A half assed tale of unfinished business
“Damn!” He spat, frozen in mid stride, he glared at the headline. He then continued to walk down the street, muttering to himself and God as he chewed more than smoked the butt end of a camel non filtered cigarette. The murder rate for the city was up, way up and it wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. Why should it even concern him what these fools do. Anyway, he was on his way, to the library to pound out the latest revision his much hyped and much late theater play.
The wind whipped up and sent his oversized trench coat fluttering in the breeze. A few drops of rain begin to fall. A lucky drop managed to put the camel butt out of its misery. However, the misery of its former host continued unabated.
Broadus Knowles had lived this dead pan city for close to three years now. He wanted out but some local success mixed with a self imposed guilt due to estranged family ties kept him tethered to his post like a wild mustang relegated to a children’s pony ride farm.
Another, “Damn!” He thought he would be early enough at the library to get prime
seating. But the bums and the rejects and the misfits of society had already beaten him to the call. A well ventilated, corner seat was what he was after. He hated the smells and aromas that arose from the library yet he chooses not to work from any other locale. The stench that could arise, especially in the confines of the tightly cramped computer room at midday was overpowering. Yet he was almost inexplicably drawn to it. He could sense its odors and collage of patrons, the slow onset of death. He always carried santi-wipes to meticulously clean what he knew were the disease and germ strewn keyboards. Often he considered wearing a surgical mask to guard him from the tuberculin coughing that on any given day would surround him on all fronts. But this was not Japan and he did not want to completely alienate the very atmosphere that gave his works life. “Literary is all about death, any thing short of chronicling our descent into decay and demise is but commentary.” Thus living by his own motto, he chose these haggard surrounding even though it was in his means and capabilities to choose much more civil and/or private surroundings.
The cold crisp air held all the signs of an approaching morning storm. Perfect, he thought, he always did enjoy writing about murder whilst dead grey skies pissed on the lowly inhabitants below. Either the thrill of the thought, the damp breeze or a combination of both; cause a Broadus to effect a single shiver. Broadus pulled the coat, oversized yet thin in material, closer to him. He failed to button it but he did tie the loosely long belt around the waist of the coat. He rubbed the stubble on his face and pulled the frayed collar of what used to be an expensive shirt up from under the weight of his coat. One of the transients surveyed his situation and flashed him an extra scarf. Broadus unwilling affected and grimace-like smile and declined. He wasn’t about to buy anything from that man. Little did he know that the transient mistook him as one of them and the gesture was more about giving than commerce?
Broadus didn’t like to think about what he was going to write until he was actually seated and writing. He could still feel the man’s eyes taking inventory of him. He hoped that this would not lead into conversation. The library would not open for another five minutes. Broadus faked an extreme interest in a sign in the window thereby removing him mentally if not physically from approachability.
The sign itself actually held no interest for Broadus and he allowed his mind to wander.
“What’s your sign?” Broadus mused over that tired pick-up line from the decade of The Swinger.
Although this particular sign held not interest and the pick-line he viewed as frivolous and petty, Broadus believed in signs. Like the adulterous generation spoken of in the Bible, Broadus searched for and even invented signs and wonders everywhere. He felt that he had no choice in the matter for he was truly born under or to a sign.
He saw it. He was no more than barely a toddler when he first saw it. It was formed in the crumpled sheets that fuel a child’s imagination. He remembered tracing the puffed ridges of the spiral snake that formed in the contours of starched white cotton sheets. And when the light was just right and if he would just tilt his head but so, the spiral snake would appear as two. First there was the manifested snake; the one that ballooned out from the horizon of his mattress world. Then there was the other snake, the twin. This momentary twin was the untouchable one.
This shadowy spiral of dark energy duplicated the shape of the first snake, yet without the physical form. He believed the dark snake was always there, whenever the white cotton puff snake appeared. But only when conditions were just so, would he be allowed to see it.
Such escapes into fantasy worlds are not unusual for a child, even for a child of modest imagination. After a certain age most children simply grow bored with affair of bedroom fantasies and imaginary creatures and friends and surrender themselves to more common childhood games and flights of fancy. Broadus never lost touch with his snakes. As other children outgrew their bedroom realms, Broadus’ followed him out of the bedroom. He believed the spiral snakes not only manifest in his outer world; as time went he felt them grow closer to his person and eventually he believed they slide themselves inside of him.
