Shadow of the Dark Angel by Gene O’Neill Oct 12, 2010 6:51:02 GMT -6
Post by Chris Hedges on Oct 12, 2010 6:51:02 GMT -6
Shadow of the Dark Angel
by Gene O’Neill
by Gene O’Neill
God spared not the angels that sinned, but
cast them down to hell, and delivered them
into chains of darkness.
2 Peter 2:4
cast them down to hell, and delivered them
into chains of darkness.
2 Peter 2:4
The boy lay at the foot of his bed, almost dropping off to sleep, but determined to stay awake. Every few minutes he roused himself and peeked at the door adjoining the bedrooms, making sure it was ajar just a crack. He’d been fighting sleep for two hours, waiting for the girl to return from work. He still couldn’t believe what he’d seen last night, when he’d accidentally awakened after she’d come home from her part-time job at Burger King.
So, early this evening after the three other boys were asleep, he tiptoed to the adjoining door to the two foster sisters’ bedroom and quietly cracked it open, just a quarter of an inch. Then he returned to his lower bunk, turned around with his head at the foot of the bed, so he could easily peer through the crack into the dresser mirror across the girls’ bedroom.
But his enthusiasm was beginning to wane as the hour grew later, his eyelids drooping, and he actually dozed off soundly for a few minutes, awakening with a start as he dreamed he was falling off a cliff—
A footstep in the hall.
It was her!
A nightlight blinked on in the room. In the mirror the boy saw his older foster sister move into view, glance around, then smile at her apparently still sleeping roommate, just out of the boy’s sight. He froze, holding his breath when she looked directly at him, hoping she wouldn’t see the cracked door.
His pulse beat rapidly.
No, please don’t close it…
Then, after an eternity, she moved out of view, obviously not noticing the opened door.
The boy sighed deeply.
The girl returned to view, wearing only her underwear. Standing squarely in front of the mirror, she reached up and combed her shoulder-length reddish-blonde hair, her lips mouthing the number of strokes. But the boy wasn’t watching her hand; he was staring wide-eyed at her underarm, the little tuft of golden-red hair in her armpit.
After completing the prescribed number of strokes, she was finished and dropped the comb onto the dresser.
Then, the girl unhooked her bra and placed it beside the comb, exposing her smallish breasts; and the boy shifted carefully on the foot of his bed, pulling himself a few inches closer, anticipating what he’d seen last night.
She bent over and stepped out of her panties, placing them on the dresser beside the abandoned bra; and at that moment she was squared-up perfectly in front of the mirror.
The boy saw it, again!
The tiny patch of hair at her crotch. Tonight she touched herself there, her fingers covering the patch for just a moment. Then the hand was gone.
He clutched his mouth, stifling a groan of delight. Beautiful reddish-golden hair.
Who would’ve thought? None of the boys had hair down there. Only a naked dangle. Even though the girl had no dangle, she possessed a marvelous hidden secret.
Suddenly the light was out, the show over; and the boy reluctantly slipped back to the other end of his bed, frowning, one of the Voices echoing in his head: Bad boy, bad boy!
It is still unusually hot and muggy outside, especially for eleven o’clock at night, almost as oppressive as the laundry room back at the hospital, your t-shirt stuck to your sweaty underarms, your shorts bunching uncomfortably, and your crotch feeling gritty. Despite the heat, you keep your stocking cap on, rolled down to your ears, and you don’t even consider pulling up the sleeves on your khaki work shirt. No indeed.
You pause outside The Red Impala Diner on your way home, peer in the front window, scanning the bright emptiness; and, as you first suspect, there appears to be no one in there to hassle you. An iced tea would be good, help cool off.
You take a seat at the counter, and the cook, a clean white apron around his waist, steps out of the kitchen. “What’ll it be, pal?”
Sucking in a deep breath to stave off the funnytalk, you ask almost perfectly, “G-got ice’ tea?”
He nods, turns, and draws a big glass full from an urn near the order window into the kitchen. “Lemon?” he asks, a bored, tired expression on his face.
You shake your head. The iced tea is good. You stare at the tall glass, remembering…
It had been your favorite drink at Chula Vista. You didn’t like milk or coffee, and the Koolaid was always too weak, watered down…You’d spent six years at the California Youth Authority facility south of San Diego, long, difficult years. Those first years often violent, spent defending yourself.
