THE SECOND SIGHT EPISODE 33
The trees were many and bordered almost all the streets. There were pristine parks, patrolled by uniformed cops who seemed to wear fixed plastic smiles on their faces.
I wondered idly whether it came with the job down here – all the cops I had seen so far seemed to be grinning all the time. This area too seemed planned – too perfect and beautiful – and it seemed to be the safest part of town.
Its lack of blemish was its major imperfection, and again I found myself distrusting and hating it.
Sleek cars lined the curb. Over-dressed teenagers looking prim and proper lolled about. Soft lights were already showing in the windows and on the porches.
Dull, listless, routine – a town to hate, and a neighborhood to detest.
With a strong effort I checked the train of my thoughts.
It wouldn’t do at all for the depression to set in again.
I followed Nicole’s directions like an automaton, and although I felt her eyes drilling rather sharply at me now and again, I couldn’t shake myself out of the dark moods caressing my heart.
I crested a knoll, and as the car straightened out of the gentle descent and a wide arc in the road the sign loomed out at me suddenly; huge, bold blue lettering on a white background:
Christ Redeemed Church
You Are Warmly Welcome!
And there it was; spread out on a wide expanse of grass.
It was a huge, flat edifice, so white that it almost hurt the eyes. It wasn’t as grand as my old man’s church, but its sheer elegance and the air of peace it exuded greatly impressed me.
There were no walls, and there were other buildings on the land, spread out nicely around the church. The car park was jammed with vehicles.
There’s a smaller road on your right just ahead, Yaw…yes, right here! That leads to the mission house. My family is right there!
I could faintly hear loud music coming out of the church; a praise medley of some sorts.
The people outside the church room were dancing rather insanely on the grass, throwing up their hands and staring with fevered adoration into the rapidly darkening sky as if they could see the angels descending from heaven.
Fanatics for Christ.
They were everywhere. A few days ago I would have had nothing but absolute disdain for them. Not now, though.
If shouting and screaming and offering absolute devotion to a Supreme Being above could keep the uglies from their doorsteps, then it was worth every little second of it.
The road I had taken swerved away from the main church premises.
It was bordered on both sides by tall trees. The dry leaves crackled beneath the wheels as I eased the huge car forward gently.
The trees suddenly gave way to a breathtaking view of a lake. It spread out gently, its surface glittering with the night lights.
A stone bridge ran over it, and on its opposite side were more grass, and a beautiful two-story building.
The house was spectacular, its beauty enhanced by the wide expanse of very green grass all around it, and the majestic fold mountains way back behind it, rising from the ground and towering above the trees.
The house was white and not walled in.
There were balconies on each side of the upper building, and the view from there across the lake, on a cool lazy night, would be rather fetching indeed.
It had tall double mahogany doors at the head of a beautiful marble staircase.
Two cars were parked in front of it: a fairly new GMC van and a beautiful Lexus.
I parked my Chrysler next to the Lexus and killed the engine.
(with unfeigned admiration)
This is beautiful.
Welcome to the Manse. I’m glad you like it.
I turned to her, drawn by something in her voice.
The frost had melted, and the wall that had sprung up unwanted between us was down for the moment. There was a hint of a smile on her lips that transformed that awesome beauty into something ethereal.
I stared at her, entranced, but before I could speak the huge doors opened, and we both turned toward it.
I was aware of a sweet moment gone.
I wondered what would have happened if we hadn’t been distracted, but then again I was a little bit happy that our mood had been broken. The lady was a successful woman, older than I was, and totally devoted to another man.
All that added up to a war not worth fighting.
I was suddenly aware of something dark hurtling toward the car, and my reverie quickly cleared.
My heart had already started pounding hard as I focused, sure that I was seeing one of the damn apparitions.
But it was just a dog.
Quite simply, it was the biggest dog I had ever seen.
It was completely black with a white head. It was a well-kept dog, I saw at first glance. Its body was hard all over with little fat, and it could easily have weighed two hundred pounds.
It was a Saint Bernard, and it glided with smooth grace over the grass, black eyes fixed on the car, tail waving slowly, ears perked up.
I was aware of Nicole getting out of the car and dropping to her knees as the huge beast rushed at her.
For a wild moment I thought it was going to knock her flat out, but it pulled in and began a kind of silly dance, bending itself into a tight arc and moving rhythmically sideways, all the time wagging its huge tail like mad.
I breathed with relief and got out of the car.
