed a red digital ticket number and counter number. Just then, there was a short buzzing sound before the number changed and a female voice was projected over the intercom.
“Now serving number 378,467,567,843,190, 289, 921,650 at window number 7.”
Dan braced himself for the now expected tolling of the bell, but instead found that he heard a harp playing. He looked above to see the ceiling opening up to a bright, white light as the melody of the harp grew louder. A young boy seemed to float away from window number 7, glowing with the same mysterious light from above. He slowly floated up above the floor, above the people, into the starry skies, disappearing into the light and the fading music of the harp as the ceiling closed back up behind him.
Dan was dumbstruck, but Wadsworth continued on with a slight annoyance.                     “We better hurry if we want to increase your chances of sharing the same fate as the boy. Come now; take a seat with me so we can discuss the details of your case.” Dan looked down at Wadsworth, who was already sitting in a wooden pew and opening up his brief case on his lap. Dan took a seat besides Wadsworth and faced him as Wadsworth took out a piece of paper and a gold pen and placed them on top of his suitcase. “In the interest of time, I would like you first to complete this survey. It’s a list of the Ten Commandments. Just write Y next to the ones you have broken, and N next to the ones you have followed. Please, be honest.”
Dan looked at the survey, pausing to reflect on some of the commandments, but overall finished it rather quickly before handing it back to Wadsworth. “Ok, let’s see what we got.” Wadsworth scanned the paper within ten seconds before giving Dan an annoyed look.
            “What? I haven’t done any of those things.”
            “Mr. Ashworth. Maybe I wasn’t clear on how this works. Those who commit one of the seven deadly sins in life are automatically sent to Hell in death. Those who have neither committed one of those sins nor broken one of the commandments end up in Heaven. Those who commit suicide are cursed to remain here for all eternity as a public servant and those who have broken one of the commandments are sent here to wait to plea for forgiveness. Now, I understand that the details may embarrass you, Mr. Ashworth, but since you are here, you must have undoubtedly broken one of the commandments and so I ask that you be honest with me in order for me to help you convince the judge who tries your case to grant you forgiveness.”
            “But really, I haven’t done any of those things.” Dan growled as he slammed his hand down on the suit case in anger. He was not one who liked to be called a liar. Taken aback, Wadsworth stared down at Dan’s hand and took notice of the inverted triangle ring with the rainbow inside. A smile crossed Wadsworth face and his mischievous eyes twinkled when he looked back at Dan.
            “Well then, tell me Mr. Ashworth. How old are you?”
            “Thirty Six.”
            “And are you married?”
            “Have you ever been married?”
            “And what was the name of your last boyfriend?”
Dan hesitated. The memory of the night he died came flooding back to him. He was at his neighbor Brian’s house. Brian’s wife worked third shift as a pharmacist at a 24 hour pharmacy outside of town. He had his eye on Brian ever since he and his wife had moved in next door. He was an adonis, built of pure muscle from his hard labor as a construction worker during the day. Luckily for Dan, Brian was more than just a ladies man, he was a mans man as well. He noticed when Dan would check him out from his window as Brian mowed the lawn. It was only a matter of time before Dan found himself wrapped in Brian’s arms, lost in his kisses. But they had only been together like that the night he died, hardly enough for Dan to call him his boyfriend.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Ashworth. Contrary to what many believe in life, homosexuality is not a sin. The book says ‘love thy neighbor,’ and there are many different forms of love. If what you say is true, than the issue here must lie within the wording.”
            “You mean, ‘thou shall not covet thy neighbors’ wife?’”
Wadsworth’s grin beamed in delight. He had always loved a good play on words.
            “Yes, except you didn’t covet your neighbor’s wife! You coveted your neighbors’ husband! Is that right, Mr. Ashworth?”
            “Yes. That’s right.”
            “Tell me, did you sleep with him?”
            “No. All we did was cuddle and make out. I was too afraid that his wife would come home early to feel comfortable doing anything more so I left.”
            “When was that, Mr. Ashworth?”
            “The night I died.”
            “So, that explains the bullet hole in your head. The wife must have caught you in the act and murdered you. You’ll have to ask the judge exactly how you died to find out for sure, but if that is the case then we have something to work with!”
            “What do you mean? I was beginning an affair with a married man.”
            “Ah, but Mr. Ashworth. The commandment says ‘thou shall not covet thy neighbors’ wife! It says nothing about thy neighbors’ husband! Since there was no sex, you didn’t commit the sin of lust and since you left before you did, you didn’t commit the sin of greed. Also, you were murdered! That means that not only did his wife break the commandment ‘thou shall not kill’ but she also committed the sin of wrath! Hence, she will go straight to hell. Therefore, you will ask for forgiveness on the basis that though you did begin an affair with a married man, you felt guilty and left before it could continue!”
            “But, that’s not why I left. I wanted it to continue!”
            “But they don’t need to know that, Mr. Ashworth!”
            “Now serving number 378,467,567,843,190, 289, 921,651 at window number 9.”
Wadsworth held up his hand before Dan could continue. “Our time is up, Mr. Ashworth. That’s your number they’re calling. Good luck!”
            “Wait, aren’t you coming with me?”
            “I can’t. You must go alone. Don’t worry about me, I must find another client. You better hurry, before the guards come for you.” Wadsworth hurried away and Dan looked up at window number 9.
“Now serving number 378,467,567,843,190, 289, 921,651 at window number 9.”
Having already had a bad run in with the guards once, Dan did not want risk another one and so quickly ran over to the window. A teenage girl with black hair and what looked like vampire teeth greeted him briskly.
            “Name please?”
            “Dan Ashworth.”
She sighed with annoyance, “Look, pops, I’ve got a gazillion people to see and I’m running low on patience. Do you have any form of identification or not?” Dan reached into his wallet, pulled out his drivers’ license, and handed it to the girl. Her name tag read “Honey,” though she was anything but sweet. She reached out her black fishnet covered arm towards the little opening in the window for the license. Dan noticed the gash in her wrist and remembered Wadsworth’s words. Those who commit suicide are cursed to remain here for all eternity as a public servant. He found himself feeling somewhat sorry for the girl, despite her rude demeanor. She took a look at his license and then typed something into a computer before handing it back. “It says here that you were shot in the back of the head?”
            “Yes. I believe I was murdered. Is that in there?”
The girl frowned. “Yes it is. By the wife of a man you were having an affair with.”
            “Well, I wouldn’t exactly-“
            “You did lock lips with this woman’s husband. Did you not?”
            “Yes I did, but-“
            “And the commandment says ‘thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s-“
            Wife! It says nothing about ‘thy neighbor’s husband.”
            “So? Why should there be a restriction? Coveting the life partner of another is just wrong, dude.”
            “I know and I am truly sorry. Please, forgive me.”
            “Why should I forgive you, man?”
It was then that Dan realized that he was fighting a losing battle. Though young, this girl was old enough to recognize the wife as the victim in this situation, making Dan the bad guy. If only he had a male judge! “Well?”
Dan thought for a minute, thinking of anything Wadsworth said that might help him but it seemed his only leg to stand on was the wording of the commandment.
            “Well, why shouldn’t there be a restriction on the commandment? After all, it protects women, doesn’t it? Women don’t covet their neighbors’ husbands, do they?”
            “No. When women marry, it’s for love or money. Sometimes they get lucky and it’s both.”
            “Exactly. So you see, the commandment is really aimed at men! If you were married, you wouldn’t want another man coveting you, now would you? Trying to ruin your marriage, or worse, forcing himself on you while your husbands away?”
            “No, but-“
            “So women are always getting the short end of the stick as far as the book is concerned. At least they have the upper hand in that the word is wife and not spouse! They are allowed to covet their neighbors’ husbands, though they wouldn’t, but still, at least it’s something that they have over men.”
Honey dropped her head and began to finger the scare on her wrist in contemplation. After a few minutes of silence, Dan persisted. “Please, forgive me.”
Honey scowled at Dan, and yet, her lips held a slight smug look. “Ok, Mr. Ashworth. I admit that you are right in that the wording of the commandment says nothing about thy neighbors’ husband. However, I don’t think it is fair that the woman should be sent to Hell because of her sins of wrath and the murder of your sorry ass. So, I’m going to meet you half way.” She pushed a button on her keypad and there was the sound of the buzzing Dan had heard earlier when the intercom came on. “Guards to window number 9 for deportation, please.” Before Dan could ask what that meant, he once again felt strong hands grab him firmly and started pulling him away. He began to scream in fear as he tried to get away.
            “No. Please. This isn’t right! You said you’d meet me half way! You lied! There’s a commandment against that?”
            “Shut your hole!” one of the guards barked. “You’re not going to Hell, at least not today, so relax buddy. We’ll take good care of you.” The other guard laughed as they continued to drag Dan away from the window, across the marble floor, past the All Seeing Eye, towards the entrance where another guard was unlocking the gate. Not liking the sound of the guards’ voice, Dan continued to try to wrestle free.
            “No! Please! Where are you taking me? Let me go!”
The guards continued to laugh as they opened the gate and dragged Dan back into the hallway where Sophia stood smiling. “It’s ok Dan,” she said with a reassuring smile, “Everything is going to be alright now. You’ll see. The lord is with you.” Dan wasn’t buying that as he tripped over his feet down the stone steps. All he could see was the darkness looming before him and everything else disappeared from sight as he was thrown into the abyss.