Throughout his years of growing up Broadus never seem to notice or at least acknowledge that there existed within him a certain duality. This duality was not ‘paperback’ extreme nor was it Hollywood-esque like a Jekyll and Hyde matinee. It was not psychologically present as to be observed, identified and thus qualify as some sort of disorder ripe for a bevy of pills, capsules, ointments, lotions and potions. This duality was a very private affair even unknown to the recipient. Yet there were those incidents where if the lightness of being was just right and if he were thrown off his tilt just so, he would be it.
His duality, his being born under a certain sign, was more of a quest, a test as it were, to obtain in human form that which in archetype he guided by. Yet at the present time, as he produced an antibacterial wipe to swab the overused public computer at the central library, he knew none of this, all that mattered to him was pounding out an already late script.
Once seat and engaged, the words came quickly, at times too! quickly. It was if the words came from another place. He sometimes felt as if he was not the really the true creator but merely a pawn, a robotic arm being directed by some far off CPU. True, he acknowledged his free will in the matter and did not feel a hopeless slave destined to obey every premise, plot point, coma and period. All creation would rest with Broadus. Broadus gave life and whiffed it out, at his leisure and when he deemed fit to do so.
Outside the rain was raging. This pleased Broadus very much as he attempted to keep tempo on the keyboard to the accompaniment of the drumming of the rain as it pelted the rooftop. The words now just flowed out automatically. They were presently, not his concern. His concentration was to maintain the beat, the rhythm. The library was more civil than usual. The early rain had affected the turn out. Half the computer stations were still vacant. The annoying jerks and those barely clinging to sanity were all absent. The rain had managed to broker an agreed upon peace. There was no cursing, no tempers flaring. The powerfully built armed security guard seemed bored with having no excuse to leave his desk. The only hint of malcontent surprisingly came from gum popping teenage school girl who rolled her eyes with contempt at Broadus; believing his rapid and rhythmic typing, nothing more than a grandstanding fraud.
Unnerved by the sensation that he was being spied upon, Broadus, without missing a beat, went for a quick survey of the room. He caught the spiteful gaze of the shiny lipped adolescent. She gave him the full exhibit of her non-approving pout. Although generous layers of make-up did give her a look of approaching maturity, he could tell that if she had in fact blown out her sweet sixteen birthday candles; it most have been a day or two before. He met her glaze with no emotion or surprise. Knowledgeable of his antagonist, he merely returned full attention to his symphony of words. Rejected by such a nonchalant look, the girl‘s pout now turned to incredulous open mouth surrender. As if in retaliation, she, for no clear reason, deposited the wad of gum to the back of her hand. Stubbornly she returned to her attention to her computer screen. With a free hand she eventually and absentmindedly stopped tugging at the scrunchie holding up her bountiful crest of multicolored locks. The released locks unfolded and gently parachuted down to rest upon her shoulders, to the delight of no one.
As a symbol, the Caduceus is perhaps one of the most universal and influential archetype symbols governing the lives and cycles in the realm of men. Throughout time and history the Caduceus has shown itself to be a primary architect in the molding of and, in the spiritual evolution of the species. All the major religions, schools of thought and even the mythologies of the world have somewhere in their core structure; the Caduceus as a higher symbol of sacred knowledge and of enlightenment. Often the lessons to be learned by the Caduceus is a not only a must for the continuation of the higher ethereal self but, to fail grasp the eternal truths hidden within the Caduceus may surely damn one to a death or a Hell more realized than one can even imagine.
Starting at our own Judea-Western history we find the symbol of the Caduceus makes an early appearance in what we are taught is The Beginning of things. Once the veil is dropped we would certainly find the Caduceus masquerading as Serpent, juxtaposed between two staffs: A tree of Life and a tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil). One naively conclude ” But where is the opposing force for certainly every school child knows that the Serpent is a negative force, yea it is evil.
But maybe one should be more astute and consider what might have that Serpent become if its taunts had been passed by unchallenged, if not unnoticed?
Amazingly almost simultaneously in conjunction with the let up of the rain so did Broadus tap out the final words of his latest work of fiction. He gave the concluding unraveling of the murder mystery a once over. Satisfied that the logic was sound, that the twist in plot was plausible as well as exciting; he defiantly clicked the save icon and made all the subsequent wrap-up motions. When Broadus paroled his vision from the now black computer screen there was no hesitation as to its next assignment. He neither looked peripherally to the right or to the left. His sight of vision was direct and surgical. He titled his head just right and with accurate precision and laser intensity looked where he knew the girl would be.
