Who doesn't run when they're told too?
I walked through the vine-chocked gate hearing the sound of splashing water. It was dark in the pathway but it was wide, I could see that much with the moonlight. The sound of cars passing by faded until it was only a buzzing in the background. Finally, I saw the fountain. It was simple, made of cement, I guessed and painted a slightly orange color though it probably looked much different in the day than right now and I felt as if I'd stepped into some garden. I turned to the fence and saw a bamboo hedge all along this side and up to the steps leading to the front doors.
"I'm sleepy." He tugged on my jean leaning on my leg as he looked up at me with tired eyes. I felt my chest tighten with feeling and slid my hand over his back pulling him closer. This was not the plan. It wasn't the life I wanted for him or thought of giving him when I'd left-.
"I know, my boy." I leaned down and kissed the top of his head feeling like the worst kind of parent. But I knew better, there were other parents just as bad or worse than I could ever be. At least I tried to listen to Sebastián before I thought anything he said was a lie.
I have to stop dragging him around, stop feeling sorry for myself and get my shit together. This is so not acceptable.
I thought about Him and walked towards the doors and up the steps before I decided to call Him for any help. It was difficult enough to get away and have Him out of my life not to mention the influence on Sebastián.
"I'm NOT calling." I spoke under my breath so he wouldn't hear me and went inside. I couldn't help myself. I just had to look around.
If I had thought the building was beautiful on the outside it was much more on the inside. The lobby had a tall round vaulted ceiling and two staircases heading to the second floor on either side of the door. I wasn't too keen on the green color, I maybe would have gone some cream or warm earth color but not everyone would agree. Then again what good does one quarter of Interior Design school do for me?
"Not a hell of a lot. That's what."
We let the door close behind us and I stepped down wondering where the night clerk was. The door had been open so there had to be some one here. I hitched the strap of my duffel bag higher and took another couple of steps into the lobby calling out but still no one answered.
"Mom?" I turned to look at him; he was half asleep on his feet and leaning on the banister. I smiled. "I know. Let me get a room first, okay?" he only nodded, too tired to even argue. Where was the night clerk? I turned towards the desk beginning to walk when I heard the light humming voice and stopped at what I saw.
The smile on my face faded as quickly as my brain processed what my eyes were seeing. I shook my head thinking I must be really tired, but he was still there.
"I'll need another martini after this." It was English; I had definitely heard the green skinned man speak English. Then he turned to us and smiled waving an ax while he reached to pick up a pink drink.
"Oh, hello there are you helpless?" It-he asked me. Of course I wasn't! I was just having a little bad luck but I wasn't helpless. And what the hell did it matter?! This thing wasn't human! It couldn't be real- I had to be seeing things.
"This isn't real." I heard the words and the voice was hoarse, as though the person had been screaming only I know I hadn't done any such thing.
"Because we help the helpless. No case is too big to handle!" he took a sip of his drink and began to walk towards us waving the ax. I stumbled against the steps not realizing I had begun to walk away from the green devil until I touched the banister. I felt around until I grabbed Sebastián's arm and squeezed, shoving him towards the doors.
He squeaked awake and stumble himself in the direction I pushed him. Only I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
"Oh, what a cute kid, children love me!" he told me then turned to Sebastián. "Hey, little guy. What's your name?"
I wasn't about to let my child get chopped up by this- this-. I had no idea what it was, only that it looked like a devil with those red eyes and horns but I had never imagined the devil with green skin.
I hadn't thought much about anything of the supernatural, hell I ran from it. Everyone had said I was mistaken if not called me an outright liar. But even now I could see-.
I turned to Sebastián still holding his arm in a tight grip. "Run." I told him. His little face was completely alert now; there was no trace of the sleepy little boy who'd walked in with me. Mentally, I cursed myself for bringing him in here. How could I have been so stupid?
"Run. Now." I repeated. He nodded, eyes wide and I shoved him towards the doors again letting him go. I watched him pull them open and glance back at me before he ran into the night.