The phone ringing from Dan’s nightstand woke him with a start. He sat up in bed in a flash and gasped for air. His throat was sore from all the screaming he had been doing. Though it was pitch black, he recognized the sound of his ring tone. After wiping the sweat from his brow, he reached over to see who was calling him. The screen on his cell flashed private number. He flipped open his phone and brought it to his ear.
            “Hey Dan, how are ya?”
That was a good question.
            “Well, I guess I’m alright. Who is this?”
            “Brian. From next door?”
            “Oh… hi Brian. What’s up?”
            “Not much here. Just sitting at home with a case of brewskies. You wanta come over and watch the game?”
Dan hesitated for a moment. It must have all been a dream. Still, he didn’t want to take any risks.
            “No, not tonight Bri. I’m not feeling that well and should get some sleep. Another time maybe.”
            “Damn, your voice is hoarse! You must be pretty sick then huh?”
            “Yeah, pretty sick.”
            “Well, I hope ya feel better. I gotta get back to the game. The commercial break is over. Take care.”
 “You too.” Dan hung up his phone, dropped it on the bed, and just sat in silence for a minute. He rubbed his hand over the back his head. No blood this time. He began to laugh, thinking how silly he was to get so worked up over a dream. Just as he reached down for his phone to give Brian a call back, his hand brushed something hard and thin. He looked down and picked up the little plastic card feeling dumbfounded. He rarely took his license out of his wallet and when he did, he always put it back in its place. Trying to remember the last time he needed it, his eyes bulged with recollection and horror. Name please. Identification? Guards to window number 9 for deportation, please. Now serving number 378,467,567,843,190, 289, 921,651 at window number 9.