For a moment my eyes left the beautiful lady and the dog and settled on the two people who were coming down the marble steps.
One was a tall thin boy of about fifteen; he bore an uncanny resemblance to Paul Anderson, and I knew that this could be his second child.
He was dressed in baggy jeans and a huge white T-shirt that had a picture of Jesus sitting beside a rough-surfaced rock and staring piously into the sky.
Below that picture were the words: “He saved my life.”
As I got out of the car my eyes went to the woman on the steps.
She had just stepped out of the door, and she was looking at me intensely. I knew immediately where Nicole had gotten her extraordinary good looks.
Even though she was well past her prime the woman exuded sculptured grace and beauty. She was wearing a long white dress, and her hair, still with a lot of dark patches, was gathered up in a bun.
The lines on her face could not have marred that dreamlike beauty had it not been the fact that she could hardly hide the fear in the depths of her eyes.
As she gazed at me I could sense the despondent cry in her heart, as if she was utterly disappointed by my appearance.
I thought I knew where she was coming from.
Judging by what Nicole had told me about Paul Anderson, this fine woman could have been expecting a savior, someone with an almost visible halo who could help her husband.
A young guy like me had definitely not been what she had expected. And of course she couldn’t hide her true feelings as she gazed at me.
She was a good woman, a pillar of strength that had encompassed her family and kept it safe. She was a loving wife who had always been able to keep her husband out of the wind, but now that tight control was threatened.
Her man was in a storm, whatever it might be, and she could only gaze helplessly at me with her heart written on her face.
Somehow, as I looked at her, fear filled my heart. It was the same kind of crippling fear that assailed me when I entered Portville.
Looking at her I could feel her reaching out for support, pinning hopes on me, and deep down I knew I could fail her and her family.
I didn’t know what exactly was wrong with Paul Anderson to cause the kind of drastic change Nicole had described to me, but inwardly I knew what it was.
It was all kind of confusing, a suffocating kind of experience that was threatening to drown me; on a physical plain I didn’t know what was going on, but inwardly, on a different level of existence, I
knew what was happening, and recognized it as a potent evil.
It was like some form of a strange antennae that kept on beating within my soul, probing, recognizing signs and scents, separating the darkness from the light, the good from the deadly.
I knew…and I was scared.
A weight hit my back, and I would certainly have fallen over if the young boy had not reached out and steadied me.
The giant dog reared up and planted its front paws on my chest, making funny whining noises in its throat and wagging its tail like crazy.
The young boy spoke with a happy giggle.
Bruno wants a pat on the head. He’s really fond of that.
I looked into its black eyes and noticed how huge its canines and incisors were.
Tentatively I patted its head, and it licked my hand furiously and wagged its tail.
A DIFFERENT ANDERSON
(with a shaky laugh)
That’s okay, Bruno.
Nicole pried the huge beast loose.
The young boy held out a slender hand to me.
(with a smile)
I’m Paul Anderson Junior.
I gripped his hand.
He had a firm grip, and I nodded appreciatively.
Yaw Boat at your service, sir.”
He smiled at his sister, still holding my hand.
He’s very handsome, isn’t he, sis?
Her answering smile was not full as her eyes dwelled briefly on my face.
She turns to the woman on the stairs.
Oh, hello, Mother. Come on down. Come and meet Yaw Boat.
She came down haltingly, hesitantly, a strained smile on her lips. She held out a slender, beautiful hand, and I clasped it lightly.
Rosemary Anderson. I’m so glad that you came, Mr. Boat.
Yaw will do just fine, Mrs. Anderson.
She smiled back, again tentatively, but it seemed some of the pent-up tension was leaving her body.
You must be tired. Do come inside and make yourself at home. I’ve got a hot plate of sweet food for you.
I rubbed my stomach and nodded appreciatively.
Oh, yeah! Now you’re talking.
The four of us laughed at that, but then the door suddenly opened again…and he came out.
He was wearing a red cardigan over a white shirt, and grey slacks, a casual appearance that was belied by the expensive shoes he was wearing. They were of good leather, and they seemed to shine even in the fading light.
I tried to keep the shock off my face as I stared at him.
I had seen him just that once, but his image had been permanently stamped on my memory. The man I was staring at just couldn’t have been the Anderson I had met.
He seemed to have aged a decade more since the last time I saw him.
His face was drawn and gaunt, and underneath his eyes were huge bags of fatigue – or something worse.
