Th£ SECOND SIGHT EPISODE 40
I paced restlessly.
Yes! I didn’t read h£r. I couldn’t read h£r. Why? Who’s $h£? Why was I so powerless !n h£r arms? How was $h£ able to transform h£rself so … so much that $h£ was a lovely adorable young woman? What is go!ng on h£re?
Bonner sigh£d, and h¡s eyes were suddenly troubled as h£ looked at me.
Th£ woman who seduced Paul Anderson and brought h¡m d©wΠ was an ord!nary woman. Someone with©vt much beauty. You remember I told you $h£ had th£ Glow, what you call a force-field? And $h£ was a good Christian. But what happened? Paul, a seasoned man of God, slept with h£r right h£re !n th¡s same office, and h£ defiled th£ house of God. Well, Paul claimed at th£ time that somehow wh£n $h£ touch£d h¡m $h£ changed suddenly. $h£ became a woman of breath-tak!ng beauty, filled with such wonderful promises – h¡s words, not m!ne – that h£ could not believe h£ was with th£ same woman. I didn’t believe h¡m th£n, but now you too have experienced th£ same th!ng. Th£ truth is that I don’t know how th£se women are able to do it. It is someth!ng I simply do not compreh£nd. I have h£ard oth£r Unbl!nds speak!ng of ph£nomena like that, but frankly I don’t know what it is.
If I’m an Unbl!nd with multiple gifts as you claim, th£n why didn’t I s£nse h£r? Why didn’t I see someth!ng? Look I almost killed that widow, okay? I have to know th£ answers! What really happened? Why didn’t I glow !n th£ pres£nce of that woman? How is $h£, and of course that widow too, able to be !n th£ house of God worshipp!ng day !n day ©vt, and has th£ ability to somehow change !nto a most desirable voluptuous woman, and yet we can’t feel th£m, or see any demons !n th£m? Even !n th£ pres£nce of th£ Legion I glowed, but how was it abs£nt !n that damned woman’s case?
I don’t know why you couldn’t read Shirley Okai, son. What I know is that you should have known ab©vt h£r! Your gift should’ve warned you or revealed h£r to you. I don’t know why you were not warned. Be!ng who you are, I don’t expect anyth!ng !n th£ spiritual realm to take you by surprise.
But I was taken by surprise! Secondly, wh£n I hit th£ widow th£ first time $h£ was still occupied by th£ Legion. Wh£n I grabb£d h£r th£ second time, th£ Legion had vacated h£r b©dy and occupied th£ crow on th£ w!ndow sill. I didn’t see it leav!ng th£ woman’s b©dy. Under all oth£r cir¢vmstances – like wh£n it vacated Bruno’s b©dy – I saw th£ wh0l£ process! But h£re I didn’t see anyth!ng! One moment it was !n th£ woman, th£ next … kaboom, gone.
h£ tried to speak, but noth!ng came ©vt. I walked quickly toward h¡m and bent almost double so I could look !nto h¡s eyes…and at that moment I saw my fear mirrored !n h¡s eyes.
Do you know th£ worst part, old man, th£ really juicy part? If th£ Legion had j√$t decided to kill Paul Anderson ©vtright and not both£red with frighten!ng and degrad!ng h¡m, Anderson would have died long before I came !n.
h£ was startled by that, and h£ sh°t forward, br!ng!ng h¡s face even closer to m!ne.
That is scary, son. I th!nk someth!ng is very wrong h£re. Terribly wrong, and we need to f!nd ©vt why. You know, I s£nsed it. I felt it somehow. It has to do with you, someth!ng you need to do, someth!ng you shouldn’t have done…
someth!ng . It is someth!ng basic, but I can’t put my f!ng£r on it. Listen, let’s go home and sleep over it. We are tired, and tired men make mistakes. Our k!nd of mistake always leads to death, so let’s relax. I j√$t might be able to p!npo!nt what might be happen!ng to you somehow. It is madden!ng because I know I know th£ reason, somehow, but I j√$t can’t put my f!ng£r on it. We need to know. I have to p!n it d©wΠ!
As I looked at h¡m I saw that for th£ very first time all h¡s calm and charisma was gone. h£ was a s¢ar£d old man grabb!ng for straws, pa!nfvlly try!ng to stay afloat !n turbulent waters that couldn’t be tamed.
h£ could not meet my eyes.
And that frightened me even m©r£ than th£ Legion did.
We got home late that even!ng.
Anderson came ©vt of th£ car and walked by h¡mself, h¡s gait sure, h¡s shoulders square, but we all knew that h£ was burn!ng |ns!de.
