The Boy in the Bin

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Severe depression took over Ratso as he walked along the river edge. On either side, banks forming out of hard clay rose upward into the sky. The sun appeared dull, looking like it had been washed with a dirty rag. The environment here emitted a hazy appearance. He remembered when he lived in perpetual sunshine and everything made him happy. None of that exists for him now.

He peered into the flowing liquid, hoping to glimpse the yellow plastic tube that held his manhood. The gurgling water mocked his last remaining hope for life to his very soul. All seemed gone now and he compared this to being trapped in an alien place.

He seemed destined to transform into a blubbery mass of ugliness. With all contact lost in the world he once lived in, he sensed he would never return. He missed the support he once received from his friends and family. He probably would never even enjoy having a lover.

Tears filled his eyes as he realized what a waste his life became. Poetic justice seemed to be the rule of what he now experienced. He recognized the cause for all this; because he spent his life always taking and never giving. For most of his waking hours, every action he took was for him; and him alone. He couldn’t even put the blame on someone else because he willingly embraced his wild side

His parents were never a religious couple and consequently Raphael never became a believer, nor received baptism in any form of religion. Something urged him to pray; even though he didn’t know how. A feeling deep inside told him that all of this existed for a greater good; though he couldn’t fathom the source or the end result. Something directed him to glance up, at the high bank above the racing river.

And then he saw it.

A swirling circle whirled; slightly away from the clay incline. The circle reminded him of some window he’d once seen at Macy’s Department Store. The circle also reminded him of the vortex of his entrapment in Times Square. The outer edge rotated counter-clockwise, but when he peered at the center, he recognized elements of his home. Sounds and sights came to him now; subway sounds; honking horns. He thought he witnessed an argument between a street vendor and a disgruntled customer.

The vision showed him graffiti being placed on the wall of a shop. He recognized an arm dressed in black leather. He smelled an acrid, acid like odor coming from the can of spray paint in the view. He watched the arm continue to destroy all the tomorrows of the world; all done by this unknown hand. He understood the view represented him in his former life.

He never viewed his graffiti markings as being bad. To his way of thinking, it was just little Raphael; leaving his mark in a big, big world. He never viewed the fires he set as being something more than his freedom. He never viewed the items he stole as being anything more than his ability to gain parity with the rest of the human race. Now everything looked different.

He could see, not with his eyes, but with his heart, how wrong he had been.

He wasn’t sure whether this vision pointed the way to the exit or not. He hated the nightmare he lived, but the vision might be the entrance to yet another dream. He didn’t intend to let this chance pass him by. He clawed at the steep bank, intending to press his body into the circle; for good or for bad.

Ratso made his way to the top of the bank. He now stared into this strange window and made out fine details of life before this current existence. He got within 10 feet from entering the vortex, when suddenly a scream came from below him. Looking down into the river, he recognized the shape of his Cousin Johnny, bobbing along the cascades of the river.

“Help,” he screamed. “Raphael, please help me. I can’t swim.”

Ratso turned back to the rotating window, which seemed slightly smaller in diameter now. He remembered the often Johnny abandoned him in the past. The time for action came to be. He recognized the dilemma he faced.

I need to make the choice, he thought, between the freedom of the rat-race; or saving my cousin.

The vortex stood wide open now but faded fast. This opening beckoned him to exit. His Cousin Johnny was drowning; the cousin who only thought of himself.

“Raphael,” the voice cried again. “Please. I need you.”

Ratso’s conscience wavered between the two options being presented. Even though Johnny continually deserted him; even though Johnny’s actions had caused him harm in the past, he was family; for good or for bad.

“Hey Johnny,” he shouted.

Ratso decided as he turned towards the river. The circular window closed and went back into the void of its origin. All the images and sounds associated with his former life, disappeared, leaving only the cold, clay of riverbank.

His travel downward went fast now, because of the slope of the hill. Ratso jumped into the river and grabbed his cousin, just a before he crashed into a formation of rocks. The currents moved at a quick pace and Ratso had difficulty wrestling Johnny, whilst staying afloat.

“Quit fighting me Johnny,” Ratso yelled. “Relax and let me steer us to the shore.”

Johnny’s form seemed to submit to the urges of the turbulent water. The currents pulled him around piles of rock buildup in the channel. Then they took him down deep in the river, causing Ratso to lose his grip. The undercurrent ripped him away, as water flooded over his head. The rapids now controlled both Johnny and Ratso independently.

When he once again surfaced in calmer waters, Johnny’s form tumbled through a succession of eddy pools upstream. Ratso grabbed a rock, regaining his balance while he caught his breath. As Johnny drifted past him, his savior threw himself out again. He experienced the bite of the cold water, as he locked himself to the frame of Johnny.

He held his breath as the river took him and his cousin under; eventually surfacing where the water was more placid. Ratso swam to shore with the body of his fallen cousin in tow. He learned of sadness because Johnny hadn’t survived the trip.

He died in the river.

Ratso’s internal fire burned at the lowest point ever. After everything that happened; after all he survived; after sacrificing his return to the real world. Now he faced this. Losing his Cousin Johnny; possibly the only friend he would ever remember.

He dragged the lifeless form onto the shoreline. Johnny’s bulky sweat shirt was bunched up in a ball around his neck; covering his head. Ratso reached down to pull the shirt away from Johnny’s face. The face staring back at him was not the image of Johnny.

To his shock, the image greeting him was Ratso’s own image.

He cannot turn away from those eyes. He is mesmerized by his own image. In quick succession, his consciousness darts back and forth from the body lying on the shoreline, to his own mirror image. The change between the two views is so quick; the moves are like the flapping of a wing. In this fluid state of energy, Ratso witnesses both bodies being outlined in yellow.

The surrounding scenery melts to dark gray and then to black. Only the yellow outlines remain and Ratso gets dizzy, as the two images merge together. He is immobile while the single image becomes a blob of matter and finally, nothing.

A rush of energy overtakes him and he passes out.

Ratso didn’t remember details of his unconsciousness. Without opening his eyes, he reached out with his feelings to determine his location. He can hear no rushing water from the river. No winds brush his face, nor can he feel the warmth of the sun beating down on his body. He gets the sensation of lying down on a flat surface; somewhere in a dark spot.

For a moment, he thought he returned back to the cave where he once encountered the Empusa. He opened his eyes, hoping for the warm glow of the iridescent pool. Nothing existed but rolling waves of shadows without substance. The only thing definable is a small sliver of light coming towards him from a point three feet away. It looks like light seeping from under the crack of a door.

Ratso remembered this view from often before. He experienced this same view in his waking moments and his nightmares. Ever since he ran from the city environment, this scene repeated itself for him. Ratso knows this scene like the back of his hand.

He is back in the bin.

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