The lines on his face were deeper, more pronounced, and instead of making his face look strong and wise, it made him look old now and strangely haggard. He seemed to have less hair and had gone even greyer than the last time we met.
He just couldn’t have been the same man!
The Paul Anderson I had seen had been strong, enigmatic, hard and totally confident; his magnetism was something that had stayed on in my mind.
The one I was looking at now seemed like an empty shell, like he had been drained of substance, of something tangible, and all that was left of him was a shell.
But, despite that, my fury sizzled as I glared up at him.
Here was the man who had come to me – a poor silly little unbeliever – and given me a message that had turned my life upside down … and he had not stayed around to watch the fun, even when he knew it all could have blown my mind.
The least he could have done was stay around and helped me out of the whole crazy affair, and maybe – just maybe – my old man would have been alive.
He came down the steps with his right hand outstretched and a plastic smile on his thin lips.
He spoke in a voice which had lost all its powerful vibrancy.
Hello, son. Welcome to our home.
I ignored his hand and glared at him, my body shaking with the urge to knock him down.
(in a bitterly whisper)
I could kill you!
Nicole’s drawn breath behind me was enough reason for me to hold my fury in check, and I took a deep shuddering breath.
Paul Anderson junior was staring at me in some sort of shocked incomprehension, and I could see the desperate look in the eyes of the older woman.
Anderson grabbed my upper arms and looked straight into my eyes.
For a moment the steel was there in his eyes. He looked at me with compassion, and there was something else there too … a glimpse of fear, a desperate plea that he was trying to keep hidden.
You’ve gone through hell, young man. I understand your anger, and I am cognizant of your bitterness. But believe me, Yaw, the Lord wanted it that way. I had no say in it, and there was absolutely nothing I could have done about that. You’ve seen enough, and God knows you’ve done enough to believe what I’m saying to you.
We stared at each other, two people who had operated on a higher level, a plane where lies and deceit were not necessary, where death was always a step away, and terror was a constant bedfellow.
Looking into his sad old eyes I believed, and from that belief was born a sudden flow of compassion for the old warrior.
Compassion not only for him, but for me, because I knew that there was a transition going on, that we represented a handing over in a game where souls were for the taking, where horror in its undiluted form was always breathing down your neck.
We were the past and the present, and looking at him I realized how my life was going to be.
There was all probability that a decade from now I would be looking as scared as he was, and as hopelessly helpless.
No one could survive the life of an Unblind, and that realization sent chills down my spine and strengthened my resolution to avoid that life at all cost.
All that passed between us, and when he stepped back there was a bit more color on his cheeks.
Do come inside, Yaw. Come get something to eat, take a bath and rest. We have a lot to talk about.
I walked beside him as we climbed the steps, and suddenly the air felt chilly.
I felt sudden goose bumps on my skin and I whirled suddenly.
I had felt it … evil had been staring at me.
My eyes roved the grounds, but there was nothing.
Nicole suddenly spoke with some alarm, and I realized suddenly that they were staring at me with sudden trepidation.
Yaw, what’s wrong?
I smiled wanly.
Its ok, there’s nothing wrong.
I walked inside quickly.
But I knew there was a lot wrong.
I had felt the malevolent stare and the associated chill that always accompanied it. I had smelt the sickening stench that was a companion to it.
They had arrived.
And they had found me.
A TROUBLED WOMAN
The guest room they gave me was located at the end of a long corridor.
It was a spacious comfortable room. The bed was huge, the mattress firm. Low leather chairs were arranged in the middle, and close to that was a dark mahogany desk and a matching leather-backed chair.
The sliding doors of the wardrobe were made with mirrors. A little refrigerator hummed in the corner. A fifteen-inch Sony television was fixed in one corner, about eight feet off the ground.
The bathroom had a real bath and a neat WC. Huge glass doors opened unto a little porch that had a wonderful view of the garden beyond and the hills rising into the sky beyond.
I took a long cold bath and slipped into black slacks and a clean white shirt.
The tentative knock came when I was slipping a gold cufflink on my left sleeve.
Please come in.
I said, my breath catching for a moment as I imagined Nicole entering with a sweet smile on her face just for me.
It was Mrs. Rosemary Anderson though.
She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. She looked at me, trying to see something which was way beyond her.
Somehow I felt stripped under her stare, and just a little bit piqued. She wanted answers I wasn’t sure I could give her, and that forced me into a mental state of defensiveness that I hated very much.
