He Saw It In A Frosted Window Pane

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He stood on the street corner in the shadow of the amber street lamp. The night was bitter cold and the promised snow was gently falling on the shoulders of the people who passed him by. They appeared not to notice him as the peals of their holiday laughter echoed down the hushed city avenue.

He never felt so alone. Bereft. He knew that she and her husband were back in the city for the holidays visiting family. Their sons were grown now with little ones of their own and she never missed a chance to be near her precious grandchildren. She bought the brownstone so she would have a place to stay and play on her visits. Despite the distance, it was clear that she had kept a strong sense of community here; the amount of guests entering the doorway provided enough evidence. Never mind the vibe of good cheer and love that seemed to dance through the bricks of the building.

He moved closer. His sons were not interested in seeing him once again this year. He was dying to see what his four grandchildren looked like-he had never met them or seen them in a photograph. He knew that they were at the prime age to experience the magic and wonder of the season and he longed to share it with them.

At once, the four appeared in the large bay window. Two girls and two boys-maybe four to six years of age dressed in their Christmas finery. A picture postcard of innocence and joy.

His heart wrenched and he fell to his knees. On this night-this eve-it came rushing back to him. The weight and force and pain of what he had walked away from all those years ago.  He was crushed and defeated. Weak. He rose slowly, his feet wet and cold, his fingers stiffened by the frost.  He had not walked far-just enough to be out of sight when an overwhelming sense of fatigue came over him. He sought respite in the nearest snow bank.

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“Hey, mister are you all right?”  The group of  revelers came upon him a few hours later, his body nearly hidden in the snow except for the black of his boots. “Aw Jeez man. I think he’s dead. Call 911.” The wagon came quietly. They loaded him on the gurney and checked for identification. None. Just another John Doe lost to the streets they thought. They could hope that someone would notice he was missing and give him a proper burial. But no one ever did.

I took a bit of liberty with the FWF title “I Saw It Through a Frosted Window Pane.” It fit with the story. I am sure Kellie won’t mind!

Take a look at the other great writers over there by just clicking on the link below:

#FWF Free Write Friday: Pick a Title

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I imagine one day that you will come clean. Look inside yourself and uncover the damage and pain that once was hidden and then slowly festered like an abscess.  I fantasize and visualize the scene. Your sincere apology for letting your wounds bleed out until they killed my trust. Your realizations of the love you lost. Your enlightened self-awareness of your sheer selfishness and self-absorption. Your chaste chagrin for your failure as a father. Your road to redemption and reconciliation regarding their relationship with you.

But the package remains sealed. Locked tight and unexamined. Returned to sender.

This one is as raw as it gets. It’s been a funky week where the poison of the past took up rent in my head.  Time for an eviction notice to be served!

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#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

Geographical Escape 3.5: Fade to Black

photo credit: studiofovea.deviantart.com

“I know where her body is buried.” Tom was sitting in a dark booth at a dive bar on the outskirts of Louis Port. He stopped in to visit Marlena, an old friend of his mother. He had ordered one too many drinks and Marlena stayed after to help him sober up. She had the looks of a woman who I had seen and heard it all. They got around to talking about old times and soon they found themselves on the subject of his father.

“Your mother hated leaving you with him,” she said. Tom’s mother work nights as a nurse at the local hospital. His father worked at the docks loading cargo that was being shipped down river. Jim’s tall frame had become naturally muscular from years of heavy lifting. Tom’s thinness stood in sharp contrast to his father’s imposing body and equally intimidating personality. Already possessing a shy demeanor, Tom became mute whenever he was with him. In turn, Tom’s father did his best to ignore his son. He wasn’t a man who was good at conversation and he made no attempts to keep enough food in the house or cook a meal.

Jim was a heavy drinker and perpetual womanizer. Often times he would head down to the neighborhood tavern leaving his son alone for the night. Sometimes Tommy fell asleep to the hum of the tv set or put himself to bed. Jim would come home drunk, always with company for the night. Tommy could hear them through the walls. Bed creaking. His father moaning. A woman mewing or at times screaming. He covered his ears with a pillow to block out the noises. Some of them would stay around for a few months. They attempted to be friendly but more often than not, they were more interested in fucking his father. Jim would often send Tommy off on his bike during these times telling him to stay out of the house because “Daddy had business to take care of.” He would ride for hours all over town. Joe would meet up with him and they would head to his house where Joe’s mom would cook them up a special treat. Or he would ride over to the Trackside Diner, where Marlena was working at the time. She always made sure he ate a hearty meal, his belly full to bursting.

When he did arrive back at his Dad’s, he and his latest date would often be passed out on the couch with beer cans strewn on the floor and cigarettes still burning in the ashtrays.

