31 July 2014

"THE DEAD---END" (be in the short story)

An Original Collection of Provocative and Powerful Essay's by R. B. STUART. Her Work Begins and Ends at the Crux of Truth, Sorrow and Humor---Capable of Slicing Through Your Psyche and Piercing Your Heart.

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The post below is the ending/death scene in the soon to be published longer short story. 
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  "THE DEAD---END" (be in the short story)  

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Post Thirty-Four
24 July 2014

With only spurts of work and periodic loans from her family Rachel made it through 2013 to July 2014. With $40.00 left in the bank and August clipping at her heels, her brother told her she was ‘a failure’ and was aware she could feel the noose tighten. Her Christian sister sent an E-mail telling her to, ‘Find Jesus first…then find a job.’ Even if I had to live under a bridge Jesus would care for me.

Their generosity of spirit and I. O. U's eroded their compassion and empathy...but this form of tough love wasn't what her already fragile psyche needed. Rachel no longer had her sisters credit card to rely on for emergencies, her car’s registration expiring and heart medicine dwindling…she had no one to ask for help. The 500 plus resumes she’d sent out over the past nine months in Los Angeles, were fruitless…as she believed it was her age they were calculating by her references. The 15 years of experience would hinder her from utilizing the skill-set she mastered as management. Rachel kept turning to call someone to share her distress except there wasn’t anyone. 

Kat was dead, so was her mother, and her other sister, as well as her father. Her eldest sister who helped her move to the West Coast was like a nonsensical drunk with advice. She'd parrot, “I just don’t know what to say,” at every fraction in Rachel’s life. Rachel always ridiculed her, “How could someone be in their 60’s and be without wisdom about anything?’ She was baffled by her sisters inept guidance. 
Hasheim spent weeks not even casting an eye her way since his secret marriage. Maybe being from the Middle East he was prone to secrecy. She desperately wanted to cry all her woes in his arms, instead she'd waken from dreams feeling his warm cheek pressing against her face. He clutched his cell phone like a safety shield and lowered his head when she’d pass by. Sporadically they’d catch one another’s gaze. But Hasheim made no attempt to cross the street to sweep his hands across Pistachios face or bid hello to Rachel like he’d done for months. His moodiness would cycle with more personality changes then Sybil. There were definite signs of a psychological disturbance. But with Rachel being devoid of physical affection she was emotionally malnourished and erred on the side of love rather than common sense---all she wanted was to be the star in someone's sky.
Suicide seemed like the only relief to the anguish. Within days of her mothers 86th birthday she couldn’t bare the wedge that had deepened between her and the lackluster she found in her life. Rachel couldn’t comprehend why nobody understood her, or had the empathy to lift her up with praise and assurances that she’d find a way. She couldn’t find the words of encouragement within any longer and dying was the only way. They say suicide is the cowards way out…it’s the most
courageous act one can do. Putting up your dukes to almighty God and following through not knowing who or what is in the darkness on the otherside…diving head first into the fear is a noble final act, that can only be meant on the wings of suffering. How great the pain must be to be able to slit your wrists, blow your brains out, suffocate by asphyxiation, drown, overdose or Rachel’s method, hanging.

Five o’clock that Friday morning, still awake from the day before she went out to her terrace and unhooked two bungee chords from the back of her ten speed. Rachel stopped to look at herself one last time in the bathroom mirror where she tied a red bandana around her neck knotting it twice, then applied a coat of Chanel’s No 60 New York Red lipstick to her perfectly bowed, thin lips. Her thick, curly blonde mane sprouted ringlets over her forehead. Wearing a white V-neck Jockey T-shirt, a pair of Khaki army green capris, and lime green strappy leather sandals, she delicately pinched the lipstick tube and wrote down her left arm in capital letters; F  I  L  U  R  E.

In silence, Rachel fastened Pistachios, Cesar Milan peacock blue harness around his small 16 pound Apricot frame, and clipped the leash to his collar. She knew his dog tags would be the clue to who she was. She took him for a 20 minute walk through the darkened, desolate streets until she ended up on Sylmar….Hasheim’s street. Rachel knew he was a creature of habit and at six-thirty would walk that way, passing her building enroute to the car wash. She wasn’t blaming him or anyone…it was just life….Rachel could manifest fiction, but not fulfill her dreams, or the love of her life.
Under the streetlight she circled Pistachios leash three times around the base of the pole until he was two feet away. He focused on her every move just like he’d done for the past 11 years. He looked at her curiously, his large, brown, sensitive eyes, obsessively watching Rachel as she connected the two bungee chords together. Rachel stood on her tip toes and after several attempts angled the woven-elastic chord around the street sign. The seven foot high pole was tall and sturdy enough to hold her body weight. Rachel jumped up to grasp the hooks from the chord. Forcefully stretching it down the pole linking both metal hooks to her bandana. She gashed her neck with the metal tips but pushed through the pain, until finally she cried out to her Poodle Pistachio, “I love you little Papa. You’re a good doggy. You’ve always been a good boy. I have to go Bye-Bye.”  

