Open Windows-Chapters Twelve and Thirteen
 

Chapter Twelve

A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.

Baltasar Gracian


Three days later I had drank less than one half of a water skin, and felt I was no closer to the mountains I was trying to reach than I had been since I started off, I felt as if the mountains were somehow moving back as I approached them, the space between us mocking my efforts.

I looked back the other way and the oasis was too far to walk back to and I saw no reason for that anyway, so I kept on, feeling all the time as if the mountains were still receding even as I approached. Maybe they just seemed be farther, a trick of the mind, another illusion to make me turn away in frustration and defeat, but I wasn‘t ready to give in yet, I still had plenty of water and since this day was not as hot as the others I hadn’t notice when that started but was grateful for it just the same.

There was even a light breeze that felt as if it came off the ocean, but the ocean had to be too far away, I thought. I have always loved the beach, the sounds of the waves, the peaceful tranquility of everything there, the sparkling water, glittering enough to entice you to enter the depths of it’s secrets.

I was brought out of my thoughts when again had the feeling of being watched, even out here where I could see for miles in any direction, I turned and looked and there was no one. No birds. No animals and nothing stirred but that light breeze. But when I listened closely to the wind, I could hear a child’s laughter. I hoped it was a child anyway.

It was feint, but if I held my breath and concentrated, I could tell it was there. It sounded both hopeful and malevolent, as if it hadn’t made up its mind yet which it wanted or needed to be.

I had the impression that though it was a child’s laughter, when it became malicious it was able to in a flash, with no hesitation or thought of anything less, that the violence that laughter held was something to be feared.

I sat down in the shade of some rocks to think. Maybe because of the laugh or maybe it was from feeling I was being watched, I knew I couldn’t stay there long but I needed a smoke and some thinking so I lit up and began to focus on my breathing. I began slowing my breath down each time I inhaled; I began to hear my heart beat slow as I went.

After a few moments of that, the smoke stood in my face and went in and out as I took each breath, seemingly on it’s own now. It seemed as though the smoke would have been able to stand against the wind if it came and tried to sweep it away, it held fast near my face.

I began to feel myself slipping. I don’t know how else to explain it, as this was new to me as was everything in my life at this point. I was soon standing over myself and looking down, I could see myself sitting there on that rock, my shadow going from left to right.

I cast no shadow as myself standing up there above it all, but I could see my body below or it might have been too scary for even me.

I started to really look around me now. As Roger Daltry sang once, “I could see for miles and miles” now.

My gaze swept from the mountains ahead of me and around to the other side of them.

I could see there was an ocean there after all, about ten miles or so as the crow flies. How does a crow fly? I thought. I don‘t know how but I thought it meant he doesn‘t turn at main street or stop at the roadside eatery for a break unless someone is throwing bread crumbs to feed the birds there. Thinking of that scared me again because it made no sense and came from no where.

I thought about that question, “If a tree falls in the forest?” and knew now that if a wave flows in the ocean and there’s nobody there, it still does make a sound.

If you have ever body surfed in your life, you’d know that sound. You can stand on the shore, or wade in the water, or even swim in the ocean, but unless you bodysurfed, you could never know that sound, the way the waves rushed over you and at their whim they might carry you fast over the sand and cast you onto the beach when they are done with you, or gently decide to let you swim to shore.

The hollow sound of the waves washing over you, forming a tunnel around your body as it carried you along, the roar of the water as it washed over you, it became surreal, as if you could see things around you more clearly, sometimes they even seemed to slow down, though if you didn’t pay attention it would slam you into the sand quick as a heartbeat.

I loved feeling of catching that wave and feeling it carry me along, as if you were weightless and it was trying to shake me off its back before the end.

I shook off that feeling and turned the way I had come, thinking that was where someone might come from if anyone was looking for me.

I saw as far as back to the oasis and there was no one there. One animal had fallen prey to another but I was beyond trying to figure out what they were at this point. “The cycle of life is reinforcing its laws,” I thought out loud.

I felt as though I couldn’t leave that area though, and watched as the “bird” took a large chunk out of its catch, tearing into it and pulling its prize away to eat, there seemed to be blood everywhere and it colored the feathers of the bird-thing.

Then I found there was another set of footprints here. I tried really hard to blend mine in, so no one could say for sure I went this way or that, but there was another set that DID seem to know, and they had stopped there and filled their water bags after I had left. There was a small circle of stones and burnt wood there now too, and I remembered that I had scattered mine when I left.