His license would expire in just a few days.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

~ Wrapped in my Soul. ~

Yes Writers Voice readers, I present to you another piece on my favorite topic, love. This one started as a  poem that I later turned into a song using my guitar. It was originally meant to be a valentines day present for my partner at the time, but we unfortunately didn't make it till then. Later on, I ended up giving it to my first love as an act of forgiveness. We are still friends to this day. ~ DBCII

Wrapped in My Soul.

Fires Blazing
Lighting up the Night
Tears falling
Drying up the sky
Heavy is my breath
as we join as one.

Love me
forever and always
Hold me
before I fly away
Kiss me
for your unreal
touch me
for real you are
and your wrapped in my soul
and your wrapped in my soul.

Soft are your lips
as your hand slips
into my heart.
Oh, from you babe
I'll never part.

And Love me
forever and always
Hold me
before I fly away
Kiss me
for your unreal
touch me
for real you are
and your wrapped in my soul
and your wrapped in my soul.

lost inside your eyes
the fire burns
away all the pain
as my misery dies.

And Love me
forever and always
Hold me
before I fly away
Kiss me
for your unreal
touch me
for real you are
and you’re wrapped in my soul
and your wrapped in my soul.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Poet Reflecting on Love.

What happened to the days
Of castles, and princesses,
And knights in shining armor?

What happened to chivalry,
romance and passion,
and intimate conversation?

Have these days long past?
Or is it only for the lucky ones?
Has it gotten old and cliché?

Lovers come, and lovers go.
Lust runs ramped, names unknown.
Yet loneliness lies everywhere.

Do soul mates exist?
Or do we settle?
Is it biology, or is it political?

Is love a truly human desire?
Or have we learned dependency?
After all, sex does sell.

Oh glory be the all mighty dollar!
How we worship thee in your grace!
Sustainer of life, bringer of dreams.

If I pray to you for love;
Love that is everlasting and true,
will you bring me Ryan Reynolds?

What has happened to humanity?
Are we afraid to let ourselves feel love?
Or has love become a myth of the past?

