The Minstrel

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Cindy was out of breath from running. She was near fainting from the exhaustion of Indian summer heat. Running, that seemed to be all that she did now. It almost didn’t seem worth it to continue, a part of her argued, and argument that she had been struggling with for months. Why run when there was nothing for her to run to? Unless her husband was dead, there was nowhere for her to go. She would never be fully safe. Her husband had a missing person photo of her; it was like a gunshot from nearly two hundred miles away.

Maybe she should go South. There would be little chance of her survival here if she stayed here through the winter; she barely made it past the last one. At least in the warm South, she could rest. Miles away from her past and the mess she had somehow gotten involved with here. She wondered what it was in her personality that attracted chaos to her like rubber glue. All her life she had just wanted happiness and peace. All she had gotten was pain. She wondered what it was she had done wrong for her life to have turned out this way. All her life, the losers had clung on to her like gnats, the rich and poor alike. She wondered if she was a loser too. Gee why was she wondering. Look at the spacious accommodations she supported herself with. Pretty obvious where she stood.

This month was a good example if she ever needed one to prove her loser status. Her companions consisted of a drunk, lecherous, adulterer who was a poor excuse of a lawyer, and an insane hobo who couldn’t comprendo a word of English. And yet, no matter what she did, she couldn’t get rid of that. All without even sleeping with him. Getting rid of him was like trying to put ice on the trail that led to her husband; the ice would melt away, leaving a red hot lead straight to her. No wonder she’d been scared to leave. What she had most feared had come upon her, this life of poverty and hiding she had. And the same pattern she’d created with her husband seemed to have happened once again. Twice, to be exact.

She didn’t feel sorry for either one of the loons she’d attracted. With Russell/Avery, it had been the lure of a good life, without the side dish of battering involved. Of course, for someone to be drawn to her in her present state, the guy had to be somewhat nuts. He was a source of security got her, or had been, at least until the crazy murders in the last few weeks; but she represented something for him, too; she didn’t know what. There was a part of Cindy that wanted to believe that it was something more than his legal fancies, but she refused to believe or trust that part of her. The last time she had trusted it, she’d been imprisoned in a Chinese torture chamber( or New York, to be totally precise) for eleven years. And now she was a fugitive because of listening to it.

She didn’t know what to make of the Spanish bum. She still didn’t know his name whether real or imagined. He was just this presence that seemed to bounce in and out of her life at random. Maybe he wasn’t even real and she was just starting to hallucinate. It wouldn’t surprise her. This guy didn’t seem real. She usually resented him when he was with her but mussed him when he left, wondering why he’d abandoned her when he acted so much like he cared when he was with her. She hated him for getting through her so, she hated herself for letting him. Yet it was a process that worked itself on her despite her gritty resolve to prevent it. She had no idea why it happened, nor did she particularly care. Self-analysis was reserved for the more established members of the society; those with homes, jobs, and perhaps a Yorkshire terrier, and whose primary concern was whether to go to the movies or see the new cool episode of X-files that night. It wasn’t for those people whose primary concern was where to find their next meal, wondering if they would be murdered that night as they slept by an air vent to keep warmpeople such as herself. Feelings were a waste of time for her, so she reasoned her emotions away. They interfered with her survival.

Rarely did she get from the house; constantly she was under surveillance by her husband and his cronies, probably because being trash by their standards, she was expected to ball the town the minute backs were turned. Either that, or they were afraid the rage her husband dispelled upon her would go back on them; she was the new scapegoat, let’s keep it that way, that sort of thing. God knew the bruises were obvious enough for everyone to see. Cindy could hardly blame them for wanting to escape the same fate as she had, if she wanted to be fair. She didn’t feel like it.

taken her eleven years to take advantage of these escapades and take to flight, but regrets were a waste of time and past decisions were meaningless as well.

It was almost on automatic pilot that she found herself meandering to a phone. Her heart raced as much from what she was about to do as from the chance someone might see and recognize her. She changed her voice when she called the operator, asking for a collect phone call to a number that was written on her heart, then hung up the moment the operator asked for her name, afterwards, she crumbled with the phone dangling from her hands, her head hung low in defeat in the realization that in her fugitive state, even her only real love was forbidden to her as well as everything else that made life worth living.