His father knew no boundaries. He didn’t seem to care when Tommy would accidentally walk in on his acts in the living room or even the kitchen. “Hey there son, Daddy is just  having some fun with this little lady. You go on back to bed now,” he’d laugh. Or there would be two women with him. Unabashed in their nakedness. “I had trouble choosing. So I thought I would invite both of them home with me.”

Tommy was overwhelmed. He did not have the words to even speak of the situations he witnessed. He was always relieved to be back with his mother, putting those times out of his mind.

And this is what he thought he did that one last time. He was awakened once again by the sounds from his father’s bedroom. This time, however, it was different. Fearful screaming. Furniture banging against the wall. His father making monstrous noises. More yelling. “Please stop! You’re hurting me. Let go of me!”  Then the sound of someone falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Tommy couldn’t help himself. He got out of bed and peeked in the doorway of his father’s room. He saw his father straddled over the bloody, naked body of his latest conquest. A knife was in his hands. When he turned and saw his son, he said, “She wouldn’t listen, son. Help me clean up.” He began to roll her body in a rug. “Go open up the car’s trunk and get a shovel too. Then get in the back seat.”

They drove out to Cedar Grove Forest. He left Tommy in the car while he walked down the path with the shovel. A few minutes later, he came back for her. “Help me out here son. Hold the flashlight. I don’t want to trip on the path with this heavy load.”  Tommy held the light out in front of him as his father walked behind. When they got to the hole, he father said, “Go on back to the car and wait for me.”

Minutes later, Tommy heard the car door open and watched his father slide into the driver’s seat. Then he turned around and brought Tommy’s face close to his. He was filthy and reeked of sweat and blood. Breathing heavily, nearly spitting out the words, he said: “Don’t you ever tell a god damn soul.”

The smell of bleach awakened him. Sunlight streamed across his face. “Get dressed. I am taking you back to your mother’s.” He dropped his son at the curb and sped off. That was the last time he saw his father. It was only three years later, when Tommy was twelve, that he heard about his father’s death in a cheap motel room. He had been found shot to death.

By the time he was done talking, the sun was about to rise. The confession purged his soul. He knew that he would need to talk to the authorities. But first he would go home. He no idea of how he would tell Ella about his past. No clue about his present misdeeds. Their future together was uncertain. But he owed her the truth.

These thoughts were swimming in his sleepless mind as he said goodbye to Marlena and headed out towards the airport. Dazed and distracted, he was unaware of the moose in the middle of the road. He hit it head on, the car flipping over and over into the air until it landed in a ditch. They say you travel towards a white light at the end. But all Tom saw was red.

Geographical Landscape 3.3: Odyssey

photo credit: spontaneouspotato.deviantart.com

His malaise became more of a burden. His words and actions were wooden. Cracks appeared in his facade. Ella did her best to provide comfort and advice but her frustration and impatience began to show.  “You need to share the wealth, Tom. With a professional. Something is not right and I am worried for you and for us.”

She was right, of course. But the act of beginning that journey overwhelmed him. He knew that he would eventually have to share the pain of his past. Never mind his current deceits. He wasn’t ready to think about the consequences of his truths.

It remained hard to say if the timing of yet another business trip was a good thing or a bad thing. Good because he could use it as an excuse to put off getting help. Bad for another reason. Would Temptation visit him a third time? Could he control himself?  This trip would take him far from home. He would leave for the West Coast site in the San Fransisco area. It would be a six week stint.  Ella could barely hide her anger. “These obligations are taking a toll on us. Each time you have come back from one of these trips in the past year,the night terrors resume. You need to tell your boss this is the last one. Time to focus on taking care of you and your family.”

He left home with a heavy heart and plunged into work. He had an outstanding reputation as a problem solver. He needed this part of his life to remain strong. By the end of the first week, he had fixed the first of a series of  issues at the site. On Friday night, he sat down at the hotel’s bar and asked for a whiskey.

He was two drinks in and about to order another when he  heard a voice behind him. “Need a bit more to take the edge off?”  White porcelain skin. Long black hair. Wearing a stunning black dress. Her eyes looked like pools of water. She placed her hand in his. “I’m Lilith.” I can take you to a place that will bring you peace.” She place a card in his hand. “Call if you are interested.” And then she was gone.

The card was plain. No name. No title. Just a phone number. The bartender gave him a knowing wink. “Great experience for those who need it,” he said. Tom took out his phone and started to dial. His mouth began to water. His heart raced. A recorded voice stated: “Thank you for calling. A driver will be ready to pick you up in 15 minutes. Please wait outside.”  He gave the bartender a puzzled look. “No worries, man. Just go.”

