Monday, August 22, 2011
Magpie Tales: Wet Paint 2
The portfolio hangs at the end of his arm, a stuck metronome, no longer marking time, as he strides purposefully down the sidewalk weaving his way through the bodies of other walkers. Each skritch his shoes make on the concrete raises the tempo of his heart, drawing him ever closer to his destination. This painting is his finest work yet, and Jason knows his benefactor will be delighted.
Cars stream the streets, stop and go, even though it is mid morning and most should be at work. This is the way of the city. Pigeons gather crumbs around trash cans marking each block. Jason increases the pace of his walking, eager to arrive. He feels the eyes of others crawl along his body. They cannot help this, he knows and chooses to ignore.
"Hey buddy," a loud voice, to his left, breaking Jason's stride and confidence in one quick strike.
An older car, carrying a driver and two passengers, sidles to the curb parallel to where Jason now stands. Their eyes grab Jason, their lips moving but he hears nothing. His thoughts stumble then fall through their smiles into memories that wait beyond in the darkness.
Growing up a painter's son was not the easiest of lives. Jason's father was a servant, chained to the whims of those that hired him. No doubt, he was one of the more talented painters in town and sought after by many of the wealthiest families. Most of those same families had children that went to the same school as Jason. While the parents had respect for his father, the children were merciless in reminding Jason of his station in life.
Jason's family was not poor, but seldom had enough money to purchase clothes that were in style. He was forced to wear second hand clothing or clothes that were purchased off the end of season sale rack. Jason was slow to mature, thin as a rail. His hair had a mind its own, going this way and that regardless of how he tried to paste it on his head.
Many days, Jason slunk home, heavy purple bruises sinking deep into his skin from the boys. He hid them from his father, not wanting ridicule at home, as well as school. The only notice he received from the girls was laughter and perhaps sympathetic looks and head shakes as he picked himself up from the floor.
Once in high school, he had received a note from Becky Smalls, the daughter of a family is father had recently worked for, repainting their dining room. She asked him to meet her by the door of the gymnasium after school. Her finger lingered on his palm as she slipped him the note. Her eyes were stars upon which his heart made a wish. It skipped beats as he sweating as he waited in the afternoon sun for her to appear.
When the doors burst open behind him, he had no chance to fight as he was dragged backward into the darkness. The lacquered wood burned his hands when he was thrown to the floor, then the world was erased by pain as the hard soles of shoes pummeled every inch of his body. He curled into a ball which seemed to only encourage them more.
At the edge of consciousness, his body slackened and he felt rough hands strip his clothing down to his briefs. Their laughter echoed off the gym walls as they retreated, the heavy clang of the metal door slamming shut behind them was the last thing he heard.
Awakening in darkness, Jason thought he was blind. Straightening his fingers sent needles up his arms, but he forced them to his face, feeling the swollen mass of flesh. It took long moments to drag himself to his feet then find the door by fumbling along a wall until he found the door.
Leaning his weight into the metal press bar, the door swung open and bright exterior lights pierced his eyes, painfully assuring him that he was not blind. Cool evening air stung his exposed flesh and he realized his near nakedness. He crumpled to the ground, hot tears searing his battered face as he thought of the mile he would have to walk through neighborhoods to get home. It was too much. He could not handle it.
"Hey buddy," a loud voice, from the school parking lot, jolted Jason from his misery.
A car crouched on the curb, idling in a low growl of anticipation. Behind the wheel, sat a boy from his class. In the front passenger seat, the boy's girlfriend. In the shadows of the back seat, Becky Smalls did nothing to hide the pity that dripped from her visage, a boy grinning by her side. The drivers's lips moved, but Jason could not make out what they said, then the girlfriend tossed his clothes through the window to the side walk and the car squealed tires as it sped away.
Jason stares as the people in the car, a look of confusion crumples their faces. Car horns blare and a thousand voices crash like a wave into Jason's ears. He shakes his head once, then looks them in the eyes.
"Fuck off," he snarls, then turns sharply on his heel, continuing once more toward the home of his benefactor.
Six stone stairs lead to immense wooden doors, their faces worn and pitted. Jason stands at their feet, the portfolio pulling his arm, as if it knows to flee. Jason moves the burden from his right hand to the left, flexing the fingers previously pinched, seeking circulation. Still shaking from the sudden memories, he unconsciously brings the freed hand to his face, coarse hair of a two day beard prickling his fingers.
Her scent still lingers at their tips and he breathes against them, "I am sorry Sarah."
Placing a tentative foot on the first step, he ascends to the door.
To be concluded...
Ok, I think I can wrap this up next week, based on whatever Tess has in store for us as far as a prompt. I am as anxious as you are to find out how this one ends. Smiles. If you missed the previous part to this story, you can find it here.
written for Magpie Tales.