He was angry. Enraged. It was not usual for him to be this angry, because God in His goodness had always led him to a path of beauty where it almost would be a disgrace to His name for him to be angry. Jesus was present at all times to him; who was he not to rejoice at His infinite love and kindness?

But today he was angry, and he knew that Jesus Himself would be angry too, in the same fashion as when He overturned the vendors’ tables in the temple. Whatever was good and love was what a pure heart treasured and thought about, and what came from the mouth was a wellspring of the reservoirs of the heart. If the eye was bad, then the light was bad. If a heart was evil, evil would spring forth from his mouth.

His anger was at destruction of God’s perfect world and the violation against His creatures. To the minstrel himself, as he rocked back and forth in lamentation to God with a voice that could pierce a heart with its agony, there was a personal lilt to his anguish that could not be squelched. He cried out to God, how could his own flesh be so afflicted with so much pain and fear when he had so much love to give her? Why did she run from him, when all his desire was to protect her? Evil had befallen her once before: he only desired to protect her from it once again.

Then he stopped short, his incantation halted to an abrupt end. God spoke to his heart. He heard the voice as surely as he heard the bells ringing for a Sunday church service and the birds flying overhead calling their last good-byes. There was an answer, and he would be a fool not to listen. He realized God understood his pain. God cried with him with the same pain as he, only His was worse, for His pain was for the whole world, not just Raulita Corazon Valezquez. As surely as Raulita was formed and sprung from his loins, the world had formed and sprung from the Lord’s. Just as the minstrel was, He was a parent despairing at the fate of His Lost Child, chasing after the one lost sheep. He more than understood the minstrel’s pain. And the minstrel knew, just as God had come to aid him in times of pain, he knew he would do the same for his loyal Friend. It was the least he could do for the Friend who had given him everything.

His footings were a series of clumsy stumblings; he had slept little since waking up to find the angel of Raulita once again no longer by his side. He took this to mean that his child still held anger against him, the love of his life still missing, he lay awake for nights in anguish that Satan somehow destroyed both of them. Why could he have not protected her—

A yell. Then a series of yells. Cheering. Clapping. Then a scream amidst it all. Siren chirping. Brakes screeching. The noise became louder as he continued in the direction he was walking, more insistent. The screaming became more shrill. The sirens sharp barks. The breaks rip across the eardrums. There was chaos up ahead packed on the ground before the throng landed upon the unfortunate creature. The rage filled the minstrel again. This was the evil that had stolen Lupe and Raulita from him.

A little black boy lusted over a skimpily clad white girl who seemingly wore nothing but white lace underwear with a black cape over her shoulders. The girl couldn’t even be eighteen. A girl making herself to be a showpiece to get a crumb of attention. Rage again at the devil, seducing a young girl to believe that reducing herself to no more than her female anatomy in the eyes of lusty men was the way to fulfillment; the young men no longer the valiant leaders of God they could be, but animals lusting for not a heart, but sex and blood. It was disgusting what they had allowed themselves to become and what anti-morality they allowed to become part of their hearts.

There was a fight. Over the woman. Because a black boy ludicrously challenged a white boy over what both purported to be the white boy’s property, ludicrous because the girl belonged to God only, no matter what either boy or the girl thought. She doesn’t belong to you, the minstrel screamed; she belongs to God; his voice seemingly unheard amidst the din of noise. No man had the right to fight for the liberties of a woman’s body, he screamed. It was not love they fought for. Lust was hate. The pride they thought they had for their own race was hate; hate for others and essentially for themselves as well; there was hate for God in all of it. I smell it, he said, I smell it all from you. It creates a stench that reeked and polluted even the beautiful nature that innocently flew about. The animals, thought, they were better than the most intelligent of you. Because they are smart enough not to leave God’s plan, despite all you do to wreck it.

It was with a ferocious cry that he leapt upon the fighters, his weary body energized with fury at the injustice that had happened upon the daughter of his Best and Truest Friend. Nothing that his victim could do could daunt him in that moment. Age, size held now factor upon him. It did not matter that the young white boy had the advantage of the first attack. The minstrel had smelled his hate approaching. The hate emanating from his attacker seethed all around; who could not sense it. And the minstrel was ready to stand up to hate. It had no true power in the presence of God.