His reason for such scrutiny was academic. His earlier split second appraisal of her had already pegged her as an archetype for a possible future character. He now wanted to take full inventory so he could etch a description of her to long term memory. Usually he would be able to Covertly perform such an undertaking in a matter of seconds. However, this time he was caught in mid-appraisal. The youth looked dead-on and fully into his eyes. Like most youth, especially girls, her eyes were full, wide and alive with color. The bluish white of her eyes was brilliantly flawless and looked incapable of every hosting even the most minor broken capillaries. Her corneas were large and dark yet an even darker dilated pupil could be discerned. The overused expression ‘Doe-like eye lashes’ would find itself totally at ease when describing her face. The nose was straight and petite yet the hint of hawkish angularity about it announced more of predator than prey. And now there was the matter of the shiny lips, not quite red, not quite pink, almost iridescent due to some cheap and flashy drugstore brand of lip gloss, showy with embedded with the type of sparkles that Broadus had used in Arts and Crafts classes as a child. Suddenly he knew that a boundary had been broken when etched to memory, along with the description of the lips, was the words luscious yet forbidden.
Broadus felt the welcomed vibration near his, embarrassingly, aroused manhood. The cat-like purr came from the deep recesses of his pants pocket. His phone had been activated and not a second to soon. Broadus had found himself in the awkward position of not being able to divert his gaze. Had he held on to it for just a second longer he would had crossed another barrier, that of the inappropriate invasion of personal space. With great relief Broadus withdrew the cell phone to check the message. Call it premonition but He already knew before toggling the phone screen who the call was from. Stan Weldrite was the owner, producer and all around busybody when it came to operation of his Sutton Place Equity Theater. Broadus was right, not only was there a voice message from Stan but true to his persistent nature there was also a text message. Almost certain that both messages were an expression of the same, Broadus elected to view the text rather than listen to the manic cackling of his benefactor.
The text began as sharp and to the point and then aimlessly wandered off stating and restating the same message. Had this man no concept of the purpose of brevity favored in the composition of a text message? Stan wanted an audience with Broadus (and with a completed stage play) NOW! He went on the elaborate on cost expenditures, deadlines, commitment and ya da, ya da,ya da. Broadus realized that Stan had a reason to be a bit upset. Over the years he and Stan had been through this sort of thing several times. It always worked out in the past and Broadus had no reason to expect anything different in this case.
Broadus flipped closed the phone and against better judgment enacted a quick peripheral look over in the direction of the girl. The girl was no longer there. Outside, a lazy sun had begun to unfold the covers of gloom and to show its face. Broadus felt pretty good. He searched his coat pockets for a celebratory smoke. The transient who had flashed him the extra muffler was seated on the stone wall, helping himself to what was obviously a donated bag lunch. As toast to his success Broadus made the effort in walking over to the man, establishing eye contact and in finality offering him a smoke. As he turned to part, he noticed that the young girl was waiting at the trolley stop.
Broadus himself was a mass transportation rider. He abhorred the buses. The subway he tolerated. The light rail he frequented but the trolley he loved. He loved the openness and the touristy atmosphere of the trolley. It was not a service that commuters generally availed themselves to since it only travels from one venue downtown to another. Unfortunately, the Sutton Place Equity Theater was not on the trolley line. Upon exiting the library Broadus has resigned himself to get in some exercise by walking over to the theater. Broadus hesitated. The trolley he thought.
He marveled at the fact that he would have not done what he was getting ready to do had the girl been waiting for any of the other forms of transit. Temporarily postponing his destined meeting with Stan, Broadus headed in the direction of the trolley stop instead. There was at least ten other people waiting for the trolley. The girl had just finished executing a rapid barrage of texting herself. She proudly glanced from side to side to see if anyone was captivated by her own display of tech-capability. She probably would have been thrill and vindicated if the show off in the library had been there to witness her skills. Unaware of the approaching Broadus she slipped the phone into her designer knock-off purse.
Broadus made himself inconspicuous and blended in somewhere in the periphery of the small group. He only wanted to take account of the girl from a distance. The trolley ran a pretty good schedule but, impatient , as teenagers are; the girl paced back and forth, looking at her watch, the air to which she expected the trolley to appear out of and, finally a quick inventory of the crowd. She noticed that along with a couple of other stragglers that the man from the library had joined the group. She slowly yet methodically and with purpose made her way over to the outer fringes to where Broadus was standing. She made an audible gasp of frustration and mumbled an explicative regarding the absence of trolley. Broadus liked the trolley and rather than comment into a union of misery, said nothing. In fact he was a little insulted by her use of adult language in the insulting of one of few things he treasured in the city. Gaining no response the girl took a further approach.
