MARCH TO GALLOWS
Pallid pink lips were moving perpetually, undoubtedly reciting in dubious tones the now numerous black marks on my permanent record. But I couldnt hear the vocalized words spilling in my disgrace. My mind had stilted to most of reality days before really. Pieces would pierce through the mental shield but it mostly just appeared in all senses like a distant projection of life to me. I wasnt sure if I cared much at all anymore. I was coherent enough to know where I was and how to act now, but after all that had happened, I couldnt figure how things could possibly get any worse than they already were now.
Pale blue eyes looking over the pearled rims of bifocal lenses at me with so much concern-veiled disdain. And all I could do was sit there in the uncomfortable wooden chair before her desk and stare right through her like a scolded dog.
A week had passed since that night in English Lit, the week being full of despondency and dread. A full gambit of paranoia, self-hatred, twisted euphoria, terror, apathy and finally dumbfounded acceptance had run me up and down, finally rendering me near catatonic.
That night, up to a certain point, remained clear in my mind. Then theres a blank scene. And then waking to jarheads. Campus security had found me somewhere on the school grounds, passed out and absolutely reeking of alcohol. The cops had been called. Then the principal. And then finally, my mom. Subsequently, I was both suspended from school for a week and grounded at home for a month.
The cops sited me with a 100 hours community service fine and a threat that if I was ever caught drunk like that again, anywhere, I would be sent to juvenile hall, period. They told me I was getting off easy. I begged to differ.
Mom was ashamed, my misbehavior aging her ten years. She ransacked my room and found my hidden bottle of vodka, but missed the Excedrin bottle of nicked Xannax. She could barely speak to me for two days, and when she finally did, all she could do was sob her lack of understanding me.
Grandma found a new reason to curse me, and spat her complete abhorrence at me every moment I was in her sight now. She threatened to throw me out, regardless of what mom said. I quit listening after the forth round of that threat.
My father expressed deep concern and disappointment. But he still wouldnt come to see me.
In all, I had been cut down to size and left open-wounded and broken for the world to see and guffaw at.
Now, sitting in Professor Montessoris office in that shit little wooden chair that would stand as a torture device in Guantanamo, the final boot was dropping. The proverbial shit was hitting the fan full force. The pieces I did hear in that upper class doctorate voice: continuation school, expulsion, and boot camp. All referred to within the first five minutes alone. And then I had just shut off, staring blankly into space.
Principal Professor Minerva Montessori, a long willowy middle-aged woman with white-blond hair and a bluish hue to her thin skin, was vainly trying to attempt some kind of comprehension through aversion. Another one of the generation of shrinks wanting to help the kids, she was trying to pry out of me any reason I would do so many horrid little things, in the hopes that she could attempt to fix me and set me straight.
Really, all she was doing was making me even more uncomfortable and self-loathsome than I already felt. I didnt want to talk to her about anything. I just wanted to go back to class and forget the whole thing.
We tend not to try so hard with lost caus
she spoke like a scientist over a newly discovered gene of inherent evil or something.
I could vaguely see some odd connection of likeness between Montessori and Mahler here. Some weird little muscle twitch in her forehead and that overly confident demeanor.
Poor Herman Mahler. Somewhere deep inside the recesses of my mind, I smiled in contempt for the son of a bitch. If anything went right that night, certainly it had to have been his demise. Oh sure, the horrors of death on campus wrought so many spuriously sorrowful responses from student and faculty alike, one mightve thought the man was a saint. It made me sick. Even the papers held him in regard; Beloved English Teacher of 10+ Years Found Dead; Campus Mourns Loss. Beloved my ass. What bullshit.
Curiously, despite finding my drunk ass sprawled out on a lunch table in the senior quad on the same night that Mahler was found hanging from the rafters in his room, no connection was ever breathed between the two happenstances. Metro Homicide deemed his death suicide, case closed, even though almost all evidence pointed indefinitely to foul play. But no, I was not even remotely mentioned in the same paragraph as his apparent suicide.
I shouldve been relieved by that. I shouldve been elated that somehow, vicariously, I had gotten away with murder. Or, well, accessory to murder. But all I really felt was ease that the bastard somehow got what was coming to him. Everything else was moot.
Having so much time to myself to think about everything, I found myself growing disturbed. At first I regarded it as the fear of things coming back to get me; Mahlers death, Calebs flip-out, Sonnys inferno. But, I began to realize that it wasnt Mahler or the cops or even the Save-The-World principal reciting chapter and verse at me now that I was frightened of. No, in all actuality, it wasnt any of that or my mistakes or my family.
It was Damian. Damian was the root of all my horror. He was the one thing that I was truly and utterly frightened of.
I had no recollection of what had happened after Damian had rendered me unconscious, the final sight of his piercing skyscraper steel eyes behind leather claws emblazoned into my eyelids. I only remembered waking to the soon-to-be Marine security cop shaking my shoulder and asking what the hell I thought I was doing. Ideas of rape or mutilation or something worse plagued me for a while, while being lectured to death by cops and parent alike. Later, upon more coherent inspection of myself, aside from a raging hangover and a consuming feeling of pure dread, I was intact in all ways I knew. And, as far as I could tell, I was pretty sure I still retained my soul.
Your continuing disregard for your future has us perplexed. Do you even know what youre going to do with your life, Miss Shastid? Professor Montessori appeared ghostlike to me, foggy white in representation. Her incessant questioning of my motives left a queer taste in my mouth. I shrugged my shoulders, refusing to say anything that could be used against me. She huffed and continued to prattle on and on about straightening out.
