by LJ Barr
David suffers a violent flashback when he realizes that death has killed his beloved.
| #2 Your character is an artist commissioned to do a painting for someone. Using the added genre of paranormal.|
The Shattered Canvas
David stood at the palatial wall-to-wall windows in the studio office of his Boston penthouse; however, his mind was not on his current project. Instead, David’s mind continued to scroll down Memory Lane, replaying every highlight of his and Gregg’s fevered relationship. They had been Married just over ten year and they’d been happy years until Gregg illness changed everything. When Gregg first got sick, he and David thought he had the flu, but after the illness lingered, getting worse with each episode, Gregg contacted his physician, who sent him to the hospital emergency room for tests, after which, two days later, Dr. Garrison admitted him to the hospital for further testing.
“Oh, Gregg, why couldn’t you just tell the truth? I may not have liked your plan, but I would at least be there with and for you,” David said as he turned from the large window in the studio, walked to through the divided Pony wall into the Conversation Area and stood before the large portrait of him and Gregg, painted right after Gregg moved in with him ten years ago; there was one like it hanging in a place of prominence over the fireplace in the living room. Their wedding photographer presented that portrait to them the day of the wedding. “Why,” he muttered again, slamming his fist, hard, into the wall; he walked around the side table and removed the portrait from the wall over the side table, and turned to face against the wall. “No, I won’t take that detour,” he said aloud into the empty room, “I’m going to change my way of life, it’s over between us. Dianna told me you had gone to Dallas, and then we had that argument—animated discussion—because I called mom, asking for you. You’re dead or close to it, and everyone will know soon enough.” David turned on his heel, left the Conversation Area; on the way, he stopped at his canvas, sitting on the easel, three swatches of paint being all he’d been able to do with the seascape he’d been commissioned to paint for the daughter of one of his most influential clients. Usually, the scene of the ocean of night provided David with amply fodder for a seascape of a stormy sea with waves slapping against the seawall and one ship tossed, like a toy boat, over the waves. Tonight, and for the past three days, though, his mind just would not focus. Instead, every time he looked out the window, he saw a man struggling to pull the anchor into a ship that was fast sinking into the depths of midnight blue water. David stepped away from the window, walked into the studio, and slammed his fist into the canvas with such force that, although the easel on it oak stand barely even moved from its place; a punch with that much force would destroy a normal easel, but there was now a gaping hole in the center of the canvas. David walked through the studio, out the door, and down the hall to the Master Suite. Moments later, he returned to the studio with his Military Dagger. As he walked past the easel, he turned, and delivered a beautiful roundhouse kick to the middle of the easel; again, the easel barely moved. A cheaper easel would have burst into splinters upon splinters, but it this easel stood firm. He glared at the idle piece of furniture. “You call yourself an artist,” the color swatches seemed to mock “you can’t even destroy the easel.”
“Shut up, you don’t know WTF you’re talking about. If you were me, you couldn’t paint either,” he yelled, as he walked to the Conversation Area, flipped the switch on the wall, and the right sconce lit the room with a dim aura, David sat down and tossed his dagger back and forth between his hands light glinting from the sharp blade each time it passed from one hand to the other; his hands trembled and his forehead was wet with sweat as he fought against the flashback. Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, David screamed bloody murder, grabbed his and Gregg’s portrait turned it facing out into the studio, and began slashing the portrait; he slashed until nothing, but pieces of cloth remained, and the ornate frame splintered. Tears streamed from David’s eyes. Everything was a blur. “No…oooo,” he screamed and ran toward the studio, in the mist caused by the tears, he saw the enemy. “When we finish this combat, you won’t be standing! You are a freaking murderer, you killed my team, and now my husband has fallen victim to your promises, and all because of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. For the next hour, David cut, slashed, and otherwise literally destroyed the studio—all that remained in the room were pieces of canvas, splinters of wood, and one lone table, as well as the oak base on which his easel sat, remained standing in the space that was once his art studio; David threw his pallet against the River Rock fireplace wall, paint splattering everywhere. David lay unconscious several feet away, in front of the fireplace.
Helen Cunningham rang the doorbell, and waited for several seconds, rang the chimes again, waited, but then there was no answer, she reached into her handbag, pulled out her cell phone, and pushed the emergency number; she started, and her breath caught in her throat when the door clicked open, to the penthouse across the hall. She exhaled vocally when David’s friend Jason walked down the hall toward Helen. “I think David had a flashback about an hour ago now; he let out a blood curdling scream, and then there was a lot of banging and crashing. It was all I could do not to go over there, but David told me not to try to be hero because it might just get me killed,” Jason said
“You did the wise thing, Jason” Helen said, “David’s PTSD episodes can be violent.” Helen put her key in the lock, opened the door, and entered the penthouse, and called David. When there was no answer, Helen headed toward the Master Suite, and David in tow. As she walked through the living room, Jason followed, noticing a dim light coming from beneath the studio door. “Mrs. “M”, there’s a light coming from the studio suite” he said.
Helen pulled her phone out of her purse and depressed a red button, brought her phone to her ear, and listened for a couple of moments, until the call connected. “What brought on this episode?” she asked.
“He’s been acting weird since he discovered that medicine bottle on the desk,” I guess he searched on Google and found out the medicine was used to fight a rare brain cancer, and things dot really bad after him and Gregg had what David termed, 'an animated discussion, before Gregg left the house the other night.”