Resolutely, I turned to the green devil. I wasn't a little girl anymore and I certainly wasn't a frightened teenager. No, I was a Mother now.
"Hey! Where's he going?" the thing asked me.
"As if you couldn't tell." I retorted. Really, was the devil that stupid? "You keep that ax to yourself." I cried looking for something to defend myself with when he moved closer. I picked up a brownish flowery vase and held it threateningly in my hands feeling so stupid.
What the hell is this going to do against his ax?
Stupidity didn't have to work both ways. I threw the vase and ran out those doors so fast I didn't realize what was happening on the pathway. My mind was bringing up different images, memories from my childhood, the street in downtown and-.
Sebastián was screaming! He was screaming and trying to get out of a man's grasp. If I had been afraid before, now I was really pissed off. Nobody put their hands on my son except me and even I didn't do that unless he really asked for it. I ran faster pulling the strap to my duffel bag off my shoulder.
"HEY!" I yelled.
Startled, the man let go of him and looked up just as I swung the duffle forward. It hit him square in the face.
"Keep your hands off!" I yelled.
I didn't wait to see if he got up, instead I grabbed Sebastián's arm and pushed him towards the gate. He was a couple of steps ahead of me when I saw the girl rush in. She blocked the entrance.
Our way out.
Too late I reached for Sebastián to pull him back and missed his backpack.
I watched the girl catch him as he bounced off her legs. She had kept him from falling down and I was thankful for that but she was still holding onto him.
"Let go!" I pushed her back and yanked him away. Before I could push our way past her I was suddenly yanked backward. My arms wind milled trying to keep my balance and smacked something hard. I twisted my body and landed on my side, sitting in the pathway.
I looked up blowing hair out of my face because the back of my hand was throbbing.
He was black and tall, kind of gangly really. He turned looking really ticked off as he reached for me. I don't know where I got the idea or even thought I stood a chance of fighting my way out of this. There was a moment where everything just seemed to melt into a single thought, a name, face. And I couldn't just sit on my ass. I had a responsibility…
I kicked his leg as hard as I could and scrambled to my feet as he yelled. It must've hurt, I hoped it had. I grabbed the duffel bag and swung it again but I wasn't looking when I turned to hit him with it and missed. He shoved me and the weight of the duffel bag carried me along. I let go stumbling and got my balance. When I turned to face him I saw a blur and my face stung. I hit something hard and realized he'd hit me!
The fucker hit me!
What fear was left in me I pushed away and let anger take over. I was always afraid to let go, to really let anger win over. I was afraid I couldn't control myself if I did but all my guilt about roaming around like some gypsy, the worry over not having a job, and my frustration about the whole situation just boiled over into this rage and I knew exactly where I was going to take it out.
"AAAH!" I screamed; pushing off the column I led with my fist only to have him block me. It pissed me off even more and I kicked then punched with my other hand and kicked again until I hit him a couple of times. I could hear him grunt and my right fist throbbed from hitting his face. It really hurt but I was too angry to stop even after he hit me again.
I was glad of my anger then, of the numbness that went along with it. It was easier to ignore the pain and extremely easy to follow through with the programmed responses years of training had set in my muscles.
I fell against the column and there he held me, squeezing my throat. I panicked thinking he would kill me and then who would take care of Sebastián? I was all he had-no, he was all I had. Because there were plenty of family members who would take him. I had brothers and sisters, my Dad…
I remembered Sebastián telling me about a boy who'd kicked him in school one day. I asked him to show me how he'd been kicked but he said he didn't want to hurt me and didn't want to. I laughed saying he didn't have to hit hard. I just wanted to see what the other boy had done. Convinced, he took my upper arms hesitantly, as high as he could reach, and raised his knee to my thigh.
I was angry that the little boy had dared to knee him like that, luckily he'd hit Sebastián's stomach or else I would have gone looking for the little punk! Bastían's not the type of boy who picks fights, he likes making friends, loves hanging out with other kids…
I told Sebastián that if it happened again he should get closer to the boy, grab his shirt front and yank him down as hard as he could and bring his knee up at the same time. He'd seemed surprised that I would tell him something like that after so many lectures on why he shouldn't fight.