But you’d met Father John there, and he’d been more than just a Priest, kind of like a mentor, helping you learn to cope with many things, including the teasing and ridicule of the other boys because of your funnytalk and the hair thing. Eventually he’d even managed to help you with your speech--taught you how to relax, breathe deeply, focus, and speak slowly. He stimulated the desire to read books, suggested titles, helped you begin your self-education. And even though you’d never directly mentioned the Voices to Father John, under his positive tutelage, They’d gone away. You hadn’t heard either of the Angels whisper in over four years.
The bell jingles at the door, interrupting your revery.
Someone slides onto the stool next to you.
For a moment you consider gulping down your drink and leaving. You have avoided most human contact, including even the most casual, since being released from CYA three months ago, especially eliminating any contact with the females at your job at the hospital. But you sneak a quick glance right and freeze.
She is wearing a bright yellow blouse with cutoff sleeves, exposing her shoulders, her underarms…and reddish-blonde kinky hair.
You can’t tear your gaze away.
“What can I get you, lady?” the cook is asking.
You glance up at him, then quickly back to the woman.
She points at your glass. “Is that iced tea, he’s drinking?”she asks, smiling at you.
You look at her more closely.
The bright clothes and hairdo--reddish brown and spiked real short--seem more appropriate for a younger person, and are at odds with her facial features, her makeup not quite hiding the crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes or the faint lines radiating from the sides of her mouth when she smiles. But it is her eyes that really give her away. Even with the green shading and careful black lining, her brown eyes are dull and flat…as if they’ve seen too much.
She’s really old, you finally decide, maybe even forty or so.
The cook nods, still wearing the same bored expression.
“Then, I’ll have the same,” she says, looking more closely at you. Her voice seems genuinely warm and friendly, making you feel better about her ancient eyes.
She takes a sip of her drink. “Hmmm, pretty good.” Still facing you, she says, “Hot, ain’t it?”
You nod, looking away shyly. You should leave. Just get up and go, now.
But you can’t resist sneaking another glimpse at her exposed armpit and the untamed curly reddish hair that contrasts so dramatically with the manicured lighter spikes.
“I just got off at the Golden Pheasant Club, up the street,” the woman continues in her friendly tone, adding, “a beverage server.” She takes another sip of tea, before saying, “Elva, who’s my best friend, she says that earlier it was almost a hunnerd outside in the shade, and she notices stuff like that. Course it was cool at work, air-conditioning and all. But we weren’t too busy. God, must still be ninety outside, though. Weird this late at night. Doan you think?”
You nod your head again, saying nothing, just staring at your glass of tea, wondering about a cocktail waitress not shaving her underarms. Some kind of feminist thing, probably. There is lots of stuff like that in the magazines.
Then, she is actually making contact with your arm. “My name’s Mary Ann,” she says in a lower, confidential tone.
You feel a sense of panic, staring at her outstretched hand. But her position gives you a clear view of the hair in her armpit. You suck in a breath.
“I-I-I’m Sam,” you say hoarsely, silently thanking Father John that you aren’t completely paralyzed by the funnytalk. “W-work at the h-hospital laundry,” you add, pointing back down the street in the direction of Sutter General. It comes out pretty well, everything considered, and you feel a slight surge of confidence.
Mary Ann shakes your right hand, grinning. And you even think you see a faint glimmer of life in her flat, dark eyes.
After the introduction, she leans real close, so close your nostrils are flared by the overpowering smell of her perfume, and she whispers, “I’ve got some sun tea at the apartment. Beats this stuff all to hell. Got a nice little fan, too. We could be more comfortable…you know?”She sits back straight on her stool, holding her glass of tea in her left hand, with her eyebrows lifted questioningly.
No, no, Sam Boy, one of the old Voices suddenly whispers in your head. Of course you recognize the Light Angel, even after all this time. Remember that other woman and all the trouble…
But you ignore the Voice, unable to keep yourself from staring at the few strands of kinky hair barely exposed now; and you can’t keep your mind from wondering about her secret hair. What does it look like? Is it reddish-brown, too? Thick or thin? Soft or coarse? Maybe even wirey, like her underarm?
The sense of alarm turns to excitement.
