The day was October, the fifth. The air was crisp and cool. A slight chill sat uncomfortably on the wind, snaking its way around my neck and ears. The windows of the houses were dressed in cotton weave cobwebs and witches hats, while plastic spiders crawled over the sashes. The yards were filled with rows of Styrofoam tombstones, pocked with scenes of the plastic Undead pushing their way out of the moist earth. The projected holograms of ragged fingers pulled themselves up and out of the pretend markers, stumbling toward the tiny egg-shaped devices that birthed them anew every forty-five seconds.
My pocket buzzed, excitedly against my thigh as the device jumped to life. “Hello?” I said, speaking into the microphone. “Sure…Yeah, come through later tonight.” I replied. “How much do you need?” I paused and waited for the response. “Yeah, just come by later tonight. No worries, you can pay me back later.” Disconnecting from the call, “Cool… Okay….Later.” I dropped the phone back into my pocket. I was feeling pretty happy with myself that a friend thought to ask me for help. He and I were like Luke and Han Solo. If I had it, it was his and vice versa. Besides, I had the money and it wasn’t gonna cost me anything to help him out.
The air had an earthy smell to it following last night’s rain. Fallen leaves, partially covered the sidewalk racing along the edges of the lawns. The orange and brown of the flat and moist, leafy structures were imprinted with dark spots; dark spots that were slowly consuming what good, what energy yet remained within the fiber.
I was reminded of the days I spent alone as a teenager, with only the company of werewolves and vampires, come to life from among the rows of books inside the neighborhood library. At the time, I was a dealing with new emotions, new feelings, driven by hormones to want to fit in-pick my place among teenage society-but lacking the tools to do so. Flipping the pages, I read about the allure of vampires and werewolves. Desirable creatures that had transformed from what were weak, unsure, and troubled individuals into uncomplicated, confident, and self aware creations. New creations that possessed burning eyes that knew only of the pursuits of their desire.
Nearly tripping and falling, as my right foot caught on a rise in the sidewalk, I regained my balance. Once again my ears were reacquainted with the metronome of my own footsteps.
I pulled up on the collar of my jacket, to push away the chill, when I heard the sounds of crows traveling on the wind. I could barely see them in the distance, a menacing inkblot, splattered across the face of the morning sky, slowly coming into view.
The black feathers flitted, gleaming and smooth. I watched as the girl turned to look over her shoulder, a moment too late, as the murder of crows descended upon her. Their heads bobbed on necks, wreathed by black chain mail, while they cawed and pecked.
Falling to the ground, she threw up her arms to shield herself from their ferocity. The feral attacks coalesced into a mass of wildly thrashing feathers, fists, and kicks, pushing at the edges of the angry mob surrounding her.
I could hear the girl’s screams erupt from the mass. She cried for help while they picked and tore at her flesh. Their black eyed grins slowly gathered delight.
I watched carefully from the corners of my eyes, as to not draw attention, my stride went unbroken. Each step driven by the brutal sounds of crashing fist and foot.
The birds temporarily paused in a fit of exhaustion. Placing their privileged hands on their necks and arms, they rubbed and kneaded the cultivated hatred, while standing in the sweat of their efforts. “Hide this shit!” I heard one of them say as they looked down on the girl laying on the sidewalk.
Looking around at one another, one by one, they began to grin, swelling with pride. They flapped their wings in the morning air, spreading out their feathers, black and regal, as the sweat tracked an undulating line of light down the bow of their arms. The black feathers they shown were the envy of pedestal, admired beauty – full and dark as they trapped the sun’s rays.
“I’ma teach her a lesson.” Said one of the crows.
“It ain’t a she, dammit!” Replied another. The girl’s breathing had become shallow. Her arms were covered by bloody patches of torn skin and uprooted blue and white feathers. The angry, red and jagged wounds, moist with mucous and blood, traveled in a mosaic pattern along her body.
The provocation of this crime committed against her was disclosed, while she lay naked in a ring of her torn feathers. “It’s a he, she-thing or other. It’s got boobs and a penis, so it ain’t a she!” Yelled the de facto leader.
I quickly looked away, but not before locking eyes with him. “Hey you!” He shouted through his squared and chiseled jaw. “Come and get some. This ladybird is begging for it.”
A shrill scream erupted from somewhere deep within the girl, as one of the crows renewed the assault, ripping into her side. Her scream struck me like a lightning bolt. I recomposed myself before replying. “Nah, you guys look like you have it under control.”
Another crow hammered into her soft flesh, causing her to curl up. “Ha! Yeah. We got this under control.” The lead crow sneered.
He picked up her head while it hung limply, securing it between his hands. The two of them, victim and assailant, resembled a grotesque reenactment of lovers looking into one another’s eyes for reassurance of mutual love and trust; items swapped with hatred and inhumanity.
Her body lay still, appearing, near lifeless. I would’ve believed her to be dead, if not for the visible evidence of her shallow breathing.
The lead crow opened her mouth and closed it repeatedly, in a mocking way. “Hey, fellas! Can’t you all give a girl a break? I’m tired.”
Her eyes popped open. She appeared to be staring straight at me or rather straight through me. I felt a tsunami of utter shame run hot fingers up my back and over my head. “I’ll give you a break, lil’ macaw.” Said a crow in reply. With a greasy grin, he unzipped his pants. Her attention and gaze went unbroken. Her fight relaxed. I thought to myself, Do something! Do something now!
I ping-ponged back and forth through a range of emotions before ultimately settling on the sentiment of self preservation. I thought to myself, why get killed in the process as well …or worse yet, they find out what I was. They’d do a lot worse to me, if they knew I wasn’t what I seemed to be. I convinced myself they wouldn’t kill her – in the face of all of the evidence to the contrary. My self deception had no boundaries, no borders, no shape it found too uncomfortable, no form too disgusting to become.
Throughout my deliberation, my feet hadn’t once slowed their pace, let alone gotten anywhere near close to stopping. In fact, I believe I may have been moving a bit faster. Keep it moving, dummy, I said to myself. Looking away, I cast my eyes downward and headed to work.
I hurriedly walked toward the office building, attempting to put as much distance between myself and the event as I could.
“Good Morning, Susan.” I said to the receptionist as I made my way across the lobby floor. “Good Morning!” She replied.
Arriving at my desk, I arranged my tablet, pens, and laptop in a neat and tidy row. They weren’t out of place, but I felt the compulsion to be certain of their organization.
A few minutes later, Karen poked her head into my cubicle as I attempted to settle myself by making my way through the analgesic of the familiar and routine. “Hey Kyle, how was your weekend.”
I struggled for a second to pull together the scattered memories, from the previous forty-eight hours, before answering. “Nothing out of the ordinary. It was a pretty slow and low key weekend. How was yours?” I replied.
“It was good! I went back to visit my parents over the weekend…” As Karen continued to talk my mind drifted, wandering back to the girl. That moment had imprinted itself upon my memory. It was a traumatic wound wreaking of infection, soaked in my own cowardice, that was threatening to poison my sense of self. It nagged and nagged as it chipped away at my closely held notion that I was one of the good guys.
I hopped back into the insignificance of the conversation with Karen in order to push the trauma to the back of my mind. I sat still and said, quietly, to myself, I know who I am. I know who I am. I’m the Samaritan who got away to breath air another day.
(c) Copyright 2017
Post Date: 11/26/2017