The red pooled nicely in the middle of the vast empty white. I ran my fingers through it and drew a little sun, little but oh so bright and oh so warm. My fingers were warmed as I dipped them into the pool and it gave way to them. I brought them up through the dark cold air to take a closer look.
Finger painting had always been fun, but for some reason it didn't feel quite right anymore. I missed the soft feminine voice of my teacher asking what I was making. The other kids were not painting quietly. The paint didn't smell right, or taste right. The paint, something was wrong with the paint. Or was it the paper? Or was it me?
They were melting away, fading and blending into something different. I saw a dark brown appear where the white had been and my pallet of colors was bleeding from white, green, brown, and red into one large warm red pool. I wished I could ease my cold body into the pool and feel the warmth flow over me, my heart drinking it. I wished I could dive in, leaving only a ripple behind me to slide outward forever leaving a beautiful perfect legacy of my dive. Something was wrong, or rather this wasn't right. I am missing something, part of the story.
"What the fuck did you do? Lucas? Fucking hell. Chris, go get me the cell phone. Hey can you even hear me?"
Oh, I see. This isn't a good story, not as good as the dive or even the finger painting, but I had better play along.
"Shit, someone get a blanket. How the hell did this happen? Does her boyfriend know?" He is going to find out sooner or later, hopefully later. I hope he is understanding. He won't be, Ryan is never understanding, or so I am told. Whoever did this, well whoever did this is an unfortunate man.
"Luke!", Chris wanted my attention, undivided and complete. Sounds like she has something important to say, that tone of voice where you know that you had better clear your mind and brace yourself.
"Can I help you?", I didn't mean to sound uninterested, but I was.
Chris ignored my rudeness, or maybe she didn't even notice it. She seemed pretty focused on something else.
"What did you do to her? What exactly happened?" She paused, I didn't answer I just looked at my watch. "Tell me on the way to the hospital. Here help me carry her."
I looked up, the full moon had been watching. If no one else ever knew the moon always would, even if I didn't. My eyes watered as the moon placed more pressure on my brain, it screamed at me, it scolded me. I could not scream back or make an excuse, not yet. I looked away, averted my eyes. What I saw on earth was much worse than facing the truth, I saw reality.
I was standing under a tree. Where? Where the hell was I? How far from the hospital? Shit, I had better get this straight, before someone gets it for me, I hate listening. Slowly. I have all the time in the world. My mind is quick and the cold air makes it quicker, the adrenaline brings my heart to a booming pace of near mythical speed. The blood runs through it like hydraulic fluid in a behemoth machine, pushing and pulsing, pushing and pulsing. The blood runs warm and hard straight to my brain. My mind suddenly snaps. Like I said, my mind is quick.
Today is October 31st.
I am standing under a large maple tree. The large maple tree at the bend in the river near the bridge on route 216. I was at a party, or a gathering, or a mixer. Call it whatever you like. Christopher's rust red Isuzu Trooper, the one he bought last June, it sat on the bank of the river. Five other people were here, Chris, Christopher, Robin, Seth, and . . . Julia's finger. No. Julia. Julia's ring finger was gone, most of it. I saw the bone, white and virgin. A warm fountain of life dripped it's flow abated by the pressure Chris was putting on her hand, from the savage abrupt end of what once was a thing of beauty. the blood hit the snow, the clean snow. The snow as clean as my conscience, burnt by the hot blood, faded away letting the blood seep into the hard cold earth. The blood stained what it touched refusing to be left, demanding to be remembered. I hated it, I feared it, and I envied it. I begged to follow it; to disappear into the dirt into the earth itself leaving only a stain on the coat of a friend and a droplet on the blade of dead grass.
Julia was beautiful. Yes all women are beautiful, all people are beautiful souls. Yes, some souls are born in beautiful vassals, bodies that are smooth, sexual, lovely. Julia was different. Julia isn't beautiful like Marilyn Monroe was beautiful. She isn't beautiful like a newborn baby, or a woman in a pornographic video. Julia is beautiful like the moon is beautiful, like a sunset on a mountain of god's most triumphant construction, like a unspoiled waterfall in the Garden of Eden. Julia is beautiful like life is beautiful; human lips conceived the word beauty for the express purpose of giving her the title only she is worthy of.