But as I followed the footsteps, they suddenly stopped. No one stood there, and the foot prints trailed off to nothing. I turned from there and looked all around and couldn’t see anything more from there. Nothing stirred in this desert today.

But suddenly there it was, I could see a small cloud of dust being kicked up and headed in my direction. It was as if it had been hiding there, maybe under the soft sand or just behind a dune, and upon realizing I have seen evidence of him there decides to rush forward and press his advantage, though he is too far off at the moment to hurt me.

I was already coming out of my trance when I saw it, so I could not get a clear picture of it, just a vague image of some animal running extremely fast and carrying someone and I was sure it was not Avon calling or Ed McMahon with a check for me.

I began to get my stuff repacked, took another drag and swallowed the roach, out of habit but out of need too, I didn’t want to leave anything to help them.

I started off again, a little quicker, as if I could outrun this animal, but I was gambling that it would not be able to keep that pace in this heat, and I hoped it could not climb because the terrain ahead looked pretty steep and rugged.

As I got going this time, the mountains didn’t move away and I was able to make up a lot of distance in no time. Or maybe they moved with the tide and really were closer now. I turned to look back, but could see nothing, so I decided to keep walking until it got dark.

I stopped to get some firewood first, just for warmth and to hopefully keep any wild animals away while I slept. I didn’t really want to stop, but I knew they were still far off and I didn’t want to walk off a cliff in the dark.

Later, I set a low fire with huge rocks around me to keep it from being seen, I didn‘t want to give my enemy something to set his sights on if he got close enough to see it, it was just enough to keep warm and ward the animals off. I laid out a blanket and didn’t even eat, as soon as I set my head back I was out.

I slept well that night too. This could become a habit if I lived thru it. I slept all that night and half of the next day, hearing Martinez and my father’s voices cursing me for my laziness.

When I woke, I climbed up a tree to see if I could see my pursuer from there, I hoped it was just my imagination before but I found out there was someone back there and still headed this way.

Though he was still far off he had made up some of the distance between us, he seemed to have the same luck as I did, being not much closer than the last time I saw him, and I wondered if he knew the mountains would be moving away from him.

I began to think time was warped in the area, maybe like space travel where you are in a rocket for ten years but when you come back home, it was only ten days and everyone has aged but you.

Or maybe it was like quicksand but in this place instead of dragging you down into the sand it dragged at your mind, bringing it down until you gave up, some trick of the desert and sand.

He was still coming though. I could see that for sure. I felt almost as if he could see me there in that tree. But I could also see that the animal was getting tired, it also seemed to slow down so I covered my tracks and went on.

They way up from there was steep, but not too hard to climb. I slipped once and dropped about twenty feet back, but other than that I made good progress.

I thought that the higher up I got, the farther into the desert I could see, but it was just the opposite. I couldn’t see a thing from there thru the trees. It was as if I was in a huge skyscraper and was trying to see the ground and kept hitting my head on a glass wall when I tried so I stopped trying.

I decided that since I had rested so much, I could go that much farther without having to stop again, but I hadn’t realized how hard I had to scramble up those hills then, and it wore me down a lot quicker than I thought. I kept going anyway, wanting to make up some distance and get to where I thought they were trying really hard now to keep me from going. Thinking of that steeled my will a bit and gave me energy I didn’t know I had.

I wasn’t worried about falling off a cliff tonight because the dancers were back again, and it was almost bright enough to read so I felt safe enough. When I finally reached the top of the first row of the hills I had to climb, I looked behind and down for my followers progress, but could see still see nothing of him.

Either I was wrong all along, or maybe they had given up, or there was the third choice, but I didn’t want to think that he might have made good progress too, and that he might be closer to me than I thought, either way he was now hidden by the same trees that I hoped hid me from him.

When I was a kid, we went to see a movie. Actually in those days, you saw four or five movies for the same price. Lots of “Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolf man” or some of those “Frankenstein vs. the Wolf man” all together. They even had a nurse in the lobby in case anyone got feint if the movie was especially scary.

She was always a fake nurse though, either the manager’s daughter or girlfriend dressed in a short white skirt and blouse and standing next to an empty IV stand.

Once in a while, as a special treat for Halloween, they would bring it “Jeepers Creeper” who was a host of a television show with that name, he had a white rat and a bat with him and he would host those movies, it was fun seeing him there.

