Ravens’ Cry: Sanctuary or Asylum

The spotted Snowy Owl soared across the sky on her clipped wings.  Her  feathers were the same shade of white as coconut ice cream covered with large, gooey drops of chocolate syrup.  Once she landed on a branch, she would not stop jerking her head to and fro, as though she were being watched.  As she flew again from one tree to another, the observers on the boardwalk below oooo-ed and aahhh-ed.

As she watched the door, her long, thin knitting needles clicked rapidly.  She could never have spoken of, could never have confessed, barely could even think about her anxieties, her nightmares, her delusions, for thinking more thoroughly would mean admitting to herself that she had anxieties, nightmares or delusions.  So, she watched the door in silence, and as her tremulations grew stronger, ever more turbulent, she could only knit faster, expressing by so doing her growing trepidation and detachment from reality.  Her needles were by now practically a blur.

The portly and overbearing man hoped no one was watching as he pulled down his pants and sat on the toilette to urinate.

“I now call to order this session of the Women with Mustaches League,” said a thin faced woman with a thick patch of hair on her upper lip.  “First on the agenda, Announcements.  I have spoken with the owners of the building, and regret to inform you that our meeting room is now designated as a smoke-free area.  So we will all have to extinguish our cigarettes or take them outside.”
“Shit,” said another woman, with an untamable growth blooming from her nostrils.  She snubbed out her cigarette in-between her fingers.
“Any more announcements?”  the thin faced woman asked.  “Then let us move on.  We will now recite our club mantra for the benefit of all new comers to the meeting today.”  The ladies then rose and began to chant in unison:
“We, the members of the Women with Mustaches League, do hereby swear to honor the true nature of our body hair, swear to ignore the stares and comments of those who would judge us for this indelible right, and swear not to shave, pluck, trim or otherwise alter our upper lips.  To do so is an act of cowardice and a concession to the male-born constructions of physical beauty, and would bring shame upon our Goddess-graced organization.  Amen.”

“I told you,” Telegraph Tommy reiterated, “I can communicate with my mind.  You can hear my thoughts, right now, without me speaking.”
“Tommy, listen,” Melissa said sternly into her cell phone, with only a hint of exasperation.  “I can’t hear you think, you have to tell me aloud.”
“You’re not trying hard enough.  Try again.”
“Tommy– you’ve been drinking,” anxiety was creeping into her voice faster now.  “Just tell me where you are, please.”
“I don’t know.  I don’t know where I am.  But I have a gun.  A shotgun.”
“Oh… Christ–”
“I told,” he cut her off, “all of you, this is how I would do it.”
“No, Tommy, I am serious.  You have to tell me where you are.”
“I’m holding it to my head.  I don’t know if it works or not, though.  I told all of you–”
“Put the gun down Tommy, you don’t want to do this.”
“I told all of you this is how I’d do it.  Whiskey in one hand, shotgun in the other.”
“Oh Christ, Tommy, don’t do this.  Don’t do this to us.”
“The bottle is empty now.  Whoops, there it goes, I smashed it against the tree.  I’m in the woods, somewhere.  But I don’t know where.”
“The woods?  Where did you leave your car?  If you can tell me where your car is we can find you.  You’ll be alright.”
“Dammit, I was gonna shoot the barrel– no, the bottle.  I was gonna shoot the empty bottle.  Then I’d know if my gun works.  Then I’d know if… oh well–”
“Put the gun down!  NOW!”
An explosion rang across the woods and through the telephone.
“Tommy?  TOMMY?”

As she pulled into the driveway, she felt as though her insides were spread out across the car seat, that she had to gather them together before she went inside to talk to him.  She sat in the driveway for a long second, then with one motion pulled the handbrake, killed the ignition and opened the car door.  The walk up the lawn lasted about a  thousand years.  She rang the bell, and instantly the door opened.
“Hey, kidoo.”  There he was, as tall as she remembered, with the same smug, toothy grin.
“Don’t call me that.”
“Oh come now, you don’t have a friendly word for your old man?  Not even a smile?  Haven’t seen you fer six years.”
“We both know the reason for that.  I’m only here now because–”
“Yer still mad.”  He was pretending dejection now, aloof in his drunkenness.  “I hoped you learned a little forgiveness while you’ gone.”
“Forgiveness?  After what you did, you stand there and talk about forgi… never mind.  It’s obvious that you haven’t changed.  But I knew that already, you’ll never change.  I only came here to–”
“Come on in, have a drink.  We can catch up.”
“I’ve been sober for 3 months.”  But he had already grabbed her wrist and was pulling her inside.  The door closed behind her, and she sat down in her little chair by the kitchen table.  He poured two glasses of vodka from an almost empty bottle.  She left hers untouched and began to slowly speak.
“Your right, I’ve been gone six years.  At least you remember that much.  I’ve spent that time fighting what you’ve made me into.  I’ve been in and out of rehab and locked units; I’ve relapsed again and again, I’ve attempted my own life.  At first I failed at everything: jobs, relationships, therapy, even suicide…  But, now I’m sober and I’ve met a man who loves me.  I’m going to be married.”
“Aw, that’s swell.  And you came to ask me to give you aw–”
“THAT’S,” she screamed, “NOT why I’m here.”
“Now, hey now, don’t let a few bad memories from a lifetime ago ruin what we are.  I’m your father… I’ll always love you.”
“I hate you.  If you were dead, I would thank God.”
“Agh, you stuck-up, ungrateful–  hussy.  Why–” he lifted his arm and swung the back of his hand at her, but she knew this was coming and sprung backwards easily–knocking over the chair– out of his reach.
“NOT, anymore.  You cannot treat me like that anymore.  I will not allow you.  I am strong, and I will not allow you.”  But her eyes were welling with hateful tears.
“How you turned out this way, I’ll never know.”
“YOU!”  she screamed.  “YOU made me this way!”  The tears were now flowing down her face.  “YOU…”

