End of Innocence Ch. 14
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Chapter XIV, Evil Reaches Out – The Final Confrontation
With all the celebrations crossing widely over the campus, it went without conscious notice that Derek was enjoying his own special moment in the sun. Not only had he graduated from a prestigious national university with a degree in exercise physiology, he was a known baseball player across the country with several Major League Baseball scouts vying for his significant talents. Unlike a recent high school player being drafted into the baseball’s farm system, Derek had competed at a sufficiently high level that the majors themselves were interested in his talents immediately and were willing to put that faith in him in the form of a contract, lucrative salary, and a tremendous signing bonus. Derek had finally reached a pinnacle in his own right that had seen him play thousands of games with the constant practice and years of investment that it takes to make an elite athlete.
His four years at UCLA molded and shaped him, doused his bricked-in personality, and had pulled him into the rarified air of the gifted. With the constant attention conferred on him by his fellow players over the years, coaches, family, and a following of diehard fans, Derek had come full circle in his own opinion of himself and began to think in terms of what life owed him instead of the opportunities that were bestowed upon him. He was moving towards a belief system where the world would pay homage to his desires and company. It was his understanding that now he could have anything that he wished, and that desire was fueled to an excess whenever he consumed alcohol. Derek would have whatever his heart wanted because society had told him that the world belonged to him alone and he assumed every word.
After what seemed to be days of festivities, with each close friend hosting their own version of merriment centered squarely over the relief that a process started without absolute assurance that the end would be one of successful conclusion, Ashley and I were able to begin the arduous task of listing our childhood home with the realtors and facing the long put-off efforts of examining, keeping, or tossing the collections of a lifetime of the four people that had resided together as a family for those incredible years and times of heart wrenching tragedy. We had not entered our parents’ bedroom since the final night of our mother’s life. The door had been sealed with what seemed to be a curse to keep the memories of the past from seeping out into the rest of the house.
Now, we faced the upending emotions that were determined to summon the bygone years once more. What ghosts would emerge through the dust and gloom that had been concealed from our view during the years of academia? Would we be able to complete the tasks set before us without being consumed in a spiraling sense of disaster that had taken away our previous incarnations? The thought that somehow we would be able to save some of the relics of our parents’ in an attempt to keep the happier moments alive while moving from the senseless loss, insanity, and violence that were equally present within the inanimate belongings motivated us to focus on what was good and right of our younger years and forgive the actions that resulted in our family’s loss.
In each of our minds, we whispered to them of our accomplishments, the love that we shared, and our hopes for the future as yet unfolding. Perhaps, their souls had found relief in the embrace of a heaven that was infinitely more forgiving that I was capable of experiencing. Their pains washed away with the brilliant light of love descending down to hold and embrace each one of them, to say that everything will be okay, that both of them are welcomed to the home of the Source. The door was opened, and the room revealed.
Strangely, there had been very little dust accumulated over the furnishings. The bed was still made and all the evidence of the violence that once rolled through this very room had been removed. The rays of the sun reached through the gauze-like fabric of the drapery and illuminated the room not in a dank and dismal sort of way but with a sort of hope and lightness that comes from the star at the center of our little edge in the universe. Ashley and I drifted from one corner of the room to the other, pulling information into the senses, feeling with our emotions, setting the direction and the initial steps that would be translated into movement and work. We settled with the walk-in closet first as it seemed that this rather feeble attempt to come to grips with enormity that befell us would compel an energy and purpose that would ultimately expand throughout the entire dwelling.
We had carried upstairs a few dozen cardboard boxes bought at the local U-Haul store along with the various tools and marking accessories needed to set upon the work at hand. It was determined that the clothes universally would be donated to the local Salvation Army along with most of the furniture keeping only what was necessary and needed to start ataşehir escort our lives anew. At first, we sluggishly attempted to do what was at hand but slowly, the labor itself began to reinvigorate the both of us so that we found we were able to accomplish a great deal in not an inordinate amount of time. Still, these were our parents’ possessions and we handled them with the reverence and respect that they deserved.