The week I spent in purgatory was a restless and sick trudge through my psyche. I was conflicted by the extremities of emotions, which made it hard to function on even the more basic animalistic levels. Eating was difficult, all food tasting acrid and sour on my tongue. Sleeping was near impossible. Just those brief fleeting moments where the brain shuts down, like a computer rebooting for a few minutes. Speaking seemed useless after trying in vain to earn back my moms favor. My words became more ditch digging than I couldve imagined. After a while, I just lay on my bed, staring through the television and distressing about my fate.
And of course, I was constantly aware that somewhere out there, Damian was watching over me like some wicked guardian angel.
The true main cause of my breakdown, the conflict of Damian within me.
On the one hand, Damian was terrifying. Some omniscient, vicious, unholy being fond of my sorry excuse of an existence, easily swatting away people who stood in his way. He was biding his time now, waiting. Although I couldnt see him and didnt for the whole week, or on my way into Professor Montessoris office, I knew he was waiting out there, somewhere. It scared the daylights out of me. I didnt know whether or not he was coming after me, angry and vengeful of my refusal of his tender, brutal offerings. I worried incessantly about what he was going to do to me when he finally did feel the time was right. Would he try to completely topple my already shaky life into rubble, just to suck me in deeper? He was powerful, even if he wasnt the devil--which I was pretty sure by now that he was--and he seemed the kind of person to not let some things go lightly. I feared totally for my life and my sanity.
On the other hand, however, my heart ached sickly for Damian. I was madly in love with him, to my surprised horror. I daydreamed of him like a love-sick fool. I felt wrong being away from him for so long. Between the high-strung paranoid moments of apprehension I felt, I replayed each and every moment he kissed or touched me, even the rougher moments that sent shockwaves of fear through me. I wallowed in memory of his lips over mine. I swore up and down I could still feel numbing prickles left by his touch on my skin. The entire week, I missed him. God help me, I missed the bastard like wild.
Miss Shastid! Professor Montessori pounded the desk with brittle looking fists, glaring at me with glassy eyes.
I blinked and pulled her back into focus. She shook her head with exasperation and closed my permanent record, a nicely dog-eared blue manila file folder now bursting with equally dog-eared papers. I could see it know, she was raising the axe for the final blow. I took a deep breath and blinked again with resignation.
I really dont know what to say. Im disappointed with you. You had such potential. Now
now, we have a very difficult issue with you. She seemed dire enough for expulsion. Frankly, I was about ready for it. A quick vignette in my head of my future had me a strung out heroin addict overdosed in some nasty crack house after years of homelessness. Fine, I thought.
But, then Montessoris eyes looked up, away from me and a simple smile moved her perpetual lips a little. Ah, so good of you to join us, Doctor Diablon.
Upon her terrible Fargo pronunciation of the name, I stilled like prey in the woods feeling the sense of a predator nearby. My eyes widened in alarm. Every little hair on my neck stood on end. I clenched my jaw shut to keep my teeth from chattering.
My pleasure, Maam. His voice sounded so vitiated it stung my ears to hear.
He strutted in slowly, his Black Mamba boots snapping succinctly on the dusty floor. His cologne again preceded him, and his presence surrounded me like heat from a blast furnace. Slowly appearing in my peripheral, he was a vision of onyx and ivory; all impeccable black cotton and rayon clothes fitted to his body, pale skin, black cat fur hair. Approaching and rounding Montessoris desk and chair to stand on her right, he crossed his arms over his chest and planted his eyes pointedly on mine.
I couldnt look at him, a sickening mixture of terror and adulation causing me to shiver in my seat. I just couldnt bring my eyes to look upon him, afraid of the disparagement that might be in his eyes. Anxious of the rapacious expression that might also be there. Frightened of the demon, my thin and raw eyes grabbed the table top and held on for dear life.
Doctor Diablon, I was just going over Miss Shastids record with her. Would you like me to start again? Professori Montessori asked, her tone of voice disturbingly congenial suddenly. If I didnt know any better, the silly bitch was reveling in my disgraces.
No thank you, Professor. That wont be necessary. Damians voice slithered through my ears.
Jess. Look at me. I heard him say softly in my head and it made me twitch a little. But I couldnt look.
Alright then. I trust youre familiar with Miss Shastid and her behavior. What would you suggest in your learned experience? Again, that feathery tone of voice like she was flirting, and my brows winced up.
Well, he sighed, moving now, coming round the desk.
If I couldve sent the message to my legs to kick out, that I mightve broken away free and run like hell, I wouldve been five miles gone. But, paralyzed, I sat boring wormholes into the desktop as Damian stepped up before me and stood.
LOOK AT ME NOW! his voice demanded like reigning death and I jerked, my eyes obeying, squaring him finally with no more fight. Upon sight, my breath fell quick and harsh from my mouth.
Damian, tall, handsome and omnipotent, looked down upon me. I couldnt read him but for his frown of scorn. It made me want to throw myself upon his mercy.
I think, Professor Montessori, that Miss Shastid would benefit from a frank, private discussion with me, alone. He stated, his thin mouth moving precisely over the formalities of the profession, though his final word ate my heart.
I would agree, Doctor. Montessori stated in return, robotically now and when I looked to her, she looked even more pallid than before, blank faced and turgid.
I peered back up at Damian and swallowed hard.
Stand up, he demanded darkly.
My knees jerked me upright before him like ropes tied to me had been yanked. I thought I might faint. Damian motioned for me to turn around with his hand and I obeyed, turning to the door. His right hand wrapped around the back of my neck and he nudged me to walk.
He escorted me out of Principal Professor Minerva Montessori the Manipulateds office and down the corridor.
Walking along, Damian close behind me guiding me by my neck, the hall filling with students who looked on with vacant eyes, I felt like I was being led to the gallows.