“Excuse me MISTER do you have a cell phone I can use?” The way that she emphasized the word ‘mister’ was clear and direct. She wanted him to know that there was a barrier between them. They lived in separate worlds and it would suit her just fine if it was to stay that way. There also seemed to bit a bit of cruelty to the slight twang she had given that particular word. Nevertheless, intrigued by the teenager, Broadus submitted. She removed her backpack and set it on the ground. It was if what ever she was getting ready to do required her full agility of form and body. Being fully street wised, she opted to tuck the designer purse under the armpit of the opposing arm. “I just need to send a text.” She assured the man who presently needed no assuring. She let unfurl a barrage of fancy finger-work. Intermittingly she peeped up to see if the man was party to the display. Her frenzied stream of thumb and finger agility was only interrupted by the clanging bell of the approaching trolley. Satisfied and, now vindicated, she excitedly and hurriedly returned the phone, readjusted the purse and as she bent over to retrieve the backpack she ever so slightly and accidentally brushed against Broadus.
All the shame in world descended upon Broadus as he realized that he was once more aroused and that the girl’s body may have ascertained as much in the bump. This caused him to consider going back to his original intention of walking over to the playhouse. He allowed a certain amount of space between him and the girl. Several over patrons had boarded the trolley in line after her. Broadus looked down to view himself realized that the bulky oversized trench coat with flaps and belts and buckle was all over the place. How would she have known what was what he rationalized then boarded the trolley.
The trolley was usually only crowded, standing room only, during festivals or ball games or the likes. The early morning storm had undoubtedly caused a number of early riders to push back their schedules. The girl had managed to find herself a seat. Broadus stood among the other seat less patrons. Broadus made his way past the girl and towards the rear door of the trolley. He occupied himself by making sure to delete transmission information relating to the girl’s earlier text. The girl surrendered her seat to an elderly man. To Broadus it seemed again more of a statement of the vitality of her youth then it was an act of compassion or civility. The Harbor Place was approaching. This was one of the main attractions to tourist as well as city shoppers. As the girl made her way to the rear door, once again she inhabited the same space as Broadus…
She made no specific or special motions that would had acknowledge that she and man had shared a few minutes of history together. This time, due to the crowdedness of the trolley, and the suddenly breaking of the train she found herself pushed flushed up again the man. Still she paid him no attention. Broadus could not say the same for himself. The shame he had earlier experienced was now replaced with a heat that had nothing to do with the outside temperature.
The girl did not need to acknowledge Broadus’ existence. He now knew that she must have been fully aware of his presence. Shame was not even a concept as the girl twisted her frame even more into him as she removed her backpack to search for imaginary objects. Broadus wished that the red light would last forever. When the train arrived at the next stop, most of the commuters made their exit, including Broadus and the girl. He followed the girl at a safe distance, not knowing how long he was prepared to engage in this game of cat and mouse. She looked dreamingly into the windows of shops that neither she nor anyone in her household could afford.
The Harbor Place Mall was still not very crowded. The throngs of tourist who inhabited the myriad of surrounding expensive hotels were probably still prepping for their new day of adventure. The girl strolled over to a photo both. She looked over the posted pictures of actors poising as everyday folks. She pulled the almost floor length curtain back and visually inspected the interior.
She stepped inside and pulled the curtain closed. There was no protest or even a hint of surprise or rejection, when seconds later, a stealthily Broadus made his way into the same booth.
Stan accused Broadus of being a diva-like elitist concerned only with his own reputation.
Broadus sat silent and even slightly amused as the animated Stan went through his own torch song performance. Having first issued his rebuke, Stan, now more calm took a seat behind the thick oak desk. Broadus was just as much Stan’s bread and butter as Stan was his. Both men knew this and now Stan affected a more fatherly, a more professor to student type tune. He recited a complete description as to the business functions of the theater. He lowered the glasses on his formidable size head and lean further over the desk. The actors, he explained needed ample time to rehearse the scripts. The wardrobe department would need to be prepared for any late changes in wardrobe to newly envisioned character. Then there was the set department, etc, etc. After the summation of Stan’s rebukes, teaching, pleas and appeals was issued; Broadus slipped into his pocket and withdrew as if showing off a prized diamond, a computer memory stick. His broad smile was met with the sigh of relief from Stan. “It’s done and it’s perfect”. Beamed Broadus. An excited Stan went straightway to the intercom and summoned his secretary.