I never heard of the little boy trying to hit him again and I hoped he wouldn't have to fight but he was a boy and boys tended to get into fights much more than girls. Then again this was a totally different situation and I wasn't a girl anymore.
I let go of his hands and grabbed his shirt. I pulled him as close as I could and rammed my knee into his groin so hard I thought I'd broken something. He didn't make a sound as he fell on me, his eyes just kind of popped open really wide and his mouth made an 'o'. I shoved him off and he crumpled to the grass then the skinny girl was on me. I shoved her arm away and pushed while trying to get away from the column. I stumbled over the duffel bag and fell backwards. My back hit the cement walkway so hard I lost my breath a moment.
I could see the stars wink in and out in the night sky and absently wondered if anyone could see me from up there. Abuelita maybe or -.
My hand touched something cold and hard and I looked over. My fingers circled around a heavy metal bar and I pulled it out swinging as I sat up. The girl jumped back and I got to my feet still waving the bar around and looked for my son.
Another man held him in his arms and I could tell that Sebastián had been crying. His face was wet and his eyes were red and puffy.
"Put him down." I told the man still waving the bar around like it was a sword. I hoped they were afraid of me and if not, at least the bar would make them think twice about jumping me.
"I'm warning you. You'd better not hurt him or I will hurt you!" I looked at the man still carrying my son with as much menace as I could and every second feeling my stomach churn with dread.
Would he hurt him? He was only a child? A little boy; but there were people who liked to hurt children… not just people-.
"Why?" he asked me. I watched as he slowly put my son down though he held him by his shoulder.
"You're the one doing the hurting, lady." The black guy scowled at me from his seat on the grass. His voice was just a bit high pitched…
"It's not my fault you don't give as good as you get." I retorted and to my surprise the skinny girl agreed with me. She said something he didn't let her finish and I was just a little surprised all it took was a look.
Before they could begin to argue, which I could see they might do, the other man shushed them and took another step towards me with my son. I almost let the bar down to reach for him but the door opened and the green skinned devil came out.
"What's all the fuss about? Oh! Angel cakes! I didn't expect you back so early." The devil came down the walkway still holding the ax and the pink drink.
"What the hell-? Unbelievable!" he hadn't let go of that stupid ax and these people knew that devil!
"What the hell is this?" I asked turning to look at the man with my son. Every one seemed to follow his lead and that's where I turned to get my answers. This- No!
"We're not going to hurt you." He told me. I couldn't believe it! Did he think I was stupi-?
"Do you think I'm stupid?" I yelled. I pointed to the green thing waving the bar around. "He has an ax!"
The others turned to look and shrugged as if it were normal for a green devil thing to carry around an ax. It wasn't normal for me, this wasn't an everyday thing because these things weren't normal. These things shouldn't exist, they couldn't and shouldn't be!
"That's just Lorne." The skinny girl told me. My mouth fell open. I could feel my face heat and my hands clutched the bar even tighter.
"I don't care! He's green and the horns, red eyes-." I knew I wasn't making any sense but these people were getting to me! That thing was bringing up memories I'd struggled years to repress and still couldn't fully ignore.
"He's carrying around the ax, waving it, but it's alright because he's just Lorne!" I sarcastically replied.
"But he wouldn't hurt a fly! Really." She looked at me wide eyed then smiled. I thought maybe they were crazy or at least the girl was. I lowered the bar just slightly when I heard the green man say;
"I'd probably kill the fly, sweetie, but I definitely don't kill anything bigger."
"Hhea!" I sort of gasped and turned to look at him once more wondering why he bothered to open his mouth and say that and thanking him for the comment as well because it just re-enforced my first impression of these people.
"You're all freekin nuts!"
"We won't hurt you." The man in black repeated then he let go of Sebastián. As if that would somehow make him more believable. I almost dropped the bar in my haste to hold my boy.
"Put the ax down Lorne." I watched as the devil set the ax by the door and took a sip of his drink.
