out of the ashes

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To heck with it

Listening to Brahms symphony # 3 in F-Major, Opus 90. It's nothing in mood compared to Chapter Six, almost the exact opposite. But, it's incredibly gorgeous. I never realized Johannes had written anything so filled with beauty. Sure, the lullaby, but... I want to write like he composed. Him, too. I won't give up.

Here's 6, up to where I am, anyway.
I wasn't going to publish any more of my new portions, but what the heck.

Anselm meets Maribeth...

Six

Maribeth Harris, the governor’s daughter, twenty-one come September, five-four, maybe five, blonde, eccentric, brilliant but too young to know it, a lover of lost or hopeless causes, beautiful in a James Dean sort of way, and a terrible driver. Someone Anselm could make use of in his two times two equals ten method of calculation with these beings.
Angels are no smarter than men or women—simply more obedient, less distracted, and much better traveled.

He’s going to have to vacate the underside of that dock. But, where should I put him? Have him put himself? The rescue missions are no good, he’d wind up killing someone.
Anselm sat deep in thought atop a stone bench. The bench stood amidst a bed of dazzling, colorful flowers running alongside the narrow asphalt road winding through Cheesman Park, a few blocks to the east of the downtown area. It was nine-fifteen in the morning. A Colorado morning, a Denver morning that was impossibly exquisite—resting as the city did just below the ceiling of the world like a pearl in a silver mount.
Marvin was sleeping soundly, with a spike holding him securely down. Roget had Amy’s hand in his, even if she was unaware of it. The situation was two-thirds under control, but where to put Marvin? Where might he be planted that he could truly blossom?
A sparrow with a worm in its mouth shot in a blur from the sky and perched on Anselm’s knee, though in the physical world his tiny claws clung firmly to thin air—six inches above the cool stone surface of the bench. The little creature rested for a moment and studied him, offering the angel, perhaps, a piece of her chicks’ breakfast with a quick twist of her head that made the worm’s body whiplash. No? She whisked away again toward her nest in an elm thirty feet away, leaving the angel to sit quietly, considering Marvin’s housing dilemma.
Anselm failed to notice Maribeth Harris racing along the road on her way through the park to visit Maggie. The governor’s daughter was in a hurry, as usual, and drove her Mercedes coupe, top down, stereo blasting Phish for all the world to enjoy along with her. Maggie, a close friend from Denver University, was leaving for the airport at ten-thirty, and Maribeth was late to taxi her there. Seventy-five feet away from Anselm, her cell phone sang out from its pocket in her purse, a monstrosity of denim and sequins lying on the passenger seat beside her.
“Damn, that’s probably Mags…” She reached with her right hand, yanked the top open and thrust the hand into the well of it. Searching through the contents for the phone, shifting her eyes from the road ahead to the purse. Windshield and road beyond quickly. Purse. Windshield glaring. Purse again. Edge of pavement at forty-five miles per hour.
Anselm turned his head and watched as the flowers fell like soldiers under a withering barrage of machine gun fire. In a blink the front end of the roadster sheered the bench he was sitting on. It passed through him, over the grate and crunch of disintegrating cement, and came to a lurching stop on the decapitated remains of a fire hydrant five feet away.
The hiss and roar of five hundred gallons of water per minute blasting the bottom of the engine block quickly followed. The call on Maribeth’s phone went to a drowned out message.
"HI, Mare. This is Mags. Just wondered if you were…Ohmagod, hold on, I just heard a horrible crash over in the park…”
Maribeth sat in the aftermath riveted to the seat back, her eyes like owl’s, hands in a death grip on the wheel, and her legs fully pistoned on the pedals—brake and accelerator, yin and yang. The torrent of water, unable to drive its way through the dense block and crinkled metal of the hood found its way out through other, more convenient orifices. It gushered sideways through the wheel wells in a spray to rival the bursting of Hoover Dam, and forward like a thousand fire hoses aimed point-blank at the smashed grill. It finally awakened her.
“Oh—shit! Daddy’s going to kill me this time!”
This time was number three. The first was two years ago, at midnight, on a dare from Mags and Jonathon to run the diagonal across the park lawn. An officer was at the other end of the hypotenuse, sitting with the lights off in his patrol car. Daddy had to quietly fix the careless driving ticket.
The second time was five months ago in broad daylight at five below zero, on black ice, here in the park, not far away. The Mercedes—Daddy’s that time—did a series of swift and graceful twirls, but to port as surely as if a strong tide had locked it in its grip. The sparkling snowcapped handrail of the bridge the car was about to cross brought the sleek, formerly undamaged SL to a halt. Maribeth blamed the entire mishap on Mayor Copperfield’s legion of useless maintenance workers who hadn’t sanded and salted the road properly, and that was somewhat true. But she had been cruising along, again, toward Mag’s house, watching a jet silently swimming in a silver gleam thousands of feet above her. Thirty-five in a fifteen zone, with a jogger enjoying the frozen morning directly in her path, enjoying the passage of the jet herself as she ran.
The lady survived with only a severe case of heart palpitations, but the driver’s side door of Richard Harris’ automobile required expensive surgery, and the bridge rail had to be replaced.
Careless driving. Reckless endangerment. Destruction of city property.
“That’s the last time, young lady!”
It seems it was not.
Leaving the thorny problem of Marvin for the moment, Anselm breezed the few feet to the roadster impaled on the remains of the hydrant. He found it curious, this incident. Had the young woman somehow seen him and aimed the vehicle directly at him? Disregarded the damage that would be done to the fragile body of the car by the stone bench? Certainly she must have known she could not hurt him—if she had, in fact, seen him.
It was not unheard of that a physical being could at times catch a glimpse of a spirit. It had happened often enough on other worlds, and the writings of the earthlings themselves documented the same.
He hovered over her, then flitted his enormous wings and moved to the front outside the windscreen, wondering if she would react. She did not, at least to him. Maribeth bit her lower lip and stared straight ahead through the body of the angel in a kind of hypnotic vacancy. Anselm peered into her thoughts. Curious, indeed.
Damn! Damn, damn, DAMN! Stupid phone. Stupid, stupid me. How could I have…he’s going to murder me! Accident. This time just an accident. Wasn’t speeding. Too much.
Oh, Mother of God, help me.