Opening night was complete success. The flawless performance of the actors was outdone only by the exhilaration and approval of the audience. Stan greeted the local business powerhouses taking in the compliments like a bookie on race day. Broadus was off to a quieter side of the theater and was surprised to find himself actually enjoying being chatted up by one of the more despicable local Arts and Theater critics. Yes Sir, he would have no anxiety in opening up the next day’s newspaper. But down on the floor, beneath one the stagehands’ chair was a disarrayed newspaper. It was the usual, another damn murder. This time the accompanying photo bared some familiarity about it. He rushed the conversation with the critic to an end.
The only flaw to such a wonderful night he now held in has hand. He quickly crumpled the front section of the paper and stuffed it into his jacket pocket. He politely rejected all offers for a ride home and walked the corridors of what at night, became a very dangerous city. He wanted to reach home so that he could better digest the news story yet his curiosity would not allow him such luxury. Several blocks away from the playhouse, he parked himself on a bench under a rather luminous streetlight. He extracted the crumple newspaper out from under his jacket. He ran his hands over the serpentine puffed ridges in attempts to smooth the paper out for optimal viewing.
Earlier he had not really been able to take the story in. He had assumed a connection between the boldface type announcing murder to that of the photograph of the teenage girl that sparked such an immediate sense of familiarity. He now inspected the photograph with care. There was no stylish hairdo present in this picture a girl, maybe twelve or thirteen, glowing in her Catholic School white blouse, overlaid with the green plaid jumper vest. There was also no lipstick, flashy cheap or any other kind. Yet he knew this face even, if the photo was a few years younger than when he was introduced to it. A small tear, no longer able to balance on his eyelid, made its way to Earth. His head began to throb. He did not feel he was ready or able to digest the details. This time he neatly and methodical folded the few pages and returned it to his jacket pocket. The walk home was long but he wished that it would never end. Once home, he looked out over the city from the balcony of his high rise apartment. The city was quite even the traffic seemed more distant and muted. A warm summer breeze blew against the trees below causing the leathery flutter of bat wings to be the only sound audible to Broadus.
In Hindu religion, esoteric Buddhist teaching and as well in many New Age philosophies the Caduceus is paired with an overlapped by the Chakras. These teaching reveal that under the surface of skin, below that of flesh and bones, organs and muscles lays the true essence of man, the staff of being. In most teachings there are seven Chakras. They began at the base of the spine, the site of sexual energy or animal nature and as a being ascends, he must restore to proper order the correlation of energy appropriate to each site than advance to the next upper site. The negative energy swirls around the outer peripherally of the astro- body interchanges its place with positive swirls as they snake their way up the body. Finally if an individual is to escapes the trapping of this existence, a lowly state when compared with universal hierarchy, he is given wings at the crucial junction of the Heart Chakra. The wings are to aid him travel with ease through the final ports of the journey and eventually to transverse through the final Chakra, the Godhead. The Godhead Chakra aligns itself at the crown of the skull and serves as a portal to reconnect a being to his creator. Atonement or at- one- with.
Without purity or balance at the heart level, the Chakra is corrupted and the forward journey upward is derailed. Or much worse perhaps it isn’t.
Christmas time usually had a depressing effect on Broadus. It was then that he was forced into fellowship with family members even those whose company he did not prefer and vice-versa. However still reeling from the success of his summer blockbuster, he felt insulated from the sure to follow family bickering and pettiness. He had once vowed that he would never give creation to another dysfunctional family member. When queried about the prospect of him having children a line from an old movie always came to mind ‘more carrion for Satan ‘. He resigned that at least as he was concerned that this branch of the family tree would die out with him.
The Christmas Eve dinner at his mother’s house was tolerable. Decked out in his insulated suit of armor, he found himself enjoying the family unit for the first time in years. In the presence of the irresistible rambunctious group of young and adorable nieces and nephews he even allowed a paternal gene to reach the surface. He had invited Stan to the dinner. Although reasonable successful and established, Stan did not have much in the way of living relatives. Broadus reasoned that a shot of family life would be a good thing for Stan. Things went well that night until Broadus mother had mentioned something or another concerning his brother. Stan, Broadus and his mother had paired up for a separate conversation. When Stan innocently announced that he never knew that Broadus had a brother a momentarily yet icy stare traversed the mother and son. Sensing a fluctuation in mood, Stan said nothing else about the matter. Things returned to normal. While helping his mother with the after party clean-up Broadus was caught off guard when his mother inquired if he had planned to see his brother during the holiday week. He said he had to check his schedule and left it at that. She amended with the fact that she thought he should and she left that at that.