Monday, April 12, 2010

All That Matters

The summer breeze was warm while the scent of freshly cut grass lingered in the air. Toby sat in a rickety old chair, next to his grandmother’s rocker as she poured them each a glass of lemonade. “Here you are dear, a nice cold drink for this hot summer day.”
            “Thanks Grams,” Toby said with a smile as he lifted the glass to his lips.
            “Don’t drink it too fast Toby or you’ll make yourself sick. Oh my, I forgot about the cookies! Oh dear, I hope they don’t burn! Excuse me Toby, I’ll be right back.” As Grams shuffled away into her secluded cottage, as if to save one of her precious cats from a blazing fire, Toby sat and began to look around him.  He was going to miss this place. He was going to miss the long winding driveway that was barely noticeable from the road. He was going to miss his grandmother’s vegetable garden and the sounds of her curses over the “sneaky little buggers” that somehow always managed to find a way in which would always make him laugh. Most of all though, he was going to miss coming home after school and telling Grams about his day over lemonade and cookies. A passing wind made the pine trees sway back and forth as Toby let out a soft sigh. He loved this place. It was hard to believe that he had just graduated from high school and would soon be leaving this peacefulness behind for the hustle and bustle of Boston.
            “Here we are, dear,” Grams chimed as she appeared in the doorway with a crystal bowl, “your favorite; sugar cookies sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon, just the way you like them; unburned!” she chuckled as she placed the bowl on the table and returned to her rocker. She bent down to the basket of yarn beside her to retrieve her needle work while she continued speaking. “So, my little Toby isn’t so little anymore.”
            “Yeah … I guess.”
            “I’m so proud of you Toby,” she said while taking her eyes away from her needle work to look directly into his eyes. “To have graduated high school and to be the first Sampson to go to college; your father would have been proud, God rest his soul.”
            “Yeah, it still feels surreal,” Toby admitted as thought about his graduation. If only his parents could have been there. “I wish I had gotten to know him, what was he like Grams?”
            “Your father? Well… he was like you, always with some girl some place,” she laughed as she returned to her needlework to continue stitching. “Of course, his tail chasing days were over when he met your mother. If it wasn’t for that girl, he would have never finished school.” Toby laughed as Grams rattled on. “And what about you Toby? Have you found a steady girl yet?” Toby shifted in his seat as he uncomfortably stared down at his flip flops. “No… not yet, I’ve decided to wait until after college to start seriously dating.”
            “What about Maria? It seems you’re always with her lately?”
Toby laughed, “Oh Grams! She’s just a friend! She’s like a sister to me.”
“Ah, maybe so, but she’s a nice girl and you too are close,” she said smiling as she finished her row and began to start a new one. “Is she going to the same school as you?”
            “No, she’s moving to the Cape with her friend Jen. Jen’s parents own a pastry shop there. They’re renting their spare apartment to the girls.”
            “Oh, so Maria’s going to school there?”
            “No. Maria never really cared for school much. Jen needed a roommate, Maria needed a job, and so it works out good because Jen’s parents like Maria and are giving her a job in their shop. She can’t find anything here.”
            “Well, I guess that’s good then. We all need to work. Still, education is important, don’t forget about that Toby.”
            Toby sat up in his bed, peering down at his lap top screen. His dorm wasn’t so much of a room as it was a closet. Clothes were sprung all over the place, covering the ten feet of floor space between his bed and his roommates, who had already left for his classes. Various posters of Lady Gaga covered the walls amongst the one window. Thankfully, his roommate shared his same taste in music.
            As Toby checked his email, he let out a squeal of glee when he saw that he had a message from Maria. They hadn’t talked in ages.
Hey Tobes,
            How have you been? How’s school going? Jen and I are doing well. I’m so happy that I moved here. Compared to that little hick town run by rednecks, this place is like heaven! Seriously, the shops are just amazing and the people are so friendly. I love living so close to the bay too. Remember those hour long drives we used to take to the beach? Ha! I can walk to one now! The honkytonks have so many arcades and restaurants that it reminds me of that Bette Midler movie. What was that called again? It’s on the tip of my tongue… all well. Jen and I got our picture taken the other day. I couldn’t believe it, Tobes, she proposed to me! We were snuggling on the beach the other day, just watching the sun set. I told her how happy I was living there and how I hoped we could stay like this forever and she just pulled out a ring! I still can’t believe it, Tobes. We’re planning on getting married next spring so keep that in mind as I’ll need a best man ;). Check out the pictures I attached. She must have spent a fortune on that rock! How are you doing with that hunky roommate of yours? Have you found out for sure if he is gay yet? Let me know Tobes.
Love always,
“O. M. G!” Toby exclaimed as he opened the attachment. Sure enough, there was the photo strip of the black and white pictures Maria had talked about. Toby chuckled as he scanned the pictures from top to bottom; two of the girls kissing, one of the two girls smiling into the camera with their arms wrapped around each other, and another of the same only in this one, Maria held out her hand to the camera to show off the small diamond ring on her finger. Toby smiled with pride and envy as he closed the attachment to write his reply.
            I’m so happy for you and Jen. I can’t believe she proposed and you two are actually going to get married! Congrats and of course I’ll be there. I’d never let down my bestest friend in the world! When is it going to be? Have you picked out a date yet? OMG, I’m so excited! What a beautiful way to propose too. As for the roommate situation, … well… *blushes* not only is Rich gay but he admitted to me that he’s had a crush on me ever since I moved in. He borrowed my lap top one day as his shit the bed and he had a major paper assignment due the next day. When I got up to go to the bathroom, he went to check his email and my inbox came up right away. Before he clicked out of it, he saw I had an email from JustGuys and confronted me about it when I came back. I was so scared Maria. I thought he was going to beat the shit out of me and be pissed that he had to share his room with a fag. But, when I admitted to him that I was just curious, he just smiled and gave me a big hug and said it was ok, he’s gay too. He’s been absolutely fabulous, Maria. I wasn’t sure, but now that I’m seeing him, I definitely know I’m gay. I’m kind of nervous though. We’ve been dating for 5 months now and … I think I’m in love with him. He doesn’t know yet, neither of us has said those words to each other yet. It’s hard because the only time we can show each other any kind of affection is when we’re alone in our room. It’s not like Ptown where almost everyone is gay. When we go out to eat, they always try to sit us at the bar and when we ask for a booth, they always say they don’t have any when there are  plenty of empty booths. Sitting at the bar, we can’t really talk much about anything other than school. It sucks! It’s bad enough that we pretty much have opposite schedules. I’m also nervous about this summer. When I told Grams about my new “friend” I made here, she invited him to come spend the summer with us after this semester is over. I don’t know how she’ll take it when I tell her about me and Rich. She always swore that no matter what, she will live to see her great-grandchildren. She always felt more like a mom than a grandmother to me as she had to raise me like her own child when mom and dad died in that car accident shortly after I was born. She used to joke about how she can’t wait to be like the other grandmothers and spoil her “grandchildren” before sending them home to their parents. I don’t know what to do, Maria. I don’t want to go back home without Rich, but I don’t want to break Grams’ heart either. What should I do?