It was !n h¡s eyes; th£ eyes never lie, as Bob used to say, and !n Anderson’s eyes was th£ th!ng . It had gone beyond mere terror. h¡s encounter with th£ Legion had taken an awful lot of soul from h¡m, and even as I sympathized with h¡m and felt th£ guilt a$$ault!ng me each time I set eyes on h¡m, I wondered if h£ would ever be th£ same man aga!n.
It was a sombre meal that we had that even!ng. No one apart from Bonner and I knew what had really happened to Anderson, but somehow it had managed to affect everyb©dy.
Anderson ate like an automaton; h¡s h£ad was bent over h¡s plate, and I noticed that most of h¡s food ended up !n h¡s laps because h¡s m©vth had somehow become a bit slack, and little drops of food fell ©vt as h£ ch£wed.
h£ left th£ table quickly with h¡s wife.
Bonner pecked at h¡s food, and soon after h£ ₱u$h£d h¡s plate away and stood up.
I th!nk I’ll retire early today, son.
I nodded at h¡m.
Paul Anderson junior, I was told, was ©vt camp!ng !n th£ woods with a few of h¡s friends – a Boys’ Sc©vt expedition – and wasn’t expected till th£ follow!ng even!ng.
That was f!ne, because th£ atmosph£re !n th£ house would’ve left h¡m [email protected]!ng for breath, and I felt it was good to spare h¡m some of th£ crazy th!ngs go!ng @r0vnd.
I was left with Nicole at th£ table, and although I felt h£r h°t eyes on me on m©r£ than a few occasions I deliberately refused to look at h£r.
$h£ had found me !n th£ arms of h£r soon-to-be moth£r-!n-law, and I had seen th£ expression of revulsion on h£r face. Every little nerve !n me cried ©vt for redemption, to put myself high !n h£r special book of Esteemed People.
I wanted to [email protected]|| at h£r feet and beg h£r, grovell!ng for mercy and for understand!ng; I wanted h£r to know everyth!ng that was go!ng on, but somehow I felt h£r anger and distrust of me was th£ right th!ng.
Th£ !ncident $h£ had witnessed would kill whatever crazy emotions had begun to spr!ng up b£tweeΠ us.
I would always love h£r, of course, and th£re wouldn’t be a s!ngle moment !n my life wh£re I wouldn’t miss h£r, but some pa!ns were worth bear!ng.
Yeah, I had read that one somewh£re !n one of those westerns I loved…yeah, it was th£ Pale Rider, wh£re th£ gun-tott!ng preach£r had told th£ teenager who was besotted with h¡m that it was good to set loved ones free, and if th£y came [email protected]¢k th£n it was a sure sign of true love, or some damn s£ntimental yarn like that.
But it was most appropriate now, although I wasn’t sure th£re was any semblance of budd!ng love b£tweeΠ Nicole and me.
For all I knew it was j√$t a one-way k!nd of th!ng, wh£re I was crazy !n love with h£r, and $h£ was all for th£ Okai man.
But I loved h£r.
Lord, how much I loved th¡s girl!
So why h£r?
I looked up, startled by both th£ sound of h£r voice and th£ question.
$h£ had ₱u$h£d h£r plate away and was sitt!ng [email protected]¢k primly – knees obviously togeth£r, f!ng£rs laced and rest!ng on h£r laps.
Th£re was noth!ng prim ab©vt h£r expression, however. $h£ looked angry, but h£r eyes were hooded, and !n th£ir depths I saw someth!ng else.
$h£ was hurt!ng.
It turned my |ns!des to see h£r like that. I wanted to race to h£r and sweep h£r !nto my arms. I wanted to a$$ure h£r of th£ effect $h£ had on me, and yet I knew deep |ns!de that I could end up hurt!ng h£r m©r£ if I stayed too long !n h£r pres£nce.
I laid d©wΠ th£ cutlery ¢ar£fvlly and picked up a gla$$ of water. I sipped from th£ gla$$ and th£n set it d©wΠ j√$t as ¢ar£fvlly. I looked at h£r th£n.
I won’t pretend not to understand what you mean, Nicole. What happened was bad, and I apologize to you and Andrew. Let’s j√$t leave it at that, okay?
h£r [email protected] came off h£r laps quickly.
$h£ leaned forward, h£r [email protected] press!ng on th£ tables, elbows crooked ©vtward.
$h£ spoke, and I had never seen h£r so furious, and it s£nt waves of genu!ne blues smash!ng !nto my system with unrelent!ng fury.
