THE SECOND SIGHT EPISODE 31
THE MAN WITHOUT A HEAD
He pounded me warmly on my back.
Yaw, Yaw, Yaw! Thank you, brother. Man, thank you so much!
Thank God, bro. I did absolutely nothing.
I introduced him to Nicole.
He smiled broadly and hugged her too, causing her to smile.
His relief and happiness was a blast that was unmistakable and infectious.
You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, Nicole, and believe me I have seen quite a few!
I could see she was secretly pleased.
You should marry this lady, Yaw. She’ll make you a very good wife.
I responded quickly to mask my unease, and then quickly changed the subject.
(with an uneasy smile)
That’s sound advice. Listen, we don’t have much time. Got to get to Portville by noon today. Just popped in to say goodbye and see how your wife’s faring, Guy.
Wish you guys could stay for a while. Yaw, I can’t ever repay you for what you’ve done for me. I just want you to know that in me you’ve found a brother, man, permanently. If ever you’re in need of anything, emphasis is on anything, call on me, bro. Anytime, anywhere, anything, you can count on me.
For a wild moment tears glistened in his eyes, and I was horrified.
I was afraid he would go into his damn bawling mode again.
He smiled broadly through the tears, and the effect was damn freaky, if nothing else.
He took out a crumpled handkerchief and wiped his eyes, and then he clamped my hand in a warm handshake again, nodding furiously.
Nicole glanced from him to me, but she made no comment.
She’s now at the ICU, and no one’s allowed to see her. I only watch her through the glass doors. She’s lost a lot weight, a lot of fluids and vitamins and stuff, you know, and she needs to be pumped up, but slowly. Doctors say her heart is good, and her physical condition, in the state she is in, is okay. She’ll make it, eventually. Going to take a bit of time and some patience, but she’ll be fine, man. The better part of a year will see her on her feet again. Can you believe that, my brother? I’m gonna have my dear Sam back? Good Lord, man, that’s simply capital!
His happy mood had now covered his sentimental rush again, and I was grateful for that. I clapped him on the shoulder.
I’m glad to hear that, Guy. Listen, we got to run now, though. Anytime I pass through I’ll call on you and Sam…maybe take the kids for a ride, if you’ll let me be their godfather!
He stared at me dreamily, and I realized I had said the wrong thing because his sentimental attack began to manifest again.
His lips began to quiver, and his eyes filled up real quickly, and this time he made no attempt to wipe them off. Tears trickled down his cheeks, and he swallowed painfully.
A family! Yes, it is all possible now, isn’t it? Sam has always wanted to be a mother. Dear Lord, it is possible now!
I started to speak, but suddenly my attention was arrested by the arguing couple.
The thin lady jumped to her feet, tears pouring heedlessly down her face now, her tiny hands clenched into angry fists at her sides, staring at her companion with tortured eyes.
The man was gesturing to her to sit back down, his huge chin thrust out pugnaciously. He was a bully still trapped inside the body of a man, and all he wanted to do was impose his will on anybody unlucky enough to be associated with him.
The thin lady screeched, her whole body vibrating with the depths of her emotions.
Why don’t you leave me alone? Leave us alone! I want a divorce! Leave us aloooooone!
The big man was on his feet in a flash, face black with anger, and then he backhanded her across the face.
The blow tossed her frail body across the chair, over it, and deposited her on the hard floor. She lay there, curled up, balled hands under her chin, shaking violently.
I made a move toward them, and Grant reached out and grabbed my arm in a vice-like grip, pulling me back and shaking his head with sudden alarm.
No, Yaw! You don’t want to do that!
The big man said something to the woman in a sneering manner, and then he turned and surveyed the room, his chin thrust out as if daring somebody to speak. He straightened his coat and swaggered toward the door.
Everybody else in room was standing now, staring at the weeping woman with looks of pity on their faces.
I glared at the huge man as he approached. I could feel Grant’s fingers digging desperately into my arm, trying to hold me in check.
He could not have succeeded however, because I couldn’t have been able to stop myself from having a go at the bully and wiping that corky look off his face even if I had wanted to.
Nicole was also bristling beside me, and for one horrifying second I thought she was going to let her hands fly at the semi-giant.
But even as I hunched my shoulders and my fists began to curl something happened. One moment that big bully was swaying arrogantly toward us on his way to the main entrance, his look contemptuous…and in another moment I saw that suddenly there was something dark behind him.
It seemed to sprout up just behind his broad back, a sort of very dark cloud that hovered above the floor, keeping pace with him, closing the gap. There was something really terrible about that dark thing.