"You see?" He asked me but all that proved was that he had a well trained do-demon. Dios mio, he's a demon… I still wasn't so sure they weren't a bunch of psychos, they could all be de-.
"What were you doing here?" His question reminded me how tired I was. I could feel Sebastián tremble as he clung to my leg. I noticed it was kind of cold out side when a light breeze made my skin break out in goose bumps. I wore a green tank over a black one, a pair of jean Capri's and my white converse. Not exactly warm for a cool night in L.A. Sebastián wasn't any better off. His arms felt cold in the light t-shirt and I imagined his legs would be as well since he wore board shorts and sandals. The whole situation seemed just a little absurd. I was standing on the path with my son confronted by these- what the hell were they?
"Here I am looking for a hotel to get a room, stay a couple of nights. I drive by this-."
"It's not that kind of hotel." The skinny black guy grumbled.
"You think?" the sarcasm just flowed out coating my words. "All I want is a room. It's late, we're tired and I saw this beautiful hotel and of course I probably can't afford it but hey what's a credit card for right? I can deal for one night so I pull over anyway. We go inside and no ones there. When I call out for some one I get this-." I turn to look at him again trying to think what he is but I don't know. I can't let what I think mess with my head. "This green skinned, red eyed, horned looking… devil!" I brandish my bar in his direction while I look at the man in black. "He was waving an ax! What was I supposed to do? Let him chop us into little pieces so he could throw us in a pot for stew?"
All I wanted was a room and I get this green looking devil waving an ax around drinking pink margaritas. This- they all said I was seeing things! They said I was making it all up, that I couldn't-!
Jesus I'm fucking tired!
The man in black looks like he's loosing his patience while the guy and girl are defending and 'putting me in my place' for insulting their green friend. Really, how could my life get any worse?
"Let's go inside." The man in black orders and I look at him as if he's gone out of his mind but then again everything that's happened so far is not normal. Maybe I'm the one whose not normal, I never was.
"It's late and the boy looks tired." He motioned to Sebastián, who had his hands hooked in my back pockets. I'd hardly felt him yanking my jeans low on my hips.
What was I to do?
I sighed picking him up; after all if they were going to kill us they would have done it already. At least I was hoping…
I nodded to him though I was still worried. Something about how he stared at me gave the impression he could read minds. I had to shake my head at that. Really, how tired was I?
He tried to smile, at least I thought it was a smile, it really looked more like a grimace, as if he'd gotten a cramp or something. I think I frowned because he turned picking up my duffel bag and headed inside. I hesitated before following him.
"Oh, so she gets to stay even though she's hitting everyone?" I glanced over my shoulder at the skinny black guy. I made sure he noticed the once over before I said; "I only hit you." I arched my eyebrow and smirked.
Oh, for sure.
I'm still waiting on that.
I could hear them argue, the skinny girl and the black guy, well; mostly it was the black guy whining about his bruised family jewels and nose. I had to admit it felt really good to beat up on someone. My smile turned into a grimace and as I touched my face. I couldn't help wishing I hadn't let him hit me.
Right, because I had a choice.
It fucking hurt!
"The room is up here." The man in black, Angel, walked ahead of us up the stairs and down a hallway on the second floor. By now I was carrying Sebastián, who weighs a ton and a half, while he slept. His arms and legs dangled heavily as I walked, bouncing off my thighs and arms.
Damn, what I wouldn't give to sleep like he does. Deep, heavy slumber with no dreams or if there are very happy dreams. That's all I ask for tonight. No dreams, none at all and no memories to plague me…
"It's not ready for guests." Angel looked embarrassed to say that. I looked into the room and saw a clean bed with sheets and pillows. I turned to him.
"It looks good to me. Thank you." And I meant it too. Even with the busted lip and bruised body I was grateful to have a place to lay our heads tonight. Not so much with the- the-. God, let this be some- just something that won't be in the morning.
He left closing the door behind us. After that I don't remember much until I woke up and that is another headache among the many I expect Sebastián to give me.