Mother of God? But He has no mother, Anselm smiled. He is Mother. Poor Mary back there in Heaven having to blush at these prayers every other second for two thousand years. But who knows, he thought, maybe she'd run to the throne this time, red-faced but moved by the plea. She carried a lot of weight back home, it was true. Such a sweet girl herself, with the fathomless heart of a mother. And her smile. He'd listen if she asked.
Maribeth slammed the heels of her hands on the steering wheel after a few more long seconds of alternately cursing her luck and praying to anyone listening. She finally opened the door angrily. The water continued to jet out from beneath the car, creating a swimming pool in the remains of the flowerbed, overflowing in a merry stream onto the asphalt. She stepped into the soft ooze of mud, her left foot sinking into it up to her ankle. So long Prada flats.
“Crap!”
A pair of bicyclists circling the park happened upon the scene and stopped immediately when they saw the Mercedes straddling the gush of water, the remains of the bench, the devastated flowerbed that had stood in her path. And they saw Maribeth looking down, trying to work her way out of the mud, muttering to herself. The man gently let his racer fall to the grass on the far side of the road, then ran on tiptoes through the stream as though it were hydrochloric acid.
“You okay? What happened?” he asked from the edge of the pavement where he had stopped.
She raised her head and shot a look at him. Her blue eyes flashed imploringly.
“I lost my shoe!”
Shoe? Anselm chuckled, leaning sideways with the tips of his wings lifting quickly, like the primaries of a Kestrel readying the body for lift off.
“Shoe?” the man asked, slightly confounded.
“Here in the mud! God, they cost a fortune. I can’t believe this happened!”
“Do you…your shoe? I’d think that’s the least of your worries. Are you all right? What happened?”
The female rider joined him at the edge of the pool of water on the pavement, grabbing hold of his muscled arm at the elbow. She lifted her Vuitton shades onto her brow and shook her head sadly. The woman appreciated Maribeth’s sense of loss. Expensive shoes, God forbid.
“I lost a Gucci once. I nearly cried. Well, I did,” she said to Maribeth.
“They’re Pradas! Brand new!”
“Oh, no. That’s simply tragic.”
“What about the car!” he said.
From the east, across the expanse of lawn, another young woman sprinted toward the scene in the bright sunlight. Anselm glanced over at her. She wore denim shorts, cuffed at the upper thigh, and a magenta blouse tied in a loose bow knot above her navel. The woman ran athletically, with long, barefoot strides, leaning forward. Her full lips formed an O as she sucked in air and handfuls of consternation. The red hair settled in tight curls against her high cheekbones when she came to a quick stop just outside the mud field.
“Ohmagod! What happened, Mare? How on earth did you manage this one?” she cried out.
“Exactly,” the male bicyclist said. This one. This one?
“Do we need a cop?” the Gucci asked incidentally.
“My God, Pradas. You might as well just kiss them goodbye,” she raised her voice. “The water alone will have simply ruined the one stuck in the mud.”
Maribeth was busy tugging to free her foot, and at the same time keep the shoe locked halfway on it. The deluge continued, unmindful of the drama that had unfolded on its account. Anselm took it all in; the man afraid to de-cleat his own feet and go to the unfortunate girl’s assistance. His vacuous friend. The latest arrival hardly breathing heavier than if she’d ambled slowly across the park. The blonde named Maribeth who seemed less worried at the moment about the someone who was going to kill her than the necessity of retrieving a shoe.
“Oh God, Mags…I’m so sorry I was on my way over to your place and I knew I was late I was speeding just a little when the phone rang it was in my purse and I went to find it and lost the road and then my shoe my brand new Prada no less and Daddy’s going to friggin’ kill me. SHIT!”
That about said it all, in less time, too, than it had ever taken Maribeth to say, “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts.”
“Jeez-Louise, Mare. You and your driving. Here, let me help you get out.” Mags took a step forward through the water on the lawn to the beginning of the super-saturated mud pit and her friend. She leaned far forward, extending her hand.
“Don’t worry about Richie. I’ll make up some cock and bull story to get you out of this one. Here, take hold.”
Richie? The murderer-to-be? Daddy? Anselm brought a finger to his chin and wondered. He looked at the expensive car, the girl. Where could this go?
Maribeth was nearly calf-deep, refusing to abandon the shoe. Mags drew back, grimacing and pulling. Digging her heels in and grimacing. Pulling.
“Hey you over there. Can ya’ maybe give me a hand?”
The biker looked quickly at his friend. Not directed to her, he was pretty certain. He looked back at Mags, and then lowered his eyes to the flood of water beneath his cleats.
“Uhh…”
Anselm leapt from the hood and swooped behind Mags. He reached around her and placed a hand on top of hers, then as easily as if he were lifting a flower from a vase, brought Maribeth Harris out of the mud, shoe and all. His body and wings enveloped the two young women as they stepped backward, which sent a momentary shudder racing through him.
Mags…
What, what, what???? What shiver runs through her???????? How do I show it?
(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

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