It seemed to be alive, breathing malevolently, seeking to devour. I sensed how bad and dangerous that thing was, somehow, and my body relaxed, drawing back on itself, the fight going out of me in a flash.
Now the man was just opposite me, within arm’s reach.
He was glaring at me, his close-set eyes narrowing some more, his gaze dark, daring me to react.
And then his head exploded off his neck!
I saw his decapitated head swinging toward me, his neck gushing blood in torrents, his head traveling straight at me. Instinctively I stepped aside to avoid the head, but speckles of blood flew through the air, splashing my face…
Nicole’s frantic voice reached me from a long way off, and I came out of my instant reverie with shock.
Yaw, what’s wrong?
What happened, bro? For a moment there I could’ve sworn you were about to pass out.
I was breathing hard, and there was perspiration on my face.
The big man had walked past me, and he was chuckling.
Evidently he believed he had put the fear of God in me. The timed glass doors slid open and he walked out.
His head was still fixed on his shoulders securely, and there was no dark cloud-like shadow behind him.
I had a nasty vision. I saw that man without a head.
I expected them to laugh, and that would have reassured me somehow, but neither of them laughed.
Nicole regarded me thoughtfully for a moment.
Do you believe in clairvoyance or divination, whatever you call it?
I shook my head vigorously, dimly aware that I had already said too much to her.
I was still spooked by that ominous black cloud I had seen behind the man, though, and I looked apprehensively at the glass doors, half-expecting to see the cloud coming back.
(with a chuckle)
No, I leave that kind of spooky stuff to the weird people of the world, you know. Damn, maybe the man made me so angry that I wished only the ugliest of fates for him, and it sort of projected itself into some kind of bad vision. Had quite a late night, you know. Still feels so tired on my feet.
I was aware that I sounded lame, and defensive, and that I wasn’t making one shred of sense, but suddenly I wanted to get off the topic.
I was aware that maybe I had been thrust into another level of my special gift, and I had been so spooked by it that I had blurted out something I should have kept to myself; but that was what came out of being unprepared for things like that, and that was one of the reasons why I was still angry at Paul Anderson.
Nicole suddenly gave my arm a quick squeeze.
Maybe that’s it. God knows I was mad enough to scratch out that silly man’s eyes myself.
The woman the man had hit was still lying on the floor and crying pitifully; I could see a trail of blood running down her left nostril. She was trembling, squeezing herself up into a tighter ball.
Nicole shook her head sadly and went to her.
She bent and helped the woman up, and then guided her gently into a chair.
Well, don’t you go messing around with Ray Mensah, please, Yaw. He’s the only son of the police chief here. Ray is nasty, really nasty. He’s into drugs, prostitution, you name it…. every bad racket has his signature on it. You give him enough money, he could get anything for you. He was a small local criminal, but now he’s gone international, as the saying goes now, spreading his cartel and his power. He has a group of nasty goons who licks his ass. You take him on and they’ll kill you before you take three steps out of this place. The chief has turned blind eyes and deaf ears to his son. Ray is married to Mary, that lady over there. They have two boys – twins – and it seems Ray loves to use their faces as his punching bag. Keeps a string of whores, a kind of harem, at one of his hotels, but he still holds on to Mary – even though she’s been trying to get a divorce for ages.
Why’s she here?
(with a sigh)
Seems her boys were brought here two nights ago. Ray, according to Mary, gambled with some wealthy guys that his kids could take on their kids. He lost the bet because his boys wouldn’t fight. They were understandably scared. Ray was so furious at his sons for refusing to fight that he took a belt to their backs, and fists to their bodies. Broke them up pretty badly.
Jesus! His own kids?
He lodged a complaint at the police station that some strangers attacked his sons, and even though Mary told them Ray was responsible, the cops turned deaf ears as well. You see, Ray is not the sort of man you want on your back, and even his own father is scared of him. He reigns here, Yaw, and that’s why I want you to stay away from him.
The doctor who had been talking to the two brothers walked forward and gently led Mrs. Mary Mensah inside.
Nicole came back to us, her pretty face set in furious lines.
That man is a beast! There’re a lot of scars on that poor woman. He’s been hurting her for ages! He should be stopped!
Maybe he would lose his head just like Yaw said.
I smiled wanly, wishing once again that I had kept my mouth shut.
We said our good-byes then, hugged all around, and then we left after I promised to look in on them on my way back from Portville.
Black clouds were gathering in the sky again as I drove out of the hospital, and little growls of thunder were already warming up the sky.
