Sandy was waiting outside Bryan’s door when he rolled the Defy through the hallway and up to his apartment. “You’re lucky we don’t have stairs at Taugeco, they’re always an interesting addition to the mix. Oh, well,” she added whimsically.
“What’s this class anyway?” Bryan asked as he leaned the bike against the hall wall and unlocked his door. Pushing it open he motioned for Sandy to enter and then asked, “Am I going to look foolish?”
“I don’t think so. We just do repetitions of a dozen or so exercises at a pace that’s comfortable to each of us. Maybe thirty seconds of pushups, thirty seconds of jumping jacks and so on. Six minutes of nonstop activity, I’ll tell you what to do and when to switch and you go at your own pace. Some guys do over thirty pushups per rep and some gals barely make six. The point is to move and challenge yourself to push at your own pace. Oh! And to remember that we’ll do the whole thing six times so not to go crazy the first set or two and lie in a heap for the last 40 minutes of class. You’ll do fine!”
“So men and women?”
“Oh, absolutely! A few more gals than guys but definitely mixed. Probably have twelve, maybe twenty students max,” she answered. “You’re not going to stand me up are you?”
“No, no. I’ll be there! Just wondering,” he said, rolling the bike in as Sandy put dinner on the table. “Hmmm. Now I’ve got to figure out a good place for this. Maybe the bedroom, it’s not like I’ll be riding it every day like Ol’ Red.”
“You named your bike?” she asked as they walked to his room and he found an empty spot along the wall beneath the window. “How cute!”
“Well, Dad named it, actually,” Bryan replied. “That should work,” he nodded, heading back to the main room. “He got that the year Mom and he married. It’s a 1986 model.”
“Looks it. No offense,” she said with a conciliatory face scrunch.
As they walked past the bathroom Cassie saw the soiled laundry on the floor and received a whiff of its pungent, putrid redolence. “Whoa! That reeks!” she said, flipping on the exhaust fan and closing the bathroom door. “You weren’t kidding when you said you threw up, huh? Poor baby,” she added, ruffling his hair.
“No. It was terrible. I’m just glad it was just a dream. I’ll have to take those to the laundry but I don’t think I have enough time to wash and dry them before I have to head to work, especially now that I have to be there a half hour early. One time I wish I didn’t have to share a laundry room,” he added.
“Yeah, I remember those days. Hey, I can take it home and do it,” she offered.
Bryan protested, “I can’t ask you to do that!”
“You didn’t, I offered. Remember, I’m a mom,” she added, pulling plates out of the kitchen cupboards and bringing them and silverware to the table. “I’m used to shitty jobs, or in this case barfy ones. Besides, we’ve swapped spit and I think we’re likely to swap more.
“And why do you say, ‘just a dream?’ I think you may really have had demons visit you.”
“Are you serious?” he asked, adding cloth napkins to the plates and flatware.“ I think the first time I had a wet dream because my body has been creating unused semen for over two years and you made my rocket go. This nightmare was a case of way too much shit piling up! Your dad, Roger, all that talk about your siblings and George and Jon. The subconscious at work,” he said with a strong head tilt and left eye scrunch.
“Well, we’ll agree to disagree,” was Sandy’s diplomatic declaration. “What was that about George? And do you want to eat or should we let it get cold? It’s fajitas, chicken and shrimp, one of each, mix and match to your heart’s content. Can you eat and talk about this? For that matter, can I?”
“Well, I think I can, and I’ll edit a little to take the sting out. Yeah, let’s eat. What do you want to drink?”
“With fajitas? A margarita, sangria or beer. Got any Dos Equis?”
“Nope, no and no. Coors light in the fridge. Or milk. Or water?”
“Coors light’ll do,” Sandy replied opening the refrigerator. “You want one?”
“Please,” he said as he grabbed plates and silverware. “You want a glass?” he asked.
“Do I look like a priss? Bottle’s fine. So what’s this about George?”
“Okay. Let’s see. First thing is it started out a lot sexy and a little scary. There were Succubi, I was tied up and then one told me to run. The one that did that looked a lot like you.”
“Again!? What is with you? Any others make the scene this time?”
“Lots, but no shape shifters and I didn’t recognize anybody else’s face, just yours and you were trying to help. Maybe you weren’t a succubus, maybe you were an angel in disguise?”
“Are you mocking me?” she asked without apparent anger.
“No. Oh! No, I’m just saying if it’s just a dream, okay? Anyway, I’m tied up on a black altar, Succubi circling when this huge Incubus wearing you father’s face rips through my legs with his talons, breaks my ropes with his brute strength and then starts to rape me while simultaneously strangling me. I started to scream, but that just brought other demons around.”
“So my father was the lead antagonist, huh? Interesting.”
“Yes. And your brother and sister were there but they were chained up and couldn’t help. Your mom was there too. She wasn’t chained but she just sort of cried?” he added.
“Sounds like Mom. What about George?”
“Well, here’s where it gets worse. There were a lot of children, boys and girls, and the Incubi were raping them and after they got raped they turned into demons, so the bad guys kept growing in numbers.”
“People can’t become demons or angels. That’s a myth,” she said contemplatively.
“Yeah, but victims become abusers, especially boys. Girls tend to become prostitutes and victims of domestic violence. They both have demons that live inside them. See, it’s a dream? Not a vision!”
