Nursery Rhymes and Petty Crimes Part II
It was Friday night, and Ryan found himself wandering the South end, the streets were empty, deserted, and dark. He could feel the beat of steady bass vibrating the cracked sidewalk under his feet, but couldn't locate the right factory or its entrance. Gabriel's instructions had indicated the abandoned mill. There were two and he had just circled the entire chain link fence surrounding the one. The other, even farther south along Canal had long coils of razor wire in addition to the fence, and seemed less likely. As he passed the gate where the fence was bound tight with thick chains and a heavy master lock, he noticed a laminated sign screwed to the fence with the same kind of star-shaped bolts they used on bathroom stalls. It was a notice saying that the city had condemned the building because of health risks... blah blah blah. He had already thought of texting Maria, but she had never come by the Trader Joes to pick-up her phone.
Maria wasn't grounded, but she might as well have been. She had set up her proxy parents to call the night before the rave and when the phone rang, Mary ran to get it, and quickly handed the cordless handset to Joseph. Pretending to occupy herself with the puzzle on the big card table in the living room where she had always felt the nonexistent TV should have been, Maria listened in on the one-sided conversation. Maria didn't see Joseph smile often, which he did when he realized who was on the other end. Their small talk drove Maria almost to hysterics with the suspense, but finally Joseph said, "Tomorrow night? I'm sorry, but Maria isn't available then."
Maria felt her heart leap into her throat. She couldn't control herself and she asked, "Why not?" while he was still on the phone. The look he gave her had fire and brimstone too it and she knew she would pay for it later, yet he answered the caller, "Her brother Anthony is getting baptized Saturday morning. I appreciate you offering to drive her home early, but I don't want her staying up too late and you know how girls can be at a sleep over."
Anthony, the most recent, and youngest child in the house had been there for six months, which Leah and Joseph considered part of the family, and as such, he was to be baptized. Anthony even said he had already been baptized before, but it didn't matter. Joseph explained to him that It was part of the custom of joining the family.
There was a flash of blue light around the corner of the warehouse across the street, and Ryan felt his chest flutter with hope. He raced toward it and nearly stumbled into a small group of college kids. The men in the group were dressed fairly normal save one whose bleached Mohawk was tipped with glow-in-the-dark highlights. The women were bedazzled in plastic bracelets, short shorts, metallic bras, or vests, and the tops of glow sticks stuck out of their pockets. "The Queen of Tarts--" one of the women began to tell him.
"Arabella," one of the men chided, "Look at this kid. He doesn't have any X."
Ryan shook his head to confirm, then asked, "You guys know where you're going?"
In answer one of them shined a UV flashlight at the sidewalk behind them, briefly revealing a crude drawing in black-light paint of a small rectangular brick wall, and a ladder above it.
Up the ladder and down the wall
," one of the women recited.
The trail of black-light paint led them down an abandoned and dry branch of the canal and up a cement culvert big enough for a car to fit through. Along the left side of the wall someone had written in black-light paint,
"Girls and boys, come out to play; The moon doth shine as bright as day..."
Inside the club the music itself was a rowdy toddler who just wanted to play. It slammed into Ryan's chest, pulled on him impatiently and wrapped itself around his feet. His head immediately began to bob in rhythm as the toddler pulled him into the ocean of bouncing bodies, and bare skin. Before being fully immersed in the undertow, Ryan looked around for Maria but the flashing lights, the laser show, the jumping spinning glow-in-the-dark tribal body-pant orgy created a camouflage for the senses that pulled his eyes every-which-way. They wanted to focus on everything and nothing. Specificity wasn't an option. The sound and light crashed over him and the current carried him into the middle where he saw a trail of dancers with red balloons hanging out of their mouths. He followed the trail to a greater concentration of red balloons on the edge of the crowd and found Gabriel.
"Heeeeeey, Red Horse 3!" Gabriel shouted into Ryan's ear.
"It's not three... the '3'
the 'E'." He shook his head, "Never mind. The trilogy is dead. No one calls me Red Horse anymore. Have you seen Maria?"
"Sorry Red Horse. Why? You need some milk?"
Some high school girls shouldered past Ryan and make a quick exchange with Gabriel of money for balloons. "No. I guess I'm worried about her?" Ryan watched as one of the girls immediately put the balloon in her mouth and crushed something inside it. The balloon expanded, the girl relaxed her lips and inhaled whatever had filled the balloon. Her jaw went slack with euphoria, and the balloon fell to the floor. Her friends caught her, laughing, as her legs turned to jell-O, and pulled her back into the sea of bodies.
"Worried?" Gabriel smiled, "Look around you, this is a safe place built on the tenants of peace and love!" Ryan looked past the smoke machines and mirror balls and saw a old mill building, rusting and falling apart. "Beside," Gabriel yelled into his ear, "That bitch is smart and tough as nails."
Anthony squinched up his face as the priest poured a small trickle of water on his forehead, and part of it ran down into his eyes and rolled off his cheeks. The priest said, "God the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people."
Maria leaned close to Josephine and whispered, "Isn't this supposed to be on a Sunday?"
"Maria, shhhhh! There was a wedding scheduled."
The priest said, "As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation!"
All together everyone said: 'Amen'. Well, all except for Maria who whispered to Josephine, "Did he say the: 'Jizm of Salvation?'" Maria braced for an elbow in the ribs, but when none was received she turned to look at Josephine. Her head was bowed as if in prayer, but she was looking at her hip. Maria leaned forward and saw the glow of a phone.
"Unbelievable." Josephine shook her head, "Why couldn't you invite your Sunday school friend here? Then you could whisper your little dirty jokes to
When Ryan exited the backdoor of the Trader Joes his head with still throbbing with a steady bass thump, and his bloodshot eyes squinted and grimaced at light of day. Maria was by the dumpster waiting for him, "You look like shit!"
"Maria," he said excitedly, but her confused expression stopped him from running up and hugging her. "I was... I tried to find you last night, did you get out before the cops showed up?"
"I never went. My parents were water-boarding the devil this morning--" Ryan looked confused. "My brother got baptized, and I couldn't get out last night."
"Good? You look like you had a fucking awesome time! I feel all left out!" Ryan handed Maria her phone and its charger. "Keep the charger here," she told him.
"No. I'm done, I can't take care of your phone for you anymore."
"You owe me three months!"
"My boss is getting suspicious!"
"Liar. You fucking
"Fine, you want the truth? I saw what your red balloons were doing to people last night..."
"So? What do you care?"
"I feel like because I am helping you, that I was responsible. Maria, what if someone died last night? I couldn't live with myself."
Maria glowered at him and took the phone out of his hands.
"I... care about you Maria."
"I have enough older brothers," she spat and walked away.
Ryan called after her, but she didn't turn back around. He went back to work.
Before I could've at least kept an eye on her,
he thought. His phone chimed with a text:
Eeper Weeper, chimney sweeper, Had a wife but couldn't keep her. Had another, didn't love her, Up the chimney he did shove her.
What does that mean?
Hello? What the fuck does that mean?