The Past (Part 5)
When the day started to wind down, Gaiya had a few too many drinks in his system already by the time his associate, Jack Volenheim, found him by the tavern.
Gaiya was woozy and red by the cheeks, already showing signs he’d have trouble walking home.
“Mr. Gaiya, what the hell got into you?”
“Alcohol. Namely scotch on the rocks.”
Volenheim began to lift Gaiya’s arm over from shoulder to should and carry him the best he could out of the tavern. Gaiya asked him to wait and then proceeded to wrinkle some cash and change out from his pockets, some of it clumsily falling on the floor. Volenheim picked it up for him and left it on the counter for the bartender.
Volenheim carried him outside where the snow kept falling, a big flake falling softly on Gaiya’s nose while they walked.
3 years after meeting Mr. Kelly, I met my most useful associate, Jack Volenheim.
My men and I were doing some of our first early missions, information gathering. One day, I sent out a group of detectives, myself included, to spy on a certain bondsmen company that was abusing their power to only allow select men exemption from court accusation for their own personal purposes. Pure injustice. I wanted to prove my faction was worthy of my cause, and capable of a task like this, so the mission would be to prove this company guilty and sell the story to a journalist for publicity to issue the final nail in the coffin.
The bondsman who was running it was named Connor Higgs. Jack Volenheim was his right-hand man, since Jack never enjoyed being first in command. He was always the type to follow, but follow to the best of his ability and earn his place time and time again.
For a couple days, I kept visiting his quarters, constantly questioning and accusing him, but Connor denied everything until he was finally tongue-tied and caught on his own words. I knew I had him caught, and out-played him outright.
When Connor realized that, he figured he had nothing left to lose, so he called the men whom which he bailed out previously, for his own purposes, and requested them to bring their pistols and knifes, ready to fight me. I left quickly after that, letting Connor believe he had seen the last of me.
Having caught him in the act, I could have easily just reported it to the police and published the story for myself and my group’s liability, but I was too savage to let it go. I’d go above and beyond. I summoned my own men, with their Fawkes masks on, dressed up in our pitch black cloaks, and .45 caliber pistols underneath them, and marched back to Connor’s place. Connor called back his men, his criminals at work, yet again, but they were utterly defeated by my men, and left in a pile of blood. I walked up slickly to Connor and grabbed him by his collar. Taking off my mask, I looked him dead in the eye.
“Nobody fucks with me,” I warned him, sternly.
Jack Volenheim, gun still in hand, was the only one left standing, but blood splattered on his jeans and shirt. He put his gun down, just staring at the utter fear and power my men provoked into Connor, and saw opportunity in it.
I threw Connor to the ground and turned my back, walking away, but Jack caught up to me and pulled on my shoulder. My men pointed their guns at him immediately, warning him not to take another step.
But Jack wasn’t looking for a fight, only a proposal.
“Let me join you,” he demanded.
“Who are you?” I asked, still facing the other way but just barely glancing back behind me.
“Name’s Jack. Jack Volenheim. And you may be just the man I’ve been looking to pair up with,” he introduced himself.
“What kind of man is that?” I asked. I sensed similar vibes like when Mr. Kelly offered himself to my ambition.
“The kind who has complete control. The kind who would never let people walk all over him. The kind who knows how to instill fear in others,” Jack answered.
I smirked and carefully placed my mask back on.
“You may come with me,” I granted him access into the faction, and from that day forward, we became the most fearsome pair for all who stood in our path.
I took part in several charity events afterward, like Mini-Thon or Creationfest. Graduation came and passed and I was separated from the life I knew, and my friends. I still kept in touch with some of them throughout college, but it was never the same.
In college I bought “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. I read a portion of it, “The Inferno”, in high school but never appreciated it enough. Reading it for fun, I was absorbed into the 3-part trilogy of Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.
I had several dreams about being visited by angels, being killed by atomic bombs, and others where I’m simply traveling, almost like visions from the future. There’s an Arabic proverb that talks about anything that you dream more than once is bound to happen in real life as well. I had no idea if this had been one of those omens.
I loved animals. When the men were preoccupied on something that didn’t involve me, I usually escaped into Grandpa’s backyard where several stray cats, birds, insects, arachnids, and foxes would scurry by the backwoods and some of them would interact with me upon eye contact. It was as if my aura attracted them.
I always felt an enormous presence within me somewhere. I don’t know if anyone else felt like this too, but I knew I was the only one with glowing skin or the ability to make something vanish as I did.