The night we saw “Dracula” with Bela Lagosi I didn’t sleep a wink, or most of the next night either. I could sleep in the daylight, because he had to, but at night I was too scared. When I finally did, I pulled the covers all the way to my neck and held them there tightly.

I did the same thing after Boris Karloff was “the Mummy” and when Peter Lorre hid from “the Beast with Five Fingers.” I was doing that tonight, for the first time since then. The blanket tucked into my chin as I tried to sleep. I decided to sit closer to the fire tonight. Feeding it wood as if it was starving and I was its kitchen.

I began to think about other things, remembering that used to help me when things got tough before.

I guess when we get older; we all have flowers and gardens of our own. I began to look at that right then, to think about the good ones in my own garden and maybe get some strength and something to give me hope in this situation.

I remembered a time when I got sick. My world was spinning. I couldn’t focus and wanted so badly to vomit. It was the worst day of my life and the best day too, and I remember very clearly being held close by my best friend.

You guessed it, again a blonde, but she was so much more than that, she had this way of letting me know she cared deeply and she did that without being over bearing or pushy, she was just as she was, the best friend anyone could ever hope to find in their lives, and instead of being repulsed by my retching body, she held a wet cloth to my head and held me till it passed and I slept, rocking me gently. I felt so safe and protected at that moment and so deeply loved.

But as quickly as I saw that memory, another started. There were times when you tried to bring out a good memory, and a bad one followed it, like an anchor or some kind of dead weight.

As if the bad one hooked onto it’s tail and changed a good one to a bad ending, this was one of those times, the fourth one if you will. I was getting that uneasy feeling that I remembered when I was in her garden.

It was some evil that hid there, wanting to be seen and hating the thought of having to touch me as part of its plan.

I found myself reaching the peak of the mountains, and looking at the horizon before me, I knew I had been there before, and dreaded what I knew I would find when I got there. I recognized these foothills ahead of me as the San Gabriel Foothills, beyond them was the stretch of land I had spent most of my life living in. People talk about California and the smog it has, when you pass over those mountains you can see it, a layer of dark brown that just hangs over the land and never seems to leave.

Those that live under it get used to it, or just don’t seem to see it until someone comes from out of state and reminds them it’s there.

From those foothills, depending on where you wanted to go, was Pasadena, a beautiful town that runs the gamut from homeless people living on the street to the very rich, tucked away in homes older than anyone can remember.

Farther South was Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean, and to the west lies Hollywood and all the stars that seem to come out and then try to hide from the people that support them and their way of life. Santa Monica, Zuma, Redondo Beach, all part of the same ocean that lies beyond that.

Going East you find Pomona, the Ontario Airport and roads that will take you all the way to Las Vegas Nevada, or further East and all the way to Florida. This has been my world for so long I can close my eyes and see it, yet this was one time I dreaded what I was going to see, the last thing I wanted to see, yet I knew I could not stop this from happening anyway, it was being presented to me and there was nothing I could do but endure the ride. Not enjoy it, but endure it because I looked further south from where I was and saw it and I knew what was next.

There it was, just as I expected, the beach where Ray and I used to surf. I could see the waves breaking from left to right. There was a three-foot swell and not much of an undertow, and the riptide that sometimes took unwary or just inexperienced swimmers out too far, sometimes drowning them. This was normal for that beach, any day of the summer, and sometimes all the way thru to winter, though during that time you would see more surfers and less swimmers.

I knew without standing in there that the water was about 75 degrees and perfect. I could smell the sand and I knew that there was either some hamburgers from MacDonald’s in a bag there somewhere, or the egg and mayo sandwiches my mother used to make, still warm and ready to eat, or maybe something from the Jack in the Box that was just down the street.

It’s funny how hungry you get from swimming for hours on end. I could see the lifeguard stand empty and cold, like a forgotten sentinel from another time. Every now and then a gust of wind from the south would touch your face. I could hear as a few thousand seagulls picking thru the trash all at once.

I could also see the parking lot with the other hamburger stand that was always closed and the restroom that wasn’t. Inside they had a series of small stalls that held steel toilets with no seats and brick walls that had uneven surfaces to discourage vandals who could now do nothing except throw toilet paper in till they were overflowing.

Outside of there they had the showers where you could wash off the sand and the surf if you didn’t mind the cold water. Ray and I would stand and watch the girls wash off for hours, it was almost better than surfing; remember I said it almost was. When Danny and Mike went with us, Danny never wanted to leave, it was his favorite place on the beach.