I picked up the hatchet. The cold forged metal was impervious to the wishes of the blood. My wet hair met the cold country air as I removed my cap. The soft comforting cap swept across the sharp steel blade, blood disappeared as it jumped from the instrument of it's new birth to the cap, the hot sweat soaked cap that rested on my head bringing the desperate hateful blood closer to my mind. I could feel it, wet and silky as it touched my forehead. The blood pushed it's way through my skull into my brain, it tainted my thoughts staining them like they were dirty rags. It clouded my vision and screamed in my ears. For a split second the blood enveloped me and my world went dark, darker than it has ever been.
The finger and the hatchet. They clawed at my mind, swung at my thoughts cutting me. I knew what had happened, I didn't want to know but as I looked up at the moon then down at the hatchet I knew that I couldn't just forget. The accusing knowing moon shined off of the hatchet blade and burnt my eyes leaving a mark in them. Like a tattoo on a convict it branded me. I knew, I had to tell the others before judgment fell from the moon and burned through my eyes and scorched my brain that coward behind them taking shelter behind their stare, as sharp and hard as the hatchet.
As I turned to help lift Julia's unmoving fragile shape I buried the hatchet in the side of the maple tree. No blood seeped out of the gash. The few remaining leaves on the tree broke the beams of moonlight away from the shining hatchet leaving it dark and alone. None cried for the tree or asked me what I had done to it. The tree remained standing and would continue to do so long after Julia and I had died. The tree, the guilty party gave no more than a sigh as it felt the breeze caress it's boughs.
The passenger side door on the old Trooper gave out that same rusty scream that all old car doors do when you try to heave them closed.
“Try to keep pressure on her arm Robin”, Christopher gave an unending stream of directions and requests while kicking beer cans out from under the brake pedal and stabbing at the ignition with his key. For a brief moment I wondered if it was safe for Chris to drive, then recalled that none of us had been drinking tonight.
Gravel and stone were sent flying the instant that Chris’ foot found the gas pedal. Our headlights, well headlight, danced up the bank of the riverbed as the old truck jumped over large rocks and pieces of wood. After an agonizing minute or two, wherein each thump of the truck’s suspension was punctuated by a groan from Julia, the front tires dragged us onto the smooth blacktop of Rt. 216. I turned around in my mummified and duct-tape seat to get a better look at Julia. Before I ever got to look at Julia my eyes found the moonscape disappearing in a fog of dust kicked up by our departure. Bright red embers popped and glowed where we had built a fire to stay warm and cook s’mores, orange flames laced around the logs on the fringe of the fire. It was a comforting scene, why would we want to leave the warmth of the fire and blanket of dust for this empty black road to the empty white hospital.
“Twenty five minutes tops.”
“Not if you speed. The road is basically straight and nobody will be out driving right now. Just floor it and we can be there in fifteen.”
“I am not getting a speeding ticket or running down some fucking trick-or-treater for a cut finger”
“It isn’t a cut finger. She is bleeding a lot and she is in shock or something, she wont talk. Just speed up a bit. The cops will let you go when they see Julia anyway.”
“Just worry about her and let me drive. Luke, sit your ass down and buckle-up.”
Chris and Robin sound like my grandparents whenever they fight. Sometimes I wonder if Robin doesn’t enjoy having Chris yell at her. She questions everything he does but never seems to care if she wins the argument.
“Watch out for any animals in the road.”
“Just buckle-up and find my cell.”
“I think that Chris has it”, wow I can’t believe I remembered that, huh.
“God damn it. Well do you have one on you?”, it is amazing how much emotion Christopher can express with his body while never taking his eyes out of that stare he has when he drives. He needs to lighten up.
“Yeah, yeah I do. Or I did. Let me look for it”, the pockets of my fleece were full of useless artifacts of last winter; ski passes, hand warmers, gum, chap stick, and a crushed candy cane.
“Find the fucking phone!”
“Here, her parent’s number is on speed dial number 3. Ask for her dad, Drew.”
.when god lets my body be
..from each brave eye will spring a
.all the while my heart shall be
..with the buldge and nuzzle of the