out of the ashes

Monday, July 26, 2010

The end of Eleven

First draft, but...well, as you can see, Maribeth has seen the light :)

Marvin relaxed, now, seeing she was probably not “foe”, and that the police were most likely not on the way. “I have no fuckin’…AAAAGH! No idea. Sorry, miss. Something’s inside my brain. I think it’s him. Somehow he got in there. Every time I say something that isn’t straight out of Emily Post he zaps me!” Marvin leaned forward and grabbed her arms suddenly. “I tell you, Maribeth Harris, daughter of the governor, I know every line of The Grapes of Wrath. Boom! Just like that all of the sudden. It’s frightening! A Farewell To Arms, too! This morning I couldn’t have recited Mary had a little lamb…couldn’t even have read it! Christ Almigh…WHOOA-AAGH! You know what I mean?”
No. How could she? An instant savant, who yesterday was simply a common indigent?
Okay, he thought. He’d come here to see Amy, though what he intended to do afterward was nebulous. But he had been instructed to come, that he would find her here. She wasn’t here, though, and that presented certain problems. Was that thing lying? Did he really even see what he thought he saw outside the Mission window? Maybe, maybe not. Still, what was happening inside his head? And why? The language, the books he’d never read rolling around up there complete and clear as crystal. The zaps. All of it was connected to Amy in some mysterious way.
He decided to unload. If this girl rolled over laughing or told him to take a hike, so be it. Back to the dock sooner than he anticipated was the worst thing.
“This might take a few minutes. Can we maybe find a chair or two someplace to sit more comfterble…AAAGH! Comfortably? And, I don’t suppose you’d have any cheese…or cookies…or…” Marvin was wincing, holding his temples.
“Of course.” Maribeth jumped to her feet. “Can you get up?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Marvin’s joints felt like staples had been driven into them, but he managed to rise by himself, afraid to speak. He faltered a step backward, the vertigo attacking him briefly. Maribeth skirted to his side and steadied him by the arm. Robert moped across the drive carrying Maribeth’s cell.
“Better. Thanks.”
“Here yuh ah, miss Maruhbeth.” Robert, dole-faced, but proper, handed her the phone as she and Marvin began the trip across the driveway to the gazebo he had noticed earlier.
“Will that be all, then?” he asked.
“Not quite. Please bring a large tumbler of iced lemonade and a platter of chocolate chip cookies to the gazebo. And a few slices of cheese.”
“Yes, ma’am. As yuh wish.”
Maribeth and Marvin walked down a long, sloping field of emerald-green. In the center, midway between the rear of the mansion and the guest quarters tucked into the western edge of the grounds, stood the gazebo. A meandering pathway of flagstones led from the house to the opening in the stem-walls surrounding it. Inside were a small table set to one side, two chairs, and a chaise lounge. Maribeth entered holding Marvin’s hand and motioned to him to sit across from her.
“Now. Tell me all about it, Mr. Fuster.”
Marvin took a deep breath. “Well, it started a few nights ago, I think. I’ve lost some days somewhere, but…”
Robert brought the platter of cookies and the drinks as he was instructed, and then left without a word, glancing over his shoulder twice as he made his way back to the house. Marvin began the journey, which seemed disjointed and beyond incredible most of the way to Maribeth. She listened to the sad story of his early life, how he had left society and married a bottle, without comment, but when he came to the chapter opening at the Mission, chewing on the fourth cookie, her ears began to flutter.
“You what?”
“Yeah, I had to get out of there quick…”
“Oh, Mr. Fuster…”
“Please, call me Marvin.”
“Marvin. Seriously. An angel?”
“Well, I don’t know how else to describe a thing with fifteen eyes and sporting wings. But, I wasn’t drunk! I swear it.”
“You hit your head when you jumped out the window.”
“NO! It just knocked the wind out of me. My head was okay.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.”
“Look!” Marvin pushed the chair back with a clatter, stood up, and yanked his tee-shirt up. A wide band of reddish-blue extended straight across his stomach. Maribeth looked at it and made a frowny-face.
“Ooh, that’s nasty.”
Marvin then bent over and brought his scalp within her eyesight, pulling the failing strands of hair apart with his fingertips. “See, nothing there.”
She laughed at that. “Well, I can’t see inside.”
“No knock on the head. I swear it’s true. After Essie threw my legs out, I somersaulted...and I felt these, these fingers or something just before I hit. Or landed. It didn’t hurt a bit.” His eyes drifted far away. “Fingers. They were his fingers.
“I’m not crazy, Miss Harris…”
“Maribeth. Or Mare. Suit yourself.”
“Maribeth, look at me. You gotta’ believe me. I’m not nuts.” Marvin gazed hard into her eyes. “Do you want me to recite Moby Dick? From page one? I can do it.”
“So you were an English professor…”
“ I dropped out of school after the fifth grade. And besides, what English prof do you know who could recite the whole of any book? I tell you, an hour ago I couldn’t spell my name.”
“The thing in your head.”
“Yes! And she’s the reason! I have to…to reverse my age. I’m going to. I mean, why else would this be happening to me?”
Maribeth shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.”
There was a moment of nothing, a dead calm. Marvin looked at Maribeth. She looked at her hands folded in her lap. The sound of a fly crawling across a cookie on the platter was like thunder.
“Well,” Marvin said finally, rising. “Thanks for the cookies and lemonade. I’d better get moving. Thanks for listening.”
“Where will you go?”
“Back home. I need to rest. It’s been one helluva’ day.” He smiled and began to leave.
(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

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