Out there on the water was my brother, patiently sitting on his board and looking for a wave. He liked the long board. It was heavy and no one else seemed to be able to ride it as well as he could, though my cousin Danny took a close second.

I tried and fell off all the time. So did two other cousins and a friend of ours from the neighborhood. His name was Rudy, and he was going to drown in the same beach a few years later, a victim of a vicious riptide.

I learned to body surf there, it was our beach, we never told anyone that but it was, we surfed and stayed out there more than anyone else. When the sun went down, we stayed as long as we could, building a huge bonfire and telling stories as the sun went down, hoping it would never end, but of course we knew that it would, it had to, because those days were just too much fun.

There was Ray, sitting on that board and watching the waves come, waiting patiently for the one he wanted to ride to come along, he would know it when he saw it. He would see the one he wanted and start paddling hard. I used to stop and watch him; it was a thing of beauty.

I could see him, catching the wave and then standing up, a huge smile played across his face, though he was intently serious.

Sometimes waving his arms for balance as he stood, he always took control then, and that was always where I would fall off and crash into the water. That was when the wave seemed to be trying it’s best to knock him off balance.

When he felt daring, or cocky, he would make the board move from side to side over the wave, sometimes trailing his hand in the water as he went, or he’d “walk the board” from one end to the other. When it was over, he would jump off the board and throw his fists up in triumph yelling, “I rule” and he really felt that he was.

He picked up his board and walked out of the water. I looked around to see where I was that day and dreaded the answer. I knew then that it was THAT day and I hadn’t gone with him, and I would always regret that.

I had gotten cocky and not studied for a test I was to take in school, I knew the subject too well I thought and didn’t need to study for it and failed an exam that I should have aced and my father grounded me when he found out, stopping any fun and canceling any plans I was going to have that weekend.

So, loving the beach as much as anyone, Ray went alone. I knew what day this was a vision of then and not something going on right now and started to run towards him, the ground seeming to grab my ankles and hold me back, as if it knew I couldn’t change what was, what had happened no matter what or how badly it was going to hurt. Still I charged ahead foolishly and without regard for anything else but my brother.

I shouted at the top of my lungs for him, but he couldn’t hear me either. I thought he did for a minute though, because he looked right at me, even shading his eyes as he did and smiling as he looked in my direction, but he couldn’t see me because of course, I wasn‘t there when he needed me to make him late this last time.

In truth, I was home watching James Bond as “Goldfinger” when my brother Ray died. But on this day, as I saw him before he left this world, Ray was doing his happy little jig he danced when no one else was around, it was kind of graceful and all of silly and it meant he was really happy.

As He stopped and started to towel off, I kept yelling for him, my voice now getting hoarse and fading fast as I cried, “Wait!” Ride one more wave…wait just five more minutes!” My voice was swept away from me by the wind and carried in the other direction, mocking my efforts, but I still held hope.

He even looked longingly back at the waves as they beckoned to him, the water crashing to the shore as if it was daring him to try again, so I thought maybe I was getting thru and he would wait.

But he didn’t listen to me, and not the waves either, because that was not his course for that day, he had other places to be and other people to see, and for that I must have called him every dirty word in the book, cursing him for not hearing me, for going where I could not follow, for not changing what he couldn’t, for leaving me behind, and going thru what was already set in motion.

I begged him to wait till I got there so we could talk, just one more time, so I could hear him laugh and tease me about anything at all, but he never heard me.

I pounded on the ground and cursed my father for not letting me go, then I tried pleading with God or anyone to let him hear me and then cursed them too, and stupidly blaming God for letting this happen to him.

I always made him wait, I always was his excuse for being late. I could have, I should have, but I didn’t and then he was gone. I cursed my father’s name for the thousandth time as I rolled over on my back, choking on my tears as I shook and pounded my fists in rage and frustration.

I closed my eyes and still saw it happen, though I didn’t want to, I closed them tighter and tried to keep it away, I was still trying to change it somehow.

“Please don’t go Ray!” I begged him, whispering my prayer up to the sky, hoping my message would get to heaven and He would intervene, but it was not to be.

He had a car that he was so proud of, he had bought his first car all “on his own bones” as he used to say. It was a ’64 Malibu, a convertible, silver with black leather bucket seats, four on the floor and a 327 under the hood, moon rims and black wall tires and he was set. He told me once while he was washing it for the thousandth time, “All I need is a girl to sit in there with me and it’s perfect!”