            Rich looked out the car window, watching the trees whizzing by as he held Toby’s hand. Toby’s other hand gripped the steering wheel tight as he kept his eyes on the road. The radio played lowly and Rich began to sing along with Darren Hayes. “I believe you can’t control or choose your sexuality. I believe that trust is more important than monogamy. I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul. I believe that family is worth more than money or gold.” Rich’s singing was cut short as Toby let out a deep sigh. Rich took his eyes off the road to look at his lovers face. Seeing the tension in his eyes, Rich gave Toby’s hand a tight squeeze. “It’ll be ok Tobes. We don’t have to tell her about us. All she knows is that we’re friends, she doesn’t have to know how close we are or that you’re gay.” Toby tightened his gripped on the steering wheel and huffed. “Yes, she does Rich. I don’t want to live a lie anymore. I don’t want to have to hide myself anymore and act like I’m something I’m not. I’m gay. She deserves to know that and that I love you.”
In a swift jerk, Toby pulled the car over to the side of the road and pulled his hand away from Rich’s to slide the shift indicator into park. He took a deep breath and looked over at Rich. “Yes, Rich, I love you. I’m sorry, I never meant to tell you like this, but it just came out. I want to scream it at the top of my lungs and I don’t care what anyone thinks. I love you Rich, and if Grams truly loves me too, she’ll understand that.” Rich stared at Toby in shock. Here he was, looking into his boyfriends blood shot eyes from his lack of sleep the night before, all tense with too much worry, and he didn’t know what to say. After a moment of silence, a slight smile crossed Rich's lips as he looked down and blushed. “So … you really love me huh?” Toby sighed and looked down at the steering wheel. “Yes, Rich… I do. I’m sorry I snapped at you and for telling you like this. This wasn’t how I wanted this to go at all. But, now that I’ve said it, yes, I love you. I just don’t know how Grams is going to take all this.” Rich looked up at Toby. In spite of Toby being an absolute wreck, he never looked more beautiful than he did now. Rich reached for Toby’s hand that was still gripping the shift indicator and leaned over to give his lover a kiss on the cheek. “It’s ok Tobes… I love you too.” Toby turned his head back and stared into Rich’s deep brown eyes. “Really?”
            “Yes, Tobes. So don’t worry. Whatever happens, we’re in this together.” Toby smiled and accepted Rich’s soft kiss on his lips before taking a deep breath.
            “Ok. We’re almost there. The drive way is just around the corner.” Toby shifted the car into drive and began to pull away from the curve. Rich’s hand remained holding Toby’s as he gave it another tight squeeze.
            Grams was already on the porch with a bowl full of cookies and a pitcher of lemonade when the boys pulled up. She had heard the car on the drive way and was standing with a huge smile on her face as she waved to them. Toby parked the car and took another deep breath. “Ok. We’re here.”
            “Do you want me to be with you when you tell her?”
            “No. This is something I have to do on my own. Just don’t go too far ok?” Rich squeezed Toby’s hand one more time as he promised he wouldn’t. As they got out of the car, Grams hobbled as fast as she could with her cane down the steps to greet them. “Oh Toby,” she exclaimed, “I’ve missed you so much.” She wrapped her arms around her grandson who could only stare down at her cane. “I’ve missed you too Grams, what’s with the cane? Have you been feeling alright?”
            “Oh, don’t worry about that. I just sprained my ankle in the garden a little while back. It’s nothing to worry about. And you must be Toby’s friend Rich.” Grams broke away from Toby to pull Rich into a big hug. “I’m so happy that you could come. Toby talks about you all the time, I finally get to put a face with a name.” Rich laughed, “Yes. Thank you for inviting me. Toby talks about you a lot as well.”
            “Well, come on in. I’ve got everything ready for you. It must have been a long drive and I’m sure you’re both tired. Toby, you look exhausted. Don’t worry, I’ve got some lemonade and cookies set out on the porch, just like old times.”
            “Thanks Grams. It was a long ride. I could use some lemonade.”
            “Yeah, me too,” Rich chimed in.  As they made their way up the stairs, Rich began to reach for a glass when he noticed Toby’s quick glance at him. “Ah, on second thought,” Rich hesitated for a moment as he moved his hand back and looked at Grams, “it was a long drive. May I please use the bathroom?”
            “Oh, go right inside dear. It’s down the hall, second door on the left. Can’t miss it.”
            “Thanks ma'am.”
            “No problem dear and no need to be so formal. I’m used to Toby’s friends calling me Grams. Please, make yourself at home and don’t call me ma'am.” Rich laughed. “Ok, thanks Grams.” As Rich went inside, Grams and Toby took their seats, just like old times.
            “So Toby, how’d you do this semester? Straight A’s like the last one?”
            “Ugh… yeah Grams, just like the last one.”
            “Good. I’m glad to hear it. Did you get much sleep last night dear? You look like you haven’t slept in weeks!”
            “Um… yeah, I got enough sleep. It’s just a long drive though and I’m kinda tired.”
            “Oh yes, I’m sure. Well, your room is the same way you left it if you feel like taking a nap. I’m sure Rich must be tired too.” Toby stared down at his flip flops as Grams picked up her needles. Out of the corner of his eye, Toby noticed her ankle as she bent down towards the basket for her yarn.
            “So… Grams… how is your ankle?
            “Oh it hurts a little but not much dear. Really, it’s nothing. I’ve just been having a little trouble walking since I sprained it but it’s just a sprain. It’s really nothing to worry about dear. Have you met any girls up in Boston?”
            “Um… well… I have met someone.”
            “Oh really? How nice. Is she pretty?”
            “Hmmm… well…yeah,” Toby blushed as he continued to stare down at his flip flops. “Um… Grams…”
            “Yes Toby?”
            “There’s…something I have to tell you.”
            “What is it dear? You can tell me anything.”
            “Well… I don’t know how to say this but… I’m gay Grams… and … Rich and I are dating.”
There was a long pause as Grams let out a deep sigh. “Yeah, I kind of figured as much.”
            “What? You mean you already knew?”
            “I didn’t know you and Rich were together but from the way you talked about him these past few months on the phone, I kind of expected it. That’s why I invited him to spend the summer with us. As for you being gay… I’ve known that for years Toby.”
            “What… I mean how did you know? … For how long?”
Grams put aside her needle work and looked Toby directly in his eyes. “Toby. I’ve known you were gay since you were 5 when I found you playing with your mother’s barbies up in the attic. I never brought it up to you because I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable and I wanted you to tell me on your own in your own time. I never cared that you were gay, Toby. I’ve always loved you and I always will no matter what. I just want you to be happy and safe.”
            Toby smiled. It was the first real smile he had worn all day. “So… if you always knew… why did you always ask me about girls and go on about living to see your great-grand kids?”
            Grams let out a hard laugh. “Oh, my poor boy, I’m sorry about that. You know how forgetful I can be sometimes. I never saw you as my gay grandson. You have always just been my grandson and that will never change. Ever!”
            As Toby got up to give Grams a hug with tears in his eyes, she whispered to him. “So… do you love each other? Are you happy?”
            “Yes, Grams. More than I have ever been.”
            “Good. Then that’s all that matters then, isn’t it?”
As Toby looked past his grandmother, he spotted Rich through the screen door, smiling at them from inside. “Yes Grams… it’s all that matters.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carry On Dancing.