“Helen shook her head. “I was afraid this was going to happen. He was so upset when he called me looking for Gregg. He wasn’t making sense. Helen’s phone buzzed, she pressed talk and listened. Jason couldn’t hear what was said, but a look of alarm crossed her face and she pushed up from the recliner. “We’d better get in there. David just said he can’t get back,” she said. “A few years ago, when he lived with us up in Northport, we developed this code as a way for David to call for help if he couldn’t come home after a flashback.”
We entered the studio through the kitchen, Helen turned on the right sconce, pressed a button on the lamp base, and the room lit up like a torch, gasped and stopped in the tracks. “Oh, my, I don’t ever remember him having anything this this while he lived with us. This room is a disaster!” She exclaimed.
“Mrs. ‘C’,’ there’s something I didn’t tell you,” Jason began—
“—Jason, I guessed from what you told me in earlier that you must have been there. Did you leave this room before or after Jason screamed?” She asked.
“I saw everything. I followed him to this suite after I finished cleaning up the kitchen; I sat in the shadows of the office space, in that scrumptious office chair. After David threw the palette at the fireplace, he got very quiet and turned toward the office space. He must have sensed my presence because he turned and looked right at me, raised that dagger over his head, and came toward me, his brandishing that terrible thing, and I didn’t think, I just ran,” Jason replied.
“I don’t blame you,” she said; I’d have done the same thing. It took a while, but I discovered, in the process, that in that short cooling down stage, you could have made yourself known and called him by name, and David would have come back,” but, under the circumstances, you did the right thing.”
“When I saw that blade, I just ran,” Jason said.
“We need to find David, Jason, before it’s tool late and he’s forever lost to it, he can’t get home,” she said.
“I know, I remember how bad Matt’s were.”
“Oh, Jason, I’m sorry, your brother Matt, who better to be here for David,” she said.”
“It’s okay, Mrs. ‘C’, it wasn’t easy, but I’ve finally let it go,” Jason replied.
“It is imperative that we find David,” she said; when he returned to the place where his team died, and he no longer has the strength to return without help. You look over by the fireplace space, and I’ll look in the studio. Call me when you find David,” she said. “He’s in big trouble, Jason.”
Jason headed to the sitting area, which, except for the fireplace, was still intact; he no more than the area, when he saw David’s feet sticking out from the narrow space between the fireplace and the wall. “Mrs., ‘C’, I found hurried him,” Jason said and ran the four feet to the studio. Helen knelt on the floor where the easel once stood; she gently running her fingers across a long, red silk scarf. “Mrs. ‘C’,” Jason said in a low tone, not wanted to disturb her memories.
Helen looked up at Jason, tears in her eyes. “This is the scarf Gregg gave David, as a way of grounding him in reality,” she said; “David must have tried to ground himself before he went all the way back the second time. It worked too a point, she said. Had he thrown the palette at the fireplace before or after you ran from the room?”
“Just before he came at me with that dagger,” Jason said; “I found David over there between the wall and the fireplace; he was unconscious,” Jason said.
“Come you must help me get him out of there,” Helen said, and they hurried to the sitting area. Helen hurried back to the Fireplace Conversation Area and got to her knees, and grabbing each leg just above the ankle, and pulled gently. After a few good tugs Helen sighed and sat back on her haunches. “Come on, David, you have to help a little. You’re as stiff as a board, please son. When nothing happened, she stood, and her demeanor changed completely. She threw her shoulders back; her next words we not begging, they were ordering. “David Mark Grayson, relax this minute,” she demanded. “I know you are somewhere in there. You cannot just give up. You must survive, not for me or Gregg. You owe this to yourself. Can you hear me? Do you understand? We stood silently what seemed like forever before a low groan emitted from the narrow space and David’s legs relaxed enough for Mrs. ‘C’ and Jason to pull him out of the narrow space. David, rolled onto his back and lay quietly. “PTSD is trying on the patience,” Jason said.
“That it is,” Helen said; That it is, Jason.”
“I remember how it was after Tom came back; sometimes, it seemed like he was lost,” Jason said. “The doctor told mom and dad that it was likely that Tom never made it out of Iraq, and he died somewhere between where he was when his trauma happened and home, but he had nothing to ground him,” Jason said.
“That’s why Gregg gave David that scarf, and why David and I devised our little system” she said.
After a few minutes, David’s eyelids fluttered open, and he stared at the studio ceiling like he’d never seen it before.
“Where am I?” David asked.
“You are in your studio suite in your penthouse in upper Boston,” Helen said.
“Mom, he said, surprise tinging his voice. “What are you doing here?” I came over when you didn’t answer your phone. I was worried, David. You were so upset when you called me.”
“Yeah, and I saw everything,” Jason said. “I sat in that awesome desk chair and watched all. When you finally sensed my presence, and came after me with that dagger, I left that room in such a hurry, I didn’t take time to look back until I was inside my place with the door locked.”
“Actually, you could have brought me home, by calling my name, but since I never told you about my PTSD episodes, you were very wise to leave.”
“Look, you two, time is growing short, and we have a lot to talk about,” Helen said. “While you two discuss this further, I’ll go brew some of that herbal tea you love so much, and a plate of those sugar wafers, David, You need some energy,” she said, and leaving David and Jason, Helen opened the door to the kitchen entrance, and disappeared.