The Birth of Bane

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Gone

Chapter Twenty-Four: Gone

It was my Uncle Melvin who had called the cops. Most likely from the moment he reached the street and felt safe, because they were coming around the back of the house by the time we’d taken our first steps from the basement. They had their guns drawn, though pointed at the ground, and came in three teams of two, wearing bullet-proof vests and tactical helmets. They hollered for us to stop where we were and place our hands where they could see them.

We complied in immediately with our hands overhead, walking in a tight knit group.

I think we were more relieved than scared. I knew I was, especially after what I’d seen in the Breach. Watching the approach of those tall, well-trained members of the LAPD was more than reassuring.

We were frisked for weapons and told to stand aside, while they made sure the remainder of the property was secure. It took no more than fifteen minutes. A police sergeant approached us, hulking in a half-suit of riot gear, his brow creased, hands on his hips.

“Wanna tell me what happened in the basement?” he asked gruffly, using the typical “bad cop routine” I’d seen so many times on TV. Apparently that shit was real. Or, more likely, it had been broadcast so many times via Hollywood it had become an entity onto itself…, one even real cops took for truth.

It was my mother who answered after we shared an awkward glance, one I know the sergeant recognized as hesitation on our part.

“I… we really don’t know.”

His eyes hardened. “The gentleman who called 911, Mr. Melvin Favor, said his brother was taken.”

“He was,” I piped-in. As far as I was concerned, my mom had had enough men scowling at her for one night. It was time for me to deflect some of that negativity.

“You are going to have to elaborate on that statement, son.” He leaned toward me, bending at the waist.

Surprisingly, I held my ground – both physically and mentally. After seeing what Bane could do, this guy was a pussycat. “I can only tell you what I saw.”

He looked away and then back in between heartbeats. “We don’t have time to be cute, young man. If a man is indeed missing, then we need to be quick about it.”

“I saw him being dragged across the ground and I followed,” I said succinctly.

“By whom?”

“By the time I got downstairs – my room is one the second floor -,” I though it prudent to be specific, so the sergeant wouldn’t have cause to be an even bigger nutsack, “everyone was on the ground, except my Uncle Melvin. He was running down the walkway like a bat out of hell.”

The sergeant raised his eyebrows.

I took it as a “cop queue” to continue. “I heard a sound and I turned to follow it. That’s when I saw my father, Lenny, being dragged.”

The sergeant was about to speak, angrily, but I stopped him.

“I couldn’t tell who had him.”

He visibly calmed.

“All I could see were his feet. I knew it was him by the shoes he wore.”

“What kind?”

“Earth shoes.”

The cop grimaced in confusion.

Then, I pointed toward Lenny’s bloody foot covering still laying were it had landed upon the ground.

“Well, we’ll check it out all the same. What else?” he questioned.

I shrugged. “I followed, but I couldn’t make up the distance. I could never see more than the lower portions of his legs and feet.” Another detail came to mind. “And, the blood, I saw that too.”

“I take it you are referring to this trail here and the pool of it over by the basement stairs?”

My mother’s eyes widened when she saw her ex-husband’s lifeblood spewed and smeared all about us. I guess she hadn’t realized what she’d been looking at all along.

“Yeah.”

“What happened by the basement stairs?”

“Lenny’s foot got caught on the frames. You know the ones that keep the doors properly aligned?”

He nodded.

I felt squeamish at reliving the thought. It hadn’t been a pleasant one.

“And?”

“Wha-, whoever.” I had almost said whatever and covered my mistake adroitly. I swallowed. “Whoever had ahold of him, pulled him real, real hard. And…,” I felt my face screw-up, “Lenny’s foot broke. His shoe flew off and handed where you see it. It almost hit me.”

I heard Valerie gulp hugely, defying the bile that had risen in her throat.

The sergeant bobbed his head at me. “So, what happened in the basement?”

I thought hard, uncaring if I was taking too long to answer. I guess, I could’ve gone into detail, explaining all that I’d witnessed. I could’ve told him how I’d found the flashlight and approached the heavy door to the root cellar, that I flung it open and found myself in an entirely different place. I could’ve told him about the strange sign, the clothes, and the glass. I could’ve mentioned I was sexually accosted by my long-dead paternal grandmother and just about every other form of evil spirit or demon or devil. I could’ve told him about Rosalyn, and Bore, and Mrs. Gates and what she’d become. I could’ve talked about the terrible price she’d paid to protect us.