For those of you who are fans of Slam Poetry, below is the poem I read at my first Slam Poetry event at a coffee house in Providence, RI, on November 11'th, 2008. While it has been awhile since my schedule has allowed me to return to the mic, I am hoping that it will be soon that I can again enjoy the zen like experience of sipping coffee, listening to other poets, and feeling very much like a beatnik. Enjoy ~ DBCII

Carry on Dancing.

I am a dancer
I twirl around this way and that
I am a dancer
A ruthless dancer
Relentless in my endeavors
Restless in my desire.

I am a dancer
A cosmic dancer
Whirling about here and there,
My spirit yearning,
My passions burning
I never stop.

I am a dancer
An exhausted dancer
Fragile emotions
Deep, intense emotions
Striving for the ideal,
An impossible perfection.

Below a series of gears
Want to stop, can't stop
The screams below,
The grinding of bones,
Blood lubricating metal,
Won't let me stop.

I am a dancer
A questioning dancer
Who knows my dance?
Who will join my dance?
Who can slow down my dance?
Where is my partner?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An essay on the subject of literary Katherines, part 1

I love stories. I've learned most of what I know of the world from books, and most of that from fiction. My behavior is still influenced by Little Women, my self-righteous flair comes from Ayn Rand, my sense of wonder from Neil Gaiman. Stories change people.

There is one character influencing my actions that I have a particular interest in right now. Her name is Katherine, too. She could not be called kind, but she is fair. She is intelligent and willful. She struggles against a fiery temper. Some say she is cold. Those people don't understand. Generally, she really needs to get laid. Pick one - any Katherine, Kate, Katrina or Cathy you wish. She will fit the description. I'll call her a trope. She won't like that - she prefers "demi-archetype" - but I don't think we know enough to say that.

As usual, Shakespeare gives the best example, in "Taming of the Shrew." Kate exhibits every Katherinesque quality possible. Her temper is unchecked, she verbally spars with the only other character whose intellect is worth ten cents, and her will is stronger than yours. For most of her life, no man is good enough, challenging enough, interesting enough. When she finds him, she stops being such a frigid bitch. "Taming of the Shrew" is the basic Katherine story. For years, I thought that is where it started, all these similar girls named Katherine in my stories. Stern librarians, horrible school principals, any number of spinsters, all named Katherine - this is Shakespeare's fault.

The bard and I, we were not on good terms. It isn't nice to call someone a bitch before they're even born.

Recently, I've begun to look further into the phenomenon...and I have decided that I am placing the blame on the wrong shoulders. I should have realized sooner. Shakespeare is not wonderful for writing new stories, he is wonderful for taking existing stories and characters and making them his own, giving them new life and depth. The difference between the Saxo Grammaticus Amelth and Shakespeare's Hamlet makes all the difference in the world. Shakespeare did not create Katherine, he gave her an Elizabethan overhall.

End of part 1

Part 2 to follow, if I find there will be enough interest. For a full, down and dirty, unrevised view of my research and the process, you can visit my blog.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Alive and Free.

This is a fictional short story I wrote back when I was dating a writer who was experiencing writers block. As I tried to help by offering ideas, this story just came to me and I felt compelled to write it down. Though it is a work of fiction, it's message is one that everyone can learn from. ~ DBCII

Alive and Free.

The taste of his blood filled my mouth as I closed my eyes away from the sight before me. His scream was a howl from the deep depths of his lungs, which caused my eyes to snap open. It was real. This was really happening. There was no going back from here. It was either fight, or die.