So, again you breathe deeply, and, you nod your acceptance.
She reaches in her purse and leaves money for the teas. Then, boldly, she grasps your arm. “C’mon, Sammy.”
You stand up, following her lead.
“Oh, my, you are a big boy,” she says, smiling and winking suggestively. And though you’ve never heard the word spoken in your entire life, her lascivious stare makes you shudder, as if the bold gaze were capable of rendering you completely naked.
Mary Ann’s third-story apartment, just down the street from The Red Impala, is hardly more than a bedroom, with adjoining bathroom and tiny kitchen. But she turns on the fan, and it complements a slight breeze blowing in the window. She pours you a glass of tea, as promised, turns out the light, “so it’s cooler,” and excuses her self to go to the bathroom.
You actually begin to relax slightly, thinking it might be all right. Maybe the Light Angel is wrong. Mary Ann’s just lonely, not a bad person, interested in doing bad things. And you tell yourself convincingly that you are a good person too, with only right thoughts in your head…except for the erotic image of her underarm hair that lingers in your mind, like a festering sore.
Then, she is standing in place in the opened bathroom door, stark naked. You are unable to keep your gaze from sliding down to her crotch—
Her secret hair is dark red and bushy…and not just a tiny patch that can be covered with a hand, but thick and spreading out, growing along her inner thighs, and even a thin dark line up to her belly button.
She moves across the room, reaches up and takes your face in her hands, at first kissing your lips wetly, then forcing her tongue between your teeth and into your mouth.
You are stiff with fear now because bad things are indeed happening, just like the Angel suggested.
“I’ll bet you’re big all over,”Mary Ann says, her voice changed to a hard, husky whisper.
She tries to touch your stocking cap, but you manage to brush her hand away. So, she lets her hands slide down to your work shirt. She unbuttons it and strips it off. Then your pants. You are like a statue, now, unable to resist. She kneels and pulls down your shorts—
Her expression is a mix of surprise and shock, as she abruptly stands back up.
“No,” she gasps loudly, still staring down at your hairless crotch, your limp member. “What, wha--” Mary Ann just shakes her head, staring at you for some explanation.
You are silent, paralyzed with fear and shame.
After a few moments she reaches up and peels off your stocking cap, exposing your bald head. Finally, in her regular voice, she says, “Who shaved all your hair, Samson?” She chuckles at her own cleverness, nodding.
You want to tell her that you haven’t been shaved, that the hairless condition is something you were born with, a rare state called alopecia by the doctors. But you are completely tongue-tied now, unable to speak. Silent, naked, hairless, vulnerable--like the other time; and you hope the Dark Angel will not speak again this time.
Her hand reaches out and touches you down there, and you flinch, chilled by her cool fingers.
Then, Mary Ann begins to really laugh.
She laughs and points at your shriveled, limp member. “You are truly weak , aren’t you, Samson?” And she laughs at her own cruel joke until tears stream down her cheeks.
By this time you have partially recovered from your paralyzed state and are struggling back into your clothes, even managing to pull your stocking cap into place, covering your baldness. And you try to shout over her laughter, Not Samson, Samuel. “N-N-N--” But it’s no use. Even stamping your foot down solidly doesn’t break the stammer. “N-N-N…”
Your exagerrated funnytalk and obvious anguish only make the woman laugh harder, until she’s actually howling, like some kind of a crazed animal. Finally, unable to stand the mocking sound, you head for the door with your hands over your ears, pausing and glancing back over your shoulder. Even the sight of her remarkably thick red bush can’t hold you in the tiny apartment; and you jerk open the door and run down the stairs, fleeing from her howling.
Bad woman, bad woman.
Two blocks from the apartment, you slow to a walk, the woman’s taunts left behind, lost in the street noise; but your heart thumps rapidly against your ribs, and you choke off a sob of frustration, your eyes moist with the tears of shame. At the same time you are thankful that the Dark Angel had not spoken.