I didn’t understand then, but I thought that me in the passenger seat while he drove was perfect enough. But it was a classic and he loved driving it, would wash it ever other day and tuned it every chance he got. I saw him get to the car now, rolling down all the windows except his as he started the engine.

I saw him put his board in the back while he warmed the engine, taking the time to make sure to lock it down solid. He paused to tune in the radio station, which was KRLA, and I could hear Casey Kasem as his soft and deep voice told a background story on Diana Ross and how she made it there, or how they recorded that particular song, and she was my brother’s all time favorite artist.

I watched as he put his towel on the seat to protect the leather before he sat down and then finish his coke.

“Please God…oh PLEASE make him stop!” I begged. “Just five more minutes so he gets home safe! I’ll promise anything!”

But he kept on. He took off the hand brake and put the car in reverse, looking back at me again before he started off and looking right thru me to his destiny.

Then he adjusted the mirror because it always slipped to the right. He drove out of the parking lot when the light changed green, waving to the girl in the booth as he passed, and she smiled and waved back.

“Stop! I begged him”…”please Ray, wait please” I begged him and sobbed into the ground. “Stop and talk to her! She‘s cute and you can take her for a ride, I won‘t complain!”

“Please” I croaked over and over again, my voice cracking and failing me now, even it betrayed me that day.

“I promise anything Lord, just let him live, take me instead!” I pleaded to no avail. “We need him in this family more than they need me!” I tried everything to make this change but of course it wasn’t going to. Not for me not for hell nor high water.

I remember hearing once, “What is God?” and the answer was “He’s the one that when you pray really hard for something you want or feel you need, he’s the one that ignores you!”

I felt that right then, I felt abandoned when I needed Him the most, when I pleaded and meant every word I said and I blamed Him for not listening. As I tried not to watch, on the street below the other driver never saw Ray in front of him. He was stupid drunk, and this was not his first killing this way nor was this his first wrecked car.

He had been tried and found guilty, and then convicted of three other serious accidents, two of which resulted in death, the first was a homeless man who had no one to fight for him after the accident, and one of a small child of ten who had been sitting in her father‘s lap as he tried to teach her how to drive when he ran into their car at over seventy miles an hour. The father lived long enough to heal his body and then went home and shot himself because he couldn’t live with it.

This time, he never saw the light change, though I guess it wouldn’t have mattered to him being so damn drunk and I guess he couldn’t hear me either cause he didn’t look my way at all. He never saw traffic begin to move on one side and stop on his side, the stopped cars obscuring Ray’s view of him as the drunk barreled along at well over seventy miles per hour.

He hit the Malibu right behind where Ray was sitting, what they call a “T bone“ wreck. Had seat belts been the law then, maybe, but that was far off and by the looks of the car afterwards, that wouldn‘t have saved him either. Had he hit Ray farther to the front of the Malibu maybe, or maybe if he had he clipped the rear end and spun around a bit, then most probably he might have had a chance.

But the way he hit Ray and his Malibu was the end of both of them. The frame twisted and though it fought bravely to come back, the impact was too severe and she must have been struck in her weakest point. The window on that side shattered into Ray’s face and splattered the seats around him, leaving a thousand tiny holes in the leather he loved so much.

He was thrown across the front seat quickly as the car began to spin around to the right. The momentum of that spin kept Ray pinned to the right side of the car, though he still held onto the steering wheel with his left hand stretched across while he tried to regain control.

It spun three times around before he got any control of it, the car threatening to flip over then but dropped back “on all fours“ and started to skid again. As he fought to straighten it out, he tried to sit up and was just in time to see a huge pole directly in front before he struck it, the impact so severe that it sent him hurling thru what was left of the windshield and killing him instantly. There was no time to think. No time to pray. No time to say goodbye and thanks for the memories.

His body lay sprawled on the asphalt in a twisted motion, grey matter all over the place mingled with blood and broken glass where he stopped, his eyes open and vapid, staring blankly at the sky, he never felt any pain, which was our only consolation.

I saw all this from my hilltop view even though I closed my eyes and looked away. I saw it thru his eyes and thru the eyes of the drunk who never even slowed down. I saw it all and could do nothing to save my brother I loved so much.

The bastard went home and told the cops his car was stolen, that he had been home all that day, sleeping it off. They knew better because of the other eyewitnesses who had taken down the license number and described him. He was still wearing the same clothes and the car was parked on his lawn, he never made it to the garage.