Dinner is served, Yaw. Please do join us.
I’m hungry enough to eat a horse. But dinner is really not why you’re here, is it?
My directness threw her off guard, and for a brief moment she clasped her hands together and almost wringed them.
The look on her face was suddenly real and desperate, the look of a terrified woman who was trying unsuccessfully to hold onto her sanity. She crossed the room quickly, and her hands gripped mine in a strong hold.
She looked at my face, and all her fears poured out of her soul as sudden tears welled up in her eyes.
(desperately, voice strained)
Oh, Yaw! I think I’m going out of my mind! Please, please promise me you’ll not let harm come to my husband!
I shook my head, exasperated.
Ma’am, really, I need your husband more than he needs me. I don’t know what is going on here but –
I was trying to pry myself free from her vice-like grip.
(desperately, eyes wild)
Promise me! Promise me!
Alright, alright, I promise!
She released me. She looked down at her feet, and a faint color began up her cheeks. She took quick steps backward.
She brushed the tears from her cheeks with a quick violent movement of her lower wrist, and then she gave me a brief nod and quickly left the room.
I stared at the closed door for a long time.
I felt hemmed in, and I needed some respite. She was a good woman, and was obviously just following the dictates of her heart, but in doing so she was slowly eroding my confidence and the deep anger I felt for the Legion.
I had lost my father under rather barbaric circumstances, and that sight had kept me moving, and had kept the fire burning.
That deep anger had somehow bolstered my confidence, and there was nothing I would have wanted more than an immediate showdown with the hostile demons that had done my old man in.
At least that had been the way I had been feeling; suddenly, Portville was doing something awful to my resolve and determination.
Slowly my armor was being peeled away, layer by layer. Suddenly my inward inclination was to get the hell out of Portville.
I made my way to the dining room slowly. I was still hungry, but the pangs were somehow dulled by the woman’s strange behavior.
The room was warm, and aglow with soft lighting.
The dining-table was oval and glass-topped. The chairs had high backs and made with polished silver. Exquisite chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The rug on the floor was maroon and soft, muting my footsteps as I entered.
The Andersons had guests for dinner.
I took it all in with one glance.
One was a tall dark man in an excellently-tailored tuxedo.
He was sitting at a medium-sized piano in one corner of the room, doing a rendition of a Mozart piece – I was familiar with the tune, but I didn’t know the title of the classic; all classics sort of bored me, naturally, and I had never bothered to find out the salient facts about them.
The rendition was decent, but the man’s face bore nothing; he wasn’t happy, and yet he wasn’t sad. It was a strange kind of thing watching that cold face methodically following the movements of the fingers as they danced over the piano keys.
There was also an elderly distinguished couple and a younger man.
The couples looked upper-class; the man was dressed in a flowing, embroidered white attire that looked African and fitted him well.
The woman – whom I assumed was his wife – was ageing well, her silver-grey hair well-groomed. Her light grey gown fitted her buxom figure well.
I noticed, however, the proud thrust of her aristocratic nose, as if she were sniffing out the air, trying to separate herself from the unwanted attention of other inferior elements.
Her husband was lean and straight with the true bearing of a retired military man. He was also aloof, but it was more controlled.
He was holding a tumbler of wine, and as I entered he turned and gave me a slow full look.
The younger man beside him could have been an exact replica of his father – yeah, I had guessed the family tie because it was that obvious – save for the fact that he was a full head taller, and had the long beaked nose of his mother.
His face was lean and pleasant, a rugged athletic type that could draw more than a single look from ladies. His tux suited him well; he portrayed the icon of bachelorhood, and I disliked him instantly, maybe because he was standing next to Nicole.
His right arm was draped carelessly around her waist as he sipped from the glass in his left hand.
He was whispering something into her ears as I entered, and she giggled, her pretty face alight with vibrant life.
She had changed into a simple green dress that fitted her like a dream, setting off her breathtaking beauty in a way I had never beheld so far.
She took my breath away, and as I watched them I felt an inkling of something basic and raw stirring within me, a feeling of anger mixed with intensified pain, a kind of lousy emotion I had never experienced before.
Anderson, his wife and young son were already seated at the dining-table.
He was at the head, his wife on his right and the boy on his left.
The table was already laid and the pastor was patiently waiting for everyone to be seated. He was in quiet conversation with his wife, and even from where I was standing I could see the strain on their faces.
To be continued…
© – Agyeman
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