The humiliating aspect of the encounter with Mary Ann is gradually pushed to the back of your mind with all the other affronts, almost forgotten. You tell yourself that you are grateful, that you were fortunate enough to escape before she could do something real bad. You try to lose yourself in your reading. But you can not forget her marvelously luxurient secret hair. You see it in your mind’s eye several times a day, at your work on the big extractor at the laundry; you dream about it at night; and every time you pass a female on the street, you are unable to keep your gaze from dropping to her crotch, wondering curiously about her secret hair: its texture, color, and thickness; just knowing what is there underneath the flimsy dress or blue jeans, makes your blood rush with excitement. You develop a permanent ache, an unfulfilled longing.
So as the days go by, what had been a fascination all these years turns to an obsession; and every night after work you roam the streets, searching for open windows, hoping to spot a woman unclothed, revealing her hidden hair. A small chance of success, as there are few ground floor apartments in your section of the city, even fewer with windows at the street level; and your efforts go unrewarded. In the end you are even picked up by a squad car, the questioning policemen eventually letting you go, but threatening to arrest you for prowling if they catch you again around any of the apartment buildings. Fortunately they weren’t able to check and find out about Chula Vista--your records have been sealed.
You give up the random wandering around at night; but you decide to try something you’ve heard the men at work joking about. T & A. A burlesque club downtown, showing mostly X-rated film, but each night featuring one live exotic dancer.
You sit up front, right next to a ramp running perpendicular to the stage, splitting the theater in half. You are next to an older man, who gropes himself noisely whenever the couples on the screen engage in sex. You feel cramped, disgusted by the sleasy film and the man’s behavior, but there are no nearby vacant seats. And you can not just get up and go, not until the live performance. You are trapped. The films leave you unfulfilled, showing mostly bare breasts and behinds, and focussing on a number of sex acts. Dirty, filthy films. Bad, bad, bad. And only fleeting glimpses of secret hair.
Between movies, the old man wants to engage you in conversation, as if nothing has happened, as if he’s just an everday film buff.
“Hey, man, howja like that last one, huh?” he asks, elbowing you in the arm. “Didja see the lungs on that blonde…Man, could she give head?”He doesn’t really care about an answer; he seems to be in a kind of trance-like state of perverted, sexual excitement, his gaze still locked on the gray screen.
Suddenly, the man in the worn tuxedo is back on stage with his microphone in hand. “And now, ladies and gents, the featured attraction of the evening,” he is saying, as the drummer in the band pit in front of the stage does an exagerrated roll. “Here now, from Hong Kong, the exotic Dragon Lady.”
The lights go out…and one big spot centers on a woman in a red gown, matching gloves and high-heeled shoes, with stunning Chinese features and beautiful shoulder-length shiny black hair.
She turns around slowly, her backless gown revealing a huge irridescent tattoo covering her entire back--the main body of a dragon, its lower half curling down across her partially bared buttocks then out of sight.
She begins to dance, her motion indeed serpentlike, graceful except for the occasional sudden gross bump made with her hips and pelvic area…
Your pulse picks up as she begins to take off clothing: her gloves, her earrings, her necklace, and then her shoes; finally she steps out of the red gown, but clutches the garment in her arms, covering her breasts…Slowly she lets the gown slip from her grasp to the floor.
She is completely undressed except for two tiny red dots covering the nipples of her breasts and a string that holds a larger red dot over her crotch. For tantalizing minutes she dances around the stage in this attire, making a number of exagerrated pelvic bumps. Then, after discarding the breast dots to cheers from the audience, she turns her back, the light shrinking to a small spotlight; and she steps from the stringed circle covering her crotch, the fully exposed dragon shimmering luminescently on her backside in the dimmed light.
The spotlight blinks out abruptly, and she turns around; but even in the darkness you can see she is covering her pelvic area with her hand. In the dim light she moves along the ramp, coming closer and closer to where you sit, stopping at each row or so, squatting, and raising her hand. Because of the angle you can’t really see anything, but the suggested revelation has the crowd in a noisy uproar of anticipation.
She is directly above you, squatting, and—
You now have a direct view of her crotch, only a couple of feet away, but there is nothing to see.
Only her wrinkled dark lips.
No secret hair.
As she stands and moves down the ramp, you remain in place, staring ahead, at the empty stage, feeling numb.
No hair. None at all. Shaven…?
Finally, the theater is emptying out--all the noisy, bad people--the spectacle is over. Drained, you stand up and leave, feeling cheated.
A few nights later, with the oral directions and lewd encouragement given you by Wilber at the hospital laundry--he works close to you on the big washers--you take the Downtown bus to the tenderloin.