The weather forecast predicted a stormy day. Do you think we should wait it out?
Nope. This is one sturdy car, and I want to make it to Portville today. I need to see you father.
The rains came down in grandeur just then, whooshing down in slanting torrents accompanied by slashing winds.
The powerful windshield wipers did their rhythmic dance, battling the shower of water adequately. The rain bounced off the macadam, trying its best to create little rivers in the small grooves and potholes.
It blotted out the sights, and it felt as if we were all alone in the world and I gave a contented sigh.
I was aware of the woman beside me. She was relaxed in her seat as she grabbed a few of my CDs and flipped through them. She selected one – a Women of Faith album I kept in my cars to impress Elaine – and slotted it into the car’s CD player.
A moment later the sweet voices of the ladies filled the car, and although I had always hated their songs – and gospel music in general – I found myself enjoying it that morning.
Everything seemed just right ; the two of us alone, the rain beating an irregular beat on the roof, the sweet music floating around us, her presence beside me, her mild perfume mingling with mine…she being all-woman, and I being all-man.
The silence was pregnant with the sound of our awareness of each other, and for a moment I almost succumbed to the urge to reach out and touch her hand.
If it had been in the movies or a storybook our eyes would have met and held, and without a word I would’ve parked the car and our lips would have made a rhythm of their own.
But out here in reality it was all about the awareness, and the fact that it was a sweet moment – maybe more for me than for her.
She had an understanding with a young man in her life, and she might be feeling nothing but sisterly affection for me.
We just met anyway, so what was all these sentimental twangs I was feeling anyway?
Had I forgotten about my angel Elaine so soon, the girl who had been ordained to be my evil wife from the beginning? Hadn’t I been entertaining hopes of letting Paul Anderson drive out the demons in her so that I could be with her?
Who was this lady that was suddenly tweaking the fixed settings of my emotional and sentimental passions?
When we got to the outskirts of the town I put my foot down on the accelerator, though not all the way down. The road was slick and wet with rain, and I wasn’t very familiar with the terrain. Over-speeding in those conditions could land a man straight in the morgue, and thus I drove carefully.
A sign flashed past, neat white lettering on a green background:
You are now leaving Jackson Peak.
Safe Journey, and do come back!
The road stretched out in front of me, bordered on both sides by thick trees and green shrubbery.
The wind howled and the rain lashed, but thankfully there wasn’t much lightning.
I had nothing against nature, but sometimes lightning had the tendency to freak me out.
I wasn’t afraid of the thing, but it was very unpredictable, especially if you happened to be exposed to its wrath on an empty stretch of road trapped in a moving metal manufactured by man.
I had once read about a man whose head had been burned right off by lightning; one blast, and his head had been charred black.
One thing about me, Yaw, is that I don’t like being lied to.
I chanced a startled look at her, somehow disturbed by that cool voice.
I don’t recall telling you a lie, Nicole.
She turned those eyes on me, and I was once again startled by her beauty.
She was as fresh and clean as a drop of dew on a budding petal. I marveled at the smooth texture of her skin, the gentle sweeps of her features; she was the kind of girl you never got tired of watching, amongst other things.
Her eyes were still fixed on me although my attention was once again on the road, and I felt her gaze all the same.
You implied Guy Grant was an old acquaintance whose wife you helped convey to hospital last night. From what I gathered from Guy, what his wife is suffering from is not something that happened last night. His gratitude, to you, was profuse, and it indicated something heavier than the mere conveyance of a sick woman to hospital. And those powerful emotions he felt, about having his Sam back and starting a family with her in the near future? Please, Yaw, don’t lie to me! You can decide not to tell me the truth, and I’ll understand and respect that, but don’t lie to me. I don’t want any lies between us, Yaw.
I glanced at her; she was composed, her voice soft, but for a moment – a very poignant moment – I thought there was another message in those words.
The ‘between us’ part of her speech did it and I liked the feeling it created.
Once again I turned my attention to the road, taking my time to negotiate a sharp reverse curve.
No lies, Nicole. From now, no more lies.
We drove along in companionable silence for a while, and then she spoke again.
I was wrong about you. I was quite unprepared for someone as young as you, and I’m convinced that you’re not a mature Christian – forgive me, I mean no offence – but these facts really made me lose sight of what you truly are, or could be. I think I’m convinced, somehow, that you also have some form of
the gift, right?
The road had straightened out, and it lay flat and beautiful ahead.
It was bordered on both sides now by thick oak trees, evenly-spaced, but their thick branches and leaves interspersed, creating a heavy continuous curtain of green on each side of the road.
