( Copyright 2013 by Angel Brynner. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. www.angelbrynner.com No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any other information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author.)
A tribunal of sorts spread out around where he felt caged by bannisters of polished wood.
The pressure of bodies he couldn’t see pinned him to the two others who’d dropped when he did. The only thing that kept the three of them from completely losing their minds was the erratic yet faint heart beats of one another that pulsed through the cold, clammy flesh they all found themselves forcibly encased in.
The only words that came to Gabryl’s bruised and bleary mind were judgment, harsh, fear, & not.
Catatonic, his vision faded in and out as jumbled arguments bounced off him between drawn-out beats of his heart. A litany of charges were read off, some things he knew he’d done, others that he vaguely recalled thinking, but never doing. Accusations of every kind slammed into his numb face, many outright lies. But there was no way for him to defend himself with a mute mouth. He cried out inside as memories rose up out of his panicked skin in a sweat. Suddenly he realized he had been in this place before.
His thoughts began to reel as visions of himself now and as a little boy careened through his mainframe. Hospitals, chained to machines by tubing, cords and pumps that were doing his breathing, his living for him. Gabryl scanned the parallel rooms in his mind’s eye, and in both he saw the long, wild black hair of his hospital roommate as it dangled listlessly off the bed. He began to spin wildly out of control as his mind unhinged in the press of silence, punishment and memory that clouded around him.
He had never felt so alone as he had in that room, and what didn’t kill him before threatened the last of his life here and now, wherever here and now was. At the last moment possible, a voice rang out. In his defense. And it was not his own.
“The Only I.D. you have is a bullet-scarred one- marring identification. HE does Not belong to you-“
“That’s not the-“ An accuser tried to interrupt the advocate.
“NO I.D., NO IMPRINT- YOU CANNOT HOLD HIM!YOU HAVE NO PROOF OF WHO HE IS-!THERE IS nothing IN the LAW you abide by that allows you to hold him here! He does not belong to you!” His unseen lawyer railed.
“Fine!” one Judge shouted back, annoyed by the disruption in his court over these three lost boys that didn’t fit the ID of those that the tribunal were in search of.
“You cannot have him, he doesn’t belong to you!” The advocate of Gabryl shouted.
“EXILE.” The tribunal shouted in unison as they dropped gavels to the ground. “the LEUCE.”
“What?!What the fuck is the Leuce?!” Gabryl screamed inside of himself as his lawyer fought against the sentencing. he swooned as the forgotten and unforeseen slipped their yokes around his neck.
Little Gabryl fought his way up out of the morphine-induced haze they kept him in for the millionth time. He stretched out his fingers and winced, which made him take in more air than his torn lungs could manage without pain, but he refused to cry out.
His eyes rolled back in his head as the face of the pedophile that assaulted him flashed before him, but instead of cowering in fear as his spirit had done in what felt like the forever since the sexual assault, Gabryl bared his teeth and violently lunged at the spirit of the dead man. After what had felt like a lifetime to the boy, the demon finally fled his bedside.
His breath caught in his throat as he exhaled roughly, excited.
“It-it,” he stammered, “it really Does Work! It does!” he whispered.
The last thing he heard before he passed out into a fit of dreams was the voice of the suicide that shared the hospital room with him.
“Told you~” The woman with the long, tangled, stringy black hair that fell to the floor said hoarsely.” It’s the only thing that does-“
“The streets of Heaven may be paved with gold, but in paradise, I’m telling ya, the roads are hewn, from dense rock that gleams under the moon like diamonds-”
The old mad man mopped his brow with the t-shirt he had shoved in the pocket of dungarees that were so caked with love and life lived that they could stand on their own.
The little boy next to him in his duties huffed wordlessly. The old man happily went on and on as they heaved boulders, in love with the exertion of service. The kid struggled to lift another hunk of limestone that had to be cleared before the garden that was to be his could be built.
“And in paradise, boy, the air is smoky and clear at the same time, like all the stuff you can’t stand about yourself being burnt off just by breathing in and out- listen to me, boy-“
The little kid scowled up the caterpillars he had for brows. He tried so hard not to think bad words because he knew that he would be heard outside of his head. And they ain’t call the old man Mad for nothing. But even though his body wasn’t tired, his young mind knew he should be, and that, tired or not, this would be called Work with a capital W any place else but here, what with the forever that they’d been pulling rocks out of the moist, black dirt that did strange things he didn’t like at all whenever he paused to really look at it.
Once again, as the old man rambled on his eyes felt sucked to the dusting of earth on his own arms. It lay there plaintively until he narrowed his eyes in accusation at it, ‘yeah right~” scrawled across his sun-baked face.
