Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jack of Spades

One brisk November evening a security guard, Alvin, clocked in for the hundredth time at the hospital. The shift started at 11 o'clock, and he was glad to get out of the cold night air and into the building. Before leaving for work that night, he had watched the evening news he wished he hadn't. The top story that night had been about a serial killer who had left the whole city on edge...and three doctors in the morgue. All three murders had occurred in the past three days, and all of them were at different medical facilities around the city. The hospital that Alvin worked at was attached to a professional building that also housed doctor's offices, labs, and a large pharmacy. The news story that night had disturbed Alvin, but more than that was the video from the security cameras at all three locations. "The images you are about to see may be disturbing to some viewers. Young children should leave the room." "Young children," Alvin though, "never mind young children!" Watching the film, one could see the doctors working late at their desks. In the shadows something would stealthily sneak up behind them. The screen went black because it was too graphic to show on national television, but one's imagination could fill in what happened next. The screen came back on to show the close-up of a masked face, showing only his hard, black eyes and maniacal smile. In the background the slumped over figure of the doctor was barely visible, and obviously dead. Then the masked man held something up to the camera...a Jack of Spades. He reached up and taped it on the lens. "Alvin!" He jumped as his supervisor shouted his name. "Ah...yeah?" "Ha ha ha! What's the matter...a little jumpy tonight?" His boss was a good natured man with a jolly laugh and even jollier stomach. "'s just...something I saw..." Alvin strapped the can of mace to his belt. "Sorry to get you started right into your shift like this, but I saw some weird shadows in the pharmacy just now. I think the night janitor may have left the door unlocked." "Yeah?" said Alvin, recalling the shadows in the security video. "I'll go check it out."

Alvin tested his radio, "10-97." "10-2" came the response. His Mag-lite hung loosely at his side and he kept the pouch that held his mace unbuttoned. His finger reached out as he touched the button for the elevator. "Why does it always take so long?" he thought to himself as he waited for it to rise. The door opened and he jumped, reaching for his flashlight. "Sorry to frighten you," smiled the janitor, "I just finished cleaning the pharmacy...weird place at night, that. Always a sound or a movement in the shadows!" he laughed like a senile old man that had no worries. "Yeah, tell me about it," muttered Alvin. A light sweat began on his forehead. "Man, its warm in here tonight," he thought to himself. He stepped into the elevator and pressed 'G'. Slowly, it made its way from the 8th floor to the 7th, then to the 6th, and then the 5th. Passing the 5th floor the elevator gave a slight shutter and the lights flickered. "900, come in." Nothing. "900, do you copy?" There was a hint of panic, an edge to Alvin's voice as he spoke. Still, nothing. The 4th floor went by. "Oh well, I'm sure its fine. Just a power surge. The lines from the elevator are interfering with the radio signal, that's all." As floors 3 and 2 went by Alvin became more and more frantic, imagining the black eyes of the murderer staring back at him when the doors opened. Finally he was at the ground level. The doors crept cautiously open and Alvin shone his light into the darkness. With every pass of his light, shadows climbed up the walls and flew across the ceiling. "It's all in my mind; it’s all in my mind!" Alvin reassured himself. A noise in the back storage room made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He went into the room and methodically checked every aisle. "No one in here," he remarked out loud to himself. He saw nothing in the back office, so he went into the adjacent janitorial closet. As soon as he was inside, the door slammed shut. He twirled around just in time to see a figure pass in front of the little glass cutout in the door. "Who's out there?! Who's out there?!" Now he was in full panic mode. His stomach rose in his throat and squeezed out his breath. Adrenaline pumped and blood rushed to his head. He tried the handle. It was locked. He grabbed the key ring from his side and his fingers stumbled through each key. First floor key, second floor, pharmacy, closet. His hand shook as he guided the key in the dark towards the handle. The keys slipped from his grasp and hit the floor with a clang. He kicked the door and it gave out. Running in the dark through the office, his foot caught the edge of a filing cabinet and he staggered to one knee, ripping his pants. He kept on running as blood trickled down his leg--but that was the last thing on his mind. His eyes were adjusting to the darkness now, so he was able to navigate the aisles at full speed. The only thing between him and the elevator door was a display of mouthwash. He knocked it over, and mouthwash splashed all over the floor. He stepped on one of the bottles and his foot slipped out from under him. His chin hit the floor with a thud, and blood gushed, mixing with the minty liquid that had already formed a puddle. He got up and threw himself at the elevator button, breaking his finger as he did it. “Garrrrgh!” He screamed in pain and grasped his hand. The doors opened. “Hello, my name is Jack.”

Alvin woke up in a hospital room two hours later. The blood had stopped gushing from his chin, and he felt a bandage on his forehead, evidently covering a gash that he suffered when he fainted. There was one nurse in the room busily setting out bandages and arranging bottles of pain meds. The doctor stood, his back to the bed, getting ready a hypodermic needle. Alvin flashed back to before he fainted. The doors opened and there stood a man dressed in all black. He had on a ski mask that covered all of his features…all except his eyes and mouth. That was all that Alvin needed to recognize him, however. The masked man’s beady black eyes pierced his own and sent shivers up and down his spine. His smile, so purposeful, so evil, gave him the distinct urge to vomit. Then, he spoke. “Hello, my name is Jack.” “Hello, my name is Jack, Hello, my name is Jack, Hello, my name is Jack!” Alvin screamed, getting progressively louder. He repeated it over and over as he grasped his face, ripping at his bandage and hair, remembering the sheer terror that coursed through his body and caused him to faint. The nurse ran over to his bed and two more came in from the hallway. They grabbed his arms and legs and strapped them to the bed, telling him that it would be ok. The doctor turned his head to acknowledge the commotion, but then went back to his work. Once he had calmed down, the nurses left the room, promising to come back in a few hours. The doctor slowly turned and made his way over to Alvin’s bed. His amiable smile and deep eyes looked slightly familiar. He held up the needle, “Hello, my name is Dr. Jack Spade.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lost in the Limelight

A hush falls across an excited crowd as anticipation hangs like a thick vapor in the theatre air. The house lights go down as the director takes his seat near the front. The actor takes his position; and then, a barely audible pop and ring resound as the circuits to and fro the lights engage in electric movement. A gentle hum pervades the air as the bulbs begin to burn and the world of drama is illuminated - totally foreign to this congregation, but oh, so familiar to the actor. The play has begun.