The smaller items, belongings of a very personal nature that had an emotional significance to our mother and father, these articles were more charged than something as humble as clothes or furnishings. Each one would have to be examined from our deepest recesses of our personal connection and determined if they move forward in time with us as kind remembrances of our parents’ days on earth. Something like a set of earrings that were worn during a family night out, birthday, or attendance at an event brought back the whirlwind of memories and their associated distinctive emotional contexts. With each knick-knack, a conscious decision was brought to bear on its final fate. Nor did the actual resolution need a consensus between the two of us, just one whose view of a previous era made the article worthwhile in their own mind. We were finding with some relief that what we thought was precious and indispensable were just small tokens invoking sentiments of nostalgia and a desire to bring these imbedded feelings with us to New York. As we stepped transversely throughout the bedroom, we began to feel somewhat more at ease with the prospect of actually finishing what we had started emerged in our thoughts.
Ashley and I continued throughout the day accomplishing what we had laid out before us making a note to settle with an appointment date when the trucks and men could carry out what we could not. As the week progressed, more of the upstairs living areas were reduced to cartons brought for delivery, pickup, or as recollections to find a new life and attachment to the heirs of the previous owners. Our bedroom would be the last of the household to be compacted in this manner as we closed on the date of our move to an area of the country that was previously unknown. Ashley and I had been to New York during the acceptance process and now, we had tickets in hand to fly once more to pick out a residence of our own, hopefully, on Cayuga Lake. The town had a charming stature and seemed to be quiet without the hurriedness of Los Angeles. We were looking forward to our first fall in an area known for its vibrant colors of autumn. Of course, we had both heard Bing Crosby’s rendition of A White Christmas but neither Ashley nor I had ever experienced anything more than the occasional lonely snowflake that sometimes falls in Southern California. These new experiences were looked forward by both my dear love and me. It seemed that Cornell University lived an idyllic existence and we welcomed the respite.
The worked progressed steadily, quickly compartmenting the home to stacks of boxes and other belongings slated for charity. We left unpacked only the barest of necessities needed to maintain our livelihood while trying in earnest to complete most of the tasks earlier than what we had anticipated. Our home received a firm offer that was accepted and now, we desired to be free of the Wellstone of a different time. In a few weeks, we wanted to have a residence decided upon in New York with a move date as soon as it was possible. From the disparity of property values between the two coasts and the settlements of the insurance claims, we were pleasantly surprised that our nest egg would not only pay for the entire tuition for us both but our next abode and whatever needs that we had for the foreseeable future.
One late afternoon, my love and I received a phone call from a couple of friends inviting us out to dinner and drinks that evening. As was my custom, I asked Ashley as I would if dating, if she would like to take a few minutes away from our chores and relax with some dear people that we might not see for quite some time. Ashley, like anyone else, looked forward to some solitude to reflect on her thoughts in her own privacy but insisted that I take the opportunity to be entertained with light conversation. I kissed my dear sister with heartfelt passion and promised her that I would not be late. Ashley smiled and reached deep searching with the blueness of her eyes and seemingly content with my answer held my hand as she moved us both upstairs. We made love in the lazy afternoon sun finding relief and establishing the ever-growing bonds of our love.
At seven that evening, I headed out to the scheduled rendezvous with our friends at a nearby restaurant. I noticed that I was vacillating between the desire to find some relaxation amongst friends and my truer compulsion to bow out of my commitment and just pass the time with Ashley. I never tired of being in the presence of my precious sibling even if not a word passed our lips. I felt much avcılar escort more alive and complete by being near her and for some reason, any distance, no matter how trivial the actual linear expanse might be, it was as if the available energy within the quintessence of myself would begin to deplete. Of course, as a person of science, I had a difficult time grasping and believing anything that represented the lines along the metaphysical, but established dictums tended to blur when Ashley was involved. My sister’s acute sense of awareness was always roaming the airwaves as she pushed against my chest forcing me to the front entrance. With a passionate kiss, she reached for the handle and opened the door. With a sigh formulated in the depths of affection, I determined it was time for me to leave.