The night was young at the local club and so was most of the crowd. Within the desolate, back alley of the city, dozens waited in line to drink, dance, and possibly find a savoir from the night's lonely chill. The music pulsed against the walls and the floor seemed to move in the rhythm of the dancing that was taking place. I had just finished my first year in college and was celebrating my academic success alone.
The club was dank, but colored lights reflecting from the mirror ball above lit the dance floor in a mind altering fashion. The sporadic movements of the dancers blended together losing all form and shape. I shouldn't have been alone. I should have gone with friends. But I needed to escape. My prerogative for the night was not to socialize with those who either envied me or belittled me. Instead, I sought to drift into the sea of dancers. The adrenaline pumped through my veins and as I whirled around, I closed my eyes and stretched my arms skyward. I was lost within the melodies blasting from the speakers above and my hands caressed my body as if they were the hands of my past lovers.
Despite my desire to fade into the crowd, the spot light seemed to shine on me as I looked up towards the rafters. All along the banister of the floor above were the wall flowers who watched with sneers of lust for a taste of the sweetness that had gathered below to dance. I smiled up at the onlookers, moved my hand to my backside and winked. It was my way of saying, "look all you want, but you'll never have me." I had had my full of meaningless hookups with such men and their endless games tired me. Like I said, my prerogative that night was not to socialize. However, the hooting from the lechers above egged on my little provocative display as I bent down to reveal the nylon thong I had worn underneath my tight jeans. I felt their eyes burning into my backside, their desire to experience the pleasures of physical intimacy intoxicated me as I raised my head to look back at them.
Almost in unison, the expressions on their faces slowly faded from excitement to a look of loss. Before I could ponder why, strong hands grasped my hips and moved my legs close to another pair. I looked forward and saw that I was being held by the hands of an adonis. He was a hulking man of pure muscle and strength, with dark eyes that held a penetrating stare. As we danced, his hands explored my back side causing electric currents to explode beneath my skin. His lips held a slight smile as his eyes burned into me. His short, black hair was silky to the touch as he ground his body into mine. He cocked his head forward and forcefully kissed my lips. I was immediately drunk on the strong smell of his cologne and the taste of beer that was on his tongue.
Continuing to kiss me with his hands held firmly at my waist, he led me to the back alley outside the club. Once there, the only noise that could be heard was our heavy breathing and the muffled sound of the music playing inside. His hands explored beneath my shirt as he moved his lips to my ear where he softly whispered, "What's your name?" Breathlessly, I replied with a soft, "James. And yours?"
"Caleb" he grunted as he moved his lips to my neck where he began to suck feverishly.
And that was the night we met. Maybe if I had gone with friends, he wouldn't have approached me. Maybe if I hadn't been alone, his power wouldn't have been able to consume me so. But it did. There was something exotic about him, something unfamiliar and yet exciting which led me to go home with him. I was bewitched.

Caleb was a gymnast who made his living as a professional, personal trainer. With his physique, and expertise, people paid big bucks to train with him. At least, this was the reason they gave him. He was the perfect image of masculinity that could ever be fathomed by the human mind. He bragged to the people that he met that he could lift the back end of a car without any strain, of which no one ever doubted. I was entranced. I had had many attractive boy friends and fuck buddies in my past, but how anyone as beautiful as Caleb could ever be attracted to me was beyond my comprehension.
He insisted that I move out of my parents' house to live with him, an idea that my conservative parents disapproved of.
"Its not that we don't like him and that we're not happy for you," they explained, "it's just that you only met him a month ago and you don't need any distractions while you're continuing your schooling." I didn't know which was worse, their disapproval or their poor vocabulary.
As an English major at the local university, I was slowly becoming much more aware of the improper use of language that's common among the people I encountered. The words that would flow from Caleb's lips as his stare would penetrate my soul moved me both figuratively and literally.
"They can't expect you to live at home forever. You're not a little boy anymore, James. You're an ambitious young man now who can make your own decisions. Just think, wouldn't it be great to fall asleep in each others arms every night and wake in the morning to the other's embrace?" With that said, my mind was made up. I was moving in with Caleb.

Things were wonderful at first. Caleb had recently bought out a local gym that had an enormous apartment above it. He even paid me to write his advertisement slogans for him. While he spent his days working with various people in the gym, I spent my days writing. One night, two weeks after I had moved in, I was vigorously writing to a local newspaper about the new ownership of the gym when I felt strong hands on my shoulders.
"That should have been done hours ago," Caleb murmured, "why isn't it done now?"
 I sighed out of exhaustion for I had been working on the article all day. Before I could speak, however, I was immediately spun around in my chair to face Caleb.
"Don't fucking laugh at me," he growled as he smacked my face, "I asked you a question!"
I was stunned, shocked, and confused. I didn't understand his anger and could smell the scent of beer on his breath.
"Well?" He barked as he grabbed my wrists to hold my hands away from my face. "Why isn't it done? Why isn't dinner made? You know I needed that sent out today and that I get hungry after work. What the hell is wrong with you?"
I should have remained silent, or at best apologized, but I was so full of anger and confusion.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I yelled back and before I could continue, Caleb picked me up by my waist and threw me into the computer desk.
My head smashed the liquid crystal screen and sharp pain jolted within my entire body.
"Who do you think you are talking back to me? I'll rip your fucking tongue out and shove it down your throat, you little piss-ant."
I tried to move, I tried to run, but I wasn't fast enough. Before I knew it, Caleb slammed his fist into the side of my skull and all had gone black.