The officers responding had no doubts that he was the one, the car a smoking a twisted testimonial to that beyond any doubt. Though I never heard anything of him after that, and in truth I didn’t care anymore because Ray was gone and nothing was bringing him back this time, not enough prayers in this world anymore.

He was sent to prison and was shanked when two other prisoner’s were fighting over him, the one that lost said that if he couldn’t have the virgin, no one else would either.

I saw Ray as he died, and cried until I had no tears left in me, then I cried more because I could hear him laughing, I remembered him teasing me, how he loved his short life to the fullest.

Then I remembered a time when he had lived on his own for a while, wanting to be his own man. He had a puppy that he once told me that it looked a lot like me, a German Shepherd mix that he’d found somewhere and taken home.

He said when they told her that she looked like me, he showed her a picture and she began hitting her head on the wall, and then he would laugh.

I cried until I passed out, my body twitching in my sleep. My eyes open as I slept, my hands reaching out for my brother who could no longer be there for me, I would have to find my own way after that without him.

I dreamed he came to me that night. I saw him come out of the ground, walk over to me and smack me on the back of my head for crying.

Then he sat down and lit a cigarette, taking a deep breath and blowing the smoke out high over his head, I could see he really enjoyed that smoke.

He looked as he did the day he died, his blood all over the place and a lot of him gone, gray matter on his shirt and one eye that never moved anymore, his pants torn and bloody, but I didn’t care, I hugged him tight and told him how much I loved him and missed him. He told me not to be such a sap and move on, but that is never easy.

He didn’t seem to notice how he looked either so we walked and talked for hours, what we talked about is anyone’s guess though, some things need to stay between brothers. I just know that I never in my life had cried so hard or felt things so deeply as when I spent that time with my brother who had passed away.

Why this vision came to me then I didn’t know nor did I care, I hadn’t seen his death before of course, but I did read the reports, now I again pounded my fists into the ground again, hurting them and bleeding now but I no longer cared. “Just five more minutes I pleaded, why was that too damn much to ask!” but there was no voice left and no one to hear it anyway.

As I slept, I dreamt also of my enemy, he had found me lying there helpless, remembering Ray and then I saw him standing over my dead body as he pumped bullet after bullet into me, watching as my body began to jerk and spasm in a dance of death, and when he finally stopped he seemed disappointed that it hadn’t taken longer, that I hadn’t suffered enough, that I hadn‘t even fought him then and seemed to maybe even welcome death. He fired round after round, reloading and firing until the barrels became too hot and he knew they would warp.

My fingers clenched and moved as if I was firing back in response, but my guns were toys again, they were useless but my life’s blood was flowing out onto the ground below me, so it didn’t matter anyway. I guess there are worse ways to wake up but I can’t imagine one right now. I jumped up and grabbed my guns and this time they were real and deadly. But there was no one there. It was almost daylight now, and all the ghosts were being chased away by the sunlight.

I was sweating and breathing hard and there was no other sound around, I thought my heart beat would give myself away, it was so loud but it slowed and I tried to gage if my enemy was near but there was nothing. I started to put my guns away and had a feeling that the nightmare I had was feeding my enemy. Making the job of finding me easier. Making him stronger for it.

I wished then that he were closer now, that we could settle this between us and one of us dead, at least our business settled and we could move on from there, all the rage in my heart at that moment clouded my judgment and yet I felt it gave me an advantage too, because now I felt I could kill without hesitation or remorse, I could now be as cold and calculated as they had been, ready to drop them in to the ground in a heartbeat if it came to that, and maybe even if it didn’t, I was still ready for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

He hasn't an enemy in the world - but all his friends hate him.

Eddie Cantor (1892 - 1964)

 

 

 

 

At the base of the mountains, my enemy was indeed feeding off my nightmare. I told him what he needed to know and he didn’t even thank me for that. Now his hunger for my death and his resolve were both being fed.

He wanted to put out the fire before him and finish what was started but there were ways to do this and ways not to, and knowing the way not to had kept him alive for a long time. Too long I thought and most would agree.

“All things in their own time” he hissed. He knew where I was now, and was able to track me even over the rocks he was even able to find where I had crossed a small stream as though the rushing water didn‘t erase my tracks. His horse, or what ever it was, had died of exhaustion about a mile back. He cooked and ate it and salted away what was left for later.

