Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When the Walls Talk

Everyone lives where others have died. Blood is everywhere in this land we call home and it leaves a stain that can't be seen. The walls around us often whisper about the past and inhabitants who lived here. They hold secrets few of us ever find out about and live many lives. They hold the tears when we're sad and hug the laughter. The walls talk to each other and keep us safe. They stand strong when we are not and they allow us a simple piece of something called home.

Old man Peterson stood in the living room that had just a flickering light in the background. The curtains were shut and the TV was on. Laying on the floor was an empty bottle of Jack Daniels and an old TV guide. He couldn't remember how he ended up standing. In fact, he didn't remember much of anything accept watching TV. He took a step forward and stepped into a body...his body. His soul shuddered with disbelief. He leaned over to get a closer look at the body on the floor. His eyes were bulging and yellow. They still had the blood shot look from all his drinking. The release of gas from his body made a gurgle sound causing old man Peterson to jump back and notice a puddle of urine.

"You stupid son of a bitch!" He said to the body. "You just couldn't lay off the sauce. Hell, you lost Maggie and all you did was drink more. What kind of answers did you find at the bottom of the bottle?"

Old man Peterson crouched down next to his body. Memories flooded his soul. It was the first time he met Maggie. She was beautiful. She had long flowing red hair and small petite feet. He loved her the moment he met her. She shined like an angel in the sunlight. They had a whirlwind romance and she ended up pregnant. That was OK by him. She was all he ever wanted. 

Life took a turn for the worse when he lost his job at the plant a few months after Tina was born. He did what his father did, he turned to good old reliable J. D. The two of them fought everyday about money. Soon the yelling turned into him striking her across the face. She went down to the floor with a thud. For a moment, he didn't know what happened. One minute she was standing there, the next she was on the floor crying. He had blacked out. The next day she packed her bags and left with Tina. She told him if he went for help, she would come back. It didn't matter though because he wasn't going to be controlled by anyone especially a woman.

His mind brought him back to the here and now. The sun began to peek through the curtains. He could see what a mess his life had become. Too bad it had to come to this. He didn't know how long he had stood there, but a knock came to the door. Then the door opened. It was a policeman. He hated the cops, but in this case, he was glad to see someone.

He watched the young cop kneel down and check his body's pulse. There was nothing. He pushed the bottom the radio, "I'm gonna need a coroner at W 406 Oak Street."

"I need an ambulance you idiot. I'm still here. Can't you see me? I'm still here! Call for help!" Peterson yelled.

He watched while the young cop pulled out a small disposable camera and took pictures of his body and the bottle. The coroner arrived and a few seconds later Peterson was pronounced dead. "I'm putting in a round of golf today. Right after I check this guy in. Looks like he broke his neck when he tripped over his own two feet. Drunk no doubt. I'll run the tests, but this is an accident, not a homicide," the coroner said.

"Aren't you even going to try?" Peterson yelled.

Time moved in slow motion as he watched his body be placed on a gurney for transport. Old man Peterson tried to follow the body out to the van and was shoved back by an invisible force field. He would be forever trapped in a hell of his own making.

"I'm right here!" He yelled over and over again. "Dear God, what did I do?"


Emma couldn't believe her luck when she found the apartment at such a great price. She loved the three rooms and the little kitchen. It had new carpet and fresh paint. There were even new curtains on the windows. The small apartment was her first step into setting her life and the lives of her children right. No longer would any of them have to go to sleep in fear because of Bob. Not one time in the marriage with Bob had he ever hit any of them. He had a different kind of abuse. His was more of a mental abuse. The hangers in the closet had to be exactly one inch apart. The towels in the cupboard had to be folded the way he wanted them. They had to be in a color pattern. The floor had to shine like a mirror. All these things seem so small until they are put together with shouting. The obsessive behavior was too much to bare after a while, so Emma packed up and left. She didn't want anything from him. After all, they were her kids and she had been alone before. She just wanted a clean break.

Her apartment was the first step into being able to live without tension or fear of reprisal for not getting the right dish soap or the right red color of apples. She no longer had to hear about how worthless she was nor did her children have to hear about what a group of idiots he was strapped with.

She unlocked the door for the first time and put let Arial in first. She was five and loved the way her steps echoed off the walls around her from the empty apartment. Her laughter filled the air while Nathanial and Gage helped their mom unload the uhaul. Nathanial was 16 and Gage was 13. She didn't know what she would do without any of her children.

"I'm still here. Can you hear me?" Old man Peterson said to deaf ears. He watched while the new family unloaded the uhaul.

Nathanial and Gage already knew they had to share a room. They were OK with that because they knew they would be able to make it their own. They wouldn't have to worry about Bob coming in and ripping posters off the wall because he didn't like them. They also knew they wouldn't have to worry about him breaking their Cd's or even him taking their clothes out of the drawers because they weren't placed where he thought they should be.

The family loved the new freedom the apartment would give them. They didn't know they had a guest who lived in the walls. Old man Peterson would watch them laugh and grow. He would watch them fight to grow up and he would see all the mistakes they would make. For the first time, old man Peterson would see what a family was really about.

Three months into the move, Bob knocked on the door. Emma opened the door, "What do you want?" she asked.

"I just miss you guys and wanted to tell you I'm sorry. Please come home," Bob said.

"We are home. You can't show up here. The divorce says you can't," Emma said.

"Can I come in and talk? Can't we just talk a little?" Bob asked.

"There's nothing to talk about," Emma said. She went to shut the door.

Bob stopped the door with his foot and pushed his way in. Old man Peterson watched in anger when Emma was shoved aside. It reminded him so much of what he had done to Maggie.

"You son of a bitch! You can't treat her like that!" Old man Peterson yelled to deaf ears. He felt the anger well up in him. It was just enough for him to shove Bob out through the open door. The door slammed shut.

Emma stood frozen in fear. Old man Peterson saw this and gathered as much energy as he could to speak. "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you," he said to her.

"Who are you?" She asked.

"Name's Peterson. I used to live here when I was alive. Trapped now. Fading. Hope I helped,"

Emma never saw Bob or Peterson again. Once in a while she thought maybe the movement of the curtains meant he was there, watching over them. Protecting them; in the way he couldn't protect his own family. She was safe. They all were.

When the walls talk. They tell you stories about love and laughter. They talk about the fighting and gossip about the new families. They hold our many secrets and keep warm. They hold the souls of the past and share a little every now and then. We don't hear it when the walls talk, but every now and then we are given a glimpse to all they hold inside.  


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More