The granules of black dirt in his palm softly double-helixed up then kicked up a tiny tornado that danced across the lines of it as he absently tried to shove another rock out the way with his other hand.
“With a beauty that cuts through anything false in you like shards of glass-“ Old man Mad boomed.
“Son of a-!” the little boy cursed as he rammed his finger against the one reticent rock he’d been avoiding trying to move for what felt like forever. Then he froze, remembering where he was.
“Let me see it, son,” The old man said, brows knitted in consternation that matched that splayed on the boy’s face. Warily, the kid shook his head no.
“Give me your hand!” the old man ordered as his brows wagged more aggressively, but with what could only be called love doing its best to flood out of his eyes and drown the wariness out of the boy. Hesitantly, the boy extended his hand towards Mad. His finger was mangled, completely out of joint. Shock and fear rumbled through him, any pain a moot point until he was asked one question.
“Does this hurt?”
He winced, eyes slammed shut, and shook his head yes vigorously as tears rose up by default.
“Good, because I ain’t even touched it yet.” The old man said dryly. Shyly, the kid opened his eyes. ”Good. now pay attention.” The boy stared at his now obscenely crooked finger and felt his stomach flip-flop.
”Yeah, now as I was saying… in heaven, it’s been said, ya know, that there’s all these precious gems all over, but what you gone do with rubies, sapphires and such? Seems to me that kind of extravagance is gonna draw the wrong Kind o’folk as it is, least when one looks at it scientifically… precious and all, but I mean can you eat them stones? Can you, son?”
“..No?” the boy said, “hey…I feel woozy~”
“Good, then its’ working, son- now pay attention- And would you- would you want a gate made out of pearls, or would you want some of those oysters they be shuckin’ down the way that you love?” Old man Mad looked intently at the boy as he perked up, his hurt hand totally forgotten in one fell instant.
“Oysters? We gone have oysters because of my hand? Because I Love oysters!-ooh~you know how I love oysters!” the little boy murmured as his mind wandered onto greener pastures filled with memories of meals made solely around his favorite food.
“…so you sayin you’d prefer the oysters to a gate made out of some big-old pearl, it is safe to assume.” Old man Mad mumbled sarcastically as he noted the faraway look of happiness in the boys eyes. Self-consciously, the kid snapped out of it.
“What’s wrong with you, Mad? Why you keep talking ‘bout pearls and sapphires and gold, for like forever? And oysters- and what’s up with that rock? why’s it always coming for me? It’s always in my way when I’m not looking!” He fussed on. “And what’s wrong with my hand?” the kid asked, confused
“Nothin’s wrong with your hand.” The old man muttered.
“What you mean, its-“the boy fussed as he lifted it to show the old man that he was crazy to have forgotten so quickly.
“Look at it-“ Mad muttered as he didn’t even bother to look himself.
The boy gasped as he stretched out his hand in Mad’s and his finger went right back in line with the others. “But-i- but how did-how did you-“ he stuttered.
“Told you to pay attention,” Old man Mad grinned slyly.
“You tricked me!” the boy argued as he waved his perfectly fine finger in Mad’s face.
Mad clucked his tongue. ”People say pay attention for a reason, sometimes even to make sure you’ont pay attention.” Mad grinned and took the boy’s hand again. ”Want it back the other way?” he asked. Before the boy could answer, his finger disjointed again.
“Aww come on! Put it back right!” he fussed.
“You do it.” Mad grinned mildly.
“Me?! Ion’t know how!”
“YOU did it last time!” Mad chuckled.
“What? How? Me! I did not!”
“Oysters~” Mad murmured.
“Oysters! Ooh~ I love Oysters, stop that -you’re making me so hungry~ I remember last time we had oysters and-“ The boy got really still as Mad pointed to his finger going back into place on its own. ”But How~?” the kid whispered.
“Love-“ Mad said simply. “Nother thing this place got on some so-called posed to be heaven ANY day… Everything is made whole here. We free to be whole here. Alla- time. Long as we love. Something. Understand?” Mad asked the boy.
He nodded solemnly and the two of them got back to work in silence. But it was obvious he was still a bit confused.
Finally he just asked. “But Mad…If it’s so great here, why we gotta move rocks anyway? It’s like…work, isn’t it?” he asked.
“It’s not work, really. It’s like…” Old man Mad mused aloud. “Like Preparation… for more…better. Much-much mo’better.” Mad dusted his hands off on his thighs. ”Come on then, let’s go get you some of those oysters ova yonder that you act like a part o’you.”
“But why, Mad? Why we-”
“Because you gotta learn how to build a garden, son. We all do, sooner or later.” Mad said softly as they headed down the road. ”And stones in good ground block the best growth, so they gotta come out, you see?”