Then he moved on until he again made his camp for the night. He didn’t want to sleep near the carcass because he didn’t want to be near the animals that would feed off it, and he camped downhill and listened for their approach.

Any other time he might have stood nearby and waited for the predators to appear and then kill some of them for food, or even just for the fun of it, but today, tonight all he could think of was me, what he wanted to do and how he would spend his reward for finding me and bringing me back.

He saw me stop and look for him, hoping I would stop long enough so he could get closer. He thought if he tired or concentrated hard enough I might somehow feel the evil in his heart and be scared enough to wait for him, or even to start back until he caught me because death was far better than what he had in store for me.

Though he had been a bounty hunter, or more like a head hunter most of his life, this time it was personal for him, though we had no ties nor history, he wanted to be the one to catch me, to bring me to his master and feel the reward for pleasing him.

He saw my brother catch the wave and felt my pain from such a bittersweet memory, breathing it deep into his lungs and when my tears fell; he licked at the image and laughed, enjoying my frustration, my pain and anger. He had no idea how to, or he might have smiled, but he didn’t, and the laughter, though muted, was wicked enough to scare away any animals that were close by.

One “rabbit looking” thing DID hear him though and was so scared it ran head first into a tree and broke it’s neck as it tried to escape that sound.

He looked up at the moon when I did, but he quickly looked away, he couldn’t stand the light and cheerful feeling it was giving off. He could also see those dancers and he hated their happiness, the message of joy and hope they gave me, their commitment to each other, and the love between them, so pure and true.

He sat down before a huge fire. Normally all the animals in the forest might be drawn to the flame, some out of curiosity or for warmth, and some to feed on what might left over or tossed aside, but they would not come any closer tonight.

They knew better and stayed away. They could smell death in the air and wanted no part of it, some even leaving the warmth of their homes to get farther away.

He was impatient to get to me, to finish this, so he decided to try something else that would give him an edge over me. He was not scared of me in the least, but he was careful, and that had saved him more than once.

He decided to use a spell, binding me to him when we would finally be face to face. He started gathering the things he needed, the brightness of the new moon that he hated so much now aiding his search. There were certain flowers that only bloomed when the moon was bright. Those were the kind that made the spell stronger. There were others that, like him, hid from the light, but he needed some of those too and knew where they would be. They were black and harder to see, even in the sunlight because they shifted the light and could blend into the background easily, seemingly become part of the shadows.

Those were the ones that would give him the ability to cloak himself better and harder to see, though he would not be entirely invisible, because he didn’t have the time nor the resources for that, so he would use what he could gather quickly and make do. “Besides,” he thought to himself, “This fool knows nothing of the arts, not the least notion of magic or spells so it was the perfect plan!” he thought.

There were some animals he needed too, some, for their innocent blood, others for their predator skills. He needed some for their feathers or claws. It didn’t take him long to find what he needed and when he couldn’t find what he wanted, he found a suitable substitute.

He set a pot out and began to boil the water, cursing in another language and then spitting into it every once in a while to add emphasis, and his hatred made the water boil faster.

He began to kill the animals, as he needed them, though they couldn’t move and sat where he left them, terrified but under his spell, he would kill them when it was time, because he wanted their blood to be as fresh as possible for the full strength it would give his magic.

He didn’t have any bat wings, but that was an old myth anyway. He had a few lizards, a bird that couldn’t fly and some of those “rabbits” and an assortment of some odd looking bugs.

He added some herbs that could either be used as a hallucinogenic or poison depending on how you prepared them, or the intent of the one mixing it and the words that were whispered or spoken at certain times.

A spider that was rare and that few knew of, and then for the last part he cut into his own wrist and let some of his blood flow into the pot, making the potion connect itself to him, become as one with the magic he was preparing. Had he done that too soon or too late it would change the spell and would have an unpredictable outcome, it had to be done than and only then, and he knew that, he took great pains to ensure it was the right time, and only he would know when that was.

As the water began to boil, he picked up the rabbit and broke it’s neck, as he lifted it, the poor thing began to kick and tried to get away, but he never saw that, taking it’s head and twisting it so savagely that the neck broke open with a sickening sound and he poured the blood into the pot, the legs kicked rapidly for a few moments more and then stopping slowly as it died.