Heaving the guts of her tears---images of him paralleled her mind, his smiling face retrieving a squeaky ball, him whimpering and pawing at a wrapped minty bone with anticipation of it sailing  across the room, watching the way his bum shifted when he walked. Pistachio was the most patient, kind, gentle and dedicated dog---it was nothing he'd done---simply his love wasn't strong enough to keep her anchored to the earth any longer.      
Pistachio’s head cocked from side to side trying to interpret her final words then hopped on her legs like a pogo stick. The tears streaming down Rachel’s face blurred the street lights and clouded the image of the crescent moon. Rachel unglued her stiffened hands from the outstretched chords. They bounced back jerking her body up the pole and a foot off the ground then bit her tongue. The veins in her neck reddened from lack of oxygen, then like a twig, her neck snapped to the right. On the morning of Ernst Hemingway’s 115th birthday, she hung from the noose like a PiƱata.
Pistachio began howling like a wolf in the wilderness snagged by the rusty, iron teeth of a trap,
Hasheim who was preparing for his first morning cigarette slid the picture window open to sit on the terrace. He listened to the dog howling and thought for a minute that it resembled Pistachio, who barked each day Rachel took him for a walk, or when she drove by. While on Rachel’s lap Pistachio would stand at attention out of the car window barking. Hasheim was amused as if Pistachio was the Captain at the bough of a ship.
He fired up his lighter, bending his partially hairless, silkened head to listen closer. Hasheim knew the little dogs voice. Puzzled, he peered up to the corner towards the front of Rachel’s building. When it didn’t subside, he grabbed his keys then leapt his small but muscular body over the balcony and scurried up the street.
Less than a half a block away, he could see a miniature dog jumping up the street sign pole. He thought the dog was chasing a squirrel. Quickening his pace, forgetting there was a cigarette between his fingers, the orange ambers followed him as he came closer. He saw something thick hanging from the pole, like a scarecrow, and couldn’t believe his eyes. He flipped his cigarette into the gutter and raced to the corner where he saw Rachel’s head cocked to the side, Pistachio frantically squealing was springing up and down the pole. Hasheim slid his cell phone from his Levi's back pocket and dialed 911.

Gasping, “This is an emergency. Hurry. there’s been a hanging. I’m at the corner of….You can’t hear me because the dog is barking. Are you fuckin’ kidding me? A girl is hanging on a pole and you’re worried about the fuckin dog!” he boisterously exclaimed then demanded. “I need an ambulance, fire truck, police…anyone---I need help!!!” and hung up.
With the power of God Hasheim hoisted Rachel’s large frame off the hooks. His hands trembled as adrenalin shot through his body like a bolt of lightening. Her body flopped forwards over his back and he stumbled. His steps strained as he lowered her onto a mound of grass on the curb, her head facing a garden of pansies. As gently as he could, he awkwardly laid her down. Then uncoiled Pistachios leash from the pole. The hyper, distraught pup galloped over to Rachel and began licking her face and mouth. Hasheim knelt by her side as he’d done many times before when patting Pistachio, “I know buddy…I know…she’s gone.”
He picked several purple pansies, then one yellow, a white one and wrapped her right hand around them and placed her arm on her chest. He saw the writings on her left arm and spit in his hand and feverishly began to erase the stained letters from her arm. His dark eyes wept onto her breast.

“You’re not a failure. You’re not a failure, you’re not a failure,” attempting to remove the word from her pale skin.  Suddenly, the normally stoic Middle Eastern man buckled from emotion and bent over her lifeless body. Wiping his eyes and smoothing over his seven day grey beard, he kissed her cheek. "I’m sorry that I didn’t love you sooner. Go Angel…go… You’ll be safe now. We’ll see each other again. I promise. Be free.”  
Hearing the sirens approach Hasheim scooped Pistachio up in his arms and rocked him.  “Shhh.shhh.shhhh,” kissing his furry head. “I know buddy…she’s in a better place now. We’ll miss her. I wish that I could have been part of your lives…but I waited too long and made a mistake. I’m sorry. I promise I won’t let anything happen to you Pistachio. I promise.”