A special bus need be taken to arrive at Jonesburg Maximum Security Prison. The prison was roughly 160 miles outside the city limits. Even folks with their own private transportation would generally elect to take the bus instead. Once out in the hilly countryside the spiraling roads were difficult to navigate and entering the prison area in private vehicles always required more tedious paperwork and invasion scrutiny. Tickets for the trip could be purchased downtown at the Metropolitan Transit Authority. This was where Broadus stood in-line. His fascination with what be his travel companions was undeniable. It appeared to him, and correctly so, that many of those in line had on more than one occasion been the receiving end of the Jonesburg bus. The harden girls amazed him most, many sporting gang tattoos and generous displays of flesh. He just found it difficult to believe that these girls had become so hard in such a brief amount time, of life on Earth. The mothers all had their care packages, many of which would never make it through screening and others which did would never make it to its intended recipient. He wanted to over hear all the wayward conversations which would surely take place on this bus but, the conversation that would take place at the end journey, was the one he did not look forward to or really have desire to engage in.
The next two appearance of the Caduceus in the Judeo-Western Bible can be found in the Book of Exodus. Here the great deliverer Moses demands that the Pharaoh of Egypt let his people, the Jews, go. Moses has been appointed by God to oversee that the Jews be released from their bondage and that they be allowed to leave Egypt. To demonstrate the power of his God to a reluctant Pharaoh, Moses stamps his staff on the floor and it becomes a serpent. The Pharaoh assemblies his magicians and they likewise stamp their staffs and they also become serpents but the positive energy of Moses serpent devours the negative energies and swallows the opposing serpents.
After a series of more prompting and cursed with a multitude of devastating plagues, Pharaoh is forced into granting the Jews their freedom. And, although his generosity is short-lived, the Jews, assisted by an awesome display from God, ultimately prevail in their struggle with Pharaoh. The way out of the desert however is not a known. Relationship forming appears to be a prerequisite of God’s in exchange for a way out of the desert and into promised sanctuary. Moses sets the example for establishing relationship.
During Moses’ long absences while he is in communication with God, the Jewish people rebel. They reminisce about the food and times in Egypt overlooking the fact that during those days that they were slaves. The Lord, in His anger against the rebellious Jews sends fiery serpents to bite the people. However He instructs Moses to fashion a Caduceus, a Brass Serpent and suspend it from a pole. Everyone who repents and who have the courage to look upon the Brass Serpent, the manifestation of their sins, will be healed.
The more Broadus advanced in the line, the more discontented he became with the whole affair. He was only doing this because his mother had strongly suggested as much. Broadus felt he owed no allegiance or sympathy towards Quintus, his brother. Quintus was the off-spring from his mother’s second marriage. The bond was never really strong between Broadus and his half brother Quintus. There was not animosity between the two it was just that they not only grew up in separated households; the two men were also separated by ten years of age. Quintus had been raised by his mother in a rough section of the city. Although his mother finally made her way out of the projects and into more pleasant surroundings, the street life had already laid claim to her younger son. While his mother and younger half-siblings struggle in that violent ghetto wasteland, Broadus lived with relatives of his father’s in conditions bordering on the verge of affluence. His visits to see his Mother, his younger half-siblings and the environment in which they lived were few and far in-between. Quintus grew up not having the direction and companionship of an older brother. It was this privilege of his rearing and notable absence in the history of his family that held Broadus bondage to guilt.
Had this incarceration of Quintus been the result of a teenagers mistake Broadus would have viewed the visit differently. Had Quintus fell prey to the type unjust sentencing that usually reserved for the young men who were reared in slums, projects and ghettos; Broadus would have viewed the visit differently. Even if the nature of the crime had been more palatable, Broadus would have view the upcoming visit differently. But neither Quintus nor the crime he was incarcerated for met any of the above criteria.
Quintus was now a grown man who had spent nearly a third of his life in some form or another incarcerated. The crimes he usually commented were predatory and violent. And these were only the ones uncovered. Broadus believed the Quintus received exactly what he deserved, if not less. A life had been lost in Quintus’ last crime spree. Broadus had been repulsed by the details of the crimes and unlike his mother, had offered no defense for Quintus’ actions. Running the history of Quintus through his mind, Broadus’ discontent now turned to anger first at Quintus and then towards his mother. He felt that she was unfairly coercing him to visit Quintus. Broadus was his own man. He would not be a slave to every whim of his mother. With only two people in front of him, Broadus reaffirmed his will and exited the line.
