by jason gusmann
visuals by rhoda penmarq
Chapter Three: An Unpleasant Discovery
Hap lies awake in his bed, Bodie at his feet.
He turns to the left, then the right.
How I wish I could fall asleep! he thinks.
But that clue...I can’t stop thinking about it!
WHERE DO THEY PUT THE EMPTY ANGELS HAP WHERE DO THEY HIDE THE BROKEN VESSEL
What could it mean?
Empty angels...broken vessels...
Angels have wings and fly, just like...
And a vessel, that’s another word for...
Finally, Hap falls into a fitful, dreamless sleep.
In the morning, Hap is awakened by Dad firmly rapping on the bedroom door.
Up and at ‘em, Hap!
Hap rubs his eyes as Bodie hops to the floor.
Hap dresses quickly and goes down to the kitchen.
In the white and yellow kitchen, there are no smells of breakfast cooking.
Aunt Cindy stands by the pantry door, her arms crossed.
She is smoking a cigarette and ashing on the kitchen floor.
She is not wearing the short black dress.
She is wearing an even shorter white dress.
Her long white legs seem even longer and thinner.
Her short black hair seems even shorter and blacker.
Aunt Cindy’s white dress is made of a light, gauzy material.
It makes Hap think of something an angel would wear.
Hmmm...the empty angels, Hap thinks.
Dad comes up behind Aunt Cindy.
Hey, Hap, your Aunt isn’t ready with breakfast just yet.
Why don’t you and Bodie go play for awhile?
Bodie and I are hungry now!
Then Dad frowns.
Hap, you and Bodie go pick some apples if you’re so hungry!
Hap kicks unhappily at the floor.
Okay, Dad, if you say so.
Aunt Cindy glares at them as Hap and Bodie leave.
Hap and Bodie walk along the sidewalk through the morning sunshine.
Jeepers, Bodie, Hap sighs, what gives with Dad?
I know Aunt Cindy doesn’t like us too much but...
Bodie looks up at Hap sadly.
Then, suddenly, Hap just shrugs.
Aw, nuts to all that!
Let’s go pick us some apples!
Hap picks up the pace and Bodie happily follows.
Now, Bodie, let’s see if we can figure this out...
Hap and Bodie begin walking towards the Reillys’ house.
Now, angels make me think of angelfood cake, and vessels make me think of boats.
How could they...of course!
Hap snaps his fingers.
What do you do with a cake boat when it’s empty?
You throw it in the trash!
Bodie barks excitedly.
The clue is telling us to look in the Reilly’s trash bin!
Again, Bodie barks happily.
Now I’m going to need to go alone for this next part.
I’m sorry, boy, but I’m going to need to use all my detective skills to look in the Reillys’ trash bin without Mr. Reilly seeing me.
From the side of the house, Hap creeps up to the Reilly’s trash bin.
All the curtains on that side are drawn.
Hap slowly and quietly lifts the lid off the bin, then slowly looks through the assorted garbage until something catches his eye.
He gingerly moves some trash and finds a clump of bright white napkins soaked red with blood.
Oh no! exclaims Hap.
These must be what Mr. Reilly used to soak up the blood after he killed Mrs. Reilly!
I had better tell Officer Dan!
the window had fallen in love with the imprisoned bird... all day long he watched her hopping around the bare room...
she crowed every now and then... and stared into his eyes for hours... at these times their eyes shone in a very strange way...
each day the window felt the bird is sitting closer to him... now he could see his own reflection in her black eyes...
and at last... one day... something happened...
the window opened his arms wide... waiting for the bird... she paused for a moment... opened her wings as wide as she could... and soared into his embrace...
In Fisher Park I heard a lark;
‘Twas the first or perhaps the second day of Spring.
I ceased my rambles and sat upon a mossy rock --
The better for to hear him (or her) sing.
The song he sang (or was it she?)
Drilled deeply into my unworthy soul:
“Cheep cheep!” sang he or she to me, most wretched me,
And, yes, I wept, and soon lost all control.
In Fisher Park I met a young lad
In Wintertime, with cheeks of rosy apple glow;
He showed me what I knew not I had:
An innocence buried ‘neath frozen snow.
In Fisher Park I met a young girl
In Summertime, and like a flower was she;
She put my crazéd brains into quite a whirl
But in the end showed peace to me.
In Fisher Park I met an ancient priest,
Mumbling his daily office (yes, ‘twas Fall);
He told me that of men I was the very least,
But that to Jesus this meant nothing at all.
In Fisher Park I heard a lark,
I met a lad, a girl, a wise old priest;
What did I learn in my ramblings through the glades of Fisher Park?
Only this: that God loves every man and beast.
I knew not to ask, “What’s that, Peter?” when he brought in the first wooden board. We weren’t that casual. Our conversations concerned the world and its needs, global hardship, destruction, and greed. And then, too, history and genius and fundamental, universal truth—nothing personal.
To an astonishing degree, Peter found navel-gazing repellent. “I, me, mine,” he said. “What’s wrong with people?”
When we met, I attempted to argue: People need to talk about their likes and dislikes; it’s how we relate.
But he said, no, it only leads people to demand that everyone believe what they believe. Well, all right; I went along. After all, Peter was the most intelligent, handsome man I’d ever met.
Averse to anyone worming around for validation, Peter naturally disliked revealing his inner life to me or anyone else. Initially, his secretive nature thrilled me—such depth and intrigue.
When we married, we made “non-intervention” our first vow. We would respect each other’s differences just as we respected other cultures’.
Our apartment has one bedroom, a tiny kitchen and tinier bathroom but high ceilings and thick brick walls. Behind the bedroom is a long, narrow, high area, set up as a closet, one half his, one mine.
Once, when he scolded me for examining his toy soldier collection, I said, “No worries, darling, if you need to be furtive.” It was, I thought, just another guy thing.
But he said, “I’m never furtive, Angela.”
Of course, Peter wasn’t really furtive but should he ever wish for a furtive moment, I understood. I understood, too, not to question his privacy.
The stockpile of wood and carpenter nails accruing in his closet’s shadows meant nothing. I imagined it was like a musty, secret shrine. Or something.
As his project developed, however, I worried. Turned out, it was a boy’s fort, secured to the closet ceiling. I surmised but never saw that he shimmied up a rope and pushed open the fort’s trap door.
Our confines were such that I registered without actually watching him horde bottled water, batteries, flares, flotation devices. He acquired a Boy Scout uniform and soon spent—it seemed—his life inside his fort. His troops traded intelligence in muffled voices.
And then, several times he refused to decamp for dinner. This battalion or that, I gathered, had been bombed to smithereens. Well, please. This isn’t how I’d envisioned married life.
Yet since I was married, I tried to remain loyal.
Soon he wouldn’t come to bed due to military conflicts. He continued going to work, though. Until the holidays, when insurrections proliferated.
I’ve been staying at my brother’s and avoiding the landlord’s summons. I can’t run forever, obviously. My coworkers won’t cover for me another minute.
To be honest, I’m afraid here, ready with my door key, the hallway thick with silence and desolation.