The actor's eye adjusts to the brilliance. He perceives minuscule particles of dust floating in the amber and blue rays. A euphoric thrill surges through his body as he loses himself in those lights. He suddenly imagines a universe of light and tiny solar systems of heavenly spheres dancing about - seemingly unaware of their fragile existence.

He inhales and watches as the vacuum that is created by the surging of air pulls at so many of the orbs and planets whirling about. All of the sudden, they begin to violently careen into the empty spaces of the limelight and disintegrate as they collide with vicious motion into one another. The colorful eruption that follows by degrees morphs into swirls of dramatic hue. Magenta and violet strands dance together in a shroud of velvet and creamy texture.

As his olfactories perceive the chaotic demise of so many systems, he is pleased to find the aura of sent to be rich with pleasant death. That is to say, via the destruction of these spheres, orbs, and planets, an aroma so deep, and thick, and full is created that his head begins to feel light, his extremities seem weightless, and his senses slightly dull.

He begins to exhale. He closes his eyes tight as the once oxygen-laden air passes from deep within his lungs and throat and back into the universe of color and light. His face and nose tingle with delight as he replaces those battered spheres into their orbits. And with a gentle puff, he watches them drift away from him, and evolve into beings of grace and beauty - blowing him soft and gentle kisses of farewell as they quietly wave goodbye and leave him to the wondrous reality of the play.

The play concludes. The congregation praises with applause. The actor bows his head. The lights go down. The limelight is gone, and the actor, like a phantom, sits at the end of the darkened stage and remembers those tiny planets and smiles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Mother's Song

How Much Farther to Go?

I walk this earth alone.
How much farther to go?
I stray today and gave away.
How much farther to go?
The world, it fierceness, takes my love.
How much farther to go?
I kissed the ones I love today; I stabbed them in back.
How much farther to go?
Oh Death, sweet death, where are you? Come.
How much further to go?
I long to hear your peaceful song.
How much farther to go?
I can hardly wait till you take my life.
How much farther to go?
For I still walk this earth alone.
How much farther to go?

the fleeing man

The trees whisper in the wind. A calm breeze lifts the leaves and settles them back down again. The sunlight is diffused by the grey clouds in the sky, the forest seems especially green. Far in the distance a crow cawed, closer by, the sound of pounding feet came ever closer.

A man came running through this peaceful woods. His eyes were wide with terror. He panted and gasped for air as he ran. His feet bled as he scuffed them on root and rock. He dared to make a glance behind him and saw nothing. But it was coming, he knew it was. It would only be seconds before the beast was on him. He could hear it galloping wildly through the overgrown woods. Its heavy feet were making loud pounding noises on the dirt. He passed a family of overly-large mushrooms, their red caps covered in white spots, he did not even glance at them as they called in his mind. Above him, a large rook circled and swooped, it cawed its death-caw loudly and made known that the man was his once he collapsed. Ahead of the man and to the left stood a tall black tower, its peak rose nimbly in the air and radiated a sense of horror to the man. A small red dot waved and wove about halfway up the dark tower. He ran on, his bleeding feet leaving bloody prints on the forest floor behind him. Ahead of him the trees suddenly grew thicker, he closed his eyes and ran headfirst into the clearing on the other side of the trees. A pristine lake surrounded by trees on all sides. The clear water glistened in the sunlight.

Wait sunlight?

The man looked up, the sun was now brightly glaring in the blue sky. Birds chirped their songs. He looked down at his feet and discovered that they were not bleeding anymore, they were not even cut. The terrible sense of dread that he had felt before was gone. The thing chasing him had disappeared. He turned back and peered up into the sky, the tower was still there, but it seemed less dark now, maybe the sun had a brightening effect on it. He turned and waded into the lake. Its coolness washed over his body. He smiled up at the sky. And from the tower he heard a child laugh.

Work of Works

A heart that’s pure you won’t despise,
O Lord, who made the earth and skies.

Why then do I wear such facade?
I may fool man, but You are God!

And now, I see that my heart’s black,
I’m losing ground, my pace is slack.

My heart was once aflame for You
But now it’s cold and turning blue.

Please save me from my wretched self!
My spirit’s sick; I need new health!

The fellowship I held so dear
Will never come again, I fear,

Until You work a work in me
And make me blind so I can see.

The blind man never lost his way
When You were all his hope and stay.

Let me look only in Your face
So I will only see Your grace.

The plans You have are not my own
So I will trust--don’t let me roam!

This life will never be the same
When I cling tight and claim Your name;

When finally I bear my cross
And you consume all of my dross;

When I desire heaven’s joys
More than this earth and all her toys.

Please work a work inside of me;
Change my desires by Your decree.

You don’t want false obedience
Or actions of expedience.

You only want my pure motives,
So take my thoughts and, like a sieve

Please strain me, drain me, of myself
And make me pure and free from filth.

But please don’t stop until You’re done;
Burn all my dirt with Your Pure Sun.

With Your Pure Wind come over me
And blow away all the debris

That crowds my life and fills my mind
With junk that makes me lag behind!

So work this work of works in me
So I can serve, unhampered, free!