In the most important appearance of the Caduceus in Western Civilization, the Caduceus makes a leap, or rather an extension from the Jewish Holy text to the Christian Gospels. In the New Testament the Caduceus manifests itself as the foretold savior of the world. This Messiah, the son of God, the sinless one, adjusts the balance of his own staff of being, his own positive being with that of the negative spiral of mankind.
He becomes sin (our sin) and is hung from the cross.
It had been a long time since Broadus had visited the Harbor Mall. The news of the girl sparked too many memories. Yet he needed a place to decompress. He needed a release for the stress that the rather hastily aborted Jonesborough visit. He took a seat on a bench that overlooked the waters of the bay. Scores of bundled up tourist and shoppers past by unnoticed by Broadus. He braved the rapidly falling temperature aided only by his over worn trench coat and the half pint of Bacardi rum floating around in his pocket. He was in a world of his own torment and oblivious to elements of the real one. By sunset he had fully decompressed from the deep dive into what he coined as his family histrionics. The recessed was however short lived. Upon descent back into the real world, the now acknowledged harbor surroundings re-opened his thoughts to the murdered girl. He was not predisposed to the delights of young girls and neither before nor after been enticed or entranced by them. He still had no explanation why he had entered into such a taboo relationship with the girl and this made the memory of her all so more tragic. He followed the story for several weeks but no killer was every apprehended as far as he knew. A shiver more from memory than cold streaked down his body. He rose, clinched the trench coat and discreetly disposed of the empty bottle. He ignored taxis and hacks as he made his way down well lit boulevards and eventually into the dark side streets snaking their way through the heart of the city. A walk that would have caused fear and apprehension to most, Broadus engaged in without a moment’s hesitation. Perhaps now too he was so caught up in his own worlds that this one barely mattered. Up ahead, in a dilapidated alley-like street, Broadus took note of the reckless curses permeating the dead cold night. As he stayed his course and approach closer he could discern a trio of youths huddled close together, either for heat or concealment. The trio detected his approach, a silence fell over them and angry heads turned to face a non-interested Broadus. “Mind ya bizness. Man!” One of the youths shouted out just as Broadus came into line with the group. He took another step and suddenly either embolden by the rum he decided such a reproach needed responding. “That’s what I was doing until you jumped into mine”. He said it loud and defiant, without even turning around to face his tormentor. He heard the crack of a bottle. Broadus knew the die had then been cast. As he quickly turned to survey the situation he noticed that there were four individuals. One of them had been lost in the midst of the other three. The bulky clothes of winter, made the forms, like puffed up pigeons on the make, appear much larger than they were. Broadus, not given to violence, was a man of formidable size yet he also puffed himself up accordingly. It appeared the smashed bottle was solely for effect because instead of a bar room, broken bottle face-off, the remains of the bottle lay shattered across an
already broken glass and trash strewn sidewalk. They youth merely flipped the dug in Broadus off. Broadus started to turn when he heard a whimper escape from the group. The pitched was defiantly female. He envisioned a shiny lipped, doe eyed youth caught in the clutches of the three brutes. N0! Screamed his brain to his consciousness. He had had enough of this murderous city.
“What the Hell is going on there?” Broadus tried to eject from his voice all the adultness and authority he could muster. No one said anything. Another burst echoed from within the group, this one, more defined, more pleadingly. One of the youths clumsily attempted to unbuckle, unzip and unfasten the fashionable yet painfully cumbersome coat. Another had lounged toward Broadus only to be interrupted mid-flight by the fist of a man. He crumpled to the ground like oh-so-much discarded trash. A second youth put up just enough mandatory struggle to avoid any possible future charges of cowardliness. He then ran straight away and disappeared into the cover of the darkness of night. Broadus turned to towards the teenage girl who squatted down in the corner, her clothes in disarray, sobbing great tears of relief. The reassuring hand that Broadus was extending never reached the girl. The efforts from all the unbuckling, unzipping and unfastening of the first youth were now revealed. The youth extracted from the waistband of his jeans, a small but presumed effective handgun. The gun must have only been obtained recently as its possessors’ unfamiliarity and awareness was quite apparent. Being a writer of murder, Broadus had done research on many forms of weaponry. He exhibited no such awkwardness as he quickly relived the boy of the gun. He held the gun on the boy while instructing the girl to flee.