As you dismount the bus into the crowd of pedestrians, your senses are bombarded: Loud noise--cars braking, horns blaring, people shouting, western music thundering from an open entry to a bar; Bright light--colorful neon glowing, headlights glaring from cars, stoplights blinking red, yellow, green; Varied smells--gasoline and diesel, spicey barbequed meat, sweet perfume; and an electric tingling of excitement in the muggy air, like just before a thunderstorm.
You gasp, senses overloaded, stumble out of the moving crowd, and lean up against a window front, wiping your face with a handkerchief.
A voice whispers behind you, “Yo, big fella.”
You turn and stare.
The black woman is dressed in a low-cut, leopard skin blouse and a black vinyl mini-skirt, her short kinky hair a deep indigo color. She tries to smile through her gaudy make-up, managing only a kind of leer.
You almost shudder, but restrain yourself. “Y-Yo b-back.”
She chuckles, moving in closer, pushing her large breasts against your shoulder. You can smell the heavy perfume, but it doesn’t quite mask a stronger, unpleasant odor, vaguely familiar…like the gym locker room at Chula Vista full of many young men, sweating heavily: dirty socks, dirty jocks. You close your eyes, but are unable to keep your arms from goose-pimpling.
“Hey, man, ya’all lookin’ to party or what?”asks the painted woman.
You nod, stammer, and stamp your foot, finally able to ask,
The woman stares back, then shrugs slyly, “Depends, what ya’ll got in mind?”
This time you have to stamp down hard, “J-J-J…Just want to l-l-l--”but it’s no good; you’re unable to get out the last word. “L-L-L-L--”
But the black woman helps. “Say, look?”
You blink and nod, gratefully.
“Ya’ll want to watch me do another guy--?”
You shake your head vigorously.
“Ah, another chic--?”
“No,” you manage to say forcefully.
“Well, what do you wanna see?” she asks impatiently now, a puzzled look marring the mask.
“J-J-Just you…”You point at her and smile encouragingly.
“Jes’ me, nekkid?”
She nods back. “Okay, how ’bout, ah,” she pauses, gazing into your eyes as if searching for the right number. “Oh, twenny bucks? Twenny bucks to look at me nekkid for a couple minutes.”
You nod, reaching in your pocket for the money.
You are in a dingy hotel room on lower K Street, and the painted woman is facing you, completely stripped of clothes.
You just stare at her naked crotch, speechless.
Her secret hair is very kinky down there but dyed an unusual shade, pink, the color of a flamingo. You can’t believe it. You edge a step closer, point with your finger, and shake your head.
The woman giggles. “Hey, I know, cute, ain’t it?”
Cute? You can’t resist reaching out and touching her down there with your fingertips, the tight pink curls drawing your hand like a magnet. Then you grab her tightly around the waist in one arm, while you stroke her secret hair gently, amazed by its stiffness and almost metallic texture. Pink steel wool—
“Hey, buster,” the woman hollers angrily into your face, “ya’ll paid to look, not cop a feel--”
She struggles to get free, but you are gripping her even more tightly now with your free arm, pulling her to you roughly.
She screams loudly, “Hey, back off, mister…Charlie, hey, Charlie--?”
The door of the room bangs open, and a huge black man rushes in, swinging something from his hand.
A blinding thunder rumbles through your head…and you sink down into dark nothingness.
You awaken in an alley behind the hotel, your head bursting with pain. You have to get home, but your wallet is gone and all your change. Despite the throbbing and huge bump on your forehead, you must walk, each step sending a sliver of steel jarring into the sinuses behind your eyes.
On and on, back up J street you go, block after block, a mile or two…
Eventually you make it back to your apartment by the hospital, and to bed. Before you drop off to sleep, you hear a Voice in your head--but it’s just a far-off weak echo, Sam Boy, it is time to call Father John. You need his help, again. Yes, it is the Light Angel’s voice, but so distant and weak.
You are too hurt to respond and so very sleepy.
You slowly awaken again, your head pounding, your mouth dry, your tongue thick, dim light shining into your room from the streetlamp outside your window. Even after a shower and two Excedrin, you still feel funny. Kind of like you are watching something happen, not really envolved, your movements directed by someone else.