The red lights from the ambulance and fire engines bounced off the windows of the apartment buildings. The LAPD patrol cars barreled down the wrong way, their head lights strained Hasheim’s eyes, the cars screeched to a halt. Like John Wayne they sauntered over demanding answers, 
“What happened here---who are you?”   
“She hung herself on the street sign. I pulled her down. I’m a local business owner, this is Rachel Sterling, a friend, she lives across the street, and this is her dog Pistachio. They just moved here from New York last fall. She needed a friend…regrettably…I wasn’t there for her…she was a unique person…very special…life had been gnawing at her and I didn’t see the pain she was in. She was suffering more than I knew. I wish I could have been there,” he said burying his face into Pistachio’s shoulder.  
The EMT’s hoisted Rachel’s body onto a white sheet and like a hammock they moved her onto a gurney. They fastened a thick red seatbelt around her waist and spread the sheet up over her face. Pistachio was squirming out of Hasheim’s arms, his toenails scratching and digging into his forearms, chest and hairless scalp. Hasheim held him tighter, like a straight jacket pressing the anguished dog against his body trying to calm him down,  “I know buddy I’m sorry. It’s okay…easy…I have you.”   
Pistachio was panting. Frantically watching every move of his best friends body. His tongue dripped saliva from his muzzle. “Where’s her face I can’t see it anymore,” he thought. “What happened to her? Why isn’t she moving? I want to go with her. Pleeezzze let me down so I can go with her. I can’t live without her. I love her.” his soul wined with grief and confusion as he watched his beloved placed in the back of a boxy white truck. “I need her. I have to be with her. Let me go with her. She’s mine…she’s my world…I love her with all my heart. Please don’t take her away from me. No…no…no….please. Ahoo…ahoo….ahoo”    
In a trail of smoke, the caravan of vehicles wheeled down the Boulevard with Rachel’s body.  Just then Pistachio started to hear the birds chirping and it reminded him of a song Rachel used to play at night when she was meditating, he quieted, his ears pricked, faintly hearing within, the soothing slow baritone of gospel singers, Carlos & Johnny, 
“If you wonder why I’m weeping. It’s because I wake from sleeping. To discover that I’m keeping...you forever more. Holy God I feel your presence. Holy God I feel your power. In God I know I’m whole…and f  e  e.”  
Pistachio and Hasheim stood clutching one another as the morning sun rose. Hasheim too, heard the birds sing-songing in the Oak trees. There was an air of peacefulness as his mind swirled with vibrant memories of her face. Rachel meandering down the side of the road, Pistachio prancing beside her like a show dog. Her life had suddenly evaporated---before his very eyes---she was gone….lost somewhere in the ashes of time and space. 
From then on at six-thirty every morning, and five–thirty each evening, Hasheim and Pastachio would walk by the corner where he planted a white cross marker painted with black dog paw prints, a red satin ribbon, her favorite color, was neatly tied in a bow with a double knot at the center, allowing it to stream with the wind. They'd briefly stop. Pistachio would sniff at the ground where Rachel once laid as Hasheim closed his eyes and softy prayed.  “Salam alykom,” and blew her a Persian kiss.

They’d jet across the street,,,,Pistachio trotting beside him barking, trying to pull Hasheim to the front door of the apartment building. He tightened the leash, “No buddy….Mumma’s gone----you’re safe with me now.”

Pistachio followed his steps and down the road they walked until they disappeared. The birds trailing them with a song of love… 
Rachel an undiscovered New York writer, died with a stockpile of unpublished manuscripts, short-stories, essays and poetry. Since 2002 she’d labored over her keyboard drenched in emotion exercising her demons. Her life began to shift in L. A. as she became entrenched in melancholy. Deceased loved ones were more comforting to her than those alive. Her family never respecting or understanding the soulfulness of her craft planned to destroy her belongings and life’s work…since to them there wasn’t any value or meaning to what she crucified her spirit to write. Reading about the hanging and her life in the LA Times, a benefactor stepped forward to honor the invisible and unheard writer, offering to pay for her funeral expenses…. 
"THE DEAD---END" (be in the short story)

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