I awakened to the bright sunlight which burned my eyes the second they opened. My entire body was in pain and my head felt as if it had been hit by a sledge hammer. Slowly, and carefully, I opened my eyes so that I could adjust to the brightness of the room. It must have only taken a few moments, but it seemed as though hours had passed before I could see everything clearly. I was in the bedroom of the apartment. The clock on the end table digitally displayed a red 8:32 am. As I slowly moved my head from side to side, I noticed the tightness around my mouth.
When I looked at my reflection in the mirror across the room, I was horrified. I was completely naked with a gag tied around my mouth; my arms and legs were tied to the posts of the bed with hand cuffs that were locked so tight around my limbs that they were cutting into my skin. Bite marks and bruises covered my body along side the remnants of dried blood. Candle wax had been poured onto my chest and was cracking at my movements which caused me to produce a muffled cry of agony as the handcuffs dug deeper into my appendages. The foreskin on my penis was swelled and full of pain leading me to believe that he had been biting me there too. My lower extremities were covered in semen and what smelt of urine and my anus was wet too and burned like fire.
"I have to get out of here," I thought, "he's crazy. I have to get out of here. What has he done to me? Why did he do this?" It was at this point that I noticed that the hand cuff holding my left foot was not cutting into me. Puzzled, I gently wiggled my left foot around and the hand cuff slowly slid off. As I had been doing this, the hand cuff holding my right foot slid off of me as well, slicing into what appeared to be a wound that was in the process of healing. Another muffled cry escaped my lips as I let my feet drop to the bed.
After the pain had subsided, I realized why my anus was sore and dripping wet. He had released my feet from the hand cuffs so that he could fuck me on my back and had been too disorientated to actually lock the cuffs when he tried to re-cuff my feet afterwards. "If only it had been my hands," I thought, "then I could un-cuff my feet and go. How am I going to get out of this?"
I was full of anger and fear and began to kick the bed with the heals of my feet, causing the bed to groan. My captured state frustrated me even more so and I insanely began to kick and scream like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. Creak. I stopped. Puzzled, I kicked the bed with my heals again. Creak. At first, I was afraid Caleb had come home early to check up on me, but then I realized that the sound was coming from the bed. It was then that I remembered that the bed was made of wood; it hadn't been a very expensive bed and the pieces of the frame fit in together like lincoln logs. "If I push my feet against the bottom of the foot board," I plotted, "I can push it out of its post and with enough force, push the bed apart."
I brought my knees to my chest and in one swift blow slammed my feet against the foot board. There was a huge crack and then it seemed as though the room came tumbling down. The head board slammed against the wall and the restraints on my wrists were pulled with a tremendous amount of pressure. Tears fell from my eyes as I screamed out in muffled agony. Then the blood began to flow from my wrists and I was sure I was going to die. "Quickly," I thought, "I have to move quickly before I bleed to death, before the racket of the bed falling apart causes Caleb to come back upstairs." I used my feet to help prop the rest of my body back towards the wall. Slowly, I raised myself up to stand on top of the mattress and the hand cuffs slid off of the top ends of the bed posts. The first thing I did was untie the gag that had been wrapped around my mouth.
Before I could make another move, I was pulled back down onto the bed with Caleb on top of me. I hadn't heard his footsteps coming up the stairs and he had moved silently through the apartment.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he yelled as he slammed my shoulders into the mattress. I struggled to push him off of me and was met with a punch to my stomach. I howled out in agony and did the only thing I could do, I sunk my teeth into his shoulder. The taste of his blood filled my mouth as I closed my eyes away from the sight before me. His scream was a howl from the deep depths of his lungs, which caused my eyes to snap open. It was real. This was really happening. There was no going back from here. It was either fight, or die.
The hand cuffs were still attached to my wrists and so I frantically swung my arms around, hitting him repeatedly in the head until he collapsed on top of me. All I could hear was the sound of my heavy breathing, my lungs gasping for air. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I realized I was ok. I was immediately filled with the hope that I was going to make it out alive. That is, if I could manage to roll him off of me and flee before he came to.
With all the pain I was in, and the weight of Caleb's muscles, it was a miracle that I was able to roll him off of me. Once I did, I stood up and looked down. He wasn't moving and the back of his head looked grotesque. It was covered in blood, hair, and what appeared to be a piece of bone sticking out of the flesh. I didn't care whether or not I had killed him or just merely knocked him out. So long as I got out of there before he came to, I was safe.
Quickly, I ran to the bath room to get some bandages for my wrists. Though the encounter with Caleb had seemed like an eternity, it must have only been a few minutes because my wrists were still bleeding fast and I was still conscious. With silent tears rolling down my cheeks, I managed to wrap the bandages around the handcuffs that were still attached to my wrists. Once the bandages were in place, I reached for clothes out of the hamper, listening to make sure that Caleb wasn't getting up. After I was dressed and I was sure that Caleb was still unconscious, I bolted for the front door. I limped in pain down the stairs and out the back of the building towards the outside, where I was greeted by the sun and the fresh air. Though the sight before me filled me with a sense of well being, I continued to run limply. As I ran, my lungs burned from the deep breaths within my chest. It wasn't until the apartment was out of sight that I had begun to whisper to myself repeatedly, "I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm free! I'm alive! I'm alive!"