I arrived at Sprazzo around seven-thirty with most of the cast of the night already assembled. The establishment is noted for its seafood, Italian cuisine, and a fine wine selection. So near the campus, we had often as a group passed many happy hours just talking and being in one another’s company. I was questioned about Ashley and I made the apologies that she desired to do some reflection and introspection due to our impending relocation. I promised that we would all get together before that actual day; it was just that her emotions needed to find their way to accept what her mind had decided. Our friends easily accepted the explanation despite being somewhat disappointed, but the night progressed lightly forward. We talked, laughed, drank some wine, ordered our food, and continued with the humorous banter and reflections of longtime friends.
At ten that night I felt sickened, a feeling of absolute dread had overcome me. There had been no calls to the cellphone, no paging of my name, nothing to indicate my current state of affairs. I knew that I had to leave; my response was to get back to Ashley as fast as humanly possible. I began to sweat profusely, my heart raced, I felt panicked, and something had overtaken any sense of logic and possessed me of a violent motive. Our friends quickly noticed my current outward appearance and inquired as to what was wrong. I quickly stood up and placed a hundred dollars down on the table and said with deep and escalating conviction, “Ashley, something is wrong, I have to get back to her!” The people stared at me in state of surprised shock but without judgment and collectively said, “Go” that they would be ready to assist if necessary. I ran to the car with a sense of expediency and tore from the parking lot with tires spinning of smoke.
Ashley closed the door behind her love and settled down with a glass of Cabernet and a novel pertaining to some romantic comedy. She smiled inwardly thinking of the affection she felt despite all the misfortunes of her young life and the long conversations that she had had with Aunt Kimberly. She had taken her Aunt’s advice and wisdom into her child’s heart and created a world of love while avoiding the mistakes and pitfalls that had plagued her Aunt’s own path. Indeed, Ashley had designed and orchestrated much that had transpired between her sibling and herself but also had a willing co-conspirator that provided valuable advice on her planned future.
Of course, her brother was completely out of the loop and it was probably more of a condition of being male and not so much that her own brother was lacking in intelligence. Ashley thought of how focused with precision her lover could be and that was an asset to be sure but she possessed the ability to think in terms of the larger environment, to follow several threads at once, and to understand the interactions of multiple subtleties, while she continued to refine and respond to life’s uncertainties. She giggled to herself thinking that her life’s companion never had a chance, but she also knew that her brother loved her from the time of her first breath.
So, it was not exactly manipulation per se, Ashley just helped along the lines of the inevitable. She was also deeply in love with her brother from the very first thoughts that she could remember as a child. While not exactly a fairytale, what reality truly is, it was as close to perfection as two humans could enjoy. The purity in understanding was that if something that carried the utmost and blessed value, it took work, commitment, and belief to simultaneously come into joint synchronization. Waiting for desire while wishing and hoping it into fruition would not make it come to pass. A person had to become an active participant in Creation along with the seeds that the Universe graciously provided. The parables of sacred texts from a variety of sources were so lost on her brother but he had the beginnings of faith and in time, it would seize him as well.
Ashley settled into her book while a feeling of deep contentment and joy spread through her. She was deeply into the plot, lost in the story, when she heard a knock and then a ring from the doorbell. She wondered avrupa yakası escort who would be calling at 9:30 at night, not late by any standards, but there was no one that indicated that they would be visiting this day. Still, people did show up unannounced, especially young people and recently graduated college students. The, ‘I was in the neighborhood’ effect was pronounced among close friends and fellow learners agonizing over another midterm or final and often as not, would come to Ashley or even her brother for extracurricular help. This being summer, it was most likely a lonely friend or one expressing their sense of lost with the upcoming move. Ashley set down the book and moved towards the door.