You lie back down on the bed and remember the business with the bad woman, her amazing pink-colored kinky hair, and the black man bursting into the room, hitting you over the head with something very hard--it all seems unreal too, not something that actually happened to you, but like remembering a scene from a movie you’ve recently watched.
The Voice that shouts loudly in your head is real: The time is at hand for vengence.
You gasp with recognition.
It is Him, the other one, the Dark Angel.
Then, the glare from the streetlight outside the open window is partially blocked out by the silhouette of a winged figure, who casts His shadow half-way across your room, the humid air stirred into a hurricane by His beating wings; and for the first time in your life you actually see Him. The Dark Angel is hovering before you in the dimness of your room!
You squint, attempting to get a clearer view, but it is like trying to make out a figure on a photographic negative held at arm’s length.
“Yes, it is really me,”He admits, as if privy to your thoughts, his throaty-hoarse voice growling loudly in the tiny room.
You are too stunned to even answer, but you manage to rise again from the bed, forgetting your aches and pains.
“It is time to cut down your enemies with impunity,” he orders, still hovering, wingbeats continuing to churn the heavy air. You move a step or two into His shadow and stop, the temperature appearing to drop at least forty degrees. You briskly rub your arms, trying to warm yourself.
“Here is your instrument of vengence,” the Dark Angel announces.
A glint catches your eye, and you reach out, forgetting your chilled state, accepting the instrument…an ebony-handled, straight razor.
“My shadow will hide you from your enemies,”He says, moving back toward the window.
You follow Him across the room, able to pause only momentarily, trying to catch a fleeting glimpse of yourself in the mirror over the dresser, before stumbling along in his wake. The mirror reflects nothing except a faint shimmering distortion in the middle of the shadow, where your image should appear even in the dimness.
But before you can speak, the voice of the Dark Angel again thunders in your ears, ordering, “Come…The woman with the thick red hair made fun of your name, mocked you.”
In the icy darkness, you nod to yourself, growing angry. It is time now, time for vindication. You follow Him out the window.
The Dark Angel hovers overhead. You wait in His shadow at the far end of The Red Impala Diner, blending into the darkness, a part of the night. You wait patiently, smiling wryly to yourself.
Here she comes--Mary Ann--walking carefree, obviously happy to be off work at the Golden Pheasant Club. She passes within inches of you, her shoulder almost brushing against your chest; but you shrink back into the wall, deeper into the shadows, letting her pass by untouched.
Then you follow.
At the entrance to her apartment building, Mary Ann pauses, turns, looks back directly at you, a frown of suspicion on her face, as if she senses something. After a moment she shrugs and takes out her key to the building’s main door.
You hurry to her side, always in His shadow, slipping in behind her when she opens the door, unseen; then quietly you follow her upstairs, into her apartment.
Finally, you are inside her tiny room again; and you glance around, vividly remembering the last time…her mocking jokes, her howling laughter.
She goes into the tiny kitchen, opens the refrigerator for a drink of something.
She re-enters the bedroom, flipping on a bright light. Then, Mary Ann gasps with surprise, not more than a croak really, her throat paralyzed with fear—
For you have left His shadow as the Dark Angel hovers in the night just outside the opened bedroom window; and you stand facing the terrified woman, naked and hairless, clutching the instrument of vengence in your hand. Slowly you flip open the straight razor, the glint of steel matching the glint of fear lighting up her dead eyes and making your pulse race.
You edge closer.
And this time it is Mary Ann who remains frozen in place like a statue…
You stare into the mirror over the dresser at yourself, reaching up, wiping the trickle of red from your forehead, and adjusting the spiked reddish-brown hair; then you look down at the patch of coarse darker red hair, and you smile, glancing at your swollen manhood.
Looking back over your shoulder at the woman lying still on the bed, you chuckle and announce flawlessly, “That’s right, Mary Ann, I am indeed Samson.”
You begin to move across the tiny room toward the window, but you pause, hearing something. A distant whisper. Someone calling your name, Sam Boy?
You strain to hear more, cocking your head and listening intently for a few moments—
No, it is indeed too late now, there is nothing to hear except the whirring sound of the Dark Angel’s impatient wingbeats, beckoning you; and you step to the open window, back into the chill of His shadow…shivering violently.