The minstrel easily managed his adversary to the ground. It was cause for rancor amongst the fallen one’s comrades and celebration amongst the darker ones present. But he did not wait to be exalted or condemned by mere man. He turned to face the young boy who had so lewdly regarded the woman who had caused so much controversy. The minstrel berated the young boy, causing startle in a young lad who had fund himself a new hero. The minstrel was aware of his surprise and his admiration. The surprise was good; he was young enough to still be impression into redeeming his ways without much trouble relatively speaking. The admiration was not what he wanted, he instructed the boy. The boy was to admire God, his parents and his teachers. Where were his parents anyway? Did they know he was planted in the middle of the most debased form of debauchery he had seen in recent years?

The boy made no reply other than to dart through the crowds of blacks at an alarming rate. The minstrel took pity on the boy, saying a quick prayer of redemption. It angered the minstrel at what a hold Satan had taken on the young. It tempted him to curse fate, but he prayed for God’s intervention in the sudden spiritual quagmire his anger landed him in, all but oblivious to the incredulous stares at his apparent talking to himself. The minstrel was not ashamed of his Lord; others can stare and poke fun at him as they liked. The Lord was a Friend worth losing others for, for His friendship was real and eternal.

He heard a cry of pain. It had been the same scream he had heard earlier as he happened upon the vile scene. He moved amongst the crowd to the source; his audience, too baffled by his antics to deny him passage, almost instinctively opened a wide path to let him through, all pairs of eyes intent on the wild figure, except for two. One pair belonged to the girl so badly ravaged earlier that day; her eyes were hidden behind the dark veils of their lids, looking back and forth between the road to eternity and the one she had just left, trying to decide which path was better. The other pair belonged to her grief stricken lover as he raised them to heaven, rocking back and forth on his knees in vigilance next to the fallen girl, over and over, saying, Dios, she is near death, Dios, she is near death. Her face was a contortion of swollen mounds, part of her skull was showing near a cruel blow, while her neck lay at such a vicious angle too gruesome to behold. She, in fact, appeared dead to all but he lover himself.

The minstrel saw her lying there, seeing a face that belonged not to the girl herself but of his own lost love. In grief, he wept with the girl’s lover. He clung to the minstrel in his intense bereavement, oblivious to the fact that he clasped a stranger, for any comfort he would take now. The minstrel held the bereft man as he wept himself, reaching out to touch the girl’s face. He had an image of the girl as her former self. She was beautiful, a girl who laughed so much that she made others laugh at her voice; taller, fuller, brasher than his gentle Raulita, full of dirty jokes and a warm heart that would reach out to anyone who asked for it, dazzlingly bold in nature, she would capture you the moment you saw her. It was an appalling contrast from the image given to him to what lay before him, for she had been robbed of her spirit. Satan had stolen it from her, his hate destroying all beauty before him. The minstrel yelled aloud, demanding the Enemy himself to get from this place, that as a Friend of God’s he wanted no more of the vial creature at this place; he had taken enough from these children of God, hadn’t Satan done enough damage for one day? He cried this prayer as the man continued to cling to him and he himself held the fallen girl’s head. When it seemed like his prayer had been listened to and Satan’s spirit finally fled elsewhere amidst the vile crowd only too eager to catch it, the minstrel released his hold on the girl, silently kissing her on the forehead, touching her womb. He turned so he faced her lover, bestowing the same farewell to him as well, wordlessly wiping the tears from the grief-numbed face. Then he gently pried himself away, turning to leave before he too was paralyzed by his tears.

He was crying even as sudden bursts of joy erupted from where he left, where the one mourning suddenly laughed with exaltation and the dead suddenly came to life, blinking with a freshness and sparkling with a clear radiance which had only a moment ago been destroyed by violence. She squinted, looking, the purity of her face obvious to everyone who had seen it battered only seconds before. It was the face of innocence, like one never touched. It was as though the brutality committed against her had never happened.

But the minstrel was no longer there to see the joy that had taken place. Already he had disappeared as though he had never been there, but all who had been present would remember him, most of all, an eighteen year old girl who had been delivered to the door of death to suddenly awaken whole and her lover who had seen his life virtually end only to have it brought back to him to fullness. They would not be forgetting the minstrel any time soon.

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