I know I could have said any of those things to him, or maybe even all of them. I very well might have stood there and said, “Bane took my father. He was going to let his brothers rape my mother and then he was going to kill her, so She had come and took him before any of that could transpire.”

I run those words in my head every once and a while, when I am alone and left to wondering if I had done the right thing on that night so long ago. I play out the scenario in my head. I walk myself through the dialogue that would’ve followed, balancing and counter-balancing the situation with the personalities. I re-live the setting with the lone Earth shoe and all the blood. I recall the divorce of my parents, the actions of my abusive father, even the night he nearly killed Elijah. I could’ve told the truth. I know it. I understand.

Even now, when I compile it, stack it against what had happened I really don’t see the value of the truth in this given situation. What good would it have done? The sergeant was already angry with us. He clearly had preconceived notions. Maybe he’d been going through a divorce of his own. Maybe he’d caught his wife cheating on him and, in that brief moment in time, hated all women. I don’t know. And…, I really don’t care to know either. I said what felt right, because I knew he’d take the truth as a tale of deception. He’d think I was lying. He would think I was trying to protect my mother and he would’ve made things even worse for us. On that night, the cop was that sort of man…

“Nothing happened down there.”

He bristled like a bee-stung bear.

“I looked everywhere. I couldn’t find him.”

At my side, my mother stiffened for a second, then relaxed when I stared into her eyes.

This one is ours, Mom. This one is ours.

She nodded imperceptively. “It all happened so fast, officer. I can only remember answering the door and there was this tremendous light and Leonard and… I think it was... Kory, but I can’t be one hundred percent sure… Anyhow, they were screaming and something very large and very strong hit the front door and I was thrown back. I landed on the floor, dazed…” She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead, sighed. “By the time I looked up, by the time I could, Valerie was there hugging me, crying… I think. I didn’t know where Jeremiah or Elijah were at the time.” She shuddered at the memory.

The sergeant’s attention turned toward my sister. “And you, young lady, what do you remember.”

Her eyes were typical Valerie – hard, cold when they needed to be. “The only thing I cared about was my mother.” She wrapped her arm around my mother’s waist.

My mom smiled warmly at her and kissed on the side of the head.

“You didn’t see anything?” he prompted, her answer insufficient by his standards.

She shook her head. “I came from my room and saw my mom. I went to her to make sure she was ok. I didn’t look around or anything. I wanted to make sure she was safe.”

There was a long silence. I noticed how cold it was and shivered in my bottoms and slippers, feeling gooseflesh prickling my chest.

“You’re dad threaten you guys a lot?” It was almost a statement. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have let Valerie answer. He wasn’t fishing or trying to back us into a corner.

“Oh yeah,” was all she said.

“What about you, little man? Did you see anything?”

Elijah looked from around my mother. “I stayed in my room like Jerry told me too. I didn’t leave until Valerie got me.” His voice was small, brave and smart, but small nonetheless.

The sergeant looked me in the eyes.

I stared back.

His gaze shifted back toward Valerie. “How long did it take you to go up and get your brother?”

She clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth. “Sheesh man, I don’t know, five minutes maybe.”

The sergeant nodded.

An errant thought struck me. “Mom, where’s Scott?”

Her sharp intake of air and her hand flying to her mouth was all I needed to know.

“Mr. Brubaker is fine. He’s being attended by the EMT’s for some cuts and bruises, but he’s otherwise unhurt,” said the sergeant before my mother could reply.

I saw tears began to moisten my mom’s eyes.

“Can we go now? It’s cold out here,” I asked. I’d had enough “cop-ness”.

His eyes narrowed and he sucked one lip from the inside. “Sure, go in, get yourselves warmed up. If we have any more questions will come and ask. In the meantime, sit tight and wait. Someone will let you know what’ll be going on tomorrow and the next few days following.” He magnanimously gestured with his hand that we were free to go.

I never got the name of the sergeant who interrogated us that night. I never knew why he was so accusatory. Christ, his department had had enough interaction with my family to know by then it was Lenny who was the issue, not us.