Don’t tell me what happened was bad and I should leave it at that! Why h£r? $h£’s old enough to be your moth£r! You had absolutely no reason to go after h£r, or stoop to h£r level if $h£ came after you! What you did was despicable, but tell me … why did you do it? Why?
I stood up from th£ table j√$t as two servants entered, drawn by Nicole’s voice.
$h£ glared at th£m and th£y mumbled th£ir apologies but $h£ was already on h£r feet, com!ng round th£ table toward me.
(!n a fierce wh¡spere)
!n th£ garden, Yaw. Right now!
I followed h£r straight [email protected]¢k ©vt of th£ house and !nto th£ garden.
$h£ walked on a few steps, and th£n $h£ swirled round to face me.
Tell me now, were you th£ one try!ng to seduce h£r?
That, I th!nk, is not necessary. Listen –
I sigh£d and rubb£d unsteady f!ng£rs through my hair.
No, Nicole, I didn’t try to seduce h£r. I th!nk th£ feel!ng was mutual. $h£ craved a younger man, I’ve always fantasized ab©vt an older woman. It is as simple as that.
Th£ lie felt like bitter gall !n my m©vth, and although I couldn’t look at h£r face I h£ard h£r sudden !ndrawn breath, and my h£art went kick!ng up pure misery and agony !nto my system.
It was as if I had physically slammed a fist !nto h£r stomach.
$h£ [email protected], and for a moment $h£ sagged at th£ shoulders, but h£r h£ad came up, and $h£ fixed me with a baleful look.
I see. Th£n, you and I have noth!ng m©r£ to say to each oth£r. Do whatever you came h£re to do, Yaw Boat, and get th£ h£ll ©vt of my life. I don’t ever want to breath£ th£ same air as you, and h£aven knows I don’t ever want to [email protected] eyes on you aga!n!
$h£ gave me a wide berth as $h£ pa$$ed, and if $h£ had j√$t h£sitated a moment to look at me $h£ would probably have seen h£r pa!n multiplied ten times !n my eyes.
$h£ would have seen my bleed!ng soul writh!ng !n pa!n … and $h£ would have broken d©wΠ my resolve, and forced ©vt th£ secrets of my h£art. And $h£ would have known j√$t how much I loved h£r.
But $h£ didn’t pause.
$h£ broke !nto a run, leav!ng me beh!nd.
Th£ shock of th£ pa!n was so unexpected that I [email protected] Th£re was a feel!ng so hollow and deep !n me that for a moment I could barely breath£. My h£ad pounded, and a terrible ach£ rose up !n my throat.
j√$t th£n I would have given anyth!ng to have h£r smile at me and tell me everyth!ng was okay. I would have given anyth!ng j√$t to have h£r sitt!ng beside me and hold!ng my [email protected], our f!ng£rs !ntertw!n!ng !n our secret moment of silence.
I had been so brave ab©vt all that crap ab©vt be!ng able to live with©vt h£r and want!ng to give h£r a chance to enjoy h£r life, but what I felt now was different.
I was all alone.
And I loved h£r so!
But $h£ was right.
It was time to do my bit and get th£ h£ll ©vt of Portville.
Nicole, O Nicole!
My blurred vision told me that I was close to tears, and I turned my face upward, fight!ng it with all my strength. Th¡s was not th£ time to balk, or give !n to th£ follies of th£ h£art. Th¡s was th£ time to m©v£ and go hunt!ng.
Hunt!ng for a demon.
I couldn’t allow it any breath!ng space now. It was time to force it !nto th£ open wh£re one of us would surely perish.
And th£re was j√$t one place to hunt for th£ demon.
Or, rath£r, th£ host of th£ demons.
I put on black jeans, black soft-soled snickers and a black T-shirt.
I came ©vt of my room at exactly twelve midnight. I closed th£ door quietly beh!nd me and walked gently d©wΠ th£ stairs.
I felt my way @r0vnd corners, pray!ng that I wouldn’t knock anyth!ng d©wΠ to attract attention to myself.
Wh£n I entered th£ liv!ng-room a long shadow detach£d itself from one of th£ chairs and unfolded !n front of me.
I stopped and glared at that ©vtl!ne, and for a wild moment my h£art did a series of panicked flops before I recognized h¡m.
Bonner said from th£ shadows, and I exhaled with relief.
Bonner spoke from th£ shadows, and I exhaled with relief.
I knew you would come.
Blast it, old man, you s¢ar£d th£ … you really s¢ar£d me!
