Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
“Religion. They are at it again. Did you hear the news?” Anthony Parker mopped up the last of his runny eggs with a piece of toast chomping it viciously into his mouth.
His mother, Harriet Parker, stood at the sink, washcloth in hand, cleaning up breakfast. “You’d better hurry or you’ll be late for work. First day on the job, and all that.”
“How can people believe this stuff? Brainwashing is what it is. End up cutting off people’s heads in the name of the one true faith. Can’t understand why you think there is a God.” Anthony rolled his eyes.
“You’ve got egg on your face. Brush it off and be off. It was hard enough getting you this job without you making fun of it before you even start.” Harriet bit her lip in the mid-act of uttering a silent prayer.
They’d had this conversation before. She relied on the meagre offerings the church provided for food, clothing and medical assistance. If Anthony rocked the boat their suffering would be ten fold. “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
Anthony jerked away from the breakfast table as if shot. “Mother. I know how to push a broom and use a mop. Please. Just don’t tell Beth what I’m doing when she calls. You know we are just getting serious. I told her the band had a gig and I’d be away.”
“You lied to her? That’s blasphemy and no way to build a relationship.” The washrag in Harriet’s hands twisted into a knot like the one she felt in her stomach. The telephone rang. Both looked at it as if it were a living thing.
“You’ll be late. Go. I’ll handle it.” The phone called out again.
Anthony nodded by force of habit at the commanding tone of his mother’s voice. His feet obeyed. “I’m only doing this for you, Mom. Please,” and he was gone.
“Hello? Beth? You just missed him. What? Take a message? Sure what is it?” Harriet was glad the girl was in a hurry. If questions came up about the gig, no way was she going to lie for her son. It would only make matters worse. “Let me get a pencil and scrap of paper.”
“Yes. I’m all right. Thanks for asking. Just a twinge. Goodbye.” The pained gasp at the end of their conversation as she wrote the message down wasn’t from the cancerous growth eating away her insides. She stared down in horror at the words she’d written.
“Going to a day long demonstration about LGBT and women’s abortion rights.” The location was at Harriet’s own church. Anthony would think she was to blame. She could have used her health condition to force Beth to care for her instead.
“God? This is in your hands.” Harriet let the phone drop. Her pain in her abdomen felt intense. Knives were sharpening each other down there. All thought of warning Anthony fled. She made it to the medicine cabinet, body slick with sweat, fumbled open the morphine container and swallowed.
“Anthony. What a surprise. Did your mom call? It is so good of you to be here. What’s with the broom?” Beth shoved a protest sign into her boyfriend’s hands. “Neat. You dressed as a janitor to get us inside. Weather will be beastly today. We can hold a sit down without getting cold and wet. You are a doll.”
The tipping point happened fast. Shots rang out from the group of counter protesters. Bullet holes tore through the ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign he held. Anthony swung the remains at the rush of faces coming at him, feeling a grunt of satisfaction as the handle stabbed into a pressing body.
“Anthony? I’m hit.” He felt Beth cling to his back, her warm blood rubbing her against his body. The flash of news cameras made him blink. The riot engulfed him with the sound of police clubs hunting for order, cracking skulls, adding to the mayhem. It became a bloodfest.
Half trampled to death, Anthony struggled to rock Beth inside the janitor’s closet. The smell of smoke from thrown torches mixed with tear gas edged from under the closed door. They were going to die. “Hold on, Beth.”
He stared up at the chipped figure of the Virgin Mary stored in the closet until it could be repaired. “Pro life,” he wept and swore.
Glass shattered down over him and the girl he loved from the closet’s broken window. “Anthony? Are you there? It’s your mom.”
“Yes. Thank God you brought a crow bar.” The long end swung against the window frame, knocking it loose, tumbling it free.
“Don’t blaspheme, Anthony,” Harriet urged as her son began to swear, while pushing Beth up and rolling her out into his mothers arms. The force knocked both of the women down.
“Got to get her to a hospital. Can you walk?” Her son was there helping Harriet up. The two of them wrapped Beth’s arms around their shoulders. The three limped away, leaving the blazing church behind.
“It’s a miracle.”
A doctor on the way to work had set up a triage in the hospital emergency parking lot and treated Beth there. No-one but pandemic patients were permitted inside. The bodies of protesters, counter-protesters, police, and innocent bystanders littered the area. Beth was one who would survive. Burn victims were still being brought in.
“It is a worse cancer than the one I’ve got. Let us pray.” The horror of living through what they’d just had to, was etched deep in the pain lines on Harriet’s face.
“We can’t stay here. It is starting to rain and hail again,” Anthony eased Beth into the back of Harriet’s old Plymouth, helped his mom inside and began the trip back home.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t make your gig, Anthony. Thank you and mom for saving my life. We did right.” Beth’s bandage was seeping blood again. She looked startled, threw up an eruption of blood, gargled more and fainted.
“Turn around. The doctor said we could use his name. He’ll do what he can.” Harriet offered a pain pill to Anthony like it was taking the sacrament. “God will provide or it is meant to be.”
Anthony cursed under his breath. His knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. In the rear view mirror he watched Beth’s face soften and whiten, her breath fluttering as he rolled his eyes.