There had to be a reason why I had visions of wars fought in deserts and gardens filled with flowing waters and people dressed in white. Dreams of saints and angels surrounding me. No, not dreams...they were memories.
There had to be a reason I could understand the language on my dress but Grandpa couldn’t.
There had to be a reason I was born this way.
Meeting Anthony Miller and several other employees at iHeart gave me a sense of community, and on top of that, I was booking top notch musicians and playing alongside incredible talents, people who really succeed in life. I was done hanging out with losers, I was going somewhere. I had the chance to be someone.
My mom started developing this cough around the time I slowly stopped seeing her cause of how busy I was with work.
Strangely enough, I felt a deep yearning for 2 things. The first was history.
While my network scheme in high school was over and done with, and my lust for history had been fading away, I still had this yearning for change, insurrection, and high-minded thinking. I frequently recorded podcasts that were mandate for iHeart radio but would sneak in my own personal spins on it that would always communicate my ideology to the unsuspecting listener.
The second was love. A real love, a wild love, someone greater than Amanda would ever be, and far more beautiful. I was desperate for someone to rule the world with.
The sun was setting. Mike ventured out on a nature walk to clear his mind a bit.
He kicked the dirt past his feet. “Walkin’ around~ With my head down~ I’m so over being blue~ Cryin’ over you~” Mike sang to himself the words to Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” which he hummed again and again in his mind. He was an R&B lover like myself.
Strolling down the walkway, he came across a street band performance. Becoming a spectator, he took a look at the crowd and then at the up-and-coming band trying to get by in the music industry, playing covers from Oasis and using hand-me-down mics. Mike clapped extra loud at the end of the each of their songs, and tipped their guitar cases to help their journey into music. After that, he walked away casually.
A woman from iHeart pulled up in her sedan up to the sidewalk beside Mike, rolling down her window. “Mike! Hey! Is that you?”
Mike twirled his head around immediately to be met with her presence. He didn’t actually recognize her.
“Hey there Mike! It’s awesome to see you again!” the girl called out. Again, Mike embarrassingly couldn’t recall who it was.
“Uh hi, uh Susie, right? No, Susan...”
“My name’s Claire.”
“That was my next guess.”
“How are you though? Looking glum...”
“Oh uh...” Mike rubbed his head. “Listen, I’m just thinking a lot, don’t mind me. You can go back to, uh, wherever.”
“Haha, I was just on my way to grab a bite. You interested?” she asked. The road was completely empty and silent, but Mike had only just realized it then once she asked.
Mike shrugged. Sure, why not? he figured. He hopped into her passenger side and asked where to.
“My buddy owns the malt shop around town. Was thinking I would stop by,” she explained. Mike just adjusted his seat and got himself cozy in the car.
“Are we calling this a date?” he felt compelled to ask.
“You know not everything has to be a date. Guys are always like this.”
“For God’s sake, Susan-”
“I’m 24, I can keep my dick in my pants.”
“I’d hope so. Can’t say that about the rest of your species.”
They continued driving down toward the shop as the sun reached it’s climax.
Once the three of us were done sledding down those iconic steps and tried out whatever trick moves we physically could on those makeshift boards of ours, we drew a crowd of townspeople that recognized us, and chanted Philadelphia spirit songs and even the Eagles fight song at one point.
Once we got the crowd pumped, I strummed up an idea. “Psssh, yo Anthony, Princess,” I called them over. “Why don’t we give this crowd a show?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Want us to drive back and grab our instruments?” Anthony proposed. I placed my hand to my chin.
“I think we can stay here...We still got those loud speakers Dan lent to us?” I scratched my head, pointing to the trunk of the car. “We could do some dance-offs.”
Anthony didn’t mind my recommendation. “How about we take turns as DJ?”
“Ooh! I got it!” Princess shot her hand up.
I looked over to Anthony, “Guess you and I are first?”
We asked volunteers from the small crowd we had if they had any skills to dance on ice as Princess started jamming out, playing “Clarity” by Zedd as the first track. Some of them didn’t really want to but came up ahead anyway just for the chance to dance with 'the Revolutionaries'. A lot of kids came up too which was fun. A teenager came up to me and we engaged in some swing dancing over the ice, which I’ve done pretty often.
Anthony took some of the kids and hoisted them up while spinning over the ice. He actually had some skill.
We all took turns as DJ as Anthony devised. It was super fun, having that bonding experience with the citizens of Philadelphia, mixed with the cheery feelings of serendipity from those strangers out in the wondrous magic that comes whenever it snows in the big city.