Sorry ab©vt that, but enough of th£ jaw!ng. I th!nk we have to m©v£ quickly.
Whoa, hold it right th£re. What’re you talk!ng ab©vt? You and I are not go!ng anywh£re.
h£ squ!nted at me !n th£ !nadequate light!ng. I could see a slight frown on h¡s face.
I presume you’re go!ng after Shirley Okai.
I noticed that it wasn’t a question.
Damn it, must you always read my m!nd?
h£ was silent for a moment, and wh£n h£ spoke h¡s voice was annoy!ngly condescend!ng.
You forget I’ve been wh£re you are now. You know someth!ng, son? Now you have me really worried because of th£ way you’re deal!ng with th£ Legion. You have me really worried.
And what are you talk!ng ab©vt now?
I asked, and I couldn’t hide th£ coldness !n my tone because suddenly I felt a strong res£ntment toward h¡m, and it terrified me.
h£ didn’t balk under my stare; h¡s, !n truth, was harsh enough for me, and it took all my willpower not to look away.
(!n an unfriendly voice)
You’re s1©w, Yaw Boat, far too s1©w! You should have gone after Shirley Okai ages ago! You shouldn’t have waited th¡s long! You’re deal!ng with th£ most vicious, most demented group of blood-thirsty demons mank!nd has ever had th£ unfortunate luck of be!ng blessed with, and yet you behave as if it is some toy ₱|@y.
Now hold on th£re! I’m h£re, aren’t I? You are th£ same person who told me – no,
ordered, actually – to stay with Pastor Anderson and nurse h¡m! Now h£re you are, tell!ng me I should have left h¡s side and gone after a woman who, to all !ntents and purposes, is occupied by j√$t a lvstful demon!
h£ smiled, and h¡s smile wasn’t nice at all for an old man, because !n th£ shadows it was mostly a gl!nt of white teeth, teeth I was yet to know was real or not, and !n th£ darkness of h¡s face and th£ lum!nescence of h¡s teeth that smile looked all fangy and wrong.
h£ po!nted a crooked f!ng£r at me.
Your game is s1©w, son. You are th£ Chos£n One, th£ man God ordered us to obey, and thus you must learn th£ game on a crash program, buddy. It is j√$t like an !ndian read!ng th£ forest ground, or th£ predator stalk!ng its prey. You must know th£ ground rules, th£ modus operandi of your foe. You must know wh£n h£’s s¢ar£d enough to ran, and wh£n h£’s s¢ar£d enough to attack. You must s£nse h¡m, you must live h¡m, you must be h¡m! Damn it, boy, you’re now confus!ng us all! You should’ve known that once you s¢ar£d off th£ demon it was not likely for it to come [email protected]¢k for Paul. It would get far away for th£ time be!ng, and you had all th£ time to go after it. If you are th£ One, act like th£ goddamn One!
I walked up to h¡m and stopped !nch£s from h¡m. My fury was that strong, and I had to hold unto th£ little human stra!n !n me to stop myself from hitt!ng ©vt at h¡m.
Now I don’t know what th£ h£ll you’re rambl!ng on ab©vt, old man. I never asked to ₱|@y your God’s game. It was forced on me, and you’re supposed to guide me. So tell me !n pla!n English what’s go!ng on or stop pester!ng me! If you want to h£lp, do it, oth£rwise j√$t shut th£ f**k up and give me space to breath£!
My voice was low, but it felt j√$t as if I had s¢r**med at h¡m.
We stared at each oth£r, and suddenly I saw that it was not all anger that had driven h¡m. Fear was lurk!ng !n th£ !nner depths of h¡s faded eyes, and I began to understand why h£ was so fired up.
At last h£ stepped [email protected]¢k and took a shudder!ng breath. h£ nodded, as if secretly com!ng to terms with someth!ng, and did a s1©w shuffle toward th£ ma!n door.
I’m sorry, son. I shouldn’t have come on you like that. You know, th£ Legion gave Shirley an a$$ignment to perform. $h£ was supposed to keep you occupied long enough to allow it to kill Paul. $h£ failed miserably, and you !nterrupted th£ Legion at its sweetest po!nt of ecstasy wh£n it had Paul d©wΠ on h¡s knees. Unfortunately you cut h¡s climax short, and that meant Shirley didn’t do as $h£ was !nstructed to do. $h£ couldn’t walk th£ t!ghtrope, and th£ only way th£ Legion rewards those who [email protected]|| off th£ rope is death.
I stared at h¡m, aghast.
Jesus! You mean Shirley would be killed?
To be cont!nued…