As he reached for one of the lizards, out of reflex it bit into his right hand, almost cutting it to the bone. Had he noticed it, he would have bound the cut before he continued, but he didn’t, he was too intent on getting everything else right. He absently pulled the lizard off his hand and broke it’s back, squeezing what it wanted from him thru it’s mouth and never noticed his own blood mingling with the lizard’s blood because he had raised his face to the clouds and was chanting again, at first barely audible, but picking up as he went along. Going faster and louder as he got more intense:

 

 

 

 

“Wizard’s breath I send to you

There’s no chance for you to get away

For you now, a deep sleep, for your time is thru

You are under my power ‘till the break of day

I bind myself to you, now you can’t leave without me

And from what was two we become one

Deep inside I see a mean streak, as the key to set me free

I’ll be feeding on that until your time is done

Now that the spell be cast, you have no will, no choice

My smallest need becomes a command to you

As soon as you hear the sound of my voice

It’s then done, and to me you will pay your due”

 

As he spoke his chant for the ninth time, smoke began to rise out of the pot. At first weak, it dissipated quickly and was gone. But it quickly returned and as it grew in strength it began to flow off the side of the pot and down to the ground.

It stayed there for a moment, and then began to sway back and forth as he spoke. It became as a cobra and hissed as he chanted. The air above them began to smell as rotten meat before it became acrid and burned his nose hairs. In the far off distance a wolf or something very much like that began to howl, but it didn’t carry the feeling of being a mating call or anything but the promise of a very slow and excruciatingly painful death.

He kept repeating it over and over again, each time more insistent and louder until he himself was hypnotized. He began to merge with the cobra, swaying from side to side and flicking his tongue out at the same time the snake did, the two rose and spun together until they became one, rising up out of the fire and the rapidly boiling water and drifting off towards the north. They were coming to where I was still sitting by my fire, though I was in a trance of my own without their knowledge.

There were two main problems with this type of spell. He didn’t think either was possible, so he dismissed them quickly, but he had already made his mistake when he didn’t bind his cut, it gave me an opening that he could not have anticipated, it gave me a sense of where he was though I couldn’t see him.

The first thing needed to make it work, the intended victim had to have at least a casual knowledge of spells and chanting. If the victim didn’t feel the threat was real it wouldn’t work, very much like voodoo and some forms of white magic.

The second was the worst: if that person had even a remedial knowledge of what was going on, he might be prepared for this or have a spell of his own ready to use, something that might counteract what was meant to happen or reverse the effect of the spell.

The victim also had to be close enough to hear the voice or they would not be bound by it. Being that close and alone was risky because if the spell wouldn’t work or they were prepared he would be at his most vulnerable and his plan thwarted. It was something that couldn’t be whispered either, it had to be clearly heard or it would not work, spoken aloud. His body finished mixing the potion without him to guide it or give further instructions, and now the tail followed the rest of it north until it caught up. No wind would carry the smell it gave off, but it didn’t need the wind, it had the will of its master who was calling for blood.

As it came over a crest, it split from one long entity to two different ones. One looked as he did before he cast the spell, and the other the cobra looking thing that slowed down and began slithering on the ground towards me. The one that cast the spell went into the air then, rising quickly and easily thru the trees and below the cover of the clouds.

As the snake-thing slithered along, grass pulled at it and high weeds impeded it, but it went straight and true towards its prey, at one point even splitting a rock in its path. It refused to turn left or right. It almost screamed at being so close…but not yet…not yet, though impatience was a strong feeling and it was hard to fight it off.

As it swept along the ground, it came across a rabbit and some kind of ground squirrel, and thinking only that normally they were prey to a snake, they tried to flee though the snake never slowed and hardly noticed them there, it had a had a job to do and was single-minded in it’s purpose.

Though it could not actually see where I was yet, it never turned its head from that direction as if it could see me thru those last few miles as it swept along. It was normally used for cold blooded killing and was very good at that, slithering low on the ground until it was close enough to hear his prey cowering a few feet away. Then he would rise up and use that fear to drive his enemies insane with fear, some had tried to kill themselves when they saw that, but no one was ever quick enough and the snake would take control then and kill him at his whim, but this time was different, though he didn’t like it and though he hated the touch of humans on his scaly skin, he was told to hold this one in place and then after having some fun with me, he was supposed to inject me with venom to paralyze me until his master was ready and then he would go back to hell where he came from, leaving me with his master.

Chapter Fourteen


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Bluez
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Synopsis
magic spells and potions, I learned some of this from a friend I once knew. Some of it of course I made up and changed the names to protect the ones that might be construed as innocent.
Published Date
11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Published In
Publish America
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