By Phillip Ghee (USA)
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
"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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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...
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.
Stan accused Broadus of being a diva-like elitist concerned only with his own reputation.
Opening night was complete success. The flawless performance of the actors was outdone only
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
“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
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
“ 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.
“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
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