“George? And Jon?”
“Okay. George is being raped. Terrible. Jon’s not, but it’s even worse. Four demons have him. Each of his limbs are pierced and they make him watch while George is raped. And as he watches they pull him apart, slowly. It was really worse for him than for me.”
“What happened to you?” she asks so quietly he can barely hear.
“Your dad is raping me and two more demons join him. Remember what you said about size? Well there are three of them and two are, well you know. I split apart. That’s when I wretched. And woke up. Oh my God, it was terrible.”
Sandy was silent for a long moment. She sat with hands in her lap and eyes closed. “Sandy?” he asked. “Are you okay?”
“No, but I will be. Would you pray with me, Bryan?”
“Sure. Sure! I should have done that when I woke up. I pray a lot, really! I just, you know, cleaned up, right?”
“No problem, sweetie. Here, take my hands, okay? Heavenly father, thank you for the solace of friends and for all those in torment may they find peace. All loving master we pray that those who commit atrocities harden not their hearts but rather turn to you. Please give loving comfort to your son Bryan and may all those who have departed this world and gone to the next know the everlasting love that is your presence. Amen,” she choked out.
“Amen,” Bryan repeated. “Do you mind if we say the Our Father, too? It comforts me.”
“Never. Lord’s Prayer is always a good addition to petition. You’re a good man, Bryan.” They recited the Our Father, she squeezed his hands before releasing them and then inhaled deeply for two cleansing breaths. “Hell of a dinner conversation, ain’t it?” She asked with a wry shake of her head.
Bryan had shared his horrible nightmare about being raped to death by demons with Sandy and they had processed the dream’s meaning in quite different fashions. She felt that he had actually been visited by demons while he felt that it was his subconscious trying to make sense of a lot of terrifying events and revelations. They had agreed to disagree on the whys and wherefores and to agree that prayer was a proper response in either case.
“Hey. You got room for one more sad, sad story?” he asked. “This is even sicker because it happened.”
“Why not? What’s dinner without Revelations?” she asked.
“Well, years back when I first started lifeguarding? My dad came to the pool to bring me lunch. He came at the end open swim and was there for lap swim.”
“Your dad was a swimmer?”
“Hardly! Mom was pretty good. Didn’t I tell you that they’d do a tri or two every year or so? Mom and Dad both. I thought I did. Not serious competitors, just something to keep ‘em fit. They asked me if I wanted to but it just seemed like an old person’s sport. No offense,” he added.
“Yeah, yeah. Watch it, sonny. We’ll see who’s old in August. Whippersnapper.”
“Anyway, he brought me my lunch and had this weird look on his face, like he’d been crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said, ‘Nothing,’ like he was a little kid and didn’t want to talk about it. He swam, and then he hung out in the sunshine until lap swim was done and I got to take my lunch break. Turns out I was right. He had been crying.”
“Did he tell you why?”
“Oh, yeah. And then I started to cry, which was embarrassing. Not because I was crying, even at 17 I was okay with that, just because I was at work and I didn’t want to upset the other lifeguards and such.”
“So why was he crying?”
“I told you he taught school? Over in Marlin? Fifth grade. On the way in he’d seen a kid from his school, one who was now in middle school. He didn’t tell me the boy’s name, just that he’d seen him along with his new foster dad. Patrick, my dad, knew this other guy. Running club maybe? Doesn’t matter. Dad see’s this kid, sees this other guy and he calls out a greeting to the boy and the man, I know his name was Steve but that’s all I know, anyway, Steve asked Dad how he knew the boy and Dad just says, ‘Oh, from school,’ and leaves it at that.
“So Steve says something like, ‘Oh was ‘Boy,’’ obviously that’s not the kid’s name but I gotta’ call him something, ‘was Boy one of your students?’ and my dad just says, ‘No, I knew him from school but he was in another class. What are you two doing here?’
“’Oh, I’m Boy’s new foster. Janet and I decided to try being foster parents now that the house is empty. He’s a good kid,’ is what he tells Dad.
“’Yes, you are,’ Dad says and then he shakes hands with Steve and Boy and goes for his swim and comes out of the water looking like he cried the whole time he was in there. I’m eating lunch and Dad’s talking to me, telling me the story but not the boy’s name? Well, that’s because he didn’t want me to know who it was, even though we went to different schools and he was like five years younger than me. It was because the boy had been abused.”
“Sexually?” Sandy asked.
“Big time. One day Dad was in the teacher’s lounge and the other fifth grade teacher, MS Carmen, is sobbing. When dad asks why she tells him that one of her students won’t be in class for at least a week. He was recovering from surgery. Bowel reconstruction. Seems Mom’s boyfriend had been abusing him for months. She didn’t tell Dad the kid’s name but hey, he’s the one who’s not in school the whole week, right? It was lucky the kid lived and got out of that house. Dad was really glad that Steve was his new foster, thought they’d be a good match.”
“Wow. What happened to the boy?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I just know what Dad told me. We never talked about him again, just about abuse and ending the cycle. I think he felt like he’d betrayed a confidence, even though he didn’t name any names. I have no idea who he was or where he got to. I hope Steve and his wife could help.”
“So do I, Bryan. This is why we have to stop my father. There are way too many ‘Boys’ out there.”
“Amen to that,” Bryan answered without a hint of sarcasm in his voice.