Derek had been out drinking with his friends and fellow athletes. They had stopped in various bars around the UCLA campus settling on one that had a fairly raucous atmosphere with women from the campus that enjoyed a more risqué setting. Picking up the occasional stray for the night was not rare or unheard of in this establishment, the only rules were money, reasonably good looking, and set of lies told as the story of the night. No one was under the illusion that the play was not understood and if a person ambled in without foreknowledge, it quickly became apparent to them. Derek had money in ample amounts, he need not fabricate because recent events made a better story, and he was inebriated, not completely drunk, but enough that the normal filter between mouth and brain was quickly becoming disengaged.
Several women flocked around Derek’s group espousing possibilities for the night but internally, Derek was beginning to grow angry. Feeding that sense of hostility was the self-righteousness he felt towards anything that he desired that should be his without question. After several more drinks at the well of Bacchus and the urging of his pals, Derek decided it was time to do something about a craving and longing that he had since he was a child. The Great Derek, hero of the UCLA baseball team, left the bar with a singular determination. He sidetracked just for a few moments from his lust to purchase a bottle of wine from a local grocery store, and then once again, drove erratically towards his destination.
Derek noticed that the car was gone from the driveway and his heart plummeted as he pulled in. As he was about to leave, he noticed movement inside and a tremendous relief swept over him. He could just make out that it was Ashley. Her brother was not there. A purpose was being developed in his mind and a wicked perception was beginning to grip his motives.
Ashley reached for the door and there before her, standing a foot from the entrance appearing somewhat disheveled with a bottle of wine in his right hand and the other in his pocket, was Derek smiling a grin that bordered on a smirk. In his mind he exuded confidence fueled by alcoholic courage. He raised the bottle of wine and said, “I was in the neighborhood.”
Stunned, Ashley was about to speak when Derek interjected, “I have some incredible news I wanted to share and what better person than the one who showed me all that kindness over the years!”
Ashley scanned over the image of Derek noticing his behavior was slightly impaired, but he seemed to be genuinely cheerful that she relented against a murmuring that had begun deep within her subconscious. She invited him in and asked him to sit down on the only available furnishing left in the living room, an old sofa scheduled to be donated in a day or so. It had crossed Ashley’s mind to call her brother but decided to put it aside, silly really, let him have a few moments of pleasure with their friends and surely, a glass of wine would not hurt and she really was interested in this great news that Derek wanted to impart. She glanced back at Derek and then walked into the kitchen to retrieve two wine glasses and a cork puller.
She handed the device to Derek and placed the glasses on the coffee table that was situated directly in front of them giving Derek somewhat a wider berth than if he was one of their more intimate friends. Ashley sat down and watched Derek fumble with the foil wrapped around the neck of the bottle but after a moment had it removed. He attempted to place the corkscrew in the center of the mouth, slipped, and tried once more. Ashley held out her hand and Derek relieved himself of the responsibility of further efforts handed the wine over to Ashley’s expert skills. She quickly and deftly opened the bottle and poured a third full of wine for each. “Now, tell me Derek, what is this wonderful news?”
Derek lifted up his wine glass and held it out to Ashley as a toast, after the clink and a quick sip; he stared intently into Ashley’s sapphire poise, and muttered, “I was offered a contract with the Angels.” Ashley squeaked with delight and relief that perhaps her suspicions were unfounded. Maybe, Derek really wanted to convey something special to him with another that he considered a friend. She found herself somewhat chagrined for the ill feelings that had begun to overtake her but quickly brushed them aside with this revelation. “I am so happy for you Derek” and before she had consciously become aware of her actions, she hugged him for just a few seconds. Embarrassed, she retreated to her previous place and gazed towards her feet before looking back at him.
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