When he got into the back seat of the limousine, the driver opened the window slightly. Facing forward so as to remain unseen, he told Tom to put on a black faceless mask. Without thinking, he obeyed. Then they drove off.

In a matter of minutes, they arrived at a palatial residence. Secluded by hedges and a large forest, it looked over the city lights. His mask was removed once he set foot in the door. Lilith stood before him. “Welcome,” was all she said as she led him to a red-draped ante room. Six people-three men and three women- sat relaxing on the room’s fine furnishings.

An older, attractive woman dressed to match the room stood up and held Tom’s hands in hers. “Lilith sensed your need. We are glad you called.We believe in the healing powers of sensual expression. Many here come to us because they are hemmed in by society’s pressures. Our mission is provide a safe place to fill your needs, heal your pain and escape your troubles. All of us are participants in this endeavor, as we too have other lives. We fill our needs as much as you do yours. We charge no fees. We are here by choice and to enjoy one another. We do not use violence. We are selective about our members. So, if you choose to stay, you must engage in these same practices. We promise you unforgettable experiences.”

Geographical Escape 3.2: Mud Season

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The ground was squishy beneath his feet. His legs hard to lift. His lungs heavy with effort. His body soaked with sweat and muddy splatter. His clothes at one with his skin. He’d fall into a puddle of muck only to rise and have his face raked by the knives of branches. He was blind. The path a long shadow of darkness.  He could hear the pounding of feet and exerted breath of someone behind him.  Gaining ground.

He was overpowered by the force. Jumped from behind. His face planted in the mud. Hands at the back of his neck.  Legs squatted on his spine.  His words were muffled screams. “I promise I won’t tell! I promise I won’t tell! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!”

Ella was shaking him. Her face scratched and her arms red with the imprints of his fingers. Tears streamed down her face. “STOP! STOP! TOM! TOM! WAKE UP PLEASE!

He was hyperventilating. Losing air. His heart wrenched at the sight of his wife’s wounds. He began to weep. ” I know you didn’t mean it, darling. But the nightmares have gotten worse.”  Do you want to talk about it?”  He shook his head emphatically. He would just need to get a grip that’s all.  He thought the winter’s affair had cleansed him of the stench on his soul. But the nightmare was so vivid in its action and its accompanying emotions. Fear and Guilt hung in the air.

He had begun to dread bedtime. He would creep out of bed after Ella fell asleep and wander the house. Check on the kids. The doors and windows. The rains were relentless, causing area rivers to overflow their banks. Some roads became impassable. He was unable to ride his bike for relief. Sometimes Tom sat outside in the midnight torrents not sure if the water might drown him. He was drenched in stink.

The weather became an inspiration for Ella. She painted and sculpted productively through the winter season while he was away.  The current season’s gloom lent a noir element to her art. So much so that their nearby city’s well-known gallery wanted  to show her work. To Tom’s  inquiries about her theme, her reply was simple. “All of us have a dark side, sweetheart. But it remains our choice as to how we express it.”

So here he sat in yet another downpour. Warm air moved in and with it great claps of thunder and dangerous bolts of lightning.  He knew who was on top of him in the incubus. But how could he tell anyone it was the face of his father?

Geographical Escape 2.7: Breakwater

photo credit: www.searchlightphotography.com

A searing bile rose up in his throat. He ran to the bathroom and heaved noisily. His mind began to race. How could she have found out?  He thought that he covered his tracks. His world was about to implode.

Maybe Joe would have a clue. He inhaled deeply as he pressed the contact number on his phone. “Tom, buddy!  How’s it going out there?”  Joe answered in his usual hearty voice. “Karen and the kids and I thrilled that Ella and your brood will be coming down. And we are so excited to hear about Ella’s job offer and her ideas for the studio!”

Tom quickly shifted gears. He explained that Ella’s good news was the reason for his call. Without missing a beat, Tom told Joe that he was planning to catch the next flight home and surprise everyone down at the beach. He would probably be there tomorrow. Joe promised to keep it to himself.

With that decision, he bought himself some time. He took a long hot shower and scrubbed himself until his skin felt raw. Last night’s shenanigans, his abbreviated sleep on the sand, the strange  journey back to the motel and his recent emotional state had left him drained. He crawled to bed and fell into a deep sleep.

When he woke up the next morning, he was ready to go. He had enough clean clothes since he only had worn his cycling outfit for the past 48 hours. If his wife asked about the bike, he would just say that he stopped off at the office to get it after he landed.

He pulled into Joe and Karen’s place bursting with confidence. And there they were: his beautiful family: The boys with their jet black hair and his daughter an exact replica of her mother. Flowing auburn hair and those deep green eyes that you just lost yourself in.

He had returned to safer harbor. Or so he thought.