I guess some men just don’t like to see women and children fight back, however subtle the resistance may be…

In the end, the police found nothing. It hadn’t mattered if they’d brought in seismic sounding devices, checking every inch of the basement floor, the passage leading to the root cellar and the small earthen chamber as well. They never found a single hair from Lenny’s head. Just like I knew they wouldn’t.

Bane had been thorough.

*****

On my twenty-first birthday, one day before me and my cousins and some friends were scheduled to leave for Las Vegas, I got duped into showing them the door leading to the root cellar. We’d been drinking and smoking a little pot, feeling stupidly good and courageous. Of course, by then, rumors had been flying about my large, dysfunctional family regarding the events the night the Breach had been opened and later, sealed. My cousins wanted to see why the cops had spent nearly three weeks in the underground portions of the property. They were morbidly excited over the idea that their auntie, my mother, Pillar, had disposed of her ex-husband, their uncle, and buried him somewhere down there. They made me open the basement doors and show them.

I hadn’t been before that door since the days following my father’s abduction. I sort of wondered, if we did open it would She be there standing before us, all of her beauty powerfully displayed. Would she be nice? Would she be the demure, delicate young woman I had first seen? Or, would she be Bane? Would she be the terrible creature? Would she be the devourer of human flesh? Would she come after us and dine upon our most succulent parts? I know I was drunk and high. I know my mind was going faster than it should have. Even through the fog of inebriation, I knew I was letting my imagination run wild, but I was also curious.

What would we see?

My cousin Jason was the one who opened it. He inserted the giant skeleton key, twisting it two full revolutions. We heard the tumblers fall into place and he yanked hard against the weight of the medieval barrier. It opened.

There was nothing.

Only dirt and dust, and age-old memory made stale with time.

They spent the better part of an hour searching over the place, but if the police Crime Scene Investigation Unit couldn’t find anything in over twenty days, how in the fuck were those idiots going to find anything in less than sixty minutes? They were so drunk; they were falling over themselves laughing like clowns.

It was a very pretty and a very angry nineteen-year-old Valerie who chastised us away. It was she who locked the large door. It was she who had nailed the trap door to the root cellar shut four years prior. It was she who wanted absolutely nothing to do with Bane or with the Breach, or with Lenny. For her, it was better to let dead things lie.

And, Lenny was long dead.

So was the ghost of Mrs. Gates. She never returned, and the house was never as bright or as lively as it had been during that first year we lived on Lincoln Drive. Even though, some years later, my mother married Scott before the fireplace in the front room, before the entire family, it wasn’t the same.

I grew up, went to college, stayed in the house all the way through my undergrad years. I moved out when I married Myra. We had both started graduate school in northern California, so we were forced to leave.

Elijah and Valerie lived there much, much longer.

My mother and Scott lived in the house even longer.

They sold it finally, in late 2002, and moved to Malibu where they live to this day before the beach and the sun as they encroach upon their retirement years.

I still drive by there, every once and a while. I did moreso when I first decided to write this book. Much has changed – both the Magnolia and the massive Elm are gone, the paint is a different color, the unique windows have been replaced and the Lantana bush has been removed. Still, I can see my mother’s hand upon the place. Because of her, it’ll always be beautiful, reflect what Mr. Gates had envisioned for his wife.

When I gaze skyward, something I can do now that the twin giants have been cut down, I can almost see her there, behind the clouds, gazing down, as she said she would – watching. I can almost make out her aqua-marine eyes, those perfect eyelids, sculpted lashes.

I was never an expert on spirits or ghosts or haunts. I had always thought them fanciful figments of an imagination gone wild. Though I had heard they could be annoying, even bothersome to those unfortunates who strayed too close, who opened their minds too wide and let them in. Still, I was, and always would’ve been, an unbeliever.

What I didn't know was they could be so much more than aggravating poltergeists bumping in the night. They could be grateful, caring, even convey love when compelled, had enough strength. I was amazed by this. It was wondrous.

Then, he brought the anger and the malice in his heart. He brought destruction and darkness, intent on killing us all.

That was when She changed. That was when She rose up.

She was ruthless.

Mrs. Gates became the Bane of my Father. She took him.

She keeps what she takes…

--{ THE END }--


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