The man’s feet slid on the wet cobble stones as he sprinted around a street corner to the left.  To catch himself, he dropped his hand to the ground and stopped himself from falling flat.  Then he began to run once again, down the street perpendicular to the one he had left behind.
The sound of his footsteps pounding had almost faded when another man– of thick bulk and frame– ran up to the same corner.  He looked in all directions, then listened, then followed the first man down the leftward way.  This second man’s name was Hugo, and it was his job to collect debts from those who owed them.  He had a knack for ferreting out from their hiding places debtors gone underground, so earning the nickname the Evictor.  Hugo the Evictor was catching up.
The first man had ceased his flight.  He stood in the middle of an open square, catching his breath, wondering if he had lost his pursuer and looking in all directions at once.  As Hugo came to the square, the other man had turned to stare down a different street, so Hugo stepped into the shadow of a doorframe and out of sight.  The debtor evidently thought the chase was over, for he was no longer shifting his gaze twice a second.  It was not until then that Hugo shoved his leg off the door into a dead run.  He was halfway across the square before the other man looked his way.  The man stayed frozen to that spot for two and a half seconds, before he too began to run, cater-corner to Hugo, toward the dark church looming along the side of the open square.  As he ran up the steps and through the only door– mere yards from Hugo’s outstretched arm– he cried aloud, weeping in overwhelming terror– “Sanctuary, SANCTUARY…”
Hugo the Evictor sat down on a bench in front of the church door, legs neatly folded under him.

“Now I know the gun works.”  She thought she heard him chuckle.
“TOMMY, YOU BASTARD.  You Scared me.  I thought you had…I thought…”
“You should be scared, Melissa,” Telegraph Tommy replied.  “No matter what you say, I know you can hear what I’m thinking.  Now I know the gun works.  Now you know I’m gonna do it.  I’m really gonna do it, now–”
“Listen to me!  If you so much as pretend to point that gun at your own self, well, you’ll regret it, be sure of that.  We love you, Tommy.  Think of the pain you would cause, not just me and your friends, but your family, the people you work with.  Think of how much we’ll miss you.
“It’s because of you that I’m out here.  You said you didn’t love me.”
“Tommy,” Melissa’s sigh was bolstered by exhaustion and pity.  “I’m in a relationship, with someone else, with another man.  If we had met at another time, if I was single, untied, then sure, maybe I’d be able to give you what you want, what you need.  But… if you want to be loved, you have to give yourself a chance.  You have to give someone else a chance to love you, too.  Love takes time, it needs to grow.  You can’t expect every girl you meet to drop her entire life and instantly fall in love with you.  Don’t you see that?”
Another shot rang out across the forest.

“Shuh,” her father spat, staring at her across the table.  “I never gave you nothin’ you did’in ask for.  With your sad, wild, little eyes and your mouth all scrunched up, just enough to make a man crazy.  Nothin’ you did’in ask for.”
She could not believe her ears.  “No.”
“You wanted it more,” he continued, “than I did.  Or else you wouldn’t a-worn your skirt so short a man can’t imagine a thing else.  And all that make-up all the time.  Women don’t dress like that ‘less they want something only a man can give ‘um, and I was only man would give it to you.”
“No, no, NO,” her sobs were uncontrollable now, as she threw her arms over her head.
“You tramp.  You cheap hussy.  Rape you? You was askin’ to be raped.”
Her head was in between her arms where she stood, when he sauntered toward her.  She realized, how much a mistake coming here had been.  He grabbed her and tore at her dress, pinning her to the floor, once again.

“TOMMY? HELLO! HELLO?” Melissa screamed, “Tommy if this is another joke, I’m gonna…” then, without knowing why, she began to whisper, “hello?… hello?!?… tommy?”

 

 

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