Thankfully, some authority had taken the trouble to keep the space above the road free of offshoot branches.
I glanced at Nicole, and had just decided to tell her a little bit of the truth about me, when the huge black Ford van emerged from the bend behind me and bore down on my car.
The driver was driving recklessly, and he had to step down hard on his brake to avoid smashing into the back of my car. There was a harsh squealing sound behind us, and Nicole spun in her seat to take a look back.
That driver must be mad to drive like that! Where in the name of Hades is he in a hurry to?
The driver behind me flicked his headlights, blew his horn and turned on his left indicator light. I slowed down and spun the wheel of the car to the right to give him more room to overtake.
The moment he swung into the other lane I became afraid.
I could not explain it, but suddenly I sensed the danger all around us, the palpable menace that was so strong that it caught in my throat and for a terrible moment I could not breathe.
Nicole screamed, leaning toward me.
Yaw! What’s wrong? What’s happening to you?
Something was beating hard in my heart, causing me to be acutely aware of danger. My head spun round, and then I saw it.
Deep in the branches of the oak trees, a pair of eyes was watching me, keeping pace with the car.
A pair of blood red eyes…bloody eyes!
Eyes filled with undiluted hatred, eyes that meant to inflict nothing but absolute horror.
The demons that had killed my father were back!
Fear crystallized in my heart, and my foot eased off the accelerator. I was vaguely aware of Nicole clutching my arm and shaking it, her voice anxious, close to real fear.
The eyes had been moving along with the car, but now it seemed to change direction, and they headed straight toward me, huge and determined.
They passed across a thick branch, and suddenly that particular tree branch snapped off from the mother tree, turned over once, and shot toward my car!
It was a huge, stout branch, its tip cleanly shaped into a knife-tip menace as if by a master sword maker.
Its sharp edge was hurtling toward my car at top speed, and although I stepped hard on the accelerator, that branch veered off course like a guided missile, hurtling toward me at great speed.
I slowed down hard, causing Nicole to shoot forward but luckily she was in her seatbelt, and it cushioned what would otherwise have been very ugly accident for her.
That terrible branch slowed down too, still locked on my window, and then I saw that lodged in its trailing branches were the red blood eyes!
It wants to kill me, Good Lord sweet Jesus it wants to kill me, I thought frantically.
And then the Ford van was nosing forward, and soon it was opposite me, between my car and that hurtling piece of death…and I turned my attention to the driver…and then my blood ran cold.
It was Ray Mensah…
It all made perfect sense suddenly, and I shuddered involuntarily, my body cringing from what was going to happen.
Oh no, no, no!
Ray Mensah’s thick chin was thrust out pugnaciously, his beady little eyes turned to mine, his expression mean, his right hand raised, making shooing gestures at me to get off the road.
But he wasn’t the one who scared me.
I could see that in the seat behind him, filling the whole of the back space, was that dark cloud-thing. It seemed to be sparking, static-like, barely held in check, breathing, alive, devouring!
My eyes were horrified, my heart agonized, as my attention was drawn to that evil-guided tree branch beyond Ray Mensah.
Oh sweet Jesus, oh no, no, no!!
The huge branch exploded into Mensah’s car through his window.
The sharp edge entered Ray’s neck just below his chin, and sliced it right off. He never knew what caught him. His head shot off his neck in a thick spray of blood that flooded the windshield.
His severed head bounced off the window on the passenger side of the car, cannoned off, and fell out of sight.
For a moment Ray Mensah looked like somebody’s bad idea of a horror movie. His headless body was still in the seat, hands gripping the steering-wheel.
And then that black cloud covered him completely; the black thing appeared to be taking on a form now, a sort of macabre being with huge wings.
It reached into that body, and suddenly it was moving out of the Ford, streaming into the air in a thin line, and just for a moment – a very brief moment – I seemed to see something else in that formless black line: a screaming transparent face, a face which seemed to be formed from water, taking form, elongating, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ray Mensah…screaming in agony, and then it was gone, lost in the deep clouds above.
The Messenger of Death had claimed another victim.
The huge Ford van screeched on the slick road, lurched off it, and smashed headlong into one of the trees. There was the nasty shriek of tearing metal as the Ford wasted itself on the tree.
I swung the wheel hard to the left and brought the car to a shuddering halt behind the maimed Ford.
My door was open even before it came to a complete stop, and I leapt out just as the pair of red eyes slammed out of the Ford and moved into the trees.
To be continued…
© – Agyeman
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