Yet she remained frozen in fear. The crumpled body on the ground gave movement that distracted Broadus attention. The owner of the over hyped coat turn to run. Without cause, Broadus decided to exercise the gun. The girl let out a night shattered scream followed by an aria pronouncing the broken syllables a boy’s name. There was history as well as bizness between the girl now head tucked in-between her knees, pulling violently at her own hair and the youth laying face down on the ground. Vapors of steam came off the liquids flowing from the lifeless body. The other youth had recovered enough from the punch to academically confront Broadus.
“Why you shoot like that mister?” The boy’s request was issued with all the sincerity of youth. The boy’s eyes grew wide when instead of a response all he heard was the cocking of a trigger followed by a large bang.
Broadus awoke in a bed that he immediately identified as not being his own. His vision was blurred and drugged. He could sense all around him the hums and beeps of electronic machinery. The room was dark except for pin point lights of blue and green and red. He rose to get a better view of his surrounding. The sudden movement causes a pain greater than any Broadus had even felt or even imagined possible. His movement also caused him to notice all the tubes and apparatus attached to his body. He fell back full on the bed. A blanket of sweat suddenly rose on his brow and proceeded to drench his face. He felt essence seep out of him. His eyes begin to close. A warm comforting hand grasped engulfed his numbingly cold hand. A warm breath carrying a familiar voice drew close to his ear.
“Hey buddy, why didn’t you mind you own bizness ?” The inflection of the last word somehow seemed to be expressed in mock. “I always to teach you and yet you always end up back here.” Broadus had no idea what the voice was trying to convey. Perhaps he thought himself disorientated by his condition. The condition, he reflected on while the voice continued. He was in a hospital he ascertained. He further went on to deduce that he was in a serious and not grave condition. He also was probably heavily medicated hence the confusion. He returned his attention to the now recognized voice. It was Stan’s.
“You must really like it here.” A condescending voice emitted from Stan.
“How long have I been here?” Broadus made his best attempt to engage in alert conversation.
” Forever.” Was Stan’s no nonsense reply. Broadus struggled with clarity “Damn Stan doesn’t make any sense, I still can’t break through the narcosis of the drugs, he thought.
With the additional frustration his breathing became shallow and rushed. One the beeping noises increased in frequency and volume, that is until Stan reached over and switched off several machines and expertly re-calculated others. “Nobody needs to hear all this racket in the middle of the night, right?”
“What happen?” Broadus managed to get out in between breaths.
“You were shot by police.” Stan reported rather matter of factly. “It seems you had killed one boy, shot him in the back, and was about to assassinate another. God knows what your intentions were for the girl.” He added with a cruel hint of sarcasm in his voice. “Oh! Broadus how many times are we going to have to go through this before you get it right?” Broadus tried to respond but he appeared to hyperventilating. Stan methodically moved a surgical tray over to Broadus. He set the tray on his stomach and expertly prepared a syringe. “Here this should help with the breathing.” He administered the shot. The shot had the desired effect and Broadus was able to find his voice.
“It all happened so fast, and the girl, the girl, I though she was being harmed or raped.”
“I don’t think her now deceased boyfriend ever had the occasion to force himself upon her but, now you Mr. Broadus know a thing or two about taking advantage of young girls, now don’t you?”
“What, how do you…, look you don’t understand”
“Oh I understand very well. You could have finished that play anytime and anywhere but you had to go to the library. You had to find her. You go looking for her every time, you know? I think she is getting damn tired of being killed first by your brother and then by you.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Rage had the side-effect of instilling in Broadus total consciousness and comprehension. “I did not kill that girl. Broadus ignored the pain and manage to lift himself in look Stan right in the eyes. These were the eyes of Stan? Broadus had known Stan for several years now and had thought himself to have known all the manic and temperament guises of Stan. These eyes he did not know.
“No! that is exactly what you did. You killed a girl. Girl is an essence not just a characterization. When she left that photo booth, ravaged and curiosity satisfied. She was no longer a girl. You killed the girl in her just as surely as Quintus bad aiming killed her when she was just an innocent bystander.” Stan flicks from his jacket pockets a series of black and white photos and tosses them among the surgical tray still sitting on Broadus’s stomach. Broadus looks at the explicit photos of him and the girl.”
Stan leaned over closer to gage his reaction. While waiting he pinched the hosital sheet, turning it into a canvas of little spiral folds.
“How did you get these…..we didn’t take pictures.” A confused Broadus speaks as he gazes down open mouthed at the pictures.
Stan sharply snapped his fingers and implored Broadus to pay attention.
By Phillip Ghee